Monthly Archives: January 2017

31 January 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

c/o G.P.O.

Wednesday. 31st Jany


My dear Mother- So pleased to get your letter – I did’nt write to you till last Thursday 25th because your letter did not arrive till then- I expect you have it by now. This week the Sunday letters are earlier – as I generally don’t get yours till Thursday.

I have had a line from Dick, he says he’s put in for his leave from the 10th & will let me know as soon as he can. I don’t expect I shall be home till 2 or 3 days later- still he hopes to get a fortnight and I am hoping for about 10 days, so things ought to turn out all right.

I am awfully glad to hear Nance was down for the week end- I heard from her to-day and she simply loved it.

We have actually had some skating up here- we found a small lake on top of a hill – a tiring walk up – but quite worth it when you get there. We have violent games of ice hockey – huge fun it is. Coo – but my ankles get tired.

So glad to hear there is news of Jim – but they seem to be going a long way round – one thing though – they are safe from submarine areas now – which is the best news of the lot.

Ben does seem to have a career with her jobs – poor child it must be worrying for her. Nance told me she had given her some addresses of jobs – but I have heard no results as yet.

We had our commissioning dinner the other night – we commissioned you know just this time last year. We only had the Captain to dine in the mess -afterwards we danced and had a sing song.

Must write to Rosamond- I am glad to hear her thumb is all right again.

Wonder if those sox arrived allright. Oh and can I send my washing home the week before I come on leave – then iit will be clean for me when I come home. It was a brain wave I thought of the other day.

My best love to you all- from your ever loving son


After spending 1916 wooing Nancy, Paul sent Nancy to Guildford a lot in 1917 so she could woo his mother. Gertrude was to be a difficult mother-in-law for at least some of her sons- and daughters-in-law, and Paul was wise to make sure that Nancy won her over. Ted followed a similar strategy with Nell. And of course both Ted and Paul adored their mother and would have wanted their wives to adore her too.

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Posted by on 31 January, '17 in About


26 January 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Jan 26/17


Dear Mother

Very many thanks indeed for a belated mail last week. It appears the mail boat had to be put back to Marseilles, having been mined or torpedoed just outside; at least that’s the yarn, but I don’t know if there’s any truth in it. Also I got a gorgeous calendar from you -”when the boys come home” which looks ripping on the mantlepiece, & thanks most awfully for it, & the Daily Sketch all bound. There is another mail in tomorrow, it was in here today, but my letters going to Cox always roll up a day late.

Not much news here. They still continue to fill us up with officers, & 5 have joined in the last 2 days! They seem a nice lot of fellows, & 2 or 3 of them have had war experience in France, which is a good thing, & preferable to those beardless babes from Sandhurst. We have now got 16 British officers, & our complement is only 12! So I wonder what they’re playing at. 1 Colonel, 2 Captains, & 13 Subalterns!

I have been fairly gay this week, & have dined out once or twice. I have also been to watch the Delhi tennis tournament, which is very good indeed & we have seen some fine games. I lunched last Sunday with the Ricketts and had a very pleasant day. I also had some ‘flapper’ tennis with Barbara Bingley & a small friend staying with her. I think they had a day out & seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. Nell will be getting jealous! but I don’t think she need worry her pretty head much.

What a terrible explosion that was in town last week, & somehow one feels they have not published the whole of the story. It sounds dangerously near Woolwich, & I expect we shall begin to hear all sorts of rumours before long. It makes one quite ill to read about it, so ghastly to think of a thing like that happening somehow and all those poor munition workers being killed. Still I think it’s wonderful a thing like that has’nt happened before considering the enormous number of factories there must be in England now. Otherwise the news in general seems good I think, but I can’t quite fathom this concentration on the Swiss frontier, except that it proves Germany must be in desperate straits I think. The Roumanian news is decidedly more cheering, & we seem to have caught their torpedo boats nicely when they tried to escape from Zeebrugge. But how bitterly cold it sounds does’nt it.

