Category Archives: About

23 November 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Nov 23rd/17


Dear Mother

I have’nt heard from you again since I last wrote, but I have to write tonight as we are going out on a reconnaissance for the next 3 or 4 days & we shan’t be back till after mail day. No news much nowadays, it was very cloudy & muggy all the beginning of this week, & regular blue nose day. We had a certain amount of rain too, which laid the dust but made things very cold. It is much the same today, only no rain, but regular raw English weather.

I am taking out a column of cavalry & Infantry & guns tomorrow, and am commanding the show. It’s awful good fun getting these mixed columns to command, as it’s good practice in handling troops & very good experience. The amusing part is of course that most of the senior officers in the column are really senior to me, being real Majors etc, but I am senior to them pro tem by virtue of being an acting Lieut Col! So it’s a bit of luck for me, is’nt it- However when Hogg & Lyell join & I have to revert, I shall only take part in these affairs as a humble captain again, rather a drop from commanding the force to commanding a company! The fortune of war-

Good news from Palestine is’nt it, & just as well perhaps considering the rather depressing series of events in Russia & Italy. Really the Russians are rather trying, but I fancy we have cleared them out of our calculations altogether now. The Italian news is uncertain, but they seem to be preparing us for worse. Poor old England & France! We are bearing the whole weight of the war between us.

I rather fancy America’s entry will make all the difference, especially her air fleet.

Awfully sad about Genl: Maude was’nt it, so awfully sudden too. They say it was Cholera, but no one seems to know for certain. He was undoubtedly a very good man, with an extraordinary amount of energy & attention to detail- and he is a great loss.

I must have my bath now, & use some of the bath salts you sent. I used one cube the other day & it was gorgeous.

Best love to all

yr loving son


Maude’s death in NZ Press 2 days earlier


Leave a comment

Posted by on 23 November, '17 in About


18 November 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Nov 18/17


Dear Mother

I got a lovely surprise today in the shape of a really gorgeous pipe from you. You had to post ridiculously early apparently to catch the Christmas mail for these parts, and your parcel turned up today! But that’s no matter, the point is the rippingness of the present. Thanks ever and ever so much for it Mother: it’s a regular “just what I wanted” and such a gorgeous pipe too; I’m awful proud of it and it’s the envy of the Brigade.

Kindly tell me please what’s come over the posts lately! Two days ago I got a letter written by you from Pitney on 25th Sept, & today I get the pipe & letters from Nell date Oct 3rd to Oct 9th! So things seem rather higgledy piggledy all round- Nell tells me she has rheumatism in her shoulder poor child. Can’t it be sort of got out of her system now while she’s young, by baths (mud baths I’ve heard of; she’d better try the trenches!) or some means, I’m so awfully sorry for her poor dear & I’ve no doubt she’s being looked after all right, but I’m naturally very anxious to get all that can be done, done now. Otherwise she seems very fit & cheery, & I wish she could manage to get a bit of a change & go & stay at Delaford for a bit-

Your letter to me from Pitney was sad in many ways, I mean the way the old place has been so unavoidably neglected – one always associated Pitney with neat lawns & flower borders, & your description is hard to picture. Joe must be getting very old & feeble now, but from your account is still happy & his simple pleasures still appeal to him.

I have’nt heard ftom Ben for some time now, the vagaries of the post again I suppose. But all the same I think the posts out here are most awfully good, & we have had heaps of mails lately & have really no complaints- Yes, Jim wrote & said he had actually got orders to come out here, but I’ve heard nothing since-

So glad you met the Kelways. I met them of course at Cheltenham College, & remember them awfully well. It was the first time I had met them, as I had always missed them as kids at Pitney.

Rather cloudy & muggy here now, & some rain hanging about I think. The papers we have had from home these last 2 weeks have been wonderfully cheery & optimistic, but since then the Italian débacle has occurred, so I wonder what they all say now-

I have no news. I was vaccinated two days ago – at my age too! I do hope it won’t take, but it’s looking rather angry just at present – what a lot of stuff one has injected nowadays, enteric, cholera, vaccination & emitone, I must be a walking chemist shop by now! I retired to bed early last night with a head & a cold, good old neuralgia & shivers- nust have been a touch of malaria I think, but I’m all right today & am going to drink a hot whiskey & lemon in bed (you know the krewst!) & then fairly pile on the clothes, though I have not got many to pile on, though fortunately the paternal government gave us another blanket all round today & I got a beauty.

