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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, December 26, 1914 [2]

26, Egerton Crescent, S. W.

26 Dec. 1914.Saturday.

Dear Mildred

I tried to reply to your most welcome wire on Xmas day, but not a telegraph office was openSee also Elisina Tyler's letter of the same day (December 26, 1914): "We tried to send you our love, but found no telegraph offices open at all, not even the Victoria Station one."—so I decided to write you a letter instead, and wish you and Robert, that angel, the happiest of New Years.

Never did I suppose that I would spend another winter in England, and frankly I don’t enjoy it. You know why, so I won’t weary you with my list of grievances. There are some compensations in seeing people whom I like, but they are mostly unhappy too, and it is a most miserable time to all concerned except, perhaps, the men in hospital, who are as merry as larks. I went and spent the day at a base-hospital in the country, and had long talks with several of them, most of whom had been wounded at Wipers (Ypres). They described bayonet-charges to me, and how they stick the squealing German, who has never been properly taught to use his bayonet. If he had, they say, he would have got through at Wipers about Nov. 1.

Have you ever met or heard of one Ernest Thessiger [sic],Ernest Frederic Graham Thesiger (1879–1961), an English stage and film actor. He enlisted in 1914 and was wounded in the field and sent home. Reportedly, someone asked him what the war had been like in France, to which he is supposed to have responded “Oh, my dear, the noise! and the people!” the decadent despair of a most respectable family? After years of scandalous behaviour he, on the outbreak of war, enlisted as a private, and has been in trenches for a long time, where he has become most popular because of his good temper and conversational resources. One very dirty night, there came on an inspection-round an officer, who, knowing our Oscarite“Oscarite,” a homosexual, an allusion to Oscar Wilde. by reputation said “hullo, Thessiger, I expect you find this rather rough. What do you do at home? Thessiger’s reply: “Oh, I’m supposed to be on the stage, but I do a good deal of needlework.”Thesiger is known to have worked embroidery while serving in the military. In 1942, he published Adventures in Embroidery, ed. C. G. Holme (London and New York: The Studio, 1942).

The Flight-Commander Hewlett,Francis Esme Theodore Hewlett (1891–1974) flew in the Cuxhaven raid of December 25, 1914, and was forced down by engine failure. Although posted as missing in action, Hewlett was picked up by a Dutch trawler and returned to England in January 1915. the one who did not return from the air-raid on Cuxhaven, is [the] son of Maurice Hewlett.Maurice Henry Hewlett (1861–1923), an English historical novelist, poet, and essayist. His mother, a friend of ours, was the first woman in England to get a flying-license, and she now owns and runs an aeroplane works.Hilda Beatrice Hewlett (née Herbert) (1864–1943), the first British woman to earn a pilot’s license. She founded and ran the first flying school in Great Britain, and founded and managed an aircraft manufacturing business which produced more than eight hundred airplanes. She separated from her husband in 1914. We went to see her and it the other day. She was building 30 aircraft—of which 18 [are] for the Admiralty. The Flight-Commander was her only son, and she is a most gallant and endearing person. William, who is flourishing, sends you his best love, and so do we.

Yours sincerely always

Royall Tyler

Associated Places: London (United Kingdom)