Author Archives: Ted Berryman

24 April 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

St Mark’s day.

April 24/17


Dear Mother

Very many thanks indeed for 2 letters from you last mail, dated Feb 28th & March 7th which I got 2 days ago. How truly amusing the extracts from the Chronicle are, & I must really write to Ricketts & tell him he caught me out in a match 20 years ago! He will be vastly amused, and Miles will be too when I tell him of his mention in the acting. Thanks awfully for sending along the extracts, they are really most awfully interesting.

Glad the parcel arrived; those funny little Indian toy animals are rather fascinating are’nt they, & I thought those monkeys were ripping sort of hanging on to any old place by that long crooked hand of theirs. I have heard from the girls & the rugs seem to be a success, though I must say I did’nt do much choosing once they were sewn up; I just took up the parcels one by one any old how & addressed them, so can claim no credit for sending Rosamond a pink one on purpose, it was a fortunate fluke.

Nothing much doing here at present. We seem to be stuck here indefinitely, & there appears to be no chance of our moving just yet. Rather sickening & we are missing all the fun – interesting & successful fun too – up at the front & as the hot weather is now coming on, the prospects of our seeing anything for some months to come at anyrate is not very hopeful. However, we can but sit & wait in patience & doubtless we shall get as much as we want all in due time.

The camp here is getting horribly dusty & dirty. There are a good many troops here & lots & lots of transport animals, who simply churn the whole place up into dust & as there is always a good strong breeze blowing, so this dust is all over the place & it makes it very unpleasant, especially as it all blows into our tents.

Yes it was lucky Dick & Paul just managing to meet was’nt it. I wrote Dick a long letter from Karachi telling him all about June, but of course I have’nt had time to hear from him yet. I had a very long & interesting letter from Paul too last week; he is awfully pleased with life is’nt he, & he told me all about his romance & his Nance, most interesting. He also sent me typed accounts of the story of Tony Farrer & the little Ashburnham girl; really it makes the most splendid reading, & the way those two stuck to each other was really magnificent was’nt it. I shewed it round the mess & all were tremendously impressed with the story.

I have met a man called Searle here who lives near Hackney Row; I don’t suppose his people were there in your day, I fancy they have only arrived fairly recently. Anyhow he knows the place well, & knows the Maturins, Walkinshares & Seymours & Balgarnies (familiar old names!) so I thought p’raps if you happen to run across any of the people you might mention the fact. He is with his regiment (Indian Army) up in Persia somewhere, & is here doing a signalling course. He was with the Berkshires in France & got an M.C; a nice chap, quite young, only 21 I think.

We have had a taste of hot weather this last week, & the thermometer touched 111º in our little 40 lb: tents one day. But that was unusual for the time of year, & it’s generally about 95º or so in the day, dropping to 64º or so at night. Now we are getting a breeze pretty regular, sometimes quite a strong wind & that makes a lot of difference to the temperature. Today is quite nice & cool, comparatively.

I told you I think I had met one Wilkinson of the Wireless telegraph station here? He was an engineer on the Dufferin when we came home for the Coronation in 1911. Anyhow his headquarters are here & I             go across & see him; & on Sunday he took me down to one of the many hospitals here, where he knew some of the nurses, & then we all went for a joy ride in one of the Red X launches. It was lovely, & it was 5 o’clock & in the cool of the evening; the river here is about ½ a mile broad or so, & always full of all kinds of shipping, as I think I described to you, cruisers, gun-boats, transports, fussy little motor boats & lots an’ lots of native craft of all shapes & sizes.

We went down the main stream a bit & then wandered off up a side creek, which was really gorgeously peaceful & quite English to look at, but for the dark palms which came down to the water’s edge on each side. We went a long way down this creek & I thoroughly revelled in the pleasure of it all.

