A vast quantity of correspondence (c.3000 letters embracing his whole career, including his experiences in India, Ireland (twice), the Sudan, South Africa, The Great War, etc.

Brigadier-General Herbert Cecil Potter, sometime 'Military Chief' in Belfast.
Publication details: 
1890s to 1920s and beyond.
SKU: 10530

It is the most comprehensive archive of military letters that I have come across, physically or in research, covering as it does every phase of Potter's distinguished career - India, Ireland, South Africa, the Sudan, the Great War, Ireland (eventually as "British Military Chief" in Belfast). I have selected his Irish and First World War letters to demonstrate that the letters are substantial and interesting, with valuable perceptions and comment. Others letters including those from the Sudan, and letters to him from his wife have not yet been researched.Educated at Bedford Modern School, Brigadier-General Herbert Cecil Potter (1875-1964), CB (1927), CMG (1918), DSO (1917), Colonel Commandant, 3rd Indian Infantry Brigade, Peshawar; King's (Liverpool Regiment); Royal Warwickshire Regiment, served in the South African War, 1901-02 (Queen's medal and three clasps); in the Sudan, 1908 (medal and clasp, 4th Class Osmanieh, 3rd Class Mejidieh); in the Great War, 1914-18 (despatches, CMG, DSO, Legion of Honour, Bt Lt-Col, Bt Col). He retired on full-pay in 1927. A quintessential member of the British officer class ('One's servants certainly make a tremendous difference to the joy of life', he exclaims to his wife on 22 September 1917), Potter is clearly well-connected. On 26 January 1918 he informs his mother that 'HM George V has ordered me to come & see him at 11.30 am on Wed: next (30th) at Buckingham Palace'. Throughout the war Potter is sustained by his religious beliefs. On 16 November 1918 he writes to his wife of 'this interminable campaign', 'We can scarcely realize yet what a wonderful victory God has given us. And it all came almost like a miracle. I've never waivered in my belief that God would not allow the Bosches to win'.A. The Great War correspondence of Brigadier-General Herbert Cecil PotterA total of 470 ALSs and 37 ACSs, forming a substantial and well-written correspondence by a distinguished English army officer, providing detailed day-to-day information regarding his active service (Battle of the Somme; Battle of Arras; 3rd Battle of Ypres, and others; wounded four times) with the King's (Liverpool Regiment), on the Western Front throughout the entire First World War. Addressed to his mother ('Dearest Mother'), the widow of Frederick Anthony Potter, and his wife ('Mummie darling') Mary Kingston Potter (d. 1935), daughter of the Rev. Moule Griffith.The correspondence is in excellent condition, with the majority of letters clear and complete, but with a number (especially among those addressed to Potter's wife) having sections torn away, presumably by the censor. (The majority of those to Potter's wife are in their envelopes, nearly all carrying the numbered stamps 'PASSED FIELD CENSOR' and 'PASSED BY CENSOR', and a few the label of the 'BASE CENSOR'.)Potter's style is entertaining and informative, and his frankness in writing to female relations about war is unusual for the period, and perhaps explained by the fact that he was raised by his widowed mother. As will be seen from the quotations given below, the subject matter is primarily Potter's day-to-day activities, with occasional comments on the wider military picture. (Letters also carry brief reports on the weather and his health, and speculations about the state of his family.) The correspondence grows terser and more guarded as the correspondence proceeds, with Potter complaining to his mother (19 March 1917) that 'the Press Censor does not allow us to send you any news'. Bad news is always understated ('Bosche is getting finely pounded though we haven't it all our own way.' 22 April 1917). Included are a few press cuttings, and three letters enclose pressed flowers (one of them - on 17 June 1916 - has with it a Christmas card and three pressed flowers from the Somme).A. Potter's letters to his mother.174 ALSs and 28 ACSs between 12 July 1914 to 19 December 1919, addressed to 'Dearest Mother' at Bedford, and signed 'B.':1914, 24 ALSs (18 pp, 8vo; 64 pp, 12mo) and 9 ACSs1915, 31 ALSs (37 pp, 4to; 4 pp, 8vo; 72 pp, 12mo) and 2 ACSs1916, 27 ALSs (41 pp, 4to; 1 p, 8vo; 8 pp, 12mo) and 2 ACSs1917, 23 ALSs (23 pp, 4to; 23 pp, 12mo) and 6 ACSs (including two Christmas cards1918, 36 ALSs (39 pp, 4to; 12 pp, 8vo, 33 pp, 12mo) and 9 ACSs1919, 33 ALSs (63 pp, 4to; 17 pp, 8vo; 4 pp, 12mo)Potter's correspondence with his mother begins in Aldershot, as the 'European situation' starts 'humming'. From the outset he has no illusions about the nature of the conflict, hoping (16 August) to 'come home safe & sound from the war', while accepting that 'many will not, very many'. 