Margaret Box – another letter from Bralo, October 1918

This is one of a series of letter written by my Great Aunt, Margaret Box while she was nursing in Salonica and Serbia in 1918/19 at the end of the First World War. This letter is written to her mother from the 49th Stationary Hospital, in Bralos, Greece on 11th October 1918, and follows on from her letters on the 5th to 7th October.

49th Stationary Hospital



My dear Mother

We are still here in the same place as when I wrote last, we have been working in the wards to help the Sisters as the work has been so frightfully heavy & they have not been off duty at all for a month. I hope we shall be going on soon for I begin to want to be settled in my own place !

The work is getting much lighter every day & they hope soon to get to normal conditions.

This morning we went for a lovely walk – we struck out across the fields in search of a wood – on the way we met herds of goats – most of them are black & wear bells round their necks – the goatherds are most extraordinary looking individuals – they are very swarthy with bushy beards & hair & little round caps on their heads. They usually wear kilts & tight breeches & their legs swathed up in something & bedroom slippers made of goatskin with the toes turned up & big black pompoms on each point. Then they have coats made of goatskin with sleeves & a monks hood. The whole ‘caboodle’ must be horribly dirty – they always salute & say something extraordinary – occasionally you meet one who says “hello Charlie” & thinks he has greeted you in polite high class English ! Well – we looked for the wood & came to about 1/2 dozen little oak trees – welcome shade in the boiling sun tho’ they were no taller than ourselves – then we turned off to the right & made tracks for the mountains – we came to a little river & met another crowd of goats coming across – they did not like getting their feet wet & it was so funny to see them hopping across – they were so long making up their minds before jumping. We got across by the help of a big stone in the middle & some long leaps. On the other side we met cows & Miss Sinclair was terrified of them – so we had to creep by stealthily while they were scraping in dried thistles (this is what the grass consists of) – we then got on to the road & across to the foot of a mountain. We only climbed up a little way & sat on a rock & ate chocolate & biscuits, I suddenly thought of the scorpions I heard so much about but could not see any – only a big tortoise – presently a Greek started shrieking at us & waving wildly at us & we saw he was holding in a dog – so we took to our heels and & ran – some of these dogs are horribly wild & he just saved us that time. We then walked along the road at the foot of the mountains & soon came to a village – the cottages are very picturesque tho’ all over the place & very dirty – they have bright blue shutters, are chiefly built of white stone & have brown tile roofs kept on (!) by large stones & rocks. We saw several old grannies walking about spinning as they went – in one hand they hold a stick with a bunch of flax on top & in the other hand a large bobbin & wind the cotton on to it. I don’t know how they do it but it looks very simple. The children ran after us & gave us sweet herbs from the gardens & said a lot of Greek – we saw a lot coming out of school with such gaudy school bags nearly all bright blue. Nearly everybody rides a donkey from old grannies down to little girls & nearly everyone goes sidesaddle even the men – they always have crowds of bundles hanging round the poor donkey.

There are lots of vineyards all round, very sweet raisin grapes & the boys & girls come crowding up & give up heaps of grapes – they are so generous. We got back in time for lunch – very late & dusty, but we had a fine walk – we picked some baby cyclamen growing in the bank, such pretty pink ones – they say the flowers will be coming out soon, at present everything is dried up with the summer heat.

Tonight we have had another awful thunderstorm & such rain.

I wish you could see these lovely mountains. Mt Parnassus is just beautiful – they say it is the home of the Muses. I admire their choice.

Tomorrow we are going for a most gorgeous motor ride – I hope the rain will have stopped by then – anyway it will have ‘laid the dust’

There are crowds of locusts about – they are like huge brown grasshoppers and hop first rate.

It is time to put the light out so I must say Goodnight.

Very best love to all

Your loving Daughter

Margaret Box.


The storm lasted nearly all night but this morning the weather is perfect – a few tents blew down but they were small ones – ours is a big one & quite secure. I like living in a tent, shall want to pitch one on the lawn when I come home ! There is no furniture to dust ! & you can make your front door whichever side you like, when it rains you shut it up all round, pick up everything off the floor & get into bed. Sometimes a little rain blows in underneath the tent but it does not come through the top.

There is no motor available this morning so we shall not get our ride, it is such a pity for it is a glorious day. We are going to try & fix up a picnic instead

Very much love to all



Spanish Flu

The reason the Sisters at the were so busy is almost certainly victims of Spanish Flu, rather than war casualties, as there was no fighting in this part of Greece during World War I. Spanish Flu killed 50 to 100 million people, as compared to around 40 million casualties of World War I, although some of those were killed by Spanish Flu.

Miss Sinclair

From the list of SWH Names, she was probably

SINCLAIR Miss Louise Esson, Nurse America Unit 17-Sep-18 1-Aug-19

as Great Aunt Margaret was

BOX Miss Margaret, Nurse London Unit 17-Sep-18 1-Mar-19

Here is a map to show where the camp was.

Margaret Box letter from Southern Italy – September 1918

On the 30th September 1918 my Great Aunt Margaret Box wrote to her Mother from 79 General Hospital, Italy, which was in Taranto, an important Italian naval base. This follows on from her letter from Rome, and is part of the story of her adventures nursing in Solonica and Serbia.

c/o 79 General Hospital




My dear Mother,

I hope you received the post cards safely, we all had a lovely week and saw a lot of wonderful things. We went to several Operas & enjoyed them immensely – the music and singing were very good indeed. We are getting on splendidly – I wish you could have seen us last night in little beds all in a row covered up in mosquito nets ! I slept like a top all night.

