My dear old Elsie
I have had a letter from you at last dear girl dated 24th. Sept – I hope some of mine have reached you too – Isnt the war going gloriously well for us! I am so excited and feel sure it will all be over before we are very much older I am still at Haifa doing my Divisional job but I hear all plans are altered now and I quite think the Division will go down the line instead of up – it would be nice to get down to Alex or some civilised place for the bad weather. We are all wondering so much what will happen – apparently with so many Americans coming over they do not need us in France – I somehow feel my fighting is over and candidly I am mighty pleased. I am sorry Mrs. Brown is ill again but hope all will go well for her – you must be having your hands full and I hope they will allow you a bit more coal now times are brighter for us! I hate being away from the Regiment but the Colonel is very good and keeps me posted up with everything that goes on – it will be a fine thing when the hot weather goes – youve no idea what an enormous amount of sickness there is out here just now! I am so much looking forward to some more letters from you – now the submarines must go from the Mediterranean there should be no delay.
Best love dear girl and I hope your rheumatics are quite better
I have just heard we have made Peace with Turkey and of course I am overjoyed and thought I must write you a few lines – It is a fine thing to get Turkey out of the way – she should never have come in against us and I must say she has fought well – Now – the question is what will happen to us? I have had no orders and am carrying on my job here at Haifa – all my plans are practically completed and I think I should be able to forward my report tomorrow – and then in a few days I hope they will let me go back to the Regiment – I am sorry to be away from them for Peace-night – but it cant be helped.
No English mail yet – I am very fed up – there must be a good many letters about somewhere
The summer still hangs on here – it is as hot as the devil still – I must go down and have a bathe in the sea tomorrow it looks so blue and tempting.
Cheerio dear girl – lets hope Austria & Germany will soon follow Turkeys lead
My dear old Elsie
No letters have come from you for simply ages – I am longing to hear from you again and to know what you think of our great victory out here. I cannot understand the delay in the post for your last was dated Sept. 16th six weeks ago. I hope my letters have reached you. I wrote you quite a long one the other day. My poisoned hand is better but still tied up and I am really very fit now – at present I am bitten dreadfully by mosquitoes!
I am away from the Regiment again and temporarily on the Staff of the Division – there has been so much sickness and nearly all the Staff Officers have gone to Hospital so they have borrowed me for a week or two only on the stipulation that I return to the Regiment as soon as possible I should simply hate to have a staff job and it would be a disappointing finish to the war – I never want to be away from the Regiment
My job at present is finding billets and camping sites for the winter for the Division. I am at Haifa where we shall probably spend the winter unless we are suddenly moved to another front – it is very nice here but very malarial1 at this time of year and the mosquitoes bite like the devil. I am living on top of Mount Carmel in what was a large German Hotel. It has the most delightful outlook I have ever seen. The sea is perfect blue and Acre across the bay looks charming. The feeding at present is very bad but one can put up with that – I have had a real hot bath today the first since last January!!
The Regiment is 30 miles or so south of Haifa but will be coming along as the railway progresses – Our cavalry have got on splendidly havent they! I hear Aleppo has been taken today and I suppose Alexandretta will be next and then we shall have the whole of Palestine. When things settle down I hope to go to Damascus & Beyrout both of which are very interesting I hear – but of course it is very difficult to get about this country. I have been to Nazareth & the Plain of Esdraelon – Caesarea – Kishon River and several other interesting places.
I have heard no recent war news from France but it is all a wonderful advance and I am always wondering how long the Hun will hold out!
