I moved myself and Headquarters on board the S/S President Kruger, where I shall remain, I expect, for some time. It is cooler on board, I will rig up a wireless set, and I can then move at a moment’s notice anywhere up and down the Caspian. My sailor, Commodore Norris, is extemporising a fleet – so far we have not taken any ships, but we possess a 4 in gun, arrived yesterday and 3 more are coming, and we have naval personnel about 160. The Officers on board and the crew seem a very decent lot. We took down the Revolutionary Red flag and hoisted the old Russian flag.
Rather tired and weary after diarrhoea. We have lost several men from cholera and a good deal of typhus and sandfly fever. The flies are awful. Days are hot but nights quite cool.
The number of situations I have to deal with is enormous. The Jilus and Armenians at Urmieh have long been entirely surrounded by the Turks, but have bravely held out so far. Yesterday I managed to get an aeroplane through to them. The aviator, Pennington, was received with an ovation, could not move for half an hour, people kissing his hands and knees.
As a result, I hope to open up the road to Urmieh from Hamadan and have asked the Jilus to fight their way down to Sain Kale [location unidentifiable] to meet us. This is a new situation. Then, in case the Turks get Baku I am sending a party over to Krasnovodsk to see what can be done on the East shore of the Caspian and in Turkestan [Turkmenistan].
Then I still have the defence of Baku on my hands, and am anxious having had no news of Bicherakov for some days.
Then there is the Turkish invasion situation via Tabriz doing pretty well. The Turks hold Tabriz with 2000 men and I am bluffing them with about 20 and 1 armoured car. Then there are the Persian Levies and the Irregulars which are not a great success. They want pay, but don’t want to fight.
Then there is the internal political situation. At Teheran there is a revolution going on, not very dangerous so far. In the town here all is quiet, but all Persian officials are pro-Turk.
Then there is the Jangali situation, which is doing well so far. We are bombing them by aeroplane again to-morrow. My hands and head are very full. Then I am worried a lot by the question of liquidation of the Russian debts, contracts with the Russian road Company, interviews with Russian revolutionaries and schemes to help indigent Russian officers.
Returned from Enzeli. The down journey was quite uneventful and the country looked very different to what it did in the winter. No shots were fired either out or on the return journey, though several battles took place on the road in between while.
Stayed the night at Menzil – next day passed through Resht and down to Enzeli. It was nice to see the sea again – lived in the same quarters as before. Next day sea-bathing on nice sandy beach and the Caspian was delightful. Long final interview with General Bicherakov and final settlement of plans in South and North Caucasus. Then long interview with Cheliapin the leader of the Revolutionary Committee who wanted to arrest me in Feb., and was responsible for my not reaching Baku – he is very stupid and not more amenable now than he was then. One can deal with anything except blank ignorance. Finally he said: “I cannot continue to talk with one who subjects himself to the domination of a King and a Crown!” Left Enzeli same afternoon, arrived Resht for dinner. Stayed next day interviewing new Governor, Sirdar-i-Kul*, pro-Turk and pro-German, but now pro-me (temporarily), arranged a great function for rehoisting of British flag. All consuls present – troops armoured cars, Persian official. I made speech, flag hoisted. Persian police marched past and saluted flag. Persian Commandant made apology.
Good fight at Iman-Zadeh-Hashem, on the road outside the town – Gurkhas captured and burnt a village and killed many of the enemy. Two officers took two Polish women out for a drive in motor-car – silly asses. Drove straight into the enemy. One officer 2 women killed, car captured. One officer escaped and now to be tried by Court-Martial.
* I cannot find anything out about this person but Sirdar-i-Kul means ‘chief or commander of all’, so it is likely to be an honorific rather than an actual name.
I am off to-morrow to Enzeli in the Caspian where I shall see Bicherakov and eat caviare. With the last convoy I sent down the road, Captain Dunsford of the Hants was killed and 6 wounded, but I hope they’ll be quieter now. I have twice sent aeroplanes to bomb K.K’s Headquarters and that may help to cool his ardour. The town is quieter and I have issued counter proclamations.
Persian political news confusing and disturbing. Two Russian Aviation officers came to me from Baku with offers of help, but when I cross-questioned them and it came down to bed-rock it was evident they could not help me and very much needed help themselves. They had, as usual, fantastic ideas, among others, that of capturing one of the Caspian Bolshevik gun-boats with one sea-plane – it is all very like Alice in Wonderland. A dull cold day and the white snowy landscape bores me to death. We hear that our mail is at last being brought up.