George Ryan’s letter home dated 24 Dec 1914

George Ryan’s letter home dated 24 Dec 1914
“D” Company.
9th Battn Middx Regt
Victoria Barracks
24 Dec 1914

Dear M & F,

Thanks very much for your letter dated Nov 27th. I didn’t get it till Monday as the mail was late. I expect we shall have another mail this week; there ought to be a special one for Christmas. I hope it isn’t late though.

We are looking forward to a fairly decent time. Of course we’ve got a holiday to-day as usual & I suppose we shall have all day Sat. I hear we are going to get a piano from one of the other bungalows (the canteen or some other place) & some of the fellows are going to put up paper ornaments so it will seem a little like Christmas in spite of the weather. We almost took the roof off last night singing (?) carols.

We are allowed 3d a day messing allowance. We do not get the money but we get extra food, whatever we like to order. Since we came here we’ve only had butter & a few other odd things so we’ve got a fairly big balance which will be spent on Christmas fare, so we look like having a decent “spread” both for dinner & tea.

Well there doesn’t seem to be much to say this week; I suppose there will be more next week. I have not received that letter of May’s yet that dad said she was going to write but perhaps she never wrote it after all.

Hoping you are all quite well & getting on alright; I’m feeling A1.

Love to all,
Yr loving son
Thanks very much for the papers.

P.S. Dear May,

In my top right hand draw, you will find a thing that I believe was once a writing-case. Well in there you will find a photograph of yourself. Please send it to me together with a nice long letter with all the news. Fondest Love
George X X X

George Ryan’s letter home dated 17 Dec 1914

George Ryan’s letter home dated 17 Dec 1914

“D” Company.
9th Battn Middx Regt
Victoria Barracks
17 Dec 1914

Dear M & F,

I had no letter this week but I suppose I’d better write a few lines just to let you know I’m still alive. In fact I’ve had no letters at all yet except that one of yours. I ought to have had one from the office as I wrote to Mr W from Gib asking him to send me a diary, but perhaps it will arrive next Sunday. The mails seem very much delayed. I suppose they come all the way by boat.

We’ve about settled down to this place now, but I expect we shall soon get tired of it, there’s hardly anywhere to go in our spare time. Of course there are rumours about us moving shortly but I think we are here for a few months. We generally go to some soldiers’ recreation rooms in the evening about 20 min walk from here. There’s a reading room, billiards & supper rooms. The prices are as cheap if not cheaper than our own supper bar. You can have quite a good “tuck in” for 5d or 6d. There’s nothing to go in the town for. The native part is an awful place. It beyond description. It looks as if there’s been a big fire or an earthquake. The dogs don’t seem very fond of us soldiers. They all start barking directly they see any of us, and the smells & the dust are enough to choke you. I shan’t stroll round that part very often.

There’s an English Church in the English quarters about a quarter of an hour’s walk from here. We had a Church Parade Sun. morning & took our rifles, bayonets & 20 rounds of ammunition each. There were racks in front of each seat for our rifles. It’s been a rule to take them ever since the Mutiny, as a regiment of soldiers were trapped in church.

C Smith & I went to the Evening Service but of course we didn’t take rifles or anything with us then.

We are not working extra hard at present; we get the whole day off Thursdays, half a day Sat & of course Sundays. We find it very nice getting two days of rest per week.

I forgot to tell you we have a cup of tea in bed every morning. Or rather it’s a “mug” so I get about twice as much as you have, unless you have two cups. They are pint mugs & all we have to do is to walk about half a dozen yards for our mug, get our tea & sit in bed & drink it. It goes down alright as we get no breakfast till 7.45 before which we do ¾ of an hour’s drill.

Our Canteen, supper bar, library etc are run by the R.A.T.A. (Royal Army Temperance Assoc) so I have joined it, which is the same thing as signing the pledge. The sub is only 4d a month. A moderate drinker can be a member for 2d a month but of course he doesn’t get the same privileges as full members.

By all accounts we shan’t have much money to draw weekly out here. There are several compulsory stoppages, washing, sports, hair cutting etc. Evidently our grumbles on board the Dilwara were of some use; we’ve been given 3d a day messing allowance for the voyage (35 days).

