Cambridge is crammed with cadets

The Image cats’ joy at the effect of food restrictions on their own diet, mentioned by John Maxwell Image on 13 February, inspired his wife Florence to write a comic article. It became her first publication when it appeared in Punch. Dr Image also noted sadly that all the new undergraduates were international students, all the British school leavers having joined up.

6 May 1917
My dearest old man

Cambridge is crammed with cadets. There are also youths in caps and gowns. I saw some in the Great Court when I dined last in Hall – alas not one English face above the white collars.

Your kind congratters on “Rations” pleased the Signora greatly. This morning she had a letter from her brother at the Front containing the compliments of the Mess to whom he had, dutifully, read it – and about three day ago another brother, in another part of France, vowed that the Punch so stuck out his pocket that he went about gingerly, fearing a reprimand for the misfit of his tunic. How fond the brothers are of her!

Tuissimus
JMI

Letter from John Maxwell Image, Cambridge don, to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

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The horrors of winter war are over now

Spring was welcomed by John Maxwell Image, who sympathised with his brother in law Percy Spencer at the front, and was amused by wife Florence’s enthusiastic adoption of a potato allotment.

29 Barton Road
18 March ‘17

[Talking about his house]
Just at the garden’s paling lay an expanse of grassy fen, belonging to King’s College. It was indeed a godsend to this house as extending our outlook, our privacy and air freshness. Well – this glorious mead has been cut up into potato allotments! Crediti posteri. Florence (as full of energy as yourself) applied for one; as did most of the Varsity people around us: and has got 10 poles, which come close up to our palings. I declined anything to do with it…. It will give her plenty of fun, anyhow – though tillage by our old gardener at 4/6 per diem won’t speak for economy, I fear. Our two tall athletic Abigails are to take in turn the spade-culture. Indeed the whole scene is a lovely one, as beheld from our upper windows, male and female, old and young, rich and poor and each busy and toiling.

The winter happily is over. It will be spring campaigning. Iam ver appetebat cum Hannibal… The horrors of winter war. I remember a bit in one of Florrie’s brother’s letters, where he spoke of “the terrific bounds of red hot lumps of metal off the frozen surface of the road a few yards away from me”!!

Our best wishes and love to you both
Bild

Letter from John Maxwell Image, Cambridge don, to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

To see a beribboned brother

Florence Image went home to Cookham to see her brother Percy, home on leave.

29 Barton Road
17 Dec ‘16

Dilectissimo!

This is the Husband all forlorn
Who ours’d the inauspicious morn

And the frozen snow crackling beneath taxi wheels that bore his missus off. She is gone for six days to see her people, and notably a beribboned brother, home on leave from the front…

Next Wednesday (20th) Trinity entertains with Champagne and Feasting and dress clothes a number of Cadets of No 5 Battalion who are taking their Commissions: and I would fain be present. I caught it so for missing the last of these functions.

Letter from John Maxwell Image to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

“Do they really think it economical and saving?”

Cambridge don John Maxwell Image was not impressed by the way his college was implementing food restrictions. His colleagues were, he felt, likely to have extra helpings of the main course if they felt short changed.

29 Barton Road
8 Dec. ‘16
My very dear old man,

Yesterday (Thursday 7th) was our Commemoration – not Feast, that’s been abolished during the War – dinner…

But only listen! This is a notice sent round by the Council on Dec. 6 (Wednesday).

“In accordance with an Order made under the Defence of the Realm Regulations (see “the Times” Dec 6, 1916) the High Table Dinner on and after Friday December 8th, and until further notice, will consist of three courses and cheese. On Wednesdays and Fridays, soup, fish and the choice of a sweet or savoury will be provided. On other days the dinner will consist of soup, meat and the choice of a sweet or savoury. A vegetarian dish will continue to be provided daily as an alternative to the fish or meat course.
Henry Jackson
Vice Master.”

Do they really think it economical and saving to have 2, or possibly 3, helpings of sirloin or Saddle? Instead of one help of joint and one of some cheap entrée, made up out of scraps and leavings?

Gwatkin’s letter is to be published separately. I hear that the Foreign Office will use it to state our case. I read it in the Camb. Review and admire and respect it even as you do.

