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16 August 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

August 16/18

 

Dear Mother

No more mails in yet & so far no news of any. I see some of ours of June & thereabouts have arrived home safely which is a good thing. I hope you got my wire about my new address, also my letter telling you all about my new appointment.

I have had a 3 days jaunt, sight-seeing. One Gibbon, a fellow-instructor here, and I have been round to all the local sights ancient and modern. The first day we went 60 miles along a railway in a motor trolley, which we wangled out of a pal in the railways, and then went by car over a most appallingly bumpy and dusty road for 18 miles or so to a place called Kufah* on the Euphrates. Here a pal of mine, by name Fisher, is political officer & we stayed with him. We had been travelling since 5.30 a.m. & reached his house about 3 am & so were very tired & hungry – not to say thirsty! – especially as it is August and none too cool as you may imagine, 110º in the shade about, & travelling in the back of a ford van with no hood over a bad road is no joke! However we had come out to enjoy ourselves & enjoy ourselves we meant to whatever happened.

Kufah is a really charming place. Built along the river bank it is nice & cool & refreshing, with green palms & willows everywhere, & green scrub & thorn all round. About 6 miles off, bang in the middle of the desert, is a place called Nejef, the 2nd most holy Mohamedan city in the world, the first of course being Mecca. Here the prophet Mahomet’s son Ali is buried, & his mosque is a magnificent affair with a dome of gold – real gold, thin plates of it fastened over a brick-work mold – Ali is supposed to have been wounded in battle at Kufah, & then crawled away to die, & there right out in the desert where he died they buried him & the city of Nejef rose round his tomb.

*rhymes with Loofah

It lies right out in the desert, absolutely alone, & the golden dome sticks up out of the drab-coloured mud houses and is visible for miles and miles round. It is a lovely sight, with the sun shining on it, as it does all day out here, and on the horizon it shows up as a pin-point of light in the middle of the bare brown parched desert.

Thousands and thousands of Mohamedans are buried here every year, & they bring their dead from hundreds of miles, from all parts of India & Persia.

At Kufah there is Jonah’s mosque, on the traditional site of the spot where the whale deposited him. In those days I suppose seas & lakes existed round about here and after all it is only a traditional spot. We saw all these places of course, & went round Kufah bazaar, the usual arab covered in affair, & the usual mixed crowd and smells, and funny pokey little shops. The river is most awfully pretty there, with islands & creeks, & any amount of willows. But the surrounding country is all a howling waste, and in time with irrigation & improved conditions large tracts of it will become cultivated land once more.

All this land teems with history of course, Biblical, classical, mythical, and romantic. On our way back yesterday we came part of the way by car, about 37 miles over awful roads again. En route we passed the reputed site of the Tower of Babel, a huge mound with a ruin on the top. The mound must be 200 or 300 feet high, & is composed of ruined masonry and cement sort of stuff, which all looks as if at one time it had been subjected to tremendous heat of some sort, a colossal fire or something like that. Considerable doubt exists as to whether it has any real claim to be Babel, but there it is & it is certainly the ruins of some big building and it is visible for miles and miles.

We then went to Hillah, the centre of a very fertile district & sometimes called the Granary of Mesopotamia. We are making tremendous improvements there, irrigating it & sowing acres of grain and in time it will be restored to its former prosperity no doubt. It is extraordinarily rich soil all round there and anything & everything will grow there, with remarkable rapidity, & 2 or 3 crops a year are possible. Irrigation & science will work wonders, for the water is there in the Euphrates, but millions & millions of tons of it runs to waste into the sea every year instead of being used to make this wonderful soil productive. But we are rapidly changing all that & already a big harvest has been reaped this first year.

Near Hillah are the ruins of Babylon. I know very little about them, it seems there are several cities buried one on top of the other, as successive conquerors destroyed the place & rebuilt it. The mounds under which all this ancient civilisation lies stretch for miles, but it is only in one place that any attempt at excavation has been made, by a Boche archeologist who was here for 17 years before the war.

