Air raids teaching the country we are at war

The Bishop of Peterborough wrote to his son Ralph with some thoughts on domestic politics, as well as the stoic response of the British to air raids.

The Place
Peterborough
Feb. 15 [1916]

My darling Ralph,

We are all right here, in spite of Zeps, which have been busy enough everywhere, & have done a certain amount of damage – & killed unoffending people – but it is a good thing in one way, as it is really beginning to teach “the country” (& by that I mean the country-people) that “we are at war”. But the British public take the “raids” with calm, brave endurance, & disappoint the Huns by not shewing any terror!

You seem to have plenty to fill your time, & it must all be most interesting to you, & I wonder what the next move will be. They say that Kitchener has come back from the front with new hopes for a less prolongation of the war, than the three years that he gave it at the beginning. But we must not have “peace at any price” & that is the danger. There is a growing feeling that Sir E. Grey has done his work & ought to “go”, & that he & Askwith … & Haldane are the “traitors” who should be watched! So the Labour Party say – & the politicians maiming the force of the fleet, & letting contraband through Holland & Denmark to Germany, deserve to be shewn up & checked. This money-grubbing has not been chocked [sic] up yet & will take much to kill it – and so we go muddling on.

I am very sorry your dear old General Callwell has been sent off to Russia, as I fear our letters to you will probably miss the “bag”, now he has gone…

You will have heard of poor Ivar Campbell’s death. Sybil is dreadfully cut up. Pum [Lady Mary] was with her yesterday, & I saw her last week. She was so entirely devoted to Ivar, & feels her life “quite empty” now he has gone.

Meg is very anxious about Jim, & the loss of the “Arethusa” is a great shock, & a real loss – a mine did it – & ten lives lost….

Letter from E C Glyn to his son Ralph (D/EGL/C2/3)

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Feeling queer in the face of the war cloud

William Hallam and Florence Vansittart Neale both continued to record their feelings about the war. One was an ordinary working man, the other an upper class lady, but both had strong feelings and followed the news closely. The heroic M. Garros, referred to in Florence’s diary, was Roland Garros, a pioneering airman after whom the Paris tennis stadium where the French Open is played was named. The alleged feat may or may not have actually happened.

William Hallam
In to work at 6 and a fine day. War cloud blacker than ever this morning and seems almost at breaking point. To-night just as I was finishing the entry for yesterday at a ¼ to 8 the Works Hooter [at the Great Western Railway works in Swindon] began blowing and gave 10 blasts to call all the Territorials and Reservists up. I thought it meant war was declared & went out on the street and saw lots of people rushing down to the town. Then I went along to the Reading Room to look at the papers this evening but not much news but when I came back home Davies next door came up from the Institute and said Germany had declared war on Belgium so that means us as well. I think every one went to bed to-night feeling queer.

Florence Vansittart Neale
So glad Sir E Grey made manly speech – abiding by promises to France, Belgium & Holland. War inevitable but mercifully England not dishonoured….

Ultimatum to Germany to preserve neutrality of Belgium – ending 12 pm tonight. Burns & [illegible] left Cabinet. Kitchener War M[inister]. We sent ultimatum to Germany not to violate Belgian neutrality – war practically dec[lared, mobilization. Splendid heroism of Garros (French aeroplane rammed Zeppelin).

Diaries of William Hallam (D/EX1415/22) and Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8)