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 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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