Again thanks awfully for the ripping pipe, most welcome a real beauty too-

Best love to all

yr loving son


I told you did’nt I that D-B gives up command on 21st of this month, & Jack Hogg, now commanding our 3rd Batt, succeeds him & is coming out here.

Lyell has left Basra to join us, & will be here in a week or two, so that puts me down to Major when he arrives, & when Jack Hogg arrives to command us, I subside to Captain!


History of Pitney

Probable Kelways –  family of peony cultivator


Leave a comment

Posted by on 18 November, '17 in About


11 November 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Nov 11/17


Dear Mother

Two letters from you today, one from Pitney on 26th Sep & one from home on 3rd October. Thanks most awfully for them. I have half an idea that there is a mail missing, though we have not been warned of one being lost – as a matter of fact later mails do arrive sometimes before previous ones, as they occasionally go via Ceylon for some reason or other, & while they are doing that the next mail nips into Bombay & reaches us first- However the chief thing is that they should arrive sometime. I wrote to you 2 or 3 days ago so I have’nt much further news for you.

We got the home papers today with the wires about our Ramadi show in it, but I see they are very non-comittal & told you nothing beyond that the action was a success. I cabled to Nell as soon as I could to say I was all right, and I expect she sent it on to you, at least I hope so. The wires were rather congested just then so I only sent one.

Nell’s birthday today, she is 20, so is getting quite grown up! I hope Jane finished her present in time, somewhat novel perhaps & I hope Mrs Fielding won’t be shocked! Nell writes very cheerily & of course is wild at the prospect of my coming home next year. I hope the dear child realises that it is only an outside chance & may not be possible, but I’m going to have a jolly good try.

My chief bit of news this mail is that Col: D.B. is definitely giving up command on the 22nd of this month, and Jack Hogg has been appointed to succeed him. He is son of Col Hogg you know at Camberley, & is at present commanding our 3rd Bn: in India. He is an awful nice man & we are lucky to get him. The official letter says he will proceed to Mesopotamia “in due course”, which may mean anything. So when he arrives and Lyell, I shall drop to humble Captain again! But I can’t complain can I; I’ve had my innings & a jolly good one too; besides it is’nt over yet either, as I don’t suppose Hogg will be out much before Christmas.

I went out shooting this morning, it’s the first holiday the men have had since we left Baghdad last September. We have been so busy marching & digging that we have’nt had time for any “days off”. It’s rather a krewst here, as you have to have an escort to go out any distance from camp with, rather novel conditions to shoot under! However nothing exciting happened, & we brought back 6 partridges & 2 grouse so had quite a nice little outing.

I hope the stores have sent you some photographs- I sent you the key to them some time ago & if they have numbered them properly you should be able to tell exactly which is which. I have ordered them to send you another lot & send the key to the new lot herewith.

So glad you had a few days at Pitney, the fruit sounds gorgeous. Yes, Ben told me all about the air raids; terrible they sound, & it’s good (?) to get some inside news, as the papers tell us so little. They must do a lot of damage of course; you can’t miss anything, bound to hit something flying over London. They are terrible things all the same, & I sincerely trust we are paying the Boche back in some of his own coin by now.

Thanks most awfully for your contribution towards the mess Fortnum & Mason parcel. It’s most awfully good of you, & we shall all appreciate it most awfully when it arrives. I was particularly anxious to do something – however small – in return for all the good work fellows, who have served under me while I’ve been in command, have done for me. I could not have been better served, & I am frightfully glad to feel that you too are helping too- I do hope things turn up in time for Christmas, but things take years to arrive to this “outpost of empire” nowadays.

I see a picture of George Moodie’s fiancée in the Tatler this week- so Topher turned up on leave did he at last; I am glad to hear it, & I hope he liked it- Wish I’d known, I should have liked to have sent him the price of a sherry & bitters at least-

You say in your letter of Aug 21st that you sometimes feel a bit anxious about me, but please don’t my dear mother. I really & truly am awful fit now & am feeling so well an’ all & in this cold weather one ought to keep as well as anything.

