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GWL 29th June 1919 (Embarkation Camp ‘K’, Boulogne)

“We arrived here yesterday.  So near & yet so far, isn’t it? I don’t know when we shall cross but they seem to think not before Tuesday.  It is wonderful to think that I shall probably see you in a day or two.  Everybody is well.  I have such heaps of things to tell you.  We had a very comfortable journey really, from Taranto.  rather dirty & we nearly got gassed in one tunnel, otherwise quite all right.  What they will do with us on the other side, nobody seems to know.  We may have to go into another camp for a day or two and then paddle off to Bristol.  As soon as we know I will send you a wire.”

{next post July 1st}

GWL 4th April 1919

“The Colonel is back; Peter’s and my leave applications have gone through and really everything in the garden is looking lovely.  The Colonel is looking very well and his leave seems to have done him all the good in the world.  He brought my watch back safely.  To-morrow is our wedding day, I will write again in the morning.”

On 6th April Ernst Toller, leader of a collection of Communists and Anarchists declared the Bavarian Soviet Republic displacing Johannes Hoffmann’s Socialist Government which fled to Bamberg in Northern Bavaria.  This Government was displaced only six days later by the Communist Party with Eugene Levine as leader.

{next post 8th April}

GWL15th January 1919

“We are pretty well settled down here and only require to be left in peace for about a week to be really comfortable.  Soon we are going to have a race meeting.  We (Peter & I) went to tea with the sisters that came out in the same ship with us.  Awfully nice girls.  My word they have to work.  I have a great admiration for the sister.  Flu has got us rather badly.  Buried three since we landed, and we have 2 more on the D.I. list.

“Tremendous excitement this morning, calculating off a 1/1,000,000 map whether we could see Mt. Eberus [Elbrus] from here.  We have picked him out all right.  You can see him clearly with the naked eye.  Just 150 miles.  The main Caucasus range is a wonderful sight.  For about ten minutes before sundown, you get here a very beautiful light on the country.  All the hills go purple & the sea that opally light blue.  Add a peak or two with snow on it & the whole effect is very fine.”

At 5,642m elevation Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus range, a dormant volcano is the 10th highest peak in the world.


A reminder that the worldwide flu pandemic continued to take it’s toll.

{next post 18th January}

GWL 5th December 1918

“…..Getting busy now.  What with education schemes & resettlement forms.  Peter should be back from Athens in a day or two more.  Gay young spark.  This is really a Christmas letter.  I wish you all that you wish for yourself.  Lets hope the old day will hurry along when we can be together again.”

On the 4th HMS Cassandra, part of a naval force en route to defend Tallinn from Bolshevik forces, struck an uncharted German mine in the Gulf of Finland.  Although she sank quickly all bar one of those who survived the initial explosion were rescued by other ships.

Demobilisation of British troops began.  Initial plans drawn up in 1917 prioritised those with particular industrial skills.  However this led to resentment among those with long service, with subsequent disorder in camps in France.  Churchill was appointed War Secretary in January 1919 and changed the system to favour those who had served the longest.  Demobilisation continued over a four year period reducing the size of the Armed Forces from 3.8 million at the end of the War to 220,000 in 1920.

The Yugo-Slav National Council in Agram proclaimed the union of all Serbs, Croats and Slovenes as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.  The country was recognised by the International community in 1922 and the name changed to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1919.

{next post 8th December}

GWL 28th November 1918

“Dear Madam, I beg to inform you that the firm of ‘G.Power & photographs of wife’ has taken up new premises within three minutes walk of the old.  It is much (I might say wery much!) regretted that there is no more of the wife present than the photographs.  These palatial premises, which, dear lady, we should take the greatest pleasure in showing you, cover an area of 10 feet by 6 feet.  They comprise a table, a stove, a bed, there are also a bookcase, two windows & a door.  The stove moreover is alight! The smoke, strange to relate goeth out by the chimney.  The rain falleth on the roof.”

Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicates on this day. This was however a formality as he had been forced into exile in the Netherlands on November 10th.  The abdication brought to an end 400 years of the House of Hohenzollern.  Wilhelm made overtures to Hitler in the hope that the monarchy could be restored but his appeals fell on deaf ears.  In 1919 he purchased a Manor House, Huis Doorn, in Doorn, Netherlands where he lived for the remainder of his life dying in 1941.


The Letter of Abdication


Huis Doorn

{next post 1st December}

GWL 18th July 1918

“Behold me, commanding the Battalion.  The Colonel having gone on leave for 3 days!  Enclosed is a picture of the H.Q.Mess.  Please note my cat.  When I arrived here first it was in sole possession of the mess.  It has only half a tail.  I think it is a French cat.