At one place on this creek an Arab sheikh had his residence, & growing all over his verandah was a lovely climbing rose, pink & in full bloom. Close by was a huge splash of colour in the form of a big cluster of oleanders (? oleanda) & it was too much for us, so we landed & made friends with the sheikh by signs & broken conversation carried on in English, Hindustani and a few words of Arabic, & came away armed with huge handfuls of flowers, which subsequently I expect went to brighten up the wards at the hospitals. We came back in the dark almost, & the river was awfully pretty with all the ships lighted up.

I hope those 4 girls managed to get onto the land, especially Dreda who must be heartily sick of the bank & who really & truly deserves a change I think, & it would be so much better for her would’nt it. I think it’s splendid the way she’s stuck to the bank, loathing it as she must. Things seem to be fairly scarce at home now, potatoes & all that sort of thing; but I think the people will play up all right & back up the food controller don’t you. And with the Submarine show well in hand – though it is a very serious matter – & america coming into the war, things ought to improve in a few weeks, & get correspondingly bad for Germany.

Yes, India is bucking up quite a lot is’nt she, what with war loan & national service for Europeans. I must get some money into the Indian War loan I think.

I must censor some of the men’s letters now; they seem to write such a lot, but there is never much in their letters beyond messages to various relations to say they are well & flourishing! I hope you are getting my letters regularly, though I suppose they are bound to be erratic from here. Thanks again for the bound volume of the daily Sketch, much appreciated.

Very fit & well.

Best love to all

Yr loving son


We no longer know what details of Paul and Nancy’s romance merited the underline saying they were “most interesting”. Paul had become  increasingly close to Nancy Swan during the summer of 1916 and early 1917, possibly via an existing friendship with her aunt by marriage, Mrs Conway-Gordon.

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.

Nancy herself was born in 1895, making Nancy 22 in 1917 to Paul’s 28.


Doreen Ashburnham, 11 and Anthony Farrer, 8, fought off a cougar in British Columbia and were awarded the Albert Medal

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Posted by on 24 April, '17 in About


19 April 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

April 19/17


Dear Mother

No letter from you last mail which we got last Sunday; but I heard from several members of the family, & the pink paper & Daily Sketch turned up, for which many thanks. We are still waiting down here at the base, & have no news as to when we are to move or likely to do so.

The camp we are in is very dusty & there are a whole lot of troops here now. However the weather is none too bad and we have had a cool breeze every day so far, & lovely cool nights. The hottest we’ve had it is 100° in our tents at midday & it drops into the sixties at 6 a.m. so there’s a bit of a difference is’nt there. A good many flies about, but we strafe thousands every day at meals with fly swats so manage to wreak our vengeance on them.

Good news from France is’nt there. I hear from the girls that Dick managed to get home after all, & even to get one evening with Paul. But they had’nt seen much of him, especially as they are so much away from home themselves.

I have met more old friends. Sam Orton is on the staff of our Division, & he came along to see us the other day. He has now gone on up river, but I shall see a good deal more of him I expect. Also one Gaskell, who with his wife was a great friend of Ben’s & mine in Lansdowne; he too is on our divisional staff.

Then I met a man in the S. in-S who used to be our doctor, one Newland by name; he is in a field ambulance here. And also two of the ship’s officers off the Dufferin, you remember, the ship we came home on for the Coronation in 1911. One has a job at the Docks here, & the other has chucked sailoring & taken up wireless telegraphy. They have a very comfy little wattle & daub mess here & have their wireless going & pick up various messages from all over the place, Berlin & Malta, & sometimes from the Eiffel Tower wireless in Paris, if the weather conditions are favourable, and so they get news sometimes well in advance of official communiqués. Rather marvellous is’nt it, especially as the apparatus here is only a travelling one, & can be packed up & taken away in Motor lorries & on pack horses & put up somewhere else in no time!

I have been down into the town several times, just to get a change from the dusty old camp. On Sunday we had a tremendous dust storm which was very unpleasant, & the air was thick with dust for 2 or 3 hours; beastly, as of course in tents everything gets smothered in a thick coating & you think you’ll never get clean again. However as our normal condition is one of dust, a sandstorm or two does’nt really make much difference.

