J. G. Field
The Great War 1914 - 1918 - the I O B Gazette - issued monthly and sent to all members of the Imperial Ottoman Bank who served with the allied forces.
The Extracts here were very kindly supplied by Paul Baillie.
Home Letters - Sergeant J. G. Field
(Hunts. Cyclists) writes to Mr. Tuck on 7th March:-
“I received a copy of the I.O.B. Gazette the other day, and must say I found it interesting reading. I think it is a splendid idea, and I shall be glad if the Gazette can be forwarded to me regularly. Our battalion is being moved to the East Coast in a few days, when I will let you know my new address. We have at last been served out with rifles and all equipment, and are ready for anything the Government has for us to do. Twenty of the fellows of our 1st Battalion have been sent to the front, and I am sorry to say three have been killed and five wounded – a large percentage. I understand that we will not be sent to France as the Hunts. Cyclist Bat., but drafts will be detached from time to time and attached to other units as dispatch riders. I was sent up the East Coast recently on a special mission to our 1st Battalion. The men had had a rough time of it all through the winter, but were in splendid condition, and longing to be sent to more active scenes. The work up there is practically all night work, although a good deal is put in during the day, drilling, marching and rifle practicing. I hear occasionally from Alexandria, where life seems to go on much the same as usual. Port Saidiens, however, must have had quite exciting times. Remember me to Samuel if you are able to get any news through to him.”
Home Letters - Sergeant J. G. Field (Hunts Cyclists) writes from the East Coast on 4th May to Mr. Tuck:-
“Time seems to pass very quickly with me these days. I could not imagine a month had passed since I received No. 2 of the Gazette, and was surprised when No. 3 came along as bright and interesting as its predecessors. Many thanks for same. We moved here from Whitby three weeks ago, and I have had a very strenuous time of it ever since. I have been appointed Quartermaster – Sergeant to the battalion, and have become a kind of Wm. Whiteley to every man, from the Colonel downwards. I am learning all sorts of trades, including butchering, and cannot complain of variety of work. We have had one or two night alarms recently, but our chaps do not seem to mind turning out as they have to man the trenches along the sea front every morning at three. In fact everyone has a thick time of it one way or another, and I must say (considering we have a good number of lads in the battalion just over 17) they stick it like Britons. Practically every man is for foreign service now, and we only hope the time is not far distance when we shall be sent to do our little whack at the Germans or Turks, preferably the former, of course."
Home Letters – Sergeant J. G. Field Huntingdonshire Cyclist Corps. writes on the 10th June1915:-
"I have really had very little time for writing. The work I am now on keeps me going twelve hours a day, and it is rather a worrying job at that. I would much prefer being out my company, but I accepted this post when it was offered me and must stick to it now. We saw our first Zeppelin last Sunday. It passed just about dusk, but evidently did not think it worthwhile to leave a card. Unfortunately it accomplished its dirty work a little further north. I will not forget to send along to the gazette any news of an interesting nature. Ours is not an exciting life. I generally knock off for the day at about eight p.m. so you may understand that writing does not always appeal to one."
Home Letters – Quartermaster - Sergeant J. G. Field writes on the 18th August :-
“I am sorry that my contributions to the Gazette are rare. We chaps who are still ‘ somewhere in England’ feel, I think, rather shy about relating their experiences, which seem so tame compared with the experiences of our colleagues, at the Front. [Your mistake, Field ! We are just as pleased to hear from those whose duties keep them in England. Ed.] I wrote Mr. Tuck about a week ago, telling him we went under canvas on the 1st inst. Camp life suits me fine, only the weather has not been kind to us up to the present. The canvas is poor material, and we get pretty well soaked about four times a week. This is a mere detail, and so long as we do not find more than a dozen earwigs in our clothes in the mornings we don’t grumble. The chief enemy in my department is the wasps. I wonder why it was created? The bounders polish off about four pounds of jam a day, and have ruined currants, raisins and such like delicacies by the stone. We had a night alarm on Thursday. Turned at 10 p.m. and came in with the milkman 4 a.m.. Our bag was nil. Rumors are already rife of another move. Why cannot they let us be, or else send us to more serious scenes? These moves muddle up things; we no sooner get settled down and become one single, friendly like, with "the natives", when off we go again. I should just love a day or two in town, but cannot get away."
