My days are full of demobilization…

postmark 15 Jan 19
no address.

My dear old Elsie
I hope you wont think me unkind for not writing more often but I have no time My days are full of  demobilization and already we have sent off 12 officers and nearly 200 men. Major Watson has gone and so until old Urwick comes back I am second-in-command again. The men are mostly miners students and men over 41 years of age. It is rather sad to break up the old Regiment in this way and I should have liked to have marched up through Taunton altogether but it cant be helped. In a few days I think all the men who left for India in 1914 will be sent home – and there are only 240 left out of the 800 who sailed. Of course I ought to go with this party but the Colonel wants me to stay to see the thing out so I shall be here for another 2 or 3 months I suppose. The Colonel himself is being transferred to the Home Establishment so will go home soon as he says he cant stand another hot weather in the East. We are now in camp actually on the banks of the Suez Canal – one cannot help contrasting this with last winter with all the misery and mud and rain. It is really very interesting here and I suppose the most perfect climate in the World for a month or two – we watch the great liners & transports passing by and longingly wish we were aboard. The men are very happy if a little impatient to be off – they are able to bathe and fish in the Canal and often catch some sort of salmon weighing 16lb. We had quite a good Xmas and a particularly Merry New Years Eve. We managed to get enough frozen turkeys to give the men a good feed and they had plum pudding issued with their rations. Beer was rather short but I think they all had a good drink. It is so peaceful now. You cant imagine what a relief it is to have finished with the incessant noise and anxiety of war! I wish you could see my row of ribbons now – they are so pretty. My M.C. comes first and then the 1914-1915 Star and then the Croix de Guerre – I am entitled to the Star for my service in Mespot in 1915 so I have really been very lucky so far as medals go. I hope you had a Merry Xmas and I am looking forward to your letter telling me about it – I hope Mrs. Brown was well enough to enter into things

Im afraid I have never thanked you half enough for the presents you sent me – please forgive me dear and Ill try to make it up to you one day – I am enjoying the pipe so much.

Please thank your mother for so kindly remembering me too – I will try to send her a line one day for I have so much enjoyed the Xmas Punch Frank Calway is coming to see us tomorrow –  he is on his way to Luxor on leave and of course wants me to go with him – but I simply cant! Im afraid I shant get leave any more unitl Im finished with Army!

I get long letters from the Milsoms they have a little flat in Harewood House in Hanover Square and I am to be Godfather to a young Milsom who arrives in June1. He is still lame and they have kicked him out of the Army much to his disgust. I wonder what Harold & Alice will do now. I havent heard from them since the Armistice but I imagine they will try to get home as soon as possible – perhaps I shall see them pass up the Canal one day! I hope you are fit dear girl and escaping this awful flu’ – sorry to say several of our men have died of it lately – It is really very sad after living through the fighting. With best love dear girl and all good wishes

from Stan

1 Darrell Milsom was born July 3rd 1919. An RAF officer, he died in a flying accident, March 1940.

Next letter 21st January 2019

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Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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Stan’s life in 1919

For Stanley Goodland as for many others after the Armistice of 1918 the future remained uncertain. There was a strong argument for his seeking a regular commission in the service in which, with his good record, he now felt entirely comfortable. The resumption of his interrupted civilian career in the fine art trade suggested a viable alternative, if a suitable opening could be found.

The 1919 letters convey the situation in which a conscientious war-time soldier found himself. He was guided by intense loyalty to his commanding officers, (Lt Col Cooke-Hurle who relinquished command in February, to be succeeded by Lt-Col Urwick) and to the ‘dear old Regiment.’ As Adjutant he was directly involved in implementing the demobilisation process; the War Diary records the departure of officers and other ranks in twos and threes and larger parties. When the Egyptian troubles began in March the Battalion had been reduced to about 200 men but the laconic entries for March 25th & 26th record the arrival of a total of nine officers and 623 other ranks from the demobilisation camp at Kantara.1 The task of re-equipping these men, asserting authority over them and moulding them into a coherent unit must have been acutely difficult; no wonder there were ‘many anxious times with the management of the mixed crowd we have with us.’

