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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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

The Mespot Commission has exposed…

August 1st 1917
No address

My dear old Elsie
The posts seem to have gone all wrong again for this is the third week no letter has come from you – perhaps those wretched submarines have been busy – Ive not written for about ten days because Ive been out on outpost duty again but now we are resting and under canvas and I can get back to my little camp bed. There is very little to tell you and there is a good deal of sameness about our days –  sometimes however there are raids carried out and there is always a certain amount of artillery fire and air activity – we are all longing to get further on but there are a good many difficulties to overcome first. The other day our General suggested we should get up some Brigade sports while we are resting and so last Saturday we had quite a gala day here in the desert we had managed to bring our band along with us – and they played all afternoon –  the Somersets beat the other Regiments of the Brigade in most of the events – weve got a very good tug of war team.

Ive been thinking of you dear girl on holiday and hoping you have had a very good time and real summer weather – you must have enjoyed seeing all your people and friends again. The last batch of home papers gave the report of the Mespot Commission1 – of course I am greatly interested and I am glad all the horrible things (or some of them) have now been exposed to the world. I could add a few more details – but I try to forget all my experiences out there. It seems ages and ages since we left England and here we are at the anniversary of the war again – whenever is it all going to end dear – we have had no news at all lately from the outside world and are very anxious about Russia – I wonder what people at home think about things especially as food seems so scarce and expensive wouldnt it be grand if we could wake up one morning and find Peace in the world once again. I hope dear girl that you are quite quite fit again – Every day I look out for your letters which I hope will soon come – with best love

from Stan

1 Report of Mesopotamia Commission issued June 1917 (Moberly, op. Cit. vol. IV, pp.28-31. Chairman of the Commission, Sir George Hamilton, wrote in a letter to The Times July 16th 1917 ‘Our investigation showed that never before had the rank and file of the British and Indian Armies fought better than in Mesopotamia. On the other hand it was difficult to exaggerate the incompetence shown in the management of their transport, supplies and medical services.’ Austen Chamberlain resigned as Secretary of State for India when the report was published.

Next letter August 14th 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

Sailing at last

at sea, 1/5 Somerset L.I., Indian Ocean, Troopship Chakdara1
[Envelope stamped ‘passed by censor May 4 1917 No 3009’]

My dear old Elsie
Before leaving Bombay I sent a cable to Elm Grove saying I was sailing –  I hope the censor sent it off all right and that Greta has let you know. It is just possible we may put in at Aden tomorrow for new stores of fresh meat water and ice and so I am hoping to post these few lines on to you. Unfortunately I can’t tell you our destination even yet but we gathered unofficially at Bombay that we are bound for Egypt and after re-equipping at Suez Alexandria or El Arish we are to join up with the forces operating at the bottom of Palestine. Of course all these plans may be moonshine and some of us are still hoping that we are on our way to old England Its rather exciting this uncertainty but we should probably get our definite orders at Suez and of course I shall write to you at once. I believe the British need reinforcements in Palestine – if you take a look at the map you will find a place called Gaza on the coast – the Turks have got a strong position there stretching inland 40 miles to Beer Sheba. Up to now we are having a fairly good voyage – it is rather a tub of a boat – very different to the Kenilworth Castle –  and the Indian Ocean has some days been very rough but I suppose Im a better sailor than I was in the old days. We are one of a convoy and of course our wonderful Navy is escorting us for there are enemy raiders about2 –  day and night we have to wear or carry lifebelts and we are always practising the alarm and every man knows his particular job. We have now been at sea just over a week and I expect it will be another week before we get to Suez for we have to take time from the slowest ship in the convoy and consequently can only do about 10 knots an hour.

I think every man was glad to leave India at last and of course everyone is in the highest spirits at the prospect of striking a blow for old England before the war ends – we had a great send off from Bombay and I am sure none of us will ever forget it. The Colonels wife and the other ladies of the Regiment – who have been bricks to us since weve been in India – came to see us off —they hope to get home by mail boat soon.

There were some hundreds of the Bombay garrison at the Docks and of course thousands of envious natives – Our bugles sounded the Advance and the Band played the Regimental March – the men were singing and cheering. Ive been at sea 9 days now and have had absolutely no news – we hope to hear all that’s been going on when we reach Aden. I hope you are very fit dear old girl – I shall write to you as often as I can – Best love

from Stan

1 Troopship Chakdara: British India Steam Navigation Co., passenger vessel, 1,581 tons, built 1914 at Leith.
2 The German raider Wolf left Germany November 30th 1916. In January & February Wolf laid mines off Cape Agulhas, Bombay and Colombo. Then Wolf went East and in May 1917 was refitted at Sunday Is, in the Kermadec Group, NE of New Zealand. She laid mines in the Cook & Bass Straits and off the Anamba Is, near Singapore. She then returned to the Indian Ocean and home to Germany in February 1918. (Halpem, op. cit. pp. 372-3.)

Next letter May 17th 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