5th. Somerset L.I.,Ambala
March 24th. 1915
My dear old Elsie
Time goes so quickly and I have had so much to do lately that I havent written to you very regularly but even so I am afraid some of my letters have gone astray – Yours too unfortunately dont always reach me – you wrote one mail that you were ill and going home all in a hurry with a mysterious pain which you would write and tell me all about – but I never got that letter so Im quite in the dark. But last mail your letter came saying you were better but that the pain was still rather a mystery to the doctors – Im glad to hear your mother is getting on too – I wrote her a few mails ago but I dare say my letter never reached her. I wonder if you ever heard of the safe arrival of the lovely pipes – Im sure I wrote to thank you for them – Ive had one in use for some time now and its a beauty. Thank you also – old thing – for all the papers you send me out – it is awfully sweet of you and Im sure I read every word. You’ll be glad to hear Im still very fit indeed and feel as hard as nails and to my great delight my weight is going down for I’m now quite a fairy at 12st 7lb. and my word weve got Indian weather now – the last fortnight each day has got hotter and in the middle of the day it is dangerous to be out of doors – the mosquitos are biting savagely at night and the heat has brought out thousands of mysterious insects that Ive never seen before.
Im afraid, old thing, the Regiment is not going to France this Spring after all – we have been waiting patiently for our sailing orders which came and were cancelled indefinitely – the fact is there is a good deal of trouble here but Im not allowed to say anything about it but the Government of India is having a very anxious time and I dont think at present any more troops will be allowed to leave this country – We have our own part to play out here and I suppose we must be content but you can quite understand how we all long to do more. As a rule the British Regiments who are stationed in the plains are sent to the hill stations but I think if we have to remain in India that we shall have to remain here and Ambala is one of the hottest stations out here so we have trying times ahead – But Im certain it wont be safe to allow troops to leave Ambala which is full of unrest at present. I shall get some change however for Im going to Rawal Pindi (400 miles north east) on April 2nd. for I have to report myself there on the 5th. Easter Monday for a months course in musketry and Frontier fighting –its the same course that is given at home in the depots at Hythe Woolwich etc. Of course I am looking forward not only to the change but especially to the course which will be very valuable to me and Im delighted the Colonel is sending me with a man called Lieut. Rawlings’* from Wellington. I shall be staying at Flashman’s Hotel but please address letters here – in any case I suppose by the time you get this my visit may well be nearly over. It will be very much like school again for there are 3 exams! and I was never very good at these as you know.
Thank goodness our time of hard training is over now and we have come through Kitcheners Test^ with excellent results. In spite of many hardships the men are splendid and the only thing Im suffering from is sore feet which are much better now thanks to Condy’s fluid and boracic powder!~ But 120 miles in 3 days takes a bit of doing for a man of my age and infirmities!
Unfortunately towards the end of the Test we were caught by tremendous thunderstorms – all one night we were lying out in the drenching rain and the next night we were marching all through the darkness with the rain simply streaming down and our cotton uniform is not very water tight and we weren’t allowed to take overcoats. Ive been sleeping in strange places and my night experiences would fill a book – I perhaps have something to look back upon and ponder over if I live to be 100. Im sending home some large photos which you will enjoy seeing – I cant get more than one copy of each so Ive asked mother to let you see them – they are of my company and a large group of all the officers and football team etc. We have ‘Sports’ on April 10th. and Im Secretary so Ive got that to bother me now – the original date was April 3rd. so I should be in Pindi on the 10th. so thought how to get an assistant but I shall have to do all the dirty work. I dont know what time I should have at Pindi but Ill write as often as possible. I do hope you are all right now – I shall think of you at Easter and hope that Gretchen+ and Leslie will be down with you
Best love old girl & many thanks again for your letters & papers
*One of the officers listed as proceeding overseas in 1914. (BoR p15) Mentioned in dispatches (BoR p73).
^ Three days of arduous manoeuvres under simulated battle conditions.
~ Potassium permanganate solution, one time popular disinfectant.Boracic acid powder, soothing and drying agent.+ Greta, nee Goodland, and her husband Leslie Hyde
Next letter April 7th 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
Available from http://twigabooks.co.uk/