Friday, 13 November 2009

C/o of WA Ravenkill Esq Caranpera, November 12 1904

My Dear Delia,

At last I have time and opportunity to again write to you. I can't remember when I last wrote to you but I think it must have been from Chumbi so I had better begin from there. We left on October 22nd and had a fairly good nine days march to Selling arrived on the 30th. The worst march was the one over the Talap Pass which was covered with snow. I had the greatest difficulty in getting my Enteric Fever cases carried - in fact near the top I had to get him carried and put him on a mule with two men holding him on either side. We did not get in to camp at Gnatong until 6pm and we had started at 7am.

Next day we left the snow and coming down 5000 feet got in to almost tropical vegetation and fine scenery. We now began to feel the heat rather and had to begin marching at 6am which meant getting up at 4am. At Kalinpang we came across sfddsf again for the first time and one of the Gunners and I dined at the Forrest Officers bungalow that evening and met some ladies. In our beards and stained khaki uniforms we must have looked awful ruffians but we had a most cordial reception everywhere.

On arriving at Siligore I found orders for me and my hospital to entrain at 2 am the next morning so I spent the remainder of the day handing over my ambulance mules to the Commissariat, paying off my Tibetan Doolie bearers and getting rid of my sick. At Silinger Railway Station we finely enjoyed our meals at the refreshment place and as we were about 30-40 officers together we had a great dinner that evening.

We entrained at 11 am in a siding and travelled all next day arriving at Calcutta at 7am on November 1st. We found carts awaiting us to take our baggage to the camping ground at the station hospital Calcutta, After reporting my arrival and seeing my tent pitched I have breakfast with one of my RAMC fellows stationed there and drove to Kings where I picked up some boxes of coats and kits and drove to the Grand Hotel and took rooms. I found several of the officers returning from Tibet already there and we had a most jovial time altogether. I spent a week there altogether going up to the hospital every morning and "demobilising" and spending the rest of the day gadding about. I called on my old Mess there the 2nd Q0 Rajput LF and dined with them on guest night on Friday. I also dined out with an old gunner pal of mine and his wife - old Dover pals - and with some of my own Fellows did 4 theatres and did no end of shopping - so my time was pretty well occupied.

The last 4 days I had to tackle my heavy kit - get rid of some - send some around to Bombay to await the transport, and some to go with me. I found this a very big job and thought I should never finish it. I finally demobilised the dear old Hospital on November the 7th and took round flying "Fox" my pony to the Auction rooms to be sold as a Lhassa Winner. He was to have been sold on Thursday last but I have not heard the result yet.

On Wednesday evening the night - I and four other fellows travelled up here by the Punjab Mail leaving at 9.30pm and arrived here on Thursday at 5pm and received a most cordial reception from Ravenhill an old Fatahyaah pal of mine. I am having a nice rest here now. Last night I met Major and Mrs Hawkins, you remember old pals of mine at the Club - and we all retired after Tennis to the Club for oysters - being Friday Oyster Night!!! I ate 2 and a half dozen - so had nothing to complain about. Tonight Mr Ravenskill and I are dining with them and I am going to take them to an amateur performance at the theatre here. This afternoon we play tennis again. I shall probably leave for Talahyaah on Monday or Tuesday the 14/15th and stay four to five days there go on to Raoakee to see B. Mrs Young is staying at Fatahaya on a visit and I will luckily see her too.Captain and Mrs Young for the last year have been living at Simla.

No letters from you for the last fortnight as they have been unable to catch up with me but I shall get them at Raoakee as I expect this was the only permanent address I could leave at Calcutta. However I hope you are all well and going strong. I sent you a group of the officers of the Lhassa column taken by Claude White - it is not very good, it was taken at Lhassa. Well much love to all and I am finally enjoying my holiday and living like a Fighting Cock. I enquired about my Gyantsee parcels at the dead letter office at Calcutta but got no satisfaction on the way down all the parcels were lost for weeks in an open shed - got thoroughly rotted by the rain and practically destroyed labels addresses everything and now nothing can be deciphered. I expect there will be an enquiry as some officers spent R90 to R100 on postage alone. I spent R30. But the P.O. says it was the General's fault because he wouldn't provide Transport.

