I got your sad little letter

1/5 Somerset L.I., Chakrata
Sept 14th 1916

My dear old Elsie
I got your sad little letter1 of August 14th last mail but the Tatler hasn’t come yet so I have not been able to read ‘Silent friends.’2 Anyway I am so sorry dear old girl to have made you feel so miserable – I thought I’d been writing to you almost every mail since I came out of hospital and can’t help feeling some of my letters have gone astray. I was always a little uncertain in my writing wasn’t I? but for goodness sake don’t think I’ve altered in the slightest for I’m always  thinking of you and thanking you for all your letters & papers & parcels and so long as I live I shall feel ever so grateful to you – I thought I’d just send your letter back but perhaps you were feeling a little seedy and depressed when you wrote it so I’ll tear it up and forget all about it for it made me very unhappy to feel I’d disappointed you and made you miserable.

I’m writing in pencil for Frank Calway and I are changing houses to day and are all packed up – I hear we are likely to stay at Chakrata until almost the end of October now and we are going to live together in a topping little bungalow with a view of the mountains & snows which is simply magnificent – I feel I shall never be able to properly describe all the things I’ve seen since I last saw you! I have been working hard at the language lately with a native teacher and am just able to speak it now – I thought it would be useful if I was ever offered a staff job and in any case it’s nice to know something of what is said by the natives around me. Last night I dreamt the war suddenly ended and that we were all together again at Elm Grove for next Xmas – I wish I could really think so. Anyway when peace does come and I come home do try to be down at Taunton to meet me – promise? – After all the monsoon rains the hills are gorgeous now – they are covered with wild dahlias – orchids and convolvulus of every colour. Best love – dear girl – and keep smiling

from Stan

1 This is the only hint of the strain which a long and anxious separation imposed on those engaged in war.
2 Feature in The Tatter.

Next letter Sep 22nd 2016

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Rejoining the jolly old Somersets…

1/5 Somerset L.I., Chakrata, U.P. India
Sept. 7 1916

My dear old Elsie

Just a few lines this mail to tell you I have been ordered to rejoin the jolly old Somersets at Chakrata – we stay here until Oct 9th when we set out on the 100 mile march to the railway and travel down to Meerut – On about Nov 15th we go out into camp for the annual manoeuvres for a month and this will take us on til nearly Xmas unless anything unforeseen happens. I am quite sorry to sever connection with the Buffs for I’d made a lot of friendships in that Regiment and having gone through so much with them I was naturally very attached to ‘em- however many things may happen during the next few months which seem to me to be the most exciting and momentous ones in our dear old country. Many thanks dear girl for your last letters and the Eve book1 which I’m never tired of looking at and which gives me such pleasure. I’m gradually getting better and I’m sure I look awfully well and it really is nice to be back amongst the men I know so well – we are asked to send a draft to the Gulf of 100 men and these go off in 3 days time2 – the Colonel has given me the job of getting them  ready and of course I’m liking it very much and shall be longing to go off with them when the time comes. So long – dear old girl – I hope you have had a real good holiday

With best love & cheerio from Stan

1 May be a collected ‘Letters of Eve’ from The Tatter.
2 This draft left Meerut on October 20th and reinforced the 1/4 Somersets in Mesopotamia.

Next letter Sep 14th 2016

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Back with the old regiment at Chakrata

postmarked 10 Aug. Charleville
[This is a post card of the Savoy Hotel, Mussoorie, but with no message. It appears to have been the label for the parcel referred to in the previous letter 16/9]

