I hear there is a mail going out tomorrow so I will just drop you a line to send by it, though in these days of submarines there seems to be a pretty good chance that it will never reach you. However, I’ll risk it. We are still here as you see and have got no orders yet. All the ordinary passengers are going on to India on the 9th in the Medina, but they are evidently not sending us on in her. In any case Dolly Lyell & I will in all probability rejoin the regiment which is at present at Ismailia on the Canal.
I had a letter from the Colonel, written on the 26th, saying he had applied for us both to return to the regiment but the authorities had said no, we must return to India; then another letter dated 27th says orders had come from the commander in chief in India for us to disembark on arrival at Port Said & rejoin the regiment. But then you see we never reached Port Said, so everything is hanging fire just for the moment; but I presume it is practically certain we shall be ordered to join the rgt: sooner or later. I wired home my address to Nell, & asked her to send it on to you, so I hope you’ve got it by now: it is
THE GARHWAL RIFLES
INDIAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
I am giving that address to Cox, Bombay, Cox here, & the P & O & hotel so where ever any letters may have been sent I shall eventually get them forwarded on. I hear there is a wire for me at Cox’s place here, but he doesn’t open again till 3 o’clock so I can’t get it just yet.
I have been very busy each day buying kit. I was wearing that old khaki of mine at the time, you know the greenish one with badges of rank on the sleeve. Of course ½ an hour in the Mediterranean did’nt do it any good! but I have had it dry cleaned & pressed here & really it’s as good as new, without exaggeration, & I am wearing it now. But I have also had to get a complete new outfit as well; fortunately one can get practically everything here, but I want you to send me one or two things which I have written on a separate list. My watch was of course ruined, simply coated with rust inside; I have sent it to Nell as a curio! Also her little coloured photograph which was partially spoilt but on the whole very little damaged, & I fancy it can be touched up & made quite all right again. The frame is quite all right! Nell & the Fieldings sent me a cable when they heard I was all right, I was so glad as then I knew you had either got my cable or she had heard somehow that all was well as far as I was concerned.
People are awful nice to us here, & of course we are rather star turns in a way. Quite a comfy hotel, & the P & O are paying our expenses here. Alexandria is so much bigger & better than I imagined. Good streets & quite good shops, European a lot of them. I always imagined it was a dirty little hole like Port Said, but there is no comparison really – of course now it is crowded with troops, being the base for the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, & there are heaps of camps all around it. Any amount of Australian & New Zealanders here, all from the Dardanelles. I have made friends with several people here & we are all getting on splendidly. The poor old Persia figured very largely in the Reuter wires for 3 or 4 days, & I suppose the home papers were equally full of it. I wonder if you have got the account I sent Nell yet, I told her to send it on to you.
As far as I know, none of us men survivors are a penny the worse for our somewhat trying experience & we are rapidly recovering physically & mentally. Sometimes I have awful day-dreams about it & the whole thing comes back with a rush while one is driving or walking along, but otherwise I think my nerves are slowly but surely regaining their normal state of calm. Some of the ladies were pretty bad naturally & had to go to hospital, but the majority are going on in the Medina tomorrow. Mrs Penn Gaskell, the only lady 1st class passenger saved, is staying here & looks very white & ill poor child but seems wonderfully cheer all the same.
Last night we dined the officers of the Mallow, our rescuers; awful nice chaps. The Skipper, one Roberts, lives at Chobham & knows Guildford well, & confesses to have been in love with Betty Neville once! So if any of the girls meet Betty they might tell her that a former flame of hers rescued us & we owe him much more than we can ever possibly repay.
It has been miserably wet here ever since we landed on New Year’s day; I have bought a gorgeous Burberry thing from the Govt: clothing store here, called the “Aquatite” only £1-16, & precisely the same as a Burberry for 3 guineas; but of course Government let us have these things at wholesale prices; awful smartly cut & all, band at the back & everything. There are heaps of motor lorries & motor bikes here, & the whole place buzzes with activity. I will send you some picture post cards of it.
They do us very well in the hotel, & it is simply crammed with officers & their wives.
I managed to save from the wreck myself, my watch (ruined) my ring, Nell’s picture (partly ruined) the clothes I stood up in, the leather cigarette case Nell gave me (ruined) & my pipe. Everything else gone! including my 21st silver cigarette case, flask, & one or two sentimental odds & ends I had on board. I was wearing another coat on shore at Malta, & several things were still in that; & the other things were either lying about my cabin or else locked up. I lost my Rupert Brooke too, sickening; there was no time of course more than to just grab a lifebelt & bolt up on deck. Of course I did’nt lose as much as some chaps who were taking mufti & heaps of kit, I had very little really, but still, small though it was it’s all gone now.
Goodbye Mother & don’t worry; I’m as right as a trivet, whatever that is! Lots of love to all from your loving son
I just heard from another fellow that Cox had a cable for me so I flew off & found yours there! Thanks awfully for it. It arrived here on 3rd, at 3.25 p.m. & this is the 7th, 4 p.m. Awful shame, they might have sent it up as everyone knows where we are.
Lyell & I got a wire from the rgt: today sending us their love & saying how bucked they were at our escape
Aquatite trench coat