Monthly Archives: July 2018

29 July 1918 – Richard to Gertrude



Dear Mother.

Many thanks for your letter (June 30). People seem to have their letters numbered out here. This one of mine is No 1, & I have noted it. So number & note yours & we can tell which is sunk!

You seem to have had a big house party the Sunday you wrote. I expect E Hatch has left Guildford by this time. How nice having Evelyn Drewe down, I expect you’ll like her the more you see of her.

The eyeglasses have’nt arrived, suppose they came by parcel post & got sunk.

They seem to have had strenuous times with the bath that Sunday. I wonder if you will ever find those papers of mine.

I am anxious to see the photograph Miss Tudor took, they must have all gone to Devonshire by now I suppose.

Still boiling hot here. I must go & look at the sights I think soon. Not far & it’s a pity to be in the Holy land & not see them all. I will take my camera & send you some pictures.

Best love to all

yr loving son



39 Indian General Hosp       EEF

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Posted by on 29 July, '18 in About


28 July 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

July 28/18


Dear Mother

I got 4 lovely long letters from you on the 24th, forwarded from Cox Bombay. I’m afraid all my letters home now are rather pathetic as they are mostly in answer to my letters written saying I was coming home, & you were sort of expecting wires and cables and things. The mails are most erratic just at present, at least mine are, & they arrive all jumbled up & some letters written much later than others seem to arrive first. But after all it does’nt matter much as long as they do turn up eventually, & that I think is the most wonderful part, how really regular they are & how few get lost, practically none nowadays – tap wood!

Your letters were dated 24th April 1st May 22nd May 29th May- covering 5 weeks you see, & I got them all by one post! I think I have already had letters from you dated between 1st & 22nd May, in fact I know I have & have answered them. In none of them I have just got, had you received a mail: but we were on the Khan Baghdadi show about then, & I expect they were considerably delayed as our communications were rather rocky for a time. I sent a lot of photographs – mostly of me & some shooting expeditions I think- home about then, I wonder if they ever arrived safely?

Very many thanks for these letters. In your last one of May 29th you say Ben & James & Nell had been down for the week end, but the latest letters I have from Ben & Nell were written just before Nell went to stay with Ben! So their letters all about it should be on the road somewhere. I’m so glad Nell was looking so well and nice, and awfully glad too she managed to go to Delaford again. I long to see the dear child again, & I feel I’m treating her very badly by being so long away & keeping her waiting so. But I’m afraid it can’t be helped.

You say too in your 29th May letter that you had heard from Jim about his starting for this country, & I hope by now you’ve got our letters telling of our various meetings. I had a line from him today and he may be coming down here for a few days at the beginning of August.

I do hope Topher finds a suitable job: he ought to be able to get into the A.S.C easy enough; on the whole better than the Indian Transport I think, as that means a journey out here, a language to learn, & probably a long wait attached to an infantry regiment before he could transfer. Of course the pay would be better, but if he does’nt intend to make a career of it I think the A.S.C decidedly preferable. But I don’t think they are doing him very well considering his service. I wish I were home, then I’m sure I could buzz round & go and see his colonel etc & get things moving. The cry seems to be for men & officers in every branch, that I always fail to understand any hitch nowadays.

Righto, I enclose authority for the watch. How absurd these little points of the law seem, but I suppose they are necessary. Praps Nell would like the watch for her dressing table. If so, could you get a nice leather sort of fold-up travelling case for it & send it along. I have no idea what it’s like of course, but I imagine it’s a biggish-faced old fashioned one. I’ve just scribbled the enclosed legal document for you; rather good I think, don’t you! I hope it will achieve its purpose anyhow.

So Harold Gabb has qualified at last: & married too! I never realised he was even engaged. How’s Geoffrey these days? He sounds better, if he’s able to play tennis. In your May 22 letter you speak of the warm weather. We have had a wonderfully mild summer really & have got off lightly this year. I should like a book of Academy pictures if you can find one, as you say in your letter you & Ben were going there. The papers don’t seem to think much of it on the whole.

So Dick has sailed for Egypt at last, that means Palestine & Jerusalem I suppose. I should like to go to that front most awfully, but I’m afraid there’s no chance. Yes, he has been a long time home & you must miss him. Yes rather I got Jane’s cable about her engagement, but I don’t think I cabled back as all the wires were being used for official cables then on those K. Baghdadi operations: but I wrote & I expect she’s got the letter by now.

I hope Dreda will stick to her hospital job & not take on the companion business. There seems to be a big call for women for all kinds of war work now and I think the hospital job ought to come first, & old ladies must wait for their companions till after the war: from your letter it seems she was’nt going to take the job for this reason, so that’s all right. Yes rather, I get papers regularly, but I asked you did’nt I about the pink ones, I don’t want them any more. I like my sketch & mirror & spectator, they keep one amused & abreast of the times respectively.

