I think Ive forgotten how to talk to a girl…

28/1/19
no address.

My dear old Elsie
Heres another short letter to tell you I am fit and well but still no nearer demobilization! We are in the same spot watching the boats go by and there is a lot of shipping now with troops going back to Australia and some from India and Mespot going home. The Indian troops in our Division are going back to India next month so we shall cease to be a Division1 then but I dont know what will become of us. In the meantime we continually send officers and men away. 52 went today, I daresay I shall turn up at Highcroft sooner than I imagine – I am looking forward to meeting the Browns & your two little charges. If I get back in time for your holidays I shall ask Gretchen to invite me up to Hale – unless you can spend some time at Taunton – I really think I’ve forgotten how to talk to a girl – the last time I spoke to one was in India going on for 2 years ago! I will enclose 2 snaps taken of the Regiment on the march a little while ago – you will find me riding with the Colonel. We had a topping hunt yesterday morning – first a fox then a wolf which ultimately got away. My old mare carries me well and seems to enjoy it altho I must ride l2st 6!

Urwick is on his way back from Ceylon at last and we expect him daily – I shall be so pleased to see his cheery face again – he has had a long holiday and I think the Colonel will go home very soon now – he wants to avoid any more hot weather out East Many thanks dear girl for your last letters which only took 14 days to come – rather different to the old times. I shall never be able to thank you enough for writing so regularly and such cheery letters – Yes I remember well the old dances and I hope Im not too old to dance again with you in the good days ahead – but they say you are horribly out of it nowadays if you dont Jazz and foxtrot and Im not athletic enough to do either
with best love dear old girl

from Stan

1 75th Division

Next letter 4th February 2019

These letters have been published as
Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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We had a grand time hunting…

(no envelope) Jan 21st. 1919
E.E.F.

My dear old Elsie
Many thanks dear girl for your last long letter of Jan 1st telling me about your Xmas and Im so glad you spent such a happy time and as you say next Xmas will be happier for all of us. Things are quieter here now the rush of getting the special men for demobilization is over and I get a little spare time and a chance of taking some riding lessons. Major Watson has gone and as the Colonel is at Port Said I am left in command of the Regiment for a few days.

We are still on the canal bank and quite near the Remounts – they are a very jolly lot and have got 6 couple of hounds out from England and hunt twice a week. I went out with them yesterday starting at 5 am and we had a grand run after a wolf1 he gave us a 35 minute gallop across the open and then got away for horses and hounds had all had enough – I[t] was so exciting and I hope to go out once a week in future. There are plenty of foxes about and an occasional gazelle. There is a lot of shipping in the canal these days and its all very interesting and peaceful after the hell of fighting.

I was expecting Frank Calway tonight he is on his way to Luxor – lucky beggar – I wish I could go with him. My own demobilization still seems three or four months off however. Best love dear girl and all good wishes

from Stan

1 There are two kinds of fox which would occur in the vicinity of El Qantara: Ruppell’s Sand fox (Vulpes rupelli) and the red fox, Vulpes vulpes which is exactly the same animal as is found in Britain. The wolf, Canis Lupus, does occur in the Sinai Peninsula but is uncommon. It is more likely they were pursuing examples of the common jackal, Canis aureus. From a letter from Daphne M Hills of the Natural History Museum, Mammals Section. October 16th 1995.

Next letter 28th January 2019

These letters have been published as
Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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My days are full of demobilization…

postmark 15 Jan 19
no address.

My dear old Elsie
I hope you wont think me unkind for not writing more often but I have no time My days are full of  demobilization and already we have sent off 12 officers and nearly 200 men. Major Watson has gone and so until old Urwick comes back I am second-in-command again. The men are mostly miners students and men over 41 years of age. It is rather sad to break up the old Regiment in this way and I should have liked to have marched up through Taunton altogether but it cant be helped. In a few days I think all the men who left for India in 1914 will be sent home – and there are only 240 left out of the 800 who sailed. Of course I ought to go with this party but the Colonel wants me to stay to see the thing out so I shall be here for another 2 or 3 months I suppose. The Colonel himself is being transferred to the Home Establishment so will go home soon as he says he cant stand another hot weather in the East. We are now in camp actually on the banks of the Suez Canal – one cannot help contrasting this with last winter with all the misery and mud and rain. It is really very interesting here and I suppose the most perfect climate in the World for a month or two – we watch the great liners & transports passing by and longingly wish we were aboard. The men are very happy if a little impatient to be off – they are able to bathe and fish in the Canal and often catch some sort of salmon weighing 16lb. We had quite a good Xmas and a particularly Merry New Years Eve. We managed to get enough frozen turkeys to give the men a good feed and they had plum pudding issued with their rations. Beer was rather short but I think they all had a good drink. It is so peaceful now. You cant imagine what a relief it is to have finished with the incessant noise and anxiety of war! I wish you could see my row of ribbons now – they are so pretty. My M.C. comes first and then the 1914-1915 Star and then the Croix de Guerre – I am entitled to the Star for my service in Mespot in 1915 so I have really been very lucky so far as medals go. I hope you had a Merry Xmas and I am looking forward to your letter telling me about it – I hope Mrs. Brown was well enough to enter into things

Im afraid I have never thanked you half enough for the presents you sent me – please forgive me dear and Ill try to make it up to you one day – I am enjoying the pipe so much.