Home Letters - Sergeant J. G. Field
writes on 8th October:-
“Very many thanks for cigarettes. I noticed in the October Gazette that Mr. Frost had very generously sent some cigarettes for the I.O.B. staff at the front, and little thought I (still a homester) would be amongst the happy recipients. I passed the cigarettes round the sergeants’ mess (40 strong), so you can guess they (the cigarettes) have soon disappeared. Everyone pronounced then A1. Thank you also for the October Gazette. I enjoy reading it immensely, but feel very sick I do not figure amongst ‘Abroad or Afloat’ letters. I have no news of interest to report. We hear we move into billets again in a fortnight.”
Home Letters – Quartermaster - Sergeant Field writes on the 13th December:-
"I have just received a box of cigarettes which I presume you have kindly sent me. I must thank you very much, and I assure you they are appreciated immensely."
Home Letters - Sergeant J. G. Field writes on November 9th:-
“Please excuse the delay in acknowledging the November Gazette. We have been moving from camp these last few days (and very thankful we are), and I have been kept on the run from morning till night. We only had four transport wagons, carrying 15 cwts. each, to move eight companies into billets at various spots round about a 40 mile radius. You can therefore imagine we have been in a bit of a muddle. The camp, when we left it, looked a pitiable spectacle, as it has not ceased raining in this neighborhood for over a fortnight. One good thing the rain has done, and that is it has not necessitated returning the canvas to the Ordnance Department so quickly as would otherwise have been necessary; thus I, in my department, have had time to arrange all other matters. Having all the companies separated and with the winter on us has increased my work enormously. I am not grumbling, however, as there is absolutely nothing to do down this way, even if one had an hour or two. No news as regards going abroad, except vague rumors of after Christmas! Well, we can but plod along and be patient. I lift my hat in homage to our brave colleagues who have fallen, and also those who are out doing their bit. Thank you for the Gazette, which I may say several of our officers and N.C.O.'s always ask to read."
Home Letters – Sergeant J. G. Field writes, 6th January:-
“Many thanks for the January Gazette, which is more interesting than ever. Was proud to read that two of my Alexandria colleagues have been decorated with the ‘Croix de Guerre.’ If my battalion does not get a move on soon I shall almost be ashamed to meet any of my old friends. An amalgamation with our 1st line and a transfer into infantry with full designs on somewhere abroad is now freely spoken of, but officially ‘ we are as we was’ – as our S. M. sometimes says. All good luck to you, the Gazette, and the Bank for 1916.”
Home Letters – Sergeant J. G. Field writes on 5th February:-
"Thanks very much for February Gazette. Absolutely nothing fresh to report. Had a little excitement last Monday when a Zepp. Passed over - otherwise; 'tiz a peaceful life just now!'"
Home Letters – Sergeant J. G. Field writes to Mr. Tuck, 15th March:-
"I am afraid I have been somewhat remiss of late in writing. The fact is, I am so tired of saying - and you must be tired of hearing - that we seem no nearer to getting away……. Whether we shall remain in this neighborhood or go to other parts has not yet been made known to us……. "
Home Letters - J. G. Field writes, 5th May:-
“Thanks very much for copy of the last Gazette. Two items only of interest have happened to this Battalion since I last wrote. We have once again moved and are now under canvas. The weather has by no means been ideal, and at present we are not enjoying the change. We hear nothing about going overseas, but last week we sent some 60 men to a Machine Gun Corps, whose destination will, no doubt, very quickly be somewhere nearer the enemy. Hardly a night passes now but there we are called out for one reason or another, so life is fairly exciting, even if we don’t see any Germans, except prisoners – a good many of whom have passed this neighborhood of late. The tent I am writing this is a very poor one. The water comes through in all directions, and the wind is threatening to blow the whole camp away. Am afraid all this is not very exciting, but they are simple facts, and I am not good at elaborating.”