I was so pleased to find a letter waiting here for me from Gadlein the Guy’s Nurse who is at York Rd now – she was here nursing for a time before she went to York Rd. to knew the address all right.

It was raining a lot yesterday & our shoes are caked in mud – just the Hailsham sort ! they say the only way to remove it is to wash the shoes. Today the weather is perfect – not a cloud to be seen. We ope to get a few of our own things washed this morning – dirty handkerchiefs collect so quickly. My cold has quite disappeared – ‘weeks’ ago & we are all quite fit & well.

I have only read about 2 pages of my book! there is so much to see & always someone to talk to !

Yesterday we had a find picnic lunch, 2 of us and 2 Majors – we had cold chicken – which was procured at a little station by the way – & which we are in a very primitive way – not having any knives or forks – but as we were all gnawing bones nobody could say anything about his neighbour. Anyway we all enjoyed it. This evening I may get a chance to read a little – we have a very comfy little lounge here & we expect to have a quiet evening. I have got a very nice little picture of the Tiber & Castle Sant’ Angelo with the dome of St Peter’s in the distance. I do hope it won’t get spoilt but there is not much room in my kit bag.

I wonder how everyone is getting on & if you are all settled let. Has Rose been in to see ?Corin ? How is the garden looking ? I am trying to remember what green grass looks like ! There are some lovely convolvulas growing up these huts very large & such a beautiful blue colour. Did I tell you how we went to the Zoo on Friday last ? the animals are not kept very well now as there are not enough men, we saw some fine polar bears, lions, tigers & some kangaroos that did gymnastics for our special benefit. There was a huge mimosa tree growing there – it was pretty – I picked 1 little bits off it.

Please will you give my love to Ethel when you see her – I expect you told her how pleased I was with the handkerchiefs & am so sorry not to have thanked her myself for them. I hope Father is keeping free from rheumatism – I suppose that depends on the weather – it is difficult to imagine cold winds & rain at the present moment.

Very much love to all the family, hoping you are all very fit.

Your loving daughter

Margaret Box

Margaret Box letter from Rome – September 1918

My Great Aunt, Margaret Box, traveled as a Nurse to Salonica and Serbia (where the First World War was still being fought), wrote many letters home, which fortunately have been preserved.

This article, entitled Margaret Box, nursing in Salonica and Serbia, acts as an index to her letters and puts them into context.

On 24th September she wrote to her mother from Rome, and the letter was received on the 3rd October.



My Dear Mother

It seems a long time since I wrote to you last & I am wondering if you have received all the post cards & letters & how long they took to come.

It is very hot here & we have got out all our thinnest garments. Miss Murdoch arrived yesterday so the four of us are all together – we have a huge room with blue plush curtains & chairs & one big bed raised on a dias with a blue plush canopy over – we call it the “state apartment” it is so grand, there are 2 small beds put up in the same room so you can imagine how huge it is. I slept here one night by myself & it was the best night I have had for a long time – I went down to “petit dejeuner” at 9.45am instead of 8 a.m. – you should have heard the “jabber jabber” !

We are very comfortable in this hotel & the people are very kind to us, it is much nicer than the last hotel we stayed in when I wrote last. Water is very plentiful here & I am glad to say we can get hot baths.

The 1st day we arrived here we lost our way coming back to the hotel – none of us could understand a word of Italian. I asked a soldier – a whole crowd collected & an awful palaver went on – at last fortunately someone arrived who could speak a few words of English & we got back safely.

We know our way about now all right. One night we went to see the Colosseum by moonlight, it was a gorgeous sight – a great many people were there picnicing etc. We drove in a little Victorian carriage which waited for us while we explored a bit then took us back again.

The English soldiers are awfully good to us & indeed I don’t know where we would be without them. There’s a club & canteen near us where we can go & get tea or an English breakfast. A sergeant took as along there yesterday & introduced us to a Scotch lady – such a dear – she is a secretary there & welcomes all Britishers. We are going along to see here this afternoon.

I bought 3 grey handkerchiefs yesterday to use in the train – everything gets so horribly black. It is very funny to go shopping but you can understand such a lot by signs. I also went into a chemist’s to get ammonia – latin was very useful on that occasion & my nose soon told me I had the right stuff.

There are a lot of “Kindred Spirits” passing through here every day & we always have a lot to say to each other. I have not me anyone from my place yet, but several know girls that I know. I shall be glad to get work but have not the least idea when it will be.

I suppose Mary has gone away to Newbury & I wonder whether Norah has settled in anywhere yet. I am longing to hear all home news. Please tell Leonard the air cushion has been most useful in propping up my head in the train – that was a very happy thought of Captain Whittaker’s.

We have come through magnificent country, far grander than I had imagined possible, there was snow on some of the mountain peaks, although it was so very hot.

We have been round sightseeing quite a lot & there is still a great deal more to see.

There are a lot of fountains about & they look so pretty & are very cooling if you get near. One lady yesterday lost her red straw hat which was gaily sailing round & round a fountain – a man was trying to fish it out on a broom, but he was not long enough. It is extraordinary how the women and children go about without hats in the strong sun. I was very glad to get my panama out of my kit bag. I am wearing one of my grey overalls & not much underneath – most people seem to carry fans about & you see them fanning themselves everywhere.

We are all very well, but hot & seeing everything we can. In fact we are having a very good holiday.

Please give my love to the Walkley’s, I gave in Mr. Walkley’s name again yesterday, so he may be hearing something of me.

