“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….

“I hate Germany!” declares a German immigrant

Stoney Ware was one of the big houses in Bisham, and Florence Vansittart Neale, whose husband owned Bisham Abbey, visited regularly. The Victoria County History describes as the residence of Mrs Taylor, but intriguingly, in the 1911 census Mrs Therese or Theresia Taylor, is revealed as the German-born widow of an Englishman, living with her sister Auguste-Johanne Krohnke. At least one of her sons in law, Julius Hoch, was a German army officer. But Mrs Taylor’s odd dislike of her countrymen may perhaps be explained by the fact that she came from Holstein, an area conquered from Denmark by a German confederation in 1864, when she was a young woman. She became a British citizen through marriage to Yorkshire wool stapler James Taylor, in that same year of 1864. She must also have feared for her grandsons, German citizens. At least two of them, Berthold Hoch and Wolf von Zenker, were 16 year old German army cadets in 1911 (when they visited their grandmother), and would almost certainly have been among those fighting British troops.

18 August 1914
Dismantling Chintz Room. Bed in Bubs’ room…

Called on Stoney Ware… Funny old couple. [Illegible] very emphatic “I hate Germany!!”…

Eleanor Long married hurriedly – her husband naval (Fellowes). No real news.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8)