[Note: address c/o Cox & Co. Bombay.]
Coluba Hospital, Bombay
June 10 1916
My dear old Elsie
I hope you wont think it very unkind of me not to have written to you for so long but I daresay you have been able to get news of me through my letters to Elm Grove but these I am afraid have not been very regular either. You will I know be glad to hear dear that I am practically well again now. I have had my Medical Board and tomorrow I set out on my journey north for two months leave (I think I had earned leave back to England but the Board thought the War Office at home would snap me up and not allow me to come East again so they kept me in India!) I shall go via Delhi and have a look at Indias great show place and then on to Meerut where half the old Regiment is stationed and then on to Chakrata (in the lower Himalayas) where the Colonel and Headquarters and the other half of the Regiment are stationed. I shall be able to spend a nice quiet time amongst old friends and shall soon regain my lost strength and the two stone in weight which I have entirely lost. I am afraid I did not write you very much (if at all) during April and the part of May I was at the front. April was a very dreadful month and I shall never forget it as long as I live night and day we were fighting to get to poor old Kut for we knew they were on their last legs – well old thing – we failed and it was the greatest disappointment of my life1 – I dont think anyone can ever realize how we tried and tried again against every conceivable difficulty – time after time we stood up to be shot at and attempted to storm almost impregnable enemy positions – added to these anxieties we were faced with a terrible cholera epidemic2 which I suppose people at home will never know about – twenty of my poor regiment went down in 36 hrs and not one recovered – the sights I saw were really heart-breaking – To my great regret our Brigadier General Rice who was a very good friend to me died of cholera a few days before I left the regiment – By the way – old thing – I am Captain now and it was really due to him that I was recommended for my third star. All I want to make me happy is my Military Cross now – I do wonder if they are ever going to give it to me. I have heard once or twice from the Colonel of the Buffs and I am glad to say that he thinks the cholera is dying out but of course the heat and flies and myriad discomforts are very distressing – I was so sorry to leave them all and fought hard against this fever but it conquered me in the end and then jaundice set in and my whole skin went a delicate primrose colour – there are hundreds of cases of jaundice in the Gulf & the medical people say it is all brought on by bad water & food – it is a most depressing thing to get I can tell you.
About the middle of April when my troubles were at their height a most delightful parcel arrived from you – dear old thing – thank you ever so much. I wish I could tell you in words what pleasure it brought me, at that time I had come to my last pipe (which was one of a pair you gave me some time ago) I had unfortunately lost the mouthpiece of this and had made one with a bit of stick and a penknife which wasnt at all satisfactory – Imagine my delight when I discovered a pipe amongst my parcel & the little mascot too was splendid! The first few days of my illness I lived on your cocoa and soup tablets – even after nearly two years of war the Field Ambulances in Mesopotamia have simply nothing in the way of comforts and drugs. I hate to be always grumbling but really it is a disgrace – I only hope France is run better than Mesopotamia (but it surely must be) else we never even deserve to win the war – and what awful lies the newspapers print3 – why ever cant the British public be told the truth – some day perhaps Ill tell you all I know – but I daresay when peace comes and I am in dear old England once again I shant want to talk about the war at all but just try to forget all this horrid time.
I must be patient until letters from England find me again – it is a long time since I had my last mail – some time in April 1 think – I do hope you are all well –
with best love
1 Kut surrendered on April 29th after repeated & vain efforts for its relief.
2 There were 800 cases of cholera in the Tigris Corps during April & May (Moberly op. cit. vol. III p.9 footnote). Cholera was no respecter of rank.
3 Eye Witness complains ‘It is impossible to communicate freely with the outside world. Things were evidently going wrong and this fussy meddling supervision, this constant fear of anything discreditable leaking out, did not increase one’s confidence in the Higher Command’ (Edmund Candler, op. cit. vol. 1, p.65).
Next letter Jul 8th 2016