“It is very, very hot.  The hottest summer we have had.  I am very sorry about Mr Adkin.  I liked him very much.  Old man Adam must be in France now.  Wish him luck when you write.  Peter has gone off with the Colonel.

“The only way to sleep these days is to get into your mosquito net with no clothes at all & hope for the best.  Last night Johnny Bulgar got a bit fresh & made a lot of noise which did not make things easier.  One of the hen turkeys has been absent for about a week.  This morning we found her on a nest of six eggs.”

The German advance in the Marne stalled on the 17th and the Allied counter offensive commenced on the 18th with the French, British and Italian forces under General Foch reinforced by fresh US forces.  This possibly represented a turning point of the War on the Western Front as the Germans made no further ground.


{next post 21st July}

GWL 21st April 1918

“Much exercise on foot and riding.  It is a very pleasant change in every way and I feel much better even after only three days of it.  How long it will go on for I don’t know.  It is all most interesting.  Seeing new people & different parts of the country is topping after being stuck in that camp so long.  Watched them shelling old man Bulgar for a bit this afternoon.  The people here are awfully kind to me and are most amusing, particularly an interpreter.  You cannot think what a relief it is to get away from that camp for a bit.  It makes you feel extraordinarily free.  Really it is the best kind of holiday I have had for years.  I may see Peter during my wanderings, but I don’t know.  Hope so.  It was rather an adventuresome ride in that car the other day.  Once or twice I thought we were over.  The roads were very bad in some places.  Deep ruts made by lorries are not much fun in a small car.”

At this point George is granted home leave and travels back to UK via Italy and France.  It is also the end of his time in the Machine Gun School.  There are four short entries in the transcripts by Marion:

  • GHP arrived on leave on May 11th and left again for Salonica on June 10th.
  • Received June 14th two letters dated June 11th from Port of disembarkation in France.
  • Received June 20th a letter written somewhere en route through France dated June 14th.
  • Received June 24th two post cards and a watercolour sent from some place in Italy on June 18th.

{next post 25th June}

GWL 9th March 1917

Yesterday was a pretty awful day.  It blew like the devil.  T0-day is fine and much warmer.  Everybody has colds.  You never know what to wear.  One day it freezes and snows and the next it is cooking hot.  I have got a beauty, much nose blowing but no real harm in it.

A most annoying thing happened the other night.  A mouse walked into my mouse trap – Strolled round the interior and then walked out – Apparently he was not hungry.  I ascertained afterwards that about 1/2 a candle had gone.  A lot of annoying things happened the following morning.  A red book slipped into my shaving water and on preparing to scrape my face, I found a gory mixture awaiting me.  I thought my servant was trying to be funny, but he said he wasn’t.  The “Morning and Evening Hate” has been considerably improved, by playing the thing at twice the correct pace.  It does sound like a noise a band might conceivably produce now.  Before it was awful.”

During early March the first minor actions of the year took place.  The French launched an offensive against Monastir on 11th March.

{next post March 11th}

GWL 27th February 1917

An exciting day.  Fritz flew over this afternoon, 15 strong, to pay us a visit.  He arrived about tea time but did not stay long.  He left one or two cards & also an aeroplane.  Why he has not done it before heaven only knows.  I am glad to hear that Peter has arrived safely.  I caught a mouse last night.  Charming little fellow.  He ate the tail out of a shirt, so he must have died happy; feeling that his work was done – 

We had a subscription in the mess the other night to buy some gramophone records and an officer went down to see what he could get.  He only raised one.  Something very good by a German fellow.  It is really awful!  The two sides of the record are now known as “the morning and evening Hate”.

On the 25th the SS Laconia was sunk by a German U-boat west of the Fastnet Rock while returning to England from the US.  She was carrying 75 passengers.  Of the six passengers who died, two were US citizens from Chicago.  This helped tilt the balance of public opinion in the US towards entering the War on the side of the Allies.


{next post 4th March}

GWL January 15th 1917

I am most abominably busy.  Everybody seems to be writing and wanting to know things.  We had an awful heavy rainstorm for about half an hour to-day.  Thank goodness the mess stood up.  We have dug it in a bit, which seems to have done it good in every way.  The whole country now is covered in little crocus things – whit & purple & yellow;  they are most awfully pretty but very tiny.  Two enthusiasts on the staff here, have dug up a bit of ground and proclaim they are going to grow potatoes and cabbages.  I hope they won’t be disappointed, but I am afraid they will be.

I hope Brandi has got over his illness all right.  We had to be disinfected the other day; a man arrived with an alarming squirt & some very evil smelling liquid.”

{next post 17th January}