March 20th 1916.
Thanks most awfully for 2 letters from you, which I got yesterday. The mail turned up 2 days ago as a matter of fact but they had done up all our letters in little packets, & everyone was so busy here that they were chucked on one side, thinking they were papers etc for the men, till somebody opened one & out fell a lot of mail letters! I got 15 altogether, including 5 from Nell. You see it’s a 3 weeks’ supply. I also got the pink papers all safely, thanks awfully for them.
I must tell you about our various receptions. We had a great one at Agra, all the civil & military population crowded on to the station, & the men were all drawn up on the line & a great speech was made, extolling our exploits & generally laying it on pretty thick. We were there 2 or 3 hours & it was frightfully hot, so we were all quite ready to drive off to the club afterwards where a huge lunch was served. Nice cool drinks & general festivities.
The place was gaily decorated and bands playing an’ all made things very gay all round. You see Agra is the first city we come to in the U.P. so they saw fit to give us the welcome. I must say it was very gratifying & I think a good thing, as it showed the men that at anyrate their efforts & sacrifices were very much appreciated.
We then got into the train again & came on here. At the station where we got out we had another reception, more speech making by the big bugs of Garhwal, and a jolly good firework display in the evening. The people were very enthusiastic and gave us a right royal welcome.
The general gaiety was somewhat marred by one of the men who shot himself during the night. He had been flogged early in the war for sleeping on his post when a sentry, and he evidently could’nt or would’nt face his friends & relations on his return home, so chose to commit suicide.
We marched up to Lansdowne next day & got another reception! All the station turned out, bands, breakfasts & everything en route, & an address on arrival & a big lunch in our mess afterwards. There are quite a lot of people here really, considering, so they made quite a good show.
It’s very sad to think how few of those who started have come back, & I’m afraid there are some big gaps in the officers ranks. Only 6 of us here came back out of about 26 who started; not all killed of course, some have got jobs or gone sick, but the majority will never return I’m afraid. I suppose these things must be, and indeed the name Garhwalis have made has been dearly paid for, so we who are left have a special mission in life to see that their name, & the name & fame they helped to bring Garhwal are never forgotten.
We are all fearfully busy now, as of course everything is in a real good old muddle after 18 months war. How everything is going to be put straight I can’t imagine; I suppose some things will never be really settled, but most things will adjust themselves in time I suppose.
I am living in Lyell’s bungalow, where Ben & I lived in 1914, & everything is brought back very vividly to me in consequence. We did have good times then, & I realise more than ever now what a perfect blessing it was having old Ben out here, and what perfect times those were. I don’t think I ever ½ thanked her enough for all she was and did then.
It’s quite cold up here but very pleasant all the same. We have been divided up into two battalions again but whether they have anything up their sleeve for us to do I don’t quite know. I rather think they have; I can’t imagine they will leave us alone for very long. They may of course, it’s impossible to say.
Your letter was dated Feb 23, so it has been some time coming. I think it will be quite all right to address letters straight here now, as we shall be here for a bit anyhow.
You speak of snow; ugh, how cold it must be. It’s quite different up here, really quite cold after Egypt & our hot journey up from Bombay.
I haven’t heard from Dick at all; I wonder where he’s got to.
I must deal with some more correspondence now; I’m so busy all day I only have time to write in the evenings. I’m very fit & flourishing.
Lots of love to all
from your ever loving son