We get a lot of beautiful fruit here, peaches, pears & grapes are most common – we have these instead of puddings – very nice too !

Very best love to you all

Your loving Daughter,

Margaret Box


Norah – Margaret’s younger sister, would have been 20 at the time. Margaret also had three older sisters, Rosina (Rose) and Dorothy who are not mentioned in this letter, and Edith Mary, known as Mary.

Leonard – Margarets brother, 32 at the time, and not yet married to my Grandmother.

Miss Murdoch was probably

MURDOCH Miss Bessie Bannerman, Nurse America Unit 17-Sep-18 2-Sep-19

From (which does list 3 other possibilities

and one of the ‘other two’ who make up ‘the four of us’ – was probably Miss Louise Esson Sinclair (from other letters and the same source)

Neither do I know who Captain Whittaker is, or the Walkleys, although if they crop up again I may have some more clues.

The Will of Joseph Lines

My Great Grandfather, Joseph Lines (1848-1931) clearly possessed a strength of character. His father, Abel Lines (1807-1877) had been variously a Fur Skin Dresser, Smith, Steel Worker, Porter and Furrier. Joseph’s elder brother George (1841-? after 1911) trained as a carpenter, and started making wooden horses. His sisters were in domestic service until they married or died.
George must have been pretty enterprising in his own right as he had his first factory, at 51, Great Saffron Hill, Camden, London by 1860, where, in the 1861 Census he is described as a Children’s Horse Maker.
In 1876 Joseph joined his brother George and they formed G&J Lines, having a factory at 457 Caledonian Road, which produced Rocking Horses, Velocipede Horses and Life Size Horses for Circuses and Steam Fairs. The business prospered due to the George’s skill and Joseph’s business acumen. Two of Joseph’s sons, William and Walter joined the firm in 1897.  They were joined by the fourth son, Arthur in 1909. The third son, George Edward Lines, my Grandfather, did not join the firm,doing an engineering apprenticeship instead.
George retired in 1903, leaving Joseph in charge of the business which continued to thrive until the outbreak of the First World War, William, who was 35, was too old to be called up, and continued to work for his father at G&J Lines, but the other sons all served in the army.
At the end of the war, while George Edward went into farming, the other three sons returned to the toy business, but their views on where the business should go had changed. Joseph, used to being very much in charge did not agree, and William, Walter and Arthur set up their own toy company – Lines Brothers, operating under the brand name Triang (three Lines make a triangle).
Joseph cut off contact with the rebellious sons, which was very distressing to his wife Jane, who hoped for a reconciliation until her death in 1925.
Although there does seem to have been some thawing in relationships, when Joseph died in 1931 his will shows he had not forgiven the defecting sons.

The Last Will and Testament of Joseph Lines

This is the Last Will and Testament

of me JOSEPH LINES of 141 Lordship Road in the county of Middlesex Strong toy and Baby Carriage Maker and I hereby revoke all my former testamentary dispositions and appoint my son George Edward Lines and Leanord Herbert Graves Accountant of Allen Craig Vera Avenue Grange park in the County of Middlesex (hereinafter called my Trustees) Executors and Trustees of this my will and I declare as follows:-

1. I give free of all duties the following legacies:-

To each of my Trustees who shall prove my Will and shall act in the trusts thereof the sum of twenty five pounds to reimburse them for their interest and time spent, in carrying out my wishes and I declare that Leanord Herbert Graves shall act conjointly with my Son George Edward Lines for a period of two years after which Leanord Herbert Graves will terminate the trusteeship leaving my son George Edward Lines as sole executor and trustee for terminating the disposition of the Residuary estate.

2. All the gifts both of real and personal property, other than that of my residuary estate, contained in this my Will or any codicil hereto shall be paid free from all legacy and death duties whatsoever and it is my intention to exercise by this will or any codicil hereto to the fullest extent all powers of appointment vested in me whether such powers are general or special and whether expressly referred to or not.
3. I give the following legacies to the employees of G. and J Lines Limited if in the service of the company at my death to be paid within three months of my death To my nephew Frederick Fitzhenry the sum of fifty pounds to George William Woodrow, Bertram Tigg thirty pounds each to John Lawrence Ives, Harry Thomas, Arthur Ernest Cutter and Alfred Dilley Twenty pounds each To Henry Arthur Marshall, Alec McKenzie, Joseph Lee, Stanley Bettell, John Warrilow, Mabel Burbridge, Violet Keen and my House maid Elisabeth Stone Ten pounds each.
4. I give the following to my children as a provision during the period which may elapse before the realisation and distribution of my residuary estate such legacies to be paid within three months of my death: –
To my Daughter Edith Rae the sum of Two hundred pounds.
To my Son George Edward Lines the sum of Three Hundred pounds
To my Daughter Winifred Lines the sum of Four hundred pounds
To each for their sole use and benefit:-
5. I give to the Prince Of Wales General Hospital 14 princes Road Tottenham one hundred pounds and I direct that the receipt of the Treasurer or acting Treasurer or other proper officer of each institution shall be sufficient discharge to my Trustees.

