The Russians are shocking optimists and may run out of ammunition

Ralph Glyn’s old mentor was feeling a bit out of it now that he was no longer involved in the war.

Montpellier Hotel
Llandrindod Wells
21.6.16

My dear Ralph

I got your letter today. I wrote to you to Egypt about three weeks ago but expect the letter missed you.

Very glad to hear that you have found your way home. You will surely be able to light on some job other than intelligence in Egypt, which has lost its interest and importance so much. You will I suppose go and look up Whigham at the WO who is the dispenser of General Staff jobs in common with Bird.

I came down here last week and after finishing three weeks shall probably go on to Ireland before returning to Town. They are hardly likely to employ me again as they could not expect me to take anything that was not fairly good and there are plenty of people to fill such jobs, without their retrieving dug-outs for the purpose. I am sorry in some ways that I did not accept Haig’s offer last winter to go as his Mili. Secretary in place of Lowther; but at that time I was fed up with office work and I wanted to go to Russia; it could have kept me in harness till the end of the war.

I hope that you are none the worse for the wear [sic], Egypt can be uncommonly hot after April. Things are going well for the Allies but one feels a little afraid that the Ruskis may run short of ammunition if they are too busy; they are shocking optimists.

Ever yours
Chas E Callwell

Letter from General Callwell to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C24)

“It is appalling these awful losses, goodness knows where we find all the officers”

Two of Ralph Glyn’s fellow officers wrote to him with their opinions on the war.

June 20th [1916]
Dear Glyn

Very many thanks for your letter. I was very pleased to hear from you. Georgevitch has evidently done something to get himself into very hot water, I believe the question of decorations has something to do with it, anyhow he is absolutely shelved. You will have heard that a Colonel Nikolauivitch has been appointed Military Attache in London; it is just as well no one proposed Georgevitch for there, as he would have been refused. When they were discussing the question of who to send, they privately asked me & I suggested G, but was at once told that his name would not be entertained for a moment. I fear that there is nothing more that can be done for him. He got into trouble once before I understand over his treatment of his soldiers, & was for this reason only not with a battery in the Field Army.

It is appalling these awful losses, goodness knows where we find all the officers. Still one hopes on the whole the thing is going well though slowly.

I am glad to say I am better, though I have had a bit of [fun?] lately, everyone is having it too. [Hemlis?] & his division have left as you will have heard, most of them I believe going to help at Malta & elsewhere. The country is [illegible] fun from Typhus now, & there is a general air of cleanliness & sanitation about. All his troops practically are inoculated against Cholera.

My wife has been in the North all this time working up relief funds for Serbia, & has collected quite a lot of money; so anyhow you would not have had a chance of meeting her, thanks very much all the same. Things are very quiet here, but I am busy enough with wires & things the WO want. We were visited by 3 Austro-German aeroplanes the other day who dropped some bombs & made a lot of noise, but did not do much damage. We bagged one on its way back.
Wishing you the best of luck.

Yrs sincerely
Arthur Harrison

(more…)

The horror of Kitchener’s end

A friend of Ralph’s found Lord Kitchener’s death by drowning too horrible to think about, and took refuge in poetry.

Brocket Hall
Hatfield

June 18th, 1916

Dearest Ralph

Any day that you can dine & sleep, just wire me in the morning that you are coming. We shall be delighted to see you.

How you must hate this cold.

Have you read Browning’s “Prospice” – it is just Kitchener’s death. I daresay I am foolish – but I cut the horror of Kitchener’s end out of my mind – I feel sure he freed it to be the brave man he was, but it must have been terrible, for there was time to realise it.

Much love, & do come.

Yours ever
Evan

Leter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/39)

A terrible blow

A family friend or relative wrote to Ralph, shocked by Lord Kitchener’s death, and the casualties at the front.

Brocket Hall
Hatfield
June 13th 1916

Dearest Ralph

I was delighted to hear from you, & I am glad now to hear from Meg that you are with her. Do take care – & get rid of that dysentery before you start off again, or you will have to come back. This weather, which is simply beastly, is rather bad for you, but I don’t doubt that they [illegible] from chills!

