“This neighbourhood is becoming unhealthy for Zepps”

Apsley Cherry-Garrard, Berkshire and Hertfordshire landowner and former Antarctic explorer, witnessed an air raid at close quarters.

Lamer, Oct 2, [1916]
Dear Farrer

I confess my heart stood still for about ½ minute last night as a Zepp passed over the top of the house fairly low. She dropped some 30-40 bombs later & I got a good view of her coming down in flames – so vivid that I fancied I could feel the heat coming from her. This neighbourhood is becoming unhealthy for Zepps; from the course this one took I should say that it intended to avenge the one that was brought down at Cuffley – when we had 3 of them here. …

Yours very sincerely

Apsley Cherry-Garrard

Letter from Apsley Cherry-Garrard (D/EHR/Z9/74)

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“Since the war began I have altogether knocked off shooting”

Lawyer Arthur Farrer wrote to his client Apsley Cherry-Garrard (invalided home) in response to an invitation to go shooting.

18th September 1916

Dear Cherry-Garrard

It is awfully good of you to ask me to come down and shoot, but since the war began I have altogether knocked off shooting; people here have been so kind in the past asking me to shoot and knowing, as I did, that I ought not to spare the time to go about, I came to a very reluctant decision to give up shooting, at all events for the period of the war. The pressure here increases rather than diminishes, and though the decision was a disagreeable one to take, I am sure it was wise.

We too now are suffering specially by the death of the one young partner we had left here, a son of my senior partner who lost another son at Loos, so I must ask you to forgive me if, as I do, I say ‘no’ to come down and shoot…

Always yours sincerely

Arthur M Farrer

Letter from Arthur Farrer (D/EHR/Z9/72)

One of Scott’s best men killed

Apsley Cherry-Garrard, a veteran of Scott’s Antarctic expedition, was now definitely declared unfit for further service. One of his companions in the Antarctic was naval officer Harry Pennell, a casualty of the Battle of Jutland in May 1916.

June 12, 1916

Lamer Park
Wheathampstead
Herts

Dear Farrer

I saw a specialist on Wed. He says he feels sure there is no alteration now inside me – but inflammation etc etc & that this will go on a very long time.

I am very gradually to get on my legs a bit & under a year I ought to be able to lead a fairly normal life, but the process will cause an increase of pain & sickness. That the Admiralty will not, & should not vex me again.

One of Scott’s best men, Pennell, went down with the Queen Mary.

Yours ever
ACG

Letter from Apsley Cherry-Garrard (D/EHR/Z9/61)

Overstimulated for three years

Apsley Cherry-Garrard had been forced by illness to return home to England from the front. He was now exercised by the financial effects of the war on his income.

May 24 1916
Lamer Park
Wheathampstead
Herts

Dear Farrer

I make out that I am paying taxes on something like £2240 supposed income direct from agricultural land & the buildings here, while I am lucky if two or three hundred (after paying garden wages) sees Hoare’s Bank!

I see that the Times Leader this morning proposes that all men used on such gardens etc should be placed on the land. How about the capital loss to the long suffering estate owner?

I’ve had a lot more sickness etc etc … I had a long talk with the doctor yesterday. He says he does not think there is very much wrong with the actual wall of the intestine now, but that the strain through which it has gone has so overstimulated everything for some 3 years that it will take a long time perhaps to get right….

Yours very sincerely
Apsley Cherry-Garrard

Letter from Apsley Cherry-Garrard (D/EHR/Z9/55)

“In the event of an invasion”

We last heard from Apsley Cherry-Garrard in 1914. Now in 1916 he was back home at Lamer again, unwell, his health having broken down under the stress of the war. He wrote to his lawyer on 28 April on financial matter, including a reference to a friend’s role in home defences.

Lamer Park Wheathampstead
Herts

Dear Farrer

R Smith has just finished drilling at Arundel & has been told off to 3rd line trenches in the event of invasion.

Yours very sincerely
Apsley Cherry-Garrard

April 28 [1916]

Letters from Apsley Cherry-Garrard (D/EHR/Z9/47)

A great lift for Apsley Cherry-Garrard

A new opportunity to work with an armoured car section opened up for Apsley Cherry-Garrard. His transfer seems to have been rather easier than that of our friend Percy Spencer – clearly connections in high places helped! He was to take it, but was later invalided out of the army with an intestinal complaint

12th October 1914

Dear Cherry-Garrard

I have received your letter of yesterday.

