Just a few lines, I am better…

July 25 1918
EEF

My dear old Elsie
Just a few lines to let you know I am better and hope after all to keep out of Hospital – we go out of the line in a few days time and I shall be able to have more rest and a quiet time
I am tired of the summer – since March we have lived under a boiling sun and I think it gradually saps up ones energy and extra strength
A soldier is always grousing – we curse the wet & cold and then we curse the sun I wish it was all over! And I really think these latest events in France1 may  prove to be the turning point dont you? We only get very short telegrams & long for fuller particulars I am looking forward so much to your next letters – I get so fed up when no English mail arrives.
I do hope you will get really fine weather for your holidays and I am sure you will have many happy times With best love dear girl
From Stan

1 The Second Battle of the Marne, July 16th-18th. The Germans exhausted themselves without making any great breakthrough and with British and American help the French recovered some of the ground they had lost.

Next letter Sep 2nd 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
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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
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Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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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
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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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Did you hear of fighting?

Jan 11 1917 [sic] EEF

My dear old Elsie,
Every day we look out for our mails but nothing ever comes, and I haven’t had any letters for ages. The truth is we are having some very severe weather and torrents of rain – I think our old railway has been washed away in places and you’ve no idea how difficult it is to get limbers and animals along in bad weather in a country without roads – it is as much as the supply people can do just to get our rations up and until better times come I guess we shall have to wait for our letters.  I have written you several letters quite recently and I hope some of them reach you – they have been rather sad affairs Im afraid but Im feeling a bit more cheerful now –  things are straightening out a bit in the Regiment now and we’re getting a few officers and men so that makes me happier. Major Urwick as been given the D.S.O. – isnt that great news and a fine honour no[t] only for himself but for the Regiment as well – he is a very proud man of course – Major Watson1 and Duke2 who went home on leave in Sept. are in the country again and as soon as they rejoin Major Urwick and I are going down to Cairo for a weeks holiday – the General has already sanctioned it – so we shall have a royal time Im sure we are still in the line but the Turk is very quiet and keeps his distance – in spite of the weather the men are in wonderful spirits – one cheery soul outside my dug out is singing now ‘I tiddle dy Ity take me back to Blighty’ – Im sure thems  my sentiments too.

Im longing to hear what you think of all our fighting and the capture of Jerusalem – I havent been to the Holy city yet but Ive been to Jaffa Ramleh and Ludd which are ever so interesting – German banks – hotels & buildings predominate everywhere. Im afraid poor Milsom is still very ill  – Im sorry for his missus who is in New Zealand – she is such a good sort and was ever so good in India. I do hate this war. I think of little Gretchen3 every day and wonder how  she is getting on -I shall have quite a lot of new nephews & nieces to get to know when I do reach home once more.

No more news just now and its getting too dark to write and there are no candles or oil nowadays – so goodnight dear old girl with my very best love.
from Stan

1 Major DS Watson was Mentioned in Dispatches and won the DSO. He joined the Regiment as Lieutenant on April1st 1908 and left with the rank of Lt-Col on August 28th 1923 (BoR pp.73, 74, 120).
2 Capt J Duke was with the Regiment when they left for India in October 1914 and was awarded the Order of the Nile 4th Class from Egypt, and the Order of the Crown of Italy [Chevalier] (BoR pp.l3, 75).
3 Gretchen (Greta Goodland 1889-1968). Her first child was expected in January and there are several references to this event before Stanley received the news. Christine Hyde was born January 8th 1918.

Next letter January 28th 2018
These letters have been published as
Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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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
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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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We live in strenuous times..

l4 Aug. 1917
no address

My dear old Elsie
Many thanks dear girl for your last letter from Llandidno [sic] and also one which has come today from Leeds. Im so very glad you have had a good holiday and only hope you will return to Minch feeling like a giantess. This is only a very short letter –  we live in strenuous times out here just now and Ive very little time for writing –  at present I am on special duty detached from the Regiment – we have half the Regiment here and Im adjutant & quartermaster. In a few days we move up further and right into the front trenches –  If you dont here regularly from me dear girl dont worry about me I will write when I can I shall always be thinking of you and if anything happens to me I shall feel right to the end that you thought well of me and that will make me happy. Goodbye dear girl best love

from Stan

Next letter August 31st 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 are living in a sandstorm

1/5 Somerset L.I., North West Frontier
March 15 1917

My dear Old Elsie

I was very disappointed not to get a letter from you last mail but everything in the way of mail boats is so very uncertain now and I suppose we ought to be thankful things are no worse! The past few days we have lived in a sand storm – it is the first sign that the hot weather is at hand but it is very uncomfortable – we have lived in sand and dust and goodness knows how we have managed to keep so well – we haven’t seen the sky for days! Our future is all we care and worry about now – we are all so desperately keen on getting home to dear old England that I’m afraid we sometimes overlook the tokens of service on other fronts and I must say I am almost inclined to think that Egypt is to be our destination!

It’s too bad of them to keep the secret so long but I suppose it’s very necessary – India is full of spies and German Agents – we are leaving here for Bombay on the 26th – it will be a long and trying journey and very hot down south.

Isn’t it glorious news from Mespot1 at last. I only hope we shall not be trapped again but I think our Generals out there have learnt their lesson from Sir J Nixons blunder in 1915. I’ll write again before leaving India & if possible I’ll cable home  so you will here (sic) where I am bound for. Cheero! dear old pal – best love

from Stan

1 Kut was recaptured on February 24th 1917, and Baghdad taken on March 11th.

Next letter March 22nd 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