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)

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“Just the sort of absurd thing that a gang of civilians would decide upon”

Ralph Glyn’s boss shared the latest top secret discussions about a withdrawal from the Dardanelles.

26, Campden House Chambers
Campden Hill, W
15th October 1915

My dear Ralph,

Many thanks for your interesting letters from Paris and Rome. I suppose that by this time you are somewhere in the Aegean and will soon be fetching up at Imbros. I have worried Brade without ceasing about the ship for the King’s Messenger and am confident that by the end of the war something thoroughly satisfactory will have been arranged.

I imagine that you will find things a little uncomfortable when you get there, although I do not know how far everything will leak out even there at once. Monro is crossing from France today and I suppose that I shall see him tomorrow; but I do not know how he will manage about staff and so forth. I am very sorry for Sir Ian and Braithwaite who have had a very difficult game to play and have had the cards against them, while they have not received the backing from home that they might fairly have counted upon, It is to be up to Monro to recommend whether the Dardanelles operations are to be gone on with, or whether it is to be a case of clearing out – a nasty thing to have to decide. Afterwards he is apparently to go wandering about the Levant seeing what can be done there, as if a stranger to those parts could decide such matters at a moment’s notice. Just the sort of absurd thing that a gang of civilians would decide upon.
Carson is out of it – at least he has resigned; but there may be some hitch over Squiff’s accepting it, or he may be got at by the King. The Government is all over the place over the Dardanelles and compulsory service, and I do not know how they are going to pull themselves together.

Long says that he will send a banana ship to you, so your suggestion like so many of yours is bearing fruit. I have also rosined up the MS over the honours and have mentioned the matter to K, so that will be all right. Entre nous, I have got Lord Stamfordham to approach the King as to sending out a Prince to visit Gallipoli but have not heard how the All Highest takes it. Of course, that would only fit in if the operations are to be proceeded with; one could hardly pack off a Princeling to witness a retirement.

Our people made another attempt at a big push near Loos and it seems to have been virtually a failure. Robertson, who has been over, HW and JF all insist that they can break the line when they like, but when they try there is no tangible result. Offensive, barring local digs, will now be off for a bit I imagine. Mackenzie wanted to tell you off as 3rd Grade merchant of Mahon’s division, where there is a vacancy, but I pointed out that that would be sending you to Salonika contrary to K’s orders. I prefer your being at GHQ if it can be managed, but do not tell them I said so. Any way I will mention to Monro if I get the chance, as with your experience you might be very useful to him if he goes poking about.

Your “diploma” for the order of chastity or whatever your Serb decoration is arrived; but I suppose you do not want it in the field, and the MS watches over these things. Office much as usual, the “appreciation” epidemic is still virulent, but it has given old man Kiggell indigestion – and no wonder – so we are over the worst. But I miss your cheery presence.

Half asleep.

Yours ever
Chas E Callwell

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