Author Archives: Richard Berryman

14 July 1917 – Richard to Gertrude

Gertrude clearly consulted Richard as the family’s doctor about Ted’s time in hospital with dysentery.




Dear Mother

Your wire & letter arrived by same post today. I am sorry to hear Ted is down with dysentery. What bad luck & just as he had a chance [of active service]. Anyhow let’s hope he’ll soon be well. He’s sure to get good attention nowadays, & no one ever pegs out with dysentery. “Seriously” only means rather bad, it’s not like “dangerously”. Very difficult to write much nowadays. More in a few days. Best love to all. Don’t worry.

Yr loving son


I’ve not been able to track down where Richard was in France at this time. However, this picture provides a dramatic counter-point to the little information he gives his mother about catching fish and harvesting their garden of beans, lettuces and vegetable marrows.

An Advanced Dressing Station in France, 1918 by Henry Tonks (Art.IWM ART 1922) image: A dressing station sited by a ruined church. The scene is crowded with casualties, many being brought in by stretcher-bearers. The men have bandaged limbs and some have head wounds. In the sky above there are dark grey clouds, possibly of smoke, in the left half of the composition, and patches of blue on the right. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

An Advanced Dressing Station in France, 1918 Henry Tonks
(Art.IWM ART 1922)  Copyright: © IWM.
Original Source:

Text from the IWM Site: “Henry Tonks is perhaps better-known for being the drawing master at the Slade School of Art and teacher to the likes of Paul Nash, Stanley Spencer and CRW Nevinson. He also was a surgeon and during the First World War served with the Royal Army Medical Corps. Therefore, Tonks was an apt choice for a commission from the British War Memorials Committee to depict an advanced medical dressing station. The painting captures a scene amid a German offensive in 1918, within which Tonks makes full use of his medical expertise to showcase a wide range of injuries, treatments and field dressings. The finished painting was intended to be hung in a purpose built Hall of Remembrance, to celebrate national ideals of heroism and sacrifice. However, the Hall was never realised after the First World War and Tonks’s painting, along with other commissioned works, were transferred to the Imperial War Museum..”

I am greateful to @ArtIstWar for the image. If you are on Twitter, do follow them.

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Posted by on 14 July, '17 in About


11 July 1917 – Richard to Gertrude



Dear Mother

Glad you got the watch safe. I have’nt sent off that big parcel yet, it’s all ready, but has never been directed. I do hope Capon will get better, but I suppose he has the same thing as Mabel Jones’s mother & must be a cripple for the rest of his life more or less. Whatever will you do without him.

You watch the stocks, in the papers. I have some Nobel’s Explosives bought at 58/6, only 30 shares worst luck wish I had more, but they seem to be going up, so each time they go up a bob I make 30/-. Anyhow do write to Williams, it would be interesting.

Our seeds back here HAVE grown. Veg marrows climbing all over the place, & of course the lettuces are lovely, & all the messes in the rgt come & get them, Topher & I are so popular. Topher says he hopes to be home soon.

Awful these raids. I’m glad to be away from the shells.

Best love to all

Yr loving son


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Posted by on 11 July, '17 in About


6 July 1917 – Richard to Gertrude



Dear Mother   Many thanks for your letter. Sorry to give you so much trouble about the ties. Never mind if you cannot get them. I thought you’d easily get them at a poky little drapers. Topher’s present has arrived, it’s lovely and he’s awfully pleased.

I hope Dreda will have a good time at Bognor. Will she live at the farm.

I was wondering if Paul would have an ff with the King. Yes the Mesopot report was disgraceful. They ought to be hung.

Here’s the address of a good stockbroker. I wish you’d write to him & tell him how your capital is invested & ask him how it could be improved upon. He’s absolutely sound & you need not do anything even if you are allowed to. Tell him your son is a friend of Major Dykes.

C.S.Williams Esq.
Messrs Herbert Davies & Co.
20 Copthall Avenue
London E.C.

You’ll realize how badly you are off considering the capital you’ve always had. He may want paying for his information, I will do that.

We all hope the war will end in August!

Best love to all

Yr loving son


Had Dreda passed the request for the pre-tied bow ties on to their mother? I can’t think of anything else that Richard had asked for recently that would come from “a poky little drapers”.

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Posted by on 6 July, '17 in About


3 July 1917 – Richard to Gertrude



Dear Mother

Many thanks for the parcel that arrived last night. The wretched gramaphone needles were all over the place, however I collected most. They were very welcome as we had just run out.

I enclose two papers about some of my shares. Keep ’em safe. I hope you’ll be able to buy Graysons & sell out the war loan. But I suppose old Hill will say no, but why should’nt you invest where you like. Your income should be a great deal more than it really is, our grandparents’ idea of safe consols at 3% was rotten & if only your money was properly invested you’d be quite rich.

