I wrote in a previous post about Tom Rutherford Cruwys who served with the British Military Forces in Mesopotamia in World War I and sadly died of malaria on 28th September 1918 at Krasnovodsk. John Reis has now very kindly sent me copies of the three surviving letters which Tom sent to his mother Ruth Wood née Cruwys, and I have transcribed the letters below. Tom's mother was at that time living at 10 Hillfield Road, West Hampstead, London NW. The letters provide a poignant combination of everyday trivia and unimaginable horror. In WWI Krasnovodsk was in Russia. Today it is known as Türkmenbasy and is in Turkmenistan. Apsheronskaya, now known as Apsheronsk, is a town in Krasnodar Krai in western Russia near the border with the Ukraine.
2nd Lieut T. R. Cruwys
[Special Service, Mesopotamia - crossed out]
My dear Mother
I take this first opportunity of writing you that I have had for some months. It is only possible to write you now because I have joined the British Military Forces of Mesopotamia. I am at present attached to Col. Baltine's Military Mission at Krasnovodsk as interpreter with the rank of 2nd Lieut. Life is quite OK & I shall now be longing to know if you get this letter and to receive a reply from you. I had a very bad time during the last few months with the men on the fields & I am very glad to have handed over the property to other people. Write with all news and then I will give you a nice long letter.
Love and kisses
Your affect. son
c/o Anglo Maikop Corp Ltd
Kuban Province, Russia
14th Jan 1914
My dear Mother
Many thanks for your Xmas card letter also for the pudding which I have not yet received. It has got as far as Apsheronskaya and am afraid will remain there for some time as we are snowed up and cut off from outside communications. Anyway I hope to get it within the next week or ten days.
We have just had a five days blizzard and all our bridges, derricks, telephone wires, houses, etc, etc have been blown down and we cant see anything for snow. During the last week I have worked 20 hours a day for 5 days. This would not [have] been anything much under ordinary circumstances but added to this you must also remember that one is soaked through to the skin, frozen to the bone and ravishingly hungry. I often think of that splendid tomato soup you can make. Five of our men were caught in the blizzard frozen to death. Cheerful, what! On top of that I had a man mangled to death on one of the machines right in front of my eyes and this was on Christmas Day when I had to work all day and night.
Anyway, Mother dear, I have at last got £50 in the Bank here or at least shall have by the time you get this note, so shortly I shall be sending you a draught for £40 and keep £10 here to keep my account open. I will drop you a line when I send it off.
Perhaps it will please you to hear that your dear little son Tommie has passed his exam and is now a fully fledged "Petroleum Mining Engineer? Bow wow! Let's hope it will soon mean a rise.
Good bye, mother dear, best of luck.
Your loving son.
19th August 1915
Anglo Malkop Corp. Ltd
L. L. ANDREIS
My darling Mother,
Just a line to let you know I am still going strong and hope you also are in the pink of health. Have written Jim insisting that you draw six pounds per month from my a/c to help you along over this trying time. Am sure everything must be very expensive now and don't see how you can refuse. Don't always think of we youngsters, we can all look after ourselves. You just go ahead and take things easy and if there's anything you fancy buy it. Don't look at the cost. Mother dear, you have been a good pal to me. No one knows how you have done your best for me. Let your goodness go one step father and accept my offer. I can afford it, Mother, for I have close on £200 in the bank here. Why should you eke, scrape and stint for the sake of putting away for us youngsters when we are all healthy and capable of looking after ourselves. You have given us all a start and there your duty to us should end. I was young at the time but I remember it as well as if I it was yesterday the way you struggled to get me to Watford and the hours you used to spend on those poor legs of yours in your endeavours. You have done your share and more than your share for us so let us now do a little for you. Enjoy yourself and get about more and don't worry your head about those damned houses. You are worth more to us than any pile of bricks and mortar. I do wish I could come home and cheer you up. Never mind, when I do arrive we'll have the time of our lives all the jolly lot of us together. Did you and Doll get my photos. Write soon with all the news.
A great hug and heaps of kisses.
Your loving son
Jim is Tom's brother James Cruwys, who was born on 25th October 1885 in Kilburn, London. Doll is Tom's younger sister Dorothy Rutherford Cruwys who was born on 7th August 1890 in Kilburn.