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4 October 1914 – Benedicta to Gertrude

Suez Canal.

Posted Port Said

Nov 4th 1914

Dear Mother.

We get to Port Said today sometime I believe so I am going to post this, as the mail will get home before we do I fancy, if we hang about as we are now.

I hope I may see Ted at Port Said, after that I think we may leave the convoy & go on, on our own. Anyway I hope so because it seems to be endless this voyage, I’m dreading the part after this too because it’s all the worst; I was ill the 1st go off tho’ it wasn’t really rough, & in the Red Sea we had it like a mill pond.

At Aden Alix & I went ashore but it was boiling hot; now at last it is cooler, & soon we shall feel it awfully not being used to it. We are about 50 transport going along together, we have been quite near Ted’s ship once or twice & at Suez yesterday, we were in harbour together but no one was alowed off. After Port Said we get to Malta & then Gib, they say we shan’t be back till almost the end of the month but you can expect me any time after this.

We’ve heard very little news but I see in one list of casualties that Laurence Russell is wounded. I did not find anyone else I knew, but that was some time ago of course. I want to get back quickly now, once we leave the convoy as they will be in France fairly soon. I don’t suppose our people will go straight into it, they are sure to let them climatize at first. I shall hear from Ted at Port Said anyway even if I don’t see him.

The Irish Rifles are an awfully nice lot, Alix & I are having a very good time; they have a band too on board which plays twice a day, & we dance in the evenings. The Irish Rifles are only going home to get some warm clothes & then straight to France, so of course they are in good spirits. There was a Tommies concert last last night, there was quite a good deal of talent.

This is my last time of peace I fear, for the Mediterranean is so rough, Alix had a bad go of fever after we left Karachi. Our cabin was a sort of hospital, but everyone was awfully kind.   I had my rotten Lansdowne inside once again to add to the comfort of things, & I lived on Alen & Hanberries food for 3 days but have been eating again now, tho’ the food is frightfull & not getable mostly as they have so few waiters, but we are all getting used to the discomfort & are more or less cheerfull, under all the hopeless circumstances. I really wonder that we are, because of course there’s not one single person on this ship who has not a husband at the war, bar Alix & I & we’ve brothers & her fiancé.

I’m going through the canal, it’s so peacefull;  I hope we are able to land at Port Said. I want to get one or two things there, though now we are to pay for our messing & they are keeping us so long on this voyage. I shall have to be carefull with my money

I do hope you are allright. I’m longing to get back to you again. I hope you are doing that press clipping scheme for Ted. I live in hopes of seeing the Gloucester somewhere, there may be a chance perhaps.

Did I tell you in my other letter which I think will arrive the same mail as this, to post me a letter when you get this c/o Cox Southampton S.S. Dilwara to wait arrival. I shall get it allright I expect when I arrive. Heaps of love to all

Your loving

Ben


Although this is dated November,we know that Ben was in Port Said in October, she must have got the date wrong when writing her letter.

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16 September 1914 – Benedicta to Gertrude

Wednesday evening    Sept 16th 1914

Karachi

Dear Mother

Well we arrived this morning after the most impossible journey; I’ve never been so dirty, one large mass of dust. Archie Mankelow & we had breakfast on this ship, the City of Lahore; the “Dilwara” isn’t in yet so we are messing on here at present.

Look here, after all you will not have had a cable because it’s not much point; I can’t tell you the date we leave or anything because cables are so heavely censored, so you’ll get this before I do arrive as we are sailing either 18th or 19th Sept see. I shall be home in about a month or 5 weeks I suppose, so any day after you get this you can expect a wire from me saying I’ve landed, that’s all I can do coming officially like this. Everything is very strict & NO information can be given outside without trouble.

Ted came along for a few minutes at lunch time, his ship is also in the docks here but they can’t get off much. He is looking most awfully well & very cheery. Such heaps of troopers here, the dock is full and we have three or four Cruisers to escort us. We are hoping that one may be the Gloucester as then perhaps we should see Paul. It does seem funny going really with the expeditionary force. We go in the Dilwara from here with the Lancashire Fusiliers, as far as Aden & then the Irish Rifles go to England with us from Aden.

I dare not think of the heat, it will be dreadfull; here it is too awfull. The state everyone in it, dripping wet & outside there is a plague of locusts, a mass all flying in the air. It seems now an order came into that people belonging to the expeditionary force, families I mean who had P. & O. tickets could use them & get the money refunded by government, but of course I haven’t done this as I’d already got this passage. It seems it’s jolly hard to get your P. & O. refunded but I must when I get back, anyway some of it, & I’ve had a free railway journey which has saved at least £10 allready.

We embark tonight, I see the Dilwara has just come in. Alix & I have a cabin together, that we do know so we do hope it’s a 2 berth one. It does seem funny that I’m really starting home; they say we are not in for a bad voyage, bar the heat, as the monsoon is over. We all go two by two with certain spaces between, in among the war at all should you say.

Well there’s no more I can tell you at present so I will stop. You won’t hear again till you get my wire. I don’t know if I shall see Ted after we once sail, because I don’t suppose we land at many ports en route but we hope to see something of them.

Tell the girls I’m longing to see them again & you all. I can’t sort of realize that I’ve been here a year in this country. Just had a wire from Dick, I must write to him tomorrow. He says “What about being alone in India” but he’ll be home soon I feel sure. Too hot to write anymore. How cold I shall be when I get back, I shall sit in the kitchen all day. I don’t suppose there will be much in the fire line will there.  Heaps of love

Your loving daughter

Ben

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