29 September 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

29 Sep

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?

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