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1 June 1918 – Richard to Gertrude

June 1st

 

Dear Mother

I called at Cox yesterday but no letters had arrived. So I hope you get the letter asking you to write there. I have not been able to go down today as I am attached to a hospital for temporary duty & have been orderley officer today, & could not get out. Like a prisoner in a cage. I must try & go down tomorrow. I shall be here for a bit I expect, as they are keeping me to await the result of my application for a transfer.

Would you send me those brown shoes that are in the old boudoir, that’s where I saw them last.

Any news of Ted? Best love to all. Yr loving son

Richard

 

57th General Hospital

B.E.F. France

 
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Posted by on 1 June, '18 in About

 

28 May 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

May 28th/18

 

Dear Mother

It seems a long time since I wrote to you, but mails are so erratic & they don’t even let you know when they do leave Bombay, so one simply can’t judge when to write. In any case I have long since ceased to worry about mail days & generally write once a week & trust to luck. I have’nt had much time these last 2 weeks, as this old infantry school has kept me very busy. It ended on 25th,  & we have a week before it begins again, and I have managed to get away for 2 days of that week.

I have come up the line a bit to stay with Fred Lumb in the 1st Battn, and to see how things are getting on. I only know one or two of them now but it has been a very pleasant change besides being a new part of the world to see. I go back tomorrow, as I have lots of things to get ready for the next course.

I believe there is a mail in Baghdad today, from London up to 29th March, so I ought to get letters giving accounts of old Ben’s wedding, and also descriptions of how Nell looked. I did just get one letter from you last mail saying she looked thin but well, but I hope to get more detailed news of her when I get back.

This old infantry school is most awfully strenuous. We work 5-8 every morning outdoors, lectures 10-30 to 1 & private work for students & correcting papers etc for us in the afternoon. And as the weather is warming up a bit now it takes it out of one a bit. However I must say it is remarkably cool for the time of year, & besides we have electric fans at the school which helps a lot.

This morning I met the Russian General Baratoff, who used to command the Russian troops who were working with us out here. But of course that’s all bust up now & he has come in to us. Sam Orton is taking him round to see all the sights & he suddenly rolled up here this morning – with all his staff & several generals etc. He was dressed just like a cossack out of a book, double-breasted coat an’ all & medals & swords & a very hot-looking sheepskin hat, most unsuitable for the weather I should think, in fact his whole get up was. It was interesting to meet him, though of course our conversation was limited!

I did’nt see Jim again after that Sunday I saw him in hospital. He got all right again & then went off pretty soon to join his regiment, & I have heard from him once since then.

I went to see the Nuns at the French convent in Baghdad on Sunday. They take in Armenian girls there & other refugees. They wear convent kit of course with that funny starched white cap. They are dears, & always awfully pleased to see one. They make all sorts of things, these lovely silk cloaks & scarves, lace & underclothes and sell them to help towards the upkeep of the place. They are all French, & were most awfully good to our wounded after Kut fell in April ’16, & 3 of them were decorated by Genl Maude with the Royal Red Cross. I must go & see them again some day.

Col Keen, who runs our school, funnily enough knows old Col Swann intimately, & the family too, in fact he married one of the family who lived next door to Sausthorpe. He is in the 45th Sikhs, & was awfully interested about it all. He knew Nance was engaged to a Navy man, but was’nt sure of the name.

I was interviewed by General Marshall one day last week, but we had’nt much to say to each other!

Will write more next time. Hope to hear from you tomorrow

Best love to all

Yr loving son

Ted


Nancy Swann had married Ted’s brother Paul.

 
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Posted by on 28 May, '18 in About

 

27 May 1918 – Richard to Gertrude

E.F.C.

OFFICERS REST HOUSE

AND MESS.

 

Monday

 

Dear Mother.      Still here yer see but so far I’ve heard nothing of my application for an exchange. Early yet. Wonder if you got your legacy alright & if you walked away with a cheque for £1000. It’s so fine here that I imagine it lovely at home & everybody on the river every day & tennis & so on.

