Back in uniform at last

Club of Western India, Poona
Oct 29 1915

My dear old Elsie

Here I am old girl back in uniform and on duty once again – I am staying at this palatial club which has the reputation of being the finest in the world – it is quite a splendid place and we are fed in best English fashion and it is so nice to be able to get bacon and eggs for breakfast.

I left Coonoor with many regrets and after a very long and hot journey reported myself at the Dorset depot on the 23rd.

After the lovely air of the hills the plains are simply stifling and I must say I feel a little shakey at present – but in a few days no doubt I shall get used to it all again – I was immediately pitch-forked into commanding the Depot for Capt Miles had to be sent away to recover from malaria – there are 350 men at the depot and only another officer with me so it is no small job – my days start at 5 am and I’m busy all the time – the men are mostly convalescent from the Gulf or recruits and odds and ends of other Regiments which are on service out of the country. I thought I should be settled in this job for some time and was looking forward to the experience and to making new friends in Poona but my hopes were dashed to the ground for very soon a wire came ordering me to return to service in Mesopotamia with the next draft! This draft will be ready in about two weeks time and then it will only be a question of waiting for a suitable transport and so after all – old thing – I shall be spending my Xmas on service – perhaps in Baghdad – who can say? – I cant say I am looking forward to it but you know my views and I’m so thankful to feel fit again and able to do my bit – besides I have always felt that my place was back amongst the men I originally took out to the Gulf – I shall send a cable home when I know when I am actually leaving Bombay – so you will hear – and then please send letters again through the India Office marked Indian Expeditionary Force ‘D.’

Further particulars of the last fight at Kut el Amarah are coming through and I believe our people had a perfectly awful time and suffered from lack of water so much – I believe our total casualties were about 1750 and of these the Dorsets lost 61 killed and 300 wounded so must have been in the thick of the fight – the list of men is not completed yet but up to now I have been officially told of 9 casualties amongst my own draft – 6 wounded and 3 missing – I’m afraid the latter are almost certain to have been killed – I am so sorry about it but I hear they fought splendidly and of course it was a great victory for our force. Thanks ever so much dear for your last letter and all the papers you sent me. I have been very interested of course in reading what the English papers say about the P Gulf show and at last the public are allowed to know a little of what is going on out there. The Poona season is just over and the last Race Meeting was last week – but there are a great many English people here and of course a good deal of military activity. I shall be very anxious to hear in your next letter what change you found in Mother and all about your visit to Elm Grove. I’m afraid she suffers terribly now but she is wonderfully brave through it all – I wonder when the end will come and only wish it were possible to get home to see her again before returning to service. Well good night & cheerio

With best love

from Stan.

Next letter Nov 6th 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/ or Amazon

I shall be an awful knut

Atherstone, Coonoor, Madras
Oct. 6 1915

My dear old Elsie

I cannot thank you enough for your delightful birthday present which came this Mail – you could not have sent me anything more useful than the handkerchiefs & tie and I shall in future be an awful knut1 – I shall enjoy the smokes too – it is naughty of you to spend

The Knut: I want to see the neatest thing you have in stockings. Shop-walker (absent mindedly): I'm afraid she's out just at present, Sir.
The Knut: I want to see the neatest thing you have in stockings.
Shop-walker (absent mindedly): I’m afraid she’s out just at present, Sir.

so much money on me and I ought to be very cross really! The two little pipes (in case) that you gave me are my constant companions and have been through everything with me and are smoking ‘just proper’ now. Many thanks, old thing, for your letters and papers and good wishes which I can assure you are very much appreciated. You will be glad to know, dear, that I am feeling ever so well now – never better in my life – and I am thoroughly enjoying my leave which I regret to say is too quickly slipping away.

I came away from hospital on my birthday – it was a present from the Major doctor – and I am very comfortable in this boarding house which is near Wellington – I get two rounds of golf every day nearly – and sometimes tennis or a long walk and sometimes a picnic in rickshaws which is great fun.

I am as red as a berry and if you saw me now you would never believe I had been ill and would think me a dreadful fraud. I come before another Board in a weeks time for my leave ends on Oct 23rd. The doctors are sure to pass me fit for duty and will wire to Simla for my orders and I shall be very anxious to know. I think it very probable that I shall be sent to Poona which is the Dorset depot and if this is so I shall almost certainly find myself in the Gulf again before long – You will have seen in the papers that they have just had another big fight out there and thank goodness we’ve gained a great victory2 – The Dorsets led the attack and up to now I see 12 officers have been hit and I am wondering how many of my men came through safely – all the officers in my Company are wounded so I suppose I should be very thankful that I am safely lodged in India instead of lying out there with an ounce of Turkish lead inside me! But it has always been a great trouble to me to have had to leave my men in the Gulf and shall feel it only my duty if I am sent back to them – I can only hope for better luck next time but I think in such times as these one’s life is not one’s own but one’s country’s. But I am anticipating! At any rate I have promised to send Mother a cable if I go back to the Dorsets so you will perhaps hear by the time this reaches you.

I have had no home mail this week and am therefore very worried and anxious about Mother – the last letters have been very sad and depressing – I am hoping to see Harold before I leave Southern India but do not know yet if he will be able to get over to me in Madras. I do hope so – I’m so glad Gretchen and Leslie have been at Elm Grove and hope perhaps you may be able to go down again soon – it makes her so happy to have people she is fond of about her! You have had a very busy time lately and I hope you will not knock yourself up – I imagine it is getting cold & cheerless in England now and the leaves are falling – I am always wondering when I shall see the old country and the dear old friends again! I cant foresee the end of this terrible war and I think we have many many anxious months ahead! but lately the news is better and in Flanders weve go[t] superiority of artillery fire at last and are able to get a move on! I will write you very soon giving you my latest news and telling you my orders – Again ever so many thanks dear for all your goodness & heres my best love and all good wishes from your old pal

Stan

 

1 Slang meaning ‘toff’, elegant gentleman “Tatler”.
2 The Turkish force holding Kut el Amara was attacked on September 26th and after several days of fighting with heavy casualties the town was occupied.

Next letter Oct 29th 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/ or Amazon