Strikes everywhere

Civil unrest threatened the postwar peace.

1 February 1919

Strikes everywhere. Baton charges at Glasgow…

Heard about Phyllis’s first walk! So pleased.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

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“In Glasgow in Stob Hill Hospital they are lying dead by the tens”

A friend or relative of Lady Mary Glyn had some insight into the mixture of pro-Zionism and anti-Semitism in upper class circles. William “Billy” Ormsby-Gore (later Lord Harlech was a convert to Judaism and a leading British Zionist. Meanwhile the terrible influenza epidemic was beginning to make its presence felt.

Oct 26/18
My dear M.

I had a good letter from Ralph of Oct. 22. I answered his queries re Frank, in a long letter, & as I had lunched with Arthur I had some War Cabinet talk. A curious lunch, it had been arranged by Frank, a Jew officer friend of his violently opposed to Zionism. I thought I should see a grave Rabbi, but enter a bubbling schoolboy type, bursting with his views. It was most comic. A. J.’s interruptions. “We must remember there was a Tower of Babel”. And, when some fears were expressed re the Jews, “Don’t be afraid, they will take very good care of themselves – very good care. Every 6th man in New York a Jew”. Billy Gore was there to put the Zionist view. Stern lunches here tomorrow to meet Buffy. I have an intense desire to fall back on ham as the piece de resistance. Stern by name, & no doubt a German in a past, but in the present body an intense Britisher….

I heard yesterday how the American troops are attacked in the transports with this septic pneumonia. No doctor, no nurses, no medicines. On one transport some nurses going to France banded together improvised a hospital, and by shere [sic] nursing, they had no drugs, pulled a lot of men through. In Glasgow in Stob Hill Hospital they are lying dead by the tens. The Times obviously knows it by its leader today….

Ever
[Illegible]

[Sybil or Niall Campbell?] To Lady Mary Glyn (D/EGL/C2/5)

“How splendidly he is fulfilling his mission”

Eric Brereton (1889-1962) moved to Scotland after the war, and eventually became Dean of Glasgow.

The Rev. Eric Brereton, Military Chaplain to Salonica, arrived home unexpectedly, on a fortnight’s leave, on May 14th, to the great delights of his parents at Ascot, and of many friends in the Parish. It has done us good to see how well he looks, and to know how splendidly he is fulfilling his mission.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, June 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/6)

“We look on you as a sure winner” – but party politics are finished

Ralph Glyn was worried that the constituency being nursed for him on his return after the war might be being poached while he was at the front.

12 Woodside Crescent
11th June 1916

My dear Glyn

I received yours of 29th May only last evening and hasten to reply so that you may keep your mind at rest. I am quite positive that old Smith Park has no thought or desire of becoming candidate for College Division – I do not even think that at the moment he has any thoughts of trying to get into Parliament but I repeat most confidently that I am quite sure he has not his eyes on College. He has expressed his desire frequently, in which I believe he is sincere, that when the election comes he may still be President [of the Unionist Association] and so be the Leader of the local organisation which returns you as Member for College Division.

Neither Park nor any of your friends have any wish for a change of candidate. But if unfortunately such an occasion should arise, take it from me, of course confidentially, that the Colonel would not be the candidate. Whilst the opposition would welcome him, our own side would not adopt him. He has put up the backs of some of our principal workers, quite unintentionally but still he would not command enthusiasm.

For all that he makes a very good President and would make a better one still if he would only be a little more free, so far as the Association is concerned, with the shipping profits. He takes far too much the business view of everything & I expect his letters to you have been on that line.

At a time like this when everything political is dead (certainly it is in College) I don’t think it necessary for the candidate to be on the spot. Indeed being on active service strengthens his position in the constituency.

You retain the confidence of your friends & have earned the respect of your opponents. Your position in College today is stronger than ever and I do trust you will now drop once and for all any of those fantastic ideas you have formed and believe me when I tell you that you are the one & only candidate your friends & supporters wish, both on personal grounds & because we think you are the likeliest candidate to carry the seat. We look on you as a sure winner.

College don’t wish a “commercial magnate” – they prefer a soldier who has been & seen. As regards politics after the war, I quite agree with you there must be a great change. People at home recognise this as much as those who have been overseas. The party system on the old lines is done. However we must “wait & see” how things develop. Meantime don’t worry but first let things go on as they are & whatever you do, don’t let Sir George Younger lure you away from College. If he does there will be a fine row.

