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5 December 1914 – Ted to Ben

Ted to Ben

Ted to Ben

Dec 5th 1914

Dear Ben I got your parcel last night of mitts and Balaclava caps for the men. Thanks most awfully for them my dear, they are most acceptable and the fellows I gave em too are fearfully pleased. You see government issue them with a Balaclava cap each, but they lose them or tear them or something so one can always – or nearly always find a use for one or two of them. And the men seem to like those knitted wristlets too. I think I only wrote to you 2 days ago so you can imagine I have’nt much more to say.

We have got a lovely underground room, about as big as the Delaford dining room [their childhood home], only not so high of course. It is floored with doors from the ruined houses all round, & roofed in the same way, with earth and turf on the top. We have bagged chairs tables & crockery from the houses too (this is not looting, but quite fair, as the houses are mostly flat on the ground and you have to grovel about among ruins to find anything; and stray bullets keep on zipping about & hitting the walls with an awful smack, a most evil sound) so we are awful cosy; it is our mess, where the C.O & I live, also the officer of the company in support. We have a little charcoal fire, & cook our bacon & potatoes over it. All the other officers of course live in the trenches, but change about, & get their turn here.

It’s raining today, which makes the trenches in a beastly mess, feet deep in mud, & it’s awful walking about in them. You see the C.O [Drake-Brockman] & I make periodical tours of the trenches & have a general look round. They are at the present moment letting us have some “Black Marias” for some unknown reason, as their Maria battery is supposed to have gone away & they certainly have’nt been shelling us like they used to. 3 shrapnel also burst right over this dugout just now, but did no damage as we were safe inside. They know troops are here of course, & I fancy just give us a shell or so occasionally for luck.

I like this pencil I’m using, it’s called the “Eagle copying ink Pencil, No 1522”, it’s a short one, with a tin cover thing, do you think you couId manage to send me one a week, in an envelope as they are infernally useful. This is rather a good card you have sent, there’s such lots of room on it. I see accounts in the papers of officers getting 96 hours leave to England, so don’t be surprised if I turn up one day, only for goodness’ sake get some mufti [ie non-uniform clothes] ready for me, & a hot bath. Our guns are firing at the Maria battery now, & she’s stopped thank goodness, as you never quite know where she’s going to fall. Must end up now & get this censored. Thanks again & tons of love Ted

Then a postscript around the margin:

I think we are in for another whack of cold weather, as there’s a bitter wind today, & rain, which will turn to snow soon I expect. Hurry up my new khaki as this drill stuff is awful

Good news, a man in the 1st Batt has got the V.C the King gave it him yesterday

I think Fred Lumb will get something too

Am getting the weekly times regular, please thank Mother it’s awful interesting always


Drake-Brockman says:

The 1st Battalion …. was awarded one Victoria Cross to Naik Darwan Sing Negi, who led round each traverse. Captains Lumb and Lane each received the Military Cross for their gallantry in this action, and several men got other decorations.

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3 December 1914 – Ted to Dreda and Jane

Dec 3rd/1914

Europe

Dear Dreda & Jane.

My dear girls, the letter from which I have extracted this paper is dated Nov 12th!! Would you say a long tirne answering it. Awful sorry really, but these dam Germans keep one on the go pretty well, & I have little time for correspondence. Since Nov 12 we’ve been knocking around, helping another Brigade out of a mess it got into, had 3 days rest (so called) and are now out in the trenches again.

Yes it was cold about 20th Nov but it thawed about 24th, & it’s been better since then, but all the same it is cold in the trenches. And we have’nt got our thick khaki yet, at least I believe it arrived yesterday, but we had to come out to these trenches & had’nt time to issue it, so we shan’t get it for at least a week, as they will probably keep us a week here. We spent 3 days & nights in some awful trenches, where there had been a lot of fighting for 2 days, & you never saw such a mess.

All the corpses had been buried – or ½ buried – in the trench itself, & the whole place was a mass of abandoned German kit, rifles, bayonets, haversacks, everything you could think of. You see the Germans captured the trench from some of our troops, and we sent two or three regiments to try and retake them, but suffered very heavily; they then sent for the 20th Bde to help, we were at the time marching off, after 3 weeks on end in the trenches, to rest; well they found the other 3 rgts of the Bde, but not us, so we never went; I wish we had, as it was a good show, and our 1st Bn retook the trench, captured 2 maxims & a mortar for throwing bombs, & took 100 prisoners; jolly good was’nt it; tell Ben Fred Lumb did most of it, & was in the thick of it all, & did very well I believe, & sloshed a German on the cocoanut with a rifle butt & laid him out as flat as a pancake, & shot several with his revolver. A great show, & we are all awfully bucked of course.

We went out next day & relieved them in the trench they had captured, which I say was in a beastly mess, but nothing to what it was when they captured it, which they tell me was 3 deep in dead & wounded. Jolly, is’nt it! Anyhow the Germans were only 100 yards off just here in a trench, & in 2 parts of our line were only 15 yards off: and if you please in another place were only 5 yards off! This sounds incredible but IS QUITE TRUE.

