Very many thanks indeed for 2 letters from your last mail, which arrived 2 days ago, somewhat unexpectedly as we were not hoping to get it till 2 days later. Your letters were dated June 20th & 27th, long long ones & I loved getting them. Two mails arrived together & they are the first we’ve had for 3 weeks. I’m afraid I got no letters off the old Mongolia; only 11 bags for M.E.F. were saved but it appears nothing for us was amongst them. They talk glibly of salving some more bags, but I should think the letters would be ruined by now. I lost one or two parcels from Nell on board which is somewhat annoying. You seem to have got a whole budget of letters from me all together, 4 you mention in one letter and 2 in the next, most erratic the posts appear to be. However we have been very lucky so far – tap-wood – losing so few.
It’s been very hot this last week, & hardly any breeze. Trying weather, especially if one has been a bit off colour as I have, it takes so much longer to pick up. However the cold weather is not far off now, & then I shall be as fit as a fiddle. Besides the nights are nice & cool now, I pulled up a blanket over me about 2 o’clock this morning & slept quite comfortably under it; before I had nothing on me.
Yesterday I went out to tea with the matron of No 2 B.G.H, Sister Macfarlane to whom I asked you to write. A very pleasant little tea, with ices to wind up with! Gorgeous they were, as it was fearfully hot & I could have eaten hundreds! How ever I thought one was all that was good for me. I went into the hospital to see my friends the sisters who were all very cheery, and it was quite a pleasant afternoon despite the heat. How I sigh for a nice cold winter day again; the other members of the family, especially Dick & Jim, seem to revel in the hot weather, but I’m afraid I have no use for it.
Otherwise we have been leading our usual humdrum life. No news of a move yet & I don’t suppose we shall move for a fortnight yet.
There seems to be some doubt as to my rank, quoting from your last mail letters. I see the letter in which I told you I had been promoted to tempy. Lt Col has been sunk, at least I work it out to have been so. Anyhow, things are as follows; on active service, if acting as 2nd in cmd & you are under the rank of major, they promote you to tempy: major, as long as you are 2nd in command & with the rgt; if anyone senior comes in, you of course revert to your permanent rank.
So when I came out here I became a tempy: major, or rather 15 days after we’d been out, which is the rule, but it took such a long time to be gazetted in orders that I only got news of it a few weeks ago. I was made a tempy: Major on April 8th; then D.B. went sick, & 15 days after he had gone sick and I took on command, I became entitled to be promoted to tempy: Lt Col, but this again took ages to appear in orders; my date of promotion to Lt Col is May 14th, just 3 months ago, but it only appeared in orders about 6 weeks ago.
Similarly I revert to my lower rank in the event of D.B. coming back, or if they put anyone else in command, which is quite likely as I am somewhat junior and there are any amount of fellows in other regiments who are senior to me but who have not got even temporary commands. However they may let me keep it on; anyhow I’ve had it 3½ months now, & I’m drawing Lt Col’s pay so I’ve not done so badly. So don’t be alarmed or despondent if one day I write and say I’ve been demoted! I hope I’ve made this quite plain. The India office would always be able to tell you what I am, if you’re ever in doubt! It’s something to have risen to even tempy: Lt Col, in these days when all sorts of odd people get such rapid promotion.
No have’nt seen any Gabbs yet. I heard Desmond had gone on leave to India, but did’nt know he’d gone to stay with Lil. Rather a good idea, I must remember that if I get any leave next year! I had a brief note from Dick last mail, talking glibly about “my last letter” which I presume went down in the Mongolia, sickening is’nt it as I suppose it was in answer to one I wrote from Karachi after meeting all his friends there. Really I don’t know what’s best for Topher. I sympathise with him immensely, he must be so heartily sick of being a Tommy, & besides I expect he’d like to earn a little more pay. Surely a commission in the A.S.C. [Army Service Corps] would not be impossible, a stammer would’nt matter there, & he’s seen enough scrapping to warrant his going into the A.S.C.
So glad you like Eve’s leaf! It’s interesting certainly, but now I hear they think the Garden of Eden was more up Baghdad way! However, Kurnah will do very well for the present. I chucked learning Arabic several weeks ago. I found it very hard to begin with, & no one decent to teach you. The man I had was an Armenian coffee-shop keeper, who spoke English, but of course had no idea of teaching; he sad “Yes sir” to everything you said, right or wrong. Besides, I’ve got heaps of other things to do, & it’s too hot to sit down and work. Very unenterprising perhaps, but I found I was making practically no progress, so thought it best to chuck it in altogether.
Things seem to be in a good old muddle in Russia don’t they. Really it is amazing the way she’s behaved. We’ve financed her & fed her & munitioned her & done everything for her, & now she’s let us down badly like this. Thank heavens I’m English, for truly we & the French are the only people worth being in Europe just now. The rest are useless.
Piping hot day & not a breeze of any sort. I’m sitting – dripping positively – & yet I am stripped to the waist & only a towel on, & yet I’m boiled alive.
In your letter of June 27th you say you have had another letter from me. I wonder if you managed to get Topher what he wanted, I see Mark Cross advertises “just the thing” I should imagine, but I’ve no doubt you got him something to his liking.
Fun those flying men must have had who came over for the day from Reading, Ben tells me there’s a Major who came over too with that balloon, Eric; what’s he doing by the way? I thought he was in France somewhere, but he seems to be perpetually at home; sick leave I suppose, at least that’s what he always seemed to be on. I should so hate to be always on sick leave, the very expression is horrible I think.
So specs is now a defender of his country & quite time too. However it’s his show, & his conscience that’s got to be worried, if anyone’s, if he did’nt try & join up before. I am truly thankful to hear Dreda has left the bank for a far more congenial occupation. Does she dress in that saucy farming rig with gaiters an’ all! When I retire & live on my farm I shall have to take lessons from Rosamond & Dreda. I still cling to the idea of retiring as soon as I can (I can get £200 a year in 5 years’ time) & start something of the sort, so I must save up a little capital for investment, & my pension will help along, though I’m afraid taxes will be alarmingly high for many years to come yet. You talk of strawberries & make my mouth water indeed. I trust I shall be home next year to enjoy a few.
Best love to all
ever yr loving son