I have written you quite straightly & frankly. Glad you are getting a run home & do hope your new appointment means good promotion. If you go again to France you may now come up against quite a lot of the College Boys. I suppose you know John Grant has been out there now for many months. He was home on leave early in May looking better than ever he did in his life & in splendid spirits.

Hope if you get leave you will manage a run down to Glasgow. All your friends will be glad to see you. Let me know.

Trusting you are well & fit as this leaves me.

Yours sincerely
A E McDonell

Letter from Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/37)

The heavens have not fallen

Political ally Colonel Smith Park wrote to Ralph Glyn with his views about possible changes after the war, as well as comments on the latest war-related news.

196 St Vincent Street
Glasgow

4 May 1916

Dear Glyn

I note with interest your views as to the future. I have no doubt there will be great changes – I hope we will get rid of the lot of the lawyers – but all the same the party system will continue. I would like to see – by proportional representation or otherwise – candidates far more independent of the political caucus, which has really become a business, and this may come.

What a fiasco the Irish rebellion has been. The one good feature has been the promptitude with which it was quelled by the military.

The Govt have at last taken the compulsion plunge – & the heavens have not fallen…

We have already collected about £60,000 for the Princess Louise Scottish Hospital for Limbless Sailors & Soldiers – we are aiming at £100,000.

Trusting you will come safely through the war.

Yours very truly
J Smith Park

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/36)

I hope war may end this summer – and a national spirit of compromise will defeat party politics

A political contact of Ralph Glyn’s in Scotland, whose factory was involved in aeroplane manufacture, had news of the home situation.

2 April 1916
My dear Glyn

Thanks for yours of 19th ult. You of course understand that the financial deficit is mainly due to you not having paid in full your customary subscription. If you have decided not to do so I think it would be well to tell Nicol this definitely so that the Committee may know they must consider cutting down expenses, by getting a cheaper organiser or otherwise.

I agree that people generally are very sick of party politics but while I sincerely hope that after the war a much larger number will view matters in a broader & more national spirit, I much fear all the same that the party conflict will be keener than ever – it will be the parties that will differ & I hope to a large extent we may get rid of the “wait & see” lawyer class who have gone so near ruining the country.

There is some but not much improvement on our workmen – it is the women who are acting so nobly – but they have been so pandered to by politicians in the past that one can hardly wonder. I have a strong belief too that much of the trouble has been because of German money. I happened to be at Parkhead when the recent trouble broke out & I strongly urged that if the known leaders of trouble could not be shot they should at least be removed, & this latter I am glad to say was done & the trouble appears to be fizzling out. Our advisory committee has been kept very busy & I am told its work has been considered by the tribunal to be the best in the City.

You will be interested to know that I am one of the promoters of a Scottish Hospital for Limbless Soldiers & Sailors. We are getting a gift of Erskine House for the purpose – & the necessary land at agricultural value. Your Aunt HRH Princess Louise has agreed to be our patron & we have already collected about £25,000. By the way I had the pleasure of showing HRH over our works, in which she was tremendously interested, as wee were in her. She is a most engaging personality.

Did I tell you I had a flight in one of the aeroplanes we built? It was very enjoyable. We are building Zeps, so I hope to go up in one of them. I trust you are keeping in good health & that we may see you safely home soon. I still hope war may end this summer.

Yours very truly
J Smith Park

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/22)

Salonika: a splendid place for a rest cure

The books-for-the-troops scheme Ralph Glyn had sponsored was going very well, and there was plenty of money in hand.

55 West Regent Street
Glasgow
24 Feby 1916

Dear Captain Glyn

I am so very glad to have your letter & to note your cheerfulness as to our only interest, the war. I share it, though with me it is more a matter of faith than of information. As it happens, I got your note the morning of a meeting of the ‘Unionist Council’. It was of course purely formal, everyone being re-elected to everything for another year. That having been done, Donald McKay demanded ‘Does anyone know anything about Mr Glyn?’ So McDonald who in the Colonel’s absence was in the chair asked me to read your letter, which I did & I was asked to send you the good wishes of the Company & their hopes for your continued good luck & success.

