9th July - Eighth Letter to Poppy
Secret diary: Fri
Official diary (9th July): No entry
My darling old Pip,
It was splendid getting your letter yesterday, they may come regularly now. I wonder how you got up to town in time. It was very kind of nurse’s sister to come and look you up. The boy will no doubt thrive very well on the bottle. It would be very nice if you were here with me as far as I am concerned, but I dont think the life would do you much good. He evidently takes after your family in the nose line, its not such a bad side of the family to take after after all. I suppose Mother motored up to see you. Is Dina living up in town now, so as to be with you?
Im afraid you wont get very much information from Percy, as he will have very little to give, he cant know less than I do, anyhow. I get a good deal of exercise really, but don’t go far afield. I always have my breakfast in bed now, and get up at about 12, it helps to pass the day. The rest of the day is spent reading, eating, patience, and an occasional short walk. The time doesn’t really go as slowly as it might. I was in the oldest rags when I was caught, these have now been replaced by more respectable looking clothes.
Have had no news about Col Danford lately, but expect he is getting on all right or else it would have been in the papers.
The boy seems to be taking after me, in kicking up plenty of row, Mother gives me to understand that I used to be quite unbearable. Are you allowed up at all yet, and do you get plenty of people to see you? Next time you write tell me who you have heard from.
There is really no news to tell you. I may get another letter from you tonight. If the family like to send letters to you for me you could enclose them.
I have lots of time now to think of you.
Eighth Letter sent to Mrs C.H. Tindall Lucas, 1 Cleveland Gardens, Hyde Park LONDON W2 postmarked Eastbourne 1 15pm 12 July 1920
There was nothing that Poppy wanted more than to be with her beloved 'C'. All their hopes and dreams of the last few years - of being able to settle down together in the same place, in peace and safety and be a normal happy couple raising their family - appeared to be constantly thwarted.
Without little Cutlett to worry about, Poppy would have been on the next boat across the Irish Sea and demanded to be taken to her husband. In her mind being incarcerated with CHTL was far preferable to the excruciating anxiety and pain of their present situation.
Poppy had presumably told CHTL that she was hoping to hear from CHTL’s cousin Percy (General Sir Percy Pollexfen de Blaquiere Radcliffe KCB KCMG DSO) who was Director of Military Operations at the War Office. She received a letter from Percy dated 6th July but it is unlikely that she was referring to this letter as the timings make it very tight considering CHTL had received Poppy’s letter on the 8th July. However the letter contained what CHTL had thought:
“I fear I can not tell you anything more than you already know about Cuthbert.”
Percy had provided a telephone number so Poppy may have spoken to him on the phone.
Staying another night at Hasting's caused the general little discomfort. He’d got on well with his hosts. For a prisoner, CHTL was having a very comfortable life: having breakfast served in bed at 10 and lying in until 12 is not the picture most hostage situations call to mind. CHTL's biggest hardships, other than being apart from Poppy and Cutlett were boredom and a lack of exercise. He filled his hours reading and playing cards and had managed to persuade his captors to take him out for exercise, even though this must have been an extremely risky thing for them to do. As well as the constant danger of being spotted or running into a passing patrol, being out in the open gave their charge more opportunity to escape. It appears that CHTL never attempted to do so as the walks, fishing trips, games of tennis, hay making etc. continued throughout his internment. Any hint of a break for freedom would have meant a complete clamp down on his excursions. It was a case of weighing up the situation and making the best of the benefits whilst keeping an eye open for the right opportunity to escape.
Acquiring clothes for the general was no mean feat when one considers that CHTL was a well above average sized man. He was 6ft, a height less common in those days when the average height for a man was 5ft 6 than it would be today when the average height for a UK man is between 5ft 9 and 5ft 10. Using their web of contacts, a suitably sized donor was sourced and encouraged to part with the required garments, to satisfy the needs of their charge. Being dressed a little less scruffily would have helped CHTL regain a little dignity and presence. A respectably dressed man would command more respect than one dressed in 'the oldest rags'!
Dina was another of CHTL’s many sisters, he had six in all. She had served as a nurse in France. Dina was the Lucas sister that Poppy got on best with. The fact that she was planning to move to London to be near Poppy speaks of a very compassionate and kind person. She never married and was a good aunt to CHTL’s children.
Seven or so years later, whilst the family were living in Germany, CHTL appeared to have suffered an illness and spent some time with Poppy away recuperating. The children ranged in age from around two to eight, so those looking after them had quite a task on their hands, with two lively boys and a demanding toddler. It was CHTL’s sister Dina who was called upon to use her nursing experience to help look after the brood. Everyone apart from the boys, it seems, went down with flu. Poppy kept three letters written by Bob, that indicate a little of the chaos they left behind and what poor Dina had to cope with:
Box 119 A.P.O. S/ 40 BRITISH ARMY OF THE RHINE
My Dear Daddy
We have got Aunt Diana + two of the maids with flu. To- day we are going to Jeans birthday party. Coral cannot have her party so she has removed it. Miss Nathan wishes to be remembered to you.
Give Mummy a kiss.
Lots of love from everybody and Bobby.
Box 119 A.P.O. S/40 BRITISH ARMY OF THE RHINE
Anne has got flu and she is getting better now. The two maids are up and going. How is Daddy? And when are you coming back. Yesterday it rained all day. We had our hair cut yesterday. We all hope Daddy is getting well.
Love from Bobby
Bob, Anne &Bill
Box 119 A.P.O. S/40 BRITISH ARMY OF THE RHINE
We have been fairly good the Rhine is frozen over at Riebruich and the ships and boats are frozen in. The ice is so thick that you can walk right across. We all send you our love and hope you will soon be better.
Love to Mummy. Best love from Bobby
Bob’s 'We have been fairly good' line, rapidly followed by a description of the frozen Rhine, speaks volumes of a little boy with a guilty conscience. He and Bill had had a break from their father’s strict army discipline and no doubt mischief had ensued! Poor Dina had her hands full - having had the flu and having to cope with three very boisterous children. On top of this the two maids had walked out, possibly because of the children’s ‘energetic’ behaviour...
A couple of years later, Anne had a nanny that she didn’t like. Her two big brothers took charge and the nanny walked out after finding a mouse in her underwear drawer!