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.

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