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Category Archives: The Dilwara

8 November 1914 – Ted to Ben

I’ve put 1d stamp on, & enclose an envelope

Nov 8th

Dear Ben

Very many thanks for your nice long letter full of most interesting news. So glad you’ve got home at last, you must be thoroughly relieved too I should imagine. It must as you say be truly funny seeing all your friends dressed up as Tommies and going about with them all, Wiggs is an awful swell being an officer of course; no I had’nt heard it before, the others had’nt told me about it. Yes the “historic” voyage in the old Dil Dil, however unpleasant and trying at times, will surely live in your memory as quite a good show on the whole, and as you say you probably made some good friends on board & saw some new life. I expect you can put em all in their places when it comes to soldiers, eh, even Jim & Wiggy! Mother says Jim expects to be out here very soon, but he seems to have had very little training; I’m not crabbing the show, only I should imagine they’d want some more yet.

I expect those terriers & Gabbs & people are all going to Egypt, I don’t think they’d send em out to India; they may, of course.

It is most awfully cold here my dear as you can imagine. And we are still in thin khaki drill; what a contrast to that day at Karachi! You remember, in the first cabin you had on the Dilwara, when we simply bathed in good honest sweat. I don’t really think I’ve got enough on, but I cant get any more gear at present. You see we came out to occupy the trenches on 29th Oct, & are still here; that makes 10 days. Not very long under some circs, but devilish long to be in cold damp trenches with only the kit you stand up in! You see we left all our kit behind, & heaven knows when we shall see it again„ I hope we shall soon, as it’s very trying, this sort of work. You see we have’nt a a thing off for the whole tirne, boots, clothes or anything, nor a wash nor anything like that. We are all filthy, black grimy hands & faces, but we are all the same so it does’nt matter.

I read a glowing account in the “Standard” a day or two ago of life in the trenches, but it was very misleading. First of all it talked about “spade hewn, straw-spread” trenches; true in a way, but all our digging has to be done at night, as it would be impossible to dig by day, as the enemy’s trenches are only 300 yards off, & his little advanced trenches, in which snipers sit & pick you off if you show a finger, are only about 150 yards; so the digging is’nt very grand, though I must say our men have done wonders, & have made the trenches quite comfy- And there is some straw, but it’s mostly trodden into the mud. Again he says we do 3 days in the front trench, 3 days in the support, & 4 days rest. Divil a bit, this is our 10th day in the front trench, & no hope of relief yet awhile. Still it’s all part of the day’s work I suppose. These dam Germans seem to think the barn, where we have – or rather used to have – our Battalion headqrs is a most important place, because they persistently shell it. Every day for the last 4 days we had a whole lot of Jack Johnsons all round us, & they’ve knocked the farm buildings to hell. Such a pity, as “its a nice little farm”, & has a lovely orchard, & looks lovely in the evening sometimes. But of course it’s absolutely wrecked. I don’t think one can imagine these things unless you see them. One Jack Johnson wrecked the entire side of the house – it’s a sort of square with a courtyard in the middle – and all the rest is knocked to hell too. And all the furniture, crockery, clothes everything lying all over the shop anyhow. I dont know what the poor people will do when they come back after the war.

Last night, in fact all yesterday, the Germans were very active. For some reason or other they seem very anxious to break through our line just here, where we and the Seaforths are. Yesterday began by a furious shelling all the morning and then they attacked the Seaforths, and there was the hell of a battle, but they managed to keep ’em off, though the Seaforths had a lot of casualties. Our left joins up with the Seaforths, so we came in for it too. They again made a special effort against our Bn head quarters, & dropped shrapnel & howitzer all round, but we were quite safe in our trenches, though of course we had a few men hit. Poor Nain Sing was hit in the head by a piece of shell a few days ago & died shortly afterwards; I’m awful sorry as he was such a good chap, & had done me most awfully well on this show.