Nell tells me she finds it very hard to get away now, her V.A.D hospital is only staffed with ½ the right number of nurses apparently, so she is pretty busy. I wish she would get away for a holiday & change, however short, all the same.

I don’t know how the mails run nowadays, especially so far away as we are, but I expect this will reach you some old time.

Best love to all

yr loving son


Am enclosing key to next lot of photographs, stores Bombay will send you

Leave a comment

Posted by on 11 November, '17 in About


7 November 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Nov 7/17


Dear Mother

I seem to have a lot of letters from you to answer – we got 3 mails altogether a few days ago, & I got 4 from you dated 5th 12th 13th & 19th September. Thanks most awfully for them, also for the papers which always turn up safely (tap wood) & are most welcome.

I have’nt much news for you. I had to go down to Feluya for a day last week to have my tooth finished off. He only had to put the stopping in so it did’nt take long & he did’nt hurt, it’s so difficult to get about in this country, you have to wangle lifts in various cars etc. I stayed with Sam Orton at Feluya, I was only there one night & I came back next day. A vile day to day: SE wind and the air thick with dust. Yesterday we went out on a reconnaissance about 5 miles beyond the outposts but saw nothing.

In to-day’s communiqué I see we have got Tekrit, north of Baghdad. I wonder what our next move will be. I am sending along a card which they give us out here, a ghastly production but I’m afraid it’s the best I can do. We just got Ramadie in time to appear in the card as you can see- all the other names are former scraps out here-

Yes I see London has been raided a good deal lately, but Ben writes to say how wonderfully calmly people take it all. So glad to hear the specialists’ opinions on Capon are so hopeful but as you say it must be awkward having him on the sick list. I do wish old Nell could manage to get up to Delaford for a bit, but she writes to say she is very busy nowadays as her sister Gladys is not very fit & she has to do more Red X work in consequence. However I expect she’ll be able to manage it someday. I’m very anxious to hear what job Topher has managed to get, whether he got gunners or tanks. Really awfully good of Genl: Robertson to take such an interest in him.

Ben told me Romer had been wounded & she saw him one day in town I believe. I hear he’s not bad, though still on crutches- You say you had 2 letters from me one day, 11th Sept, so glad they arrived safely- one was written in hospital, & one just after I came out. Thanks most awfully for writing to the matron & sending her a parcel, I know she will appreciate it so. Certainly the things you put in sound most alluring & I think you couldn’t have chosen better. Lucky getting that bit of sandal wood soap!

There is another excellent article in the “Field” of ? (I’ll look it up in the mess & tell you later) on the I.A. in France, & it has some nice things to say about us. So if you can get a copy anywhere, as I think it will interest you- I had a line from Jim a day or two ago, & he tells me he expects to be sent out here soon, but has to go to India first. I wonder if we shall meet! Specs still exempted! Disgraceful I call it. Surely he can hold a gun straight in a trench, or do something to finish the war-

You seem to have had another letter from me on 13th Sept: are’nt the mails erratic these days. I have’nt had a parcel from you for sometime now. There must be 2 on the way I fancy, but parcel mails, once they are landed out here, are very erratic as transport is so scarce & parcel mails are the last things they send up. Our letter mails are really wonderfully good.

I can’t remember Jerreland at the R.M.C somehow. I wrote & told Nell she could put our engagement in the paper if she liked. Several people have seen Paul’s, & asked if it was my brother, Spens of Frimley Hall for one.

It has been awfully cold lately, right up to 10 o’clock or so every day: but today with this S.E. wind it’s quite hot again & last night was not nearly so cold as usual either.

No more news for the present: I’m very fit & well.

Best love to all

Yr loving son



Leave a comment

Posted by on 7 November, '17 in About


29 October 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Oct 29/17


Dear Mother

Very many thanks for a letter from you dated 22nd August, which I got yesterday. I have had letters from you dated later than that, so I suppose this is one of those mails that comes by Colombo and so arrives a little later. In it you talk of Dick’s coming home on leave & in one of the ones I got a few days ago you describe his doings on leave! So things are a bit topsy turvy. It had a gorgeous little bag of lavender in it; thanks ever so much.