Your affectionate brother

Cecil Mainprise


Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Chumbi October 20th 1904

My dear Delia,

Well at last we have got back safely to Chumbi. We were fortunately the first column so did not meet with the snow blizzard between Phari and Tuna which the second column experienced however we received the snow in camp here. The night we arrived it began to rain and at 11pm when all were asleep turned in to snow. We slept unconsciously until the weight of the snow brought down our tents and there was everyone of us suffocated by the weight of the snow on our chests and then there was the dreadful ordeal of having to crawl out in to the blizzard and try to erect our tents again - as the poles were mostly broken this was an impossibility and several men had to walk about all night.

Of course everything in the tent became wet and it was impossible to dry anything as it continued to pour all next day and the camp was running in slush and water - one got soaked every time one left the tent and could not even reach the Battery for one's meals. However with a tin of biscuits and soup made out of a Soup Tablet I managed to survive the day. All of us agreed that it was the worst day that all of us had ever spent. This was how Chumbi greeted us. It finished off an Enteric case who had been lingering here for the last four months, a Fusilier whom I left behind when we advanced. Poor fellow we buried him yesterday

We march again the day after tomorrow on our last march to Silingor where we arrive on the 30th. I tried to write to you yesterday 'Sailing December 15th' as this would also mean that I have arrived here safely but the snow has brought down the telegraph wires and we are cut off from India. The march from Gyantsee was fairly comfortable except for the early mornings when we occasionally had 25 degrees frost. I am much looking forward to my leave until I am back - if I get it. There is much to do after arriving at Calcutta, demobilising the hospital, handing in my equipment and squaring up the business but after a few days I should be able to get off. I am wondering what my kit stored for the last year at Kings my agent in Calcutta will look like - I hope they have not all been eaten up by white ants.

I received another English mail yesterday, letters from Lady Hapwood. Bertie, I am sorry to hear that you have received so few letters from me while at Lhassa - it is quite possible they have been stolen for the stamps because I wrote dozens of letters while I was there. It is bad news to hear that things on the Stock Exchange are as bad as ever. B tells me that he has already sent you £20 - as his share of the rent for the next year - and I will send you my £20 directly I have arrived in India and have time to look about and unpack. You might like to tell Grandma that her cheque for £10 will arrive the end of the month. A week before I left Lhassa I sent you £2 for a certain purpose. I hope this letter has not been stolen - It was a cheque an 19th September. Your letter received yesterday spoke of your good time at Waybridge on Holt where you were staying. You mustn't worry too much about the illnesses of the youngsters - babies are often ailing but pick up again rapidly.

Well no more I am very fit. Much love to all

Your affectionate brother

Cecil Wilmot Mainprise.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Kolatso October 12 1904

My dear Delia,

I don't think I have written to you since leaving Lhassa but we have been doing nearly double marches every day and do not get in to camp until 4pm when one is too tired to write. We are now only five days march from Chumbi where we halt for about four days and then we have nine days march to Siligueri and then India - one month's leave and home for England on December 15 by the "Assaye". You have probably already heard of this from Bertie to whom I wrote from Gyantsee.

We have not had bad marches up to date - the only discomfort has been turning out at 6am in 15-20 degrees frost - also the evenings are very cold. We are carrying a good number of men in our Ambulance Mules as the long march blisters their feet rather. The two cases of Enteric fever I have been carrying from Lhassa are also doing well though it is difficult to arrange about feeding when on the march. My Tibetan Doolie bearers have carried them splendidly. Some of the places or passes through which we have had to pass were so narrow that the Doolies could scarcely pass. We have had quite fine weather up to date, no snow has fallen - the hills around however are all covered with snow which makes the wind so cold.

It will be good getting home about the first week in January. I do hope I can get some leave. Directly I have demobilised this hospital in Calcutta I will take leave and have a round of visits. I ought to get away about the 7th. Having picked up stores at Gyantsee we are now feeding much better. We have been doing well with English letters lately as we are going towards the post and the post towards us. I am remarkably fit and well though my nose has not an atom of skin on it and my lips are sorely cracked. Hoping that you have enjoyed your little summer jaunt to Waybridge. Do you remember I went there for a dance and had a day's boating on that river with people whose names I forget. We march tomorrow to Lachan near Guari.

Much love to all

Your affectionate brother Cecil

Gyantsee October 8th 1904

My dear Bertie

We arrived here safely the day before after a pretty stiff march from Lhassa. We were mostly doing double marches and this with my hospital full of sick and carrying two Enteric patients was no joke. However we were glad to arrive here and receive our parcels full of luxuries, we have been denied so long. Many thanks for your 400 Cigarettes safely received. I also received from No 19 a warm Comforter which the Mater had commenced and Grandma finished - in it was enclosed some raisins for use on the March, I also received your letter from Simla telling me of your good time there but evidently you have not run across the Youngs there yet.

