A week’s leave!

TELEGRAM dated 14 Oct 17
HYDE HIGHCROFT MINCHINHAMPTON =
AM ENJOYING WEEKS LEAVE CAIRO
GOODLAND =

Sent as weekend telegram, via Eastern Telegraph Company Limited

14/10/17
Turf Club. Cairo

My dear old Elsie
I am enjoying a weeks leave in Cairo and its a really delightful experience after nearly six months of Desert life.
I sent you a wire so that you would know that I am out of range of the shells & bullets for a time and I know you would realize that I’m having a real good time.
Milsom is here with me and we are doing ourselves just proud and tucking in like school boys to all the good things one cant get up in the fighting area –  like butter – fish –  fruit. We’ve got a big double room at the famous Shepheards Hotel1 and its got its own bathroom with one of those white enamel baths & of course we spend hours in the water and it’s such a joy to feel really clean again. I found out Karl Jones2 yesterday and he is coming in to lunch with me this morning and we are going to a most wonderful Zoo later on. Karl looks very well and no one would imagine he has been in hospital nearly six months and I think it will be a long time before he can do any marching or hard soldiering for the muscles of one of his thighs are quite perished a[t] present but he is now passed B3 and will get some clerical job I expect until he gets quite strong. The Regiment came out of the line just before I left but goes back in a day or two – a month in and six days out – it’s very wearying work and I long for it all to be over.

Dear girl – you will be pleased to hear that the Regiment got such a lot of kudos out of the Night Raid and did I tell you the C-in-C sent a special wire of congratulation!3 I dream about that night still and I think those of us who were in it will never forget our experiences. I wrote home a long letter to the Pater with a fairly full account of it all but I’m rather afraid the censor will destroy it – I shall be [interested?] to hear if it ever fetches up. We certainly put the fear of God into the old Turk that night and he simply screamed for mercy –  Allah! Allah! I can hear them now. When I get back I take over the duties of Adjutant – my appointment has been approved by Headquarters from Oct 10th so now I shall have my hands full. I am looking forward to finding letters from you when I rejoin for it seems some time ago since the last mail came – something went wrong with our mails back in August & early Septbr every one was grousing at home but I hope my letters have reached you better lately.
I hope Mrs. Brown is much better now and that you dear girl are keeping fit – with best love
from Stan

1 Then and for many years the leading hotel in Cairo. It was burnt down during the anti-British riots at the time of the Suez Crisis in 1956. En Suite facilities were only to be found in exclusive hotels in 1917.
2 Karl Jones, engaged to Stanley’s youngest sister, Babe, served with the Glamorgan Yeomanry. Invalided from Palestine to Egypt, he later became Chief Cipher Officer, HQ EEF Cairo.
3 General Allenby.

Next letter 25th October 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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So pent up with excitement…

[passed by censor No. 3983]
7 10 17
no address

My very dear old Elsie
Just a line to let you know I am quite safe and well –  In my last letter I think I told you that I was going to attempt a big thing – It was indiscreet of me perhaps to mention it to you but one gets so pent up with excitement that unless on these occasions one can confide in someone one would simply burst! The great event was a night raid and it came off very successfully last night. I will write you more about it in a day or two –  you will be glad to hear the Regiment has received many wires of congratulations today and I personally have had many kind words said to me by the General and my Colonel. The Colonel thinks we are going to be relieved almost  immediately for a rest and then he says I am to go to Cairo for a weeks leave and rest. I shall look forward to this. Many thanks dear girl for your letter received yesterday I am glad that the Doctor is back again and Mrs. Brown is better. Best love dear old girl

From Stan

Next letter 14th October 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

an extra 5 bob a day pay…

Aug 31 1917
no address

My dear old Elsie
Just a few lines written under difficult circumstances to tell you I am quite safe and well altho Ive gone a bit lame in my poor old wounded leg temporarily.

Weve just finished a very hard spell of soldiering and its taxed the strength of the Regiment very much – I wish I could tell you more details – several long night marches over very heavy going and little sleep – however we are keeping cheerful and the men are really wonderful and it makes me feel so proud to be with them and to be one of them. At present we are in the trenches facing Gaza actually the real front line at last after 3 years strenuous training – it seems strange that after all it should be I who should lead the old Taunton & Minehead Company into the trenches for the first time and I feel it a great priveledge [sic] for Ive got 250 of the best fellows in the world in my company. I am some way away from Headquarters and I rarely see anyone else outside my company and I havent seen Banes1 for 2 weeks altho he is only a stones throw away but we are all underground now and I cant leave my post night or day. The Colonel came to see me this morning and to my surprise he offered me the post of permanent adjutant to the Battalion – Frank Calways term of 3 years is up next month and its the custom to make a change and probably Frank will get a staff job Ive got 3 days to think it over and I expect I shall take it especially as the General has already expressed his approval and it means an extra 5 bob a day pay too and besides its looked upon as the star job in the Regiment My only regret will be that I shall have to leave my company.

