Monday, 6 April 2009

Kalajumigi, 2 days march from Guari 6-04-1904

My dear Bertie

Another freezing afternoon and the wind and the dust blowing a regular gale. It is hard to keep ones tent standing. I last wrote to you from Tuna two days after the fight at Guari. On Monday last we left Tuna and are now five days march or 12 miles from Gyantsee. The first day we marched to Guari and had a look at the villages we had stormed, Though we had been burying Tibetans for three days there were still several lying about the place. We had already brought about 150 wounded in to Camp Tuna besides about 300 captives. Both of the villages were entirely deserted and there were any amount of loot in the way of rifles, swords ammunition pouches, every variety of garments, and bags and bags of gunpowder to be picked up. I have sent a few things down to Chumbi which I hope to pick up on my return - a good rifle, sword spear, ammunition, pouches and some smaller things.

We left Guari yesterday morning and had a 13-mile march to Chalu - a few stone huts in a barren plain - where we arrived at 3pm in a snowstorm. The march was along the side of a huge lake swarming with geese and ducks but we were not allowed to shoot on the line of march. After we got in a few geese were shot but the lake was frozen for some yards from the edge and was so huge that it was very difficult to retrieve the birds. We had a dreadful night as the wind kept up all night and this morning we found the ground covered with snow. I was up at 6am and breakfasted with the 7th Mounted Battery with whom I am messing at 6.30 am. The Hospital was packed up at 7.30 am and we marched at 8 am for this place - a short march, only 8 miles. There is another lake here swarming with birds. And there are only very few shotguns here. I have only a rifle - not much good.

There are about 1000 Tibetans, 16 miles from here - who say they are going to stand - but I doubt it - at all events this time we will not go up to them like we did at Guari. If they had only fired straight and low we should have lost very heavily indeed. Another regrettable incident!! I left the Daily Mail correspondent Candler doing very well after my amputation of his hand and treatment of his other serious wound. Major Wallace Dunlop - 23rd Pioneers - was also doing well. My Hospital was quite the centre of attention at Tuna after the fight as the other Hospitals only had the native wounded. Even the General and Colonel Younghusband had to come to me first before they could see the patients!!

It is absolutely impossible to keep clean here - at night one sleeps in ones clothes except for coat and boots and even then it is bitterly cold. My beard is now of ten days growth and - and Monkey Brand is not in it with me. My nose also has been sadly smitten by the wind and most of the skin is peeling off.

I haven't heard from you in some time. Letters are now brought up by Mounted Infantry from Tuna so send me a line. I received Julia's mail letters safely. I hope you have sent on those photos to her. When you send this on to her give her my love and say I am fit and sound - tell her I receive her papers safely. One writes under such discomfort even if one has time to write, which indeed one has not - if it is a long march - that I cannot do more than write to you and you send them on. It is an extraordinary sight - the miles and miles of hills and valleys - and not a vestige of anything growing. The lack of wood and often water except from a long distance does not add to ones discomfort as fires are out of the questions except for cooking purposes and then often composed of dung. My pony is carrying me well and I don't know how he does so well as his rations are often precarious. We have met only a few inhabitants in the various villages that we have passed through - most have fled - though if they remain they are absolutely safe as no one is allowed to be injured unless they fire on us.

When do you take your leave and for how long. How are Bunter and Kitty. Well so long old chap. Don't send any more cigarettes as the parcel post can't reach us here. I have several parcels now somewhere on the road including Delia's parcel containing some luxuries and your China socks.

Your affectionate brother,

C Wilmot Mainprise.

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