My eyes started getting bad; I suppose it’s the glare of the sun, as they ache a bit too sometimes, but now I use the ointment they seem alright.

We are still wearing our old uniforms; we’ve been measured for the new ones so I expect we shall have them shortly now.

Well I hope I shall get a little more news this Sunday. I ought to get May’s letter that you mentioned at any rate.

Hope you are all quite well & getting along alright. Has dad still got something to do?

Love to all,
Yr affec son

George Ryan’s letter home dated 8 Dec 1914

George Ryan’s letter home dated 8 Dec 1914
“D” Company.
9th Battn Middx Regt
Victoria Barracks
8 Dec 1914

Dear Mother & F,

Thanks very much for yr letter dated 12 Nov also for the W. Chronicle. I said in my last letter you need not send me any papers but you can send me the W. Chron now & again when there’s anything in it.

Well, as you see we’ve got here at last. We had 3 days in the train, reaching here at 5.0 p.m. Sunday (6 Dec). It wasn’t a corridor train; but there was only 3 or 4 compartments to a carriage so there was about 18 in each compartment. They are very similar to the old N.L. minus the adverts. We got out at stations for washing & food, which was better than what we had on board the “old tub”, tea, dry bread, & stew (meat, cauliflower & potatoes). I slept on the floor.

The country we passed was very wild. A few mud hut villages here & there, but we saw nothing dangerous; only a few monkeys & wild birds, parrots etc.

I think we’re in for a jolly fine time here. There’s only 5 Companies, 1 other is a few miles away & the other 3 are at Dum-dum 300 miles away. The whole barracks cover about ½ square mile; I should think, they are quite open; there’s no wall or fence. Each building is in one long line, not square; only the ground floor, which is very lofty – quite as high as your house. The beds are quite far apart & we’ve each got a fair-sized trunk & proper rack for our rifle, equipment, helmet etc. The beds are made of corrugated iron, not round of course, but like this -. Then there’s a thing supposed to be a mattress, but it’s not very thick; & 1 blanket is all we’ve got at present. I think we get another blanket & a couple of sheets. We want them too, it’s jolly cold here at night. The buildings are so constructed so that the sun does not shine in, so it keeps nice & cool during the day, but we get plenty of air; there are big double doors between every two beds.

There’s a fine canteen, it seems a sort of general store & by what we’ve seen so far things are very cheap. We had a good tuck in there directly we got here Sunday night (10.0). We had 3 meat rissoles, potatoes, fried onions, cauliflower, bread & a small jug of tea for 5 annas (5d). It was jolly fine & went down A 1 I can tell you.

We are not allowed to do our own washing; we are stopped 14 annas ( ½d) a month for it.

Since writing about the beds we have received 3 sheets & a rug. We thought at first the rug was to go down beside our bed, then we thought perhaps it was a bed cover but I suppose it’s to lay on the iron as we roll the mattress & blankets up during the day. Whatever its purpose we ought to be nice & comfortable, as we have been promised some more stuffing for the mattress.

You asked me what tobacco I prefer; well something mild. Boardman’s I’m smoking at present. But it’s too expensive for you to send as I think the parcel rates are fairly heavy & it’s cheaper out here I think.

Bert mentions something about a scheme for you to get an allowance from the Government. We’ve heard nothing about it but a fellow told me you could not claim it if you are receiving 50% or more of your money from your place of business. If you think there’s any chance of getting it, of course send me particulars.

The weather out here is grand at present. We’ve had a clear blue sky every day for the last fortnight. But the roads are very dusty. 2 or 3 inches deep in some places.

Well I hope you are all quite well & are getting on alright. I wish letters didn’t take so long to come from England. Just fancy I you’re your letter on Dec 7th & you wrote it Nov 12.

The mail goes out here Thursdays & arrives Sundays, we get them on Mondays, so I suppose I shall receive May’s letter that you mention next Monday,

I’m glad you didn’t have to pay anything on my letter. I wrote to Uncle Tom, Aunt Charlotte, Cousin Ellen, Aunt Jinny etc just before we reached Bombay, (the same post as my last letter to you) to wish them the Compts of the Season, so I suppose they won’t have to pay.