'The Germans', he comments, 'seem to have gone mad & appear to wish to fight everyone at once.' On 4 August 1914 he is 'expecting the order to mobilize in 20 mins: (4 pm). I don't think our Army will move until the German fleet is destroyed or bottled up safely'. Eight days later his brigade is inspected by the King and Queen. Within a month, he has seen active service, reporting ('Sept 10th or 11th') that he is 'temporarily out of action slightly wounded thro' both legs', his brigade having 'surprised a German column this morning & attacked at once (a man has just come by who says we have captured the lot. How pleased our General will be!)' He is shipped back to England, and stays 'with the Empress Eugenie at Farnborough [...] The Empress has placed one wing of her house at the disposal of sick or wounded officers & there are 7 of us here now. The dear old lady (88) came in to see me this morning & we talked war & France for a longt time, until Lady Haig reminded her that there were 6 other officers for her to call on!' A few days later he describes 'a fairly useful tea party', with 'the King & Queen, the Empress, the Prince of Wales & Princess Mary, Princess Clementine (Napoleon) & one or two other "nibs"!' He returns to Aldershot, October 1914, and by the end of the year he has started 'a school for young officers' at Formby in Lancashire. For the next six months he describes the progress of his course, reporting on 17 May 1915 that 'The first of my "lambs" has been killed, a chap called Lomax, one of the smartest & best soldiers I've had here, if not the smartest out of 326.' Later that month he writes that he is to 'have another crack at the Huns'. He writes candidly on 28 May 1915: 'I arrived here, (not 1000 miles from La Bassée) the night before last, & found the Bde. resting after 4 days desperate fighting last week, when they took line after line of German trenches. They lost 560 men (45% of their strenghth) but are as merry as sand boys as they were so successful. We received a draft of 120 men today (I wonder whether the Press Censor objects to these details!)'. Having previously written that he feels 'too tall for the trenches & [...] conscious that the top of my head is showing when I stand upright', he draws a diagram (13 June 1915) of the 'trench leading to my abode [...] cut with a shelf on each side which is my garden in which I have pinks & other flowers'. In a following letter he reports that 'Last night two trenches took to bombing one another, which shows you how close the opposing trenches are, as the bombs are thrown by hand.' A letter of 30 October 1915 contains a drawing of 'a very imposing white cross' erected by the Germans to 'Lt King & Lt Hall & 8 men of the S. Staffordshire Regiment' with the inscription 'Died like heroes', and viewed by Potter 'with the help of a telescope'. ('The enemy put up a notice "We are the 11th. Saxons, don't shoot & we won't"! We were, however, having none of this & 'strafed' them as usual.') In November 1915 he is decorated with the Legion of Honour by Sir Douglas Haig, 'for trying to do my job, I suppose'. At the same time he describes his command being 'waist deep in water [...] tumbling in all directions. We got up 6 pumps &, by the time we were relieved, had got the water out, but I'm afraid those 4 days in the water will kill some of the men; two were carried out on stretchers with pneumonia.' In March 1916 he is promoted to Brigadier-General and arrives 'to find my Brigade holding the ruins of the "Bluff" & "International Trench" [...] The place has been completely flattened [...] deep in icy water [...] which froze at night & ruined the poor men's feet [...] We came out of our trenches last night & I drove through "Wipers" at 2.30 am this morning. It is an awful sight! Not a house intact & like a city of the dead [...] One of our aeroplanes fell just in front of me the day after I arrived. Both occupants were shot by a German