“It is terrible trying to carry on war under such conditions”

General Callwell shared some secrets with former assistant Ralph Glyn, now at the Dardanelles.

26, Campden House Chambers
Campden Hill, W

13th December 1915

My dear Ralph

I am taking time by the forelock to drop you a line as the Bag does not go for a couple of days, but there is such a rush these times that it dies not do to leave anything to the end.

I am afraid the retirement from Suvla and Anzac will prove a costly business and it is deplorable that there was so much delay in deciding after Monro reported at the end of October. As a matter of fact the War Council decided on evacuation on the 23rd ult – while K was out in those parts – and Squiff sent me over to Paris to tell Gallieni and old man Joffre; but the Cabinet overrode the War Council and the decision was not finally taken by the Cabinet till the 7th. It is terrible trying to carry on war under such conditions.

The French have been very troublesome over Salonika. We and even our Government have been opposed to that affair all along, but the French managed to drag us into it by threatening to regard our refusal as a blow to the entente. Murray and I, backed up by Robertson, went to Chantilly to see old Joffre, but could not get him to change his mind, and then Squiff [Asquith] and three others of the same sort went over and saw the French Government, but it was no good. I went with Squiff and we had quite a gentlemanly trip in specials and Destroyers, but poor old AJB was a terrible wreck after a Destroyer trip. Then, although Gallieni lied to me gallantly about it, the French never sent that infernal fellow Sarrail orders to retire till his position was extremely awkward and in consequence our 10th Division had a very bad time; but they seem to have done well.

All kind of changes are in the air. Johnny French is to be degomme’ at once, Haig taking his place; and there is a good deal of talk about Robertson becoming CIGS – he caries heavier ordnance than Murray. Henry Wilson is very unhappy at Johnny French’s departure and I am not sure what will become of HW. I doubt whether Haig will have him in his present job and he has come to be looked upon as what the soldier detests – a political general.

The Government is rocky and Bonar Law told me the other day that he thought Gallipoli would finish them. He (BL) should have resigned when Carson did. When K was away in the east they all declared that they would not have him back, but he is back and does not look like going although he is much tamer than he was. He said to me plaintively the other day that the Cabinet would not believe anything he told them and now always insisted on a printed paper from the General Staff. It was rather amusing at a War Council the other day while he was out your way. They were squabbling away about everything after the usual fashion when a box was brought in to Squiff and he read out a wire from K, ending up with an announcement that he was coming home. With one voice the whole gang said he must go to Egypt to report and a wire to that effect was drafted on the spot – however he took no notice and came home in spite of them.

I hope that you are fixed up and getting on well with your RNAS affairs. As Helles is not to be evacuated I suppose that the bulk of Sykes’ commando will remain where it is although there will be plenty of work for airmen in Egypt shortly. I am writing to Bell before the Bag goes and also to Birdwood.

Yours ever
Chas E Callwell

Letter from General Callwell to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C24)

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