“The war is doing us a lot of good”

Maysie Wynne-Finch wrote to her brother Ralph Glyn in Egypt with the news that she and her wounded husband were going to be based in Windsor until he was well enough to return to the Front. Their aunt Sybil was still receiving letters from her son Ivar, written before his recent death in action.

Feb 11/16
11 Bruton St W
Darlingest R.

I had a mysterious message from Meg’s house today saying Colonel Sykes had called leaving a small parcel from you, & saying he was just home from the Dardenelles [sic]. I had the said parcel brought here, & it is a couple of torch refills apparently unused from Stephenson. I must get hold of Colonel Sykes for an explanation.

Our plans are now fixed up to a point. The doctor, [dear?] man, said John was not to return to France for 3 months, this being so the regimental powers that be used much pressure to get him to reconsider his refusal of the 5th Battalion Adjutancy, & so after being told they won’t try & keep him after he’s fit for France, he has said yes. There is no doubt it’s good useful work for home service, if it has to be, & I am glad for him, though I suppose I shall now see little or nothing of him at all. He begins on Monday. He went house hunting on Tuesday – a depressing job, as there are hardly any houses to be had, & those one more beastly than the other! However – nothing matters – it’s just wonderful to be there at all. We shall take what we can & when we can – that’s all. The house we long for, but it’s not yet even furnished, is one, & a charming old house done up & owned by that old bore Arthur Leveson Gower, you remember the man, we met at the Hague, years ago. Tony has been ill again with Flu, the 2nd time this year…

We’ve just had tea with Aunt Syb. She got another letter from Ivar written Jan 1, last Friday. It’s awful for her, & yet I think there is most joy, rather than pain, the hopeless silence is for a moment filled, though but as it were by an echo. Joan looks pale & oh so sad. She’s wonderfully brave & unselfish to Aunt Syb. Poor little Joanie…

I hear Pelly’s opinion is that Kut must fall. London was filled with rumours of a naval engagement on Monday & Tues, but as far as I can make out without foundation.

I met Ad[miral] Mark Ker[r] in the street the other day, & we had a long talk. I fear he’s not improved – & I think very bitter at being out of it all. He was interesting over Greece etc, but there is so much “I” in all he says, one cannot help distrusting a great deal. He’s very upset as he was starting to return to Greece a week ago & at the very last moment was stopped, & now he’s simply kicking his heels, not knowing what’s going to happen next. “Tino” now is of course his idol & here – I feel a pig saying all this, as I do feel sorry for him, & he was most kind. Yesterday he asked us to lunch to meet Gwladys [sic] Cooper, Mrs Buckmaster, how lovely she is, & seems nice, almost dull John thought! We then went on to the matinee of her new play. Most amusing, she is delightful, & Hawtrey just himself…

As you can imagine air-defence & the want of it is now all the talk. One of our airships has taken to sailing over this house from west to east every morning at 8.30 am. I hear we broke up 6 aeroplanes & killed 3 men the night of the last raid. All leave is now stopped from France. We’ve just lunched with Laggs Gibbs, who came over a day before the order came out. He says it’s said to be because of some new training scheme we have & not because of any offensive either way.

John had a Med Board today, & narrowly escaped being given another 3 months sick leave apparently. They implored him to go to Brighton & said he was very below parr [sic] etc, however he bounced them into giving him home duty, & they’ve made it 3 months, & “no marching”, etc, tc, etc. Of course as Adjutant he wouldn’t have that anyhow.

We think we have got a house, but can’t get in for a fortnight.

Bless you darling
Your ever loving Maysie

Their mother Lady Mary also wrote to Ralph with her trenchant views on the domestic scene.

Friday Feb. 11th 1916
My own darling

As usual we have been asked for the garden & for every sort of Meeting and Church Gathering. People believe that the war is to last so long that if the Church’s work is to be maintained there must be the old system of raising money and interest or everything will be bankrupt. My own conviction is that everything in the way of voluntary associations must be given up, and central committees must finance what is essential. This does not apply to missionary work, and the enormous staff required to deal with Church affairs all over the Empire, and really I do believe these are problems to be faced by the younger generation – and nothing can go on as it was, now, or after the war. It is astonishing to learn of the wealth being poured into these Midland towns, of the enormous increase in expenditure, and the lavish increase in good trade. Drapers, tailor and provision merchants are doing a roaring trade. Furs are being sold, and worn by all classes. Cheap jewelry [sic], and all sorts of millinery – “the war is doing us a lot of good”, a tradesman said to Miss James. “Only people like you with fixed incomes are suffering”. Deviling is tremendously on the increase, and drug habits. Pianos cannot be made fast enough. All these working people are buying them up, and giving good prices for them. All are agreed who are watching the expenditure that there is no thrift or saving, and some towns are going to try to start a Thrift Bureau – on Municipal lines. I do believe that the Zeppelin raids may do good, and shock these people into “sober, righteous & godly life”.

The Archbishops are making a big venture in deciding on this Mission Campaign in the autumn. It will meet with every sort of opposition and discouragement, but if they get the right sort of men – and women- and they have that rare gift of true personality and of influence, it may arrest attention…. In any case I am sure the Church of England is in danger of losing a National position, and the war will hasten the hour of her decision…

This evening the papers are full of the latest threat of German frightfulness on armed liners, and America’s sorry plight, the resignation now of the War Minister, and the craven attitude over the Lusitania, & now over the new threat. Sometimes I feel sure that there is to be a great naval engagement, and these things are the rain gores against that thundercloud. It all looks from here as if Salonika was to be deluded into false security, if the Bosch could delude mortals?

A clever article in today’s Morning Post by the Military Correspondent makes me understand how busy you must be, and how happy in not having the daily English press. I am sure my antipathy to the Press and all its ways is abundantly justified? I hate their continual salt of lemon acid obliterations of good names, and constant whispering, and back biting at all in authority as soon as anything goes wrong, and there is any shadow of reverse?

We do so desperately need the one man, leader and soldier-priest at this time, and our prayer must be for his manifesting, for surely in all history he has appeared and has been seen to be the man for the hour. One has only to read of all previous great wars to see that there has been victory, and reverse and men’s hearts failing them, but the work was being quietly done by an Alexander Hamilton.

Letters from Maysie Wynne-Finch and Lady Mary Glyn to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/3)

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