It was dear of you to write. I am only too glad to have been able to cheer up your beloved father & mother. They were so dear & delightful about it all, & I saw it all. By the way, I meant them to, & it makes me so happy that it has cheered them at a time which must be very trying to them. There never were two more unselfish, singleminded people, & anyone who knows them & loves them as I do, can only rejoice to be able to do anything, however small, that will make them more comfy. Uncle George was so anxious for this. How I wish we were in London, but if you do find a moment, here we are, but the weather is too bad for anyone to visit the country, unless obliged.

How dreadfully Lord Kitchener’s death must have shocked you. It is a terrible blow, & one really could not take it in at first, & it did sadden one. I am told the King feels it too dreadfully. It is a personal loss to him, as Lord K was such a help, so honest & straightforward that HM could always depend on him.

Do thank Meg for her letter this morning. What a time “Jim” must have had – & what a splendid fight it was. The Admiralty ought to be whipped for their r[o]tt[e]n report – on Friday night it was quite unpardonable. Alfric is very well & looks beautiful. My little Robbie is so jealous that he won’t let Alfric come near me if he is present, so I have to see Alfric by stealth!

Bless you. Much love to you & Meg, & pray be careful!
Yours ever

Evan

PS The Canadians have had an awful time at that horrid Ypres Salient. We have a nephew there, who writes us an account of it. He only lost 2 officers killed in his battalion, but of course had many casualties. The only thing that seems of any avail is “heavy guns”. One prays they have enough. But have they?

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/38)

“We look on you as a sure winner” – but party politics are finished

Ralph Glyn was worried that the constituency being nursed for him on his return after the war might be being poached while he was at the front.

12 Woodside Crescent
11th June 1916

My dear Glyn

I received yours of 29th May only last evening and hasten to reply so that you may keep your mind at rest. I am quite positive that old Smith Park has no thought or desire of becoming candidate for College Division – I do not even think that at the moment he has any thoughts of trying to get into Parliament but I repeat most confidently that I am quite sure he has not his eyes on College. He has expressed his desire frequently, in which I believe he is sincere, that when the election comes he may still be President [of the Unionist Association] and so be the Leader of the local organisation which returns you as Member for College Division.

Neither Park nor any of your friends have any wish for a change of candidate. But if unfortunately such an occasion should arise, take it from me, of course confidentially, that the Colonel would not be the candidate. Whilst the opposition would welcome him, our own side would not adopt him. He has put up the backs of some of our principal workers, quite unintentionally but still he would not command enthusiasm.

For all that he makes a very good President and would make a better one still if he would only be a little more free, so far as the Association is concerned, with the shipping profits. He takes far too much the business view of everything & I expect his letters to you have been on that line.

At a time like this when everything political is dead (certainly it is in College) I don’t think it necessary for the candidate to be on the spot. Indeed being on active service strengthens his position in the constituency.

You retain the confidence of your friends & have earned the respect of your opponents. Your position in College today is stronger than ever and I do trust you will now drop once and for all any of those fantastic ideas you have formed and believe me when I tell you that you are the one & only candidate your friends & supporters wish, both on personal grounds & because we think you are the likeliest candidate to carry the seat. We look on you as a sure winner.

College don’t wish a “commercial magnate” – they prefer a soldier who has been & seen. As regards politics after the war, I quite agree with you there must be a great change. People at home recognise this as much as those who have been overseas. The party system on the old lines is done. However we must “wait & see” how things develop. Meantime don’t worry but first let things go on as they are & whatever you do, don’t let Sir George Younger lure you away from College. If he does there will be a fine row.

I have written you quite straightly & frankly. Glad you are getting a run home & do hope your new appointment means good promotion. If you go again to France you may now come up against quite a lot of the College Boys. I suppose you know John Grant has been out there now for many months. He was home on leave early in May looking better than ever he did in his life & in splendid spirits.

