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21 March 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

H.M.S. MALAYA.
c/o G.P.O.

21st Wednesday.

 

My dear Mother- Very many thanks for your letter. Yes. I heard about Jim & his ship being mined from Nance – How awful; really one would have thought they are safe enough out there. Oh but I am glad he is safe, and all his belongings too. A good thing to hear he was safe first – before hearing anything about the outrage – saves so much anxiety does’nt it.

Nance says she does’nt know what to say about how kind & sweet you have been to her last week end – she seems to have had a rotten cold – and a throat much the same as mine and Dreda’s. She seems much better now – and thank you so awfully Mother for looking after & taking care of her. She more than loves being at Delaford-

So I hear Ben is’nt going farming to start with the others – Nance seemed to have some doubt too about going – because she thought she would’nt be able to come & see me – if there was a chance the same as when I first met her – but she says now she is definitely determined to go – for which I am ever so pleased.

The world’s coldest day to-day -plenty of sun really- but consistent snow blizzards- & tons of wind.

I should imagine Ted is vastly pleased about going to Mesopotamia – I feel so sorry for them & their mails – when they have a huge change like that. Dick & Topher I expect are having a run for their money too on their horses at last. Should you say an exciting week’s news! Marvellous is’n it!

I hear Jane has been asked up to stay in Scotland with a great friend of mine to whom I introduced her when I was on leave – one McCulloch by name – his brother is in this ship and I know all the family. Priceless people they are & they are cousins of that fellow Stewart- you may remember his name – he was in the Gloucester with me & then he went down in the Hampshire. Dreda knows about him. I know his people too – so I am well in with the whole lot of them really. So if Jane asks you anything about going – I can absolutely vouch for her. Ned McCulloch – my pal wrote to me & asked if he could have her up there to stay – when he went home- He’s getting a new leg at present – poor fellow.

That Horlicks is lovely

Must end now – My bestest love to you all-

Your ever loving son

Paul


Jim was on the Tyndareus which had struck a mine off Cape Agulhas, South Africa, on the 6th of February.

 
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Posted by on 21 March, '17 in About

 

21 March 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

In the train

Mar 21/17

 

Dear Mother

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

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

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

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

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

Best love to all

yr loving son

Ted

 
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Posted by on 21 March, '17 in About

 

17 March 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Delhi

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

MESOPOTAMIA EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
C/O PRESIDENCY POST MASTER
BOMBAY

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

Ted


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. 

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fall_of_Baghdad_%281917%29

 
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Posted by on 17 March, '17 in About

 

16 March 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

H.M.S. MALAYA.
c/o G.P.O.

Friday 15th.
[Paul got the date wrong]

 

My dear Mother – I never got another chance yesterday to write to you – I had a lovely time ashore – really it was a topping day – spent most of the time turfing a new golf green we are making. We had a mess dinner in the evening – dined several of the Gun Room – also we had the “Somme Films” – excellent I thought but rather sordid in parts.

Of course re this farm idea of the girls – I must say – there is that to think about – re their good jobs when they come back in September-, but I should think in their cases – they would probably be taken back again – especially Dreda & Marjorie where they are known – Ben I’m sure could get a job similar to her present one if she wanted it – & Lance’s is’nt a paid job you see; so on the whole I don’t think they ought really to lose by it.

The thing is that I should’nt like Ben & Dreda to get too far away from you – you ought really to have someone with you at home; Jane wrote to me yesterday & said she was going to make her job into a daily one & so be with you in the evenings.

I see Gordon Campbell is excelling himself – really excellent work he’s done though we know very little about why he was promoted – D.S.O. & a V.C. We shall probably hear soon though. High excitement at Hillier House I should imagine. If you hear anything – why etc – do let me know will you – I saw Digby for about ½ a minute ashore yesterday – very Digby-ish as usual.

Rather – black cats are fearfully lucky they say – so don’t lose him now.

They seem to have had a great week end at No. 10  Elsworthy. James & Marjorie were there as well.

I had a long letter from Mrs Conway-G – old C.G. is not so bad apparently as was first thought – & must have a month’s complete rest. Very surprised about my engagement.

Bestest love to you all-

from your ever loving son

Paul


Paul had recently got engaged to Nancy Swan, whose aunt by marriage was Mrs Conway-Gordon. At this distance of time, it is impossible to know if “Marjorie” was Nancy’s sister. Nancy’s father was Colonel Charles Arthur Swan C.M.G., M.A., J.P., and her mother was Ethel, only daughter of Colonel F.I. Conway-Gordon. Her brother was brother was Major Charles Francis Trollope Swan MC who was born in 1887 and her sister Marjorie was born in 1886.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Campbell_%28Royal_Navy_officer%29

http://lewishamwarmemorials.wikidot.com/person:campbell-gordon

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=10222242

His writings

http://guttedarcades.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/vice-admiral-gordon-campbell-vc-dso.html

My Mystery Ships online

https://archive.org/stream/mymysteryships00gord#page/n9/mode/2up

Pencil sketch of Gordon

http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/7628

Hillier House now flats for the elderly

http://www.hillierhouse.org.uk/about.aspx

 
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Posted by on 16 March, '17 in About

 

15 March 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

H.M.S. MALAYA.
c/o G.P.O.

Thursday. 15th

 

Dearest Mother-

Just a hurried line to thank you for your letter & for the Horlicks – lovely it is – I am writing again to you – but I have’nt had time today yet- & I must go ashore as it’s such a ripping day & I shall miss the mail if I wait till I come off-

My bestest love to you all

from your ever loving son

 

Paul

 
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Posted by on 15 March, '17 in About

 

12 March 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

H.M.S. MALAYA.
c/o G.P.O.

Monday, 12th

 

Dear Mother-

Thanks ever so much for the parcels of clothes – I enclose 2/- for the postage.

I hear Col Conway Gordon has gone to hospital with an enlarged heart & Mrs Conway is awfully worried about him naturally- He’s been ordered a month’s complete rest & quite likely he won’t go back to Cromarty again. Rather sickening for them – as they liked it up there so much.

Went and lunched with Tommy Drew yesterday – I had’nt seen him since I came back -so we had a goodish long talk about things.

Bestest love to you all-

from your ever loving son

Paul


It’s frustrating that we don’t know more about the Conway-Gordons who were related to Paul’s fiancée Nancy Swan.

Nancy’s father was Colonel Charles Arthur Swan C.M.G., M.A., J.P., and her mother was Ethel, only daughter of Colonel F.I. Conway-Gordon. Her brother was brother was Major Charles Francis Trollope Swan MC who was born in 1887 and her sister Marjorie was born in 1886.

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

 
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Posted by on 12 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

Ted

 
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Posted by on 10 March, '17 in About