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Letter from Gertrude Bell to her father, Sir Hugh Bell

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Reference code
Bell, Sir Thomas Hugh Lowthian
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Person(s) mentioned
Cox, Percy
Extent and medium
1 letter, paper

50.725231, 1.613334

Dec 26 Boulogne Dearest Father. I want you to do something for me - or at least to see if anything can be done. We are continuously brought up short by the fact that our threads disappear into the German trenches and can be followed no further. We know all there is to be known about a given man, where he was last seen, how he was left behind in trenches occupied by the Germans and his body never found when we retook them - there remain only two alternatives: he must be dead or a prisoner, and we can't find out. Now I have been proposing that some attempt should be made to induce Germany to exchange information with us either through the Red X or by any other method - that we might send in our lists to them, asking whether such and such people are in Germany and they send theirs to us. If the men on the lists are not forthcoming it is pretty certain they must be dead. I have written to the P.M. and to Sir Arthur Nice, but I daresay they will make answer that nothing can be done. There is one other method, unofficial. It is through banks. Cox, I know, gets information from Germany through a Swiss bank. I wish we could open up some line of this kind for ourselves. Do you think our own Nat. Prov. Bank could do anything through its client banks in neutral countries? or what about the Bank of England? Could you ask my Lord Cunliffe? It's a wild idea perhaps, but I wish you would think it over. We could not offer reciprocal information; that could only be done through official channels and if the Germans refuse these it's their own fault. In my scheme the information would have to be given in order to do a friendly turn to the Bank that asked for it. And it would have to be done secretly, I fancy, the central banks finding means of their own to get it. Will you try?
Diana and I took a half holiday yesterday and walked along the coast in frosty sun to where we met Major Armstrong, Domnul's friend. He took us to see the hospital of which he is P.M.O., Lady Hadfield's. She is an American, and Hadfield an English steel magnate. So we called on her; she was getting raisins and prunes for dinner, exquisitely dressed for the part in pure white down to her shoes and up to her nurse's veil. It's a charming hospital. Major A. and another doctor walked back with us, and it was very pleasant. Today it sleets and rains and I was at work til 8 P.M. We had a Xmas dinner with Mr Durell - one of our staff. He invited us all to dine at the Folkestone. It was amusing to go and dine somewhere else and see other people. We live such a shell fish life. I meant to write to Mother today but was drawn off by wishing to ask you about the banks. My love to her and I hope we shall never spend another Xmas like this one - but I don't feel sure. Your affectionate daughter Gertrude

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