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Category Archives: The Mediterranean

21 December 1914 – Paul to Gertrude

Monday. [21 December 1914? Received on the 27th December.]

Dear Mother.

Thanks very much for your letter and also I got a letter dated about Nov 5th from you. I suppose it’s been right out to Malta & back- Oh how we have laughed in the mess over my floating waistcoat – anything so vast – I can’t even join the two edges of my coat together when it is on – so I propose wearing it outside – Lovely and warm it is which is one thing. I must write & thank old Daddy Yanow – but I must say it’s a most ridiculous garment to be always wearing – very nice to put on just before you fall in the water. Our new job up here ought to be rather interesting and really & truly the weather is’nt half so cold as yet – as you might imagine – but there’s nothing like being prepared.

The Town & county of Gloucester have been fine – they have sent us 20 cases various things- Plum Puddings – apples – warm clothes etc all for the men and officers; a representative of the Mayor came onboard while we were at [censored]  the other day & brought them all down. I had a letter from Bee [Ben?] today saying she had sent me some cyder apple jelly – but I have’nt got it yet – it apparently just missed me before we left – but I am sending for the case or whatever it is-

How are your officers getting on. Hope they are fitting into the Delaford methods- and are a success.

You can’t realize how backward I am with my letters; I have had absolutely no time since we left. We’ve been on the hop all the time.

Well I wish you a very happy Christmas & New Year under the circumstances.

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

Dont forget to send me a piece of the family Plum Pudding.

 

9 November 1914 – Richard to Gertrude

Lahoal
Nov 9th.

My dear Mother. I don’t think I got a letter from you last week. I heard from Jane and one from Ben from Malta, which had been opened under martial law! I wrote to the girls last night & told them I expected to be coming home. But this morning I got a telegram from Simla saying “Your services may be required military duty abroad very shortly please wire definitely if you will be ready proceed.” I have wired them I’ll be free at the end of this week as my old man is on his way up. Goodness knows what abroad may mean, Egypt or Africa I expect, so there’s no need for you to panic. The worst of it is I shall probably not be allowed to tell you. I fancy I am lucky, as crowds of men are frightfully keen on joining the service in one capacity or another & no one had heard anything yesterday. It’s so lucky it’s come now, as I am just free, but I am sorry not to be coming home.

I wonder if Ben is home by now. She should be & I expect she is glad if she is. Craigie Manders sails on the Kaiser-I-Hind on the 28th, I would have come with him I think if I had’nt been called elsewhere.

I will cable you tomorrow not to write anymore here, it’s better if I can cable you a definite address later.

Awful nuisance trying to sell ponies & everything all of a sudden. I’m afraid they will have to go at a loss. You see there will be no racing this season, so no one is keen to buy a race ‘oss.

I see Dr Baker is commanding the Indian Ambulance Corps. How fat he looks in the photographs, of course if I had been home, he’d have given me a job in that. The casualty lists are dreadful nowadays, I was telling Ben she must know quite a lot of people having been so mixed up in things.

I hope by tomorrow morning’s mail I shall here if she is home or not.

Paul must be more or less in it now, only no one seems to understand exactly what Turkey is doing. I fancy I would rather have been a sailor than a soldier.

I am sorry for you, a poor anxious mother, but I suppose there are crowds of others, & you ought to be very proud if you get 4 sons all more or less fighting for their country.

Best love to everyone

yr loving son

Richard

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5 October 1914 – Paul to Gertrude

October 5th

Dear Mother.

V. many thanks for your two letters- 16th & 21st- they arrived together 2 days ago. I am glad to hear Jim has come home & enlisted – the last letter I had from him, he was fearfully keen. Ted by now I suppose must be well up at the front.

I can’t quite make out why you have’nt got many of my letters – I’ve sent a good few off – but they may have been censored. I wrote you a fairly long account of our little scrap with the “Breslau” – but you have never told me whether you got it – so I suppose that one was anyhow. We have had some cuttings sent us from various papers re our show – truly amusing – The “Morning Post” one was quite the best – did you see it.

We have also had heaps of scarves etc from the Navy League – they seem to be doing a great deal in that line, but I can quite see that it can be overdone.

