Monthly Archives: September 2018

29 September 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

Sept 29/18


Dear Mother

A mail arrived 2 days ago, with 3 letters from you, very many thanks for them. They are dated 6th July (2) & 15th. There is another mail due in I believe today & yet another with letters up to Aug 13th very shortly. After that I ought to be getting letters addressed direct here- I got letters from Nell of July 23, a week later than yours – I wonder how. It was officially announced I see that mails for us, between June 19th-26th I think it was, had been lost, but everyone seems to have got them all the same!

Not much news here. September – always a bad month east of Suez – has been particularly rotten, very hot, with an average of well over 110° daily [43° C] for the first 3 weeks, & a slight improvement now. October really should be cooler & I have no doubt it will be. This time last year we were scrapping at Ramadi & I’m sure it was’nt as hot as this-

The news is good is’nt it. What a sweeping success from Palestine, it simply must affect the situation here sooner or later, as the entire Turkish army seems to have been utterly routed and rounded up for the chief part & they must be completely disorganised & have lost all their guns. Salonika too sends out refreshingly good communiqués almost daily. If I had stayed with the rgt – and I would have if they had treated me fairly (I mean the authorities, not the rgt!) – I should be on the way to S. now. So they ought to be well in it as there’s lots to do there yet.

I had a line from Dick in Egypt: he seemed very happy and not over keen on getting back to the rgt- I wonder if he did, because I expect they were in the last round up all right.

What an extraordinary epidemic of flu there has been at home- of course we all say it’s good old sand fly fever same as everyone gets out here; it sounds just the same- it seems most likely does’nt it that that is what stopped the Boche offensive in the end, either that or some epidemic. You were writing just at the time of the big lull when everyone was just waiting for the Boche to begin again, but he never did and our & the French extraordinary run of successes began soon after.

How cheering and refreshing your next letters ought to be after the depressing months of March up to July. But one simply can’t help thinking we really have turned the corner now, and that things will go in our favour on the whole. I like the way the Allies are donning all peace feelers and are out for a complete & lasting victory-

So glad you were able to get away to Totland Bay for a bit of a rest and change; the Morses seem so remote these days though of course I remember ‘Dumps’ as well as anything, and ‘young Morse’ as Paul called him one day years ago in Camberley – enormously tall is’nt he, so I don’t see how he could help being wounded sooner or later. I hope he’s allright-

I got a lovely bit of seaweed in your last letter, it smells gorgeously of the sea and sand and beach. Yes of course I remember Janet Ryder as a kid – red hair I remember well, probably very pretty too- and of course Mrs Ryder with specs & lots to say always          Wish I could put in a fortnight at Totland Bay with the Darwens. The house you got for them sounds lovely and I’d just love to sit on a beach again & throw stones into the sea and eat buns covered in sand!

A whole big bunch of fellows have been given leave home to England suddenly, even fellows right down low on the list who never expected to have a dog’s chance. If I had been on the list I should have been offered a chance I think, but of course I could’nt have taken it, as I have only just taken over this job & my general would hardly send me off on leave at once. However he has promised to help me all he can next year, all being well, & if leave continues on this liberal scale I really think there is a good chance- But don’t count on it at all please– Meanwhile I’m going to apply so as to get on the leave list & my general will add that I can’t be spared yet awhile- Besides I don’t think one ought to go away just now when there is a chance of things happening, & also going home now means coming out just in time for the hot weather again – and after all that’s one of the chief things to dodge.

I know there’s Nell waiting the other end, bravely as ever poor dear child, and some people may think I ought to get home just as soon as ever I can. I know there is that point of view and I’m dreadfully sorry about the whole thing, but she & I have exchanged long correspondence about it all, & if we are both worth the other’s waiting for – in our own opinion I mean! – (and we’ve come to the conclusion we are, you’ll be glad to hear!) – well we must just wait till the Empire can spare us, that’s all- And it certainly does look more hopeful all round now.

I’m writing this before breakfast so I must get up now-

Best love to all

yr loving son


There is so much that is interesting in this letter: the sense of momentum towards a conclusion (coloured with our hindsight, of course), the foreshadowing of the post-war ‘flu epidemic which killed more people than the war itself, the hints of regret at taking the staff job and missing out on another “show” in Salonika, and the real regret on missing the chance of leave to go home and marry Nell. By September 1918 they had not seen each other for almost three years; they met early in September 1915, got engaged  in late October, and Ted had to leave a month later at the end of November 1915. An extraordinary relationship, maintained entirely by letter, where a letter posted in July would be replied to in September and that reply presumably not received until November. How do you maintain a conversation like that?

