Misunderstandings are apt to arise at a distance

Ralph Glyn was getting all his contacts to help him with intelligence background for his latest mission, in Greece.

Alexandria
23rd April 1916

My dear Glyn,

The man who is doing the Greek personalities for us will do his best to let you have the particulars you ask for concerning the entourage of the King and Queen. It is however doubtful whether he will be able to help us as regards the G.G.S. [Greek General Staff] and their sympathies. We might of course find out this from our people in Athens, but I am always afraid of treading on the toes of a military attaché. If I were there I am sure I could easily arrange matters with Fairholme, who as you know is a very good fellow, but at a distance misunderstandings are apt to arise so I hope you will not be disappointed if you don’t get much from us about G.G.S.

Yours sincerely
R

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/29)

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More distinguished not to be decorated

Naval wife Meg Meade wrote to her army officer brother Ralph Glyn. She was not impressed by the Royal Naval Air Service. See here for more about the Athens naval/diplomatic mission referred to.

April 9th [1916]
2 S Wilton Place
My darling R….

I’m sure you won’t worry your head about whether a decoration comes your way. When you are on the Staff I think it’s a good deal more distinguished not to be decorated, & will save you a good deal of backchat when the war is over!…

I lunched with Aunt L [Princess Louise] today & met the Hamiltons (2nd Sea Lord) & their son, who goes by the name of “Turtle”, & who is quite a distinguished sailor now after various exploits up a West African river against the Huns which was very successful. He’s now 2nd in command of one of the M destroyers at Harwich. No, Medusa wasn’t Barry Domvile’s ship, aren’t you thinking of Miranda which he had for a bit. And I don’t think that air stunt was such a tremendous success, the Naval Air Stiffs can’t do nothink [sic] right.

I’m glad to hear the real sailors are going to be given a chance of handling them for a time, & showing them how they really deserve their nickname of “Really Not A Sailor”.

Maysie & John are coming to stay a night with me tomorrow, John has a Medical Board tomorrow or Tuesday, but I don’t think they can possibly pass him, as his jaw is still oozing I believe, & they can’t begin to make a plate for his mouth until the jaw heals up…
There are so many good points about Bramber [a house there which their parents were planning to lease on retirement] that it would be a pity to lose it. I think it’s as near perfection for them as one can hope to find for the price, & now that the income tax is 5/ in the £, I think they have struck a bargain without the financial embarrassment of owning it. I wish Jimmy was a millionaire & could buy it for them, but as a matter of fact this beastly tax will hit us, as it hits anyone with an income of about 2 thou. More than ¼ of Jim’s income will be gone, & the parents will be in the same boat, but all the same as they haven’t children to keep I hope they’ll find it possible to keep the motor.

I saw Bertie Stephenson & Isie 3 says running as they came to eother lunch or tea each day… Bertie doesn’t look at all well. I wish to goodness he hadn’t been obliged to come home from Egypt. He’s got an open sore on his leg still…

The flies must be too awful with you…

Did you write the skit on the Athanasian Creed about the Egypt commands? It’s a priceless document…

Jimmy rejoins the LCS next week. I wish he might come to a more southern base, but there’s no chance of it at present.

I wonder when you will get any leave, darling, it does seem such ages since you were here last, & I am hoping very much you’ll get some before the Peter move [i.e. the Bishop and Lady Mary leaving Peterborough for retirement in Sussex], or during it in July. How heavenly that would be, & what a difference it would make to the parents, & I feel you must be given some soon.

The Gerry Weles came to dinner here with Sybbie & Dog Saunders the other evening. Gerry Weles is very interesting about that Naval Mission of ours in Athens, & he himself is a hot Venezelosist. Mark Kerr is not to go back there, & Jerry may return any time as head of the mission. They say he’s done splendidly….

Letter from Meg Meade to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/4)

Senior French army delegation “jabbering French like monkeys and wasting our time”

Ralph Glyn’s mentor General Charles Callwell was not very impressed with our French allies.

War Office
Whitehall
SW

20/10/15

My dear Ralph

I thank you very much for your letter and for your useful notes. I will see what I can do with regard to improving the communication between you and this part of the world. I have already spoken frequently about this to Brade. I shall also suggest that there should be some system of liason between you and Salonika and Athens, organising a main base at Alexandria for both the Medforce and the Salonika force under Ellison may perhaps improve matters.

I have just come back from a visit to France and I would much liked to have had you with me as on the last occasion. Archie Murray and I went to see General Joffre at Chantilly about this Macedonian affair and when we got through we found he was starting the same evening for this country to talk matters over with our Government. The nett result of it all is that we are let in for sending additional troops to Salonika and for undertaking what looks to me like a serious campaign. The French idea was to snap up the troops from the Dardanelles and to pop them down at Salonika, but I think I succeeded in choking them off this and they now realise that the force for these new operations must come from France. All this, as you will understand, gives us a lot of work here at present, especially as Joffre and his party have been here to-day; the party jabbering French like monkeys and wasting our time. However, they have all gone off this evening and been got rid of.

