‘My eye, they do seem bitter about Gallipoli’

Lady Mary Glyn and her daughter Meg Meade both wrote to Meg’s brother Ralph. Lady Mary was staying with her other daughter Maysie Wynne-Finch in Windsor, while Meg was in Portsmouth caring for a sick friend’s children, and mixing with senior naval figures.

Elgin Lodge
Windsor
April 19 1916

The Cabinet Crisis is a real one & may bring about great events, but Asquith … seems to be able to keep together the Coalition at all hazards.

Trebizond is the good news of today’s paper. Well, the French are teaching is what it is to “hold”, and it is my belief we are to hold for the Kingdom that will surely come and we are all to think of the Christ as St John saw him… and He will make no mistake and order no sacrifice that is unavailing – the only leaders now are those who are “joyful as those that march to music, sober as those that must company with Christ” and we see them at all the fronts, but not yet among those who have made of statecraft a craft for self and for selfish ends. It is lamentable how few there are who are trusted & who can “hold” now for the Kingdom of that Lord & His Christ you soldiers know and obey. And yet I cannot believe that a country is ready to win the war so long as there is no real love and faith in God or man as a nation through its representatives. And our power will crumble if we give way to a carping spirit of criticism, and sometimes in perfect despair I find myself trying to believe in AJB and Walter Long, Bonar Law & those in whom the “Party” have consented before the Coalition. But as you know I have never had much belief in AJB’s power to impart a conviction which is founded on the rubble of the failure to find an absolute conviction….

Your own Mur
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News from Bucharest “is invariably all skittles”

Basil Thorold Buckley, the Director of Military Intelligence, told Ralph Glyn that he was suspicious of the veracity of “secret” information passed to the British by the Romanians. Buckley was a cousin of Berkshire peer Lord Radnor.

General Staff
Director of Military Intelligence
War Office
Whitehall
SW

17 Apr. 1916

My dear Glyn

Your request for maps is receiving attention, but I think you have in one case asked for something that does not exist.

We cannot understand the craze which exists (& has always existed) in the MEF Intelligence for news from Bucharest. It is invariably all skittles & we never can rely on it.
Here is a very fair sample of it. I have a similar thing from W Clayton on 24th March by bag to show what rotten stuff. Comes from the Romanian GS [General Staff]. The Germans know jolly well that the RGS pass it on to us. So they feed the RGS up with all sorts of lies.

Critical times in the House of Commons this week. I think LG [Lloyd George] may chuck his place in the Cabinet if the PM does not show he is strong enough to bring in Conscription. Old Leverson paid me a visit yesterday on return from Egypt. I was in an awful fright he would as to be re-employed in MI2C.

Best of luck.
Yrs ever
B T Buckley

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“England is worth dying for” – and Winston Churchill is the devil on earth

Meg Meade let her brother Ralph know the details of the last moments of their cousin Ivar Campbell, together with news of various friends and relations – plus her very unflattering views of Winston Churchill. Ralph had political ambitions, and subsequently became a Conservative MP. The controversial Noel Pemberton Billing, mentioned here, had just won a by-election standing as an Independent, but his political career (perhaps fortunately) lasted only a few years.

March 16th [1916]
Peter[borough]

My darling Ralph

I hear Wisp is coming to London as he has six weeks leave, lucky thing, but the reason is he has had such a bad dose of flu he has lost a stone! Jim says lots of them have had it in the north. If it produced leave on that scale, & Jim doesn’t catch it, I shall have to send him a bottled germ of it!

I posted my last letter to you from London when I went up to see Arthur. He was looking very well indeed, he says the English soldiers have invented a sort of pidgeon French which is now used by the French soldiers to make themselves understood by the English & vice versa, & it’s frightfully difficult to understand. One day Arthur came out & found his servant looking up into his horse’s face & saying “Comprennie? Comprennie?” He said Frenchwomen always come to him about every conceivable thing, even to if they are going to have a baby, & one had highstrikes [sic] in his office the other day.

I hear that Bertie is convalescent on crutches now & they are trying to prevent his being sent home to England on account of his health.

Poor old Mrs Hopkinson came in here today, broken hearted; for Pen’s husband, Colonel Graeme, was killed in France last Friday behind the lines by a stray shell. Killed outright mercifully. But oh dear, how sad one is at these ceaseless sorrows, and all the broken hearted people all round one. “But England is worth dying for” as Noel Skelton wrote to Aunt Syb about Ivar. I dined with Aunt Syb the night I was in London. She is so wonderful, so is Joan, but it has told hard on both of them. Aunt S has aged & Joan carries the mark in her face too…

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Seaplane carriers

Cecil L’estrange Malone (1890-1965) was a young naval and RNAS officer. In later years he became an MP representing successively the Liberal, Communist and Labour Parties.

28th Jany 1916
HMS Ben-My-Chree
c/o Navy House
Port Said

Dear Glyn

I am writing to ask you if you know of anyone available who would care to come and assist me in the Military Intelligence work connected with Seaplane Carriers.

Wemyss has appointed me in command of the four seaplanes-carrying ships so I hope we may now get something done.

6 to 12 volunteers for observers have been asked for officially, so if you know of anyone, he could come in under that heading.

Perhaps you could drop me a line to the above address if you think there is anything doing, as soon as possible, if not I must make other arrangements.

I am confident it would make for efficiency, and keep us in closer touch with your requirements.

I enclose a copy of Smyrna reconnaissance, perhaps you will be so good as to circulate it to anyone interested.

Yours truly,

Cecil L’estrange Malone

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/5)

“What with shells over your tent & submarines at sea there’s scarcely a safe place to sit in!”

One of Ralph Glyn’s fellow officers in the Dardanelles sent him a letter so frank in its criticism of policy that he asked Ralph to burn it after reading. Luckily he didn’t.

Marked ‘Burn’ at the top.

You ought to come out here from the [illegible] & have a talk – but on condition you went back.

Lancashire Landing, May 26 [1915]
My dear Glyn

We are having a heavyish shelling from Camp and the sea beyond – the Turks trying to hit the transports, but very little attention is now paid to it, so very little damage having luckily been done. All the same it is decidedly disconcerting! It’s such an absurd position to be in really – the whole of our force from the front trenches back here – a distance of about 1 hour’s walk! – under fire of the enemy’s guns. In France [it would be] an absolutely untenable position.
I was awfully glad to get your letter and I do not mean in mine to write you much detail as to our doings here… I want rather to bring one or two points to your notice that are of greater importance.
You know as much as I do about the inside of the game. You know that the Balkan situation is today not one whit more clarified than it was when you & I last met.

I lay the whole blame on the FO. I think much as there has been in the conduct of this campaign to criticise (not its execution – the troops have done wonders!) – its larger conduct – nothing is more worthy of criticism than the failure of diplomacy to co-operate and so to appreciate the situation as to bring about a state of affairs that would conduce to the facilitating of out Task – not the making it more difficult. Diplomacy has been willing to sacrifice a perfectly attainable success for the sake of “safeguarding interests (unknown) or avoiding complications (unknown) at some unknown time in the future” – the great truth that the primary object of all should be to defeat Germany – (& here Germany through Turkey) – has, it seems to me, been absolutely lost sight of. We were set a task that could only be achieved if diplomacy played its part well & helped us. I need not go into the Greek negotiations. They’re known to you. Their net result is nil. (more…)