It was with this ‘mixed crowd’ that the 1/5 Somersets went by rail from the Canal to Cairo and on March 29th set out for Upper Egypt, some by river steamer, others escorting the construction train repairing the permanent way. It was the train party which was fired on from Shobak el Ghaffara, about 70km from Cairo, on March 31st. The terrible punishment visited on the village is described without comment in Stanley’s letter April 7th. After a brief concentration of all four companies at El Wasta the Battalion was again split. Two companies stayed at Beni Suef, while Battalion Headquarters and the remaining companies continued South by river steamer. Passing Beni Mazar and El Minya they reached Mallawi on April 10th, where camp was pitched near the railway station which was found to be undamaged. The villages round Mallawi were inspected, some at dawn, by parties of soldiers accompanying a British political officer. A few  suspected extremists were arrested and in one village a store of gunpowder was discovered, but no resistance was offered – perhaps the fate of Shobak el Ghaffara had been widely reported.

On April 21st, Easter Monday, the force at Mallawi travelled North on the restored railway to Beni Mazar and on May 9th the complete Battalion was re-united near Cairo. Later in May Battalion Headquarters and two companies removed to Suez. Demobilization resumed. In June Frank Urwick, Stanley Goodland, four more officers and eleven other ranks went to Cairo to attend a Court of Enquiry into the Battalion’s activities in Upper Egypt in March and April. The hearing lasted a month and ended inconclusively when the lawyer for the prosecution failed to appear in court to make the concluding presentation of his clients’ case.

Stanley’s last months in Egypt were spent mainly at Port Tewfik, opposite Suez. Cricket, football and party-going occupied some of his time but he feared that the continued unrest in Egypt would still detain him. After many false hopes had been raised he and the small remaining cadre of the old Battalion at last found themselves sailing from Alexandria on Christmas Eve, 1919.

1 WO 95/4690.

Next letter 15th January 2019

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Background to the letters of 1919

The acute problems generated by the nature and speed of the collapse of the German and Austria -Hungarian Empires had their counterparts in the Middle East where, as the Ottoman Empire disintegrated, the principle of self-determination embodied in President Wilson’s famous fourteen Points was embraced as eagerly as in Central and Eastern Europe.

As the war had gone on British civil and military control of Egypt had become progressively stricter. The Egyptian people had been assured that they would not be called on actively to help the Empire defeat its enemies but the British turned to requisitioning, particularly in 1917 and 1918. For instance: the demand for labour to build roads, railways and water pipelines could be met only by the recruitment of fellahin (peasants) whose reluctance to leave their land and families was overcome, often with brutality, by native local officials at whose back stood civil and military authorities enforcing martial law. The Egyptian Expeditionary Force could not move without camel and donkey transport and the fellahin found that their precious beasts of burden were commandeered, as was their hay crop, compulsorily purchased for the fodder of the cavalry divisions. Compensation was paid and the wages of labourers and cameliers were good but the disruption and hardship endemic in a clumsy system of enforcement built up a mountain of anger and resentment. In the cities the students, clerks and lawyers complained that their chances of promotion in the civil service and the professions were blocked by the employment of Englishmen, many of whom were less well qualified than themselves. Since their arrival in the 1880’s the British had proclaimed their ultimate ambition to educate the Egyptians into self-government but by 1918 it seemed that such a development had been indefinitely postponed.

There was relief among all ranks of Egyptians when the Turkish attacks on the Canal were repulsed but as the front line was pushed further into Sinai, Palestine and beyond, the war became both irrelevant to Egypt’s political interests and, in the eyes of nationalists, an exercise in European imperialism. The leading exponent of Egyptian aspirations to independence was Saad Zaghlul, who had held office as Minister of Education in Lord Cromer’s time but had since fallen out with the British administration. Soon after the armistice of November 1918 Zaghiul placed himself at the head of a self-appointed delegation and asked permission to go to London to present Egypt’s case for self-government. Referred to the Foreign Office, Zaghiul’s proposal was turned down flat, as was a similar request from Egypt’s official representative, the Prime Minister, who had been a good friend of the British throughout the war. Thus were informed Egyptians taught the bitter truth that their country was of no significance in a post-war world whose leaders had many more important matters to consider. It emerged that President Wilson supported the status quo of the Protectorate and without American sympathy Egypt was friendless. To add insult to injury Egypt found it invidious and hurtful that, by contrast, the Sharif of the Hejaz, now calling himself King, was invited to send his son Faisal to Europe, where he was received by King George V at Buckingham Palace and accepted by Wilson, Lloyd George and other  Allied leaders as the Arab spokesman for the independence of Greater Syria.map 1919

