GWL 29th September 1917

Letters came this morning up to 14th Sept.  Very quick.  I think there are some missing between 4th Sept and 12th.  I think the best thing to do about the Christmas presents for the men, is for me to get a few things here for them.  I doubt even if they were posted to-day if they would turn up in time.  I can let you know what we spend in the way of hens and cigarettes & other things & we can divide it somehow amongst relatives at home!

I hope the place you are going to will suit you.  I am afraid there is not the remotest chance of my getting back while you are there.  I thought I was coming soon until about a month ago, but this bally subaltern of mine going mad has rather upset things & I cannot possibly go until he comes back.  I have more work now than I well know how to do.  Clipped out my mules to-day and they look splendid.  Yesterday and the day before the malaria bug got the upper hand for a bit, but now he is quite effectually downed again.”

The second Battle of Ramadi in Mesopotamia took place over 28th/29th September.  This was a significant victory for British forces over the Ottoman forces.  A significant number of Turkish soldiers and officers surrendered and as a result many local Arab tribes switched sides.

{next post 1st October}

GWL 26th September 1917

I suppose by the time you get this the great event will have taken place.  The lucky little brat won’t know there is a war on.  Just think of it!  I am getting quite a lot of lads down here who were at school when the war began and are now just coming out.  On Sunday I am going over to see Nora Tomlinson at one of the hospitals.  Hell of a trek & as they have tea at 3 P.M. likely to be rather a warm one.  It is reported on good authority that in that particular hospital they have all to be in bed by 6.30.  Must be one of those extraordinarily cheerful spots.  The bally fly is turning up in considerable numbers now.  I imagine that it is getting a little bit cold for him outside at nights now.”

It isn’t clear what the ‘great event’ was as no immediate family members were born in 1917.

The Battle of Polygon Wood began as the next phase of the 3rd Ypres campaign and was a follow up to the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge.   The week long battle saw significant gains by the Allies made up of both British and Australian forces.  There were approximately 30,000 casualties on both sides.

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Scott’s Bunker in Polygon Wood as it is today [photo taken by Ed in 2015].  The bunker was named after Lt Col Allan Scott of the 56th Btn AIF who was shot by a sniper on October 1st.  There is no solid evidence he was ever in the Bunker.

{next post 29th September}

GWL 24th September 1917

Quite cold in the mornings now.  The sun does not get over the hills until about 7.30.  I wonder if those letters really were sunk or whether they had been in a fire.  All the letters from here about that time are coming in the same condition.  Of course some careful ass may have dropped the bag into the ditch.  Yesterday I had a tremendous tidy up.  I find I shall go and have tiffin in Salonique this week-end.  I have not been in since the fire.  At the present moment I have one of those hopelessly silly feelings that the war will be over soon after Christmas.  It was the same in October 1915.  There is now down her an officer who must, I think, be the densest in the combined armies of the world.”

Between the 20th and 25th the “Battle of the Menin Road Ridge” phase of the Third Ypres campaign took place.  The drying weather and the pause in the overall battle allowed the Allied forces to regroup and replan.  The Germans had also redeployed some troops elsewhere thinking the Allied advance had faltered.  Refined “bite and hold” tactics combined with a massive creeping artillery barrage and increased air support allowed the Allied forces to make significant advances.

300px-Battle_of_Menin_Road_-_wounded_at_side_of_the_road

{next post 26th September}

GWL 19th September 1917

Most extraordinarily busy.  Just 150,000 things to be done in the day and only 24 hours to do them in.  Suddenly turned very warm indeed again.  We have at last got a good tent for the mess.  It is pegged down with young trees, so if the good Lord wills that we remain here through the winter we can sleep quietly in our beds without the fear of waking to find the mess a mass of flapping canvas, with poles broken & most of the mess stuff in a squash.  The problem of the leaking hut roof is not yet solved.  The R.E. do not seem inclined to fix it up so I suppose we must scrounge round & find something.  Little worries so very small in themselves, but they do assume very large proportions when taken en masse.”

{next post 24th September}

GWL 17th September 1917

It has suddenly turned hot again.  Your letter of the 27th Aug came to-day.  The one to come before that was dated Aug: 18th, so I am afraid some have gone west.  Rather interesting to have that letter that looked as if it had been sunk.

At last after many months of patient trying, I have succeeded in procuring a type of marquee, which will make a more or less waterproof mess during the coming winter.  I am afraid that the claim to it is less than slight and I live in daily terror that some eagle eyed gilded one may spot it & begin to ask questions.  If that happens I think the only thing to do will be to make him “disappear without leaving a trace” — This is a lovely spot and it could be done quite easily.”

We have been playing a lot of Bridge lately – 2 1/2d a hundred!  Won a franc last night and five francs the night before.  Intense excitement.”

On the 15th the Provisional Government proclaimed Russia a subsequently short-lived Republic.

{next post 19th September}

GWL 14th September 1917

[Extract] “Things in Russia are almost Gilbertian.  They are so serious that one can almost laugh at them.  When there seems no prospect of things getting right it is the only thing to do.  The funniest part of the whole thing is the serious way in which the allied rulers assure the noble Russian people of their complete confidence in their recovery.  I hope they have.  

The crisis in the transport department has come to an end by the arrival of certain lusty fellows who are not ‘old, old men’ yet”.

General Kornilov’s Russian Revolt ends in failure and he is captured.

{next post 17th September}

GWL 12th September 1917

[Extract] “The jolly old leave does not seem any nearer at present, but it has not altogether disappeared from view.  These young officers with suicidal tendencies are an awful nuisance.”

The 11th Battle of the Isonzo ended.  The result was inconclusive.  There were heavy casualties on both sides with more than 250,000 killed, wounded or missing.

{next post 14th September}

The First World War seen through the letters of George Power