Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Runypo (4 days march from the end of the Railway) 6-12-03

My Dear Delia

We had a most enjoyable march from Silingore, the place I wrote you from last week. I went most of the way on my Bhutara pony and I find him a most excellent purchase. We did not do more than 15 miles a day as our mule team cannot manage more than this. Our men were carrying heavy Dandias or litters for carrying Sick or Wounded men which are no joke to carry for more than a few miles.

I was disgusted to find after the first days march that my box of stores, tinned and potted meats, biscuits, jam etc, had been lost on the railway between Calcutta and Silingore - about £4 worth!!! I had put the box amongst the hospital equipment as I was only allowed a certain amount of baggage and hence I could only keep an eye on it. However I was determined not to be outdone and at the first place I could bought some more. I may get it again but I doubt it as there is such a large amount of traffic at the moment on the railway.

It is lovely scenery all-round like going through Bickleigh Vale - only the hills are much higher and beautifully wooded - the snow can be seen in the distance on the hills. At present it is not very cold except at night when we have a huge campfire and sit round and 'buck'. There is a detachment of the 8th Gurkhas marching with us and I generally have my meals with the two officers accompanying them - Captain Ward and Lt. Grant - I am afraid we shall remain here some days as on arrival our mules were taken away in order to carry grain at once further where it is urgently needed, and there is not such great hurry for us to go forward. I do not mind, as it is very pleasant here and not so cold as further on.

Thirty Tibetan Hillmen have just come in to camp who are joining my hospital to carry Dandias. I have been roaring with laughter at them as they are very Chinese looking and dressed in practically anything they can pick up. Three were wearing ladies straw bonnets of sorts with turbans taking place of the strings. Looked exactly like a finely made woman wearing a kind of bodice with no sleeves but straps across the shoulders. I told the Sergeant who brought them in that we couldn't really have any women!!! They get a splendid cold weather equipment from government and have just gone down to store to draw it - so by tomorrow they will be alright.

We get a tremendous appetite here and as we have to feed ourselves - mostly on stores - which are double our ‘xccx’ living works up to rather a high figure. The Dake bungalows charge 8/- per day for food alone. I have bought two servants with me, a bearer and a ‘Syer’, and think their warm clothes will cost me R30-40 rupees (shillings) each as even the lowest of public followers are getting this from government and our servants rightly expect to have the same amount of clothing.

Colonel Younghusband passes through here on his way up today and I am going to dine at the Dake Bungalows tonight in order to have a look at him and hear if possible what he has to say about the show. There is also Captain O'Connor Intelligence Officer to the Mission - also here. He has written one of the best books on Tibet there is - he is a Garrison Gunner.

I was delighted to receive your letter yesterday forwarded by my agents King & Co. To hear you speak of Laura and Dilder Daisy Bull - and other "girls" of "mine old days" - made me think - how little lately I have had of any of these luxuries. I haven't been really in love with a girl - since the Marshall episode in Plymouth years ago. I was badly smitten then. I don't suppose I shall see a girl now for many months. I am beginning to think I shall die an old bachelor in spite of all your prophecies. I ran in to an old Barts man; Captain Baird who is in the Native Field Hospital, which was mobilised some time ago. This hospital is complete - this is to say 4 Sections not 1 Section like mine.

You see except for a Main Battery and Mountain Battery all the Troops as yet engaged are Native Troops. This Native Field Hospital has 5 Doctors to it - all of whom except Baird have gone on. He is to remain in the line of Communication. I cannot - thank goodness do this uninteresting work - as I must be with the British Troops.

My little dog Pincher trotted along nobly with us and is fitter than I have seen him for a long time. At night I have to take him in under the blankets as otherwise poor little dog I am afraid he would not last very long. He is a great pet amongst the men and gets very spoilt.

I have just remembered that this will reach you about Christmas day so I must wish you a very happy Christmas and you must try and forget for a short time the associations of last Christmas. I am certain Dear Mother would not have you spend a miserable day thinking of her and wishing her back when she is so happy above. I will send a cheque for £1 to you for a few Christmas toys for the kiddies. Also give my Godchild a little birthday present on her first birthday. I must really close now. Hoping that you will all have a very Happy Christmas.

Your affectionate brother

Cecil Mainprise.

You must tell all my friends, relations, any people you think proper that I have thought of them all this Christmas but the exigencies of the Service do not permit me writing to them.

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