A mail in at last! on 27th, after we had been exactly a month without one. It was ripping such a heap of letters all together, I got 37! and heaps of papers. There were 3 mails in together, Oct 24, Nov 1, & Nov 7, and as one was the Christmas mail you can imagine what heaps we all got. I got 3 from you, of the above dates, and thanks most awfully for them, and the little diary which will of course be fearfully useful, one always wants to scribble down notes and odd things these days.
We spent a very quiet Christmas here. It was a raw cold day, but we managed to make merry in the evening with crackers & plum pudding and various luxuries specially ordered from India. The Fortnum & Mason things have’nt turned up yet, and I don’t know when they will. The recent rain has made the roads almost impossible, and we can hardly get our rations up. I have only had one Christmas parcel so far, & that is a lovely tin of nuts from Rosamond which arrived this evening, a very welcome gift indeed. On Christmas and Boxing day we had holidays, and sports too, which were coldish to watch, but not bad fun – otherwise we had no excitements.
Yesterday the Gunners had some mounted sports, & in the evening they had a revue “Ramadi 1950” which was rather funny- I dined with a pal in the Gunners after the sports & we went on to the show in the evening.
Today some of us went out shooting, & got a lovely fat goose, and 9 partridges, a most pleasant outing & good exercise to walk off these Christmas meals! Tomorrow there are races, & on New Year’s day we have a holiday, & I fancy we are getting up a shooting party for the occasion though cartridges are woefully short.
It has been a lovely day today, the first sunny day we have had for 2 weeks nearly – otherwise the weather has been rotten, raw windy misty & cold, though we have had no frost for a week or more. Typical English weather in many ways, but not at all suitable for camp life! However we are all very fit & getting used to this sort of thing now.
Your letters are, as I say, dated Oct 24, Nov 1st & 7th – very many thanks indeed for saying such nice things about the regiment, and it is very gratifying to feel one’s little efforts are appreciated, not only by relations & friends but also at the India office, where it is just as well to get known, though I rather fancy the 39th are already pretty well known there. It is nice however to know that their expectation has been kept up. You all said much too nice things, but if you are pleased then I’m pleased, so that’s all right.
Genl Cox seems to have been very mysterious about it all, saying you were’nt to see anything etc, but by now I hope you will have got fuller details from me, though even my letters were a bit sketchy I fancy. I know Nell would wire on to you, or at any rate let you know if I cabled to her: the wires were naturally somewhat congested out here just then, & I did’nt like to worry them with more private wires than were really necessary-
You seem to have gone some time without a mail too. Dr Scott dead at last, as you say- I can only dimly recollect him. Yes, good work the French bringing all those Zepps down. We have pictures of them in some of the papers that arrived last mail. Pity we did’nt do it. I hear from all sides of the bomb in Picadilly & how & Edgars were strafed; a good shot was’nt it, though I don’t suppose they do much actual aiming. I heard from Jim a day or two ago, he says his relief is on his way out, & as soon as he arrives Jim will probably go to India, en route for this country.
I saw a notice of Stephanie’s wedding in the papers; yes rather I remember her, though I was never at home when she used to come and stay, Jinny & I used to go & see them outside Paddington on our way to Gloucester.
So glad my description of Baghdad pleased you, & by now I hope you have some photographs of it which I took, also of the journey upstream & various other interesting places. I was half afraid the letters I wrote about them had been destroyed at sea, by fire, between Basra & Bombay, but it appears they were fortunate & went by another boat.
Yes, I know nearly all the Queens now, & the two regiments are great friends, & the name Garhwal should not be unknown in Guildford after this. They are an awful nice lot of fellows and we get on awful well together- Poor Dick; yes he would hate the mud & cold I know, and now he’s losing Topher he won’t be any better off. As regards Topher’s commission, I expect poor boy he has had more than enough in the ranks, though as you say he was well enough off as Dick’s groom; all the same if he wants the commission it seems hard on him not to let him get it and he’ll be home some time training now. His stammer would certainly seem a difficulty & I hope he manages to do something for it.
I wonder if Specs has been roped in yet- I have glanced through the daily sketch with George’s picture in it, at his wedding, but I should’nt know him from Adam, not having seen him since 1902 or so. I was’nt home when he was so much with the family.
As you say, the war news is not very happy these days, but I fancy it’s only a phase and things will buck up again soon. Italy seems to be standing her ground, & there is no one in Russia to make peace with, & America must be nearly ready now.
Poor Capon seems to get no better, & from your description the garden wants some work on it. I don’t suppose Capon will ever be fit for work again, he will be a great loss I’m afraid but I suppose it can’t be helped. Please let me know if I can do anything for him: I think we boys ought to buy him an annuity or something as he has served us faithfully & well all these years. If you are writing to the others you might suggest it to them, & meantime make enquiries as to what’s the best thing we can do for him- There are many calls on our pockets nowadays, but I think this is a special case.
Must write to Ben now. We posted our English mails last Monday here, but they never reached the railway, as the road was too bad for cars to come & fetch it, so presumably they missed the mail. In any case, it’s only a fortnightly mail home and out now, & living in these outlandish parts one is never certain of anything.
Best love to all
yr loving son
Photo of bomb damage at Swann & Edgars in Picadilly, 20/10/17
Christmas card (unsigned and undated) depicting the British Residency at Baghdad with map of Mesopotamia