I sent you a watch, a pair of sox & some bits of shell. You might send me some elastic so that I can make a wrist band to go through the watch. That spring is rotten, at odd moments the watch shoots off as if from a catapult! Hence the damage.

Lovely weather & I wish I was at home.

Best love to all

Yr loving son


Did anyone ever find my blue serge coat?


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Posted by on 3 July, '17 in About


29 June 1917 – Richard to Gertrude



My dear Mother. Many thanks for the parcel. Clothes, cake, sweets etc. Eggs is’nt as good as cook’s eggs is it? Sorry you have’nt got any spare money to invest. Why not sell out the £600 in the War loan. It won’t be unpatriotic, & put it into enclosed. It’s a good thing I know & will pay you much better only I suppose old Hill and all will be against it. The stars are quite right. The ones I wanted. I did’nt sew my parcel up, a native did it!

So glad Totland bay did you such a lot of good. I expect you’ve had some more rain by this time. We’ve had lots. Cyril Maunders’ wife always had a reputation of being rather quaint.

Your bed room must look nice after it’s been painted

My bedroom at present is a greenhouse up against a wall. No glass, but there’s some corrugated iron, and only a little rain comes in. The vine inside is growing, but I fancy the Hun has cut the root, but a vine seems to spring up again & does’nt die like the apple trees, but of course it’s growing all over the place as there’s no one to tie it up.

Funny you meeting a person who knew Assam. Yes I know Stephenson & his wife & kids. Ripping children, but his wife was’nt a Hancock, but I cannot remember her right name, although I knew her sister quite well.

Best love to all   yr loving son


Suddenly one t warms to Richard, sleeping in a greenhouse with only a little rain coming in and a vine growing all over the place. But his casual use of the word “native” to describe the Indian who sewed up his parcel grates on ones teeth, even though it was the common language of his day.

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Posted by on 29 June, '17 in About


22 June 1917 – Richard to Gertrude

My dear Mother

So sorry I never wrote to you at Totland Bay & by this time you are back & I hope all the better for your holiday. I expect you had nice weather & enjoyed the rest. You never do want to go.

Eggs etc arrived today and we hope to have buttered eggs tomorrow morning for breakfast. Your face is fat in that photograph is’nt it, but p’raps you are fatter nowadays.

How were all the horses & how’s Louis Anderson is he alright. Was’nt he the only Anderson in France?

Wud you send some more eggs. That cake was awfully good. I must send some more thick clothes home. Such a clatter as Topher is always saying.

We have a dear little kitten in our mess, our mascot we call it, black and white.

Best love to all

Yr loving son


In the Second World War, my grandmother Nell would send my mother breakfast by post – she used puffed wheat (the un-sugared kind) to pack one or two fresh eggs in an empty cocoa tin. Presumably Gertrude is doing much the same, but sending the eggs to France rather than Bletchley.

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Posted by on 22 June, '17 in About


21 June 1917 – Richard to Gertrude



Dear Mother,

Many thanks for your letter from Totland Bay. I hope the clothes’ll come soon. We’ve managed to get a Gramaphone after all & the records are awfully good. Fancy getting a leaf out of the Garden of Eden, and fancy having a son in command of a Regt. I expect it’s a relief to Ted, to have DB [Col Drake-Brockman] ]out of his way for a bit.

J.B is up to time nowadays. Those raids were alarming. I do hope they don’t try Guildford again. More clothes lumbering home me dear! Huge parcel but undo it & get out that German Hospital placard, rather interesting.

I do hope Ted sticks to the Command, but I doubt it, his being only a Capt, yet quite capable.

Dreda tells me she is going on the land after all. How will she like it in the winter.

Such a hailstorm yesterday. We’ve tried the eggs. Jolly good & Topher has also made some cherry jam, most awfully good. Another paper for Kirwan to sign, the other are lost!

I’m told I’m getting fatter. I heard from Mr Gosse. Topher is a great fisherman with Gosse’s reel.

Best love to all

Send some more books during the next week or two. I’ll want them, also some lemonade powder

Yr loving son


As a doctor, Richard would have been behind the lines, presumably in a semi-permanent medical station. Even so, Topher’s gardening, fishing and jam-making seems extraordinary to modern eyes. It’s easy to forget the scale of the infrastructure in France supporting the troops in the trenches on the Western Front. 

My brother told me that Ted’s CO, Col Drake Brockman, was the only British field officer who survived serving in the First World War who ended the war the same rank as he started it. I have not checked this, but he certainly comes across as finicky and rather fussy in his book With The Royal Garhwal Rifles In The Great War, From August 1914 to November 1917

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Posted by on 21 June, '17 in About