In your 1st May letter – I seem to be answering them backwards – you say you hope my leave has not been knocked on the head, but I am afraid your worst fears have been realized, for the present at any rate. I have hopes of next year still. Paul & Nance are lucky seeing so much of each other, lovely for them.

In your April 23rd letter you had had letters from me of Feb 12 & 20th, saying I might be coming home. Yes it’s 2½ years now since I left: hope it won’t be 2½ years more before I get home again!

The news from France is really most encouraging is’nt it, & the French are doing splendidly. How wonderful they are, for they have suffered such terrific losses in the war, but they still go on attacking & winning battles. True, they are fighting to win back their own country from a loathsome enemy, & that must be a tremendous incentive to go on till the last man is left. And meanwhile the Americans are coming across fast & are fighting splendidly; and above all we have the authority of Lloyd George, Jellicoe & Admiral Sims that the submarines are well in hand at last & have ceased to be a determining factor in the war.

I wonder if things are really taking a turn for the better, permanently, at last: please God they are. Yes the budget was alarming: what about this luxury tax? Very sensible & necessary I think: by all means let people wear silk underclothes if they like, but they must pay for them in war time.

Must end up now

Best love to all

yr loving son


Capt. Harold Percy Gabb MC, joined the RCS and on 23rd May 1918 married Nancy, daughter of Sir George Wyatt Truscott, 1st Baronet and Lord Mayor of London 1908-09

From the Index of Old Epsomian Biographies between 1890 and 1914

Gabb, Harold Percy (1890-1964).

Epsom College: 1904-1907

 HAROLD PERCY GABB (1890-1964). M.C., T.D., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P. (Eng.) [Epsom College 1904-1907] was the son of Dr J. P. A. Gabb, of Guildford, Surrey, and brother of Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Alwyne Gabb, O.B.E., M.C. [Epsom College 1898-1904}. He received his medical education at University College Hospital, and went into general practice at Guildford,

Surrey. During the First World War he served as a Lieutenant-Colonel in the R.A.M.C.

Bonar Law on introduction of a Luxury tax

Companions are still hired today, though the role is perhaps more formalised than it was 100 years ago: 

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Posted by on 28 July, '18 in About


23 July 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

July 23/18


Dear Mother

No more mails in yet, it’s nearly 3 weeks now since the last one arrived here, tho’ mine coming through Cox took longer of course & only arrived about 10 days ago, so I don’t know when it will reach me this time. It has arrived in Baghdad I hear, yesterday but has not been delivered here yet.

Not much news nowadays from here, the good news is for the moment coming from France where the Boche attacks seem to be being held up and the French are doing so well, good news indeed after all these anxious months: let’s hope it continues.

Our strenuous life continues, but we have been blessed with wonderfully cool weather, and here we are nearly at the end of July so we really can’t get very much more really hot weather; even if it does really get bad it’s not likely to last more than a month.

I’m getting rather sick of this schoolmastering job, & I hope to be relieved at the end of this course, but I don’t know for certain yet.

Is that George Moodie’s wife that has died? I see reports & pictures in the papers; if so, I am sorry, as he was only married such a short time ago was’nt he. One gets such a shock somehow when you hear of a wife’s death these days. What terrible long lists of missing appear daily now, but I suppose the majority prove to be prisoners in the end, though that is bad enough it seems from all accounts of treatment of prisoners one reads.

I do hope rations are going all right for you at home now. With the U-boat business so well in hand and increased ship building things ought to gradually take a turn for the better. I dined last week with one Fisher, a fellow ship-wrecked warrior; he has a political officer job down Babylon way so I hope to go and stay with him someday soon, to see the sights. We have just made a tennis court here, & they tell me they have begun to play on it tonight, so I must trot round & have a look.

Best love to all

yr loving son


Lieut, later Brigadier Sir Gerald Thomas Fisher, fellow survivor of the Persia and later Governor of British Somaliland (1948)

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Posted by on 23 July, '18 in About


22 July 1918 – Richard to Gertrude

Richard Berryman, sketch by Vall

Richard Berryman, sketch by Vall

July 22.


Dear Mother.

Many thanks for your letter written June 24th, which Cox sent on to me here. The silly fools have’nt sent the original letters yet, they must be wandering about somewhere & will turn up in the end I suppose. I am with No 39 Indian General Hospital, so you can write to here, but I don’t know how long I shall be here, one gets moved about a bit in this country I fancy.

So Ted never got home after all. How disappointing for Nell. He seems a great swell in Baghdad & must be nice for Jim & he to be together.

