“A good few expected peace when the first notes were exchanged & are accordingly depressed”

Ralph Glyn’s sister and mother wrote to him. Meg’s circle of acquaintances in London included many army officers, and she reported some disappointment that talks of peace had not yet come to anything. Lady Mary was engaging in a private battle with the vicar of Bamber, where she and the Bishop were living, who thought the National Anthem inappropriately jingoistic for church.

Hardwicke House
Ham Common
Richmond
Surrey

27.10.18

My darling Ralph

Thank you so much for you letter & I am so sorry to hear you have got this beastly flu, it is sickening for you but by the time this letter reaches you I hope you will be quite fit again. No – flying doesn’t sound the best cure certainly, but I suppose you had to do it.

I was much interested to see the photographs you enclosed. They are copies of negatives taken by Addie of Royalist up with the Grand Fleet. If you have got the negatives it would be good of you to send them here to me, tho I cannot imagine how they got among your negatives, as I keep those ship photographs most carefully. But do send me all 3 negatives if you have them.

Jim & I stayed last night at Belgrave Square & dined with the Connaughts, a small dinner which was great fun. The Arthur Connaughts were there, she is a stick; Mr Spring Rice who was in Washington with Eustace & Ivar, & Mrs Ward who was Muriel Wilson. An A1 dinner too! The old Duke was in great form & full of funny stories of soldiers’ remarks in Palestine:

One soldier asked another, “Which is the way to the Mount of Olives?” & the other replied, “If that’s a public house I’ve never heard of it.” An Arab writing to the Governor concluded his letter with, “I write in the name of J. Christ, esq, who is well known to you & who your Excellency so much resembles”. An Australian wantonly killed a Jew & was remonstrated with, “Why did you do it?” “Well”, he said, “they are the people who killed Christ”. “Yes, but a long time ago”. “Well”, said the Australian, “I only heard of it yesterday”….

John went off to GHQ on Wednesday, & on Friday Maysie & I went over 2 houses she had the offer of in London. The larger one (both being tiny) was in Regents Park, & had lovely Chinese furniture, & nicely done up, the second in Hill Street, Knightsbridge, & very nicely done, but tiny. I strongly advised her to plump on the 2nd & she’s got it for 6 months, & I think it will do for her very wel indeed. Billy is home on leave & I saw him yesterday too. He looks v. fit, a Majr, & 2nd in command of his battalion!

A good few expected peace when the first notes were exchanged & are accordingly depressed, but everyone feels thankful & the end must be in sight. But there’s some sickness with the Americans not getting on, it would have been splendid to cut the Huns off in that retreat, but you always said they have no staff to handle the men, and it does seem 10,000 pities that thro sheer silly pride they won’t brigade their men with ours & the French, doesn’t it….

Meg

(more…)

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The war will bring about theocracy

Lady Mary Glyn wrote a long letter to Ralph. She had strong, if eccentric, views about politics, and was almost as shocked by Australian soldiers’ democratic nature as she was by the Easter Rising.

April 26 1916
Peter[borough]

My darling own blessed Scraps

Easter Day makes me long for you, but all days make me long for you….

I distinguished myself at Windsor by getting bad with indigestion, but it was good to be with John & Maysie, & see them so happy in another Windsor spell of work, and yet being together. He heard when we were there that another operation will not be necessary, but as his Medical Board gave him 3 months they have taken a very good house, “Essex Lodge”, the present house being required by the owner, and this is a much better one with a garden & tennis ground. John is of course very busy, and up early, & at work till late. He looks well, and is in good spirits, evidently liking his work. We saw Cecily Hardy & her Giant, and Tony & Sylvia, & a new Coldstream acquisition – a very Highland McGregor who till lately was engineering in India – quite a new type in the Brigade!

The Political Crisis made those days full of excitement, but none of these soldier people seemed to care, or to look at the papers, and were sure the King would come whatever happened. And he did, but the Crisis was supposed to be over, and the Cabinet once more firmly (?) in the saddle of Compromise. Now the Secret Session, and the result whatever it may be of that settlement is to be made known to so many talkers & plotters and schemers that it will be impossible for all the cats to be in the bag long. Meantime there is a shaken confidence, a longing for a leader other than we have, for this strange growth of freedom to know its limitation, and to recognise its own dependence on laws not made by man, but inflexible because “just and true”, and belonging to the Kingdom that will endure throughout all ages. When we really will, that will come, and its obedience, and we shall learn what freedom is. It does not lie with Democracy, or in Kaiser rule, or in a Republic, but it does in a Theocracy – and my belief is that it is to be restored through this War and “tumult of the nations”….