There have been 2 gorgeous concerts this week, a Russian pianist & violinist who both played divinely. I don’t quite know why they are’nt in the army! But I’m glad they are’nt because it really was a treat to listen to them. They were only there two nights, and I went each time & thoroughly enjoyed myself, even though I know so little about music. Old Montague of Beaulieu is here, you remember I expect he was on the Persia; he is giving a lecture on ‘Aviation’ tonight; I really don’t remember him on board, & I don’t think I should recognise him if I saw him. Metcalfe is dining with me tonight, & I am dining with Miles one day next week; Cordwalles F.F’s I foresee!

From your letter I gather Jim is now definitely going to Hong Kong & is presumably well on his way there now. I wonder if he’s pleased or not or if he’d rather go to France. He enlisted so early in the war, that it seems curious he should go so far away from it when he does go anywhere. I’m most awfully sorry to hear about poor old Rosamond’s thumb; you told me a letter or two ago she had crushed it badly & it sounds very nasty, & I do hope the dear person is much better now.

The writing room for soldiers in Delaford is indeed a success, but you must have your hands pretty full what with getting them tea an’ all. I expect they thoroughly enjoyed their Christmas dinner; tomorrow’s letters ought to be the ones you wrote about Christmas time. You might mention to Mrs Hunt when you write about me & Metcalfe & Sir Charles Miles all being here together. Miles was wounded in Mesopotamia (he is with the 1st 4th Somersets) & Metcalfe is Asst Private Sec: to the Viceroy. I expect I told you all this before! Very sad about Mr Goughlin’s 2 sons. Yes rather Mr Britling arrived safe, but I have’nt had a minute to read him yet!

Best love to all   Yr loving son


When the boys come home – song by Oley Speaks

Swiss tensions prior to the February Revolution in Russia,_2nd_Baron_Montagu_of_Beaulieu


Posted by on 26 January, '17 in About


25 January 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

c/o G.P.O.

25th Jany    Thursday.


My dear Mother – Very many thanks for your letter – glad you liked the picture of the Church. It really is rather a nice little place now – and so nicely decorated. I’m sorry to say I believe we are losing our Chaplain – he’s going to a shore job somewhere – I hope we get as good a one as he – I like him immensely.

I thought Jane lived at 31 St Stephen’s Rd- Bayswater- & I see you put “at 31 with her” – but Nance tells me her address is 30 Collingham Place – Earls Court – I did’nt know Jane had changed her digs-

My Captain told me yesterday that all leave was stopped in France – I was talking to him about Dick. I do hope it is’nt true. I have’nt heard from Dick since I told him when to get his leave. Must be some push on now I think & he’s fairly busy.

I am glad to hear Ben is thinking of coming out with us when we get home, I am sure it will do her a lot of good don’t you? One is so apt to get in a groove of melancholia if one does’nt get a definite change of surroundings & happenings.

Fearful show that explosion- Mr Conabé has just come back from leave & told us all about it – He was in Town when it happened.

I’ve just cut my eye open a bit playing deck hockey – nothing serious in the least – but it looks sort of gooey- I fell onto some rope & sort of rubbed my face along it.

Any news of Jim yet?

Good night Mother – My very best love to you all-

Your ever loving son


Explosion near Woolwich

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Posted by on 25 January, '17 in About


21 January 1917 – Richard to Gertrude

Dear Mother.  Many thanks for sending the boots. I think you said you had sent my blue suit to Lesley Roberts & my great coat. If not please send it to them & get it pressed. Also ask Dreda to send to that shop where you get O.F. ties & get one for me. Can you give her the money. I dunno’ when I shall get home but I want to wangle it same time as Paul. I’ve got no respectable uniform at all, & I shall have to wear mufti.

Topher is quite happy with me I think. He’s awful fed up as he gets no letters nowadays!

I will write to Lesley & Roberts & tell them to get my mufti ready.

Best love to all

yr loving son




Quite forgot I must have dress shirts & collars got ready. Please have all those dress shirts of mine done up, some are Paul’s I know but get them done as well, then there’ll be no mistake. Also those collars of mine    There are some that came home in my kit           like this with 14 not 14½ inside. You need’nt get the 14½ washed, also my white waistcoats. Don’t send them to the wash, but to a shirt dresser, they do these things so much better & one does’nt economise on leave. It would’nt be a bad idea to send my dress clothes to Lesley & R with the dinner jacket & tell them to press them.

