George Ryan’s letter home dated 24 Dec 1914

George Ryan’s letter home dated 24 Dec 1914
1945
“D” Company.
9th Battn Middx Regt
Victoria Barracks
Dinapore
India.
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
George
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

1945
“D” Company.
9th Battn Middx Regt
Victoria Barracks
Dinapore
India.
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

George Ryan’s letter home dated 8 Dec 1914

George Ryan’s letter home dated 8 Dec 1914
1945
“D” Company.
9th Battn Middx Regt
Victoria Barracks
Dinapore
India.
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
George

Archie A. Laporte Payne letter home December 1914

Archie A. Laporte Payne letter home December 1914

On embossed headed notepaper.
Royal Field Artillery,
Colchester.
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
Arch

On headed notepaper.

Royal Field Artillery,
Colchester.
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.

Ever
Your affectionate son
Arch

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne Dec 1914

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne

 

Extracted from

 

Brigade Diary, Personal Diary, Operation Orders, Note Books, Memoranda &

Correspondence

—————–

 

December1914

 

December 9 1914

R.P.

“We have guns, but only old 15 pounders, very ancient. At last the men in our battery  have got khaki, and they look much smarter.  The convict blue was really terrible.

 

I see that Vyvyan is gazetted today in the “Times” to the R.F.A.   He will not come to this division.

 

December 20, 1914.

 

Everything is alright. Leave for various and very secret reasons has been cancelled.  I suppose I had better not be more explicit now.  Leave is supposed to reopen with luck on Wednesday next.  Then I hope to get home again.  Our train was full of angry officers called back from their homes.  I was so sorry to give you such a fright, but I suppose one must expect such things to happen now, especially with such windy old dug-outs in charge.  I hope the congregation did not think that the Germans had landed.

 

Archie A. Laporte Payne letters home December 1914

Archie A. Laporte Payne letters home December 1914

 

On embossed headed notepaper.

Royal Field Artillery,

Colchester.

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

Arch

 

On headed notepaper.

 

Royal Field Artillery,

Colchester.

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.

 

Ever

Your affectionate son

Arch

 

Alfred George Richardson’s Diary Dec 1914

Alfred George Richardson’s Diary Dec 1914

 

1914 diary notes:- Address Station House Ben Rhydding, Size of shoes 8 height 5’ 8 ¾ weight 9st 3lbs.

 

Sheffield.

Sunday 27th December 1914:              Church Parade.

Monday 28th December 1914:                        Marching & Physical Drill.

Tuesday 29th December 1914:            Route March.

Wednesday 30th December 1914:       Marching & Physical Drill.

Thursday 31st December 1914:           Semaphore & Morse Signalling.

 

G G Hammond letter 13 Dec 14

Prvt GG Hammond 3142

7th Bat Mc/r Reg

65 Hoghton St

Southport

13-12-14

 

Dear Father Mother etc,

How are you getting on?  I think some one might write-Can’t Gladys write for a change.  Has Fred gone yet?   I am having a fine time but have got a bad cough.  My photo has come out very well.  I am enclosing one of each for you.  I was vaccinated on Friday & my arm is just beginning to itch.  I hope I shall not have a bad time, some chaps here are going about with their arms in a sling.  It was not at all painful, but I was kept busy looking after a chap who had fainted.  When he had come round I went out and was surprised to see two chaps carrying a limp body out, who was it but Arthur.  I immediately went to his rescue, he had a very bad faint.  I don’t know how he will go on when he sees dead bodies flying about.  I want Ma to send me a nice big cake and sent it on as soon as possible.  I want one like she makes for us at home.  A few mince pies etc will also be relished.  We went to the church parade again this morning.  The minister is very decent.  I had a letter from Willie the other day.  He enclosed a £1 note.  When I drew my screw on Friday I only got 3/6 so I presume that Ma has filled that form in & that she will be drawing the remains of my screw.  If so I want it sent on at once as I do not want to break into this £1 note, if I can possibly help it.  I have only a 1/- or two apart from this note.  I wrote to Kemp the other day I received the mittens from Lilian yesterday, they are not much use as they have no palms or fingers, so you might knit me another pair.  I am going to write to Smith sometime today.  Have you heard any thing from the Donohues!  We are each supposed to have a hot bath once a week, it is a farce.  The Sergeant has the key to the bathroom so that the warm water will not be drawn off, as I did not think there would be much chance of a bath here.  I went to the public baths there was a queue about 6 yards long, & the are about 3 baths.  I came away from there & went back to the digs, managed to get the key.  Instead of getting a hot bath the water was only just aired.  We are not doing any trenching but are getting experts at extended order drill by signs.  It is very interesting.  There is a lot of talk about being off at Christmas or New Year but it is only a rumour.  I have torn that old shirt up that I came in & use it for cleaning my buttons.  It was fine to feel nice & clean with a decent pair of socks on.  I have had a rotten blister on one toe & have not been able to wear my army boots yet.  We had an inspection of the whole battalion the other day by some Brigadier General.  It was very fine.  We are now finished here at3-30 or 3-15 instead of 4-30 as before.  The time hangs a little.  I see that there are free classes at night school for soldiers.  Among the classes are Chemistry & Botany.  I have been thinking of attending then only do not want to be tied down to attending them.  If you ever join you have to attend regularly.

