31st August 1916

Chaubattia
Almora
India

My dear Mum & Dad,

Very many thanks for the Birthday parcel, which reached me safely on Friday last – a day too late for the Mail; & considering the journey it was in quite decent condition & the chocolates even were not melted. The pipe is awfully nice & the cheese, though it sweated right through the box, was none the worse for it.

Today (Monday 28th) we have had a pretty severe earthquake, & I am afraid we shall have news of serious damage somewhere or other not far from here. It happened at 12.15 (noon) & didn’t take many seconds to get everyone out of the Bungalows which were shaking like leaves though built of stone & the noise, which seemed to come from the centre of the earth resembled 20 express trains going over a bridge. “C” Company walls are very much split, some of the window-frames fallen in, & “D” Company cook-house chimney stack fell & the Orderly Room walls have large cracks in them. This is a Hell of a Country isnt it, there was an earthquake here only 13 years ago (April 1903). Most of the fellows here said it made them feel sea-sick, & it makes your knees feel as though you have done a 10 mile climb up hill.

We seem a bit at a stand-still on the West Front now don’t we & I see that the Germans are doing all they can to prevent us advancing before next Spring, and that, I suppose is how this wretched War will continue to drag on, each year hoping that the next one will see a great Offensive during the Summer that will finish the job.

I understand that our men who went home “Time ex” have come out to the 2/4th Dorsets at Dalhousie, but I haven’t heard from any of them yet; I also heard that Archie Baker was prevented coming by an attack of Ague – lucky wasn’t he, if that is true.

I much hope that “Jacky Wee” is now much better, please give my love to the Apps Family in case I don’t have time to write to them.

I am most pleased to say that they have now commenced fitting new teeth, 10 men at a time at Naini Tal, & Dick went there yesterday where he will remain for a fortnight. A couple of months or more ago I asked Doff if Charlie could send me some No. 7 fish-hooks, & she replied some time back that “she was glad I had asked C. to send some hooks” but I never received them, so, if he sent them I suppose they “went West”. If he hasn’t yet sent any please ask him not to trouble as of course it would be much too late. I am sorry I didn’t get them as I shall soon be going to Naini Tal & there is some fine fishing there. I see from the Denture Chart that I am to have 11 teeth, which with the 19 good ones of my own ( I have had all bad ones removed) will make a complete set of 30. I shall be “Some dawg” then, what?

I am sorry that Dick & I weren’t in the same batch for Naini Tal, but amongst 10 of us I guess I shall have 6 or 7 pals when I go whichever Companies they belong to because anyone in the Orderly Room soon gets to know almost every man in the Battalion.

I am sending you a photo of the 1/4th Wilts Corporals & no doubt you will pick out a good many you know. I am between George Brown & Bob Knight in the row in front of the Colonel, Adjutant, & Sergt Major.

I hope you are in the very best of health “as it leaves me at present.”

I shall be glad when there is a Moon for the nights are awful. Burton & I & Dick went to the Football Match at Ranikhet on Thursday & got back alright as far as Dick’s Bungalow, but after leaving him both of us went over the khud-side & landed on the stones below. Harry Burton had a nasty fall as he landed on his chest & hurt his ribs.

I landed on the left side of my “back-side” & left elbow & a drop of embrocation soon put that right. This is a dangerous country at night, & not so many railways as there were at Kailana.

Best love & kisses to you both & to the cats.

Ever your loving

Jack

xxxx

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24th August 1916

Chaubattia
Almora

My dear Mum & Dad

Very many thanks for your letters safely received on Saturday mornings.

I hope you both very much enjoyed your little outing to Bath & I much wish I had been there with you. New carpet too. “Swank” isn’t it?

I have now been able to get those other photos & am enclosing them in this letter & hope you will like them.

The letter written after you returned from Bath arrived alright with the ones posted at Bath.

I am very sorry that “Jacky Wee” has whooping cough & hope he is now better again.

I see that our late Viceroy is being “called over the coals” over the Mesopotamian muddle & I guess its about time that some enquiries were made into the matter.

