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Category Archives: Lansdowne

30 September 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

S. S. Concordia
Red Sea
30.9.14

Dear Mother

Here we are, well on our way to heaven knows where! All sorts of rumours where we are going to land of course, England, Southampton, Marseilles, Boulogne, everywhere in fact one can think of, but no one knows at all, it’s being kept an absolute secret. My last letter was from Karachi I think, when I told you I had met Ben, & she wrote and told you I expect, & you must have got those letters by now. We had awful fun there, she & I, as we were in dock for about 4 days before we sailed. I used to be fairly busy all day on the ship, but always managed to get off in the evening & go up & have dinner on the Dilwara & sit & talk to Ben till far into the night. Well, one day we got orders to leave the wharf, & next day, the 21st Sept, we sailed, so I have’nt seen Ben since then.

This is a huge convoy of transports, 4 – in all, & we have cruisers & battleships escorting us.  The old Dilwara used to be just alongside of us, but too far off to distinguish people. But ½ way across the Indian ocean she went gadding off on her own, with a small cruiser as escort, most exciting for Ben, was’nt it. She went on to land troops at Aden, & pick up some fresh ones, & this morning I can see the old Dilwara tearing along to catch us up. You see the Konigsberg, that small German cruiser, is still knocking about in these waters somewhere, hence the elaborate precaution of escorts.

Well, we ought to reach Suez in a day or two, but we shall take about 3 days getting through the canal at least, with all these ships, so I don’t suppose we shall leave Port Said till about 4th or 5th October, & then perhaps we may know more where we are going. The Dilwara I know is going to Southampton, & should arrive there I should think – this is only my own idea – about 25th Oct, but no doubt Ben has told you something more definite than this. I expect you could find out from the India office when she is expected if you want to run down and meet old Ben- of course there is just a chance that we may stay a day or two at Suez or Port Said, waiting while we all get through the Canal, in which case I may be able to get over to pay the Dilwara a visit, I hope so. What fun it wd be if Paul & the Gloucester were at Port Said too, & were part of our escort through the Mediterranean, & then we’d be quite a family party on the high seas. We met a small 4-funneled cruiser last night, but could’nt make her out, & I was wondering if she was the Gloucester ordered off East somewhere. Ainsly Talbot was on board the Dilwara, but has been landed at Aden. But Ben will have told you all the Dilwara news I expect.

It was a rough-ish, choppy sort of weather for the first 3 days out of Karachi, & I expect old Ben had to stick to her cabin. Our men, who of course have never seen a ship or a sheet of water bigger than a bucket before, were fearfully ill poor devils, but are much better now. Since the first 3 days we have had a gorgeous voyage, sea like glass, & cool breeze. The first day in the red sea was hottish, but since then it’s been lovely; hot of course, but a good strong head wind to keep us cool. I want to see Ben at P. Said or Suez to see how she stood the voyage so far.

Field lantern with talc sidesBy the way, I want you do to something for me, I want a camp lantern, to take candles, something after this style. If talc sides not procurable, glass will do, but I’d rather have talc if you can get em. You can get them at the [Army Navy] Stores or Harrods or any stores like that I think. They are generally made of black tin, with talc sides which slide in & out, & weigh about 1 lb. If possible I should like a folding one, but never mind if it does’nt fold up, an ordinary one will do. But it should be square shape, as above, & please send out one or two extra talc slides with it to replace hem if they get broken. Anyhow the A & N stores camp furniture dept: would know the thing exactly if you ask them, as I know they keep them, but I expect there’s been a run on them lately. Anyhow, have a shot will you at getting one, p’raps some military stores in Aldershot wd have one. Well, having got it please pack it up ready to send it to me when I can give you an address- of course wherever we land we are bound to sit down for a week or two to get men & animals fit after this long voyage, as we shall all be pretty soft, so we shant go gadding off at once, & there will be lots of time to send it to me. P’raps the India office will publish an address, but if they don’t & if we’re not allowed to tell you where we are (quite possible, this, as they keep things so secret) then you might ask the India office what address to send things to. But they are sure to let you know some address.

