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