I daresay my dress shirts are in the black tin box I left behind.

All this most important.

Any dress ties get ’em washed

Remember your manners, Richard. Say “please”.  (Mufti is civilian kit, ie clothes that aren’t army uniform).


Posted by on 21 January, '17 in About


19 January 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Jan 19/16.
[Ted dated this 1916 out of habit]


Dear Mother

We’ve been nearly a fortnight now without a mail, I can’t think what’s happened, as we have’nt heard of anything happening to any of the mail boats. I suppose it is held up for censor reasons somewhere.

I have had really quite a busy week & have met a whole lot more people lately, which I always think is a good thing don’t you. I had dinner out last Saturday with some friends called Blakeney, quite nice people with rather a pretty daughter. He commands a Garrison Bn: of the Bedfords quartered in the fort here. Afterwards we all went on to a dance at the Club which was quite good fun, though I did’nt dance of course, but there were a whole lot of people there & the evening passed pleasantly enough.

In the afternoon I had lunch with the Cruickshanks, Mrs Cruickshank being a very old friend of mine; you may have heard Ben speak of her as Molly Ormsby, she’s the daughter of Col Ormsby in Lansdowne who used to command one of the Gurkha regiments there, & I knew her awful well. Her husband is in the I.C.S. but has joined up for the war & is at present on Sick leave from Mespot. They were here two days and I had various meals with them in their hotel & wound up by seeing Mrs Cruickshank off on Monday at the station, as her husband had to rejoin his rgt at some out of the way place, & she was going to friends for a few days. Ripping meeting old friends like that again; I hadn’t seen her since we left India in 1914.

On Tuesday the Wilts came in from next door & dined with us as regimental guests, just 5 or 6 of them to represent the rgt. We had a very cheery dinner, marvellously served by our Cook, who is really an artist. One dish was sort of cutlets, made of pâté de foie gras, each cutlet being cased in a different coloured sauce, green pink & blue & all colours! Most alarming to look at, but no one is any the worse for eating them I fancy. In the afternoon I played tennis at the C-in-C’s house with one of his ADC’s & his wife by name Nelson, very nice people, & a nice Englishy grass tennis court, so much nicer than the hard gravel ones you nearly always get out here.

Wednesday I played tennis with Mrs Bingley & had tea there afterwards. She asked to be remembered to you & wanted to know if you were still working in the hospital. I like her, she’s nice & homely & the Kid Barbara is an awful dear. In the evening I dined with a pal at a hotel, he was giving quite a large party & we all went on to a sergeants’ dance afterwards & put in an appearance for an hour or two there, great fun.

I met a fellow called Miles at dinner, in a Terrier Bn: of the Somersets out here, he was at Cordwalles with me & I remembered him well when he said so but I should’nt have known him if I had met him casually. He is a Baronet now! & a very nice chap, Lady Miles is also a very cheery little person, & we had a tremendous F.F. & altogether it was a highly amusing evening.

How we laughed at that old sergeants’ dance! Rather funny Metcalfe & Miles & me all meeting here, & none of us had met since Cordwalles days! And then a chap called Maclean has just joined us, he was at Canterbury with me, & another fellow is just joining us who was on the Persia, called Miller-Hakett, so would you say I was raking up any old acquaintances! I strolled into tea with the Reids yesterday, very pleasant, & in the evening there was a big dinner & dance at the Club, & I dined with Col Armstrong of the Wilts and it was a very cheery evening. I had another Camberley F.F. with Mrs Mackenzie, she’s awful nice & a general favourite. Quite a giddy week was’nt it.

I’ve had very busy mornings otherwise as there still seems to be lots to do. We had some heavy rain too this week, & it’s laid the dust nicely. Still nice & cold here, morning & evening; but quite warm at midday. Cox has got my sword, but it has’nt arrived here yet. The Viceroy & C-in-C are both back now, but it has’nt made any difference, & I don’t think there’ll be much official entertaining, though private entertaining seems to be going strong.

Must wind up

Best love to all

ever your loving son


Cordwalles was the prep school all the Berryman brothers had been to between the ages of 8 and 14.