I have not seen or heard anything of Ted yet. I wonder if you have. I shall call in at Cox today & tell them to keep my letters   I hope you’ll be able to write soon & will not have written too many to Alex before you get my last letter. We eat white bread now & there’s lots of jam & stuff, but I wish I was home all the same. Did Jane go to the dance on Tuesday. Give my love to Eleanor

Yr loving son

Richard

 
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Posted by on 27 May, '18 in About

 

26 May 1918 – Richard to Gertrude

E.F.C.

OFFICERS REST HOUSE

AND MESS.

 

Sunday  26 5.18.

 

My dear Mother

I wrote you yesterday & gave you an address as I may get a letter before I have to leave. Anyhow I am trying to wangle an exchange & stay with a hospital there if possible. I don’t know if they will sanction it, if they do I think I shall apply for some leave from here! Still lovely weather, not too hot yet. I’ve met several men I know & I am leaving a letter for Ted at Cox’s in case he comes through, he might have time to arrange a meeting if our visits clash.

The biscuits & milk & kettle were awfully useful in the train, although troop train journeys are done very much more comfortably than in the early days. We had several quite long stops at odd stations at odd times & we could get a good wash & decent meals, four in a first class carriage for 2 nights was’nt too much of a crush either.

I wonder if you found that envelope with my statement of leave granted. There are two lots of two each. One lot was in with that yellow ticket. Hope you are using my meat card & butter etc. The 13s.

Best love to all

yr loving son

Richard.

 
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Posted by on 26 May, '18 in About

 

25 May 1918 – Richard to Gertrude

Friday. 25

 

Dear Mother.

Here I am waiting at the place I expected to wait, and I am going to try & wangle a job here if possible, though I doubt if it will come off. Don’t write to where I said till I tell you for certain. It’s gorgeous weather here, but an awful lot of dust blowing about. We had a 3 days train journey, but it was not so bad as many I have experienced.

That was a lovely leave.

Best love to all

yr loving son

Richard.

 
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Posted by on 25 May, '18 in About

 

21 May 1918 – Richard to Gertrude

On Active Service

WITH THE BRITISH EXPEDITIONARY FORCE

Y.M.C.A.

 

Tuesday

 

Dear Mother.

Arrived over here this morning, the place I said I thought we should go to. Awaiting orders now to go by train. Spec that means 5 or 6 days in the blooming thing. Hot, dusty, dirty, but I believe the scenery in some parts is luvly. Very hot here this morning. Just had a shave & hair cut, so sleepy I went to sleep while I was getting my hair cut.

c/o Cox & Co

Alexandria

To be called for.

 

best love to all

yr loving son      Richard

 

What about the dog eh? If she does not arrive Wed write to the porter in charge, parcels office Sthpton.

 
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Posted by on 21 May, '18 in About

 

19 May 1918 – Richard to Gertrude

South Western Hotel,

Southampton.

 

Dear Mother.

I got “Jane” on board alright & imagining I had scored & was safe left her in charge of the steward. When I went back the Master of the Ship arrived & said I could not possibly take her. I argued etc & told him I had escaped the A.M.L.O & Embarkation officer & he had no right to stop me. All to no purpose, and as she cannot travel during Whitsun she leaves here on Wednesday & will be delivered at Delaford.

A doggy porter has her in charge at present.

I have just had some tea here as I am not going yet.

Best love to all

yr loving son

Richard.


What…? Just what….?  “Jane” must presumably yet another of Richard’s dogs rather than his sister. Someone needs to tell Richard a dog is for life not just for a posting. My guess is that Richard is departing Southampton for France after leave at Delaford and that Jane is another of his mother’s terrier pups. 

Assistant Military Landing Officer.

 
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Posted by on 19 May, '18 in About

 

14 May 1918 – Ted to Getrude

May 14/18

 

Dear Mother

Supposed to be mail day tomorrow but they are so erratic that it really does’nt matter much. We have had no mails in yet of course, as it’s only 10 days or so since our last one, though I believe one has arrived in Bombay.