I am afraid I may be responsible for your telegraph from the Admiralty, and if I have been indiscreet I am sorry. I saw Lady May Boothby last week, whose husband is in the Navy, and told her where you were. Boothby is instructed to get up a corps of men for working Motor Armoured Cars, and not knowing quite how you were situated with regard to the RE, I thought it might be a chance if you wanted something to do….

Yours sincerely

[Arthur Farrer]

Royal Engineers
Stanhope Lines
Aldershot

Dear Farrer

No! Thank you very much indeed. It is a great lift for me – whether I can do it I know not – but one can try.

The RE refused to transfer me at first but I have now heard that they will, & leave here today. Very many thanks.

Yours very sincerely
Apsley Cherry-Garrard

Correspondence of Apsley Cherry-Garrard with Arthur Farrer (D/EHR/Z8/147-148)

With a lot of rough but very good diamonds – better than being an officer boy

Apsley Cherry-Garrard of Denford in Berkshire and Lamer in Hertfordshire, was enjoying himself in the ranks, training as a dispatch rider, and was not sure he wanted a commission, although as a wealthy young landowner, he could have had one easily, despite his health issues. He wrote to his lawyer to say that he was not very impressed by the callow young officers he saw.

Saturday [11 October 1914]
11 Green Street, [London] W
Dear Farrer
I am here, having been called for by the Admiralty – something to do with armoured cars – but I don’t know what they want me for as I have not applied to them for anything.

If they want me to use Lamer medically I have made myself responsible for expenditure up to £1200….
I am having quite a good life at Aldershot, but very rough. I believe I may have a commission if I want it but I am not sure that I don’t prefer to see this through as an NCO in a good R[oyal] E[ngineers] company with a lot of rough but very good diamonds – than becoming an officer boy. The one thing which fairly makes me squirm is to have to salute the very young & raw material of the said boys!

Yours very sincerely
Apsley Cherry-Garrard

Letter from Apsley Cherry-Garrard to Arthur Farrer, 11 October 1914 (D/EHR/Z8/146)

“Kipling in real life”: the life of a trainee dispatch rider

Apsley Cherry-Garrard enjoyed life as a dispatch rider in training:

14th Signalling Company
Royal Engineers
Stanhope Lines
Aldershot

Dear Farrer

Here I am living as a Tommy & a good life too – pretty rough. Luckily in barracks and so we are better off than 14 in a Bell Tent. I have had no medical & so cannot tell about that – otherwise I have my job as Dispatch Rider. They appear to have had so many casualties among the 1st batch of Dispatch Riders that they are going to have us fully trained before going out, & I don’t think we shall go for at least two months though we can say nothing.

So we are to do signalling & ordinary drill. We are just off now at 5.30 pm, starting 5.30 am. We have a real good fellow, Captain Stratton, as CO of the company. A lot of this company have already seen active service so things look good, and they are a splendid lot of men. It’s just Kipling in real life!

Yours very sincerely

Apsley Cherry-Garrard

Sept 23

Letter from Apsley Cherry-Garrard to Arthur Farrer, D/EHR/Z8/140

Becoming a motorcycle dispatch rider

Apsley Cherry-Garrard considered the prospect of becoming a motorcycle dispatch rider, if his poor eyesight proved adequate.

Sept 18th 1914

Dear Farrer

I have just received a letter from OC Signalling (R. Engineers) Aldershot to join a Signalling Company there as Dispatch Rider which goes to France “fairly shortly”. My eyes have still to be considered, but he says “if your eyes fail you we will find you another job”. So perhaps it will be best to postpone the insurance [refund] – but that I will leave to you. This looks a very good opening & I hope they will take me, being attached to the Regulars.

Yours very sincerely

Apsley Cherry-Garrard

[The Guardian Insurance Co agreed to defer the payment of the premium until he went out again]

Letter from Apsley Cherry-Garrard to Arthur Farrer (D/EHR/Z8/133)

A waiting list of hundreds for war work

Before his ill-fated venture to Belgium to work with dogs, Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s lawyer had prudently increased his life insurance. After that venture, he tried to get it refunded, assuming Apsley didn’t take on an equally perilous role elsewhere in the war. That was why Apsley described the fiasco in more detail in this letter, in which he also reports on the situation of Edward Atkinson, another member of Scott’s ill-fated Antarctic expedition a few years ago, who had recently returned from medical research in China.

Sept 17, 1914

Dear Farrer

Thank you for your letter. Goodness knows when, if ever, I shall get a job: but I want to get something official, and my medical is a great difficulty (enlistment etc impossible) while most jobs have a waiting list of at least 4 or 5 hundred. At present I am doing all I can to go dispatch riding – and it looks hopeful, except for my eyes, which may finish me.