In regard to the books &c we are continuing to send them, tho’ of course they go now to Salonica or Egypt – I have a young cousin in the A&SH [Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders] who is at Salonica now & writes that it is a splendid place & that he is having a ‘rest cure’ there. Probably the rest won’t last very long.

Down to this time we have despatched rather more than 50 bales of about 50 lbs each. An appeal was made for money at the same time as that for the books &c. Dugald Clark who acts as Treasurer is worried about this. He has between £50 and £60 on hand. The expense of sending the bales to the QAFFF is trifling. We would like to know whether you have any ideas as to how the balance should be expended. We are of course not getting in any more money & we are always spending something; but it would require a very long time – much longer than I think the war will last – to exhaust the money. If you can spare time for a few lines, I shall be glad to know what you think about this. The people who gave the money will imagine it is already spent & won’t of course want any of it back; but it should I think be spent on some purpose connected with the war.

Yours very truly
G A D Kirkland

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/10)

“Why is the atmosphere of life more cheerful nearer to all the horrors and ugliness of modern war than it is behind?”

Ralph Glyn had political ambitions, and the College constituency in Glasgow was being nursed for him. He had narrowly lost the 1910 election to a Liberal (he was a Conservative/Unionist). While serving in the army he delivered a lengthy statement to those he viewed as future constituents. Unfortunately for him and all his work, the constituency was abolished before the 1918 election. The paper itself, however, is an interesting insight into the views of an intelligent officer into attitudes at home and at the front.

GHQ
MEF
November 1915

I have been asked by one or two friends in the College Division to write a letter that may be a link between so many old friends of those former days, when Peace was not understood, and myself. To do this as I would wish by personal letter my work here will not allow. I must ask everyone who reads these lines to believe how sincere are my wishes for as happy a New Year as these days permits to be theirs.

I write these lines because I have always been open with my friends in Glasgow, and I believe you will all understand how it is impossible to write “news”.

There are many who have been all the time in France, or in Gallipoli, whilst some have been in both theatres of operations; but there are few officers now who have not spent some time at home, either wounded, or on leave or duty, and so it is possible to take a comprehensive survey of men, matters and means.

The newspapers are the only medium between the Public and events that happen behind the veil of the censor. Letters from friends and relations pass from the Front to those at home producing for a period a clear gleam of light – sometimes too vivid – of what is fact and reality at one small point of that vague term “The Front”. The days are shortening, the winter with all its horrors is close upon us and we are all well aware that if only something could be lifted the Future would be brighter and more easy to face. To arrive at any satisfactory conclusion we must try and see things as they are – undisguised but very possibly naked and ashamed. No time should be lost in establishing both at “the front” and at “the back” a “New Feeling” based upon the firm belief that at last true bearings have been taken, the clouds have lifted and the sun seen long enough to enable the exact position of the ship to be located, and that each and all having but the one port open to them are determined, in spite of all stress of weather, to reach their destination without undue delay.

Why is the atmosphere of life more cheerful nearer to all the horrors and ugliness of modern war than it is behind? There is nothing in any trench in France or Gallipoli to equal the gloom of many a house at home. The individual man is happy when he knows he is doing “his bit” and has that feeling down his back of something worthy of accomplishment being well done. But this same feeling should animate those miners, munition-workers, ship-builders and all that other host at home, whose work is as vital to the war’s success as any gallant action in the trenches. Why is there this feeling of unrest and mistrust in so many quarters? “Out here”, be it in France or Gallipoli, this war acts in one way all the time and without variation. The Regular Army has almost ceased to exist as it was before the war. Officers and men have fallen and others have taken their place. The tradition of a great regiment holds all the new comers in its sway and the magic mantle of “esprit de corps” stirs through the new blood of the recruit, officer and man, tempering and making him part of the original stock. The Reserve ceased to exist when war began; because by our system the fighting force of the country, Regular and Reserve, were and are one and indivisible. Any gunner will tell you that had it not been for the “dug out” the new armies could not have been born. The “dug out” has much to bear from the gibes of younger men who too often assume that all “dug outs” must be musty and old, stupid and out of date, but he can console himself with the knowledge that without him the Regular serving soldiers could not have kept the machine running.
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“The Government are now told the truth and they quite like it”

General Callwell reported on the latest changes at the top, with a new sense of realism facing the Government – and absolutely everyone hoping to get rid of Lord Kitchener despite his popularity with the general public.