France is surely ahead of us in the spirit of a new vision, & Russia is invincible because of that vision long accepted – and we wait for it, and you all are bringing it nearer.

(more…)

“I hope before you get this that the relief of Kut will be history!”

A soldier friend of Ralph Glyn’s had been asked to tracks down where Ralph’s fallen cousin Ivar might be buried in Mesopotamia.

HQ
13th Div
30/3/16

My dear Glyn

So far I have been able to find out nothing about Ivar Campbell’s burial place but I have only been up country (Staint Saud) a few days and will do all I can to find out.

I have written to one Macrae in the Seaforth Highlanders who got a DSO on 7th Jan and he may be able to put me on the track.

I hope before you get this that the relief of Kut will be history! I may not say more as every letter is censored but where you are you probably know officially sooner than I can give you private news.

Not too hot yet but stoking up.

Yours ever
Douglas Brownrigg

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/20)

“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…

(more…)

Is God really sitting on the fence?

Lady Mary Glyn, wife of the Bishop of Peterborough, wrote to her son Ralph. The Bishop was planning to retire in the near future, as he felt out of pace in the changing Church of England. The increased numbers of men being called up had led to a shortage of people willing to work in domestic service.

Sunday evening, March 5th 1916
My own darling blessing and own son and Scrappits

The Mission will bring the Bishop of London here on April 4th. He is made in his own words “Chief of Staff” and more & more I feel how trying these modern methods are for men of Dad’s age and experience – and “Chelmsford” has actually talked of “God, if I may say it with reverence(!) is sitting on the fence! – isn’t it inconceivable that a man can say such a thing as this with regard to the Almighty, & the victors in this war! If that is to be the tone of our leaders, Dad will be quite out of it!…

We have kept on Tuke, the chauffeur, after a month’s trial & have had to allow him to have wife (& 2 children) at the Lodge. She is very young & had a Zepp scare, & could not bear to be alone in London. We are not doing up the house, & she is only there till Easter; we find the furniture from here. she will then probably move into rooms – but as the married groups are being called up, it is most probable so young a man will have to go & we do not want to be involved in his family here. The whole question of servants will be very difficult, and we must do with as few as possible, and they must be able-bodied and “willing” to work, not watertight compartments refusing “menial” work one for another. A soldier man and his wife are my idea, but we must try to run at first with those who will stick to us….

I hear Aunt Syb has heard from the captain and chaplain [about her late son Ivar] as I think I told you, but I did not see her this time in London & get most of my news from Aunt Eve. Aunt Far tells me Frank sent for his sword which she mercifully insured before sending it in the Maloja….

Oswald is on some General’s Staff at Alexandria, but Meg does not know whose staff it is, & you must by this time know. Aunt Alice was full of talk about [illegible] and his work, of Harry busy in Soudan [sic] getting together 25,000 camels and provisioning Salonika from the Soudan, and she thinks Gordon must be singing Te Deums in Heaven over it. She was also full of information as to the gear of Belgians being bought and open to bribery by the Huns & need for much taking over.

And by the time you get this Verdun will be decided and how much else. It is wonderful to know France has won her soul and is able for such a crisis in calm fortitude to bear this tremendous shock and to await events with confidence. And I think the rumours everywhere of naval “liveliness” are reflected in Meg, as I think she is tremendously anxious & prepared to hear of some engagement.

Mr James said London was full of rumours yesterday & stories of prisoners brought to Leith, and they had anxious days with no letters last week and it was such a relief when one did come on Friday 3rd… Your dear letter of the 24th reached me in the morning and was under my pillow that night… I know you must have many blue moments in the strange sad searching of that desert world of departed aeons and of sunshine that is all too brazen! But yet I am thankful after Gallipoli you have this climate, and conditions in which “recuperation” after that time is made possible, but I do long for you unbearably…

France is a nightmare just now, & news has come to us through Maysie of Desmond FitzGerald’s death, an accident with a bomb which he was showing to the Colonel. One has to believe it was somehow to be, and he is saved from a suffering in some way by this tragic way of dying.

Letter from Lady Mary Glyn (D/EGL/C2/3)

“Awful bad luck”

Two of Ralph Glyn’s friends wrote to him.