Thank you ever so much dear girl for your letters which come quite regularly again now – last week brought me too a lovely little book to read ‘Jerry’2 I haven’t had a chance to begin it yet but Im sure I shall enjoy it. And today we had our parcels sent up to us and your delightful box of surprises came for me – I cant thank you enough and Ive already started my new pipe all the things you sent are really most useful – it is so sweet of you dear girl. I am sitting in my dug out now and its just 2 o/c in the morning – weve been heavily shelled all night and have had no rest – I cant sleep now for we have an epidemic of fleas & mice in these trenches – last night when I woke up to do duty I was a mass of bites and I think nowhere on my body could you have put a 5 shilling bit without touching a spot –  tonight its just as bad –  its a horrid war –  but thank God we can laugh at our misfortunes altho all night we scratch and curse. I am so glad you had a real good holiday and that you feel so fit after it

Best love dear and again many thanks for the lovely parcel and book
from Stan

1 Captain Gerald Banes Walker, commander of D Company.
2 Not identified.

Next letter September 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

tired of this horrible war

[letter re-addressed to Gwynant, Park Rd., Hale, Cheshire]
no address.
July 9 1917

My dear old Elsie

Your letters have reached me at last – many thanks dear girl for six of them which arrived a few days ago and gave me the greatest possible pleasure. I am glad the parcels reached you safely as I was afraid they had gone to the bottom of the sea and I hope you will wear that funny old necklace sometimes. If you string them on the strong fine silk used for pearls they should be all right until Barbara has a good pull at them. I am very sorry you have been so unwell but Im thinking of you now on holiday and hoping the change and sea air will do you ever so much good – you will return to Minch quite refreshed – especially if the weather has been fine and warm.

I had 11 letters from the Pater the same day as yours came so have had quite a budget to read and I hope now to hear regularly altho Im told several more Egyptian mail boats have been sunk.

Dont send me the Tatler dear at present — many thanks all the same – I shall miss it especially Eves letters and ‘with silent friends’ but they dont bother much about papers out here and so many wouldnt reach me it would be waste of money. When you think of it however dear girl you might post me a sixpenny novel – say once every six weeks or so – I dont get much time for reading but when I do get a few slack moments its nice to take up something light and frivolous. My out post work is over for the time being and my company is resting (so called) Its been a strenuous time with a lot of night work and Ive been in the saddle all day long sometimes. Im very well dear – only a little tirer –  tired of this horrible war and wishing every day that it may soon be all over General Allenby1 our new Commander in Chief has been to see us – It has cheered us up and we are full of enthusiasm and we are going to have a great victory here before many weeks are gone by – but how I wish it was a thing already accomplished for I know what mettle the Turk is made of and I fear there’ll be much blood shed before we see the gates of the Holy City – however! Goodbye dear old girl – many thanks again for your welcome letters
Best love
from Stan

1 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 Marshal and ennobled as First Viscount Allenby of Megiddo GCB, GCMG, GCVO, KCB, etc, and numerous foreign honours.

Next letter August 1st 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

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
Available from http://twigabooks.co.uk/ or Amazon

…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
Twiga Books, ISBN 978 09528625 2 9 £9.50 + p&p
Available from http://twigabooks.co.uk/ or Amazon

..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
Available from http://twigabooks.co.uk/ or Amazon

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

We’ve visited the pyramids…

May 25 1917
no address.

My dear old Elsie
Just a line by this mail to let you know that I am very well and safe & sound. I wish I could tell you all about our interesting work but unfortunately the censorship is very strict and I have to be very careful.

We are getting on very quickly and well with all our arrangements and the men are splendid – I feel sure the Regiment will do well when we get into closer touch with the enemy.

I sent off the ostrich feathers dear girl and I hope they wont get submarined and Ive also sent a packet of postcard views of Cairo and district these will give you some little idea of a very wonderful city – Since I last wrote to you Ive been to have a look at the Pyramids and Sphinx which are really marvellous and now Im looking forward to having a tour of all the museums tombs and mosques. Weve had a great discussion in the Mess as to what are the seven wonders of the world and strange to say not one of us can remember them all –  I think we’ve got 4 all right –  I wonder if you can remember them dear girl? We thought at first that Egypt had a perfect climate but a few days ago we had an awful sand-storm which lasted two days – It was one of my very worst experiences since leaving home – there always seem something to mar the beauties and wonders of the East. Goodnight – dear old girl – with best love
from Stan

Next letter May 31st 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

Very disappointed not to come home

May 17 1917
no address

My dear old Elsie

Very many thanks dear for a letter that came today via G.P.O. London and dated April 1st. We are of course very disappointed we arent coming home so I think my best address is Egyptian Expeditionary Force. I hope the letter I posted at Aden has reached your safely – we stayed there a few hours and I went on shore to do some shopping – Do you remember I bought you some ostrich feathers1 at Aden going out – well dear they were pinched from my kit which I left in India while I was in the Gulf and so I got some more for you the other day – these I shall try to post to you in a day or two –  I wonder if you will ever wear them. I hope so – after the war at any rate. We arrived at Suez without adventure and came on by train to this camp.2 We are quite near Cairo now and are busy getting our outfit of stores and equipment – In a short time we shall be in the firing line and you will know which front we are bound for – the Censorship is very strict in this country and Im sorry I cant send you any particulars at present. Egypt is quite a paradise compared to India – the climate is ever so much cooler the people whiter and cleaner and everything seems more Western and civilized. We are seeing a lot of this wonderful world eh? In a day or two I mean to go in to Cairo and of course I shall go down to see the jolly old Pyramids & the Sphinx – there is a large French element here and the language is spoken very much –  it is such a change to see some really nice shops and smart people again. When war is over I should like to take a tour through all the places Ive been to – with just one or two particular pals  – would you come dear? Im afraid some of your recent letters to me – and mine to you have gone to the bottom of the sea – It is very sad but I think we shall very soon discover a way to cope with enemy submarines. I shall write you whenever I can and shall look forward more than ever to your letters – With best love dear girl and thoughts always

from Stan

1 The Ostrich feathers were worn by Elsie on her wedding day, September 18th, 1920, see picture at the top.
2 ‘This camp,’ Helmieh, near Cairo (War Diary, PRO WO 95/4690).

Next letter May 25th 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