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Two Men - One Memorial


stiletto_33853
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Am reading Malcolm Brown's '1914' and came across this description of the officers at training camps by an early volunteer:

'The officer are all 2nd Lieutenants and a pretty poor looking lot. Though one or two are not so bad to talk to.

An aged subaltern of yeomonry without any knowledge of infantry has arrived, looking fresh from the Crimea...'

Hopefully not talking about Southwell or White even if they were nice to talk to!

Marina

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Marina,

All will be revealed re who gets to the front first :D . I hope you are enjoying it so far.

Andy

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To The Men - The New House

Sheerness.

July 15, 1915

(By Telegram)

Have left bats autostop-strop and soul at Shrewsbury please send all if possible. Prose(1) follows to-day.

(1) For the Fourth Form.

__________________________________________

To C.A. Alington

Eastchurch Camp.

July 1915.

I have no matter for a letter, and yet I want to send you a line before term ends. It is strange, but I don't think I ever felt the end of term so keenly before; perhaps because I have no nightmare of exam. papers and marks to put away from me, but chiefly because Shrewsbury, alive and 'carrying on', has been such a comforting and solid fact to exile, and it has been pleasant to picture the place at various routine times. And holidays mean the breaking up of all that, and the central fact of my life partially collapses for a time. Nostrum est interim mentum erigere.

I am, happily, temporarily (military spelling; e.g. rotary for rotatory, systemically for Systematically-so simple) six miles from Sheerness, in a really charming spot. My Company dig trenches all day, and I watch them. It is more tiring than it sounds. Are you going to be in Kent these holidays? I ask because you were in the Easter holidays, and I think I am going to get a motor-cycle. That is the result of continuous militarism.

Edited by stiletto_33853
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Marina,

All will be revealed re who gets to the front first :D . I hope you are enjoying it so far.

Andy

I am thoroughly enjoying this! You couldn't tell? :rolleyes:

Marina

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I am glad that you are enjoying it, Robert's book was a tough book to ,but, it looks like this one hit the spot, I am happy to see.

Andy

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To H.E.E. Howson

Eastchurch.

Sunday, July 25, 1915.

I wonder if, even now (4.30pm), Men are taking a last look for this year at the Battalion. Oh Man, I wonder too if you know how I felt, when you saw me off a fortnight ago, and you and the blue hills and Shrewsbury were drawn swiftly away and then finally blotted out by the Wrekin. ('I never liked that Wrekin' mightn't your nurse have said? - and I like him now less for his insolence and relentlessness that evening.) I was somewhat comforted by the dinner at which I was your grateful guest, but I was horribly conscious of the increasing absence of the host.

I am rather dismal about the end of term. Isn't that odd? But I feel that Men (and boys) are there and that the place is solid, and exists for me to picture at any moment I like. The end of term causes it to lose something of its existence for me.

I've had a wonderful letter from the Man to-day. I wish we were together - it is really a tragedy as I miss him so very much. He is lonely, and so am I very often.

___________________________________________

To C.A. Alington

Eastchurch.

Aug. 3, 1915.

I am hoping we shall get some Salopians here. It was good to get last week's Salopian and to read 'The Em and the River'(1), which I loved.

Will you forgive the pencil? My fountain pen is lost, and there is no ink nearer than my Quartermaster-Sergeant's tent, and, 'if I may say so', I'm more frightened of him than of you.

(1) An address by the Head Master, given in Chapel: published in Shrewsbury Fables.

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To H.E.E. Howson.

Capel Craig.

Sept 11-14, 1915.

Just to tell you that to-day I've been over Pen Helig, past Craig yr Ysfa, Carnedd Llewely, Carnedd Dafydd, and remembered our walk. It was a similar day, and very wonderful, - in and out of the clouds. But the Berwyns, Arenig, and all those were there.

Kitch will tell you of our regimental sports and the clowns who are always hired on such occasions to be funny during the High Jump and Putting the Weight - the Auto-Spinal. When at a loss they knocked each other over with incredible violence from behind. Think of it and shudder at it.

_________________________________________

To H.E.E. Howson

Sheerness.

Sept. 1915.

That was all very, very good: the Thames on Saturday night, the house, the books, the hope of seeing great men. And wasn't it good seeing the Man and hearing the combined laughter of Three Men again?

