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
(more…)

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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. (more…)

Air raids teaching the country we are at war

The Bishop of Peterborough wrote to his son Ralph with some thoughts on domestic politics, as well as the stoic response of the British to air raids.

The Place
Peterborough
Feb. 15 [1916]

My darling Ralph,

We are all right here, in spite of Zeps, which have been busy enough everywhere, & have done a certain amount of damage – & killed unoffending people – but it is a good thing in one way, as it is really beginning to teach “the country” (& by that I mean the country-people) that “we are at war”. But the British public take the “raids” with calm, brave endurance, & disappoint the Huns by not shewing any terror!

You seem to have plenty to fill your time, & it must all be most interesting to you, & I wonder what the next move will be. They say that Kitchener has come back from the front with new hopes for a less prolongation of the war, than the three years that he gave it at the beginning. But we must not have “peace at any price” & that is the danger. There is a growing feeling that Sir E. Grey has done his work & ought to “go”, & that he & Askwith … & Haldane are the “traitors” who should be watched! So the Labour Party say – & the politicians maiming the force of the fleet, & letting contraband through Holland & Denmark to Germany, deserve to be shewn up & checked. This money-grubbing has not been chocked [sic] up yet & will take much to kill it – and so we go muddling on.

I am very sorry your dear old General Callwell has been sent off to Russia, as I fear our letters to you will probably miss the “bag”, now he has gone…

You will have heard of poor Ivar Campbell’s death. Sybil is dreadfully cut up. Pum [Lady Mary] was with her yesterday, & I saw her last week. She was so entirely devoted to Ivar, & feels her life “quite empty” now he has gone.

Meg is very anxious about Jim, & the loss of the “Arethusa” is a great shock, & a real loss – a mine did it – & ten lives lost….

Letter from E C Glyn to his son Ralph (D/EGL/C2/3)