I have been so busy since leaving Lhassa that even when we arrived here I had no time to write. I have been busy writing my medical report on the hospitals work up here and then there is the hospital to square up - taking stock and striking off deficiencies. I yesterday received my orders for sailing, 'Tour Expired'. I am to leave India by the SS Assaye leaving on December 15th - this is good news is it not? I will probably have demobilised the hospital at Calcutta by the first week in November and then I shall apply for leave until the Date of Embarkation and come up to pay you a visit, I shall spend some of my leave at Fatehyark Cacaspue, probably look up a pal of mine at Allahabad (Miss Richards that was) and also the Youngs - a Grand Tour of my friends in fact. If I don't take some of the privileged leave due to me before I embark it will lapse though I still hope to get some more leave when I get home.

Your account of your meeting Mrs Younghusband was very amusing. There has been a lot of friction between the Garrison and the Mission Staff. We start off again to Chumbi which we are to reach in 9 marches - mostly double marches again. We march this time with the first Column - the 1st Royal Fusiliers and the Mountain Battery. We shall be pretty tired by the time we arrive. However we shall live much better on the march as the Mess have picked up here any amount of stores that have been accumulating since we left here for Lhassa. Keep any stamps marked Lhassa you have received on my letters -they are worth R/-8 each I understand in Calcutta. No time to write more though I shall probably have time to write on the march to Chumbi - you had better send this along to Delia as I am not writing to her.

Your Affectionate Brother Cecil.

I am sending along some photos but they are poor prints.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Tsabonang , Tibet 38 miles from Lhassa September 26th 1904

My dear Delia,

Just a line, We are really on the march back, Though the very night before we started on Thursday a special messenger arrived with a message from Government wanting us to remain up for a few more weeks n order to alter the treaty in some way or other. We have just finished our third days march and though it has rained the last two evenings during the march, it has been fine. I was pleased to receive by the mail last night, a letter from you August 26th which had been mislaid somewhere and had not come up with the other English letters. We are all looking forward to receiving a few parcels tomorrow as we have received none since leaving Gyantsee on July 17 and for the last week I have not even had a Bazaar Cigarette to smoke even.

Much love. Am very fit.

Your affectionate brother Cecil.

Lhassa Tibet September 16th 1904

My dear Delia,

It is now practically decided that we leave here now on the 23rd and that we ought to be at Siliguor by November 10th. This allows for two halts by the way - one for a week at Gyantsee and one for a few days at Chumbi. We are going on much the same way here. Yesterday we had the usual Thursday afternoon Gymkhana which passed the afternoon nicely and we have also finished up a Football Tournament to keep the troops fit and healthy. We used to have route marching occasionally but the boots of the men are so worn out and there are no more available so these had to be given up.

We are all rather badly for clothes although I think mine will do fairly well until I get back now. My underlinen is the worse for the native troops and followers they have more to get some Tibetan blankets and clothes of sorts but they would be too rough for us. I received a good english mail last time, two letters from Bertie, one from you Daisy Amy and Mrs Young of . I was glad to have you all well at home and that you had much enjoyed your trip to Plymouth.

It is getting colder every day up her and we are all hoping that we shall not find it very cold on our return journey. We have had heaps of congratulatory letters from the king Viceroy and Commander in Chief on our successful arrival in Lhassa and I am keeping them copied out in my diary as a good advertisement when I am out of a job. Well no more various news, Much love to all your affectionate brother Cecile.

PS I hear that Tibetans curios at Christie's are fetching large prices, The Tibetan scroll like the one I have sent to you fetched £20 so you had better see what you can get for any of them.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Lhassa, Tibet September 8th 1904

My dear Delia

Since my last letter to you I have seen a good deal of Lhassa . We are now allowed to make up parties to go in to the city to shop. We had a great morning a few days ago. We found a bazaar or marketplace situated in a road which runs practically in a circle though the City. The best shops below to the Chinese or the Cashmere people but there are lots of stalls in the ordinary asdfsd exactly like the East End - on which are displayed all kinds of rubbish, old iron-ware, bead necklaces or vegetables, skin and leatherware. By entering the shops however and rooting out boxes and drawers we managed to find a few things to purchase. Anything of value however the people ask the most exorbitant prices for.

The inhabitants as a rule were very quiet and inoffensive but here and there are met with a truculent salesman who would hardly answer your question as to prices at all and appeared absolutely indifferent as to whether we bought anything or not.

