Topic: 1916 May 21. Cedric writes home after hearing of his father's death

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Cedric Kenny Onslow Graham was born in Hamilton on the 21st December 1889, the 10th child of parents William Australia Graham and Alice Graham. He died leading his men "over the top" near the French town of Flers 16th September 1916. This letter was written from Cannock Chase in central England during a heat wave. It is part of a collection compiled by Tauranga resident Roly Hume of people within his family tree. Cedric Graham is training recruits and expecting to be posted himself at any moment. He has just heard of his Fathers passing and is writing to his mother.

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Cedric Graham


 16th Batt. Wurham L.I.

? 12 Lines

Rugely (?) Camp

Sunday, May 21st 1916

My dear Mother.

On Thursday May 11th, about 9 p.m, I heard of the death of my dear Father, which I presume took place in the preceding Monday May 8th but the exact day I will know later when your letter arrives. Grandma Sue  enclosed in a letter the telegram which you had sent to Wellington Court and which had been sent in by the officials there to their present lodgings at 11 Pueteney St Bath. As soon as I saw the telegram enclosed in Sue’s letter I began to have unpleasant fore-bodings, & I can tell you that when I did read its grave contents I got quite a shock for the moment, for I had always hoped against hope Mother dear, that Father would be spared till such time as I would be able to return to N.Z.  again, and see & talk with him once more, although I knew quite well that the state of his health was very uncertain, & that I ought to expect, and in fact, did expect news such as I received a few days ago, still, when I did get it, and a few minutes afterwards fully realized all, I could not help feeling very sad indeed.

 I do hope and pray his end was quiet & peaceful, and that he left this world for good in the same calm & orderly manner that he had lived all his life. The last two or three years have been rather trying ones for you dear Mother, & all the family, owing largely to Father’s long illness, so perhaps for all I know, this may in reality prove to be a relief to you all, an indirect relief, which will not manifest itself just at present, but will later in a few months time, when the bitter sting of parting from Dad after four and forty years of married life. My word! That is a long long time to be sure. I hope you are bearing up well dear Mother, and that you are paying the very greatest attention to your own health, so that you may yet be spared the to enjoy life to the full, the latter-day peace and happiness which comes, I believe, to all who have lived a good, an upright & hard-working life, such as you have done, & poor old Dad too. I am greatly looking forward to getting you early letters describing the final hours of my Dad. I am sure they will be exceedingly welcome. I suppose they are already on their way now. 

 On Tuesday May 9th I was discharged from the camp hospital to q lines, as cured from my recent mild attack of German Measles. This was by 21st day, so you can imagine how glad I was to clear out & return to my Battalion for duty which I commenced in the following day.

 It was Tuesday April 18th when I was admitted into this hospital and placed in an isolation ward with two other J.O.C. officers. During my term these two snoffs were discharged. I had a few days of loneliness & had feeding by myself, when two other officers, & also J.O.C. officers were admitted, so, it is quite evident that this Hun Measle nuisance has not died out yet by any means. As-a-matter-of-fact, it is now all over England & the MA, and lots of districts, (Manchester for example) are now placed “out-of-bounds’ for the Troops, and all officers and men having their homes & relatives in these localities are not permitted to visit them, & must continue to keep away until such time as the “Northern Command”, order these places to be placed once again “in bounds”. I think the last time that I wrote to you was about the last day of April or thereabouts. I know I ought to be severely admonished for only writing at such long intervals but I never forget you Mother dear, so “Buck-Up”.

 While in the hospital I received a lovely letter from you one morning about 8 a.m., written by you on March 14th, at Olives residence at Waimatarangi. I enjoyed reading it immensely, and I now have it before me, & have just re-read it. I enjoyed reading all about the various county & seaside homes of your two lucky daughters Olive & Hilda, and I consider these two young ladies extremely fortunate in having two such kind and generous husbands in Campbell McDiarmid & Bill. I have no doubt what-so-ever, that these two girls fully appreciate & enjoy to the utmost the goodly supply of this worlds blessings which have fallen to their lot, because it is only by fully realising and appreciating these same blessings that one is better fitted to withstand successfully the one-hundred-and-one little worries and annoyances that will persist in coming up seeking to interfere with out happiness & well regulated lives. That’s the way I look at things anyway, & whenever find things trying to go “all wrong”, I always see the silver lining which every cloud of sorrow is supposed posses, & then I become cheerful again, for even I have a lot to be grateful for: and I know it.

 In yours of 14.3.16, you ask if I have seen anything further of Miss Neilson of Gary's Ayrshire. Well I have not, up to date, but I have the home address in my address book & if any further opportunity should occur I will not fail to call on her again, &, at any rate drop her a line. In the only occasion that I have met so far, about a year ago now, in Glasgow, she was exceedingly nice to me: I liked her very much, and I shall not fail to renew our acquaintances should I be permitted by circumstances to do so.    

 This morning I attended Divine Service in the Church Army Hut, & listened to a splendid stirring address from the Rt Rev Bishop Taylor Smith Chaplain General to H.M. Forces. His words were simple and calculated to hit hard, and sink in to the hardest heart, a for my own part I feel all the better for having been there this morning. We are now experiencing a great heat wave over the whole of England and for the past three days the heat in Cannock Chase has been intense. Coming so suddenly after our cold and miserable winter, it has caught us all “herding” if I may use such a term, & we are all feeling pretty washed out as a consequence of this abnormal heat wave.

 But my general health remains good. I am kept very busy from day to day, the days & weeks seem to unite in the great rush of life now-a-days, and I am on recruit training, absolutely raw recruits (Derby ites) and I am working on a hard & fast war office syllabus which hardly gives me time to think. We are given twelve weeks only, to convert a civilian into a trained soldier, & as a trained soldier under modern war conditions has to know far more now than the old time peace soldier of two years ago, all officers responsible for turning out these men have their work cut out to do so and can only make success of their work by putting their whole energy into their work. This I am endeavoring to do & will continue so till such time as I am called in by War-Office letter to proceed overseas. This may be anytime now, I have no idea when.


How is Mrs Ruby Short getting on: I hope she has quite recovered from her very terrible illness of a few months ago. In conclusion Mother dear, I hope you are keeping up well, & I hope that now the strain of nursing poor Father has ended, that you will rapidly regain your old time good health & vitality & that this will continue to be so till such time as we can meet again either in N.Z or old England.

 My very best love, from your affect. son



A version of this article was archived in August 2016 at Perma CC

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1916 May 21. Cedric writes home after hearing of his father's death

First Names:Cedric
Last Name:Graham
Date of Birth:1889
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License
1916 May 21. Cedric writes home after hearing of his father's death by Roly Hume is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License