Monday, 5 January 2009

Talap Pass 5-1-1904

My Dear Bertie,

We got away from Runypo on Jan 1st and arrived yesterday at Gnatong after one of the stiffest climbs I have ever had. The last two marches were terrific and old campaigners were all unanimous in saying that this expedition takes the cake. Yesterday on arriving at Gnatong , Colonel Kerr and the 8th Gurkhas were good enough to give me a good Tea and afterwards dinner so I had luck in this respect though I had to sleep in a Tent with a fine icy blast blowing all round as the Dake bungalow such as it is, was full. However by taking off my coats and boots and putting on fur slippers I went to bed as I was having put on the bed everything that I possess including a native lambs wool rug weighing 12lbs. With this I felt warm but the air is so rare that it is rather hard to breath and no one cares to smoke. Bathing and washing is a luxury, it is too dangerous one might catch pneumonia. Feeding is rather a difficulty as "rations" are not generally available and stores at exhorbitant prices have to be used.

We left Gnatong this morning and we have encamped with the Pass before us - in as barren and windy a spot as can be imagined - everything frozen including ourselves. However with fur caps and Pashteen Coats we manage all right.

The Hospital is travelling alone though up to Gnatong -3 other officers accompanied us in camp. At this camp there is Thornton who is running the Kashmir Pony Corps. He remembers you at Peshawr and was out in China. He says China was cold but most people were not under Canvass and the Clubbing and rations were excellent while here the latter are by no means good. I am dining with him tonight but must take over to his tent, plates knives etc!

Tomorrow we cross the pass after which it will be warmer. After tomorrow we still have two more marches to reach headquarters in the Chumbi. I hear however our Battery is 5 days march from the Chumbi so whether we shall go in at once I don't know. I am as fit as a fiddle but find my knee requires "nursing" over the rough ground as it occasionally "gives" but as long as I don't slip over anything I can march miles in fact I marched almost the whole way up although I have a pony it is too bad a road to ride. Of course I keep my knee very "dark" - no one knows about it. However as I am always allowed to ride it doesn't matter much. Several of the establishment have been knocked up by the severe marching but I enjoy it except for the ends of the march - rough feeding and chilly tents.

Send this on to Delia and give her my best love. I shall not be able to send her a letter this week as there are no post offices before the Chumbi. Good luck old fellow, I hope you are going strong. It is too cold to write more.

Your Affectionate Brother


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