The sea here in the Red Sea is a most gorgeous colour, deep blue, & a gorgeous wind blowing. I am feeling most awful fit & well, & so much better than I ever did or do in Lansdowne. I can see the old Dilwara just off our starboard quarter, fearfully nautical these days, but its too far off to distinguish people easily, even with [field] glasses. Funny to think how hot we are now, & in about a weeks time we shall be shivering with cold I expect. We’ve only got think khaki drill kit, so lets hope they give us some warm clothes before we start. I’ve got lots of warm cardigans etc, but our kit is limited to 35 lbs!! So we can’t take much. Ben gave me a lovely Cashmere cardigan jersey, a blue one. I thought my yellow one was too good for this show, so Ben has got it & I’ll wear it all right after it’s all over. She tells me she got the lovely purple scarf you sent, & is very envious, but she’s going to keep that too for me. Thanks awfully for it, I’m simply longing to get hold of it & wear it, as I love those scarves. It arrived after I’d left Lansdowne. I hope you are all fit & well at home. we have’nt heard much war news, just a few spasmodic wireless messages; but what we have heard seems favourable; I wonder what the situation will be when we get there. I will stop this letter for a bit now, & finish it off later, when we reach Suez or P. Said.


Suez

3rd Oct.

Am sending this home by Ben. I believe we are going to Marseilles, but dont know for certain. Awful hurry. Tons of love from

Ted


Note – the first part of this was written entirely as one paragraph, though presumably on several pages of note-paper.  It has been split into paragraphs to make it more legible.

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15 September 1914 – Benedicta to Gertrude

On the way to Karachi

Tuesday Sept 15th 1914

Dear Mother

I must just send you a line now in case I don’t get time before we sail. Alix & I are on our way to Karachi, we’ve got passages in the Dilwara (you will have had my cable which I am sending before I sail) & you will also have had my mail letters, telling you I had a good chance of a passage. We had a dreadfull rush, only 12 hrs’ notice & everything to pack & see to, goodness I don’t know how we did it. Mr Fox ran all the travelling part you see, it isn’t quite like starting from Guildford; we were 30 miles from a station! and coolies carry your luggage down, we had 20!

Alix & I are awfully lucky to get these passages & together too, we are the only two from Lansdowne this time; the others have to wait till end of Oct. Now we go along with the 7th Division under the same escort, so shall be more or less with the 39th till they get to France, an historical voyage anyway. We travel with warrants marked “War 1914” in red ink, everything free, so I’ve saved £10 or more in railway fares & it wasn’t right to spend about £30 or more to get to Dick for a month, as he is giving up Lahoal then, so I’m very lucky.

I shall get my P. & O. refunded when I get back, no time this end and I can never discribe this journey; it is dreadfull frantic heat, well over 100 in our carriage & we are crossing the Sind desert, & the whole carriage is really inches in dust & we ourselves are absolutely black & pour with perspiration the entire day.

Well it’s good training for the red sea, which will be alarming, & we are only going 8 knots an hour all the voyage, it will take us nearly 5 or 6 weeks, so I am sending this by the mail this week, which will overtake us but I shan’t be far behind. I’ll wire the day I land & come along. I’ve got tons of luggage, 3 packing cases – I’ve brought all the china Ted & I had back, rather a nice dinner service & tea set, & all his books.

The discomfort of this journey is beyond discription, but I shall be glad to get home so I don’t mind. Ted will be glad to know I’m safe & on my way back before he sails too, & don’t think he quite like leaving me stranded you see, four days’ journey which one can’t do alone, from Dick makes one rather alone. I don’t suppose I shall see Ted as they have embarked but he will know I’m there, but I hope I may get a glimpse if we stay a few days before sailing, I expect we shall.

Yesterday we spent at Lahore, you have 22 hours’ wait! & you sleep in the waiting room, goodness it was a nightmare, so hot & mosquitoes, flying ants all over the place. My mosquito bites swell up to an enormous size, I suppose my blood isn’t in a brilliant state. This journey & voyage won’t do me much good, I look like nothing on earth but a few days at home will put that allright.

