Monthly Archives: May 2019

Paul Berryman

The remaining letters are from Paul in the 1920s, but before we start reading them let’s catch up with him.

Paul and Nancy had two daughters, Joan and Paddy (Patricia). When we pick up Paul’s letters in 1926 he has a command of his on in China and Nancy and the girls are in England and Nancy is trying to buy a house. When they were older, the girls were sent to school in England and lived with their grandparents during the holidays.

Paul’s letters skip through the 1920s, a few from 1926, a handful more from 1927 and three from 1928. They start out with a Naval engagement Paul was involved in in China, and then move on to his relationship with Nancy and his daughters.

Paul, escorting one of his daughters as a bride

Paul spent a lot of his naval service in the China seas, and retired in due course from the Royal Navy but my brother remembers visiting him in London and seeing his bedroom, separate from his wife’s, and little more than the size of a cupboard; the room of a man who spent most of his life in enclosed spaces on board ship.

Paul, in his naval greatcoat, on board ship. Undated.

Paul and Nancy divorced in the late 1920s and he married Amy Ida Anna Lyndrajer in 1938. They must have separated during the Second World War because he married Elizabeth Louisa Margaret Eden (“Peggy”) in 1946.

These emails from Paul’s grandson tells the story of his three marriages and post-war years better than I ever could:

I suspect you might be right that Paul was difficult to live with. Peggy seemed to be his match as ‘Number 3’. I do recall being at a family function with Paul’s 2 exes and Peggy and he spoke to them as No 1, No 2 and No 3! No names. Nancy took it in her stride. When I drove him around London, on more than one occasion, on seeing an attractive young lady he would shout, ‘Stop the car. There goes Number 4’

He was a good-looking man throughout his life.

Paul in later life.

His grandson continues:

Growing up in Rhodesia as it was, I only had the fortune to get to know my Grandfather Paul in 1968 (me being 17 years old) and then of course my Grandmother Nancy Swan.

I, like you, had a great fondness for Paul and he embarrassed me unashamedly as his Grandson from Africa and forced vast quantities of beer down me in a very short space of time. We did our utmost to make up for missed time and I spent many nights at 59 Redcliffe Road and still recall the telephone number as Flaxman 2015. There was far too little time to really catch up but I was always very proud of my ‘Pa’ Berryman.

He and I were both keen that I should join the Royal Navy for which I applied. I was not accepted for being ‘Rhodesian’ with whom after the Unilateral Declaration of Independence Britain was seriously contemplating War, my loyalty was questionable! Paul was livid and I fear made his feelings known and felt!

I was also able to share two Christmas’s with Granny Nancy.

Sadly over a period of only 5 short years, Paul, my Aunty Ben, Nancy and my Mother Joan died.

I have memorabilia of  a few telegrams and letters from HRH Prince Albert to Paul. These letters clearly indicate a warm friendship between them. Albert was my Mother Joan’s Godfather and we have a lovely signed silver christening mug from Albert to my mother on her christening in 1919.

Prince Albert Duke of York, of course, became King George VI who was King during WW2 and was father of the present Queen.

I am grateful to my cousin for these sharp memories of Paul. I do not remember him now, but Paul died when I was 7 years old and my parents did not bother to tell me about the death of so elderly and distant a relative. I was outraged when I found out and exclaimed “My own BLOOD! And you didn’t tell me!”.


Posted by on 30 May, '19 in About


27 May 1919 – Topher to Gertrude

Damascus 27/5/19


Dear Mother

Don’t be alarmed at the above address, but I am on a trip to Assyria. And various other parts. Fearfully interesting but what a strenuous journey. Nothing but change trains and packing and unpacking one’s kit. Sometimes one might thank you for an active service again. I have bought various things, two rather nice rugs, which I will try and send home, they can be used but not given away to Ben or others for there new houses etc. I shall have them in mine when I get one. Also some other small things, an Arab head dress which is rather curious, also two brass plates inlade with silver & copper, really beautiful work.

I go on to Beirut tomorrow for a day and then back to Ismailia. I met some friends from the 20th Deccan Horse tother day up here, just off down to Egypt to be demobilized, they all enquired tenderly after Dick. The scenery here in the train over the Lebanon Hills is marvellous, and I have taken umpteen photos so if they are any good I will send some along. Mountains covered with snow, while in the train it is so hot one can hardly breathe. All this show is worth seeing, and one does’nt always get such a chance.

I have heard no more about leave, they have treated the R.A.S.C badly it’s absolutely disgracefull. Some officers here came out here in 1915 and have been retained for the Army of Occupation. If you look at the map of Palestine you can see where I have been, by my rough sketch below

I have only marked the important stops, I will send a better sketch later on.

No more news, best love to all

Ever your loving son


And that’s the last letter we have from Topher.