Love to all,
Yr loving son

Archie A. Laporte Payne letter home December 1914

Archie A. Laporte Payne letter home December 1914

On embossed headed notepaper.
Royal Field Artillery,
R.A. Crest
Dec 9 1914
My dearest Mother & Father,

Thank you so very much for your letters and present. It is very good of you to send me those gloves – they are lovely ones and will be most useful. Your loving wishes & kind thoughts I know I can always have but a birthday I suppose is, more than at other times, a fitting time to express them. But I don’t like birthdays at all. They come too soon. Dr Nostum very kindly remembered me and sent me a box of Bath Buns. Please thank Maude & Evelyn for their letters. I will reply sometime. As you can imagine we are frightfully busy. I am afraid Christmas will be impossible. The captain will be away if anybody is – so I shan’t get a look in. don’t trouble about glasses. I hope you got my postcard of yesterday. I have heard from Reggie. I am glad he is better. I could not get home over the week end and I am afraid next week will be impossible. We are one officer short as one of them has left for the front,

Thank you very much for the vest I should like a couple of short pants if they can be obtained of the same material. I am glad Evelyn had such a good time at Bath. I hope she has quite recovered from her bad tooth.

I see that Vyvyian is gazetted today in the Times to the R.F.A. I don’t suppose he will come here. He will go to some lower division. I have written to him.

I did not see Mr Tillyers card in your letter. It may have dropped out however. Don’t send any rubbish through. The men are rather particular. I want old Windsors, Strands, Pearsons, & 6d Illustrated papers etc. I know the sort of stuff some good people think tommies appreciate.

Things go much as usual. We have guns but only old 15 pounders & not the ones we ought to have. The men have got khaki in our battery now and they work much better.

I am glad Vyvyan has got someone to knit him a scarf – I am sure he needs one!! ! I wish I had somebody to do likewise for me – Oh, I forgot 92 in the shade!

I have got another tunic so I am alright now. I have to get a lot more things before the kit inspection which takes place soon.

No more now as dinner is just on & there is no news to tell.

Much love to you & all & many thanks for birthday wishes & presents

Your affectionate son

On headed notepaper.

Royal Field Artillery,
R.A. Crest
Dec 20 1914.

My dearest Mother,

Everything is alright. Leave, for various reasons which I will not enumerate, has been cancelled until Wednesday next when I hope to get home again.

The train was full of angry officers called up from other parts. I was in barracks by 9.45 p.m. So sorry to give you such a fright but one must expect these things when on active service. I hope the Congregation did not think the Germans had arrived.

Much love. Hope you are all well.

Your affectionate son

George Ryan’s letter home dated 14 Nov 1914

George Ryan’s letter home dated 14 Nov 1914
S.S. “Dilwara”
Nearing Port Said
14 Nov 1913[4]

Dear Mother & F,

We left Gibraltar last Sunday at mid-day. We seemed to have been there quite a long while. It’s a nice place, I would not have minded staying there; but I was glad to leave it as we had got a long way farther to go & the sooner we get off this boat the better I shall like it. Of course we all get jolly hungry but each mess-table is only allowed a certain amount. The food is practically the same as we should get on land; bread & butter for breakfast & tea, &fresh meat & potatoes for dinner. We could generally eat double what we get. But of course we can’t get anything extra. The canteen’s jolly short of stuff; no mixed biscuits & what biscuits they have got they charge 1d for it. Oranges they bought at 3 or 4 a penny in Gib they charge 1d each. 2/- for a 2 lb tin of marmalade etc, etc. but we will soon be there now I hope, then we shall be able to make up for lost time. By all accounts we shall live alright in barracks.

We’ve had quite a smooth journey since we left Gib. The first day the sea was like a lake, but it’s not been more than choppy since. There was a thunderstorm all Thurs night; we couldn’t hear much thunder but there were flashes of lightning every half minute. It’s the rainy season along here, so the weather has not been so very grand. It doesn’t give you much warning when it does start; it’s more like a cloud burst. When we were in the harbour at Gib. we could hardly see the rock when it was raining, it was all misty.

We reckon to reach Port Said early to-morrow morning, I don’t know if we shall catch the other boats up there, they didn’t wait for us at Gib, we’ve come all the way from there by ourselves, no escort at all & we are not fitted with wireless. But we’ve met no Germans or Turks so far so I don’t suppose we shall now.