machine gun from another aeroplane & were probably dead before they struck the ground.' Letter of 4 April 1916 describes an action in which Potter played a prominent part, giving figures for casualties and prisoners taken, beginning 'Have you recently been reading in the papers about the fighting at St. Eloi? Well, your son was the victor of St E!!' Later in the month he states that he is 'in charge of some very important defences which take up a good deal of my time'. He is twice wounded on the Somme in August 1916, the second time by a 'large shell [which] sat down beside me & made me stone deaf for some days'. (At letter to his wife written at the time contains a sketch of the first wound, 'caused by a piece of shell about the length of my finger'.) At the end of the year he hears 'that the Division on our right actually had 2 men drowned in the mud'. In April 1917 he announces that 'my command has covered itself with glory [...] It is very nice to be on the winning side after our rough experiences at Mons & later. Our men are at the top of their form!' On 1 May 1917: 'I saw as Bosche aeroplane come down today. It spun round & round like a top until quite close to the ground when it righted itself & landed perfectly.' In the summer months of 1917 he is hospitalised with trench fever. A letter in August 1917 analyses the enemy's 'difficulties'. On 30 March 1918 he once again praises his command: 'They fought like absolute tigers & we only came back to order. When their flanks were exposed they fought facing three ways & none thought of retiring.' As the fortunes of the war turn he reports (21 June 1918) 'a most successful entertainment the other night resulting in the capture of over 200 Bosches & 25 machine guns. We sprung it as a surprise on the gentlemen opposite & stepped over without the slightest warning. We must also have killed some hundreds, which is all to the good! The scheme was, I think, mainly my own'. On 30 October 1918 he reports 'another most successful battle, advancing about 6 miles, capturing some 1500 Bosches, & many guns & machine guns, etc, at comparatively little cost. My own Bde. did the best, they really are wonderful in overcoming any opposition.' At the cessation of hostilities his brigade are 'creeping Hun-wards', leading 'the British Army there, in line with the Guard's Divs'. On 15 December 1918 he writes: 'We are now well into Germany & our immense popularity & hospitable reception is the greatest disappointment to us! We arrived scowling, with pistols stuck in our belts everywhere, & we are met with smiles & the greatest kindness! I have frowned at everyone, & grunted a few short commands to the inhabitants since the 11th but I can't keep it up much longer!' Most of the letters of 1919 describe Potters's activities with the British Army of the Rhine, mainly in Cologne.B. Potter's letters to his wife.296 ALSs and 9 ACSs between 14 August 1914 and 17 October 1919, addressed to 'Mummie darling', 'My darling kid' and other pet names and signed 'Daddy', 'Soldier' and other names:1914: 7 ALSs (12 pp, 4to; 1 pp, 12mo), 7 ACSs and 2 telegrams1915: 72 ALSs (106 pp, 4to; 2 pp, 8vo; 102 pp, 12mo)1916: 97 ALSs (128 pp, 4to; 14 pp, 12mo; and 3 empty envelopes) and 2 telegrams1917: 43 ALSs (37 pp, 4to; 4 pp, 8vo; 6 pp, 12mo; and 3 empty envelopes), 1 ACS, a christmas card and 1 telegram1918: 69 ALSs (107 pp, 4to; 23 pp, 12mo) and 1 ACS1919: 9 ALSs (23 pp, 4to)Pottter begins his letters to his wife from France, writing of the local populace in August 1914: 'You have no idea how much these people hate the Germans. Of their men kind, only old men & boys are left at home & all the former fought in the war of '70 '71.' In addressing his wife Potter is lighter and more conversational in tone. For example, he writes on 14 February 1915: 'The Bosches are making me feel rather uncomfy as, by their artillery & trench mortaring I rather suspect they are going to raid us.' He is however often more revealing than one would expect from a man trying to shield his wife from the horrors of war. He writes on 25 June 1915: 'Yesterday my letter was brought to an abrupt conclusion by the C.O. asking me to go & arrange about some night work for a Coy. on the crater of yesterday morning's explosion. At the same time he showed me a message saying that we were going to explode 2 mines in the next lines to ours. I hurried off to our lines & waited & waited & waited behind