One of life’s failures

St Augustine’s Home was a home for boys in need in Clewer, run by the Sisters of the Community of St John Baptist. It was not strictly speaking an orphanage, as many of the lads had at least one parent living, but they were usually in dire circumstances, and the home gave them stability. Many of the Old Boys were now serving in the armed forces, while the current residents were making little jigsaw puzzles to send to PoWs and the wounded.

A Short Notice of St Augustine’s Home for Boys, Clewer, December 1917

Roll of Honour, 1917
On Active Service

Robert Annesley
Reginald Barber
Frank Berriman
Arthur Booker
Leonard Borman
John Brown
Frank Bungard
William Carter
Percy Cattle
Robert Chippington
George Collyer
Tom Corbett
Jack Corbett
Herbert Cousins
Thomas Cox
Francis Dawes
Charles Douglas
Wilfrid Eccles
Jack Ettall
Edward Farmer
James Frame
James Farmer
Charles Fisher
Wallis Fogg
George Finlay
George Gale
Stanley Graham
Robert Gosling
John Green
John Harrison
George Houston
Ernest Howells
Fred Hunt
Albert Hudson
Arthur Hudson
William Hobart
Albert Jarman
Reginald Jarman
Joseph Kelly
Edward Lewendon
Harry Macdonald
Eric Matthews
Harry Mott
Norman Neild
Alfred Newsome
Robert Parnell
Samuel Perry
Bennie Payne
William Potter
Charles Price
George Pitt
William Robert
Claude Roebuck
Alan Sim
George Simister
Thomas Small
William Smith
Thomas Squibb
Alfred Stroud
George Tate
Graham Taylor
Albert Turnham
Jack Ware
William White
Albert Wicks
Leonard Wicks
William Wicks
Harry Wilden
Edwin Williams
Albert Worth
Leslie Worters
Fred Wright
Seldon Williams


At Rest

Walter Bungard
Albert Braithwaite
Harry Clarke
Joseph Eaves
Russell Evans
Ernest Halford
Frank Lewis
Douglas Matthews
James Matthews
Harry Pardoe
Arthur Smith
Maurice Steer
Thomas Tuckwell
Harry Worsley
RIP

..
A Home for Boys has a special claim on the interest of all at this time, when so many are being left orphans as a result of the war, or who are temporarily without a father’s care and discipline, and letters come very frequently containing requests for information as to the admission and maintenance of boys at St Augustine’s….

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“Blow the Turks to blazes – then give it them again”

General Callwell wrote to Ralph Glyn to inform him about the appointment of Sir Charles Monro to review the Dardanelles campaign with a view to possible withdrawal. Callwell had some ideas of his own about booby trapping the deserted trenches.

War Office

23rd October 1915

My dear Ralph

Your new Chief and his CGS, Belinda, went off yesterday and will have reached the Dardanelles some days before this does. I did not see them at the end before they went, which I am sorry for as there were several things to tell them. I meant to have spoken to Bell about you among other things and about George Lloyd, but have written to him by this bag on these and other subjects.

It will be most interesting to hear their verdict. Sir Ian [Hamilton] and Braithwaite arrived last night but I have not seen them yet. Monro clearly did not like the job as he saw it on paper, but he may like it better on the spot. It will be up to him to decide whether to go ahead, to hang on, or to clear out, and if he decides on the latter he will have to make preparations at once.
I am not a scientific body, but if I was going to retreat from such a position I should insist upon having the stuff for mines – the explosives and the wire and the batteries – on a Homeric scale. And I would blow the Turks to blazes if they tried to come into my trenches when I left them – a mine to every 10 yards and power to touch them off alternately. It would be no good to fire all your mines and have them coming on in a quarter of an hour and manning the craters. You want to be able to give it them again.

Also if I was going to quit at night I should expect the warships to stop the enemy firing by giving searchlight to any extent. At a place like Anzac the enemy on the top of the bluff could be absolutely blinded and the lights that were doing this would at the same time be affording, below their direct rays, just enough light to the troops embarking for them to see what they were doing. However Monro may decide to go on with the business.

Political affairs here are very unsettled. I think about the only thing the Cabinet are agreed in is their desire to unship K. Carson is a great loss and it will be very difficult for them to hang together much longer. I do not think that you will have lost much by not going to Salonika; the Serbs are sure to be mopped up before the French and we can do anything that is any use in that quarter. The French have indeed rushed into the business very much against the wishes even of the War Council, which is capable of almost any folly.
Although things look bad there is every symptom now of the Boshes [sic] becoming discouraged. The Russians terrify them in spite of their superior armament, and they have been losing very heavily in the west.

Take care of yourself and believe me
Ever yours

Chas E Callwell

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

“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)

Nobody trusts the British

Naval officer Herbert “Jim” Meade was married to Ralph Glyn’s sister Meg. He wrote to Ralph with a seaman’s comments on the rival service – not to mention the country’s diplomatic efforts.

HMS Royalist
9/10/15

My dear Ralph

Thank you so much for those maps, they are just what I wanted. I can’t find out how the British part lies from N. to S. but I suppose we aren’t expected to hear that. From a mere outsider’s point of view, I think the last effort of the British Army & its results very good. Of course we haven’t got as much as we wanted, but nobody ever gets that.