The letter was in answer to one of mine written from hospital. Yes, that emitone injection is a wonderful discovery. It is one of the ingredients of ipechechuana (?) wine and has only been discovered & used within the last few years. It is supposed to nullify to a very large extent the chances of any evil after effects of dysentery.

So glad to hear Ben is so well again. She wrote me such a cheery letter which I got yesterday & says she knows she is so much better herself.

It’s an awful day today, nothing but dust & sand, one of the worst dust storms we’ve had. We have got some more kit up now, & now I have a tent & a bed & a clean shirt, so am quite a swell. Also a pair of pyjamas which I got from the Red X in Baghdad the other day. So nice after sleeping in one’s clothes for six weeks.

Not much excitement here just at present, we are still busy digging & don’t get much time for anything else- Sorry to hear Capon is still unwell- I’m afraid he’s come to the end of his really active capabilities now and after the war we shall have to look out for another factotum; there should be plenty of ex-soldiers on the look-out for a job. Capon will be a great loss I’m afraid, & the family will have to devise a pension scheme for him-

How amazing about old Swann’s answer to your letter! He certainly sounds very prim & spikey. I wish Nell could manage to get up to Delaford for a bit soon: I know you are always asking her, but she seens very busy with her V.A.D work always.

D.B. I hear is unfit for field service for 6 more months, but I hear Lyell may be coming out & may take over command from me, but nothing is certain. Splendid news from France last night, 11,000 prisoners & 120 guns. They can’t go on losing men like that, & that’s a big haul of guns too. I really do believe next year sees the end- I wrote you a day or two ago, so have no news-

Best love to all

yr loving son



Emetic said to be responsible for Karen Carpenter’s death

“The French took 11,157 prisoners, 200 guns and 220 heavy mortars.”

Leave a comment

Posted by on 29 October, '17 in About


26 October 1917 – Ted to Gertrude


Oct 26/17


Dear Mother

Very many thanks for a letter of yours yesterday dated Aug 29th. I got it on my return from Baghdad. Did I tell you, by the way, of my going there. I had awful toothache, so I got a week’s leave to go and see the dentist. The journey takes 4 days, 2 days each way, over most appaling roads with 2 foot ruts and clouds and clouds of dust, really quite indescribable. You have to get down as best you can, as there is no regular means of course, I mean no railway or anything like that. But there are motor lorries going backwards & forwards with rations etc & you have to pick up lifts here & there in those. It’s a very rough & jolty journey & very tiring as you may imagine. We are about 70 miles out, & you do about ½ the journey each day, an experience I can tell you!

Yesterday I started at 6.30 & got in here at 11, driving through a bitter cold N. wind all the way. I had 3 days in Baghdad, & the dentist – a very good one – found a wisdom tooth badly gone & so he killed nerves & things & sort of ½ finished it, but I have to go & see him in about a week’s time again to be finished off. This time however he is coming to ½ way house, so I shan’t have to go so far thank goodness.

I had quite an amusing time in Baghdad, though I did’nt have much time to do anything except see the dentist & do some shopping – of course we are clean out of all luxuries etc up here so I had heaps of commisions to do for lots of people, & that took up a good deal of time, – I know several people on Maude’s staff, so I went round & saw them occasionally, & had’nt much time to spare, still there’s no harm done in going to see them.

It’s very pleasant up here now, and really cold nights & mornings. The flies have been almost unbearable at times, but an organised campaign against them has had excellent results and they are not so bad now. I see Paul’s engagement in the Times, also in the Tatler, so I presume old man Swann has consented to the wedding.

I got a cable from Nell yesterday. I cabled to them 2 or 3 days after the fight last month, saying I was all right, & that the regt: had done well, & I imagine there is an answer to it. It takes long enough these days does’nt it? I see Genl: Brooking our General, has been given a K.C.M.G as a reward for his services in the capture of Ramadi, so they are evidently very pleased with him & all he did. It’s good to have been in such a successful show.