I don’t think any troops will be sent to the Gulf from here & that the only place where we may get on the Active Service list again may be Aden, as the 1/4th Cornwall’s will be relieved this Winter. Aden is darned hot but the English Mails take 8 days less to reach there than they do this place. I have no doubt but that our next move will be to Delhi but I don’t know what they will do with the Bedfords. It is pretty certain that they wont remain after the Government & Civil population move down from Simla.

I am looking forward to a nice month during September because that & Octr. are the best months for the Hills. It has been a rather rotten Station here because ever since the early part of May we have had almost continual rain.

I am glad that the garden is going strong & shall be jolly pleased when I can have a stroll round it again.

I hope to go down to Ranikhet tomorrow afternoon with Dick Drury. It makes a bit of an outing but is a pretty tough climb coming back up the bridle track & the proper road winds round too far for walking.

We heard yesterday that two more cruisers have been sunk, but otherwise the news is fairly good isnt it? I hope that 1917 will see the end of the job don’t you, but we still have “got a long way to go”

Best love & kisses to you & the cats.

Ever your loving

Jack

xxxxxxxx

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17th August 1916

Chaubattia
Almora
India

My dear Mum & Dad,

The Mail arrived 3 days late which brought it exactly for my Birthday which was very nice, for at this distance one cant generally judge to within a week, let alone a day. Thanks so much for your letters & also for the most kind addition to my account.

I wonder how many more birthdays I shall have in khaki, it is already 3, one at Durrington one at Kailana, & one at Chaubattia.

I am glad you are all well, also the animals & old Rough. I should much like to know your pet cow.

The War news (except from Russia) has been decidedly slow this week hasn’t it, & it looks as though it is going to last for years yet if we don’t move any quicker than at present.

I very much hope that Floss was able to spend a few days with you on her return from Weymouth – her father caught a 2½ lb bass the night they arrived there, which was a pretty good start wasn’t it?

I didn’t hear from Doff for my birthday but perhaps I shall by the next Mail, which is a little more punctual & reaches here on Saturday.

No there was nothing wrong with Dick when the photo was taken, only the sun in his eyes.

I am going to Ranikhet this afternoon with Dick, being Thursday & a nice fine day too.

Our garden looks fine now with Balsams, Asthers, begonias, sun-flowers & Marigolds.  I am sorry to say that the marrows aren’t fertile & although they have heaps of flowers they wont form at all.

What do you think of Mrs Johnnie Sturton.  Is she anything like him in appearance.

I am sending the “Times of India” to the Aunts by this Mail & will snd you one next Mail; last week’s I sent to Mrs Page.

I haven’t had much time for writing the last few days & have several to answer so please excuse this being a bit shorter than my usual ones.

Hoping you are in the best of health – couldn’t be better myself – and that I shan’t have very many more birthdays amongst the “Blacks”

Best love & kisses

Ever your loving

“1267 Jack”

xxx xxx

x  x

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10th August 1916

Chaubattia
Almora

My dear Mum & Dad

Very many thanks for your letters of last Friday. I am afraid that this week’s will be very late as they don’t arrive at Bombay until tomorrow (Friday)

I hope that Tommy is now better, she must have had a rather nasty attack of hay fever.

For once we have a fine Thursday, and Dick, George Edgar, & myself are going to Ranikhet this afternoon. The weather has been awful lately and I shall be jolly glad when the Monsoon is over.

I suppose “Johnnie” is now settled down to married life, I think the clock was an awfully nice present. Shan’t I be glad to see that old ship going backwards & forwards – I hope the one that takes us home will gain more ground than she does.

The War seems a bit slow again – I wonder if we shall see England in 1917 – guess it will be another year or 18 months in this d-d country of niggers, mosquitos & sun wont it? It will take a lot of persuasion to make me come this side of Suez again once I get to England.

I think it is quite probable that we shall go back to Delhi again, & the sooner the better. I don’t mind sweating on the Plains & dont mind mosquitos in moderation, but these blooming Hills put “whiskers on your boot-laces.” If the Natives wanted India in 1857 it’s a pity they didn’t get it.

