[Colonel Ernest Lethbridge.] Fourteen Autograph Letters Signed ('Ernest') to his brother Sir Wroth Lethbridge, mainly reflecting on currrent developments in the Second World War.
Colonel Lethbridge commanded the 1st Battalion Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, and was mentioned in despatches twice, and decorated several times, during service in the Great War. For more information about the two brothers, see their entries in 'Who Was Who'. Totalling 8pp., 4to; 30pp., 12mo. The ten 12mo letters are in good condition, lightly-aged, while the four 4to letters are aged and worn, with chipping to extremities. Informative letters, neatly and closely written, mixing informed reflection on the present war, with a few reminiscences and a little day-to day description; and well written as befitting a man educated at Eton and Sandhurst. In the first letter (25 April) he complains of young officers 'who are unable to command a file of men, let alone a platoon: some of them, too, who pass their examinations with eclat. It rather satisfies me when this happens: sorry as I am for the individual. For there is a certain lot of people in this country, who look down on the officer, as stupid. And this he may be, judged by standards of the donnish order'. In the third letter (8 May) he reminisces at length about General Bernard Paget (1887-1961), beginning: 'Paget, of course, I know well: & picked him out as a winner many years ago. He joined us in 1908 or there abouts, & during 1910, or some time then, I had theh regiment for a year, while the C.O. went home on leave pending retirement. And it was then that I had to do with Jonny Paget, as he was then. A very bright young gentleman I found him; and he ran any projects of mine very well. Being C.O., I could do as I liked [...]'. On 31 May he discusses the present troubles of the British Army in France, beginning: 'I feel pretty sure that the French & B.E.F. will get through to Dunkirk; it will be a great feat of arms. Something like Sir John Moore's retreat to Corunna; or the getting away of his force in the English Fleet.' He continues on the subject of Calais in the next letter (5 June), beginning: 'Winston's statement has cleared up quite a lot of things one wanted to know so much. The defence of Calais was one of them [...]'. On 12 June he discusses the Italian troops, and predicts a split between the Axis powers. In the letter of 19 June Lethbridge records 'some random thoughts on the present world situation'. The letter of 21 June laments the current state of France, and its government by a 'pack of old women'. On 2 July he exclaims: 'Fancy seeing gun emplacements in the streets of London; and the fortifying of London houses, indeed, a remarkable thing. It is highly interesting, your account of the exodus of people to Canada. A right & proper thing to get children and their parents over there. It is only when I hear of Jews going there, that I rather jib at it. Your mention of the Viennese Rothschilds brings it up. They may be old people, & of course that makes a deal of difference. Else, if they are not, & could bear a hand in the defence of the country, they should.' In the last letter (9 August) he returns to the subject of the French, who he finds have 'a streak of instability in their make up'. The letter ends, in a style that is representative of the whole: 'I don't have to do with the Home Guard these days, too effete now to do such things. And so I have not seen them. But they get on well here, I am told. Every one is very keen. One gardener chauffeur is just starting his work in the R.A.F. And we have got an old sailor, who ran from Belgium, with his French wife, when the Germans broke through & swamped the country. He has been employed in Belgium, looking after part of the war graves in that country. It was a shock to both of them, this running away, as she has lost her money & all she had, in fact. He is a good gardener: & I think will be quite well.' Accompanying the collection are two letters apiece concerning the correspondence to Stanley Shoop of Elstree from Oxford Brookes University and the National Army Museum, with photocopies of documents supplying biographical information.