Yesterday was a great day - the day for the signing of the treaty at the Potala or Dalai Lama's palace. The Hall in which the ceremony was to take place, being a small one - only a few Officers from every unit up here could be allowed to attend. I and my two assistant surgeons on the score of the length of time with the Force were luckily allowed to be present for everything. The road and entrance to the Potala were lined with Troops through which the General Mission Staff and those allowed to witness the ceremony passed. On arriving at the top of the Potala (no mean ascent) we passed through a passage lighted only by wicks floating in Oil, in to the Audience Chamber where were assembled all the chief Tibetans, Chinese, Bhuttanese Nepalese notabilities. The first thing that struck one was the huge throne of the absent Dalai Lama - covered up with curtains.

After refreshments of tea, dried fruits cakes, etc had been passed round - a speech was made by Captain O'Connor, interpreter, stating for what reason we had come here and what was now to take place. Being in the Tibetan "lingo", at least, this is what we believed him to be saying. The Treaty document was then opened and glanced at curiously by all present and then Colonel Younghusband said he wished those authorised to do so to sign. Then there was a great bustle and fuss as the secretaries of the different notabilities produced various gaudy colonial boxes in which their seals and paints were kept and all began a "mix up" of paints. When they were ready, O'Connor the Mission Secretary with a pencil showed each one where exactly to place his mark. The attitudes and demeanour of the various powers during this process was very funny to note. Some came up at once and made their mark, while others notably the Regent who had been put up in the place of the absent Dalai Lama - would not come up at all. In fact he looked the unhappiest man there - and didn't seem to be liking it one little bit. After the "Council of Four", the Heads of all the Chief Monasteries in Tibet had signed, Colonel Younghusband advanced and signed and sealed and then the Chinese Amban - Nepalese, Bhutanese residents signed. In fact I believe everyone who was important in Lhassa has signed the blooming document to make it all square. At all events they were signing for about 3 hours during which I took a stroll around the room.

In the side of it was cut off by huge iron rails or rather doors looking through which one saw hundreds of images and Buddhas - on a kind of altar place. Some of these idols were beautifully made and carved. On the other side of the room was a fine frescoed wall, the room itself was the usual pillared room with a gallery running round the sides like all the monasteries. After the signing of the document, more refreshments and cigarettes were handed round, and then Colonel Younghusband made his speech sentence by sentence in English - which was interpreted by O'Connor to the Tibetans and by another interpreter to the Chinese Amban and his entourage!! The sum of which was that we had been found by them very bad enemies but that if they kept the treaty they would find us as good friends. One of the Council of Four then made his speech which was shortly that they were very pleased that the treaty had been signed and now it was all over. And here the proceedings terminated and we went home at a hard gallop as it was about 6pm. Today all prisoners have been released and each has been given R5/-.

Your last home letters told of your comfortable journey and visit to Plymouth. With Grandma also wrote and said what pleasure your visit was giving her. I am glad you had the outing will do you all good, Still nothing definite about our return. I wrote a long letter to Grandma by the last post which I hope she will send on to you. I am keeping fit, my knee is alright again now, with much love your affectionate brother Cecil.


My dear Delia

Every week one of the Battery Officers gets copies or cuttings from the English papers about the doings of the Force and I see the Daily Mail and the Globe give the best account of our work - so I hope you will get them at all events the Daily Mail which Candler represents. I received your long letter last night, also Tim's telling me about the Anglo French Exploration Co - please thank him for this and say I am sorry I forgot to mention about his former letter which I did receive safely. I am not really nervous about my investing but it was because I received a Circular about the Anglo French Co which made me think it must concern the shares that I held, otherwise why had they sent me the prospectus . I am glad that Sheila (My Granny) had such a happy birthday. I am sorry I forgot about it but it is hard to remember in time to reach you on the proper date. I think there is no doubt that we shall start on Friday next, the 23rd. I have written Bertie a long letter that I hope he will forward on to you although I see from your letter yesterday he often forgets to enclose them. No more - don't forget about the papers.

Your affectionate brother


PS I am enclosing a cheque for £2 please keep for yourself and have a little bust on it, The other please put in the plate for me at Church as a small thanksgiving for all God's many mercies to me and for my safe arrival here and I hope safe return. If you know any deserving person give it to her instead if you like - it will be the same thing.

PPS: I have sent you home - note at the top of the letter. I am bringing much better things. Am enclosing telegrams so please keep for me.