22 August 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

22 Aug

Aug 22/17


Dear Mother

No mail in yet and I hear it won’t be in for some days as it has only just reached Bombay. There is I’m afraid no news to tell you. Since I last wrote it has been frightfully hot, still muggy days & 115° in our tents, most awfully trying. Still the nights are fairly cool & the v. early mornings when we go on parade, but the rest of the day after about 7.30 is rotten.

However we are all keeping fit, though feeling very limp & slack of course, it’s absolutely impossible to feel otherwise. We just sit & drip & lose weight all day till the evening & long for the sun to go down. But I expect there are people a good deal worse off than us, right up at the front, in small tents & not so many comforts easily obtainable such as ice, which we have.

We are in big tents, the same kind as we were in in Delhi last cold weather; all troops have them out here now & they are really essent if you want troops to keep fit. We have a little thermometer in ours so’s we can keep a daily record of the temperatures; & just now we put it in a little light tent which we were living in when we were at Basra & which we now use as a sort of bathroom attached to our big tent, & in there it registered 125°! So we can thank our stars we have big tents to live in & not the small ones, which are really no protection whatever. The light tents are for use when “active operations” are in progress & you can’t cart the big ones about, but by that time the weather will be much more reasonable.

We are sort of on the end of a wire about our move up river, & we may more or less get orders to go any day now. Personally I don’t want to move in this heat. It means a big business, unpitching & packing all the tents, loading them all up on barges & all our heavy kit & stores & rations as well. You see all this would have to be done by hand, as we have no cranes or appliances of that sort of course. However if it’s got to be done it’s got to be done & we’ll do it of course, so that’s that.

I have had long letters from Col D.B. There seems little or no likelihood of his returning. He is not fit yet & I fancy his medical board will give him an extension. Then his time in command is up in November, so it’s hardly likely they’d send him out to finish it off. I rather fancy he hopes to get a job in India, so I gather from his letters.

As regards my prospects, this means – silly as it sounds! – that I shall keep the command till some one else gets it. I mean Henderson, our 2nd in command & on sick leave at home, may come out & take it on, or some senior fellow in the 39th or any other rgt – they are not particular nowadays – may be put in. Impossible to say; but don’t count on my keeping it; I may do so, & I may not; I’ve got it by a piece of luck, & it will be luckier still to keep it. How I should love to command it in some fighting, & to see the results of one’s efforts this hot weather. For indeed we have been working hard to get the regiment as efficient as possible & in good fighting trim & I should be grievously disappointed if they failed in any way. But I know they won’t, I’m confident they will do their very very best.

Such sad news from Lansdowne, Mrs Bobby Reed died the other day, having given birth to triplets, all girls, & all doing well I believe. They arrived 7 weeks before they were due it seems, so her death I suppose is not surprising. Poor Bobby, he’s awfully cut up of course, & the regiment has lost one of the best & brightest women members. She was one of the best, & as you know a great friend of mine & her loss will be felt by us all. Personally I can hardly realise it: one gets used somehow to hearing of the death of one’s men friends nowadays; but it does’nt seem right that people like Mrs Bobby Reed should die.

I must struggle to write to some more people, but I don’t feel in the least energetic. Excuse this rotten letter, but I’m sure you will understand. Heat, no news, & no letter of yours to answer, 3 very just causes for a short note, are’nt they…

Best love to all

yr loving son                Ted

Edith Giles, wife of Capt Henry Robert Baynes Reed CIE DSO MC

Only one of the triplets, Jocelyn, survived and lived to 78.

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Posted by on 22 August, '17 in About


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