6. The number of shares in the Company of G. and J. Lines Limited held in my name is 22,942 these shares are to be transferred as follows within three months of my death:-

To my Son George Edward Lines Ten Thousand five hundred shares
To my Daughter Winifred Lines Eight thousand four hundred and forty two shares
To my Daughter Edith Rae Four thousand shares.
7. These shares are not to be sold or transferred by them except to one or other of the recipients in the first place and dividends (if any) must be distributed in same proportion to numbers held by them and not until the Firms reserve amounts to the sum of five thousand pounds. These shares are to be held on same conditions as stated in the said Firm’s articles of association dated the Thirteenth day of April One thousand nine hundred and eight.
8. I give and bequeath all my other property of every description unto my trustees upon trust that they shall sell call in and convert in to money such parts thereof as may not consist of money with full powers to postpone such sale calling in and conversion for such periods as they shall think proper and shall out of my ready money and the proceeds of such sale calling in or conversion pay my funeral and testamentary expenses and debts and the legacies bequeathed by this Will or any Codicil hereto and shall invest the remainder of such monies and proceeds in or upon any of the investments for the time being authorised by law for the investment of trust funds with power to change any such investment for others similarly authorised for the period of two years from the date of my death and after such period Upon Trust to pay and divide such investments and accumulations whether invested or not between such of my three children George Edward Lines Edith Rae and Winifred Lines as shall survive me in four equal parts Three parts to be equally divided between my Son George Edward Lines my Daughter Winifred Lines the remaining fourth part to be paid to my Daughter Edith Rae.

9. And I desire that my Freehold of Tottenham Toy and baby carriage works and land shall be valued by a professional Valuer and the value arrived at shall be divided between my three children aforesaid in the same proportion as stated in paragraph No 8 in this my Will and it is my wish that Mr. W.R. Harrison of 41 Fairfield Road Edmonton shall be chosen as valuer in this matter and also all other questions of valuation which may arise.

10. And I desire that my Son George Edward Lines shall accept the position of Governor Chairman and Sole Managing Director of the company of G. and J. Lines Limited he should hold all my share certificates Leases Deeds policies and private papers and keys connected with the aforesaid Company and myself.
11. I give to my son George Edward Lines my Gold watch and gold chain and my rings.
12. I desire that the furniture linen ornaments clocks pictures and all contents of 141 Lordship Road shall be offered at first instance to my three Children aforesaid at the valuers estimate of price and they should have first choice of them before arranging sale of the remains and remainder of Lease which should be possible within three months of my death
IN WITNESS whereof I have to this my Will hereunto set my hand this

16th day of December one thousand nine hundred and twenty seven

The Beneficiaries

George Edward Lines

My Grandfather – was working with Joseph at G&J Lines by 1927 when the will was written, and still working there in 1931. Rather against the spirit of the Will, but a sensible move, was the sale of G&J Lines to Lines Brothers, where my Grandfather now worked as head of the Development Department.

Edith Rae

Joseph’s eldest daughter, Edith had married James Rae in 1916. He was a civil servant, who became Sir James Rae, K.C.B and Under Secretary, H.M. Treasury, but had not reached these heights in 1927.  She died on 12th March 1957, and he died on 1st November 1957, just 8 months later.

Winifred Lines

Joseph’s youngest daughter never married, so he made provision for her financial support. She died, aged 93 in 1983.

Frederick Fitzhenry

Joseph’s sister, Mary Ann Lines married Benjamin Fitzhenry in 1875. In 1877 Joseph married  Jane Fitzhenry, Benjamin’s sister. Benjamin and Mary Ann had four children, one being Frederick Fitzhenry, born 3 March 1882. He was baptised on 30th April 1882,  the same day as Walter Lines, and by then his mother, Mary Ann had died.
Benjamin re-married in 1884 and had another three children.
Frederick worked for his uncle. His occupation is unreadable in 1901, but was a French Polisher, working for a Toy Manufacturer in 1911. In both cases he was living with his aunt, Joseph’s sister, Martha Lines.

George William Woodrow, Bertram Tigg, John Lawrence Ives, Harry Thomas, Arthur Ernest Cutter,  Alfred Dilley, Henry Arthur Marshall, Alec McKenzie, Joseph Lee, Stanley Bettell, John Warrilow, Mabel Burbridge, Violet Keen

I assume they all worked at G&J Lines, but I know nothing more about them

Elisabeth Stone

Joseph’s housekeeper, who would have had to take on more responsibility after Jane’s death.

Prince Of Wales General Hospital

This opened in 1867 and closed in 1983, and had just added a new wing in 1923.

The Excluded

Not all of Joseph’s surviving children (he had a daughter, Rosa, who died aged 3) are mentioned in his will.

Mary Freeman

Joseph’s daughter, Mary, married Ralph Freeman in 1908. By 1927 Ralph Freeman was a senior partner in the engineering firm Donald Fox and Partners (which later changed its name to Freeman, Fox and Partners).  Presumably Joseph had no concerns that they might need financial support.

William Lines

Joseph’s eldest son, had been too old to be called up in 1914, and continued to work at G&J Lines throughout the First World War, but joined his brothers in forming Lines Brothers in 1919.

Walter Lines

Served in the army during WW1 and rose to the the rank of Captain. Like his elder brother William, he had been a director of G&J Lines Ltd, but took the risk of branching out with his brothers.

Arthur Lines

The youngest of Joseph’s sons, he had started work as an apprentice at G&J Lines, before joining the army. He completed the trio of toymaking Lines Brothers in 1919.

Martha Lines

Joseph’s sister. Although she worked for Joseph in 1901 as a Toy Horse Rosette maker and was still alive in 1927 (she died in 1935) she was not mentioned in the will.

Tim to Roger – from Bonn in 1953

My Uncle Tim wrote to my Father on 4th August 1953. Tim is writing from 3, Liebfrauenweg, Bonn (OSM), and my father was living in Edinburgh by then.