26 Campden House Chambers
Campden Hill, W

12th November 1915

My dear Ralph,

You are in the thick of things at Mudros. We cannot yet quite make out whether old man K proposes to evacuate Gallipoli or not altogether, but the PM is a fairly downy cove too and I think that we shall get the great man’s intentions out of him. Unless the decision is evacuation there will be a turn-up in the Government as a good many of them were very angry at Monro’s recommendation to clear out not being accepted after he had been sent out with a free hand. By latest news we have frightened the French as to their position up the Vardar valley with the possibility of the Greeks turning nasty and they are inclined to come back out of that, which will be a good thing.

The new plan of a War Council of reasonable dimensions with the sailor-0mean and us properly represented is a great step in advance and the General Staff gets quite a good look in and is listened to. The Government are now told the truth and they quite like it. Archie Murray deserves great credit for pulling things together. I have now got in Bird as Sub-Director in charge of MOI, which takes a lot of work off my hands. Buckley going off with K has been a great nuisance to me as he was my right hand man in many things, but one rubs along somehow and I suppose he will turn up again some time.

We have no idea whether K will return to the War Office. Nobody in it wishes to see him back and I do not think that anybody in the Government does either – even such mighty opposites as “Lulu” and Lloyd George are agreed upon that point. But the Public have implicit belief in him and he may prove a little difficult to definitely shelve.

I hope that you are keeping very fit and are finding adequate outlet for your inexhaustible energy.

Yours ever
Chas E Callwell

Meanwhile Ralph’s proposals for books to be sent from Scotland to the Dardanelles was bearing enthusiastic fruit. (more…)

Ex parte reports are not quite cricket

Ralph Glyn’s officer friend Stephen Pollen had returned from the Dardanelles.

28, Hyde Park Gardens
Nov. 9th [1915]

Dear Glyn

I am so sorry to have just missed you. It was so kind of you to have burdened yourself with a parcel for me & I am only glad to think your trouble was not wasted & that the coat is useful to you.

Many thanks, too, for the cheque although I don’t see why you should pay me a full price for a second-hand article! It is no use writing you all we hear here of what is in the melting-pot about the MEF. The centre of decision & the Decider have shifted to your GHQ.

I am to remain & assist Sir I.H. to finish off his despatches &c, & shall, I fancy, not be available for a few weeks more as we are waiting on various documents from your side. Subla [sic] Bay complicates the matter as ex parte reports have been received at WO & apparently have no small influence which is not quite cricket.

I would have liked to see the show through. It is nice to be home but not nice to come in the way one did! And what a difference being “in” it & “out”! The fortune of war & its no use lamenting.

I hope to be usefully employed again – & after all in this war, if one can be that it should be enough…

Yrs ever
S H Pollen

Mind you make use of me if there is anything you would like done.

Meanwhile a Scottish writer had taken up an idea Ralph had put forward to improve the supply of reading material for the troops.
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A roaring farce

Ellen, the daughter of newly elected Glasgow MP John MacLeod, wrote to Ralph Glyn with details of the campaign. Her father beat rival Gavin Ralston decisively in the end,with over 5000 votes to little more than 500. Oddly to today’s eyes, both candidates were Unionists, with no other parties standing. College Division, incidentally, was the Glasgow constituency Ralph was “nursing” with a view to standing in the next General Election.

Rughriach
Connel
Argyll

Sept. 26, 1915

Dear Mr Glyn

I think “many happy returns of the day” is rather a happy remark to make to you when your name appears as having been decorated by the Czar. Many congratulations. Of course that makes College Division a certainty now!

Father’s election was a scream! The whole thing was a roaring farce, but the trouble involved was too sickening. Imagine the GPF getting up at 7.30 a.m. in order to make speeches at the dockgates. His sacred second cup of coffee had to go to the wall that day! The story goes that one of Mr Ralston’s meetings the hecklers were busy. Ralston managed to give them sly answers which evaded the point but served as an answer. This annoyed the hecklers to distraction. At last they gave it up and the last of them sat down. Ralston said “And now my friends I would like to ask myself a question”. A voice from the back of the hall “And a rotten silly answer ye’ll get!” (Rotten was not the word used though!)

Mother & I were fortunate in getting seats in the Serjeant-at-arms gallery to see him take his seat in the House, make his bows, etc. It was v. interesting.