There is not much to be seen but it is I think extraordinarily interesting, even to people like ourselves entirely ignorant of Babylonian history. As I say the ruins are all buried & a series of huge mounds of masonry & broken pottery marks the spot. To reveal the old buildings it has been necessary to dig down deep into the earth 30 or 40 feet in places, & doubtless there is lots more below. So far several walls & ruined buildings have been brought to light, in wonderful state of preservation too. Paved roads are visible in parts, & the shells of houses, showing windows & doors, with weeds & scrub growing all over them. In one place they unearthed a remarkable well-preserved granite statue of a lion, which has been mounted on a pedestal in the midst of the ruins.

It is believed that there were 50 of these, covered in precious stones, lining each side of a triumphal road in the old days, but no trace of this has yet been unearthed. Then there are some extraordinary mural decorations on the walls of an old triumphal gate. Weird beasts & horses in bas relief, about ¼ – ½ life size, not carved in one piece of stone, but a little bit of each picture on each separate brick, so that they have to be buiilt into the wall like a puzzle; it must have been tricky work building those walls!

Beyond those few odds & ends there is nothing for the casual visitor to see, though doubtless there is enough material there to keep the world’s archeologists busy for centuries. But I thought it was all very impressive, & one could’nt help thinking & wondering what Nebuchadnezzar & his court and all the millions of inhabitants were doing 3000 years ago on the very spot where we stood yesterday-

We came back by motor trolley & reached home at 9.30 a.m. thoroughly tired & weary. Not a bad day the last one, Nejef, Jonah’s mosque, Ezekiel’s tomb, Babel, Babylon & Baghdad – for we saw all of these in the course of the day – a grand round tour with a vengeance. I forgot to mention Ezekiel’s tomb, it is at a place called Kifl*, one of the places we passed both on our journey out & home. Of course it was a rush, & we had a lot to see, but we did it in true American style; there was no other way to do it in the time at our disposal. But I thought I could’nt leave the country without seing Babylon & Babel at one’s front door so to speak – & one might’nt get another chance. I go to join my new brigade tomorrow. I’m still tired after my strenuous days!

Best love to all

yr loving son

Ted

I took some photos of Babylon   I hope to send some along some time, if they ever come out


*rhymes with ‘piffle’

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

Site of the Imam Ali foundation

Archaeology projects in Iraq (map locations lead to photos)

 
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Posted by on 16 August, '18 in About

 

11 August 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

Dear Mother

Just a line to confirm my wire which I hope you got & understood to say I have been given a staff job. Brigade Major 34th Bde. I’m delighted with the appointment, as a Brigade Majorship is undoubtedly a good job, & I am lucky to get one first go off so to speak. I applied for staff employ 3 or 4 months ago, on the advice of Genl Brooking, & others, and after all, after dropping from C.O. to a company commander where I had the same work & responsibility as officers of 2 or 3 years’ service, I thought it better all round to try & improve my prospects in the service. You see I’ve got somebody else to think of now!

It is a splendid job, & you will find most staff officers who have gone on to higher appointments look back on their days as brigade major as the best. I must explain what it is. A Brigade (Infantry) is as you know commanded by a Brigadier general, who has two staff officers under him, a Bde-Major & a staff Captain. The B.M does all operations training & fighting, & the S-C all the administrative & disciplinary work of the Brigade, so obviously B-M is more interesting & it is the senior job of the two. My general is one Wauchope, a charming man & a very good soldier & a glutton for work. So I am indeed lucky to serve under him. I knew him in Amara last year, so I’m not quite in such a funk as I might be.

Of course it’s only a job, I am not leaving the regiment for good; normally a staff billet lasts 4 years, but one can’t tell nowadays. It may lead to other & better jobs later on, that remains to be seen. In any case rest assured I am mighty pleased with the appointment. I am sorry to leave the rgt: in many ways, having been so long with them & all through the war so far with them. But there are wider views to take & broader issues to consider; & after all my little experience & knowledge – if I may say so – stand more chance of use & development in my new job than in the comparatively narrow confines of a battalion.

My address will be

Major ERPB

BRIGADE MAJOR

34th INFANTRY BDE.

M.E.F.

So cease sending c/o Cox, & don’t put the regiment now; just as I have written it above is correct.

The 3rd course at the school here finished yesterday, & I am not sorry. I have had valuable & interesting experience here, & have met a lot of good fellows, & I do not in the least regret my stay here; far from it, it has been most useful & I have benefitted a great deal from it I know. But in my heart of hearts I don’t care for “school mastering” & I’ve just been here long enough to escape boredom: I go to my new job with pleasure.