Bampton took Fox & I out for a joy ride in a car last Sunday. We went all through the native bazaar, & it was very quaint & curious. As a rule Eastern Bazaars rather bore me; when you’ve seen – and smelt one, you’ve seen & smelt them all. But this one is rather different, some parts of it are roughly roofed in with planks & matting, & the sun’s rays sort of break through in between the cracks & the beams of sunlight coming into the crowded streets are really awfully pretty. Shops line each side, each little shop only 6 or 7 feet square, with the arab squatting in the middle surrounded by his wares.

The streets are full of all sorts of people, chiefly arabs of course in their picturesque biblical robes, but one sees also types of almost any race from Egypt to China; also negroes from the West Indies, to say nothing of Tommies & officers wandering about sight-seeing. Truly nothing could give a better example of our cosmopolitan Army, or of how the war has affected the uttermost parts of the earth and has dug out people from most unexpected and unheard of corners.

There does’nt seem to be much to buy in the shops, very little home-made stuff so to speak, though I daresay one could pick up a few curios if one knew where to look. They display a great deal of cheap Manchester & Birmingham goods, a few native cloths & such like articles, but otherwise the shops are not very interesting. Fruit – except dates of course – is frightfully expensive, oranges for instance being 3d each, and only very poor ones at that. The bazaar struck me as being considerably cleaner than most eastern bazaars, & generally more attractive.

I met an old Canterbury boy here, but he was there long before my time, so of course I did’nt know him. Somehow he knew me by name & wrote to me & I went & had lunch with him. He has a job at the base here, but I have’nt seen him since so perhaps he’s moved off somewhere. People have a habit of disappearing a hundred miles or so in any old direction at a moment’s notice.

Mail goes out tomorrow & I have several more letters to write so I’ll stop this one. I expect we shall be still here by next mail, & anyhow I’ll drop you a line before we leave, if that much-longed for event happens before next mail goes.

Love to all

Yr loving son


TS Dufferin

Photo of guard outside Eiffel Tower wireless station, 1914/15

WWI Wireless pack set

Photo of Iraq bazaar taken in 1932

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Posted by on 19 April, '17 in About


11 April 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

April 11th/17


Dear Mother

Very many thanks for the letters I had from you last mail – on the 8th – the first I have had from you since March 5th! So you can imagine how pleased I was to get them. What splendid news about old Paul; I am glad, & I must try and send him a cable. I somehow did’nt imagine there was anything in the wind, though he told me he had met a niece of the Conway Gordons a long time ago, & you mentioned her once or twice in your letters. Your two letters were dated Feb: 14 & 21st, but all our mails are rather out of step now as we have been moving about a bit. Not here, by any means, for we are still stuck at the base in camp awaiting orders to go up the line.

It seems we shall be here for a long time yet, ten days or more, as there is so much stuff to be sent up, stores & rations etc, that they are rather hard put to find ships & boats to carry all they want to. However I expect we shall be going up before long now; at anyrate I hope so, as it’s not much fun sitting in this rather dusty camp. America has at last come into the war I see, and about time too, though I can’t help thinking there must be some jolly good reason for her not having done so before, & I suppose all the allies are pulling together and are making their plans in consultation with each other  Dick seems to have had no luck about his leave, I wonder if he managed to get away in the end; awfully bad luck his having to go back after he had started an’ all.

I have been meeting old friends out here. Gaskell, an R.E., who was in Lansdowne when Ben was staying with me, and Gaskell & Mrs Gaskell were great friends of ours. He was in France with the Indian Corps, & came out here with them when they left France & has been out here ever since. Sam Orton is also here, on the staff of our division, and he has been along today to see us; he is very cheery. Curiously enough the 1/5 Queens are in the same Brigade as we are, & I hear the Gabbs are with them – are’nt two of them out here   Harold & Desmond? Anyhow I’m bound to meet them soon, as we are gradually concentrating & as they are in the same brigade I ought to see a good deal of them. I wonder if any other Guildford people are in that Battalion, I’ll probably be able to let you know next letter I write.

