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22 September 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Sept 22/17

 

Dear Mother

Just a line to say all’s well. We have had no scrapping yet but have had 4 days’ hard marching, very hard, over frightully bad & dusty roads. We have come 54 miles, & that at the end of an enervating hot weather & the men not hard & not having had much practice in route marching lately, is pretty good work; hard work anyhow.

The dust on the march was awful, absolutely indescribable, you really & truly could’nt see one yard at times. It is very cold at nights now, & still warmish during the middle hours of the day. We only have one blanket each, & our great coats of course, & no tents, so it’s pretty parky at night, I carry that Shetland woolly in my haversack & find it frightfully useful.

There are some more troops just ahead of us, & we heard guns this morning so evidently the ball has opened, though of course by the time you get this it will all be over, & a brief reference in the papers will be the only thing the public will know. But to us on the spot it looms much larger of course. We are all fit & well, & thriving on the simple life. I must keep a full record of all our doings as things & incidents fade so quickly from one’s memory if one does’nt jot them down at the time or very soon after. I wish letters took a shorter time to arrive.

Well, please don’t worry, mother. The regiment is in great form & I’m tremendously glad to get a chance to take it into action. I have’nt got time to write to the others as you may imagine, so will you please apologise, & expect my next letter when you get it.

Best love to all

Yr loving son

Ted


 

Battle of Ramadi

http://www.kaiserscross.com/304501/304522.html


39th Garhwal Rifles marching in Mesopotamia 1917

39th Garhwal Rifles marching in Mesopotamia 1917

 

 
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Posted by on 22 September, '17 in About

 

17 September 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Sept 17/17

 

Dear Mother

Just a line to tell you not to expect a letter from me for some time, after getting this one, as we are off on a strafe, so I don’t suppose I’ll get much time to write. Please don’t worry, I’ll be all right and I’ll write again as soon as ever I can, but of course on these occasions one does’nt get much time, & besides I expect censorship is strict, & letters take such years to get home don’t they – I am most awfully glad to get the chance to command the Battalion on this show & I do hope we get a good chance: I have absolute confidence in the Battalion, officers & men alike; so wish me luck & don’t worry. Wish I was nearer home all the same, so as to communicate with you more often & quicker.

I have taken a good many photographs with my new camera, & have sent the films to India to be printed. I have told them to send you the prints direct, each one numbered on the back, & I am sending you a list herewith shewing what each one is, otherwise you’ll not be able to tell. I expect this letter will reach you long before the prints, but that can’t be helped.

It’s a wee bit cooler, but still hottish for campaigning; however, we are more than ½ way through September & we should’nt get much more hot weather now.

We are going very light, hardly any kit, & are saying goodbye to creature comforts for some time I expect. However, I expect we shall all be as hard as nails before very long & shall prefer discomfort to comfort!

Well goodbye for the present & wish me luck & the regiment too- I never expected to command it in action, & am indeed proud & happy to get the chance- I’ll write again just as soon as ever I can, but you must expect short & scrappy letters I’m afraid.

Best love to all

Yr loving son

Ted

 
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Posted by on 17 September, '17 in About

 

11 September 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Sept 11/17

 

Dear Mother

Very many thanks for 3 letters from your last mail, which arrived on Thursday 6th. Your letters were dated 12th 18th & 25th July. Yes was’nt it silly of them to wire & say I was seriously ill, I asked the doctor man not to wire, but he said he had to, as it was the order, but he would just say I had been admitted to hospital. But it seems he wired seriously ill all the same. I’m so sorry, but I wired as soon as I could to say I was all right really & I’m glad you got that wire, but I expect there was some delay in sending mine off.

You will have had my letters from hospital of course, & I am absolutely fit again now, though I took a longish time to pick up after leaving hospital thanks to the trying heat & not wonderfully good or nourishing food. In fact I did’nt really turn the corner & feel my own usual self again till we had been here a day or two, & then I think the change of air & scene worked wonders & I’m as fit as a fiddle now, so please don’t worry any more about me. I’m taking great care of myself, as if one gets ill & is invalided, it only means being sent to India, & I think I should hate that more than anything else, being right out of things owing to some rotten illness & not helping things on a bit. So I determined to get well & defeat this dysentery & its after effects & I have at last succeeded.