You will probably have heard from Jim & how he had to go to hospital with sandfly fever, but he is all right again now & ‘phoned me today to say he was leaving the hospital tomorrow. I did’nt even know he had gone there till he had been there 2 days, & then one of the students on the class said he had seen his name there so I rung up & found out. I went & saw him once or twice there & he seemed very fit each time & had got over the worst of it, but I was too busy to go oftener. However he’s all right now & I expect I’ll see him tomorrow.

I’m all right again too now & am back to work once more. I had 3 days in bed last week, but I could’nt spare any more as there’s such lots to do on this class & there are only 3 of us instructors.

Warmer now & the hot weather has fairly started, but it’s quite bearable at present. And a week ago, when I had fever an’ all, I was wearing the old Shetland & sleeping under a blanket!

I’m longing to get the next mail as it ought to have accounts of Ben’s wedding & of old Nell too. You did just write a wee line to say it went off all right & Nell looked thin, but I hope for more details later.

What wonderful things the Navy has been doing has’nt it, I think it’s truly marvellous, and I am so glad they’ve had a chance to show some definite results to the public. It was really magnificent the blocking of Zeebrugge & Ostend harbours. I do hope it will materially affect the submarines & you’ll be able to get more food now.

You poor folk at home are getting very little to eat I’m afraid & not very nourishing at that. I do hope things are better now. What awful prices things are too & the meat allowance seems ridiculously small. So sorry to hear Nance has jaundice, lucky she was home as you say & not stuck up in rooms at Queensferry.

Yes, those cuttings about Hit I got allright. You will know by now that we were in that show, & chased the Turk for miles & miles after the battle of Khan Baghdadi. You saw I expect that “our troops have occupied Ana” well we got right up to there, simply miles & miles ahead of anybody! We did’nt have much fighting, but we had a strenuous time on the whole, but it was quite good fun. There has been more rounding up of Turks up the other side, but of course I was’nt in that.

A lovely parcel came from you 2 or 3 days ago with soap & bath salts & chocolate, thanks awfully. I gave one of the pieces of soap to Jim in hospital. I got a line from the Mess president to say the F & M boxes had arrived & were very much appreciated. He said he was writing to you.

I must get ready some work for tomorrow. We get up at 5 every day, outdoor work 6-9, indoor (lectures etc) 10-30 -1, & preparation for next day during the afternoon, so we are pretty busy, especially in this climate!

Best love to all

Yr loving son

Ted


If Nancy was living some of the time “in rooms in Queensferry” that means Paul was probably at Rosyth. I would dearly love to know if they lived in North Queensferry or South Queensferry. North would be nearer Rosyth, South is more usually referred to as “Queensferry” or “the ‘Ferry”. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeebrugge_Raid

 
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Posted by on 14 May, '18 in About

 

8 May 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

May 8th/18

 

Dear Mother

A lovely mail arrived yesterday with 3 letters from you, dated 5th 13th & 20th March, all very welcome, and very many thanks indeed for them- of course the prevailing topic was old Ben’s wedding, & in your last letter you just mentioned it had gone off all right, and I am longing to get next mail’s letters with fuller descriptions. Your letter too is the only one that mentions Nell, you say she is “very pretty” – I’m sure of that, the dear child – but thin – Well, as far as I can make out everyone at home is thin nowadays, & Nell says she is very fit & well. All the same I am longing for letters from you all next mail, as they all promised to write & tell me all about old Nell, and of course I’m  wildly delighted to hear. I had a wee note from her at Delaford, very hurriedly written, but she seemed very full of life-

My chief news is of course about having met Jim. He was living in camp the other side of the river, and as there is only one bridge, supplemented by a spasmodic ferry, it was rather hard for him to get across. And I was awfully busy too with the class, and had’nt much leisure, so our meetings were necessarily curtailed. However we saw a good deal of each other, and had great talks over old times, & he told me a good deal of stop press news, tho’ I was able to put him wise on a good many points, as he had been without a mail for a long time. He is most awfully fit and well, & it was ripping seeing him again.

