Category Archives: WW1Letters

GWL 19th April 1919

“No news at all.  This place is quite quiet, although there are a good many Bolshevik soldiers and one or two commissaire who have crawled in in the last week or two.  Awfully hard to find anything to write about.  I don’t think the Colonel takes kindly to this place at all.  Here in Tiflis you must do as the Tiflisians do or go quietly mad or take up Pelmanism.  Personally I prefer the first course.

“I am sorry you cannot find an abode against my coming home.  I think we should be all right in Ashburn Place.  I think Mother is sure to be away somewhere in the early summer.  During the last few days I have met one or two new people.  Interesting in their way but mostly so damnably conceited that one is strongly tempted to shoot them.  However it is all experience.  Easter apparently is a season at which everybody gets drunk & remains in that condition as long as possible.”

Pelmanism was a system of training the mind devised by William Ennever and taught by correspondence from the Pelman Institute.  It purported to cure a number of psychological disorders.

{next post 22nd April}

GWL 17th April 1919

“No news at all.  We are hunting 3 days a week, but it is getting rather hot in the forenoon now for that.  Things very quiet here now.  All the papers are run by Bolsheviks but that seems to be about the limit of their activity.  The loss of Odessa to the Bolsheviks is very serious.  Unless it is retaken I think there is a good chance that the B. may unite with the Austrian and German odds and ends and the result will be the loss of Bessarabia & possibly Roumania.  The French seem simply to have left the place and taken no precautions at all.  This is a funny old life.  I don’t quite know what will happen here when the Peace Conference decisions come out.  I suppose it will be all right.  People here all preparing for Easter, which apparently is the chief feast of the year.  What we should really do is to disarm the whole bally population.”


Entry of Bolshevik troops into Odessa.

{next post 19th April}

GWL 12th April 1919

“Things here quite quiet.  What will happen when the decision of the Peace Conference comes out regarding Georgia, Armenia & Azerbaijan, I don’t know.  Unfortunately there are in Georgia still a certain number of people who consider that they are fit to govern and will be rather annoyed when they find that, people in a position to know, think differently.

“Armenia, round by Erivan & Naklichevan (Ararat) is in an awful state.  You get groups of Armenian villages & then groups of Tartar villages.  The latter are prosperous because they were pally with the Turk & have bagged all the cattle & agricultural implements of the former.  The Armenians are now living on their dead and have actually dug up recent graveyards!  The grown up people are too far gone, really, to have anything done for them.  I think the only hope is in the children.  It is all awfully sad.”

Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan had all declared themselves independent republics in 1918.  All three came under increasing pressure after the War with Bolsheviks from the north and Ataturk from the south.  Although British forces occupied the area their role was confused and any moves to support the three republics was ambiguous.  The other major powers were disinterested.  Armenia was invaded by both Russian and Turkish forces in 1920 and in 1921 the three Republics were incorporated as the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic which in 1922 along with Russia became the founding members of the Soviet Union.

{next post 17th April}

GWL 10th April 1919

“The coat, breeches & puttees posted 1st Feb: have just arrived.  I think that particular parcel mail must have got badly hung up somewhere, as we have had parcels posted in March.  No news here, had a good ride the other day.  Now that we have got the coats off the animals & the weather is pretty reasonable we are having a hunt 3 times a week.  Having no hounds or victim we hunt the Colonel! A very noble spectacle.  The men turn out on mules and spears horses and the officers on their horses and away we go! We have to go about an hour’s ride out from the town to get on to good going, but once there it is really good.

“——– has gone off on some other job down Erivan way, I think.  Rather pleased with himself.  He really has been awfully nice since the armistice and was quite the ending social light of Tiflis.  He & his fat A.D.C. went all over the place.  They are giving “Butterfly” at the opera on the 12th.  The Colonel & I are going.  Peter is taking a party of damsels & wanted us to help, but not having previously viewed the damsels, thought it more prudent to abstain.  In doing which we proved to be right.”

{next post 12th April}

GWL 8th April 1919

“Your letters have come up to 19th March.  Be not alarmed.  These people who may visit you are eminently respectable.  Dear Mozzer in her typewritten epistle terms them ruffians!  One is a male and comes from the top of Parisian society; the other is a female and comes from a similar position in Russia.  I sent you their photographs in my last letter.  It was just that I can imagine how people feel in a strange city and I wanted to give them a hand.  When you bump round the world in strange places and share queer experiences with people your friendships become rather more than the “good-bye – old – thing, -meet-you-in-heaven” sort of thing.  They are both well off and if they come, which I doubt, before I do, just give them a hand.  They both speak English.  For all I know they may never come.  If Father wants any first hand information, (names, aliases, probable forms of activity) of any persons in the concern against which he is now working, apply to writer.”