a brickstack for at least 2 hours when suddenly the whole earth shook & a column of earth flew 100 feet into the air. Our chaps started to cheer & fire like mad as if an attack was to be made (a put up job) & in the hopes that the strafers would line their parapet, when the earth trembled again & up went another column of earth, followed by thick clouds of smoke. It was a thrilling sight but of course we do not know the damage to the Bosches. | An amusing thing then happened. The Huns always retaliate in some way, so I was not surprised when they hit the front of the brickstack with a trench mortar. This fires an enormous bomb which shakes the earth like a mine, in fact I thought this one was a mine until they told me what it was. Next moment a tiny chap with a white face came "hare-ing" round the brickstack. He tumbled first into a barbed wire chevaux-de-frise in which he struggled like a fly in fly paper for a bit. Escaped from that he bumped into more wire & then I saw there was something wrong, so I caught hold of him & asked him what was the matter. He sobbed out that a bomb had fallen just by him. I saw he was very shaken so I told him to sit down as he was quite safe there, asked him if he were wounded, & told him he would be alright in a few minutes & so on. I was still talking to him (he belonged to another Regt.) & saying how safe he was when another bomb came oer the brickstack this time & fell within a few yards of us. There was a noise like the end of the world & I could see nothing for smoke & dust but my little white rabbit who sprang 5 ft into the air & was making off again when I seized him & led him into a dug out & told the men to look after him. | Mr. Pratt, who was near me, & I, laughed till we cried over my little prize, whom I save from a hasty "retirement"!' A letter of 8 July 1915 carries a diagram of trenches, 'To show you how close we were' during an engagement - 'within 8 paces of the Strafers in one place': 'Once upon a time we held a line a little further forward, 100 yds or so, & had a communication trench up to it. Now the Germans are there & hold part of the communication trench. [...] Our men saw into the German trench through their own (the German) periscope! For, just as you can see the other side from within with a periscope, so anyone outside can see into the trench, if near enough. It was the seeing of an officer & several men that made our men bomb & the yells & groans spoke to the success of the manoeuvre.' On 31 May 1915 he writes: 'I've just been watching a French aeroplane being shelled by anti-aircraft guns, it is such a pretty sight but very 'uncomf' I should imagine for the flier. Tiny bursts of flame & little balls of white smoke all round him. | At the moment there are lots of aeroplanes up making their final inspection before dark. Then first thing in the morning they go out again & see who has moved since the night before. | (Later) I've again been watching a heroic chap who must have had 150 shells fired at him & still continued as if no-one was noticing him!' On 14 October 1916 he describes 'a success we had tonight. The authorities wanted to know who the "gentlemen opposite" were. So, for some days, we have been maturing a scheme to raid their trenches. The raid came off just now & we killed several Germans & brought back a wounded one without a single casualty ourselves. Isn't that nip? Boche is very angry & has been strafing us heavily in retaliation but that is a game two can play, & when we turned out our "heavies" he soon quietened down!' On 21 March 1917, he describes an injury: 'My arm is a little bit stiff & there's arm holes in my arm where I was hit yesterday'. On 22 September 1917, during the 3rd Battle of Ypres, he writes: 'this is an awful H.Q. There are several inches of water on the floor & the whole place smells of damp & froust! [sic] The dirt too was indescribable before I had it cleaned up. It oughtn't to take many days of this place to give me trench fever again or rheumatic fever'. He is very proud of the 'dear old B[riga]de.', writing on 24 June 1917: 'The goc [general officer commanding] made a fine speech to one of my commanders today & said amongst other things "I do not wish to flatter you or pay you idle compliments, but I say without hesitation that the 9th. Bde. has the finest record & reputation for fighting of any Bde. in France since the beginning of this year".' At 6 am on 9 April 1917, during the Battle of Arras, he writes to his wife describing himself as 'your soldier [...] hop [sic] & "trusting" for victory today, & thinking in the midst of everything of his darling Mrs & sweet wee "fam".' And at 2 pm on the same day: 'Mummie darling, I think I may tell you that we've won a splendid victory & the Bosches are in full flight. The dear old Bde. did magnificently taking probably the strongest position in France. I hope the casualties are not very heavy but it's too early to know at present.' On 28 March 1919 he describes a meeting with Field Marshal Haig ('the C in C'). 