very strenuous campaigning in the mountainous country

April 7 1918
E.E.F.

My dear old Elsie
Your last letter of Mar 14 came today and I thought I would send you a few lines right away to tell you I am all right.
I hope little Ronald will soon be quite well again and am glad to hear you are getting fat or fatter I should say. I dont know how you do on the restricted rations. The Colonel is back again but we are so much ‘in the fighting’ now that Im afraid my chances of leave at present are very small but I still hope it will be O.K. We are gradually closing in on Shekhem1 and the dear old Regiment is doing splendidly and adding fresh laurels almost every day. Fortunately up to now our casualties are not heavy but we are up against Germans2 now and its very strenuous campaigning in the mountainous country. We hear all sorts of rumours of great doings in France3 and I only hope & pray our wonderful army can hold out and kill & keep on killing Huns until they are bound to give in! It is really awful this waste of the worlds manhood. We are all excitement today for we have a big thing4 on in few hours time – it means a lot of work for me but I dont care a bit so long as the old 1/5th do well and lye no fear of that. The Pater writes very cheerful letters thank goodness and I had a very welcome letter today too from little Gretchen who is bursting with pride over Christine. I do hope my letters are reaching you. I have written quite a lot lately.
Well best love dear girl and loving thoughts always
from Stan

1 now Nablus.
2 Liman von Sanders, German hero of the Turco/German defeat of the Allies at Gallipoli, had become C-in-C of the Turco/German army in Palestine on March 1st 1918.
3 The Ludendorff offensive in France had begun on March 31st.
4 Attack to secure the line Berukin-Arara-Rafat

Next letter April 30th 2018
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Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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Complimented on a fine body of men

This OHMS envelope has written on it: “Salved from Submerged Mail” and is addressed to:
Miss Elsie Hyde
“Highcroft”
Minchinhampton
Glos.

The next two letters have clearly been wet and are difficult to read. They were written in ink, which has run. The letter starts in pencil but continues in ink after the first half page; the pencil is obscured by the ink seepage, but the rest of the letter is possible to read:

17 March 1918

My dear old Elsie
I little thought a few years ago that I should be taking part in such an historic ceremony. The weather yesterday unfortunately was stormy and at the last moment it was decided to adjourn to the large building in Ramleh town known as the Convent It was rather a pity as the whole thing would have looked better in the open air. The Duke drove up in a car with the Commander in Chief and we gave him a “Royal Salute” and then he came over to the Guard of Honour and I was introduced to him and to the Commander in Chief. He then inspected the men and chatted away the whole time asking questions about the Regiment and he stopped and spoke to many of the men –  Afterwards he shook hands with me and complimented me on a very fine body of men. And really they did look well & our band of 48 men and buglers were paraded with us and created quite an impression.

The next thing was the presentation of decorations and there were such a great many of General Staff Officers and all the brass of the Army in Palestine –  I had to march up to have my Military Cross  pinned on and it is such a handsome thing – Im having it engraved and sent home for the Pater to keep for me for Im sure I should lose it out here. We now have a long trek back to the Regiment all through the hills – just before we left we advanced about 6 miles on our front but thanks to our artillery we met with little opposition – I suppose we shall keep on slowly advancing but where our final objective out here is Im sure I dont know. The Colonel is still on home leave but is really due back now – I wish he would come for Im anxious to get my application for home leave sent in. Im longing to see you again dear girl and it cheers me up no end to have something to look forward to. I heard last night that Geoffrey Clarke2  has won an M.C. – he commanded my old company in the fighting last November and did most wonderfully well. Many thanks dear girl for your letters which come fairly regularly now – I hear there has been another home mail since we left the Regiment and Im hoping there will be something waiting for me Im awfully fit & the wonderful hill air suits me well and I think Im getting more cheerful than I have been lately. Goodbye dear girl.
Best love
from Stan

1 General Allenby – Sir Edmund Allenby (1861-1936) assumed command of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force at midnight June 28/29th 1917 at Cairo GHQ and within a week of assuming command had ‘departed on a visit to the front, leaving behind a slightly shaken staff.’ (Wavell, Allenby, op. cit. p.188) Later promoted Field Marshall and ennobled as First Viscount Allenby of Megiddo GCB, GCMG, GCVO, KCB, etc and numerous foreign honours.
2 Lt GP Clarke gazetted to Battalion December 4th 1914, won the MC for his part in the action before El Jib (BoR, p.74)

 

Next letter March 30 2018
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in the red wine of Palestine..