It is just dinner time so shall have to knock off.  I am enclosing a photo of one of the four pals (Ashman a decent sort of fellow.  I will just go and see if Arthur has one to spare.  Got it here.  George.  Write soon & don’t forget cake & money.

The chap who has been taken ¾ sat down is Simpson.  The other as human was taken like myself.

 

G G Hammond letter 8 Dec 14

P/e G.G. Hammond

3142 2nd 7th Bat Mc/r Regt

3 Balls Place

Southport

8/12/14

 

I am changing my billet tomorrow I think.  Address my letters to this address until I let you know to the contrary.

 

Dear Father & Mother,

I received your letter this morning I am surprised to hear that Fred has been playing the old soldier.  He seems to have paid his fooling rather early.  At last I have been on a night march, the one I mentioned in my last letter. I was awful, the rain poured down from the commencement.  We started marching along the sands at 7 o’clock and the transport followed in our rear.  We were marching in the last file so the mud was fairly thick for us to walk through.  We marched most of the way in a river about 3” deep in water so you will quick understand what condition the mens’ feet were in.  One or two halts were called & if you could find a dry spot you sat down & rested.  We were not allowed to smoke or sing as the march was to be carried out under military conditions.  The transport had to turn back as the cart kept getting fast in the sands.  We reached Formby about 10 o’clock & had to wait in the pouring rain till nearly 11 o’clock.  The journey home was very tiring & we did not reach the parade ground until 2-30.  I was in bed by 3.15 & had to parade the following morning at 11 o’clock.  I am writing this letter with the fountain pen that Pa Kemp has sent me.  It is a Blackbird like Gladys’s, I have not broken it in yet as you will see from the writing.  I am applying for a pass home for Saturday I might get it but it is very uncertain.  I wrote to Gladys Grimshaw the other day & had a reply a parcel arrived from them today containing to pairs of socks-very nice ones-bye the bye how is Ma getting on with that pair she was making.  We have been doing a lot of rifle drill lately & our OC told us we should all have rifles next week.

I heard from Hammond’s the other day, all the girls sent me a photograph.  I have not replied yet.  I wrote to Fred the other day.  I shall not be able to let you know whether I am coming home for certain as we do not know until Saturday morning so expect me when you see me.  I was crimed this morning for being late on parade one day.  I was let off, not being a particular pal of our corporal, I expect some extra drill.

You will be surprised to hear that I am going to have dancing lessons, I think I shall go for the first time on Thursday.  We have had the name of the Battalion changed to the 2nd 7th Mc as you will see from the address.  We shall now be able to move irrespective of the old Battalion which is in Egypt.  I was up at Spencer’s yesterday.  It is very nice to be able to spend an evening somewhere.  I am just getting over an awful cold & cough I caught on the night march.  I used Pa’s old remedy, linseed etc.  The weather here has been very changeable- a lot of men have been on the sick parade.  I shall have to knock off now as I have promised to go to out at 6.15. Hoping I shall see you on Saturday.

Love George

CHRISTMAS TRUCE

 

1914

 

24th Dec           Christmas Eve, in the trenches, was a cold night, and from both sides                               of “no mans land” both British and German troops were trying to keep warm. Singing Christmas carols was one way of doing this.

The German troops began by singing “Stille Naccht, Heilage Naccht” (Silent Night), and for most of the British Troops it was the first time they had heard it.

The British answered with “O, Come All Ye Faithful”.  The Germans responded with the Latin version “Adeste Fideles”.

During the course of the evening, the guns fell silent, and a quiet and peaceful night prevailed.

 

25th Dec           Christmas day morning was damp and foggy, but by about 9.00am there were clear blue skies.

A German soldier raised a “Happy Christmas” placard.

Gradually, unarmed soldiers began to climb out of the trenches and met up in “no mans land” for general fraternisation.

Gifts were exchanged, some alcohol was consumed, and even a game of football was played.

Both sides were able to retrieve and bury their dead.

 

25th – 31st Dec  the truce lasted spasmodically, but knowing the truce would not last indefinitely, the British moved their machine guns. This was precautionary only as the Germans were aware of their positions.

 

31st Dec           A pre-arranged signal had been forwarded to the British to say the Germans would fire their rifles in the air to see in and celebrate the New Year.

 

1915

 

1st Jan              The Generals, on both sides, were unhappy with this unofficial truce and the British were ordered to shell a certain occupied German farm at 11.00am that morning.

Precisely at 11.00am, the farm was shelled as ordered, but by being forewarned, the Germans had evacuated the farm.

A message was forwarded to the Germans with this information.

This action ensured the truce was broken.

It was never to be repeated again.

 

The Christmas Truce proved to be one of the most poignant moments of the Great War