Really the war news is better isn’t it, how thankfull I am, & I hope & pray the fighting won’t be so fierce; by the time our lot get there it will take another 6 weeks, & lots of things can happen in that time. I do hope Willie & George are safe, I don’t know for certain if Willie has gone. I’m afraid such a heap of our friends must have been killed, it’s too dreadfull.

It would be nice if the Gloucester formed part of our escort, I hope we go to Malta; we shall I expect. This train is full of “families” of the Expeditionary force, going into the Dilwara, but Alix & I with our usual luck have a carriage (2 berths) to ourselves. We were packed in last night all under one punka in the waiting room, your nightdress was the only thing you could face near you!

The Dilwara is either a hospital ship, or we are going with some of the Rifle Brigade or Lancashire Fusiliers. I may be able to tell you later, anyway it’s not a pack of females as was expected. There are three troopers with females in.

Poor Ted is very much fed they’ve been kept so long waiting, & are in a very dirty camp. They are longing to get off, he tells me he’s very fit tho’ & looks so well everyone remarks. In Lansdowne he looks dreadfull, so white & pasty.

I really must thank you most awfully for the gorgeous box of things I just got before I came away, they are all too ripping & so much what I wanted. Please tell the girls how much I loved their little contributions, all so dainty & all but they’ll all be useful at home & NO waste; I shall want no overclothes, bar a rough skirt, the dress is sweet & fits beautifully & the little ninon coat I can’t get over at all, I’m dotty on all the things.

You have been ripping sending me all the things I’ve wanted out here, everyone has spoilt me, the family I mean. Ted & Dick I can never thank enough; they vow they can never thank me enough for coming, but that’s rot, I’ve loved it. I’m so longing to see you all again, & I’d so hate to be so far away with Ted in the show.

It seems as if I was sort of rushing home but I find there’s not more than a month before my original time of sailing in November, I’d add more if I’d time. I must try & collect a few presents at Port Said!! I’m living on Ted’s pay at present!! Dick wired did I want money, so I wired back No I’ve got heaps!! So he wired back if you are so rich I’ll be on the borrow.

Rather sickening for Alix, she was out here for another year but she wants to get back before Nobbie Clarke or her brother get to France. She will come to Delaford soon. I feel sorry for her, she & Nobbie were only engaged a week before he went, & being only 22 & 23 they take it rather hardly.

Your loving

Ben

Heaps of love to everyone.

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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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18 August 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

I’m very busy these days, & have
got my hands full getting
the rgt: ready to get off, &
myself! But Ben is a tremendous
help

18th August/14

Dear Mother

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

Ted.

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13 August 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

13 Aug 14

Lansdowne

Dear Mother

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

Ted

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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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5 August 1914 – Benedicta to Gertrude

Benedicta's first letter of the war

Benedicta’s first letter of the war

August 5th 1914

Lansdowne U.P.

Dear Mother, Very many thanks for your long letter, I must get my mail all off today so as to make more or less sure of catching the train down below. The dress you have got for me sounds ripping thank you ever so much, I shall hear if you’ve sent the box to Calcutta or here but it doesn’t matter much. I can get King Hamilton to send it along if I should still be here as it seems I am for life, the dreadful war has & will upset most things I expect, one can’t make any sort of arrangements, and all leave from here is stopped unless within 48 hrs recall, so at present Ted will not get his for Shillong, but I expect I shall go at the end of Sept now & meet Dick & then go on to him till he is houseless, & if I can’t get home in November I shall go to the Nobles, they will always have me. We hear very little up here of course in a way of what is going on, but it seems pretty dreadfull & at home you must all be in a fuss. I don’t suppose any officer will go from here but there is a chance of course, & they are all of course dieing to be off & everlastingly grumble at being so poked away, it’s all very cheery for us poor females but at the most they’ll be ordered to stations down below to take places of other officers gone, Alix & I can see ourselves stranded but I shall go to Assam, I feel more at home there and & it won’t be too hot by the time anything does happen.

