Will the government have enough pluck to shoot those who oppose conscription?

Ralph Glyn’s parents both wrote to him on New Year’s Eve. The good bishop was quite gung ho (and one might think not very Christian) about deporting Germans and even shooting conscientious objectors! Lady Mary was still fussing about her quarrels with a rival Red Cross workroom.

The Palace
Peterborough
Dec 31 [1915]

My darling Ralph

Here is my New Year letter to you…

Things at Salonica [sic] seem doing well – & our forces must be growing there – as we see daily accounts in the papers of “more troops arriving” – and I am glad that the French General has taken the enemy consuls & staff & put them on board of a French man-of-war – so they have got rid of them as spies – & it is good. Tonight’s paper tells of an English cruiser blown up in harbour – “HMS Natal, captain Eric Back, RN armoured cruiser sank yesterday in harbour as the result of an internal explosion”. This seems to me only another reason why we should ship away every German in England & send them to their own country, as it is no use keeping the enemy here to do such mischief as blowing up our ships in harbour – as I should say it must have been done by some bomb put on board by a German.

We have got our conscription so far, & shall hear all about it on Thursday. It is high time the “Government” (so-called) made up their minds to the inevitable – & the “country” will back them up certainly – & now we shall “wait & see” if the Government will have pluck enough to shoot those that oppose them.

Much love – & take care of your dear self.

Your loving father
E C Peterborough

Dec 31 1915
My own darling own Ralph

The news of the loss of the “Natal” has come this evening to us here – and one dreads to think it may be another treachery or labour trouble – but the news is good of the full Cabinet meeting and one feels sure that the country will be sound on the question of these men who have held back…

I hear of Edith Wolverton coming here but not to see us. I think the war makes these women quite queer. They are so anxious to be petite maitresse & do not understand how it is all lost in provincial towns where everyone on the spot wishes to emulate any “star” that wishes to “shoot”. We are very happy with our canteen and it will give us plenty to do and I shall hear I suppose soon about the other crazy emulation over Red Cross. They are all quite sick with anger I have my private workroom and the Sham Committee find they are quite powerless to stop it but I am quite willing to co-operate it when they become real. I am in close touch with Headquarters. Oh! me, when will these silly little fusses be read over by you and where! And it will all seem so silly and so paltry and hard to believe that men and women can be so mean and self seeking over work for the sick and wounded at the Front.

We keep quite quiet and say nothing, but they are spluttering into the papers with their silly complainings. It may have to end in a private official enquiry but Winfrey has managed to save his face by registering one committee under all three – Queen Mary’s Needlework, Sir Edward Ward’s Voluntary Association & the Red Cross! All this with one Fund and the same little creature as accountant that went against affiliation to centre at the beginning & start of all the fuss. I am afraid the expenses are enormous, and that I shall have difficulty in getting the money unless we can get the whole thing put under one authority & one Fund….

Letters from E C and Lady Mary Glyn to their son Ralph (D/EGL/C2/3)

Advertisements

“A leader will appear – but my! how he’s dawdling”

Meg Meade wrote to her brother with the latest news, and the reactions in their circle at home.

23 Wilton Place
Dec 20th [1915]
My own darling Ralph

It will be very horrid to think of you in cold Gallipoli for Xmas, but we’ll all be thinking of you darling…

Jim has been told off by JJ [Jellicoe] to take charge of the 125th Flotilla, & I suppose his appointment may be gazetted soon. But perhaps not in wartime. He starts off with 3 destroyers, a depot ship, & Destroyer Leader until the rest of them join up. I’m certain he’ll make it a smart flotilla.

They seem to have had an awful gale up there lately, & his passage north wasn’t to comfortable either. It’s only daylight from 9 am to 3 pm now apparently, they’ll be thankful when the shortest day is over. Algy Harris dined here last night. He was passing through London to take up a job under some Colonel of coastal defences, somewhere in the middle of the Lincolnshire coast. He seemed very lame indeed, poor Algy, he has been badly in the dumps, & not feeling at all well. He ought to get to a warm dry climate but everything seems up against him, & he’s very deaf now. But he hears alright when he uses a sort of telephone thing. I do wish one could help him to get out to Egypt or some such place. He’s very good & brave, but it is all bitterly hard on him. Soldiering is the one aim of his life, & he feels he’s a failure, but that’s not his fault, poor dear…

Everyone seems naturally very depressed at the news from the East. It’s horrible, isn’t it, one must just go on hoping & believing that a leader will appear, but my! How he’s dawdling. I met the French Naval Attache lunching today with the Aubrey Smiths. It’s hard for such people to understand why under the circumstances we don’t have conscription, and I don’t blame them for being both annoyed with us, & they must have not a little contempt too for being too optimistically blockheaded. I hear that Mr Jack Wilson, who was nabbed by the Austrian submarine, completely lost his head at the critical moment. He threw overboard one bag of important despatches without weighting it, so that it floated on the water till the Austrians picked it up. But I heard that his other bag of important despatches was “saved owing to the presence of mind & resources of an American lady”. I wonder if she chewed the contents, or hid them up her skirts….

Meg

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