A busy life we have nowadays as we are doing rigorous brigade training. By the way I was a bit premature in my remarks about the hot weather being over. It is by no means, & every day this month we’ve had it 112°, far above what it should be, & as you may imagine leading a strenuous life in this heat is not all beer & skittles. But it’s got to be done, as time is short now to complete our training. The nights are certainly lovely now, & the early mornings too, but one has a good deal to do right up till late in the day when it is really hot, & after that I have to start getting ready orders etc for the next day’s work, so one is at it either physically or mentally the whole day. But I love the work, being in command, as it’s all so interesting & such good practice for me; and it is a pleasure to work with such good & keen officers & men as I have got under me.

I went into Baghdad on Sunday & wondered about having a look round. The silk market here is lovely, & you would love to have got a good old look round among all the lovely stuff they have got. I have bought one or two pieces, but I don’t know if it’s any good. I also bought one or two odds & ends of brass ware, very badly made an’ all, but it’s just the stuff the Baghdadis use in their own households for making coffee etc.

I strolled round in the copper market too, a long low roofed-in bazaar, with nothing but coppersmiths all down each side. They all sit in the road-way just outside their shops & bang away at their pots & pans, & the din they all make together is absolutely ear-splitting. We had breakfast at the Hotel Maude, quite a nice breakfast – we had butter for the first time since I’ve been out here (we have’nt had any potatoes for about 4 months, by the way: I’ve quite forgotten what they’re like: it’s quite like home is’nt it!) & then we came back to camp by river. We get awful good fruit here, I wonder if I told you before, grapes & water melons chiefly, & of course dates which are very nice, but filling.

The drop in temperature between day & night here is really almost incredible; on the 6th it was 114° by day & dropped to 67° at night, a difference of 47° between day & night readings! So no wonder the nights seem cool after the grilling days, & one has to be careful in such contrasting temperatures. However one gets pretty hard out here & can stand a good deal of knocking about.

I had a line from Jim at Singapore, he seems very happy & is by all accounts a very busy man, what with being cable censor & a few other things. Very many thanks for the Blackwoods with the I.A. article. A most interesting piece of reading, & a very fair estimate of the value of the 2 Indian Divisions in France I think. It is nice to see the regiment’s name so prominent, in such a widely read magazine too, & it is an article that is sure to be read by everyone familiar with the magazine. I am cutting it out & keeping it.

I only got Nell’s wire after I had come out of hospital as it was addressed c/o Casualties, Bombay & was sent on by post from there, which seems rather a rotten arrangement. It’s better I fancy to stick to the regiment always for an address & not try any games. I only got one letter from Nell too last mail, & that was addressed the same whereas all yours & Ben’s & several others addressed here all came direct.

Very nice of everyone to be so kind in asking after me, & I appreciate it muchly. I know several of the Queens now, and old Roderick, the C.O., was talking to me about Mr Kirwan the other night, as he is chaplain to the rgt: of course. You say something about getting home, but I’m afraid that’s clean out of the question. You have to be pretty bad to be sent home from here; they consider India quite good enough to convalesce in nowadays, & I believe they have awful good homes etc there up in various hill stations which are undoubtedly as good as you will get anywhere. However with any luck I’ll be home on a month’s leave next year sometime, & if the war’s over I may get longer.

I see in your letter of 25th July you say you had got my cable saying “much better”, but I sent that off long before then I think, & when you got it I must have been out of hospital & back with the regiment. I cabled again when I rejoined & I think you must have got that quicker, as I sent the former ones at “week-end cable rates” which is cheap & slow but I sent the one saying I had rejoined at quicker rate, as the week end ones seem to take such years.

A good thing your getting over to Hook Hospital for a change, & I expect you liked it. Meeting all those descendents of old Hartley Rowlks too must have been amusing.

