1918 – October 7

Arrived at Basra about 9 a.m., where Colonel Senior of my old regiment, the 20th, very kindly put me up in G.H.Q., and took me all over Basra to see the wonderful things they have been doing since I was last there.

1918 – October 6

Kut-el-Amara: Very hot and dusty and the flies are awful. Had to wait until night-fall for the train. They did me very well, giving me a nice inspection carriage with a kitchen where I could brew a cup of tea – Stork travelled with me and my excellent Batman, Milam, 1/4 Hants Regiment. Slept comfortably and arrived at Basra about 9 a.m., on October 7th.

1918 – January 14

More explorations in this wonderful new Basra with a six mile river frontage, camps, docks, ship-building, if I tried to describe my impressions I should fill this book. I have been waiting for Sir Hamilton Grant, Indian Foreign Secretary, to arrive, as he is to go up in the steamer with me. He arrived to-day. Slept on board the steamer where I have a magnificent cabin, as large as my private office in Peshawar and can open all my boxes and study maps etc. The magnitude of this enterprise does not weigh on me, but it is a big thing. Steaming up river all day in this wonderful land of Chaldaea, Babylon, Nineveh and Abraham – fallen Empires all around are represented by mud heaps. The Turk has treated the country vilely, under us it will again blossom into the Garden of Eden, the Arabs and Jews are white men like us, of the race of Shem. Basra people are quaint and children often wear just the ordinary European woman’s kit, a little out of date. They seem enormously happy and one gets only smiles instead of the sulky looks of India. The children salute, shout “hurrah!” and “good evening”.

NOTE: it is well worth reading up about Turkey’s role in World War One, to give a bit of background as to why Dunsterville was posted to this area, and to his antipathy towards ‘the Turk’. Here is an excellent article.

1918 – January 12

Arrived Basra after a beastly rough voyage with everyone sick. I just managed to eat my meals, but was very miserable. The poor Bengali troops were horribly sick, and wished they had never enlisted. Captain of the ship – a good fellow, Simpson Jones. We arrived about 2.30 p.m. I went ashore and met my old friend Sir George MacMunn, who is now commanding the Lines of Communication here. He put me up and I drove round with him in his car, to see the wonderful development of this once little, now big port.