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 at 7.30 and arrived in Munich at 12o'clock without any incident and went straight to the War Office and saw the Minister for War. We told him about yesterday's incident. He said he was powerless to do anything but was sorry etc. and apologised so we decided to go to the President himself which we did after lunch and the Colonel banged it at him straight from the shoulder; told him that we were British Officers and expected to be treated as such and told him that he (the Colonel) would report it to the British Army and if satisfaction were not forthcoming that would be trouble. The President apologised for what had taken place and hoped we should not make the report but could promise no satisfaction etc. In fact, these Soldiers and Sailors and Workmen's Councils are all-powerful. There is a government and there is a President but these Councils do just what they please without interference.
However, that was not the end of things. We are going to make things hum for Bavaria during the next week or so. The Colonel has now got a pass from the President which warns people not to interfere with us but it will be only a 'scrap of paper' as they said our other answeis were. I did long for some excuse to go for them my Baby heart but I think it was a good thing I did not get one, don't you? I was awfully bucked with the Colonel. I did not think that he would do such a thing but he was splendid.
This afternoon I ventured into a barber's shop to have my hair cut. I just sat down on the chair, pointed to my hair and he carried on and made quite a good job of it and it wanted it badly as I had left it each day hoping I should be able to get back to the Unit and have it done there.
This evening we have spent in arranging for our journey to Salzburg and have just finished dinner and soon I am going to enjoy the luxury of another bath and then turn in to bed as I have to be up at 5.30 tomorrow morning as we start off at 7o'clock.
I had five letters from you cupid angel of mine by the ration lorry and I am very worried about your cough, dearest soul of mine. Poor little girlie; it must be seen to. I must put in a prescription for that for you. I am very worried about it, my Baby as I know what a nasty one it is, especially if you are kept awake at night by it. Dearest little sweetheart wife, lovely mine, do not go on with the work there if you are ill. Just say that you cannot do the work and see a doctor and he may send you home; but you do just what you think best, love of my heart.
Baby Blue Eyes, of course I wouldn't be cross about you going out with Col Mays, you dear little angel. It was just splendid that he came - for it relieved your lonliness didn't it my precious? But I haven't the foggiest idea who he is my precious lamb. I don't know him do I? Who is he lambkin mine? I really, truly do love you my Baby and one of these days I will say it to your dear blue eyes but at present I can only put it in writing but I mean it angel wife of mine.
Yes, sweetheart of mine I shall most likely be getting leave in February but I cannot tell for certain as so many M.O.s have gone away so that everyone left is being worked doubly hard. At any rate, it will not be before the 18th so that your four months will be up by the time I do get leave. Baby angel, I like the 'sprise very much. I think it is quite a nice photo of you but I don't like the proof but I do like the other one and thank you for it. I just kiss it every time I see it my lovely one.
I have just had my pencil sharpened. Great improvement isn't it my little Baby ...
Well, the tale of today's wanderings is as follows and is very amusing. I was called at 5.30am as ever was and soon after, the Colonel came into my room and told me that Major S. had told him late last night that the "Soldatenlat" - the head of all the Councils of Soldiers and Sailors and Workman's Councils in Munich to where all papers have to be sent and signed by one of the Council - had refused to sign our pass. We, of course, have nothing to do with these people but get everything through the War Office as both the British and the French have said they will have nothing to do and hold no communication with S & W Councils.
Well, the Colonel wanted to go on this journey which meant passing over the frontier - in spite of not having a pass - but I dissuaded him as it was not worthwhile getting as far as the frontier and then being turned back. I told him to go to the War Office and say that we should inform the Allied Council if a passport was not forthcoming immediately. So we did not go off then but had breakfast at the ordinary time then went to see the French Commission who are in Munich to let them know how matters were and then went to the War Office. However, by this time, the Soldatenlat had thought better of it and behold, the pass was waiting for us. That delay however had spoilt the morning for starting and we eventually got off at two in the afternoon and got as far as this place which is about twenty miles on this side of the German border. Tomorrow morning we go over to Salzburg which is in Austria and shake the dust of Germany from off our boots for the time being anyhow. We did not bring Major S. with us this time as we don't want his assistance in Austria and we were really glad to get rid of him.
I am such a tired little boy tonight my Baby. Though we did not start early this morning I was up. And we get up tomorrow at 6.30 so I must just jump into bed my sweet little cupid and I do do wish I could find a sweet little angel called Baby Blue Eyes there waiting for me ...