Leave a comment

Posted by on 29 September, '18 in About


25 September 1918 – Richard to Gertrude

25.9.18                Field.


My dear Mother

I’ve just got a letter from XX D.H. also Ben’s. Yours had a lot of lavender in it. Cox sent me a letter for Ted too, awaiting his arrival. Pathetic eh. I’ve sent it on. If I cable my quite well stunt would you please post enclosed. I am communicating with Assam & hear there are plenty of jobs.

I got a letter from Jane written 26th August. Please thank her. I shall be sorry if I go & miss Topher. I must write to Mrs Tudor, I’ve been saving some stamps for her, but they are very common Egyptian ones.

Best love to all

yr loving son



If I cable please send this letter. If no cable don’t send it, tear it up

Leave a comment

Posted by on 25 September, '18 in About


21 September 1918 – Richard to Gertrude

21.9.18                Field E.E.F.


My dear Mother

Many thanks for your letters. A magazine “Lloyds”, so welcome & also a letter in another envelope forwarded from S. America. I wrote you a letter in answer to one from you when you were with the Morses. I find I never posted it! Of course all our success in the last few days will be stale news by the time you get this, what will happen will have happened, however we seem to have got Johnny Turk on the run. I of course am moved off, and am with a Field Amb

What a nuisance you cannot find those papers. I have asked for some more. Fancy you going over to Hartley Row, however I suppose you go sometimes to have a look around.

Ted is doing well then is’nt he. A Brigade Major now. How pleased Nell must be. I saw Swan very often before I came away. He’s such a nice man. I hope Paul & Nancy enjoy their leave & come home to see you. I never got Paul’s letter.

I am seriously thinking of going back to Assam if I can get away in November. Things must be nearly over here & if I stay on I’ll only be mucking about in India, nothing to do with the war, & I shall get stuck for another year for certain. After all I’ve done 4 years now, & there are plenty of black doctors to do my job. I will cable you where to write. This is what I will say so don’t lose this & I will keep a copy.

QUITE WELL = c/o Messrs Cox & Co Calcutta

So if you get a cable saying “quite well” you will know where to write, put “to be called for” on top. And will you write to Cox & Co (Ind dep) 16 Charing Cross & tell them to address letters there in future, at the same time asking them to send £50 to my account with their Calcutta agents. I am writing Cox London to that effect.

Still frightfully hot here & where I am now there’s no bathing & not even much water.

Ben seems very happy at Wimbledon. I don’t expect I’ll have time to write again for a bit. I’ve just seized this opportunity

Best love to all

yr loving son


Richard does have to say “black doctors” not “other doctors” doesn’t he. “Johnny Turk” sounds almost comedic, possibly because it is impossible to imagine anyone saying it now. 

It’s interesting that both Richard and Ted have a sense of the tide turning and increasing success if not imminent victory.

Leave a comment

Posted by on 21 September, '18 in About


15 September 1918 – Richard to Gertrude


My dear Mother

Very many thanks for your letter & that lavender. The first letters direct here, & today I am off (he’s bringing some ink) on some other stunt! Go on addressing here though, they will roll up some old time. It’s a nuisance being pushed off, as I am quite happy here, however “c’est la guerre”. How sad about E Hatch’s brother, he was such a nice boy I remember him (here’s the ink) quite well. I hope you don’t get another
attack of lumbago. Aspirin is the stuff to take.

What a pity they are turning Ruth’s hospital into a malaria place. Nothing else to do but give quinine. No dressings or anything. Did’nt she ever write about a transfer to Marseilles. I wrote to her when I was there, she never said anything & cannot have got my letter. The news is good nowadays, I only hope it’s a beginning of an end.

It’s a pity I have to leave the garden I started. Some seeds are coming up, but they appear to find some difficulty in the sand.

I have an amusing cameleon who is a great friend, & is great at catchng flies. Huge long tongues they have, that flips out in an extraordinary way & nab the fly. It’s no good giving you any other address, I don’t think.

Best love to all

yr loving son


I see quite a lot of Swan

Edgar Francis Hatch of Great Bookham,
Surrey, 28

Does Richard sound almost relaxed for once? The comment about the cameleon is charming. It’s also interesting that he has planted a second garden in Egypt after leaving his previous garden in France. None of the others mention gardens at all – Paul was too busy with sports and theatricals and Ted too busy with his men or writing to Nell, poor Topher was too busy fighting, and who knows what Jim was doing. 

Leave a comment

Posted by on 15 September, '18 in About


9 September 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

Sept 9/18


Dear Mother

Quite unexpectedly a mail turned up yesterday, at least I never thought I should get any letters. But I did, including one from you of July 2nd, for which many thanks. I think the last one I had from you must have been about June 15th or so & there are probably some on the way still. I had a line from Ben too, & one or two letters from Nell.

