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Author Archives: Ted Berryman

18 July 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

No 2 B.G.H
Amara

18th July 17

 

Dear Mother

Such a pleasant surprise this morning, after a wash & brush up early & my bed had been made up, I sort of dozed off again till breakfast time & woke up to find a whole heap of letters and papers on my bed, including 2 from you dated May 30th & June 6th. I had thoroughly made up my mind to get no letters from home for 3 weeks or a month, as the mail leaving London on 31st May had been sunk (by a mine, I hear, only 60 miles from Bombay if you please!) & with this fortnightly krewst beginning I could’nt hope for a mail I thought for a long time. Thanks awfully for the letters & papers, which I have not had time to peruse yet, but they are MOST WELCOME, as the trash in the hospital library nearly turns one silly to read.

Also thanks awfully for 2 cables, received 3 days ago, on the 14th to be strictly accurate, both exactly the same, I got one in the morning & one in the evening. As they were addressed direct to the hospital, I imagine you had received a W.O. or India O. wire saying I had been admitted to hospital. The O.C. hospital said he had worded the official wire so as to make it as all right as possible and not to make it too alarming for you. He was a charming man, Col: Hefferman by name, and died suddenly 2 days ago from cerebral malaria, brought on by the great heat of the past few days I fancy. He always used to come & talk to me morning & evening on his sort of semi official rounds. I wired you “going on well”. I wonder if you ever got it? They said it would take 2 or 3 days, possibly more.

Well, I’m much better, though by the time you get this it will be such stale news. I’m allowed up, & today I’m allowed out for a breath of fresh air; I am on good solid diet, chickens, eggs, an’ all, I drink whiskey & soda for dinner, & in myself I feel as fit as a fiddle, a wee bit “leggy” perhaps, but that’s only incidental on being in bed for 10 days or so. The doctor is quite pleased with my progress, & practically every day I’ve been in here I’ve been promoted to some extra diet or privilege, & my progress has been systematic & regular.

You see, I went on a milk & rice pudding diet at once in camp, a week before I came into hospital, when the first symptoms were apparent, and then I thought it best to come into hospital as there is’nt very much doing nowadays & it’s as good a time to “go sick” as you could find, ‘cos in hospital they treat you proper & one gets fitter so much quicker than if you let the disease hang on till you drop. Of course if we had been doing any soldiering, up at the front & all that, I would’nt have dreamt of coming in here, but would have managed to get fit again somehow, as I’ve never really felt absolutely rotten, I could always have carried on. So taking things all round, if I’ve got to have dysentery, better have it now. And now I hope to get absolutely rid of it & to be out and about again & rejoin in 2 or 3 days.

Everyone is most awfully nice & kind here, doctor awfully good chap. Sisters perfect darlings & look after you like mothers; brother patients very nice, & I get heaps of visitors from the regiment & pals in Amara every day, so the time passes pleasantly enough.

This last fortnight has been terribly hot. In here of course we have electric fans & my ward is particularly cool. But outside & in camp temperatures have been running up to 118° in the shade, & not a breath of air to relieve things. Cases of heat stroke are common among “Tommies”, but they have little “aid-posts” dotted about all over the place, with a canvas trough full of water, into which you hurl any unfortunate fellow who goes down with heat-stroke till medical aid can be summoned. The great thing is of course to bring down the patient’s temperature, by cold water, ice etc. Poor Col: Hefferman went up to 110°; think of it! It sounds incredible, but the doctor here took it himself & vouches for the truth of it, & he tells me temperatures of 108 & 109 are common in cases of heat stroke. Of course they get ’em into hospital with all possible speed & treat them with ice & wet towels etc & most of ’em recover.

I hear the regiment is keeping wonderfully fit, despite our men being hill men & not used to great heat. One man has died of heat-stroke, & we’ve had no more cases of it. All other officers are very fit & cheery & drop in to see me often; they say it’s “devilish hot” in camp but they keep smiling, & so shall I when I go back, so don’t worry about me. Besides there’s only about another month of this preposterous weather, & after that it begins to come within reasonable limits once more.

