“Endless young men of foreign extraction”

Weapons manufacturer C W Laird wrote to Ralph Glyn with some impressions of life on the home front.

58, Pall Mall
London, SW
3/4/16

My dear Glyn

One of the things the War has certainly scotched is the polite sort of letter writing. Have intended to write you a dozen times since my last letter and then have not done so, not having a notion where you are or when you are likely to get a letter. I repeat what has been the burden of previous letters that I hope when you get back to town you will look me up.

We have had a bad spring for the farmers until quite recently. The constant wet made ground unworkable until very late and short handed as farmers have been in many districts even the splendid spots of quiet drying warm weather we have had recently haven’t enabled them to make up for lost time.

In London one is struck not so much by the numbers of military age unattested or not in khaki, as by the endless young men of foreign extraction, French, Belgian, Italians, etc, in the streets. Another salient feature is that the average female doesn’t look her best driving a delivery van or working a cycle under present dress conditions.

Have just been watching an airship carrying out elaborate training moevements in range of my windows.

Poor Ritchie has lost two of his sons. Archie is at the front having done fine work.

I am still shoving along at my Guns more than ever. [Command?] is what is wanted, but failing to arouse any enthusiasm in our enthusiastic circles.

Rumours of bombardments and fleet engagements more [frequent?] than ever. Told today that it was now certain there had been a big fleet engagement with serious losses on both sides because it had some things on the Tape at a Club, but then been suppressed. I asked what Club and was told the Conservative. As I dined and slept there without seeing any such thing in the tape this shows the circumstantial terminological inexactitudes that find currency.


C W Laird

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/23)

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“With the awful slaughter of the younger members of the community perhaps in time the powers that be will see fit to make use of the services of those not in their first youth”

An elderly weapons manufacturer was keen to go to the front if he could.

58, Pall Mall
London, SW
November 22nd, 1915

[To] Captain R C C Glyn
19, St James’ Square,
SW

My dear Glyn

Many thanks for yours of November 2nd. I saw an exceedingly good photograph of you referring to your Serbian Order. Am very glad to hear you are fit and well. Have just been over to Paris where a series of excellent demonstrations were given and everybody was pleased. The difficulty remains of obtaining manufacture but things look more hopeful than hitherto.

I very much hoped that it had been possible for me to get out to Salonika. With the awful slaughter of the younger members of the community perhaps in time the powers that be will see fit to make use of the services of those not in their first youth.

Meantime, I am, my dear Glyn,
Yours faithfully
C W Laird

Letter from C W Laird to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C31/41)

“The only thing that really matters is the western front”

Ralph Glyn’s friend Hereward Wake, home on medical lave and visiting his wife’s family in Northumberland, was critical of the way the war was being fought. C W Laird of the shipbuilders Cammell Laird was trying to get a gun manufactured in bulk.

Howick
Lesbury
Northumberland

23 July 1915

My dear Ralph

I hear you are in the Dardanelles. Good luck to you, & write me a line to Courtenhall when you have a moment.

A pity we have dared to ignore the first rule of war & undertake such a job as yours, & we all wish it were feasible to chuck it & bring the troops back to kill Germans.

It seems Warsaw will be German in a few days & possibly Riga too. But these misfortunes will not make the Russians chuck it, and the only thing that really matters is the western front, when by this time we ought to have 2 millions instead of ½ a million. I have been home 3 months, home with neurasthenia, a cursed disease, & I’m still no good. I’m not supposed to write letters, so will finish this now.

I hear John Wynne Finch is back in France.

You were right when you said the war would last some time!

Yours
Hereward

C W Laird
58 Pall Mall
London, SW

23/7 1915

My dear Glyn

My proffered services are still no nearer finding acceptance at the hands of a grateful country. Seriously, if I felt that my leg would stand it, I think [what end] by offering to act as a boy scout at the War Office – a commodity of which they are very short.