HMS Caroline
C/o GPO
London

27th Feb 1916

My dear Ralph

Being a d-d nuisance Sir told Drummond to send you out some papers to sign, sorry to worry you with them, but it’s in a good cause, as they are all about the transference of Foreign Bonds (mostly Americans) to War Loan, and every little helps. We are all very cheery just at present, as we’ve just had 5 days leave, the first we’ve had for 8 months, and it’s made a lot of difference and bucked us up no-end. Evelyn is most flourishing, & so are the children, though the latter I’ve not seen for some time, as went to London for my leave. I hear you are very busy, didn’t see any of your relations, but Lady George [Sybil] & Joan, & they told us about you. It was sad for her Ivar having been killed, awful bad luck. This is written under difficulties, as we are rowing about, & have had to wedge myself in, but I’ve so little time just at present for writing; after leave & a refit there is always a lot to do.

Good luck to you.

Yours ever
Rupert Drummond

Did you hear the Germans published that they had sunk us by Zeps: can’t imagine why we were selected.

18, Queen’s Gate Place
SW

Feb. 27, 1916

My dear Glyn

Very many thanks for your kind congratulations.

I see that you are on the GHQ of the Mediterranean Force, & perhaps we shall see you at Ismailia when we pass through. Our plans are to go to Cairo from Port Said, then by special train to Ismailia, & so by motor boat to rejoin our ship at Suez.

It will be a fleeting visit – but sometimes one is able to have a view of friends when they know one is coming. Do look out for us.

Sincerely yours
Chelmsford

Letters to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/12-13)

This horrible war

Ralph Glyn’s sister Meg Meade (staying for a weekend with friends) wrote to him again anticipating his birthday.

Feb 27th [1916]
Fonthill House
Tisbury
Wilts

My darling Ralph

Many many many happy & happier returns of 3rd. I do wonder where you will be on your birthday, but let’s hope that next year we may be able to celebrate it with becoming distinction, and that this horrible war will be over and done with…

Now & then in the papers we get a thrill by seeing that “Colonel Glynn” has arrived at various places with Sir Arthur, & of course everyone is teasing me about your sudden rise of rank! But I tell them that’s nothing to what will happen to you by the end of the war! You must have been having the greatest fun in the world, & a most thrilling time. I hope you’ll not have forgotten how to speak English by the time you come home though!

Maysie & John came to tea the other night. He had a return of his illness – very slight – but still the Med: Board won’t pass him for another month….

Your ever loving Meg

Their mother Lady Mary also wrote with war and family news:

Sunday Feb. 27, 1916 Peter[borough]

My own best darling blessing

Verdun and its outer fort has been the news of the war which made our other news yesterday so much the less sad, for dear old Uncle Sid died peacefully that morning (the 26th)…

Maysie got into her Windsor house yesterday – Elgin Lodge…

I hear today Aunt Syb has heard from Ivar’s Colonel and from the Chaplain, saying all they can to comfort as to not much suffering, [but?] one would not be able to believe much in that agony of far off-ness, and yet I know she has been much helped by knowing he died in hospital…

Lady Wantage has sent me 10£ for my Work Room and this is a great help.

Letters to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/2-3)

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)

Air raids teaching the country we are at war

The Bishop of Peterborough wrote to his son Ralph with some thoughts on domestic politics, as well as the stoic response of the British to air raids.

The Place
Peterborough
Feb. 15 [1916]

My darling Ralph,

We are all right here, in spite of Zeps, which have been busy enough everywhere, & have done a certain amount of damage – & killed unoffending people – but it is a good thing in one way, as it is really beginning to teach “the country” (& by that I mean the country-people) that “we are at war”. But the British public take the “raids” with calm, brave endurance, & disappoint the Huns by not shewing any terror!

You seem to have plenty to fill your time, & it must all be most interesting to you, & I wonder what the next move will be. They say that Kitchener has come back from the front with new hopes for a less prolongation of the war, than the three years that he gave it at the beginning. But we must not have “peace at any price” & that is the danger. There is a growing feeling that Sir E. Grey has done his work & ought to “go”, & that he & Askwith … & Haldane are the “traitors” who should be watched! So the Labour Party say – & the politicians maiming the force of the fleet, & letting contraband through Holland & Denmark to Germany, deserve to be shewn up & checked. This money-grubbing has not been chocked [sic] up yet & will take much to kill it – and so we go muddling on.