Auslandsamt der Universität,


Liebfrauenweg, 3

Begun 4/8/53

Dear Roger, this will take the form of a supplement, or perhaps errata to my last letter. As before I shall only deal with what might be of technical interest to you, and will describe my other doings in a letter home.

I was rather dubious when they told me that goats rubbed the bark off the young trees (as reported in my letter) so I checked up and found they use the same word for deer, so they do have deer here.

First general remarks with no particular connection between them, and in no particular order.

During the war apparently a great deal was taken out of the German forests while very little was put back – I expect it was the same in Britain. One often sees tree-stumps about 6 ft. high round here – it means that they have had the top knocked off by a shell or bomb blast. In fact our sickles have often struck bits of shrapnel and occasionally remains of  incendiary bombs etc. Quite a few of the stumps are charred. I am also informed that they had a number of V.1‘s round here (when I speak of here I mean Prüm) and you frequently see great gaps in the woods. Apparently the steering used to go wrong, and they landed sooner than intended.

They have quite a lot of oak here, both the ordinary (European ?) and American Red Oak, which I am told grows more quickly but is consequently not so hard. After the oaks are a few years old they plant beech between them – something to do with keeping down weeds, I believe. The oaks are planted pretty close together – I forget really but I think they were only about 2 feet apart.

There are some rather fine beech woods round here, and natural regen is definitely practised with these – I believe it works out at 2 beech generations to 1 oak generation – I hope you see what I mean.

They have Japanese and European larch also. I have a note about lice and fleas, but I’m not sure if it fits in here. Is larch vulnerable to these horrors ? They have winter and summer limes, they have a flesh-eating plant called ‘Sonnentau‘ (I haven’t seen it) on the nearby Schneifel (I don’t mean they cultivate it !), they have Douglas-fir, of which more anon, and they have a tree with a name like Weimutzkiefer (Weimutz fir) which is also American and grows fast, but I gather it gets diseased rather easily.

I said in my first letter that erosion was quite a problem, but I’ve since been told that it’s not so bad, so I’m afraid you’ll just have to take your choice.

I managed to visit the plant garden during my last day in Prüm. It is surprisingly small – I should imagine only 70 yds x 40 yds or less. It lies in as much of a dip as can be found round here, is is surrounded by a wire-netting fence about 3’6″ high. As I’ve already said, most of the plants come from Halztenbeck when one year old and are replanted in the Pflanzgarten. Only half is being used, the other is full of lupins. (I forget if I’ve told you, but these are about the only thing we leave standing when we go at our larches/spruces/pines/firs). They cant grow from seed here as it is over 500 meters high and during the winter the ground freezes up. The soil round here is primarily clay, whereas I’m told you need a sandy soil for seeds.  As it is always pretty damp here it is especially good for spruce, as they can draw in the moisture through their needles as well as their roots. (Does that sound like spruce ?) The wire netting is primarily to control the rabbits which make a nuisance of themselves during the winter. I know this contradicts what I said in the first letter, but these things seem to depend on whom you ask.

In the Pflanzgarten the Douglas Firs are protected by a wiry sort of shrub which the Germans call “Ginster“. It is unfortunately not in my dictionary and I have no idea what it is in English; we have any amount of it in the plantations in which we work. I gather that its seeds, owing to their high oil content, can lie several years in the ground and then come up again. They are draped over the Douglases and protect them form too much snow and wind. The Douglas firs are supposed to grow twice as fast as the spruces (?), and I saw one wood of 50yr. old Douglases. I was told twice, but I think there must be a mistake somewhere, that Douglas-fir costs DM.160 per kilo. They say it is fine for floors and other furniture.

The young plants are actually planted in the Pflanzgarten with the aid of metal strips with notches at regular intervals. They look roughly like this:

 The insides of the notches are covered with rubber to protect the young stems. The notches are 5cm apart for spruce (?), 7cm for Douglas and 10cm for larch. The distance between the rows is 20cm for the larch and probably corresponding distances for the others. A shallow ditch or furrow is of course made first, then they stretch a piece of string to facilitate alignment.

I forget to include in my list of pests the most persistent of all – the horse-flies. Whatever damage we may have inflicted upon them in Switzerland has certainly been well and truly avenged. Their mortality rate is still pretty high, but in general they draw first blood.

Well I suppose Edinburgh is by now preparing itself to justify its title of cultural capital of the world, and I expect you are more interested in ordering tickets than reading about spruces question-mark and I can’t say I blame you. Has M. or D. told you about my first and true camera love. They say they are going to give it to me for 21st. Whoopee !



Tim remembers that summer, as in recollection the sun shone every day.

He had been in holiday on holiday in Switzerland with my father, Roger,  in the second half of June 1953. Tim for two weeks, and my father, who joined the Forestry Commission in 1952, so would have had limited annual leave, only for one week. They stayed in a small Gasthaus in Winderswil, and walked most of the local hills. Tim used his RAF boots and nearly wore them out. Tim did his national service in the RAF. They worked out that horseflies like to follow you up a mountain and attack you from behind, so they countered this by walking up backwards, which – precipices excepted – mainly seemed to work.

Many years later, in 1969, I went, with my parents and siblings, on our first foreign holiday. We stayed with Tim, at his flat in Geneva, and then camped near Interlaken. My father, possibly not trusting us to handle precipices, did not let us in on the walking backwards method, but we remember the horseflies, which did their best to attack us between our campsite and swimming in the lake. We were there for the first Moon Landing and heard the news on the radio.

