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Category Archives: Bombay

8 December 1914 – Richard to Gertrude

UNION-CASTLE LINE
S.S. “GRANTULLY CASTLE”

[Incorrectly dated Nov 8th, presumably Dec 8th].

My dear Mother.

Here I am yer see in Bombay on board a transport. I believe we are coming to England, Brighton or the New Forest or somewhere. I dunno’ if this’ll get home before I do, I expect so anyhow. Crowds on board, Hospitals, Regiments, Rats, Ladies, & Stewards.

I’m a Lieut in the I.M.S! [Indian Medical Service] hot stuff in uniform, at present more “hot” than “stuff”.

I daresay Topher is anxious to get back & fight but I imagine from there they have to pay their own passages. I should say stop where he is, there will be plenty of vacancies out in the Argentine nowadays.

I got a letter from you today. Just luck as I got some mail sent to the Taj Mahal Hotel here. They would not tell us where we were going, so I could give no addresses & had all my letters sent home again. I hope I shan’t be very ill on this ship! We’ll probably be a long time getting home.

Well best love to all

yr loving son

Richard.


The Taj Mahal Palace is still one of the most prestigious hotels in Mumbai. According to Wikipedia, it had been built some 12 years before in 1902. It is situated on the waterfront, next to the Gateway of India, itself built only three years before in 1911. In 2008, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel was one of the targets of co-ordinated terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

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22 November 1914 – Paul to Gertrude

Sunday 22th Nov

Dear Mother.

You’ll never realize where I’ve been during the last month – right out to Bombay and back & really it was such a rush thro’ – one had no time for writing or anything. I sent you a p.c from Port Said & I wrote a[t] Bombay – but I expect you’ll get this letter first. Well – we went Emden hunting – only to find after about a 4 days look she was finished – we were sick & annoyed – so we went to Bombay & an ill wind sde [said?] we had an excellent 21/2 days there. I met – of course – heaps of people I knew who looked after me very well. Now we are coming back again & hoping we shall be sent out to chase somebody else – who knows. At Aden I heard of Ben & Ted from Ainslie Talbot – he looks just the same & I could’nt fail to recognise him: also I met one of the Lloyd boys. Arthur I think – he’s in the R.A.M.C [Royal Army Medical Corps]. I did’nt know him ‘cept by his name, but of course it all came out fairly soon that he was my god-mother-.[This makes no sense, the original may be illegible.]

We got a vast mail there – first one for a month & I got your two letters of Oct 20th & 25th telling me of Bens safe arrival. I am glad she has got home safely. Ainslie told me she was in an awful ship. My luck is badly out because, I missed somebody by a day at Aden, coming out in a P. & O., a girl I know very well – well of course you know of her – I think she’s been to Delaford. Mona Griffin. She’s going out to India with the “Grotesques” also of course the Percies – Billie Maude & Co. we passed them last night – so if we had only left a day later I might have met them all.

I’ve hardly had time to read all our papers yet – we got such heaps yesterday – but I am glad to see George was mentioned in despatches. I had a Field Service Post card from Ted too which pleased me immensely dated 20th. Yes I saw in the paper about Dr Rayner & am very sorry. He was always so nice to us. So you are housing some officers – I hope you get some nice ones & not as you say some old Colonel fellow.

Can you or any of you enlighten me who this person is, who is thinking of me. I’ve wracked my brains all day to think who it is but I dont know – cant place her or him anyhow – I enclose the card as I got it – I am awfully interested to know.  I dont even know the writing – I dont want it back as I’ve kept a copy.

How you must have laughed over that waistcoat. An “inflated collar” & looks much more simple. Will you send me one I want to see what they are like.

I have got heaps of letters to write – so I must stop. I do hope you are all well. It’s so hot where we are – I am sitting in a vest & trousers under a fan – I like the hot weather tho’.

with very best love to you all
Your ever loving son
Paul.


It’s not clear where Paul and the Gloucester were at this time.

I’m not sure if Billie Maude was one person, or if Billie Percy and Maude Percy were two separate people, presumably a couple. I am also not sure who or what “the Grotesques” were. 