I am very sorry your dear old General Callwell has been sent off to Russia, as I fear our letters to you will probably miss the “bag”, now he has gone…

You will have heard of poor Ivar Campbell’s death. Sybil is dreadfully cut up. Pum [Lady Mary] was with her yesterday, & I saw her last week. She was so entirely devoted to Ivar, & feels her life “quite empty” now he has gone.

Meg is very anxious about Jim, & the loss of the “Arethusa” is a great shock, & a real loss – a mine did it – & ten lives lost….

Letter from E C Glyn to his son Ralph (D/EGL/C2/3)

“Friendly as we advance but enemies in a retreat”

Lady Mary Glyn had more news for her son Ralph, including his late cousin’s Ivar’s thoughts on the Middle East where he had been fighting before his death.

Feb 14th [1916]

I had seen Maysie & John at his mother’s on Sunday. He is happy about the Adjutancy & has taken it up today. Maysie joins him at the White Hart this evening. They have a house but cannot get into it for a fortnight. Later on they hope to persuade old Arthur Leveson Gower to let them have a house close to the Barracks Mary Crichton advised them to purse. He won’t let, & is at present obdurate….

Then I went to Aunt Syb. My first visit [since her son Ivar’s death]. She was so pleased with your letters, and with all you had said to her. I had no idea my letter gave you the first news? She still gets letters, the last on New Year’s Day, and all full of the interest & newness & picturesqueness, & pleasure in surroundings. He spoke of being surrounded by Arabs “always friendly as we advance but enemies in any retreat”. He did not speak of any contretemps then. Aunt Syb was very natural, and spoke of him freely, of her life as closed, and “no man left belonging to her”. One knows it to be the blow from which, for her, there is no recovery or relief, & yet she says “if she had had ten sons she would have wished them all to go, and that she is glad it was in a fight, & “not a sniper” or other “lesser path to glory”. That it would have been his wish if it was to be. All this & much else that for me does not relieve the tragedy & the pathos of a life that seemed to need such other crowning – but some day I hope his letters will be published, and the story told of all he did when the great call came, & with it a vocation to which he gave so great an answer.

She minds now the ten days she might have had with him at Marseilles while he waited, & somehow she knows he got no letters all that time & no word from home. She is very sore & very bitter about Eric, but I have learned my lesson with Ivar. Ever again to judge? For it is not death always that is to reveal what Love may do to draw out & strengthen & console where sense of failure, & being on the wrong track makes that comfort difficult to minister. If only one can always love, and always believe, then one would never even know the things that oppose. I longed to tell Syb this when she called Eric “coward”. I never thought Ivar that, or yet “spy”! but as with Eric I suspected wrong friends & associates to be an adverse influence, & now perhaps with Eric a right word from someone, & not a wrong one, might avail. He has no mother to help him. Eric had come in for 10 minutes & left saying “he could not bear it” – poor Eric. No mother to gird him & help him to worthier service.

I will try to send you Frances’s Oban Times which is more in character with herself than with Ivar – but Syb likes it, and so does all the family except myself, knowing the false allusion. But what matters it. Ivar’s kiss & look of recovered by friendship outside the old church at Inveraray has been a comfort & “the talk” which went on behind my back can be overcome too.

Letter from Lady Mary Glyn to her son Ralph (D/EGL/C2/3)

“The war is doing us a lot of good”

Maysie Wynne-Finch wrote to her brother Ralph Glyn in Egypt with the news that she and her wounded husband were going to be based in Windsor until he was well enough to return to the Front. Their aunt Sybil was still receiving letters from her son Ivar, written before his recent death in action.

Feb 11/16
11 Bruton St W
Darlingest R.

I had a mysterious message from Meg’s house today saying Colonel Sykes had called leaving a small parcel from you, & saying he was just home from the Dardenelles [sic]. I had the said parcel brought here, & it is a couple of torch refills apparently unused from Stephenson. I must get hold of Colonel Sykes for an explanation.