I have got a week’s leave, & I am going down to Hillah to stay with a pal. The ruins of Babylon are there, & the tower of Babel, & Ezekiel’s tomb, & a host of other “sights”, so I should have an interesting – if rather hot – time. The average temperature of July was 109, & it’s been about that all along, hot, but not too bad. This is only a scribble to let you know my movements. My new Brigade is on the same “front” as Jim’s rgt, but not the same division: but we shan’t be very far off each other & I expect we shall meet.

Best love to all   yr loving son

Ted


Actually 34th Indian, part of 15th Indian Division

 
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Posted by on 11 August, '18 in About

 

6 August 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

Aug 6/18

 

Dear Mother

Very many thanks for 3 letters from you today, forwarded from Cox, dated 5, 12, & 19th June. I have only had one letter from Nell this mail, & there seem to be a lot missing, I suppose that’s bound to happen with letters going via Cox, but they generally all turn up in the end.

Not much news here. It seems cooler than it was, though the last month has been rather warm, round about 116° or so in the shade [47° C] & hot muggy nights. I have been buying winter tunics etc, in lots of time this time, as I’m determined not to be caught like I was last time & have to spend the winter in khaki drill. I have had to have some slight alterations made too, as I am on the thin side just at present, what with the hot weather an’ all; I weighed 10 st 3 lbs on Sunday last! & I ought to be 11.7; but I shall get it all back in the winter I expect. But I had to put on woolly waistcoats etc to try on these coats, can you imagine it in the heat!

This is the last week of the class thank goodneess, it has been fairly strenuous & I shan’t be sorry when it’s over. In your letter of June 4th you were saying what ages there had been since you last heard from me. I know; it was the K. Baghdadi show that caused all the delay, we were such miles up the river & then floods & bad roads made things harder, & all this caused the delay. You speak of Nell again having been staying with Ben, & how you tried to get her down again for a week end. I wish she had been able to do so.

c I certainly think I stand a good chance next spring, but I’m not going to be so foolish as to say so or to count on it in the least.

Meanwhile with the cold weather coming on out here, and the fighting season with it, I feel it my duty to stay on & see that through. So I am making no further efforts at getting leave at present. I have no compunction in trying to dodge the hot weather! So I shall begin to worry them again after Christmas.

How awfully good Ben was to Nell, I can never thank her enough, & Nell was most enthusiastic about her visit an’ all. You have all been most awfully good to the dear child, & I know she is being well looked after. I have’nt had a line from Ben yet, but I’m longing to get one. I expect she’s been too busy, getting into her new house, which sounds fascinating. I am so glad too Topher has started on his way for a commission, & think the A.S.C should do him well.

In your letter of June 11 you had got my long delayed mails at last, 3 or 4 letters together, written at odd times & places during that fighting. Yes, they were hard & exciting times, and one feels one is really doing something on those rare occasions out here when we meet the Turk. I’m so glad the photographs turned up O.K., I was rather doubtful as to what would happen to them, as I posted them one night at Hit, where everyone seemed to be in everyone else’s way, on the eve of the advance, & a general muddle all round! However in their usual wonderful way they seem to have reached you safely. Yes, I wore the old woolly a good deal last winter, it was positively the only warm thing I had.

You say you had heard from Jim & that he said he had ‘found me’, I suppose he means by wire, as I did’nt actually meet him till May I think. Rations seem to be more liberal at home now, especially bacon & ham; I see Germany is starting meatless weeks. I wonder if Dick ever managed to wangle that exchange, but I fancy it’s difficult for any one on the Indian establishment to stay in France nowadays.

Many thanks for Ben’s new address: I will try & write to her there this mail. I wonder how Desmond Gabb is managing to get home. Everyone except me it seems!

No more just now. I hope to get some more mail in yet, especially from Nell & Ben.

Best love to all

yr loving son

Ted

Did Topher ever get any money from me? I told Cox to send him some, & I was wondering if he ever got it, as I never heard.

