Kathleen to Jack, London, April 9, 1918

BCARS
A/E Or3 Or32
File XII

(envelope)
F.J. O’Reilly Esqre
Point Ellice
Victoria
British Columbia Canada

14 Pembridge Gardens
9th April 1918

My dear Jack,

I am so sorry you have lumbago & hope you will soon be all right soon and that your vaccinated arm will not get too painful. Whilst I think of it do’nt you think Mary ought to be vaccinated? “Everybody’s doing it” & she told me she did not think she had been done since she was a child. Little Cassie Windham has a sore arm it’s the first time in her life that she has been done.

I am sending you Frank’s letter. I am very sorry he is so down about everything & I am afraid that all he says about business and affairs in Victoria will be rather depressing for you but you must not get downhearted. Of course I shd imagine it w be a great blow if the capital was moved to Vancouver tho’ it might make Victoria a pleasanter place to live in if one got rid of the politicians. Isn’t it strange the old idea of capital city on the mainland should be revived after so many years. New Westminster hated govt House being moved to Victoria & I think that was 50 years ago.

As you say the prospect is not rosey but one must hope for the best & one never knows when the luck will change. I don ‘t like Frank saying he felt weary evidently had the “blues” but I hope things are looking brighter before he gets this letter.

How are you getting on Jackie in the new Air Force? is it full of bothers? What killing things they do now! I read, that, “John de M. Hutchison c.v.o, C.M.G. (Vice Adm. R.N.) to be temp Col. with honorary rank of Lieut:Gen: April 1st 1918 .”

The date seems appropriate!! but I think I had better write to the Admiral-General J. de M. H. & tell him not to forget the O’R family. I also see that Naval man Lambe is temp Brig.Gen!! it reminds one of the Comic Opera.

“She always said that she came of Ancient familee”
“And her father was a Colonel in the Navee”

I also read that the Trewatha James girl is to be married. I think the man’s name is Fenton. Yesterday Mrs. Blakiston sent me a great piece of news from her family . Her son Larry was married on llth March at Bangalore in India, when he was on leave I think. The girls’ name was Kelly. I cannot decipher the Christian name. She is “very small & fair and he is very much in love.” It is an Irish name and she is a Roman Catholic for which i am sorry as it’s a pity for little Peter & Tom to have R.C. cousins. At any rate they are now cut out from any chance of inheriting Free Hills or Blakiston money!

I’ve had a letter from Vi Ellice, she is never tired of saying what a real kind friend Frank has been to them. She is going to live in a flat in Victoria till she can get to England. Eileen seems to be taken into the Drake circle. I wonder how she explains things to them.

Did I tell you that Nelly Benn wrote & told me she wanted me to spend last Friday with her in town I replied I was working hard in Can Red Cross but cd meet for lunch or tea. She wrote back am “calling for you at 14 Pem. at 12 o’clock & expect you to be in – will give you luncheon” . So I took the morning off & stayed in – then a wire came. “Meet me Evan’s shop 1 o’clock. I got there punctually 5 to 1 was told Mrs. Benn had been in at 12 & was returning at 130 was beginning to feel pretty irritable when she turned up. She said Ruby & Willy were at the Berkley & wanted us there so off we went it was a very sunny warm day & I was fairly shabby in warm clothes I wear to the chilly office. I discovered Willy & Ruby knew nothing about my coming & as I’ve seen nothing of them for 18 months I was not pleased to be taken there uninvited. However they were very pleasant said they were pleased to see me. They were occupying a nice suite of rooms overlooking Duke of Devonshire’s garden . We had a luxurious lunch in their sitting room. Willy is very changed he looks older & is very thin . I think he hates going back to the Front, but thought he ought to go. I believe he has worked hard, at Grantham, training machine gun corps . He certainly looked thin and serious. I believe his mother is dying of the same illness that Piercy Benn had. They say she does not suffer pain & may live 2 years. She is at Brighton [written at top of page] very good letter will write to you soon again. ? last week Best of luck & cheer up old thing look on the best side. Jack and her daughter is with her. She is able to go out in a bath chair. I have met her & the girl. She was a handsome pleasant woman – a great friend of the John Brodies’. Willy & Ruby went to Brighton on Friday, came up on Sat & went to Folkestone as he was to cross to France on Sunday. I’ve had a few lines from Blackie written & posted on 3rd. He says “we are holding them alright at present but it is a puzzle to know where their next blow will fall. All the men are full of good cheer & quite confident of being able to best the Bosche.” Now I see in today’s paper that “great activity 4-5 developed from La Bassee to South of Armentine which commenced last Sunday.” I understand the latter place is Blackies’ front. I don’t know if Willy is going into the fight. Ruby seemed to think & hope he wd go on training machine gunners behind the line.