I’ll explain. From their trench 100 yards away they had dug a “sap”, that is a long trench running out from theirs toward ours; and from this sap they used to throw bombs into our trenches. Also when they had got into our trenches, before we drove them out again, at least our 1st Batt did, they dug long trenches linking up their trench and ours, see, called “communicating” trenches; so when our 1st Batt had ’em out of it, there were these trenches leading right into theirs! so of course we had to bung ’em up as best we could.

Again, on our left we were occupying the same trench as the Germans! They had never been turned out of a little bit on our left, which ended up in a road, so we were in the same trench divided only by about 50 yards of unoccupied trench, with our barricade one end, and the German barricade the other, each with loopholes in, & sniping at each other all day. A most extraordinary show all round, but this map will explain it better than words.

Dryden's map

Dryden’s map

Of course we threw Bombs back at them, & did a lot of damage, I expect, but we did’nt have bombs till too late to stop them sapping up. Altogether we had a most exciting time there & were very pleased to come away.

Now we are back in our old trenches once more, for a week they say, but I expect it will be longer. Anyhow this time I’ve brought out a toothbrush & some soap, as last time they shot us into these trenches without any warning. They’re much quieter in front of us now than they were when we were here before, and barring sniping which goes on incessantly all day, & is very trying as bullets whizz about & come from most unexpected quarters, we get no rifle fire at all, at least we’ve had some today. And the only guns I’ve heard today were ours this evening when they gave the enemy’s nearer trenches a few rounds of shrapnel just for luck I suppose. Of course we have’nt had the awful time those extraordinarily brave Britishers have had at Ypres, but we’ve done a good whack; and I expect we’ll see some more before we’ve done- Well so long girls, nothing much doing here.

Tons of love from Ted

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Posted by on 3 December, '14 in Captain Fred Lumb

 

3 December 1914 – Ted to Ben

Dec 3rd

Dear Ben

I don’t seem to have written you a line for some time. Thanks most awfully for your letters, so nice and long & interesting. I’m afraid I have’nt much news to tell you. Yes it’s very sad about Glag [Captain A W Robertson-Glasgow] & Toc [probably Major G H Taylor]  is’nt it, we have’nt heard yet whats happened to them. It happened like this – one night [13th November 1914] Toc & 50 men made a most successful raid on a German trench 50 yards in front of our line, & rounded up 6 prisoners & lots of rifles etc. So successful was it that the Brigade determined to repeat the operation, only this time with more men- So 250 of the 2/3rd & 50 of us were told off for it. Well they crawled out, but were evidently spotted, for the Germans opened a heavy fire & maxims, & the whole line charged.

Well, on the right some of the 2/3 with Uncle Smash, Alexander, & McSwiney got into the trench, but the fire was too hot on the left and they were beaten back. Toc was on the left, & in the dark none of the men seemed to know what happened to him, though one of our wounded men say that Toc was hit the same time as he was, but I don’t know how much truth there is in this. In any case he has not been seen since. Meantime Alexander had been wounded in the foot, & was lying on the parapet of the enemy’s trench. Uncle Smash & McSwiney were actually in the trench, and some men too, & between them they managed to knock out 30-odd Germans.

They then came to a sort of barricade in the trench, & McSwiney lept on to this & was promptly bowled over, shot through the chest, & a big hole under his arm. (He is, you’ll be glad to hear, all right, at Osborne, & doing well & the bullet rnissed all vital parts.) So there was old Smash with 2 wounded British officers & about 5 men, & lord knows how many Germans!

So he came back (meanwhile the Germans had opened a heavy fire from their rear trenches) to our trench to take more men up; but he never got back to the German trench as they played a searchlight all along our line & though he tried to get across, every man with him was hit, an officer called Drummond (attached) killed, & he had 2 bullets through his hat. So he had to come back again. Meanwhile, when Smash started, for the 2nd time, we had sent out another party under Glasgow, to help Taylor on the left. He had 20 men with him, & only a few came back, & none can say what happened to him. There was a tremendously heavy fire going on all the time, & we had a lot of men hit.

So the whole thing was chucked, as nothing could possibly live in that fire under that searchlight, & we had no supports, so could’nt attack the trench, not enough men to do it- Meanwhile McSwiney & some wounded men shouted out to Alexander that as no one seemed to be coming they’d better clear out. It appears Macs sent some men to help Alec, & he would’nt let ’em, or something like that, anyway Mac & some wounded men crawled back to our trench. Not finding Alec there, Mac went back to the German trench, but could’nt find him anywhere in the dark, (our guns were all this time playing on the trench, as we were supposed to clear out at 12 midnight to let them do it, but they did’nt know we had failed) so came back & fainted from his wound in our trenches. Jolly plucky was’nt it.

From our trenches now (we are back in them once more) we think we can see poor Alec’s body lying there, but not a sign of Toc or Glag, so lets hope they are prisoners. This war is awful, especially here, sitting opposite each other like this, one can’t go out & bury the dead or find out who they are or anything, as the Germans are so inhuman they wont respect the Red Cross.

