December 2nd 1936(By Order!! - I
The Old Manor Housealways was an
Walcott1obedient child)

Herewith: you young nuisances! But I suppose I must try & rake up for you the long-dead dregs of the past.

I was born in London; but can't remember hearing (or even noticing) the sound of the Bow Bells, even though at 8 in the morning (+ on a Tuesday at that! - n.b. don’t forget that ‘Tuesday’s child is fair of face’, tho’ there are exceptions obviously) of 24th Feb 1874 the air even of London is fairly clear.

Like your Father the earliest [thing?] I can remember is the hush that thrilled England over the disasters + honourable retrievements of the Afghan War. Next I distinctly remember {2} the lamentable incapacity for adequate protection that nice black velvet provides. I was very fond of, + pleased with, my lovely black velvet little Lord Fauntleroy suit. In fact I must have swelled with pride because I was plump + the seat of the knickers parlously tight. So, when ensconced securely across my Father’s lap, that nasty lithe little cane with a curly handle proved all too effective for my liking I foreswore tight black velvet for the remainder of my youth as leg wear.

Next, at about the same time, I can call to mind the wee coffin of my tiny little sister Ella2 as it lay on a chair in the library. {3}

Curiously enough I can remember the dining room, the study, the two nurseries, my Father’s + Mother's bedroom with all the furniture perfectly, but call to mind one atom of the drawing room at Palace Gardens Terrace I can’t.

Though, well I loved those days when we elder boys under the charge of our old nurse, Hannah Durham, (Mamie), our fox terrier Judy + wee Dicky, an infinitesimal dog like Patsy, only smaller, + Oh! So dainty + sweet, used to go to sail our toy boats on the Round Pond in Kensington Gardens. Peter Pan3 came long long after our time, but he, the synonym for perpetual youth must sometimes even now yield place to the {4} happy little sudden giggle of joy of your own Father.

Of my Father’s friends we saw a good deal, Mr (Kid) Matthews, Lord Francis Hervey, Mr Cookson + Gilbertson (Canon of St. Paul’s), but of all of them we boys loved Lord Francis best. He loved children I can see now, + we instinctively adored him. He was so gentle, so awfully kind, would sit by the hour with us, or let us toddle along with him for a stroll in the Park, or watch us as we bathed in front of the nursery fire + put to bed, - each in turn accompanied by Dicky, who was transferred to the next bed as soon as one little boy was fast asleep hugging him tightly.

{5} That beloved place Sedgeford Hall4 came next when I was 6 I suppose, I forget exact dates.

At any rate here began those Sunday evenings at the piano which my sweet old Mother so loved. We, not one of us could sing a note, joined her in hymn after hymn. She could play ever so prettily, + had a sweet + soft little singing voice that to her dying day was a joy to hear. I think those were the happiest days of her life when all we elder boys were but worshipping chicks.

Later on cares of all sorts came on her + all of us, + we, selfish little wretches, forgot her love all too often + harboured on the memory of scolding which we richly deserved, + that gave way in turn {6} thank God, to utter love again as we ourselves grew into our teens.

I speak of all this frankly for I can see now how unworthy we were of both my Father + Mother.

In all sober truth I feared my Father till I was - Oh! - quite 24 or 25, then suddenly pierced through his veil of immense shyness + fear of being found to be sentimental to find the real “Walter”, the Father whom John + Gertie found as children.

It is a bitter sorrow to me that I did not “find” him till almost too late5 + it must have been my fault. He hated to see “fear”, + I did funk him unfortunately.

{7} But never was there such an ideal home for a swarm of young brothers as was Sedgeford. Its big gardens + shrubberies held fruit + fairies, hidey holes + tennis lawns, its little river had trout + allurements for boat-sailing from large ships of 3 foot long or more to walnut shells with straw masts + paper “square-sails”

There were woods, a beauty sandpit, there were rabbits, a lake in the park, with an island!!! Pirates + Red Indians loved that place, a waterfall at the lower end, the island at the upper, the water spreading into a big pear shaped sheet with the grass of a gently sloping hill on the bank with great oaks over shadowing, + a thick osier bed flanked the far side. An old Roman bath of the iciest water I've ever known was hidden in the midst of the osiers.

{8} But there is a fly in every ointment. Miss Lewis! Ye Gods: was there ever a more loathly woman? I cannot think so. Her mean pale peaky face with a sharp thin beak + pale watery venomous eyes still live ominously in my mind’s eye, as does the excruciating pain of a thin edge of a heavy ebony ruler with which she smote our knuckles as we wrestled, (hating it), with E.G.B.D.F + F.A.C.E. Lord! Her face. Boo-h-h-h-h.

Vile beast, many + many a caning from my father did I suffer from her accursedness.

In all truth I think that she is, (or was, - I don’t know) the only person I have ever hated with a real deep + embittered hatred.

How glad I was to get to Laleham6, packed off at 7 years old, under the care of Ernest7 + Gilbert8 my two older brothers.

{9} My word! My first year at Laleham. Happy? To a wondrous degree, but it was a hard rough life. But I am, really glad I went through it, + to me, only a child, the change to wonderful mildness + quiet under Frank Buckland was like passing out of heavy bombardment to the peace of a huge deep dug-out lately captured from the Germans.

The old man, Matthew Buckland * had married a daughter of Matthew Arnold, the great Rugby schoolmaster. He was, like him, infinitely pious, infinitely fierce, + infinitely kindly without allowing us the slightest trace of kindness to be detected by us little monkeys.

(*my Father was a little boy at school under Matthew Buckland long before us)

He wore a choker collar, was clean-shaved, but his hands + his arms were fleeced in thick hair, he was shaped like a great broad gorilla + he was as strong as one too.

{10} He seldom caned, + if he did it was on the hands. But the birch, a new one every day, + often two. Never did a morning pass without 3 or 4 of us lowering our garments, being hoisted on the back of a big boy, + well flogged, never did an afternoon grow into an evening without sunsets showing on the latter ends of at least 3 or 4 boys. But it is astonishing how soon the skin grew callous: + a couple of dozen that was “punishment” at the beginning of term became “until his arm tired” towards the end.