FF was family slang, probably for Face-to-Face.

Colonel William Blakeney

Lt.-Col. Sir Charles William Miles, 5th Bt.

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Posted by on 19 January, '17 in About



17 January 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

c/o G.P.O.

Wednesday 17th Jany


Dearest Mother – Thank you for your letter – yes I knew you would get it quicker – because we had a change of atmosphere for about 6 or 7 days the other day – quite pleasant it was & such a change from the monotony where we are now. The weather is simply too lovely here – nice bright sunny brisk days, & I have been ashore yesterday & today & played golf & taken a certain amount of exercise; am feeling awfully fit and well.

Yes. I have told Dick about my leave etc- there seem to be chances of it being a little later now, only a matter of days though. I am looking forward to it so. I have heard from him often – & all about Topher. It must be ripping for them both.

I am awfully sorry Ben did’nt wait a bit till she had heard from me again because I told her definitely I knew Nance would help her – Mrs Conway Gordon’s niece – I told you about her before did’nt I? – & Nance went up to Town to try & meet Ben & fix things up because she hates the idea of getting a job anywhere alone & was fearfully keen to meet Ben an’ all – she told me she was awfully disappointed. I don’t blame Ben really – but she was so keen hen she wrote first & I suggested this & now it all seems to have fallen through – for the time being- I don’t believe Ben really likes that canteen work. Nance tells me she’s got a room at Jane’s place – I told her originally to go & see Jane & see if she could fix it up – I am awfully pleased.

I was wondering whether you would ask her down one week-end – Jane could easily bring her could’nt she – will you Mother? Don’t say anything to Ben about what I have said – I may be all wrong in my ideas – but I am disappointed.

Does seem rather funny about Specs – I wonder how he manages to evade being called up. [The clue might be in the name. There was a minimal eyesight requirement for most of the services.]

Oh I am sending some clothes to be washed – garments I wore in our theatricals – I could’nt quite send them to my laundry – they’d have a fit. When you’ve washed the stockings you might give them to Jane to give back to Nance – they are hers. The other garments you might send back – as they are “property Box” now. Never mind about the ribbons!!-

Goodnight Mother-

with best love to you all-

Your ever loving son


It’s hard to tell who takes Gertrude’s patience more for granted, Paul who is reasonably polite but sends her his darning and laundry, or Richard who is more peremptory but at least doesn’t ask her to do laundry.

Paul’s considerable charm was clearly working on Nancy, but it’s impossible to know when their friendship tipped over into romance. It’s also hard to understand who was where at this time. Paul was presumably still in Rosyth which suggests Nancy’s aunt Mrs Conway Gordon was also in Scotland, but Nancy is clearly in London.

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Posted by on 17 January, '17 in About


16 January 1917 – Richard to Gertrude



My dear Mother           I don’t seem to have written to you for ages somehow. Topher is here at last & I think he likes it better than his other job. We go out riding together & I fancy it will work all right. Hope so anyhow.

I got a nice saddle from Jane at last. I wrote to Ben today & thanked her for the cream. It was bad & I couldn’t eat it. Such a pity as it looked so good. However I told her we ate it!

Snowing & freezing like blazes, I hate it & long for the nice warm East again. Ben tells me she is leaving Weybridge & going to Woolwich. Wonder if No-teeth got the ring. I am so glad it made you laugh to think of me remembering her. Of course I do.

Jim’s gone & must be nearly there by now. How lucky he is, & he’ll be seeing a part of the world I always wanted to look at. I wonder if Sheina will get a free passage out to him.

I don’t seem to have heard from you for a long time!

Best love to all

Yr loving son


Could you send me a Tommies cooker and a refill.


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Posted by on 16 January, '17 in About


13 January 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Delhi                             Jan 13/17

Dear Mother

Very many thanks for your letter last week, date 13 Dec. I have had a certain amount to do here this week- Last Sunday I went out with the Ricketts on a regular trippers’ trip, round some old tombs and forts and things, much the same as the trip we went on in Christmas week. I must say these old places are most awfully interesting even to one so un-archeological as I, but they are so redolent of the past & the magnificence of all these old oriental things, & they are now all ruins & fallen to decay. I must say it makes you think a bit when you look round and see nothing but ruins all round for miles & miles & you wonder if London & all the splendour of Modern Europe will one day be like this. I don’t see why it should’nt. I have no doubt these old Kings of 1300 and thereabouts never imagined for one moment that even in such a short time as 600 years all their palaces and cities would be ruined & deserted, a mere object in life for sightseers.