'He said that this was the anniversary of the beating of the German Army in front of Arras & really the defeat of their offensive. Don't I remember it! The dear old 9th. Bde., having taken the whole of the attack on 21st & 22nd, finally fighting facing two ways, again stuck out the 28th & 29th facing at the last three ways but never thinking of retiring until ordered to do so late on 29th. The C in C said that we had won the war by the determination to fight on until not a soul was left, if necessary, & that discipline & determination were still going to win every time. [...] The C in C always gives me the idea of being very nervous & he talks with such a low voice that I had the greatest difficulty in hearing him. I'm glad to say he looked in very much better health than he did two years ago when he inspected us before the battle of Arras. He then looked the colour of poor old Col. Tripp just before he died.'OVER:B. The Irish correspondence of Brigadier-General Herbert Cecil Potter, 1897-1903, 1921-3A total of 341 letters, with a diary, relating to the Irish service of the distinguished English army officer Brigadier-General Herbert Cecil Potter (1875-1964), CB (1927), CMG (1918), DSO (1917), Colonel Commandant, 3rd Indian Infantry Brigade, Peshawar; King's (Liverpool Regiment); Royal Warwickshire Regiment, served in the South African War, 1901-02 (Queen's medal and three clasps); in the Sudan, 1908 (medal and clasp, 4th Class Osmanieh, 3rd Class Mejidieh); in the Great War, 1914-18 (despatches, CMG, DSO, Legion of Honour, Bt Lt-Col, Bt Col). He retired on full-pay in 1927.The correspondence is in excellent condition, with all but a handful of the letters clear and complete. A few of the letters in their stamped, postmarked envelopes. The large majority of letters (signed 'B.') addressed by Potter to his mother, the widow of Frederick Anthony Potter, at her home in Bedford.A well-written correspondence, by a quintessential member of the British officer class, educated and well-connected, and written (as the quotations below indicate) with frankness. In the 1920s correspondence Potter comments on military operations, domestic news, local history of Ireland, gun running, desertions, military discipline, the IRA, and speculates on the political and military state of Ireland and post-war Europe .The earliest part of the correspondence (see below for description) comprises 242 letters from Potter, mainly to his mother, written between 12 September 1897 to 20 September 1903, and casting light on the day-to-day experiences of a young English army officer in Ireland. It is however the remaining 99 ALSs, written between 9 January 1921 to 25 March 1923, that are of greatest interest, presenting a vivid picture of a high-ranking British army officer in Northern Ireland at the time of partition. Having arrived in the country at the beginning of the year, Potter explains his duties to 'Mrs Marshall' (nom de plume for his wife?) on 7 June 1921, saying that he has just 'made one trip through Co. Roscommon, visiting four detachments there which took me all day. Confidential reports on officers, military & civil courts martial & courts of enquiry take up the greater part of my time'. On 5 February 1922 he announces that he is the 'New Military Chief for Belfast'. In July 1922 he complains: 'My annual "nightmare" is upon me again, confidential reports on officers. I have some 250 to report upon this year'. And in February of 1923 he is in charge of the 'military arrangements' for the entry into Belfast of the Governor of Northern Ireland, the Duke of Abercorn.A. 99 ALSs, written between 9 January 1921 to 25 March 1923. Breaking down as follows. In the year 1921: 44 ALSs (36 in 4to; 8 in 12mo), 30 to his mother and 14 to 'Mrs. Marshall' (a name used to address his wife for reasons of