Home Letters – Sergeant J. G. Field
writes to Mr. Tuck on 3rd July:-
"Just a line to let you know we are still in this part of the country, and to acknowledge the receipt of the July Gazette, for which many thanks. I was very sorry to read that you have lost another member of your staff. The letter his O. C. wrote to Roberts' parents was very fine, and one cannot add more. We have recently sent away another draft of about 80 to a Machine Gun Corps; the first lot are now somewhere in France. We expect to send further drafts shortly, and I suppose they will dispose of Cyclist Battalions in this way. We are daily expecting a visit from General French. He was expected some time ago, but probably postponed his inspection owing to Lord Kitchener's tragic death. I have had no leave since last January, and as we are only allowed 48 hours now, am afraid I shall not have the pleasure of calling at No. 26 just at present. I find, when I do go on leave, such an accumulation of work on my return, that it is hardly worth one's while to get off. Glad to say I keep very fit, despite the fact that I do not get much exercise. Camp life, however, keeps one in good condition. It has not been ideal weather these last few weeks, and we have rather poor canvas; all things considered, however, we cannot grumble. Our only grievance (and we feel it more every day) is that we are kept hanging about at home. Everyone is fit and really proficient in his training in all departments, and it makes the men regularly wild to hear of the doings of their chums (who have, perhaps, only been in training half the time we have) at the front. "
And again on 15th July:-
"This time I really do have some news, which, although satisfactory as regards to the capital Battalion, is not so with regard to myself and some others. We are sending our men to France. None of the officers or n.c.o' s. above the rank of Corporal are accompanying the men. Apparently they are to be retained for training other recruits. I, personally, have been instructed to go with the draft to France, but in all probability I shall return immediately it is handed over at the base. We remaining ones are very fed up at not being allowed to go with our own men. Many of us talk of applying for transfers, but I shall see what the result of my trip to France is before taking any deciding action. In the meantime, complications are hourly arising. For instance, one moment we are told we have to shift camp on Monday; another that 200 men of another Unit are coming in tomorrow, and so on. The latter rumor I am told, is correct, and how we are going to house our own 450 men for the few days they will all be here on their return, I cannot see. However, I find that in the Army one lives continually in an atmosphere of rumors of uncertainly, and consequently we do not worry until the rumors become facts. If I pass through London next week I will do my best to call and see you."
Home Letters – Sergeant J. G. Field writes to Mr. Tuck, 31st August:-
"You will see that I did not remain in France. We went to ---------- and handed over the draft, and after two days' waiting we were bundled back to Blighty to recommence the same old game. Recruits are now coming up, and we expect to be made up to be made up to strength again during September. Apparently we are more useful doing this work than being at the front, but it makes us feel very sick."
Home Letters – Sergeant J. G. Field writes to Mr. Tuck, 3rd September 1916:-
"Many thanks for the September gazette. But what sad news it contains . I deeply sympathise with the families of the boys who have gone under, and also with the Bank for the loss of good men. We have just had news through from some of our boys, they went into action a fortnight after they arrived, and I am sorry to say many have been killed or wounded. It brings it home to one more when one knows the boys who have fallen."
Home Letters – Sergeant J. G. Field writes to Mr. Tuck, 6th November:-
" I am afraid I have not given you any news of late. Please excuse, but lack of interesting matter has been the cause. We are now again up to strength; in fact we are about 100 stronger than we have ever been. Our list of 'Light Duty' men is a very long one. I see from the gazette that Lubicz has now been called up. Not much 'Gyppie' news just lately. I presume all is quiet in that part of the globe. The cotton season is just commencing, and I suppose the IOB will take some interest in it. Excuse more for the present, absolutely nothing else to report. Trusting you are keeping fit, and with kind regards."
Home Letters – Sergeant J. G. Field writes to Mr. Tuck, 7th January:-
“Many thanks for your last letter, also for the January Gazette. I do look forward to receiving this, and am only sorry I do not know personally the majority of the contributors. I never seem to get a chance at calling at the Bank, as when I do get leave I spend it with my wife at St. Neots. I did pass through London, on the way to see my mother at Brighton, a few months back, but did not have time to look you up. I will, however, make a point of doing so next time I am in town. I have written to Mr. Critchley once or twice lately, but have heard nothing from him, the reason, no doubt, being his visit to London. Let us hope your views re the termination of the war in six months’ time will prove correct, but I ‘hae me doots’ ! I was very sorry to see you have lost another member of your staff. The I.O.B. is having very bad luck, loosing so many of its good men. We have another draft ready for the front, and we expect to receive orders at any moment for their embarkation. Nothing of interest to report, so will close. With kind regards and all good wishes.”