Heaps of papers arrived last mail, & very many thanks for them. I see you address my letters as Lt Col now – quite right – but I was wondering how you knew, because I figured it out that the letter I wrote & told you I had got tempy: promotion was one of the ones that was sunk. It only came out in orders out here on June 16, & even if my letter telling you had not been sunk, it could’nt possibly have reached you by July 12th, which is the date of the first letter I got so addressed. P’raps the India office sneaked.

Must end up. I fancy D.B. is absolutely certain not to come back now.

Best love to all

yr loving son

Ted.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackwood%27s_Magazine

 
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Posted by on 11 September, '17 in About

 

4 September 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Sept 4/17

 

Dear Mother

I don’t quite know how the mails run here but I think I’m catching something if I write today.

We have more or less settled down now in our new camp. The weather is supposed to get cooler this month & it is certainly much drier up here, a hot burning wind most days which parches the skin and makes you very thirsty. The dust is pretty bad here, but that is only to be expected in a big camp.

Certainly the nights now are delightful, & the early mornings might even be called cold, though of course there is not yet that nip in the air that is the infallible sign of the end of the hot weather. But the days are shorter, and the mornings last cooler longer and it does’nt stoke up quite so early in the day. Of course we may yet get another hot spell, & I believe there is a week or ten days of the “date ripener”, a hot moist time that is due about now, but on the whole we may fairly claim to have broken the back of the hot weather.

We lead a strenuous life here, putting finishing touches to our training. It is indeed pleasant to join up with our brigade at last and to get to know our fellow soldiers. I told you I had met the Queens, but no one else in particular. I met Spens the adjutant & he remembered us all very well from the old Camberley-Frimley days. Was it his sister, red haired, who married Harry Harris? (what’s he doing, by the way, & where’s Charley Anderson all this time? pardon the interruption!) I did’nt like to ask him, though we had a good old talk about most other people.

The fruit here is lovely. Huge luscious water-melons, grapes, & sweet limes, also dates of course, of which I ate my first fresh one a few days ago, quite nice & they are very sustaining I believe, and of course are the chief article of diet of the local arab. I believe you get oranges & apples too but I have’nt seen any yet; we have arrived just a wee bit late for the best fruit, but we get excellent stuff still all the same.

I have of course visited the City of the Caliphs and am much pleased with it. I had heard so many fellows say they were disappointed in it that I was prepared to be so myself, though I determined to judge for myself. But I am by no means disappointed, in fact I think it’s a good spot. After all, it depends on what you expect, & naturally those who thought to see a London or Paris were disappointed.

It is a typical eastern town, mud built & brick built, with one big main street, & the usual small winding smelly arab bazaars, roofed-in to keep the sun off (and the smell in!) and lined with the usual rows & rows of tiny little cupboard-like shops. The one big street was made by the Turks by the simple expedient of cutting a wide path right through the middle of the city, irrespective of any private houses or anything that barred the way. As a consequence this wide street is bounded on both sides by mutilated houses. Here you can see half a living room or bed room, with furniture still in it; & further on a whole house cut neatly in half right down the middle, showing the arrangement of rooms & staircases perfectly!

Christian Churches, Jewish Synagogues & Mohamedan mosques – for it is a most cosmopolitan place – all suffered in the same way, hewn down altogether if they were in the line of the street, or cut in half or a piece shaved off to satisfy the Turkish street maker. It is a most curious sight, the ends of all these buildings left rough & unrepaired, as if some giant had taken two long cuts with a huge knife through the centre of the city and lifted out the debris with a spoon & so left the clear street as it now is. The Turks called it Khalil Pasha street, after the victor of Kut; but it is now called New street. As an improvement it is a decided success but it was a most ruthless method to adopt.

The best part of the town is I think the river front. The backs of all the houses are towards the river, & each house has a small garden overlooking the river. The houses on the front are easily the best & most imposing and the view from the river – some 300 yards wide here & crossed by a pontoon bridge – is most fascinating. Narrow sinister little stepped alleyways lead down to the water’s edge between each house, most suggestive of crime & murder in the dark days of the Caliphs! The finest building is the British consulate, a fine big house that stands by itself & dwarfs the surrounding houses completely.