We seem to have quite finished our little war out here and unless we go to another part of the World I suppose I shant see another shot fired – the great thing now is to keep out of Hospital almost every one gets ill and I am looked upon rather as a ‘wonder’ to have kept fit all the summer and without leave too! This will probably reach you about Xmas so I will start wishing you a happy time – I shall be thinking of you all the time – I shant be able to send you a present which grieves me very much but I will get you something when I get to Cairo next. It seems so funny to write about Xmas – I was hoping so much the damned old war would be over this year. I hope you keep fit dear old girl – how I wish the post office people would get a move on,
Best love dear girl
1 A bacteriologist explained his wall chart to Gen. Allenby: ‘these charts are the seasonal incidence of malignant malaria in the Plain of Sharon and I think that is the reason why Richard Coeur de Lion never got to Jerusalem . . . he came down the coast in September.’ AP Wavell Allenby op. cit. p.195
My dear old Elsie
A cablegram came from you today – it has taken a long time partly owing to dreadful delay in the offices during all the fighting and also from the fact that cables are only sent to Alex and then forwarded up the line by post.
I should send you a reply but I cant do so except by posting it with the money to Cairo or Alex
Many thanks dear girl for your good wishes – I am afraid you have been anxious about me and my letters have not reached you
I must say I spent a very funny Birthday this year but I really think this is the last I shall spend in khaki – on Sept 22 this year we were mopping up the old Turks in a most exciting way. Your last letter was dated Aug 23 so lve no news of you for nearly two months – It is a shame there is so much delay but I know there is a huge mail at Port Said that should reach us in a few days now. All the news is really wonderful and I do think the old Hun has shot his last bolt the air is full of rumours of Peace – I may spend Xmas in dear old Blighty but that’s too good to contemplate and altho Im very optimistic I dont think we can have peace for a few months yet I hope the Powers that be will not make peace until the German Army is quite destroyed and she surrenders unconditionally
We are in a strange position here with no enemy to fight. The few thousand Turks remaining have fled up country so fast that even our cavalry can’t find ‘em – I wonder what will happen to us – they are almost certain to send some of the Divisions to another front, at present we are working feverishly on the railway. It is still very hot – what a long long summer it has been- I used to love the sun but now I long to feel the rain on my face and a bit of mud under foot – We have had perpetual sun since April. I am better but still very tired and want leave badly – I shall try to get down to Cairo or possibly Luxor when the weather cools a bit – My hands are tied up at present as I got into the Turkish barbed wire in the attack in the semi light and the scars got sceptic [sic] – I have to have hot foments 3 times a day which is such a nuisance I dont mind much so long as I can keep out of Hospital – I had enough of Hospital in Mespot & India I wonder what you people at home think of our little show out here – I am longing for your letters and the home papers which will have the account of the Palestine fighting
I hope I thanked you properly dear for the last parcel you so kindly sent me – my birthday one I mean – it arrived just in time for the attack and all the little things came in ever so useful – even to the Boracic ointment The soup squares were delicious because for two or three days we were very short of rations – Now I think of it dear girl will you please send me a nail brush for Xmas- I hate to ask for things but you always tell me to and I simply cant get a decent nail brush in this country. Do you remember the pair of ebony hair brushes you gave me – I have always had them with my kit and use them every day in the little bit of hair I have left!!
Old Urwick has gone off to Ceylon – he sent me a farewell note – I hope he will come back soon but Im afraid it will be quite two months before we see him – I do miss my old pals – poor old Banes – Milsom & I used to have such happy times – It is going on for a year ago since that dreadful fighting for Jerusalem & poor Banes was killed Nov 22nd I have long letters from Milsom – he is still on crutches and has a small house at Worthing – he has his wife with him and is supremely happy but very fed up to be inactive and away from the old Regiment – My last letter from home came a long time ago but the Pater seemed well except for his lumbago – I think the Babe is expecting Karl home on leave soon – it is a shame if he gets home before me – he has seen no fighting and has had a cushy job away down at the Base – but thats the way of the Army!
My dear old Elsie
Just a hurried line to tell you dear old girl I have been through another great battle (and I hope the last) and am safe and well – We have had a glorious victory and as far as one can tell the whole Turkish army has been destroyed or captured.
My last letters Im afraid have been short and uninteresting but I expect you will have gathered from them that we were going to have a stunt on this front.
