Monthly Archives: November 2017

23 November 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Nov 23rd/17


Dear Mother

I have’nt heard from you again since I last wrote, but I have to write tonight as we are going out on a reconnaissance for the next 3 or 4 days & we shan’t be back till after mail day. No news much nowadays, it was very cloudy & muggy all the beginning of this week, & regular blue nose day. We had a certain amount of rain too, which laid the dust but made things very cold. It is much the same today, only no rain, but regular raw English weather.

I am taking out a column of cavalry & Infantry & guns tomorrow, and am commanding the show. It’s awful good fun getting these mixed columns to command, as it’s good practice in handling troops & very good experience. The amusing part is of course that most of the senior officers in the column are really senior to me, being real Majors etc, but I am senior to them pro tem by virtue of being an acting Lieut Col! So it’s a bit of luck for me, is’nt it- However when Hogg & Lyell join & I have to revert, I shall only take part in these affairs as a humble captain again, rather a drop from commanding the force to commanding a company! The fortune of war-

Good news from Palestine is’nt it, & just as well perhaps considering the rather depressing series of events in Russia & Italy. Really the Russians are rather trying, but I fancy we have cleared them out of our calculations altogether now. The Italian news is uncertain, but they seem to be preparing us for worse. Poor old England & France! We are bearing the whole weight of the war between us.

I rather fancy America’s entry will make all the difference, especially her air fleet.

Awfully sad about Genl: Maude was’nt it, so awfully sudden too. They say it was Cholera, but no one seems to know for certain. He was undoubtedly a very good man, with an extraordinary amount of energy & attention to detail- and he is a great loss.

I must have my bath now, & use some of the bath salts you sent. I used one cube the other day & it was gorgeous.

Best love to all

yr loving son


Maude’s death in NZ Press 2 days earlier


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Posted by on 23 November, '17 in About


18 November 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Nov 18/17


Dear Mother

I got a lovely surprise today in the shape of a really gorgeous pipe from you. You had to post ridiculously early apparently to catch the Christmas mail for these parts, and your parcel turned up today! But that’s no matter, the point is the rippingness of the present. Thanks ever and ever so much for it Mother: it’s a regular “just what I wanted” and such a gorgeous pipe too; I’m awful proud of it and it’s the envy of the Brigade.

Kindly tell me please what’s come over the posts lately! Two days ago I got a letter written by you from Pitney on 25th Sept, & today I get the pipe & letters from Nell date Oct 3rd to Oct 9th! So things seem rather higgledy piggledy all round- Nell tells me she has rheumatism in her shoulder poor child. Can’t it be sort of got out of her system now while she’s young, by baths (mud baths I’ve heard of; she’d better try the trenches!) or some means, I’m so awfully sorry for her poor dear & I’ve no doubt she’s being looked after all right, but I’m naturally very anxious to get all that can be done, done now. Otherwise she seems very fit & cheery, & I wish she could manage to get a bit of a change & go & stay at Delaford for a bit-

Your letter to me from Pitney was sad in many ways, I mean the way the old place has been so unavoidably neglected – one always associated Pitney with neat lawns & flower borders, & your description is hard to picture. Joe must be getting very old & feeble now, but from your account is still happy & his simple pleasures still appeal to him.

I have’nt heard ftom Ben for some time now, the vagaries of the post again I suppose. But all the same I think the posts out here are most awfully good, & we have had heaps of mails lately & have really no complaints- Yes, Jim wrote & said he had actually got orders to come out here, but I’ve heard nothing since-

So glad you met the Kelways. I met them of course at Cheltenham College, & remember them awfully well. It was the first time I had met them, as I had always missed them as kids at Pitney.

Rather cloudy & muggy here now, & some rain hanging about I think. The papers we have had from home these last 2 weeks have been wonderfully cheery & optimistic, but since then the Italian débacle has occurred, so I wonder what they all say now-

I have no news. I was vaccinated two days ago – at my age too! I do hope it won’t take, but it’s looking rather angry just at present – what a lot of stuff one has injected nowadays, enteric, cholera, vaccination & emitone, I must be a walking chemist shop by now! I retired to bed early last night with a head & a cold, good old neuralgia & shivers- nust have been a touch of malaria I think, but I’m all right today & am going to drink a hot whiskey & lemon in bed (you know the krewst!) & then fairly pile on the clothes, though I have not got many to pile on, though fortunately the paternal government gave us another blanket all round today & I got a beauty.