Chakrata, India
Aug 24 1916

My dear old Elsie
You will see by my address that I am with the old Regiment again at Chakrata EW 11-16– the Medical Board at Mussoorie passed me fit for active service last Saturday and now I am waiting my orders from Simla – these may come at any moment. As a matter of fact my leave was over on the 20th. so I am, having a few extra days holiday. My own Colonel here is doing every thing he can to keep me and he says that if I am ordered to Mespot again he will tell the authorities that I’m not fit to go and demand another Board – but I don’t think he can do this – I feel very well – dear- and can do quite a lot of walking and heavy exercise but my poor inside is still all wrong – I told the Board this but I look so fit that they were almost bound to pass me and I’ve got back all my lost weight too. I shall be glad when it’s all  settled and if I am ordered back to that godforsaken country of course I’ ll go very cheerfully. I’m so glad I stayed on at Mussoorie for it is deadly dull here in this very small station – all my pals are busy through the day and I’m left all on my lonesome – I felt I was entitled to a real good time and towards the end of my visit I got to know a very jolly crowd of people and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I’ve got awfully keen on dancing again – old girl – fancy at my time of life too – I learnt all the Boston steps and the one step1 steps and when this old war is over we will take the floor together won’t we? The last night I was there we gave a grand concert at the Hotel and got nearly £50 for Mespot – I will enclose a programme EW 11a-16– it was a great success and it was a splendid audience – the little play I had done in England several times with Mrs. Sheen so we soon worked it up and Mrs. Jesse who acted with me hand painted all the programmes and we got 2/6 each for them. In the troupe I was dressed as a ‘Jack Tar’ and looked very funny too. It was a glorious motor ride on my way back from Mussoorie – 60 miles of Himalayan country – the heavy monsoon rains had simply mined the roads in several places and little streams we had to cross were big rivers then and three times we had to be pulled out by gangs of coolies – I wished I’d got my camera! The home news keeps good and I suppose Do and Gretchen3 are at Elm Grove at present – I have thought of you on holiday and hope you have had a good time and real rest – I must write to the Pater now so goodbye – with best love

from Stan

1 Dance steps fashionable at the time.
2 The programme survived see photograph
3 Stanley’s sisters – Do – Dorothy Goodland (1886-1928), eldest of the Goodland sisters, married Herbert (Bert) How in 1909. Gretchen, Greta Goodland (1889-1968), married Elsie’s brother, Leslie in 1914.

Next letter Aug 30th 2016

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Your letters come regularly now

Charleville Hotel, Mussoorie
Aug 11th 1916

My dear old Elsie
I forgot to tell you last mail that in that box I have sent you I have put in a few wooden toys that the natives make and paint and also a little round hat which the rich Indian children wear – I thought these would please your little family. I am still at Mussoorie because I have been ordered to have my Board here tomorrow  the 12th – instead of at Chakrata – besides I am under the medical people here and am having medicine and special diet which is a great nuisance – they ought to give me some more leave but I suppose they won’t for I look so sunburnt and fit. I shall send a cable home when I get my orders so you will probably hear of my destination.

I am thinking of you on holiday now and hope you are getting good weather and a real rest but expect Ronald will be taking up a lot of your time. Your letters come regularly now thank goodness & the Tatlers too – also the old ones keep dribbling in – some written last year – I think I should get most of my mail in time – 3 parcels have reached me so there’s 2 more somewhere to look forward to – tis so good of you old thing – the letter of Mar 12th which you mention hasn’t come yet! I hope to send you some snaps soon – Mrs.Body1 is keen on her camera and has taken several when we have been out picnicing – we had a grand time yesterday climbing another mountain – in the woods coming home we met a whole school of monkeys – they are a big kind with grey blue hair – apes I suppose they were and it was most amusing to see them playing about in their natural haunts! The war in the West is hell now2 and the casualties heart-breaking but I believe we are steadily doing well and when we get the enemy’s third line we shall surely get on faster – one has to be so very patient! The Mesopotamian enquiry sickens me – so many lies are told and so much hushed up – I wish I could write a letter to the Times about it all! The despatches for January still linger in the printers hands I suppose – I sometimes think the awards will never go through – well so long dear old girl – don’t worry about me for I’m all right and I’ll turn up smiling in dear old Blighty3 some day
Best love
from Stan

1 Wife of Capt Body (Capt John Body, 1875-1945, JP, DL, DSO & bar, OBE Tonbridge School Register ed. HD Furley, Rivington 1951, p.185.).
2 Battle of the Somme, July 1st – Nov 18th.
3 Army word meaning England, Home. Corruption of Hindi from the Arabic ‘bilayati’ meaning  ‘European, foreign.’

