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Author Archives: Paul Berryman

1 August 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

H.M.S. MALAYA.
c/o G.P.O.

Aug. 1st

 

Dear Mother-

V. many thanks for your letter, and also for forwarding on all those others. Nance & I have had simply heaps – all about society papers asking for our photographs etc – awful waste of paper!. I’ve had several other letters from various friends which I am gradually answering. I have had a talk with Nance re Mr Kirwan – you see it’s going to be a very quiet wedding at Sawsthorpe and the date will be so uncertain – and Nance says she has 2 pet parsons whom she wants, but if Mr Kirwan likes to come – by all means but it’s a fairly expensive journey up there and back & also the uncertainty of the exact day – we hardly think, in a way, it’s fair to ask him- because perhaps he would’nt like to say no – But I’ll write to him and explain things – but will you see him too, about it.

Nance will probably be going south about the 29th – and I want her to stay a few days with you before she goes up home – but it is all rather uncertain as yet. Wish we could get some decent weather up here – it rains every day still.

I’ve just heard from Dick who says he will be home on the 25th for 10 days – I suppose Topher is coming too.

My best love to you from your ever very loving son

Paul

Sorry to hear Capon is’nt much better!-


And that’s almost the last of Paul’s letters which we still have which he wrote during the war. We hear of him from the others and there are a couple from him in 1918 and a dozen or so from him when he was posted on the China Station in the 1920s but that’s it. 

The fact that this last letter was written just before Paul and Nancy’s wedding must be significant. I suspect Nancy asked for Paul’s letters but Gertrude only gave her the ones dating from after the wedding. 

There’s the allied question of why we have only a couple of letters from Jim and Topher. Perhaps they asked for their letters themselves or perhaps we are seeing Gertrude’s partiality: she adored her eldest child Richard, and Paul and Ted were undeniably heroic, while Jim was out of the action for most of the War and poor Topher was not a great letter-writer and lacked glamour as a Tommy. I prefer to think that her favouritism wasn’t that blatant and it’s simply happenstance that we don’t have their letters too.

So let’s cry a little because the bride is so young and the groom is so handsome, throw rice over the happy couple as they leave the church, and wish them well.

 
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Posted by on 1 August, '17 in About

 

4 July 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

H.M.S. MALAYA.
c/o G.P.O.

Wednesday. July 4th

 

My dear Mother-

Many thanks for your letter- I wrote to you about receiving the clothes – lovely they are.

Ever since H[is].M[ajesty]. left we have had the most gorgeous weather – ever so hot – Tis a pity we did’nt have it like that for H.M.

I had a letter from Col Conway Gordon last night – he was invested with his C.B. when the King went there. Did you see that Gordon Campbell was promoted to Captain, extraordinary is’nt it. I suppose he must have done some more “mysterious” things – He’s only been a Commander a year. Comparing it with some promotions in the Army I suppose it looks nothing – but the average fellow in the Navy does’nt get a chance

You must buy the July Blackwoods magazine – there is a long account by Gen Willcox of “The Indian Army in France” – very interesting & nice to keep. It mentions the 2/39th.

Are you having a “Baby Week” in Guildford- Nance writes & says they are having big processions etc up at Spilsby – wheeling perambulators about an’ all.

Yes that Mesopotamian Scandal is perfectly awful I think. I am sure all the people concerned ought to be publically held up for people to throw things at & then locked up in solitary confinement to have a thorough good think over their misdeeds.

We had 2 promotions in this ship on June 30th – so we did rather well.

I sent Topher some Chocolate for his birthday – I hope he’ll get it allright. Do you know whereabouts they are now.

My very best love to you all-

from your ever loving son

Paul.


Nancy’s father was Colonel Charles Arthur Swan C.M.G., M.A., J.P., and her mother was Ethel, only daughter of Colonel F.I. Conway-Gordon. Her brother was brother was Major Charles Francis Trollope Swan MC who was born in 1887 and her sister Marjorie was born in 1886. The links below suggest that there may have been two connections between the Swans and the Conway-Gordons.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackwood%27s_Magazine

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sausthorpe nr Spilsby

Roll of Honour in Sausthorpe village hall – Nance’s grandfather is second, Paul third

http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Lincolnshire/Sausthorpe.html

Col Francis Ingram Cosmo Conway-Gordon – Nance’s dad’s father-in-law

http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/ENG-LINCSGEN/2002-04/1018040061

The Conway-Gordons in The House of Gordon (1902)

https://archive.org/stream/houseofgordon00news#page/388/mode/2up

 
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Posted by on 4 July, '17 in About

 

1 July 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

H.M.S. MALAYA.
c/o G.P.O.