 In July 1953 Tim moved on to Prüm in the German Eifel for 4-5 weeks, where he joined a sort of International work camp for young foreigners, purportedly helping to revive German forestry. This was after his first year at Cambridge and because he was supposed to be studying German he thought it was time he learnt some. They were a group of 15 or 16, all Europeans Tim thinks – he was the only Brit – and they stayed  in the local youth hostel. Tim can’t remember what they were supposed to be doing, but they slashed away at everything and he knows they thought they’d set the German forests back by a decade or so. They were a nice bunch and a couple of the Swedish girls came to the UK later and stayed with the Lines family for a bit at Pickwick.

Tim went Bonn next where the university was running some sort of course for foreigners. Tim remembers that he liked Bonn, which of course was then the capital of the FRG, and he bought his first camera, a Paxette, a modern[ish] 35mm job quite unlike his mother’s bellows-type folding Kodak. In those days you could only take £50 out of the country, so it wasn’t bad to have spent 2 weeks in Switzerland, four or five in Prüm and two or three in Bonn, plus the fares to get from one to the other, and still be able to afford a camera. Tim does still remember my resentment at having to pay what seemed an extortionate sum for laundry in Wilderswil.

Then in the last week of August Tim joined the family [who exactly and how did we travel? Train or car?] for a fortnight’s two-centre holiday in Austria, again mainly walking or probably strolling.  First week on Lake Pertisau, second week in Oetz.

One Hundred Years Ago

One hundred years ago, on the night of 19th/20th October 1918, during the Battle of the Selle, part of the One Hundred Days Offensive, towards the end of World War One, the British Royal Engineers built bridges, under enemy fire, over the river Lys. (OSM)
My Grandfather, George Edward Lines, at the time an Acting Captain attached to the 497th (Kent) Field Company of the Royal Engineers was awarded the Military Cross for his actions on that day.
Although he was wounded 3 times during the war, he survived that engagement, although not everyone was so fortunate.  The preceding linked site has further information from the history of another Royal Engineer, who did not survive the battle, including a map, and an extract from the original report of the crossing.

Roger to Jennifer – nice dinners and no homework

My father, Roger Lines, wrote to his sister, Jennifer, probably about 1939. She had been at Croydon High School, and was evacuated to the home farm of Statfield Saye at the start of the war.

Dear Jennifer,
How I envy you on having nice dinner and no homework. Michael and I have been writing a play for Christmas which you are going to be in. It is very cold here and the wind is whistling through the trees and blowing down the leaves. Tim pinched his fingers in the coal tongs and started to scream with anger and then he started to cry & say “Those silly tongs !!”  Love from


This was probably  written in the autumn of 1939, as Jennifer was probably one of the girls who had been sent away to safe districts before the whole school moved. From the description on the school web site

When Miss Adams arrived to take over the leadership of the school, the Second World War had begun. She had just evacuated the Queen Mary High School from Liverpool and travelled to Croydon to find not 800 but 54 pupils, for many girls had been sent away to safe districts. Miss Adams had to act quickly to preserve the life of Croydon High evacuating part of the school to Eastbourne and part to Llandilo in Wales.

The play was probably “The Green Gang” – one of several Family Dramas written by my father (some with Uncle Michael). The programme can be seen on the Family Dramas post.

This letter was probably after the one in a previous post, from Roger to Jennifer in 1939.

The reverse of the letter has the tail end of a letter from my Grandmother to Jennifer, but unfortunately I do have the rest of that letter.

lot of time and trouble. Have you seen any warships ? We could see dozens of balloons from our drive this morning, but they disappeared later. They were over Croydon. I haven’t heard where Jean Brindley or Sheila are going to school, or seen them.

Rufie sends lots of licks and little gentle bites.

Lots of love from Mummie

Jean Brindley had been a friend of Jennifer’s since they were about nine, and they ended up going to teachers training college at Roehampton together. Jean was in the same house at Froebel as my mother, which is how my mother and Jennifer met.

Margaret Box letters from Bralo

One hundred years ago my Great Aunt, Margaret Box was in Greece at a rest camp, near the village of Bralo (Bralos, Brallos), toward the start of the time she spend towards the end of the First World War, nursing in Salonica and Serbia (see this post for further related articles). Her next letter is on 11th October, still from Bralo.

On the 5th, 6th and 7th of October 1918 she wrote to her parents, my Great Grandparents, with an update. First to her father, on Saturday 5th:

Sisters Rest Camp





My Dear Father,

So far – so good ! We are sitting out on a veranda looking at the most wonderful view, the mountains are all round us and the water below is as smooth as a mirror.

What I miss more than anything is the green grass & I should just like a walk in the garden now. I suppose all the michaelmas daisies are coming out now & I wonder if the lilies are done yet.

I slept like a top in my little camp bed last night – we kept the door of  the tent open & the dawn at 6 o’c this morning was just fine. Our sitting room is a mud hut but all whitewashed inside with green windows and doors – we have curtains and tablecloths & an assortment of comfy chairs.

Our Orderly looks after us very well & gave us a fine breakfast not coffee & black bread – but a real English breakfast – fried bacon & tomatoes – a thing we have not tasted for a long time – he makes good tea too – the best I have had since leaving home.

Last night we had a game of whist before turning in to bed & sang songs. We are the only Sisters here at present & we are just enjoying it all on our own.

Please tell Mother the biscuits & chocolate have been most useful – there won’t be any left to hand over ! It has been almost impossible to get biscuits on the way – but chocolate was much more plentiful.