Weather still quite all right here, hottish days but quite pleasantly cool nights, & we generally get a haze all day which makes a lot of difference. I have been out a certain amount here, shopping in the town, & to visit the native arab bazaar here. Curious places, roofed in for a great part of the way with planks & matting, to keep out the sun which must be unbearably hot in the summer here. In the better part of the town – the residential part – several English shops have been stocked to supply the needs of the large crowds of officers & men now in the country, & you can get almost anything you want here now.

The gold crown of one of my teeth came off last Sunday & I went in & had it put on again. There is a Base Dentist here who does all that sort of thing, so you can see all our wants are anticipated & catered for. On Sunday Bampton took us for a joy ride in a motor launch on the river here, that was very pleasant, barring a slight accident on returning when he ran hard into the jetty, as the man working the engine failed to turn it off in time! However no damage was done, though we went a fearful bump into it.

So glad the rugs are all right & are approved of. It seems years since I sent them off. So sorry to hear Billie Barlow is so bad; what a truly awful time that man has had with his arm.

I wonder if you managed to get old Nell to come & stay for Easter. She writes very cheerfully & talks of getting a job with her sister Louie in a hospital at Chelmsford, but I have’nt heard any more about it.

Not much news here, we don’t get hold of mail close up to things like this. I wish we could get out of this camp though, as I’m rather sick of it & it’s rotten having to sit here & wait. However I expect we shall be in heaps of time for any fun that’s going.

I must try & write to Paul & Ben this week if I have time, but we are fairly busy with parades & things.

Lots of love to all

Yr loving son


Ted’s congratulations for Paul seem to confirm that Paul and Nancy had got engaged during his Leave in February.  As Ted suggests, Paul and Nancy Swan were increasingly close during the summer of 1916 and early 1917, with the possible connection being an existing friendship with her aunt by marriage, Mrs Conway-Gordon.

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.

Nancy herself was born in 1895, making Nancy 22 in 1917 to Paul’s 28.

We will hear more of Ted’s visits to dentists during his time in Mesopotamia. As a side-note, my dentist once told me that she had offered Nell an anasthetic for a filling and Nell had replied that she only bothered with anasthetics for extractions. My eyes water in sympathetic pain whenever I think of my grandparents and their teeth. 

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Posted by on 11 April, '17 in About


4 April 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

April 4/17


Dear Mother

I believe a mail of sorts goes out tomorrow so I must try and drop you a line in time to catch it. Not much news from here, we are still in camp down here at the base, & have orders to move anywhere. It’s beastly, this sitting down waiting, we did exactly the same in France in ’14. They always seem to hurry one out so, & then we hang about doing nothing. However we shall be moving sooner or later, I suppose.

We are being equipped with a few things specially required for campaigning in this country, coloured glasses, spine-pads & helmet-flaps & a few odds & ends like that. All our men are wearing pith helmets, as it is so hot later on they find the slouch hat is really not enough protection, even for a native. Of course Gurkhas & ourselves are the only regiments that wear the slouch hat, all other regiments wear turbans which are quite enough protection. We are filling up our time doing parades etc, & are ready to move whenever they tell us to.

Still lovely & cool at night here, but the days are warm, today particularly so as we did’nt get the breeze that usually blows.

Yesterday I met Bampton, a friend of Dick & Ben’s, also mine, as I met him on board the Muttra when we were coming back from Egypt last year and also in Lansdowne. He is here now building huge electric works to supply the whole base with fans & electric light, & is also fixing up plant to make ice, & is building a huge cold storage to hold 250 tons of ice. So you see everything possible is being done now to make the life of troops here more comfortable, and to improve conditions generally, & I must say there is a great air of permanency about everything that is being done here & we have evidently come to stay.

Of course Mesopotamia is an extraordinarily rich country and only requires scientific irrigation to make it one of the richest in the world. The water is here all right, tons of it from the Tigris & Euphrates, but they require to be induced to flow in the right directions & water the country properly. The current saying out here is that the British are going to make Mesopotamia pay for the entire war! And certainly it ought to repay any money spent on it ten thousand fold.