 

16 November 1914 – Paul to Gertrude

Royal Bombay Yacht Club

Royal Bombay Yacht Club

ROYAL BOMBAY YACHT CLUB

Bombay.

Tuesday 16th

Dear Mother,

It’s ages since I wrote & I am sorry – but you see where I am, so you can perhaps realize the wanderings we have done-. I have been here 2 days- two lovely days I’ve had- as I know a soldier & his wife very well here & they have looked after me-

I’ve just missed Ted & Ben coming home at Port Said – Aden side.

We were sent out in search of the “Emden“. but we were forestalled as you have heard. By the time you get this I shall be miles nearer home- In the Mediterranean somewhere tho’.

I do hope you are all well. We have had no mails for a month now.

Gorgeous weather here – I am so burnt – having been on an all day bathing picnic yesterday.

With ever so much love from your ever loving son

Paul


The Royal Bombay Yacht Club still exists, though it moved premises in 1948.

This letter is dated “Tuesday 16th” but the 16th was a Monday. The Imperial War Museum placed this in November 1914 so I am following suit. The mention of the Emden also suggests that this was written in November 1914. The first “Tuesday 16th” of the war was February 1915.

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3 September 1914 – Benedicta to Gertrude

Sept 3rd 1914

Lansdowne.

Dear Mother.  I got your letter last week, I was so thankfull to get a mail as I’d had to wait more than a fortnight, and just at a time when one wants to hear so much.

All your letters were of course full of the war, it was so funny reading your remarks about Ted being out of it; I expect you gathered the Indian troops were being taken by the papers & Lord Kitchener’s speaches, before you got our letters saying they were mobilizing here.

You will also know by now that the 3rd & 7th Divisions are going straight for Europe; the Egypt affair is quite off, so by the time you get this Ted will be very near the front.

I fancy they’ll keep them a bit to get the men climatized. I’m afraid you’ll be very worried but I’m praying hard that the worst may be over by the time they get there, you see it will be almost another 5 or 6 weeks. They sail from Karachi now, in a few days.

I heard from Ted nearly every day and apart from being very hot & a dreadfull journey he seems very cheery and fit- I’m so awfully glad I was here to send him off.

Look here, this is how you will know what the 39th Garhwals belong to – they belong to the 20th Brigade, 7th Division, Indian Expeditionary Force. A. and you can use this as an address. Put the name & Regiment very clear, we from our end send them to the Post Office at Bombay but you would either put C/O G.P.O. or war office I should think, you must find out. Letters to Ted ought to get to him sometime addressed like this, when once he gets to Europe.

He wrote to you last mail from Kotdwara he said & I’ve told him to be sure to let you know anything there was to know; he’s got so used to me telling you things, you know what I mean. No more definite news re the trooper, we may go now in lots of about 100 with the reinforcements from this country. There are rumours that the 1st lot sail about the 19th of this month, there have been 700 applicants from both divisions but they cut out any that are not genuine.  I should think Alix & I are almost sure for one.

It seems I can get practically my full return fare back from the P. & O. which will be a great save, as you only pay your messing on a trooper, about £5, & very small tips & no railway fares.

I haven’t heard really from Dick since I told him I shouldn’t go to him again but it would be a hopeless running away of money, the journey alone being close on £10 or 11. And it seems it would only be till November & he will get home I expect, as ship’s doctor or something.

He says he will send me to Shillong to the hotel there if he won’t go as it costs such a lot; but I don’t want to go alone after it was all going to be so ripping with him & Ted, besides I’m longing to get back, & it seems it will only be a month or perhaps not even that, earlier than I intended, & it seems too foolish & wasteful to spend Ted’s money & Dick’s just for the sake of a little gadding about, which one doesn’t want these days.

I can imagine it must have been dreadfull for you, everyone going off. Willie & all too but when you wrote the expeditionary force hadn’t gone, and with the first lot no territorials went, did they. But by now I suppose they’ve had a chance. Splendid Paul having that go at those German cruisers, I don’t quite know why they didn’t finish them off more; it must have been gorgeous for Paul. Now I hope there won’t be much more, he’s had his little go, hasn’t he.