He was made a Captain before he was demobbed. He moved to Kenya after the First World War and in the 1920s and ’30s the Kenya Gazette lists him as a “Settler P.O. Mukuyu”. At one point he and Paul registered the patent for an oil lamp with a rubberised base which was supposed to prevent it tipping over. At another time he bred “barkless dogs” for people in towns, presumably the African Basenji. This venture fell through with the news that “one of Topher’s barkless dogs has barked”. In 1952 Topher married Elizabeth Metcalfe Llewelyn. He remained in Kenya during the Mau Mau uprisings between 1952 and 1959 and after Independence in 1963. The Kenya Gazette records his home as being in Timau at the time of his death in in Mombassa in 1964 when he was 71.

In the letters, Topher is an elusive and sometimes pitiful figure, lacking the agency, charisma and good luck of his elder brothers. He’s even harder to see once he’s gone to Kenya. To my regret, I did not realise that Rosamund’s youngest son, Peter had stayed with Topher in Africa after the Second World War and I did not take the time to ask him about his impressions of Topher. I feel sorry for young Topher in France, but I wonder if I would have found adult Topher in Kenya rather a difficult man. 


Posted by on 27 May, '19 in About


13 May 1919 – Topher to Gertrude

May 13th 1919


Dearest Mother

Very many thanks for your last letters. The lost mail turned up a day before last week’s so I have had quite an array of letters. Since writing quite exciting things have happened. I have saved a man from drowning during some aquatic sports which we held the other day. I was one of the judges in the novices race, and was out in a boat at the time. The race started all right, but one fellow got into difficulties about 30 yrds from my boat, and being the only swimmer in the boat I had to dive in with all my clothes on, I just caught the fellow when he was going down the 2nd time.

This is the 3rd time in about a month that I have gone in the sea with all my clothes on, the 2 previous time accidents of course. While sailing the other day, we had to pull up the centre board because we were in shallow water, but of course forgot to put it down and over we went, luckily quite near in land, and really it was funny. I swallowed practically the whole lake through laughing. And what’s much more annoying is that I have spoilt 2 watches, I must send them home to you to get mended. The other time I think I told you, was when I walked on to a disused spring board on the edge of the Canal and it gave way and in I went, fully clothed.

Would you send me that pair of Binoculars belonging to Dick I think which were when I last saw them in Rosamond’s room, also his Prismatic Compass, which was in the sideboard in the new boudoir. I must have them, and I’m not going to buy them when things are so near the end, also very expensive. Send them by registered post. They will be taken great care of, in fact I shall hardly ever use them, but I have to be fully equipped in case of emergency.

No news of leave, but it has really started, 3 officers have already gone, they have extended the leave to a month now, which is rather pleasant. I have bought some aerial photos of various places out here which I will send along soon, some of them are taken by Germans themselves.

Lovely weather we are having now, which is more than you can say. What with snow & blizzard it must be terrible at home these days, I shiver to think of it. I’ve played a few games of tennis lately, but realy people do play badly these days out here, they seem to have no idea at all. Well no more news, many thanks for the papers & Home Chat, quite interesting, Love to all and Sheina

Ever your loving son


Topher received a Testimonial from the Royal Humane Society for saving the man from drowning. 

1918 Christmas edition


Posted by on 13 May, '19 in About


3 May 1919 – Topher to Gertrude

May 3rd 1919.                                 Ismailia


Dearest Mother

Many thanks for your last 2 letters dated April 9th & 22nd. Owing to the fact that last week’s mail was lost for several days, both arrived together, which is rather a nuisance. Your letter was most interesting, I was glad to have all the news, about Ben, Paul & Ted. How splendid for Ted and how excited Nell must be. I am thinking of putting in for urgent leave on the grounds that Jane & Ted are going to be married and Ted to receive the D.S.O. Leave is open again now and several fellows have already gone. The unrest has quietened down again but various precautions have still to be taken

Fearfully sorry to hear about Murray but pleased to hear he is better. I have been feeling rather dicky for the last few days, but am all right again now, one has on and off times out here merely on account of the climate I suppose.

I went sailing on the lake the other day, great fun; I must go again some old day. I am also thinking of joining the tennis club when I can buy some flannels and a tennis racket, the one I had before I sold for 2/- less than I gave for it, because it was such a rotten one. The cheaper ones out here are the best I think. What is Paul doing with a shore job, and how long has he got it for.

I enclose some photos, not very good, the one on the P.C. Is absolutely awfull, taken for a joke at some poky place here. I can’t think what they have done to my face, considering that I am nearly as black as an Indian it is rather absurd.

What with all these people getting married what will happen next, Dick & I will have to buck up. How amusing about all his pets, how he must have laughed when the birds flew away. That muzzling stunt of the dogs is a bit of a nuisance I should imagine. I have a dog called “Ginger”, I have had him since he was a month old, he is very naughty and eats sponges and various other things. I don’t think any of those golf clubs belonged to Jane, because I bought 3 new ones while I was at Fleet, the putter may be hers.

No more news, best love to all

ever your loving son


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Posted by on 3 May, '19 in About