8 March 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

c/o G.P.O.

Thursday. 8th


Dear Mother – Thank you muchly for your letter- So glad Nance has been down again for the week-end. I am awfully pleased at that idea of them all going farming during the spring & summer. I do wish you could get Jane to go as well- she did’nt like last summer in Town & it would do her all the good in the world to get some good fresh air for 3 or 4 months.

My hands are fearfully cold at the moment – just come back from a funeral of one of our men who died yesterday & it’s bitterly cold ashore & was snowing most of the time. I wrote Ted a long letter the other day – 6 of these sheets I think it was.

So sorry I did’nt say goodbye to Capon- thoroughly remiss of me – will you make my apologies & say how sorry I was-

I don’t want these Wellingtons really- not much use these days. After the war perhaps – if they fit – but Dick’s feet are smaller than mine I think.

Must go & have some tea – & some dripping toast-

Bestest love to you all-

from your ever loving son


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Posted by on 8 March, '17 in About


4 March 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

Rosamond sent me some lovely fresh eggs the other day – simply gorgeous they were

c/o G.P.O.

Sunday. 4th.


Dear Mother-

Thanks awfully for your letter & enquiries – I am perfectly fit and well again – but am having an Arsenic tonic to buck me up a bit. This sore throat seems to be fairly rife- I am sorry to hear Dreda had one too – & do so hope she is allright again now. I say it’s all Nance’s fault- as she’s had a cold for sometime & won’t do anything for it – but I’ve just written to her & thoroughly scolded her for not taking care of herself- So naughty of her not to take something.

Simply blowing a gale to-day & bitterly cold; so I have’nt been out on deck much.

Nance said she was going down to Delaford yesterday so as to help cheer Dreda up during her “convalescence”-

Must end now-

Heaps of love to you all

from your ever loving son


Will you send me a Box or Tin or Bottle of Horlicks – I liked it so much that night you gave me some in your room

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Posted by on 4 March, '17 in About


3 March 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

March 3/17


Dear Mother

We got a wire in just now – 11 PM – to tell us to be ready to move at a very early date, so I suppose that means we may be off at any time now. I thought I’d just try & catch the mail if I can & let you know the latest developments, though you know how often these things turn out to be false.

I told Mrs John Mackenzie about her pleated skirts & she remembered them well! She wanted to be remembered to you & tells me she has a birthday book with all our names in it, & Bunchie’s & heaps of others.

This is only just to tell you of our possible early departure, but whether it will come off or not I don’t know.

Best love to all

Yr loving son


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Posted by on 3 March, '17 in About


1 March 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

March 1st/1917


Dear Mother

Very many thanks for 2 letters from you yesterday, dated 24th Jan & 1st Feb, they both arrived by the same mail curiously enough. I see by my diary I only wrote to you on Sunday and this is Thursday. I have been out to dinner & tennis etc & have also been fairly busy in office. I believe we shall be leaving here on the 24th of this month & be at Basrah about the beginning of April I suppose, but I’m afraid that’s all I can tell you. I have been out to lunch today with a Mrs Kaye, & we went on to a polo tournament which is going on now & saw some quite good polo. I have come back now to catch the mail, & also I am dining out & going on to a dance. The Viceroy’s staff have a big dinner on tonight at the club, & I am going to that; I have several friends among them so shall not be quite lost!

Such lovely weather now, & gorgeous cool & clear mornings. It’s clouding up again this evening & is a bit warmer & muggy again but I expect a shower of rain will clear the air a bit. I can’t remember if I gave you an address for Mespot or not. Anyway, stick to Cox till you hear from me to the contrary, & then either of these will do


of course India Office will always get me;  but it means posting a day earlier, so if you want to catch the mail at the last minute then


dont put in any Brigade or Divisions even, just put a regiment. When in any doubt about me, ask the India Office, as they will have the latest news.

Yes I hear from all sources of Dick & Topher’s great Krewst, & they seem to have fixed it up splendidly. I thought poor old Dick would feel the cold rather, but there won’t be much more of it now I hope. I know he always revels in this country’s heat, which I always hate so much!

Yes that was a terrible explosion was’nt it, & as you say I don’t suppose we have heard the whole truth, but what we have heard is bad enough. I wonder if Dick & Paul managed to get leave together, but I expect they found it rather difficult.

I wonder what this retirement on the west means, & whether it’s going to be anything big or not. The papers are very quiet about it and they don’t seem at all ready to even guess at its true import. The news from Mesopot continues good, & I hear they have made big captures there in guns & men & material. Yes I love Fragments from France, thanks awfully for them, & the Daily Sketch is much appreciated in the mess. But I see the price of all these papers is going up a lot now & all the ½ penny ones are becoming 1d. No, I never have to pay extra postage, you always put on enough.

I can’t remember Cookson at the R.M.C but thanks for the note about Mrs Dot-massey-John-Mackenzie’s skirts! I’ll remind her about them when I see her this evening. She wears weird clothes nowadays, always very smart, but she’s so frightfully thin & requires very careful dressing I should imagine. We have’nt had the Tank films here yet, & no news of them. I should like to see them before we go. But I have no doubt they have cinemas in Mespot nowadays; certain to have ’em at Basrah & the Base.

So glad Ben has a job to suit her; yes I really think you’d be rather well advised to move up to London, if you could find a house. I know you have always wanted to do so, have’nt you

Must change for dinner now. Don’t worry to send me anything to Mesopot, I expect we’ll get all we want out there, & things are so expensive at home from all accounts.

Lots of love to all

yr loving son                Ted

Ted’s letters throughout the Mesopotamia campaign are full of place names familiar today: Basra, Ramadi, Mosul and Baghdad. This is a reminder that foreign policy decisions (such as those made at the Peace of Versailles and in the Sykes-Picot agreement) have consequences that play out over centuries.