Next letter Aug 24th 2016

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This horrid old war…

Charleville Hotel, Mussoorie, C/o Cox & Co, Bombay
Aug. 4th 1916

My dear old Elsie
I have just returned from the Intercession Service1 at the Church – it has all been very impressive and the singing was led by the splendid band of the 7th. Hussars.

I suppose there are similar services today all over dear old England – it is hard to realize that this horrid old war has been raging for two whole years and at present I see no prospect of peace for many months to come. I must say it all makes me feel very sad and very homesick but I suppose it’s ones duty to keep smiling & present a bold front to the world, weve simply got to win this war and we shall need even yet all the smiles and bravery of Englishmen – and Englishwomen too – to accomplish it. I hate writing about the war but its hard to forget it and at the back of my mind always there is Mesopotamia and all we went through in those months of struggle to relieve Kut but I’ll try to write you of other things. Many thanks dear old thing for all your letters and Tatlers etc. – I am hearing from you regularly again now and besides I am getting a good many through from the Gulf – last week I actually got a letter and Tatler dated Nov. 24th. last year, these had obviously been in the Kut mail bags. I hope you have received the letters lve written you since I came back to India but Im afraid Im an uncertain letter writer – I always was wasn’t I? But I love your letters and they mean such a lot to me – sometimes I think I dont deserve all the love and thought you give me.

Today I have sent you by registered post a little lot of twelve skins – they are the skins of the Himalayan snow fox2 – I want you to have them made up when you feel inclined into a muff and stole thing but you must please let me pay for doing them up – probably you would find someone in Cheltenham to do this. These skins are scarce now so I hope youll like ‘em and I shall look forward to seeing you wearing them (not next winter I fear). You will be glad to hear I am ever so much stronger than when I last wrote and Im looking ever so fat and fit now my wound doesn’t trouble me at all but my inside is still quite hopeless – the doctor here says I must expect this for some time – the funny part about it is that this trouble doesn’t make me feel ill at all now and of course I am bound to be passed fit for service when I come up for my final Board in about 10 days time. I am still at Mussoorie but must leave for Chakrata in 3 days time – Capt Body left about 10 days ago and is I expect already at Basra but he left his wife here and a week ago Capt. Major & Lieut. Moore3 of the Somersets turned up from Meerut and persuaded me to stay on with them for a bit. I hope to see Harold if I go off to Mespot again from Bombay – my address will be
Capt E.S.Goodland
1/5 Buffs
Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force
c/o India Office, London

it is better to drop the Somerset LI. as it is confusing and we are no longer I.E.F.’D’ but M.E.F. I imagine you are on holiday now and hope you will have ever such a nice time and good weather- you deserve a long rest & change I am sure. This is a very jolly place and there is always plenty to do and everyone seems in the right holiday mood – I will tell you what lve been doing in my next – the mail goes out almost immediately and I dont want to miss it. Many thanks again dear for all your letters and papers – with best love and good wishes for your holiday
from Stan

1 On the second anniversary of the outbreak of the war.
4 Elsie never had these furs made up, but they survived until 2011 as collar and cuffs on her daughter’s coat.
3 Capt Major sailed for India with the Regiment in 1914. He died in the battle for El Jib in Palestine. The two Moore brothers (Thomas & RB) were also in the Regiment from 1914. They both survived the war (BaR pp.xill, 13, 73). They were brothers of Mary, wife of Capt later Lt-Col FD Urwick.

Next letter Aug 11th 2016

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Yesterday, a ripping parcel arrived

1/5 Somerset LI., Chakrata, Upper Provinces, India
July 8 1916

My dear old Elsie
You will be pleased to know that I am ever so much better and am now right up in the Himalayas with the old Regiment I have had such a kind welcome from the Colonel1 down to the smallest private in my old company – they have given me such a swell dinner at the Mess and it is simply glorious being amongst the old Regiment again.