Hope if you get leave you will manage a run down to Glasgow. All your friends will be glad to see you. Let me know.

Trusting you are well & fit as this leaves me.

Yours sincerely
A E McDonell

Letter from Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/37)

Awful news – Lord Kitchener drowned

One of the biggest shocks in the war was the tragic drowning of national hero Horatio, Lord Kitchener on 5 June 1916. We have heard from Ralph Glyn and his friends that Kitchener was not well thought of at the War Office or by politicians, but he was very popular with the general public. He was heading on a diplomatic trip to Russia when his ship was mined. 600 others were also killed. Florence and Phyllis Vansittart Neale seems to have heard the shocking news while visiting Florence’s sister-in-law Constance and the other Sisters at Clewer.


Florence Vansittart Neale
6 June 1916

Did some village visiting about women on land….

Phyllis & I to Clewer for tea, then meeting at Windsor – National Mission. Canon D. told me about Lord K. drowned – too horrible!!…

Awful news. Lord Kitchener and all his staff drowned. Struck a mine off Orkneys going to Russia!!

Lord Kitchener started for Russia in heavy storm. Ship mined. All drowned.

CSJB Annals
6 June 1916

News reached us that Lord Kitchener & his staff had been drowned on the evening of the 5th near the Orkneys. He was on his way to Russia in HMS Hampshire. The ship struck a mine.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8); Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

“When oh! when? Not a glimmer of an ending yet!”

Violet, Countess of Mar and Kellie (1868-1938) wrote to Ralph Glyn with news of a royal romance. Nada (short for Nadejda) de Torby (1896-1963) was a cousin of the Czar of Russia and through her mother a descendant of the mixed-race Russian poet Pushkin. Prince George of Battenberg (1892-1938) (later the Marquess of Milford Haven) was the uncle of Prince Philip and brother of Earl Mountbatten, and is buried in Bray. The happy couple would get married in November 1916. But Violet was also worried about her own sons, aged 17 and 20, when the war seemed unending.

May 13, 1916
Alloa House
Alloa, NB

Dearest Ralph

Jock [her son John Erskine] was up here for his 21st birthday on Ap. 26th & he had a good many boys & girls here to give him a cheery week, but Portia & Cynthia Cadogan have spent the last three weeks just missing Pneumonia following Flu, and the 1st is up & creeping about the house, & Cynthia will not get out of bed! So I have had a busy time in addition to all my committees & war work.

Nada Torby & Prince George of Battenberg got engaged up here on Ap. 10th. Then New Zealand & Australia in a fog rammed, so he got leave (New Z. his ship), much to Nada’s joy. They are radiantly happy, & are both very lucky I consider. Beatty has a fine command up here, 2 new flotillas – & the “wobbly eight” departed lower down…. Rumours of 5th Bat. S coming to this part. Q. Eliz. & co. Hope you understand all these hieroglyphics.

Edward Stanley’s thigh wound not serious I hear, but fear Harry Ashley very severe in spine. He may not recover, & if he does may be always paralysed – too sad. Only just 22, & his mother’s only child & adoration. She is gone over to France to be with him.

That Irish business too awful. I heard of 16,000 casualties but can hardly believe that. Dillon’s speech even more disloyal than reported in yesterday’s papers (12th) & has had a bad effect in Ireland! Much better leave Maxwell in entire command there for a bit. Asquith, Birrell & Co should all mount the scaffold!
Expect you saw a bit of the P.O.W. He is back here, & I suppose will go to France again soon. Do you ever see Scatters Wilson? He is coming home on leave about June 10th. Neil Primrose I shall not see, as he cannot get south before middle of next month for a fortnight or so. Jock’s Medical Board may pass him for active service next month, but I doubt his inside letting him stay out for long. He cannot walk 4 miles!

Tommy [possibly her younger son Francis, born in January 1899] joins the Special Reserve of Scots Guards in Sept. till end year. When oh! when? Not a glimmer of an ending yet! He will be 17 ½. I can hardly believe it!…

Yours ever
Violet M.

