24 November 1916 – Ted to Gertrude

24 Nov




Dear Mother

Very many thanks for your 2 letters last week, one of them was of course the one that did’nt turn up the mail before. So glad the rugs have arrived and are appreciated, but they are rotten ones really & I’ll try & get you some decent ones later on as you say you can do with any amount.

So Dick has arrived safely in France and has gone up to the front. What a very typical letter he wrote! I must drop him a line. I wonder if Jim’s gone yet; as you say these ‘final leaves’ very often are anything but final.

Nothing very much going on here. I have been busy calling on everyone, & found most of them out so one has been able to get through a good deal. I met a Mrs Bingley, wife of a General Bingley, who said she had been working at the Guildford Red X hospital, opposite the county hospital. She seemed to know you, by sight at anyrate. And she knew the Gabbs well, & Dr Mitchell, & the Pringles from Stoughton. She was ‘pained & surprised’ to hear of Mrs Gabb’s death; so if you meet old Gabb I expect he would be interested to hear I’ve met her, & praps it might be of some use to me some day, as Genl Bingley is rather a nut in his way.

Otherwise nothing much is going on. You see the Army Hd quarters people come down en bloc from Simla, knowing each other already, so one is really rather out of things till you get to know a few people. I went to a big show at the Delhi club last Saturday, but did’nt know a soul, though the place was crowded with a most fashionable lot of people, the cream of Indian society, such as it is. The C-in-C was there, in uniform, so I expect we shall get orders to wear uniform always like we did at home.

At present you would’nt know there was a war on, so little is India affected; we go on just the same, no food, petrol, or other restrictions, all amusements same as ever, no lights to worry about, you can have as many as you like! Only the awful gaps in the regiments show what India has done, & it’s only the Indian army that really knows there’s a war, the vast majority of the Indian population being absolutely untouched by it, for the fighting races from which the army is recruited form of course only the smallest fraction of the population.

I hope the carpet turns up all right, & was’nt on the Arabia! I sent it off about then, but I don’t know exactly when.

Yes rather I remember old Ommaney well, a little person, always popping in to Delaford, & I’ve had many a talk with him; I’m awful sorry to hear about his son, & I hope you will tell him so, & give him my sincerest sympathy. I had an idea his son was in – or intended for – the navy somehow, I did not know he was a soldier.

Good for Paul being near the Conway Gordons. I have met lots of men I know here, but they are all on the H.Q. staff nearly, so are busy in office all day & one really sees very little of them.

Yes I remember Fisher, I think I mentioned in one of my letters that I had seen his name in the Casualty lists. How amazing about Jim & the Persian Barber! I should think he did remember me, ‘cos I had my hair cut in harbour at Marseilles & he made a special favour of it as he said he never cut hair there, because every man arriving overland by the boat train always demanded a shave & he never had the time to cut hair. He was rather a fool I believe. He was the man who said “chuck him overboard, he’s a goner” about a pal of mine called Fisher, who was only just rescued in time, having been sucked under when she sank, & so was pretty well done in, & collapsed when pulled into one of the boats, but the barber’s remark speedily brought him to life again!

I like the snaps of the Wedding awfully, thanks very much for them, the first ones I have seen of Sheina.

I have been taking a few down here & will send some home if they ever come out. Bitterly cold here now in the mornings & evenings, & very pleasant days; but I like the cold & am feeling awfully fit. The Viceroy is here for a day or 2, but goes away before the end of the month again for a long tour in Burma; but he is living a quiet life here, & no shows or anything on.

Yes address letters & everything to Cox & Co, Hornby Road, Bombay, & then I’ll get em wherever I go, as I don’t think we’ll go back to Lansdowne after leaving here, we may go on service again, but I can’t say for certain of course, but I understand there’s a very good chance of it.

What about the money for Ruth’s things! Did I ever send it, ‘cos if not I must hurry up & do so; let me know won’t you. I’m just off in the car now for an afternoon spin into Delhi.

Best love to all

Yr loving son


It seems likely that “the Persian Barber” that Jim told his mother about was a barber on the SS Persia rather than from the country that is now Iran. The SS Persia sank at the end of 1915 with Ted, his friend Fisher and apparently with the barber on board.

Mention of General Bingley, p328

Alfred Erasmus Stuart Ommanney

The Conway-Gordons were the uncle and aunt of Nancy Swan; Paul and Nancy were increasingly close during 1916 and became engaged in 1917


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