Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Chumbi October 20th 1904

My dear Delia,

Well at last we have got back safely to Chumbi. We were fortunately the first column so did not meet with the snow blizzard between Phari and Tuna which the second column experienced however we received the snow in camp here. The night we arrived it began to rain and at 11pm when all were asleep turned in to snow. We slept unconsciously until the weight of the snow brought down our tents and there was everyone of us suffocated by the weight of the snow on our chests and then there was the dreadful ordeal of having to crawl out in to the blizzard and try to erect our tents again - as the poles were mostly broken this was an impossibility and several men had to walk about all night.

Of course everything in the tent became wet and it was impossible to dry anything as it continued to pour all next day and the camp was running in slush and water - one got soaked every time one left the tent and could not even reach the Battery for one's meals. However with a tin of biscuits and soup made out of a Soup Tablet I managed to survive the day. All of us agreed that it was the worst day that all of us had ever spent. This was how Chumbi greeted us. It finished off an Enteric case who had been lingering here for the last four months, a Fusilier whom I left behind when we advanced. Poor fellow we buried him yesterday

We march again the day after tomorrow on our last march to Silingor where we arrive on the 30th. I tried to write to you yesterday 'Sailing December 15th' as this would also mean that I have arrived here safely but the snow has brought down the telegraph wires and we are cut off from India. The march from Gyantsee was fairly comfortable except for the early mornings when we occasionally had 25 degrees frost. I am much looking forward to my leave until I am back - if I get it. There is much to do after arriving at Calcutta, demobilising the hospital, handing in my equipment and squaring up the business but after a few days I should be able to get off. I am wondering what my kit stored for the last year at Kings my agent in Calcutta will look like - I hope they have not all been eaten up by white ants.

I received another English mail yesterday, letters from Lady Hapwood. Bertie, I am sorry to hear that you have received so few letters from me while at Lhassa - it is quite possible they have been stolen for the stamps because I wrote dozens of letters while I was there. It is bad news to hear that things on the Stock Exchange are as bad as ever. B tells me that he has already sent you £20 - as his share of the rent for the next year - and I will send you my £20 directly I have arrived in India and have time to look about and unpack. You might like to tell Grandma that her cheque for £10 will arrive the end of the month. A week before I left Lhassa I sent you £2 for a certain purpose. I hope this letter has not been stolen - It was a cheque an 19th September. Your letter received yesterday spoke of your good time at Waybridge on Holt where you were staying. You mustn't worry too much about the illnesses of the youngsters - babies are often ailing but pick up again rapidly.

Well no more I am very fit. Much love to all

Your affectionate brother

Cecil Wilmot Mainprise.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Kolatso October 12 1904

My dear Delia,

I don't think I have written to you since leaving Lhassa but we have been doing nearly double marches every day and do not get in to camp until 4pm when one is too tired to write. We are now only five days march from Chumbi where we halt for about four days and then we have nine days march to Siligueri and then India - one month's leave and home for England on December 15 by the "Assaye". You have probably already heard of this from Bertie to whom I wrote from Gyantsee.

We have not had bad marches up to date - the only discomfort has been turning out at 6am in 15-20 degrees frost - also the evenings are very cold. We are carrying a good number of men in our Ambulance Mules as the long march blisters their feet rather. The two cases of Enteric fever I have been carrying from Lhassa are also doing well though it is difficult to arrange about feeding when on the march. My Tibetan Doolie bearers have carried them splendidly. Some of the places or passes through which we have had to pass were so narrow that the Doolies could scarcely pass. We have had quite fine weather up to date, no snow has fallen - the hills around however are all covered with snow which makes the wind so cold.

It will be good getting home about the first week in January. I do hope I can get some leave. Directly I have demobilised this hospital in Calcutta I will take leave and have a round of visits. I ought to get away about the 7th. Having picked up stores at Gyantsee we are now feeding much better. We have been doing well with English letters lately as we are going towards the post and the post towards us. I am remarkably fit and well though my nose has not an atom of skin on it and my lips are sorely cracked. Hoping that you have enjoyed your little summer jaunt to Waybridge. Do you remember I went there for a dance and had a day's boating on that river with people whose names I forget. We march tomorrow to Lachan near Guari.

Much love to all

Your affectionate brother Cecil

Gyantsee October 8th 1904

My dear Bertie

We arrived here safely the day before after a pretty stiff march from Lhassa. We were mostly doing double marches and this with my hospital full of sick and carrying two Enteric patients was no joke. However we were glad to arrive here and receive our parcels full of luxuries, we have been denied so long. Many thanks for your 400 Cigarettes safely received. I also received from No 19 a warm Comforter which the Mater had commenced and Grandma finished - in it was enclosed some raisins for use on the March, I also received your letter from Simla telling me of your good time there but evidently you have not run across the Youngs there yet.

I have been so busy since leaving Lhassa that even when we arrived here I had no time to write. I have been busy writing my medical report on the hospitals work up here and then there is the hospital to square up - taking stock and striking off deficiencies. I yesterday received my orders for sailing, 'Tour Expired'. I am to leave India by the SS Assaye leaving on December 15th - this is good news is it not? I will probably have demobilised the hospital at Calcutta by the first week in November and then I shall apply for leave until the Date of Embarkation and come up to pay you a visit, I shall spend some of my leave at Fatehyark Cacaspue, probably look up a pal of mine at Allahabad (Miss Richards that was) and also the Youngs - a Grand Tour of my friends in fact. If I don't take some of the privileged leave due to me before I embark it will lapse though I still hope to get some more leave when I get home.

Your account of your meeting Mrs Younghusband was very amusing. There has been a lot of friction between the Garrison and the Mission Staff. We start off again to Chumbi which we are to reach in 9 marches - mostly double marches again. We march this time with the first Column - the 1st Royal Fusiliers and the Mountain Battery. We shall be pretty tired by the time we arrive. However we shall live much better on the march as the Mess have picked up here any amount of stores that have been accumulating since we left here for Lhassa. Keep any stamps marked Lhassa you have received on my letters -they are worth R/-8 each I understand in Calcutta. No time to write more though I shall probably have time to write on the march to Chumbi - you had better send this along to Delia as I am not writing to her.

Your Affectionate Brother Cecil.

I am sending along some photos but they are poor prints.