1918 – October 14

Had to put on life-belts and stand to for floating mines from 4 a.m. Rather dull work. Arrived in dock 8 a.m. Met Salusbury there, drove to Taj Hotel and found not only Daisie, but her brother Colonel Walter Keyworth, just out from home and met by accident here – delightful honeymoon!

The Marlings and the Grand Duke are staying in this same hotel.

1918 – August 27

Arrived in Baku 3.30 p.m. Bob [Keyworth] came on board to report. I am sorry that during my absence the Turks have made a successful attack on our very weak right and have captured the Mud volcano – our losses being 3 officers and 70 men of the [7th] N. Staffords killed, and 11 officers and 35 men wounded. The attack was a very determined one and had Baku troops been there I’m afraid Baku would have been taken. The odds were 4 to one and we had no artillery support and the Armenian infantry sent to support refused to go. 

As it is, the risk of the town being taken is so great that I dare not keep this Diary by me any more, so I have decided to send it by post to Mc.Murray at Hamadan. 

* Click here to see a (somewhat fuzzy) map of the battle lines of what became known as the Battle of Baku. More about the 7th N Staffs can be read here, although be warned, the website is irritatingly advert-y.

Pencilled note:
“The book was sent and I had to keep further records in a separate notebook.
“End of War Diary B, Begin C.”

1918 – August 23

Fierce North Gale, but we weren’t quite sick, got into Baku at 3 p.m., awful dust storm. Bob [Keyworth] came on board to report all well. I begin my 35th year of service. I don’t fancy I ever meant to stay as long as that, but it has been 35 years of happiness and the last 21 with doubled happiness. The Turks shelled the town at night, but did not do much harm. We want to arm some of these merchant-men, but cannot get the revolutionary Government to agree to it – they fear we might use our new fleet to down them. It has suddenly turned quite cold and I suppose the real hot summer is over. We get not butter or milk or fats of any kind – I don’t miss them at all but doctors seem to think they are necessary. 

1918 – August 20

I attended the Russian Church Service yesterday and I’m afraid the people looked more at me than at the holy images. To-day I was cinematographed, so my features go down in history.

To-night I sail for Derbend. The situation here is critical from a military point of view, but good from a political. But changes come rapidly and the present Government may be thrown out any minute. Bicherakov is doing splendidly and I feel I deserve credit for the one thing that I have trusted him throughout against everyone’s opinion. The War Office cable me not to trust him, the Baghdad people do the same, all Russians do the same. Had I not fought against their views the fat would, indeed, have been in the fire. Bicherakov has been magnificently successful so far, and all my success has been due to him. I am teaching the people here to understand him. The Chief of Staff, Avitisov, hates him, however, we have sent the Chief of Staff off on sick leave and things will be better. Bob [Keyworth, Stalky’s brother-in-law] does very well in command here and the scheme is one of those rare ones where an artillery man is the best man. Got wireless on board and sailed at 9 p.m. for Derbend, weather fine. We heard Alexiev had taken Astrakhan which was good news, now we hear not A. but anarchist sailors from the Baltic which is bad news. I am always being cinematographed and to-day I was filmed while addressing some refugees on board a ship going to Krasnovodsk. Baku is terribly weak and I hope it will not fall during my absence.

 

* I cannot identify Alexiev or Avitisov; if anyone else can I would be very interested to know more.

1918 – May 14

Left 9 a.m. for Teheran, arrived 5 p.m. A very ugly, barren, road, parallel to the Elburz Mountains – capable of wonderful fertility if irrigation were not just left to chance.

Our entry into Teheran caused some interest – the sign of the new régime – the first glimpse of a British General in uniform. The crowd had a good chance of admiring us as we were help up for a long time by the police asking all sorts of questions at the barrier. Then through a dusty and rather squalid city and thence into the Legation Garden – one of the beautiful gardens in the world – as near as possible a Paradise on earth. They have an Austrian gardener! Chenar trees, lawns, fountains and ponds with water lilies, roses, etc. – not only very beautiful, but such a contrast to the nasty surroundings.

Teheran is heavenly, but is an abode of devils. Lady Marling ill in bed, Sir Charles is really an invalid. Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovitch has been living with them for a year – a sort of refugee, 25 years of age, nice looking, but soft and no use to the dynasty. Also met General and Mrs. Polovtsev. Both very young, and she very pretty – the usual Russian worldlings and probably a bad lot. (Barttelot was afterwards killed by the Consul, Mc.Laren, for making love to his wife *) Barttelot I was glad to see (Mil. attaché); also Stokes my G.S.O.; I. Scott, the first Secretary; Havard Consul; Etter, Russian Member; Lecomte, French (Eulenburg scandals!); Caldwell, American Col.; Staroselsky, commanding the Persian Cossacks.

I was tired to death during my stay in Teheran, because there was never quiet one moment.  Ride with Barttelot before breakfast, then interviews without ceasing till dinner time, then the other sort of dinner party interview with each of the invités, and bed at 1.0. I like French ladies because they curtsey to me when they are introduced and they make me feel Viceregal! A wonderful cuisine with an Italian chef – everything done in quite the nicest way.

I think Teheran is a nasty place. A nightingale sings outside my bedroom at night and there is an atmosphere of lilies and languor and love in the air, which, with no proper outlet, leads people to be rather nasty. The place is full of Russian Officers who drink and gamble for huge sums at the Imperial Club with Persian noblemen and any bounder with money to be squeezed.

I was glad to leave Teheran on Friday 17. Left Kasvin on Saturday 18th, and arrived at home by Hamadan at 7 p.m. same day. I was very tired and brought with me a collection of prisoners – Austrian, German and others. I had to share my car with the Hungarian officer prisoner’s wife and baby – she had to pull up the car at every mile and be sick. And a very pretty officer’s wife, Sokolov, en route Baghdad. It was a dreadful arrival with one lady sick and one in hysterics and no one to meet us and no arrangements made. I ran them both into Mrs. Funks drawing-room (hard on a missionary lady) while I ran round to arrange things. I was dog tired, but had to go to a concert that had been especially postponed for me. It was quite hot in Teheran and here it is just a warm spring – we want half warm clothes and half summer clothes.

4th party arrived at 11 a.m. 50 officers, 150 N.C.Os, Australians, New-Zealanders, Canadians, South Africans – a fine lot, but tough, commanded by Daisie’s brother, Bob Keyworth.

* I cannot ascertain to what this comment pertains!

1914 – August 11th (Tuesday)

Col. Keyworth* got up a meeting in the village on the “Underlying Causes of the present War and our Duty to our Motherland” – and I had to speak – my first time on a public platform. I did not like it, but it went all right. We are off to London to-morrow to see if I can’t get something out of the War Office or the India Office – it is sickening to be out of it all.

 

* Keyworth was Daisie’s maiden name. I am unsure as to the actual relation here.