This was written a couple of weeks after Armistice day, but is a detailed account of the announcement of the Armistice being shared in the Middle East
For ourselves, I was awakened on a wet miserable night – Nov 11 – by a signaller with a message just saying the Armistice had been signed & hostilities had ceased that morning – I donned a British warm & slippers & went & woke the General up & told him; he grunted, & next morning I apologised for having woken him but excused myself on the grounds that the news was rather epoch-making: & his only reply was “Did you wake me up? I don’t remember it!”
A lovely mail turned up 2 days ago, & 3 letters from you came with it. Very many thanks for them, it’s the 2nd mail we’ve had within a week so we have been in luck’s way of late. Your letters were dated 11, 18 & 26th September, & took just 2 months to do the journey you see. I hope they’ll get a bit quicker now & possibly a bit more regular – I see they are starting aerial mails in many places now, but at present I imagine our mails are far too big to expect anything like that from home to here.
Lovely weather now, cold nights & nice warm days. We’ve had some rain & there’s more to come I think, & after that we should get frosty Christmas Card weather. But I’ve got a lovely woolly lined trench coat now, Ben sent it out & it arrived 2 days ago, so I’m quite alright. Fearful extravagance but it should last a lifetime with any luck. We have stopped work on the railway now & are doing “peaceful parades” again.
Turkish prisoners are working on the line, & I’m glad the Brigade has not got to do any more digging, either of trenches or railway embankments. Heaven knows they’ve had enough of both in the last 3 years. I see the King & the Army Council & India Office have all sent us nice messages about these last operations – We are awfully pleased they are so appreciative, & we like to think our little battles out here don’t go quite unnoticed in the welter of fighting on the western front. It was good honest fighting & good hard marching: just the old bullet & bayonet (& the men behind them) no gas or tanks or other modern horrors!
We’ve had two good days out shooting, a party of 6 of us. 30 partridges yesterday. 37 & 16 grouse today. Delightful weather, good sport & cheery company; one would be greedy to ask for more.
I had long letters from Rosamond Jane & Dreda in the mail. It seems you all wrote thinking it was the Christmas mail; apparently the post office advised you to do so. But as you see the letters have arrived in plenty of time. I’m wondering what news you’ve had of me by cable, if any, either official or otherwise. The former is doubtful, but my having had a cable from Nell dated 7th Nov: makes me wonder a bit- There was such a muddle on that day it was difficult to know what to do quite-
You had got my letters of June 10th & 16th, what years ago! Yes, I had a great time with Jim then. I have’nt seen him since our battlefighting – So you had sons advancing up both banks of the old Tigris in that show. I had a line from him a day or two ago telling me his experiences. I’m so glad he got into a fight as he always wanted to “strike a blow for freedom” as he put it. I met some officers of his regiment working on the railway a day or two ago & they said he was going strong. Making roads I think they said.
Delaford seems to have witnessed some cheery weekends of late, & Paul at the top of his form- I suppose he’s busily engaged now in taking over Hun ships – And perhaps the “Great Silent” is a wee bit more talkative now, now that the naval censorship has been removed.
Things seem to be going well all round considering, but I suppose for 6 months or a year yet we must expect muddles and wranglings over extricating them- Elections coming off soon too I see. Presumably Lloyd George & his Coalition party will get in by a largish majority. I hope so, as it means the nation is still determined to pull together in the dangerous & critical years immediately following the war in which it has shown how it can pull together if it likes. Labour looms large on the horizon, though it is a problem & a situation that must be faced someday. They will probably form a powerful & influential party in the next election after this.
From all accounts the wildest scenes took place in London on several successive nights after Peace night, & Reuter gives us glimpses of revels & streets rendered impassable owing to dancers, “many of whom were in fancy dress.” For ourselves, I was awakened on a wet miserable night – Nov 11 – by a signaller with a message just saying the Armistice had been signed & hostilities had ceased that morning – I donned a British warm & slippers & went & woke the General up & told him; he grunted, & next morning I apologised for having woken him but excused myself on the grounds that the news was rather epoch-making: & his only reply was “Did you wake me up? I don’t remember it!”
My cold reception there made me wonder if anyone else would like to hear the news- I decided they would, so slopped off in the mud & rain to the West Kent Rgt next door, & after much difficulty woke their C.O. & 2nd in cmd, who took rather more interest than the General had; they got up & came out of their tents & we watched the next brigade to us- some 2 miles off- entirely losing their heads and sending off Very lights & S-O-S. rockets & various other coloured signals-
Meantime the rain came down harder, & I decided the rest of the brigade must await the news till next morning- I waded back to my tent – wet & muddy & cold, but happy, anyhow! – & wrote out messages for the others & turned in – Next morning at 6 I sent off the messages & a few rounds of cheering told me they had arrived at any rate. We had a bonfire or two that week, & used up all our signal rockets & S-O-S- signals, & since then we have been solemnly digesting the wonderful fact of Peace-
Yes, the coal problem seems critical, & certainly 7 tons does’nt seem a vast amount to last till July! But you were as usual – wonderfully cheery about it & resourceful, & seemed quite content- But as the navy won’t be steaming 8 million miles a month now, p’raps the situation may be eased a bit though it’s bound to be tightish for several months I’m afraid-
In your letter of Sept 11th you say the news is good, & next year will see the end, you really think- It’s incredible to think that that was written just 2 months before the actual end is’nt it. What a rapid finish it was, was’nt it-
So Topher has sailed for Egypt, a good place to winter in anyhow! I’m most awfully glad he got on so well, & all the girls speak so awfully well of him, & they are severe critics enough! What awful bad luck they could’nt go and see him off on account of that rotten strike, so frightfully disappointing all round-
Yes, these last few months fighting in France have recalled many familiar names, Neuve Chapelle & Estaires & Merville & Paradis – I’m so glad we got them all back, as they will ever be associated with the Indian Army, & the inhabitants were always so awfully good to us- Many thanks indeed for the Spectator article on the 39th; I’m longing for it to come. If you can, would you get one or two more copies, I presume from your letter it was in the Spectator of Sep 21st. I should like to send one to the depôt in India for our regimental records, & of course have a copy for myself. I wish it would come along, as I’m longing to read it
I sent you a Christmaas Card a day or two ago. I hope it arrived safely; latish I’m afraid but we only got them a day or two ago. At anyrate it seems as if happier Christmasses & New Year are in store for the world at large- Wonder when I shall be at home for a Christmas day! Remember I left on 24th in 1915 & we had our Christmas at Delaford on 22nd I think- What ages ago!
Best love to all
yr loving son
Scenes on Armistice day in London & elsewhere