..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

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No mail, very fed up

Feb 22 1917

My dear old Elsie
We’ve had no English mail for the last 3 weeks & consequently are very fed up – I suppose the submarines have been too busy or perhaps the mail boats are being sent round the Cape. We are all hoping 3 letters will come all together. I am wondering how you are now – in your last letter you told me that you were just recovering from a nasty touch of ‘flu – I do hope you are quite fit again & I shall be so anxious to know. We are still in camp and very little exciting happens – we’ve got a very energetic General who makes us do plenty of hard work but we don’t mind that because theres absolutely nothing else to do – On March 2nd the whole Division is going out on a reconnaissance over the Frontier and we are busy making all the preparations- we shall be away from this spot for 15 days about – it is very likely that we shall not be able to get any letters posted so you will know if you dont hear from me – there are of course no roads where we are going so we have to take camels to carry all our stores and kit. Nothing more has come to hand yet about our future but we think we shall get news before many days are over & everyone seems confident we are going to be sent away from India at the end of March or the beginning of April! Best love dear old girl

from Stan

Next letter March 1st 2017

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A busy time feeding 900 men

Camp Burhan, Nr.Attock, North West Frontier
Janry 25 1917

My dear old Elsie
Many thanks dear old girl for your letter of the Dec.19th which reached me only today-  goodness knows why it has taken so long in coming – I hope you have been getting my letters lately too – Im sorry I could not write much while in camp at Tughlakabad1 – but I think I sent you a line most mails since. We are getting on very well with our camp here and when the Regiment arrives in a few days time I think we should be practically ready to receive them and to make them comfortable – Our Quartermaster has to remain at Meerut to hand over and will not join us for two weeks or so – the Colonel writes to say I am to act as Quartermaster until he rejoins so I should have a busy time feeding over 900 hungry mouths & clothing them & making them comfortable! Ive had no chance of doing any exploring since I last wrote – it isnt safe to wander far without an escort and weve all been very busy. As a Major on the Staff said when we first arrived “theres damn all to do up here except soldiering” and Im sure hes quite right. There’s very little shooting even – the other evening I shot a hyena but there are no birds at all – sometimes a flock of geese come over but they fly so high and so fast that they defeat me altogether. They are equipping this Division regardless of expense and I fancy it must mean that when we have all been training together for some little time that we shall see service somewhere  – they are completing us in transport – field ambulances all the newest Maxim & Lewis Guns – bombs in fact every thing necessary for service – If we do go I hope it will be anywhere but Mespot.

Since I last wrote you I have passed the anniversary of my wound and my Military Cross – It seems only yesterday I was passing through those awful times and everyday I go through the different thrilling events in my mind. lve had several letters lately from old friends in the Buffs – they are still fighting and on Jan 11 and 12th lost a good many casualties  – they have had a very very hard time indeed and must be absolutely done up by this time.2

Its awfully lonely here and I shall be so glad when the Regiment comes – we are such a cheery Mess when we all get together – Banes Walker3 – Milsom4 and the two Moores are the only subalterns left of the old crowd who came out in the Kenilworth Castle and we are all the greatest of pals – all the others  – about 16 – have dwindled away – most of them have got jobs in the Indian Army with the intention of sticking to soldiering after the War.

Todays mail also brought a few lines from the Babe5 with quite a cheerful report of the dear old Pater –  he seems really wonderful and has quite rallied again. Before next mail I hope to get your promised parcel off – the post office is two miles away and I havent had a chance of going down yet.

Many thanks dear girl for the Tatler – I shall enjoy the two letters more than ever now we are so far away from civilization. The married men of the Regiment are of course frightfully sick because no ladies are allowed so far north as this – they are staying at Meerut for the present.

Well cheero dear old thing – heres my love to you & the best of good wishes

from Stan

1 The ruins of Tughlakabad. one of the seven cities of Delhi
2 The Buffs were involved in the campaign to recapture Kut.
3 Gerald Banes Walker of North Petherton, Bridgwater, Somerset. He, Harry Milsom and Stanley were close friends and colleagues. They are mentioned several times in subsequent letters.
4 Harry Milsom (1889-1970) MA Cantab. Ranching in British Columbia before the War. Assistant Secretary of the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, 1919-1930. Secretary, 1930-1939.
5 Florence Amy Goodland (1892-1977), known as ‘the Babe’, 4th and youngest sister to Stanley, married Karl Jones of Mumbles, South Wales, in 1920. On July 30th 1914 she left England to attend a course at the Dalcroze College of Dancing near Dresden. Caught in Germany by the outbreak of war she succeeded, on the second attempt, in crossing the Dutch frontier. A long account of her experiences was printed in the Somerset County Gazette, September 19th, shortly after her return.

