WWI War Letter. 1916 Jan 6. Cedric Graham

Cedric Graham writes home to his mother after returning from holiday in London.

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Rugby Camp
Jan 6th 1916

My dear Mother

I returned to this camp and duty at 8:45 a.m. on (livee?) 30th 1915, after my eight day holiday at the Prince of Wales Hotel London. A hurried cup of coffee + a roll, & at 9 a.m. I was in my place on parade & answered my name. So I guess. I got the most out of my holiday, and now I have settled down to real good hard work, and Xmas festivities are already away in the rear, like the passing of a pleasant dream. Still in my memory & not forgotten. Throughout my stay I enjoyed myself topping, and Sue , & Susie and Mr Payne did everything in their power to make my stay interesting and pleasant. That they were entirely successful in their efforts I need hardly emphasise. During the week I went to three shows there, a patriotic drama "The Man who stayed at Home", a romance entitled "Romance", and a musical comedy "Betty", which has had a run of over a year at Daly's Theatre London. These were three

of the best shows running during the Xmas week. I did no fancy either review or pantomime, both of which were flourishing in London at the time of my visit. On Xmas day I had dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds of NZ. and their family & relatives. Mr Steele was there (senior), and Mrs Walker, who used to know you very well, a Mrs & Miss. ------ who used to live in a house on Jarrah's property Hamilton E, which house was burnt down during their residence there. The Miss. --- (I forget their names), is an old maid, but very nice all the same. The youngest Miss. Reynolds wishes to be remembered to Eileen Buckleton who she knows quite well. A splendid turkey and excellent plum pudding which was burnt with all the ceremony, bon-bons and everything that goes to make a Xmas Feast a stomach test. Aunt Susie, Ernest Payne, & Sue were also there.

We arrived at 1pm & left at 5pm, & Susie E & myself all had the P of W Xmas dinner at 8PM. Turkey, Pudding etc. all over again. Splendid, Splendid.

This was the first Xmas that that I have spent ashore for six years, so I enjoyed it exceedingly, and even if it should prove to be my last one, it was a good one. Xmas 1910 I was in the Red Sea, S.S. “Clan Macnab”, 1911. Durham S.S. “Clan Cumming” , 1912 River Clyde, S.S. “Clan Mac Arthur”, (left Princess. Dock, Glayyour, 11.am). 1913. S.S. “Cortes”, passing Gibraltar, 11 a.m.) . 1914. S.S. “Cortes”, Castleon, near Valencia, Spain. 1915 London with the Reynolds family. 1916. “Thumbs Up”, New Zealand, perhaps.
The evening I had dinner with Mr & Mrs Belt of De-Vene Gardens, Sue’s greatest friends in London. Mr Belt always calls sue “Mother”. I enjoyed the evening very much. I also had afternoon tea on the Sunday 26th Dec. at Mrs Belt’s home. Dinner at Wellington Court twice, two or three excursions with Ernest Payne, a gentleman who I like more & more, as I get to know him. I came away loaded with cake etc. also a pillow for my camp bed, I have only had an air pillow which are wretched things, though very useful on active service.


Sue insisted on keeping me supplied with cigarettes of the finest quality during my stay, the P of W wines were of the good quality, and every evening before retiring, I was up to Sue’s bedroom for a glass. of whiskey & a biscuit. Sue evidently remembered my failing of my previous visit, and so laid in a bottle of the “Hard”, for my special benefit. Owing to the new liquor control laws, it was impossible for me to have anything in the public rooms after 9-30pm, hence our little supper together in her room. My room was adjoining hers. I thought this was about the limit of thoughtfulness. on her part, & I have no doubt you will think so too. On Xmas day we did not go to Church, but on the next day, we went to the 11 am which was very agreeable.

Susie gave me a fine pocket writing case, suitable for active service for a Xmas present, also an almanac for 1916, which now lays by my bedside. On Xmas Eve I received your Xmas parcel, a lovely pair of khaki socks with adjustable tops, also a jacket kerchief for which many thanks.

Also with this parcel came a letter bearing the date Mar 12th which was very acceptable especially as it arrived on Xmas eve. The watch (gold), which I bought at your suggestion, & the details of which I think you already have, is a splendid time piece, and a dainty piece of workmanship into the bargain. It has luminous figure and hands, and I always sleep with it on my wrist, and at any hour of the night that I wake I can easily read the correct time without moving my head from the pillow. My new trench coat, which I got when in Glasgow last November, is a great succeS.S. & is warm & absolutely w. proof. It has an adjustable belt, a very high collar, a very nice fleece lining for warmth, this same lining being detachable by means of lots of little slone clips. When the fleece lining is out it acts as a kind of dressing gown. The whole thing made to order and to measurement only cost €4-4p which was a bargain. The weather here now is not very good, lots of high and cold winds, rain & sleet, mud inches deep. But we are absolutely dry & very comfortable for camp life. Warm too.

The last day I was in London I discovered and called in on Mr and Mrs Steege of Hamburg. Mr Steege is manager of the standard bank of S. Africa in Hamburg, and he & his wife & family entertained Gert & Harry, & Eileen &I, very nicely when we were in that city Easter 1914. I made several calls at their home during my subsequent visits to Germany, and was always made very welcome: in fact, I was there about a fortnight before war broke out. Mr Steege & his only son, Harold, are now in a concentration camp at Ruelahem near Berlin, living in a race horse box. Mr Steege does not live with his son, but with two very decent stokehold fireman, with whom he is on the best of terms, a Hull fireman, & a W. Hartlepool hops I think Mrs Steege said. Mr S & Harold are kept alive with the food that his wife sends him from week to week. Their home, is of course, “no more”, but all their beautiful furniture & pictures are carefully stored in Hamburg, and an eye is being kept on it by one or two , (only) of their loyal friends of Teutonic origin.

The Buckletons, to whom Mrs & Miss. S. wish to be remembered most kindly will be pleased to read this. Will continue this letter at a future date.

Your Affec. Son. Cedrick Graham.


A version of this article was archived in August 2016 at Perma CC https://perma.cc/8H2W-BD4K.

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