GWL 31st July 1917

We are having a Puccini evening.  We have three records.  They are rather hard worked.  Not a scrap of news of any kind.  I am so glad you find your teaching so interesting.  I have a most comical ‘Guardee’ here now.  An awfully nice fellow in the R.F.C.  He is most amusing.

The padre has arranged for regular “make prays”.  He was most awfully depressing at the last one.  His main point seemed to be that the war would not end until we had wiped out all unworthiness from ourselves!  A jolly sort of thing to tell a soldier in the fourth year of the war.  According to that formula the war will never end.  So thoroughly cheering, isn’t it?

Has your Father’s D.S.O. been in the papers yet?  I have not seen it.  Very hot now.  The hut is a perfect godsend to us.  The small cats are very well.  Do you think you could send me “Chinese Characteristics”?  It is the sort of book that is always readable.”

Chinese Characteristics, written by Arthur H Smith was published in 1894.  Arthur Smith was a missionary in China for 54 years and this was one of several books about China and the Chinese.

This day saw the battle of Pilckem Ridge, the first phase of the Third Battle of Ypres, also known as Passcendale.  The Allied Offensive lasted over 14 weeks.  The Allied gains were approximately five miles.  The casualty figures, although disputed, exceeded 500,000 from both sides.  Although the ground gained was limited, the Germans were tied down, and when combined with the Battle of Cambrai later in the year, saw the turning point in  the war on the Western Front.

{next post 3rd August}

GWL 29th July 1917

No news.  Your letter about the air raid came to-day.  Dive for the nearest dug out when they come over.  It does no good messing about looking at them, when you have seen one you have seen the lot.  Rather surprised that they fired shrapnel over London.  As a rule they fire tinned H.E. over areas where there are many people.  I had a Captain man down here on a course who was at Rugby and lives at 38 Harrington Gardens.  Quite a nice lad.  He was at Rugby five years after I left.”

38 Harrington Gardens is now Hotel St Simeon, a 2* budget Hotel!

{next post 31st July}

GWL 27th July 1917

I am so glad your Papa has got a D.S.O.  Please congratulate him, will you?  It is good news about Wigg too.  It has been awfully hot the las day or two.  We must expect it bad for a bit now.  Your speech was a great effort.  I agree with Mike about the reporter.  A most extraordinarily inefficient performance.  How is your holiday going?  Hope it is a good one. Nothing like a holiday.  Seen nothing of Arthur although they say he is somewhere round this part of the world with my lord Cyril.

To-night I am going out to dinner.  Intense excitement.  A clean coat, a moderately clean pair of trousers and a pair of brown shoes that I bagged off a brother officer as they were too small for him.  In fact quite in the height of fashion.  The mules, damn them, have found a mud hole.  Now as soon as they are let go they dash off there & wallow, returning in the most awful state.”

Ion Hamilton Benn was awarded the distinguished Service Order on 20th July for his part in the raid on Zeebrugge on 11/12 May 1917.

{next post 29th July}

GWL 24th July 1917

We had a tremendous day yesterday.  There was a ‘makee pray’ at 7 P.M.  At 7.30 we dined. The soup was excellent.  The fish, lured from the town that afternoon, gave a very fair imitation of a gas attack and had to be left to go its own way — Then came a piece of beef, classified as mutton, and served with mint sauce.  Quite a lot of mint grows round here.  The “The Goose”.  Alas, poor bird, it arrived on the table minus half its chest.  The cat paid it a visit during the night;  and, as if in protest against such treatment, the rest of it had winged its way so far towards its own particular bit of heaven that we were forced to let it continue its flight undisturbed.”

Ion Hamilton Benn was awarded the Distinguished Service Order on 20th July for his services in the Zeebrugge raid on 11/12 May 1917.

GWL 22nd July 1917

Rather cooler than it has been.  Certain number of clouds knocking about.  Yesterday we had the most appalling scirocco.  I felt like nothing earthly.  One of those mornings when your tongue cleaves to the roof of your mouth.  Saves?  I see China is once more a monarchy.  Wonderful place – isn’t it?  D.B. has had rather a shock.  K.M. apparently os not going! and D.B. is now going up as a second in command.  Isn’t it rotten luck?”

The China monarchy referred to by George was the brief restoration of the last Qing Dynasty Emperor Puyi to the throne of China on July 1st.  The Restoration was short-lived with the Republicans regaining control by July 12th.

On this day the first phase of the Battle of Marasesti on the Eastern Front commenced.  This was an offensive by Romanian forces supported by the Russians against Austro-Hungarian and German forces.  It resulted in a notable victory for the Romanian forces which was a turning point on the Eastern Front.

{next post 24th July}

GWL 19th July 1917

All your letters have come now, except two, up to 29 June.  We are going to celebrate on the 23rd.  A tremendous affair.  Rome fell through luxury.  We have now got a china tea service!  may the Gods be merciful.  Not a bit of news.  I think Colonel Burges must have gone up  He has not put in an appearance here again.  I don’t know what will happen to K.M.

I have  had a very charming letter from Miss N.C. Power [sister Nancy, 11 years old at the time. Ed.].  She has quite a way of her own in describing pleasures past.  The rabbits still appear daily.  The great advantage is that the cats appreciate the bones greatly.  On Monday next we are having a ‘makee pray’ – A padre turned up the other day.  The other fellow having gone on leave.  I do wish there was something to write about, but there is not.  What did you get yourself for a birthday present?  I think that, if all goes well, in the course of the next 4 or 5 months, I might get a little leave.  But don’t count on it.”

On this day Alexander Karenski took over from Prince Lvov as Premier of Russia.  He was a moderate leader subsequently overthrown by the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution.

{next post 22nd July}

GWL 17th July 1917

Thanks so much for the cigars.  They are so good.  Nothing has arrived to say from whom they come, but I think they must be from you.  To-day has been a great day for parcels.  The cigars & a pipe, a real beauty, from Mother.  My adjutant’s birthday is on the day after mine.  We are celebrating on the 23rd.  A goose has been bought!  The government has evidently discovered, like the Jew of old his corn in Egypt, that there are rabbits in Australia. They seem to turn up in shiploads.  Perfectly good rabbits.  My small cats are a joy for ever. They really are most charming little beasts.  They follow me all over the place.  You have not said what you got yourself for your birthday.”

On this day the name of the Royal Household was changed by Royal Proclamation from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the House of Windsor.  This was in response to the growing anti-German feeling in Britain.  The original name was a consequence of the paternal German origins of the Royal Family.

{next post 19th July}


The First World War seen through the letters of George Power