“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)

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A most welcome gift of vegetables aboard ship

Our friend Florence Vansittart Neale was heavily involved in getting hold of fresh vegetables for the Royal Navy. Here we see one parish’s response, when they abandoned their usual horticultural show in favour of donating their best crops to hungry sailors.

At the meeting of the Wargrave and Knowl Hill Horticultural Society held in January, it was decided that owing to the War the Annual Show would not be held. A letter was read from the Vegetable Products Committee asking for vegetables for the Fleet. The Hon. Secretary was asked to organise the sending of some hampers. In answer to her appeal hampers have been forwarded to the naval base from Miss. Choatem, Mrs. Young, Rev. H. Wells, Mrs. Groves, Mrs. Rhodes, Major Bulkley D.S.O., A. E. Huggins, Esq., J. Shepherd, Esq., W. E. Cain, Esq., Sir Charles Henry, Bart., Mrs. Nicholl and Mrs. O. Young.

That the vegetables have been greatly appreciated is evidenced by the following letter received by Mrs. Oliver Young.

14, Mess, H.M.S. Hecla,
c/o G.P.O.
27/1/14
Madam,

I am writing to thank you for your most welcome present of vegetables. It has never been an easy matter, even in peace time, to get a sufficiency of such things and so I leave to guess how much we appreciate your thoughtfulness.

My mess-mates join their thanks with mine and wish you all the good things imaginable in return for your kindness.

Yours sincerely,
R. Larcombe

Mrs Oliver Young will be very glad if those who are not able to send a complete hamper will send her contributions of vegetables on Tuesdays in March as she can make them up and dispatch consignments.

Wargrave parish magazine, March 1915 (D/P145/28A/31)