I dont know if you’ve seen any casualty lists, perhaps you have; I’m not supposed to mention them I believe, but I’m sure they must have been published by now. Poor Stack has been killed, I dont know what Mrs Stack will do; I’m most awfully sorry. Wright has been killed too, & Davidson & Hayes Saddler, & 2 more in the 8th; Maclean wounded (he’s gone home) & Col Morris, in fact they had a rotten time the 8th, though they did’nt lose many men. Awful is’nt it-

I got a huge parcel from Mother, it arrived up here in the trenches, but I could’nt possibly open it, as I’m sure I could’nt have kept all the kit. So I sent it back to the baggage, & am longing to get at my kit again & have a look at it, I want a balaclava cap, so if anyone wants to do anything say that; it’s bitter at night, sleeping in just one’s kit & no blanket or anything- I cover myself over with sacks and straw & so keep fairly warm. You remember that warm coat I had made; well I’ve had that on all the time & its ripping and warm; but I believe mother said she had put in a sweater in that parcel, & that will be lovely. She sent me a gorgeous silk muffler, much too good for these shows, but it’s been an absolute blessing & I could’nt have got on without it. And as for the blue jersey, well saved me life, & causes a great stir among the troops!

I have picked up several German helmets, rifles, uniform, shells etc, but I can’t sent them home as I should like too, so it’s no good. I must try & collect a few trophies of the campaign before we’re done.

We are just hanging on here while bigger developements take place elsewhere, & never a day passes without a furious shelling and an attack or two, & bullets go whizzing all over the shop; most exciting.

There are hundreds of Aeroplanes about, &, as you know, I’ve never seen one before. Col D[rake].B[rockman] & I were standing in a trench the other day quite still, as the orders are to do so when “hostile aircraft” (that’s good & will make your soldier friends sit up!) are about, & a German Taube was careering about overhead; you see it’s awful hard to spot people except by movement. Anyhow we suddenly heard a little shrill hissing sound and an explosion in the turnips in front; this happened 3 times; & the stinker had been dropping bombs! But they did’nt do any damage.

I am quite well, fit as seventy fiddles, filthy, & a 10 days beard, I shall be glad to be relieved from this trench work as it’s very trying & one gets little sleep. I hope these blighters keep quiet tonight! Write again soon. Tons of love

Ted

What I shd have done without “torchers” in the trenches I don’t know! He’s been absolutely invaluable and you shall have him back after the war as a trophy.


This letter was written in pencil on paper torn from a Field Service Pocket Book.

‘Terriers’ were members of the Territorial Army, ie part-time volunteers who were also reservists.

D H Drake-Brockman wrote a book With the Royal Garwhal Rifles in the Great War 1914-1917 which provides a lot of background information to Ted’s letters. Drake-Brockman also mentioned the difficulties of not being able to wash saying “The worst of a long period in the trenches without relief is that you cannot get clean and the men are apt to get verminous”.

‘Jack Johnson’ was slang for artillery shells.

Wiggs was Ivan Bennet, whom Paul mentioned on 30th October and who seems to have been a special friend of Ben’s at that time.

Ben mentioned Mrs Stack as one of the new mothers in Lansdowne and it seems possible she was still there rather than risk the voyage with a new baby. It’s not clear whether she also lost the baby, assuming we’ve read Ben’s letter right and there was one. Either way, future letters show she was almost demented with grief.  

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17 October 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

Oct 17.

I couldn’t send off the letter I began yesterday or when-ever it was as I’ve been too busy. And the weather! Well, it’s been raining hard for 3 days & nights, so you can imagine the state of our camp. Feet, simply feet deep in mud, and all our kit wet & horrible; rather a nuisance this, before we have actually started. I sent you one of those p.c.’s a day or 2 ago, saying I was all right. I fancy we leave the place in a day or two – so silly it seems not being able to say where we are; but I don’t suppose it will tax your guessing powers much to find out! Anyhow we are off somewhere I know but when and where I don’t know.

We had all our photographs taken this morning and I’ll try and send you a copy if they come in time. I have lost my reserve supply of Colgates tooth paste, 2 tubes, I can’t think what’s happened to it; so you might send me a tube about once every 3 weeks or month or so. Everyone seems to be sending us warm kit etc, but as our kit is only 35 lbs I don’t know how we are going to carry it all unless we wear it. One can get precious little into 35 lbs, it’s a choice between warmth & dirt, i.e. whether to take more blankets etc, or a good supply of soap etc. Of course everyone goes for warmth, as it’s impossible to keep really clean once we’ve really started.

