Daily Archives: 1 August, '17

1 August 1917 – Richard to Gertrude



Dear Mother

I am so glad Ted is all right again & has rejoined. I dunno’ if you ever got my letter telling you dysentery was not so dreadful a disease as people at home think.

I hope to be home next month sometime, & shall spend it quietly at Guildford. Rotten weather nowadays, so wet. Best love to all

Yr loving son


With a view to my being home in Sept ? perhaps, please have my evening dress shirts sent to the cleaners not the wash

Do you remember that number we worried so much about last time? Paul had one on the ship I know. Those are the ones I want to go & I enclose a cheque to pay for the dressing of them. Don’t please send them to the wash they do spoil them so. There are the ones I bought in London but I’ve no idea which they were, unless they are all in the suit case together. They might go too if you know them

Have you found my blue coat

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Posted by on 1 August, '17 in About


1 August 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

c/o G.P.O.

Aug. 1st


Dear Mother-

V. many thanks for your letter, and also for forwarding on all those others. Nance & I have had simply heaps – all about society papers asking for our photographs etc – awful waste of paper!. I’ve had several other letters from various friends which I am gradually answering. I have had a talk with Nance re Mr Kirwan – you see it’s going to be a very quiet wedding at Sawsthorpe and the date will be so uncertain – and Nance says she has 2 pet parsons whom she wants, but if Mr Kirwan likes to come – by all means but it’s a fairly expensive journey up there and back & also the uncertainty of the exact day – we hardly think, in a way, it’s fair to ask him- because perhaps he would’nt like to say no – But I’ll write to him and explain things – but will you see him too, about it.

Nance will probably be going south about the 29th – and I want her to stay a few days with you before she goes up home – but it is all rather uncertain as yet. Wish we could get some decent weather up here – it rains every day still.

I’ve just heard from Dick who says he will be home on the 25th for 10 days – I suppose Topher is coming too.

My best love to you from your ever very loving son


Sorry to hear Capon is’nt much better!-

And that’s almost the last of Paul’s letters which we still have which he wrote during the war. We hear of him from the others and there are a couple from him in 1918 and a dozen or so from him when he was posted on the China Station in the 1920s but that’s it. 

The fact that this last letter was written just before Paul and Nancy’s wedding must be significant. I suspect Nancy asked for Paul’s letters but Gertrude only gave her the ones dating from after the wedding. 

There’s the allied question of why we have only a couple of letters from Jim and Topher. Perhaps they asked for their letters themselves or perhaps we are seeing Gertrude’s partiality: she adored her eldest child Richard, and Paul and Ted were undeniably heroic, while Jim was out of the action for most of the War and poor Topher was not a great letter-writer and lacked glamour as a Tommy. I prefer to think that her favouritism wasn’t that blatant and it’s simply happenstance that we don’t have their letters too.

So let’s cry a little because the bride is so young and the groom is so handsome, throw rice over the happy couple as they leave the church, and wish them well.

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Posted by on 1 August, '17 in About


1 August 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

August 1st/17


Dear Mother

Very many thanks indeed for your letter from Totland Bay dated 13th June. You seem to have had quite a pleasant & peaceful time there and I’m right glad to hear it. From all accounts you came back looking all the better for the change.

And I like the photograph you sent. Quite right my dear mother to have something to hand down to posterity; I think you’ve done your bit splendidly in the war, in many more ways than hospital work not the least of which is in keeping so wonderfully cheery & always smiling for all your anxious moments, from which I’m afraid you are seldom free. But I trust it is some satisfaction to you to know that your cheery & happy bearing  & the way you never allow us to catch even a glimpse of the anxious thoughts that must be always with you, all this I say helps us more than we can possibly say to carry on with whatever particular job we are doing. You’ve been just splendid all through. The photograph is quite good I think; you look rather like a Serbian nurse I think, at least what I remember of their pictures in the paper! But it’s a good “likeness” & easily recognisable.

I’m out of hospital again you see, but I suppose I told you this last week, as I got out before mail day. I have been taking things easy for a week, & am really perfectly fit again now, & feel much stronger & better all round. Trying weather to convalesce in all the same; 115° the usual thing nowadays, but coolish nights which is a blessing. And now we have begun August, one of the hottest months of the year according to past records. But it’s only a month & after that in September the days begin to get bearable, & after that again they are cold & bright & the climate I believe leaves nothing to be desired; one hears that the cold weather out here is perfectly delightful.

I got a parcel from you a day or two ago, containing some gorgeous soap, lemonade powder (most refreshing) & some lemon tablets which I’m afraid had all melted into a sort of paste! & some tea, beef & milk tablets which I hope to try some day. All together a most pleasing little parcel, (& a bottle of Eau de Cologne too, most acceptable) thanks most awfully for it. I’m afraid no letters were for me in the few bags saved off the Mongolia, & now I see the parcels mail 4th – 18th July has been sunk. The submarine show seems to be much the same, same number of boats sunk each week; I do hope we are really rounding up a good many U-boats nowadays.

The Russians are doing badly are’nt they, which is a nuisance, & I’m afraid it means prolonging the war. But the news from France is still good, Messines an’ all, & I expect by the time you get this there will have been another of Haig’s ‘Hammer blows’ struck.

So glad to hear Dreda contemplates farm work, & she seems to have found a nice place to start on. Much better than the stuffy old bank. I remember having a drink of the water, as far as I remember very cold coming from such a deep well. How I would love a glass of it now! Today is a fiendish day, a howling gale and thick clouds of dust, settling down in a thick layer over everything; impossible to keep clean too. The wind does’nt lower the temperature, it just keeps the hot air moving, and the dust.

I see they propose starting the weekly mails again. Many thanks for all the papers, daily sketches etc, most acceptable.

Best love to all

yr loving son


If Gertrude looked like a Serbian nurse, then this is probably the photograph

Gertrude in her Red Cross uniform

Gertrude in her Red Cross uniform

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Posted by on 1 August, '17 in About