Very many thanks for 2 letters from you which I got yesterday, dated 29th Jan & 5th Feb- We got 2 mails quite close together, & another is expected shortly I think. I had heaps of letters from Nell, & lots of papers from you, for all of which many thanks.
I arrived here about 5 days ago- It is an officers’ hospital and convalescent home & there is room for 200 officers here, & it was generally pretty full when a large force was maintained out here, but now there are only about 30 of us here. It is a large house about 5 miles South of Basra, & is most awfully comfortable. Nice big rooms & wards, nice sisters -and very pretty! – & nice doctors. I am in the hands of a man called Felling, a consulting physician in peacetime with a house in Harley St. A Barts man who knew Uncle Will very well- However he can make nothing much of my case, bar that I am unfit to serve out here another hot weather. He thinks I’m worn out & have been too long at it without leave.
I am therefore being invalided to India in a day or two. They won’t send me home from here, as I am Indian Army, & I have to go to India- Is’nt it sickening, as I don’t know what will happen now & my chance of leave home seems to be dwindling away once more. I have’nt had a day off for 3 years & it’s rather a blow to have to come to hospital & be invalided.
But if I stayed here in my present condition it would do me no good, I should only become a worse – possibly a permanent – crock, as I am sure to get touched up with dysentery again- I don’t feel it’s my duty to you or Nell – now that the war’s over – to run unnecessary risks of health now that what one may call “the Imperial need to stick it” is not so strong: I feel my duty is to myself & my relations now and I should only ‘go sick’ sooner or later if I stayed on out here, & so become useless to the Empire & a nuisance to everyone else.
That is how I have sized up things, & my general & all my friends & the doctors too tell me it’s no good staying on if it means running a risk of getting really ill; in fact they tell me it’s not right that I should, now. So I have thrown myself on the mercy of the doctors, & they are sending me to India. What happened there I don’t know, nor can I find out. Whether I shall be able to get home from there or not I can’t possibly say- I have by no means lost hope, but the uncertainty is rather trying-
I am feeling much better now, & the aches & pains have gone & I’ve had no more fever. But I am rather a crock still & not up to anything very strenuous. Today I am going in to Basra by launch & shall have tea with Mrs Macfarlane, you remember, the Matron at Amara who was so kind to me in ’17, & to whom you very kindly wrote & sent some Red X things. She has a job as Matron in a hospital in Basra now, so I must try & see her if I can- I expect I shall sail for India in a day or two. I’m not sending any cables at present, but shall wait till I get there & see what happens. My letters are all being stopped at the base, so you can stick to the same address, unless before then I cable any instructions – or 2nd thoughts though, as I am definitely going to India, perhaps Cox & Co is best, so will you do that, in default of other instructions?
So that’s that, & I suppose I have to chuck my job – but one must give up something. I’m sorry in a way, though I think I’ve had long enough away from the rgt & I feel I want to get back. The wrench is not very great, leaving the Bde I mean, as all the old regiments have gone & it is entirely new altogether. I lose pay of course- but… que faire?
Your letter of Jan 29 was a lovely long one & very many thanks for it. What a tremendous lot of trouble you’ve had to find Jim! But you seem to have run him to earth at Salonika at last, & I expect he’s home by now, or at anyrate on his way. (The “Sicilia” has just gone by with 21 lucky ones invalided home from here: they only embarked this morning)
So glad you have retrieved my gold watch at last. I wonder if you managed to get a leather travelling case for it & gave it to Nell? I think I asked you to do this in one of my letters. It sounds a lovely one. I see, by the way it’s a hunter, so it won’t do for a stand-on-the-table one will it after all. But it will do very nice for evening dress if it is a nice thin one as you say. Indeed you had a lot of daughters-in-law staying with you at the time. Nell writes very cheery letters of her visit to Delaford, I am so awfully glad she has been again & she loves being there. I’m so glad she is fit & well, & you all tell me how pretty she is- “It appears” she’s much thinner than she was, but that’s just her growing up I suppose, & she seems very fit & well, so I’m not alarmed-
England seems in a bad way over strikes and things. Really the times are out of joint & I’m thinking India will be quite attractive by compariason for the next 3 or 4 years- It takes such a lot to change the East or to have the slightest effect on age-long customs & traditions, that even a war like this has hardly touched India or its ways & means-
There is a lovely garden here, just along the river front & full of hollyhocks cornflowers & sweetpeas, lovely they are just now. And then there are a whole heap of orange trees, with the orange blossom just coming out, & soon they will be thick with lovely yellow fruit, a wonderful sight. We have lovely home-made marmalade here, made from these oranges. Patients like me who are up and about are roped in every morning to help sisters pick flowers for the wards-
Yes, I got that parcel of good things from Lazenby’s, years ago, & I know I wrote and told you, but perhaps the letter was lost. Anyhow they were awfully good & tremendously appreciated in the mess, & thanks most awfully for them- Rather curious in your letter of Feb 5 you say you are glad I’m so fit, “and mind you keep so” you add. Very sorry, but I’m afraid I failed to carry out your instructions. I’m much fitter than I was when I first came into hospital, but I think a week’s work would bowl me over again. They have not yet managed to give a definite name to my fever!
How I laughed at Dick’s collection of beasts he took to Assam with him! No one but he would dream of doing such a thing & how he explained to everyone in the train I can’t imagine! How he dare! as we used to say. A “Minah” (Rhymes with liner) is a small bird about the size of a starling, & they can be trained to talk just like parrots & are generally supposed to be more amusing-
How I hate all the uncertainty- I mean about being able to get home this year. It’s no good denying it, & I’ve simply got to face facts it is uncertain whether I’ll be able to manage now. Poor old Nell, I am frightfully anxious about it all, & she’s such a dear & so splendidly patient. However it’s good to be alive and well, there’s always that to put in the balance on the other side, & someday things will straighten out I suppose-
Best love to all
Yr loving son