Our plans are now fixed up to a point. The doctor, [dear?] man, said John was not to return to France for 3 months, this being so the regimental powers that be used much pressure to get him to reconsider his refusal of the 5th Battalion Adjutancy, & so after being told they won’t try & keep him after he’s fit for France, he has said yes. There is no doubt it’s good useful work for home service, if it has to be, & I am glad for him, though I suppose I shall now see little or nothing of him at all. He begins on Monday. He went house hunting on Tuesday – a depressing job, as there are hardly any houses to be had, & those one more beastly than the other! However – nothing matters – it’s just wonderful to be there at all. We shall take what we can & when we can – that’s all. The house we long for, but it’s not yet even furnished, is one, & a charming old house done up & owned by that old bore Arthur Leveson Gower, you remember the man, we met at the Hague, years ago. Tony has been ill again with Flu, the 2nd time this year…

We’ve just had tea with Aunt Syb. She got another letter from Ivar written Jan 1, last Friday. It’s awful for her, & yet I think there is most joy, rather than pain, the hopeless silence is for a moment filled, though but as it were by an echo. Joan looks pale & oh so sad. She’s wonderfully brave & unselfish to Aunt Syb. Poor little Joanie…

I hear Pelly’s opinion is that Kut must fall. London was filled with rumours of a naval engagement on Monday & Tues, but as far as I can make out without foundation.

I met Ad[miral] Mark Ker[r] in the street the other day, & we had a long talk. I fear he’s not improved – & I think very bitter at being out of it all. He was interesting over Greece etc, but there is so much “I” in all he says, one cannot help distrusting a great deal. He’s very upset as he was starting to return to Greece a week ago & at the very last moment was stopped, & now he’s simply kicking his heels, not knowing what’s going to happen next. “Tino” now is of course his idol & here – I feel a pig saying all this, as I do feel sorry for him, & he was most kind. Yesterday he asked us to lunch to meet Gwladys [sic] Cooper, Mrs Buckmaster, how lovely she is, & seems nice, almost dull John thought! We then went on to the matinee of her new play. Most amusing, she is delightful, & Hawtrey just himself…

As you can imagine air-defence & the want of it is now all the talk. One of our airships has taken to sailing over this house from west to east every morning at 8.30 am. I hear we broke up 6 aeroplanes & killed 3 men the night of the last raid. All leave is now stopped from France. We’ve just lunched with Laggs Gibbs, who came over a day before the order came out. He says it’s said to be because of some new training scheme we have & not because of any offensive either way.

John had a Med Board today, & narrowly escaped being given another 3 months sick leave apparently. They implored him to go to Brighton & said he was very below parr [sic] etc, however he bounced them into giving him home duty, & they’ve made it 3 months, & “no marching”, etc, tc, etc. Of course as Adjutant he wouldn’t have that anyhow.

We think we have got a house, but can’t get in for a fortnight.

Bless you darling
Your ever loving Maysie (more…)

Every man worth anything is on war service

Lady Mary Glyn wrote to her son Ralph with the latest news, ranging from air raids to the family members affected by the war.

Feb 8th 1916
The Palace
Peterborough
My own darling Scrappits

We have had a Zepp excitement since I wrote – no, I think we did tell you? Poor Loughborough has suffered; one factory refused to put out its lights & they did a lot of damage there and killed 11 people. Other places escaped by clever devices, and the Bosch was well let in, but on the whole it was a fine performance on their part.
I wonder what you think of the trawler and her skipper. I am sure he did the only thing that was possible?

There are so many rumours about the war & the growing conviction that the autumn is to see the end of the war – I wonder!

John & Maysie have been here for Sunday – 5th to 7th. He had to see his Colonel on Monday & today we hear he is made Adjutant & takes up duty at Windsor, so they are looking for a house….

Aunt Syb writes of your letter to her with real gratitude… I did not try to see her last week having to do so much, and she was I hear all day at her hospital. Aunt Far has been writing in the Oban Times, and in a very characteristic way. I hope a better memorial may be published in Ivar’s own letters some day. He is one of those who found his life in losing it: and I think of him as he was, ever in the old days, & as we met again outside the Inverary Church at his father’s funeral…
(more…)

“Life is over for me”

Bereaved mother Sybil Campbell was grateful for a letter of sympathy from her late husband Lord George Campbell’s nephew Ralph Glyn.

Feb 5 [1916]
2 Bryanston Square

Dearest Ralph

I loved your letter. I knew how sorry you would be. I have today had two long letters from him – the last dated Jan 1st – he was so wonderful in his love & care for me – he wrote nearly every day ever since he went to France last May. It seems so cruel that he should have been six months in those awful trenches unhurt – & then killed the first month he landed in Mesopotamia.

