Monthly Archives: March 2017

30 March 1917 – Ted to Getrude

March 30th

Just a line to say all’s well. We get to Basrah tomorrow I believe, but whether we land or not I don’t know. I expect they will keep us at Basrah a day or two, for various reasons, & then I expect they’ll send us up to relieve the troops that have done all the fighting lately, so expect we shall go pretty well straight up to Baghdad. But of course I can’t tell, & shan’t be able to tell you. Anyhow I’ll tell you if we do go to Baghdad, by saying we have been sent to the place I expected.

I’m going to give this letter to the Captain to post when the ship goes back to Karachi; it may catch an earlier mail than if I posted it ashore. So I’ll have to put a stamp on it, but fortunately I have some by me.

No more now, I’ll write as often as I can, but be prepared for erratic mails!

Best love to all

Yr loving son


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Posted by on 30 March, '17 in About


28 March 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

c/o G.P.O.

Wednesday. 28th


My dear Mother.

Very many thanks for your letter – they seem to arrive much quicker these days – only two days in the post.

Nance has arrived home allright – I heard yesterday- but says she’s till got her cold hanging about. I don’t think London suited her very much & the sooner she can get that farm job the better, I say – Must take some arranging I should imagine

Dick & Topher have’nt got much time these days to write at all I should’nt think – the papers say the cavalry are incessantly on the move- how pleased they all must be to get on their horses again.

Nothing much in the way of news up here. I’ve started off the rehearsals for our new show – so most of my spare time is taken up with that now.

Measles again seems fairly rife – fashionable one might say-! I hear Jane’s pal – Ned McCulloch has got it now – sickening for him – what with one leg & measles.

Vile weather we are having at present- much colder than I’ve known it before up here. You seem to have had quite a week end last time-

Will you tell Oldfield to send me ½ dozen pairs of those ribbed socks – like the pair Ruth gave me for Xmas – she knows the kind – blue or black – I don’t mind which- also some more of those cotton gloves from Timothy Whites.  I enclose 2s/6d – I think they are 4d or 6d a pair – the short ones- not gauntlets-

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



Just remembered – have you found out how Gordon Campbell got his V.C. D.S.O. & promotion etc. I asked you last time. I happened to say I knew him quite well & our Captain said “oh well you can easily find out – I want to know”-

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Posted by on 28 March, '17 in About


27 March 1917 – Ted to Getrude

March 27/17                ? at Sea


Dear Mother

I scribbled you a line in the train coming down to Karachi, but I’m afraid I have’nt written since then, & I’m sure I don’t know when this will reach you as I shan’t be able to post it till we land, and I have’nt an idea when that will be.

When we got to Karachi we were held up two days for some unknown reason, but I was really very glad. I know one Stanley in the D.M.S. was there, so I rang him up & demanded meals etc. I knew him well of course in Lansdowne as we were there many years together, and he & Dick shared a bungalow in Karachi all last hot weather, so I thought I had some claim on his hospitality. Mrs Stanley is with him now, & of course I knew her well too. We had nothing to do in Karachi except wait, so I spent most of my time there, I had dinner with them each night I was there. I also saw ‘June’ who was flourishing, but seemed absurdly small, only about ½ Susan’s size. She is a great favourite with the people whom she is with & I don’t think they would part with her for worlds. I met them too, but only for a minute or two, as they had to dash off & play tennis.

I met a whole lot of Dick’s friends. They were all frightfully sorry he had gone & said some very nice things about him, & he was evidently the buzz in Karachi. I have written & told him all about it.

There is an officer who has joined us from the 3rd Gurkhas, one Dent by name. His mother was a Miss Boisragon, who seems to have known you in the Hartley Wintney days. Dent tells me he came up to see the family at Camberley when he was at the R.M.C 10 years ago, & you were out, but he met two of the sisters. His people live at Brockenhurst now, his father is a Major I think. He mentioned this to me, & I thought you’d be interested to hear of it, though I don’t remember ever hearing you mention either name, Boisragon or Dent. There is also a Capt Gore on board who was at the R.M.C with me & says he remembers us all. He is a great friend of the Rayners apparently, & spent most of his last leave with them.

