We are still hoping and betting on ‘Blighty’

1/5 Somerset L.I., Poona
April 12 1917

My dear old Elsie

Ever so many thanks dear for your last letter (Mar 7) and also for a lovely box of ‘comforts’ which reached me quite safely. I’ve been suffering the last few days from the effects of inoculation for enteric fever and have had a horrid time – but I’ve enjoyed soup made out of the tablets you sent me and for a couple of days or so could eat nothing else  – many thanks again dear old girl –  and also for all the other useful and welcome things.

Even yet no news of our going has come in – we are still hoping and betting on ‘Blighty’ and are almost sure to be off in a few days time. I think I must have missed at least two of your letters lately and the post has been very uncertain – I gather you are settled into your new house and I hope the weather is better for you at last – We spent a very funny Easter – busy the whole time with our plans for embarking and no hot-cross buns of course! The war news at last seems almost too good to be true and America has really joined in at last – I sometimes wonder if the whole thing won’t be over before we get to France! I know you’ll be glad to hear I’ve got my Captaincy in this Regiment at last – I may finish up a Major yet eh. I hope you are very fit dear and I’m ever so glad you are still so happy at Minch. Best love dear girl
from Stan

Next letter May 4th 2017

These letters have been published as
Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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1/5 Somerset L.I., Poona, India
April 2nd 1917

My dear old Elsie
Here we are at Poona quite safely at last, it has been a long and tiring journey from the Frontier –  down here the hot weather is at its height and my dear it is terribly hot and as we are under canvas in a temporary camp on the Race-course, it is most unpleasant.

But we are now only 6 hours journey from Bombay – so it will not take long to get us on board our ship when once we get our sailing orders – Even now we have not been told any news of our destination but of course we all still go on hoping for Blighty. The home mails have been dreadfully uncertain lately and I’ve had very few letters from you – it always is such a disappointment – I hope mine have reached you for I’ve written every week for a long time. Fancy it’s Easter in a few days! the months and seasons go quickly on & the old war runs its course – what does this wonderful advance in France mean – is it too good to be true that it’s the beginning of the end. It seems strange to be in Poona once again & I’m wondering if I shall find any old friends. I hope you are very fit dear old girl And settled in your new house by this time – Best love dear

from Stan

Next letter April 12th 2017

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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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We are living in a sandstorm

1/5 Somerset L.I., North West Frontier
March 15 1917

My dear Old Elsie

I was very disappointed not to get a letter from you last mail but everything in the way of mail boats is so very uncertain now and I suppose we ought to be thankful things are no worse! The past few days we have lived in a sand storm – it is the first sign that the hot weather is at hand but it is very uncomfortable – we have lived in sand and dust and goodness knows how we have managed to keep so well – we haven’t seen the sky for days! Our future is all we care and worry about now – we are all so desperately keen on getting home to dear old England that I’m afraid we sometimes overlook the tokens of service on other fronts and I must say I am almost inclined to think that Egypt is to be our destination!

It’s too bad of them to keep the secret so long but I suppose it’s very necessary – India is full of spies and German Agents – we are leaving here for Bombay on the 26th – it will be a long and trying journey and very hot down south.

Isn’t it glorious news from Mespot1 at last. I only hope we shall not be trapped again but I think our Generals out there have learnt their lesson from Sir J Nixons blunder in 1915. I’ll write again before leaving India & if possible I’ll cable home  so you will here (sic) where I am bound for. Cheero! dear old pal – best love

from Stan

1 Kut was recaptured on February 24th 1917, and Baghdad taken on March 11th.

Next letter March 22nd 2017

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We are on trek out in the blue

N.W. Frontier, India
Mar 7 1917

My dear old Elsie
Just a hurried line to tell you I am all right – we are now on trek right out in the blue and nothing very exciting has happened yet – we have had a little trouble with some of the Pathan tribes and they’ve stolen our things and cut our telephone wires – otherwise it is very peaceful

