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Category Archives: Dreda Berryman

January 1915 – Benedicta to Gertrude – Engagement to Wiggs

Tuesday

I got your letter last night thank you so much. You seem certainly to have had rather a strenuous day on Sunday. Isn’t it sickening the weather has been so alarming. I can’t describe the rain and wind yesterday and really last night it didn’t seem possible for the house to stand much longer but today so far is ripping so Wiggs and I are going over to Rye to lunch and down to Cumber if the little trains still go in the winter. I heard from Dreda this morning about Willie being ill, I do hope he’ll be all right for the dance if we manage tickets, anyway I suppose Marjorie and I can go with Topher & Wiggie but we shall be disappointed if so many of us can’t go, sickening for Jane but I really don’t suppose Eric will have gone!

I don’t know whether you’ll be pleased No I don’t suppose for a moment you will be I can’t quite expect it but Wiggs and I have decided that it’s best to be engaged. The unsatisfactory way in which we were going on was NO good, it isn’t all done on the spur of the moment, much thinking has been done & I’m sure it’s best. There are to be no great shoutings about it but anyone who wants to know can, you will I fancy think we are doing right, the other situation was rotten for me but I didn’t want to sort of rush Wiggs into anything so things had to wait. If the dance is off I am going to stay here till Thursday so will you send me a line either here or Dollie’s as that is where I shall be on Wednesday night for the dance, see? Will you give the enclosed to Dreda, I wonder if either of your billets will come back, on wednesday or is the scare sill on. Have a rest when you can I expect you were awfully tired after christmas & it was all rather a rush

Love to all,

your loving Ben

You’ll iron my frock won’t you, the ninon at the top too.

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Ben and Wiggs got engaged within weeks of her return from India and when she told her mother she was clearly on the defensive about it and maybe about him. My mother was puzzled by the whole thing: when she edited the letters in the 1980s she asked “who was Wiggs?” and added “there was certainly no ‘shouting’ about the engagement. No one else mentions it.”

Wiggs’ real name was Ivan Bennett and, at 25, he was some 6 years younger than Ben, which may explain her defensiveness and the disapproval she seems to have expected. 

Ben certainly knew Wiggs before going to India because she corresponded wiith him with while she was away. She mentions him in a letter in September when he appears to have joined up early but critically:

Wiggs tell me he was inlisting into Kitchener’s 2nd Army, well it obvious the right thing to do, however much against soldiering one is.

She may have been encouraged to go to India in 1913 to get over her feelings for him. In October Paul says:

Re – Ben & Mr Bennett – as you say a rather difficult question – and I must say that I should rather be inclined to let him come back to Delaford, because they will be bound to meet elsewhere & that sort of deception from your point of view I’m sure you dont like. Much better let them more or less carry on openly. It sounds ridiculous I know Wiggie 22 & Ben 28 or whatever her age is, but these days nature does funny things – & I also don’t think Wiggie is worthy of Ben, her due is someone much more perfect- In any case now they won’t have heaps of chances of meeting – I wonder what you have done, because I expect Ben is home by now anyhow! I hope she has arrived safely & is well-

He seems to have been a friend of the family, in November Ted had mentioned Wiggs as a friend of Gertrude’s.

He was clearly accepted by the family, however reluctantly, as we can see in this photograph taken in the spring of 1915, which we can date because of the brothers who were in England at the same time.

Ivan Bennett, Ted Berryman, Richard Berryman<br/>Christopher Berryman, Jim Berryman

Ivan Bennett, Ted Berryman, Richard Berryman
Topher Berryman, Jim Berryman
Spring 1915

 

 

16 December 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

Dec 17

Dear Mother Very many thanks for your letter of the 13th, arrived today, but as this won’t be posted till tomorrow I have put 17th on it. Your letter was full of ripping news, especially the old war being over by the New Year! The story of guessing the amount in the purse is truly convincing. Of course the Stock Exchange betting is on the war being over by Christmas, so we hear, & they generally know what’s going on, quite apart from military point of view. I still say by Easter, but it’s of course useless speculating- Anyhow I hope they hurry up now & send out K’s [Kitchener?] army & push things along a bit on this front; I’m fed up with sitting in trenches. From your letters you seem to think I was in that recapturing trench show, when Derwan Sing got the V.C., but alas! I was’nt. Well I can say is that we were supposed to be there, but in the muddle of war couId’nt be found at the time.