So glad Dick managed to get home on leave. Topher too you say was expected. Now that the push in Flanders is definitely over I suppose they will give leave more freely. Everyone seems very satisfied with the results of the year’s fighting, & I suppose we have made a lot of difference, for we have all the best & highest ground, though we have not gained very much actual area. Still I presume we shall go on hammering the Boche all the winter with artillery and give him no rest, & then the Americans coming in next March or so ought to help a lot, especially with their air fleet. Did’nt the French do splendidly the other day strafing all those Zeps! A wonderful piece of work.

I had’nt seen Romer Baggallay’s name in the roll of honour. It’s so dreadfully long nowadays that I’m afraid one often misses a name, & very often whole lists. I do hope he’s all right. Charlie Anderson a Col: too! As you say, at last. Has he been out to the front at all? As far as I remember he had’nt when I last heard.

No news out here, & you get all there is in the papers I expect. We get little or none out here, even of the doings of our next door neighbours.

I’ve got all the magazines you’ve sent out – very many thanks for them, they are most acceptable.

I believe this is the Christmas mail, but it seems very uncertain- However I may as well send along my greeting in this letter. I believe there are some Christmas cards available, & I’ll try and send you some of those if I get hold of any.

All going strong here and nothing much doing round our way, except digging trenches-

Best love at all, & “that old wish”.

Ever yr loving son



Major-General H T Brooking, commanding 15th Indian Division, third in this film of Mespot General Staff

Eleven Zeppelins Raid France – Four brought down (Auckland Star, 22/10/17)

Lt Col Richard Romer Claude Baggallay

Leave a comment

Posted by on 26 October, '17 in About


17 October 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Oct 17/17


Dear Mother

I got no letter by last mail from you, but I expect I shall get one in a day or two, as everyone is the same, a lot of letters missing still. But you see we are somewhat far away from civilisation and the roads are bad up to here, in fact there are no real roads yet: transport is short, and all there is is being used for more important things like food & ammunition.

However I must say they are doing wonders & we have had 3 mails altogether since we left Baghdad just a month ago, 2 together & one a day or two ago. We have had a few parcels too, but these I suppose will take longer to arrive – otherwise all goes well here.

I forget if I told you we have moved to another camp, just behind our outpost line & we are busy now digging our new defences. We have got our tents now, which is a blessing but we are still on 20lbs kit; another 20lbs which we left in Baghdad is on its way up, but I am quite content with what I’ve got really, though it means sleeping in your clothes & nothing much in the way of a change. But one gets horribly used to pigging it & everyone is just as dirty as everyone else so it does’nt matter- all the same, if you think of it, a cake or two of soap & some cigarettes are always welcome.

It is really delightful here now. Gorgeous fresh mornings after really cold nights. In the daytime it is 92° or thereabouts in the shade, nice warm days: at night it drops down to 50°, a tremendous contrast is’nt it. But we are all very fit & getting nice & hard.- of course this open air life leaves nothing to be desired & I love every minute of it. All the same I long to get home again to see you all once more & dear old England. But as long as I’m here I feel much happier than if I was in India, doing something to help possibly, but not in the line I want.

News is good all round is’nt it, & we continue to push on in Belgium & I should’nt be surprised if by the time you get this the Belgian coast & submarine bases are ours. A mutiny in the German navy too, distinctly a sign of the times.

Since our great battle the 29th we have’nt seen a Turk. They put me in command of a mixed force the other day, cavalry & guns & infantry, & we went out & reconnoitred 10 miles or so in front of our line but never saw a sign of anything, bar a Turkish aeroplane, which must have wondered what we were doing- I also had some armoured cars with me & they went out about 20 miles but saw nothing- A most desert country this, simply miles & miles of sand & low hills – all sand – wherever you go or look.

The banks of the Euphrates produce a little greenery, reeds & palm trees, & the bedouin Arabs raise scanty crops here & there, & then wander on to a fresh camp: for the rest, it is one howling waste. So you may imagine an army operating here can’t go very far from the river, as this is absolutely the only water supply. We were fighting 4 miles from the river the other day & got thirsty enough, & the supply of water to us in the firing line was a very difficult matter.