Then came Frank, with new + more up to date methods all round.

But at the school we had several well known lads, for instance Hubert + John Gough (the present

Sir Hubert9, + John V.C. - dead10), the two Garrards {11} head now of that old old old firm of silver merchants. The Earles of Lancashire, the Pilkingtons, so well known for generations of Eton cricketers + (later) churchmen. The Byngs, descendants of that old rough card The Earl of Albemarle who came over as favourite of William III, with the Duke of Portland (Bentinck).

And many a time did we troop out of the play-ground at the swift clatter of grey horses, two of them abreast, followed about 100 yards behind, by another grey horse mounted by a man in tight white breeches, black boots, a short tight buttoned up jacket like a page boy's, + a top hat with a gold band.

Then, drawn by 2 great black horses, or dark bays, a long open Landau. In this a dear little {12} fat squat figure in black with a little black parasol, a fat wrinkled face that broke into smiles as she greeted us, + sometimes stopped her carriage to talk to us as we swarmed round her - the GREAT QUEEN VICTORIA. She often in summer took these long solitary drives from Windsor in what amounted to semi-state.

Again on Saturdays a filthy dirty old soldier Paddy, made us sweets, + showed us his bayonet wound scars on head + chest received at Balaclava.

Once more my memory fails me over a small point, that is, the names of the bedrooms where we little mortals slept from 8 or 8.30 at night till 6.30 in old Mat's time, + 7 a.m. in Frank Buckland’s. There were I know the Shoe room, the White room, the Green room, + the Crow’s nest, but there was a fifth, + its name defeats me.

{13} From Laleham I went to Haileybury, to be followed by your Father about a year later by your Father, Donald11.

We were a small house, + the lads in it were some of them small + weak + undersized. ln numbers we were hopelessly outdone by all the other houses in the school. But not in pluck.

For years + years we plugged along at the bottom of the list at the end of the football season.

Then suddenly we woke.

A great hefty lad called Nelson got his XXX cap. Had he not been in our despised little house he would have been given his colours over + over again. How ever leaving us he went to Cambridge + at once gained his Blue.

Two more funny years followed. Nelson’s XXX was an incentive. What one could do another could. I got my XXX then, + the House was not bottom of the list at the end of the term. We were {14} next to it though. All the same the spirit!!! was there, + never shall I ever forget the wonderful pluck of the little things that fought+ shoved + battled for the House with a gallantry that can never be fully described. I am grateful to those faithful, brave, little tired out heroes to this day, + my great + real regret has always been that I'm so awfully shy of being sentimental that I’m sure they never understood how pleased I was with my little Arthurs, Galahads + Bayards. It was against Edmondstone12.

From that day the House has never looked back. Donald, Purdy, Mansell Young all got their XV to follow the lead. And since then the House has been Cock House several times. An altered House though, larger in numbers, + now dining etc. In “Hall” with the rest of the school.

{15} From Haileybury I joined the 3rd Norfolk Militia, under Col. Garnett. Col. “Jocky” Custance, succeeded Garnett, coming to us from the Grenadier Guards. He owned a lovely place, the family place of “Weston” not far from Norwich. Sir Kenneth Kemp, (who, I think, was Donald’s C.O., but I’m not sure, was a Major) + I never ceased our friendship for 40 years till he died last year. The last of a long long long line of Baronets his one + only son died before he did leaving 3 daughters + no heir. So that grand old family is gone now from English history.

When I joined the 3rd Norfolk’s I received my commission signed by Queen Victoria herself. At the {16} actual time I received it I was staying at King’s Waldenbury13 with the Fenwick Harrisons, connections of ours through an Edwardes marrying a Fenwick-Harrison, + the Edwardes's were cousins of my Mother. When I opened it Fenwick-Harrison said, “Well, you’re lucky, the old Lady’s getting old, she won’t sign many more.” This was in 91 or 92, I forget which, but as a fact I had the honour of being on her personal escort round her carriage when she reviewed her troops at Aldershot the day after her wonderful jubilee procession through London in 1897, (on which occasion we lined the streets near St Pauls, - I was a 3rd Hussar - + had my beautiful sabretache cut off+ stolen by the crowd).

When I joined the 3rd Norfolk’s it was because that was one of the ways by which you could get a Regular Commission. (I was too old + far too much of a fool to be able to pass the Sandhurst exam).

So my uncle, Sir Frederick Hunt Bt14., sent me to a Crammer's. It was at Farnham, + was divided into 2 parts; one, as it were, in the country near Aldershot, the other in Farnham itself. The Country part for boys wishing to pass the Preliminary Exam, the others for the Final into the Army. I found myself in a nest of the Peerage. There were 17 of us, + only 3 untitled, Buckle, the son of an R.H.A. Colonel (he could draw horses better that Munnings), Ives the {18} son of a rich brewer + myself. Of the others I have known many for years, but gradually I’ve “dropped out”, till only two remain, Cholmondeley - then Rocksavage, 9th Lancers later, + Sir Richard (Dicky) Levinge. And these two too, I have not spoken to or seen for 3 years or more. The one I saw most of in S.A. was “Lucy” Grosvenor, - now Duke of Westminster - he stayed with us in Pretoria when we (3rd Hussars) were garrisoned at Roberts Heights15. The Earl of Rothes was another, a really nice lad, Sempill -- now celebrated as an airman - then the “Master of Sempill”, Lord Balcarres, Sir Richard Preston, + above all my very dear friend until his ghastly death in an aeroplane {19} crash over Meopham in Kent, Freddy Blackwood. Lord Frederick Temple Hamilton-Blackwood, son of the Marquis of Ava, 9th Lancers16.

About him I will tell you a story of how he + I had the devil’s own luck together.

Great world figure as he was The Marquis of Dufferin, though Viceroy of India, Ambassador to France etc. Etc. was a very poor man. It was all he could do to keep Freddy in the 9th Lancers. But the family is Irish, + so Freddy got hopelessly into debt. At the time of the occurrence I was A.D.C. to Sir Bindon Blood, C. in C. in India. I was at Simla, + I was pretty poor.

