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Archive] First World War Correspondence of Captain George Malleson Butt, Army Service Corps, Salonika Army and Black Sea Forces

Captain George Malleson Butt

Editorial: -1919, 1914
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Librería: Richard M. Ford Ltd (London, Reino Unido)

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Approximately 250 letters written by Captain George Malleson Butt (1880-1936) of the Army Service Corps, written while on active service in the First World War, mainly with the Salonika Army and Black Sea Forces in the Balkans; the greater part addressed to his father George Weller Butt (d.1931) of Wilbury, Littlehampton, but with a number to his brother Charles Arthur Butt in Brighton. The earliest letters date from 1914, and the latest from 1919.The Butts were a prosperous family of Sussex timber merchants, trading in Littlehampton and Brighton under the name John Eede Butt & Sons. Butt himself was a well-educated man, having gone up from the exclusive Lancing College to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1898. He was an active young man, excelling at cricket at Lancing, and at cross-country running at Cambridge. After university he joined the British Army, and was already a Second Lieutenant in the A.S.C. by 1908. Six years later, in December 1914, and with England at war, Butt was appointed a Captain in the Army Service Corps Territorial Force. After the war Butt continued in the family business. On his death in 1936 he was described in the London Gazette as a ‘Timber Importer’, ‘late of 21 Wilbury Gardens, Hove’. He was survived by a widow, Violet Mary Butt (née Stilwell, d.1982).Butt’s letters are signed ‘George’, and he addresses his father as ‘Guv’nor’, and his brother as ‘Balbus’. The correspondence is in good condition, on aged paper, with the majority of letters accompanied by their original envelopes, many of which show signs of wear (a number of letters and envelopes have yet to be matched). The envelopes, although often in poor condition, are of interest for their postmarks. For example, one letter, dated 15 May 1915 has a circular black postmark of the Field Post Office D.27, 16 May 1915; as well as a triangular red postmark ‘Passed by Censor No. 802’, and a circular black postmark, Littlehampton, 8.15am, 18 May 1915. One letter (15 July 1918) carries a spoof circular censor’s mark written in pencil: ‘PASSED BY CENSOR | YOUR WIFE’. Together with the main correspondence is a small miscellaneous collection of other items, including letters (one from C. A. Butt’s wife Helen), postcards, newspaper cuttings, and a few items relating to the business.Butt writes extremely well, and his letters are filled with perceptive comments on the state of the war. He is allowed to be surprisingly frank about operational matters, either because he is an officer, or because he is a censor himself. On New Year’s Day 1915 he writes to his father from France of the latter role: ‘one of the men in a letter I was censoring says we heard the noise of guns all day, a shocking lie, but the censor’s duty is not to say whether men are speaking the truth but to cross out any names of places or information that should not be given’. While there is no evidence that any of Butt’s correspondence has been censored, it is of interest that the envelopes of letters written by him as late as April 1919 still carry censors’ stamps. Topics include (non-specific) news of troop movements, the state of the regiment, speculation on the war in general, the terrain, equipment, personal and business news, and everyday practicalities including ‘Gillette blades’ and latrines)The following extracts give a flavour of the correspondence, but by no means exhaust its interest: perhaps for reasons of censorship it is almost entirely written in pencil, and is often extremely difficult to decipher. Butt was himself clearly aware of the problem with his handwriting, writing to his brother on 6 March 1915: ‘At last I am answering your last letter & the writing may be clearer, but it is being done with a pencil given me by our general.’1914:On 14 November he writes to his father (‘Dear Guv’nor’) from the Supply Depot, Sittingbourne, and three days later he reports that his regiment has ‘had telegraphic orders to be ready to move to Newcastle at short notice, that is all cancel. N° de ref. de la librería 12539

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Título: Archive] First World War Correspondence of ...

Editorial: -1919

Año de publicación: 1914

Encuadernación: Soft cover

Ejemplar firmado: Signed by Author(s)

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Private premises. Autographs, manuscripts and archives on any subject. Particular interest in publishing and bookselling history. Occasional catalogues. Company number: 03785276

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