He has gone off now to meet his regiment. We had several dinners together at the club here and he may try and wangle it to be sent on this course later on, in which case I should have to lecture to him!

Your latest letters were posted just before the big offensive, and of course contained no reference to it. A lot has happened since then, has’nt it, and I’m afraid the British public has been called upon to show more grit & determination during these last few weeks than at any other period of the war- But at the time of writing the papers & all telegrams strike a much more hopeful note, with much more confidence and a brighter outlook all round.

We simply must put implicit confidence in those wonderful troops, it’s the one & only thing to do, & indeed they have not failed us so far- It must be terribly hard for all you at home, but I do hope by now confidence is restored – if it ever failed, which I rather doubt. I like to think the Britisher is capable of putting up with far worse than this, he is capable of making greater sacrifices yet and willingly too. His heart is in the right place, if only the government will tell him what to do, he’ll do it.

He hates, I always think, to be asked to do things voluntarily, he seems shy at starting,- but frame a line of action for him, ration him, tax him, cut up his daily life into little bits for him, & he will submit loyally so long as it means victory. I’m sure of it – and behind it all is the wonderful patience & courage & sacrifice of the women, to say nothing of the hard manual labour they do- No, there’s not much wrong wth the rank & file of England. He will submit to good management as willingly as he does to bad, and now that is just a question of “sticking it”.

I feel sure in my own mind who can go on longest. Hard times I know for us all, especially for all you at home, but we have the example set by the women of England to follow, and thank God we are far from going under yet, a long long way from it.

Really the rationing in England does’nt seem a great success at present. I quite agree with you, it should have been started 2 years ago. Everyone would have played up I’m sure, they only want to be asked, & told what to do, and they will willingly do it. A few might have groused, but only a very few, & they would’nt have mattered. But it seems wrong that the food should contain so little nourishment, & I do hope that things will improve when the machine works a little more smoothly. The conditions in Germany & Austria, especially the latter, must be terrible if ours are as bad as you say.

Lovely & cool here, & here we are the 8th of May! And this time last year at Basra it was well over 100! We have had fearful gales & storms too, and altogether the weather is quite unusual, & long may it continue so- you sent me one or two cuttings about Hit and the fighting up there. Yes we were in that, but there was’nt much doing,  except our pursuit of the Turk, which was most exciting. But I wrote & told you we had been up there, did’nt I.

So glad the photographs arrived – what exciting adventures my last lot of letters seem to have had! Both Ben & Nell say they were stamped “damaged by sea water”, so I expect they could a tale unfold. However it’s a comfort to think they did roll up eventually. I think the mails are marvellous; irregular of course, but at least they arrive nearly always; I have the greatest admiration for the mail service.

I had a long letter from Paul describing the wedding an’ all- and of course I got your letters too all about it. He seems deliriously happy, & his letter was most enthusiastic. I am being left are’nt I! Three members of the family engaged and married since I set the fashion – in engagement anyhow, tho’ Ben was engaged then of course- and I expect & hope Jinny will not wait long. Poor old Nell, I am so sorry for her, & she’s so awfully plucky & patient about it all. But what can one do? There seems no chance of leave except on very urgent affairs, & they don’t count marriage urgent enough- However we must just wait & hope for the best; things happen so unexpectedly & suddenly nowadays that one never knows where one may be next.

I am so glad my cable to Ben hit off the exact day. I must confess it was’nt meant to, but it was rather hard to send off private wires just then, as we were right up at the front – during the Hit business it was – however I managed to persuade the field telegraphs to take it, & I’m extra pleased if Ben was so anxious to hear from me. I had letters from her this week, but I doubt if I can answer them today.