Home Letters – Sergeant J. G. Field to Mr. Tuck, 6th April:-
"You will see from the above that I am still at the same old place. We move from here to the coast once again in about a week's time under canvas, of course. If this weather continues it will be somewhat draughty, I am thinking. A party of the V.T.C. have just arrived here for special training - about 200 in all, and I have had the job of preparing their camp. Am afraid the poor chaps had a rough time for their first night, as it was snowing the whole time. I don't think they have a great opinion of Army rations! We expect to send off another big draft at any time now and have 400 more recruits at the Depot waiting to come up, so expect to be kept busy in my department. Have just had a stocktaking - the first since that Battalion was formed. Despite our many changes, I am glad to say the result was very satisfactory. Of the items deficient and a few surplus, both explainable, and our unit has come out better than any in the command, I am told. Many thanks for the gazette for April. Am afraid my contributions are not frequent or very interesting. I trust you keep fit and all other members of the staff at home and abroad are well and safe."
Home Letters – Quartermaster - Sergeant J. G. Field writes to Mr. Tuck, 6th June:-
“It is about time that I let you have some news, or at least a few lines, for of news there is a scarcity. Another draft of about 100 is proceeding overseas next Thursday. My only excitement in connection with same will be probably going as far as the port of embarkation, there to be returned to my old monotonous job. We had a little excitement the other night, when an air raid was on. Have had numerous inspections since we have been under canvas; all have passed off satisfactorily. I am deeply sorry to learn from the Gazette that my old colleague, Captain Cull, is missing, and do hope news of his being safe has come to hand ere this. Will you be so good as to drop me a line when you receive some news? It is blowing a gale here to-night, and I have got to be about all the time with a party watching the marquees and tents, and should not be surprised if some got ripped up.”
Home Letters – Quartermaster - Sergeant J. G. Field writes to Mr. Tuck, 11th August:-
“Many thanks for the last issue of the Gazette. But how sorry I am to see that there is very little hope of poor Cull being still alive. I join with you all in deepest sympathy with Mrs. Cull and family. I worked with him for about four years and we always got on well together. I had hoped to tell you some news in this letter, but at present am ‘ marking time.’ I have hung on to this battalion, hoping we should all be sent overseas, but it does not seem as though we N.C.O.’s are likely to get away. I have, therefore, applied for a commission and have had an interview with the G.O.C., who has recommended same and forwarded it to the W.O.. So I may have some news in my next. There is nothing of interest to tell you as regards my present job, so please excuse, brevity.”
Home Letters - Sergeant J. G. Field writes to Mr. Tuck, 7th October:-
“I have just heard that my application has not gone through. I was after a Q.M.’s job in France for which the W.O. has asked for applications, preference being given to Q. M. S.’s. The reply was to the effect that all vacancies had been filled. Several other men in adjoining units had put in for the same thing, but from what I hear from H.Q’s, nobody in this command was selected. My C.O. gave me a fine recommendation ; he says he is sorry for my sake I was not successful, but from the battalion’s point of view he is glad I am remaining. ‘Que voulez-voux’! It seems I am fated to stick at home. I have done my best to get out, and I suppose I am a lucky fellow that I have not done so. We sent another draft away yesterday, and now, apart from officers and N.C.O.’s have none of the original battalion left. "
"We are filled up with men back from the front now, and we who have not been out feel very rotten, I can assure you. I much regret to see from the last Gazette (for which many thanks) that the I.O.B. has suffered further loss, and all my sympathy goes to the relatives of the brave fellows who have ‘passed on’ in the service of their country. Words are very poor to express one’s feelings, are they not? I am glad the Bank has escaped damage by Hun planes, and trust that it will continue to be immune from attack. We are having rotten weather these days, and shall be glad when we move into billets at the end of the present month. This is a most desolate spot, being eight miles away from the nearest station or village of any size, and there is only one shop in the place. I have not heard from a brother of mine, who is on a mine sweeper in the Mediterranean, for some time now, but trust he is OK. He has had a rough time and no mistake. He was a lad who was not very strong, and who had been used to sedentary work all his life, but the life on the briny has done him a world of good. Trusting you and all the staff are keeping fit, and with kind regards."