We shall not stop more than a few hours I think at Port Said, that is if the canal is clear. Then it’s 4 or 5 days journey through the Red Sea to Aden. We shall stop there 3 or 4 days as the other battalion on board is staying there. I don’t know whether we shall pick up some more in their place; I hope we don’t; we shall have a little more breathing room then. Then it’s about another 5 days journey to Bombay (or Karachi).

I’ve had the first dose of inoculation & got over it alright. There’s nothing much in it as long as you keep quiet for 24 hrs after you’ve been done.

Hope you are all quite well.
Write as much as you like
Love to all,
Yr affectn son

Excuse the scribble as the pencil is so small.

George Ryan’s letter home dated 2 Nov 1914

George Ryan’s letter home dated 2 Nov 1914
S.S. “Dilwara”
Nearing Gibraltar
2 Nov 1914
Dear Mother & Father,
Hope you got my P.C. safely from S’ton. I’d given up hopes of sending one as we were not allowed outside the docks. Then a few minutes before the boat left a sailor called out “any more letters or P.C.s” so I just scribbled that P.C. in about ½ a minute & gave it to him to post. Well, we are just getting used to our house on the sea. A lot of fellows were ill the first day but I was alright until Sun morning. We were half way across the Bay & our boat was just like a tub on the water. I was sick a little but I kept my dinner down. There are very few fellows that have not felt a bit queer. I’m quite A 1 now again. Our steering gear went wrong on Friday.
So I think we are going to call at Gib; I’m writing this in case: In the ordinary course we were not going to call anywhere until we got to Aden.
We shall stop for repairs at Gib. But I don’t think we shall be allowed off the boat as I shan’t be able to get any stamps but the way I’m going to mark the envelope I don’t think you’ll have to pay any more that 1d. We are having a very lazy time on board; it’s getting rather monotonous we’ve only sighted land once & that was the southern coast of England. There are 9 other boats & one escort; a cruiser brought us part of the way, now we’ve got a battleship. There are 1200 of us on this boat & I suppose there’s as many on each of the others so there’s 12000 altogether but they are not all going to India. 1000 are staying at Aden, 1000 are going to Rangoon (Burmah) etc.
Of course we’re rather crowded & the food isn’t very plentiful but we can’t expect anything better on board. I wish I could still receive your weekly parcel of cake. We generally have a spoonful of porridge & bread & butter & stuff they call tea for breakfast; tinned meat & potatoes & sometimes pickles for dinner & a biscuit or two & tea for tea. There’s a canteen but its only open for a few hours so you can imagine there’s a fine rush when it is open; it means waiting something over half an hour.
We sleep in hammocks which we have to put up every night over our mess tables. I didn’t like it at first but now I get quite a comfortable rest.
I’m not sure where we are going to land; I thought Bombay but I heard Kurachi mentioned, it will be one of the two. They say we’ve got 5 day’s train journey then across India. Dinapore is about 150 to 200 miles north of Calcutta. I think we shall all be about sick of travelling by the time we get there; I’m tired of it already.
You can answer this directly to Pte. GWR 1945 “D” Company, 9th Battn, Middx Regt, Dinapore, India. It won’t matter if it gets there first, I expect I shall get it alright. Write as much as you like & tell me all that’s going on; get May to help you; write it in weekly parts if you like. Have you sold or given my clothes away yet? Did you receive £1 from the office on 1 Nov? Has dad still got something to do?
I don’t suppose I shall have time to write to Bert this time; you must tell Mrs Taylor to tell him I’m getting on alright. Besides I don’t like writing to anyone when they’ve got to pay anything to receive it.
Well I hope you are all getting on alright & are all quite well. Love to all,
Yr affectionate son
I’ve learnt since that the captain himself was sick so you can tell it was pretty rough on Sunday.

Dick-Cunyngham letter to wife dated 28 Sept 1914

Dick-Cunyngham letter to wife dated 28 Sept 1914

My darling one,

Just a line, have been out all afternoon & post goes at 7 p.m. Enclosure for perusal! & safe keeping. 2 letters today from you also Kolgnos – powder & Formamint, most useful – Poor little Aunt Lalla, Gina wrote, and added at the last moment news of her death; it is very sad, she had always been wonderfully kind & good to us all – I am so glad you were able to see her before she died – I’m afraid my last letter to her will not have reached home yet – if you get it, destroy it, won’t you.