Our latest orders are that we sail from Bombay on March 27th but we don’t know our destination yet except that everything points to it being Europe

By the way your parcel has been sent off at last – it will be very late for your birthday and Im very sorry but it couldnt be helped. Our Adjutant and Quartermaster are so busy with detail for our embarkation that they have remained in camp at Pir Gumat Shah and as I am doing both duties on trek I am a busy man these days. The news from Mespot is most cheering & Im following it all with the greatest interest – but Im afraid our casualties are very heavy. I hope the weather at home is better now and that you are now comfortably settled in your new house – you seem to have had a very severe winter
Best love dear girl & cheero!

from Stan

Next letter March 15th 2017

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Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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We’ve got our orders at last

1/5 Somerset L.1., Pir Gumat Shah
Mar 1 1917

My dear old Elsie
We’ve got our orders at last and are to embark on March 30th. We do not know our destination yet and it is quite likely we shall sail under sealed orders – Of course we are wildly speculating – some favour Salonika -some Egypt & Palestine – – but most favour home & France via the Cape.

Naturally every man is frightfully excited and now we are all busy with the necessary preparations – Tomorrow we go off for our trek and shall not return until March 17th but it is quite possible that this programme may be modified or as far as this Regiment is concerned cancelled altogether.

Since I last wrote I have been down to Rawalpindi to get stores and ammunition – I was away 5 days and enjoyed seeing a little civilization once again – Last mail brought two welcome letters & papers from you – many thanks dear old girl – I’m so glad you are better and I hope by this time you are settled comfortably in your new house. Perhaps it will be best to address me now c/o G.P.O. London – but please put the name of the Regiment clearly (1/5 Somerset Light Infantry).

I am hoping to see you once again before many weeks are over –  Cheero until then
best love from Stan

Next letter March 7th 2017

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Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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No mail, very fed up

Feb 22 1917

My dear old Elsie
We’ve had no English mail for the last 3 weeks & consequently are very fed up – I suppose the submarines have been too busy or perhaps the mail boats are being sent round the Cape. We are all hoping 3 letters will come all together. I am wondering how you are now – in your last letter you told me that you were just recovering from a nasty touch of ‘flu – I do hope you are quite fit again & I shall be so anxious to know. We are still in camp and very little exciting happens – we’ve got a very energetic General who makes us do plenty of hard work but we don’t mind that because theres absolutely nothing else to do – On March 2nd the whole Division is going out on a reconnaissance over the Frontier and we are busy making all the preparations- we shall be away from this spot for 15 days about – it is very likely that we shall not be able to get any letters posted so you will know if you dont hear from me – there are of course no roads where we are going so we have to take camels to carry all our stores and kit. Nothing more has come to hand yet about our future but we think we shall get news before many days are over & everyone seems confident we are going to be sent away from India at the end of March or the beginning of April! Best love dear old girl

from Stan

Next letter March 1st 2017

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Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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I’ve been out in a blockhouse

Attock, India
Feb. 15 1917

My dear old Elsie
I’ve been out in a blockhouse on the front line since last I wrote to you with a detachment of 70 men of my Company – I hear the post goes in a few minutes so I thought I must send you a few lines. It’s been a very exciting week for me and now we are all dead tired and looking forward to a good days rest! I’m not allowed to say what’s happening out here but things are fairly peaceful and at any rate the Frontier is so well guarded just now that there isn’t much danger – We still hear very strong rumours that we are soon to go home and I really think you will see me before many weeks are over. The mail boats are very uncertain now and I haven’t had a letter from you for two weeks – I suppose the submarines are so busy in the Mediterranean now that mails will be delayed. I do hope you are much better now & entirely lost your ‘flu. Very little news here – I’m afraid my letters are very dull – but our lives now are simply spent in soldiering & soldiering all day long. I’m always thinking of you & dear old England
With best love

from Stan

Next letter February 22nd 2017

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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

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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

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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