Its the longest 4 years I’ve ever known

undated, post mark 3 July 19, no address.

My dear old Elsie
My best thanks dear girl for the book you sent me & which came a few days ago – I havent had a chance of starting it yet but it looks very exciting I am looking forward ever so much to the parcel you mention in your last letter – you are simply too good to me I wish I could be in England now – it must be delightful – but my home leave seems impossible just now – and even 10 days in Cairo is out of the question for some time Major Watson has gone to Hospital with fever and poor old Urwick is marked ‘Base 2 months’ – this makes me Second in command of the Regiment and I shall be an acting Major for a little while but for goodness sake dont address my letters as ‘Major’ as I shall be down to Captain again before very long. We are in a fairly comfortable part of the line now but of course the heat and the flies are very trying and we are passing through quite the worst time of the year just now I get very cheerful letters from home still except that the Pater has a touch of lumbago! I havent heard from Gretchen for ages & ages but I guess all her time is taken up with little Christine – Excuse this scribble I am very short  of candles and the wind keeps blowing this little bit out I get very cheerful letters  from Milsom he is still in Hospital & on crutches but his wife has joined him now from New Zealand so he is delightfully happy -she was torpedoed in the Atlantic and lost all her kit and had a good swim1 -I wish you could meet them We are very bucked with the news from Italy2 and long for further details of what seems to be a great victory for the Allies. The Colonel keeps very well indeed and we are the greatest pals -he feels the loss of all his original officers -Do you know – of all the officers who went to India with him originally only T. Moore & myself are left at present -out of about 30 It is very sad isnt it
Hope you keep fit and by the time this reaches you you will be thinking of packing up for your holidays -I do hope you get good weather
Its the longest 4 years I’ve ever known
Best love dear girl
from Stan

1 The ship in which Mrs Milsom sailed was torpedoed off Ushant on May 19th 1918. She was rescued by the destroyer escorting the convoy. There was no swimming involved because the skilful destroyer captain laid his ship alongside the sinking vessel. But her wedding presents (and golf clubs) were lost. (Information from SFC Milsom, 1996).
2 The Austrian offensive had failed in June.

Next letter July 18th 2018
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
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Complimented on a fine body of men

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

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

17 March 1918

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

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

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

 

Next letter March 30 2018
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
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Busy polishing our buttons…

[Passed by Censor 3983J
13.2.18 E.E.F.

My dear old Elsie
We are out of the line now and are in tents and dry ground near Ramleh – we have had some vile weather but now we have plenty of shelter and the sun is shining so we are ever so happy and comfortable.

And now we are busy polishing our buttons and cleaning up – it is a job to get rid of weeks & weeks accumulated mud  It is so nice to be doing a bit of peace time soldiering all in honour of H.R.H.1 – our band instruments and bugles which we haven’t seen for months have been sent up and it is such a treat to hear music again. It will be a great day for the Regiment I am on the best of terms with the General2 these days and dined with him last night and had a great time – our band played at dinner and afterwards we danced on the stone floor of the school house in which he lives –  its wonderful how childish a few men can be when they get together and the band tunes up No letters have come from you and we hear of at least two mail boats from home being lost at sea –  it is very sad Im longing to hear if my letters have ever reached you. I hope Mrs Brown is better now and that you can have more rest and Im  anxious to get further news of little Greta too

These are only a few lines to let you know I am well – I am very busy now with all these preparations and will try to send a longer letter in a few days – Best love dear girl
from Stan

1 Arthur, Duke of Connaught, 1850-1942, third son of Queen Victoria.
2 Brigadier-General Colston, GOC 233rd Brigade.

 

Next letter March 4th 2018
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
https://www.facebook.com/EngagedInWar/

a night never passes in quietness

[Passed by censor No. 39831
Feb 4 1918 E.E.F

My dear old Elsie
At last I have all your letters – many thanks dear girl – the last is dated Jan 4th but up to that time apparently none of mine had reached you but I find that all the EEF letters were held up and everybody is frightfully annoyed about it. But I hope you have heard from me long before this and that some of my descriptions of the fighting have reached you. Your letters were a great joy to me – I used to get a lot of letters but all my old friends ‘cept you have long ago forgotten me and never write now but I expect it’s my own fault for I get little time to write to them.

I told you in my last letters that I had been on leave in Cairo with Major Urwick – it did me a world of good and cheered me up no end but I still get horribly depressed now I’m back with the Regiment for I’m always thinking of the old days when I was surrounded by my pals who are nearly all killed or wounded and so my dearest girl I look forward more than ever to hearing from you and I only hope your busy life will never prevent you writing – I shall always remember how good you have been ever since I embarked on Oct 10 1914 – what ages that  seems away! I’m awfully sorry to hear Mrs Brown has been so ill again and can quite imagine how tied you are  – You musnt get too thin else there’ll be nothing left of you I get fatter and fatter in this mountain air and campaigning always seems to suit me – do you realize we are fighting in hills as high as Snowdon – so we ought to keep fit eh and are now quite accustomed to mountaineering but it’s real bad country for ones boots! Next week we go out of the line for two weeks rest and it will be a nice change – a night never passes in quietness – always there are wires coming thro’ and things to be done and an Adjutant’s life these times is a very restless one. Did I tell you our Colonel is home on leave now and Major Watson who came back from England a little while ago has gone to Cairo for a 6 weeks course so Urwick and I are running the Regiment again. I have told you I think that I hope to get home on leave about April – so do please save up a little of your holidays so that may see you either at Elm Grove or at Hale or anywhere else you like to fix up – I shall send you a cable as soon as ever I know I am really off – it all depends on the Colonel and the operations out here! If there is to be another big advance this Spring Im afraid I shall have to stay and of course I shouldn’t like to be away from the dear old Regiment when theres any heavy fighting after going through so much with them – but I hope for the best I think of little Gretchen every day and wonder how she is and I am anxiously awaiting news –  it seems a wonderfull thing to me that she should be a mother and I only hope her best dreams may be realized.