Yes the air raid on Folkestone was a bad show. All the same- it’s only a very minor thing in the war, & makes absolutely no difference to the result- I know it’s time we might be able to keep off these raids, but it would mean a constant day & night patrol of several hundreds of miles of E. & S. coast, & it would be playing into Germany’s hands to keep back all the hundreds of ‘planes & pilots for this purpose when they could be far more profitably employed on the Western front, where things matter & where after all the war is going to be decided. One simply must look at these things broadly & comprehensively; very unpleasant for the raided town I know, but we must not let little -(they are little, compared with the big things happening elsewhere)- raids like this turn us from our main purpose, killing Boches & winning the war on the Western front-

What a terrible thing the Vanguard being blown up like that: evidently done by spies I suppose, though I fail to see how it is ever to be found out what really happened- In your letter you were rather depressed about the Russians, but certainly since then they seem to have girded on their armour in fine style, & I see in today’s wires they claim to have captured nearly 40,000 prisoners in 12 days, to say nothing of numerous guns & much booty. I only hope we can really trust these reports, it means a lot if we can. By the time you get this I expect things will be moving again in France.

I’m very glad to hear you say you think of taking a rest, & I think it’s the best thing you can do. What’s Jane going to do? I’m weekly expecting to hear of her taking up some war work, as apparently there’s lots to do.

I can hardly credit your story of Hart’s men actually funking that ladder business; I can forgive him for funking perhaps, but not for saying so & not having a try anyhow. There must be very few men left in England now. Good old Capon, he deserved a pat on the back- & you too for holding the ladder, though as you say, Heaven knows what would have happened if it had slipped! I trust Specs will turn out a reliable defender of England- he may yet have a chance to prove his mettle. Dick & Jim both seem to like hot climates, of course I simply loathe them, especially when they are damp & sticky, as Singapore must be. Cheery weekends at Delaford lately you’ve been having.

Well, I must end up- I’m ever & ever so much better, nearly well in fact, & I’m awful sorry to have been such a nuisance, as I’m afraid you must have wondered what’s really the matter, as I expect all official wires are very bald & sketchy.

Best love to all

Yr loving son               Ted


 

Lt Col Francis Joseph Christopher Heffernan

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/628759/

http://www.westernfrontassociation.com/great-war-at-sea-in-air/royal-navy/3142-hms-vanguard-and-other-accidental-losses-in-british-home-waters.html

 
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Posted by on 18 July, '17 in About

 

12 July 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

July 12th

The Doctor has just been round and has now promoted me to fish diet, the one next above “semi-solids” but he says I’d better not get up yet. So evidently everything is going on all right & I’m feeling as fit as a fiddle.

By the way do you remember I told you our C.O. was giving me a picture of N. Chapelle as a wedding present? Did it ever turn up? as he said it was being sent straight to Delaford. I seem to remember you saying it had arrived one day. Do let me know what happened to it & if it’s arrived.

Best love to all, & I’m going along fine so don’t worry

Ever yr loving son

Ted


Ted’s picture of Neuve Chappelle did eventually turn up.

Neuve Chappelle by James Prinsep Beadle

Ted’s picture of Neuve Chappelle by James Prinsep Beadle

 
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Posted by on 12 July, '17 in About

 

11 July 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

No 2 British Genl: Hospital
Amara

July 11/17

 

Dear Mother

Please don’t be alarmed at the address, as it only means I’m in here for a few days to get over a slight go of dysentery, & I ought to be fit again shortly & back with the regiment, certainly easily by the time you get this. I felt rotten all last week in camp & had symptoms of dysentery, but I did’nt want to come to hospital & our M-O- treated me in camp. But I got no better, & after all it’s the wisest thing to get these things treated properly early, before they get a hold of you, then they are much more easily cured. So on Sunday (this is Wednesday) I came in here, & am now under treatment. I am much better, even in these three days; they won’t let me out of bed, but that is the usual thing I believe, rest & quiet, & injections of stuff called “emitine” which is certainly marvellous in its results.

