Category Archives: WWI
Still here! we are however embarking tomorrow and sail probably on the 18th or 19th, but our destination is unknown at present, but, as you must have seen in the papers, is somewhere in Europe. Ben is supposed to have got a passage in a trooper called the Dilawara, at least she told me her name had gone in for that boat, & Mankelow, Alix’s brother, wrote to me from the docs on Saturday (today is Tuesday) to say they (Ben & Alix) had got passages on the Dilwara, & he had wired to them to start on Sunday, that wd land them here tomorrow. But I have had no wire or anything from Ben & so I don’t know if she’s coming or not! Anyhow as we embark on our boat tomorrow, & Ben probably only arrives tomorrow, it’s extremely unlikely we shall meet! However you’ll probably hear from her too, as to whether she is coming on the Dilwara or not. If she does, she comes with our convoy of ships taking the 7th Division, so we shall more or less be coming home together. Rather less than more with me at present I’m afraid! But I’ll get 10 days leave & come over & see you all from Berlin some day! If Ben gets the Dilwara she ought to be home about middle or third week in October, if not she’ll probably be coming home in the officers’ families’ boat leaving India about Oct 18, which would land her home about Nov 20th or so I suppose. In any case she’ll be all right as its a Govt: boat, & she’ll come under escort if necessary, but I should hardly think it would be.
Better news today, & I see the Germans are retreating hard, but there’s a lot to be done yet before we’ve finished them off. There’s no doubt, however Brutal it sounds, that they must be wiped out & sat on once & for all; they are only savages apparently, & as such have no place in Europe.
Still very hot here, but I’m very fit & well. I’ll try & write & let you know where we are going, as soon as we know ourselves!! Love to all
yr loving son
Still here you see, waiting to embark. We hear now we don’t sail till the 18th, so are stuck here for another week. Very trying all this waiting and knocking about doing nothing, & we’ve got very little kit. However it’s all part of the day’s work I suppose. Still I wish we could get off, we shan’t arrive in Europe till mid October now. It will be coldish I expect then. Ben has sent you an address she tells me, but it’s an Indian one, I expect. The War office has issued an address though as well, as it seems rather nonsense to have to send a letter all the way out here because it’s only got to come all the way back again.
Fairly hot here, but a nice sea breeze blows all day. There is no news, as we do nothing here all day, nothing to do, except a few parades. If you want to send me anything when we get out there, don’t forget some soap! as I expect that will be the most necessary thing. But at present I’m fairly well equipped, but as we are only allowed 35 lbs kit in the field, you can imagine we can’t take much.
I suppose all our friends in the Services have gone flying off, I hear all Guildford is out there, & people enlisting right & left.
Look out for us in the papers when the Indian expeditionary force lands, we’ve no idea where we are going to land at present, but it won’t be as I say till some time in October – Dont forget we are in the 20th Brigade 7th Division, I dont expect you’ll hear much about individual regiments when such large forces are engaged.
I’ll be able to write another mail before we leave here I expect.
Love to all
yr loving son
We are living in camp & messing [ie eating] at the club here. Very expensive! Have’nt had any mail for a long time: Ben should be getting her free ship home soon but we’ve heard nothing yet.
The trooper we are coming on is the COCANADA.
of course you have seen that 2 divisions are coming from India to help in this show, and you must have guessed by now from what Ben & I have already told you that we are coming. Anyhow, we have got as far as this, & embark in a day or two, & ought to land in Europe somewhere about the end of this month, where, I don’t know. But it’s all so secret, & we are not allowed to tell you anything, so I’m afraid you’ll have to go with little or no news of me for some time, except what you can get from the papers. I’ll write whenever I can of course, but I don’t know how often that’ll be, My address will be as under:
39 Garhwal Rifles
20th Infantry Brigade
*Indian Expeditionary Force A
c/o Presidency postmaster
(* or you can shorten it by putting I.E.F.A) but ALWAYS put rgt, Brigade & division, to ensure arrival of letters.
And keep all press cuttings you can get about Indian troops in the war, & the Gloucester; I see she has already distinguished herself. I’m in an awful hurry, & in haste to catch the post. I expect I’ll be able to post you a letter somewhere en route, & I’ll try when we land, but it will be all hurry scurry I expect, & I’m a busy man as adjutant.
So wish me luck, & don’t worry about me please mother. You’ll be having Ben home soon I expect, she’ll have told you all the news. Lovely sea breeze here, & I’m as fit as a fiddle.
Best love to all
Yr loving son
Ted wrote on a piece of paper torn from a Field Service Pocket Book. The letter was delayed, possibly by censorship, and took a month to reach Gertrude, whereas Ben’s written on the same day from Lansdowne, arrived on the 25th September.
According to Drake-Brockman, they had arrived at Karachi the previous day. Drake-Brockman also says:
En route we had a minor accident which fortunately was not worse. Our engine went through a small low culvert, derailing a couple of carriages. As we were going dead slow at the time, being close to Lahore, no one was hurt. Another engine and carriages were soon obtained and we continued our journey.
It’s possible Ted wrote about this from Lahore and the letter was lost, or maybe he didn’t have time to write about it at all.
Just a line this week. We left Lansdowne a week ago, & have been sitting here at this railway ever since waiting to entrain. We go to Karachi, & embark there for an unknown destination, most people have their own ideas as to where we are going, but no one knows really I think. It’s awful hot & stuffy waiting here, but I hope we shall move off tomorrow, or next day at the latest. Of course we have had lots of rain here & one or two uncomfortable nights, and we are thoroughly sick of waiting & inaction.