½ the Bn: is on another ship, & the other ½ on this one with me. There is another regiment on board also, & quite a nice lot of officers. They were up Assam way when Dick & Ben were there, & remember them both well. Would you say I was meeting many of Dick’s friends lately!

Quite an ordinary voyage so far; roughish outside Karachi but nice & calm ever since. It’s not hot either, yet, though I expect we shall get all we want of that before we’re done. Lovely cool breeze all day & night so far. The other regiment has a band on board which serves to while away an hour or so every afternoon. It’s a funny little ship; in ordinary times used for carrying Mohamedan pilgrims to Mecca & elsewhere.

We left Delhi the day before the mail was due, having been a fortnight without one. That was a week ago, so that makes 3 weeks now without an English mail, & heaven knows when we shall get it now! We shipped a lot of mails on this old tub at Karachi, & it’s just possible ours may be among that lot, but I doubt it. All my letters will be censored now of course, so I shan’t be able to tell you much. In any case I trust you are prepared for a thoroughly erratic mail from me from now onwards, for besides the probable difficulties of writing often, the posts must of necessity be erratic, for they of course take 2nd place to everything else – out there now.

I cabled you from Karachi; I wonder if you ever got it? I should like ½ doz: rolls of films for my camera sometime, if you can get them, a vest pocket Kodak. I simply could’nt get any in India when we left. Get the freshest you can, ones that have’nt got to be developed for months yet.

We shall be anxious to get some news when we land, as we have’nt had any of course since we left, and we have no wireless on this boat; and I expect some big things will have happened while we have been on the voyage, though it’s only a matter of 6 or 7 days. No more for the present, I’ll finish this off before we land.

Major Henry Wilkinson Dent (died 1918)

Mabel Maxwell Boisragon Dent

Guy Herbert de Boisragon Dent, their son – author of SF novel ‘The Emperor of If’

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Posted by on 27 March, '17 in About


24 March 1917 – Richard to Gertrude




Dear Mother

Just a line. Many thanks for yours. I am so glad Jim is safe. Topher & I are quite alright.

Send me some chocolate plain Fortnum & Mason or Cadbury Vanila (not milk) little plain chunks too lots & often.

Love to all


Jim was on the Tyndareus which had struck a mine off Cape Agulhas, South Africa, on the 6th of February.

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Posted by on 24 March, '17 in About


21 March 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

c/o G.P.O.

21st Wednesday.


My dear Mother- Very many thanks for your letter. Yes. I heard about Jim & his ship being mined from Nance – How awful; really one would have thought they are safe enough out there. Oh but I am glad he is safe, and all his belongings too. A good thing to hear he was safe first – before hearing anything about the outrage – saves so much anxiety does’nt it.

Nance says she does’nt know what to say about how kind & sweet you have been to her last week end – she seems to have had a rotten cold – and a throat much the same as mine and Dreda’s. She seems much better now – and thank you so awfully Mother for looking after & taking care of her. She more than loves being at Delaford-

So I hear Ben is’nt going farming to start with the others – Nance seemed to have some doubt too about going – because she thought she would’nt be able to come & see me – if there was a chance the same as when I first met her – but she says now she is definitely determined to go – for which I am ever so pleased.

The world’s coldest day to-day -plenty of sun really- but consistent snow blizzards- & tons of wind.

I should imagine Ted is vastly pleased about going to Mesopotamia – I feel so sorry for them & their mails – when they have a huge change like that. Dick & Topher I expect are having a run for their money too on their horses at last. Should you say an exciting week’s news! Marvellous is’n it!

