Author Archives: Ted Berryman

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


17 March 1917 – Ted to Gertrude


March 17/17


Dear Mother

No mail in yet, and that makes nearly a fortnight without one. I hear too that mails home have been very much delayed, so you may not have heard from me for a week or two either.

Well we are just off, at last, after many false alarms, so you can begin addressing your letters as I told you now


or c/o India Office. I think I told you all this before but the letter may not have arrived. I have had a frightfully busy time these last weeks, and I feel quite tired and weary; but I expect the voyage will buck me up a lot. I am giving up my adjutancy; my time is up anyhow at the end of this month, so this is my last day as adjutant, & tomorrow I command a company, quite a new job for me!

We were under orders to move last Thursday and today, but the move was postponed for some unknown reason. We are going down to Karachi in 2 trains, Sunday & Monday; I go on Monday. Cheer up Mother, I’ll be all right & I think we are in for a very interesting time in Mesopotamia. What price the News from Russia! But it seems to be a jolly good thing as German influence has obviously been too much in evidence there lately, and there seems no doubt that the Russian people are all out to down the Hun, & so have taken the matter into their own hands and ousted the government & the Tsar has gracefully retired.

It’s wonderfully cool here still, hottish days but quite cool nights, & cold early mornings. I have collected a whole heap of new kit for Mesopotamia, thin clothes & thick hats, & mosquito nets and all the latest jims! But the conditions there are so vastly improved now that it’s really one of the best run shows we have. Have’nt we been wonderfully successful, & the capture of Baghdad must have made our prestige thrice as strong after the Kut disaster an’ all.

I have’nt had much time to go out this week. I went to a small dinner & dance at the Wilts last week, very cheery. Mrs Bingley I saw, & she said she was writing to you to say how well I looked! I’m certainly feeling it, though rather worn & jaded with office work & mobilising, which is rather a strain. I have seen my friends the Ricketts once or twice, they are going up to Kashmir soon as he was on some course up there. Please tell the family how frightfully sorry I am I have’nt written much lately, but I really have been up to my eyes in work & I always feel so done at the end of a day.

I’ll write again from Mesopotamia I expect, but don’t expect much from there as posts are bound to be erratic, & there’ll be a big gap after you get this letter I expect.

Mrs Kaye took these of me; she says they are good!

Best love to all

yr loving son


The role of Adjutant involves acting as administrative assistant to a more senior officer and Ted had been Adjutant to Colonel Drake-Brockman since before the start of the War including during their service on the Western Front in 1914 and 1915. Ted had been a Captain for several years, but he would have wanted the chance to command his own Company in the field for a long time. His excitement comes across very strongly in these pre-embarcation letters.

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Posted by on 17 March, '17 in About


10 March 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

March 10th/17


Dear Mother

Many thanks for your letter of Feb 7th, received at the beginning of the week. We have definite orders to leave here on 17th now, but I have been dining with my pal Reid tonight & he tells me not to be surprised if they are postponed! So what is one to make of it all? In any case I expect we shall leave here before the end of March. Is’nt the Mesopot news wonderfully good nowadays, & tonight I hear they are only 4 miles from Baghdad. But I fancy there will be lots for us to do when we get there, if not in this hot weather, at any rate as soon as the next cold weather begins.

I have been frightfully busy lately with all this mobilising an’ all. All the same I have been out to dinner with several people & have managed to get a game of tennis or two for exercise. I wonder if Dick ever got his leave or not. Poor Dick, I expect he feels the cold a bit, but he’s jolly lucky being able to get hold of Topher to help him along.

I am playing tennis with Mrs Bingley on Monday, & I’ll tell her about sister Bond. Yes rather I remember that “excelsior” ring awfully well. What a piece of luck you had finding it again.

You seem to be having some real cold weather at home now, all over Europe in fact. I don’t quite understand the German retreat yet, but from all accounts it seems all right for us, though then no doubt our plans for a spring offensive will have to be modified slightly.

I’m very sleepy tonight so please pardon a short note, but I have no news, & I owe heaps of letters.

Best love to all

Yr loving son


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Posted by on 10 March, '17 in About


3 March 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

March 3/17


Dear Mother

We got a wire in just now – 11 PM – to tell us to be ready to move at a very early date, so I suppose that means we may be off at any time now. I thought I’d just try & catch the mail if I can & let you know the latest developments, though you know how often these things turn out to be false.