I hope Wilke’s Bn won’t come out; I don’t think it will, and I also hope Charlie’s Staff billet under Parsons in Ireland will keep him at home.

My poor Darling what a round of my relations you must have had, rather trying – Dear Gina was so pleased to see you and said you were looking so sweet, well & good looking – my Darling one what would I give for a glimpse of you!

Goodnight precious one. Mark up Betty for her dear little letter.

Yr devoted Hubby.

With envelope addressed to Mrs Dick Cunyngham, Mount View, Crownhill S.O., S. Devon. Signed Dick Cunyngham. Passed by Censor No 224 cachet. Postmarked ARMY POST OFFICE 42 dated SP 29 14

Kaiser’s note 25 September 1914

Kaiser’s note 25 September 1914

(Published with Routine Orders of September 24th 1914)

The following is a copy of Orders issued by the German Emperor on the 19th of August:-

It is my Royal and Imperial command that you concentrate your energies, for the immediate present, upon one single purpose, and that is that you address all your skill and all the valour of my soldiers to exterminate first, the treacherous English, walk over General French’s contemptible little army….

Aix-la-Chapelle, August, 19th.

The results of the order were the operations commencing with Mons and the advance of the seemingly overwhelming masses against us.

The answer of the British Army on the subject of extermination has already been given.

Printing Co., R.E. 69.

Field Service Post Card to Dick-Cunyngham’s wife dated 20 Sept 1914

Field Service Post Card to Dick-Cunyngham’s wife dated 20 Sept 1914

I am quite well

I have been admitted to hospital sick wounded and am going on well.

I am being sent down to the base.

I have received your 10 letters dated telegram 2 parcels

Letter follows at first opportunity.

I have received no letter from you lately for a long time.

Signature only: J.K. Dick Cunyngham

Date Sep 20th.

Addressed to Mrs Dick Cunyngham, Mount View, Crownhill S.O., S. Devon. England. Postmarked ARMY POST OFFICE 42 dated SP 20 14

Dick-Cunyngham letter to wife dated 10 Sept 1914

Dick-Cunyngham letter to wife dated 10 Sept 1914
Sept 10
My darling one,
I am such a happy boy with a mail today, letter 2 & 3 arrived also 3 others, and we have been longing for news for days & days – my precious one what a journey back you must have had, do you mean to say you did it all alone without a man of any kind? I always understood you were taking a man – I heard from Charlie your journey was adventurous & was really getting anxious – The little photo is quite sweet, and it is so nice to have it.

You must all be pleased with the news now. The tables seem turned in the opposite direction and the only bad point is the discomfort of following behind an army – filth & dirt are not pleasing but our Med Off is tackling it well.

I managed to get some cigars & cigarettes so am full of smokes. Am wondering if my uniform will hang out much longer – my one coat is dirty my tartan knickers are stained, petrol only seems to clean them for a day or so – we had rain yesterday which has laid the dust & it is cooler – flies are beginning to increase & worry.

I fear there are many anxious ones at home, the long list of heroes – I cannot help thinking that some of the Regt will eventually turn up & that they are not all dead, it cannot be so. So many have turned up suddenly from anywhere.

Country now is very short of supplies, we have to send the French officers in cars to forage in the rear – but all our supplies come up wonderfully well fed with bread, meat, cheese, bacon jam & Rhum when wanted – motors have made enormous differences in supply – we are halted today, have time to settle up my work & write.

Prisoners are passing through they say they are very glad to be taken by us, and our men are good to them giving them water & rations.

Daily Graphic of 8th actually here today – I enclose a line to mother, please send on.
All my love, god keep you safe

With envelope addressed to Mrs J. Dick Cunyngham, Mount View, Crownhill S.O., S. Devon. England. Signed Dick Cunyngham. Passed by Censor No 224 cachet. Postmarked ARMY POST OFFICE 42 SP 13 14 & ARMY BASE POST OFFICE dated SP 17. 14