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<< Skeptics between the Covers - Mrs Zen - NaJoPoMo - 12th November 2011
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ERPB to GFB
A lovely parcel arrived from you today, containing a gorgeous new Shetland woollie and some soap & scent & a wee sponge & some bath salts & cocoa & 2 lavender bags- Most. acceptable my dear Mother, each and all of them, and very very many thanks indeed. The soap has arrived in the nick of time, and the bath salts & scent are very welcome, as also the sponge - its very cold o1=f nights nowadays & sleeping in a tent one wants a woollie & really the grey one you sent me before is rather worn out now - I see the note inside is dated Aug 31st, so the parcel's not been so very long on the road-
A lovely day today. Being so near the river & down rather low we get thick mists each morning with a watery sun trying to shine through- But later in the day it gets really lovely, warm & sunny but thank goodness the real heat is out of the sun for 4 or 5 months at any rate- The general & I have been riding about all the morning looking at people building railways. I met some officers of Jim's regiment who were at work on the line. He is up the river a bit, making a road they tell me, &. is quite fit & well. His regiment came under a good deal of shell fire in this last show it seems, but did not have much actual infantry fighting-
I enclose a key to some photographs I sent Ben- I am sending you the same set, but the censor rules wont let us send photographs & the key in the same letter. Of course it does'nt matter now I suppose, but no orders have come round relaxing the censor rules so till then I suppose we must stick to them-
I had a cable from Nell, dated Nov 7th, so now I wondering why she sent it whether (1 ) My original cables did go after all, (the ones I sent after the battle of 30th Oct & the Turkish surrender saying I was alright & you were not to worry}) or (2) You have some official news of me : very silly of them if they did send you a wire as there was no earthly need to- You see I sent my 2nd cable to Nell long after the 7th (the one telling her I was alright & she was to tell you, as I had no more money left!) so her cable must be in answer to something, mine or official, before that. What a muddle! Anyhow I'm quite alright & fit as a fiddle.
Lots of love & again many thanks for lovely parcel
y r loving son
ERPB to GFB
I'm afraid I've got very much behindhand with my correspondence lately, but we've been very busy all the last 4 weeks, I hope you got a line or two from me giving an account of our doings lately. Strenuous times indeed they were, 10 days hard marching with 3 battles in it, & very difficult country to go over, hills and rocks & ravines so different to the usual Mesopotamian dead-level plains. But it all ended wonderfully successfully, 11,000 Turks surrendered on the morning of Oct 30th, with over 50 guns, & 30 hours later an armistice was signed with Turkey. So the old & battered Mesopotamia E.F. got in one more good blow before the finish, and I am so glad & proud I was there, & in such a fine brigade too, which did splendid work, & we were "well in at the death", our regiments being in the front line & receiving the first surrenders, Genl : Wauchope is of course fearfully pleased, & he & I agree that we could'nt have wished for a better ending to our personal share in this great war.
Well, of course, THE only thing now is the wonderful news from Europe. So its all over at last. It is all too stupendous for the limited human mind to grasp at first, & it must take time for each and all of us to realise what it all means. We can just realise the one fact that there is peace at last, & happier times are ahead for all the world. The great point is without any doubt that the anxiety of all you dear people at home is relieved now, after more than 4 years of terrible waiting and wonderful patience, courage, & sacrifice. I cant tell you, Mother, how glad, supremely glad, I am for that reason only, & I know I am expressing the opinion of every one of us in saying so - Its all, as I say, too big a subject to write on, but it is enough to know that it is all over now. And is'nt it gorgeous to be on the winning side.' Not that one ever doubted for one minute that it would ever be otherwise in the end - but that wonderful end so long expected, & now reached - but there have been anxious moments; hours and days, even minutes when it was just touch and go - Well, we've got heaps & heaps to be thankful for, both nationally and individually - and that's enough for the present.
Meanwhile we are sitting on some mud-flats by the river, in wet & rainy weather, making the best of things - Our recent advance up the Tigris landed us many many miles away from tents and railways & we were on short rations & no tents for nearly a month. Even now the men have no tents, and its been raining for four days, I managed to retrieve mine, so am all right. But in an advance like this over very difficult country the difficulties are almost insuperable, roads are either very bad, quite impassable, or non-existent. And such as do exist soon get cut up & churned into feet of dust by constant & heavy traffic, I am glad to say we have come back a bit, about 50 miles from our final battlefield, & right glad I am too, as there is no longer any 'front' -thank heavens.' to be at, it is best to be back near railways & comparative comfort.