I hear Jane has been asked up to stay in Scotland with a great friend of mine to whom I introduced her when I was on leave – one McCulloch by name – his brother is in this ship and I know all the family. Priceless people they are & they are cousins of that fellow Stewart- you may remember his name – he was in the Gloucester with me & then he went down in the Hampshire. Dreda knows about him. I know his people too – so I am well in with the whole lot of them really. So if Jane asks you anything about going – I can absolutely vouch for her. Ned McCulloch – my pal wrote to me & asked if he could have her up there to stay – when he went home- He’s getting a new leg at present – poor fellow.

That Horlicks is lovely

Must end now – My bestest love to you all-

Your ever loving son


Jim was on the Tyndareus which had struck a mine off Cape Agulhas, South Africa, on the 6th of February.

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Posted by on 21 March, '17 in About


21 March 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

In the train

Mar 21/17


Dear Mother

Just a scribble in the train – I’m afraid my writing is awfully wobbly! – to say we are off at last. We started 2 days ago, & arrive at Karachi today & I expect we embark at once and sail pretty soon, but I don’t know anything about that part.  But I’m sure they won’t keep us long in Karachi.

We had a great send off by the Wilts Rgt in Delhi, their band played & the men lined the road to the station & cheered us. We left in 2 trains on 2 different days, I am coming along in the 2nd one. I had 3 friends to see me off, my friend Reid & one Lamb, & also Mrs Kaye, of whom you have heard me speak I expect. Awful nice of ’em to come down & say farewell to us & we appreciated it awfully.

Quite a pleasant journey we’ve had, though rather dusty. It’s the same journey that Dick used to do in his old ambulance train, all across the Scind desert. I’m afraid you won’t hear from me for some time now, as the voyage will take 6 or 7 days I suppose & then there’s the voyage back for the letters, so there’s a fortnight – least clear gone, & then 3 or 4 weeks I suppose from Bombay, so I should be prepared for 6 weeks or so without a letter.

As for letters from you, heaven knows when I shall get any. Cos we had none for a fortnight, though I believe there is a mail in now, & one due to be delivered in Delhi yesterday, so we just missed that. Still, I suppose they’ll roll up some old time. I’ve sent 3 boxes to Cox Bombay so I can get at em easy anytime I want to; the rest of my kit is all in Lansdowne.

Good news from the west is’nt there. And heaven knows how far we’ve got to march to catch up our advanced troops north of Baghdad!

Best love to all

yr loving son


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Posted by on 21 March, '17 in About


17 March 1917 – Ted to Gertrude


March 17/17


Dear Mother

No mail in yet, and that makes nearly a fortnight without one. I hear too that mails home have been very much delayed, so you may not have heard from me for a week or two either.

Well we are just off, at last, after many false alarms, so you can begin addressing your letters as I told you now


or c/o India Office. I think I told you all this before but the letter may not have arrived. I have had a frightfully busy time these last weeks, and I feel quite tired and weary; but I expect the voyage will buck me up a lot. I am giving up my adjutancy; my time is up anyhow at the end of this month, so this is my last day as adjutant, & tomorrow I command a company, quite a new job for me!

We were under orders to move last Thursday and today, but the move was postponed for some unknown reason. We are going down to Karachi in 2 trains, Sunday & Monday; I go on Monday. Cheer up Mother, I’ll be all right & I think we are in for a very interesting time in Mesopotamia. What price the News from Russia! But it seems to be a jolly good thing as German influence has obviously been too much in evidence there lately, and there seems no doubt that the Russian people are all out to down the Hun, & so have taken the matter into their own hands and ousted the government & the Tsar has gracefully retired.

It’s wonderfully cool here still, hottish days but quite cool nights, & cold early mornings. I have collected a whole heap of new kit for Mesopotamia, thin clothes & thick hats, & mosquito nets and all the latest jims! But the conditions there are so vastly improved now that it’s really one of the best run shows we have. Have’nt we been wonderfully successful, & the capture of Baghdad must have made our prestige thrice as strong after the Kut disaster an’ all.

