1917 – December 30

Daisie came with me to Delhi where I had to have interviews with the Chief and the Staff about my mission. We lunched with the Commander-in Chief and Lady Monro, who talked glibly to Daisie across the table about this very “Secret Mission” and told her many things I had refused to divulge to her! When state secrets are given away you may be sure the guilty ones are those in high places. Not the subordinates.

Daisie came down to Karachi to see me off, and we stayed in a nice hotel.

[Here insert Vol B – Vol C War Diary]


1917 – December 24

A poor Christmas Eve for Daisie. At Dinner time I got orders to proceed overseas for duty with Russian troops – just exactly the job I am fitted for – Thank God for that, though it makes the parting with my darling unsurpassed wife none the less hard. Whatever happens to her or me we must both thank God for 20 years of the most unalloyed and intense happiness.

Note: It is important to realise the significance of this – at the time, Russia was still less than two months from the October Revolution, precipitated by Bolshevik agitators in St Petersburg. I would highly recommend reading further on Russian history of this time to understand the purpose of the mission he was sent on and the nuances of some of the references in diary entries to come. You could start here or here but there are plenty of excellent articles out there.

1917 – December 4

Daisie had a tennis party on Saturday and so it poured all day, glad to have the dust laid anyway. What does one do when one retires after all this busy life – is it possible to sit still and do nothing? In addition to my Brigade Command I also Command this enormous station, then there is my beloved Soldiers’ Home, then Masonry, I belong to the Craft Lodge, the Mark and Ark, and the Chapter, then I belong to the C.E.M.S. and have to read papers and lecture, then I have the side shows for “Our Day” Dec. 12th. Mrs. Jarley’s Waxworks*, Mock Picture Gallery, Cocoanut Shies, Fortune-telling. It can only be done by decentralisation and I am A1. at that I believe.

* Mrs. Jarley was a character in Dickens’ Old Curiosity Shop, who exhibited ‘live waxworks’, that is, actors dressed to look as wax models. The novelty was that each was ‘commanded’ to come to life. This discussion here explains how the performance became quite standard in such events as “Our Day”, a charity fundraising day.

1917 – November 29

It all sounds very gay, but it is not gay. These dinner-parties are “functions”, necessary and regrettable. I was in Cherat all day yesterday, dinner party at night. To-day we dine with the Chief Commissioner. Friday we have another dinner-party, Saturday Tennis party, mean-time Daisie has endless Red X work and the Mothers’ Union and the ‘Our Day’ work. I am to be allowed at last to wear the American War Medal I got from General Chaffee in China 1900*. Terribly shocked to hear of the death of Orlando Gunning, so sad for his wife and children, and such a good fellow and fine soldier.

* awarded in the Boxer Rebellion. If anyone has any details about what type of medal this would have been likely to be, I would be delighted to hear.

1917 – November 9

I begin the 53rd year of my life and my 21st year with my sweet companion, Daisie, I should have liked a quiet wedding evening at home, but had to go to a big Durbar at Sir George Roos-Keppel‘s so the celebration was rather spoilt, but we had our bottle of champagne last night and drank to the health of the two boys at home. Miss Key arrived last night to help Daisie look after Susanna, and be also an unpaid companion to her.

1917 – August 20

I am comfortably installed where I ought to be – at last – in the Station Hospital, my first time in a hospital in 33 years service though often sick in quarters where no hospital was. I like it because one feels that one is giving no trouble as in a private house, there are heaps of people and the job is what they are paid for. And I know that my boils will get well much quicker. All mostly gone now, except the very bad one which is carbuncular on my neck and one nasty one on my shoulder-blade, but I sleep like a top at night for which I thank God. Daisie does not look well and it was quite time she got up too, and now she wants tonic and fresh air. I walked up to the hospital on Saturday and was at once admitted.

I forgot to say that on the journey down, in the middle of the night I woke with Daisie shouting out something and I saw a man hanging on to the carriage-door from outside, with one arm inside. I leapt up and grabbed him for a thief, which he probably was, but he said he was the ice man and had got left at the last station and hopped on to our footboard. I was too sick to worry, so said no more. Lucky Daisie didn’t shoot him off-hand she had her revolver with her.

1917 – August 15

And so our Cherat trip is over and I am not sorry. I certainly thank God that He brought us here for those 15 days, when my boils were about to spring on me – I should have died down below. I am still very sick and get little sleep at night, but I suppose things are improving. In Murree I am to be injected with some sort of anti-boil stuff. We leave here to-morrow 7 a.m. spend the day packing and perspiring in Peshawar, leave by the night mail, arrive Pindi 6 a.m. arriving by motor in Murree at 9 a.m. if all goes well.