security?). Written from Newcastle West in Limerick, Athlone and Tipperary. In his first letter to his mother (9 January 1921) Potter explains that he left England for Ireland on 29 December 1920: 'I am here with my H:Q now & my commando is very scattered, some at Zurich & some at Tipperary [...] It was a bit hard to have to disembark on Christmas day & travel up to our hutments at Tipperary but I never heard one single word of complaint from officers or men'. In the following letter (16 January 1921) he reports: 'We have rounded up a few sportsment but had to let them go again for want of definitive evidence against them.' A week later he hears that 'one of my detachments has had the good luck to capture the Commandant of the West Limerick Bde., together with 3 others of importance from the gentlemen opposite'. At the beginning of February he recaptures two of his men who have deserted, taking with them 'rifles & ammunition with them which we know would, willingly or unwillingly, go to the "gentlemen opposite" [...] It was a particularly low down job, as they took the rifles of pals who stood the chance of doing years of imprisonment for losing their rifles [...] I should like to see them shot.' One Sunday in April 1921 he wakes 'to find every road trenched for miles in each direction! [...] However, we have managed to get where we wanted to in spite of their efforts & have mended a few places with the aid of natives, impressed for the work. [...] One gentleman whom we caught said it was against his principles & dignity to fill in a trench he had helped to dig as he was a Capt in the I.R.A.!' Shortly afterwards he defends 'the regrettable incidents, which undoubtedly have occurred' as 'traceable in every instance to the most heinous crimes committed by the opposite side'. On 15 May 1921 he comments bitterly: 'My "area" has livened up considerably in the last few weeks & the enemy has got quite brave at digging up roads! Yesterday the courageous I.R.A. made a long expected attack on the police in one of my villages 10 miles from here. Seventy of them occupied houses in the village & shot at 3 policemen who were out shopping. One was killed & the others wounded. This, I suppose, will be celebrated as a considerable Republican "victory"!' On 29 of the same month he writes to his mother 'from the barracks in which I lived in Limerick in 1903 with the 2/Kings, before I went to Egypt'. In August, following large fires at a 'timber yard & the goods station' which he is convinced were started by the IRA, he suggests that 'a call for, say, 50,000 more men might add weight to our arguments. On the other hand it might be provocation'. The following month he refers to the Irish as 'these savages', opining that they 'will accept to remain in the Empire & that really is our great point, I presume, though there are plenty of other difficulties about the North side, which will require a lot of chat before they are finally settled & the murderers are left to murder one another instead of decent Englishmen!' At the end of the year (18 December) he complains 'We are in the same state that we have been in for 5 months of wondering what the morrow will bring forth! Tomorrow the Dail is to debate in public what they have already arranged in private. I suppose they will have some sort of election or referendum on the terms of the settlement, which ought to keep us unsettled for at least 2 months longer.' In the year 1922: 43 ALSs (35 in 4to; 1 in 8vo; 7 in 12mo) to his mother, mainly from Belfast; but with a few from Chatham. On 5 February 1922 Potter announces from Victoria Barracks, Belfast, his appointment to a new post: 'My advent here was heralded by newspaper posters all over the place. "NEW MILITARY CHIEF FOR BELFAST". I crept past these, as, I imagine, a murderer does past the posters of his crime! No-one, I am sure, would have suspected that I was the new military chief!' In a following letter he complains of 'snipings & murders'. He denounces both sides of the conflict on 19 March 1922: These people are worse than savages & do things of which a savage would be ashamed, such as the deliberate murder of women by a gang of men (a shot!), the murder of a blind man, the bombing of children of the opposite persuasion, & so on. I get perfectly mad with them & there is nothing to choose between the two sets of murdering Christians. A novel feature of the last outbreak was the deliberate