The Colonel says that now he’s got me he’s going to stick to me and has already applied to Simla2 for my return – I think I told you that my leave carries me on until Aug. 20th. and I shall not know what is going to happen to me until then. Everyone here thinks this Regiment is going on service to the Gulf in the autumn (the Colonel appears to have had some private information about this) – already all of the officers here have bought a lot of their field service kit – If this is so of course I should like nothing better than to go out again with them but I certainly do not want to loaf about India doing ordinary Regimental duty while there is a war on. The Colonel of the Buffs will be very sick too if I don’t go back to my adjutant’s job with him – but I shall have to wait and see until my orders come from Simla. I shall have to go before another board of doctors before my leave is up and they may not pass me fit for service again. At present my poor inside is altogether wrong – I suppose it will be some time before I can get over the effects of all the bad food and water I’ve had to live on for so many months. It is really beautiful up here – 8000 feet above sea level, to get here one has to take a motor ride of 60 miles for we are right in the heart of the Himalayas and in clear days the “everlasting snows” glisten in the distance and make one just look and wonder & think what a marvelous world we live in – I cant walk very far in these hilly parts yet but Frank Calway (with whom I am sharing quarters) lends me his pony and I just hack about enjoying the scenery and fresh air.

Well my dear old thing – it seems a long time since I had any letters from you but I am hoping in a few days, to hear from you direct through Cox – yesterday however a ripping parcel came from you which had been travelling all round the Gulf. It is so kind of you but you must promise me not to send me anything more until I go on service again but save your money for War Loan – the knife is just what I wanted & the diary too & the lighter & baccy all splendid – really it is too good of you old pal and I dont deserve it in the least.

To my surprise I had a wire from Harold yesterday saying that he was at Mhow at the Staff School – it is a long way from here but I quite hope we should be able to meet before he goes back to Burma.

The Mesopotamian campaign seems at a standstill just now – the weather is so awful that I think our force is quite unable to do much – I suppose they will wait until September. I saw the Russians who joined up with us about the middle of May and it was all very interesting– I noted that they are trying to fix the blame of the foolhardy Baghdad advance on to someones shoulders and personally I do not see how Sir John Nixon can explain away his entire lack of judgement! I am wondering if Leslie and Bert4 will have to join the colours and what the girls will do then it is very sad and all this upsetting of homes and peoples lives but it simply must be done if we are ever going to end this war successfully.

I am anxious to hear how the Pater is getting on now & hope everything goes all right at Elm Grove – he is enjoying the garden I expect & he always feels better in the warm weather

[unsigned]

1 Lt-Col Cooke-Hurle  DSO commanded the 1/5 Battalion Somerset Light Infantry throughout the war until ordered to report back to the War Office in February 1919
2 Himalayan Hill Station, summer capital of British India. The Viceroy and members of the Viceregal council with their staff retreated there from the heat of Delhi in the summer months. The name is also used as shorthand for Indian Army GHQ.
3 On May 20th a Russian Cossack patrol of 113 officers & men arrived at Ali Gharbi, after a march of 200 miles. They stayed a fortnight; their officers were awarded British Military Crosses (Moberly, op. Cit. vol. III p.13).
4 Leslie Hyde & Bert How, brothers-in-law to Stanley. Leslie was employed making munitions in Manchester.

Next letter Aug 4th 2016

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At the height of my troubles…