Sunday

 

My dear Mother-

Very many thanks for the parcels of clothes – lovely & very useful-

I have nearly fixed up all properties now – except a few shoes & stockings –

Oh- can you send me a very stiff & hard clothes brush – one with a handle I like – but it must be a good hard bristly one – mine is getting so soft – & I also want a shoe horn – any sort of one will do.

I’ve got Tommy Drew coming over to supper to-night.

My best love to you all & ever so many thanks for those clothes – I’ll look after them carefully-

from your ever loving son

Paul

 
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Posted by on 1 July, '17 in About

 

27 June 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

H.M.S. MALAYA.
c/o G.P.O.

Wednesday. 27th

 

My dear Mother- Very many thanks for your letter & I am awfully pleased to hear your rest at Totland Bay has done you such a lot of good.-

Last week we had great excitement up here – the King came to visit the fleet & there was a round of ceremonies – but you’ve never seen such filthy weather as we had – such a shame as nearly every programme had to be altered – postponed & generally changed round. One day we had quite the worst thunderstorm I’ve seen – & it was quite a cold week end for him.

The “press” & movie people were up here so I expect you’ll see a lot of photographs taken at various times in the papers. He came on board here on Sunday afternoon & we were all introduced to him & shook hands – then he went round the ship – & stayed to tea with the Captain – of course he came to us because P.A. is here – & I expect he wanted to see where he lived etc. I’ll send you our photographs along when I can get some prints.

We hear our regatta is July 9th & 10th – we have’nt been able to do any practices lately – so we must buck up & get into training – not much time eh?-

I see all the Indian – Mesopotamian – Malay States etc mails despatched from London on May 31st have been lost at sea – I saw it in the paper to-day – So sickening I think – I expect there were several there for Jim & Ted.

Quite a lot of people at home for the week end – I met the Meyers at the Shop I think- I remember a Rene awfully well. Lovely for Ben & Jane going to Sea View with the Darwens.

Rosamond sent me a most lovely box of green peas the other day – they were good- & the first I’ve tasted this year.

I had a letter from Dick the other day – he seems quite fit-

My best love to you all – from your ever loving son

Paul


To modern eyes it seems quaint that Rosamund sent peas to Orkney or that Gertrude should send eggs to France but we forget that both peas and eggs are seasonal and the summer was lovely not just because of the weather but because of plentiful, fresh food.

George V visit to Scapa Flow, June 1917

http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1060023100

 
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Posted by on 27 June, '17 in About

 

14 June 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

H.M.S. MALAYA.
c/o G.P.O.

Thursday. 14th.

 

My dear Mother-

V. many thanks for your letter – and the photographs too – though I don’t think it is awfully good of you – perhaps it is because I have’nt seen you in that headgear before – you look awfully well & so fat!-. I am ever so pleased to hear you are – or rather have had a holiday – it will certainly do you a whole heap of good to get some sea air & I do so hope you have enjoyed yourself Mother – lovely weather for it an’ all.

Nance simply hates going away from Delaford & did’nt want to go home a bit – so dull up there she says – but of course she’s got her hospital work to do for which I am very pleased – keeps her mind employed.

Just heard about that awful air raid in London – such a heap of casualties – & mostly kids at a school – dreadful I think don’t you.

Dreda’s farm work sounds awfully nice – & I really do think she ought to lead an open air life for a bit – don’t you – after being 2 years in that bank – a marvellous record I consider that- such dull work really – but necessary, & she certainly deserves all praise for staying there all that time.

Fearfully windy weather we seem to be getting these days – but it’s quite warm really. We still play football & the Officers team is top of our ship’s league – fearful keenness over it.

Not much news these days – my very best love to you all-

from your ever loving son

Paul


Paul’s dislike of any kind of indoor or desk work comes through very strongly in his comments about Dreda’s new job.