Empty envelope dated 29 Dec. 17

[passed by censor no. 3983 E.E.F.]
New Years Eve 1917

My dear old Elsie
It is New Years Eve and Tm sitting among the rocks of the Judean Hills writing these few lines by the light of my bit of candle. In the red wine of Palestine Major Urwick and I have just drunk to “Absent friends – the West and the Best” and now he is writing to his missis who is in Ceylon. I have very little fresh news since I last wrote – I think I told you what a miserable Xmas we spent – the weather is still very bad but sometimes we get beautifully warm summer days and then we forget all our troubles – I have had no Xmas parcels or letters yet – we are always expecting the mail bags but at present all the transport is wanted for food and ammunition – we are in the line now but I fancy the old Turk is thoroughly demoralised at present so doesnt give much trouble – I wish he would make peace but I suppose Germany wont let him. I often hear from all our wounded officers and some of them will be coming back soon – Poor Milsom is having a bad time still and will probably be sent to England as soon as they are able to move him. Im dreadfully sorry about him.

I wonder how you are spending your New Years Eve and hope you are having a good time I often get letters from Harold – he says he is fed up with his red tape office work in Burma and wants to come out to us but I think he is very unwise and I tell him he doesnt know when he is well off and I would gladly change jobs with him and have a bit of comfort again! What do they think at home about the war now? Can it possibly last through another year?

Best love dear girl and all good wishes for the New Year

from Stan

Next letter January 11th 2018
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Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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We start our long journey on Sunday

Rawal Pindi Club, Rawal Pindi
March 22nd

My dear old Elsie
No English mail has come again and I’m very disappointed – it’s absolutely rotten to get no letters! I am at Rawal Pindi again to day on duty – and return to our old camp late tonight. I wonder if you have received my recent letters telling you we are under orders to leave India? We start our long train journey on Sunday and we go first of all right down to Poona which is nearly two thousand miles – we rest at Poona and when our transport is quite ready we shall be near Bombay and can go right on to the docks.
It’s a long and tiring journey and we are going in two trains and even now we don’t know in the least our destination and it’s quite likely they won’t tell us until we are well out to sea.
The ladies of our Regiment are being sent home by the India Govnt. and left Bombay yesterday – they will have a long trip round the Cape.
Isn’t this war news splendidl – at this rate the Germans will soon be out of Belgium & France.
I shall send a cable home when I know something definite so you will probably hear about me. This will I expect be the last letter I shall be able to send you for sometime. The parcel you mention you have so kindly sent me hasn’t turned up yet but I hope to get it before leaving – many thanks dear old girl. With best love – hoping to hear from you soon & that you are all right – cheero
from Stan

1 German strategic withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line, March 1917.

Next letter April 2nd 2017

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Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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Glad to hear you are recovering…

[Letter addressed to ‘Highcroft’1]
1/5 Somerset L.I., Pir Gumat Shah, India N.W.
Feb 8 1917

My dear old Elsie
Very many thanks dear for your last letter dated Jan 9th and I am so glad you are getting over your ‘flue’ and are beginning to feel stronger – you must have had a very nasty illness and I hope you are getting a little Spring weather now & sunshine to help you get quite well. By this time I expect you will have moved into ‘Highcroft’ and I hope you are very comfortably settled – it is such a business to change houses as a rule. I havent much news this mail – we have had no orders yet regarding our future except that we break up this camp on March 17th and go somewhere. They will probably only give us a few days notice – we may go into blockhouses for the hot weather – or go to some Himalayan Hill station or there is the great chance still of going home. Im still Quartermaster of the Regiment and shall be glad to hand over in a few days – its a worrying job and I hate so much office work – Id much rather be out amongst my men.

