“I cannot keep from loathing the German vermin”

Lady Mary wrote to her son to Ralph to express her horror at the treatment of British prisoners of war suffering from typhus in a camp at Wittenberg the previous year, which had recently been publicised.

April 11th
In the train

We are reading your General’s Gallipoli despatch and the papers are full of Verdun – and there is the check again in Mesopotamia. The story of Wittenberg is beyond my reading. I cannot read these things & keep my mind clean of loathing of the German Vermin as Collingwood calls them, “not men but Vermin”….

I wonder if you have come across Marmion [Guy], GSO, DSO, I think he is on your Staff BMEF?

I had an amusing talk with a typical Farmer Churchwarden who is an ardent Tariff Reformer, & says there ought to be a determination not to go back to Free Trade if the farmer is to be compensated for putting his farm under wheat & all the labour – that wages must be raised to enable every one to afford a 6d loaf. How? Said the Shoe Manufacturer Churchwarden – how are you going to do that? He was busy turning out one million heels for boots (Army) a month & has a big order for Russia. He gets his leather from France – 26 and 30 tons ordered & now 30 on its way. He keeps only eight men & is doing all the rest with women labour. The farmer was on the tribunal for exempted agricultural labour – a strange agreement was arrived at by them that if the Government had asked for it they should have compulsory service 3 months after war broke out. They were both interesting men, and a sort of labour leader parson Atkins joined in with very real knowledge of all the conditions. His father is an old clergyman in Leicester, who was a working man’s son….

Letter from Lady Mary to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/4)

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A fine body of young women

The Revd E C Glyn, Bishop and Peterborough, and his wife Lady Mary both wrote to their soldier son Ralph. The Bishop was anxious that his letters were not reaching Ralph:

The Palace
Peterborough
15 March [1916]

My darling Ralph

Thanks for your letters – & your news – but we long to hear what & where your next move will be.

I have written by each “bag” every week, & I can’t understand if & why you have not had a letter from me each time! Unless it is that Captain Kellet does send every letter as well as General Callwell used to do! I wonder what is to be done with General Callwell & if he will want to get you for his work somewhere?…

Lady Mary was busy with her own war work, not to mention a feud with a rival Red Cross branch.

March 15, 1916
The Palace
Peterborough

My own darling and blessing

This has been a bad week for me and there has been nothing but futile fuss, perhaps – but fuss! And I have had no leisure. Meg went to London on Thursday, and was away one night in London, and all Friday I was at the Rest Room seeing to Canteen worries…

I went to see Colonel Collingwood who has seen your reappointment as GSO General Staff vice [under] Captain Loyd, & he was much excited and wanted to know what it meant. I could only say I supposed some redistribution of work at the end of your previous work of all this winter. But it set me thinking and this week with the news of Verdun always in one’s head, with the rumours always in every paper of German naval activity, and of the mines everywhere, one knows that one needs to have a stout heart for a stae brae….
The Rest Room is crowded out some days with the troops moving about, and we had over 1100 last month. We have a splendid hand of workers night and day.

Any my Red Cross Room is such a joy – it was quite full last night and I have enough money to go on, but must soon get more; the material is very expensive, & the County Association (now definitely under Sir Edward Ward) gives no grants to these private Rooms. The Town depot now “under the War Office” and having a pompous Board announcing its connection with the British Red Cross & the “Northampton Red Cross (??)” has collected 680 pounds, and intends to get 1000£ in order to sit upon all BRC work. Not sent to the War Office – to be distributed by them, & not by our Headquarters, 83 Pall Mall. It is from here quite incomprehensible when one knows how these people have behaved, & the lies they have told to cover up the defects of their organization, but I suppose Sir Edward had to level up all sorts of abuses & get the whole into his hand before any order could be restored. And the BRC did not organize its work in time. Now the Central Work Rooms have had to move from Burlington House to 48 Gros: Square & they have taken that big corner house for six months.

Sir George Pragnell’s death has been a blow, as I felt safe behind him from further attack – but the Stores Manager at 83 is so delighted with the work we have now sent up that our position will be assured. Another enemy – not me – quashed!

It is a complication that the Lady Doctor who is our splendid and most efficient Superintendent is expecting to add to the population! (more…)

Ordnance work for a retired officer?

A brief note from Lady Mary Glyn refers to an older officer anxious to do his bit, Colonel Cuthbert Collingwood (1848-1933).

Feb 20th 1916
My own darling Scraps

I saw Colonel Collingwood too this afternoon, and he is always full of enquiry about you. He frets about not being able to do anything, and says he will offer himself again for ordnance work!…


Letter from Lady Mary Glyn to her son Ralph (D/EGL/C2/3)

The final run for life

Lady Mary wrote to her son Ralph Glyn with more news of her Red Cross work, and the family’s responses to the death of her nephew Ivar Campbell. She had also heard a first hand account of the last stand at Gallipoli.

Jan 17th [1916]

5.30 service, and then I ran down to the Rest Room & found we were to expect 40 sailors tonight and 60 soldiers, the sailors at 11 pm and the troops at 6 am. So the Canteen had to be replenished & sufficient help made sure.

