The Station Hospital, Wellington, Madras
16 Sept 1915
My dear old Elsie
The weeks go by and here I am still in hospital. I was hoping very much to get out this week but now they have put off the Medical Board until Monday 20th. If the Board passes me as fit and recommends me for a months sick leave the report will go to Headquarters in Simla and take a day or two to get officially passed so Im afraid it looks as if I shall spend my birthday1 in hospital after all. I am very tired of hospital regulations and the isolation especially as I feel quite well now. Fortunately another enteric officer has arrived and we are able to pass our evenings playing poker patience and picquet.
My great consolation is that while I am ill I get £3 per week from my Insurance people at home and hope to get £50 out of them which will be very useful for my sadly depleted exchequer – Ive paid in to the Society for years and never got much out of them but of course I shall be amply repaid now. Many thanks old thing for your last letters written from Borth Im so glad you had such a good time there and hope you feel all the better for your holiday. Yesterday a very delapidated parcel arrived with the baccy cigarettes metal glass and
spoon etc. Everything quite safe and undamaged – my best thanks dear for all the things which are greatly appreciated – I am just able to enjoy a pipe now and the 3 Nuns2 is a great treat – the parcel took just 3 months getting to me. I hear from my men in the Gulf they have had another fight and have advanced 40 more miles up the Tigris to a place called Al-Gharbi – they are now only 270 miles from Baghdad. I think they will have a big battle soon at Kut-al-Amarah where the Turks are at present digging themselves in. The Somersets are still at Dagshai and are always expecting to get their orders to pack up and be off – I fancy tho that at present they wont be spared out of India – only this week there has been a big show on the N.W.Frontier above Peshawar3 in which nearly all the 8 Regiments of Regulars who are left out here were engaged and at any time it is thought that the whole Frontier may be ablaze with war. I suppose little is given in the English papers of these doings – the principal enemy is a tribe of Mohmands about 10,000 strong – the tribe is chiefly composed of Pathans who are devils to fight and who are well armed – all the world seems mad and thirsting for blood – in far Tibet there is fighting between the Chinese and Tibetans and there is talk of rebellion in China4 against the Manchurian Dynasty – Ive been reading a little volume of Robert Browning and came across the well known quotation “Gods in his Heaven – alls well with the world”. I sometimes wonder how the really religious people explain away the happenings of the past year – and surely the little faith one has is sorely shaken. The war goes on and we make no progress – it is very hard to be patient – my chief interest is in the Dardanelles – for a long time Ive thought that our chief advance would come from the Mediterranean – I think we shall probably first hold the enemy in the West and when we get Constantinople there will be an advance of millions of men from the south of Austria – I mean that Italy Servia and probably Roumania will join hands and we shall put a million or so men and surely nothing can stop us getting right up to Budapest and Vienna and if necessary into Germany – It’s a little consoling to work out these schemes and I hope it wont bore you.5
The news of poor Mother gets more and more distressing and Im always expecting to hear the end has come – it is really terrible and so sad that she is suffering so much. Im very glad Gretchen is down there now but every day I am expecting the fateful cable. It is really beautiful up here and Ive never in all my wanderings seen such lovely scenery – I was very lucky in being sent here. Well, goodbye old thing, ever so many thanks for all your kindness – letters papers and the parcel With best love
1 September 22nd.
2 Brand of pipe tobacco, see copy of advertisement in ‘The Tatler.’ Picture
3 Peshawar: A grand Jirga or open air meeting of 3,000 tribal leaders and elders was called at Peshawar. They were informed by Col George Roos-Keppel that Delhi had decided to reward their loyally by increasing their subsidies. After that, while a further 25,000 tribesmen looked on, they were treated to a bombing display by aircraft of the Royal Flying Corps. (Peter Hopkir
k, op. cit. p.188.)
4 China: the revolt against the Manchu Dynasty had taken place in 1912 with the deposition of the last Emperor, the boy PuYi, by Sun Yat Sen.
5 This summarises the strategy of the ‘Easterners’ (including Churchill) who thought the ‘Westerners’ would never break the German hold on the Western front in France and Belgium.
Next letter Oct 6th 2015