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
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I enclose a twig from Mount of Olives

8 June 1918

My dear old Elsie
I wrote you a letter from Jerusalem and I am now back with the Regiment – I have sent you some photos of some of the places I have seen – it has all been very interesting and I should have liked to have stayed longer.
I spent a day taking the colonel over El Jib and the battle fields of last November. It all brought back wonderful memories – I found poor old Banes grave and tidied it up and put a wall of stones around it – it was a very sad day in many ways.
Of course we went to the Mount of Olives and I enclose a twig1 from one of the Trees – it is supposed to bring good luck. We also walked through the Garden of Gethsemane and on to Mount Zion where we were shown the Tombs of King David and Solomon & also the place of the Last Supper. I really know more about Biblical History than ever I did before altho I fancy I got a prize at School once for an essay on the ‘Life of Christ’! The mails are still very disappointing and I havnt had a letter from you for ages again – I hope mine are reaching you better now We go into the line again in a few days time – everyone has enjoyed the rest & change but of course it has been much too short – I wish it would all end – my leave seems further off than ever but I always hope to be allowed to get away some day. The Colonel has been awarded the D.S.O. in the Kings Birthday Honours – we are all very delighted about it – I am longing get another letter from you & hope you are very fit – Best love dear girl
From Stan

1 The twig survives in the envelope with this letter

Next letter July 3rd 2018
These letters have been published as
Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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We are a fine regiment now…

Mar 4 1918 EEF

My dear old Elsie
We are off again tomorrow and are full of bustle today packing up and getting ready – we have had 3 delightful weeks of comparative comfort here and I shall be sorry to leave my tent and olive grove and many other comforts which we don’t get when fighting the Turk in those stoney hills yonder. We are a fine Regiment again now and are stronger in officers & men than we have ever been –  most of our wounded have rejoined. The Dukes visit is put off for a few weeks and I hope we shan’t be altogether disappointed for we have had a very busy time smartening up & cleaning everything since weve been out of the line – H.R.H. is going to  present the decorations recently won on this front and I expect he will give me my Military Cross so I shall have to practice pushing my chest out. Ive  just had 2 letters from you dear girl- the last dated Jan 29th many thanks they do cheer me  up no end – I expect the excitement of battle again will make me forget for a time all those horrible times of last November and December. We dined our General last night and gave him a wonderful dinner – he is a topper and got ever so cheery – Ill enclose the Menu Card and also the song we sang to the tune of “another little drink wouldn’t do us any harm” The Padre composed it!

I’ll write whenever I can – best love dear girl

from Stan

 

Next letter March 17th 2018
These letters have been published as
Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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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
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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
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So pent up with excitement…

[passed by censor No. 3983]
7 10 17
no address

My very dear old Elsie
Just a line to let you know I am quite safe and well –  In my last letter I think I told you that I was going to attempt a big thing – It was indiscreet of me perhaps to mention it to you but one gets so pent up with excitement that unless on these occasions one can confide in someone one would simply burst! The great event was a night raid and it came off very successfully last night. I will write you more about it in a day or two –  you will be glad to hear the Regiment has received many wires of congratulations today and I personally have had many kind words said to me by the General and my Colonel. The Colonel thinks we are going to be relieved almost  immediately for a rest and then he says I am to go to Cairo for a weeks leave and rest. I shall look forward to this. Many thanks dear girl for your letter received yesterday I am glad that the Doctor is back again and Mrs. Brown is better. Best love dear old girl

From Stan

Next letter 14th October 2017
These letters have been published as
Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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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
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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
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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

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Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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This horrid old war…

Charleville Hotel, Mussoorie, C/o Cox & Co, Bombay
Aug. 4th 1916

My dear old Elsie
I have just returned from the Intercession Service1 at the Church – it has all been very impressive and the singing was led by the splendid band of the 7th. Hussars.

I suppose there are similar services today all over dear old England – it is hard to realize that this horrid old war has been raging for two whole years and at present I see no prospect of peace for many months to come. I must say it all makes me feel very sad and very homesick but I suppose it’s ones duty to keep smiling & present a bold front to the world, weve simply got to win this war and we shall need even yet all the smiles and bravery of Englishmen – and Englishwomen too – to accomplish it. I hate writing about the war but its hard to forget it and at the back of my mind always there is Mesopotamia and all we went through in those months of struggle to relieve Kut but I’ll try to write you of other things. Many thanks dear old thing for all your letters and Tatlers etc. – I am hearing from you regularly again now and besides I am getting a good many through from the Gulf – last week I actually got a letter and Tatler dated Nov. 24th. last year, these had obviously been in the Kut mail bags. I hope you have received the letters lve written you since I came back to India but Im afraid Im an uncertain letter writer – I always was wasn’t I? But I love your letters and they mean such a lot to me – sometimes I think I dont deserve all the love and thought you give me.

Today I have sent you by registered post a little lot of twelve skins – they are the skins of the Himalayan snow fox2 – I want you to have them made up when you feel inclined into a muff and stole thing but you must please let me pay for doing them up – probably you would find someone in Cheltenham to do this. These skins are scarce now so I hope youll like ‘em and I shall look forward to seeing you wearing them (not next winter I fear). You will be glad to hear I am ever so much stronger than when I last wrote and Im looking ever so fat and fit now my wound doesn’t trouble me at all but my inside is still quite hopeless – the doctor here says I must expect this for some time – the funny part about it is that this trouble doesn’t make me feel ill at all now and of course I am bound to be passed fit for service when I come up for my final Board in about 10 days time. I am still at Mussoorie but must leave for Chakrata in 3 days time – Capt Body left about 10 days ago and is I expect already at Basra but he left his wife here and a week ago Capt. Major & Lieut. Moore3 of the Somersets turned up from Meerut and persuaded me to stay on with them for a bit. I hope to see Harold if I go off to Mespot again from Bombay – my address will be
Capt E.S.Goodland
1/5 Buffs
Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force
c/o India Office, London

it is better to drop the Somerset LI. as it is confusing and we are no longer I.E.F.’D’ but M.E.F. I imagine you are on holiday now and hope you will have ever such a nice time and good weather- you deserve a long rest & change I am sure. This is a very jolly place and there is always plenty to do and everyone seems in the right holiday mood – I will tell you what lve been doing in my next – the mail goes out almost immediately and I dont want to miss it. Many thanks again dear for all your letters and papers – with best love and good wishes for your holiday
from Stan

1 On the second anniversary of the outbreak of the war.
4 Elsie never had these furs made up, but they survived until 2011 as collar and cuffs on her daughter’s coat.
3 Capt Major sailed for India with the Regiment in 1914. He died in the battle for El Jib in Palestine. The two Moore brothers (Thomas & RB) were also in the Regiment from 1914. They both survived the war (BaR pp.xill, 13, 73). They were brothers of Mary, wife of Capt later Lt-Col FD Urwick.

Next letter Aug 11th 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