Yes that Mrs Lumb at Horsely is Fred Lumb’s sister, she married a cousin of the same name. I know her slightly, do go & see her if you can, or write to her as Fred Lumb & I are great pals, & it would be a good thing I think. Fred Lumb’s mother always sends me a Christmas card; you remember I went & stayed with them when I was on leave in 1910, up in Norfolk, perchance-

So glad to hear Capon is so much better & can do a little work now. You seem to have discovered a wonderful doctor in London for him- How sad about Dr Lerick, I did’nt know him to speak to, only by sight. You talk of taking his house, and I suppose with all the family getting married you would be more comfortable in a smaller house, but when the family comes to stay it will be rather a problem-

Well, the old home is beginning to break up- sad but inevitable I suppose- But we have no complaints – we have been together a tremendous lot despite our scattered professions. And we could’nt have had a finer training ground than we have had, or a finer example than you, mother, and we all owe you a very deep debt of gratitude for all you have done, and I only hope our own homes will be as happy and comfortable and well-managed as the one we have known so long has always been-

So Aunt Edward’s left you £1000; how generous of her, a handy sum these days; I wonder if it was in war loan or stock of any sort. You say I have got a watch, quite exciting, & I am daily expecting a very stiff & formal letter from the solicitors. Yes, you had better stick to the watch pro-tem-

My news is little enough I’m afraid. I have been in bed these last 3 days. It appears (Capon!) that I had a “sharp attack” of sand-fly fever, but I did’nt worry much about it. Anyhow about a week ago I began to get something really saucy in the headache line, & on on Sat: & Sun: it felt as if someone was making a tank inside my head, & I thought it was going to burst. Jim was here, & was awfully good to me, & got doctors & medicine etc; I’m afraid he was rather worried but of course I’m perfectly all right really; Sand-fly fever always leaves you with heads like that, & they are getting less every day now & will probably be quite gone by tomorrow. But they won’t let me do any brain work or lecturing for a day or two. However, don’t worry, I’m as right as rain really, & it will be a thing of the past when you get this. The work here is strenuous, so I have to go easy for a day or so. Mail goes today.

Best love to all

yr loving son

Ted


A long chatty letter, full of family gossip and morale-boosting encouragement, and then Ted finishes up with the news he’s got Sand-Fly Fever and is too ill to work. Love him to pieces, but really, he is upper lip is a bit too stiff at times.  

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pappataci_fever

 

 
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Posted by on 8 May, '18 in About

 

30 April 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

April 30th/18

 

Dear Mother

Very many thanks for several mail letters from you. Our long lost mails have at last turned up & I have letters from you dated 30th Jan 13th Feb 20th Feb 26th Feb. I’m afraid I’m most awfully busy nowadays and I have only just time for a bare scribble to you.

My chief news of course is that I have met Jim. He turned up one day and rung me up & came & stayed with me that night & is here again to-night. He is most awfully fit & we have had great talks on things & people. He does’nt seem to have changed a bit since I last saw him.

I have been so busy that I really can’t remember when I last wrote, but anyhow I have got this job as instructor at the Infantry School, and I shall be in Baghdad all the hot weather probably. We are in a house, with electric light & fans, so we ought to be comfortable anyway for the summer. But starting off the school of course involves a whole heap of work, and I literally have’nt had a minute to spare, & what I have had I have spent with Jim.

Of course we are all fearfully anxious for news from the Western Front; none too good it seems just at present, but I think the army is doing wonders against such terrific odds; & the line is’nt broken yet by any means. We simply must & will stick it out. How helpless one feels out here, but what can one do. We can only sit & marvel at the wonderful things being done in France and at you people at home waiting anxiously for news & being so wonderfully plucky all the time. We are up against some serious problems now, but we’ll get through all right in the end.

It’s so worth it, to win now, and it’s just a question of endurance, & surely we can hold out as long as anybody. It’s hard to say cheer up I expect, but I do say it all the same. Mother I’m so sleepy & I have’nt written to Nell for a week & she must have a line. Best love to all

yr loving son

Ted


Jim and Ted last met in the summer of 1915 when Jim was in camp in Salisbury Plain and Ted was training recruits in Gloucestershire just before he met Nell. Ted had not met Jim’s wife Sheina by 1918 though it is likely that Jim met Ted’s fiancée Nell.

 
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Posted by on 30 April, '18 in About