Discontent in Egypt simmered in the winter of 1918-19 and boiled over when Zaghiul was arrested on March 8th and deported to Malta. There was an explosion of rage and the country lurched into anarchy; ‘self-elected bodies, calling themselves Committees of Public Safety usurped the functions of authority in the towns, and Soviets of Sheikhs ruled the villages.’1 The schoolboys and students of Cairo, numerous andvolatile, took over the streets, hijacked the trams and built barricades. Unlucky Europeans and other foreigners were assaulted; some were murdered, including eight Englishmen killed on the train bringing them back to Cairo from a visit to Luxor. The railway and telegraph systems were extensively damaged and Egyptian civil servants, either willingly or under intimidation, came out on strike.

The British Government could ignore Egypt no longer and took action. General Bulfin, Allenby’s deputy, hurried down from Syria, organised mobile columns strong enough to put down armed rebellion, restored order in the countryside, repaired the railways and summarily punished those communities which had resorted to murder, thus adding to the long history of authority reacting with exemplary and arbitrary force to outrages on what native inhabitants see as armies of occupation. Allenby himself, who had been summoned to Paris to take part in discussions on the future disposition of Syria, was precipitately appointed Special High Commissioner in Egypt charged with bringing the attempted revolution to an end, inquiring into the grievances which had prompted it and meeting such as were found to be justifiable. He arrived in Cairo on March 25th; on the 31st he telegraphed London expressing his intention of releasing Zaghiul from internment, and made the public announcement to this effect on April 7th, provoking a great outburst of triumphal joy on the streets of the capital. There were some further outbreaks of lawlessness but the civil servants returned to work and the country was relatively calm by the end of May. His admirers praised the wisdom of Allenby’s surprising clemency; his detractors, of whom there were many among old Egyptian ‘hands’ denounced the folly of giving way to violence and blamed ‘that jackass’ Allenby for the dangerous and humiliating loss of face suffered by all those associated with the British régime.2

Soon after sending Allenby back to the Residency at Cairo the hard-pressed British Government had announced that Lord Mimer would lead a Commission to inquire into Egypt’s long-term future, but it did not arrive until December 1919. The commissioners had been judiciously selected and were thought to be broadly sympathetic to Egypt but their terms of reference assumed the prolonging of the

Protectorate and Egyptian nationalists made sure that Milner and his associates were booed and boycotted. Back at home in March 1920 the Commission began the painful process of preparing their report; by August it was ready, with the recommendation that Egypt should be granted its  independence subject to the reservation of vital British interests, including the permanence of military bases and control of the Sudan. Unfortunately these recommendations were leaked before they had been put before, much less approved by, the Lloyd George Government, itself a quarrelsome coalition. In Egypt Zaghiul and other nationalist leaders competed in denouncing the concessions the British insisted on. Eighteen more months of turmoil and indecision ensued before Allenby was able on February 28th 1922 to issue a Declaration announcing that ‘the British Protectorate over Egypt is terminated and Egypt is declared to be an independent sovereign state.’3

1 PG Elgood Egypt and the Army, Oxford, 1924, p.349.
2 Cannan & McPherson (eds.), Bimbashi McPherson. A life in Egypt. BBC Books, 1983, ch 14, passim
3 Elgood, op. cit. p369.

Next letter 2nd January 2019

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I have had a curious Xmas

dated Xmas Day 1918
no address & no envelope

My dear old Elsie
Just a few lines on Xmas Day to let you know I am thinking of you and wishing all the time I was home in dear old England

I have had a curious Xmas – better by far than last year when I was up to my knees in mud & rain and had no dinner because the fire wouldnt burn! This year I have spent most of the day in my office for I am frightfully busy with all the demobilization papers – Already we have sent home 9 officers and about 60 men – these are miners police & students etc. Goodness knows when it will be my turn to go! My thanks dear girl for your most welcome Xmas letters & for the beautiful pipe & nail brush – It is kind of you old thing and I wish I was near a shop of some kind to buy you something. I am sorry to hear of the death of your girl pal – everyone seems to have some sort of trouble to bear. I do hope Mrs. Brown is quite better now and that you are all having a very happy time. We are still at Kantara and I fancy we shall be here until the end for it is quite near Port Said from which port most of the ships are sailing I am afraid I shall not be able to write one [a letter] I seem to get no time to myself these busy days – All day long I am arranging to send officers and men home & dont get much chance of working out my own salvation – I havent a notion as to what I shall do after the war but feel something or other will turn up – the Colonel says I must stay on in the Army but I dont know! If I were 10 years younger I should like nothing better

Best love dear girl & many loving thoughts

from Stan

Please address my letters as Captain – sometimes Im a Major (acting) but more often a Captain!!