The past six weeks or so I have been all over the country doing special work – the Regiment moved from the mountains on to the Plains near the sea about Sept 17th and at 4.30 am on the 19th. the great attack began. It was a wonderful show and successful beyond all expectations. The Regiment took part in the first attack – we went over the top above a terrific artillery bombardment and drove the Turks from their strong positions which had been holding us up for months – Once past their defences we got them on the run and captured hundreds of prisoners
After 4 days strenuous work we were brought out to rest and are now in the Tul Keram1 district and the cavalry are doing the mopping up miles & miles ahead
The whole thing was so sudden and so successful that thank Goodness our casualties were slight and altogether it has been wonderful time
I will write more in a few days. I am longing for another home mail now
Best love dear girl
1 Tul Keram on the plain of Sharon between Jaffa and Haifa, one-time Turkish Eighth Army HQ
[no address, envelope enclosed in another with the green cross – & addressed in careful writing and signed Fred Stoodley1]
My dear old Elsie
First of all let me tell you dear girl we are on the eve of great events out here and long before you get this letter I hope all the world will have had good news from the Palestine Front. You will probably have gathered from my recent letters that there was “something doing” out here – I have had a very heavy time and a lot of responsible work and I only hope all will go well.
I cannot stay to write more than a few lines tonight – but I must send you my best thanks my dear for the most delightful birthday parcel which reached me quite safely yesterday – just in time for these operations and all so very nice and useful You must choose all the things so very carefully and it is so sweet of you dear My birthday will be spent again this year in the thick of soldiering – next year Im sure I shall be in dear old England
I was so pleased to hear you enjoyed the last part of your holiday so much and that you were quite fit & well I am much better – I think excitement and hard work can cure most things
Best love dear girl, Goodbye – or rather au revoir dear old girl
36 Fred Stoodley was Assistant Quartermaster of the Battalion, for many years after the war, Stanley and Elsie received from him an annual parcel containing asparagus and lilies of the valley.
My dear old Elsie
When I wrote to you last a few days ago I had just returned from a tour of duty of reconnaissance Work – I was only with the Regiment a couple of days when off I went again on another joy ride for special work. I am now in camp on the banks of the River Auja1 – it is so strange to be in the plains again after about 10 months spent in the Mountains We get a glorious bathe in the river before breakfast each morning and for the rest of the day I am in the saddle riding about over an entirely new country to me – it is all very interesting but these are hard days and I am very tired at the end of the day. I expect to be here 4 days then I have to go on to Jaffa for one day then back to the Regiment.
I hope my special work will soon be over as I dont like to be away from the Battalion so much as I have been lately – This part of Palestine is very much like the old Gaza district of a year ago it seems simply years and years ago when we were in those trenches. I wonder how you are and if you are safely back in Minchinhampton – the mails have been very lazy again – your last letter was the one dated July 28 which is 6 weeks ago – I am feeling better now but there is such a lot of sickness in this country now and a whole lot of our officers and men are in Hospital most people go down with sand fly fever but I think it is probably the Spanish Influenza which seems to be going the round of the World2\ I will write as often as I can but for abit my letters will be written under difficulties
Best love dear girl
1 The River Auja flows into the Mediterranean just north of Jaffa.
2 This pandemic is believed to have killed more victims than the total number of casualties in the Great War.
My dear old Elsie
You will probably think I am lost stolen or strayed but I am safe and sound – very weary and full of fever but still “carrying on”
I have been away from the Regiment for 15 days and out in the blue on some special reconnaissance work for our General and have been unable to post any letters. Yesterday I came back and was delighted to find 3 letters from you – the last July 28 Many thanks dear girl I was thinking of you during your holiday time and now I suppose you are back in old Minch again – all the better I hope for your change – I was so sorry you had been unwell – it was a great pity – the photo of Gretas lovely baby reached me quite safely – she seems a beautiful baby and Im sure you must have enjoyed fussing with her – I expect they are at Elm Grove now and am sorry you couldnt go as the Pater would have so much enjoyed seeing you once again. I have quite made up my mind to give up all idea of leave now – I think the war will be over soon now and the Colonel has asked me to see him through with it now. You see dear girl – I am the only officer who has kept out of Hospital & been with the dear old Regiment through everything and so I have taken on a good deal of responsibility and the Colonel leans on me a goodish bit now – Old Urwick has gone to Ceylon on leave – his missus is still there so we shant see him again for at least 2 months – he has been away ever since last May and I have missed him so much.