Home Letters - Sergeant J. G. Field writes to Mr. Tuck, 12th December:-
"Very many thanks for the parcel of good things which I received safely on Monday. It is very good of you to remember us in this way and much appreciated by us all. Thank you also for all good wishes for Christmas and the New Year, which I sincerely reciprocate. I have no fresh news to relate, I am sorry to say. It seems as if I shall be a fixture here for the duration. For this and other benefits I suppose I ought to be thankful, but am afraid I don't appreciate it. Again thanking you and wishing you all at number 26 everything that is good."
In May 1918 his letter was received too late for publishing.
Home Letters – Quartermaster - Sergeant J. G. Field writes to Mr. Tuck, 16th April:-
"I have intended writing you several times recently, but waited, as I have been warned three times in the past month for France. I made all my private arrangements, but on each occasion the orders were cancelled. So here I still remain. Our poor fellows must be experiencing terrible times out there just now, and one's heart is wrung when one thinks of what is happening. We are preparing to go under canvas in a fortnight's time, and hope the weather will be more friendly than it has in the last few days. I trust all at the bank are in good health, and that good news continues to be received from those who are away. Many thanks for the last gazette just received. We had the Zepps. over here a few nights ago, but they did not drop any bombs in this neighborhood. This is a very uninteresting letter, but I know you will appreciate the fact that Army life at home does not produce many events of an exciting nature. Life at small isolated spots on the East coast is also very dull and monotonous. Trusting you are keeping fit, and with kind regards."
Home Letters – Quartermaster - Sergeant J. G. Field writes to Mr. Tuck, July 14th:-
“Although I have nothing fresh to report I must send you a few lines, as I have not written you of late. We have become a weird crowd now, comprised, as we are, of all sorts and conditions of men over 40 and boys of the V.T.C under 17 . Three hundred V.T.C’s are with us at the moment, and their advent has caused a stir. They were told all necessary articles of clothing and equipment would be issued to them on arrival. We were instructed otherwise, and you can imagine some of the poor chaps were a bit uncomfortable for a time. However, we have fixed them up now, and they are really shaping quite well. My name has been down (at my own request) at Records for a transfer to a unit overseas, and it had got as far as a Relief R. Q. M. S. being sent to replace me. However, the W.O. in question is leaving to-morrow at a 12 hours’ notice, so presumably he was not suitable. It seems as if I am fated to remain with this battalion, but I am making a direct application to the W.O. to be shifted. Qui vivra [or vivrn], verra [or verrn] the result. Many thanks for the last Gazette. Very pleased to see we have had no more casualties.”
From abroad or afloat – Quartermaster - Sergeant J. G. Field writes to Mr. Tuck, 29th August:-
"Well, I have arrived in France at last. We had a splendid crossing and landed at noon yesterday. Had a four - mile march to camp, and wasn't I just pleased to get in. I have not carried a pack for three years, so was rather out of training. My shoulders and back are a bit sore this morning. I am at a base camp at present, but do not know how long I shall remain here. I have met many men whom I knew at home, so shall not be lonely whilst I am here. We are under canvas, at the present I have only one other chap with me. May this long continue. Some of the tents have had as many as sixteen men in them. I will write to you again later on, and hope I shall have something of interest to tell you. I trust you are feeling better now, kindest regards and many thanks for your friendly assistance last Monday."
From abroad or afloat – Quartermaster - Sergeant J. G. Field writes to Mr. Tuck, 11th September:-
"The weather has been very stormy these last few days, and we have been swamped out of our tents on two or three occasions. I have heard nothing so far about being sent up to the line, although all the men who came out with me have gone up. I feel as fit as a fiddle, and ready to do anything. I only hope that I am not kept down at the base camp for any length of time. I trust you have good news from all our men and no further casualties to report. I also hope you yourself have now recovered. Kind regards."