Thank you ever so much for the ninon coat, I’m sure to love it. Jane and Eric don’t seem to have been over successful at Broadwater, but they had fun I expect. Ripping wizzing over in the little car; Jane will be one up on me in driving by the time I get back, as I have forgotten all about it I’m sure. A good idea going to Holmwood I’d love to see it again, the girls won’t remember much at least of course Dreda ought, & I can hear Jane making wild shots & pretending she does! I suppose you did alter that part in our will (nice subject?) didnt you, but you certainly ought to make some sort of compensation for us girls & go on Grandmother’s scheme of the female being provided for! Glad Fay & Mamie have been down- You do seem to have been doing a lot with jam & pickle walnuts & I hope you do the cherries, I rather like brandy cherries. I don’t hear from Burdice, she owes me two letters too, yes Diana seems not on the robust side which is a pity, she’s such a well looking child at least she was, I wonder if Aunt Mary will send her to Margate again. I wish Aunt Nellie could have got the Rowans, it would be nice to have someone we knew there. I am surprised about the Masons, awfully sad for the family, I always thought Mrs Mason looked so sad, as you say they’ll probably be smarter than ever.

I’m glad my room is to be papered, I should like it a plain white if I can, but it will have been started on or rather finished by the time you get this & it doesn’t matter a bit really. I expect it’s the same as Dreda’s as there was some over wasn’t there, I suppose you’d better leave the pictures for me, but I feel I shall never have a moment once I get back! & may I please have the gass taken away & electric light put. I feel I used much more gass as I never turned it down hardly.

Ted is very well but has lectures etc today but I daresay he will write tomorrow, he’s very distressed he can’t be in this war & swears all day, well so does everyone at not being on the spot. What about Paul, I suppose he’ll get in for some of it. tho’ I suppose the Home & Channel Fleets will get most of anything there happens to be. The rains here never cease, I didn’t think it could be as bad as it is, really it’s awfully depressing it gets on your nerves after a bit & we’ve now had it for nearly 3 weeks, we just had two more or less fine days & that’s all, & more rain during July alone, than there is in England in a year. Nothing going on, I don’t see anyone but Alix & even we can’t get to each other some days tho’ we are so near, it means changing both times as no umbrella or coat keeps this rain out, & after a lesson or two one fights shy of chills. I have a fire going, you have to watch your things so carefully, all my shoes go mouldy in one day, I find my brand new soft leather today a mass of mildew!

I am sending off today the little book I got for you, some of the stories are rather nice I think & so quaintly written, its for your birthday & many happy returns of tomorrow Aug 6th your wedding day, I expect the girls won’t forget some flowers, Dreda generally remembers, the excitement of Selsey may have put it out of their head. I do hope you have a nice time. Everything has gone up in price I suppose, one doesn’t in any way realize how dreadfull a war can be, wish we heard more, we get only summaries in the Pioneer & they are never satisfactory somehow.

All leave has been stopped out of this country, I do pity the poor officers who were just sailing for home. We have some kids coming to tea this afternoon so I must make some cakes but I don’t suppose they’ll be able to turn up. Two babies born here last week, oh I told you this before, Mrs Stack is rather a friend of Ted’s & she writes yesterday to say she is going into the drawing & is ready to receive visitors, also Mrs Archie Grey in a rapid recovery!

I would love to be with you at Selsey, I cant say life is very enjoyable up here at present I shan’t be sorry for a change, & I shall be too disappointed if I can’t get home this year as it will also mean I sort of stay about as both Ted & Dick will be houseless! Something of course will turn up & I’ve plenty of friends to go to but I’d set my heart on November, but one can’t tell how bad things will be as yet. Well I must end.

Heaps of love your loving daughter

Ben.

go on addressing here for the present.

(On back of envelope)
I have addressed the book to Delaford it will take longer than this, B.


Benedicta, known as Ben, was staying with Ted in regimental station in India. As we shall see, she was getting over an unhappy romance and had plans to visit Richard in Assam, but when war broke out she decided to come straight home.

She seems incapable of using fullstops let alone paragraphs and her spelling is poor.  This has been split into paragraphs to make it easier to read, but some of her spelling has not been altered.

Holmwood, near Hartley Witney, was their mother Gertrude’s old family home. It had been let since her mother died, but several of the children had been born there, and it was not far from Laverstoke, where their father had been rector before going to Camberley.

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6 July 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

Ted's First Letter of the War

Ted’s First Letter of the War

6.7.14.

Dear Mother

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

Ted


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.

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