I suppose George was in with the Scots Greys, I do hope he’s allright. It must be dreadfull for you, as I daresay you have casualty lists by now; I doubt if we get them at all. I shall so dread landing in a way, as one gets so little news on board. I shall be thankfull to get home, one feels so useless out here and I suppose everyone is doing something at home.

Alix has had 6 months’ hospital training which ought to come in usefull, we feel fearfully useless with nothing to do in the usefull line out here. And besides, being so far away now all our people have gone to Europe.

It’s gorgeous weather here & I hope the rains are over, we can have all our meals in the garden as it’s not too hot, & we’ve a nice shady place. We can play tennis again but ladies’ fours seem so odd, especially out here. There are always more men  than girls. There will be about 23 females from here, not counting the children, to go home. Everyone is going now, as if anything should happen to one’s people, they’d send them to England to be nursed you see.

My box of things ought to come along next week. I shall keep all the things, they won’t be in any way wasted. We are busy at present packing all Alix’s things from her bungalow, so that if we go off suddenly we can have plenty of time for mine; I hardly know what belongs to me & what doesn’t, I shall have heaps & heaps to see to. What with money & servants & accounts my brain has never had to work so hard!

I feel dreadfully sorry for Gossie, but I suppose most of the naval show is over; it was gorgeous that we did so well, but a fearfull suspense all that time with NO news, only rumours. I was so thankful Paul was not there, and he hasn’t been out of it either. I suppose Specs has now inlisted as everyone has, but they won’t send any of that lot out till they had at least 6 months training, will they.

Fred Lumb got back in time, but only just; he’d gone over the border into Tibet, so never got any of the wires recalling him. He did 35 miles a day over impossible country for 7 days. I just saw him & had tea with him in the mess the few hours he was here, he had to go straight on; too thin for words and fearfully tired, but only too thankfull not to have been left behind. It was touch & go if he’d catch ‘em up.

I must end now. Please give my best love to the girls, I’ll write to them next week

Your loving daughter

Ben.

Just heard from King & Hamilton that your parcel has arrived so will send for it.

I somehow thought you wouldn’t go to Selsey even if the girls did. I sent two of my mails there, but I suppose you got them.

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28 August 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

Camp

Aug 28th

Dear Mother

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

Ted


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.

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19 August 1914 – Benedicta to Gertrude

Lansdowne U.P.

Aug 19th your Birthday

Dear Mother. Thank you ever so much for your letter, I must try and get a letter off to you today, & will you please tell Dreda & Jane that I may not be able to catch the mail this week but they shall hear next; I’ve so little time for writing, there are such heaps of things to do and see to.

Here is all bussell & fuss as the two regiments leave tomorrow & the 2/39th on Friday; they’ve been all ready for some days & very anxious to get off. Alix & I have been awfully busy making & mending, but the little they are allowed to take is awfull I consider, only 60lbs personal kit & the lord knows when they’ll get back.

I’ve got all Ted’s things packed up in tin-lined cases, I wanted to get it done before he left; I’d so hate doing it after. I simply won’t realize that he is going off to war, they all seem to think in time & if it lasts they see some fighting. I am so glad that one of the family is here to see him off. I rather expect our letters will be the first you’ll hear of their going, or the officers on leave who’ve of course been recalled & are to join at the destination (no-one knows where that is), so you may hear through that.

They are to be at Bombay early next week. In the 2 division there will be about 50 regiments & that means about 30 transports. I suppose they’ll use any old ship they can get. We’ve heard very little news, and it seems it’s scarce even in England. In the next few days we shall know more after this big battle, I hope & pray the worst will be well over by the time any of their people there, & then they’ll have had the excitement of going & all & be more or less safe. I suppose such heaps of people we know and hear of are in the expeditionary force & have gone.

I’ve just heard from Dick, I don’t suppose we shall go to Shillong now unless the Pugras are on because it will cost a lot of money so I shall go straight to him as soon as ever it’s cool enough. Anyway I shall go in a month’s time as I can stand a little of the heat & won’t sooner be with him, but we shall fix that all up & I haven’t had time to hear from him since my letter telling him for certain Ted was going. Dick seems very fit again & cheery.