This morning I had to prepare for the Red Cross Work Room tomorrow, and ghet a cupboard for material, & I collected cutters out to prepare the work, and I cannot tell you how willing and good people have been – and you were right to encourage me. I know nothing more of the town row and the investigation, but evidently my Room is not to be interfered with. I hear rumours of the Enquiry and of the town talk over it….

I saw Colonel Collingwood today for a few minutes. He is always full of enquiry for you, and loves to think of you in Egypt.

The papers are full of indigestible matter, and the accounts from the Tigris will give Aunt Syb a worse horror, for the fighting must have been very severe and one dreads that there must have been delay in moving the wounded down. Aunt Eve has now seen Aunt Syb, and very anxious we should see her, but no, she refused to see dad, & writes, “he will understand”. I think it best to keep away. They all have a shunning of religious expression, and it does so hurt him and puzzles him – dear darling Dad with such a longing to love and to comfort and to help.

I hear of Uncle Henry gone to to the Front from Eisa Middleton, and I do dread its risks for anyone of his age. He goes as the head of the Northern Territorial Division, but for how long I do not know.
Darling, I do so love your New Year’s Eve letter, and when I can bear it more I read it, but letters make me so hungry for you. I so understand all you feel about the Dardanelles, and there was the great venture and the quest. It might have come off, but if the Allies had got to Constantinople it would not have prevented the Balkan imbroglio? And our troops and ships would have been unable to prevent Salonika becoming a base – in the end I believe it will save bloodshed and massacre that the fall of Constantinople is postponed.

We have been seeing here parents of a boy who was left in the rear guard on that night of the evacuation, and I have seen a wonderful letter he wrote to his mother, with the evident belief it would be his goodbye to her. He tells her to think always of the honour done to his family he should be in that lot, and now the Brigadier had given each man his choice, of the chance, little or none of their getting away. Another a wonderful account of the final run for life, 3 miles, while time fuses & bombs were still going off from every part of the trenches. A wonderful story told with the simple joy of the venture, & of the miracle of escape, of a boy of 21.

“That nothing be lost” and in the gathering up of the fragments of that wonderful story the glory of England is not dimmed, and this war will not be won on so many acres of material soil, but by the spirit which is to overcome and master the Brute Beast – a spiritual warfare, and you are all raising and lifting the spirit of man as it has never been raised before, for this, I believe final assault, when Satan is unloosed, to bring in the glorious shout that is to sound through Heaven and an earth renewed – “Hallelujah – for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth”.

I think of you in Egypt, and love to think of you there and hearing the muezzin call to prayer and the still sunlight in the depths of space, the stars and the moonlight, the littleness of European civilisation, and dwarf Roman the parvenu Latin peoples. Is the world war to have an end where east and west shall meet?…

A business/political acquaintance also wrote to Ralph:

1 Howard Street
Strand
London, WC
17th January 1916

Dear Capt. Glyn

I hope you are fit again. I heard you had a bad attack of dysentery at the Dardanelles.

How awfully sad Ivar Campbell’s death is. It must be a terrible blow to the family.

Yours sincerely
Robert Pollock

Letters to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/3; C32/2)

A wonderful miracle

Lady Mary Glyn, wife of the Bishop of Peterborough, was thinking of her son Ralph, just evacuated from Gallipoli, on Christmas Day.

Christmas Day [1915]
My own darling Scraps

Then coming back here to these sad turmoils & committees & doings which have cost me more than usual time & thought of late, and yet in many ways the best work I have done – because at last a healthy support against mean opposition, and the discovering of the nature of the mean spite of some of these people. Anyway, the Rest Room at the GG was opened by Dad yesterday, with Mayor & Mayoress present, and many people there. And last night, Christmas Eve, Mrs Evans, wife of the Precentor, sat up all night, & 27 men needed the Canteen & Rest, & were so glad of it & grateful, and the railway officials came & begged them to take in some civilians who had been stranded. The troops come through from the east coast by a 4 am train & cannot get on to central England till after 6 am, and they have had to hang about there, or be sent up to the GN, where they have had as many as 135 and 90. It is such a joy we have been able to do this, but it has meant a lot of work & anxiety at one time… People have been too kind – pouring gifts on us for it, and offers of help flow in – and I am so thankful as I know it will do good in many ways, and it is the only way to open people’s eyes to what has been going on to keep me and Dad out of everything by a strange combination of social spite & religious animosity. The Red X workroom is also going to be a very great help towards that needed discovery….

I try to think of the miracles of mercy that are ours, and the miracle of Love that has watched over you all, and how the things one feared have served for songs of deliverance, and from here the Suvla Bay & Anzac affair appears to be as wonderful a miracle as any and though Colonel Collingwood takes the soldier’s view of it, as you all must, “Not since La Rochelles” [sic] – he sees it best that they had courage to do it.

Letter from Lady Mary Glyn to her son Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/2)

“He never talks and never grumbles”: the spirit of the Front

Lady Mary Glyn wrote to her son Ralph. Her sister in law Sybil (Lady George Campbell) was anxious about her son Ivar, a 25 year old Lieutenant in the Argyll & Seaforth Highlanders who were currently fighting in Mesopotamia.

