What a feeling to wake up to the weight lifted

Henry and Florence Vansittart Neale were honoured by the Belgian government for having opened up Bisham Abbey as a hospital for Belgian soldiers earlier in the war.

12 November 1918

What a feeling to wake up to the weight lifted. Germany in revolt all over. Rumour Crown Prince shot. Ex Kaiser escaped to Holland. Armistice 6 weeks. meanwhile we must feed Germany. I went to Reading for Red X meeting. Hear King Albert giving us medal! for taking Belgian wounded.

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

“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…)

Virtual civil war in America

Ralph Glyn’s cousin Niall, Duke of Argyll, paid an inspection visit to France.

Coombe
31 March 1916
My dear Ralph

Your [letter] arrived today. Many thanks. I was not telling you however about any Charlie French but of Lord French. I lunched with him last Thursday to meet Sir Arthur Herbert, just back from the USA, who was most interesting a – virtual civil war going on as an average of 4 munition places a week are being blown up of which Europe hears nothing….

I had a very interesting time away [in France] and saw Vornelot (now a hospital) on my way back. Queen Amelie had been there for a bit which excited Aunt L [Princess Louise, Dowager Duchess of Argyll] terribly, but once you lend a house what does it matter. 780 nurses have already used it as a rest. I thought it a beastly place anyway, a mad thing to go and build anyway.

I had a long & very interesting talk with the Bishop of Amiens about the invaded part of his diocese – French politics etc, he told me many interesting things…

Yesterday I met Carben de Viard a very clever Belgian at the de Lalaings. He was secretary for years to King Leopold & told me curious details about his last hours and words. He is just back from 4 months mission to the USA as to which I heard a lot. The position there is extraordinary….

The French & Belgian Generals I ran across at Amiens etc were all very optimistic as to duration.

Your affect. Cousin
Niall

The former Royal Naval Air Service friend of Ralph’s who wrote to him on 27 January was bitterly disappointed with his new assignment as a quartermaster.

United Service Club
Pall Mall, SW
March 31st, 1916

My dear RG

Very many thanks indeed for your letter. I am going off to take up my new duties as an AA & QMG to one of the Home [illegible] Mounted Divisions. About the last thing I wanted!

I am glad to hear that things are fairly smooth in your patch now. I hope they will get even better.

I have seen Buzzard at home and he will probably now have given you all the news. I hear he is taking command of a Howitzer Brigade now.
I will write again soon if there are developments in my case. I am so sick about it all that I cannot write any more now and must go off to my job.

All good luck to you.
Yours always

[Illegible – MD?]

Letters to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C16; C32/21)

This filthy war must end some day

Officer’s wife Maysie Wynne-Finch, now based in Windsor, wrote to her brother serving in Egypt to wish him a happy birthday. She shared her usual frank views on the army. The Sassoon referred to is not the war poet Siegfried, but his wealthy cousin Philip (1888-1939), while the Duke of Teck was Queen Mary’s brother.

March 3/16
Elgin Lodge
Windsor

My darling R

Very very many happy returns of today. If only this filthy war would end. However I suppose it must some day….

Rumour has it our Canadians, some say Ansacs [sic], have been with the French in the last fighting. It must have been terrible beyond words, but so far anyhow they’ve hung on alright, & Hun losses must be heavy. You talk of “partial” offensive, I doubt if you’d describe it so now if all one reads is true. It seems like the battle of all.

I was told the other day, it was Aunt Alice as a matter of fact, had heard that the Belgians are a source of anxiety at present – they fear they are being bribed & the authorities want them sent back & not to take the line over. It must be dreadful for their splendid King. That yarn was rather confirmed by a story I heard yesterday that all or a lot of the Belgians were right back now.

Yes, I suppose Erzerum was great. One can well understand that. I think the beginning of the end must be in sight really, though not very evident to the man in the street yet. No, I am sure Meg has no anti-gas stuff. I will tell her what you say, neither she nor the babies return to London till the 20th anyhow. As far as I know there is nothing to tell about the Caroline. There was no word of truth in the report. I’ll write to Evelyn to let you know.

You should be able to hear more of Frank’s doings than I know, but as I was told it, Frank single handed riding his pony went & bearded a robber & disloyal chief in his stronghold & brought him “in”. He was to have had troops etc sent for the purpose of intimidating the man, but as they failed to arrive, Frank kept his appointment alone, which I imagine so astonished the native he surrendered & became loyal. I believe Frank received the thanks of the Sirdar & Sultan & various decorations etc. Rather a fine performance.

It’s no use raging about my views on the Staff as you share them just as much. The gross abuse of Staff appointments has resulted in general muddle. Good men, who are, & others who should be, Staff officers, suffer, but young Sassoon & the Duke of Teck still are given important Staff appointments on a very recently formed Staff! Can you wonder people jib a bit!

Now I must stop & return to my hospital work room. I work the company with all the other Windsor females twice a week at swabs etc. It’s all very funny & petty. If one could but write it might make a funny new volume of Cranford….

Your ever loving Maysie

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