The bazaars as I say are just like those at Amara & Basra, possibly a trifle more crowded & with a more mixed crowd too. One seems to meet representatives of every conceivable race. The shops have a good number of things for sale, but I fancy there is nothing much of any value now, as there was a good deal of disorder & looting between the time of  the Turks’ evacuation & our entry into the town last March. I believe good silks are still to be found, but carpets are positive great auk’s eggs – there are’nt any! At least not for the common herd, though I have no doubt a prolonged & laborious search might reveal some, or a visit to the bazaar with someone in authority. I shall buy one or two odds & ends of no value just to bring home & add to the Delaford collection-

I went across the river & saw the railway station, the famous terminus of Germany’s eastern aims. There was nothing much to see, a few burnt out trucks, a lot of scrap iron, a cluster of railway buildings inside which there appeared to be a lot of work going on, judging by the noise of clanging & hammering that issued from them.

We breakfasted at the Hotel Maude, (by the way I’ve never got my socks yet, & I simply dare’nt go & ask for them!) & came back to camp in a bellum, a very pleasant row down stream for 2 miles or so. The bellums here are nice sensible boats, like seaside rowing-boats, & they row them along just like those men in blue jerseys at the sea, only dressed in arab kit of course. They use that short deep-water stroke. So much safer & more comfortable than the cockle shells of Basrah & Amarah!

So on the whole we have fairly settled down now, & right glad we are to be here at last. The change will do us all good, officers & men alike, the double change of pace & life – for there are many more fellows to meet here – being most acceptable.

We have’nt had a mail since leaving Amara, & that’s just about right, as one is due here in 2 days’ time & that’ll be just a fortnight. D.B. is still in India & will not I fancy come out again as he is not passed fit for service, & is only fit for duty in India. Then his time in command is up in November, so it’s very unlikely he’ll be sent out again. So I suppose I shall keep it for a bit longer yet, & very glad I shall be too. I want to take the rgt: into a show & see how we all get on, so I hope they don’t send anyone out to take it from me, though I have always told you I expect it any time.

I went to a local revue here the other day, acted by some sappers who are in camp next us. One Gaskell took me, he was a friend of Ben’s & mine in Lansdowne. The review was’nt very good, but served to pass an evening away.

Fearful fighting in France is’nt there, & we don’t seem to be making much progress, though I have no doubt we are killing thousands of Boches, & I’m afraid our losses must be heavy. The Italians seem to be doing wonders but I’m afraid the Russians are a complete wash out. However I suppose there is still just the off chance of a complete collapse of Germany & Austria – especially the latter – this year though to the casual observer it seems as if we must be prepared to see another winter out.

Must end up

Best love to all

yr loving son

Ted


 

New Street Baghdad, 1917

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sandsoftimeconsultancy/11434160674/

Great Auk’s eggs

http://homepages.abdn.ac.uk/nathist.museum/treasures/aukegg.php

Map of Mespot (large file)

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5c/Ottoman_Middle_East_in_1900%2C_Edward_Stanford.jpg

 

 
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Posted by on 4 September, '17 in About

 

29 August 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Aug 29/17

 

Dear Mother

I wrote you a letter 2 or 3 days ago on board the old “P 93”, & posted it at Kut, & we have now arrived safely at our destination and are quite settled down in camp. We had no startling adventures on the way but it has been quite an interesting journey. We reached Kut about 7.30 one morning & started unloading the ship at once, so as to make the best use of the cool hours. We stayed on board after that till the evening, when a train came along & we loaded that up with all our kit & stuff, a long job, as shifting a big camp, tents and all, is a big business. We have to cart tons of heavy stuff about with us, which of course we should not take on active operations.

I did’nt see much of Kut itself. To begin with we anchored about 2 miles below the town, where a sort of new Kut has sprung up, consisting of dumps of stores & depots and a hundred & one things necessary for an advanced base. The railway ends – or begins – here too, so in the short time between getting in by ship & going off by train there is’nt much opportunity for sight seeing. It was a frightfully hot day too, much too hot to move about unnecessarily between 8 & 5. I met one Bunbury there, a pal of mine, whom I last saw in Basrah, & he has a job in Kut now. I had tea with him & after tea we strolled up the river bank towards Kut just to have a look round.