Again thanks awfully for the ripping pipe, most welcome a real beauty too-

Best love to all

yr loving son


I told you did’nt I that D-B gives up command on 21st of this month, & Jack Hogg, now commanding our 3rd Batt, succeeds him & is coming out here.

Lyell has left Basra to join us, & will be here in a week or two, so that puts me down to Major when he arrives, & when Jack Hogg arrives to command us, I subside to Captain!


History of Pitney

Probable Kelways –  family of peony cultivator


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Posted by on 18 November, '17 in About


11 November 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Nov 11/17


Dear Mother

Two letters from you today, one from Pitney on 26th Sep & one from home on 3rd October. Thanks most awfully for them. I have half an idea that there is a mail missing, though we have not been warned of one being lost – as a matter of fact later mails do arrive sometimes before previous ones, as they occasionally go via Ceylon for some reason or other, & while they are doing that the next mail nips into Bombay & reaches us first- However the chief thing is that they should arrive sometime. I wrote to you 2 or 3 days ago so I have’nt much further news for you.

We got the home papers today with the wires about our Ramadi show in it, but I see they are very non-comittal & told you nothing beyond that the action was a success. I cabled to Nell as soon as I could to say I was all right, and I expect she sent it on to you, at least I hope so. The wires were rather congested just then so I only sent one.

Nell’s birthday today, she is 20, so is getting quite grown up! I hope Jane finished her present in time, somewhat novel perhaps & I hope Mrs Fielding won’t be shocked! Nell writes very cheerily & of course is wild at the prospect of my coming home next year. I hope the dear child realises that it is only an outside chance & may not be possible, but I’m going to have a jolly good try.

My chief bit of news this mail is that Col: D.B. is definitely giving up command on the 22nd of this month, and Jack Hogg has been appointed to succeed him. He is son of Col Hogg you know at Camberley, & is at present commanding our 3rd Bn: in India. He is an awful nice man & we are lucky to get him. The official letter says he will proceed to Mesopotamia “in due course”, which may mean anything. So when he arrives and Lyell, I shall drop to humble Captain again! But I can’t complain can I; I’ve had my innings & a jolly good one too; besides it is’nt over yet either, as I don’t suppose Hogg will be out much before Christmas.

I went out shooting this morning, it’s the first holiday the men have had since we left Baghdad last September. We have been so busy marching & digging that we have’nt had time for any “days off”. It’s rather a krewst here, as you have to have an escort to go out any distance from camp with, rather novel conditions to shoot under! However nothing exciting happened, & we brought back 6 partridges & 2 grouse so had quite a nice little outing.

I hope the stores have sent you some photographs- I sent you the key to them some time ago & if they have numbered them properly you should be able to tell exactly which is which. I have ordered them to send you another lot & send the key to the new lot herewith.

So glad you had a few days at Pitney, the fruit sounds gorgeous. Yes, Ben told me all about the air raids; terrible they sound, & it’s good (?) to get some inside news, as the papers tell us so little. They must do a lot of damage of course; you can’t miss anything, bound to hit something flying over London. They are terrible things all the same, & I sincerely trust we are paying the Boche back in some of his own coin by now.

Thanks most awfully for your contribution towards the mess Fortnum & Mason parcel. It’s most awfully good of you, & we shall all appreciate it most awfully when it arrives. I was particularly anxious to do something – however small – in return for all the good work fellows, who have served under me while I’ve been in command, have done for me. I could not have been better served, & I am frightfully glad to feel that you too are helping too- I do hope things turn up in time for Christmas, but things take years to arrive to this “outpost of empire” nowadays.

I see a picture of George Moodie’s fiancée in the Tatler this week- so Topher turned up on leave did he at last; I am glad to hear it, & I hope he liked it- Wish I’d known, I should have liked to have sent him the price of a sherry & bitters at least-

You say in your letter of Aug 21st that you sometimes feel a bit anxious about me, but please don’t my dear mother. I really & truly am awful fit now & am feeling so well an’ all & in this cold weather one ought to keep as well as anything.

Nell tells me she finds it very hard to get away now, her V.A.D hospital is only staffed with ½ the right number of nurses apparently, so she is pretty busy. I wish she would get away for a holiday & change, however short, all the same.

I don’t know how the mails run nowadays, especially so far away as we are, but I expect this will reach you some old time.

Best love to all

yr loving son


Am enclosing key to next lot of photographs, stores Bombay will send you

Ted later writes to Jane saying “I say, I told you did’nt I how fearfully bucked Nell was with the undies you made her; thanks awfully for making such ripping ones. I got some very old letters of hers last week, dated last July! In those she said Mrs F. had said she thought she ought to be getting her trousseau, & they went off & bought some Japanese silk for undies on the strength of it!” Though he doesn’t say whether Mrs Fielding was shocked.