Stirring times these are’nt they & very anxious ones, I wonder what will have happened by the time you get this. I’m afraid my letters will be erratic after this, as I don’t know where we are going or when I’ll be able to write next. So don’t worry about me, I’ll write whenever I get ½ a chance. Ben is applying for a free passage home, as I have been ordered off, & should easily get it, also a free rly fare from Lansdowne to Bombay. I have fixed her up all right, & she ought to be home soon. I expect she has told you all about it. Excuse a short scrawl, but I’m fairly busy & its fearfully hot
Love to all yr loving son
D H Drake-Brockman, Ted’s commanding officer who wrote a history of the Garhwal Rifles’ experiences during the Great War, was splendidly furious about the delay:
This delay at Kotdwara in the middle of the hot season and rains was unfortunate and quite unnecessary. It was a malarious place, and at this time of the year alive with mosquitos… Altogether we were nine days in this delightful spot and, considering the further long wait we had at Karachi, it was quite unnecessary for us to have been sent out of Lansdowne till practically three weeks later if just a little forethought and common sense had only been exercised by the authorities in Simla…. Why the authorities at Simla were in such a great hurry to get us out of Lansdowne it is difficult to imagine. One would have thought that nothing would have been easier for them than to have enquired first whether the transports were ready for us or not, and then sent us off just in time to embark on them and so avoided these long waits in tents during the monsoon. … At Karachi we were once again detained for fifteen days in camp, so there could not have been any real urgency to get us out of our station in such haste. We could have remained comfortably and with considerable advantage.
I’m very busy these days, & have
got my hands full getting
the rgt: ready to get off, &
myself! But Ben is a tremendous
Just a line to catch this mail. We are off somewhere with the other troops from India to help old England. Where we are going I don’t know. They are sending 2 divisions from India, & we are lucky enough to be one of the regiments going. It’s hard to sit at home & wait, for you, I know; but we men have good reason to be proud of our womenfolk on these occasions. So don’t be anxious about me will you, though I know it’s very hard, especially in these days of censorship & lack of news.
I don’t know when we leave here, in a day or two, anyhow before next mail day; so please don’t expect another letter from me till you get one, because I shan’t be able to post it anywhere yet awhile. But I assure you I’ll try & write as often as I get 1/2 a chance, even if it’s only half a line. As regards old Ben. I often wonder how I managed before she came to stay; how really dreary life must have been. She’s a perfect little person, & her staying here has been too charming & delightful for words. She is a great favourite with everyone & has made one or two real friends I think. But to me she has been perfectly sweet, & I can never thank her too much for all she has done for me. It has all been perfect, absolutely, and I can never thank her enough. My only regret is that I could not give her a better time, but amusements here are limited, & I am a busy man. If she has derived one quarter of the pleasure from her visit that I have, well I am more than amply repaid.
I have fixed her up all right after I’ve gone, & I hope she’ll be all right.
Well, goodbye for the present mother. Expect a letter when you get one, I’m afraid I can promise no more than that; wish me luck & a happy return; but remember I am but doing my humble duty like thousands of others. Best love to Dryden & Jane, & Rosamond & Ruth & lots to you mother
ever your loving son
13 Aug 14
Just a line as I am frightfully busy & have’nt a minute to spare. The air is full of rumours, & I don’t know where or when we are going, I expect Ben will have told you all the news. However I’ll fix her up all right before I go, but I’m afraid you won’t hear much of either of us owing to delayed mails etc & censorship.
Anyhow we’ll both be all right so don’t worry. I do hope you’ve not had too much to worry but these are anxious times, but I think England is as good a place to be in as anywhere though I expect you are a bit un-comfortable owing to rising prices. But there is nothing to be frightened of, so don’t let Dreda & Jane get in a panic!!
Love to all
yr loving son
Just a line- Exciting times are they not, & heaven knows what may have happened by the time you get this, if you ever do. But you must’nt mind mother; I know the state of mind you must be in. Dont be frightened. War is a horrible thing & this was bound to come, & the sooner the better. It could’nt have come at a better time for England, & you need have no fear at home, you wont be troubled there.
And of course you are proud of having a son in the navy who is a member of the finest Service the world has ever seen, and whatever else you must be glad that he’s to have a chance of doing his duty & distinguishing himself. So dont be anxious; rather consider him lucky to get his chance; & I know Paul will play the game when it comes to the real thing.
I feel very out of it here; you can quite understand my anxiety as a soldier to be where the show is, but I dont see much chance. They may call on the Indian army for help, but I dont know what they are going to do. Anyhow I repeat I do feel most awfully not being on the spot, & I envy those who are getting their chance at last. I fully realise somebody has got to stay behind, & look after England, India, Egypt, & the rest of them, but it galls just the same, I would give anything to have a look in in this war.
I’m afraid we are all going to go through a trying time, but you must be brave, mother; I know you will be, &. dont be frightened or let the girls get frightened, there’s nothing to be afraid of; the Fleet will see to that. I only wish you had a son at home to help you through it all.
Best love to all & wish your service sons the best of luck,
Yr loving son
There is more information on each of the brothers on their pages; see the menu at the top of the site (if you are reading on a Mac or PC) or at the side of the site (if you are using a mobile device).
Ted and his sister Ben(edicta) were in a Hill Station in India at the start of the War. Lansdowne is in Uttaranchal in the Himalayas, and is still the headquarters of the Garhwal Rifles.