There is really very little to see. A jumble of broken down trenches, which might be ours or the Turks, it’s impossible to tell which. Barbed wire, bones, & dud shells here & there testify to something having happened round about here, but otherwise the place must be rapidly assuming its former aspect. You see we captured Kut once, & then the Turks got it, & then we got it again, so the whole countryside is seamed & scarred with trenches belonging to both sides.

The town itself – an ordinary fairly large mud-built town – was rather knocked about, but has since been considerably repaired so there is nothing much to see there. We got within a mile of it but had no time to go further. It stands out very clear & plainly in a bend of the river, & it is curious that such an unimportant and small town should gain such world fame, is’nt it? For it is quite an insignificant place really & but for the war would I suppose have remained so.

There is one rather interesting thing there, on the river bank, about a mile below the town, the Germans built a sort of column of Victory or it may have been built by the Turks in memory of those who fell, both British & Turkish, in the siege of Kut. I have heard both explanations, at any rate it is an obelisk, shaped something like Cleopatra’s needle, & surrounded by a wall. It has no inscriptions on it, but at its base are 2 guns captured from the British at the siege. It is in bad repair, & will not survive long, as it is only made of inferior bricks & mud; but it is a curiosity in its way, & we have made no attempt to keep it in repair or to destroy it. Close by are the graves of several Turkish officers.

We left by train about 9 pm travelling in open trucks. It was a jolly journey, as the line was hurriedly & none too smoothly laid. And lying on the hard floor of a truck you feel every bump and jar ten thousand times magnified. However we all slept like tops, & missed seeing the famous arch of Ctesiphon; the railway runs past it, about a mile distant. In any case I doubt if we should have seen anything as we must have passed it in the dark in the early morning. This railway was very quickly laid and it speaks volumes for the engineers in charge and their workmen.

We arrived here about 7 in the morning and marched to the camp, about 1½ miles off, & got settled in more or less by about 2 p.m. Frightfully hot it was, but we were right glad to reach our journey’s end & that kept us going. Other regiments in camp here gave us breakfast & cold drinks, while we were getting our camp ready, which was very kind of them. I have met some of the Queens; one Mudford (Mumford? or some such name) claims to know the family: also one of the Spens, I think, from Frimley, is with them, & though I have’nt met him, still he asked one of our officers if I was here & said he knew me at Camberley. Desmond Gabb is, as you say, in India & has joined the 84th Punjabis. But I have met very few of the Queens as yet, we’ve been too busy to go about much.

The camp we are in is about 2 miles below the town, & of course I have’nt had time to go in & have a look round yet, as we only arrived the day before yesterday. I have met Sam Orton, who is on the division staff, & also our own Brigadier & divisional commander have been round to see us & see how we are getting on.

A very dusty camp this, & about ½ mile from the river, so different from our river frontage at Amara! However I’m afraid our days of real good camps & such like are over now, & when we leave here we shall travel light and say goodbye to creature comforts for some months. It’s still very hot & not much breeze. September should be a trifle cooler, the nights will be nice anyhow, but oh I shall be so glad to see the last of this stinking hot weather. How I loathe it! I fail to see one single redeeming point about it. I’m looking forward to the cold weather immensely: that’s what I like, & it likes me too.

English mail goes out today, so I must post this. I see they are still on the fortnightly mail business, though they said they were going back to the weekly ones.

Best love to all    yr loving son

Ted.


