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Smith, Gladys Elizabeth Groom- (1908–1978), secretary to Lord and Lady Pethick-Lawrence Imagen Con objetos digitales
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Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Résidence Générale de la République Française, Tunis.—Describes the Cabinet mission’s flight to Tunis and their accommodation there.

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*Transcript**

Résidence Générale de la République Française à Tunis
Tunis, le
20 March.

My own dear Love.

A gorgeous Bougainvillée tree in full bloom greeted me when I arrived in the upper courtyard of this house last night. It recalled many happy memories of travels you & I have had together about this time of year.

I have read your very dear letter {1} & shall be able to think of your movements day by day & send my thoughts to you & to all the friends tht† are coming to see you. Please give my love to one & all.

EMP & the girls {2} will have told you about our motor ride & about Hurn {3}. I think they went into the aeroplane & saw our comfortable quarters. We were finally in the air a little before noon & in half an hour were over the Cherbourg peninsular. Signs of devastation were just visible at a height of 7000 feet. At one o’clock a white table cloth was laid & soup & sandwiches appeared. I thought this was lunch & partook only to be told that lunch was served at 2! However it did me no harm.

2.30 we were over the French mountains & a thick coat of snow was visible. At 3.30 we saw the mouth of the Rhone & about 4.15 the coast of Sardinia. At 5 o’c we landed (most gently) on the airfield at Tunis & drove out here. The sun was setting & local time registered an hour later. The British Consul met us & escorted us here—a very fine villa reminiscent of Mena House {4}. It is only moderately warm. The others are going to have a leisurely walk, & a drive into Tunis this afternoon. We dine tonight with the French resident & are off on Friday morning before dawn.

We had a steak last night such as I have not seen since 1939 & tangerine oranges.

The others are waiting for me

Yours ever
Boy

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{1} PETH 8/68, dated 18 March.

{2} i.e. Ethel Mary Pethick, Emmeline’s sister, and the Pethick-Lawrences’ secretaries, Esther E. Knowles and Gladys E. Groom.

{3} Hurn aerodrome, near Bournemouth.

{4} The Mena House Hotel, by the Pyramids at Giza.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Viceregal Lodge, Simla.—Describes his journey to Simla and the situation of the Lodge. Jinnah will not arrive till Saturday, so talks will not begin till Sunday. Sends his love for their anniversary of 12 May. Four of his colleagues have just celebrated birthdays.

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Transcript

Viceregal Lodge, Simla
May 1, 46.

My dear.

This is certainly a most wonderful place and I am glad I have not missed seeing it. This particular house is perched upon a hill in Simla (which is, by the way, all hills) & there is a panoramic view all round. But while at Fways the view extends for 2 or 3 miles, here it is 50, 100, & in some directions I should think 150 miles. There are snow mountains dividing us from Kashmir & snow mountains dividing us from Tibet. We are about 7000 feet up.

I dined with Jinnah last night & met his sister who is very like him—they both look very tall but tht is because they are thin with aquiline faces. In reality they are only 5’9” & 5’ 4”. Jinnah says he cant get here till Saturday & we shant begin our talks till Sunday, so we shall nt have very much to do the next 3 days.

We got up @ 5.30 this morning, breakfasted 6.15, started 7, left aerodrome at 7.30[,] reached Amballa at 8.30 & then came up here 94 miles in motor cars, the last 55 miles being a steady climb. Most of the cars broke down on the way. I came with the Viceroy. I smelt something like a leather clutch burning some time before we pulled up. The sun is quite hot up here but the air is cool & refreshing. There is a billiard table in the house & a putting golf course in the garden.

The house itself is much less grandiose than the one at Delhi; all the same I have a very large sitting room & another large bedroom & 2 verandahs with glorious views.

I dont know how long this letter will take to reach you but I expect is wont go off till tomorrow & then it will take a day to Delhi, so tht you wont get it much before our May 12. In spite of all the beauty here I do wish I was with you for our festival. You will have to have the salmon & the gooseberry tart with friends & waft a greeting to me as I shall to you my beloved. 45 years ago since the original May 12, & I love my darling more deeply than ever. Kiss all the flowers for me at Fourways. Give my love to May & Lydia & to the girls in London & to the folk at Peaslake.