{20} One night into my room came Freddy, very white + upset. He plunked himself down on my bed + poured out his troubles. He owed well over a £1000. It had to be paid within 10 days. He dared not tell his Colonel, or his father.

We had a drink or two, + he cheered up. Then a real Irish thought came to him. “Look here, you can play Bridge, go + win it back for me at the Simla Club.” I gasped. The Simla Club Bridge is for colossal stakes, well known throughout the world for its gambling. I am a poor card player + hate it, - always have.

But after another drink or two I yielded to the stupidest thing I've ever done in my life.

The upshot of it was that armed with all I had in the wide world + £50 odd that Freddy had cajoled from {21} some unwily fool we mustered just on £200 in rupee-cash.

That night I cut in, + sat down as nervous + frightened as a cat, hoping! hoping! hoping! To win the first rubber by sheer luck, but terribly frightened that perhaps (+ probably) the £200 would not be enough. If it was not enough I was finished in the army (my father was not a Marquis).

Cards were superhuman. I won. With nearly £400 capital now I went on + won the second. It was all cards. I held wonderful hands. Till 3 in the morning we played. I won + won + won.

When we rose I rushed to where Freddy was fast asleep in his bed in his hotel, I burst into {22} his room woke him up + threw sheaves + sheaves + sheaves all over him. It was close on £2000, we payed his debts, + my small ones, + shared the rest about £280 each. There! But never again did I play for “money”, I stuck with always to the regimental 1/- a hundred till I left the service + could chuck Bridge for ever + a day.

Yes! It came off. But ---

Well, after a term or two at Farnham I went up for my “prelim”. I failed in arithmetic. I could do sums!!

Naturally I was bitterly upset. However my Uncle Fred said he’d give me another chance. He did. On the recommendation of a friend {23} of his called, Agg. Gardener, I went to a school kept by a Mr Simpson for 3 months. The school was for “backward + undisciplined Boys”. It was at Norwood under the shadow of the Crystal Palace. (Incidentally I never went inside the Crystal Palace, now, even as I write, a still smoking chaos of burnt out girders + glass, + lead, + beams17).

I went to that school on one condition laid down by its Proprietor, that I would obey all school rules + customs just as if I were not 2, 3, or 4 years older than the other pupils,+ I was to be a “private pupil”. Being a “private pupil” merely meant that I slept in lodgings about 200 yards from the school.

{24} Simpson was another gorilla, stocky, sturdy + strong. He was Matthew Buckland over again stock + all.

Mrs Simpson was dear. A little sweet white-haired old lady, always in black silk, with a lace cap like Mary Queen of Scots, white niffles of lace at her Wrist, a wide lace collar,+ always a little blue satin bow tie or ribbon at her throat, + a long thin watch chain of gold round her neck. She was terribly frail to look at, + as gentle as her husband was rough. He worshipped her, + she had a curious ascendancy over that horde of 40 unruly ruffians.

He kept his ascendancy by sheer strength of arm. He could!!!!! flog, + did too.

{24A} It was a big school, about 40 boys of all ages, youngsters of from 8 to 14 mostly, + of these nearly all were sent to Simpson’s to be educated for the Navy. The Navy was really the raison d’étre of the school, + very successful too. Amongst the little fellows were 2 little honourables + one exceedingly wee baronet.

Then there were 10 or 12 quite big boys 15 or 16 years old, chiefly misfits from Public Schools; “the backward + undisciplined” presumably. To top up there were 2 other pupils like myself being specifically crammed; one great fair haired giant Halliford, for the “Indian Civil”, + a fellow called de Chesney, small + very dark (but very agile + nippy + wonderful at boxing, on which there was remarkable keenness throughout the whole school).

Incidentally he remains “outstanding”, {24B} for he was the first accomplished Polyglot I’d ever met in my life at his age.

His Father had been 1st Secretary at our Embassy at Madrid, + born there, of course, Spanish was a second native tongue to him. At St. Petersburg, when he was about 6 years old (but accompanied by his old Spanish nurse) he picked up Russian + French the two Mother languages of every well-born Russian; + later, when his Father was transferred again, when he was about 12 years old it meant that he was educated at a French Lycee. So, to him, Russian, French, Spanish, + English were all exactly the same.

Intended to enter the Foreign Office most of his difficulties were entirely removed, but, like me, Mathematics were his stumbling block. We were the same age.

{25} Sunday was a day off for me, so by catching an early train I used to get to No 7 Cromwell Road18 easily for breakfast. I was supposed to “report back” on the Sunday night, + woe befell me if, as I sometimes did, I stayed up talking till the small hours with Uncle Fred, + slept in Town. Monday mornings brought an instant + painful retribution, but it was well worth it; + Uncle Fred, in sheer mischief, - he was always full of fun - always tried to make me forget the last train.

The desks of us three private pupils were in one corner of the room, against the wall.

The whole of the remainder of the room was practically like any other school. Desks round 2 sides of it, Mr Simpson’s desk + dais occupied {26} one wall with a blackboard, + the execution table with its leather-covered stool: + the entrance door was in the fourth wall.

[Diagram drawn]

The boys in the school rose at 7 a.m. + there was a ½ hour lesson before breakfast, saying repetition chiefly. At 8. There was breakfast, at which I shared.

At 9. School began.

As a flogger Simpson (James Henry) was old Mat Buckland + Matthew Arnold rolled into one, + pressed down.

{27} Never did one single lesson pass without someone kneeling on the leather stool with his tummy on the table. Whatever boy happened to be top of the class at the time, + sat, therefore, at X became ex officio “holder”.

His duties were light for, though Simpson flogged + flogged with vigour, it was strict point of honour to receive the strokes without struggling + without the least noise, from the very smallest right up to us 3 almost young men that as the accepted rule of the school. So the holder really had merely to keep the tail of the shirt held up high + the birch did the rest.

{28} Poor Halliford was a much more frequent visitor to the table than Chesney or me, though we were nearly as equally punished as the youngsters, + one extraordinarily soon became callously hardened to it- mind + hide, I say “hide” not skin, because one did grow callous.