As for the insurance, I left England Tuesday August 19th & arrived that day in Ostend. Major Richardson & I went out with the Red Cross from Devonshire House (they gave us uniform & passports) but not under the Red Cross: we were to be an independent unit to work dogs to find wounded, paying our own expenses.

The Red Cross Staff arrived in Ostend 2 days after – i.e. on Thursday Aug 21st – by car from Brussels. Communications were then cut by the Germans.

Sir Arthur Keogh, Chief of the Red Cross Staff, told us that there was no possibility of working dogs, and that his strongest advice to us was to return, which we did that day (Thurs Aug 21st).

…I have had a very cheery letter from Atkinson [a former companion in the Antarctic] who is on the St Vincent. They have a band & keep them running round the decks fast – also playing a lot of deck cricket etc bit running out of balls. He and Dr Leiper found the disease in China all right which was a very good bit of work & the Admiralty was very pleased & offered him several alternative jobs.

Yours very sincerely

Apsley Cherry-Garrard

Letter from Apsley Cherry-Garrard to Arthur Farrer, D/EHR/Z8/132

“Once bit twice shy”: a job for Apsley Cherry-Garrard

After the collapse of his scheme to use dogs to look for wounded soldiers, Apsley Cherry-Garrard was in no hurry to accept a war job, but he told his lawyer was considering another opportunity. He was not among those expecting the war to be over by Christmas.

Dear Mr Farrer

I have not been in [to the lawyer’s office] because I am not sure if I am going to take a job helping to run a converted yacht with wounded etc. I want a job if possible, but the doctor here [at Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire] refuses me medically – however I think something will turn up. But I won’t be hurried – once bit twice shy. So perhaps it is better to wait a while – especially as Kit [Drover?] says that war is going on 3 years.

Yours very sincerely

Apsley Cherry-Garrard

Aug 28

Letter from Apsley Cherry-Garrard to Arthur Farrer, D/EHR/Z8/127

“We might have as well run a confectioner’s shop as try and work dogs”

Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s venture to Belgium to work a pack of bloodhounds ended almost before it had begun with ignominious failure after only a few days. There is more on the story, and what Major Richardson, the scheme’s proponent, here. He wrote to the family lawyer to report on what went wrong:

Aug 23 1914

Dear Farrer

You will be surprised to hear we are back. It was an awful wild goose chase. From an early stage it was obvious that it could be impossible to work dogs. Then communications were cut by the Germans, we luckily behind. The Red Cross Staff came in by car & told us we had better get back – which we did. We might have as well run a confectioner’s shop as try & work dogs. It is most disappointing, but there it is.

And so I am very sorry that you have taken so much trouble for nothing: but I would like to keep my power of attorney intact in case anything which really seems useful turns up. But I will never be hurried into another job of this kind again – by Treves or anybody.

And I expect to get a considerable sum back from the Life Insurance, to whom you sent a cheque for £315.0.0.

It was a horrid business.

Thank you for the trouble you have taken.

Yours very sincerely

Apsley Cherry-Garrard

Letter from Apsley Cherry-Garrard to Arthur Farrer, D/EHR/Z8/122

To Belgium with a pack of bloodhounds

Apsley Cherry-Garrard of Denham in Berkshire and Lamer Park in Hertfordshire, had been on Scott’s expedition to the Antarctic a few years earlier. His widowed mother wrote to the family lawyer to inform him of her son’s unusual contribution to the war effort. She also reported her daughter’s sudden engagement, hastened by her fiance’s joining up. In the event, although Mrs Cherry-Garrard talks of a long engagement, Mildred married Peter Aston on 19 November 1914.

Aug 18th 1914
Dear Mr Farrer

My son asked me to write to you & say he started for Belgium this morning with Maj Richardson & his bloodhounds –they go as an independent unit & are to be attached they think to the Belgian army. They will work dogs at the front & organise this kind of work returning in a week or two when Major Richardson would want to return to train more dogs.
My son had been longing to take some active part & this seemed particularly a job he could do. He did not like leaving us in case we have to work this [Lamer Park] as a hospital, but we urged him not to hesitate on our account as we were quite sure we could manage.

I do trust he will be all right.

Yours sincerely
Evelyn E Cherry-Garrard

My 3rd daughter is just engaged to Mr Ashton. It is likely to be a long engagement as he has not enough to marry on. His volunteering for active service brought it to an engagement. He is only 25 & she is 23 so they can afford to wait. We all like him very much & he was at Winchester with my son.

Letter from Evelyn Cherry-Garrard to her lawyer Arthur Farrer, D/EHR/Z8/111