The other day I was in the Club for Overseas Ladies when I recognised Mr . Webber in the Hall. I was with Agnes Edwards & some Australians with whom I had had tea. I had just made up my mind to speak to Mr . Webber when I saw a large Houry [?] woman approaching & I jumped to the conclusion it was the widow he married in Africa! & was glad I had not committed myself to such an unattractive encounter . I was not recognised. My matured appearance & grey hairs is successful camouflage as regards acquaintances of a few years ago ! Mr . Webber looked trim & old, white hair – he was in Kahki and in the visitors book was inscribed Major & Mrs. Hanbury Webber! Yesterday I wrote all day in Can. Red X Office & was surprised on my return to find that Col. Elliott had been here having tea with Miss Gilbert. He has not been out to Front this time. On the eve of departure, the doctors said his heart was not fit for the battle. so he had to rest. Much to his grief his connection with his beloved Australians is at an end. He thinks them splendid & is sad to hear his division has been cut up in his absence. He asked me to lunch today & as I was engaged to meet Alice Drummond at Harrods, we all lunched there together. He went off to see his doctor & Alice Effie & some school girls were shopping. They returned to Meriden[?] by train & I gave Elliotti tea in the Club. We had a long chat . He is probably to be employed on the East Coast. Something to do with the barrage, I understand. I’ve now got a horrid cold again & throat a little troublesome too. Got too hot that day lunching with the Styles & cold in the office afterwards. Willy thinks it a great pity the Air Services have been amalgamated & thinks it makes more expense for everyone. They seemed down on Harold Twist for not going into the Army . Of course Carry Hare says he is not strong enough but he is able to go out long days shooting in Warwickshire! I really think poor Carry is very mortified abt it & it is probably trying for her to think that both Nelly Benn’s sons-in-law are employed & also her son Jack. The two old Admirers of “little Nell”, Rupert Brett & young Baines are both Lt Colonels and have seen lots of fighting . Rupert is very keen on winning & that’s a great thing in war . Elliotti likes the Australians because they are so keen, & not frivolous or casual like some of the men on our side . I suppose you have heard all about the last disaster — the break through the 5th Army. All sorts of yarns are going about but it seems apparent that Gough was very unpopular with his men & also that he was no strategist and his plan was all wrong. The way the French and all sorts of odds & ends stopped the war was wonderful. Elliotti says it seems unpardonable that there sh have been such a break throuh. He says it ought never to have happened & that this is the 3r mistake Gough has made & it is to be hoped the Army has done with him.

Elliotti had seen Mrs. Regie Macdonald at Camberley. She has a dear little daughter Mac is at Malta invalided fr. Salonica, & Rex has just left for France in R.H.A. It appears he has been in London training & his Lt. colonel here was Grace’s husband – Horace Webber – isn’t it a topsy turvey world?

I hear F. Pinder is back in England from Switzerland, having been a prisoner in Germany I think he is jolly lucky, when one thinks of the poor fellows who have been kept there since 1914 I suppose he was allowed back because of health & the wound he had, but the family try to make him out a great hero!! I hear grt accounts of him have been written to the Devereux in Victoria. Josephine & her husband are I understand at Claridges Hotel in London & that both of them have very indifferent health that Mr . Henning has suffered dreadfully with bad sciatica intense pain for months .

I’ve heard twice lately from Sir Michael. At his request Mary & I went to see his Jack married. They forgot to ask us to her Reception so the old man has written twice to say how sorry he was we were not there. he has sent a photograph of the couple coming out of church which he thinks very funny & seems very much amused abt the whole affair perhaps you wd send on his letters in this to Frank.

In the Canadian Red X. amongst other letters given me to write was one to Mrs . T. N. Hibben – Oak Bay – telling her that her son T.N. Hibben has been gassed and is very seedy & tired in a hospital in Birmingham. I told Alice Drummond & she says she will try to see him & find if she can do anything for him – poor boy! I expect he is quite young. The cases we have had in from the push, so far, have not been severe ones. I think they just shoved the ones well enough to go, back to England, as there are no records from doctors or clearing stations in France. So we only know what our visitors in England write about them.

Violet Bridgewater writes in the same office now. So I sometimes leave a word with her & hear something of B.C. news. I’ve had a most friendly grateful letter from Capt Edwards thanking me for going so often to see his wife, whilst she was in the Nursing Home in London for three weeks. I hope she will be all right now she has gone to Scotland to join him. This morning a letter came from Breedon [?]he says he is sending me the Butterfly Brooch that dear Louisa left to me. He says the forget-me-nots are now flowering on her grave. He was very pleased with Frank’s nice letter. He means to go off fishing to Scotland abt end of the month. Blackie thinks he ought to be busy for his King & Country!! I hope Generalissimo Foch will do well the situation is critical, & many people (much to Elliotti’s astonished disgust) don’t seem to realise it. Some people think if the Kaiser is not successful in this fearful Battle that his govt will suggest Peace again. I doubt it don’t you? that is I doubt their suggesting any terms possible to us.

Best love yr loving sister

K.O’Reilly

Please send on to Frank

 

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This collection of letters has been digitized from an earlier transcription project and is for informational purposes only. This transcription has not been verified against the originals. Researchers interested in these letters should consult the original documents housed at the BC Archives.

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