Oh! Ralph – it’s hard to lose him – my only one – nothing left of Uncle George’s name to carry on – so darling – so clever. Thank God when the war broke out he saw the path of duty & never rested till his feet were on it. He did his duty well & simply & I know he did it well & was a good officer – still praise of him is sweet & it was like your dear self to say you always heard how well he did – please tell me anything you hear – I have had no details yet – these details I long, yet dread to hear – but I can’t hear yet; the battalion suffered so awfully. I feel I may never hear all I want.

Life is over for me – that sounds ungrateful – when dear Joan is all in all to me & so miserable – but some day, like Enid, she will marry & be absorbed in another family. Ivar was just mine – always – even had he married – & oh! how I long for him – the desolation is too awful.

Your very affectionate

Sybill Campbell

Letter from Sybil Campbell to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C17)

A geographical error

Lady Mary Glyn wrote to her son Ralph with her comments on the news. The Appam was a British civilian ship transporting some wounded soldiers and German prisoners of war, as well as civilians, from West Africa. Sir Edward Merewether (1858-1938) was the British Governor of Sierra Leone, and was also onboard. The ship was captured by a German vessel, and taken to neutral America.

My own darling Scrappits…

It is Monday Jan 31 [1916] …

I have been seeing people all day – no time to write or read – even the account of the Paris Zeppelin raid. Poor Sir Edward & Lady Merewether of Malta [dogs?] lost in this Appam tragedy. It is too sad. And Lady Wake’s brother Beau St Aubyn in the Persia – doing a good turn to Johnny Ward whose place it was to go. There seems to be little hope of his having been saved, though the man standing next to him at the time of the explosion was picked up. So the whole round world is full of tragedy – but the assurance is that the Germans cannot hold out much longer. Lettice has heard that there is most certain information as to the economic conditions being desperate & quotes Bishop Bury of N Europe….

Poor Mackenzie, stationmaster – has his son home desperately ill – consumption of the throat. He has not been to the front but serving with Kitchener’s Army & it has been too rough a life….

We began the evening with a Zeppelin excitement, One reported at Bourne – & then at Ryde near Thorney, & Peterborough was warned. Now, 11 pm , I hear the Zeppelin dropped a bomb at Stamford and one other place, & we shall hear more tomorrow, & I only hope it will not come back upon its track to right this way. I am conscious of most inadequate precautions! & worry myself to think how we could protect the children [Meg’s little Anne and Richard, who were visiting]. “The safest place is just where they are”, says T’Arch [possibly the Archbishop] & counsels no move to any quarters other than where they are, as we have no cellars.
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“Blunder after blunder – what can you expect from politicians if the only soldier of influence & in power is no d— use.”

Maysie Wynne-Finch informed her brother Ralph about her wounded husband’s latest operation. She had also met an old friend, the distinguished soldier Sir Hereward Wake (1876-1963).

Jan 28 [19]16
11 Bruton Street
My darling R.

Here we are back in London & my poor John in hospital & to be cut open again in about ¼ hour’s time, so if this letter is ga-ga – you’ll understand. His face swelled up again so badly that we had to come up to London on Friday. We saw the surgeon yesterday who said he must operate at once or the abcess might burst outwardly & there’d be the devil then of a mess. This morning they gave him proper anisthetic [sic] & it will be a longer job than last time, I fancy, as they have to dig out the wisdom tooth & then clean up & scrape the jawbone….

In the train on Friday we met Hereward & Daisy Wake… H looks better & is back in his old dept at the WO… He spoke strong & straight over the hopelessness of the conduct of the war in general, & says all the blame lies at our door. There is no doubt it’s the general opinion on all sides now – how can it be otherwise. Blunder after blunder – what can you expect from politicians if the only soldier of influence & in power is no d— use.

I saw poor dear Aunt Syb yesterday. She is quite splendid, but it just breaks our heart to see & hear here. It’s terrible. No doubt you know far more about Frank Balfour’s doings than I do, but he seems to have done a splendid thing, & to have had the fact duly appreciated, not at all always the same thing. I am so glad. Poor Lesley is naturally in a great state of anxiety over Arthur. They have been in action. I am lunching with Addy & the Admiral today. Judging from a conversation on the telephone he is wildly excited, off to France tomorrow, & evidently determined to be in the thick of anything going. There seems to be considerable liveliness too just now, judging from the casualties anyhow.

Later – John’s op quite successful. They cleaned up the bone & removed the wisdom tooth. He has been in great pain, poor darling, all day…

Letter from Maysie Wynne-Finch to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/3)