[Note: address c/o Cox & Co. Bombay.]
Coluba Hospital, Bombay
June 10 1916

My dear old Elsie
I hope you wont think it very unkind of me not to have written to you for so long but I daresay you have been able to get news of me through my letters to Elm Grove but these I am afraid have not been very regular either. You will I know be glad to hear dear that I am practically well again now. I have had my Medical Board and tomorrow I set out on my journey north for two months leave (I think I had earned leave back to England but the Board thought the War Office at home would snap me up and not allow me to come East again so they kept me in India!) I shall go via Delhi and have a look at Indias great show place and then on to Meerut where half the old Regiment is stationed and then on to Chakrata (in the lower Himalayas) where the Colonel and Headquarters and the other half of the Regiment are stationed. I shall be able to spend a nice quiet time amongst old friends and shall soon regain my lost strength and the two stone in weight which I have entirely lost. I am afraid I did not write you very much (if at all) during April and the part of May I was at the front. April was a very dreadful month and I shall never forget it as long as I live night and day we were fighting to get to poor old Kut for we knew they were on their last legs – well old thing – we failed and it was the greatest disappointment of my life1 – I dont think anyone can ever realize how we tried and tried again against every conceivable difficulty – time after time we stood up to be shot at and attempted to storm almost impregnable enemy positions – added to these anxieties we were faced with a terrible cholera epidemic2 which I suppose people at home will never know about – twenty of my poor regiment went down in 36 hrs and not one recovered – the sights I saw were really heart-breaking – To my great regret our Brigadier General Rice who was a very good friend to me died of cholera a few days before I left the regiment – By the way – old thing – I am Captain now and it was really due to him that I was recommended for my third star. All I want to make me happy is my Military Cross  now – I do wonder if they are ever going to give it to me. I have heard once or twice from the Colonel of the Buffs and I am glad to say that he thinks the cholera is dying out but of course the heat and flies and myriad discomforts are very distressing – I was so sorry to leave them all and fought hard against this fever but it conquered me in the end and then jaundice set in and my whole skin went a delicate primrose colour – there are hundreds of cases of jaundice in the Gulf & the medical people say it is all brought on by bad water & food – it is a most depressing thing to get I can tell you.

About the middle of April when my troubles were at their height a most delightful parcel arrived from you – dear old thing – thank you ever so much. I wish I could tell you in words what pleasure it brought me, at that time I had come to my last pipe (which was one of a pair you gave me some time ago) I had unfortunately lost the mouthpiece of this and had made one with a bit of stick and a penknife which wasnt at all satisfactory – Imagine my delight when I discovered a pipe amongst my parcel & the little mascot too was splendid! The first few days of my illness I lived on your cocoa and soup tablets – even after nearly two years of war the Field Ambulances in Mesopotamia have simply nothing in the way of comforts and drugs. I hate to be always grumbling but really it is a disgrace – I only hope France is run better than Mesopotamia (but it surely must be) else we never even deserve to win the war – and what awful lies the newspapers print3 – why ever cant the British public be told the truth – some day perhaps Ill tell you all I know – but I daresay when peace comes and I am  in dear old England once again I shant want to talk about the war at all but just try to forget all this horrid time.

I must be patient until letters from England find me again – it is a long time since I had my last mail – some time in April 1 think – I do hope you are all well –
with best love

from Stan

1 Kut surrendered on April 29th after repeated & vain efforts for its relief.
2 There were 800 cases of cholera in the Tigris Corps during April & May (Moberly op. cit. vol. III p.9 footnote). Cholera was no respecter of rank.
3 Eye Witness complains ‘It is impossible to communicate freely with the outside world. Things were evidently going wrong and this fussy meddling supervision, this constant fear of anything discreditable leaking out, did not increase one’s confidence in the Higher Command’ (Edmund Candler, op. cit. vol. 1, p.65).

Next letter Jul 8th 2016

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Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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I am all right except for two frost bitten toes

I.E.F ‘D’
Mar 5 1916

Dear old Elsie

Just a line to tell you I am all right except for two frost bitten toes. My wound is not troubling me a bit but I think I shall always be a little lame.

Your last letter was dated Jan 4th. and I have had no parcels at all so some day if only we can get to Kut and things smooth themselves out a little I shall have a big mail bag all to myself. I may not be able to write again for some time as we are just finishing preparations for another big advance1 – I only hope we shall be successful and that before this reaches you the news of the relief of Kut will be wired across the Empire. Everyone is keen and very anxious and I hope the luck that has been mine all through this fighting will stay with me. I cant remember dates now my mind is so busy with other things and so I’m so sorry I cant send you a birthday letter but I fancy the day wont be far off2 when this arrives so heres my most affectionate birthday wishes & greetings. We have lived through very exciting times lately – every day the guns are busy and there has been a lot of night work – sapping and bombing -, Its all very wearing and one needs cast iron nerves I can assure you.

