Monthly Archives: February 2018

20 February 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

Feb 20/18


Dear Mother

Very many thanks indeed for 2 letters which I got from you last mail, dated 12th & 18th December. Please excuse this awful paper, but it’s all I’ve got, found in a box of my spare kit which I left behind at Baghdad last September when we went on the Ramadi show. It’s got a trifle damp as you perceive, but I’m afraid I’ve got no better.

You ask if I ever received the pipe & by this time you will have got my letter saying it arrived safely and thanks ever so much for it. It’s an old much-smoked veteran now and is my constant companion, as I can smoke a pipe all day in the cold weather.

So glad to hear Topher’s stammering is improved and I hope his lessons will make a great difference to him, if not completely cure him. Poor Dick losing all his kit, and not being able to take his shirt off for a month! Quite like old times, I know so well what he feels like. After a bit you begin to feel you never want to take off anything, & then that awful “scratching” period begins, & you simply have to take it off! Are’nt I horrid!! I presume he was all through the Cambrai business, as I see Indian Cavalry were engaged.

We are camped just by a railway here, as I think I told you and there are a lot of L.S.W.R. railway engines in use on the line. So familiar they look and sound as they go puffing by, and of course the Queens all swear they can recognise old friends in them; and I’ve no doubt they have all buzzed through Guildford station one time or another.

Warmer weather lately and some rain. Today is cloudy and raw with promise of more rain. I think this is going to be a very dusty camp in the hot weather. We have had one or two windy days which have been very unpleasant. We have also had several visits from Hun aeroplanes lately; I think they were just prowling round seeing what they could see. Our “archies” fired at them, & several of our ‘planes went up after them but with no results.

I have had a day’s shooting, last Sunday. I & one Potter of the Queens rode out on Saturday and stayed the night at a post with a friend in another regiment & shot next day. There were very few birds about & we only got 16, but had a very pleasant walk and a day in the country, which, after all, is the chief thing.

Thanks very much for sending the soap along. The parcel has’nt arrived yet, but I have no doubt it will before long. The Fortnum & Mason boxes have not turned up yet either, though it must be 5 months nearly since they left home.

I have dined with Sam Orton once or twice at Divn H.Q., & met General Brooking again. Of course I knew him comparatively well, as I have had many dealings with him. He thinks a lot of the regiment & often says nice things about us to me. Many thanks for the Maude memorial service paper which you sent. Most interesting.

Yes, I got a photograph from Dryden of the 1914 star, and right proud I am to have qualified for it. I’m afraid it will lead to many discussions, as of course there has been equally heavy fighting and a good deal heavier in many cases since those early days. But it’s nice to think that the old army (though, heaven knows, no one respects & admires the New army more than I do, & all of us do) will be practically the only ones to get it, including many territorials, who after all were part of the old Army, the 2nd line, & did magnificent word. Anyhow it has been given, up to a certain date, & there the matter begins & ends, so discussion is really pointlee and leads nowhere. If you get it, you get it; if you don’t, you don’t.

I have written to Nell, making sort of preliminary arrangements for the wedding. I hope to manage to arrive home about the middle of May, & be married round about 1st June though of course it’s impossible to say definitely. In any case, I will be wiring to her, when I start, and I hope she will wire on to you. I have told her to address me c/o P & O Port Said when she gets my wire saying I’m starting, so you had better do the same. I must perforce leave nearly all the arrangements to her, but I have given her a rough outline of my ideas, & have appointed Ben as my representative, to whom all questions are being referred. I hear leave is to be on the liberal side this year; I sincerely hope so.

So glad the nurse & matron wrote you a line; they were perfect angels to me, & I do admire them all so, working all day and all night in that appalling heat, & wonderfully cheery all the time.

By the way, we are moving up a bit tomorrow; afraid I can’t say where or why, nothing very exciting, but I may not be able to catch next mail, as we are going off into the blue on 20lbs of kit. This is just to warn you in case you don’t hear next mail, but with this fortnightly business on I ought to be able to scribble a short line.

Tons of love to all

yr loving son


I shouldn’t be as amused as I am by the thought of fussy, fastidious Richard losing his kit and not being able to change his shirt for a month.

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Posted by on 20 February, '18 in About


February 1918 – Ted to the Cantuarian

The Cantuarian was the school magazine for Kings College Canterbury, where Ted was at school. They published letters from old boys who were serving in the war.

Dear Editor,

A line from much-abused Mesopotamia may not be without interest to you, though I have no doubt some of my news will be already in your possession, I mean such items as the names of O.K.S. (Old Kings Scholars) serving in the M.E.F. (Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force).