Thanks very much for saying you’ve sent my parcel, it will arrive some time I suppose & I shall be sure to love all the things. Shillong if it is off and all the things I wanted won’t be of very much use if I am buried with Dick at Lahoal, but I shall have them for when I do get home. I’m hoping it won’t be very much later on than November, as most people will be going home then, I mean the wives & families left here.

How expensive for Dreda’s furs really, it doesn’t seem worth getting them out here because in the summer sales you can get a set for £5. I do hope my leopard skins won’t be so much. Thanks so much for seeing about it. I shan’t get my fur coat now, as Fred Lumb has been recalled from his shoot.

Please when you get this address me c/o King Hamilton & Co. Calcutta, letters & everything, as I shall have left here & I’ll keep them up to my movements.

I heard from Paul from Alexandria, it must have been a day or two before they dashed to Malta. I’m dreading a naval battle with the Austrian Fleet.

I must end up now. I’ve got to go through all the accounts & learn something of this rotten money & business matters. Ted is very flourishing, it’s awfully worrying him going but he is dreadfully lucky to get this chance & being Adj: has a responsible position. I’ll be able to write more next week on my hand then. I’m very fit.

Heaps of love

Your loving Ben.

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12 August 1914 – Benedicta to Gertrude

Lansdowne U.P.
Aug 12th 1914

Dear Mother

Very many thanks for your letter & much news. I expect you hear, ere you get this, or you will know that the 39th Gurhwalis are ordered to mobilize for active service; they are part of the 7th Division & the 3rd & 7th are going from this country. The order came a day or two ago, this time next week Lansdowne will be left destitute; each regiment leaves an officer and a certain amount of men at each depot, and that’s all.

All three regiments go from here; Friday the 14th the 8th Gurkas go, & Tuesday & Wednesday the 3rd Gurkas, & the 39th Guhrwali. At present only ordered as far as Kodwara, the railway at the bottom of the hill (28 miles down) & then to Bombay to embark. The worst of it is they’ll go under sealed orders, so we shall never know where they go till they arrive. You will know before us I expect as you are so [illegible] for news. Some rumours say Egypt to wait, some Havre & yet again England. Everyone dreadfully excited at going of course & they’ll die of disappointment if they don’t get into the thick of it.

Ted is worked off his feet being Adj: I can’t tell you the things he has to see to, he leaves the house at 10 & I haven’t seen him again for three days till 5-30 or 6-30 when he comes back for lunch. They are only allowed 60lbs kit so for himself there is little to see to really, I’ve to make karki pillow cases & small hold alls, that’s all.

This war is so absolutely dreadfull. I’ve told you all about here first, because you will want to know about Ted but I can realize how dreadfull it must be at home; you are safe I suppose but I’m naturally very worried & we get so little news, it shows how sudden it all was, because your mail mentions not a word and yet it was dated July 24th. Our mails will be more or less allright, but they go round by sea which takes a week longer so there’ll be a gap at first. We don’t get a mail on Aug 21st, it will be a week late I see. That’s your mail dated Aug 6th, the very one we want badly to hear how you are (this will be your end too). Still send my letters here till I tell you, I hope & pray I shall still get a mail, for one clings to that so.

Don’t worry about me as I’m more or less allright, as I’ve got Dick thank goodness out here, tho’ at present 4 days’ journey away. Alix & I will stay together in this bungalow for about a month & then I shall go to Assam again, either meet Dick at Shillong as arranged before or go straight to him by the middle of Sept. It will be cool enough for me, even if I go to him but I expect & hope it will be Shillong, tho’ if the race meet & all is off he may not be able to get leave. I should go down to him now, but it would be foolish in a way for I’ve got this house & I couldn’t stand the heat & poor Alix is so stranded, I feel I must see her through a bit at first. Heaven knows when I shall get home now, we can’t tell yet but if Dick has to give up his job & has no other I can always go to the Nobles for as long as I like. But I’m hoping I shall get back to you all before Xmas anyway.