It’s awful nice meeting old friends like Rickett, & they are most awfully kind to me, & I have been round to several “pot luck” meals with them whenever I get rather bored with the mess, which is pretty often!

I dined out on Saturday with the Reids, some friends who live just down the road also very charming. He is on AHQ Staff & used to live in our mess when we first came down here, as his wife had’nt come down from Simla. Then I have played a certain amount of tennis & on Thursday played with Mrs Bingley & had lunch & tea there. She is awfully nice, and told me to remember her to you, if you should by any chance remember her at the hospital. Barbara Bingley the kid, age 14, is quite a nice kid & very pretty; she is learning to play tennis & Mrs B. thinks it’s awful nice of us to descend to her level, though I don’t think I’m much better myself. Anyhow old Bingley is a general & a coming man so there’s no harm in getting to know them as well as possible –

What about the news from Greece? Are’nt they trying, & I really think it is only sentiment for Greece’s antiquities that prevents us blowing the place out of the water with our fleet which we could no doubt do easily. Germany’s peace efforts don’t yet seem to be quite over, but the allies’ reply was splendidly definite & to the point was’nt it. I really do wonder if Austria is in such a bad way as they make out; I hope so, as if that is the case & she cannot hold out much longer she would let Germany down badly.

There was a concert here last week, in aid of officers’ widows & orphans etc, Lady Lansdowne’s fund I think. It was quite good, and one lady played the violin really beautifully, a thing I have’nt heard done for years. Also there was a girl who danced, amateur of course but really wonderful.

It’s been very warm & muggy these last few days, there is some rain about I think. The Viceroy comes back today, but his entry is private so there are to be no guards of honour etc, thank goodness. I am going out to lunch today with some people called Cruickshank, I knew her very well in Lansdowne as a Miss Ormsby, daughter of the C.O. of the 3rd Gurkhas; I have’nt seen her since I left Lansdowne in 1914. And tonight I am dining out and going to a dance; not very keen, but I accept these invitations so as to get to know a few people.

I have seen no notice in the papers about the arrival of this week’s mail, but I expect it will be in a day or two now.

I am sorry about Rosamond having pinched her thumb, she seems to have done it pretty badly. I must write to her. Certainly the soldiers seem to appreciate the reading & writing rooms you have given them, & I trust the 20 who turned up on Christmas day were duly grateful. I have’nt tackled the plum pudding yet, but must do so soon; we are just about the right size in the mess for it I fancy.

Yes rather Mr Britling has arrived but I have’nt really had time to read it yet. I’ve got ‘the first of Divisions’ ‘the great push’ (from old Fielding, both) ‘At the War’ by Northcliffe (from the Dudmans) & ‘Mr Britling’ on hand, & I have’nt looked inside one of them for a fortnight!

I do hope Wiggy’s things have been settled amicably by now, it seems strange that it can’t be done somehow & poor Ben must feel it frightfully. I’m much relieved to hear you say she is so much better, & she certainly writes in a cheerier strain herself.

Fancy old Walcott being with Britannia, lucky he got off. Yes of course I remember him awful well. Very many thanks for offering to send me a cardigan but I’m afraid by the time I got it, it would be past cardigan time! But on reading your letter again I see you are sending along one & not waiting to hear from me. Very many thanks, & on second thoughts in these days one might go to a cold climate any day, & in any case it will come in vastly useful in the future.

No news out here: we hear & read strange tales of travelling being difficult at home, but I fancy they are exaggerated as you have not specially referred to it in any of your letters. I suppose the food question is being scientifically organised in order to prevent waste, not so much because there is any lack. Submarines seem very active again, & ships & freightage must be hard to get.

Must have breakfast now, an early bird are’nt I, but my day’s work always begins early.