In your letter you said that the parcel contained “cheese, cake, chocolates & a pipe”, but whether you have recently sent two parcels I don’t know because the one I received a week ago had Cheese, Cake, Chocolate & tea, but no pipe, though as the box was so much smashed the latter may have been pinched.

Don’t please think that I do not appreciate everything you send, but you don’t realise what the heat is like in the East & it is a pity to ever send any eatables (except perhaps cheese) Chocolate turns into a thick brown liquid as does everything of that sort. Up here it is moderately cool compared with the Plains, but all parcels have to cross the Plains & suffer accordingly.

I don’t know if Mr Page had any luck with the Weymouth fish, but with so many restrictions I guess there ought to be plenty of bass waiting for us when next we can have a go at them didn’t there.

I hear that Pinniger has passed now for “General Service” so no doubt he will soon be called up: he is lucky to have had two years of civilian pay during this War isn’t he? We, who were ready to be called up the day War was declared come off the worst right through don’t we?

This is a rotten letter but not living in a Civilised Country there is no news to tell you.

Fond love & kisses & hoping you are enjoying the same excellent health that I am & that cats are also well.

Ever your loving

Jack

xxx   xxx

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August 1st 1916

Chaubattia
Almora
India

My dear Mum & Dad,

So very many thanks for the parcel which arrived quite safely, and, considering the time of year was very little damaged. The sweets (except the plain chocolate) melted & made me think that a good deal of damage had been done but I was glad to find that they had not affected anything else. The cake is absolutely as fresh as when first made & the cheese excellent.

I haven’t had your letter yet so, (as has happened several times) no doubt shall have two by the next Mail, but the papers reached me quite safely.

We are still having a good deal of rain & all of us will be jolly glad when the Monsoon is over.

I don’t know at all where we are likely to go on leaving here – Delhi, Amballa, or the Frontier, but I don’t much think it will be Delhi.

The War news is decidedly good lately isn’t it & I think the end of the Summer will see us in a much more advanced line than we were last Summer don’t you?

I am sorry that Major Randell hasn’t been able to strike a cushy job yet & much hope he will get something suitable before long.

We are waiting for the actual sanction from Headquarters for artificial teeth & I understand that when we get it we shall have 25 men fitted each week (10 at Naini Tal & 15 at Landour) I have had my old stumps out & after a few weeks my gums will be alright for a new set.

We have now had two years on the job & although a happy enough life, I hope it wont last another two for it is such an awfully long way from England isnt it.

Our 2nd Draft is on its way from Kathgodam (56 of them) & reach here tomorrow. Guess they are about as bright a sample as the last lot or perhaps worse. Being billeted in Bournemouth has made them devoid of any discipline, & until they got here they never knew what it was to do a day’s soldiering. Although they have been here 3½ months there seems “no shape or form” to the majority of them – fairly smart on the “Square” but slouch about like tramps as soon as they are dismissed. Conscripts & men who joined voluntarily are very different.

I trust that Herbert & Rajah are in the best of health. My “Lucky Black Cat” looks fine on the wall & wags his tail beautifully.

Sergt Leppard passed for “Foreign” but not “Active” Service, so will not be invalided Home. Only about 3 (all of the Draft) are being sent Home by this Board as unfit for Foreign Service. We are now divided into 5 Groups in the Medical returns, as follows.

  1. Fit for General Service anywhere.
  2. Fit for Foreign Service but not General Service.
  3. Fit for Home Service Only.
  4. Unfit for Home service but likely to become fit within 6 months.
  5. Ditto, but not likely to be fit within 6 months.

 

I am of course “A” & out of the 994 there are about 620 “A”, a large number being marked “B” through being too young, all of these of course being in the last Draft.

I expect England is a fine climate just now, for the first week or two of August takes a bit of beating.

Have you read much about the Karachi train affair, when 14 soldiers died from heat stroke on the journey from Karachi to Sind. I guess someone ought to be hanged for it, sending troop-trains without fans or ice across the Plains during the day time.

 

Thursday 3rd

Being a holiday, L Cpl Brown & I are off for a good Khud climb, down to the 1st Rest Camp (Bamshan).

