Saturday, 10 January 2009
Chumbi Valley, 11-01-1903
My Dear Delia,
Here we are at the headquarters of the Mission after some of the coldest and harshest marches it is possible to conceive. I hope Bertie has sent on to you my letter written at Kupapp just before we were about to cross the pass. Except for the bitterness of the wind and rarification of air, which causes some people an intense headache - with nausea and sickness - there was nothing remarkable about the Pass. No snow had fallen and everything was very easy. I was able to ride up but on the other side there is practically no road and one had to scramble down for about 6 miles as best as one could.
That evening I found only about half of my warm socks left in my boots. Two marches after leaving the Pass we arrived here and found orders to remain here until the Headquarters Staff returned from a flying Column Expedition in a few days time when we shall pick up our Battery. It is all nonsense saying the Valley here is warm and sunny and well cultivated. It is very bleak and barren, a nasty cold dusty wind blows all day and it freezes all day long. Even in the sun during the day it is freezing and consequently one is always wrapped up. At night I only take off my coat and boots and sleep in my clothes and a warm cap and gloves. It is the only way to keep fairly warm.
We passed through some Tibetan villages after the Pass but all the houses look incomplete - no doors or windows - and as if they were being pulled down. Except for their Chinese characters there was nothing remarkable about them. I understand that we are all shortly to leave this Camp and go on to a Camp in the Valley about miles from here. Here the General proposes to winter - what he intends to do when the snow comes I can't imagine as Tents won't stand snow but collapse unless one goes out every hour and removes snow off the flaps.
One doesn't care to smoke or drink here but everyone eats heartily one's rations from the Commissariat, - Meat Tea Bread Sugar Potatoes, Rice - brought up some stores but they are rapidly disappearing.
I don't think there is much prospect of fighting although yesterday we heard At Phari Tong - one of the 8th Gurkha officers had been struck on the head with a stone and his rifle and ammunition seized.
I am very fit indeed but shall thoroughly enjoy Civilisation again as all of us say. My dog Pincher has suffered in the cold and I think now will be all right. He sleeps with me and doesn't go out expect when the sun is up.
I received your mail letter safely in and you had already heard of my setting off. And Daisy was with you and also wrote to me 8th-12-03. I have been so sorry to hear of Tim's eyes and really think he ought to see an oculist as they have been bad for so long now. Has he tried Yellow Oxide of Mercury Ointment - "Golden Ointment" this is a splendid remedy for most eyes after washing with Boracic lotion. Very many thanks for the photo of yourself and the Children. I think it is capital of you all and the Children look "very pretty" and sweet.
My hands are so "cracked" and "sprayed" I cant write any more - please thank Laura - May Stevenson, Mrs Stevenson, Ralph - No 19 for their Christmas letters - when I can, I will answer them but there is only about two hours in the day when one can write and then I have my office work.
Much love Dear Delia
Yours affectionately Brother Cecil