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Category Archives: Nobbie Clarke

20 December 1914 – Ted to Ben

Dec 20th

Dear Ben

Thanks most awfully for the parcel of mitts etc; they are lovely, and much appreciated and quickly found takers. That’s the best of those small parcels, you can dispose of them easily and they are most frightfully useful to fill up losses and things which have got torn or worn out-

Nothing much doing at present. The weather is fairly miserable, very damp and raw, & it keeps on raining on and off. However, tap wood, the men are keeping wonderfully fit, & they’ve certainly got enough clothes on. Bobby Reed went in to officiate for poor Young – I told you he had died of his wounds, did’nt I? – for a day or two at Brigade H.Q., and while there managed to get his parcel of uniform, & now sides about in it! He says it’s so much nicer than this thin stuff, as being warm, you dont have to wear such tons of stuff underneath.

Poor Young you know was just standing on the road by our 1st Bn Head qrs, behind the trenches about 1/4 mile or so, & a bullet came along & hit him. It’s the same road that Nobby has to come up every night with our rations, & it is very unsafe altogether, a lot of chance shots, which miss the trenches & come over & some aimed shots too, as I’m sure they can see the road in places. Was’nt it rotten luck, & we are all most awfully sorry, as I’m sure you will be.

My dear “Torchers” won’t work, so I am sending him in tonight to Major Stewart to see if he can do anything as I can find nothing very wrong. We have had disturbed nights these last 2 nights, a devil of a lot of firing & searchlights all over the place. My dear Guy Mainwaring has got mumps! and has I hear gone home, but whether the latter part is true or not I don’t know. Archie is doing Adjutant now. Stewart has got brigade major in Young’s place.

A fearful heavy fire suddenly broken out down on our right now, but all seems fairly quiet in front of us at present, & I trust it will remain so; heavy guns & shrapnel going off too, a most awful din! Thank goodness I’m in the dugout! Last night there was a lot of artillery fire to the north of us, & the whole sky was continually lighted up by flashes of the guns, & bursting shells, but it was a long way off, as the sound took a long time to reach us. Two of our aeroplanes have been very busy today; it was quite a clear morning, blue sky & all, & there mono planes looked gorgeous; the Germans fired one or two shrapnel at them too, which looks awfully pretty, little puffs of smoke against the blue sky. I’m frightfully keen on flying now. I hear Mac is going into the flying corps, lucky devil.

Tons of love Ted

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9 December 1914 – Ted to Ben

9/12/14

Dear Ben Is’nt it top hole a man of the 1st Batt getting a V.C. simply splendid, and the 1st one too ever won by the Indian Army; you’ll be awfully pleased I know, so I thought I must write & tell you, though I expect you have seen it in the papers by now. But I hope they say Garhwalis & not Gurkhas- So you can tell old Garin-Fitz that even if we are only imitations, we can give a dam good lead anytime he likes, so there.

You may think you know what mud is, but you don’t till you’ve been in these trenches. It’s the most remarkable stuff in the world. You walk along the trench and grow about 12 feet higher as you proceed, with thick glutinous extra soles to one’s feet. And my kit, the clothes we stand up in, plastered in mud off the side of the trenches.

We’ve been a week here now, things fairly quiet, but thank goodness that awful shell fire has stopped, as least they give us a few shrapnel for lunch, but nothing to what it was when we were here before with J.J.’s all day [‘Jack Jonhnson’ was slang for artillery shells] – Some cavalry are coming to “be broken in to trench work” as the orders were, & we are doing some of the breaking, starting on a squadron of Billy’s push, 9th Hodsons Horse– You see there’s no use for cavalry in their true rôle, so they shove ’em in trenches to help the poor old footsloggers. So they send up squadrons to learn how it’s done-

Sat up till all hours of last night bucking to Nobby, about marriage! How’s the child. Nobby has got a rotten job, qr:mr,[quarter-master] & has to fix up all rations etc, which have to be cooked right back behind & sent up into the trenches to the men. Well every night Nobby has to come up the road, quite a mile of which is always swept by bullets & lots of people have been hit on it. So he has a pretty warm time, though few realise it, & I think people should known, as otherwise people might think he, not being in the trenches, was quite safe. Divil a bit. Tons of love

Ted

Send me some paper like this, it’s awful good for daily chits


The 9th Hodson’s Horse was also known as the Bengal Lancers.

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4 October 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

Postcard from Port Said

Quite a family meeting. Both fearfully fit. Just off to dinner. So long.

Ben & I having a great time here! Don’t tell me it’s a strange place to meet. We go on tomorrow I expect.

Ted.

PC Port Said 14 10 14 Address

PC Port Said 14 10 14 Picture


In his diary he said:

Went straight through to Suez, through the canal and coaled at Port Said – here I met Ben again, & we had a most cheery time, & bought half the place & finally had dinner at the great Eastern Hotel with Alix M, Nobbie Clarke & Archie M. great rag.

According to Drake-Brockman, they were at Port Said on the 4th October. Archie Mankelow and Nobbie Clarke were fellow officers in the Garhwalis, Nobbie was to marry Archie’s sister Alix.