 
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Posted by on 6 August, '18 in About

 

28 July 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

July 28/18

 

Dear Mother

I got 4 lovely long letters from you on the 24th, forwarded from Cox Bombay. I’m afraid all my letters home now are rather pathetic as they are mostly in answer to my letters written saying I was coming home, & you were sort of expecting wires and cables and things. The mails are most erratic just at present, at least mine are, & they arrive all jumbled up & some letters written much later than others seem to arrive first. But after all it does’nt matter much as long as they do turn up eventually, & that I think is the most wonderful part, how really regular they are & how few get lost, practically none nowadays – tap wood!

Your letters were dated 24th April 1st May 22nd May 29th May- covering 5 weeks you see, & I got them all by one post! I think I have already had letters from you dated between 1st & 22nd May, in fact I know I have & have answered them. In none of them I have just got, had you received a mail: but we were on the Khan Baghdadi show about then, & I expect they were considerably delayed as our communications were rather rocky for a time. I sent a lot of photographs – mostly of me & some shooting expeditions I think- home about then, I wonder if they ever arrived safely?

Very many thanks for these letters. In your last one of May 29th you say Ben & James & Nell had been down for the week end, but the latest letters I have from Ben & Nell were written just before Nell went to stay with Ben! So their letters all about it should be on the road somewhere. I’m so glad Nell was looking so well and nice, and awfully glad too she managed to go to Delaford again. I long to see the dear child again, & I feel I’m treating her very badly by being so long away & keeping her waiting so. But I’m afraid it can’t be helped.

You say too in your 29th May letter that you had heard from Jim about his starting for this country, & I hope by now you’ve got our letters telling of our various meetings. I had a line from him today and he may be coming down here for a few days at the beginning of August.

I do hope Topher finds a suitable job: he ought to be able to get into the A.S.C easy enough; on the whole better than the Indian Transport I think, as that means a journey out here, a language to learn, & probably a long wait attached to an infantry regiment before he could transfer. Of course the pay would be better, but if he does’nt intend to make a career of it I think the A.S.C decidedly preferable. But I don’t think they are doing him very well considering his service. I wish I were home, then I’m sure I could buzz round & go and see his colonel etc & get things moving. The cry seems to be for men & officers in every branch, that I always fail to understand any hitch nowadays.

Righto, I enclose authority for the watch. How absurd these little points of the law seem, but I suppose they are necessary. Praps Nell would like the watch for her dressing table. If so, could you get a nice leather sort of fold-up travelling case for it & send it along. I have no idea what it’s like of course, but I imagine it’s a biggish-faced old fashioned one. I’ve just scribbled the enclosed legal document for you; rather good I think, don’t you! I hope it will achieve its purpose anyhow.

So Harold Gabb has qualified at last: & married too! I never realised he was even engaged. How’s Geoffrey these days? He sounds better, if he’s able to play tennis. In your May 22 letter you speak of the warm weather. We have had a wonderfully mild summer really & have got off lightly this year. I should like a book of Academy pictures if you can find one, as you say in your letter you & Ben were going there. The papers don’t seem to think much of it on the whole.

So Dick has sailed for Egypt at last, that means Palestine & Jerusalem I suppose. I should like to go to that front most awfully, but I’m afraid there’s no chance. Yes, he has been a long time home & you must miss him. Yes rather I got Jane’s cable about her engagement, but I don’t think I cabled back as all the wires were being used for official cables then on those K. Baghdadi operations: but I wrote & I expect she’s got the letter by now.

I hope Dreda will stick to her hospital job & not take on the companion business. There seems to be a big call for women for all kinds of war work now and I think the hospital job ought to come first, & old ladies must wait for their companions till after the war: from your letter it seems she was’nt going to take the job for this reason, so that’s all right. Yes rather, I get papers regularly, but I asked you did’nt I about the pink ones, I don’t want them any more. I like my sketch & mirror & spectator, they keep one amused & abreast of the times respectively.

In your 1st May letter – I seem to be answering them backwards – you say you hope my leave has not been knocked on the head, but I am afraid your worst fears have been realized, for the present at any rate. I have hopes of next year still. Paul & Nance are lucky seeing so much of each other, lovely for them.

In your April 23rd letter you had had letters from me of Feb 12 & 20th, saying I might be coming home. Yes it’s 2½ years now since I left: hope it won’t be 2½ years more before I get home again!

