All wire completed. All very quiet so far. The Division, the Cavalry Brigade, the 2nd Brigade and all artillery and cavalry from my lot have been taken away, which leaves me very thin, but they fear disturbances in the Khyber and I must try my best to hold this 17 miles with 5 battalions 1 Battery and 50 Sabres.
Had to go in to see Divisional General – all his Staff have got fever – fever is very bad just now, the men go down in scores. A nice morning and lunch with Daisie. The enemy are not very active, but there is a good deal of sniping and raiding at night and my cavalry patrols are always fired on – the armoured cars get a look in now and then, but there are not many casualties on either side.
Broke up Subhan Khwar camp and dispersed my force into 4 Sections, 4 little armies 3½ miles apart, self-contained under their own C.O’s. No.1 Section, 12th Pioneers, Major Hooker; No.2 Section, 15th Sikhs, Col. Gordon;, No.3 Section, King’s, Major Hyslop; No.4 Section 72 Punjabis, Col. Prentis. Each force 1 battn. inf. ½ Squadron Cav. Section of Mountain Battery, ½ Co. R.E. Section of Hospital. So now I have nothing to do.
Went in for Miss Campbell’s wedding to Learoyd, the 21st Lancers, a well run wedding and Susanna made a sweet bridesmaid and was not silly or shy. There were 7 Generals in a row! Stayed the night and returned to Shabkadr fort where my headquarters are, on Tuesday afternoon. Enemy fired desperately at the fort for an hour, from 9 to 10, but hit nothing.
All quiet and no sniping. To-day about 100 of them fired on my working parties near camp. I went out and my orderly officer was pleased to note that two bullets dropped near him, so he had really been under fire for the first time. Under fire again at night, they sniped heavily and aimed well at my part of the camp. I got one bullet through my mosquito curtains, another through my tent, and an explosive bullet in the tree just behind my tent.
We have certainly reached bed-rock in the line of officers, if not men: all imbecile and incapable. The 15th Sikhs are all good, the 72nd have 2 good officers, the 12th one, the Kings half-a-dozen, the S & T.* none. One has to pull along somehow. Duncan and I went to Abazai in armoured car and crossed the frontier to select sites for block-houses – got back at 3.30 after 7 hours in the sun.
*S&T: Supply and Transport
I’ve got wireless, aeroplanes, howitzers and motors, all quite up to date. Last night a little firing. This morning Cavalry patrol fired on from the downs, no casualties. It is fearfully hot and the mosquitos rage and the dust stifles. Duncan of the 9th Gurkhas is my Brigade Major, Waller of the 72nd, Staff Captain, Rich, 35th Sikhs (I.A.R.O.* Bombay Port Trust) Orderly Officer.
Marched to my old camp at Subkhan Khwar. Destroying Halimzai villages and cutting crops. Lots of my old men came into see me from the villages and asked to have their crops spared – I can do nothing.
House shut up and everything locked away so ate my breakfast at 6.30 a.m. with my fingers – 3 poached eggs! Column marched at 8.30 a.m., punctually arrived Nagoman camp 12, noon. Very hot, but only one case of heat-stroke. Troops are Kings Regt., 72 Punjabis, 15th Sikhs, 12th Pioneers, 90th Batt. Field Artillery, 24th Batt. Mountain Artillery, 2 Squadrons, 30th Lancers, No. 1 Co. Sappers and Miners. Transport very bad, a bad class of mule, badly trained, badly fed, in bad condition, gear bad, personnel bad, officers useless. I would not care to have to undertake anything very desperate with this lot. It’s not their fault – everything of the best has been sent to the big front.
I got a wire before lunch yesterday from the Northern Army-Commander, telling me to return. Got a tonga at 3.0. and arrived here 6 a.m. this morning. There’s nothing acute just at present, but I am to take my Brigade out to Subhan Khwar as soon as possible. So abruptly ends a very happy holiday.