We went in a day later, & even then the situation was fairly exciting. There has been a bit more rifle & machine gun fire here these last 2 days, I dunno why, & it’s not very safe exposing yourself too much, at all in fact, above ground. I’m rapidly turning into a mole! Thanks awfully for sending on the cakes, I hope they arrive all right; I have sent Dryden a secret code whereby I hope to ensure the safe arrival of cakes etc. I should like some cigarettes occasionally, Abdullas will do, in tins, as cardboard boxes break so.

Colder again today, but no snow yet. My uniform has rolled up I believe, but I can’t get at it very well in the trenches. Wish I could as it wd be warrner than this. We have been in these trenches 15 days now, & since we first arrived here on 29th October we’ve had 35 days in trenches & only about 10 out, out of which were 5 in reserve and so we have only had 5 days’ so called rest, & were busy the whole of that. However it’s all part of the show. Tell people to write to me a whole lot, as I love getting letters, but the only drawback is I cannot guarantee to answer them, though I do my best. It’s a good thing to enclose a letter card or a folding up envelope thing which you can write inside, & then I can answer them easier- Tell Ben poor Major Young has died of his wounds. She will be awfully sorry I know, so are we all. What a beastly war this is. He was standing in the road, a long way from the firing line & a stray bullet hit him; most awful bad luck was’nt it.

Mud is still as bad as ever, chronic. No chance of leave just at present. I’m awful keen to know what Topher’s doing- Don’t send too many warm clothes, except mitts & socks, & gloves & hankies, in small quantities, as one can dispose of such things fairly easily – Looking forward to your parcel of cakes etc, most welcome.

No more news just now. What awful ROT the papers talk about the Indian troops’ “stealthy forms” “panther springs” & all that absolute tosh. It makes us all look such idiots. We’re no better than anyone else after all, & not nearly as good as some. Why can’t the papers be reasonable, & treat Indians as ordinary human beings

Really the nonsense in the papers about the Indian troops is making us all awful angry; we’ve done no more than was asked of us, and all that appalling balderdash about Gurkhas & Kukris, & “grinning faces” – oh law, it makes me SICK!

(unsigned)

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14 October 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

This letter was written just outside Marseilles on some scrappy paper.

Oct 14th

Dear Mother

Just a line to say we’ve landed in France – not allowed to say where! – and am absolutely all right. We disembarked 2 days ago; marched out 10 miles to camp (no joke after a month on board ship!) and got to camp at 12.30 at night, & to bed by 3 am, when it began to rain, & it’s been raining ever since! We are camped in some meadows, rather swampy, so you can imagine the state of the ground. However we are all in high spirits & it would take a lot to damp them. Excuse a scrawl, but am writing in my tent on the floor. We have all our kit – such as it is – at present, but we shall soon have to be on 35 lbs only; The A.S.C. are feeding us like fighting cocks here.

How splendid Jim enlisting, what a sportsman; I expect we shall meet some day, hope so. I got lots of letters from you Jane & Dryden, all the ones you posted to India office. Thanks awfully for them. Very busy, as I have to get acquainted with all the thousand and one orders of the force. So glad to hear you are all right at home. Please send me a khaki muffler, lightweight but warm. Tell Ben the blue jersey is the warmest thing in Europe & the buzz of the force; really, no rotting. Past 10 o’clock, so I must go to sleep. Still raining hard. Not very cold here, but damp and miserable, very muddy & dirty-

I got another letter from Jane today, I must try & answer them all tomorrow. I wonder if old Ben’s arrived home yet. She’ll tell you all my news. I posted a letter in a french post office to you, but now I hear they will not be forwarded. I also want some thick pants, to the knee, but not too solid, light but warm style if obtainable. I would’nt mind some cigarettes & baccy occasionally- I am going to try & keep a diary through the war, but I expect it will be a pretty scrappy one when once we get to the mysterious “front”! We get a few papers occasionally, & I see Antwerp has fallen; I wonder what their game is.

By the way, send along a few picture papers occasionally Daily Sketches etc, they all help to amuse us. And I want a pair of thick gloves, 8’s, leather lined wool or something warm; and a folding lantern, for candles, with talc sides; you can buy them at the Stores I think. Old Ben will tell you all about our escapades at P. Said, I would’nt have missed that day for worlds. All our letters are censored, so I can tell you nothing, not even where we are or where we are going; don’t worry we’ll be all right, but wont it be cold! Ugh.. When you write, enclose a card, or p.c. then I can write back at once; or enclose an envelope, anything so as I can get some news back to you soon, as these things are always handy.


This letter was continued on the 17th October.

The rain seemed to annoy Drake-Brockman more than it annoyed Ted.

