The First World War Letters of George Power OBE

Frontispiece

Welcome to the centenary “blog” based on the letters of EGH (George) Power written home through-out the First World War to his wife Marion. The Gloucestershire Regiment in the War 1914-1918 by Everard Wyrall (www.naval-military-press.com) is also a significant source along with other histories of the Great War.

George was the eldest son of Edward John Power of Etchingham in East Sussex. He was born in Putney on 23rd July 1887. He had four brothers and a sister and was educated at Rugby School. After leaving school he went to RMA Sandhurst. Although there was a family business importing timber from Canada there was also a tradition of service in the armed forces.George was a good shot,a skilled horseman, and he enjoyed playing polo.

At Rugby he became friends with Ion Benn whose father was a successful businessman and politician (MP for Greenwich). In the summer holidays George visited the Benn’s on their yacht.

Ion & George'05

George and Ion on Ion's father's yacht
George and Ion on Ion’s father’s yacht

During this time George met Ion’s sister Marion. Love blossomed and George and Marion were married on April 5th 1913.

Marion
Marion
EGH (George) Power  in 1912
EGH (George) Power in 1912

Having passed out from Sandhurst, George was commissioned into the 2nd Batallion the Gloucestershire Regiment.

2nd Lt EGH Power
2nd Lt EGH Power
Cap badge of the Gloucestershire Regiment
Cap badge of the Gloucestershire Regiment

In the lead up to the outbreak of war the batallion was stationed in Tientsin in China as part of a multinational force including German forces. By all accounts relationships between the two nationalities were cordial as the picture of the Kaiser’s Birthday Parade indicate.

IMG_2623

The multinational force also included Russians and combined exercises took place.

Multi national field day, China 1914
Multi national field day, China 1914

At the outbreak of war the national forces went their separate ways. In September the Battalion along with families returned to England via India on the P&O Arcadia. As a footnote they were accompanied by the mount of Capt Vicary (who features later in George’s letters).  “The Sikh”, survived the entire war and died peacefully of old age at Lt Col Vicary’s home in Devon – a true War Horse! Vicary also acquired the Battalion canine mascot “Buller”, by all accounts a powerful bull terrier, who also survived the entire war and joined Vicary and The Sikh in Devon.

The Battalion arrived in Southampton on November 8th 1914 and then moved to Winchester for kitting out and training. On December 18th the Battalion left for France and on arrival on French shores moved to Aire back from the front line. George’s first letter home is on December 20th. Each letter will be posted in “real time” with a brief background. The last letter is posted on 29th June 1919 which is when the Battalion finally arrived back in England.

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