I hope you are keeping fit & having an interesting time…

George is off to France, but of course we don’t know when. He was very happy to get off after 12 months training in Wiltshire.

Norman is at Portsmouth undergoing gunnery training prior to getting a new “small craft”. He has been on a detector net trawler the last few months.

I must now go & write to your GPF who is performing Parliamentary duties. (Doesn’t that sound fine!) One of the evening papers said he well deserved the nickname of “Conscientious John”. What new insult will they hurl at him next!

With renewed congratulations

I remain

Yrs very sincerely
Ellen MacLeod

PS Awful thought! I quite forgot to put Captain Glyn at the beginning. Very sorry, I hope you’ll forgive.

Letter from Ellen MacLeod to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C31/23)

Wargrave’s roll of honour

Wargrave was one of many parishes to publish a list of men serving in the parish magazine. This allowed parishioners at home to pray for them all by name.

‘The Roll of Honor for the Parish of Wargrave

The Royal Navy
Bywater, Darol. Lieut. R.N.D
Grey, Thomas Robinson. Sub-Lieut., R.N.A.A.V.C.
Blackburn, Ernest. H.M.S. Glory
Bucker, J. H.M.S. Laurel
Carr, Joseph, Fireman. Transport
Clarke, William. H.M.S. Laconia
Coleman, Charles William. H.M.S. Glasgow
Doughty, Albert. H.M.S. Irresistible
Doughty, Arthur. H.M.S. Tartar
Doughty, Herbert. H.M.S. Queen Mary
Doughty, Horace. H.M.S. Donegal
Doughty, John. H.M.S. Hindustan
George, Walter. H.M.S. Agamemnon
Haskett, Bernard. H.M.S. Jason
Haycock, Charles William. H.M.S. Ajax
Hollis, Alfred John. H.M.S. Implacable
Jemmett, Leonard Oakley. H.M.S. Galatea
Mayne, Frederick. H.M.S. Britannia
Parritt, Edward. H.M.S. Defiance
Pauline, Leonard. H.M.S. Hebe
Payne, William. H.M.S. Britannia
Pugh, Charles. H.M.S. Hibernia
Sandleford, James. H.M.S. Mars
Waldron, Jesse. H.M.S. George V.
Waldron, William. H.M.S. Dido

George, William. Royal Marines, H.M.S. Agamemnon
Pugh, Herbert. Royal Marines, H.M.S. Prince George
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“We will grip munitions yet”

John MacLeod (1857-1934) was a wealthy stockbroker who was about to be elected Unionist MP for Glasgow Central. His son George (1895-1991) was serving in the army (and later founded the Iona Community). He wrote to Ralph Glyn with some thoughts on the war.

149 West George Street
Glasgow
18th June 1915

My dear Ralph Glyn

Greetings and hearty ones to you. Is it true that you are going on a mission to Iceland, & taking St Kilda on the way home, as these are the only spots where your influence has not been felt.

Private: I understand Central may be offered to me. If it is done with unanimity, under present conditions I’ll take it. My presence won’t be required in London much except on special occasions for me. It will be the climax of my life, & I never dreamt of such a thing occurring. But it may not come off…

I think things are going all right. We will grip munitions yet. These glorious Russians. Italy is very good. What are the London odds for Roumania, Bulgaria & Greece.

Heartiest wishes

Yours as ever
John M MacLeod

Letter from John MacLeod to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C31/7)

Recruiting papers all round

The campaign to increase recruitment was gathering force, with Florence Vansittart Neale reporting that every house in Bisham had been sent the paperwork.

21 November 1914
All householders had recruiting papers…

Russia seems getting on. Had some victory, took guns. Nothing much different our side. Seized Norwegian boats carrying copper ore & took them to Glasgow.


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

The German ships will have the shock of their lives

The survivor of the Battle of Coronel from whom we heard the other day reports on the aftermath.

Nov. 11th
Got to the Plate according to programme & were cheered by the ships on arrival. Dined onboard “Defence” & had a pleasant evening. We shoved off again for Rio at 3 am, where we are going to mend our hole. We have heard which ships are coming out, & they will be amply sufficient but I can’t tell you what they are, save that the “Gneisenau” & “Scharnhorst” will have the shock of their lives when they see them. We hear the “Kongo” is coming from Japan too.

Follow up to eyewitness account of the naval action off Coronel, Chile (D/EX1159/5/8)