What worries me is, to the outsider again, the entire lack of any principle in this war, we shift about all over the place (I’m talking about the talking part of the business) with the result that nobody trusts us. France, Italy, Russia & of course the Balkans all have a fear that our policy may change at any moment, the Germans work this for all they are worth with tremendous advantage to themselves & this Balkan fiasco is a very good instance, unless the FO is much deeper than we have given them credit for. I can’t help thinking that Greece must come in if Bulgaria invades her, but Germany may be able to walk through Servia [sic] without Bulgaria’s assistance & then of course Greece wouldn’t come in. It all depends upon numbers & if we make the Western front the decisive front & not allow anything else to frustrate that we ought to have finished the war off inside three years from the time it started. I think we are well up to time myself. It is a good sign Germany coming to terms with America, they want ammunition & they get a good deal.

Life in this hole is monotonous to the extreme, we do all sorts of stunts & whenever we see smoke on the horizon we wonder if the Naval Armageddon is to take place. It is doubtful if the Germans come out till their submarines are ready, which will not be this winter. What are they doing with their fleet, the re-arming business I don’t believe is possible, but they are up to something. I’ve always been frightened of the Dardanelles touch, whether we could have forced the straits is a matter of opinion, but like most British enterprises, when governed from home we did not go through with it. I believe we would have got at least 4 battleships through if we had gone for it, whether [illegible] would have capitulated on the appearance of these ships is another matter…
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Good men are wanted at the Dardanelles

Ralph Glyn was now needed in the Dardanelles. His mentor General Charles Callwell wrote to wish him luck:

War Office
21st August 1915

My dear Ralph,

You will have had the note I sent you by Maude. Since sending it I have had a wire from GHQ asking for your services on the staff out there and I have wired back saying you are at their disposal. I know you were anxious for active employment in the field, good men are wanted at the Dardanelles more than in Flanders and France, and although very sorry to lose your services I felt bound to fall in with Braithwaite’s suggestion. As a matter of fact Mackenzie has been quite ready to employ you for along time past whenever I released you; but, for one thing, I was anxious to try and get you back definitely into your regiment as a preliminary. I spoke to K about this some little time ago and he said he would think over it; but since then came the incident about the ammunition which you got out of him and it would not be politic to revive the topic with him just at present.

I hope that you will be able to write to me from time to time, as we understand each other amd you need not be afraid of saying what you think, and letters to the DMO can always go by the KM. Altham mentions your just having reached Mudros with the howitzers &c in a letter received this morning.

Wishing you the best of luck and with many thanks for the invaluable work you have done while under me here.

Chas E Callwell.

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

Rather a drag in operations at the Dardanelles

General Charles E Callwell wrote again to Ralph Glyn on the latter’s way back from his mission to organise ammunition for Gallipoli. He had some inside information regarding Cabinet discussions.

War Office
14th August 1915

My dear Ralph

Many thanks for your letter from Marseilles. You are one of those people who possess the gift of getting things done and I highly appreciate your successful efforts to rush that ammunition stuff through so satisfactorily and rapidly, and I am taking care to let Braithwaite know that the Medforce in reality owes its receipt mainly to you – I am assuming that you have not been submarined or wrecked or any dreadful thing. I told Winston the other day that Lord K had gathered somehow that you had been relling him (Winston) about ammunition requirements at the Dardanelles and had not been pleased. Winston was full of regrets but added “Well, after all it was worth it”.

Your wire from Marseilles about your transport going through went to QMG2 before I ever saw it, hence the return wire. The only way to make sure that a wire intended for me goes to me in this place seems to be to address it by name. Wortley has always been an opponent of anything going by the Marseilles route and was I think a little surprised and chagrined to find its advantage so clearly demonstrated thanks to you.

I had not heard of Sykes’ mishap and hope that he is all right again both on his own account and in view of the importance of having him fit and well for the work out at the Dardanelles. We are watching the progress of events out there anxiously, as there seems to have been rather a drag in the operations after the first landing at Suvla Bay just at the moment when it was all-important to push and get as much ground as possible. They also seem to be in a good deal of difficulty in respect to water at that point, but this will probably right itself as they settle down. I trust that things are getting cleared up at Mudros where it is evident that there has been shocking congestion of traffic, coupled with want of push by somebody to get things done and straightened out.

They are having the devil of a Cabinet Sub-committee to recommend what forces we should be prepared to put in the field next year. Crewe and Curzon and Austin and Selborne and Winston and Henderson, and I had a long afternoon with them yesterday. Curzon and Austin are towers of strength, Crewe makes a suave chairman, Winston talks infinitely and Henderson tells inappropriate anecdotes. I daresay that in due course they will adumbrate something useful, but in the meantime they want a lot of information which I am sure K will jib at giving them. They all seem to be for compulsory service, but were not inclined to fall in with my urgings that there should be an announcement of the intention at once in view of its moral effect upon Allies and enemies.

Your Italian friends have not done much beyond talking at present, but Delme Radcliffe writes that he was taken aside on the battlefield the other day by Porro and Cadorna and that the latter was very sympathetic and made a lot of enquiries. Why they will not go to war with the Turks I cannot make out, seeing that the Turks have so stirred up Tripoli against them that they have not got much more dry land left than Birdwood has at Anzac.

Yours ever

Chas E Callwell

Letter from General Charles E Callwell to Ralph Glyn c/o the British Embassy at Athens (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)