We have two French interpreters attached to us, each regiment has, as our French is very rocky, but we ought to be quite good after this show. All the letters have to be censored, hence my lack of news, not that I’ve got much to tell you anyhow. Today is a ripping day & quite a hot sun, which is a good thing & gives the kit a chance to dry. We get French papers & the Paris daily mail here, but there is precious little news in them. Send along a picture paper occasionally will you, a daily sketch or something, they are always amusing.

I have’nt been back into the town since we came out here to camp, but the people were very enthusiastic when we marched through the other night, little boys & girls darted up & seized your hand saying goodnight, & cheering & shouting; most amusing.

I wonder if old Ben has rolled up, I hear she had a nasty toss down companion on the Dilwara, but is quite all right. She can tell you all my news I think. I have got 2 or 3 letters from you all at home, & you must excuse my not answering them all. I’m awfully fit & feeling as well as well. My poor pony got “laminitis”, a foot disease, on board & had to go to a vet: hosp: here, so I’ll never see him again. However govt is buying all our horses, & I shall get a remount as soon as I can. No more just now

Yr loving son

Ted


This is a continuation of the letter Ted started on the 14th October, 1914.

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11 October 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

off Sardinia. 11.Oct 14

Dear Mother

I don’t know quite when this letter will reach you. I sent one home to you by Ben which I gave her at P. Said to take home to you, but whether this letter or she will get home first I don’t know. Well, here we are, on our way to Marseilles, where we arrive tomorrow & where I hope I shall be able to post this. I don’t quite know what we do or where we go when we land, but in any case we’ll have to keep quiet for a bit, as we’ve been a month on this voyage and of course men and animals are very soft in consequence. You will have seen by the papers that some Indian troops have already landed in France, but that was the 3rd divn, & I was wondering if you thought by any chance that we were with that lot. Ben will explain when she get s home exactly how things are, & to what Brigade & Division we belong, so I won’t go into any elaborate explanations now. We have had quite a good voyage from P. Said, 18 transports escorted by the French Battleship “Jaure Guiberry” awful name is’nt it.

Ben & I had most awful fun at Port Said, & sent you some p.c’s from there which I expect you have got by now. I went & got her off the Dilwara, & we went ashore & made a whole lot of purchases, & wandered about seeing sights generally. And it was a sight! Nothing but officers in uniform and crowds of them, also hundreds of French sailors all waving little union Jacks. Ben & I kept on saying “vive l’entente” to them, & they were fearfully pleased always. There were 2 French battleships at P. Said, & two or three British cruisers & torpedo boats, but the old Gloucester was’nt there; I wonder where she is. After we had walked all over the place, we foregathered with Alix & some pals & had a tremendous dinner at the hotel, where we met everyone we’d ever met in India, & I kept on introducing Ben to officers who had just rejoined from leave, & I think she’s met everyone in the regiment now, we had quite a good dinner, with a little French tricolour stuck in the flower pot on the table. I had to be back by 10, so we wandered off, & rowed back & then sent old Ben off to the Dilwara. It was a gorgeous day & I can’t remember having enjoyed anything so much for years.

It has got much colder of course since we started, & today there is really a biting wind, & we are all fugged* up in the saloon, and the deck is quite deserted.
*”cubbed” is the word I was trying to think of, Ben always uses it.

We get scraps of war news by wireless occasionally, & today we hear about the Zeppelin being burnt by our navy airmen, & the siege of Antwerp. There is of course much speculation as to where we are going. At last after many guesses, rumours, & hopes & fears, we know we are going to Marseilies; then we go to a concentration camp near Paris, and after that, heaven knows where they will send us, where we are most wanted. It will be pretty cold on the continent this time of year, so could you send me along a khaki muffler some time, a nice soft light but warm one if you can get one, also a pair of warm gloves leather lined wool sound all right, size 8. Ben has got my address, but I’ll give it you again, unless of course you’ve had any other address given by the India or War office.