Next letter February 1st 2017

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its more like real soldiering

Burhan Camp, nr.Attock1,  North West Frontier, India
Janry 18 1917
[Note: the envelope of this letter is printed O.H.M.S. and ’16th Indian Division’]

My dear old Elsie
Here I am in camp once again and quite safe and well. I was sent off from Meerut at very short notice with 100 men and we are busy making all the preparations to receive the Regiment which is arriving on the 27th. inst. Weve got our hands full for beside fetching 300 large tents there are cook houses & washhouses and mess kitchens to be built besides roads and drains to dig  I was sorry to leave Meerut where we had many good times and made lots of friends and this is a very desolate sport to be sent to – however its more like real soldiering & theres always the danger and a certain amount of excitement which appeals to me more than ordinary barrack life. Its almost impossible to describe this spot – it looks as if there had been a huge earthquake for the ground is all broken and churned up – theres hardly a tree or any green thing to be seen – we are surrounded by mountains all covered in snow & it freezes hard every night – so you can image how cold it is living entirely under canvas  Theres absolutely nothing to do so we can give our minds entirely to soldiering, and it isnt completely safe to wander very far from camp

The whole neighbourhood is haunted by Pathan rifle thieves – very desperate men who get a big price for a rifle if they can get one back across the frontier  I havent had my last two mails &  suppose they will be a bit uncertain until we are a bit more settled and of course I am very anxious to get the latest news of the poor old Pater I feel frightfully lonely up here & shall be so glad when the Regiment arrives – we are such a happy crowd when we are altogether – hope you are fit – best love dear old girl

from Stan
I hadnt time after all to post the parcel at Meerut so will do so at first opportunity.

1 Attock lies between Peshawar and Rawalpindi.

Next letter Jan 25th 2017

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I’m off to the Frontier…

1/5 Somerset L.I., Meerut
Jan 12 1917

My dear old Elsie
I’ve got my orders at last and early tomorrow I’m off to the Frontier with an Advance Party – Today we are all very busy making the final plans.

It will be bitterly cold for the next few weeks under canvas but I’ve treated myself to a nice warm sleeping bag and I’ve got those lovely bed stockings which Mrs. Hyde gave me on Salisbury Plain – I hope next mail to be able to write and tell you my first impressions but we are told that we shan’t be allowed to say very much as to what goes on. It is a long train journey but through interesting country so the time will pass pleasantly enough. Thank you dear old girl for your last letter – we shall look forward to our mail more than ever now we are going right away from civilization. Today a wire came from Harold saying that Alice had rejoined him safely and well – so that’s good news for he has been frightfully anxious during her voyage out. We still have celebrations in the Mess of my Military Cross and you can realize how proud I am of the ribbon I am now allowed to wear- since I last wrote I had to go up to the Brigade General and the Divisional General to be congratulated – I have packed up a little Cashmere scarf to day for your birthday and hope it will reach you safely – goodness knows when I should have another opportunity of sending off a parcel – it brings with it loving birthday wishes – I’ve also included two collar badges. These are the ones I wore all through Mespot, and I want you & Gretchen to have one each – please send her one won’t you?

They make up into quite a nice brooch and you can get some Regimental ribbon from Browns of Taunton – colours green and blue with a thin gold stripe very pretty I think – I’ll try to draw a little sketch of how it should go. You will want to have a metal brooch pin soldered on the back.

The news from Home seems better and I do hope the old Pater will soon be his wonderful old self. I’ve sent your mother a few lines this mail – it was awfully kind of her to send me out Punch’s Almanac,
With best love
from Stan

Next letter Jan 18th 2017

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Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
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My Military Cross has been announced