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Posted by on 1 March, '17 in About


28 February 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

c/o G.P.O.

28th Feby


Dear Mother-

Thank you very much for your letter. I am up and about again now. I was furious having to go to bed with that rotten sore throat but I suppose it was best.

Must be gorgeous having Dick home again – I must say I rather liked that moustache. It was a pity he could’nt have arrived sooner – but I am awfully thankful that I saw him- I am afraid that was rather a rush that last time I came down to Delaford – but it could’nt be helped, and I think I was jolly lucky in seeing as many people as I did- There now I never saw Mrs Dalton – & I’ve only just remembered.

I am so glad you like Nance, and thank you awfully Mother dear for all your wishes & Blessings.

Everything is more or less settled down again onboard – & getting shipshape again. The new padré seems an awfully nice man – he comes from St Martins-in-fields – & his name Matthews.-

Just discovered 2 stiff shirts – I did’nt know I had more than one. One is a piqué Donegal shirt Coy one of mine & the other I see is a 2159 of Dick’s – so I’ll send it along at once -but I don’t want any stiff shirts – so please don’t send me any of the others.

You won’t forget my shoes will you-

one pr. (old patent leather lace up evening shoes

(which I left in my room

one pr (Oldish – but good – plain toe cap

(uniform outdoor shoes – I saw them last

(among the cleaned boots etc in the Hall.

I had a sweet little letter from Nell last night- I must write to her in a minute or two.

That war loan is jolly good news is’nt it – that will shake the Germans up more than most things I should say.

Well I must end now-

Best of love to everybody at home-

from your ever loving son


Paul’s phrase “thank you awfully Mother dear for all your wishes & Blessings” suggests that he and Nancy have finally got engaged. 

Nancy’s parents were Colonel Charles Arthur Swan C.M.G., M.A., J.P., and Ethel, only daughter of Colonel F.I. Conway-Gordon. Her brother was brother was Major Charles Francis Trollope Swan MC who was born in 1887 and her sister Marjorie was born in 1886.

Nancy herself was born in 1895, making Nancy 22 in 1917 to Paul’s 28.

Bonar Law statement on War Loan, declaring it had raised £1,000,312,950

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Posted by on 28 February, '17 in About


25 February 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

c/o G.P.O.

Sunday. 25th


My dear Mother-

I arrived safely onboard yesterday – after a rotten journey – because I was feeling just like “flue” and had a very sore throat – so when I got on board they sent me to bed – that’s where I am now & how I hate it – because I am feeling fit enough except for a “fierce” looking throat – as the doc calls it. He says I must stay in bed to-day.

It was a gorgeous surprise finding Dick at the shop when Nance & I got back to Town on Thursday – Coo! I could hardly realize it a bit – It was too sickening he could’nt have got his leave before – still we must be thankful that we met each other at all. I thought he looked most awfully well and fit, and I liked his moustache- I hope he kept it on till he got home-

This must go to catch the post- It was lovely being home again and I am so happy- Take great care of my Nance won’t you while I am away- My bestest love to you all – from

your ever loving son


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Posted by on 25 February, '17 in About


25 February 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Continued from the previous day

Feb 25.

A gorgeous morning and the muggy heat of last week has gone thank goodness. It’s lovely now, cool & clear, but I’m afraid the Indian spring is a short-lived one, though while it lasts it is perfect; and by the middle of March it will have begun to get unpleasant. All the little seedlings we planted last November are now in full flower, so our “carriage-drive” is looking really quite smart.

The dinner last night was quite a success; the Chief is a genial old bird, & quite human; he has an aggressive chin which means business I think. There is another mail in tomorrow, & it was only last night that I got the tail end of last mail, a shower of ‘Sketches’ & John Bulls, and also Fragments from France Part 3, which has kept the mess in roars of laughter as the saying is! Thanks awfully for them; but I’m not sure that Bairnsfather is’nt a wee bit put to it now to find a funny subject, & I think he’ll have to take care not to overdo it & fall flat in consequence. He really is good when he is good, & wonderfully true to life, & I think it would be a pity to spoil him.

I am so awfully glad to hear good news of Ben. She wrote me a long letter last mail & I’m afraid I’ve been very remiss in writing letters lately; but truth to tell this mobilisation has kept me fairly busy, & one has a certain amount of friends, old & new, after a rather trying 8 or 9 months in Lansdowne, & I’m sure it’s done me good. Dryden seems very hard worked at the Bank; I wish she could see her way to chucking it.

Lloyd George I see has been making another speech, the tone of which does not seem to be in keeping with the general air of optimism that is about now at home. P’raps he thought that it is not a good thing to get too optimistic & so exaggerated the position with a definite object. What about ploughing up all England & sowing spring wheat & barley? It seems to me an excellent thing to do; for heaven’s sake let’s go all out to win the war, & then resume the daily round again.

So glad Dick & Topher have joined up, but I cannot quite grasp what Topher’s position is in a native cavalry regiment. I suppose you say you have three sons in the Indian Army now!

I am being innoculated against cholera today, I hear it’s a good thing to have done to one; but they say there is no reaction, which is comforting, as you know what I’m like after innoculation don’t you! No further news of our move, but I suppose we shall be sailing about the middle of March. I think the best address is Capt B.

2/39 Garhwal Rifles
Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force
c/o India Office,

but meantime stick to Cox till I tell you different – as we have’nt gone yet!

Best love to all

Yr loving son


Fancy old Hall joining up! Yes, of course I know him well; he must be 150 at least!

The Bystander’s Fragments from France (compiled)

Lloyd George’s speech on restriction of imports

Report on it in Sydney Morning Herald

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Posted by on 25 February, '17 in About