The first 3 days I was here I was on “fluid” diet, milk & egg flips & weak soup, a very dull affair! But today I have been promoted to “semi-solid”, which means custard for lunch & an egg for breakfast & tea – I hope they did’nt send any alarmist wires home about me. Dysentery I believe is always reported as a “seriously ill” case, & I asked the Doctor here not to be too depressing, but he has to wire home about all officers admitted to hospital- I am thinking of wiring to you also, to say I’m all right, which I really am – I fancy I have a very mild go, & have caught it early in its career, so I shall soon be back with the regiment again. This emitine takes 10 days through, & by the time that’s finished I ought to be quite fit again. So don’t worry in the least about me please; I’m perfectly all right, & am feeling most awfully fit, & very hungry! as all last week I was on slops, milk & eggs etc, & they cut your food down here too, & I’m told it’s a good sign to be hungry. Anyhow the doctor was fearfully pleased with me this morning, & as I say, promoted me to semi-solids, so I’ll be all right again in no time-

Thanks awfully for a mail letter which I got yesterday, most opportunely on my birthday. It was dated 23rd May- The matron here gave me a few hankies & a writing block & some shaving soap from the Red X as presents, & everyone was very nice. The sisters are perfect darlings of course, & treat one like mothers; they are simply magnificent, & it’s impossible not to get well quickly under their treatment. I do admire them so, working in all the awful heat. Of course we have electric fans in hospital here, & it’s most awfully comfortable, just like home.

The actual building is the former residence of the Turkish governor of Amara, before we drove them out of it in 1915; it is built on the banks of the Tigris, & is a big square building, 2 storeys, with a courtyard place in the middle, & can accomodate about 60 patients, all officers: the men are all accomodated in the old Turkish barracks close by. At present there are only about 30 patients, & only 2 of us dysenterys, my stable companion being an army vet: quite a nice person. Fox & our doctor strolled in to see me last night, as it’s only about 2 miles to camp. They were surprised to see me looking “so well”, as they said, & told me I looked a hundred times fitter than when I came in on Sunday.

It’s been very hot these last 3 days, up to 118º in the shade, but these fans cool the place a lot of course: still it’s hottish o’ nights, & hard to get to sleep sometimes. They have just brought me my evening basin of water, so I must perform that very unsatisfactory duty of trying to wash in bed; useless I call it!

I have’nt yet met Desmond Gabb, as you see we (our brigade, that is) have been split up so far, & we shan’t all meet till we all collect at Baghdad sooner or later. When we do collect I must certainly go over to the Queens & see if I can find any old pals or if I know anyone by name.

We get no more mails now for a month, as the ones we got yesterday were the 24th May, & the 31st May ones were sunk- By the way, the ship was sunk sixty miles from Bombay! By a mine, dropped by some neutral I suppose, or possibly a raider. Sickening is’nt it getting so near as that and then being sunk.

Many thanks for Printer’s Pie which came yesterday, I have’nt read it yet, but have had a good laugh at some of the pictures. Several other papers also turned up, for which very many thanks, but I have’nt had time to read them yet. I will finish this off tomorrow, & give you the latest news of my condition after the Doctor’s made his morning rounds. I’m certainly feeling very fit this evening. Good-night.

He continued the letter the next day


 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emetine

http://recipewise.co.uk/egg-flip

Probable location of Hospital, scene of further siege in 2004

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIMIC-House

SS Mongolia, sunk 23/06/17

http://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?132085

Images from Printer’s Pie

http://www.bonzo.me.uk/indexP.htm

 
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Posted by on 11 July, '17 in About

 

5 July 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

July 5/17

 

Dear Mother

No mail in from you this week of course under the new fortnightly show, and I see that the letter mails leaving London on 31st May & parcel mails of 24th of May have been “lost at sea” as the official wording is. Sickening is’nt it, I think it’s the mail after next, as I got letters dated 7th by last mail, so we ought to get 24th May letters next mail, but after that I’m afraid we’ll have to go a whole month without any.