1/5 Somerset LI., Meerut

Jan 4 1917

My dear old Elsie
You will see by my address that we are stilt at Meerut – all packed up –  -and waiting the order to go further north. I think perhaps I told you that I am to go ahead of the Regiment with an advance party of 100 men and as we shall probably get 10 days start I am expecting to move any day.
Of course now everything else in my mind is eclipsed by the announcement of my Military1 – the cable from the Pater (it hasn’t appeared in the Indian papers yet) arrived one evening just as we were going into Mess – everyone went mad with excitement and it was a very merry night I can tell you. Well – my dear old girl – thanks so much for keeping my secret – it’s been a long long time of waiting – practically a year and many times lately I’ve given up hope even of getting it. It’s made the events of that awful Janry 1916 come back very vividly to my mind and it really is a perfect miracle that I’m still alive and well. The Colonel is delighted and I’ve had congratulations on all sides – I’m glad to have been able to bring a little honour to the jolly old Regiment and it pleases me beyond anything to feel how delighted the old Pater must be. I only hope he is better now! Ever so many thanks dear girl for your Xmas letter & papers & parcel – the latter arrived actually on Xmas morning – it is so kind of you & I’m enjoying the cigarettes so much – the little dominoes are sweet & everything else simply topping.
Considering all things we had quite a good Xmas – 3 or 4 of our officers have their wives out here and they gave all sorts of gay parties. On Xmas morning I went to Church Parade and then back to see the men sit down to a tremendous spread –of turkeys geese ducks ham beef plum pudding etc etc – all very small and poor things that would make our English birds blush for same [shame] but it was all very jovial and nice – lots of singing – lots of toasts – lots of soldiers talk which I simply love. I’ve been thinking of you and all the people at home – thinking of poor Mother & it’s so difficult & almost impossible to quite realize that she isn’t at Elm Grove waiting for the end of the war and waiting til we come home. I expect you have had a busy time with the children and I hope you have had a happy time – I can’t tell you what’s going to happen to us on the frontier. In any case there won’t be any trouble until about March when the hillmen have no work to do and no crops to worry about – it’s at those times that they come down & make trouble.
We shall be under canvas or in blockhouses or dugouts & the cold for the next few weeks will be intense – After March it gets so hot that we shall have to be sent somewhere where we can get more shelter than canvas. I’ll let you know my movements but of course I’m not allowed to tell you very much.

Again many thanks dear old girl for your letters and gifts – with best wishes for the New Year and lots of love

from Stan

1 The London Gazette announced that Lieutenant, temporary Captain, Edward Stanley Goodland, (Somerset Light Infantry) had been awarded the Military Cross. Captain Goodland is the well known Somerset cricketer. He is the son of Mr EC Goodland and a member of the firm of Franklin, Hare & Goodland, jewellers, etc., of Taunton. He was wounded during the advance on Kut some months ago.’(Somerset County Gazette, December 30th 1916).

Next letter Jan 12th 2017

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Warmest thoughts for Xmas

Tughlakabad Camp, nr Dehli
Nov 24th, 1916

My dear old Elsie
I’ve just been told the Xmas mail goes out tonight so I thought I simply must write to you. Fancy Xmas being in sight again – it really seems only the other day I was eating my dinner of bully beef and biscuits in a dug out in Mespot – how time flies. Its awfully difficult to know what wishes to send ones pals at home but you will understand my feelings and I shall be thinking of you at any rate we can all most sincerely wish that this old war would soon fight itself out and I expect that is the wish which will predominate everything else. Peace and a safe and speedy homecoming for the fighting men. Your last letter came yesterday forwarded from Chakrata – Many thanks dear for your congrats on my ‘mention’ – It’s very nice to have got some little honour out of the war – sometimes I feel that they won’t give me any further award and I suppose I ought to be quite satisfied. but Lloyd George said about 3 weeks ago that the list of awards for Mespot would be published shortly and until this appears I shan’t altogether give up hope! We are having a gorgeous time – plenty of hard training and a whole lot of night work – Lord Radnor1 is our Brigadier and is a real good soldier.

There is very little further news about our move to the Frontier except that advance party has already gone off to make preparations for us – it looks as if we are really going but I daresay we shall hear more about it next week when the Viceroy2 and the new Commander in Chief3 come to see us. I’ve had a busy time as Adjutant but now Frank Calway is back and I’m with my company again it was very interesting marching down and the men simply loved Delhi – we entered through the Cashmere Gate and came out through the Lahore Gate – the museums in the Fort are full of the most thrilling relics of the great Mutiny – very near our camping ground are the ruins of one of the 7 old cities of Delhi – in fact the whole country is a mass of old mosques and ruins. I’ve had several letters from Harold lately – he has had a turn in hospital with a poisoned knee but seems better now – he simply loves his staff job and of course is wildly excited at the thought of having Alice out with him and it will be awfully nice for them both. I’m so glad you got your holiday at last and I hope you have returned to Minch feeling all the better for the change – I’m sorry to hear you keep so thin and you really must try to get fattened up for Xmas.

I hardly know how to write to the dear old Pater for Xmas – and I’m afraid it will be full of the saddest possible memories for him but he bears up wonderfully and seems to keep well.

