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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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30 September 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

S. S. Concordia
Red Sea
30.9.14

Dear Mother

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

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

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

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

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

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


Suez

3rd Oct.

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

Ted


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

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20 September 1914 – Benedicta to Gertrude

S.S. Dilwara Karachi

Tuesday Sept 20th

we ought to arrive about Oct 15
or thereabouts but I don’t know.

 

Dear Mother

A very few minutes to write to you in, just to tell you that we sail tomorrow after all. Go out into the sea to wait in a few hours, tossed about all night I suppose.

Ted’s ship went out this morning early, there will be about 40 of us all together in three clumps, divided by our cruiser escort. I’m sure there’ll be a good old muddle as these ships so very unused to going at close quarters.

Very uncomfortable on this old barge, full of babies who scream all day- Look here I’ve no time for much of a letter, they are taking the letters ashore. Write me when you get this C/o Cox Agent Passenger S.S. DILWARA, Southampton. Wait arrival. & I shall get it when I land, it will only be a few days after this.

I am dreading this voyage, because it’s sure to be rough & very hot. I got your mail letter but have no time to answer, I only knew today there was a chance of getting the mail next week.

I’ve seen quite a lot of Ted’s & the others’ & we shall see the 39th Gs’ ship all the way along, because it is in the same block as ours. I must end & post this.

Tons of love to everyone

Your loving Ben

I shall be very much on the lookout for the dear Gloucester all the way home.

dreading the next 3 weeks.

Ainley Talbot is with the Lancashire Fusiliers on board, we’ve had an FF. Also Capt Farmer who lived up the Avenue.

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17 September 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

We sail on 18th or 19th I think

BRITISH INDIA STEAM NAVIGATION CO., LD.

S.S. Coconada

Karachi Sept 17 1914

Dear Mother

I wrote you a line last week to say Ben might come down & sail with us, & sure enough she has! I’ve seen her, & had all my meals on her boat since we embarked yesterday. It is ripping seeing her again, but so odd somehow, as I left Lansdowne a month ago, & here we are still in India, & Ben stays on for a long time after we’ve gone, & comes home in the same convoy! The Dilwara on which she is is taking home all the wives & sisters etc of us going on this expeditionary force, so is coming home under the same escort of cruisers etc as us. We have H.M.S Dartmouth here, & some more are coming later. As Ben says it only wants Paul on the Gloucester to meet us at Port Said to complete it! Imagine Paul’s face when he saw us!! Quite possible and very likely the Gloucester will be our escort after the canal. Ben ought to be home in about a month’s time now, about the middle of October. She seems awfully fit & well & it’s gorgeous seeing her again. I’m just off to have lunch on the Dilwara, & after that we leave the docks & go out into the Stream about 4 p.m. so I shan’t get another chance of seeing her I dont expect. We might meet if we go ashore at Aden or anywhere.

Very hot down here in docks & I’m afraid Ben will have a hottish voyage, but only during the first part. Anyhow, she’s having quite an experience & her visit to India has ended somewhat differently to what she expected. I hear they are sending more troops from India after we’ve gone. It will be awful being on the sea for such a long time & getting no news. I wonder what will have happened to the war by then.  Good news so far, is’nt it, but at tremendous sacrifice on the part of the British troops, who seem to have done wonders.

I will write again soon as I can- I expect this will miss the mail & reach you a week after Ben’s letter tellng you we have met. “Hanging on an’ all” as Ben says!

Must go and have lunch with her now.

Love to all

Yr Loving son

Ted.

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