I also had a holiday yesterday through having my 2nd dose of inoculation on Tuesday.

It didn’t take any ill effect on George Edgar or myself, (only a stiff arm) so we took advantage of the day off to go to Ranikhet, where we had dinner at the Soldiers Home, some beer at the Artillery Canteen & tea at the Roman Catholic Institute, making quite a jolly day’s outing.

Fond love to you both & to Rajah & Herbert & hoping you are enjoying as excellent health as I am.

Ever your loving

Jack

xxx   xxx

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25th July 1916

Chaubattia
Almora
India

My dear Mum & Dad

Very many thanks for your letters & for the 10/- Note enclosed.

I am so glad that Herbert turned up again alright, it must have been jolly to get him back after he had been lost for two days & I hope he wont go astray again.

In your letters you said that you saw Archie Baker & Co when they were leaving for Romsey, but everyone else had it in their letters from Home that they had gone straight to the Front. I heard from the letters of other Lavington fellows here that those who went home were sent straight to France being unwilling to join any other Regiment than the 3/4th Wilts. but don’t know if there is any truth in it.

All the men we sent Home as being too old for Service have been sent straight to France so it looks as though we are pretty hard pushed for troops doesn’t it, when men aren’t fit for service out here & get snapped up as soon as they land in England, though I expect that a man who couldn’t stand this Climate might yet be fit for useful work on the Continent, but it makes us wild to think that our Battalion is kept here looking after blasted Niggers whilst whilst the men we invalid home are sent to France, though it is some consolation to know that the 7 Regular battalions who were in India when we landed are still here (the Yorks, Staffords &c) & I guess those Battalions would look a bit different to the present Regular Army wouldn’t they?

The Offensive the last two or three days seems at a bit of a standstill, but no doubt that is to give time for our Artillery to get up.

The Germans are putting up a wonderful resistance considering the pressure on the Eastern Front aren’t they but I much hope they wont have any more successes in regaining the ground that we have won at such an awful cost. One day alone last week I see we had 523 casualties amongst Officers, which would mean also about 16,000 men.

The weather has been a bit better lately & today is nice & bright, though plenty hot enough this afternoon: not the sort of heat you get at Delhi, for of course the sun is nothing like so powerful, but more of a nasty muggy & damp heat.

We (9 & 10 Platoons) were inoculated on Saturday, but beyond having a stiff arm for two days, I didn’t find anything of it, but those who have had Fever or Ague previously have been pretty bad & several had to be carried to Hospital on Saturday night.

It is no White Man’s Country where you keep on having to be Vaccinated, Inoculated & all that sort of job is it? England in spite of wet days is the best Climate in the World for Englishmen can stick India far better than the natives themselves.

I am sorry Doff & Jacky had to return from Weymouth so soon & much hope they are now both alright again, please give my love to the Apps family when you write.

The parcel of fishing tackle hasn’t yet arrived. I hope to do a bit of fishing at Naini Tal (& not go to Bini Tal) as I shall probably go to the former place presently for some new teeth – that’s one good thing isn’t it, to get new “grinders” free gratis & I hope I shan’t stay in India long enough to wear them out on “khaki steaks” &c.

I expect Lavington is awfully pretty at this time of year, though it is a pity that they are felling so much timber, anyhow from my point of view, if they fell every stick, the green grass will make the district far prettier than any part of India that I have seen.

You would both be sick of these darned niggers if you had seen so much of them as I have, for a filthier, cunninger, or more depraved Race couldn’t be imagined. One of our Orderly Room Chaprassee’s is an awful rotter. I generally help him up to the Guard Room with the Confidential Box, but being busy today I told him to take it up himself (which of course he should always do, & he made a nasty remark in Hindustani, thinking that I shouldn’t understand it, so I reported him to the Sergt Major & I’ll bet he gives him a lively time in the future.

That shows what you get by helping them doesn’t it? The silly blighter is a Brahmini with streaks of red & white paint all over his face. If ever I meet a nigger in England I shall be much inclined to kick his back-side – you can’t do so whilst in the Army thanks to the way Lord Curzon “molly-coddled” them.