The news from France is really most encouraging is’nt it, & the French are doing splendidly. How wonderful they are, for they have suffered such terrific losses in the war, but they still go on attacking & winning battles. True, they are fighting to win back their own country from a loathsome enemy, & that must be a tremendous incentive to go on till the last man is left. And meanwhile the Americans are coming across fast & are fighting splendidly; and above all we have the authority of Lloyd George, Jellicoe & Admiral Sims that the submarines are well in hand at last & have ceased to be a determining factor in the war.

I wonder if things are really taking a turn for the better, permanently, at last: please God they are. Yes the budget was alarming: what about this luxury tax? Very sensible & necessary I think: by all means let people wear silk underclothes if they like, but they must pay for them in war time.

Must end up now

Best love to all

yr loving son

Ted


Capt. Harold Percy Gabb MC, joined the RCS and on 23rd May 1918 married Nancy, daughter of Sir George Wyatt Truscott, 1st Baronet and Lord Mayor of London 1908-09

From the Index of Old Epsomian Biographies between 1890 and 1914

Gabb, Harold Percy (1890-1964).

Epsom College: 1904-1907

 HAROLD PERCY GABB (1890-1964). M.C., T.D., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P. (Eng.) [Epsom College 1904-1907] was the son of Dr J. P. A. Gabb, of Guildford, Surrey, and brother of Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Alwyne Gabb, O.B.E., M.C. [Epsom College 1898-1904}. He received his medical education at University College Hospital, and went into general practice at Guildford,

Surrey. During the First World War he served as a Lieutenant-Colonel in the R.A.M.C.

Bonar Law on introduction of a Luxury tax

Companions are still hired today, though the role is perhaps more formalised than it was 100 years ago: 

 
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Posted by on 28 July, '18 in About

 

23 July 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

July 23/18

 

Dear Mother

No more mails in yet, it’s nearly 3 weeks now since the last one arrived here, tho’ mine coming through Cox took longer of course & only arrived about 10 days ago, so I don’t know when it will reach me this time. It has arrived in Baghdad I hear, yesterday but has not been delivered here yet.

Not much news nowadays from here, the good news is for the moment coming from France where the Boche attacks seem to be being held up and the French are doing so well, good news indeed after all these anxious months: let’s hope it continues.

Our strenuous life continues, but we have been blessed with wonderfully cool weather, and here we are nearly at the end of July so we really can’t get very much more really hot weather; even if it does really get bad it’s not likely to last more than a month.

I’m getting rather sick of this schoolmastering job, & I hope to be relieved at the end of this course, but I don’t know for certain yet.

Is that George Moodie’s wife that has died? I see reports & pictures in the papers; if so, I am sorry, as he was only married such a short time ago was’nt he. One gets such a shock somehow when you hear of a wife’s death these days. What terrible long lists of missing appear daily now, but I suppose the majority prove to be prisoners in the end, though that is bad enough it seems from all accounts of treatment of prisoners one reads.

I do hope rations are going all right for you at home now. With the U-boat business so well in hand and increased ship building things ought to gradually take a turn for the better. I dined last week with one Fisher, a fellow ship-wrecked warrior; he has a political officer job down Babylon way so I hope to go and stay with him someday soon, to see the sights. We have just made a tennis court here, & they tell me they have begun to play on it tonight, so I must trot round & have a look.

Best love to all

yr loving son

Ted.


Lieut, later Brigadier Sir Gerald Thomas Fisher, fellow survivor of the Persia and later Governor of British Somaliland (1948)

 
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Posted by on 23 July, '18 in About

 

16 July 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

July 16/18

Dear Mother

I have two letters of yours to answer, dated May 7 & 14th, both forwarded from Cox Bombay. As you know by now I was all too foolishly optimistic about my leave, & it was refused. I thought it best not to wire but just to let you know in the ordinary way by post. Of course I still have a chance, but not for some time yet I’m afraid & in any case I’m not going to be so foolish as to even hint at an off chance next time, & I shan’t say a word till I’m really on the way!

Very many thanks for your letters. In May 7th one you were waiting for letters from me. You had got Jim & my cable, sent from here in May sometime. I’m so glad it turned up safely. Yes indeed we have had some good old talks, & since then I have been up to stay with him for 2 days & found him fit & well & flourishing. I wonder if Dick will go to India or Egypt. If I was he I would choose Egypt, but I know how much he likes India.