With best love to you dear girl and ever so many thanks again for your welcome letters.

Next letter February 13th 2018
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
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in the red wine of Palestine..

Empty envelope dated 29 Dec. 17

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

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

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

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

from Stan

Next letter January 11th 2018
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
https://www.facebook.com/EngagedInWar/

 

Happy christmas

5.12.17
Passed by censor 3983

The contents of this envelope is a regimental Christmas card with no message other than the printed greeting:

A Merry Christmas

and

A Happy New Year

from Stan EEF 1917-18

Next letter 16 December 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
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Fat and flourishing…

Sept 9 1917
no address

My dear old Elsie
Heres another line to tell you I am quite safe and fit. Ill enclose a snap taken the other day when were out of the old trenches –  Im sure I look fat & flourishing enough dont I? lye very little news to tell you every day here is much the same as the next –  We get shelled every morning and evening but weve excellent trenches — two nights ago we had a bad time but my fellows have been splendid — Unfortunately there have been casualties but one must expect that – this week weve had 3 killed and 18 wounded – the people at home Im afraid will realize the 1/5 Somersets are really in service at last when they see the casualty lists come in. Damn this war I say – I hate to think this fine old Regiment of ours must suffer with the rest –  I hope next week we shall go out for a rest and if we can only get down by the sea again we shall be happy. I am as dirty as can be and the fleas have kept on biting and biting. Banes came to see me just now with Milsom – weve had a good pow-wow – poor Banes has just lost some of his best men and is so depressed about it. I think I told you dear girl I am to be Adjutant of the Regiment in a few weeks time Im awfully gratified and the Colonel has been so nice about it. It’s a big job on service I know but I shall do my ew-stan

damnedest. My name has gone in to the War Office for its got to go through the Gazette and my appointment will start on Oct 10th for 3 years but of course the war will be over long long before my term is up –  lets hope so anyway.1 Ill send you a snap shot one of my fellows took of me the other day – it surely speaks for itself and I hope you will realize how fit and flourishing I am Best love dear girl

 

 

from Stan

1 He served until June 2nd 1920.

Next letter September 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

…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

Hoping Harold can make it…

1/5 Somerset L.I. Chakrata, Upper Provinces, India
Oct 5th 1916

My dear old Elsie
Since last I wrote I’ve had a couple of days in bed with my old malaria fever again – I haven’t mentioned it in my home letters for they would probably think more of it than necessary and I suppose I shall always be subject to attacks while I’m in the East. I’m better today but a bit shaky and I’ve got to drink a lot of milk which I loathe. I am expecting Harold to turn up either to day or tomorrow and we are sure to have a good time together1 – the last few days we’ve had torrential rains and I hear parts of the road have been washed away but I’m sure he’ll get up somehow – it is 60 miles from the nearest railway station to Chakrata!

Now we shall be getting ready for our exit and march down in two weeks time – it will all be very jolly and we are likely to have perfect weather. The home news seems very good and I get wonderful letters each month from the Pater – the Babe has had a good holiday in the Mumbles. The war news keeps good too and the new armies seem to be fighting magnificently – Well cheero – old girl – many thanks for your last letter & Tatler.
with best love

from Stan

1 There is no surviving letter between October 5th and November 3rd. So it is not certain whether Stanley’s brother Harold reached Chakrata to visit him after so much anticipation.

Next letter Nov 3rd 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

It’s my birthday today, am I 33 or 34?

1/5 Somerset Li. Chakrata, Upper India
Sept. 22nd 1916

My dear old Elsie
It’s my birthday today and I can’t remember if I’m 33 or 34!1 Frank Calway kindly says I’m 34 but it doesn’t matter much does it – I feel younger than when I left England and if only I could get my ‘innards’ right I should be as fit as ever.

My poor old leg hurts like anything on wet days but I’m not a bit lame now and can run about at tennis and do long route marches without any trouble – Many thanks dear old girl for your last letter (Aug. 22nd) with birthday wishes – I wonder if by this time next year this horrid war will be over but I suppose that is too much to hope for – I’m trying to get reconciled to the feeling that it will be 1918 before I see you and dear old England again! I’m looking forward to meeting Harold about Oct 2nd – he is coming to Meerut on his way to Calcutta and Burma and I’ve got five days leave to go down to him and then have to return here – it will be so nice to see him again and we shall have simply heaps to talk about. It is difficult to get photos done in this country but in a week or so I really hope to send you a few snapshots. I almost despair of ever getting that M.C. they are so long in publishing despatches aren’t they but I haven’t quite given up hope yet! I saw one of the Mundens was killed – I think it must be Dr. Mundens  younger brother2 – Aren’t the casualty lists heartbreaking now? Cheerio and my best love
from Stan

Postscript:
Many thanks dear for the ‘Eve’ book – it is lovely & I’m always looking at it – the other fellows in the Mess love it too – Stan.

1 He was born in 1883, therefore was 33 on September 22nd 1916.
2 This name has not been traced.

Next letter Sep 28th 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