Love to you both from us,
Bild.


Letter from John Maxwell Image to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

“The Huns ran from the tanks like hares”

John Maxwell Image wrote to a friend with his latest thoughts, and passing on brother-in-law Percy Spencer’s impressions.

29 Barton Road
Tuesday 10 Oct ‘16

My Very Dear Old Man

I quite understand, and share with you, the absorbing interest of the daily War News. Nothing else matters, now-a-days. What do you make of this morning’s news of the U boat blockade of the United States coast? If America really shuts them out from supplies in her ports, it must be over in a month or so – and if it succeeds, the exasperation of the Yanks’ commerce must kick Wilson into activity. Anyhow it is a risky move for Germany on the brink of a Presidential election. Therefore I should judge it a sop to soothe German home politics – now that things are growing so disastrous on the Somme.

I went last Friday to see the German “Albatross” (captured by us on 15 October last year) which the WO has presented to the University. It is said to be a fine specimen, tho’ the class has been cut out since. I was very little impressed. For one thing it was so much smaller than I expected – a snout nosed, biplane, 2 seater.

We have had 2 Zepp raids since my last letter. I slept peacefully through both. In the latter of the two the Zepp dropped a starshell on Grantchester: and then passed over Barton Road, probably over our own garden, for Prof. Stanley Gardiner (opposite us) heard its drone, and turning over in bed said to his wife, “the raid is over – there are the trains running again”. We were at tea in his lovely house and garden yesterday when he told me this…

Brandon, one of the two airmen who got DSO for bringing down the flaming Zepp was at Trinity Hall.

A Tank passed through Camb[ridge] on Friday. The Signora got an amusing letter from one of her brothers at the Front, last Saturday, in which he says of the Tanks, “they are very funny, but the boundless faith in them of the folks at home is even funnier. On the day when they were first used, the Huns ran from them like hares – this, although they were aware of their advent” (clearly, nothing can be kept from the Hun spy). Two are known to have got in once to the place near Thetford where the Tanks were secretly built. To go on with Percy Spencer: “One of these contraptions was observed going through the main street of a captured village with our boys riding all over her and hanging on the back.” His chief praise, however, is for our Aeroplanes. “In the air, the Hun is a nonentity – and he owns it every day” – and I remember how, when he first went out, he used to laugh and vow that he had seen hundreds shot at, but never one brought down!

These submarine brutes, who torpedo ships without warning! Did you notice that the first question asked by the Submarine at Newport was for the Bremen? Why, his Government, weeks ago, published to the world the safe arrival of the Bremen in America. Does he presume to disbelieve his own Government? The Americans honestly know nothing of her, but we in England for some time past have heard it whispered that she is safe at Falmouth. The Falmouth watch for U boats is very strict, and has been (so they boast) inordinately successful. A lady who came back a few weeks ago from a holiday, recounted to me how she was one afternoon walking by the shore when a destroyer tore past her in furious haste, all the funnels vomiting columns of black smoke. No sooner as she past Pendennis Point than the firing began. It died away – and presently, soberly and slowly, the destroyer came back, another destroyer keeping pace, and between them – the German submarine. What wouldn’t I have given for that sight.

I am told – by Ball, so it is likely to be correct – that Trinity expects this term 47 men of all years, including BAs!

The Fellowship dinner was for tonight. It is postponed till Thursday – after the funerals of Keith Lucas (killed from an aeroplane) nd poor Alfred Humphry. He is buried today at Thaxted…

Our most affectionate wishes to you both.
Bild

Letter from John Maxwell Image to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

“Truth, honour, humanity are dead”

The Union of Democratic Control was a movement opposed to many aspects of the war. It was obviously very controversial, as John Maxwell Image reports from Cambridge. Opponents included the classicist Henry Jackson, Vice-Master of Trinity College, a very distinguished academic who was among those who brought about the admission of women students at Cambridge.

