Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Near Chumbi, Tibet 11-2-1904

My Dear Bertie

I haven't written for some little time but there has been nothing to record. We are supposed to be wintering here and one day is very much like another. I have been out several times with gun or rifle after sport but there is practically nothing to shoot here just a few "Chinnals" or pheasants have been shot and a goat of blood partridges. I have been practising with my revolver and with my Winchester rifle and now manage to make some fair scores.

I also occasionally take out my pony for a gallop - he has turned out quite a good bargain. I was very pleased to hear "Banters" and "Kitty" are playing polo regularly again. I can't understand that foreleg of Kitty's - unless she injured it in the train - with your lightweight she ought not to go lame. I am awfully fond of both of those ponies; especially Banters who has always done me tip top. I think with his saddle and bridle on, Bantams is one of the prettiest of ponies.

I am at present PMO to the force here - as Colonel Waddell is away in Calcutta - so I have been rather busy as I have to keep an eye on the medical arrangements all along the lines of Communications. I am not really senior after Waddell but as I am senior here with the General I take precedence over the other medical officers who are not here.

I think it is getting warmer here - at all events one does not feel the cold so much now. I am quite comfortable now and as fit as I have ever been in my life. We are very excited about the outbreak of hostilities between Japan and Russia though we have seen no papers yet. We however get Reuters telegrams from the General so know most of the important news and wonder how it will affect this show, it will certainly make it easier as both the Chinese and the Tibetans have been hoping they will be backed up by the Russians. However I expect when we move on beyond Tuna where the Mission with an escort of 4 legs of Pioneers now are and have been for the last three weeks - there will be fighting as the Tibetans are said to be throwing up barriers.

At Tuna it is simply a dog's life - the cold, diet and general discomfort is so bad - no wood being obtainable for fires that I believe all of our people would not mind throwing up the Chance of a Medal and going home. A dusty wind is always blowing and most of the men have lost their voices from this irritation to their throat.

By the bye, the Madras Sappers and Miners who had been in the Teesta Valley since June last and are now here with us - have become very seedy indeed - a very high percentage of Sick amongst the men. This is due to the fever contracted by nearly all of them during the rainy season last year. I have had to point this out to General and I should not be surprised if they all had to come down to India. They all are played out. Their officers, Heycock, Garsten-Lewis - are very sick about it and of course are trying to get their men out of Hospital as soon as possible but I don't think it will be any good. I wonder if your company will come up in their stead, You must keep this to yourself as this is of course an Official Secret and the General would not probably like it known.

We have managed to get up "Bridge" in my shanty every night and the Battery generally come over for a game - this is a great improvement and passes the evening well. I have been very hard up for cigarettes but at last have received a couple of Tins from the stores - I have tried Commissariat Rum occasionally but cannot stomach it at all. However one never requires alcohol much.

I have received good letters and papers from Delia every week, who appears to be going on all right. I wonder how the war will affect Tim - I'm afraid badly except in the way of people "selling". I suppose our little lot of investments will suffer too. Did I tell you Tim kindly bought for me £250 Anglo French Exploration Company Shares. It sounds an awful gamble but I remember you told me that Tim strongly advocated them. I am awfully glad Watson's failure did not affect either of us. Thomas was in the Watsons - I expect he will be very sad although I think he had nothing but a current account. Well so long and take care of yourself.

Your Affectionate Brother


PS: I heard from No 19 that you had been very "proud" to them this Christmas, lavishing money right and left. I am delighted to hear you thought of Mrs Harnbey and An Collard - You are much better at these things than I am.

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