I suppose the capture of Ramadi last September is still more or less fresh in your memory. Lieut. G. D’O. Maclear (India Army Reserve of Officers) and I were present at that show he being attached to my regiment at that time. He was severely wounded during the fighting, in the left shoulder and neck but has rejoined us now after being in Hospital about 2 months. It was a good day for my regiment, for we captured 3 Turkish field guns and over 2,000 prisoners out of the total bag at Ramadi, quite a good share of the spoils!

Two days ago there occurred what must be one of the shortest O.K.S meetings on record. We were marching down the road and met a battalion marching the other way. Who should accost me suddenly from the ranks but Captain G. C. Strahan and as Maclear was marching with my company, we had a meeting — the three of us — lasting exactly 15 seconds, just while our respective companies were passing each other, and then of course we had to break up our meeting and rejoin our commands.

On arrival in camp here I met L. N. Green of the Army Chaplains’ department, chaplain to a brigade here. I dined with him last night and we raked up many old names and memories. Major C. W. G. Walker is out on the staff somewhere. I have met him in India several times, but have not come across him out here. I also met Smyth (C.J?) at Basra last March, and he was collecting O.K.S. news and has probably already given you much of what I have told you. He is in the Indian Army Reserve and is with the — Gurkhas and was doing duty at the base depot when I met him. He was always a regular contributor to the Cantuarian from Bhuj Bhuj in India. Green told me last night that one Channing Pearce is also up this way, adjutant of a battalion of the –, but I have not met him myself. There are probably other O.K.S. out here but Smith has, I expect, told you of them. F. R. Hawkes is out here I know on railway construction work. E. C. Green I heard from in India about a year agom he had a staff job in Naini Tal, and had been sometime in Aden before that. He is in a battalion of the –, but I don’t know which.

That’s about all the latest information I can supply. I occasionally see names I know in the casualty lists, and also references to and portraits of O.K.S. in the Sportsman’s roll of honour, in the Sporting and Dramatic news — otherwise I am rather ignorant as to what has become of many old friends. I wonder if anything in the shape of a School Roll of Honour is available or contemplated, if so I should very much like to see it.

A few general remarks may be of some service to you, though you probably have most of the information already,.

Major W. H. Wardell was missing in November 1914 at Festubert, and there seems no doubt he was killed. He was in my regiment. At one time there were three of us in it, Major Wardell, R F. Nation and myself. Nation transferred to the Royal Fusiliers in 1913 and was badly wounded at Ypres in 1915 and has not as far as I know been passed fit again.

My younger brother C. G. P Berryman [Topher] enlisted in 1914 in the — Middlesex and went out in 1915 and has now got his commission, I hear. He served for a long time as a groom to another brother of mine who was Medical Officer to an Indian Cavalry Regiment in France. A. P. Methuen was in the — Middlesex too, I believe, at one time. C. H. C. Gore is also in my regiment and servied with us in France and Egypt an is now on the N. W. frontier in India with his battalion.

That I think exhausts my information, somewhat meagre I’m afraid, but there may be one or two points worth recording in the Cantuarian, a publication which I have not seen for years.

I hope the old school is going strong and still beating Dover regularly though I hear they have moved from Dover during the war. Best salaams from all O.K.S out here to you all and especially to Mr. Latter who probably remembers all the names I have mentioned.

Best of luck to you all and when there are re-unions and O.K.S. meeting “after the war” — that vague and problematical period — may I be there to see.


E. R. P. Berryman (Major),
2nd Bn. 39th Garhwal Rifles.

I met R. C. Paris, R.A.M.C. in Karachi in 1914, but I don’t know what’s becoem of him since and a brother of mine in Singapore [Jim] writes to say he met R. St. J. Braddell there recently.

King’s Roll of Honour

Named Old King’s boys –

Lt G D’O Maclear

Cpt (later Lt Col) G C Strahan (9th picture down)

Medals of Col CWG Walker

Major W H Wardell

A P Methuen

CHC Gore, retired a Colonel in 1947

I am grateful to Peter Henderson, archivist at Kings School Canterbury, for this letter. 

Ted to the Cantuarian

Ted to the Cantuarian

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Posted by on 18 February, '18 in About


12 February 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

Feb 12/18


Dear Mother

We’ve had no mail in now for a long time and the fortnightly despatch seems to be in full swing. I believe there is a mail hovering about somewhere, but no one seems to know when it will actually arrive.