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Certainly Shrewsbury seems to have held them in awe. Funny really considering MW was pining for Marlborough when he first turned up at Shrewsbury.

Andy

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To H.E.E. Howson.

Sheerness.

Sept. 24, 1915.

There's a new list up (liable for the Front soon). I am not on it. But two of my real friends here, Buxton and Russell-Smith, are. Rotten; no, very annoying. The Adjutant has just told me that the Colonel wants me here for the present, being so short of senior officers at the moment.

I never pretend that I want the trenches; but one part of myself says to the other part - 'This war is an ordeal which I dare you to face; I don't believe you can', and the other part replies - 'Lord, then I suppose I must try'.

I enclose three copies of those notes you asked for, and I hope they will be useful in the O.T.C. I must try and come for a field day etc. some time this term.

I am really beginning to understand the Machine Gun. It is an intricate machine, but fascinating, rather. I've spent about two hours a day this week on it.

__________________________________________

To C.A. Alington.

Sheerness.

Sunday, Sept. 26, 1915.

Please forgive me for so late a reply to your so welcome letter. I am so glad you are all back again. I said in a letter to H.E.E.H. yesterday that I felt as if my component parts had been fitted together again.

I biked out to a good place on the Pilgrim's Way to-day, to see what Autumn was being like. I imagine at Shrewsbury a cobwebby dew in the mornings, a few brown leaves disturbed by brand-new football boots, and every one feeling amazingly vigorous and wonderfully virtuous. I always feel I could do anything at the beginning of a Winter term.

Browning's

How well I know what I mean to do

When the long dark autumn evenings come

enters into the feelings too, and means a lot. Oh yes ! it is a very good season.

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It never ceases to amaze me how all these lives end up mixing in such a way.

The Buxton, who was a good friend of MGW and was on the list for posting overseas is Andrew Buxton who served with Robert Vernede and wrote of him on Robert's death. Andrew's is also another memorial Book that I have, it makes it all so personal.

Andy

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DIARY

June 29, 1915

This little diary is really the result of a desire to express myself to my friends. There are so many impressions which I have had and so many emotions which I have felt, that the first instinct was to get them down on paper. If any one reads this, they will take it as an attempt at talk, when there were not people to express oneself to who would have been likely to respond. But, though the War has brought me many impressions and made me want to talk to some one, it has made me incapable of expression, and sometimes, in this diary, what was really emotion may be taken for sentiment. Well, it is not. Still - you will all understand.

(My servant is waiting to pack this up.)

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It never ceases to amaze me how all these lives end up mixing in such a way.

The Buxton, who was a good friend of MGW and was on the list for posting overseas is Andrew Buxton who served with Robert Vernede and wrote of him on Robert's death. Andrew's is also another memorial Book that I have, it makes it all so personal.

Andy

Yes, it does. I wonder if Robert and MGW knew of each other...

Marina

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Sunday, July 18, 1915.

Moved to Eastchurch for digging, in command of 'H' Coy. This is a good place after Sheerness. Feel as if I was in England. The camp is high up, and there are big trees, a bit of friendly sloping down, and a church clock close by. No compulsion to belong to any organised Mess, and if I cooked my own food over a fire near my tent, I don't think any one would object. Also a large and wonderful Tudor House with a story about Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn connected with it. Here lie the 5th R.B. I think I shall like this.

________________________________________

Monday, July 19, 1915.

Entrenching all day, 9.0 to 5.0, with great swinging views out to sea and across the flats to the Kentish Downs. I didn't know so fine a place existed on this Island.

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Tuesday, July 20, 1915.

At the trenches, Adam and I had dinner from the cook-house instead of beastly sandwiches. A discovery - draught beer out of a bottle is a poor drink. This is a good village. There is an old church, and a very old man, a great noise in the evening, and a Post Office selling everything - alarm clocks, indiarubber balls, and all things to eat - and smelling of everything. A pleasing event was the pursuit by a small boy, with a live frog in each hand, of all his small sisters. I watched it with much joy, especially the appearance of the mother of the party, serious but relieved that 'it was no worse', and shouting cautions in no way connected with the frogs. I sympathise with A.C. Benson in his absorption in small things of that kind. I fancy it's the kind of thing that inspired the Dutch genre painters. They must have felt a lot more than they put on canvas.