Peter[borough] Dec 5th [1915]
My own darling

This is Sunday Dec 5th, and I am wondering when there is a chance of another letter. I send you the envelope of the last (Nov 28th), opened by Censor, & delayed so that I did not get it till Wednesday 2nd… No wonder you were angry at being held up… I am wondering if letters to you are to be censored? I wondered what was coming next: “Taisez vouz, Metiez vouse, les oreilles des ennemis vous ecoutent.” Well – it was just in those words I warned one or two who did not forgive me at the beginning of the war, and I am sure we women ought to be very uncommunicative. One of my soldier women [wives?] said to me about her wounded man, “He never talks, & he never grumbles”. So the spirit of all of you at the front who comes back, and will more and more, as we learn the lesson of these days of a great tribulation – surely the Great Tribulation which must bring in a Better Thing? Today the Tigris withdrawal reaches us, owing to defection of Arabs, and old Collingwood is busy about the immediate punishment which must be inflicted; & I think of Syb & all her anxiety.

John still at Voelas, but coming up for a Board on the 20th, & Maysie hopes they will have Christmas at Voelas – but thinks he will be passed fit. Meg was dreadfully cut up letting Jim go – and Dad got there just 10 minutes after he had gone….

I had a long day in Northampton yesterday. A great Military Hospital is to be started at Northampton or near, & Lady Knightley has got together a huge committee to collect all the necessary things, & asks me to be on it.

Letter from Lady Mary Glyn to her son Ralph (D/EGL/C2/2)

German villagers detest the war

Meg Meade, whose husband had just returned to his ship, wrote to her brother Ralph Glyn with an example of War Office inefficiency, but was optimistic that the war must be halfway through by now. She had also had a chance to talk to Lord de Ramsey, the blind elderly peer who had been trapped in Germany at the start of the war, and had finally been repatriated. He revealed that the ordinary Germans were not the evil creatures of patriotic propaganda.

Dec 3rd [1915]
23 Wilton Place

My darling Ralph

I was so glad to get your letter as I was wondering where you were. It’s most unfortunate Fritz is so active just where you want to go, but these little things will happen in war time, I suppose. I saw Captain Taylor at Addie’s today. D’you remember he was Cecil’s flag captain in Collingwood, & he has been very ill, & had bad operations. He’s Flag Captain at Chatham now, but hopes to get a ship in February. I asked him why the Frogs couldn’t deal better with Fritz in the Mediterranean, & he only shook his head. Apparently we agreed long ago that they should take that job on, but I suppose it will end in our having to take that on as well as everything else.

I met Lord Camden lunching with the de Ramseys today. You know his wife was very ill, & he was to be sent for by the War Office from the Dardanelles where he was with his regiment. Well, the bright War Office succeeded in recalling Lord Hampden who was also in the Dardanelles, telling him his wife was very ill, so the poor man came tearing home in a great state to find his wife quite well & very surprised to see him. Then Lord Camden was eventually got hold of, & as you can imagine he had an anxious time coming home as he only knew that his wife had been ill enough for him to be sent for 3 weeks before! But when he got home he mercifully found she had recovered. Lord de Ramsey’s accounts of his 18 months in Germany are most amusing. He declares that the peasants & villagers of the part he was in were always nice & civil, & there was no hatred, & he says that they all unanimously detest the war. Jim went back to Royalist yesterday afternoon & I am consequently feeling very low & depressed, but the war must be halfway over surely. I heard today that Kitchener’s secretary FitzGerald who has returned to London with K. says “The end is not even in sight yet”. The Huns certainly get what they want whichever side of Europe they attack. Oh if only we had a great man to deal with the swine.
I went to a Gymnasium again yesterday & beat my section at jumping which was satisfactory. I find it a splendid way of getting exercise in London, & the only way…

Maysie writes that John’s back isn’t healed yet. They return to London on 21st for 2 Boards, but personally I don’t see how John will be passed till Jan or Feb for – as Maysie neatly puts it, “John must have teeth pulled out & put in!”…

Your own loving
Meg

Letter from Meg Meade to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/2)

“The news makes me shiver all day long”

Lady Mary Glyn, wife of the Bishop of Peterborough, wrote again to her beloved son.

Sept 28 1915
The Palace
Peterborough

My darling

The news makes me shiver all day long, but I know I ought to be quite different, and I try to think how miserable you would all be if you were not “fit” to serve, and to be in it, and of it, and to have your part in the great days of renewal after it, as those only can who have done their share. It helps to go and see old Collingwood & his misery tied to a paralysed arm, chafing and miserable.

But oh! I long for the Peace that is surely nearer than we thought for the dawn wind is blowing and light is breaking and we can lift up our heads & know redemption is drawing night. Have you read B P Talbot? Wonderful, to the point he is a great man.

Dad has been all over two great Hospitals today. Many wounded from Dardanelles

Own Mur

Letter from Lady Mary Glyn to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/2)