The question of the Arabs is extraordinarily important and we are taking it up here very thoroughly. It is a matter that Lord K fully understands and is much interested in, but the Arabs are opening their mouths rather wide and the question of Syria is to some extent involved, which brings us against the French. Were it not for them we could fix them up in no time.

No time for more.

Yours sincerely
Chas E Callwell

PS I hope you are very fit, and think you should go to Salonika now and help there unless you are required at Mudros. I will mention this to Bell in my next letter.

Letter from General Callwell to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C24)

“The funny little Frenchmen are depressed and are dissatisfied with us”

Ralph Glyn was on his way back from the Dardanelles when he got a letter from his boss at the War Office, delivered at the British Embassy in Athens. It included some inside information regarding high level politics.

War Office
3rd July 1915

My dear Ralph

I do not know when you may be expected at Athens on your way back, but posts take such an unconscionable time to get to the Near East that one has to get off long before the flag falls. You may not be for Athens at all if you commandeer a Dreadnought.

If there is anything you want to wire about from Athens or Rome, Cunninghame and Lamb have the T cipher, but I do not suppose that you will be needing electric communication with us. We shall be glad to get your reports in advance of yourself, if there is a bag coming right through while you are falling out to Bologna. Lord K has already asked whether you are on your way back and pretended to be quite surprised when I said you could not possibly be at Imbros yet.

Great “pow wows” here. Johnny F[isher?] and Robertson and H Wilson all over, and there was a full cabinet meeting yesterday – 22 of them, or is it 25? – to discuss military operations of the future with these distinguished warriors. Truly we are no military nation. But better relations have been established and Johnny F is I hear now quite amenable and good. Next week there is to be a further palaver, Squiff and AJB and goodness knows who besides journeying over to Calais to meet Joffre and Millerand and perhaps Poincarre [sic] – I can see Joffre disburdening himself of his inner consciousness in such a galley.

I was lunching with Fisher yesterday and he told me, what is good, that the King is going to make a trip across and to see a lot of the French army; that will be very useful because the funny little Frenchmen are depressed and are dissatisfied with us, not altogether without some justification. The Russian debacle has I think come on them with much more of a surprise than on us; your friend La Guiche always insisted that the Russians were much better off for munitions than they made out; they probably tell him very little, but the result is gloom at Chantilly and in Paris. By the way should you be a few hours in Paris you might look up Le Roy Lewis our new Military Attache who is extremely useful and gets on remarkably well with the Frenchmen.

I have written to Delme Radcliffe about your going to Bologna and told him you would wire on in advance. I think that a visit from you straight from the Dardanelles should be welcome to Cadorna and Co. No doubt Montanari whom we met in Paris will be on hand at GHQ. You will see Lamb and I daresay will hear grumbles as to Delme Radcliffe, who is not fortified by a very attractive personality and has put Lamb’s nose out of joint much as Hanbury Williams has put Knox’s; DM is furnished with the toughest of integiments [sic] and thanks to this gets along.

AP has been in here this morning. He strives hard but unsuccessfully to conceal that he finds me a very indifferent substitute for yourself in regard to telling him how the land lies. But I comforted him with the intelligence that you would soon be back – always assuming that you obeyed your instructions.

Sincerely yours

Chas E Callwell

Letter from General Charles E Callwell to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C24)

Tell the Italians everything in the Dardanelles is splendid

General Charles Callwell, Ralph Glyn’s boss at the War Office, gave him a special mission to the Dardanelles. General Walter Braithwaite was Chief of Staff for the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force at the Dardanelles, where Sir Ian Hamilton was in command. Also mentioned here are Sir Aylmer Hunter-Weston, Edward Mabbott Woodward, William Birdwood, and General Charles Delme-Radcliffe, head of the Italian Military Mission.(D/EGL/C24)

War Office
26th June 1915

My dear Glyn

It is easier to give you your instructions in the form of a private letter than as a formal memorandum.

I want you to go out to the Dardanelles and to get back again as soon as you can, subject to fulfilling your mission effectually. In respect to points that you report on officially, please consult Braithwaite, or the CRE, or the QMG, or the principal authority concerned, as the case may be, because Lord K wants you to act as a channel and act as a source. There will no doubt be many other matters suitable for you to report on privately to me by letter, or when you get back. In any official report it is best to keep to individual subjects; ie, if there are ten things to report on make out ten reports.

I am writing to Braithwaite to let him know about you, but will also wire in a day or two, heralding your advent. Please give my respects to Sir Ian and my love to Braithwaite, Hunter Weston and Woodward; also if you see Birdwood please tell him how much I appreciate his letters – I have not time to write to him this week. You will of course see Cunninghame; tell him that he is doing admirably where he is.

On your way back I should like you to pay a flying visit to the Italian GHQ – at Bologna I think it is. You would be able to let the Italian General Staff know how things are progressing – of course saying that everything is splendid – and it would be a piece of civility. I will let Delme Radcliffe know of this and you should of course wire to him from Athens or Rome and make sure that you are expected. But I do not want you to go if it means delay in your getting back here beyond one, or at most two, days.

