A turning of the tide?

All of Ralph Glyn’s family were assiduous about writing to him regularly, and today we hear from all four. His mother Lady Mary first:

Feb 23, 1916

Belpston [visited for a confirmation] was interesting. The Zepps had been flying & were visible just over them and one old woman told the vicar it had followed her all up the street, & she had to take refuge in the chapel!! And another woman said it lighted her all up the village. They had shown no fear. The vicar and his wife heard the bombs drop & went out to look, but did not see it as the others did. They are a mile off at Etton & the Zepp was evidently not high on the horizon the other side of Belpston.

We had a very good meeting, the reality of the war had been brought home to that little outlying place so close to the Lincoln fen. The paper mills there were the only attraction for Zepps!…

They all listened when I told then in the hard days before us mothers must save their pence for their children, and then I told them how poor we all must be, and how they would then have no allowances & high wages, and how they were spending it all now and “the flood would come” – of even greater disaster than war. For it profit nothing to gain the whole world and lose our soul as a nation, a country, a people – or our own awful individual personal mysterious “soul”, and your letter today says much the same. I said about the soldier priests who had learned in this war the sacrifice of self and of all that made life good to them that they might save us, and sometimes I wonder if it can be saved, this country of ours!…

I think the war is making me less able to combat the conditions here…

Maysie writes cheerfully about the little house at Windsor, and she has got her little household together. He is enjoying the adjutant work…

Your own Mur

Ralph’s father the Bishop referred only briefly to war matters in his letter:

The Palace,
Peterborough
Wed: Feb 23 [1916]
My darling Ralph

I am sure your prophecy is coming true – & now the Russians have got Erzerum & are threatening Trebizond, I feel that we are really beginning to see hope of a turn in the tide.

Much love
Your loving father
E C Peterborough

Sister Maysie, now living in Windsor, reported:

Feb 23/16
8 Queen’s Gardens, Windsor
My darling R

John continues to work from 7.30 am till 5.30, but I believe it won’t go on so bad, though anyhow hard work is little enough in wartime – but I’m not over happy about him, he’s full of poison still, as is shown from awful spots he gets all over his back. I suspect more bone going in the jaw.

We are back in mid winter. Bitter cold, snow & blowing icy winds. All the poor silly almond & plum trees in blossom too. We hope to get the servants in to the house tomorrow, & go in ourselves Friday. Elgin Lodge, Windsor, will be the address. The owner you possibly have met, Surgeon Major Pares of the Blues. He’s now in Egypt, I know. It’s quite a nice little house as they go here…

Your own loving Maysie

Whatever the crisis was which caused all the leave stopping, etc, it must now be over, as things became normal again yesterday. I suppose the strikers have been bribed & flattered back to work. Oh for martial law & some blood!

Finally, Meg, who was vising their parents:

Feb 23rd [1916] Peter[borough]
My darling Ralph

Mamma & I have been hustled by her getting a letter from you saying the Bag goes on Thurs morning. When the other man – can’t remember his name – went to Russia with General Callwell & told me that Captain Kellett would undertake to forward letters to you in the Bag he said they must reach Capt. K by Thursday mornings. I wrote what Dad would call a ‘cervil’ [sic] letter to Capt. K just to thank him in anticipation for what he was to do in forwarding your letters, but he did not deign to reply. No doubt he thinks it d— cheek having your post sent in the almighty bag. The result must be that all the letters I have written you every week must be nearly a month old by the time they reach you….

Mamma seized the occasion of my birthday yesterday to shower presents on the babies too. We all had as happy a day as could be under the circumstances, & it was better than that awful Xmas Day, but oh dear, these sort of days are very nearly unbearable, & one can only be glad when they are over, as loneliness becomes so acute however much one tries.

It will be just the same for you, darling, but we must all look forward to happy times in the future when peace comes, all the same one welcomes good wishes, so I do wish you all the happiest & many many many returns of the day in case this letter reaches you by March 3rd. I am sending you another Badminton diary which this time I hope will reach you safe. Please remember that the next whole box of cigarettes that reach you from Bateman are a small token of my affection & regard, & I hope that every one of them you smoke will be especially nice.

Waddie Buber is engaged to be married, & Barry Domvile is already married. The poor Arethusa of which he was Acting Captain lies a hopeless wreck after a mine had blown out her boilers “somewhere on the East Coast”. After the explosions Tyrwhitt, standing on the bridge & never having turned a single hair, said quietly, “A mine, I think”. Glorious man. Thank heavens he wasn’t hurt….

My dearest love
From your ever loving Meg

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

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