No luck with the bees yet you say. I quite agree, I can’t think why honey should be so dear. I suppose there are less people to keep & look after bees now, & also less flowers to gather honey from, everything being vegetables nowadays! I should think lobbing – or is it bobbing? – the hair would suit Rosamond admirably, just the type of face for it (this will make her hoot, I know! My love to her; & I must write.) As you say, I doubt if it wd suit Ruth so well.

You had just got 3 letters from me in yours dated May 14th you say; I got it 2 days ago, from Cox, so you see it has taken just 2 months to reach me. You are still waiting anxiously for my wire, juggins that I was! Yes, old Ben very kindly offered to look after old Nell & some of her trousseau for me, but I’m afraid that’s all no good now. I do wish they’d give Topher a commission. Could’nt Dick go over & see the C.O. & root round a bit. It’s a shame as you say to expect the poor boy to go back to the ranks after all he’s done.

We are getting rather good fruit now, lovely cool juicy water melons, & grapes, & plums, the latter not quite ripe yet. I see a lady writing from home in an Indian paper seems to make a little go a very long way, & made some lovely sounding meals out of nothing very much apparently; she was writing to say we were’nt to worry, & things were all right really – just the same as you always write in your wonderfully cheery way.

I see that the American Admiral Sims says submarines are practically so well in hand now as we can almost say we have done them in. If so, it is wonderfully good news; and it does’nt seem likely that anyone wd be allowed to make a public statement like that unless there was good solid foundation of fact for it nowadays. What wonderful people the navy are, & news like that coming on the top of Zeebrugge & Ostend ought to buck the British public up no end & answer all those silly fat-headed carping arm-chair critics who are continually asking what is the navy doing.

You will have got my letter by now saying the F & M. boxes turned up quite safely after all & were, I hear, very much appreciated. How did you find Camberley I wonder? Much the same as ever I suppose. How amusing old Smith being the only one able to mend your bicycle!

Artie Wooldridge a Major! I don’t want to sneer at the new army & there are hundreds & thousands of thundering good fellows in it I know, but still – they do get on quickly don’t they. Here I am with 14 years’ service next month, & only a captain still! Brevets are’nt much good I’m afraid. Oh well, I can’t grouse, I’m still alive and whole, which is better than fifty million promotions is’nt it. There’s only one souvenir I want after this war & that’s

Your loving son

Ted.


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

Rosamund seems to be thinking of cutting her hair in a bob – interesting because we associate the hairstyle with the 1920s not the war years.

 
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Posted by on 16 July, '18 in About

 

10 July 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

July 10/18

 

Dear Mother

No mail forwarded from Cox yet, though the direct mail reached here 4 days ago. Perhaps you marked yours “to await arrival” & they are keeping them, but I have wired them now to forward all letters marked or otherwise. I got the Weekly times & other papers directed straight to M.E.F, so I hope the rest of my mail will turn up sometime, possibly this evening.

School began again two days ago, & we are living the strenuous life again. Not quite so strenuous as last time, as it is too hot, so we are taking things a wee bit easier, but still we are quite busy. During our week between courses I went off to stay with Jim for 2 days. I drove up in a car, a 3 hour journey from here; I started at 5 a.m. so as to have a cool journey. I found Jim very fit & happy in his new regiment & he seems to have had quite a good time while I was there, did’nt do much except a good deal of talking. It was fairly cool too, as there was a pleasant breeze blowing and that made a lot of difference, but Jim said it had been very hot in that hot spell we had a few days ago. I met many old friends in the regiments there, & altogether thoroughly enjoyed my time & I think the change did me good.

The hot spell is over for the present & we are having really quite respectable weather, round about 105º-110º or so with a breeze, which has risen to a wind today, with lots of dust.

I’ve got no news. I may be leaving this instructor’s job at the end of this class, but I don’t know for certain. They are going to change us all anyway sometime soon, as we are all rather weary with teaching at this high pressure in this weather, but they don’t want to change us all together, so someone has to stay on for another course, but I hope to get away early.

Best love to all

yr loving son

Ted

 
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Posted by on 10 July, '18 in About

 

2 July 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

July 2/18

 

Dear Mother

No mail in yet but one is expected on July 4th or so, but I expect you have started sending your letters c/o Cox now, so mine will probably be a bit later.