The route lay for a part of the way through Marseilles town, and the inhabitants, notwithstanding the lateness of the hour, opened their windows and clapped and cheered us all the way. The journey was mostly uphill, and the cobbled streets made one’s feet rather tired towards the end of the march. Camp was reached at midnight. After some difficulty our exact part was located, camp pitched and kits sorted out, and such arrangements made as were possible in the darkness. Luckily, though it was rather threatening, it did not rain on the way, but at 5.30 a.m. it began to come down and rained heavily, with the result that the camp, which was situated a bit low in some meadows soon got terribly muddy. It was wet and miserable all next day, the 14th, and the day after. An intermittent drizzle made it very cold and damp.

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21 September 1914 – Richard to Gertrude

Lahoal
21.9.14.

My dear Mother.

Very many thanks for your letter. The mails are taking a month now instead of 3 weeks, but we are getting them every week now as usual only a bit late.

I am glad Paul is all right, but I suppose you are fussed about Ted now.

The tie arrived all right from Dreda, I am awfully pleased with it.

So cold this morning, I fancy the hot weather must be over!

Ben hoped to sail on the 18th, I fancy she & Ted must have run up against each ether in Karachi. I have a line from her from Lahore. She found it a bit hot there.

I have not heard when the doctor man is coming out, when he does arrive I don’t quite know what I am going to do. I rather fancy joining a man in Calcutta for a few months, but I doubt if I shall like it. I suppose something will turn up.

Yes you told me the bowl had arrived. I expect by this time you’ve heard Ted is going to Europe or somewhere, & I suppose you are having more fits, I can imagine how anxious everyone is about their relations & friends.

Where’s George? He must have gone, no one has said anything about him.

Must stop. Best love to all.

Yr loving son

Richard.

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10 September 1914 – Benedicta to Gertrude

Lansdowne U.P.

Sept 10th 1914

Dear Mother. I got your mail letters today. I was waiting for them to answer, also I did think I’d be able to tell you for certain about my passage on a trooper; there’s a good chance of our getting passages in one leaving Karachi on the 18th, 10 of us from here are moving heaven & earth to get it. Otherwise they say we are sure of one in late Oct.

I shall be tempted to use my P. & O. before then I feel sure, but otherwise I find I can save about £50. Staying on here of course means using Ted’s money so I am wanting to get back, also I can’t bare the idea of being up here, it’s miserable, and Dick only within 4 or 5 days’ journey, and that impossible to do alone; but he advises me to take this trooper as he has given his service to government in November, so it would be sheer waste of about £20 to get to him for so short a time. Shillong is off, needless expense and certainly I don’t feel like going anywhere for enjoyment these days; and without Ted or Dick I should hate it.

It was all going to be so different before with them both; it seems so funny in your letters to hear you say how sick Ted must be to be out of it, when he’ll be so very much in it. At present the 7th Division is still at Karachi and they don’t sail till the 18th, and then only go 8 knots so won’t be on the continent till almost the end of Oct. Then they won’t put these Indian troops straight into it if they can help it, they’ll want to climatize ‘em a bit, so one hopes & prays that the fighting won’t be so fierce as it has been, or is now, by then.

So relieved to hear about Paul. If we get this trooper on the 18th we go under the same escort as the 7th Division, but of course I don’t suppose we shall see anything of our friends & relatives; it will be a historical voyage anyway. Oh, but the heat in the red sea, people say it will hardly be possible! And a frantic journey to Karachi, about 10 of us are trying for it from here; the people with kids of course can’t go, it would be too hot. So that leaves us more chance of getting passages. We are on the end of a wire & hope to hear any minute; such a packing there will be as we only get about a day’s notice, it takes more than 2 days to get to Karachi.

I hear from Ted most days, and several of the others of course, they hate these delays. Ted’s Trooper is the “Coronader” No. 39th transport, he embarks today. They’ve been in camp in the docks so far, and better off than most because the regiments who have embarked aren’t allowed ashore at all!

Will you get and send to Ted under the address I gave you last week with aditions found out by you, 3 refills (batteries) for an Ever Ready Baby Electric torch & one new bulb. He gave me one of these, a ripping thing but I gave it back to him to take, and by the time the parcel reaches him he’ll want new refils. Just risk sending them because there’s a chance of them reaching him, but you’ll know more your end about that.

Thanks for the cutting & intercession paper. They had a service here last Sunday (no parson) but I couldn’t go. I’ve been pretty rotten again, yet another chill, & those frantic pains in my back, but I stayed in bed & sat up at a huge fire for 2 or 3 days & caught the rotten complaint in time. I’m getting more experienced in it! It’s lucky for we’ve only a Black Doctor now up here and I couldn’t have him.

