Yesterday I sent a party to clear the snow off the Asadabad Pass and they found a caravan just being plundered and captured the robber band complete! A Russian lorry, en route Kasvin, was attacked on the road near Manian [possibly here, but unlikely?), 8 killed. I am sending Nizam-es-Sultan, the Governor of this town off to Teheran to-morrow to see the Government and put some new ideas before them – after having, in many interviews, shown him the meshes of German intrigue I hope it will be of use, and I have promised to prevent anyone else bagging the vacant Governorship during his absence. We have learnt to love each other so much that he insisted on giving me two smacking kisses on departure!
4 more Russians murdered on the road by Aveh and I am anxious about the party I am sending to Kasvin. It is always Alice in Wonderland. I sent Bicherakov’s fierce Cossacks down to take the Menzil Bridge from the Jangalis, which should have meant awful blood-shed, instead of which I hear the Cossacks and the Jangalis are sitting side by side alongside of the bridge are quite friendly with each other! One minute I have to implore Bicherakov not to kill too many and the next minute I have to urge him on to kill at least some of them.
Left Aveh 6.30 a.m. Arrived Hamadan 7.30 p.m. The pass was deep in snow for 6 miles, but the Northward moving Russians had had to cut through it so we were not blocked, but it took 6 hours to do 6 miles!
Left Kasvin at 8 a.m. There is always so much firing in Kasvin that it is like a battle going on, but I suppose they aim in the air as no one ever seems to get hit. A fine day for a change and the road in good order. We arrived at the dirty little house at Aveh at 2 p.m. and found it half occupied by Cossacks and in an appalling state of filth. Just this side of Nahavend we found a beautiful spring from which we filled our bottles.
Had a long talk with the Cossacks on the road. Talking of the disorder in the Russian Army even before the war, one of them said “If you indent for sugar they send you ammunition and if you ask for ammunition they bring you sugar” – I asked about their felt boots, had they a pair each – no, only one between 20. Why? Oh, there were a lot of them for issue, but instead of issuing them the Commandant sold them to the Persians.
The hot sulphur springs at Abi Garm were interesting, the bath was very hot, much hotter than I would have like to have got into. I am frightfully disappointed at having to go back like this, but I am convinced that very few men could have extricated the party from the ridiculous position they were in and I am glad to be here without losing a car or a man – 40 cars are a great anxiety and after 1000 miles one cannot expect too much from them.
Left at 5.30 a.m., arrived Aveh, 1.30, Duncan and I had lunch with the Russian Commandant – such awful arrack to drink. The Pass 7,600 feet high, we crossed easily.