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.
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.
Floods and deluges of rain – servants’ houses all flooded out and one washed right down. I am so pleased at having my proper pay of Rs.2100 a month that life seems quite different. My arrears are also Rs.1200 which enables me to pay all my debts at the shops. What a huge war this is. Bay writes from Belgium, others from France, Watts from Mesopotamia and Egypt, Irwin from East Africa, Cunliffe in West Africa, Bob and Wattie are in Salonica and here are we on the Afghan frontier. Bennett writes from Persia.
*Rs = Rupees
These Pathans are very outspoken and impertinent. Old Khalu came to see me to-day, an enemy Mohmand who did some secret service for me during the trouble last year. He says “You soldiers are like hawks, never know where you will be next. Sometimes like you in France, then on the Frontier here, then perhaps in Mesopotamia and so on. The Civilians are like your women-folk, while you fight and kill and lose your lives, they stay at home and look after the house and eat presents of fruit and reap the rewards of your deeds of valour!” A rather unjust view of the Indian civilian who’s just as ready as anyone to take his place in the firing line.