No news much here. Everyone seems to be on the move nowadays, up river, so I expect we shall get our orders shortly. Meanwhile we are very comfy here, though we have had one or two real big days of wind and dust, and it has been hottish, 107 or 108 every day on an average in our tents. The last 2 days have been quite still with no wind; it does away with dust of course, but it makes it a wee bit hotter.

We had a wonderful eclipse of the moon last night, a total one, lasting about 2 hours. I had’nt noticed it in my diary though I see now it is down there. Of course we saw it soon enough as soon as it began at about 11 p.m. as the moon was full, and in about ½ hour or ¾ hour it was entirely blotted out, and only glowed a dull crimson like a cinder, a most impressive sight. It stayed like that for about 2 hours or so & then got all right again. I’ve never seen such a good eclipse and of course we had a splendid view of it. I was sleeping out in the open, as I always do nowadays, and kept on waking up & having a look at the show.

I’ve not been very grand these last few days, “liver” I think the doctor has put it down as; but he has treated me with various dopes and things & I’m ever so much better now, in fact practically well again. In these hot climates I suppose one has a day off occasionally.

We had some swimming sports here the other day for the men, who, as I have told you I think, spend most of the day bathing and we thought we would encourage them by having a few sports, especially for those who have learnt to swim here. The diving was most amusing, as our men are not natural divers, & have only learnt a bit here under our instruction, so you can imagine their efforts off our spring board were amusing to say the least of it.

There seems to be a bit of a lull in France now at the time of writing. What a wonderful show that Messines business must have been, with 19 mines going up, & what a tremendous success it was. On the whole things seem to be going well; the submarine figures are keeping fairly low and level, Russia appears to be going to do an advance, & America’s help in money ships & aeroplanes should be of inestimable value. And perhaps our Salonika army may be able to move more freely now Greece is out of it. But by the time you get this I expect lots of things will have happened so it’s not much good speculating.

The flies seem to have got worse here in the last few days, I spent most of the day swatting them in my tent. They were’nt so bad at first, but seem to have got worse lately.

No news of my socks from the G.O.C! so I expect he’s bagged em himself. However praps I’ll be seeing him in a week or two, though of course I should’nt dare ask him about them!

I’m writing this before breakfast & it looks like another warmish day as there is’nt a breath of wind, though it may get up later of course; I trust it will.

Must end up now. Best love to all

yr loving son

Ted


 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_eclipse

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Messines_%281917%29

 
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Posted by on 5 July, '17 in About

 

28 June 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

June 28/17

 

Dear Mother

Very many thanks indeed for your two letters of May 10th & 16th which I got yesterday. Very nice of Mrs Bingley I’m sure to write to you about me; she’s awful nice, & was particularly kind to me in Delhi. I expect a letter from an independent source must mean a lot to you.

We’ve had a week of gales & dust since I last wrote. I think I must have told you that there is a special wind out here, which is supposed to blow for 40 days, commencing June or July. It serves to keep the air moving & affords considerable relief to the heat. It is known as the “Shamál” & blows from the N.W. This is generally acknowledged to be the Shamal which we have been getting lately. At times it reached almost the heights of a gale & blows with concentrated fury.

On these occasions it is accompanied by clouds of dust, which is so thick at times it is difficult to see 10 or 20 yards, but the dust is not perpetual of course, though there is always some in the air. It only gets as thick as that when it blows particularly hard, & other days the Shamal drops to a gentle breeze, and at times – today for instance – it does’nt blow at all, & up goes the temperature in consequence. Our thermometer has been showing 106° [41° Celsius] or thereabouts in our tent all this last week, dropping to 85° to 90º [29°-32° Celsius] or so at 6 p.m., & down to 79º [26° Celsius] at 5 a.m.

The temperature rises as soon as the sun gets up, & stays up till sunset. Today will be hotter I suppose as there is no breeze. I hate the dusty days, as everything gets covered in a thick layer of it, & it’s impossible to keep it out of one’s tent. Flies are not bad, nothing like as bad as they were in Basrah, thanks to good sanitation and I think it’s really too hot for them to be really lively. It’s 106º [41° Celsius] now at 11.30 a.m. & the hottest time is 2 in the afternoon, so I expect we are in for 112º or 113º [c 45° Celsius] today!