CAPT E.R.P. BERRYMAN
2/39 GARHWAL RIFLES
20th INDIAN INFANTRY BRIGADE
MEERUT DIVISION
I.E.F. “A”
FRANCE

You see I’m not allowed by regulations to tell you where I am, or mention any towns etc, only just the barest items of news can be sent, otherwise one’s letters are liable to censorship and much delay, & very often destruction. But of course you can send me what you like to the address above, & say what you like in your letters, as they are not censored.

I have got a lovely Jersey Ben gave me in Lansdowne which is ripping & warm, tell her it is the buzz of the ship, and I get thoroughly ragged about it, as it’s a most gorgeous blue colour, & everyone else has khaki ones! By the way, can you send me 2 pairs of warm drawers, not too thick, but thick-ish, short ones reaching to the knee, as I know it will be most infernally cold all the winter. But don’t send too many things, as one’s kit is limited in weight of course, and I’ve got as much warm kit as I can carry almost. Doubtless a little baccy & cigarettes would not be out of place sometimes. But I leave it all to you. I expect everyone is making clothes etc for the troops, & so we should be plentifully supplied if only the things roll up.

Well, we live in stirring times, so don’t expect to hear from me again till you do hear from me: the Indian troops should be a good deal in the limelight, so you will probably see references to their doings in the papers occasionally. So wish me luck, & dont worry about me. Best love to all the family; I have’nt had any letters for ages! Ben will tell you a lot of my news first hand, I would’nt have missed that day at Port Said for Worlds! I wonder if she’s got home yet.

Tons of love from your loving son

Ted


Again, this was written as one long paragraph and has been split into several to make it easier to read.

 

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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16 September 1914 – Benedicta to Gertrude

Wednesday evening    Sept 16th 1914

Karachi

Dear Mother

Well we arrived this morning after the most impossible journey; I’ve never been so dirty, one large mass of dust. Archie Mankelow & we had breakfast on this ship, the City of Lahore; the “Dilwara” isn’t in yet so we are messing on here at present.

Look here, after all you will not have had a cable because it’s not much point; I can’t tell you the date we leave or anything because cables are so heavely censored, so you’ll get this before I do arrive as we are sailing either 18th or 19th Sept see. I shall be home in about a month or 5 weeks I suppose, so any day after you get this you can expect a wire from me saying I’ve landed, that’s all I can do coming officially like this. Everything is very strict & NO information can be given outside without trouble.

Ted came along for a few minutes at lunch time, his ship is also in the docks here but they can’t get off much. He is looking most awfully well & very cheery. Such heaps of troopers here, the dock is full and we have three or four Cruisers to escort us. We are hoping that one may be the Gloucester as then perhaps we should see Paul. It does seem funny going really with the expeditionary force. We go in the Dilwara from here with the Lancashire Fusiliers, as far as Aden & then the Irish Rifles go to England with us from Aden.

I dare not think of the heat, it will be dreadfull; here it is too awfull. The state everyone in it, dripping wet & outside there is a plague of locusts, a mass all flying in the air. It seems now an order came into that people belonging to the expeditionary force, families I mean who had P. & O. tickets could use them & get the money refunded by government, but of course I haven’t done this as I’d already got this passage. It seems it’s jolly hard to get your P. & O. refunded but I must when I get back, anyway some of it, & I’ve had a free railway journey which has saved at least £10 allready.

We embark tonight, I see the Dilwara has just come in. Alix & I have a cabin together, that we do know so we do hope it’s a 2 berth one. It does seem funny that I’m really starting home; they say we are not in for a bad voyage, bar the heat, as the monsoon is over. We all go two by two with certain spaces between, in among the war at all should you say.

Well there’s no more I can tell you at present so I will stop. You won’t hear again till you get my wire. I don’t know if I shall see Ted after we once sail, because I don’t suppose we land at many ports en route but we hope to see something of them.

Tell the girls I’m longing to see them again & you all. I can’t sort of realize that I’ve been here a year in this country. Just had a wire from Dick, I must write to him tomorrow. He says “What about being alone in India” but he’ll be home soon I feel sure. Too hot to write anymore. How cold I shall be when I get back, I shall sit in the kitchen all day. I don’t suppose there will be much in the fire line will there.  Heaps of love

Your loving daughter

Ben

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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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