Virtual civil war in America

Ralph Glyn’s cousin Niall, Duke of Argyll, paid an inspection visit to France.

Coombe
31 March 1916
My dear Ralph

Your [letter] arrived today. Many thanks. I was not telling you however about any Charlie French but of Lord French. I lunched with him last Thursday to meet Sir Arthur Herbert, just back from the USA, who was most interesting a – virtual civil war going on as an average of 4 munition places a week are being blown up of which Europe hears nothing….

I had a very interesting time away [in France] and saw Vornelot (now a hospital) on my way back. Queen Amelie had been there for a bit which excited Aunt L [Princess Louise, Dowager Duchess of Argyll] terribly, but once you lend a house what does it matter. 780 nurses have already used it as a rest. I thought it a beastly place anyway, a mad thing to go and build anyway.

I had a long & very interesting talk with the Bishop of Amiens about the invaded part of his diocese – French politics etc, he told me many interesting things…

Yesterday I met Carben de Viard a very clever Belgian at the de Lalaings. He was secretary for years to King Leopold & told me curious details about his last hours and words. He is just back from 4 months mission to the USA as to which I heard a lot. The position there is extraordinary….

The French & Belgian Generals I ran across at Amiens etc were all very optimistic as to duration.

Your affect. Cousin
Niall

The former Royal Naval Air Service friend of Ralph’s who wrote to him on 27 January was bitterly disappointed with his new assignment as a quartermaster.

United Service Club
Pall Mall, SW
March 31st, 1916

My dear RG

Very many thanks indeed for your letter. I am going off to take up my new duties as an AA & QMG to one of the Home [illegible] Mounted Divisions. About the last thing I wanted!

I am glad to hear that things are fairly smooth in your patch now. I hope they will get even better.

I have seen Buzzard at home and he will probably now have given you all the news. I hear he is taking command of a Howitzer Brigade now.
I will write again soon if there are developments in my case. I am so sick about it all that I cannot write any more now and must go off to my job.

All good luck to you.
Yours always

[Illegible – MD?]

Letters to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C16; C32/21)

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“England is worth dying for” – and Winston Churchill is the devil on earth

Meg Meade let her brother Ralph know the details of the last moments of their cousin Ivar Campbell, together with news of various friends and relations – plus her very unflattering views of Winston Churchill. Ralph had political ambitions, and subsequently became a Conservative MP. The controversial Noel Pemberton Billing, mentioned here, had just won a by-election standing as an Independent, but his political career (perhaps fortunately) lasted only a few years.

March 16th [1916]
Peter[borough]

My darling Ralph

I hear Wisp is coming to London as he has six weeks leave, lucky thing, but the reason is he has had such a bad dose of flu he has lost a stone! Jim says lots of them have had it in the north. If it produced leave on that scale, & Jim doesn’t catch it, I shall have to send him a bottled germ of it!

I posted my last letter to you from London when I went up to see Arthur. He was looking very well indeed, he says the English soldiers have invented a sort of pidgeon French which is now used by the French soldiers to make themselves understood by the English & vice versa, & it’s frightfully difficult to understand. One day Arthur came out & found his servant looking up into his horse’s face & saying “Comprennie? Comprennie?” He said Frenchwomen always come to him about every conceivable thing, even to if they are going to have a baby, & one had highstrikes [sic] in his office the other day.

I hear that Bertie is convalescent on crutches now & they are trying to prevent his being sent home to England on account of his health.

Poor old Mrs Hopkinson came in here today, broken hearted; for Pen’s husband, Colonel Graeme, was killed in France last Friday behind the lines by a stray shell. Killed outright mercifully. But oh dear, how sad one is at these ceaseless sorrows, and all the broken hearted people all round one. “But England is worth dying for” as Noel Skelton wrote to Aunt Syb about Ivar. I dined with Aunt Syb the night I was in London. She is so wonderful, so is Joan, but it has told hard on both of them. Aunt S has aged & Joan carries the mark in her face too…

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Light dancing on the lawn heralds a death in action

Ralph Glyn’s cousin Niall, Duke of Argyll (1872-1949), the head of the Campbell family, wrote to his first cousin Ralph Glyn. He was known to be somewhat eccentric; this letter reveals a belief in the supernatural which helped with the sorrow of losing another cousin, Ivar Campbell.

22 Feb 1916
28 Clarges Street
Mayfair, W

My dear Ralph

I was glad to get your letter yester even. News at last about Ivar’s end, he was hit through the lungs 7th Jan and died on the 8th without gaining consciousness, it was on the 8th that the queer light dancing on the lawn appeared at Inveraray & Niky came to my room about 8 pm and told me of it and I made a note of it at the time. Within a week the fritts, though she did not see him, undoubtedly got a certain message from him to pass on to Aunt Sibell [sic] and once since then, viz last week she heard a certain thing which only Ivar could have said. He amongst other things said that as to the end he remembered nothing whatever and that he would try somehow to get through to Aunt Sib, hard as it was. But if she heard anything she would be sure to seek a cure in her pill box.

Tomorrow I am dining with French with whom I did a play etc about a week ago, and Thursday I am off to see the Argylls under Douglas Baird in France and have just been getting the passes etc. Nicky got to Coombe last Sunday morning. No express trains from Stirling now and it took her 23 hours…

Rutland gave me an account of the bomb within ¼ mile of Belvoir which fell in a field. The Granbys were honeymooning there which made His Grace deem is specially impudent…

I went to the opening of the HL [House of Lords] and heard Kitchener then and once since on the Air question. Victor Devonshire told me his younger children heard the Derbyshire bombs from Chatsworth. At Walmer a few days ago our airmen set up and fired merrily on each other, next the anti aircraft guns fired on both of them, and then knocked off the top of the church steeple and hurt some men in a barracks. The enemy were against the men & got away & most of our officers were feeding 2 miles away. A real Bedlam.

Oswald is in Egypt so you may meet him. He was off from London just before I got south.

I saw the D. of Atholl the other day, he snored somewhat and his neighbours had to bump his bench, he seemed cheerful, did not mention Geordie but said Bardie was in Egypt.

Erzeroum [sic] fell since your letter was written I expect as your date is the 4th of February.

London is more pitch dark than ever. I watched the Green Park Gun practice at 6.30 last night.

Your affect. Cousin

Niall

Letter from the Duke of Argyll to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C16)