Please thank your mother for so kindly remembering me too – I will try to send her a line one day for I have so much enjoyed the Xmas Punch Frank Calway is coming to see us tomorrow –  he is on his way to Luxor on leave and of course wants me to go with him – but I simply cant! Im afraid I shant get leave any more unitl Im finished with Army!

I get long letters from the Milsoms they have a little flat in Harewood House in Hanover Square and I am to be Godfather to a young Milsom who arrives in June1. He is still lame and they have kicked him out of the Army much to his disgust. I wonder what Harold & Alice will do now. I havent heard from them since the Armistice but I imagine they will try to get home as soon as possible – perhaps I shall see them pass up the Canal one day! I hope you are fit dear girl and escaping this awful flu’ – sorry to say several of our men have died of it lately – It is really very sad after living through the fighting. With best love dear girl and all good wishes

from Stan

1 Darrell Milsom was born July 3rd 1919. An RAF officer, he died in a flying accident, March 1940.

Next letter 21st January 2019

These letters have been published as
Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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Stan’s life in 1919

For Stanley Goodland as for many others after the Armistice of 1918 the future remained uncertain. There was a strong argument for his seeking a regular commission in the service in which, with his good record, he now felt entirely comfortable. The resumption of his interrupted civilian career in the fine art trade suggested a viable alternative, if a suitable opening could be found.

The 1919 letters convey the situation in which a conscientious war-time soldier found himself. He was guided by intense loyalty to his commanding officers, (Lt Col Cooke-Hurle who relinquished command in February, to be succeeded by Lt-Col Urwick) and to the ‘dear old Regiment.’ As Adjutant he was directly involved in implementing the demobilisation process; the War Diary records the departure of officers and other ranks in twos and threes and larger parties. When the Egyptian troubles began in March the Battalion had been reduced to about 200 men but the laconic entries for March 25th & 26th record the arrival of a total of nine officers and 623 other ranks from the demobilisation camp at Kantara.1 The task of re-equipping these men, asserting authority over them and moulding them into a coherent unit must have been acutely difficult; no wonder there were ‘many anxious times with the management of the mixed crowd we have with us.’

It was with this ‘mixed crowd’ that the 1/5 Somersets went by rail from the Canal to Cairo and on March 29th set out for Upper Egypt, some by river steamer, others escorting the construction train repairing the permanent way. It was the train party which was fired on from Shobak el Ghaffara, about 70km from Cairo, on March 31st. The terrible punishment visited on the village is described without comment in Stanley’s letter April 7th. After a brief concentration of all four companies at El Wasta the Battalion was again split. Two companies stayed at Beni Suef, while Battalion Headquarters and the remaining companies continued South by river steamer. Passing Beni Mazar and El Minya they reached Mallawi on April 10th, where camp was pitched near the railway station which was found to be undamaged. The villages round Mallawi were inspected, some at dawn, by parties of soldiers accompanying a British political officer. A few  suspected extremists were arrested and in one village a store of gunpowder was discovered, but no resistance was offered – perhaps the fate of Shobak el Ghaffara had been widely reported.

On April 21st, Easter Monday, the force at Mallawi travelled North on the restored railway to Beni Mazar and on May 9th the complete Battalion was re-united near Cairo. Later in May Battalion Headquarters and two companies removed to Suez. Demobilization resumed. In June Frank Urwick, Stanley Goodland, four more officers and eleven other ranks went to Cairo to attend a Court of Enquiry into the Battalion’s activities in Upper Egypt in March and April. The hearing lasted a month and ended inconclusively when the lawyer for the prosecution failed to appear in court to make the concluding presentation of his clients’ case.

Stanley’s last months in Egypt were spent mainly at Port Tewfik, opposite Suez. Cricket, football and party-going occupied some of his time but he feared that the continued unrest in Egypt would still detain him. After many false hopes had been raised he and the small remaining cadre of the old Battalion at last found themselves sailing from Alexandria on Christmas Eve, 1919.

1 WO 95/4690.

Next letter 15th January 2019

These letters have been published as
Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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Background to the letters of 1919

The acute problems generated by the nature and speed of the collapse of the German and Austria -Hungarian Empires had their counterparts in the Middle East where, as the Ottoman Empire disintegrated, the principle of self-determination embodied in President Wilson’s famous fourteen Points was embraced as eagerly as in Central and Eastern Europe.

As the war had gone on British civil and military control of Egypt had become progressively stricter. The Egyptian people had been assured that they would not be called on actively to help the Empire defeat its enemies but the British turned to requisitioning, particularly in 1917 and 1918. For instance: the demand for labour to build roads, railways and water pipelines could be met only by the recruitment of fellahin (peasants) whose reluctance to leave their land and families was overcome, often with brutality, by native local officials at whose back stood civil and military authorities enforcing martial law. The Egyptian Expeditionary Force could not move without camel and donkey transport and the fellahin found that their precious beasts of burden were commandeered, as was their hay crop, compulsorily purchased for the fodder of the cavalry divisions. Compensation was paid and the wages of labourers and cameliers were good but the disruption and hardship endemic in a clumsy system of enforcement built up a mountain of anger and resentment. In the cities the students, clerks and lawyers complained that their chances of promotion in the civil service and the professions were blocked by the employment of Englishmen, many of whom were less well qualified than themselves. Since their arrival in the 1880’s the British had proclaimed their ultimate ambition to educate the Egyptians into self-government but by 1918 it seemed that such a development had been indefinitely postponed.

