Author Archives: Topher Berryman

20 April 1919 – Topher to Gertrude

Easter Day -19


Dearest Mother

Very many thanks for your last letters. It’s a funny thing that I only get letters every other week, usually 2 at the time from you, but papers come regularly every week. It must be something to do with the posting I think at your end. We have now moved from Kantara & now at Ismailia, a very pretty little place on the Canal, also a very big lake. We have some lovely bathing here and is quite a change from previous camping places. We are supposed to be here until the breaking up of the Army of Occupation.

Leave is still closed, but demobilization has started again. No doubt you saw in the paper that a Major Cecil Jarvis  of the  20th Deccan Horse had been murdered by the Egyptians down south. I knew him and he was a friend of Dick’s. I was only speaking to him a few weeks before he was murdered.

We all have to walk about armed these days, which is a bit of a nuisance. Yes I remember Doris Pearce very well. I must write and congratulate her, she is awfully pretty, least I always thought so. I don’t think much of the girl who won the 1st prize, do you, I think Miss Marsh is much nicer. I had a letter from Dick the other day, he has at last moved into his bungalow and he seems very pleased with it. I am sorry to hear about Ted, now they will surely give him leave.

I feel so sorry for Nell. Sorry such a dull letter, but there is absolutely no news. I have been to church today, in a Y.M.C.A. which is just near our camp.

Best love to all, ever your loving son


Murdered on the Assiut-Minia train


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Posted by on 20 April, '19 in About


9 April 1919 – Topher to Gertrude



Dear Mother

No letters from you by last mail save some papers for which many thanks. We have moved since I last wrote, down nearer Kantara which is much better in every way. As we can bathe every day in the canal it really is lovely, and at present it is very hot. I shall be left here on my own till the 16th as the other half company moves down to Ismailia on the 10th and I join them later.

Very little news this week, the unrest has quietened down since the return of General Allenby. One has to walk about armed with a revolver these days. No chance of any leave yet as it is all stopped, also demobilization

So Eleanor is engaged, no luck you see. Who is the fellow she is engaged to, do I know him. Paul again on leave, same as he was before the war always on leave.

Nice for him being at Portsmouth, I suppose Nance will be going down there now.

No more news, best love to all

Ever your loving son


Finally – after the war is over, we hear from Topher. Previously we have only heard from him once, writing to his sister Dreda

Topher had a hard time in the War, and that followed on from his hard time at school – his school-day letters tell us he suffered from headaches and his reports show he was consistently at the bottom of what was an admittedly small class. I suspect he had undiagnosed and unsupported dyslexia, but he could have just been socially anxious and had less aptitude than his peers.  In some ways, Topher’s difficulties show us more than anything else in these letters how much the world has changed in the last 100 years. Now a child who struggled as Topher did would have strong support from worried parents and probably have a statement of special needs to show for it, though of course whether those needs were met would be another matter entirely. 

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Posted by on 9 April, '19 in About


11 November 1916 – Topher to Dreda

Nov 11th


Dearest Dreda

Ever so many thanks for your last letter. We are stll back from a rest but go up again on Tuesday worse luck. My dear yesterday I met old Dick, hooting an’ all. Apparently we have been quite near each other all the time, when we were up in the trenches. His lot has been ordered back suddenly. And the lot that took over from him were the 18 Middlesex, and they told him where I was, he motored over yesterday to see me.

He was looking fearfully well & in a very cheery mood. We had tea together; He’s pretty good at french, but his accent makes me laugh. We had some good laughs together. He went in to see my C.O. and asked him if he could take me as his groom. (Because an elder brother can claim a younger brother if he wants). The C.O. was awfully nice & told him to write to him putting in his claim and he would do all he could. So with any luck I may go with him, what fun eh. but mum’s the word. I wish I had met him up the line. I can’t think how I did not, because he was quite near me, sickening was’nt it. But it was fine meeting at all. He has grown a moustache, a very nutty one. He thinks it is better than mine. He hopes to come in again this morning. I hope he does.

We have had two air raids over here these last two nights, one night a Zeppelin came over, and did a lot of damage. I hope the oily paint arrives all right, because the coat neets it badly. Those papers you send daily have all got mixed up & now arrive in batches because they have been held up. So if you would stop sending them for a week, they might get it right. I was a whole week without any letters or papers not long ago. Then they all arrived together. Our T.O is on leave, and he is going into the shop to see Jane. I have written to her telling her so.

Well dear no more news.

best of love, yr loving brother.


We have very few of Topher’s letters surviving which is frustrating, especially since he seems to have had a much harder time than his more robust elder brothers. This one to his sister Etheldreda was presumably mis-filed which is why we still have it.

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Posted by on 11 November, '16 in About