1/5 Somerset LI., Chakrata, Upper Provinces, India
July 8 1916
My dear old Elsie
You will be pleased to know that I am ever so much better and am now right up in the Himalayas with the old Regiment I have had such a kind welcome from the Colonel1 down to the smallest private in my old company – they have given me such a swell dinner at the Mess and it is simply glorious being amongst the old Regiment again.
The Colonel says that now he’s got me he’s going to stick to me and has already applied to Simla2 for my return – I think I told you that my leave carries me on until Aug. 20th. and I shall not know what is going to happen to me until then. Everyone here thinks this Regiment is going on service to the Gulf in the autumn (the Colonel appears to have had some private information about this) – already all of the officers here have bought a lot of their field service kit – If this is so of course I should like nothing better than to go out again with them but I certainly do not want to loaf about India doing ordinary Regimental duty while there is a war on. The Colonel of the Buffs will be very sick too if I don’t go back to my adjutant’s job with him – but I shall have to wait and see until my orders come from Simla. I shall have to go before another board of doctors before my leave is up and they may not pass me fit for service again. At present my poor inside is altogether wrong – I suppose it will be some time before I can get over the effects of all the bad food and water I’ve had to live on for so many months. It is really beautiful up here – 8000 feet above sea level, to get here one has to take a motor ride of 60 miles for we are right in the heart of the Himalayas and in clear days the “everlasting snows” glisten in the distance and make one just look and wonder & think what a marvelous world we live in – I cant walk very far in these hilly parts yet but Frank Calway (with whom I am sharing quarters) lends me his pony and I just hack about enjoying the scenery and fresh air.
Well my dear old thing – it seems a long time since I had any letters from you but I am hoping in a few days, to hear from you direct through Cox – yesterday however a ripping parcel came from you which had been travelling all round the Gulf. It is so kind of you but you must promise me not to send me anything more until I go on service again but save your money for War Loan – the knife is just what I wanted & the diary too & the lighter & baccy all splendid – really it is too good of you old pal and I dont deserve it in the least.
To my surprise I had a wire from Harold yesterday saying that he was at Mhow at the Staff School – it is a long way from here but I quite hope we should be able to meet before he goes back to Burma.
The Mesopotamian campaign seems at a standstill just now – the weather is so awful that I think our force is quite unable to do much – I suppose they will wait until September. I saw the Russians who joined up with us about the middle of May and it was all very interesting3 – I noted that they are trying to fix the blame of the foolhardy Baghdad advance on to someones shoulders and personally I do not see how Sir John Nixon can explain away his entire lack of judgement! I am wondering if Leslie and Bert4 will have to join the colours and what the girls will do then it is very sad and all this upsetting of homes and peoples lives but it simply must be done if we are ever going to end this war successfully.
I am anxious to hear how the Pater is getting on now & hope everything goes all right at Elm Grove – he is enjoying the garden I expect & he always feels better in the warm weather
1 Lt-Col Cooke-Hurle DSO commanded the 1/5 Battalion Somerset Light Infantry throughout the war until ordered to report back to the War Office in February 1919
2 Himalayan Hill Station, summer capital of British India. The Viceroy and members of the Viceregal council with their staff retreated there from the heat of Delhi in the summer months. The name is also used as shorthand for Indian Army GHQ.
3 On May 20th a Russian Cossack patrol of 113 officers & men arrived at Ali Gharbi, after a march of 200 miles. They stayed a fortnight; their officers were awarded British Military Crosses (Moberly, op. Cit. vol. III p.13).
4 Leslie Hyde & Bert How, brothers-in-law to Stanley. Leslie was employed making munitions in Manchester.
Next letter Aug 4th 2016