I told Mrs John Mackenzie about her pleated skirts & she remembered them well! She wanted to be remembered to you & tells me she has a birthday book with all our names in it, & Bunchie’s & heaps of others.

This is only just to tell you of our possible early departure, but whether it will come off or not I don’t know.

Best love to all

Yr loving son


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Posted by on 3 March, '17 in About


1 March 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

March 1st/1917


Dear Mother

Very many thanks for 2 letters from you yesterday, dated 24th Jan & 1st Feb, they both arrived by the same mail curiously enough. I see by my diary I only wrote to you on Sunday and this is Thursday. I have been out to dinner & tennis etc & have also been fairly busy in office. I believe we shall be leaving here on the 24th of this month & be at Basrah about the beginning of April I suppose, but I’m afraid that’s all I can tell you. I have been out to lunch today with a Mrs Kaye, & we went on to a polo tournament which is going on now & saw some quite good polo. I have come back now to catch the mail, & also I am dining out & going on to a dance. The Viceroy’s staff have a big dinner on tonight at the club, & I am going to that; I have several friends among them so shall not be quite lost!

Such lovely weather now, & gorgeous cool & clear mornings. It’s clouding up again this evening & is a bit warmer & muggy again but I expect a shower of rain will clear the air a bit. I can’t remember if I gave you an address for Mespot or not. Anyway, stick to Cox till you hear from me to the contrary, & then either of these will do


of course India Office will always get me;  but it means posting a day earlier, so if you want to catch the mail at the last minute then


dont put in any Brigade or Divisions even, just put a regiment. When in any doubt about me, ask the India Office, as they will have the latest news.

Yes I hear from all sources of Dick & Topher’s great Krewst, & they seem to have fixed it up splendidly. I thought poor old Dick would feel the cold rather, but there won’t be much more of it now I hope. I know he always revels in this country’s heat, which I always hate so much!

Yes that was a terrible explosion was’nt it, & as you say I don’t suppose we have heard the whole truth, but what we have heard is bad enough. I wonder if Dick & Paul managed to get leave together, but I expect they found it rather difficult.

I wonder what this retirement on the west means, & whether it’s going to be anything big or not. The papers are very quiet about it and they don’t seem at all ready to even guess at its true import. The news from Mesopot continues good, & I hear they have made big captures there in guns & men & material. Yes I love Fragments from France, thanks awfully for them, & the Daily Sketch is much appreciated in the mess. But I see the price of all these papers is going up a lot now & all the ½ penny ones are becoming 1d. No, I never have to pay extra postage, you always put on enough.

I can’t remember Cookson at the R.M.C but thanks for the note about Mrs Dot-massey-John-Mackenzie’s skirts! I’ll remind her about them when I see her this evening. She wears weird clothes nowadays, always very smart, but she’s so frightfully thin & requires very careful dressing I should imagine. We have’nt had the Tank films here yet, & no news of them. I should like to see them before we go. But I have no doubt they have cinemas in Mespot nowadays; certain to have ’em at Basrah & the Base.

So glad Ben has a job to suit her; yes I really think you’d be rather well advised to move up to London, if you could find a house. I know you have always wanted to do so, have’nt you

Must change for dinner now. Don’t worry to send me anything to Mesopot, I expect we’ll get all we want out there, & things are so expensive at home from all accounts.

Lots of love to all

yr loving son                Ted

Ted’s letters throughout the Mesopotamia campaign are full of place names familiar today: Basra, Ramadi, Mosul and Baghdad. This is a reminder that foreign policy decisions (such as those made at the Peace of Versailles and in the Sykes-Picot agreement) have consequences that play out over centuries.

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Posted by on 1 March, '17 in About


25 February 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Continued from the previous day

Feb 25.

A gorgeous morning and the muggy heat of last week has gone thank goodness. It’s lovely now, cool & clear, but I’m afraid the Indian spring is a short-lived one, though while it lasts it is perfect; and by the middle of March it will have begun to get unpleasant. All the little seedlings we planted last November are now in full flower, so our “carriage-drive” is looking really quite smart.