Letter from Violet, Countess of Mar and Kellie (1868-1938) to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C21)

“One cannot altogether wish anyone in France” – but thank heavens for conscription

Army officer John Wynne-Finch and his wife Maysie were outraged that apparently healthy young men were escaping conscription.

May 5/16
Voelas
Bettws-y-Coed
N Wales

My dear darling R.

Have I written since John was declared by the doctor to have German measles, & forbidden to go near barracks till the 10th? He’s never been ill, & I’ve never caught it … & I doubt really if he had!! However, we sent for the motor, as he was not allowed in a train & came off up here on Monday…

The Tribunals scandals in these parts make one quite sick – all the young men getting off, it’s too shameful, but inevitable with the kind of people on the Tribunals – no gentlemen & all scoundrels in with the other & relations to all. John is wild….

You sound to be having a wonderfully interesting time. I’ve never heard anyone yet not say the same about the PoW. He must be too delightful. I’m sorry you’ve lost Captain Barnard, you’ll miss him. It must have been very hard to know what to do about that other job. One would love you to be nearer in some ways, & yet one cannot altogether wish anyone in France. John will be back there soon I expect. The time at Windsor goes terribly fast.

Tony went to Dublin with dispatches last Saturday. Awfully interesting…

Thank heaven we’ve got compulsion at last & have shot the rebels. It gives one some hope for this rotten government.

Letter from Maysie Wynne-Finch to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/4)

The heavens have not fallen

Political ally Colonel Smith Park wrote to Ralph Glyn with his views about possible changes after the war, as well as comments on the latest war-related news.

196 St Vincent Street
Glasgow

4 May 1916

Dear Glyn

I note with interest your views as to the future. I have no doubt there will be great changes – I hope we will get rid of the lot of the lawyers – but all the same the party system will continue. I would like to see – by proportional representation or otherwise – candidates far more independent of the political caucus, which has really become a business, and this may come.

What a fiasco the Irish rebellion has been. The one good feature has been the promptitude with which it was quelled by the military.

The Govt have at last taken the compulsion plunge – & the heavens have not fallen…

We have already collected about £60,000 for the Princess Louise Scottish Hospital for Limbless Sailors & Soldiers – we are aiming at £100,000.

Trusting you will come safely through the war.

Yours very truly
J Smith Park

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/36)

Italian Intelligence methods are “totally different to ours & in my humble opinion rather unintelligent”

An Intelligence officer contact of Ralph Glyn’s trying to work out how the Austrian army was deployed was unimpressed by his Italian counterparts.

MI2C
War Office
Whitehall
SW

3.V.16

My dear Glyn

Many thanks for your two last letters & the paper on artillery. I’m just back from a visit to the Comande Supremo, where I had a chance of seeing the Italian Intelligence at work. Their methods are totally different to ours & in my humble opinion rather unintelligent. However of that more when we meet again.

Since your last letter of 25/4/16, the Italians claim to have identified the 57th, 59th Divs & 10th Mountain Brigade from Albania in the Trentino. The 57th & 59th Divs appear to form an VIIIth Corps (not an XVIIIth, as they previously swore). I don’t think much if anything has gone to Macedonia from Albania. The containing force there at the moment appears to be 47th Div (probably keeping order in Montenegro), 53rd Div & 10th, 14th, 17th Mountain Bdes, two of which may be incorporated in the 62nd Div, if it still exists.

The only artillery unit I can definitely locate in Balkans is the 2nd Howitzer Bg of the 10th Mountain Artillery regiment (from intercepted correspondence of interned Austrian!) with the 103rd German Div. There are certainly many more Austrian artillery units there, but Lord alone knows which they are. The Italians won’t dish up the enemy artillery on their front other than in terms of guns – never by numbered regiments, batteries, etc, as the normal GS does, & information from Russia, seeing that the Intelligence mission is at Petrograd dependent for its information on Russian War Office, & not at GHQ, is correspondingly scanty & inaccurate.

