Category Archives: Ramadi

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 [presumably Fallujah]. 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


“The Card” is the 1917 Christmas Card for the Mesopotamia Campaign. While the verses in greetiings card are always in a genre of their own, this one is very much of it time. This, more than any other artifact we have from Ted, reminds us how much the events of 1914-1918  shaped the world we live in now with its mentions of Basrah, Ramadi and Baghdad.

The Christmas 1917 card from the Mesopotamia Campaign - listing the battles

The Christmas 1917 card from the Mesopotamia Campaign – listing the battles

The Christmas 1917 card from the Mesopotamia Campaign - greetings from Ted

The Christmas 1917 card from the Mesopotamia Campaign – greetings from Ted

The Christmas 1917 card from the Mesopotamia Campaign

The Christmas 1917 card from the Mesopotamia Campaign

The Christmas 1917 card from the Mesopotamia Campaign

The Christmas 1917 card from the Mesopotamia Campaign

THIS medal of ours with its ribbon and bars
Tells of crushing defeats of the Crescent and Star,
‘Tis a pleasant reminder to friends far away
That more than one Turkey is rueing “The Day”.

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Posted by on 7 November, '17 in About, dentist, Ramadi


8 October 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

October 8/17


Dear Mother

Very many thanks for 2 letters from you which I got a few days ago, about a week after we had got here. They were dated 2nd & 8th August and I can’t help thinking there is a mail missing somewhere, & other fellows seem to think the same; one is due in today & that may be the one.

I have’nt really & truly had time to sit down & really write letters lately – Ever since the fighting was over on 29th Sept we have been more than busy clearing up the battlefield, guarding prisoners, on outpost duty etc and we’ve had hardly time to turn around. From all accounts our victory here seems to have caused a tremendous impression everywhere, and the force has received numerous congratulatory messages from the King & General Maude. It appears to be a victory of tremendous importance, so I am most awfully glad to think the 39th played such an important part in it, and so proud myself to have commanded the Battalion in the fighting.

You will have seen references to the capture of Ramadi in the papers, & I expect you wondered if we were there, very much so, & the regiment played a very prominent part & did splendidly – one of our officers has been given a D.S.O for good work & gallant conduct that day – he was badly wounded in the mouth, his tongue being nearly shot away, but he stuck to his job & eventually came back to the ambulance & on the way stopped & wrote down for me a clear & concise account of the situation where he was, though he must have been in great pain at the time. He was very plucky all through & thoroughly deserved his award. I have had a line from him in hospital & he tells me they have sewn his tongue on again & he will get his speech back all right, as of course he could’nt speak a word when I saw him-

Our 2 men who knocked out the Turkish field-gunners with Lewis guns have been decorated too; these are what they call “immediate” awards, given by General Maude in the field, & I hope we shall get lots more in due course, as the men thorough deserve them. The 5th Queens were with us in the fighting, and – being a Guildford regiment – no doubt the name Garhwal will soon be quite familiar there. They are awfully struck with our men, & especially with their work during the fighting, & I expect you may hear something about us in your conversations with various people- The Queens fought splendidly & did awfully well, & please tell everyone so.

We are still on a very light scale of kit, one blanket only, & no tents, & the nights are frightfully cold now. We hope to get more kit up shortly, but we are all pretty hard now & can put up with a good deal of knocking about & pigging it.

I owe several letters to the family but I really have’nt time to do anything like answering letters just at present. I am most awfully fit & well, & love this sort of thing, real soldiering with a vengeance.

“Eye-witness”, the official reporter, came round to see us after the fighting, & I took him over the battlefield & he is writing a long account of it & us, so look out for it in the papers- He told me he had already mentioned the regiment in his wire to the home paper, but expected they wd censor it.

The woolly Shetland has been more than useful & I don’t know what I should have done without it. I carried it in my haversack on the show, & very glad I am that I have it with me now.

I am telling Cox to send along £2-15 for Ruth’s things. I’m awful sorry, but I had an idea I’d settled that.

The flies here are absolutely indescribable. The Mess (we are messing in a tumbledown old Arab mud hut) is black, really & truly with them, & at meal times you can’t see your food for flies. They nearly drive you mad. No more for the present

Excuse scrawl. Best love to all

Yr loving son


This is the writing pad you sent me in Egypt in Jan: 1916!

