Thursday, 26 March 2009

Phari Fort 26-03-1904

My dear Delia,

Just a line, We left Chumbi on the 24th and though the night before we left we had a snowstorm since them we have had splendid weather. The three-day march has been accomplished very quickly though in the early mornings it was bitterly cold and the ice in the paths made the riding sometimes very dangerous. However "Ping-tang" the pony carried me along very well and I have not been overtaken by any mountain sickness which generally seizes first coming in to Phari as we are 3,000 foot higher than Chumbi Valley.

We arrived yesterday about 1pm and I had a good lunch with the Battery who arrived before the hospital. In the afternoon all Officers commanding Units had to go and see the General - to learn what they had to do and what Transport would be allotted them. He has given my hospital three more mules so I shall travel more comfortably now. This morning at 9.30 am the General held a review of the whole advancing party - and put us through certain movements in case of attack at night. We of course the hospital are in the Centre and our place is between the Battery and the Guns under Lieutenant Luke RA - we are just behind the General and the Staff and in front of the Native Field Hospital so that if we are attacked and the General falls he will be popped in to our hospital before he can say "knife".

The order "form Square" was given and I gave the order to unload our Medicine Panniers from the mules - and we got everything ready to treat Wounded. On the "advance being given we all loaded up and went on again. I told the OC Battery to send me a man to cut up - but unfortunately he forgot all about it. We receive our final orders this afternoon and we start for Tuna tomorrow morning. We shall wait at Tuna for a few days and then start straight for Gyantsee and it is after Tuna we expect fighting as the Tibetans have assembled at Guru 16 miles from Tuna. Goodbye no time to write more as I have a lot of work to do, hoping you are all well.

Your affectionate brother C Wilmot Mainprise.

Editors Note: Photograph The Tibet Album. "Phari Dzong" 05 Dec. 2006. The British Museum. Accessed 26 Mar. 2009 . For more information about photographic usage or to order prints, please visit the The British Museum.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Tibet 20-3-1904

My dear Delia,

In my letter to Bertie which he will forward by the same mail as this - I talk of our advance tomorrow to Gyantsee but unfortunately this advance has again been postponed. Rumour has it that some Chinese "Amban" is shortly arriving at Tuna to treat with the Mission there. But this probably all "rot" and if he does arrive nothing will come of it except delay to our advance.

I am so sorry you received no letters from us last mail but I think the fault lies with B as I seem to be always writing letters. Your sweater has arrived and am delighted with it, "it is just the very thing I wanted". Do you remember our Christmas presents? Talking apart I am so glad to have it and very many thanks - dear Delia - for sending it.

You talk also of socks, handkerchiefs - be arriving and these also will be much appreciated - as these are luxuries indeed up here. You say March 20th as the probable date of arrival so I can begin to look out for them now. Don't worry about my letters - send them to anyone you please - only you had better send someone along to read them to the various people!!! I wrote to the Cousins a few weeks ago - so I expect you will hear of this from them. Bertie is sending along by this mail several amateur photos given to me - I hope you will like them. They are all I have got so please keep them carefully - Send them down to No 19. Please tell dear Daisy Bull I received her letter safely but she mustn't expect a letter from me until next mail.

This is for her.

With much love to all

Your affectionate brother


Editor's note: Photograph of man and woman travelling on horseback in the Chumbi Valley is believed to have been taken by Sir Charles Bell between 1904-1922. For more historic photos of Tibet visit the The Tibet Album.

Chumbi Valley, Sunday 7-03-1904

My Dear Delia,

I think I must write direct to you this week as my letters to you via Bertie seem to be somewhat irregular. Last mail I had as well as your letters, letters from Amy and Daisy who were so delighted with my letter describing my journey from Runypo to this place.

In connection with this trip we were all here very shocked to hear yesterday that a Mr Bragg, Director of Indian Post Offices who had come on a trip from Simla to inspect Post Office arrangements arrived at Gnatong and after waiting there for some two days during which he only complained of being unable to sleep at night, proceeded on to the next march, Kapaap - the place from which I wrote one of my letters just before the Talap Pass. Here he was taken much worse and Captain Bliss who was accompanying him said he had better go back to Gnatong. A "Doolie" was procured and he was taken back but died on the way. Poor fellow, dreadful to die all-alone like that. Captain Bliss his companion arrived here yesterday - I suppose the exertion and rarefied air was too much for his heart.

This week I have managed to get you some photos and eventually hope to get you some more. The ones of our camp were taken by Mr Bennat RA of the Battery I am in medical charge of. He gave me the negatives and I had 3 or 4 dozen printed off at Calcutta as most of my staff required a couple of copies, The views of the Snow Capped mountains are taken at Phari. One has to cross the mountain to reach Tuna where the mission with a small escort is now encamped and has been so for the last two months. I have been promised several more views and they are now on their way to me from Calcutta. You will notice am clothed in my sheep skin coat and look very furry, The other men have coats as well but I have mine open and thus the fur shows more.

You were asking what my assistant surgeons are. They are generally Eurasians who have taken Indian university degrees - and are of the so-called Indian Subordinate Medical Depot. I have one Eurasian and one Englishman and also an Eurasian attached to the Battery under my direction.

For the last few days we have had a lot more snow and rain and it has been very uncomfortable. The General sent for me on Friday to ask what transport I would require for the advance about the 24th. We are to travel very light and he has had me down for 15 mules to 25, so I will have to leave a lot of hospital equipment behind. A mule carries 80lbs only on each side. One of my assistants with most of the tents will have to be left here. We march straight through to Gyantsee - about 12 days’ march.

I was delighted to get your letters last week and enclosing Mrs Carey's and Alick and also the photos of the youngsters. I think it splendid both of them so fit and happy. I wrote to Laura and congratulated her and also wrote to the Cousins Bessie and Alda.

I must really close - I am getting your papers regularly - many thanks for the sweater, I am longing to see it. It will be the very thing I want. Socks will also be acceptable as I find after every hard march, my heels are absolutely devoid of socks from coming down hills on ones heels - luckily I don't blister. My knee is not troubling me at all though of course I have to take care.

Much love dear Delia your affectionate brother Cecil

PS: A nice letter from Lady Hapwood last week.