We are busy training still; work from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m., then no parades are allowed – too hot – by order till 5 p.m. So we have lectures etc in huts, & the men bathe or sleep or mend their clothes (economy, “mend everything”, make everything last twice as long as you do generally, is our watch word out here) till it’s time to parade again. They are all as keen as mustard, & it has been a tremendous pride & pleasure to me to have been in command of the Battalion now for 2 months, short as the time is. I feel I have a slight say in the matter of its training, & I am prepared to stand or fall by its behaviour in action. I may say I have absolute confidence in it; but then that is only natural. I do hope I get a chance to command it in action – it would be a great opportunity, and if only the fates are kind I think I stand a good chance of doing so.

So glad you got my letters written on board & just after we had landed. I’m afraid the latter were full of ‘first impressions’, but they are the most lasting after all & generally most accurate.  I have’nt seen Desmond Gabb yet, but I suppose we shall all foregather at Baghdad sometime or other; I believe his regiment is on its way up now, & I expect we shall be going up very shortly. Meanwhile our stay here has been most fortunate, for the weather has been none too bad, we have a nice camp, & have been more or less on our own & have had no one to worry us.

Dent tells me his mother remembers you well; he evidently wrote home about it the same mail as I did. So glad to hear Dick & Topher are flourishing. The latter must be rather tired of roughing it, & he must feel the poor old 16th being cut up very much, he must have lost so many pals.

We don’t do much else besides work here; the Gunners next door gave some sports last week, which were quite good fun. We generally have a dip in the Tigris in the cool of the evening, & I go in to Amara about once a week to have a look round. Boats of all shapes & sorts & sizes are continually passing by up stream carrying stores & reinforcements up, & if forethought & organisation can beat the Turk, well we ought to have him cold. We are taking no chance this time I fancy.

Putting up the tennis net! Shocking, war time an’ no potatoes!! I expected every mail to hear that had gone the way of all spare land and had been dug up for agricultural purposes. I must say the papers make much more fuss about it than individuals, judging from your letters & what I hear from other fellows; but it’s serious enough I should imagine chiefly because it seems almost impossible to bring the very seriousness of the situation home to people with their high wages an’ all.

However the land news is good, & I fancy we have the Hun fairly ‘coopered’ on the west now. We have been making a series of small attacks everywhere to gain high ground & important points, preparatory, presumably, to making a great big push on a very wide front sooner or later. Russia appears to be going to see us through after all, & I’m right glad to see Tino out of it & I think Greece will bow to the inevitable now & give us no more trouble.

If only we could get America’s army into the field. Well they’ll come soon enough I’ve no doubt, & it’s men men men we want, & the allies have far greater & untouched reserves to draw on than Germany, who must be wasting all her reserve strength in furious & fruitless counter attacks.

That’s what we want – to kill Bosches day & night till none are left; it’s going to finish the war quicker than anything else. Our casualty lists are sadly long as you say, but however great the price it’s worth it besides it’s the duty of this generation to posterity & the world at large. Think what future generations would say of us if we failed now. It would only mean a far greater tragedy in years to come for them.

Best love to all. Ever yr loving son    Ted

I’m very fit & well, by the way.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shamal_%28wind%29

Boats of all shapes and sizes:

Uncaptioned boat and jetty – with the Garhwal Rifles in Mesopotamia (Iraq) early 1917

Uncaptioned boat and jetty – with the Garhwal Rifles in Mesopotamia (Iraq) early 1917

Uncaptioned Boatman, probably 1916 or 1917

Uncaptioned Boatman, probably 1916 or 1917

Uncaptioned, from an album taken with the Garhwal Rifles in Mespot (Iraq) in 1917

Uncaptioned, from an album taken with the Garhwal Rifles in Mespot (Iraq) in 1917

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on 28 June, '17 in About

 

13 June 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

June 13/17

 

Dear Mother

Very many thanks indeed for your letter dated May 2nd which I got yesterday. My dear, how we have all been laughing at the idea of Genl Maude getting a parcel with a pair of socks marked for me in them! A gorgeous idea I think; & my pals have all been ragging me, & all the troops will parade while I step forward & he hands them to me! As a matter of fact I don’t think any harm will be done & between you & me it’s just as well; you never know, even little things like that always help, & it may mean something to him if he ever hears my name again. No harm in being on sock-receiving terms with the G.O.C! tho’ I expect his A.D.C. will have most to do with it.