I had long letters from Paul & Dick last week – Paul is getting married soon I see; & a very sensible thing to do too I think. I see no chance of mine being a war wedding, I’m too far off to hope for anything of that sort I’m afraid. I might manage a month in England next summer, but it’s doubtful. But the war should be over by then.

What a lot of air raids there have been lately. But reprisals are in the air (very much so!) I see, & I must say I agree. In fact that, combined with America’s entry & her air fleet, will go a long way towards finishing things off I think.

Two of the Turkish guns we captured on the 29th are being used as anti-aircraft guns here. I have had them engraved with the regiment’s name etc, so we can claim them after the war for the mess. They are most certainly ours – I’m afraid I gave you a very brief account of the fighting the other day. I have written a longer one to Nance as a matter of fact, but one can’t say much on these occasions. Anyway it was a great day, & the regiment’s fame has increased a whole heap- I cabled to Nell too, but I don’t know if it ever arrived- I expect the cables are pretty busy these days. The last letter I got from her was August 11th, & yours was  a week before that I think, so I’ve got some more to come I expect. By the way the mails leaving Baghdad 8 & 9 September have been burnt at sea, so I’m afraid you’ll lose my letters telling you about Baghdad, as we had just arrived then. Is’nt it a nuisance.

I am ever so fit now though it was’nt till we had been in Baghdad about a week that I began to really pick up. Praps I came out of hospital a wee bit soon, & it was difficult to get really well in camp in all that heat & scratch food etc. I tell you because your last letters were written just as you got my cables saying I had left hospital. However, I assure you that no one  could have gone through all that heat & dust & marching & fighting we had in the last fortnight of September, unless he had been absolutely well, as fit as a fiddle & as strong as a horse. I did, so I am, if you follow me! So rest assured that I have completely recovered & am as well as ever, in fact perfectly fit.

The only thing is my last remaining molar in my left jaw, bottom row, is aching like blazes & it has been stopped once, but wants looking to. I don’t want to have it out, or else I could have that done here, sitting on a biscuit box, & letting a shoeing-smith from a cavalry regiment pull it out with a pair of pantomime tweezers, or something equally painful. So I have shoved in to be allowed to go to Baghdad where there is a real dentist. There is’nt much going on now, and though I hate having to go away for a day or two, still I feel it will make me much fitter to do my work properly so I think it’s the right thing to go. Of course I may not get leave, but I sincerely trust they grant it me. I had a horrid cold the other day, chiefly sand & dust irritation I think, & I felt rotten for a day or two, but the excitement of battle proved a splendid cure. A tip for the future!

Desmond Gabb hopes to go to Hong Kong I hear & get Maggie Davids out to him, he does’nt seem to know that this is impossible now. I met a fellow in the Queens the other day – name unknown – who has been staying with Lil Davids, that was, in India. He said she was awfully fit & well & happy, & he had had an awful good time. Lil still has her nice English colour he says, & I’m very glad to hear it. It does’nt last long generally in the plains of India, especially down Madras way where she is. Desmond has “Mesopotamia heart” (whatever that is!) I hear, & is unfit for service at present.

I heard from D.B. last mail – he does’nt seem to know if he’s coming out or not. Anyhow his time of command is up on Nov 22nd, so unless they give him an extension, I don’t think we shall see him again. I hear Lyell is due to come out with the next draft, and he is senior to me, it would mean his taking over command from me. But I can’t complain can I! I’ve had the regiment 6 months, I’ve commanded it in action; the men & officers were splendid & did awfully well, so what more can I expect? I think you thoroughly understand the situation, as I have so often explained it, & after all it’s only fair that the senior ones should get the good jobs. So don’t be surprised if I get relegated down to my real rank as Captain, if Henderson & other senior officers come out. But it’s rotten if it happens, ‘cos people who don’t know will wonder why.

I must end up. An erratic mail leaves today & I am catching that. No time to write to the others yet. I must try next mail.

Best love to all

yr loving son


Ted at this time is 34, but he refers to “my last remaining molar in my left jaw, bottom row”. I don’t know if his teeth were partcularly bad, if dentistry in India was particularly poor, or whether this was standard in the late 19th and early 20th century. I suspect the latter. Rather him than me.



Leave a comment

Posted by on 17 October, '17 in About