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Posted by on 8 October, '17 in About, Ramadi


1 October 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Oct 1st/17


Dear Mother

Just a scribble to tell you I’m all right after the fighting round Ramadi on Sept 27th, 28th, & 29th, which you may have noticed in the papers, though I don’t suppose they will make reference to it. The 1/5 Queens were in it with us, so you may perhaps hear accounts from some of their relations. The fighting is all over now, as we have killed or captured the entire Turkish force here, some 3000 men, & 2000 of them surrendered to us, the good old 2/39th! Is’nt it splendid. The regiment has done awfully well, though I say it as should’nt, as I commanded it all through!

The G.O.C. the force has been round to thank us & congratulate us & said that we were going to be specially mentioned separately from the others as having done so well. The officers & men were magnificent, mother, & I am frightfully proud to have commanded such a splendid lot of men in action, & I know you will be too. The Queens were splendid too, & fought like veterans.

We did a night march on 27th Sept & dug trenches close to the enemy that night, marched all next day till 3 pm & then attacked & captured a ridge; dug trenches all that  night & next morning advanced over 1500 yards of open ground & attacked & captured another ridge, & a very important bridge which prevented the Turkish army escaping. Also we captured 3 field guns, is that magnificent for infantry, & all by our little selves too! These guns were knocking us about rather badly at very close range, so 2 of our men got Lewis guns & shot down the gunners, & then a company of ours charged the guns & captured them, alone & unaided. A very nice thing for infantry to actually knock out guns, & then capture them.

After that practically the whole of the Turkish force (2500 out of a total of 3000 odd) surrendered to us, the 39th, including Ahmed Bey the Turkish commander & all his staff. We had a good many casualties in the 3 days fighting, during which we came under very heavy machine gun & rifle fire at times, & also heavy shell fire. But we fortunately only had 2 officers wounded, & very few men killed.

The main point is the operations have been entirely successful, the general & all are fearfully pleased, & Genl: Maude has sent us some very congratulatory messages. I, of course, am more pleased than I can say; I knew the men would do well, but they have exceeded my wildest expectations. We had heaps of congratulations from other regiments & individuals, & the Garhwalis have more than sustained their reputation.

The 3 days fighting were really hard, no sleep practically, very very hard marching & some good stiff fighting; very very little water, scanty food, but a cheery view of life helped us all along, & now of course you could’nt find a happier crowd anywhere. I’m awfully fit & well, had many narrow escapes, but a miss is always as good as a mile is’nt it.

Too busy to write any more. Best love to all the others. I can’t write any more I’ll try next day. Heaps of love to all

Yr loving son



Sketch and report of Ramadi from In The Clouds Above Baghdad, being the records of an air commander by John Edward Tennant (1920)

Veteran’s account

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Posted by on 1 October, '17 in About, Ramadi


22 September 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Sept 22/17


Dear Mother

Just a line to say all’s well. We have had no scrapping yet but have had 4 days’ hard marching, very hard, over frightully bad & dusty roads. We have come 54 miles, & that at the end of an enervating hot weather & the men not hard & not having had much practice in route marching lately, is pretty good work; hard work anyhow.

The dust on the march was awful, absolutely indescribable, you really & truly could’nt see one yard at times. It is very cold at nights now, & still warmish during the middle hours of the day. We only have one blanket each, & our great coats of course, & no tents, so it’s pretty parky at night, I carry that Shetland woolly in my haversack & find it frightfully useful.

There are some more troops just ahead of us, & we heard guns this morning so evidently the ball has opened, though of course by the time you get this it will all be over, & a brief reference in the papers will be the only thing the public will know. But to us on the spot it looms much larger of course. We are all fit & well, & thriving on the simple life. I must keep a full record of all our doings as things & incidents fade so quickly from one’s memory if one does’nt jot them down at the time or very soon after. I wish letters took a shorter time to arrive.

Well, please don’t worry, mother. The regiment is in great form & I’m tremendously glad to get a chance to take it into action. I have’nt got time to write to the others as you may imagine, so will you please apologise, & expect my next letter when you get it.

Best love to all

Yr loving son



Battle of Ramadi

39th Garhwal Rifles marching in Mesopotamia 1917

39th Garhwal Rifles marching in Mesopotamia 1917


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Posted by on 22 September, '17 in About, Ramadi