we have caught 7 prisoners…

June 26 1917
no address

My dear old Elsie
I hope you have been getting my letters regularly because I have told you all my movement sometimes I think the Censor may cut out some of the things I write. As it is past history now I think I can tell you that the place we first came to after leaving Cairo was El Arish – we are now about 30 miles further up so if you look at a map of this front you will be able to see where I am and we are actually in Palestine now. Soon after leaving El Arish which is an absolute sandy desert we came across a blade or two of green grass and gradually cultivation increased and now we are on fairly firm ground with grass everywhere but very few trees yet. Only a few miles ahead we are told we get into lovely country and I only hope we shall soon be able to beat back the Turks towards Jerusalem. We are very busy here night and day and altho the sea is quite near we have had no opportunity of bathing yet and so we are all very very dirty. As soon as we arrived at this place we had to take over the outpost duties and Ive been in charge of three posts with my Company.

Nothing much has happen[ed] yet except that we are rather troubled by Arabs just as we were in Mespot – and we have caught seven prisoners up to date which is a start at any rate. Just ahead the guns are firing incessantly and the airmen on both sides are very active. I wish I could tell you more dear girl I am writing this in my little dugout with a couple of blankets shielding me from the sun – it is very burning in the daytime but a delightful climate compared to India and it is very cold when doing patrol duty at night. It must be two weeks since I heard from you & Ive had no letters from home since leaving India I do hope the postal arrangements are going to be kind to us out here and not like Mespot. The railway and water pipe run right up here so we have plenty of stores – Unfortunately we are only allowed one water bottle of water a day & we have to do all our drinking shaving & washing in that! Its three years since I saw you and I do wish it could all finish and we could return to the dear old days of peace – but I suppose we must all be patient – if only Russia1 hadnt proved so disappointing – it might have been almost over by now. Hope you are very well dear girl, with best love

from Stan

1 The Komilov offensive had failed.

Next letter July 9th 2017

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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…we can bathe in the jolly old Jordan…

June 16 1917
no address but Regimental Badge not excised

My dear old Elsie
Many thanks dear old girl for your last letter (May 23rd) – your letters are the only ones Ive had since leaving India so you can guess how much they are appreciated – I cant think why the Paters letters arent reaching me unless he is still expecting me home. Well dear girl we move tomorrow further up so we are all bustle and excitement again – the move has come rather sooner than we anticipated – so this is the last letter I shall write from this desert of sand. Tomorrow will bring us actually into the Land of Milk and Honey – we shall leave the sands behind us and I hope find green fields & trees. Im afraid we shall be too near old man Turk to bathe very often and we shall miss this luxury ever so much – we shall have to go dirty thats all for fresh water will be much too precious to wash in very much. We shall have to wait until we can bathe in the jolly old Jordan with a cake of Coal Tar I will send you a line when ever I can and I hope wont worry about me. I am ever so fit now with absolutely no fever and Im so happy to be on service with my own old Regiment. I shall always be thinking of you & looking forward to Peace and the re-union in the dear old country with my best love

from Stan

Next letter June 26th 2017

These letters have been published as
Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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..from ‘somewhere in Palestine’…

June 9 1917
no address.

My dear old Elsie
Heres a few lines of greeting from ‘somewhere in Palestine’ for we left our camp in Cairo a week ago and are now at an advanced base. It was an uneventful journey but of course very interesting and I think the building of 200 or so miles of railroad1 right across the sandy desert with no fresh water is an achievement with which the nation may well be proud –  At present we are living among a sea of sand-hills –  fine almost white sand – there are no roads and one simply flounders about and of course its very hard going especially for the poor transport animals – it is fortunately much cooler than India but the sand glare is very trying and Ive  always got to wear my dark spectacles and the men are issued with these too. We have one great compensation for our petty discomforts and it is that we are only a few hundred miles [?yards] from the sea – and most days we are able to bathe in the clearest – bluest –  warmest sea imaginable Nothing very exciting has happened yet except that we get a good deal of attention from enemy aircraft who drop those loathsome bombs but our guns generally chase them away successfully –  All day & night long we hear the artillery duels and at night the sky is illuminated by the star shells and flares The men are all very happy and excited about it all – poor devils – they are such boys most of them – and it rather depresses me when I think what is before them – its a great mercy they don’t know as much as I do about the cruel heartless side of war

EW-camels

There is no news of our immediate future but I fancy we shall be here for some little time but of course its always impossible to foretell –  only a few miles further ahead we come into the Holy Land and there we are told are green fields & trees – orange groves and fresh water in abundance –  we long for the time we can push on to these luxuries
I am enclosing dear girl one or two snap shots that Banes Walker took when we were at the Sphinx & Pyramids I am on the black camel in case you can’t recognise me.
I hope you are fit & well and having real summer weather
Best love dear old pal
from Stan

 

1 ‘The main single track railway from Qantara had reached Deir al Belah at the date of Sir Edmund Allenby’s arrival. It just sufficed, independently of sea transport, to maintain the force before Gaza. As soon as he received instructions to double this line the work was put in hand by Brig. Gen. Sir G Macauley, Director of Railway Transport, and it advanced very quickly. By the end of August, 8 miles from Qantara had been doubled, while bank work and the laying out of sleepers and rails had been completed for approximately another 10 miles. By the end of September the double line was in use beyond Qatiya, a distance of over 30 miles as the track lay. At the end of October, on the eve of the offensive, it was in use up to Bir el Mazar, a distance of 70 miles, a mile a day thus having been laid during the last two months.’ (Cyril Fails, Military Operations Egypt & Palestine from June 1917 to the end of the War. HMSO 1930, part I p.20).

Next letter June 16th 2017

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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en route for the front line…

May 31st. 1917
[no address, but certainly Helmieh.1]
[On envelope: ‘passed by censor No 3983’]

Heres another few lines to tell you this is the last time I shalt write to you from this camp for in a few hours from now we shall be on the move again en route for the front line.

I’m not allowed to tell you our exact destination at present but it isnt far from Beersheba and you can easily find this on the map so you will have a very good idea. We have worked night and day since last I wrote and now I think we shall set out quite completely equipped and a very fine Regiment indeed. I shall write you as often as I can but there may be some little delay for a bit. Many thanks dear for a photo you sent me of Highcroft, it looks a delightful place and I’m sure you’ll simply love these next few months especially if you get some really nice summer weather. I forgot to tell you that when I was at the Pyramids I got a little old bead necklace with charms and amulets2 onew-receipt it –  these are supposed to have been dug up out of the tombs and may possibly have adorned some ancient Egyptian Princess in days gone by. Ive put it in a cigarette tin and posted it to you and I hope it and the feathers wont get submarined well goodbye dear girl I shall always be thinking of you & looking out for your letters – dont worry about my safety – if I can ward off this fever I shall get through all right
Best love dear girl
from Stan

1 The Regiment left Helmieh Camp for El Arish on June 3rd 1917 (War Diary, PRO WO 95/4690).
2 Receipt and Warranty
[This small sheet is a printed form whose blank spaces have been filled in by a ‘Dealer of antiquities’ with an unreadable signature. See plate, section II, p.2.]
30th May 1917
Cairo
I undertake to refund the sum of P.T. 125 [?7251 paid to me by Mr Goodland for Necklice of the 18th Dy [dynasty] about 1700 B.C. If any of the Egyptologist of the British musim or Cairo musim stated that it is not real old one.

Next letter June 9th 2017

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