A war experience of singular and thrilling interest

A Reading woman bore witness to the war in Serbia.

The Work for Serbian Boys.

A lecture will be given in S. John’s Institute on Monday, May 6, at 8 p.m. on behalf of this work by Miss A. F. Parkinson, who has been acting as Superintendent of the hostel for Serbian Boys in the Bulmershe Rd.

Miss Parkinson has had a war experience of singular and thrilling interest. She was the only English person in Nish when the invading army of Germans and Bulgarians entered and after being kept prisoner for some months, was finally released, given her passport and sent home to this country via Austria and Germany. She stayed a short time in Vienna and a fortnight in Berlin and had unique opportunities of seeing both these capitals of enemy countries under war conditions. She is also very well acquainted with the peoples of the Balkan Peninsula and also knows the full story of the terrible Serbian retreat in which the boys now in our town took part.

No charge will be made for admission to Miss Parkinson’s lecture, but there will be a collection in aid of the work in which she is interested.

Reading St. John parish magazine, May 1918 (D/P172/28A/24)

Advertisements

The difference between fair terms & absolute surrender

The son of the vicar of Radley, Captain Austin Longland was serving in Salonika with the Wiltshire Regiment, where he struggled with the heat, but hoped the Germans were about to give in.

Thursday July 6th [1916]

Temperature in here continues at 95-105 degrees I’m told by the doctor. Also I’ve just had my 2nd dose of typhoid & perityphoid inoculations & have a day off duty in consequence. Twice clouds have gathered, & once we had a violent storm of thunder & lightning but never a drop of rain. Needless to say all beauty’s gone. The sun glares down, trying the eyes, and our view of the town is blurred by a continuous cloud of fine grey dust. I have told you that from the sea up to the hills the ground rises steadily till the last steep ascent, & we’re therefore, tho’ considerably below the level of the actual hills, some height above the town which is about 5 miles away. We are to the left of the road this time, but we can see the sites of our 2 early camps and get a rather different view of the town & the citadel. You remember the shock I had on returning our bivouacs last Sunday fortnight & finding them gone and all my kit packed. My first idea then was that we were going forward – first stop Nish or Sofia, but when it was known that we were to march back over the hills no one knew what to expect.

The men were more cheerful than I’ve seen them in this country – all firmly persuaded that they were going back to France – an opinion which I hadn’t the heart to discourage, but did not hold myself.
Since then nothing has happened. From about 6 to 6.45 each day in the morning the battalion does its old physical drill, & parade which the officers, except Waylen who takes it, do not attend, going out instead to study tactics with the NCOs, each company by itself. This lasts 6 till 9. Three days a week we go a route march from 5-8 a.m. In the evening we parade from 5.45 till 6.15. doing physical exercises gain, officers & all – & that is the day. The NCOs class was ordered by the Brigade & is most useful – tho’ of course it’s what we ought to have done at Marlboro’. So from 9 till 5.45 every day & from 6.30 onwards we have nothing to do except sit in our hut.

Wood as usual is scarce, so there’s not chance to make a chair. At present I am seated on 2 sand-bags, which raises one off the ground a bit. We have a hut for a common room, but tho’ it has forms and a table, it’s very hot & full of flies. Here the flies grew so unbearable that I ordered yards of muslin from the town & with its aid we ae at last at peace. We feed in a hut off a sand bag table & seated on sand bag seats. I’ve just been busy trying to make that fly-proof – harder but even more necessary. If you sit still for a moment you can always count over 50 on the plate in front of you.
(more…)

The only one worth a damn

We don’t know the identity of this letter writer as his signature is illegible, but it may well be General Sir Arthur Paget. He wrote to Ralph Glyn from Warren House in Surrey, the home of Sir Arthur and Lady Paget (but coincidentally previously owned by the Glyns’ cousin Lord Wolverton). He was evidently unimpressed by most of the British commanders, with kind words only for General Archibald Murray and Major-General Robert Wanless O’Gowan.

23 Jan 16
Warren House
Coombe Wood
Kingston Hill

My dear Glyn

Robertson is now in full service at WO & I trust that he may prove the right man. His predecessor was an old friend of mine & proved himself, as I expected, the best CIGS we have ever had at the WO. If the present man is better he must be a wonder. Meanwhile you have got Archie Murray, who I am certain will prove the best Army Commander that has ever left these shores. In fact in my opinion, based on the knowledge of years, that unless some changes are made, he will be the only one worth a d…. I feel certain no attempt on a large scale will be made on Egypt. They will try & persuade the Turks to threaten, so as to keep the troops locked up. It is possible that AM will try an offensive on Nish & rescue my daughter en route as usual, for which I shall be delighted.

I will write again in a day or two in re our mission – one point I now ask, Do you remember the wording of the message we sent from GJHQR through the RMA at home to K advising him of the precarious state the R. [Russian?] Army was in? They have been trying to make out that I was too optimistic & gave them no hint that R. might go back, the same applies to the French G. Pau. Good luck, remember me to Archie Murray – & look up the 31 Div, a fine lot under a good man Wanless O’Gowan.

Ever yours
[A?]

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/3)

“Primitive and different” in the Balkans

A friend of Ralph Glyn’s was following in his footsteps in Serbia.

88 Ebury St
SW

14th July, 1915
Dear Mr Glyn,

I am just home from Serbia where I have been for the last 3 months – an interesting time at Belgrad [sic]! Everywhere I heard much of you – even once when I fussed about a particularly dirty looking bedroom in the Olympos at Salonika I was assured that it must be the best they had, as it had had the honour of being occupied by you. Even so far as Nish and Belgrad [sic] I used to hear people discussing the young officer who was “very much not married” as they put it!!

Other more serious people told me of the splendid work you did. I always told you that you would succeed, didn’t I? May I congratulate you and offer you my best wishes for its continuance and your safety through this beastly war.

I’m going back to the Balkans almost at once and expect to be out there until the war is over. The spirit of unrest entered into my soul a long time ago and I cannot settle anywhere for long….

The Balkans are interesting in that they are primitive and different and I like the language; also I’ve learnt a lot about medicine, which I always wanted to do but couldn’t. I saw Typhus at its worst in a hospital, of which I have been acting as secretary, within 100 yards of the Austrians, and now I’m anxious to get back before the line gets closed or cut. The Germans have sent about 60,000 to Comlin to strengthen the Austrians there, which looks like another walk through Belgrad [sic].

Do write sometime and tell me such of your doings as are not government property.

Yours
AEM

Letter from “AEM” to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C31/9)