As to the gun, I took her to Enfield yesterday again, and she is being again considered. If formally, shall put out for the States and try to get her made unless Govt offer facilities here. Heard as late as the 25th of May that the gun at the front was still doing good service, now with the IXth Div. It strikes me that an individual gun that has kept at it all this time is a pretty good test.

From Paris they are calling for me to go over to show gun. Did in fact go over ten days ago and promised to show the gun again with a nuch lighter tripod stand (3 ½ lbs) which has been designed but is not yet ready, though one has been with gun at front for months. But for Paris the difficulty is getting manufacture.

The bright spot on the horizon seems to be the mere possibility of the taking of A[?] Baba and the Turks despairing of holding on to the further positions.

C W Laird

Letters from Hereward Wake and C W Laird to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C31/11-12)

Much needed gifts for the Belgians via Harrods

People from Cranbourne and Chavey Down were generous in their gifts for our Belgian allies.

Chavey Down

The working party at Chavey Down have forwarded a nice parcel of very well made children’s clothes to the Belgian Refugees at Folkestone, where they are very much needed.

Cranbourne

The HARVEST THANKSGIVING SERVICES were held on October 5th. Only the East end and the Font were decorated with flowers. The real decorations of the Church were gifts from the congregation for the distressed in Belgium. A really remarkable response was made to the appeal for these gifts. Nine cases (kindly given by Mr. Laird) were delivered to Messrs. Harrods for shipment to Belgium. The driver of the van said “I am going back to London with almost as much as I started with.”

* * *

The following are the names of those from this Parish who are serving in His Majesty’s Forces:

Creasy G., Midshipman H. M. S. Conqueror.
Creasy, R., 2nd Lieut. R. F. A.
Haig, J., Major, Westminster Dragoons.
Needham, E. J., Lieut, Northamptonshire Regiment.
Needham, R. P., 2nd Lieut, Northamptonshire Regiment.
Phillips, E. H., D. S. O, Major R. F. A.
Phillips, R. N., Captain, Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
Phillips, G. F., Captain, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry.
Andrews, James, Hampshire Regiment.
Barratt, Archibald Richard, National Reserve.
Beasley, T.
Brant, Ernest Harold.
Bish, Walter George, Army Service Corps.
Boyde, Albert Ernest, Army Service Corps.
Boyde, Edward Joseph, Royal Navy.
Clarke, Wilfred Lawson, Royal Berks Regiment.
Cox, Amariah, Royal Berks Regiment.
Curtis, Eric, Seaforth Highlanders.
George, William, Royal Artillery.
Goodchild, Charles.
Greenough, Edward, Royal Engineers.
Herridge, John, Royal Engineers.
Herridge, William, Royal Engineers.
Harwood, Frederick, 12th Lancers.
Higgs, Herbert, Army Service Corps.
Holliday, Walter George, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
Harriss, Theodore William, Royal Berks Regiment.
Harriss, Frederick, Royal Engineers.
Hawthorn, George Albert, Royal Naval Flying Corps.
Hillyer, Tom, Canadian Contingent.
Mapp, Ernest, Royal Berks Regiment.
Pither, J. A., Royal Berks Regiment.
Pither, J., Enniskillen Dragoons.
Sarney, Albert Edward, Royal Navy.
Sarney, Francis, Grenadier Guards.
Searle, George, 2nd Life Guards.
Walls, Charles John, Royal Berks Regiment.
Walls, Leslie, Royal Berks Regiment.
Williams, R. F. Maxwell, Royal Naval Brigade.
Ward, Theodore Alfred, Royal Berks Regiment.
Weston, George.

* * *

C. E. M. S.
The annual business meeting was held on October 14th. After the Election of Officers and other business them embers and a few friends were shown some lantern slides illustrating the war in Belgium.

Chavey Down and Cranbourne sections of Winkfield District Magazine, November 1914 (D/P151/28A/6/11)