Author Archives: Paul Berryman

1 July 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

c/o G.P.O.



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


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Posted by on 1 July, '17 in About


27 June 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

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


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

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Posted by on 27 June, '17 in About


14 June 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

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’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

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Posted by on 14 June, '17 in About


23 May 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

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


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.

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

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


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Posted by on 2 May, '17 in About


26 April 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

c/o G.P.O.

Thursday. 26th


My dear Mother-

Very many thanks for your letter – & I am ever so glad to hear your cold has gone & that you are quite fit again.

We only seemed to have a very few days of fine weather as to-day it’s gone back to its old habits again – very cold – windy and heaps of rain.

Yesterday we had a great rugger match ashore against another ship – but we were beaten.

So glad you’ve heard from Ted at last – I suppose by this time he is miles up in land somewhere. Dick’s given you a large order about a “tent”- I expect the people in the shop will know what sort of thing he wants.

Rather a fine show I thought that Dora raid – & I think our fellows did marvellously well – Really the casualties these days in the papers are sadly long are’nt they – seem to be hundreds of officers every day.

I am wondering how you like that book – really rather dreadful is’nt it – but of course it ends allright.

I enclose a snapshot of me taken the other day – just before a game of deck hockey.

Very best love to you all from

Your ever loving son


So Richard’s request for a tent does seem to have exasperated the inexhaustable Gertrude.

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Posted by on 26 April, '17 in About


18 April 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

c/o G.P.O.

Wednesday. 18th


My dear Mother,

Very many thanks for your letter. I am awfully sorry to hear you have had such a bad cold. I know so well how you lose your voice – but I am glad you are ever so much better again. You must take more care of yourself Mother; but you always will insist on going on working in the indefatigable way that you do – even when you are seedy – and that is why I am so pleased about Jane going home now & looking after you a bit & perhaps she won’t allow you to do too much. This weather is really appalling – the amount of snow an’ all- Every day it has snowed up here for the last 6 weeks – at sometime or other.

I can’t seem to realize that Babs Davids is engaged – she seems to me to still be in short skirts & about 15 – tho Dreda tells me that she is 19! Yes I will write to her & congratulate her. I wrote to Dolly Fox yesterday – awfully sad about old Mrs Fox.

We’ve started our mess on rations now – at least – we commence next month – up to date they have’nt restricted the services very much – but we are starting it more or less on our own to see what we can do- much the best thing I think.

Is’nt the western news priceless these days. I really do think we have got the Huns rattled and they seem bound to go back if we can follow them quick enough. So pleased to hear Dick & Topher are still allright. I had a short line from Jim the other day – dated March 1st – he said he was having a lovely time in Cape Town – they are all such heroes.

I am awfully fit and well and I do hope you are allright again Mother.

With best love to you all

from your ever loving son


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Posted by on 18 April, '17 in About


11 April 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

c/o G.P.O.

Wednesday. 11th


My dear Mother- Very many thanks for your letter & also for the lovely new handkerchief & card. I had 2 new things – your handkerchief & a pair of socks.

So glad to hear everyone was home for Easter – except Rosamond – but there seems to have been a very cheery crowd. Our Easter was undisturbed this year. We have generally been at sea.

It is still most awfully cold up here – & frequently snows – but in spite of it we have already started working up for our regatta – which I suppose will come off in June sometime.

Some of us have taken to going ashore after tea now it is so light and going for a sort of cross country run. Yesterday was our first effort. Captain Done we all were after about 5 miles – so muddy & filthy – but most excellent exercise.

We had the Bishop of Kensington onboard on Monday – he is staying up here with a parson friend in some ship & he knows our man too – & as we have a church we had a regular parson’s day onboard here. Quite a dozen of them I should say-

Glad you have heard from Dick & Topher, they seem to be getting a slight move on over there. Topher really deserves a commission after all his meritorious work, but I don’t see why he should’nt really – in spite of his stammering – I don’t know that it effects him when yelling out orders.

I wrote Jim a long letter yesterday – & sent it to Sheina for an address – because I don’t exactly know how.

Cannot think who the Petches are – never heard of them I’m sure – of course I remember Kathleen awfully well.

I had a letter from Gordon Campbell the other day in reply to mine – but he couldn’t tell me anything, as he was’nt allowed to.

My very best love to you all

from your ever loving son


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Posted by on 11 April, '17 in About


4 April 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

c/o G.P.O.

Wednesday. 4th


Dearest Mother. Very many thanks for your letter. So glad you have heard from Ted, I expect he is having quite an exciting time out in Mesopotamia.

I wonder what these Yankees are going to do now they have joined in! I expect we shall get a certain amount of financial support to start with – & they say there are at least 8 million Germans in U.S.A. – whatever will happen to them.

I saw all about the Tyndareus – & heaps of pictures – especially in the Sunday Papers – of her being towed into the Port. I think the Middlesex were really splendid the way they behaved – & so lucky they were mined so close to the shore.

Did’nt realize there was so much snow in the heavens-! awful the amount that has been coming down lately – even to-day it is lovely & fine & no wind – it was down that steady sort of stuff at intervals.

I thought perhaps you might cull some information from the Davids – but I suppose it must be super secret- I wrote to Gordon the other day & congratulated him.

Another quiet week end for you. I’m glad to hear Mr McCulloch is all right again. I must drop him a line. Nance is fearfully pleased with that bead butterfly – gorgeous she says it is. She still seems to have that cold of hers hanging about her – must be such a nuisance – olly hard to get rid of in this sort of weather though.

I do hope Ben & Jane will be able to get down to you for Easter – a pity if no one allowed to travel.

Nance sent me the prints of the family groups the other day – I’ve mounted them & pass partouted them all together- they look awfully nice. Slightly dispersed again now are’nt we?-

Awfully little news – I am ever so fit and well.

This will be an Easter letter – so I wish all at home a very Happy Easter Mother, and let us hope nd pray the next one may be happier still for all of us.

With much love to you all –

from ever your loving son


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Posted by on 4 April, '17 in About


28 March 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

c/o G.P.O.

Wednesday. 28th


My dear Mother.

Very many thanks for your letter – they seem to arrive much quicker these days – only two days in the post.

Nance has arrived home allright – I heard yesterday- but says she’s till got her cold hanging about. I don’t think London suited her very much & the sooner she can get that farm job the better, I say – Must take some arranging I should imagine

Dick & Topher have’nt got much time these days to write at all I should’nt think – the papers say the cavalry are incessantly on the move- how pleased they all must be to get on their horses again.

Nothing much in the way of news up here. I’ve started off the rehearsals for our new show – so most of my spare time is taken up with that now.

Measles again seems fairly rife – fashionable one might say-! I hear Jane’s pal – Ned McCulloch has got it now – sickening for him – what with one leg & measles.

Vile weather we are having at present- much colder than I’ve known it before up here. You seem to have had quite a week end last time-

Will you tell Oldfield to send me ½ dozen pairs of those ribbed socks – like the pair Ruth gave me for Xmas – she knows the kind – blue or black – I don’t mind which- also some more of those cotton gloves from Timothy Whites.  I enclose 2s/6d – I think they are 4d or 6d a pair – the short ones- not gauntlets-

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



Just remembered – have you found out how Gordon Campbell got his V.C. D.S.O. & promotion etc. I asked you last time. I happened to say I knew him quite well & our Captain said “oh well you can easily find out – I want to know”-

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Posted by on 28 March, '17 in About