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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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25 August 1914 – Benedicta to Gertrude

Lansdowne U.P.

Aug 25th 1914

Dear Mother

I must be getting a letter off to you today, to be sure to catch the mail. It seems since Ted went off on Friday, I haven’t had a moment; there have been such tons of things to see to, packing away everything of his. We are now left destitute, the station seems saddest place & of course the regiments absolutely made the place, there are no civilians there at all you see.

Ted went off in very good spirits on Friday, seeing the regiment off was rather a struggle as all that cheering & band playing is unhinging enough at any time. When the 39th went off I didn’t go off to the parade beforehand but Alix & I went down the road & saw them all pass. Ted marches at the head of the regiment with the Col: all the officers fell out as they passed, and we wished them luck. I did feel so dreadfully sorry for the poor wives, especially the several brides but I must say they all kept wonderfully brave.

At present the three regiments are no further than Kotdwara, the base of the hill here waiting to entrain for Karachi. It is sickening for them being kept down there because it’s frightfully hot & unhealthy but we can send them things & hear from them, in spite of the fearfull discomfort they seem fairly cheery. At present, the idea of Egypt is very much to the fore, I only hope & pray it is true and for the moment they will be more or less safe there.

I may be home now earlier as I’ve chance of a free passage, journey from there to the port as well, in the trooper they are chartering for families of officers gone on service. I’ve been thinking things out & if I get a passage it’s well worth it. I can get a third of my P&O passage back, about £12 & the tips in a P&O come to well over £5 extra & on a trooper very little. Also I shall have no railway fare – the thing is I shan’t get to Assam or see Dick again out here, but originally I was not going to Assam at all after here. It was only when Ted could get leave & go too that it was to have been so ripping, so under the circumstances I think I may as well come home a month sooner, & save about £30 or so more. My journey to Assam would be at least £12, as I should have to go right up to Dilmgarh now, as Uncle James is under orders to move from Shillong; and then all that journey for only about a month, as I want to get back in November anyway, especially if Dick doesn’t get another job. That staying about with people costs no end of money.

So if I get the passage, I will cable you the date of sailing & ship & you must then find out the sort of time I may arrive in England. You may not see it in the paper, but I suppose from the war office one would get news. This was all decided yesterday when we got the application forms. All the families of the two divisions have a claim. It will be a funny voyage, all women & children – anyway I shall be more or less sure of getting home by the trooper but in a P&O one may be held up for weeks at Gib[raltar] & places, we shall be under escort if necessary. If I do get the passage it will probably be end of Sept or some time in Oct, the latter I should imagine as at present all available ships are being taken for these troops.

Go on addressing my letters here after all, until I do sail earlier I shall hardly get an answer to this – our mails take 3 weeks to go & come. But you will get a cable if one can be got through, otherwise I may sort of suddenly turn up but not before end of Oct some time. I don’t think I’ve explained this at length so that you understand.

Alix will come home too. We are allright up here tho: it seems very lonely & deserted without any of our men kind. Alix is engaged to Nobbie Clarke in the 39th. It is rather dreadful for her his going off, but he is very lucky because he is only 22 & so will see some service early in his career. We’ve got 11 dogs with us, (how you’d enjoy them!) 4 of mine, 4 of Alix’s, 2 of Nobbie’s, 1 of Molly O’s, so you can imagine the pack they are. We have to be fearfully careful after tea because the panthers swarm here, now the place is empty; this sounds alarming but they wouldn’t hurt us really, but they take the dogs before you know where you are.

Phyllis Moss’s birthday today, we are going to dine with her; she was to have given a dance but of course that’s out of the question now. We are very lucky to have Mr Fox at the 39th Depot, he is looking after me very well as he never minds being worried over anything. On your own like this, one has to have a head of sorts & you know how good I am at money matters at any time & when it’s not English money, I’m more of a fool than ever. You needn’t worry about money for me because I can draw on Ted’s pay, but with this trooper business I shan’t want any hardly as Alix & I will stay on here till we sail, & living up here as we do doesn’t come to very much; anyway I’ve got it all fixed up & Ted made every arrangement necessary.

I wonder how you all are, the papers say that England is very peacefull, but the expeditionary force going off must have made things seem very close. How splendid all that arrangement was; the staff out here ought to take a lesson, for they are making such muddles & cancel orders 12 hrs after they’ve made them. I hear from Ted that he is very fit, he may write to you this mail.

I must go and make some more cakes, & some famous cheese biscuits he likes to send down tomorrow, one of the dogs ate all the ones I made yesterday, I was sick.

I daren’t think of the packing I shall have to do, because I’ll bring home lots of Ted’s boxes & things & we have collected such a lot of odds & ends somehow. They give you such short notice with these troopers too, but this one will be different I expect & it is just for the families & no one else, they won’t send us either till it’s quite safe from these dreadfull mines.

I suppose you’ve no news of Paul. No mail to answer, we expect one on Sunday. I am longing to hear again, I do so hate the mail going wrong. I shall be able to tell you more re my passage in the next mail or two. I must try and write to the girls tomorrow. Heaps of love

Your loving daughter

Ben

There’s no news from here, we do nothing these days there being nothing to do, & the rain still persists.

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