Next letter Jan 15th 2019

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A step nearer home

dated Dec 3 1918
no address

My dear old Elsie
We are on the move again and this time thank goodness we are going the right way – a step nearer home and demobilization. Our destination at present is Kantara which is on the banks of the Suez Canal – very likely we shall move nearer Cairo or Alexandria later on and so to night we are busy packing up and there is great excitement for we entrain at daybreak tomorrow! At last there are signs of winter here – the nights are cold and rain is coming – we shall escape at Kantara all the unpleasant wet & mud of Palestine This beastly flu is attacking  unfortunately several of our men have died – isnt it hard luck to peg out now the fighting is over I am looking forward so much to your next letters – Your  last was Oct 30th so the post hasnt improved much has it – I do wish it would a fortnight ought to be quite long enough to wait for letters now! The Colonel has gone to Cairo again on leave – he wanted to miss this move and I dont blame him – he says hes going to take things easily now. Demobilizing is going to be a bit busy – my days are full now with grouping and codeing all our men – 900 of ‘em I often wonder what I shall do after its all over – if I were 10 years younger I would love to stay in the Army but Im very old now1 – and feel it too sometimes. Im sure I could never settle down in Taunton again so suppose I shall make a fresh start at something in London or some big centre – I fancy there should be some good openings in the commercial world when the country settles down – if you hear of a good billet going nurse it for me dear girl – will you? I cannot stay to write more now.

Best love dear girl

from Stan

1 Stan was 35 at this point in the war.

Next letter Dec 25th 2018

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Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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I have been awarded the Croix de Guerre

dated Nov 19 1918
no address

My dear old Elsie
You will I know be pleased to hear I have been awarded the Croix de Guerre – I was so surprised late last night to get the following wire “Capt. Goodland MC 1/5 Bn SLI awarded Croix de Guerre – Permission to wear decoration granted  Commander in Chief sends congratulations also Divisional Commander”
So dear girl lve got a memento of the Palestine Campaign as well as the Mespot one and as I can also wear the 1915 star Im getting quite a breast full of ribbons – so Im very gratified. When the news arrived most of the officers were in bed but they all turned out (the Colonel included in pyjamas) and we made merry in the Mess until the small hours – it was a great time & everyone was very kind about it. lve got back from Haifa all right – of course all my plans were futile for instead of going to Haifa for the winter we are going down to Egypt – probably in the neighbourhood of Cairo – of course when I was sent away no one realized the situation would have changed so quickly Isnt it simply grand how well the old Country has come out of the gigantic struggle and I am such a proud soldier now – I found my old Regiment had got back to the Ramleh neighbourhood- and now we are only waiting until the trains can take us back across the Canal – a matter of two weeks or so, I cant tell how long it will be before I am sailing home but Im afraid it will be some months before the Regiment is demobilized and I have a busy time in front of me. But I am rested now and quite fit and fat again and very cheerful
No letter from you dear girl since I last wrote I am looking forward to your  next so much – I hope Mrs. Brown is better and with you once again
Best love dear girl and all good wishes
from Stan

Next letter Dec 3rd 2018

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I have had a letter from you at last dear girl

dated Nov 4th. 1918
no address

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
from Stan

Next letter Nov 19th 2018

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I have just heard we have made Peace with Turkey

Oct 31st
No address

My dear old Elsie

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
Best love
from Stan

Next letter Nov 4th 2018

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I have had a real hot bath today the first since last January!!

Oct 29 1918
no address

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

From Stan

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

Next letter Oct 31st 2018

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spend a very funny Birthday this year

Oct 15 1918
No address

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!

Cheerio & best love dear girl

Next letter Oct 29th 2018

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