Merely making mistakes in our sums was quite sufficient reason for undoing one’s brace buttons.

Football every afternoon gave as much exercise as we could want - (soccer).

But there is one more thing I must say, because it was unusual then, there was a big clean white-tiled bathroom with 4 big baths in it, + boiling hot Water never lacked.

{29} Well! He flogged me successfully through my Preliminary Exam, + back I went to Wilkinson's at Farnham to the senior classes.

Then I joined the 3rd Hussars in Aldershot, + I will tell you 2 little stories of what happened there, no! three. I'll get my own little episode over first.

After a big guest night some fool betted me that I would not get out of one window of the anteroom + in at the other.

With stone flags below me I did it, in full mess uniform, minus spurs, which I was allowed to take off. Along that 2 inch wide width of brick I crept, my fingers groping + feeling for tiny interstices between brick + mortar. The Band stopped, a crowd gathered, nearly all the Regiment left canteen or barrack-room or stable to watch that stupendous folly. And didn’t they cheer {30} as I gripped the side of the open window, my goal at last.

Next day we found in huge white-paint letters (that I myself saw seven or eight years after still plain) “R S Hunt” from window to window. And nobody ever knew who put that paint on that night.

The other 2 stories are of the old plethoric grumpy kindly red-faced old Duke of Cambridge.

We were inspected by him, + we all but killed him. His favourite food was pork chops. After the inspection he had his pork chops for lunch. Now the 3rd Hussars took some huge silver kettle- drums at the battle of Dettingen under George II from the French Household Cavalry. In consequence we have an extra man in the Regiment (who always appears by name once a year in Parliament as an “extra” in the Army Estimates). He bears the “Rank” of Kettle-drummer, all the other Kettle drummers are merely Kettle-drummers, because they “kettle-drum”. Ours holds the “Rank”.

ln addition he wears a high silver collar, also an unique thing in any army.

The old Duke was anxious to see the collar, + as many distinguished before + after him have done, asked to be allowed to try it on. It fastens with 2 studs through 2 slit holes + you turn the studs when they have been put through the slits.

His neck was enormous, + once on we could not get it off. The studs would not turn. He swelled + swelled, + he grew from scarlet till purple in the face, + was as near choked as could be before those studs were turned with a tool.

{32} Having inspected us he had to inspect the 4th Hussars, who lay next to us, after lunch.

Now in those days no officer would think of being allowed to ride a cock-tailed charger. i.e. one that has been docked, all chargers had to have lovely flowing manes + tails.

Now our second cousin Edgar Lafore (always night + day wears a monocle) was a great race rider. He was a captain in the 4th Hussars. The horse he was riding was a great jump race winner, but it was cocktailed. To remedy this he made a wonderful + beautiful sham tail. I had been made “Orderly Officer” to attend the Duke on his inspection, + so was on my horse behind the Duke + Colonel Brabazon (“Old Brab”) commanding the 4th Hussars as they marched past

{33} Then we heard, the whole Parade heard, all Aldershot heard, the most glorious exhibition of awful language that any Royal Duke, or any Col. of Brabazon’s capacity for it could compass. Ha!

There was Edgar + Edgar's horse. The thing had got loose on its tail, + I’ve never seen a more ridiculous sight, all “sideways”, + “anyhow”, that vile tail stuck out + the little stump of real tail wagged + wagged + wagged to get rid of its uncomfortable contraption.

From Aldershot the 3rd K.O. Hussars soon moved to Shorncliffe.

From Shorncliffe, my squadron, 13, was suddenly ordered abroad to re-inforce the 21st Hussars (now the 21st Lancers), in the Egyptian War under Kitchener. Unluckily I was {34} not permitted to go with it as I was still in “Riding School”, my place was taken by a nice fellow called Chinnery - whose brother was for years a fast bowler for Middlesex.

Then, with the 21st, it took part in the celebrated charge against the Mahdi's men + won much glory. The English illuminated papers had magnificent + glowing, glorious pictures, ditto the Royal Academy, of horses at full stretch etc galloping into hordes of Mahdists.

The reality!

Col. Martin, in command of the 21st, was sent out by Kitchener on the day preceding the battle of Omdurman to see if the country on his left flank was clear. They went out, + because the desert was a flat as a billiard table + you could see for miles {35} + Col. Martin's neglect of the first idea of training all but led to a horrible disaster

He was himself leading the Regiment with, to all seeming, not an eye to see them except for the inevitable kites wheeling miles up in the air. The Regiment, by good luck was in “Column of Troops” (A squadron has four troops, a Rgt. 4 Squadrons)

[Diagram, showing squadrons riding in a column, with each troop in a line across the column; so that when the order “Troops right or left Wheel” is given, each troop wheels and the regiment is in a line perpendicular to the direction in which the column had been advancing]

{36} Cutting right across the desert was a deep donga unseen till Martin’s horse nearly fell into it. You see he had no scouts out!!!!!!!

The donga ran thus [further diagram showing the column of the advancing regiment coming to a large gulley, and the regirnent turning right along it]

Martin thought he’d cross it easier perhaps higher up, so he gave the order, “Head, right wheel.”

{37} Thus he led the Regiment all along the donga without really looking in to it.

From A to B that donga was filled with ambushed Mahdists.

They let fly suddenly, + you can imagine the surprise, noise, + confusion.

Well! Without a word of command the 21st did a “Troops left wheel into line”, + that brought them into line facing the donga. It was deep heavy sand, + that 50 yards was got over as fast as the horses could go, a labouring slow heaving trot at best.

Then the crumbling banks of {38} the donga gave way, but anyhow a confused mass of men + horses landed on the Mahdists, whether the horses were on their feet or their backs hardly mattered.

Weight told, + after a nasty muddled up hand-to-hand fight Martin remained victor, though with nasty losses in both men + horses, none of which need have been incurred had the smallest precautions been taken.

While my squadron was in Egypt the rest of the 3rd Hussars sailed for India, (Lucknow), where we joined not long after the absent squadron.

