No letter from you last mail which we got last Sunday; but I heard from several members of the family, & the pink paper & Daily Sketch turned up, for which many thanks. We are still waiting down here at the base, & have no news as to when we are to move or likely to do so.
The camp we are in is very dusty & there are a whole lot of troops here now. However the weather is none too bad and we have had a cool breeze every day so far, & lovely cool nights. The hottest we’ve had it is 100° in our tents at midday & it drops into the sixties at 6 a.m. so there’s a bit of a difference is’nt there. A good many flies about, but we strafe thousands every day at meals with fly swats so manage to wreak our vengeance on them.
Good news from France is’nt there. I hear from the girls that Dick managed to get home after all, & even to get one evening with Paul. But they had’nt seen much of him, especially as they are so much away from home themselves.
I have met more old friends. Sam Orton is on the staff of our Division, & he came along to see us the other day. He has now gone on up river, but I shall see a good deal more of him I expect. Also one Gaskell, who with his wife was a great friend of Ben’s & mine in Lansdowne; he too is on our divisional staff.
Then I met a man in the S. in-S who used to be our doctor, one Newland by name; he is in a field ambulance here. And also two of the ship’s officers off the Dufferin, you remember, the ship we came home on for the Coronation in 1911. One has a job at the Docks here, & the other has chucked sailoring & taken up wireless telegraphy. They have a very comfy little wattle & daub mess here & have their wireless going & pick up various messages from all over the place, Berlin & Malta, & sometimes from the Eiffel Tower wireless in Paris, if the weather conditions are favourable, and so they get news sometimes well in advance of official communiqués. Rather marvellous is’nt it, especially as the apparatus here is only a travelling one, & can be packed up & taken away in Motor lorries & on pack horses & put up somewhere else in no time!
I have been down into the town several times, just to get a change from the dusty old camp. On Sunday we had a tremendous dust storm which was very unpleasant, & the air was thick with dust for 2 or 3 hours; beastly, as of course in tents everything gets smothered in a thick coating & you think you’ll never get clean again. However as our normal condition is one of dust, a sandstorm or two does’nt really make much difference.
Bampton took Fox & I out for a joy ride in a car last Sunday. We went all through the native bazaar, & it was very quaint & curious. As a rule Eastern Bazaars rather bore me; when you’ve seen – and smelt one, you’ve seen & smelt them all. But this one is rather different, some parts of it are roughly roofed in with planks & matting, & the sun’s rays sort of break through in between the cracks & the beams of sunlight coming into the crowded streets are really awfully pretty. Shops line each side, each little shop only 6 or 7 feet square, with the arab squatting in the middle surrounded by his wares.
The streets are full of all sorts of people, chiefly arabs of course in their picturesque biblical robes, but one sees also types of almost any race from Egypt to China; also negroes from the West Indies, to say nothing of Tommies & officers wandering about sight-seeing. Truly nothing could give a better example of our cosmopolitan Army, or of how the war has affected the uttermost parts of the earth and has dug out people from most unexpected and unheard of corners.
There does’nt seem to be much to buy in the shops, very little home-made stuff so to speak, though I daresay one could pick up a few curios if one knew where to look. They display a great deal of cheap Manchester & Birmingham goods, a few native cloths & such like articles, but otherwise the shops are not very interesting. Fruit – except dates of course – is frightfully expensive, oranges for instance being 3d each, and only very poor ones at that. The bazaar struck me as being considerably cleaner than most eastern bazaars, & generally more attractive.
I met an old Canterbury boy here, but he was there long before my time, so of course I did’nt know him. Somehow he knew me by name & wrote to me & I went & had lunch with him. He has a job at the base here, but I have’nt seen him since so perhaps he’s moved off somewhere. People have a habit of disappearing a hundred miles or so in any old direction at a moment’s notice.
Mail goes out tomorrow & I have several more letters to write so I’ll stop this one. I expect we shall be still here by next mail, & anyhow I’ll drop you a line before we leave, if that much-longed for event happens before next mail goes.
Love to all
Yr loving son
Photo of guard outside Eiffel Tower wireless station, 1914/15
WWI Wireless pack set
Photo of Iraq bazaar taken in 1932