Ive had several letters from Alice who seems much impressed by Burma and she is of course delightfully happy. Harold is lucky to be stationed in such a nice place as Maymyo & to have such a good job. We get papers 3 days late here and are at present wondering & wondering if America really intends to declare war on Germany.2
Best love dear old girl – and do keep well now

from Stan

1 The Brown family had moved to another house in Minchinhampton.
2 The USA declared war on Germany on April 6th 1917.

Next letter February 15th 2017

These letters have been published as
Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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Sorry to hear you have flu…

Pir Gumat Shah, Attock District, North West Frontier, India
Feb 1st 1917

My dear old Elsie
I was so very sorry to hear in your last letter that you were in bed with ‘flu and feeling so dreadfully seedy – I do hope you have got over it long ago and that you are your cheery self again.

Its a beastly thing to get but the weather at home seems to have been very severe and I dont wonder at people feeling ill. Do take care of yourself – goodness knows how your little family gets on when you arnt well. Mrs. Brown started the letter quite well – why didnt you let her carry on a little more! Anyway I hope to come to see them all one day in the dim future – and this reminds me of some news which I hope will pass the Censor all right – weve heard on very high authority that many British Regiments are going to be sent to Europe in April – ourselves included. They are sending a whole lot of Garrison Battalions into this country now to take our place and everything seems to point to our going somewhere – Especially as the Frontier seems so quiet just now. We may go to Egypt and then Salonika1 or to England to refit for France – the latter I hope and trust. It seems quite certain that every white man possible will be wanted for the great push this coming summer. And so dear girl, you may see me sooner than ever you expected but you musnt count too much upon it for all orders change about a good deal.

Another thing I must tell you is that the Colonel has been asked by the War Office if he has any officers he can recommend for commissions as Captains in the Regular Army – the Colonel has very nicely selected me as the only one suitable in the Regt and of course I feel very flattered. Of course I dont want to leave the old Battalion again and the CO doesnt want to lose me but he says he feels that it his duty to put up my name if I am willing. I should probably have to stay in the Army a few months after peace is declared and perhaps this would suit me quite well for it will take the country some little time to settle down and for business to find its footing again. Anyhow the Colonel has given me a little time to think things over. If I got into the Regular Army I should certainly be sent home even if the Somersets remained in India.2 Since I last wrote the Regiment has arrived and we are quite comfortably settled down – every one was very pleased with all our arrangements and really the men I had with me worked splendidly. Im still Quartermaster and have plenty to do all day long – its been bitterly cold and theres lots more snow on the mountains which look simply glorious in the sunshine. Many thanks dear girl for the lovely mittens and tie – it was so nice of you and I wear the mittens every day and they are such a comfort to me – everyone in the mess is frightfully envious [jealous deleted] of them.

I am afraid that the Pater has had a very nasty turn and that Dr. Iles says a similar stroke may be fatal – of course he is getting a very old man now but I do hope he will live to see us home again and peace declared. I sometimes wonder if the Babe is equal to her most difficult task? Many thanks again dear for the mittens & tie and hopes that you are well again – with much love
from Stan

1 British and French forces were sent to Salonika in late 1915 to support Serbia, their ally, against Bulgaria which came in on the side of the Central Powers.
2 Stanley did not take up the offer.

Next letter February 8th 2017

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Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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A busy time feeding 900 men

