4 March 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

04 Mar

March 4/18


Dear Mother

A gorgeous mail arrived yesterday, somewhat unexpectedly, and in it were 3 letters from you, dated 24th Dec, 2nd & 9th Jan. Thanks most awfully for them, and today is supposed to be a mail day, though I fancy we have got rather out of step in the matter of mails of late, but I will send off a last letter on the off chance.

I have been wondering if I was surprised when I got James’ wire containing the really splendid news of his & Ben’s forthcoming wedding. Looking back and remembering various things in Ben’s letters of late perhaps I ought not to have been. Be that as it may, the fact remains I am more glad than I can say and it’s one of the best bits of news I’ve heard for a long time. It’s a real comfort to know dear old Ben has found happiness again and she deserves some indeed. She will make James a splendid wife and he is indeed lucky, as also is she. For we all know James, and taking it all round it is as Shakespeare is, a consummation devoutly to be wished. At least that’s my opinion, & I feel sure it is shared by us all.

We are still living a Bedouin life, and have got our tents up now, after a week in the open. Things hung fire for some reason  or other and we are remaining halted in the desert, making roads etc. Whether anything is going to happen or not I can’t say, for I don’t know.

Meanwhile our aeroplanes are busy all day and night bombing the unfortunate Turk, and he tries to retaliate occasionally, but he is hopelessly outnumbered in the air so can’t do much. We have had raw windy days, cold & wet, & two wet nights, and more rain threatens. Hardly ideal weather for bivouacing but we are all very fit & cheery. We are much further north you see than we were at Basra this time last year, so it will be cold yet awhile, at anyrate at nights, though certainly the sun, when he does condescend to shine, is getting more power now.

I have applied for leave home, but if I get it and when lies on the knees of the Gods. I can say nothing for certain. You will have got my letters telling you to send letters to Cox Bombay, just to be on the safe side, and when I wire that my leave is granted – if it ever is! – then you can start addressing “P & O Port Said to await arrival” straight away. I reckon it will take 6 weeks from here to London. A long journey at all! But it’s worth it.

I hope Paul managed to fit in his wedding all right. In your letters you say his leave was doubtful, at least the exact date was. As you say Lincolnshire is a long way off, especially in these days. What will you say to Gloucester I wonder! But I suppose Nell & I will be married there and of course you MUST BE THERE. I have perforce to leave all arrangements entirely in the Fieldings’ hands, as I can only suggest a few things – as I have already done – and it’s otherwise impossible to communicate except by uncertain & expensive cables. So I have asked Ben to act as “agent” for me & have asked Nell to refer all questions on which there is doubt to her.

And now Ben is going to get married & I’m sorry I asked her simply because she will have lots of affairs of her own to think about. Perhaps you could help if required? I do hope old Nell managed to go & stay with Ben for a bit too, though of course I have’nt the foggiest idea what their plans are.

My scheme in outline is as follows – arrive home about mid-May or later, to be married beginning of June, & leave again mid-June or so. I shall go straight to town, & meet Nell there, stay one or two days there as I have one or two articles of trousseau to get (my kit is so shabby out here!) then 2 or 3 days at Delaford, & then to Gloucester I suppose, presuming the wedding is down there-

If you want to communicate with me you can write to Cox, 16 Charing Cross & leave any messages there, as I will call there as soon as I can after arriving. Be very careful about my rank, initials, & Regt, as both Dick & Jim bank there as well I believe, & Cox has already muddled us up once or twice. My idea in suggesting this method of communication is that I shall probably not be able to give the exact date of my arrival in town, so if I arrive any old day (I can tell you approx: I expect) I can always pick up any news at Cox’s & find out what’s happening.

In your letters you seem to have been a long time without a mail, but it’s always the case these days is’nt it. I’m glad to hear that Topher’s stammering is so much better. He does’nt seem to have struck a very bright spot at first, but I expect by now he has joined his cadet school & things will probably be better there. Rosamond too I am glad to hear is so fit. I wrote to her a serious letter the other day about farming & was wondering what sort of show hers is. Very nice of you to entertain the Canadians & your kids’ party must have been fun.

How amusing about the “bring your own sugar”  to the wedding! I wonder if I can bring a bag home with me, but I believe it’s not allowed. Yes, a good thing we don’t take sugar in our tea, but you know what pigs we all are about bread-and-butter-and-sugar! We still get real butter occasionally in our rations, & have had margarine too. I must say the latter seems pretty all right, & you say you have had nothing else for 2 years. We had potatoes last night for the first time in many months. Our rations are wonderfully good here.

Poor old Loudwater going to the dogs. I am sorry, but perhaps Mr Hunt is taking rather a gloomy view, it seemed flourishing enough when Dick & Paul & I went there in ’15, though it was’nt quite the same of course.

Fancy old Parker wanting to write to me! So far nothing has arrived but I shall appreciate it immensely when it does come, even if it makes me smile a bit. As I told you before I think, Garhwalis should not be unknown in future in Guildford & other places roundabout, as I know all the Queen’s men here are most enthusiastic about us.

I have to write Ben & Nell today; I had letters from Dreda & Jinny too yesterday, please thank them & I will write when I find time. I had hopes our promised rest would give us ample opportunities to write, but that has been somewhat rudely interrupted by this krewst. I had a long letter from old Ben & there are one or two rather important things I want to say to her.

Best love to all

yr loving son


James Tucker was a friend of the family and a regular visitor when Ted, Ben and the older children had been in thier teens. We don’t know if he  harboured an unrequited love for Ben during her engagement to Wiggs or if he fell in love with her when they met as adults in London. Either way, the family saw him as an eligible suitor for Ben and warmly welcomed him in a way that contrasts with their views about Wiggs. James had a successful post-war career in the Law and provided Ben with the stability and prosperity which it seems doubtful poor Wiggs, with his disrupted education and difficult childhood, could have managed. Their marriage was certainly stable and I have no reason to think it was unhappy. 

Loudwater probably in Herts

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