We are in tents on the sea shore. A nice breeze during the day. c We’ve got a tennis court of sorts made in the sand, but it’s very difficult to get anything hard here. All the paths are made of wire netting put on top of the sand, & the old original wire netting road by which all the troops marched up to Gaza, runs through our camp. Imagine the miles & miles of wire netting there is down.

I must send you some photographs as soon as I get them developed but they may be failures like that last lot of films. Everyone gets sand fly fever in Baghdad. I had it in Assam. Srotten.

I never forget “Cookoo pin”, of course everyone in church knew you had remembered something when they saw you tying a knot in your handkerchief.

I hope I don’t get sent back to the regiment. I’ve avoided it so far.

Would you get that caricature of me printed. It may cost a good bit, £5 or so, but I shall get heaps for that. I don’t know who would be the best printer for that sort of thing.

Best of love to all

Yr loving son



Did you ever find those papers of mine. I want.

  1. That yellow return ticket
  2. (a) One paper giving me 6 weeks’ leave

(b) another paper granting me 4 weeks’ leave.

a & b were in duplicate so will you send them in separate envelopes by different mails in case they get sunk.

On reflection, it’s unlikely that Richard is referring to this pastel sketch of him, but of all the brothers he would be the one I would expect to sit for a humorous sketch in a tourist destination. Any other sketch of him hasn’t survived. though. 

Route of road to Gaza

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Posted by on 22 July, '18 in About


20 July 1918 – Richard to Gertrude

Just to say I have arrived in case I have’nt time later on to write. Hope to get letters, riding crop etc

Love from




XX D.H [20th Deccan Horse]

Egyptian Ex Force

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Posted by on 20 July, '18 in About


16 July 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

July 16/18

Dear Mother

I have two letters of yours to answer, dated May 7 & 14th, both forwarded from Cox Bombay. As you know by now I was all too foolishly optimistic about my leave, & it was refused. I thought it best not to wire but just to let you know in the ordinary way by post. Of course I still have a chance, but not for some time yet I’m afraid & in any case I’m not going to be so foolish as to even hint at an off chance next time, & I shan’t say a word till I’m really on the way!

Very many thanks for your letters. In May 7th one you were waiting for letters from me. You had got Jim & my cable, sent from here in May sometime. I’m so glad it turned up safely. Yes indeed we have had some good old talks, & since then I have been up to stay with him for 2 days & found him fit & well & flourishing. I wonder if Dick will go to India or Egypt. If I was he I would choose Egypt, but I know how much he likes India.

No luck with the bees yet you say. I quite agree, I can’t think why honey should be so dear. I suppose there are less people to keep & look after bees now, & also less flowers to gather honey from, everything being vegetables nowadays! I should think lobbing – or is it bobbing? – the hair would suit Rosamond admirably, just the type of face for it (this will make her hoot, I know! My love to her; & I must write.) As you say, I doubt if it wd suit Ruth so well.

You had just got 3 letters from me in yours dated May 14th you say; I got it 2 days ago, from Cox, so you see it has taken just 2 months to reach me. You are still waiting anxiously for my wire, juggins that I was! Yes, old Ben very kindly offered to look after old Nell & some of her trousseau for me, but I’m afraid that’s all no good now. I do wish they’d give Topher a commission. Could’nt Dick go over & see the C.O. & root round a bit. It’s a shame as you say to expect the poor boy to go back to the ranks after all he’s done.

We are getting rather good fruit now, lovely cool juicy water melons, & grapes, & plums, the latter not quite ripe yet. I see a lady writing from home in an Indian paper seems to make a little go a very long way, & made some lovely sounding meals out of nothing very much apparently; she was writing to say we were’nt to worry, & things were all right really – just the same as you always write in your wonderfully cheery way.

I see that the American Admiral Sims says submarines are practically so well in hand now as we can almost say we have done them in. If so, it is wonderfully good news; and it does’nt seem likely that anyone wd be allowed to make a public statement like that unless there was good solid foundation of fact for it nowadays. What wonderful people the navy are, & news like that coming on the top of Zeebrugge & Ostend ought to buck the British public up no end & answer all those silly fat-headed carping arm-chair critics who are continually asking what is the navy doing.

You will have got my letter by now saying the F & M. boxes turned up quite safely after all & were, I hear, very much appreciated. How did you find Camberley I wonder? Much the same as ever I suppose. How amusing old Smith being the only one able to mend your bicycle!