Lots of love

ever your loving son


New Delhi – Ancient Ruins:

Brigadier-General V.A.Ormsby 

The First Seven Divisions: being a detailed account of the fighting from Mons to Ypres by Lord Ernest Hamilton

The Great Push, an episode of The Great War by Patrick MacGill

At The War by Lord Alfred Northcliffe

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Posted by on 13 January, '17 in About


10 January 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

c/o G.P.O.

Jan. 10


My dear Mother-

Very many thanks for your letter. The mails are much better now. I got your letter yesterday – but I did’nt have time to answer it. Having quite a good time here at present, I have been ashore once or twice – & today we were to have played hockey – but the weather is so rotten it’s not worth it.

So Ben has gone to another canteen – funny child – because about 10 days ago she wrote to me about getting her a job with this Pal of mine Nance Swan – Mrs Conway G’s niece – because she knows of several jobs in Town – so I wrote a long letter to Nance explaining everything – and to Ben too – & I heard from Nance yesterday saying she had written to Ben to meet her in Town to-day – Wednesday – & fix things up, so I hope Ben was found by letter at Vickers Canteen! I wired to her, so I am wondering what is happening.

So glad to hear Rosamond’s thumb is so much better. I have been through my ususal cold – felt rotten for 2 or 3 days – but am alright again now. I heard from Dick too – he told me all about Topher.

Well I must end now – with ever so much love to you all-

Your ever loving son


Paul was in fact enamoured of Nancy Swan and had mentioned her aunt Mrs Conway Gordon a lot in his recent letters.

Nancy’s father was Colonel Charles Arthur Swan C.M.G., M.A., J.P., and her mother was Ethel, only daughter of Colonel F.I. Conway-Gordon. Her brother was brother was Major Charles Francis Trollope Swan MC who was born in 1887 and her sister Marjorie was born in 1886.

Nancy herself was born in 1895, making Nancy 22 in 1917 to Paul’s 28.



Posted by on 10 January, '17 in About


5 January 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Jan 5/16
[Ted has written the year incorrectly out of habit]

Dear Mother

Ever so many thanks for the lovely silk hankie which I think is too fascinating, also Mr Britling, which I am delighted to have & will read with pleasure I know when I have time, as I hear it is so awfully good, also for the plum pudding which arrived safely, but I have not tackled it yet.

I’m ever so sleepy tonight as it is past eleven o’clock, & I’ve got to go over to the post yet to post this, as the mail goes out at 5.45 tomorrow morning.

I have’nt done much this week since I last wrote. Things have been fairly quiet; Jack Hogg commanding our 3rd Batt has been down here on leave and I dined with some pals in the Wilts in their mess, they had a ladies’ dinner party first & we all went on together. And Oh yes I must tell I met a Mrs Mackenzie who used to be Dorothy Massy at Camberley years ago; I did’nt remember her much, but I expect you or the girls would. Her father was at the Staff college. She called off all our names without mistake or hesitation, and asked after everyone, & of course we had a tremendous Camberley F.F. Her husband is comptroller to the Viceroy’s Household; awful nice meeting an old friend so to speak, though we did’nt actually remember each other.

I have been playing tennis all this afternoon, & here it is fearfully late & I am very sleepy. I met the Ricketts this afternoon, & they have asked me to go out sort of picknicking on Sunday, to go & see some of the local sights in the car, which should be rather jolly.

I hear from Cox that my sword has arrived in Bombay safely, so I ought to get it up here soon now, after signing about a million papers & forms. Thanks awfully for sending it out. Yes, I have got Dick’s address & must write to him. He seems quite pleased at having got a job with a cavalry regiment, & it’s ripping him & Topher meeting is’nt it. Jolly good idea that putting the dining room at the Tommies’ disposal, & I bet they appreciate it no end.

At last we have got some pictures of the Tanks. I simply could’nt picture them to myself before, so we are very glad that some photographs have been published at last. They must indeed be awful things to see coming along and there seems to be no escape from them.

The fire has gone out here & it’s so cold so I’ll just nip over the post with this, as it’s after 12 now.

Best love to all

Yr loving son


Mr Britling Sees It Through by H.G. Wells



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Posted by on 5 January, '17 in About