Your letter was July 2, and you had just got a swarm of bees from old Savage- and you had recently had my letters saying my leave had been refused and that I was going to that school in Baghdad- what years ago now it all seems, and it will be months I suppose before I hear from you about this job, though this time I sent you a cable which I hope turned up safely.

It’s still very hot all day, with nice cool nights & fresh mornings. But the day heat is very trying, damp south winds and still sticky days with intermittent dust storms of some violence, very unpleasant as you may imagine. This damp season is called, as I think I must have told you, the date-ripener, and is doubtless excellent for finishing off the dates, but I don’t know that I can find much to say in its favour- But there can’t be much more of it anyhow. September is always a bad month in the East, as one feels very flabby & jaded after the hot weather, & really it’s just as hot as July & August though one likes to think not.

Things seem to be going well still in France – Your letter was written just in the lull when things were neither good nor bad, though a fresh German attack was expected, which fortunately did not come off.

I did’nt get all Nell’s letters, but some of them referred to my leave being refused- Poor child, but she is wonderfully plucky as usual and seems very cheery & confident that I’ll be home sometime sooner or later. Dreda seems to have managed to hit off a Gabb invitation after all! I wonder if Desmond has wangled home leave yet- which reminds me, was’nt that Gordon Campbell’s exploit of throwing the bomb-baby into the submarine & blowing it up? It must have been I think, I read all about it in Reuters wires & the “Baghdad times”.

Ben seems very happy & comfy in her little suburban house, I got a very cheery line from her condoling with my refused leave – especially after she had taken such a lot of trouble to help Nell an’ all-

Hope you managed a visit to Totland Bay, I expect you wanted a breath of sea air. I suppose Jim is still knocking around these parts, though I have’nt seen or heard of him since I came up here-

I am very busy just at present, & got up early to go all over the place with the General: but his other staff officer is sick this morning & in bed, so the General has gone off by himself & left me behind to see to things if necessary. However as nothing is happening I thought I’d write to you. I can scribble a line to Ben too. The English mail is supposed to go out from here today, but really I don’t think it matters very much. Anyhow I never let it worry me & just post when I feel inclined.

Best love to all

yr loving son


Leave a comment

Posted by on 9 September, '18 in About


5 September 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

Sept 5/18


Dear Mother

No mail in yet, the last letter I got from you was just a month ago but it seems much longer somehow. A mail is expected today, but of course mine will be a day or two later from Cox. Tremendous rumours about mail having been sunk, and it seems something must have happened to the one we are expecting today as it is dated, I believe, June 19 & it took over two months to reach Bombay! They say it was torpedoed but they managed to beach the ship at Malta & save the mails. I believe mails up to mid-July from home have also arrived in India, so we ought to make up for all this long time without one. There are rumours of homeward mails being sunk too, but as usual no confirmation of this, & probably you know better than I do!

I am fairly busy up here, & picking up my new job gradually – Did you ever know a Col Stockley, – a sapper, at Camberley? He has had various jobs out in India at Simla & at a Cadet College somewhere, & is now with our Divn. I seem to remember the name, though he has never suggested having known any of us when he has met me.

What really splendid news comes in almost hourly from France, it is nearly impossible to keep pace with it, & they seem confident enough to predict more and continued success. It really is most heartening and I am so glad for all your sakes at home, after the gloomy & depressing summer you have been through- But things are looking ever so much brighter now are’nt they and I really think a definite turning point in our favour has been reached now

What you must think of all us out here doing absolutely nothing while all that fighting is going on at home, I can’t think. There seems to be practically no enemy to fight here, & whenever we make a move he retires. I wish we could feel we were really doing something to help, but it’s very hard to imagine one is.

The nights and mornings here are really lovely, cool and dry and fresh, and since I’ve been here I’ve felt ever and ever so much better. Baghdad did’nt suit me at all, & that, coupled with the strenuous work we were doing there and the hot weather, made me feel rather run down & tired. But since being here I have bucked up no end & feel much better.

Well, the hot weather is practically over now, though it’s still hot at midday & we stroll about in short sleeves mostly. I have got some rather good films of Babylon which I took the other day, I must send you some prints as soon as I can get them done. I have’nt heard of Jim for years, I told him I was coming up this way, but it does’nt seem to have interested him much!

I’m longing to get some letters, as I’ve not had any news from Ben or Nell about Nell having been staying there. But I’m afraid this mail may also be in answer to mine saying my leave was off for this year, so it may be rather depressed. Poor old Nell, it is a shame, & I am so sorry for her

Best love to all

yr loving son


Probable cause of mails almost lost

Leave a comment

Posted by on 5 September, '18 in About