It’s warmed up now all right, 115º in the shade [46º C] and no breeze to speak of yet. Lucky we are to have fans and things. Our 2nd course is over now, & the new one begins next Monday (this is Tuesday). Col Keen & the other instructors have gone away for a change, the latter is coming back tomorrow, & then I’m thinking of running up to see Jim for a couple of days: he’s about 3 hours or so off in a car. One of the officers in his regiment was here on the last course & I sent him some odds & ends of soap & writing paper etc which he asked me to get him, & I’ll take some more up with me.

They are changing all of us instructors gradually, as we had all got a bit stale & faded working at this pressure in this climate. So I am only staying one more course, & a new man comes instead of me, & a week or two later one of the others will be changed, the idea being not to change us all at once so as not to have an entirely new instructional staff all together. That’s the present arrangement, but of course it may be changed. I shan’t be sorry to leave, though I must say I have learnt a lot & met very many good fellows, and I think it’s done me a lot of good on the whole.

Very little war news from France nowadays: I wonder what’s happening. The Italian news is good, & let’s hope a nasty knock like that for Austria will have far-reaching effects.

By the way did I say put “to await arrival” on letters sent to Cox? I believe I did, as I’m afraid I was a wee bit too optimistic about my leave then. Anyhow don’t put it on any more, as he may keep them unnecessarily long. Go on sending them c/o him, as my movements are uncertain.

Best love to all

yr loving son

Ted.


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

 
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Posted by on 2 July, '18 in About

 

22 June 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

June 22/18

 

Dear Mother

I can’t remember if I’ve written to you lately, I know I’ve been most frightfully busy with this old school and have’nt had much time. My diary says I had 2 letters from you on 4th & one again on the 19th but I think I must have answered the 4th ones.      the one that arrived 19th was dated             & very many thanks for it.

It has got a lot hotter since I last wrote anyhow, & the last week or so has not been very pleasant. We had it 110° in the shade [43° C] 2 days ago & it’s usually 105 or 106. However living in a house with Electric fans makes a lot of difference. We still lead a very strenuous life here, up at 4 & work outdoors 5-8, & lectures etc 9.30-1 & afternoon work as well & we generally go to bed tiredish. The course ends next week & then we have a week off, & the next one begins.

I hear from Jim very often. He wants me to get him a lot of things like hair oil & writing paper. There is an officer from his rgt: on the course so I’ll get him to take a box up to Jim for me, though I may be able to manage a visit myself in the “holidays” but I don’t know yet. He seems very fit & enthusiastic.

Col Hogg has I hear gone to hospital with a pain inside but I don’t know how bad he is or whether he will have to go on sick leave or anything. We had a great dinner party 2 nights ago, about 60 people dining here, & a concert afterwards, rather a late night but we persuaded the colonel to let us get up an hour later next morning which was’nt much, but still it was a little better than usual.

Sam Orton has gone home on a special mission, fearfully secret and all. He went at 2 days’ notice so I did’nt have much time to see him. He took a wee present for Nell home with him, very kindly, so I did’nt like to load him up too much otherwise I might have sent you something along.

Your letter of April 16th said no mail had come in. I had a line from Nell dated 22nd April & she had had some letters from me, so I expect yours rolled up all right. I’m afraid I was rather optimistic & hopeful about leave then. But if there was a chance at all I simply had to sort of warn Nell did’nt I, and I’m afraid I raised the poor child’s hopes too much. I feel rather angry with myself for ever having done so, & there still seems practically no chance of my getting home this year.

I am sorry to hear about Major Thornton. I know how much Rosamond liked him. I wrote to Rosamond some time ago asking her seriously about the farm, & if there was any chance of my joining as a partner etc after the war, but I’m afraid she never got the letter as I never heard anything from her about it. And now I suppose things are all changed, so I hope she won’t bother about it. From Ben’s description of the place when she stayed there it sounded most fascinating, & she wrote & told me how suitable she thought it was for me, as apparently a good bailiff is the chief necessity & I suppose one would manage to learn the difference between a plum and an apple oneself in time.