From abroad or afloat – Quartermaster - Sergeant J. G. Field writes to Mr. Tuck, 6th October:-
"I have just received the October gazette, for which many thanks. Am very pleased to see that there have been no further casualties in the London staff. It is a great pleasure to hear of the promotions, decorations and good deeds of some more of my old colleagues of the Alexandria branch. I have not heard from Mr. Critchley for some time now; I hope he is well. We are all excited about the grand news we are now receiving daily, and some of the boys are even counting upon spending Xmas at home. I am afraid that it is too much to expect, but there is no doubt it is the beginning of the end. I am kept pretty busy on one job or another and am having a interesting time. I am very lucky in remaining at the base, but if they won't send me up they won't. And there is an end to it. Have had on or two trips on conducting duty of one sort or another so have seen something of the country. Am keeping very fit, as I always do when getting plenty of exercise and fresh air. A little nippy under canvas, but not half as bad as the men up the line have to put up with. Hope you can read this. Am writing by candlelight; the sand is blowing in the tent and in my eyes. Kind regards to all at number 26."
From abroad or afloat – Quartermaster - Sergeant J. G. Field writes to Mr. Tuck, 26th October:-
"I was glad to get your letter dated the 13th instant last Tuesday; many thanks. I am sending this to the Bank, as you say you return on the 29th. I hope Smedley's treatment has done you the world of good and you will have no further trouble for the 'duration'. Have just been shifted from my last station. We are in a very pretty part of the country, some miles south of the old address under canvas, near a small village, about six miles from the coast. Our objects in being sent here is, we are told, to form a new Battalion of young soldiers, but no definite instruction have yet been given us. If it comes off, I shall be on my old job. I shall be glad, as I have been rather at a loose end since my arrival over this side, and I shall get slack if I have no definite duties to perform. I will write again as soon as I have anything of interest to report. Wilson's reply was the stuff to give 'em n'est ce pas? Hope you have had good news from all fronts, kind regards to all."
From abroad or afloat – Quartermaster - Sergeant J. G. Field writes to Mr. Tuck, 20th November:-
"Just before I left my last station [a week to-day] I received this month's, gazette, also a parcel of luxuries from the bank; they had both been chasing me around. Please convey my thanks to the right quarter for the parcel, the contents of which were much appreciated by myself and one or two friends. All sorts of rumors are current as to de mobilisation, and my place on the Staff of this battalion has already been taken by another chap. For the moment, therefore, I, together the remainder of the staff which originally formed the Y.S.B. are spare. Things have moved so rapidly of late that one is almost at a loss as to what comments to make on the situation generally. The main feature is that the fighting is over, and the sooner back to our civy jobs the better but everyone will be pleased. Probably you at home know better than we what the chances are of getting back into harness again. Personally speaking, I cannot hope to get home for some time, as I have been out here such a short time. It is only fair that those who have been away from home the longest should be the first to return. I was glad to see in the last gazette that your stay at Smedley's had effected a great improvement in your health. We are at present stationed in a small village miles away from anywhere. We have not been told that the Censor has relaxed his regulations, so will not mention its name. Hoping to see you before very long."
From abroad or afloat – Quartermaster - Sergeant J. G. Field writes to Mr. Tuck, 17th December:-
"Just a few lines to wish you a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year, trusting that your health has improved considerably since I last heard from you. I have not heard from you for some time but am hoping that you are back again at the capital Bank and quite well. This Battalion is now disbanded, some of the boys being sent into Germany, but none of the staff is going. We are daily hoping, therefore, to hear that we may be sent home. My address is still the same, but we may be shifted at any Moment. We shall all be glad, as life in a small French village is very monotonous these days. Please thank the bank for the very welcome parcel received a few days ago. The contents were much appreciated by myself and a few of my chums. Kind regards to yourself and all at the bank."
IOB List = Cyprus, Egypt and Turkey
= Regimental Sergeant J. G. Field Herts. Regt.
Local newspaper entries indicate that by 18th December 1914 Private J. G. Field had been promoted to the rank of Provisional Sergeant at the time it was indicated that he was serving as soldier number 669 in the 2/1st Huntingdonshire Cyclist Bat.
Local newspaper entries indicate that by 2/1/1915 Sergeant J. G. Field
had been transferred from H to G Co. of the 2/1st Hunts. Cyclist
If you can help with any data on this Huntingdonshire Cyclist please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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