Thursday, 23 July 2009

Gyantsee 11-07-1904

My Dear Bertie,

We have now been here for a fortnight and on the whole I have done a fair amount of work including the taking of the "Tony". We started our fighting at Haini Monastery - 6 miles from Gyantsee - and the same evening came on here. The day after we arrived we had a rest and general look around. The Tony and the Monastery fired upon us most of the day but we had encamped out of range. The next day we moved out of the camp at 3am and began surrounding the villages around Gyantsee - most of which we took very easily. One on the side of a hill gave us a lot of trouble and had to be stormed by the Gurkhas and Pathans from both sides - here Captain Caas of the 40th Pathans and two other officers were wounded, beside some Sepoys. We got back to our new camp, the north side of the Tony at 8.30pm in the dark.

The next morning we had an armistice with the Tibetans as some delegates from Lhassa had arrived - this continued for three days - with no result. We now determined however to make our big attack on the "Tony" so at midnight on the 5th we moved out and took up our positions on the south east side of the Tony at Palla village where I had orders to found a Dressing Station.

At 3.30 all the Tibetans at the front of the Tony discovered us and began firing vigorously. Here the Sappers and Miners were trying to blow up a house - to form our first point of attack. Directly the explosion occurred, our attack began and continued for several hours, we eventually took the village at the foot of the Tony. At 5pm two fresh companies - of Gurkhas and Royal Fusiliers - were ordered to storm the side of the Tony through a breach in the Tony's walls made by the 7th M Battery. Under a tremendous fusillade and the shells of the Battery and Maxim fire! These troups made their way up the side of the Tony, beating back the Tibetans. It was a grand sight to see, our shells bursting only a few yards in front of our men thus clearing the Tibetans out of our way. As they ran out like rabbits from their covered ways and holes and from behind their Sanyars, so they were shot by the Maxim and rifle fire. At 6.46pm we had won the Tony after 16 hours of fighting. We had about 20 casualties including Gurdan of 32nd Pioneers, who was working with the Sappers and Miners. Sheppard as usual had a charmed life.

The next day we had a rest which we were very glad of as I had a lot to do in the hospital. Only one case required an operation - Bowden Smith, Lieutenant R& required a bullet extracted from the back of his neck. The next day I had to go with part of my hospital to Gyantsee - 14 miles from here - where the enemy were supposed to have fled to - but on arriving we found they had again retired. So we went one day and came back the next. During my absence a Company of the Fusiliers had been more or less blown up by gunpowder in the Tony so on my return I had my hands full dressing about a dozen badly burnt men - none luckily were killed.

This is a filthy camp here - clouds of dust all day long and one looks a regular sweep. I have received your letters alright and was delighted to hear of your good Shikar. I hear you are on your way back now - so I think I had better address this to Rao. We are now preparing for our advance to Lhassa. The orders at present are for Thursday the 14th. If you can manage to send me a couple of boxes of cigarettes I shall be glad, We shall probably get a parcel post on from here sometime or other. I hope to pick up some more "loot" curios tomorrow, but except as curios they are of no value.

Hoping you are fit - I am the above but somewhat "tired" - you know what I mean - a little comfort and luxury would be appreciated.

Your affectionate brother


No comments:

Post a Comment