29 Barton Road
23 January ‘16
My dearest S[mith]

Are you troubled in Malvern by the UDC? Union of Democratic Control? Well, last term they publicly advertised a Meeting to be held in the rooms of one of the Fellows. The Council read the Advertisements and prohibited the Meeting. Thereupon 14 of these demanded a College Meeting on the subject. It was held yesterday. 42 Fellows present. Virtually, it was of course to elicit a vote of want of confidence in the Council: that, and nothing less. But with Asquithian cunning, their motion in virgin innocence professed merely that a Fellow should have the right to entertain in his own rooms meetings upon any subject, not illegal or immoral. Illegality is best handled by the police, rather than the Council; and no crimes are so atrocious as those committed in the veil of morality. Quantum religio, et cetera.

The Meeting was opened in a speech of nearly one hour’s duration: under cover of defence of liberty of speech, for he professed dissociation from the UDC. The speech was platitudinously irrelevant and when, towards the close of his hour, he unexpectedly aid, “To come to the point”, listeners tittered. Oratory on all sides frothed and fumed. Idle amendments were proposed – and carried! At last one sound head – who had travelled up from London got up and proposed. “I move that the Question be not put.” He was instantly seconded – and his motion carried by a thumping majority! Delighted, we broke up after 2 ¾ hours of tub thumping.

The odd thing is that at a meeting – a Caucus – to oppose the UDC’s proposal, on the previous Saturday, when the universal feeling appeared that the case demanded a vote on a straight issue and no timid amendments, this very thing was moved, “that the Question be not put” – and only 3 men (of whom Bild was one) voted for it. One week later it was carried by 2 to 1.

The most painful thing to me was when dear old Jackson (who is so deaf that he can have heard nothing of the oratory) suddenly arose and delivered his soul. I had never heard accents so loud, or language so downright. He dared to say exactly what honest men universally are feeling, about German warfare. “Truth, honour, humanity are dead. The War is not ending, it is going on. I hope it will go on until after I am dead.” U.s.w. Oh how I wish I had the memory to recall the actual words. Quid si ipsam tumantem audiisses!

I thought poorly of Grey and his Barsalong talk. I heard the whole story, soon after it had happened, from the Captain of a British destroyer.

All affectionate wished for the New Year from us both to you and die Madame.

Bild

Letter from John Maxwell Image to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

Are civilian lives so much dross?

John Maxwell Image was taking a rest cure at spa town Harrogate. Writing to a friend, he fulminated against German targetting of civilian vessels. His Cambridge colleague (a fellow of the same college) Sir Joseph John Thomson was a pioneering atomic physicist and Nobel Prize winner.

Harrogate
Monday 12 July 1915
D[ear] O[ld] M[an]

It is sickening the toll of ships and honest lives which the pirates continue taking, unchecked. Does the Admiralty regard civilian lives as so much dross, that they cannot spare a Destroyer now and then to patrol the regular routes…

You ask: “Can our people invent nothing to counter the German Submarines”? When all communication with Holland was cut off, we heard that, during those few days, the Straits were worked with huge steel netting, a mile wide, and that, when it was clear that something was entangled, the trawlers would close and sink the net to the bottom. We were told that 6 or 8 presumed US boats became asphyxiated and will never return to G[ermany]. If this statement reaches you, be sure that the Censor doesn’t believe it!

I heard also that J J Thomson was busy over a device to neutralise the torpedo, and that the invention was being tested on the Cam. I alluded to this before Sir Joseph (or is it John? His wife always speaks of him as “John”). He smiled on me blandly and sweetly, and neither said Yes nor No.

God bless you both.

Yours ever,
Bild

Letter from John Maxwell Image, Cambridge don, to W F Smith (D/EX801/1)

Harrowing scenes with maddened mothers desperate to reach wounded sons abroad

Cambridge don John Maxwell Image wrote to the wife of his friend W F Smith, who was living abroad, with a report on the rush to get passports in order to attend a dying son’s hospital bed.

TCC [Trinity College, Cambridge]
Thursday 29 April 1915

My dear Mrs Smith

Here in England Passport Photographs are being turned out by the thousand – owing to the accursed War. A lady friend of mine whose son – his battalion (Rifle Brigade) will not go out till next month – has already had hers done, to enable her to start at the first moment’s notice for the French Hospital where she foresees the boy will be lying, directly after he has entered the deadly Trenches.

