How will they make Hell big enough?

Meg Meade wrote encouragingly to her brother Ralph Glyn, who had been depressed, and wistfully remembered a happier visit to Egypt as a tourist before the war.

February 29th [1916]

My darling Ralph

You must not even ‘sometimes’ get very low. I suppose, though, that everyone, no matter where he is occupied with this war, has his very low moments, & it’s the test of how much grit one possesses to keep the feeling under. But when you feel it coming, say this to yourself:

“I humbly thank Heaven
I am not in the Cameroons

I humbly thank Heaven
I am not patrolling the Arctic Circle in snowstorms

I humbly thank Heaven
I am not the wife of a British Baltic Submarine Commander

I humbly thank Heaven
I am not up to my waist in frozen trench water all day”

And then see what a lucky person you are to be having good work under the lovely Egyptian skies. It seems another existence in which I spent those happy days this time of year going up the Nile 5 years ago. But I suppose this war must someday come to an end; meantime, it gets beastlier every day, & I think the only way to get on is to make up one’s mind it will continue for another 2 years. Hope deferred maketh the heart sick….

I get good news from Jim who seems always head over ears in work. Training a flotilla in wartime isn’t so easy as under peace conditions….

The more I think about the war the more wonder I have of how they’ll ever make H-ll large enough to contain the inhabitants of the Fatherland!

My best, very best love, darling
From your ever ever loving

Letter from Meg Meade to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/3)


Now they know what war means

Meg Meade wrote to her brother Ralph in Egypt. She was staying with their parents in Peterborough, and had heard from her naval husband.

Jan 26th [1916]
My darling Ralph

I hear that the beautiful Lady Loughborough was an Australian called Miss Chisholm & she married out in Egypt the other day.

I sent the Gallipoli bomb to Miss Jackson at that Irish address. I have not yet heard if it’s arrived alright.

I sent £1 to the Home Office for permission for you to wear those foreign orders, & they have acknowledged the money without saying where the warrants have been sent to…

How I envy you in beloved Egypt, & near the Nile!

Jim writes very well, but they have no news. His destroyers are joining up every day, & the gales never stop blowing for an hour…. Jim sent me really a heavenly rhyme about Royalist & her officers which I am copying out for you. Isn’t it priceless.
Maysie will tell you all her news. Poor John has got to have his jaw cut again before it can heal.

The parents seem very well, & Mamma has a thousand irons in the fire as usual, & sometimes get her fingers burnt, but she always retaliates! She’s started a first class Red X workroom in the Knights Chamber which of course infuriates the other Cross Red women who aren’t Red X here!

There is no chauffeur & no gardeners. We live in the hall & dining room & Dad’s study. Mr Green & the housemaids are supposed to run the garden!! So Dad & I had a morning’s weeding today, one had almost to push one’s way along the Monastery Garden through the weeds. But the War has reduced all gardens to that. Dad busy with the hoe, poking, pushing & destroying, muttered pathetically, “Poor dears” & I found he was addressing the weeds!

PS I went to see Aunt Syb who is wonderful, & Joanie, who is the same, but she seemed to me so altered in the face. Something has happened to her eyes, & they seem shattered by the sorrow and shock, & who can wonder. It is so awful.

[On a separate sheet is the poem:]