There was relief among all ranks of Egyptians when the Turkish attacks on the Canal were repulsed but as the front line was pushed further into Sinai, Palestine and beyond, the war became both irrelevant to Egypt’s political interests and, in the eyes of nationalists, an exercise in European imperialism. The leading exponent of Egyptian aspirations to independence was Saad Zaghlul, who had held office as Minister of Education in Lord Cromer’s time but had since fallen out with the British administration. Soon after the armistice of November 1918 Zaghiul placed himself at the head of a self-appointed delegation and asked permission to go to London to present Egypt’s case for self-government. Referred to the Foreign Office, Zaghiul’s proposal was turned down flat, as was a similar request from Egypt’s official representative, the Prime Minister, who had been a good friend of the British throughout the war. Thus were informed Egyptians taught the bitter truth that their country was of no significance in a post-war world whose leaders had many more important matters to consider. It emerged that President Wilson supported the status quo of the Protectorate and without American sympathy Egypt was friendless. To add insult to injury Egypt found it invidious and hurtful that, by contrast, the Sharif of the Hejaz, now calling himself King, was invited to send his son Faisal to Europe, where he was received by King George V at Buckingham Palace and accepted by Wilson, Lloyd George and other  Allied leaders as the Arab spokesman for the independence of Greater Syria.map 1919

Discontent in Egypt simmered in the winter of 1918-19 and boiled over when Zaghiul was arrested on March 8th and deported to Malta. There was an explosion of rage and the country lurched into anarchy; ‘self-elected bodies, calling themselves Committees of Public Safety usurped the functions of authority in the towns, and Soviets of Sheikhs ruled the villages.’1 The schoolboys and students of Cairo, numerous andvolatile, took over the streets, hijacked the trams and built barricades. Unlucky Europeans and other foreigners were assaulted; some were murdered, including eight Englishmen killed on the train bringing them back to Cairo from a visit to Luxor. The railway and telegraph systems were extensively damaged and Egyptian civil servants, either willingly or under intimidation, came out on strike.

The British Government could ignore Egypt no longer and took action. General Bulfin, Allenby’s deputy, hurried down from Syria, organised mobile columns strong enough to put down armed rebellion, restored order in the countryside, repaired the railways and summarily punished those communities which had resorted to murder, thus adding to the long history of authority reacting with exemplary and arbitrary force to outrages on what native inhabitants see as armies of occupation. Allenby himself, who had been summoned to Paris to take part in discussions on the future disposition of Syria, was precipitately appointed Special High Commissioner in Egypt charged with bringing the attempted revolution to an end, inquiring into the grievances which had prompted it and meeting such as were found to be justifiable. He arrived in Cairo on March 25th; on the 31st he telegraphed London expressing his intention of releasing Zaghiul from internment, and made the public announcement to this effect on April 7th, provoking a great outburst of triumphal joy on the streets of the capital. There were some further outbreaks of lawlessness but the civil servants returned to work and the country was relatively calm by the end of May. His admirers praised the wisdom of Allenby’s surprising clemency; his detractors, of whom there were many among old Egyptian ‘hands’ denounced the folly of giving way to violence and blamed ‘that jackass’ Allenby for the dangerous and humiliating loss of face suffered by all those associated with the British régime.2

Soon after sending Allenby back to the Residency at Cairo the hard-pressed British Government had announced that Lord Mimer would lead a Commission to inquire into Egypt’s long-term future, but it did not arrive until December 1919. The commissioners had been judiciously selected and were thought to be broadly sympathetic to Egypt but their terms of reference assumed the prolonging of the

Protectorate and Egyptian nationalists made sure that Milner and his associates were booed and boycotted. Back at home in March 1920 the Commission began the painful process of preparing their report; by August it was ready, with the recommendation that Egypt should be granted its  independence subject to the reservation of vital British interests, including the permanence of military bases and control of the Sudan. Unfortunately these recommendations were leaked before they had been put before, much less approved by, the Lloyd George Government, itself a quarrelsome coalition. In Egypt Zaghiul and other nationalist leaders competed in denouncing the concessions the British insisted on. Eighteen more months of turmoil and indecision ensued before Allenby was able on February 28th 1922 to issue a Declaration announcing that ‘the British Protectorate over Egypt is terminated and Egypt is declared to be an independent sovereign state.’3

1 PG Elgood Egypt and the Army, Oxford, 1924, p.349.
2 Cannan & McPherson (eds.), Bimbashi McPherson. A life in Egypt. BBC Books, 1983, ch 14, passim
3 Elgood, op. cit. p369.

Next letter 2nd January 2019

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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