I saw all about the ‘Tyndareus’ in Reuters wires a day or two ago, the first I had heard of or seen about it. When I say ‘all’ I mean just the brief wire saying what had happened & that she had got safely into Simonstown. It was an awful shock when I read the first few lines, but a tremendous relief as I read on & saw that everything was all right. I do hope old Jim is all right & none the worse; what a terrible experience & how magnificently  they all behaved, well worthy, as I see the King said, of the ‘Birkenhead’ tradition.

Curious is’nt it that one of the Emperors of Germany (was it the man’s father?) when the Birkenhead sank, had the story of the gallant behaviour of the soldiers on board read out to the German troops on parade as a magnificent example of courage & discipline.  You know the picture of course, & I rather think this little story is printed under the title in most reproductions, at least that is I know where I read it. I wonder what will happen to them now.

I am anxiously waiting fuller accounts which will I suppose appear eventually in the papers & you will get the full story from Jim sometime I expect. No letters from you yet; I had some from Nell yesterday, dated 11th Feb! But none from you or any of the family. I have’nt the foggiest idea when we move from here, so I can’t possibly say whether I’ll be able to write again before next mail. But please don’t worry if you don’t hear, it will only mean I’m on a river journey & away from posts & things. Oh I say, a gorgeous Shetland woolly rolled up today, light & handy & ripping to have in one’s kit, especially as further north the cold weather is by no means over, & next cold weather anyhow it will be lovely. Thanks awfully for it.

Must change for dinner now. We are getting splendid rations here, frozen Argentine meat, sterilized milk, tinned fruits, green vegetables an’ all – Wish they’d send us up country all the same –

Best love to all

Yr loving son


Ashburton Guardian article, 30/3 mentioning King William of Prussia having story read to troops——-10–1—-0–


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Posted by on 4 April, '17 in About


30 March 1917 – Ted to Getrude

March 30th

Just a line to say all’s well. We get to Basrah tomorrow I believe, but whether we land or not I don’t know. I expect they will keep us at Basrah a day or two, for various reasons, & then I expect they’ll send us up to relieve the troops that have done all the fighting lately, so expect we shall go pretty well straight up to Baghdad. But of course I can’t tell, & shan’t be able to tell you. Anyhow I’ll tell you if we do go to Baghdad, by saying we have been sent to the place I expected.

I’m going to give this letter to the Captain to post when the ship goes back to Karachi; it may catch an earlier mail than if I posted it ashore. So I’ll have to put a stamp on it, but fortunately I have some by me.

No more now, I’ll write as often as I can, but be prepared for erratic mails!

Best love to all

Yr loving son


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Posted by on 30 March, '17 in About


27 March 1917 – Ted to Getrude

March 27/17                ? at Sea


Dear Mother

I scribbled you a line in the train coming down to Karachi, but I’m afraid I have’nt written since then, & I’m sure I don’t know when this will reach you as I shan’t be able to post it till we land, and I have’nt an idea when that will be.

When we got to Karachi we were held up two days for some unknown reason, but I was really very glad. I know one Stanley in the D.M.S. was there, so I rang him up & demanded meals etc. I knew him well of course in Lansdowne as we were there many years together, and he & Dick shared a bungalow in Karachi all last hot weather, so I thought I had some claim on his hospitality. Mrs Stanley is with him now, & of course I knew her well too. We had nothing to do in Karachi except wait, so I spent most of my time there, I had dinner with them each night I was there. I also saw ‘June’ who was flourishing, but seemed absurdly small, only about ½ Susan’s size. She is a great favourite with the people whom she is with & I don’t think they would part with her for worlds. I met them too, but only for a minute or two, as they had to dash off & play tennis.

I met a whole lot of Dick’s friends. They were all frightfully sorry he had gone & said some very nice things about him, & he was evidently the buzz in Karachi. I have written & told him all about it.