The dinner last night was quite a success; the Chief is a genial old bird, & quite human; he has an aggressive chin which means business I think. There is another mail in tomorrow, & it was only last night that I got the tail end of last mail, a shower of ‘Sketches’ & John Bulls, and also Fragments from France Part 3, which has kept the mess in roars of laughter as the saying is! Thanks awfully for them; but I’m not sure that Bairnsfather is’nt a wee bit put to it now to find a funny subject, & I think he’ll have to take care not to overdo it & fall flat in consequence. He really is good when he is good, & wonderfully true to life, & I think it would be a pity to spoil him.

I am so awfully glad to hear good news of Ben. She wrote me a long letter last mail & I’m afraid I’ve been very remiss in writing letters lately; but truth to tell this mobilisation has kept me fairly busy, & one has a certain amount of friends, old & new, after a rather trying 8 or 9 months in Lansdowne, & I’m sure it’s done me good. Dryden seems very hard worked at the Bank; I wish she could see her way to chucking it.

Lloyd George I see has been making another speech, the tone of which does not seem to be in keeping with the general air of optimism that is about now at home. P’raps he thought that it is not a good thing to get too optimistic & so exaggerated the position with a definite object. What about ploughing up all England & sowing spring wheat & barley? It seems to me an excellent thing to do; for heaven’s sake let’s go all out to win the war, & then resume the daily round again.

So glad Dick & Topher have joined up, but I cannot quite grasp what Topher’s position is in a native cavalry regiment. I suppose you say you have three sons in the Indian Army now!

I am being innoculated against cholera today, I hear it’s a good thing to have done to one; but they say there is no reaction, which is comforting, as you know what I’m like after innoculation don’t you! No further news of our move, but I suppose we shall be sailing about the middle of March. I think the best address is Capt B.

2/39 Garhwal Rifles
Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force
c/o India Office,

but meantime stick to Cox till I tell you different – as we have’nt gone yet!

Best love to all

Yr loving son


Fancy old Hall joining up! Yes, of course I know him well; he must be 150 at least!

The Bystander’s Fragments from France (compiled)

Lloyd George’s speech on restriction of imports

Report on it in Sydney Morning Herald

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Posted by on 25 February, '17 in About


24 February 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Feb 24/17


Dear Mother

Very many thanks for a much belated mail, which arrived on Wednesday 21st and we had had none for 16 days, & then 2 arrived together. And tonight a whole lot of papers etc have just come in; gorgeous, & thanks awfully for them.

I am still a busy man all day, but I manage to get out of an evening generally. I dined with the Bingleys last Monday, Mrs Moss was there, and wanted to be remembered to you as also did Mrs Bingley. They had an amusing book there called the Hospital A.B.C, published by John Lane. I expect you’ve seen it long ago; really the pictures are most awfully well done; get one & send it to old Nell if you can, it will amuse her. Some of the V.A.D. people drawn in it are, we came to the conclusion, exactly like Maggie Davids, as of course Mrs Bingley & Mrs Moss know them too.

Otherwise I had a quietish week. I played tennis with Barbara Bingley on Tuesday, but it was frightfully hot, & we have had a shower of rain since, which has improved matters considerably & it is quite nice & cool now. But the Indian spring is a short one & soon it will be getting unpleasantly hot.

The commander in chief is coming to dine in the mess tonight, so we shall all be on our best behaviour. My bath an’ all is just ready now, so I shall have to finish this later, but I can spare a minute or two yet. I went for a very cheery drive with the Ricketts last Sunday, all along by the canal here, nice & cool & Englishy. They have been most awfully good to me I must say. There are some Red X delegates in Delhi now, Swiss people, who are touring all the allied countries looking at prisoners’ camps. One of our fellows, Patrick by name, is looking after them & trotting them round Delhi, & he brought them to dine the other night. They talk English & I did’nt air my French on them, though some of us tried! Also the Russian Consul in India, one Tomanoffski, also came to dinner. He was all through the big Russian retreat at the beginning of the war, in Poland, & was very interesting to talk to; he speaks English fluently.

I see two ‘daily Sketches’ have arrived today; thanks awfully. I should like the “Saturday Review” sent each week in Mespot – could you fix this up for me, & let me know what a year’s sub: is & I’ll send it along. I really must change now. Good night, & I hope the chief will enjoy his dinner here!

Ted continued the letter the next day

Our Hospital ABC

Review from the BJN jpg in this folder. Edith Cavell mentioned

Review in Burlington Magazine (bottom right)

Sir Charles Munro, 1st Bt, C-in-C in India

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Posted by on 24 February, '17 in About