We arrived here 2 days ago, & a mail arrived at the same time. I got a line from you, very many thanks. It was dated Sep. 2nd, Thanks awfully for sending the woollie, but it has'nt arrived yet: tho' doubtless it will in a day or so. The winter is on us now so it will come in very handy.
You ask about several men in the Queens. Of course I am not with them now, as I'm miles away from my old brigade and the regiment an' all. In any case the regiment I mean my rgt - left the country some weeks ago for Salonica I think, I suppose there's no harm in saying these things now, though the censor may see fit to cross it out. I heard from Capt Fox "at sea" yesterday, & he posted his letter at Aden. But of course they could'nt have possibly arrived anywhere in time for anything, though I have no doubt they left the country with much pleasure - The rest of my old brigade is still in these parts, the Euphrates line somewhere I think, but I have'nt heard from them or of them for a long time - You see this is an entirely different brigade, dolly lucky was’nt I to get Bde Maj to this Bde, & see this last jolly good show. I'm most awfully pleased about it & it has more than made up for leaving the regiment. I envied them awfully when I heard they were off, as we thought they wd be sure to have some fun, & at the time it looked as if we should get little or none, but as it happens it has turned out just the reverse.
I wired to you the day after the surrender of old Haqqi and his merry men, but we got news that no cables were being sent ex Mesopotamia unless paid for at a post office. You see formerly you could send a wire to the base & they'd send it for you & deduct the cost from your pay, but they suddenly stopped this one day, so my cable never went. And as we were miles from any post office I could'nt send a wire till yesterday when we got to one - I sent one off to old Nell, & then found I had'nt enough to send one to you.' & no one else had any money (just a fluke I had a few rupees) so I added "tell mother" to Nell's wire which I thought was the best way, otherwise I wd have wired you too - I hope it arrived all right.
So sorry to hear about Cyril Flanders, but I suppose he will be sent home soon. I had a wire from him saying he was fit & well. I have half an idea his rgt went on to Mosul, but I dont know- I wish we had gone on it wd have been an interesting trip & a good place to see-
Of course everyone is wondering "what's going to happen to us out here.'" Everyone's eyes & thoughts turn towards home, but that's about as far as its got at present. I have no idea what they will do with any or all of us. Someone must remain out here of course, but I should think they would clear as many troops out as they can as soon as they can get shipping- I can give you no idea of when I may expect leave, much less when I shall actually get it. But I shall try & wangle some just as soon as ever I can - I feel I want a rest & change somehow.
In your letter of 13th Aug you were at Lauriston Road with Ben & had had some letters from me. The letters were written when I was staying with dim last hot weather, years ago it seems now.
Nell was 21 on the 11th, a great day all round was'nt it. Easy enough for me to remember now is'nt it with 2 events, Nell's birthday & peace.' Is'nt the child growing up fast? She was only 18 when I left & I shall be in an awful funk meeting her again! But you all say such gorgeous things about her that I expect it will be all right - Hooray, here's the sun, the first time for four days & we may be able to dry some of our very damp kit. Lunchtime too, I get infernally hungry these days, I do hope the food position and the coal one too improve rapidly now. But I fear things will take months to become normal again. But its worth it is'nt it. But I do want to come home so much.
Best love to all
yr loving son
Thanks for posting these, Ben, and I've learnt a new word. At first, I thought it was a misspelling of 'insufferable' but looked it up.
(especially of a problem) so great or severe that it cannot be defeated or dealt with successfully
Gosh. That is such a time-capsule.
Good post there!
a good posting, a good read too, also found this
intresting i thought
That's fascinating, Jack.
I'm really looking forward to working on these letters. As you can see, the converstion from the scans isn't entirely seamless, but it's not bad. I just hope my brother can be persuaded to do the historical commentaries. Slowly slowly catchee brother.
i'm putting a bookmark here to remind me to read this later.