5th.Somerset L.I., In Camp, Ambala
Feb. 23 1915
My dear old Elsie
Here I am in camp sitting in the shade of a friendly palm tree writing my mail. Thank you so much old thing for your last letter and most welcome papers – We are 18 miles from Umbala here and right away from civilisation but there are 400 men and 14 officers so we are a large and very happy family. The letters and papers were sent out to us and we eagerly awaited the messenger. The papers you sent have simply been fought for by the other officers and I have read every word several times over. We are having a slack day today for we have been out all night the last two nights practising digging trenches in the darkness.
I can tell you it has been a job. On Thursday we send our tents back to our base and then for a week we live in our trenches – the nights are still very cold but the days are stoking up and are a good deal warmer than the hottest of our English summer days. I hope you enjoyed your weekend at home – but Im sure you did – I am rather anxious to know why you are on sick leave and suppose it is your poor old throat again perhaps I shall hear all about it in your next letter. Goodness knows what will happen to us old thing – last week we were told to be ready to sail from Karachi on March 19th. and yesterday we heard that the Viceroy* of India refuses to release any more troops from this country and that we are to stay here over the hot weather – Orders seem to change every week. The fact is lots of things have been happening out here which never get into the papers at home and Im not allowed to say much about it – there has been serious trouble among some disloyal Sikhs# at Lahore which is not far from here and we have been warned that we must be ready for any emergency – You cant trust the natives one bit.
I am always wishing this terrible war would cease – it is simply sickening — today news has come of a great Russian+ defeat and another air raid in Colchester and several English merchantmen sunk – it looks very serious but thank goodness we are holding em in the west! My birthday wishes will come very late and Im so very sorry – fancy you 26 now – how old we are all growing! I hope you had a happy birthday dear & lots of presents and good wishes. I must write to the mater now. I do hope Mrs. Hyde is getting on and how was Gretchen – please let me know
Best love and all good wishes
*Charles Hardinge, Baron Hardinge of Penshurst, PC, KCMG, KCVO, 1858-1944, Viceroy of India 1910-1916, censured by Commission of Enquiry into Mesopotamia Expedition (DWB) succeeded by Frederick John Napier Thesiger, 1868-1938, 3rd Baron & 1st Viscount Chelmsford, Viceroy of India 1916-1921 (DNB).
#Many Sikhs living and working abroad were lured back to India by the revolutionary Har Dayal with promises of German arms and the understanding that disaffected units in the British Army would defect and kill their British officers. There was a secret meeting in Lahore on February 12th and a plan for a country-wide rising on February 21st, which failed to occur. (On Secret Service East of Constantinople, Peter Hopkirk, John Murray, 1994, pp.68-71, 81 & 82.)
+Russian forces were defeated by a German Army under Ludendorff near the Mazunan Lakes (Russo-German border, East Prussia) in early February 1915
Next letter March 24th 2015
These letters have been published as
Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
Twiga Books, ISBN 978 09528625 2 9 £9.50 + p&p
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