Very much love to all

Your loving Daughter

Margaret Box

 On the following day, continued on Monday 7th, she wrote to her mother:

Rest Camp





My dear Mother,

We have moved on from our last resting place – we were quite sorry in a way to leave there – it was a nice quiet little place. We are under canvas here & tomorrow we hope to do a day’s work to relieve the sisters a bit, they are all so busy.

This evening we went to church at 5.30 p.m. in a tent – it was such a nice simple service – the first time we have been able to go to church since coming out.

Last night Yesterday afternoon we had a terrific thunderstorm – we all sat out on the veranda & watched it, the lightning dashed about & the thunder echoed all round the mountains – it soon passed on & the sun came out & we saw the most beautiful rainbow with its reflection from end to end.  The lightning continued all evening jumping up from below the mountains opposite & running along the top.


I got up to 7 o’c breakfast this morning & have been working in the wards – we may stay here some time as there are so many men ill & so few sisters, it is quite strange to work again.

Is not the news splendid.

I have no idea when we shall get to our destination or where we shall find the hospitals !

Much love to all

Your loving Daughter

Margaret Box


Splendid news

I am not sure exactly what this would have been, but by October 1918 it was clear that the Allied forces were winning the war and that the end was in sight.

Sailing with Jeremy and Jennifer, a letter from Tim to Roger.

On 27th September 1953, my uncle Tim wrote to my father to describe the time Tim and my aunt Jennifer spent with their brother, my uncle Jeremy in Poole (OSM).
My father would have been working as a Forester in Edinburgh at the time.


Dear Roger

M insists that I write a page to make the envelope seem fatter. I don’t think you’ve heard about the adventure Jennifer and I had last W/E. I went down to Poole on Friday night, met Jeremy all right and spent most of the evening in the Poole Yacht Club, drinking and soaking in the nautical atmosphere. Saturday morning we took the DYC launch1 along to the club to fetch some ballast which they had used in an attempt to sink the Hornet in its safety tests. Great iron bars, ½ cwt I believe, tho’ they may have been 1 cwt. Anyway we took these back to the yard and even in the launch (a huge battleship of a thing) we got pretty wet – an accurate omen for the future! From there we went to the station to meet Jennifer, did some shopping and then had lunch. After some preliminaries we got the Hornet launched and we were away! After about 2 ½ minutes Jennifer lost her balance as the Hornet heeled over, which made her heel over even worse – then I lost my balance and the next thing we knew was that we were swimming around Poole Harbour while Jeremy, who knew what was happening, had simply done a sort of log-rolling act as Panic went over and was most unfairly still dry. While the boat was approximately in this position

Jeremy begins the salvage operations with: ‘I think the first thing to do is to get the sails down’ – this when they were several feet under water ! And he proceeded to do it. Then with a bit of clever balancing the whole boat turned right way up again and he commenced bailing with an action reminiscent of Sam2 digging. All this time Jennifer and I were holding the bow into the wind. When she was about half empty (Panic, I mean) Jeremy stuffed the spinnaker into the centre-plate housing to keep the water out – this is apparently normal practice and is the chief purpose of carrying a spinnaker. When he had completed bailing we got back in (actually Jen. and I bailed the last bit – the last bit of all is done with the rubber one to save the varnish) and we could assess the damage. This was fortunately negligible. Jennifer had rescued a plimsole as it was floating away on the billows and the only thing broken was the wooden pennant from the mast head.

We then went for a sail which was most enjoyable despite our wet clothes (fortunately the water had been surprisingly warm) and I had a go on the sliding seat

(another diagram) Actually there was a rope to hang on to, but I can’t draw ropes. Jeremy said that on the Round the Island Race a friend of his spent a good deal of the time two feet below the surface (when the boat yawed over) and they hardly saw him throughout the race because he was in a thick cloud of spray!

After hauling up Panic and getting some dry clothes on, we had a meal and went to see Genevieve in Poole. Quite funny, but really only one joke. Have you seen it ? (The film I mean). We also saw a thriller which was quite funny because we missed the beginning and were continuously greeted by such hilarious lines as :’So that’s how he knew the tea-pot !’ etc. etc.

Sunday morning there was a race in Poole Harbour. It was too rough for the Hornet (there was a very strong wind and it didn’t lessen all day), but Jeremy said people needed crews and so we all found ourselves in different boats. Jeremy was with a friend in a Snipe, Jennifer with a man in another Snipe and I was with 3 others (including another hopeless type) in an 18ft National. We had a very enjoyable sail, tho’ rather a wet one! Twice round a not very long course. Jeremy came in 2nd. I’m not really sure where Jennifer and I got in – nobody really seems to care where they come in, a rather nice aspect of sailing. All the yachting types then held a post mortem and then went off for lunch. We had sandwiches at the club and stayed some time on the starting balcony, where they have a marvellous pair of binoculars on a stand. There was a terrific wind flowing and nearly carrying us off.

Later we went to Sandbanks by bus and had a very nice time there, coming back in a large motor-boat at least 35ft long, I should think, but by the time we got to Poole we were very nearly wet through again. We returned home the same evening.

Here endeth the chronicle of Poole.

I have bought a developing tank – it’s a Paterson 35. Rather ingenious and nicely made. The spiral is made in 2 halves which can turn in relation to each other. They each have one or two teeth which engage with the perforations in the film – thus it works on a ratchet system and makes the film very easy to load, simply by oscillating the two halves of the spiral. I tried with a film in the shop and it works quite well. If also has one or two refinements which I needn’t mention. Haven’t got room for any more and anyway this must go in M’s so I’ll just wish you all the best for your car? and Cheerish from Tim.