{39} It was, I should have mentioned, at Aldershot that I first met Winston Churchill. He was subaltern in the 4th Hussars, an ugly, fat, pale, spotty youth with red hair. He did not stay long with the 4th!19In Lucknow except for the Durbar at which George, Nathaniel, Lord Curzon, the Viceroy + his Vicereine, perhaps the most beautiful, dignified, serene, + queen-like lady I have ever seen (Miss Leiter, daughter of a “Corn-King” millionaire of New York) everything ran quietly on the ordinary + orthodox military railway-line of life.

Polo three times a week, cricket, football, tennis, swimming etc, racquets occasionally, + pig sticking on week-ends were the Bill of Fare.

But I had one rather ludicrous adventure. Genl. Tuck (George Tuck) was {40} then Inspector-General of Cavalry in India.

I was very youthful in appearance, + my stupid little wisp of yellow down on the upper lip was absurd + (I thought) not only untidy but unsightly.

I was selected by the Col. To be “Orderly Officer” to General Tuck on his annual inspection of the Regiment, a three-day affair always in India.

On the first day mounted drill, on the second “Manoeuvre,” i.e. a field-day on the third dismounted parade, riding school, schools, barracks, cookery, + all that sort of interior economy.

I was duly waiting at the place ordered to meet Tuck on his arrival. He was a choleric individual often. Thinking I would look smarter ifl got rid of my pubescent moustache {41} I had careful shaved my upper lip.

He noticed in a twinkling that here was an officer who had not complied with Regulations. Angrily he demanded reasons. I told him, to receive the utterly illegal punishment of: - “H-m-m, you will do seven-days-to-barracks, Sir, to let it grow again.”

However that sentence was quickly washed out.

As is usual he had dined with the Regiment. He was an ardent Whist-player. (Bridge had not been invented). So also were our senior officers. They played till about 3 a.m., + Tuck kindly let his staff + anybody else wander off to bed. But it was my job to take charge of him.

When at last, (+ remember that {42} Indian nights can be warm + warmth induces iced whisky + sodas) he + they rose from the card table he was very merry + happy.

I had to walk with him the 2 or 3 hundred yards that lay between the Mess + the Bungalow

provided for him.

Now in those days semi-intoxication was not unknown amongst officers; so I helped him to undress being rather shy, considering his state, of calling for his native bearer.

I got him comfortably to bed. But not a bit of it. It was not till nearly 5 (+ Parade was at 6.30) that we parted after consuming much more whisky + soda (always in those days kept handy in an ice box in a bungalow). But when {43} I did creep away for a batch + a change before Parade, feeling tired, washed out + very limp, I’d had my 7-days C.B. cancelled. But worse might have followed. As I say India is a thirsty land, + field days can be hot. The men, of course, carried water bottles as part of their equipment. Officers didn’t.

I bought + used a really vast pair of binoculars strapped to the saddle as they should be.

The general rolled up fresh as a lark. I did not feel my best. The fight began. We moved here + there covering some miles.

At one moment, however, Tuck stopped + peered ahead. We stopped; that is to say his A.D.C. + I. I on the right, ½ a horse’s length from him + my {44} horse’s head in line with his knee. On his left the A.D.C. was in exactly the same correct military position.

There was much dust in the far distance moving rapidly. Who were they? We could not tell. I ventured to think they were Native Cavalry. The A.D.C. thought they were the R.H.A. battery. Tuck then announced “You’re right, I believe, Hunt. The sun’s on the lance points above the men + your fellows wouldn't have their swords drawn”. An excellent deduction which I had already made internally before declaring “Native Cavalry, Sir.”

“But -” he added “make sure, make sure, use your glasses, Hunt”.

I used my glasses, - in vain.

“Here, give ‘em to me” he commanded. I reluctantly handed them over to him .

{45} As he took them he gave a little sort of “weighing-movement”. I knew they were heavy. The moment he put them to his eyes the large bubbles gave away everything.

He did not say anything, but he turned round in his saddle + - he looked! Gosh! What a look. Then his face changed + a huge smile split his face. Quietly unscrewing the top lens of one side he lifted those binoculars up + soon handed them back to me with one side completely drained. “Most useful! Most ingenious! Young man, be very careful” he said. But it was said most friendlily. It was he that later on got me up to Bindon Blood’s staff.

{46} With marvellous luck I soon “got my troop”; i.e. became a Captain, one of the youngest if not THE youngest Captain in the Army. I was 2720.

Then came the Boer War21. Your father + I met in the middle of it, he beautifully clean, I filthy, dishevelled + with clothes in shreds. But somehow in roughly an hour he’d got me clean + respectable + presented me to his clan of fellow-workers under Lord Milner. I happened to be doing “Staff-Officer” to a man called, Colonel Grover, at the time of Vereenigen, + so was present with him + Bruce Hamilton at the first big surrender of Boers when Botha formally surrendered plus all those commandoes. Capt. Hayter {47} of the A.S.C., I, Grover + Gen. Bruce Hamilton, 4 Army Service Corps men with miles of bread + bully beef etc. on a wagon, + 13 men of the Somerset Light Infantry “took” that surrender. A wondrous + awe inspiring sight it was; curious, too, psychologically.

Not long after the Boer War your Father + I met again, because my regiment was stationed at Robert’s Heights - under the grandest of gentlemen, Lord Methuen22. I am so glad that I can say I saw Schoonoord on a visit to Donald.

In 1910 I transferred to the King's Dragoon Guards who were in India, whereas the 3rd were due for Home Service - which I could not afford.

{48} Back again, then, to India. Umballa this time. In the regiment was Leslie Cheape, world famous, the best polo player the game has ever known at Back. And what a team it was. It swept the board in India year after year, + the Mess Table glowed with the silver of the trophies.

Weinholt, a very rich Australian, No 1. Ramsbottom, thickset short + strong No 2. And for No 3 for any match 3 or 4 splendid players could be chosen, + Leslie the incomparable Back. Not even the most splendid Native Prince with the wealth of the Indies behind him could produce a team to stand up + win against the K.D.G.

Leslie, himself the dearest natured simple kindliest of fellows, was killed in Palestine.