You must be so worried about everything & I suppose the prices of everything are dreadfull, even out here they’ve gone up already. We hear of a great Naval victory off the Dogger bank but NO details, if Paul had been in the Channel Fleet I fail to know how I could have stood the suspense. Such heaps, in fact everyone must be involved in some way or another, as I suppose all the Aldershot division have gone. We know very little. I shall be feeling very miserable & sort of stranded till I get to Dick but thank goodness I’ve got Alix, & I shall have to look after myself a bit, but you know what it’s like to feel stranded.

I can’t think what it will be like on Wednesday when the 39th Gs go. Apart from having Ted going which I refuse to even think of, every officer one knows & some of them so awfully well somehow; I feel so sorry for the poor wives, & the station has many brides. We shall all stay up for a time I suppose, till things calm down & then they’ll all try and get home, that is if the regiments don’t come back here for sometime. Two officers have gone today under sealed orders, to catch Sat’s mail; they will go to the place where the regiments go eventually, but that doesn’t help us knowing. It makes it all the worse not knowing where they go, as there can be no letters or anything. Ted is wild with excitement & so are they all, we poor females are supposed to be the same. But it’s jolly hard & I find I can’t inwardly get the right spirit.

Parcils will get to me in time, with a certain amount of safety, our mail won’t really come to any harm unless by an accident, see? So I shall get the things you sent allright, I expect. As regards money don’t you worry, because I’m going to draw on Ted’s pay; he’ll want very little & Dick will see to that part when I get to him, Ted says I shan’t be left short in anyway & Alix & I can certainly live on very little the time we are together. My getting to Dick will cost a lot but that will be allright. I’m going to have King Hamilton Calcutta as my agents.

Your day at Hartley Row must have been nice, you seemed to get a great deal into one day! The girls didn’t tell me anything about the day & yet they were hard up for news! I wonder if you went to Selsey, I sent two mails there. I can imagine your feelings at being away from home at this time. The Territorials are getting a look in I suppose, I was wondering about Willie but I suppose they won’t be sent out of England. There is no fear of air invasion thank goodness but you must all be in a dreadfull state of worry, I wish we could know more, our mails will tell us most & we will have to wait another 2 weeks before you mention much.

I’m glad you are to be Kathleen’s kid’s godmother, she ought to call her Felicia if it’s April, a ripping name & every other odd name is so common nowadays. Please tell Rosamond I may miss the mail with her letter this mail, & also tell her the bracelets arrived perfectly safe & beautifully packed. Thank her please, the other girls I’ll write to next week.

Nothing doing here, I don’t go out expect just to Alix & back & she here, because messages & things are going the entire day & I never know when Ted may want a meal. I must go and have a bath now, I missed mine this morning as Alix & I went for a walk before breakfast; such a gorgeous really English morning & not too hot, the sun is out for the first time for weeks, it makes all the difference in the world. Let’s hope it’s fine when we are alone, that everlasting rain & mist I could not endure.

I’m very fit these days which is a blessing (tap wood), I was so sick of having an “inside”. We appear to be going to be left minus an doctor but I do hope not, such lots of people are always ill too. About 5 or 6 of our officers are on leave at home, they’ve been recalled but they won’t be out in time; they’ll pick up the others I suppose somewhere, but no war kit whatever. Capt Lumb will only just get back in time to start, he’s got 12 days marching. He was miles away on the snow line & had started before the war was thought of, so the wire must have been rather a shock.

I must end now, do please take care of yourselves. I wish I was home, one feels so stranded somehow away from one’s people. Over having Dick I’m only too thankful, with any luck I shall be with him in about 6 weeks. Tons of love your loving Ben

I don’t suppose Ted will be able to write & if you ever can write to him you must remember to be pleased that he’s going, they can’t understand our feelings of fear one bit. You may hear where they are sooner than I.


Again, this has been split into paragraphs for legibility. It seems that Ben couldn’t spell Garhwal despite living there. This may be a quirk of her hand-writing rather than a misspelling  but given how poor the rest of her spelling is, it seems probable that the error is hers not the transcriber’s.

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