Remark by my servant who served in U.S.A. army in Mexico: 'the late President of Mexico was the greatest scoundrel under the canopy of heaven.'

_____________________________________________

Wednesday, July 21, 1915.

West, Townsend, and Middlebrook visited us from Sheerness this evening. It was good of them, and very pleasant. Had an hour's lonliness and depression, partly due to the bad news from Russia. Also wanted to talk to some one about everything. All very well saying there is no 'class' in England, or that iot is not advisabel to try and remove class distinction, when I feel the Tommies under me are an entirely different kind of beings.......I read Shropshire Lad and Browning's Last Duchess, that amazing thing. I find I have a kind of emotional indigestion these days, when I read poetry. Every word has such terrific force and is so overlooked with meaning that I can hardly get on.

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Thursday, July 22, 1915.

Rained and we returned to camp early. Read a very good 'After the War' pamphlet, Chariots of Fire.

_________________________________________

Friday, July 23, 1915.

'A day without salt.'

_______________________________________________

Sunday, July 25, 1915.

Church Parade and Bathing Parade with the tide full up and sandy beach at Leysdown - very good. On return found a lot of letters for me, including one from A.E.K. about Shrewsbury people for the R.B. being booked for the 5th Batt. I got excited and more fussy than I've been since I begun the military life, and dashed off to Minster to see a Captain of the 5th Batt., and then to Sheerness to see Col. Dawson, and dined there and wrote scores of letters, most of them excited and illegible. Biked back and got to Eastchurch about 1.0 a.m.

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Monday, July 26, 1915.

A gorgeous clear day, still and hot, suggestive of August, and made one regret the passing of the real summer, which is June. At sunset a cloud to the north-west looked like a blue hill against the gold light, and in an instant I was miles away - cool night air, the trees shivering in the middle of the Common (1), and the Striper-stones.

(1) The playing fields at Shrewsbury.

___________________________________

Tuesday, July 27, 1915.

Have just been to a camp concert. There was a one-stringed violin with a trumpet attached, a very funny rifleman comedian, and a lady-reciter - a typical reciter, with a pale ivory complexion, dark eyebrows, rather tired look, and a clear cut dental enunciation. It was rather good to feel spinal again. There is so little room for spinality in the Army. Still the lady was rather relentless - five recitations in two appearances, and we missed having the funny rifleman again. One rifleman sang a rather doleful and unintelligble song with a rousing chorus to the words 'And a little child shall lead them'! This merged without any break into a series of ragtimes which he accompanied extremely skilfully on the bones.

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Sunday, July 18, 1915.

Moved to Eastchurch for digging, in command of 'H' Coy. This is a good place after Sheerness. Feel as if I was in England.

Must remember to avoid Sheerness! Liked the description of the camp concert in the post below - the tired lady reciter with the dental enunciation sounds interesting!

Marina

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Wednesday, July 28, 1915.

Term eneded at Shrewsbury to-day, or nearly always, rather a sad event for me, and more so this term. For Shrewsbury alive and always to be pictured at certain hours has been a very solid fact in my life since I came here. Also there is a kind of strength in the knowledge of a number of friends congregated like that. So I feel the end of term almost as keenly as I have felt it when one woke early in the morning of First Day, tired and aching, after a week of late nights over papers, to hear the clamorous procession of cabs, the slamming of doors, and the jettison of portmanteaux.

A wonderfully bright and very hot day. I dined at Sheerness Mess and rode a bicycle back in the moonlight, towed half way by a friendly motor-bicycle.

________________________________________________

August 6, 1915.

Like all diaries I ever commenced, this has already begun to fail. Last week-end, at the West's, lots of singing and playing which was very good. This week has been chiefly remarkable for my debut as a motor-cyclist. I have been trying a ramshackle thing with a view to purchase, but I've now ordered a new one from London. I'm already over the novelty of it, and I expect I shall hate it before long, but it seems a very useful thing here.

1. What is madness? 'Faddist?' 'Crank?'

2. Must progress be slow ?

3. What is real courage ?

4. Anything can succeed if men will only let it.

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Friday, Sept. 10, 1915.