shooting at the military, doing their duty on the streets. We have hitherto been immune except from stray shots from either side.' On 28 May he writes: 'I see that there is a large fire in the town, no doubt the work of C.F. incendiaries who are endeavouring to exasperate the Protestants to violent action, [...] I feel that the farce of the Provisional Govt cannot be kept up much longer & hope that even Winston Churchill sees that it is time to cease giving them arms, ammunition & armoured cars for use against us.' In the year 1923: 12 ALSs (8 in 4to; 1 in 8vo; 3 in 12mo) to his mother. From Belfast; Newry, County Down; and Chatham. Begins (7 January) with Potter 'commanding the Bde. again Col: Skinner having gone on leave'. On 18 February he writes: 'Yesterday I went down to Ballykinlaw to see the 2nd. Bn. Cheshire Regt. "troop the colour" & then to lunch. It was very well done but the Battn. was painfully weak numerically. The General was there & the leaders of military fashion in the neighbourhood. Things are still peaceful up here though we had one bomb thrown last week. I think a Protestant wanted to get rid of it so he threw it away towards a R.C. quarter hoping for the best; mercifully no-one was hurt.' On 25 February he reports that he is in charge of the 'military arrangements' for the entry into Belfast of the Governor of Northern Ireland. 'We are lining the street for about a mile & furnishing various escorts & guards of honour'. In the last letter relating to Ireland, sent from Chatham on 25 March 1923, he comments on a photograph showing him at the procession: 'You will see that I have something weighty in my pocket, an automatic pistol, in case of trouble that day!'B. 242 letters from Potter, mainly to his mother, written between 12 September 1897 to 20 September 1903. Lacking the correspondence for the year 1902. Substantial letters (rarely less than 4pp in 12mo), written at a rate of slightly less than one a week, giving details of Potter's day-to-day military activities, with subjects ranging from his training, health, uniform, sports and pastimes, and promotion prospects. There are some nice local touches. 6 December 1897: 'On Sat: we played Ulster on the Barrack Square & won by 9 goals to 2. They are considered rather a fine team. A fearful fog came on about 4. o'clock & lots of people seem to have walked into the sea at Belfast. Three were drowned, & another cove walked into a train & got knocked to bits at Sydenham (about a mile from here toward Belfast.)' The items break down as follows. The year 1897: 15 ALSs (1 in folio; 14 in 12mo), 12 to his mother, 2 to his brother 'Fred' and 1 to his sister 'Edie'. Interesting long letter to his mother (folio, 8 pp), 'on a colossal piece of paper, collared from the orderly room for the occasion', from Holywood, Belfast, 6 September 1897, describing 'our journey here', including five ink 'diagrams', including a map depicting 'the geography of these parts'. The year 1898: 47 ALSs (all 12mo); 6 ACSs; 2 telegrams. To his mother, from Mertoun Hall, Holywood; Albuhera Barracks, Aldershot. On 13 February 1898, Potter complains that 'The C.O. gets more & more unreasonable. Dismal Jimmy & have gone on leave & I am in charge of E. Coy.' A generally uneventful year. The year 1899: 63 ALSs (all 12mo), to his mother, from Enniskillen; York; Holywood, County Down. Another uneventful year, ending with Potter being 'bottled up for Christmas' at Enniskillen. The year 1900: 52 ALSs (all 12mo), to his mother, from the School of Musketry, Hythe, Kent, and the Royal Barracks, Dublin. On 22 March 1900 describes his position as 'Bank Guard' in Dublin: 'I've just been up to the Castle Guard for dinner. Macfie is on guard up there & Major Tripp is the field officer & so he was dining too. There were also two guests. The officer on Castle Guard is provided with a French cook & feeds right royal. He & the Field Officer dine together & are allowed a guest each.' A long letter (12mo, 16 pp) of 22 April 1900, from the Viceregal Lodge, describes his experience guarding Queen Victoria during a visit by her to Ireland. He begins: 'Here I am on Guard on Her Majesty, who is at present off my hands, as she is out for a drive.' He dines with the royal household. 'I got a great view of the old lady as I was standing almost up against her carriage on the off side. They had a kind of platform for her to go down to avoid the steps'. A diagram follows, and a few pages on another showing the parade ground on the day of inspection. On 1 May 1900 he is a member of a guard of honour to see off the queen. 