The composition of units in the AH [Austro-Hungarian] army changes so rapidly that any attempt to reduce it to cut & dried book form in watertight compartments (as you can with the Boche army) seems foredoomed. The book as soon as written is found to be out of date.

However everyone here is anxious that I should carry on with it; and it certainly has been useful here in many ways, so I am going to produce it eventually. But it is awful work, so little reliable information being forthcoming, & so much being left to pure conjecture, that I sometimes give up all hope of making anything out of it.

I had a very interesting visit to the Italian front, of which I will tell you something; it was a welcome change after all the months of unrelieved monotony I had had at the WO.

No time for more
Yours

E M B Ingram

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/34)

“The beastly Bosch measles”

Recovering at her parents’ home from an attack of German measles (rubella), Meg Meade thought the mere name of the illness was unpatriotic.

May 2nd [1916]
The Palace
Peterborough

My own darling Ralph

At last I can send you a scrawl, but the beastly Bosch measles has left me with weak eyes so I can’t read or write much, & also feeling very weak. But to be accounted for I suppose because my temperature for 2 days was 104. But it was a dreadful way of spending Easter with the por parents, but perhaps it was a blessing in disguise as I have certainly given Dad other things to think of than his resignation….

John has very slight Hun measles too, so he & Maysie have motored to Voelas…

Jim has been having a busy time at sea, he is very well, but I do long so much to see him…

From your own loving Meg

Darling take care of yourself & your dear tummy & don’t do anything risky for it!

Letter from Meg Meade to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/4)

“Your services are of such value to the State”

A request was made to transfer Ralph Glyn from Egypt to become aide-de-camp to the Commander of the 8th Corps in France.

Headquarters, VIII Corps
BEF France
May 1st, 1916

Dear Glyn

I rather feared it would be impossible for you to get away from Egypt where your services and knowledge of the Balkans are of such value to the State.

I, however, should much have liked to have had you on my staff, and I, therefore, got the authorities here to wire and offer you the appointment in case perchance it might have suited you to take it.

The best of luck to you wherever you are, and whatever you do.

Yours sincerely,
Aylmer Hunter-Weston

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/33)

The French Intelligence is the same as ours, and can be relied on

Another friend of Ralph Glyn’s helped with his Intelligence work.

Salonica
30/4/16

My dear Glyn

Yours of 22nd I have passed enclosure on to “I” here, with your request about it.

Re your second question – they think the Alpine Corps has left. The 2 German Divisions remain. Your allusion to “French GS” is not understood, as they say that the reports from AHQ & the French GS do not materially differ, and that you can safely base your information on the AHQ Intelligence Summaries. Hope you are fit and finding something to do.

Yours ever
[E Glynell??? – semi-legible signature]

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/32)

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…)

“Wireless telegraphy has been tremendously developed for intelligence” and is invaluable

Ralph Glyn’s Intelligence colleague Charles French wrote to him in Cairo.

Private
WO

25.IV.16

My dear Glyn

I was very glad to get letters from both you & Perkins by last mail. The organisation of the I branch in Egypt is now becoming quite clear to me, thanks to you two, & the knowledge will be an immense help to all of us.

Judging by your telegrams you seem to be having quite a busy time on the eastern frontier & apparently you are killing a number of Turks which is satisfactory. I am afraid this enemy activity may rather upset your plans of getting to France or home; but personally I find that one gets aaccustomed to sticking in the one place – Perhaps it is unenterprising – But on the other hand the scope of my activities have grown unceasingly ever since I came to the WO. You wouldn’t know many of my section now but I think you’d find it improved. It has been a great advantage breaking up the MO Directorate into MO [Military Operations] & MI [Military Intelligence].

I suppose you’ve met Lefroy – a most scientific bird who may be very useful. You might tell Holdick that here in England W/T [wireless telegraphy] has been tremendously developed for intelligence in every direction – We have a special section under Simpson, who is under me which is doing nothing but W/T and it is perfectly invaluable.

Much of the credit is due to you.

Yours ever
C French

Letter from Charles French to Ralph (D/EGL/C32/31)