How is old Wadman? I trust he is better.

I hear that young Draper (1389) who went home Time-Ex has married a girl at Bournemouth, I think he is on Military police work there.

I thought we should have known our Autumn destination before now though I don’t much care where it is. I don’t think we will leave India as the Commander-in-Chief will resign if no more troops are sent out here & the Garrison Battalions have made such a bad impression that a good many of them will shortly be sent Home.

They are a dirty drunken lot & of course in a place like Delhi drunken soldiers falling about all over the place is most detrimental to British control.

If the War were to end this Winter I suppose we ought to get relieved by the late Spring or Summer – don’t guess we will overwork ourselves when once Peace is proclaimed do you?

Long Route Marches & Field Days wouldn’t be very acceptable then would they?

The buttons you sent were just the sort I meant, being a very light brass, & look capital.

I expect Dick will go for his teeth before I do though I expect two or three from Lavington will be there when I am & I am looking forward to an enjoyable outing.

Kind regards to all Lavington & Pewsey friends & best love to yourselves & the two cats.

Hoping you are in the very best of health as it leaves me at present.

xxxxx

Ever your loving

Jack

P.S.

A few nights ago I dreamt about Rajah & Herbert – probably caused by hearing of Herbert’s adventures – I arrived home & there were 3 cats sitting on the lawn waiting for me. I  was quite annoyed that I had never heard of the third one (which was a fine tabby) until you told me that you had written to me about him but the letter must have got to Bombay after I had left.

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20th July 1916

Chaubattia
Almora
India

My dear Mum & Dad

Very many thanks for your letters received last Sunday & I am looking forward to receiving the next Mail on Saturday evening as the boat reached Bombay at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

I am glad to say that we have finished Musketry except for two ranges (500 & 600). The Chaubattia range is awful & a good many men of our Company will lose their 1st Class & consequently 3d. a day. I am afraid that Sid Lush will lose his as, although a good shot, he had rotten luck on the “15 rounds rapid”, only scoring 10.

The Range is about as under:-

 

(diagram)

 

& of course you don’t know what the wind is like in the valley between yourself & the targets. I shall be alright for my pay as I only want 8 more points.

I have been able to get a better writing pad, on which I can make use of both sides of the paper.

Isn’t the War news excellent. I see from today’s papers that we have penetrated the 3rd Line & the Dragoons have been at work.

It looks as though we have them on the move a bit now. We couldn’t get a Reuter Summary granted for Chaubattia, so our news is 3 or 4 days later than the English papers as the “Pioneer” is printed down at Lucknow.

I am sending you a copy of the “Times of India Illustrated.” It is pretty nearly full of advertisements, but some of the photos aren’t bad. I don’t know why I haven’t ever thought of sending you one before but I will do so occasionally as perhaps you may find them interesting.

I had a letter from Doff last Mail saying that she & the baby were going to Weymouth & I hope they had a good time there.

It now looks as though the War will end sometime or other doesn’t it. I expect it will take a long time to relieve us wont it, but that doesn’t matter so much when this awful loss of life is stopped.

Lewis Flippance (of Milton) & two of his friends of the 5th Wilts came here last Friday. He was wounded in Gallipoli & the Gulf as well. They are stationed at Alma Barracks Ranikhet. We gave them a good feed & beer with their supper & then took them to the Corporals Mess for the evening & they stopped the night with us & we had a very nice time. I hope to go down to Ranikhet to see them one evening next week but of course couldn’t afford to risk losing 1st Class Shot through sitting up late & walking up from Ranikhet at mid-night.

The Adjutant of the Wounded Depôt is a good sort & doesn’t “crime” a man for not answering at Tatoo as long as he knows he is with our Battalion at Chaubattia.  I’m afraid this isn’t a very long letter as there is not much to talk about.

Dick is well & will be going to Naini Tal for his new teeth shortly.

Glad to say I am in the “pink” & hope you both are.

Best love & kisses to you both, also to Rajah & Herbert.

Ever your loving

xxxx   Jack   xxxx

xx  xx

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