I’m so awfully sorry to hear about your bag & purse being stolen; rotten luck, & I know how you hate anything like that, especially as you say you lost one or two litte treasures in it. I lost my ring for 3 days the other day. I was bathing in the river & had taken my ring off & put it on the bank, under a tuft of grass; I forgot it when I came out but remembered it about 20 mins: later & went to get it but it had gone. One or two Arabs & people had been known to go by, & a thorough search revealed nothing, so I thought they must have spotted it & bagged it.

Next day I & some of the men had a thorough search, but with no results, & next morning while I was dressing my orderly brings it in to me! It appears, as Capon would say, one of our regimental police walking along there saw it quite by chance, & picked it up, thinking, he said, it was brass! & so kept it. He happened to show it to some pals, & one of them had heard about my losing my ring, so he came along & gave it to my orderly at once. Was’nt it lucky. Very silly of me of course to put it there, but it’s always a bit loose when my fingers are wet. I was most awfully distressed at the time & it quite worried me, & I was most frightfully pleased to get it back again.

Poor Capon sounds very ill, I do hope the baths will do him good. I should like to subscribe towards his treatment, if you’ll let me know about it, as he has always done me pretty well when I’ve been at home.

Hottish now, every day, & yesterday & today a high hot wind. But we must expect hot weather now, middle of June an’ all, though I believe July & August are the hottest months, but everyone seems to have different opinions on the subject.

Thank you for the cutting from the paper about the Indian Army; most interesting, & though it all seems so long ago now, still it’s nice to know one’s little bit has not been forgotten. I suppose things were rather bad just then.

Yes, I’ve promised to be godfather to Dolly Dawson’s son, but I’m afraid they won’t get my letter anything like in time, but Ben tells me they are taking it for granted I shall agree.

Very little news here. They have made me a Major now, from April 8th. It’s acting rank only, but with pay as a major. It’s because I am – or was then – 2nd in command, and on field service they give you the acting rank of major when 2nd in command (if you are not one already) & full pay as such, very nice. But when the war stops, or if I leave the rgt: for any reason, sick wounded or go to a job, then I drop the rank & revert to captain; & my successor in the job gets the rank & pay, after waiting 15 days from the date of the vacancy. That’s why I had to wait till April 8th, 15 days after sailing from India. Previous to that I had been 2nd-in-command since last september, but as we were not on F.S. no promotion was admissible, see?

Things are going well in the west, but Russian affairs seem very shaky don’t they. And I’m afraid you’re not having very cheery times as regards food in England now, but I think the nation is playing up on the whole, & it won’t last very long now, & we’ll soon all be back on full rations again.

Best love to all

ever yr loving son

Ted


More of Ted’s photos. After adding these to this letter I checked the original albums and saw some of the photos were captioned and appear to have been taken in Egypt in 1916 instead of Mesopotamia (Iraq) in 1917. I’ve left them with this letter and updated the captions accordingly.

Un-captioned, but probably a camp at Ain Musa with the Gulf of Suez in the background - the Garhwal Rifles in Egypt in 1916

Un-captioned 
but probably a camp at Ain Musa with the Gulf of Suez in the background – the Garhwal Rifles in Egypt in 1916

 

"Camp at Ain Musa: Gulf of Suez in Background" - with the Garhwal Rifles in 1916

“Camp at Ain Musa: Gulf of Suez in Background” – with the Garhwal Rifles in 1916

Ted took a couple of photographs of the mule lines – one can see why

"Mule Lines" - Mesopotamia (Iraq) 1917

“Mule Lines” – Mesopotamia (Iraq) 1917

 
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Posted by on 13 June, '17 in About

 

6 June 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

June 6/17

 

Dear Mother

No mail in yet, & I hear too they are starting a bi-weekly mail from India, though I think bi-weekly means twice a week, does’nt it? I really forget! Anyhow I mean the mail is going to leave India for home only twice a month in future, every other week in fact, so heaven alone knows when our letters will reach you.

