I’ve no letter of yours to answer as we’ve had no mail in for 10 days, though I believe one is due, as last time it arrived very late. But we are right in front of everyone now and they have a difficult enough job in getting rations up to us, so I don’t suppose there is any chance of a mail being sent up for some time yet.
I scribbled you a line on Saturday (this is Wednesday) just to tell you all was well and the fighting safely over, & even now I’m afraid I can’t tell you any more about it. We are staying up here for a bit, and shall eventually march back to our hot weather quarters somewhere further back when we’ve finished all there is to do up here & when someone comes to take our place. Ever since Sunday night we have had wretched weather, A real hurricane sprang up that night & the wind blew with tremendous violence, & rain fell in torrents.
We had managed to put up 3 Turkish Bell tents which we had captured, but they were wretched affairs, & the one I was sleeping in blew down in the night, & we could’nt possibly put it up again in that gale so we just lay where we were & got wet.
All Bank holiday was wet & stormy & the wind did not drop at all. Yesterday was windy with frequent showers, & last night it blew another gale & poured all night. Today we have had wind & rain all the morning, & the camp is a quagmire, but the afternoon promises to be finer. However we are all very cheery & fit & none the worse. It is of course awfull raw & cold, & on our limited kit we find it very cold at times. So different to this time last year at Basrah.
I had a wire from Jim on Sunday saying he was coming out here early this month. I wonder if I shall see him, but there are so many places he might be sent to off the beaten track that it’s as likely as not we shall miss each other. However I expect we could both wangle leave to Baghdad sometime perhaps.
We got our first news from France for 3 days this morning. It seems good, though the fighting is terrible, but from what we can gather from the vague wires we seem to be getting along all right.
The country up here is ever so much nicer than it is lower down the river where we have been all the winter. There is more rock & stone about here, & the hills are covered in wild flowers of every kind, and there is a certain amount of grass growing too. And the villages are much prettier, with crops & date palms in any quantities, and generally speaking the aspect is not so barren & repelling as it is lower down the river. We have a ripping little camp here, & I fancy it would be a very good place to spend the hot weather.
I went on a reconnaissance across to the other side of the river yesterday. We visited a perfectly charming little village, all surrounded by palm trees & growing wheat. We were received by the Sheikh under the village mulberry tree, where he placed rugs & cushions for us to sit on- and then he gave us coffee, very nice indeed & made from fresh baked & ground coffee beans. He said he was delighted we had driven the Turk out, as they hate the Turk and his cruel ways, & he seems to treat the arab very badly.
Eventually we left him and he gave us eggs & fowls & dates and a nice big fat sheep as parting presents- most welcome, as rations are short up here & they have some difficulty in getting them up as there is a broad “wadi”, or usually dry ravine, in full flood (thanks to the rain) behind us & it’s fairly cut us off temporarily from our friends & supplies lower down, though they do manage to get things across somehow-
It’s a long way from here to home, & I should think it would take at least 6 weeks from the time I started. But at present I have no news about leave. It begins for the men next week, but I’m afraid ours won’t be able to go yet, as we are up here and probably can’t be spared for the present.
I’m sorry for such a scrawl but it’s jolly hard to find anywhere to write. We managed to find a few rough Turkish tables, made of old boxes, which we use in the mess, & use old battered & leaking oil tins to sit on. But it’s all great fun really, especially as it has all been so successful.
Best love to all
yr loving son