22 February 1915

Dear Mother, My address will be, from Friday, Hood Battalion, 2nd Naval Brigade, Royal Naval Expeditionary Force c/o The Admiralty Whitehall, S.W.

... rather long, isn't it?

What follows is a dead secret (as is our day of starting). We are going to be part of a landing force to help the fleet break through the Hellespont and the Bosphorus and take Constantinople, and open up the Black Sea. It's going to be one of the important things of the war, if it comes off. We take 14-16 days to get there. We shall be fighting for anything from 2 to 6 weeks. And back (they reckon) in May. We may just lie with the Fleet off there and do nothing. Or we may get a lot of fighting. At any rate, it will be much more glorious and less dangerous than France. It is said – but this I don't know – and some Australians and New Zealanders and Regulars are coming with us. We are only taking 15 day's provisions (beyond what we have on the boats); so we obviously aren't expected to have a long campaign! I'm afraid we may be Reserves to Marines. We fight from boats – i/e. We can always get taken off if we have to retreat, so we're pretty safe!

Please don't breathe a word of this to anyone. Don't tell Alfred where we're going – beyond the Mediterranean and the fact that we're returning in May. The fact we're going out now makes it impossible to get him in now. He'd better stick to what he's at. (note)

We're taking our Camp Equipment, so it's obviously very possible we're expected to sit in Camp all the time.

I'm rather tired after a long day.


[Note: Rupert Brooke's brother, William Alfred Cotterill Brooke, joined the Post Office Rifles and was killed in France on 14th June 1915, aged 24 years]



from 'The Letters of Rupert Brooke' edited by Sir Geoffrey Keynes, published by Faber & Faber, 1968, as reproduced by Len Sellers in his magazine RND, No.6, September 1998