Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Bramakputea, Botra River Tibet 28-07-1904

My dear Delia,

Here we are within three marches of Lhassa. We arrived here three days ago and since then have been busy getting the troops across the river. We have not crossed yet but I have just learnt this afternoon from Colonel Waddell that I am to cross with my hospital tomorrow at 9am. We cross in two large barges captured from the Tibetans which are hauled across by ropes, dragged by our men on the other side of the river. The river is not more than 300 yards across but the current is very swift and strong. We were all much upset by the drowning of Major Bretherton, Chief Supply and Transport Officer, and the General's right hand man. He was a great friend of mine and always gave me anything extra I required for the Hospital. He was up here - Siliguer - some weeks before the Expedition started, arranging Commissariat for the Troops. That he of all men should die so untimely.

I am writing outside my Tent facing the river. Along the sandy road in front of me, troops of laden mules are passing to the ferry - these mules and "kits" are to cross the river this afternoon. It is like being encamped on the front of some watering place as there are about two miles of sand and hillocks which we occupy. The Battery crossed the river on the second day - so I for the last two days have been messing by myself. Luckily I have my reserve stores to fall back upon - you remember me ordering these from Calcutta the last time I was at Chumbi. The Commissariat here have run out of everything - you cannot even get a tin of butter or a pot of jam - no salt or sugar even. I expect that we shall all have crossed in another two days and then we shall start on our final three days march.

We are all very excited about seeing Lhassa but hope we shall not stop there for very long. If we could get back by October I ought to be off home by the first Transport - I think there is quite a fair chance of this. If I don't get leave at once I shall swear!! The Tibetans three months privilege leave I rather fear is only available in India. We have had better weather the last two day, nice and sunny though last night we had a sandstorm for a short time which rather blew our tents about. I hear a mail comes in this afternoon and hope there will be some letters for me. Whether it is an English one I cannot say. I received your last letter at asdgfasd . My diary which I have regularly kept up to say - but I think it was about 8 days ago (July 21st). I think I must have written to you after this but one gets so mixed up with the dates and days of the week.

I was glad to hear that you were all well at No 32. I sent off three parcels of "loot" of sorts so from Gyantsee which I hope will arrive in due course. I think you had better give most of it away to friends with my compliments - it is only valuable as coming from Tibet. That carved book cover is valuable and if cleaned and regilded should prove a handsome ornament. The scrolls want repairing as I had to remove the lower wooden shaft to make them lighter to go by post, All these were taken out of Monasteries - principally at Gyantsee - as also the Silk which I don't think is much good. I have recently got a few nicer things which I am carrying with me but will send off at the first opportunities. You mustn't scoff at the loot - there is nothing really valuable in Tibet. There is a strict order against looting now so I doubt whether we shall be able to get much more from Lhassa - however the Sepoys manage to pick up things and it is these that we buy from them - often at an absurd price, much more than they are worth.

I was delighted to get Amy's letter as well as yours. She is enjoying her stay with you immensely. Strange to say I was thinking of Plymouth the other day. I imagined myself starting off on Saturday for the market - and a glorious trip in my imagination. I was spending money like a Duke, buying peas, asparagus, flowers, white puddings, what ho! But when I do enjoy this trip once more how I shall miss dear Mother. You are right, one always especially associates Plymouth with our Dear Mother. Well dear Delia goodbye and love to yourself and the youngsters.

Remember me nicely to Tim

Your Affectionate Brother


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