His brother, Ronald, also in the {49} regiment almost directly after the war married Ismay’s daughter. Ismay was head director of, + practically owned that great fleet of Trans-Atlantic vessels23 of which the Titanic was one, + he was on board her when she struck an iceberg + sank with many hundred souls. Ismay himself was lucky, picked up he was saved.

I wish I could remember his name but I have met + heard from his own mouth, from the Chief officer of the Titanic. He leapt from the ship just before she took her last plunge, + was dragged aboard a raft.

From first to last, only ¾ of an hour, there was never the slightest panic, + had it not been for the ear-splitting + incessant roar noise, probably every soul, would have {50} been saved. But her bottom was ripped below the water line, + the water got straight to the engines. The astounding din of those engines + escaping steam drowned all possible sound of voices, whistles or anything. Appalling! Was his word for that terrific roaring din.

The Band never played “Nearer my God, to thee”. And there was neither room on deck for a band, nor could it have been heard. Another celebrity, now, was that quiet calm awfully nice fellow, Sandy Hore-Ruthven VC, now Governor General of Australia, then a Captain. His wife was Zara, a daughter of Lord Brassey of exploration fame24.

I produced a play, a Christmas Pantomime for the Regiment, called “The Babes in the Wood”, music by {51} the Regimental Bandmaster. To our, + my, complete astonishment its fame flew all over India after the first night. We had to run special trains from Bombay, from Calcutta + from the North. We made hundreds + hundreds of Pounds profit. Instead of running for a matter of perhaps a couple of days we had to run it for a fortnight, + could have done it over + over again but winter manoeuvres took a hand + out onto the wilds we had to go.

My squadron was Personal Escort to the King + Queen at the Delhi Durbar, + from a few feet distance from their Majesties I saw little Sir Pertab Singh before all those countless thousands lift the Maharajah of Baroda off the Royal Dais with Oh! Such a {52} mighty well placed kick behind after Baroda had insulted the King + Queen. Then it fell to my duty to put him in his carriage + escort him a prisoner to his own camp25.

Soon afterwards I was chosen to go home + create + command a Cavalry Depot at Dunbar in Scotland. The K.D.G.s, 5th D.G.s Bays + Scots Greys.

I got on well with the townsfolk. (I love Scotsmen). They made me a Burgess of the City.

Then came the war. I got out to India 2 or 3 days after war had been declared, + rejoined the Regiment which had gone to Lucknow. On Nov 10th (l think it was) we plus horses landed in France, thus giving us the “Mons” medal, just in time for it.

I happened to be in England, in Hospital, when your Father came over with the South African Scottish; I went over + saw him at Richmond. We met again by sheer luck, he just out from the Hell of Delville Wood, I from Townes Wood ½ a mile away. Those two woods were not comfy places for a quiet stroll26.

I got the D.S.O. for a little place called Monchy Le Preuse just outside Arras. I was told to take it. My Battalion did. We took it + held it for 3 days. I took 884 lads + 27 officers into action, + on relief had 23 men left, + 3 officers besides myself, all of us bleedy-bloody.

Worse than the fighting was the stink, we fought knee deep in dead horses, hundreds of them in that shattered village.

{54} The 10th Hussars, Scots Greys, + Oxford Yeomanry had galloped the village 4 days before; taken it, + tried to push on dismounted, but they were pushed back instead. Meanwhile the Germans had rained shells on the village + slaughtered the led horses by hundreds.

I saw it all clearly from a nearby hill which we, infantry, had taken the day before. (I had been put in command of the 8th Battln of the Kings Own Royal Lancaster Regiment).

I remember Bulkeley-Johnson being killed, an old friend of mine. He commanded the Scots Greys, + was Brigadier of that Brigade.

He galloped up to see what was going on just after the Cavalry had dismounted, + had about 400x {55} to go to reach the village, he, his trumpeter, + a fellow carrying his Brigadier-General’s red flag. A shell burst, + there was no trace whatsoever of all three men, nor of the horse, just plain obliteration.

So that's how it came about that a little while after I had to retake that salubrious spot27. In April of 1918 I made a horrible but great resolve. I’d done 3 ½ years fighting in the front line, + felt myself done-in. Up till then I had not funked, but suddenly I felt I’d lost my nerve, finished. Somehow I dared to go + see a friend of mine commanding the 3rd Division, General Deverall. I put it plainly to him, he gave me 6 months leave {56} for Home Service. He is now Commander-in Chief.

After about 3 months with the job of training troops at home suddenly another very old friend28 of mine burst a sort of a mine under me. He had wired home to the War Office to send me out at once to him to take command of the Middlesex Yeomanry in Palestine. Shoved on board a French destroyer I was landed at Alexandria, shot on to Kantara, buzzed up to Derar, + we took Damascus.

Later I rejoined my own Regt. in Baghdad + had a time of it again, under General Haldane, + fighting had only just ceased when my Regt. was ordered home + we were quartered, 1921, in Edinburgh. So I {57} had 6 whole years all but periods in hospital of War. And I'd do it again if only I could use my stupid crippled legs!!


In 1921 I resigned my Commission to go home + look after my old mother, who by now had begun to feel her heart trouble more + more, + my sister Helen29 having married + left home the responsibility became far more than my sister Gertrude could support.


I find, little nieces, that as one grows old one feels more + more regrets crowding in on one; regrets, you will find + I can hardly explain, of omission far more than {58} commission.

And one of my great regrets is my constant habit of not keeping certain bits of correspondence. I never keep letters, (chiefly because they mount up too quickly into a vast bulk).

But there are many letters from celebrities that I ought to have kept. For instance Lord Methuen treated me more like a grandson than an ordinary young officer. Yet I have kept not one of the many kindly + interesting letters from him. And I could mention many more such instances. {59} At my Uncle Fred’s house I met dozens of world-wide celebrity, + going with him at one time almost daily to the House of Commons I was introduced to many more. As a child I have shaken hands with politicians of all sorts, Joe Chamberlain30, Arthur Balfour31, whom I met constantly later in life in Scotland + I have stayed for a week-end with him + his at Whittinhame near Dunbar. Old Lord Salisbury with his great beard + huge frame + shoulders, + his eldest son the present Salisbury, to say nothing of that idiotic coterie of younger Cecils, flabby + foolish sentimentalists, Hugh Cecil32, + (crossed out: - dread {fatty?} effeminate) Bishop33. Reginald McKenna34 I met first at Brighton when Uncle Fred took me for a week-end to the Hotel Metropole. He was young then {60} and had not long left Cambridge where he was a rowing blue. He lugged me off rather against my will day after day to Brill's Baths35 for an early morning swim - + I have always detested that first awful plunge into cold water. Uncle Fred going back to town left me for a week under his care + all expenses paid.