{next post 10th April}


GWL 1st April 1919

“Had all my officers out of bed this morning one hour too soon being the time honoured festival.  Rather a success on the whole.  My poor princess is rather ill.  Her heart is rather a dicky organ.  I should like you to meet her; she is the most entertaining person.

“Getting very warm.  Soon we shall be in drill and helmet I hope.  Absolutely no news.  Peace conference seems rather in difficulties, but I suppose that is only to be expected at some time or another.  The volunteer army does not seem to be doing much good now.  I think they mostly spend their time in drinking and riding about in motor cars.  I suppose one of these days this comic old world will settle down again.  If it does not do so soon, I really believe we should have been better without the bally old war.  So far all we have achieved is the destruction of the purely theoretical menace of German militarism and substituted for it the very real tyranny of the so-called working classes.  Just now, I am afraid I am a bit of a pessimist.  It is ridiculous to say that the world is better than it was.  Probably it will not improve in the next hundred years.  Cui bono fuit?”[who benefits?]

{next post 4th April}

GWL 30th March 1919

“Very warm.  Seems to get warmer every day.  There is absolutely no news.  Things very quiet round here, but I rather think going badly in Odessa.  I rather think the most annoying thing about these people is that they cannot walk at a respectable pace on the pavement, and invariably walk 3 abreast.  It is quite impossible to get past them without going into the road.  A pushing match is not advisable as they carry such an awful lot of “live stock”.  No wonder the Almighty got fed up with them and had a flood.  The awful mistake was in saying that it should be the last.  The small boys in this abandoned country have acquired a most annoying habit of demanding chocolate from every Englishman they see.  I am now, with the aid of my sjambok, waging war on small boys.  I have already quite conquered one street.  To-morrow I start on another.”

In December 1918 the French under General Henri Bertholot led an international force into the Ukraine to both ensure the departure of the surrendered German forces and also to hold back Bolshevik forces.  This was known as the Southern Russia Intervention.  However resistance soon arose led by local warlord Ataman Grigoriev who had aligned himself with the Bolsheviks.  The Allied force was gradually pushed back to a final stronghold in Odessa.  However the force of 25,000 was outnumbered.  Bertholot asked to be relieved of his command.  Commander of the Allied Army of the East, Franchet D’Esperey, arrived in Odessa on March 20th and on the 29th he received permission form Clemenceau to evacuate.  The was completed by April 6th.

{next post 1st April}

GWL 28th March 1919

“I think the Colonel will be back soon now if he has luck & does not get hung up anywhere.  I have got stuck for a general court martial on an officer.  Not at all a pleasant job.  It is very sad to think that now, right at the end of the war, an officer may have all his future ruined – But if people will do silly things I suppose they must pay for them.

“It was very nice to hear of Miss Meiklejohn again.  She is a real white woman if ever there ws one.  I do hope that one day you may meet my Russian teacher.  She is another white woman.  Rather a tragic little person but as plucky as they make them.  One of those people who really deserve to be happy, but against whom all the powers that be seem to be in league.”

{next post 30th March}

GWL 25th March 1919

“Your letters have come up to 2nd March; really very quick considering everything.  Things here pursue the even tenor of their way.  The same old routine, orderly room, go round barracks, Russian lesson & perhaps the opera in the evening.  Although there is not much for them to do, the animals are looking simply splendid.  It is a real pleasure to look at them.  The vet. said this morning that they are the best here.  I think that we shall, those of us that are here, move a mile or two out of the town soon.  This place would be quite impossible in the hot weather.  I don’t think I have ever been in a place that is so muddy in rain or so dusty when fine.  It has no medium at all.  My back is very much better to-day.  It should be all right in a day or two.  Also all trace of the fever has gone & I may now be said to be a healthy mortal again.  Peter flourishes exceedingly.  He is very quaint indeed.  He is a most excellent adjutant in every way.  I’m awfully glad the Colonel has started back.  The thought of being home possibly in the spring is almost too much, but I suppose he knows.”

{next post 28th March}

GWL 23rd March 1919

“Quite well again to-day, though rather feeble in the lower limbs.  Like a fool I have strained my back a bit playing fool tricks with chairs.  Rather uncomfortable, but doctor man says it is nothing & will be all right in a day or two.

“My poor princess is in an awful way.  Her family is approaching extermination from Typhus in Vladikavihas & her houses are burnt by Bolshies.  I am awfully sorry for her.  She has expressed a great desire to see you.  Weather is much more settled & the warmer weather seems to have come to stay.  The river is rising daily & is beastly muddy.  No excitements of any kind.  I am afraid we do rather a lot of time killing but there is nothing else to do now.”

{next post 25th March}