I wish I could tell you about the work I have just been doing for the General – it has all been most interesting and I have been in the saddle all day long – often doing 40 miles a day – I have got such a nice mare now – dark brown with 3 white stockings – you will I expect realize that we are to move to another part of the front altogether – I have been making maps and taking photographs and getting all the information I can
Any day I may be off some where else so it has been necessary to find me an assistant adjutant to carry on the usual battalion work – a nice boy from St Helens who says “a”s like you do and always amuses me – we call him “Pills”.1 A year ago we were in the trenches in front of Gaza – do you remember – it seems years & years since those happy days when I could see poor old Banes most days and Milsom too. I wonder and wonder when I shall see you again dear girl – I have every hope of that happy day being within the next six months – It has been a very long 4 years! Someone told me this riddle which is very applicable to me – why is the E.E.F like a tea strainer? Because so few leaves get through! I must get on with some work now – so cheerio dear girl – with best love
1 ‘Beecham’s Little Liver Pills,’ source of the wealth of Sir Thomas Beecham, orchestral conductor, were made in St Helens, Lancashire
My dear old Elsie
Just a few lines to let you know I am better and hope after all to keep out of Hospital – we go out of the line in a few days time and I shall be able to have more rest and a quiet time
I am tired of the summer – since March we have lived under a boiling sun and I think it gradually saps up ones energy and extra strength
A soldier is always grousing – we curse the wet & cold and then we curse the sun I wish it was all over! And I really think these latest events in France1 may prove to be the turning point dont you? We only get very short telegrams & long for fuller particulars I am looking forward so much to your next letters – I get so fed up when no English mail arrives.
I do hope you will get really fine weather for your holidays and I am sure you will have many happy times With best love dear girl
1 The Second Battle of the Marne, July 16th-18th. The Germans exhausted themselves without making any great breakthrough and with British and American help the French recovered some of the ground they had lost.
July 18 1918
[Envelope readdressed to Gwynant, Park Rd., Hale, CheshireJ
My dear old Elsie
After waiting a long time I was delighted a few days ago to get three letters from you – the latest dated 25th June -many thanks dear girl for them -I also received the parcel quite safely it gave me the greatest possible pleasure to open it and the contents are lovely -the pipe is a beauty and I am smoking it hard already. The tins of things are a very welcome addition to our stores. I have been seedy the past ten days and on the verge of going into Hospital -the weather has been terribly hot and my old Mespot fever has turned up again – I have dosed myself with quinine and hope I shall get fit soon but I get a rotten temperature every night and get a sort of shivering ague I want to hold on for in about 2 weeks time we go into rest again for a short period – we have had a long trying time in the line now The Turk has been very active lately – he attacked us very stubbornly a few days ago – the Colonel was away on duty at Jaffa and Major Watson was still in hospital so I was left in command of the Regiment – It was very exciting for a few hours but our fellows did splendidly and the Turks did not succeed in getting further than our wire -considering that he fired more than 1600 heavy shells at us we had very few casualties.1 Major Watson is back now I am glad to say and is very well again – poor old Urwick is still at Alexandria – he has been away nearly 3 months now
You will soon be off for your holidays and I do hope you will have good weather and a real enjoyable time
I shall be thinking of you and wishing I was home on leave
Please write and tell me exactly how Gretchen is and little Christine too
With much love
1 One officer and three other ranks were wounded in this bombardment which consisted of ‘1600’ shells (Stanley’s letter) or ‘600’ shells (Battalion War Diary)