28 March 1919 – Ted to Gertrude

28 Mar

Colaba War Hosp


28th March 19


Dear Mother

I posted a letter to you at Karachi I think, or was it here I wonder? Anyhow we arrived here on the 24th & are now installed in this hospital. Colaba is a sort of suburb of Bombay, about 4 miles out, on a tongue of land jutting out into the sea, so it gets a good breeze from both sides.

The hospital was formerly the ordinary military hospital for troops in the Bombay area, & of course during the war has always been full: though now it is fairly empty. There are about 50 of us here, & I know several of the other patients. We are very comfortable, but this is a much stricter hospital than any of the others I have been in & very military altogether! I think I am much the same as I was, nothing definitely wrong you know, but just run down & a bit war-worn. I don’t know what they will do to me, but some day I shall come up before a board and they will decide. It’s very hot & steamy here, just the sort of weather I loathe! So I hope they won’t keep me long.

We are allowed out into Bombay, & I have been in twice: Yesterday I went to tea with the Australian Sisters of the “Varela”, in their shore quarters down at the docks, very nice- But the doctors here say I am not to take too much walking exercise, which seems rather silly, but I suppose they know best. However there are lots of taxis to be had so that’s all right. I have been to one or two clubs in Bombay & met heaps of fellows I know,  mostly on their way home on leave or demobilisation.

There was a mail in yesterday, & I have tried to stop my letters going on to M.E.F. so perhaps I may get some today. I told you, I think, that I had’nt cabled, as really private cables are not worth the money, they take I’m told as long as a letter, as there is so much government work to be got through, & a great many of the lines are interrupted. I wonder if they’ve informed you officially of my admission to hospital & if so I hope they have not sent any very alarming wires.

Jellicoe’s ship, the New Zealand, is here just at present, & he himself came back from a trip up-country yesterday. They go to Karachi today & then come back here again. I must try & get aboard for a look round if I’m still here. People are simply flocking home to England, & every ship is full of women & children I believe and passage rates are exorbitant, though I think they are reducing them a bit now- I am sending you a ‘Basrah Times’ (Topher & Dick seem to be sending you Egyptian Gazettes so I thought I would too!) but this one has the extra interest of having a word to say about us at Ramadi, so I thought you might like it for your book-

Is’nt this wretched paper, it’s like writing on blotting paper. Nell writes long letters from Delaford, & obviously enjoyed herself tremendously. I wonder if Jim & Topher have arrived home yet; & Murray too. Despite labour troubles & strikes & difficulties of travel the one word ‘home’ seems to be on everyone’s lips!  What ever disillusionment- if any- awaits them there, the fact remains that nearly everyone wants to go there.

Being in hospital certainly has its advantages, one meets so many fellows from all sorts of odd corners. I have had most awfully interesting talks with a man who has been buying mules in China most of the war, being unfit for service owing to a jab in the tummy from a Prussian lance at the Marne in ’14: & while in China he was hung by some brigands but cut down just in time when they searched his pockets & found an Imperial passport or something which frightened them out of their lives. Fellows from Persia, where all sorts of things have been going on that have never reached the papers: & one man from there who was alone in a fort miles from anywhere with a man called Cumming, who shared a room with me at Sandhurst. He died of influenza there, poor chap, & this other fellow tells me he burnt his body & brought the ashes back 150 miles for burial, as the Persians would have desecrated any grave in those wild parts.

In fact you can get thrilling stories almost every 5 minutes of the day – and I don’t think they are liars, as they only speak under compulsion & with much questioning. There is one Gardner too here, who was on the ‘Persia’ with me; I have met nearly all of the officer survivors now in my wanderings, all except 2 in fact-

I must write to Ben & Nell sometime today. I am going out to tea at the Yacht Club this afternoon, it’s the star-turn club of Bombay & all the best people belong to it. One day I must overhaul my Kit which I left at Cox’s when I first went to Mesopotamia. I don’t suppose 2 years in this damp Bombay heat has done it any good.

Best love to all

yr loving son


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