1 March 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

01 Mar

March 1st/1917


Dear Mother

Very many thanks for 2 letters from you yesterday, dated 24th Jan & 1st Feb, they both arrived by the same mail curiously enough. I see by my diary I only wrote to you on Sunday and this is Thursday. I have been out to dinner & tennis etc & have also been fairly busy in office. I believe we shall be leaving here on the 24th of this month & be at Basrah about the beginning of April I suppose, but I’m afraid that’s all I can tell you. I have been out to lunch today with a Mrs Kaye, & we went on to a polo tournament which is going on now & saw some quite good polo. I have come back now to catch the mail, & also I am dining out & going on to a dance. The Viceroy’s staff have a big dinner on tonight at the club, & I am going to that; I have several friends among them so shall not be quite lost!

Such lovely weather now, & gorgeous cool & clear mornings. It’s clouding up again this evening & is a bit warmer & muggy again but I expect a shower of rain will clear the air a bit. I can’t remember if I gave you an address for Mespot or not. Anyway, stick to Cox till you hear from me to the contrary, & then either of these will do


of course India Office will always get me;  but it means posting a day earlier, so if you want to catch the mail at the last minute then


dont put in any Brigade or Divisions even, just put a regiment. When in any doubt about me, ask the India Office, as they will have the latest news.

Yes I hear from all sources of Dick & Topher’s great Krewst, & they seem to have fixed it up splendidly. I thought poor old Dick would feel the cold rather, but there won’t be much more of it now I hope. I know he always revels in this country’s heat, which I always hate so much!

Yes that was a terrible explosion was’nt it, & as you say I don’t suppose we have heard the whole truth, but what we have heard is bad enough. I wonder if Dick & Paul managed to get leave together, but I expect they found it rather difficult.

I wonder what this retirement on the west means, & whether it’s going to be anything big or not. The papers are very quiet about it and they don’t seem at all ready to even guess at its true import. The news from Mesopot continues good, & I hear they have made big captures there in guns & men & material. Yes I love Fragments from France, thanks awfully for them, & the Daily Sketch is much appreciated in the mess. But I see the price of all these papers is going up a lot now & all the ½ penny ones are becoming 1d. No, I never have to pay extra postage, you always put on enough.

I can’t remember Cookson at the R.M.C but thanks for the note about Mrs Dot-massey-John-Mackenzie’s skirts! I’ll remind her about them when I see her this evening. She wears weird clothes nowadays, always very smart, but she’s so frightfully thin & requires very careful dressing I should imagine. We have’nt had the Tank films here yet, & no news of them. I should like to see them before we go. But I have no doubt they have cinemas in Mespot nowadays; certain to have ’em at Basrah & the Base.

So glad Ben has a job to suit her; yes I really think you’d be rather well advised to move up to London, if you could find a house. I know you have always wanted to do so, have’nt you

Must change for dinner now. Don’t worry to send me anything to Mesopot, I expect we’ll get all we want out there, & things are so expensive at home from all accounts.

Lots of love to all

yr loving son                Ted

Ted’s letters throughout the Mesopotamia campaign are full of place names familiar today: Basra, Ramadi, Mosul and Baghdad. This is a reminder that foreign policy decisions (such as those made at the Peace of Versailles and in the Sykes-Picot agreement) have consequences that play out over centuries.

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