The Photographer at Harrods, who is being worked to death, describes to her the heart-rending interviews he has to undergo with maddened mothers imploring him to produce in a couple of hours the likeness without which the passport is unable to bring her to receive, perhaps, the dying words of the wounded son. The scenes are harrowing, he says.

The world was at peace – Germany itself (despite the wolf lurking secret under every German fleece) would have kept peace, but for these malign Prussian robber-savages.

Who, so prate our Prigs, must not be “humiliated”, or even penalized for their crime.

Leave Prussia unbroken, and let our children, half a century hence, be destroyed by a fresh and bloodier hurricane of these same villains, when maybe there are no France and Russia at their side.

How strange to you would seem Cambridge as an armed camp. We, by this time, are inured to it. Full term is on – yet the streets swarm with khaki only – massed Regiments in the Great Court two or three times a day – the streets blocked with Paddocks echoing to drill – and the River at the backs alive with canoes and punts of an afternoon.

Yesterday, for the first time since January 26, we were allowed electric light, instead of candles, to eat our dinner by: and this with only one half the regular number of burners.

No light in the Great Court (you’ve no conception of the grace and majesty of the buildings seen under the full moon).

St Mary’s Clock restarted its chimes on Easter Sunday, but by daylight only. Silent all the night. A week ago the Trinity Clock resumed striking the Hour, with both voices, but not the Quarters: and by day only.

At 1 pm for the last week a huge hooter has emitted its gigantic wailing, heard all over the Town: this is merely to teach the populace. When that hooter shall rouse us from slumber, it will imply a Zeppelin over Cambridge…

The German war book owns that there is no check save the fear of Reprisals – which they have no dread of from England, the flabby. Possibly France and Russia may be less squeamish.

The 2nd battalion of the Monmouths (how different from the first battalion!) evacuated Whewell’s Courts on the 21st – leaving such filth behind them – broken windows, smashed doors and electric fittings, scribbled walls, etc, that the Junior Bursar demanded over £100 damages before he would consent to admit another Regiment. That Regiment was only a couple of hours off, and the billeting officer was at his wits’ end to put them anywhere else – so the terms were granted.

The Regiment in question is the 4th Royal Surrey – a very different set of men. The finest and best drilled Territorials I ever saw. Their Colonel, Campion (Unionist MP for Lewes, New College, Oxon) – sat next me in Hall, and is as nice a fellow as his Regiment are “smart and snappy”….

I respect the autocratic eraser too much to give you any of the hundred thrilling rumours (or canards) hovering around us. Will he suffer me to say that we lie under a rotten ministry?

Love to both
Affectionately

Bild [nickname]

Letter from John Maxwell Image, Cambridge don (D/EX801/1)

Military discipline improves the uncouth miner

Cambridge don John Maxwell Image wrote to the wife of a friend living abroad with comments on life in a university during the war. One change was that women’s sport took on a new importance.

TCC [Trinity College, Cambridge]
Easter Day, 4 April 1915

My dear Mrs Smith

I counted 384 Monmouths at early service (9.30) this morning, and behaving so devoutly. Military discipline, how it improves the uncouth miner – and how gloriously they sing.

Today I have, for the first time since January 26, heard St Mary’s clock chime. Our oracles are yet dumb, at Trinity and elsewhere, and streets and Courts lend no help to Zeppelins for finding their way. At Hall (but I must have told you) barely a glimmer comes from the pendant chandeliers: and the two High Tables are dimly lighted by wax candles. It is grand, at Grace time, to watch the dignified Head Waiter hold, with much state, a silver candlestick before the VM and Dean to enable them to read the Board. For the last fortnight, however, we have been dining in Combination Room, to my great comfort – but from motives of economy. Dress clothes, however, tonight, and the “foaming grape of eastern France”. We don’t anticipate total prohibition. It may be found necessary….

The males of the two Universities don’t meet in combat this year. The ladies do: and Camb has won both matches, both Hockey and Lacrosse. In each of these (see photographs [sadly not surviving]) Oxford played in decent skirts. The Camb women wore KILTS…

Ever yours Bild

Letter from John Maxwell Image, Cambridge don (D/EX801/1)