You say there won’t be a man left anywhere in Guildford, well that’s just what happen here, there only officers left at the Dept, no more men of any sort. It’s the oddest place in the world these days. I do so wonder where Willie is, he is in it by now I feel sure, the casualty list must be dreadfull. We haven’t had one at all yet – I shall hear a little news, when once I start that I shall dread landing.

The troopers arrive at Southampton, I don’t suppose anyone will be able to meet me – it’s a long journey & you may not know exact date, tho’ you can more or less find out – but I shall be quite allright and if  I can’t get on (arriving late or anything) I can go back with Alix for the night, she lives close by.

Anyway I’ll wire directly I land but it would be waste of money to meet me, since it’s so different to what my original homecoming was to have been. The girls tell me they do heaps of work in the house, I suppose most people are grabbed for nursing. I think I might help with the cooking as well.

Splendid you being able to put your art to such good use, I feel as useless as they make ‘em now, so stranded and Ted having gone, I’m no good to anyone & it all means spending money being up here alone with this house & servants, you see one can’t do without certain number out here, living is so different to at home. Cooking for instance one couldn’t do, the kitchen is hardly human to start with, some way away from the kitchen always! Does that mean Mr Kirwan will go to Europe if the terriers go, I suppose so as they always take a chaplin.

Will you when you get this join some “Press Clipping Agency” & get them to send you all cuttings about the INDIAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE and “The Gloucester”. Ted tells me to tell you this, you send them a sub & they send you the cuttings & that way you miss none. I’ve some to keep till I get back, Ted says this is very important so start at once see? You may not hear much from him he says.

He wants me to get home as soon as I can, and you are not to worry about him, easier said than done isn’t it. Anyway I’ve got a lovely lot of praise from him in his letters which has made me glad to have been here, tho’ it was so very awfull the very fact of seeing him off  & all- it ended such a ripping time with him here somehow that I hate being here without him & longing to get away.

Please tell the girls they’ll get no letters I’m afraid this mail but I loved them. I’ve so little time these days & there’s no news. Nothing happens here. You must read them out this & give them my love. I’m expecting the parcel any day now.

Tons of love your loving Ben.

The buckles are sweet, I’ll keep them because I haven’t had the shoes made of course. Dreda’s birthday tomorrow. I’ll remember it, so I did Peter yesterday. Lovely for Ruth to get such a gorgeous chance of nursing, she must be pleased.

I wonder if the little book turned up I sent for your birthday, I expect so. Billie Maud is fine isn’t he & the Yomanry is so rough too! I wonder what Specs has done. Wiggs tell me he was inlisting into Kitchener’s 2nd Army, well it obvious the right thing to do, however much against soldiering one is. I do consider the civilians are fine all the same, as it’s not their job- after all one expects a soldier or sailor to live for a chance of active service, their whole training leads up to it, but with a civilian he has all the roughest part & none of the nice.

You will have got Ted’s name on the intercession list now.


Intercessions are formal prayers in church where someone is prayed for by name.

Peter, whose birthday Ben remembered so briefly near the end of the letter, was a younger brothers who had died at school of meningitis aged 16.

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7 September 1914 – Richard to Gertrude

Lahoal P.O.

Sept 7th 1914.

My dear Mother.

Very many thanks for your letter. I was glad to hear how things were going on at home. When you wrote I fancy things were worse than they are now. People are recovering a bit I expect and things are settling down. Dreadful though the whole thing is. We, as I told you hear nothing, we don’t even know the names of any killed or wounded, and although we get telegrams every day they don’t say much. The Germans at present seem to be doing too well. It’s all very fine our retiring, however well it may be done, it’s retiring all the same & it means the Germans are advancing.

Ben will tell you she has decided to go back if she can on a trooper. She’s wise. She may lose the P & O ticket, but the expenses in the end will be less & she will get back much quicker as a P & O is sure to stop in all sorts of odd parts.

We expect another mail in a couple of days. It generally arrives here on a Tuesday but if any does come it won’t get here till Thursday. It seems dreadful all these people rushing off to get married, I suppose they think of the pension.

Still very quiet here. All sorts of men in the regiment get odd orders, but it’s all very muddling.

Please thank Dreda & Jane for their letters. How funny Jane meeting Lena Cook that was, I had never seen Nora but I’m sorry she can’t dress, as she was said to be so pretty.

I wonder when the man whose work I am doing will get back! I shan’t mind if he does’nt come at all.

Best love to all

Yr loving son

Richard

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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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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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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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