There is an officer who has joined us from the 3rd Gurkhas, one Dent by name. His mother was a Miss Boisragon, who seems to have known you in the Hartley Wintney days. Dent tells me he came up to see the family at Camberley when he was at the R.M.C 10 years ago, & you were out, but he met two of the sisters. His people live at Brockenhurst now, his father is a Major I think. He mentioned this to me, & I thought you’d be interested to hear of it, though I don’t remember ever hearing you mention either name, Boisragon or Dent. There is also a Capt Gore on board who was at the R.M.C with me & says he remembers us all. He is a great friend of the Rayners apparently, & spent most of his last leave with them.

½ the Bn: is on another ship, & the other ½ on this one with me. There is another regiment on board also, & quite a nice lot of officers. They were up Assam way when Dick & Ben were there, & remember them both well. Would you say I was meeting many of Dick’s friends lately!

Quite an ordinary voyage so far; roughish outside Karachi but nice & calm ever since. It’s not hot either, yet, though I expect we shall get all we want of that before we’re done. Lovely cool breeze all day & night so far. The other regiment has a band on board which serves to while away an hour or so every afternoon. It’s a funny little ship; in ordinary times used for carrying Mohamedan pilgrims to Mecca & elsewhere.

We left Delhi the day before the mail was due, having been a fortnight without one. That was a week ago, so that makes 3 weeks now without an English mail, & heaven knows when we shall get it now! We shipped a lot of mails on this old tub at Karachi, & it’s just possible ours may be among that lot, but I doubt it. All my letters will be censored now of course, so I shan’t be able to tell you much. In any case I trust you are prepared for a thoroughly erratic mail from me from now onwards, for besides the probable difficulties of writing often, the posts must of necessity be erratic, for they of course take 2nd place to everything else – out there now.

I cabled you from Karachi; I wonder if you ever got it? I should like ½ doz: rolls of films for my camera sometime, if you can get them, a vest pocket Kodak. I simply could’nt get any in India when we left. Get the freshest you can, ones that have’nt got to be developed for months yet.

We shall be anxious to get some news when we land, as we have’nt had any of course since we left, and we have no wireless on this boat; and I expect some big things will have happened while we have been on the voyage, though it’s only a matter of 6 or 7 days. No more for the present, I’ll finish this off before we land.

Major Henry Wilkinson Dent (died 1918)

Mabel Maxwell Boisragon Dent

Guy Herbert de Boisragon Dent, their son – author of SF novel ‘The Emperor of If’

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Posted by on 27 March, '17 in About


21 March 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

In the train

Mar 21/17


Dear Mother

Just a scribble in the train – I’m afraid my writing is awfully wobbly! – to say we are off at last. We started 2 days ago, & arrive at Karachi today & I expect we embark at once and sail pretty soon, but I don’t know anything about that part.  But I’m sure they won’t keep us long in Karachi.

We had a great send off by the Wilts Rgt in Delhi, their band played & the men lined the road to the station & cheered us. We left in 2 trains on 2 different days, I am coming along in the 2nd one. I had 3 friends to see me off, my friend Reid & one Lamb, & also Mrs Kaye, of whom you have heard me speak I expect. Awful nice of ’em to come down & say farewell to us & we appreciated it awfully.

Quite a pleasant journey we’ve had, though rather dusty. It’s the same journey that Dick used to do in his old ambulance train, all across the Scind desert. I’m afraid you won’t hear from me for some time now, as the voyage will take 6 or 7 days I suppose & then there’s the voyage back for the letters, so there’s a fortnight – least clear gone, & then 3 or 4 weeks I suppose from Bombay, so I should be prepared for 6 weeks or so without a letter.

As for letters from you, heaven knows when I shall get any. Cos we had none for a fortnight, though I believe there is a mail in now, & one due to be delivered in Delhi yesterday, so we just missed that. Still, I suppose they’ll roll up some old time. I’ve sent 3 boxes to Cox Bombay so I can get at em easy anytime I want to; the rest of my kit is all in Lansdowne.

Good news from the west is’nt there. And heaven knows how far we’ve got to march to catch up our advanced troops north of Baghdad!

Best love to all

yr loving son


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Posted by on 21 March, '17 in About