I had a line from Dryden & she & Sheima seemed mightily pleased with their Pitney visit. I met Cocks Cowland- Cicely’s brother- here the other day & we dined & yarned over old times together : sounds rather spinky does’nt it. There is one Major Radwell of the Hants rgt here on this course who used to go to old Quentin’s place at Liphook & play raquets with him in the old days; the place was burnt down you remember & Bunchie often used to go & stay there, but neither he nor I can remember the name of it.

So you’re going to keep a bee. Good, only do mind he does’nt sting you. I always have a horror of them as you know, but I must say honey is good- “and is there honey still for tea” as Rupert Brook says. I am glad to see Lloyd George & Geddes & everyone saying definitely that we have got the submarine situation well in hand now, & also the food man says that you won’t be asked to go through such rotten times as you have been – most cheering news, and I think nowadays they are very careful when they make public statements to tell the truth.

I have a lecture now so I will end up. I see letters from London up to mid May about have arrived in Bombay so I suppose we expect them here in 10 days or so.

Best love to all

Yr loving son

Ted


Noel Thornton was married, so his friendship with Rosamund was not a romance. However, the context implies that Rosamund’s plans after the war depended on Major Thornton surving it, and that Ted might buy into a venture with Rosamund. Perhaps she was considering becoming a tenant farmer. 

Major Noel Shipley Thornton, 7th Rifle Brigade

His father died 4 weeks later

Betchworth memorial

Auckland Geddes

Honey still for tea

 
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Posted by on 22 June, '18 in About

 

2 June 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

June 2/18

 

Dear Mother

Very many thanks for your letter dated March 25, which I got on my return from my visit to our 1st Bn: last week. The letter also had 2 really excellent snap shots of Ben & James, & Dreda & the best man, I’m most awfully glad to have them, & incidentally I’m jolly proud of my sisters. (I wonder if specs took one of Nell, by the way? I know she was only a guest at the show & not a performer, but I should love to have a real good snap of her.)

Not much news here. We are all anxiously awaiting further news of the German offensive on the Aisne. It’s simply hopeless to comment on these things at this distance, & considering the time this letter will take to reach you, but one can at least continue to express the utmost admiration for those troops withstanding those terrible odds, to have absolute confidence in them and the final outcome of it all.

I heard from Nell too of course, all about the wedding & her visit. She did enjoy it so, & I’m sure it did her all the good in the world to get away from frowsty old Gloucester for a bit. I’m so awfully glad the dear child was looking so pretty & well, but I have’nt heard half enough about her yet. You see I seldom if ever get a description of her & just this glimpse of her I have got from you & Ben has made me wild to hear more. However another mail is on its way upstream I believe, so perhaps I’ll be satisfied in a day or two.

My peaceful visit to the 1st Batt. was somewhat rudely disturbed the last morning at 4.a.m. by the arrival of a Turco ‘plane who dropped bombs about, but no harm was done though it was somewhat alarming.

Our week’s rest is over now, & the new class begins tomorrow & we have a strenuous month ahead of us. There is an officer from Jim’s regiment here & he brought news of him & various messages, I had a line too from Jim himself today, he seems very contented with his lot & has fallen among a nice lot of fellows apparently.

You refer to “rather a friend of Jane’s” in your letter, by name Garden, who is I gather the “Murray Gordon” of her wire; am I right? I wonder, as beyond the wire & the slight reference to him in your letter I am completely in the dark regarding the whole affair. Perhaps next mail will enlighten me somewhat.

I say mother I don’t think you need worry to send the Pink Papers any more, thanks very much; they are’nt worth the paper they are printed on. I like the Spectator now that I’m away from the rgt, & also the daily sketches & things and of course the weekly times. An occasional bystander or tatler or sketch is always welcome. Yes I got the surrey times with the account of old Ben’s wedding in it, or rather of her & the bridesmaid’s dresses, but I suppose this is inevitable. However, better describe their dresses than, as I saw the other day in an Indian paper, the bridegroom “looked very smart in his khaki uniform”, awful is’nt it!

I went to the French convent here yesterday, they have an orphanage for Armenian & other kiddies, & they are fearfully pleased to see anyone there. They were very good to our wounded after Kut, as I think I must have told you. I went last Sunday & again yesterday, & made a few purchases of silk etc, they really have some marvellous work there, but it’s all very expensive.

Must end up now. A boisterous windy day but cool.

Best love to all

Yr loving son

Ted


 

 
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Posted by on 2 June, '18 in About