Artie Wooldridge a Major! I don’t want to sneer at the new army & there are hundreds & thousands of thundering good fellows in it I know, but still – they do get on quickly don’t they. Here I am with 14 years’ service next month, & only a captain still! Brevets are’nt much good I’m afraid. Oh well, I can’t grouse, I’m still alive and whole, which is better than fifty million promotions is’nt it. There’s only one souvenir I want after this war & that’s

Your loving son


Rosamund seems to be thinking of cutting her hair in a bob – interesting because we associate the hairstyle with the 1920s not the war years.

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Posted by on 16 July, '18 in About


11 July 1918 – Richard to Gertrude

11th July


My dear Mother.

Have’nt had a letter from you for ages. I expect you have written to Alex, but I have’nt managed to get hold of them yet. I am now with 39 Indian General Hospital E.E.F. but I expect by the time you get this & write to this address I shall be moved on, they seem to have a knack of shifting one about in this country.

I am quite happy here on the sea shore, & lovely bathing, but nothing much else to do. It’s very hot of course & there’s no shade except a few date trees. Tons of figs though, & I am longing for them to get ripe.

We were nearly torpedoed on the way out. The torpedoe got within a few feet of the ship, but we were swinging round & just swung in time. Most exciting, & we finished up by the torpedoe & the ship going along side by side.


(drawing of incident)


I wonder if Ted is home & married. I saw George at Alex & he said he imagined Ted was expected any moment when he left. I have quite a good job here, registrar they call it. I wonder if Ruth is in Marseilles yet.

Best love to all

yr loving son


Wait…? What….? Ruth is going to Marseilles? It is frustrating to get such slight glimpses of what the sisters are doing. 

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Posted by on 11 July, '18 in About


10 July 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

July 10/18


Dear Mother

No mail forwarded from Cox yet, though the direct mail reached here 4 days ago. Perhaps you marked yours “to await arrival” & they are keeping them, but I have wired them now to forward all letters marked or otherwise. I got the Weekly times & other papers directed straight to M.E.F, so I hope the rest of my mail will turn up sometime, possibly this evening.

School began again two days ago, & we are living the strenuous life again. Not quite so strenuous as last time, as it is too hot, so we are taking things a wee bit easier, but still we are quite busy. During our week between courses I went off to stay with Jim for 2 days. I drove up in a car, a 3 hour journey from here; I started at 5 a.m. so as to have a cool journey. I found Jim very fit & happy in his new regiment & he seems to have had quite a good time while I was there, did’nt do much except a good deal of talking. It was fairly cool too, as there was a pleasant breeze blowing and that made a lot of difference, but Jim said it had been very hot in that hot spell we had a few days ago. I met many old friends in the regiments there, & altogether thoroughly enjoyed my time & I think the change did me good.

The hot spell is over for the present & we are having really quite respectable weather, round about 105º-110º or so with a breeze, which has risen to a wind today, with lots of dust.

I’ve got no news. I may be leaving this instructor’s job at the end of this class, but I don’t know for certain. They are going to change us all anyway sometime soon, as we are all rather weary with teaching at this high pressure in this weather, but they don’t want to change us all together, so someone has to stay on for another course, but I hope to get away early.

Best love to all

yr loving son


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Posted by on 10 July, '18 in About


2 July 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

July 2/18


Dear Mother

No mail in yet but one is expected on July 4th or so, but I expect you have started sending your letters c/o Cox now, so mine will probably be a bit later.

It’s warmed up now all right, 115º in the shade [46º C] and no breeze to speak of yet. Lucky we are to have fans and things. Our 2nd course is over now, & the new one begins next Monday (this is Tuesday). Col Keen & the other instructors have gone away for a change, the latter is coming back tomorrow, & then I’m thinking of running up to see Jim for a couple of days: he’s about 3 hours or so off in a car. One of the officers in his regiment was here on the last course & I sent him some odds & ends of soap & writing paper etc which he asked me to get him, & I’ll take some more up with me.

They are changing all of us instructors gradually, as we had all got a bit stale & faded working at this pressure in this climate. So I am only staying one more course, & a new man comes instead of me, & a week or two later one of the others will be changed, the idea being not to change us all at once so as not to have an entirely new instructional staff all together. That’s the present arrangement, but of course it may be changed. I shan’t be sorry to leave, though I must say I have learnt a lot & met very many good fellows, and I think it’s done me a lot of good on the whole.

Very little war news from France nowadays: I wonder what’s happening. The Italian news is good, & let’s hope a nasty knock like that for Austria will have far-reaching effects.

By the way did I say put “to await arrival” on letters sent to Cox? I believe I did, as I’m afraid I was a wee bit too optimistic about my leave then. Anyhow don’t put it on any more, as he may keep them unnecessarily long. Go on sending them c/o him, as my movements are uncertain.

Best love to all

yr loving son


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Posted by on 2 July, '18 in About