After regimental sports, started for Capel Curig by night. One of the attractions of night-journeys is that it is kind of secret, even though the people at the other end know one is comiong. I had to change at Crewe, which was bad, one of the essential features of a night-journey being an important-looking through train.

_______________________________________

Sunday, Sept.12, 1915.

I slept at the Terrace, the same as ever, and all things as if there was never a war in the world; the clock an hour fast, the chairs in their old places, and in the bed-room the print of the Common Seagull framed with sea-shells, the unexplainable and faded photographs of two fine alpine galciers, the black framed memorial of Mr. Harry Roberts, and a huge coloured picture of Moses, bearded and sandalled, shading his eyes, with an enormous curve of the wrist, towards the Promised Land. The same grateful-sounding creak of the garden gate bringing memories of the patter of summer rain outside the window.

On Monday great walk over Pen Helig and the Carnedds. There are many things which make the Carnedds almost the best range in Wales, - the steep view down on to the plain of Anglesey, the changing outline of Tryfaen and the Glyders and the endless ranges of hills to the south, where a straight curtain of clouds so often hangs, touching the summits and making one think that by stooping down one might see underneath. If I was a painter I should do that very well.

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Sunday, Sept. 19, 1915.

Chiefly remarkable for a meeting of men. We found E.H.L.S. and dined with him at Purfleet. Where dinner, turns, and the collective laughter of Men again - oh! very good.

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he might have told us a bit more of the conversation - he usually shares a bit! How's ES getting along, i want to know, and he doesn't say!

Marina

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EVELYN SOUTHWELL (E.H.L.S.)

October 1915 to February 1916.

Southwell joined the 9th Battalion in France at the beginning of October, 1915. The first day that he went up with the Battalion to the trenches was October 13. These trenches were in front of Ypres, and it was in this district that he remained, whether in trenches, in reserve, or in billets, until February. On November 20 he caught a chill on a frosty night, while on duty in the trenches; as a result, he was in hospital until December 8. He was however, in the trenches once more on December 9. During this month there were rumours that his Battalion was to be transferred from France to the East, but on December 26 he wrote that this was cancelled.

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He had a narrow escape on the night of January 5, 1916, while wiring in front of the line. His Company commander heard the click of a German machine-gun, and warned him - just in time to save his life. From January 19 to 26 he was home on leave, and was at Shrewsbury on the 22nd. White met him in London on his return to France. At the beginning of February he had a temporary command of his Company, during its commander's absence on leave; and it was soon after this that White first came to France.

_____________________________________________

LETTERS

To H.E.E. Howson

On the train; Worcester to Paddington

Oct. 1, 1915.

I write these lines by the courtesy of Professor Moriarty, as it were. So they mustn,t be very lengthy.

They don't give much notice, of course; in fact we were clear within a short time of receiving the W.O. message from the Adjutant. I don't a bit know where I'm going, though I suppose the 13th as likely as anything. But they may not have been in this scrap.

So I didn't require The Open Road after all, and must write to tell them to return it (if it's there) to Worcester. I wired The Man at Sheerness and I've just a hope he may be in town when I get there. Incredibly good, if true. Good-bye Man, Oh pretty good, I do think.

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To R.F. Bailey.

On the train

Worcester to Paddington.

Oct. 1, 1915.

Yes, I'm off to the Front early to-morrow morning: don't know where, but I suppose there's room in plenty of places for even the likes of me after these few days. I shall post this when I get in; it can only be a short scrawl, to send my love.

Terrific success over gum-architect this morning; had wisdom tooth out without any pain whatever - marvelous; he jammed cocaine on it or something. Felt frightfully virtuous after it, too. Good business.

The Man's here!!(1) Not too bad.

(1)White met him in London.

_______________________________________________

To His Mother

On the train.

Oct. 2, 1915

We go off with everything correct, and it was delightful to have White there to meet me.

When the grandson of Mr. Gladstone wrote to his mother from France, he said 'It is not the length of a lifetime that counts, but what is achieved in it'. I thought that these were very true words, and it will surely be enough for me if I could be worthy of them.

I don't think I can write anymore now. All's well; I most deeply believe that. Pray that I may not doubt it afterwards, and never mind the rest.

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