Yours sincerely

Chas E Callwell

Letter from General Charles Callwell to Ralph Glyn’s (D/EGL/C24)

“It is rather absurd the way we are expected to produce every darned thing for for other countries”

Ralph Glyn’s mission to Serbia had gone well, as we can see from this letter from a colleague in the War Office, who shares the latest information and his candid views on some of our allies. The port of Cattaro (now Kotor and in Montenegro) was one of the main bases of the Austrian Navy. MO4 was the topographical section of British Intelligence. Colonel George Fraser Phillips (1863-1921) was a former Governor of Scutari.

March 6 [1915]

War Office
Whitehall
SW

My dear Glyn

Your letters have been most interesting. The last one received was from Petrograd dated 18th February. I gave WGO a copy. I daresay I shall get another from you in a few days. The plan of Cattaro has been copied by MO4 and given to the Admiralty. The original is being taken back to Nisch by Phillips who takes this letter. Phillips you know was in Albania – commandant at Scutari – & was rather a big bug there. Lord K wished him to go out in some capacity to the Balkans so he has been fixed up as MA [Military Attache] – Serbia & Montenegro. He is going to make his HQ at Cettinje [Cetinje]. We have made it quite clear to Harrison that Phillips in no way supersedes him. Harrison will still remain as Attache with Serbian Forces in the field. We had to give in to K in the matter as we particularly wanted C B Thomson to go to Bucharest & Tom Cunninghame to Athens. The latter got to work very quick and the Greeks seem to be scratching their heads a bit as to what they are going to do. I wish they were not in such a funk of the Bulgars. None of the Balkans except perhaps Serbia quite like the idea of a Russian occupation of Constantinople.

You will be interested to hear that Deedes has gone off to be on the spot in case we meet with success in the Dardanelles. He left Toulon for Malta on the 27th February & was hoping to get a ship from there on to what we call “Lundy” Island. He says that if ever he sets foot in Constantinople he will make a “B” line for his old hotel in the hopes of finding all his kit. When you come back, I suppose about 30th March, you are to take over Deedes’ job in MO etc. You will find Ingram a most excellent assistant. He has quite got hold of the “ins & outs” of the German corps &c & has everything at his finger ends. Thank you for your postcard from Bucharest which fetched up all right. Serbia are now “asking” us for anti-aircraft guns. We couldn’t supply them with oats and horses as our own imported supply is only enough to meet our own requirements and in these days of submarines with long sea capacity one never knows when we may run short. Russia surely ought to be able to supply forage & horses to Serbia. It is rather absurd the way we are expected to produce every darned thing for for other countries – but it always was so in the old days of European wars.

I am very sorry to lose Deedes – but I am glad for his sake that he has got his nose turned towards the Turks once more. Fitzmaurice you will find in Sofia I suppose. You will have a rather “delicate” time I expect in the land of the Bulgars, but it will be a smack in the eye for the French if the King receives Paget after refusing to see General Pau. I hope the fact of delaying you a few days to wait for Phillips will not be very inconvenient to you. The other alternative was to send out another mission with fresh trinkets – & this would have cost a great deal. So they are going to wire to you today to stop you leaving the Balkans till you can dole out a few more trinkets or rather hand them to old man Peter for distribution. This general strewing of orders is absolutely against our British ideas & we want to nip it in the bud or it will become intolerable. I hear Russia has sent a box of 850 “orders” as a first instalment!

I lost my sister very sadly last week after a few days’ illness. She was nursing in the Red Cross Hosp. at Winchester… She caught cerebro-spinal fever & died after being unconscious 36 hours….

Yrs sincerely
B E Bulkley

Letter from B Bulkley to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C31/3)

Stamps from the seat of war

Ralph Glyn’s mission to Serbia had been a success, and on his way home he received this letter from the War Office:

War Office
February 17 [1915]

Dear Glyn

There is just a chance of this catching you at Salonika on your return journey. Your long letter about Italy and your letter about Greece both duly received, and most interesting. You seem to have done great work in Serbia. Of course I smiled all over my face when I read all about you & your conclave with the General Staff. You will no doubt have a great deal to tell us when you get back, which cannot well be put in writing. In fact in these days one hardly likes to write anything down. Things have been humming here – Col. Thomson is going to Bucharest as MA & Tom Cunninghame is going to Athens. I wish the latter wasn’t so deaf, but he knows a good deal & is I hope likely to be of great assistance some day by being at Athens.

Give my love to Mrs Mark if you happen to come across her in Athens. How nice of you to think about the stamps for my small boy. Bring a few along with you when you come home and I will end them to him then. He will be quite popular with his schoolfellows if he can produce “Stamps from the Seat of War”.

I have sent a copy of your “Opinion on Greece” to Eustace Percy at the FO as requested – given a copy to him & one to MO5. I will also show the paper to Tom Cunninghame & CB Thomson. I am glad I was saved your unpleasant journey. I certainly should not have been well enough to write letters!

No time for more at present.

Yours ever
B E Bulkeley

Letter from B Bulkeley to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C31/2)