Maclean was wounded at the same time as all those fellows in the 8th were killed. Most of them were killed by shell fire I think. The poor 8th have had a rotten time; of all the officers who started from India or joined them from leave, only Buckland remains; he got a scratch from a bullet on the face, & a bullet through the heel of his boot. Is’nt it awful? Poor Maxwell is missing, but it is almost certain he is killed, in an attack on some trenches which the Germans had taken, & our troops had to retake, & which were finally retaken by our 1st Bn, led by Fred Lumb, who did awfully well I believe.

I have told Dryden [their sister, Etheldreda] all about that show in her letter. Old Wardell is missing, but there are many stories about him. He is known to have been wounded, & is supposed to have been treated in a Field Hospital, or may have lost his way & wandered into the German trenches & been captured (see Dryden’s map.) You see, the Germans bagged about 300 yards of our trenches, & they tried 3 times to turn them out by frontal attacks (in one of these the 8th lost so heavily, & one of the Baldwins was killed, H.L.C. his initials were I think) but each one failed, not surprising considering the enemy had 5 machine guns against us, & our troops had to advance over 600 yards of flat open ground, madness to send them.

However our 1st Batt came along, & sneaked in one end of the trench, and by throwing bombs ahead of them, cleared the trench, captured 100 prisoners & 3 machine guns & generally covered themselves with glory. Sam Orton was slightly wounded, but not very bad I believe. We went into the trench the next night, & I’ve told Dryden what a state it was in; and the open ground over which the attacks were made is not a pleasant sight either, but one can’t get at these poor fellows (all dead of course) because the enemy are so close that its impossible to move out of one’s trench; we had 1 man killed & some wounded, burying corpses.

We are back in the trenches which we first occupied again now, but they are a good deal quieter than they were, and their Jack Johnsons & shrapnel are quieter – tap wood! You are all saying how cold it must be. Well it was awful just for those few days of frost and snow, but it thawed since then, & the roads are in an awful state. But it’s made the weather much warmer, & milder, though it is fairly cold with wind and rain. It’s awful sweet of you to send things out to the men, & we do appreciate it awfully, & they’ll come in awful useful, as they often lose their scarves, gloves etc, & are absolutely done without them. My syce [groom]  wants scarf & gloves too, badly, But I think a good thing to send would be common & garden coloured handkerchiefs, very cheap & any colour, as our men use them a lot for all sorts of purposes, “Jharans” as you know well; do you remember giving them out every morning at Lansdowne from the linen cupboard! I often think of those ripping days we had up there & what fun it was.

But Ben can you imagine Lansdowne after this. Think of the 8th, hardly one left, is’nt it awful. Poor Mrs Stack, I have had 2 letters from her, one you forwarded, addressed Guildford, she said she was glad to see I was at home, & would I come & see her. What on earth made her think I was at home I wonder- since then she has sent me one or two things, baccy & an air pillow- Poor woman, I am sorry, so I must write to her soon, but what am I to say. I hate it – you might just drop her a line of sympathy to

10 Prince of Wales Mansions
Battersea Park

I wonder what it all means, her letter was most extraordinary-

I got a parcel of cigarettes and matches from you, today, from that baccy man, will you thank him awfully, and say the men loved them. They also like peppermints & chocolate, By the way when you send chocolate to me, can you send milk choc: if poss: as I like it better, in small slabs. Also I should like some bull’s eyes! I don’t want any more tooth powder, or dubbin yet, but a piece of Carbolic Soap wd be welcome-

AII our kit we left at Marseilles when we landed has been sent to Southampton- Mine is in one of those little leather trunks you know. I’ll tell Cox or someone to send it home & you can open it up. I quite forget what’s inside; I know some flannel bags are there, which we never wore on board, also a spare pair boots, & some other kit. But you can open it up & spread it about. My dear we are paying 1s/9d a day for our food; is’nt it a shame, when we are risking our lives etc etc for the paternal government. The food has been good, very good, but is getting worse and less now. Never mind…

Well I’m afraid I asked for a lot of things last time I wrote, but I’ll try and not ask for any more, I’m fairly fixed up now I think.

So long Ben & keep smiling & don’t worry about me; write when you can won’t you, your letters are always interesting – & just note the date of last letter from me. Best love.

Ted


Drake-Brockman’s accounts of the actions Ted describes of the 13th November are surprisingly difficult to reconcile with Ted’s account despite the fact that Ted was Drake-Brockman’s Adjutant and with him much of the time. Ted of course is telling Ben what happened to people they both knew, and Drake-Brockman was reporting to his superiors and writing for posterity. They do both mention the searchlights and that the Germans weren’t allowing the Red Cross through.

‘Jack Johnson’ was slang for artillery shells.

Here we see that Mrs Stack, widowed in the first weeks of the war, was back in England, but clearly not keeping up to date with where her husband’s colleagues were. 

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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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19 August 1914 – Benedicta to Gertrude

Lansdowne U.P.

Aug 19th your Birthday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heaps of love

Your loving Ben.

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12 August 1914 – Benedicta to Gertrude

Lansdowne U.P.
Aug 12th 1914

Dear Mother

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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