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Posted by on 11 November, '17 in About


7 November 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Nov 7/17


Dear Mother

I seem to have a lot of letters from you to answer – we got 3 mails altogether a few days ago, & I got 4 from you dated 5th 12th 13th & 19th September. Thanks most awfully for them, also for the papers which always turn up safely (tap wood) & are most welcome.

I have’nt much news for you. I had to go down to Feluya for a day last week to have my tooth finished off [presumably Fallujah]. He only had to put the stopping in so it did’nt take long & he did’nt hurt, it’s so difficult to get about in this country, you have to wangle lifts in various cars etc. I stayed with Sam Orton at Feluya, I was only there one night & I came back next day. A vile day to day: SE wind and the air thick with dust. Yesterday we went out on a reconnaissance about 5 miles beyond the outposts but saw nothing.

In to-day’s communiqué I see we have got Tekrit, north of Baghdad. I wonder what our next move will be. I am sending along a card which they give us out here, a ghastly production but I’m afraid it’s the best I can do. We just got Ramadie in time to appear in the card as you can see- all the other names are former scraps out here-

Yes I see London has been raided a good deal lately, but Ben writes to say how wonderfully calmly people take it all. So glad to hear the specialists’ opinions on Capon are so hopeful but as you say it must be awkward having him on the sick list. I do wish old Nell could manage to get up to Delaford for a bit, but she writes to say she is very busy nowadays as her sister Gladys is not very fit & she has to do more Red X work in consequence. However I expect she’ll be able to manage it someday. I’m very anxious to hear what job Topher has managed to get, whether he got gunners or tanks. Really awfully good of Genl: Robertson to take such an interest in him.

Ben told me Romer had been wounded & she saw him one day in town I believe. I hear he’s not bad, though still on crutches- You say you had 2 letters from me one day, 11th Sept, so glad they arrived safely- one was written in hospital, & one just after I came out. Thanks most awfully for writing to the matron & sending her a parcel, I know she will appreciate it so. Certainly the things you put in sound most alluring & I think you couldn’t have chosen better. Lucky getting that bit of sandal wood soap!

There is another excellent article in the “Field” of ? (I’ll look it up in the mess & tell you later) on the I.A. in France, & it has some nice things to say about us. So if you can get a copy anywhere, as I think it will interest you- I had a line from Jim a day or two ago, & he tells me he expects to be sent out here soon, but has to go to India first. I wonder if we shall meet! Specs still exempted! Disgraceful I call it. Surely he can hold a gun straight in a trench, or do something to finish the war-

You seem to have had another letter from me on 13th Sept: are’nt the mails erratic these days. I have’nt had a parcel from you for sometime now. There must be 2 on the way I fancy, but parcel mails, once they are landed out here, are very erratic as transport is so scarce & parcel mails are the last things they send up. Our letter mails are really wonderfully good.

I can’t remember Jerreland at the R.M.C somehow. I wrote & told Nell she could put our engagement in the paper if she liked. Several people have seen Paul’s, & asked if it was my brother, Spens of Frimley Hall for one.

It has been awfully cold lately, right up to 10 o’clock or so every day: but today with this S.E. wind it’s quite hot again & last night was not nearly so cold as usual either.

No more news for the present: I’m very fit & well.

Best love to all

Yr loving son


“The Card” is the 1917 Christmas Card for the Mesopotamia Campaign. While the verses in greetiings card are always in a genre of their own, this one is very much of it time. This, more than any other artifact we have from Ted, reminds us how much the events of 1914-1918  shaped the world we live in now with its mentions of Basrah, Ramadi and Baghdad.

The Christmas 1917 card from the Mesopotamia Campaign - listing the battles

The Christmas 1917 card from the Mesopotamia Campaign – listing the battles

The Christmas 1917 card from the Mesopotamia Campaign - greetings from Ted

The Christmas 1917 card from the Mesopotamia Campaign – greetings from Ted

The Christmas 1917 card from the Mesopotamia Campaign

The Christmas 1917 card from the Mesopotamia Campaign

The Christmas 1917 card from the Mesopotamia Campaign

The Christmas 1917 card from the Mesopotamia Campaign

THIS medal of ours with its ribbon and bars
Tells of crushing defeats of the Crescent and Star,
‘Tis a pleasant reminder to friends far away
That more than one Turkey is rueing “The Day”.

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Posted by on 7 November, '17 in About, dentist, Ramadi