Last Wednesday was Stafford Cripps birthday, yesterday was Turnbulls, & today Alexanders[,] & Sunday is the Viceroys {1}. But I am sticking to soft drinks which suit me better. I am still exceptionally well though I dont xpect to sleep as well at this height as I have done in Delhi. You know neither of us ever did when we were in Switzerland.

The political situation here moves slowly forward to a climax which I cant predict. I am afraid the Palestine Report will greatly upset the Moslems.

All my love
Boy

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There are a few characteristically abbreviated words, including ‘nt’ for ‘not’ and ‘xpect’ for ‘expect’.

{1} ‘& Sunday is the Viceroys’ was inserted slightly later.

Letter from Lady Pethick-Lawrence to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

Transcript

June 3. 1946 {1}

My Dearest,

Do not let the delay in your return, give you any idea that you are missing the English summer. May 12 was the last summer day we have had. April was like June. The last 3 weeks have been March, & still, day after day we have gales of wind & storms of rain—sometimes sleet & hail. I read in the Paper today that in June the barometer has been lower than any day since Christmas. Not that we have had much frost. We have a good crop of soft fruit & apples, though no pears or plums. The violent wind tosses the trees & plants, like a storm tosses the waves on the ocean, while the clouds darken the sky. I hope it will be better weather for the Victory Parade {2}. No doubt interest & enthusiasm will work up during the next 5 days, but so far I find no sentiment expressed except disillusion. Even leading articles & Churchill’s speech have to recognize & attempt to deal with public apathy. Guildford & other towns too have refused to co-operate. The public feel that it is an exhibition of futility & waste. London has been much disfigured & spoilt for Londoners. It is not a happy time, & the real tragedy is brought home to people like G. G. {3} who could get no bread on Saturday, because she was too late in going out for it, & no milk because of the strike.

I have had a cable from Madeleine that she is scheduled to arrive in Southampton Dock next Wednesday, June 6th. She will take the train from Southampton to Woking, & on to Guildford where I shall meet her with the car. She has a transitional visa, & can only remain a short time. Probably she will stay at Fourways over Whit Monday, & we shall all go to London on June 11 & 12. I have avoided London for some weeks. There is much to do & see to here. I am giving much attention to the garden, and the little staff here needs a good deal of handling.

I have had very few official invitations during your absence[.] But I had one to meet F. M. Smuts {4}, and as I could not go, I wrote to salute him, and have had a charming personal reply in his own hand writing. I received a letter from Mrs Price Hughes yesterday, to tell me that she is constantly with us both in her thoughts. She is 93, & her writing is as good as ever. We had a very pleasant visit from Stuart & Ruth, though it rained hard all the time. There are 5 of your wild roses out today. I wish I could send you one. Farewell my darling. Keep well & serene, & enjoy the present moment. All here are well. May has arranged to spend a week with Dorothy to make room for Madeleine, should you have been able to get back. You remember we have booked rooms in Ventnor from June 24—July 8. May will stay with Tom & there will be a room for you at the week end or whenever you want it at my Guest House or at the Hotel near Trewartha. If the soft fruit ripens just then, Lydia will want to overlook the bottling, although she can show Violet & leave it to her after one or two experiments.

No food of any kind must be wasted.

And so again God be with thee.

Your own.
Patz

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{1} The address printed on the writing-paper is 11 Old Square, Lincoln’s Inn, W.C.2, but the letter was clearly written at Fourways.

{2} The national Victory Parade, to be held on 8 June.

{3} Probably Gladys Groom.

{4} i.e. Field Marshal Smuts.

Carbon copy of a letter from Gladys E. Groom to Rita Hinden

Lord Pethick-Lawrence invites Dr Hinden to come to his office next Monday (probably to discuss the forthcoming House of Lords debate on colonial affairs; see 1/274–6). Encloses a page from an order paper to show how Lord Swinton’s notice is worded.