Images of Kut, including the obelisk

http://www.iraqkhair.com/vb/32879-post1.html

Arch of Ctesiphon

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taq-i_Kisra

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/84th_Punjabis

Sam Orton & Lumb mentioned in With The Indians In France

https://archive.org/stream/withindiansinfra00will#page/130/mode/2up


 

Ted's photograph of the Obelisk at Kut

Ted’s photograph of the Obelisk at Kut

 
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Posted by on 29 August, '17 in About

 

25 August 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

on board “P 93”

Aug 25/17

 

Dear Mother

Very many thanks for a letter from you dated July 4th, which arrived quite unexpectedly on 23rd, 2 days ago. We had just got orders to move up river, & were not expecting an English mail at all. So D. Gabb’s going into the I.A. is he? Well, I suppose he knows what he wants to do best. I don’t imagine I shall see him now as they will probably have to stay in India a bit learning the language etc.

I’m writing this on board the river steamer and will try and tell you all about it. We got orders rather unexpectedly to move at 24 hours’ notice – none too long if you have a big camp to strike & pack up and heaps & heaps of stores & baggage etc to pack up & load. However, that’s by the way. These “p boats” as they are commonly called are paddle steamers built & designed for rivers such as this. They are shallow-draft boats, and to each side of them is attached a huge flat barge, which is filled with stores, rations, men, animals, transport carts, guns, in fact anything & everything that requires conveyance up river.

As you may imagine a big paddle steamer with a big barge tied on each side is a very unwieldy craft, & the navigation of this river is none too easy owing to its extraordinary winding course & the speed of the current. The river bed varies a lot too in depth, & we run aground on uncharted sandbanks frequently, but it’s never serious, & a little puffing & jerking on the part of the engines & we are off again.

Well old “P 93” (one of the latest                    by the way, cabins, dining saloon, electric lights & fans, lots of deck space for officers & men & “very modern improvements”,  including a lovely bath room with a full size lie-down splash-all-over-the-place English bath, gorgeous) came alongside our camp at 7 yesterday morning & we commenced loading her up with tents, ammunition, rations and all the hundred and one things that a regiment carts about with it. Every single ounce had to be manhandled and taken & loaded on the ship from the camp, as of course there are no cranes or such luxuries.

It was a piping hot day, one of the hottest we’ve had, & the N.W. wind that had brought such relief the previous day after the heat of the week changed to a S. wind, which was just what we did’nt want, as this brings a damp & sticky atmosphere with it, & is trying enough to sit still in, much more so to do manual labour in, & very strenuous labour at that! However the men tackled the job with their usual good spirits & by 11.30 we were finished and off up the river.

I have told you how winding and tortous the river is, & the country on either side is dead flat, most uninteresting & monotonous. To the East we can just see the dim blue outline of the Pusht-i-Koh hills, on the Persian border, but the other side runs away to the horizon in one bare, flat, featureless plain. Every few miles you come across a small barbed-wire encampment, a few tents & matting huts on the river bank, apparently tenantless except for a sentry with a fixed bayonet in his little shelter. These are the “marching posts”, or camps where troops who are marching, & not going by steamer, rest for the night.

Occasionally you see a bigger encampment & more troops, & there are posts guarding the long line of communications from Basra to Baghdad & beyond. A dreary life this must be for the troops on the line of communications – for they are miles from anywhere, & can only watch the steamers bearing their more fortunate companions up the river to where things happen, or down stream on leave, or on transfer to some base hospital, though perhaps it’s better to garrison an L. of C. post than to be sick & wounded : a choice of evils! Still the L. of C. must be kept intact, & doubtless we shall all get our turn of this uninteresting duty someday.

It has been a hot voyage, as the wind is in the South & it is muggy & sticky. But we are doing it in great comfort, & the old Tigris must indeed marvel at the great change that has come over her traffic in the last year.

We reach Kut tomorrow – I trust I am giving nothing away! – and from there go on by train. I should like to put in a day or two at Kut, to have a look round, though I believe it has altered beyond all recognition since the days of the Siege.

The country we are passing through now as I write, though dull & uninteresting to the eye, is all the same of historic interest. For it was across these dry dusty plains that all the fighting took place in 1916 during the ineffectual effort to relieve the Kut garrison; and again more fighting took place in the winter of 1916-17 all round here, when Kut was re-taken & the way to Baghdad opened. But there is little to indicate that anything ever happened here, at anyrate nothing can be seen from the steamer.

