The disappearance of a very gallant friend

Lady Mary Glyn wrote to her son Ralph with her latest news. She and her daughter Meg had been worried about Meg’s naval officer husband after another ship in his flotilla was lost to enemy action.

16th Feb

It was dreadful to come home & know of the Arethusa disaster, & to hear they had had no letter from Jim & still no letter yesterday. But today it has come. They have evidently all been out and it is indeed good to know that he is safe. 13th his letter is dated. Bless him….

I have made acquaintance with a Mrs Evans, wife of Captain Evans, Signal Officer with you at Ismailia. Do, if possible, write to me something good to pass on to her about him. She is Welsh – such a very cheery pleasant helper in the Red Cross Work Room and so proud of him on the Staff Headquarters with the MEF, and I told her, I would be able to hear all the evil things that could be said someday, & chaffed her well. He was a Post Office official here – wireless and telegraph engineer, at least so I gather….

Sir George Pragnell’s death will probably make another difficulty re Red Cross Workers. As far as I can make out he was the only man who could stand up to Sir Edward Ward and his levellings up – or down – of all voluntary work into one more abysmal organisation. And to add to Red X sorrows, they are to give up Burlington House for a spring exhibition in about a fortnight & truly we have hundreds of workers & do not know where they are to migrate.

Own Mur

Meg herself, who was staying with their parents, wrote to her brother the same day.

Feb. 16th [1916]
Peterborough
My darling Ralph

Mother asked Algy to come & stay here last Sunday quite forgetting that she & Dad would be staying with the Dean of Westminster, so Algy & I had a tete a tete weekend. Algy now looks too chic for words dressed as a Staff Major & talks of “we fellers on the Staff”. I called him The Crumb, a propos of Bread is the Staff of Life, & the Staff is one big loaf! He [is] working on the East Coast Defence & is absolutely fed up with his job. He accepted the job as the Colonel who is his boss told him there was quite hard work to be done. After he had accepted the job, he was offered a Staff job at some French base, but refused it as he thought it wouldn’t be playing the game to chuck over the old Colonel, & when he arrived at the Manor House, Alford, Lincs, he found that the old Colonel, by name Dennison, sits doing nothing much more than recite his recollections which drives Algy to the verge of frenzy! He has one other victim, who is a Captain & this trio sit, & evidently it’s a job where Algy is utterly wasted. He is anxious to get a job in Egypt next autumn. Can you be of any help to him? There surely must be so many jobs he would be fit for, & after all he has gone through & all his splendid pluck & grit, it does seem such hard lines that men who have been through all that he has should be shelved in such a way.

I didn’t find him nearly so deaf, & it was delightful seeing him again. He walks quite well on his wooden leg, & we walked along that dreadful Bank as far as the wooden bridge where we sat in the sun for a bit.

And the loss of the Arethusa is like the disappearance of a very gallant friend. She had such a dashing virile character. She has made such a history for herself, & she has been the leader in the 2 fights Jim took part in. But thank Heaven Tyrwhit is alright, & Berry Domvile, her acting Captain, had just been married, so he’s alright too. But I suppose they have lost all their gear.
I’ve had a letter from Jim today, they seem to have been having an active life up there, & he’s whacking his flotilla into shape!…
I hear that Aunt Syb has been getting more letters from Ivar, all happy ones. He loved being out there. But still no news about the fight he died in….

Please to remember that the work you are doing now you are doing better work than in some front trench, for you have an ingenious brain, so go on devising how others may do in the Huns!

Letters to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/3)

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