Furse Bishop of St Albans36, old Nugent Hick of Lincoln37, + that absolute saint on earth Southwell38.

Haig was a personal friend whom I knew well from his being a major on the 7th Hussars till the end, (I wish I had kept a letter of two there!)

Allenby was a great personal friend39; Bindon Blood40, Birdwood41, + many Generals I knew well.

Jellicoe42 I have met; + the late {61} Lord Montague of Beaulieu was a man I liked immensely wonderful machinist as he was + father of the British motoring industry.

I have in Scotland been accepted as a guest of many of the great ones, ridiculously bad shot as I am. The Earl of Haddington for example gave me many a 3 day shoot, + I loved the old dark panelled bed-room he knew I liked.

Lord Strathmore gave me a long week-end, + it was there that I met his (then) three little daughters; a musical family in the extreme every evening guests and hosts sang part songs from about 6.p.m. till the gong went for dressing for dinner. And one child especially made me a great favourite. Sitting {62} on my lap with one arm round my neck she sang away as hard as she could. She is now the Duchess of York43. Glamis Castle itself is as imposing + frowning a building as I know. Its entrance always struck me as being extremely odd for such a colossal pile of building, just a tiny door stone framed stuck away behind a sort of tower, + one could hardly find it. Inside it is gloomy; bare hewn stone walls strike one as cold even though radiators may be fiercely heated.

After the Jamieson Raid at the Parliamentary Inquiry I had the opportunity of meeting Rhodes, White + Dr Jim44.

Later in life, though some have {63} already passed I have met, through my friend, Sir Bernard Eckstein, Beits, Ecksteins, Abe Bailey, Wernher45, etc.

I knew John Tweed46 the great sculptor intimately + often frequented his great studio near South Kensington Station. Sir William Reid-Dick47 is even now a personal friend. I meet him often at Ecksteinls. He has just been chosen to execute the National Statue to George V. at Westminster.

Furze, the artist48, I knew, + Tuke49; + that horrible vulgarian Augustus John; Orpen50 I met too, + others.

Yes! I have met many a great one of the earth, but always to me comes the poignant regret of my brother Ernest’s51 early death. {64} If ever there was a genius in brain, a first class athlete, + a “great promise” that lad was IT!

Now you have many pages of a wasted life. I say a wasted life because with a little bounce and forcefulness I could time after time have captured many of the prizes of this life. But there is no regret, + we are all built the same, especially your father, he is even more shy than I am. Its taken me 2 whole 3.a.m. nights to scribble all this, + I've no time to read it through even, as I want it to catch the post in 20 minutes time for the Boat, before Christmas.

Yours lovingly Uncle Reggie

1There is a Walcott Green is just north of Diss, but Auntie Margaret remembers visiting him in a house by the shore, where a cottage had vanished into sea. That certainly is not the Diss area.

2Ella Hunt, born 28 January 1877, died. 22 June 1877.

3Peter Pan was published 1902 and the statue of Peter Pan in Kensington Palace Gardens put up in 1912.

4Alice and Walter Freeman Hunt bought Sedgeford Hall; many of Alice's photographs are of her large family there. Sedgeford is on the east side of the Wash, south of Hunstanton, about 4 or 5 miles inland.

5Walter Freeman Hunt died on 15 August 1903, aged 58

6Laleham is just north of the M3 motorway where it crosses the M25, and immediately to the north east of the fun fair at Thorpe Park visible from the M3. it cannot be more than 10 miles from Windsor.

7Earnest Hunt died at Eton of influenza aged 18 on 14 July 1889

8Gilbert Hunt also died young aged 26 on 25 July 1898

9General Sir Hubert Gough was in command of the British 5th Army in 1918 which took the brunt of the German spring offensive and was pushed back to near Amiens. Rightly or wrongly Sir Hubert was made something of a scapegoat and relived of his command.

10Won the VC in 1903 in Somaliland rescuing a wounded man when with the Rifle Brigade, and as a Brigadier General was killed by a sniper in 1915 visiting the front line.

11Donald Hunt, 1875 - 1949

12Edmondstone is a Haileybury boarding house it seems. Haileybury’s web site has this to say: - “One of the original six Houses at Haileybury, Edmonstone dates back to 1863 when its first Housemaster was Rev H Couchman.” I would have to check in Donald Hunt's letters to find out which house he and Reggie were in (but frankly does anyone really care which house at Haileybury was involved?)

13West of Stevenage in Hertfordshire

14Sir Frederick Seager Hunt (1838 - 1904), brother of Great Uncle Reggie's father, was Tory MP for Marylebone West from 1885 to 1895, when he became MP for Maidstone, resigning in 1898. Rather sadly the National Archive has a record of a conveyance of 1898 involving “Sir Frederick Seager Hunt, 7 Cromwell Rd., Kensington (incapable through mental infirmity) by Dame Alice Harriet Hunt, his wife”. lt is in the London Metropolitan Records for the Seager Evans Distillery. In his time he was a prominent Tory, one of the founders of the Primrose League and made a Baronet by Lord Salisbury in 1892.

15Still a military base according to Wikipedia; it was founded in 1905; it is near Pretoria; and it is now called Thaba Tshwane.

16Lord Frederick Temple Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 3rd Marquess of Dufferin and Ava was born on 26 February 1875. He was the son of Frederick Temple HamiltoneTemple-Blackwood, 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava and Hariot Georgina Rowan-Hamilton. He died on 21 July 1930 in the aeroplane accident aged 55.