Camp Burhan, Nr.Attock, North West Frontier
Janry 25 1917

My dear old Elsie
Many thanks dear old girl for your letter of the Dec.19th which reached me only today-  goodness knows why it has taken so long in coming – I hope you have been getting my letters lately too – Im sorry I could not write much while in camp at Tughlakabad1 – but I think I sent you a line most mails since. We are getting on very well with our camp here and when the Regiment arrives in a few days time I think we should be practically ready to receive them and to make them comfortable – Our Quartermaster has to remain at Meerut to hand over and will not join us for two weeks or so – the Colonel writes to say I am to act as Quartermaster until he rejoins so I should have a busy time feeding over 900 hungry mouths & clothing them & making them comfortable! Ive had no chance of doing any exploring since I last wrote – it isnt safe to wander far without an escort and weve all been very busy. As a Major on the Staff said when we first arrived “theres damn all to do up here except soldiering” and Im sure hes quite right. There’s very little shooting even – the other evening I shot a hyena but there are no birds at all – sometimes a flock of geese come over but they fly so high and so fast that they defeat me altogether. They are equipping this Division regardless of expense and I fancy it must mean that when we have all been training together for some little time that we shall see service somewhere  – they are completing us in transport – field ambulances all the newest Maxim & Lewis Guns – bombs in fact every thing necessary for service – If we do go I hope it will be anywhere but Mespot.

Since I last wrote you I have passed the anniversary of my wound and my Military Cross – It seems only yesterday I was passing through those awful times and everyday I go through the different thrilling events in my mind. lve had several letters lately from old friends in the Buffs – they are still fighting and on Jan 11 and 12th lost a good many casualties  – they have had a very very hard time indeed and must be absolutely done up by this time.2

Its awfully lonely here and I shall be so glad when the Regiment comes – we are such a cheery Mess when we all get together – Banes Walker3 – Milsom4 and the two Moores are the only subalterns left of the old crowd who came out in the Kenilworth Castle and we are all the greatest of pals – all the others  – about 16 – have dwindled away – most of them have got jobs in the Indian Army with the intention of sticking to soldiering after the War.

Todays mail also brought a few lines from the Babe5 with quite a cheerful report of the dear old Pater –  he seems really wonderful and has quite rallied again. Before next mail I hope to get your promised parcel off – the post office is two miles away and I havent had a chance of going down yet.

Many thanks dear girl for the Tatler – I shall enjoy the two letters more than ever now we are so far away from civilization. The married men of the Regiment are of course frightfully sick because no ladies are allowed so far north as this – they are staying at Meerut for the present.

Well cheero dear old thing – heres my love to you & the best of good wishes

from Stan

1 The ruins of Tughlakabad. one of the seven cities of Delhi
2 The Buffs were involved in the campaign to recapture Kut.
3 Gerald Banes Walker of North Petherton, Bridgwater, Somerset. He, Harry Milsom and Stanley were close friends and colleagues. They are mentioned several times in subsequent letters.
4 Harry Milsom (1889-1970) MA Cantab. Ranching in British Columbia before the War. Assistant Secretary of the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, 1919-1930. Secretary, 1930-1939.
5 Florence Amy Goodland (1892-1977), known as ‘the Babe’, 4th and youngest sister to Stanley, married Karl Jones of Mumbles, South Wales, in 1920. On July 30th 1914 she left England to attend a course at the Dalcroze College of Dancing near Dresden. Caught in Germany by the outbreak of war she succeeded, on the second attempt, in crossing the Dutch frontier. A long account of her experiences was printed in the Somerset County Gazette, September 19th, shortly after her return.

Next letter February 1st 2017

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Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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My Military Cross has been announced