Tim was clearly not put off sailing by his dip, as I remember he had a Sunfish, which he sailed on Lake Geneva. The Swiss regulations were strict and when the boat was inspected it had a have an anchor and similar items.

Jeremy has sent me a picture of Panic.

Panic being prepared for Launch

This picture was taken by Tim of Jeremy and Jennifer preparing Panic for launch.
Jennifer had probably come down on the train for the weekend, from her first teaching job at Ealing.
Tim was 21, and might have been staying at Pickwick with my Grandparents, having finished his degree at Cambridge.
My father’s older brother, Michael was probably in London, married to Fanny, and working at Philips


DYC Launch

DYC is the Dorset Yacht Company, where Jeremy was serving his boat building apprenticeship. The company was founded in 1938, and still exists, through its history (and more history here) it has built sailing and motor yachts,  including, in the 1960’s the offshore race boat Spirit of Ecstasy, one of a number of boats designed by Arthur Hagg (who was also an aircraft designer). DYC also build HMS Wrentham, a Ham Class Inshore Minesweeper in 1955.  The company was also notable for a court case “Dorset Yacht Co Ltd v Home Office” in which on 21 September 1962, ten borstal trainees were working on Brownsea Island in the harbour under the control of three officers employed by the Home Office. Seven trainees escaped one night, at the time the officers had retired to bed leaving the trainees to their own devices. The seven trainees who escaped boarded a yacht and collided with another yacht, the property of the respondents, and damaged it. The owners of the yacht sued the Home Office in negligence for damages.

Jeremy had moved on by this time to work for Thornycroft. While at Thornycroft he was also doing evening classes to broaden his range of skills.


The family dog.

Round the Island Dinghy Race

This unique event took place on 6th June 1953. There is an account, from the point of view of someone (I think Ian Proctor) sailing an Osprey at
According to a post on the Classic and Vintage Racing Dinghy Association forum, it was Ian Proctor’s account, and according to a Yachts and Yachting forum post 

The results a quite a who’s who’s of small boat sailing at the time..
Ian Proctor
Uffa Fox
Bruce Banks
Jack Knights
Beecher Moore
Just to name a few.

Here is Jeremy’s account

Earlier that summer I had sailed PANIC with two friends from Poole to Cowes for the Round the Island Dinghy Race organised by Tiny Mitchell. We had about 200 starters, some took 2 days and camped on the southern shore of the Isle of Wight. We had a fantastic sail up to Cowes with a good Northerly breeze so a relatively flat sea, we did Poole to Hurst Castle in 2 hours and about another two to Cowes, we also had on board the launching trolley and a suitcase! The race itself was in fairly light conditions, 60 miles so it took us about 12 hours. They have never had another similar as Health and Safety would go bananas! I remember nearly going to sleep on the sliding seat until the helmsman dipped my head in the sea!

F.G. (Tiny) Mitchell was Vice Commodore of Royal Corinthian Yacht Club from about the 1930’s

Jeremy’s early boating experiences

My interest in boats really started with holidays in Cornwall where I was fascinated by the boatbuilder Percy Mitchell at Portmellon near Mevagissey. We did go rowing on the Thames a few times and before I left school built an 18 foot canvas covered canoe which my friend Brian Culliford and I paddled down the Mole camping each night on the bank. When I started my boatbuilding apprenticeship in Poole I bought a 12 ft sailing dinghy in Christchurch and sailed it round to Poole. It seemed the natural thing to do as no one had cars or trailers in those days! It was called seamanship! After that of course my life was full of boats. I built PANIC in Poole, she was a Hornet with a Sliding Seat, the latest in those days.
Looking back on our trip up to Cowes, it seems madness today as with a good Northerly it would be France next stop if anything had gone wrong!

Jeremy and Brian’s trip down the Mole was probably in 1946, as Jeremy went to Poole in 1974. He remembers that they ran out of water, so had to drink water out of their handkerchiefs, and notnot surprisingly had upset tums for a while!
By an interesting co-incidence Brian (Bryan John) Culliford, like my father, went to school at Whitgift, and then went on to study Forestry at Bangor. Unlike my father, he then went on to work for the Metropolitan Police Forensic Science Laboratory. As described in his Obituary, he went on to discover a number of important techniques and worked with Universities and other police forces. He was awarded the Adelaide Medal for his contributions to Forensic Science.
As Jeremy says

He was a super chap as you have read.

Jeremy Lines – Yacht Designer

Jeremy went on to design many yachts.

Betty Allen

This gaff rigged ketch was designed by Jeremy in 1999, and has her own web site at The “It’s about the boat” page has some of the hand drawn designs, and the site has a picture which brings back memories for me, of him up the mast.

Up the mast

The yacht is also featured in the July 2014 issue of  Classic Boat

Transports of Delight

As a family we have travelled far, and in many ways. This post describes some of the notable ways that family members have used to get from place to place – as well as being a nod to the CD by Flanders and Swann, whose comic songs, many on a transport theme,  were part of the musical accompaniment of my childhood.

A roadside stop in Brittany in 1948, with Uncle Michael, my Grandparents, and my father, Roger – Jeremy is the photographer.

The Primus stove at the verge allowed the family to make tea wherever they were.
The Morris belonged to my Grandfather, while the motorbike and sidecar was probably Michael’s – the one he took to the cottage at Birling Gap, and possibly the same one my Grandmother used to deliver eggs from the farm at Box.