Glossary & Places


Black Maria

Army Slang – extremely large shells which could flatten a building


Family slang – A “Fast Friendship” meaning one that is rapid, and begun and ended by circumstances. FFs could last a few hours, days or weeks and they usually refer to meetings, though Paul refers to getting to know Ted’s fiancée via an FF by letter. My mother heard this as “Forced Friendship” but she explained it clearly enough as a perfectly pleasant acquaintanceship made as a result of circumstances but that didn’t or couldn’t last, such as a friendship made on board ship during the voyage from India to England. “Fast Friendship” is probably a pun on Fast Friends, who are friends for life.

JJ / Jack Johnson 

Army slang – artillery shells

Having Dinner when Jack Johnson is about

Ted “having dinner when Jack Johnson is about”


Family slang – a jaunt, a trip or adventure


Family slang – bad feeling – when Topher came home to sign up for Kitchener’s army he asked “is there any mud at home?” meaning “is anyone angry that I’ve thrown in my perfectly good job to sign up for the army?”


Indian Army term – a Corporal in the Indian Army

Pink Papers

General slang – probably newspapers about sport, some of which were still printed on pink paper until the 1960s. The only papers still printed on pinnk paper now are financial papers such as the Financial Times.


Royal Military College, Sandhurst, training college for officers


Royal Naval Reserve


Slang for Aquascutum, a brand of trench coat with a detachable lining


Indian Army slang – junior officers below the rank of Captain – ie Lieutenants straight from Sandhurst


Family slang – this seems to be a nickname that Ted and Ben had for a torch that belonged to Ben which she used for getting around Lansdowne at night and which she gave Ted to use in the Trenches. Torchers regularly ran of batteries in the winter of 1914/1915

See also A few words about a few words – a post by Chris Miller who transcribed the letters about the idioms that Ted and the others used.


The Berrymans used the anglicised version of the names in India, so Bombay instead of Mumbai, Calcutta instead of Kolkata and so on. They were of their time and we have not modernised the names they used.


Ted and Topher went to Kings School Canterbury, though they were not there at the same time.


The Prep School the boys all went to from the ages of 8 to 14 in Maidenhead. It changed its name in the 1920 to St Pirans; this is sheer speculation, but the most likely reason for a boys’ prep school to change its name would surely be to avert a scandal. However, the Berrymans clearly had fondest of memories and mention receiving copies of the Cordwalles Chronicle several times in the letters.


The house their mother lived in on the London Road in Guildford. The Berryman siblings grew up in Camberly not Guildford, but Delaford was a large house and Gertrude and at least some of the girls lived there before and during the War. Gertrude continued to live there well into the 1930s.


The regimental base for the Garhwal Rifles in the Pauri Garhwal district in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. It’s a small hill station in the Himalayas, two days’ march from the rail head. It is now in India though Karachi, the embarkation port, is now in Pakistan.,_Garhwal

Mont Dore, Bournemouth

Richard worked as a doctor in the Indian Army hospital in the Mont Dore Hotel in Bournemouth in 1915, which did not capture the popular imagination then or now like the Indian hospital at the Brighton Pavillion.!(24)_f079r!(25)_f084v


Write a reply.....

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.