'I believe already the Queens visit is doing in calculable good in every way. Just now the people of Dublin wont listen to these disloyal agitators'. In mid-May he arrives at the School of Musketry, Hythe, Kent, where he stays for a month, before returning to Dublin. The year 1901: 33 ALSs (all 12mo); with receipt for uniform from the Fermoy military outfitters Daniels & Sons. To his mother, mainly from the New Barracks at Fermoy. A long letter (12mo, 7 pp) describes the battalion's 'new quarters' at Fermoy, beginning 'This is supposed to be the best station in the United Kingdom, but I can't quite see it at present. There is hunting four days a week, & I believe good shooting & excellent fishing. [...]' On 5 October he learns he is soon to return to England. The year 1903: 32 ALSs (all 12mo) to his mother, mainly on letterheads of the King's Regiment, Limerick. On 19 March he reports that 'things are going very smoothly in the Regt. There is not much doing these times which gives opportunities for reading up new drill'. Reports, 28 July 1903, that 'at cock-crow the Battn proceeds to Cork to greet the King on Saturday. The whole of the 8th Division are to be concentrated for about six days & then proceed straight to Kilworth whare we have about 10 days manoeuvres & then fire our musketry courses.' In the last item in this group (20 September 1903) Potter reports that 'a bombshell arrived in the form of an order to report myself at Cairo for the Egyptian Army! Tonight I'm going to sleep on it & tomorrow the decision has to be made.' (Potter decided to make the change, and within two months found himself writing to his mother from Khartoum.)C. Potter's autograph diary for 1897. 12mo, 116 pp. Detached from worn original cloth boards, with 'H Cecil Potter | Diary 1897' inside front cover. On browned high-acidity paper. Two leaves detached and chipped, otherwise clear and complete. The diary entries are brief and businesslike, revealing Potter to be conscientious, patriotic and devout. At the start the emphasis is on brief reports of sporting activities (6 February: 'Went up to Town 10.20 to play footer Blackheath v Harlequins'), and a record of (mainly domestic) letters received; as the year proceeds Potter's military activities comes to the fore. The first entry (1 January) begins: 'The New Year found me on my knees praying for myself & those I love to a merciful God who had spared us all thro' another year.' Potter watches hockey and sketches; he tries his hand at roller skating. His military duties are not onerous: his brigade engages in occasional route marches in England and parades, he does signalling and 'the colonel's drawing room floor'. He sits behind his sister Edie in church on 20 May, when she behaves 'disgracefully'. On 16 June receives 'a fearful slanging from the General about the suspected incendiaries'. Long entry on 22 June describing what he considers to be 'The greatest day in the annals of British History, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.' On 1 July takes part in a 'Great review of 27,000 troops by the Queen'. As summer proceeds complains of 'slow' days with 'Not much going'. After parade on 16 August the battalion listen to 'a few words from General on the subject of the B[attalio]ns. bad name at Aldershot. He spoke straight & well, but kindly & Im sure every one determined that it should not again be said that the Bn. was in a very bad state of drill & discipline'. Describes war gaming throughout August, during which his 'first attempt in command of a picquet seemed to be a good success. He describes the battalion's move to Ulster at the beginning of September: 'Marched along the quay & over a bridge to the station (County Down) & took train to Holywood all feeling very cheap. Got out at Tillysburn & marched up to Barracks. These are very fine indeed & when finished should be absolutely delightful. At present they are unfinished & the roads in a shocking state. [...]' (4 September). On 9 September the battalion is inspected by General Geary, 'a most charming man'. The rest of the diary is mainly devoted to Potter's duties, he finding it (24 November) 'Work, work, work from morning till night.' The diary ends as it began, with references to sport and religious exhortations.