I have’nt had much time to go out this week. I went to a small dinner & dance at the Wilts last week, very cheery. Mrs Bingley I saw, & she said she was writing to you to say how well I looked! I’m certainly feeling it, though rather worn & jaded with office work & mobilising, which is rather a strain. I have seen my friends the Ricketts once or twice, they are going up to Kashmir soon as he was on some course up there. Please tell the family how frightfully sorry I am I have’nt written much lately, but I really have been up to my eyes in work & I always feel so done at the end of a day.

I’ll write again from Mesopotamia I expect, but don’t expect much from there as posts are bound to be erratic, & there’ll be a big gap after you get this letter I expect.

Mrs Kaye took these of me; she says they are good!

Best love to all

yr loving son


The role of Adjutant involves acting as administrative assistant to a more senior officer and Ted had been Adjutant to Colonel Drake-Brockman since before the start of the War including during their service on the Western Front in 1914 and 1915. Ted had been a Captain for several years, but he would have wanted the chance to command his own Company in the field for a long time. His excitement comes across very strongly in these pre-embarcation letters.

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Posted by on 17 March, '17 in About


16 March 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

c/o G.P.O.

Friday 15th.
[Paul got the date wrong]


My dear Mother – I never got another chance yesterday to write to you – I had a lovely time ashore – really it was a topping day – spent most of the time turfing a new golf green we are making. We had a mess dinner in the evening – dined several of the Gun Room – also we had the “Somme Films” – excellent I thought but rather sordid in parts.

Of course re this farm idea of the girls – I must say – there is that to think about – re their good jobs when they come back in September-, but I should think in their cases – they would probably be taken back again – especially Dreda & Marjorie where they are known – Ben I’m sure could get a job similar to her present one if she wanted it – & Lance’s is’nt a paid job you see; so on the whole I don’t think they ought really to lose by it.

The thing is that I should’nt like Ben & Dreda to get too far away from you – you ought really to have someone with you at home; Jane wrote to me yesterday & said she was going to make her job into a daily one & so be with you in the evenings.

I see Gordon Campbell is excelling himself – really excellent work he’s done though we know very little about why he was promoted – D.S.O. & a V.C. We shall probably hear soon though. High excitement at Hillier House I should imagine. If you hear anything – why etc – do let me know will you – I saw Digby for about ½ a minute ashore yesterday – very Digby-ish as usual.

Rather – black cats are fearfully lucky they say – so don’t lose him now.

They seem to have had a great week end at No. 10  Elsworthy. James & Marjorie were there as well.

I had a long letter from Mrs Conway-G – old C.G. is not so bad apparently as was first thought – & must have a month’s complete rest. Very surprised about my engagement.

Bestest love to you all-

from your ever loving son


Paul had recently got engaged to Nancy Swan, whose aunt by marriage was Mrs Conway-Gordon. At this distance of time, it is impossible to know if “Marjorie” was Nancy’s sister. 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.

His writings

My Mystery Ships online

Pencil sketch of Gordon

Hillier House now flats for the elderly

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Posted by on 16 March, '17 in About


15 March 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

c/o G.P.O.

Thursday. 15th


Dearest Mother-

Just a hurried line to thank you for your letter & for the Horlicks – lovely it is – I am writing again to you – but I have’nt had time today yet- & I must go ashore as it’s such a ripping day & I shall miss the mail if I wait till I come off-

My bestest love to you all

from your ever loving son



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Posted by on 15 March, '17 in About


12 March 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

c/o G.P.O.

Monday, 12th


Dear Mother-

Thanks ever so much for the parcels of clothes – I enclose 2/- for the postage.

I hear Col Conway Gordon has gone to hospital with an enlarged heart & Mrs Conway is awfully worried about him naturally- He’s been ordered a month’s complete rest & quite likely he won’t go back to Cromarty again. Rather sickening for them – as they liked it up there so much.

Went and lunched with Tommy Drew yesterday – I had’nt seen him since I came back -so we had a goodish long talk about things.

Bestest love to you all-

from your ever loving son


It’s frustrating that we don’t know more about the Conway-Gordons who were related to Paul’s fiancée Nancy Swan.

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.

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Posted by on 12 March, '17 in About