Dearest Blue Eyes
These letters were written by Major Henry James Drew Smythe, M.C., in January 1919 to his wife, Enid.
At this time, he was with the International Commission for the Repatriation of Prisoners in Bavaria and she was at the Hotel Crystal, Boulogne, serving as a V.A.D. They had been married in November 1914, soon after the outbreak of World War 1 and saw each other only on infrequent leave opportunities.
This is the portrait of a relationship as much as an observation, with anecdotes, contained within a complete personal report of a few weeks of his work and travels in Germany and Austria less than two months after the Armistice that ended The Great War.
Note: The spellings of towns, areas and vocabulary are as they appear in the original letters. Students or researchers should make their own geographical or linguistic verifications.
We started off this morning punctually at 8o'clock without mishap and after a good run with only one mishap, a puncture, we arrived in Nuremburg where we had to call on the Prisoners of War Dept. for the Army Corps. and the head railway people.
We arrived at 10.30 (90 kilometres) and went straight to the "Gefangen Inspection" (swanky me) to see what we could find out from them and we found out there that the people we were going to bring away from Beyreuth were sent to Ingoldstat yesterday and that Beyreuth is now clear except for three men who are well and who are also to be sent to Ingoldstat immediately and that will clear Beyreuth entirely, so under those circumstances, we decided not to go on to Beyreuth. We then went to see the railway people and then had some lunch. The Colonel then wanted to return to Munich but I did not want to return so I twiddled him around until he decided to stay for the night and start for Munich tomorrow. One up for your hubby ... so here we are safely ensconsed at the Wurtenburger Hof, having spent an afternoon wandering round the town of Nuremburg.
We started on our round of sight seeing by going to the Lorenz Kirche, the chief item of interest there being some wonderful stone carving by Adam Kraft, one of the old Nuremburg masters and also altar pieces, windows and other carving and also the church itself. The Colonel is keen on architecture and gives me lessons at each place and by now I am really beginning to know something about it and everything is so much more interesting like that, isn't it my sweet one? And then, one of these days, I can take my little wife over these same places and impart all my knowledge to her and it will be such a joy to do that. Bless you my angel Blue Eyes.
From the Lorenz Kirche we went by the peaceful street with its old houses and quaint roofs to the market square where there are two fine fountains - one old one and one modern - both entirely different in structure and theme but both very fine. We then went to the Grauen Kirche which is beautiful but nothing very special. The entrance doorway is very good. From here to the Church of St Sebald which is I think the best of the three. It contains a wonderful piece of bronze work by Peter Vischer, another of the old Nuremburg masters. This is the tomb of St. Sebald himself. His remains are in a silver sarcophagus and around this is built, or at least worked, some wonderful carving and moulding in bronze. The figures are perfect as is the whole thing. It is Vischer's masterpiece and took him 11 years to do and it's simply wonderful. There were also some very fine paintings, especially one by Durer and some fine altar pieces by painters earlier than Durer and then the building itself was simply gorgeous, nothing flashy but just well done.
We then had a short outside view of the Rathaus and some of the old Nurembug houses and then came back to the hotel for tea. I have bought some postcards of the best things and shall keep them and bring them home with me for you my angel heart and I also bought a cabinet of coloured views of old Nuremburg awfully nicely done which I thought we might divide with Mother as there are too many of the same sort of thing to have for our house; just a few will do for framing for us won't they my angel and then I can give Mother some and I know that she will love them. I shall make her paint some of them for the house (our house my Baby) as she copies things like that awfully well, like those she did of Geneva.
Since tea time I have been writing on the back of the postcards a description of them and also reading Baedecker's Guide on Nuremburg, Eichstatt etc. which the dear old Colonel has presented to me. Then I started your letter again my little cupid and now I must stop to get the Colonel some dinner as we are going to have it in my room.
Dinner is finished now my cupid and now the Colonel is worrying the timetable to see if he can go to Cham, a town near the Bohemian border, to see a British prisoner there who is said to be "not transportable". He cannot go by car as we are told that the snow is too deep there but the Colonel does not feel like leaving this man if anything can be done for him in the way of transport.
We are going as far as Ingoldstat tomorrow at any rate and the Colonel may go from there by train to Cham and I go on to Munich as we have promised to move some French stretcher cases for them on Friday or Saturday and I could see about that as I can jabber French but not German and French is all that I shall want for that, while the Colonel with his German can see what is the matter with this man at Cham. However, this is in the air at present as it all depends on developments at Ingoldstat.
Goodnight my little angel soul. Do come and cuddle me to sleep in your dear arms, loved one of mine ...