Now they know what war means

Meg Meade wrote to her brother Ralph in Egypt. She was staying with their parents in Peterborough, and had heard from her naval husband.

Peterborough
Jan 26th [1916]
My darling Ralph

I hear that the beautiful Lady Loughborough was an Australian called Miss Chisholm & she married out in Egypt the other day.

I sent the Gallipoli bomb to Miss Jackson at that Irish address. I have not yet heard if it’s arrived alright.

I sent £1 to the Home Office for permission for you to wear those foreign orders, & they have acknowledged the money without saying where the warrants have been sent to…

How I envy you in beloved Egypt, & near the Nile!

Jim writes very well, but they have no news. His destroyers are joining up every day, & the gales never stop blowing for an hour…. Jim sent me really a heavenly rhyme about Royalist & her officers which I am copying out for you. Isn’t it priceless.
Maysie will tell you all her news. Poor John has got to have his jaw cut again before it can heal.

The parents seem very well, & Mamma has a thousand irons in the fire as usual, & sometimes get her fingers burnt, but she always retaliates! She’s started a first class Red X workroom in the Knights Chamber which of course infuriates the other Cross Red women who aren’t Red X here!

There is no chauffeur & no gardeners. We live in the hall & dining room & Dad’s study. Mr Green & the housemaids are supposed to run the garden!! So Dad & I had a morning’s weeding today, one had almost to push one’s way along the Monastery Garden through the weeds. But the War has reduced all gardens to that. Dad busy with the hoe, poking, pushing & destroying, muttered pathetically, “Poor dears” & I found he was addressing the weeds!

PS I went to see Aunt Syb who is wonderful, & Joanie, who is the same, but she seemed to me so altered in the face. Something has happened to her eyes, & they seem shattered by the sorrow and shock, & who can wonder. It is so awful.

[On a separate sheet is the poem:]

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“The Germans are devils”

Meg Meade was busy trying to arrange reading material for her brother Ralph in the Dardanelles. She even tried to get library books sent out to him, but unsurprisingly the libraries were unenthusiastic about this plan. Libraries at the time of the First World War were more often private ones where you paid a subscription, with only a few municipal libraries in big cities. She also had news about the ordeal of the blind elderly Lord de Ramsey, who had been interned in Germany at the start of the war, together with his son Reggie Fellowes.

November 5th [1915]

23 Wilton Place
My darling Ralph

Bolton’s Library in Knightsbridge is going to send you out Life & Punch by post, as they say they can’t put more in the Bag than you get already… I went to both Days Library & the Times Book Club, but it seems impossible to make any satisfactory arrangement about sending you library books. First the Post Office won’t insure books for the Dardanelles, & they are generally lost in transit, so each library makes you pay a deposit of £1 or 30/- over & above your library subscriptions to cover the loss of books, but of course if no books are lost this is made good to you in the end. Neither library would agree to send you a book a week indefinitely, because if you subscribe for 1 book a week only, they could never send you another until you had returned the first one sent. Therefore it seems no good thinking of subscribing for anything less than 4 books. These could be sent out to you, 1 a week for 4 weeks. At the end of that time you may with luck have read the first book they sent out, & then there would be a gap until the library had received back again the 1st book sent, when they could immediately post you another. You might get a still more regular service if you subscribed for 6 books, as you’d get one a week for 6 weeks, but then it’s an expensive game, & counting the risks, I don’t like to settle a subscription for you until I hear from you what you want done. I am sending you 2 novels this week which I have bought, & I will continue to send you 2 books which I will buy each week until I hear if that plan suits you. Of course you don’t get the latest books that way, as they are too expensive to buy, but in any case I doubt the libraries sending you any new publications because they seem to regard any book that goes to the Dardanelles as gone for ever….
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