17 Crystal Palace burnt down on 30 November 1936.

18Sir Frederick lived at 7 Cromwell Road, Kensington, which looked over to what is now the modern east wing extension to the Natural History Museum. The Museum would have been fairly new; it was started in 1873, completed in 1880, and opened in 1881

19Written before Winston Churchill’s days of glory in the 2nd World War, and at a time when to many people he was known as a politician who had changed party on occasions - “He did not stay long with the 4th”

20Born in 1874, so that would mean 1901 at least. interestingly, the National Archive preserves this: - “Reginald S Hunt; application for the Indian Police Force Examination IOR/L/PJ/6/420, File 854 11 May 1896” Was that Great Uncle Reggie fleetingly considering another career, or another R S Hunt?


22General Methuen had mixed success in the Boer w ar as after some victories he was captured at the battle of Magersfontein (one of three ‘Black Week’ defeats) and then released because of his injuries. In 1908 he was appointed general officer commanding-in-chief in South Africa, which post he held until 1912

23J Bruce Ismay was the managing director of the White Star Line.

24In 1876, Thomas Brassey set sail with his wife Annie, their four children, and two pugs, for a cruise around the world. Thomas was an enthusiastic sailor - his steam yacht, the Sunbeam, built at Seacombe in 1874,was 157 feet long and carried a crew of 30. lt was the first circumnavigation by steam yacht. The Sunbeam made many other voyages, four of which Annie Brassey wrote books about.

25Wikipedia on the Maharaja: “He attended the Delhi Durbars of1877, 1903 and 1911; it was at the 1911 Delhi Durbar that an incident occurred that proved to have far-reaching ramifications for Sayajirao's relations with the Raj. At the grand and historic 1911 Delhi Durbar, attended by George V -- therefore the first time that a reigning British monarch had travelled to India, each Indian ruler or “native prince” was expected to perform proper obeisance to the King-Emperor by bowing three times before him, then backing away without turning. As the third-most prestigious Indian ruler, Sayajirao was third in line to approach the king-Emperor; already, he had caused consternation among the British officials by refusing to wear his full regalia of jewels and honours (to lend a touch of exoticism, it was expected that the rulers on formal occasions would present themselves in jewels). While some accounts state that he refused to bow, Sayajirao actually did bow, albeit perfunctorily and only once before turning his back on the King-Emperor.For several years already, Sayajirao had angered the British by his open support for the Indian National Congress and its leaders; the incident before the king-Emperor proved to be the last straw. The British never fully trusted Sayajirao again.”

26Delville Wood is famous as part of the battle of the Somme in 1916; the 1st South African Infantry brigade suffered 80% casualties in the fighting in July. Great Uncle Donald was one of the few unscathed. Auntie Margaret told me the story that Great Uncle Donald had got up from his dugout one night and gone out for a bit, to find, on his return, that his bunk had been destroyed by a shell.

27I think this must have been in April 1917 as part of the fighting before the 3rd battle of Ypres. A version is set out in General Haig’s despatch (

28Was this General Allenby who was in command of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force which fought in Palestine and Syria (see below, note 39)?

29Grandma Matthew, nee Helen Violet Hunt (1887 - 1957), married AC Matthew on 5 October 1921

30Liberal Unionist MP; was a Liberal, split with the party over Gladstone’s Irish Home Rule, and so became Colonial Secretary under the Tory government of 1895. He was father of Neville Chamberlain.

31Conservative Prime Minister 1902 - 1905. He was nephew to Robert, Marquess of Salisbury who was Prime Minister and who surprised others by promoting his nephew to Irish Secretary in 1887 - hence the expression ‘Bob's your uncle’. Lord Salisbury was Tory Prime Minister three times between 1885 and 1902

32One of Lord Salisbury's sons, who, as a Conservative MP, led the “Hughligans” a group of MP’s critical of Balfour's leadership.

33I have not been able to track down this fearsome pansy.

34Later Home Secretary 1911-1915, and Chancellor of the Exchequer 1915- 1916 in the Asquith Liberal government.

35A swimming pool with a circular seawater pool 65 foot in diameter. Why they did not just swim in the sea?

36Bishop of St Albans 1920-1944

37Frederick Nugent Hicks, bishop of Lincoln 1932-1942

38Difficult to say who this was, but a Henry Mosley was bishop of Southwell from 1928-1941.

39General Allenby commanded in Palestine 1916-1918, and so may have been the man who asked Great Uncle Reggie to take over the Middlesex Yeomanry in 1918 (see note 28 above)

40Major General Sir Bindon Blood, 1842 - 1940; commanded in India's Northwest frontier and in the Boer War, and of course Great Uncle Reggie was his ADC.

41Lieutenant General Sir William Birdwood, 1865-1951, commanded the Australians from 1914-1917.

42First Sea lord for the 1st World War; “the only man who could lose the war in an afternoon”.

43And very shortly after this letter the Queen. Edward VIII abdicated on 11 December 1936 and his brother, the Duke of York, became King George Vl; so we have known her for so many years as The Queen Mother.

44The Jamieson Raid was 29 December 1895 to 2 January 1896. The Parliamentary inquiry was in 1896; Sir Joseph Chamberlain (note 30 above), denied any knowledge in advance ofthe raid, and neither Rhodes nor lamieson produced the telegrams between Rhodes and his Lon don agents in Decemb er (some of which apparently showed Colonial office knowledge) and so the select Committee, with no evidence to the contrary exculpated Sir Joseph.

45These were, I think, financiers of South African mining, and quite closely associated with Cecil Rhodes. Sir Bernard Eckstein was a collector of art and bequeathed a fair amount of material to the British museum.

46Died in 1933. His statues include the Greenjackets War Memorial outside Winchester cathedral, and Lord Clive at Clive Steps at the Foreign Office.

471879 - 1961; Scottish sculptor, whose works, in addition to the one of George V, include war memorials such as on the Menin Gate.

48I cannot track this chap down.

49Henry Scott Tuke, 1958 - 1929 perhaps, who was a painter “of the Newlyn School”, apparently; given to painting young male bathers and also maritime scenes.

50Sir William Orpen 1878 - 1931, an Irish portrait painter

51Ernest Hunt, note 7.