One thing about this war – anyhow from our point of view is that we can save a lot of money – you see I have’nt been ashore now for 8 weeks – so we have only our food onboard to pay for; so if you want some money (cash) – I can send you a remittance thro’ the Admiralty for £5 or so which might help along the larder for a week or so – now mind you let me know.

There seems to be a certain amount of stagnation in the war now – anyhow where our fellows are fighting- This 23 days’ battle seems to get no further either way – how fearfully exhausted they all must be.

Yes I see that Lawrence Russel is killed now – also George Moodie wounded – how I should have loved to have been in that charge the Scots Greys did.

Jane tells me you are trying to get a Belgian lady (refugee) to stay!

Well I can’t think of any more news-

I am quite well- & I hope all of you are too.

Very best love from

Your ever loving son Paul


It’s frustrating that Paul’s letter about the Gloucester’s encounter with the Breslau is lost. Chapter 7 of Geoffrey Miller’s book “Superior Force” describes the encounter.

£15 in 1915 converts to £215 in 2005 values.

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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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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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7 September 1914 – Paul to Gertrude

EVAN THOMAS RADCLIFFE & C°, Steamship Owners. CARDIFF.

7th Sept 1914
H.M.S. Gloucester

Just boarded this ship – & as she is going home I’ll just drop a line.
I am very well & flourishing & hope you all are.
Bestest love to all Your loving
Paul


The mails to and from ships seem to have been less reliable than mails to and from the army. Paul seems to have sent this short note via a merchant ship owned by Evan Thomas Radcliffe & Co.

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Posted by on 7 September, '14 in British Ships, The Mediterranean

 

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4 September 1914 – Paul to Gertrude

Sept 4th

Dear Mother.

V. many thanks for your letters- at last we got a mail two days ago – letters up to the 18th which is really rather good, and we hope to get more to-morrow.

This war is really terrible isn’t it- the worry & suffering that must be going on at home is really too awful to think of, and we are still ages behind in news. I do think it awfully fine of everybody to volunteer so quickly – everybody is doing their little bit now I suppose.

Our latest news is that the Germans are well into France now, so if they get anywhere near Paris there will be some trouble, and will prolong the war ever so much.

Yes. I wonder what Ben will do – Will she go down to Assam & stay with Dick?

We are wondering whether the Goeben & Breslau will come out of the Dardanelles- but there seems to be an idea that they will go up to the Black Sea – an awful nuisance – as then we won’t be able to have another go at the Breslau. Did you see the account of our chase in the Daily Sketch of the 18th, try & get one if you did’nt.

Good night mother. My very best love to you all & I hope you are all well. I am very well.

Your ever loving son

Paul

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31 August 1914 – Paul to Gertrude

Aug. 31st

My dear Mother.

I am afraid I have no news for you, except that I am still quite well. We’ve done no more fighting as yet, and we get scattered news of what is going on at home – most of them rumours, so we don’t really know what is happening.

I do hope everybody is quite well at home- the last mail I had was Aug 4th, but we really are expecting one from Malta in a day or two.

With v. much love to you all
from your ever loving son
Paul

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23 August 1914 – Paul to Gertrude

Aug. 23rd

Dear Mother.

Am so sorry I forgot to wish you many happy returns in my last letter – but I do so now.

I am still alive and we have had no excitements for ages out here – The French Fleet seem to be doing all the work – fighting – but we are really doing very strenuous work too -only we have’nt seen our enemy for some time. And No news from home – what is happening there? we get no mails – we are rather expecting one tomorrow from Malta.

As far as I can make out the entire of Europe will be at war soon except Spain & Portugal.

I do hope you are all well – This is a chance letter that I hope will reach you- It being sent by one of our colliers,

heaps of love to you all.
Your ever loving son
Paul

 

15 August 1914 – Paul to Gertrude

H M S Gloucester

15th August

My dear Mother,

Just in the midst of a hurried coaling so xcuse any dirt. I am still safe & sound & so is the Gloucester – but it is a strenuous life this war – & we get very little news out this way.

Hope everybody is very well at home.

It is sickening about the “Goeben” & “Breslau” being sold to the Turks, as we did hope to have another go at them. We heard today that the Breslau has a decided list one way- thro’ her action with Gloster – so we must have hit her a bit.

Terrifically hot out here.- We are away from Malta & no hopes of going back yet awhile. Have had no letters since the 31st July – no mails whatever.

Very best love to all
Your loving son
Paul.

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