I last wrote on 31st. Nothing much has happened since then. We gave 3 concerts last week, calling ourselves the Pipsqueaks. They all went off very well, but I find that I have’nt got time to worry about these things so I’ve chucked it. You see we are in camp 2 miles up stream, and it means a long journey in to the Club for rehearsals, in the heat of the day too, or else a long journey down after dinner & a hopelessly late bed-going, & these days of getting up at 4.30 it’s not good enough. It’s the getting back is so hard, upstream against the current in a bellum is almost impossible, besides bellums won’t run at night, so one is done in.

Fortunately last week I managed to cadge a car one night, as I couldn’t get across the river, all bellums being in bed & the bridge of boats being open to allow river traffic to pass. You see our camp is on the other side as well as being 2 miles away. So I got this old car, & went a huge long way round over another bridge much lower down & home that way, 5 or 6 miles, which I should have had to have walked otherwise. Next night I managed to cadge a launch home, but one can’t go on doing that. Besides I’m really much too busy to take on the job: so you need’nt worry about sending any songs. It was quite good fun while it lasted, & I got to know a good few people through it.

Hellish hot here nowadays, it’s been up to 113° [45° Celsius] in our tents, but the last 2 days have been much cooler, & last night was positively cold the thermometer dropping right down to 74 [23° Celsius] at 5 this morning. I generally have a dip in the Tigris in the morning, & we all bathe again in the evening. The current is fearfully strong & carries you right down, however much you try & swim against it, but it’s great fun & very refreshing. We have managed to bag a bit of board & are putting up a diving-board today.

There are some lovely walks along the river here, through most gorgeous date groves, with willows all growing alongside the river. And pomegranate trees with the fruit just ripening now & their lovely scarlet flowers. Funny little Arab children play around the villages, & the gardens are deliciously untidy, but lovely & cool & green. Melons and a sort of pumpkin-like vegetable grow here, and all sorts of weeds & creepers; & yesterday we were walking along & found real live English Blackberries, which of course took us straight home to England.

They water their melons & dates by curious old wells, & Persian wheels, where tins are attached to a wheel which revolves in the water, worked by a very rickety old horse who walks around a very Heath-Robinson contrivance, consisting of home-made cog wheels and creaking axles. But it seems to work all right, & I must really try & photograph it one day for you.

We are very comfy in our camp, & dinner on the river front is a perpetual delight, especially nowadays when there is a moon. You would hardly think you were in a much-abused Mesopotamia if you were suddenly dumped down in the mess at dinner, with the gramaphone playing, iced drinks, & a fresh breeze blowing, and the old Tigris flowing by looking ripping in the moonlight. But I expect our strenuous days are to come; meanwhile we are living really very comfortably, except on days when sand and dust are about, which, I may add, is nearly always. Our last 2 days here have been ghastly in that respect.

Hope you’re all right at home, food an’ all. I don’t like these air raids, & I think the invasion scare is no bogey but a very possible reality

Best love to all   yr loving son

Ted


Ted was always fond of children, and I attached this photograph to this post assuming they were connected. It was only after I went back to the album that I saw the caption and realised I should have posted it in one of his 1916 letters from Egypt. The caption is heart-breaking.

Captioned 'Armenian Refugees Port Said' - Egypt 1916

Captioned ‘Armenian Refugees Port Said’ – Egypt 1916


Paintings of bellams in book of 1920

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/18031/18031-h/18031-h.htm#OLD_WORLD

Persian wheel

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sakia

 
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Posted by on 6 June, '17 in About