lve had no home news since Dec 30th. but I fancy the Pater and the girls are carrying on most nobly and bravely – I look forward when these new battles are over and our object is accomplished to a good long rest – I feel Ive earned it! I long to get away somewhere quiet for a time – well – so long -old girl

Best love & every good wish

from Stan

1 The attack on the Dujailah Redoubt March 8th – 10th.
2 Elsie’s birthday was February 12th. This letter was a bit late!

 

Next letter Mar 28th 2016

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Only today I have heard about dear Mothers death

I.E.F. ‘D’
Feb 5 1916

My dear old Elsie

Only today I have heard about dear Mothers death1 – Harold cabled me on Dec 23rd but the message has never reached me and his letter that he wrote at the same time only came to hand this morning. You have no idea of the conditions prevailing in this country and the almost unsurmountable difficulties and the post & telegraph people seem unable to cope with things – At any rate for a long time private wires have not been delivered above Amarah but I do think they might have sent on my cable or put it in an envelope & posted it to me as I tried to arrange.

The news altho expected has come as a great shock and I feel very sad and helpless and thoroughly miserable – We have lost the very best of Mothers and no one will know not even we her children all she suffered for us and her constant thought for our welfare. I find it difficult to write but you know how I loved her and what I must feel about it all. I am thinking so much now of the poor old Pater – it must be heart breaking to see him without his lifelong mate – he is an old man and I am very much afraid his strength will fail him. I feel so unhappy about it all and that is why I naturally turn to you best of friends. Please write and tell me everything – I was so glad to get a letter from you (Dec 9th) but it is only one up to now and no Xmas present that you mention – ever so many thanks – but there must be many more somewhere which I am looking forward to getting very soon. I should like a long pow wow with you now for there is so much to tell you – I have wondered very much lately if we shall ever meet again. I dont want to appear despondent but I dont think it is possible for any one to go through a second time all weve been through since Jan 4 with a whole skin – I have had the most extraordinary good luck and I think a little goddess of good fortune has been looking after me and I hope she won’t be frightened away. Candidly I have seen enough and I wish this old war would end – Altho I really dont want it to now until we can say we are top dog. I wonder if we can smash the enemy in every theatre of war this coming Spring – what do you think – its men we want – thousands and . thousands of them!

And now old girl I am just dying to tell you a great secret about myself – you musn’t tell a soul and I haven’t even mentioned it to my own people in case of disappointment I have been mentioned in despatches and recommended for a ‘Military Cross’ for “helping his company with great gallantry and coolness during the actions Jan 4th to 21st and on the 21st altho wounded himself going out about 150 yards in front of our advanced trenches and bringing in a wounded officer of the Dogras under heavy fire.”2 What do you think of that – old thing. It really looks better on paper than it was but it was a very exciting adventure – Towards the close of the days fighting on the 21st we had orders to retire about 300 yards to take up a position for the night and I saw this poor chap out there in front of us and managed to crawl out to him on my right side (for my left thigh was bleeding and painful) and drag him back a few inches at a time – in doing so I was hit through the water bottle and through the shoulder of my coat – it all sounds like a book or a play and cant you imagine poor Lewis Waller3 working it up but its all true and I can tell you it was very thrilling – I do hope they give me an M.C. but they have been very sparing of honours in this show – It would be something to keep and cherish afterwards if I get through and in any  case it will always be nice to feel I’ve been mentioned – the list wont be published I expect for at least six months and I may not live to see it in print and that is why I wanted to tell you all about it myself – but keep it a great secret wont you.