Ink again you will notice, for we have come back some 30 miles or so and are in comparative civilisation again, though to all intents and purposes we are just as far away from things as we were up at Ramadi. But here we are at least on the railway. Baghdad is within 4 hours by cattle truck, so we are indeed in the haunts of semi-civilisation once more. I have got heaps of ink tablets, and have rigged up an ink-pot and am using my fountain pen as a dipper, as it has long ceased to carry out its fountain duties.

We had a comfortable and uneventful journey down. We took 5 days over it, 3 days marching and 2 halting, not by any means strenuous. I met 2 old King’s school boys on the way, and there are two of us in the 39th so we had quite an old boys’ meeting. I wrote to the “Cantuarian”, and I can imagine the excitement the letter will cause!

The roads and weather were perfect for marching. They have done a lot of improving to the roads, mending them etc, and they use a lovely pink sort of stone, which they get from the sand dunes close by, to do the metalling with. A most gorgeous colour, it must have absorbed the sunsets of a thousand years to get like that. Of course it soon loses its colour when beaten and trodden into the road, but lying in heaps by the side of the road ready for use it looks lovely. The recent rains too have helped to bind the sand, and then traffic over the roads has made them hard and white and shiny. But I expect they will cut up in the summer and deteriorate into mere tracks once more, inches deep in sand.

It was cold and clear most of the time, except one night when rain fell in torrents from 6 to 11, and we had a damp cold dinner, huddled in a tent, & all went to bed about 8, there being no where else to go and it being the only dry warm place. Next day the roads were a wee bit muddy in parts, but the wind soon dried them and we got into our new camp quite dry.

Our new camp is out in a dusty bare place, the edge of the desert. All right now, in fact very cold with the N.W. wind whisking across sands, but it will be a warm spot in the hot weather I’m afraid. Not a tree or any shade of any kind; two miles from the river, and a dusty road running straight in front. And there is a railway line running within 20 yards of our tents, a novelty now, not having seen a train for 6 months (and we all stare at the train as it goes by daily!) but I expect we shall get sufficiently bored with it before we see the last of it. Still it’s a blessing to be on the rail again. One is’nt quite so cut off from the outer world, and you feel nearer home somehow.

We have been busy since we got in getting the camp in order and generally settling down. I have retrieved all my kit now, all the stuff (little enough, but still, all I had) which we left in Baghdad when we left for the Ramadi show last September. This paper is some of the spoils. It was a bit damp, but otherwise no harm done, as I had put it all in a tin suit case- does’nt it sound common! – but it’s the only thing to have in these outlandish places.

Lyell joined us yesterday. Poor man, he is very hard hit, but it must be a blessing to him to be employed. So I am no longer 2nd in command now, & though my brevet saves me from dropping to captain’s rank, it does’nt save me from dropping to captain’s pay, as of course a brevet only confirms the rank without the pay.

I have met Orton several times, you will remember he is on our Divn staff, & they are here at present.

It’s still very cold at nights, but I have plenty of blankets now, though I still have to wear a woolly in bed, & spread my British warm over me. I hear the leave rules are out, but I have not seen them yet. I am told they are on the liberal side. I wonder if I shall be able to get home this year. It seems absurdly near now, & if I do manage it I ought to be home in about 3 months’ time. By the way, in case I do, you’d better write all letters to Cox & Co Bombay “to wait till called for”, as if I don’t come home I can wire them to forward them: & if I do I can pick them up there. So you’d better start doing so now.

I am very fit & well. Best love to all

yr loving son


Probable position – halfway between Falluja & Abu Ghraib

King’s Roll of Honour

Named Old King’s boys –

Lt G D’O Maclear

Cpt (later Lt Col) G C Strahan (9th picture down)


Medals of Col CWG Walker

Major W H Wardell

A P Methuen

CHC Gore, retired a Colonel in 1947


Posted by on 12 February, '18 in About


1 February 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

Feb 1st/18


Dear Mother

Very many thanks for 3 letters from you last mail, a day or two ago. I am indeed sorry to hear of poor Aunt Edward’s death. She was always most awfully kind to me and took a real interest in me & my welfare. I know, as she always knew all about me & my latest doings whenever I went to see her. She was very interesting always about our family and the members of it whom we never or seldom met, and I was always surprised at the number of cousins, however distant, we seemed to possess but had never seen!

It was curious too the way she went on living in old Gravel Lane surrounded by all sorts & conditions of men, & every kind of squalor & poverty. I was always in an awful funk going to see her, all down among those slums and alleys. I only wrote to her a few weeks ago, as I always did at Christmas, but I’m afraid my letter never reached her this time.

I’m so glad that my letters about the Ramadi show arrived safely and that you were interested, but you are all much too lavish in your praises. I speak for myself, though I don’t think too much can be said for the men & the regiment. Very many thanks indeed, all the same. It is pleasing to know that having done our best, that best is appreciated.