Bombing of Upper North St School, Poplar, 13/6/17
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGn3TKefuCY

 
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Posted by on 14 June, '17 in About

 

23 May 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

H.M.S. MALAYA.
c/o G.P.O.

Wednesday. 23rd

 

My dear Mother,

V. many thanks for your letter. I heard from Ted & Jim too last week – Ted had just heard about my engagement- but Jim had’nt had any mails since he left – so he would’nt have known.

Some Rhubarb would be awfully nice to have – we don’t get much fresh green stuff up here – and I am so fond of it – lettuces – or anything like that.

Oh yes I remember the Ramseys – Mr Ramsey anyway – he had a beard did’nt he. No I won’t say anything about it – It does’nt seem necessary either-

Did’nt I tell you Nance was coming to Aldershot in my last letter – I thought I had – She’d simply love to come over to Guidlford-

Such a lovely hot day to-day no wind (for a change) & a broiling sun – & we are playing a soccer match too-!!!-

Tonight I am dining with the Captain – a slight Royal dinner party – P.A. [Prince Albert, the future George VI] & his “bear leader” myself and a Captain from another ship-!!

Awfully sorry to hear about Harrow – she must be fairly old by now – as you say. Have you still got that black kitten that you found – must have one to keep Blanco company-

Beginning to collect a few clothes for my men’s theatricals now – I want some Fancy Dresses – periods – & such like – for both sexes – we’ve got heaps have’nt we – could I have some – Would you ask Specs if he can let me have a mufti suit or two – he’s sure to have some he does’nt want – For a female – I want a black blouse and skirt – and any spare shoes the girls may not want any more – any luck?-. I hope to give my show at the end of next month – I do hope it will be good.

My very best love to you all from

Your ever loving son

Paul.


Prince Albert was the younger brother of the glamorous Prince of Wales and wasn’t expected to inherit the Crown, but he became George VI after Edward VIII’s abdication. When he became King he wrote nostalgic letters to old friends about their time in the Navy which had shaped so much of his character and his view of the world. Few of these friendships continued after he married Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1923, and fewer still survived his accession to the throne in 1936. But letters from Prince Albert / George VI and Berryman family stories attest to his friendship with Paul during and after their service on the Malaya.

Paul’s letters to his mother show patience, courtesy, tact and discretion. Paul was some seven years older than the Prince, but he had a younger younger brother, Topher, who also stammered and was easily intimidated or overwhelmed. So perhaps Paul brought a degree of insight and kindness to his interactions with the young Prince as well as his unquestionable loyalty, masculinity and sportiness. Certainly, Albert was to write to him with genuine fondness in later years.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_VI

JG Cliff-McCulloch with Prince Albert (supposedly on HMS Malaya)

JG Cliff-McCulloch with Prince Albert (L)(supposedly on HMS Malaya)

George VI on HMS Malaya, 1942

George VI on HMS Malaya, 1942. © IWM (A 18624)

 
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Posted by on 23 May, '17 in About

 

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2 May 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

H.M.S. MALAYA.
c/o G.P.O.

Wednesday. 2nd May

 

My dear Mother-

Thank you very much for your letters – glad you liked the photograph. Our weather is gradually getting better thank goodness – not nearly so cold – but still plenty of rain & wind.

I say how awful about your purse – I am sorry Mother – but awfully lucky you did’nt lose all your money.

Nothing much doing up here – except we’ve been fairly busy during the last 3 or 4 days & working a bit late – but we’ve managed to get a couple of rugger matches in. We are rather keen on it in this ship – but with not much success in our matches as yet.

An awful lot of casualties still are’nt there – a necessary sacrifice though I suppose- & really the amount of prisoners – 40-000 odd altogether now. They must eat up such a lot of our food I always think.

So Dollie Darwen’s baby has arrived – and a son too – good – They seem to have had rather a rotten time of it lately in that house – what with measles an’ all – I must write her a letter of congratulation. I heard from Ben the other day. I wonder if she & Sheina have had any luck over finding a flat yet-

Am very much looking forward to seeing Topher’s letter. I don’t suppose they have much time for writing these days.

With much love to you all-

from your ever loving son

Paul

 
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Posted by on 2 May, '17 in About