I am practically well now and have been appointed adjutant4 to the 5th Buffs so join up again in a few days the appointment dates from Jan 8th. when the adjutant was unfortunately killed and as it means £10 a month extra pay it is very nice but this I suppose will cease when I can get to the Dorsets. Best love old girl

From Stan

1 Mother’s death: December 22nd 1915
2 This was the commanding officer of the 37th Dogras, who had been shouting for help in a manner Stanley, (as he explained 58 years later), considered unfitting and ungentlemanly.
3 William Waller Lewis (3 November 1860 – 1 November 1915), known on stage as Lewis Waller, was an English actor and theatre manager, well known on the London stage and in the English provinces.
4 Lieut H S Marchant, Adjutant of 5th Buffs, was killed on January 7th 1916. Stanley was appointed Adjutant in his place. (See RSH Moody, op. cit., p.125).

 

Next letter Mar 5th 2016

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It was a nice clean pointed bullet

Field Hospital I.E.F. ‘D’
Feb 1 1916

[The envelope is marked ‘E.S.Goodland Lieut 2nd Dorsets]

My dear old Elsie

I am very sorry I have so few chances of writing since leaving India – I wrote you last from Ali Gharbi1 about Xmas time & hope you got it and now I am in hospital once again but this time thank goodness with no serious trouble. We have had a terrible time and very hard fighting and I was lucky enough to come through everything safely until the 21st. when I was hit through the left thigh I am glad to say it is only a flesh wound and it was a nice clean pointed bullet so it is healing very quickly and I hope to be about again in a few days but I expect I should be lame for a little time.2 In spite of everything I am really very well but so tired and absolutely worn out. I think I told you that I arrived just too late to join up with the Dorsets – poor devils – they have been shut up in Kut since early Decbr with very little stores. I got as far as Ali Gharbi where the relief force was being concentrated and for some weeks I had a very busy time and lived with the General3 at Headquarters and was a great knut  On Jan 4th. the great advance began and on the day before I became attached to the 5th. Buffs who had just arrived from India. Some day I hope to tell you of the wonderful time we have passed through – from the 4th. to the 21st we have had no rest for we were fighting night & day. I did not take my boots off or clothes – didn’t wash shave or clean my teeth – I had quite a beard and you wouldn’t have known me – Can you imagine the state we were in? Operations ended on the 21st (the day I was hit) for the weather was awful and the country practically under water – How we suffered –it has been bitterly cold and often we had to be out in the desert at night or in the trenches in our thin Indian clothes with no blankets & often no food or water and nearly always wet through. Those few of us who remain now wonder how ever anyone is left alive – I can’t tell you any particulars but I’ll tell you this much the Buffs started out on the 4th with 650 men and 29 officers and at the end of the fighting on the 21st. there were 88 men and 2 officers left counting myself – other regiments have suffered equally and it is a great disappointment to us that at present at any rate we have not been able to relieve Kut and we have tried so hard. I have only had one mail and in it was a letter from you dated Dec. 9th. I suppose all my letters and parcels are in the Kut bags and until we get there I must be patient (we are only 22 miles from Kut now – isn’t it aggravating)

River Tigris between Ali Gharbi and Shumran

Poor Tom Clatworthy4 was killed quite close to me on the 6th – I was very cut up about it for I had been with him a good deal those last few days he was alive and we used to talk over all the old home news – I had some narrow escapes for once I was shot though my water bottle and again through my shoulder straps – Some day I will tell you of a particularly exciting adventure – I am always wondering of course if poor Mother is still alive it is hard times to be cut off from news in this way isn’t it. I will try to write again soon – don’t worry about me – old girl.

Cheerio and my best love

from Stan

 

1 This letter does not survive.
2 ‘Lieut Stanley Goodland wounded. His numerous friends in West Somerset will earnestly hope the wounds are not serious. It is surmised that Lt Goodland is with the British column advancing to the relief of our forces in Kut.’ (Somerset County Gazette, February 5th 1916.)
3 Either Major-General GJ Younghusband, GOC 7th Division or Brig-General GBH Rice GOC, 35th Infantry Brigade.
4 While in India with the Somerset light Infantry Tom Clatworthy was given a commission as 2nd Lieut in the Indian Army and attached to the 37th Dogras. He was killed on January 6th in the action of Shaikh Saad. He was aged 30, the eldest son of Mr Eland Clatworthy of Trull, Somerset.

 

Next letter Feb 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