We have had a day or two’s rain of late and one night of howling gale and wind, but otherwise this lovely cold clear weather goes on. We have frosts at night but it’s gorgeous weather all the same, and ever so much to be preferred to the summer out here.

So you are all going on rations I hear. I think it’s rather bad luck on you & all the rest who have played the game all along to have to suffer for the extravagance & indifference of an upstart class that suddenly finds itself with money in excess of its wildest dreams. All the same, I’m sure it’s right and after all I expect the ration will be ample, and it at anyrate ensures an equal distribution and shows the world we mean business. I don’t fancy England itself is short of food, not as short as all that I mean, but it’s the food supply of the whole world that is causing anxiety.

You all give me hopeful news about Topher and the curing of his stammering. I do hope you’ll be able to tell me of considerable improvement, if not of a complete cure, in some future letters. The boy has done splendidly I think & I’m sure we are all jolly proud of him, and I think he deserves a jolly long rest; even if it involves strenuous training he will at least be well housed and fed and will be away from the strain & stress of the front. Poor Dick! I know how he must hate all that slush & cold. You say he has been away from his regiment. What’s he been doing I wonder?

I hope to have lots more photographs to send you soon, but they take years to get developed and printed. The Stores, Bombay, should have sent you another lot now, but I have still more – chiefly groups of officers, & a few local scenes. I hope the ones of the guns & trenches arrive safely, though I’m afraid the ones of the trenches are very dull, but of course they are very real, as we lived & fought in them & for them for 2 & 3 days, & so we look on them as old friends, or enemies.

(By the way, don’t call us the “Garhwals”; either the “39th”, or the “Garhwalis”: hope you don’t mind the hint, but there’s nothing like correct names, & “Garhwals” sounds terrible to us!) Garhwal is the country where our men come from, and the inhabitants are called Garhwalis; just like Bengal & Bengalis, or Punjab & Punjabis.

Your letters were dated 28th Nov, Dec 4th & 5th, the latter a note to tell me of Aunt Edward’s death.

We have been gorgeously free from flies all the last 2 months, and yesterday one came into the mess & was chased & slain, his death being greeted with cheers! one came in a few weeks ago too, and was also slain. It’s the cold weather & improved sanitary conditions that has done them in, but I fancy the hot weather will see a revival of them, as however careful one is they seem to be a perpetual plague in this country.

I suppose Paul is married now, but I was not aware of the date, which was being perpetually changed I gather, so I could not cable. In any case the cable between Bombay & London is unable to be used for private wires now owing to over-work, and cables are being sent by post if you please between Bombay & London! I’m glad they call it a cable!

You seem to have got all my letters all right; possibly one I wrote on 4th September was burnt, as you make no mention of having received it, but otherwise I seem to have escaped as regards my letters, & very few, if any, went by that ill-fated ship and were burnt.

I had a line from Jim at Krillee, near Poona. He does’nt think much of India (who does?) & prefers Singapore. I wonder if he will turn up out here.

Now I hear of the shortage of sugar & currants etc at home I can appreciate your plum pudding (already eaten) much more. We still get rich Christmas cakes with thick sugar and almond icing from India, sent by various friends & relations. And if I come home this year it seems I’ll have to bring my wedding cake with me! I think it could easily be managed as of course there is no real shortage of sugar & spice in India: the difficulty lies in getting it home to England. They seem to have sunk much fewer ships in the last 3 weeks, but America says they have withdrawn a lot of submarines. In any case fewer ships have been sunk which is the main thing.

I fancy we are moving back in a day or two for a rest & change. We have been up here on outposts, & digging defences, & on reconnaissances for over 4 months now. And though of course we are not in actual touch with the enemy, still we have to keep our eyes skinned & always be ready for emergencies which becomes rather wearing after a time.

Must end up now

Best love to all & again many thanks for nice things said.

Best love to all

Yr loving son


Whenever my father, who also served in the Garhwalis, met his brothers in arms at the Regimental reunions, we children ran a discreet sweepstake on how long it would be before one of them said “When I was at Poooooon-AH”. I was disorientated when my yoga teaching friend said it, freshly back from meditating on an ashram. It’s only a matter of time before I hear someone saying it about visiting colleagues in a software team or an operations centre. The relationship between Britain and India is as complex as it is long. 

I am surprised and slightly disorientated by Ted’s throw-away comment “he doesn’t think much of India (who does?)” – maybe long distance love was making him particularly homesick or maybe he was nervous about taking his bride out there.


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Posted by on 1 February, '18 in About