Yesterday we went down to choose a new road to the flying-ground. The Persian Government have answered the Ministers’ note in the most uncompromising terms and there is going to be trouble. They refuse to admit British troops and order them to leave, they practically support Kuchik Khan – a change of Cabinet seems probable, but the next one will vote the same way. I wish to goodness they’d send me some troops – I cannot put up much of a fight with 40 chauffeurs however plucky they may be. I sent down to-day 10 cars to Kermanshah to fetch up I hope 30 men of the Hants Regt [possibly 1/4th Battalion – see here]. That will be a beginning, but if it snows they will not get through I’m afraid.
I hear they have announced in the town that they mean to have a shot at me, I only wonder they haven’t done it a thousand times already – God will see that my life terminates when He wills. Meantime I cannot possibly shut myself up.
Is this to be another case of “too late”? – if nothing has yet happened I honestly believe it is as much due to my policy of ingratiating myself with the people as anything else, that they are quiet so far – But it is vile being helpless without troops. German and Austrian Agents plot against us, the town is full of Turks, the Bolsheviks or Red Guards have a plot to seize the Bank and I could not stop them with my 40 chauffeurs. It is just all bluff, my 40 Ford cars – which are an appalling element of weakness – strike the inhabitants as death-dealing machines, and my brave chauffeurs, who hardly know one end of a gun from another, look like fine soldiers. But distances are enormous – we are over 300 miles from Baghdad – Persia on the verge of a revolution with the cry “kick out the Europeans” and no troops. I have done my best, in sending fierce cables, and the War Office are at last awake to it, but Baghdad is very lethargic. The War Office want me to obtain command of the Caspian Sea – I’ve thought of that all the time – I could seize the gun-boats with a small force, but can’t they see I must have at least one port? If I can get Bicherakov to capture and hold the Menjil Bridge, Resht and Enzeli I might do something – but he is not up to it.
Snow again, and always snow. Our chauffeurs are playing foot-ball to-day against the Persian Christian boys – to-morrow the officers play the civilians of the town.
Always raining here – a beastly place. I asked to meet the Committee again at 11 a.m., and found them again very pleasant though they had a big armed guard to frighten me and I thought they might try to take us prisoners, but they did not. I informed them that I quite took their point of view, that I agreed to return at once and begged them to help me with petrol etc, which they agreed to do. I have an army of 40 Chauffeurs and 1 armoured car, and am not prepared to take on 4000 Russians, so there’s nothing to argue about and I do see their point of view very clearly. I foresaw all this from the very start – the mission was two months too late and could only end in failure.