Heres my best love and warmest thoughts & wishes for Xmas
From Stan

1 Jacob Pleydell-Bouverie, 6th Earl of Radnor, 1868- 1930. MP for Wilton Division of Wiltshire, 1892-1900 Lt-Col and Brevet Colonel, CO 4th Battalion Wiltshire Regiment. Served in South Africa 1900, India 1914-1917, Brig-General Dehra Dun Brigade 1915-1917 (Who was Who Vol III)
2 Viscount Chelmsford, Frederic John Napier Thesiger, 1st Viscount Chelmsford, GCSI GCMG GCIEGBE PC (1868 –1933) Viceroy of India from 1916 to 1921
3 Gen. CC Munro, in post 1916-1920.

Next letter Dec 2nd 2016

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Only today I have heard about dear Mothers death

I.E.F. ‘D’
Feb 5 1916

My dear old Elsie

Only today I have heard about dear Mothers death1 – Harold cabled me on Dec 23rd but the message has never reached me and his letter that he wrote at the same time only came to hand this morning. You have no idea of the conditions prevailing in this country and the almost unsurmountable difficulties and the post & telegraph people seem unable to cope with things – At any rate for a long time private wires have not been delivered above Amarah but I do think they might have sent on my cable or put it in an envelope & posted it to me as I tried to arrange.

The news altho expected has come as a great shock and I feel very sad and helpless and thoroughly miserable – We have lost the very best of Mothers and no one will know not even we her children all she suffered for us and her constant thought for our welfare. I find it difficult to write but you know how I loved her and what I must feel about it all. I am thinking so much now of the poor old Pater – it must be heart breaking to see him without his lifelong mate – he is an old man and I am very much afraid his strength will fail him. I feel so unhappy about it all and that is why I naturally turn to you best of friends. Please write and tell me everything – I was so glad to get a letter from you (Dec 9th) but it is only one up to now and no Xmas present that you mention – ever so many thanks – but there must be many more somewhere which I am looking forward to getting very soon. I should like a long pow wow with you now for there is so much to tell you – I have wondered very much lately if we shall ever meet again. I dont want to appear despondent but I dont think it is possible for any one to go through a second time all weve been through since Jan 4 with a whole skin – I have had the most extraordinary good luck and I think a little goddess of good fortune has been looking after me and I hope she won’t be frightened away. Candidly I have seen enough and I wish this old war would end – Altho I really dont want it to now until we can say we are top dog. I wonder if we can smash the enemy in every theatre of war this coming Spring – what do you think – its men we want – thousands and . thousands of them!

And now old girl I am just dying to tell you a great secret about myself – you musn’t tell a soul and I haven’t even mentioned it to my own people in case of disappointment I have been mentioned in despatches and recommended for a ‘Military Cross’ for “helping his company with great gallantry and coolness during the actions Jan 4th to 21st and on the 21st altho wounded himself going out about 150 yards in front of our advanced trenches and bringing in a wounded officer of the Dogras under heavy fire.”2 What do you think of that – old thing. It really looks better on paper than it was but it was a very exciting adventure – Towards the close of the days fighting on the 21st we had orders to retire about 300 yards to take up a position for the night and I saw this poor chap out there in front of us and managed to crawl out to him on my right side (for my left thigh was bleeding and painful) and drag him back a few inches at a time – in doing so I was hit through the water bottle and through the shoulder of my coat – it all sounds like a book or a play and cant you imagine poor Lewis Waller3 working it up but its all true and I can tell you it was very thrilling – I do hope they give me an M.C. but they have been very sparing of honours in this show – It would be something to keep and cherish afterwards if I get through and in any  case it will always be nice to feel I’ve been mentioned – the list wont be published I expect for at least six months and I may not live to see it in print and that is why I wanted to tell you all about it myself – but keep it a great secret wont you.

I am practically well now and have been appointed adjutant4 to the 5th Buffs so join up again in a few days the appointment dates from Jan 8th. when the adjutant was unfortunately killed and as it means £10 a month extra pay it is very nice but this I suppose will cease when I can get to the Dorsets. Best love old girl

From Stan

1 Mother’s death: December 22nd 1915
2 This was the commanding officer of the 37th Dogras, who had been shouting for help in a manner Stanley, (as he explained 58 years later), considered unfitting and ungentlemanly.
3 William Waller Lewis (3 November 1860 – 1 November 1915), known on stage as Lewis Waller, was an English actor and theatre manager, well known on the London stage and in the English provinces.
4 Lieut H S Marchant, Adjutant of 5th Buffs, was killed on January 7th 1916. Stanley was appointed Adjutant in his place. (See RSH Moody, op. cit., p.125).

 

Next letter Mar 5th 2016

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