Well, that’s all for the present. I’ll see if I can post this at Kut & then I’ll write again when we reach our destination.

Best love to all

yr loving son

Ted


 

Photo of P-Boats

http://m.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205024104

It’s likely he meant Poshtkue, Western Iran – not to be confused with Pusht-e-Koh, Afghanistan.

http://aroundguides.com/12624146

 
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Posted by on 25 August, '17 in About

 

22 August 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Aug 22/17

 

Dear Mother

No mail in yet and I hear it won’t be in for some days as it has only just reached Bombay. There is I’m afraid no news to tell you. Since I last wrote it has been frightfully hot, still muggy days & 115° in our tents, most awfully trying. Still the nights are fairly cool & the v. early mornings when we go on parade, but the rest of the day after about 7.30 is rotten.

However we are all keeping fit, though feeling very limp & slack of course, it’s absolutely impossible to feel otherwise. We just sit & drip & lose weight all day till the evening & long for the sun to go down. But I expect there are people a good deal worse off than us, right up at the front, in small tents & not so many comforts easily obtainable such as ice, which we have.

We are in big tents, the same kind as we were in in Delhi last cold weather; all troops have them out here now & they are really essent if you want troops to keep fit. We have a little thermometer in ours so’s we can keep a daily record of the temperatures; & just now we put it in a little light tent which we were living in when we were at Basra & which we now use as a sort of bathroom attached to our big tent, & in there it registered 125°! So we can thank our stars we have big tents to live in & not the small ones, which are really no protection whatever. The light tents are for use when “active operations” are in progress & you can’t cart the big ones about, but by that time the weather will be much more reasonable.

We are sort of on the end of a wire about our move up river, & we may more or less get orders to go any day now. Personally I don’t want to move in this heat. It means a big business, unpitching & packing all the tents, loading them all up on barges & all our heavy kit & stores & rations as well. You see all this would have to be done by hand, as we have no cranes or appliances of that sort of course. However if it’s got to be done it’s got to be done & we’ll do it of course, so that’s that.

I have had long letters from Col D.B. There seems little or no likelihood of his returning. He is not fit yet & I fancy his medical board will give him an extension. Then his time in command is up in November, so it’s hardly likely they’d send him out to finish it off. I rather fancy he hopes to get a job in India, so I gather from his letters.

As regards my prospects, this means – silly as it sounds! – that I shall keep the command till some one else gets it. I mean Henderson, our 2nd in command & on sick leave at home, may come out & take it on, or some senior fellow in the 39th or any other rgt – they are not particular nowadays – may be put in. Impossible to say; but don’t count on my keeping it; I may do so, & I may not; I’ve got it by a piece of luck, & it will be luckier still to keep it. How I should love to command it in some fighting, & to see the results of one’s efforts this hot weather. For indeed we have been working hard to get the regiment as efficient as possible & in good fighting trim & I should be grievously disappointed if they failed in any way. But I know they won’t, I’m confident they will do their very very best.

Such sad news from Lansdowne, Mrs Bobby Reed died the other day, having given birth to triplets, all girls, & all doing well I believe. They arrived 7 weeks before they were due it seems, so her death I suppose is not surprising. Poor Bobby, he’s awfully cut up of course, & the regiment has lost one of the best & brightest women members. She was one of the best, & as you know a great friend of mine & her loss will be felt by us all. Personally I can hardly realise it: one gets used somehow to hearing of the death of one’s men friends nowadays; but it does’nt seem right that people like Mrs Bobby Reed should die.

I must struggle to write to some more people, but I don’t feel in the least energetic. Excuse this rotten letter, but I’m sure you will understand. Heat, no news, & no letter of yours to answer, 3 very just causes for a short note, are’nt they…

Best love to all

yr loving son                Ted


Edith Giles, wife of Capt Henry Robert Baynes Reed CIE DSO MC

http://www.thekingscandlesticks.com/webs/pedigrees/482.html

Only one of the triplets, Jocelyn, survived and lived to 78.

 
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Posted by on 22 August, '17 in About