1/5 Somerset LI., Meerut

Jan 4 1917

My dear old Elsie
You will see by my address that we are stilt at Meerut – all packed up –  -and waiting the order to go further north. I think perhaps I told you that I am to go ahead of the Regiment with an advance party of 100 men and as we shall probably get 10 days start I am expecting to move any day.
Of course now everything else in my mind is eclipsed by the announcement of my Military1 – the cable from the Pater (it hasn’t appeared in the Indian papers yet) arrived one evening just as we were going into Mess – everyone went mad with excitement and it was a very merry night I can tell you. Well – my dear old girl – thanks so much for keeping my secret – it’s been a long long time of waiting – practically a year and many times lately I’ve given up hope even of getting it. It’s made the events of that awful Janry 1916 come back very vividly to my mind and it really is a perfect miracle that I’m still alive and well. The Colonel is delighted and I’ve had congratulations on all sides – I’m glad to have been able to bring a little honour to the jolly old Regiment and it pleases me beyond anything to feel how delighted the old Pater must be. I only hope he is better now! Ever so many thanks dear girl for your Xmas letter & papers & parcel – the latter arrived actually on Xmas morning – it is so kind of you & I’m enjoying the cigarettes so much – the little dominoes are sweet & everything else simply topping.
Considering all things we had quite a good Xmas – 3 or 4 of our officers have their wives out here and they gave all sorts of gay parties. On Xmas morning I went to Church Parade and then back to see the men sit down to a tremendous spread –of turkeys geese ducks ham beef plum pudding etc etc – all very small and poor things that would make our English birds blush for same [shame] but it was all very jovial and nice – lots of singing – lots of toasts – lots of soldiers talk which I simply love. I’ve been thinking of you and all the people at home – thinking of poor Mother & it’s so difficult & almost impossible to quite realize that she isn’t at Elm Grove waiting for the end of the war and waiting til we come home. I expect you have had a busy time with the children and I hope you have had a happy time – I can’t tell you what’s going to happen to us on the frontier. In any case there won’t be any trouble until about March when the hillmen have no work to do and no crops to worry about – it’s at those times that they come down & make trouble.
We shall be under canvas or in blockhouses or dugouts & the cold for the next few weeks will be intense – After March it gets so hot that we shall have to be sent somewhere where we can get more shelter than canvas. I’ll let you know my movements but of course I’m not allowed to tell you very much.

Again many thanks dear old girl for your letters and gifts – with best wishes for the New Year and lots of love

from Stan

1 The London Gazette announced that Lieutenant, temporary Captain, Edward Stanley Goodland, (Somerset Light Infantry) had been awarded the Military Cross. Captain Goodland is the well known Somerset cricketer. He is the son of Mr EC Goodland and a member of the firm of Franklin, Hare & Goodland, jewellers, etc., of Taunton. He was wounded during the advance on Kut some months ago.’(Somerset County Gazette, December 30th 1916).

Next letter Jan 12th 2017

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Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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Very busy and training strenuously…

Tughlakabad Camp, Delhi
Dec 2 1916

My dear old Elsie
Only a moment this mail to send you a line to thank you ever so much for your last letter written from Hale1 – you seem to have had a real busy holiday but I’m sure the change must have done you good. We are very busy and training strenuously – very often night and day – we are all very fit and must be hard as nails – I’m bound to say I like camp life much better than barracks. We go to the Frontier on Jan 15 – so that will give us about 2 weeks in Meerut to pack up and make other arrangements – best love dear old girl and a New Year kiss fromStan

1 Home of Elsie’s family, near Altrincham, Cheshire.

Next letter Dec 21st 2016

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Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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Best news is Harold is coming to stay…

Somerset L.I. Chakrata
Sept. 28 1916

My dear old Elsie
I wonder where you will be when this reaches you? On holiday I hope for I’m sure you have earned a good rest – I imagined you were away last August but suppose that fell through. Many thanks dear for your last letter & Tatler (Aug 29th) – I can’t think why you haven’t heard from me for I’m sure I wrote you several times from Mussoorie – some of my letters from home have been lost lately too! The best news I’ve got this mail is that Harold is coming up here to stay with me in about 10 days time – I am looking forward so much to seeing him again – he’s got a fortnights leave and is going to have a look round Agra & Delhi on his way up. It is very quiet here but so beautiful that one is never dull – I am writing in my bungalow  verandah  now and I’ve got a magnificent view of the mountains & snows – I’m sure Harold will enjoy it & we’ll go off for long walks. The Colonel & his wife have gone down to Meerut now and I’m keeping her dog for her – it is a beautiful setter – reddy brown colour and he is such a companion. When you get this we shall probably be on our long march down to the Plains – I shall enjoy this I’m sure – I hear there’s going to be a push in Mespot early in November and I do hope they’ll send a large enough force to get to Baghdad this time – My old pal Thomas Moore is getting married next week – his fiancee is coming out from Cheltenham & he’s marrying her at Bombay – Here’s my best love & a cheero

from Stan

Next letter Oct 5th 2016

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