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!

1918 – April 8

What a Babel. I talk English to my orderly in the middle of my Persian lesson, I receive a letter from the Governor which I have to answer in French and a Russian soldier calls in the middle to complain of a loss of money – and two days ago I was talking German to a German prisoner. I read last night a letter in Gurmukhi from Sunder Singh, a Subadar in the 36th Sikhs, and I spoke Pushtu yesterday to the one and only Afghan in Hamadan, and Hindustani to two Indian deserters! Left the Mc.Murrays’ comfortable house and moved over to mine, where I live with Col. Duncan and Capt. Topham, my A.D.C. If one allowed oneself to be worried by these fearful plots and rumours, one would get no sleep. The Democrats in the town are plotting to shoot me and also to down us by a sudden attack. The Kurds, close by, are being stirred up by the Turks to wipe out the English at Hamadan and Kermanshah, and Kuchik Khan with the Germans and the Baku Tartars, threatens to destroy us all – Col. Bicherakov’s Cossacks, whom I sent to Kasvin, are the only thing between us and disaster, and I cannot get Baghdad to wake up. I intercepted a letter yesterday from a big man in Teheran to Kuchik Khan, full of treachery and implicating even the Prime Minister!

1918 – March 3

People seldom trouble to record those things or they would discover how silly it is to believe in omens! I slept like a top and there was no sort of firing or trouble. Several wires to-day. Bicherakov offers to escort my party through, but he is an Ossietin [Ossetian] and out simply to fight for the Ossietins against the Bolsheviks which has nothing whatsoever to do with my aims. We had a very pleasant combined service with the Americans. Called on the Governor Nizam-es-Sultanat [the Governor, possibly this man] and met there another Teheran Official, who spoke French, Haji Saad-es-Sultanat [special delegate for Russian affairs], the better man of the two. A pleasant hour’s conversation from which I gather that the former is a sympathiser with Kuchik Khan – though, of course, he did not say so, I judged it merely from his face.

1916 – December 17

The world seems very small!! On October 15th 1914, I wrote in my diary in France: “Braisne is being shelled, where I was on Sept. 18th and Oct. 3rd, and two old ladies have fled from there, I am taking them down with me to Paris.” To-day I get a letter from Captain Elliott. from North Wales and he says: “They had a most interesting old French lady with them, Mademoiselle Menesson…. in this War she was at Braisne on the Aisne, and had French, German and British alternately billeted on her, finally they started bombarding and she fled to England, this was on Oct. 15th 1914, she says that at 7 p.m. that evening at Mont Notre Dame, she was assisted by an Indian Army Colonel, “bel homme, distingué, d’une grande taille,” [good-looking man, distinguished, very tall] who was “chef de train”, could it have been yourself? Anyhow she quite fell in love with him and tells everyone she meets of her wonderful Colonel who had come all the way from India to be a train conductor – the said Colonel was most attractive, fed her on the best bully beef, opening the tin with his own fair hands, etc. etc.” It is very interesting.

1915 – April 10

Malta 9 a.m. Ricasoli barracks where I joined my old regiment, the Royal Sussex, in November 1884, reminded me of old days. We all went ashore, Rose and Susanna, D. and myself – such a cold day with howling wind. Saw St. Johns and the Armoury and the Guard Room pictures. Left again at 6.30 p.m. Several men-of-war in from the Dardanelles to repair and refit. The Dublin and the Inflexible, which latter was almost sunk, and several French ships with wounds from guns and torpedoes.

1915 – January 26

Arrived Serqueux about 11 p.m. nothing doing. Abbeville 4.10 a.m. cold, but fine night and blue sky, had some difficulty getting men off, the train daren’t wait long, and they sleep like corpses. Arrived Boulogne 7.30 a.m., snowing hard – I have a heap of officers and men as passengers and 25 trucks of ammunition and supplies. Had to stay all day in Boulogne at the Bassin Loubet, took a long walk out to the very end of the big breakwater, which is right out to sea. I saw the French passenger steamer which the German submarine torpedoed – sunk in harbour, but on sand and quite repairable. Saw the Channel boat leaving and it caused me no extra heart-beats because Daisie is this side of the Channel, and that’s all I care about. These trips are very expensive. I have to pay for any food and guests, meanwhile I pay for my food and lodging at Rouen all the time, for Daisie’s food and lodging at Havre (she certainly is not extravagant) for Leo at school, Galfrid at Ridley House – then interest on debts, premiums on policies – Thank goodness my pay just now is liberal enough to cover it all. The stores accumulated here at Boulogne, are enormous and if the Germans did push us back we should have to destroy them. Our Naval Victory yesterday sinking of the Blucher, was grand. I expect the Germans will try something tremendous to-morrow, because it is the Kaiser’s birthday. it may never snow enough to need them, but I see heaps of steam snow-ploughs and bob-sleighs – foresight.

1914 – October 21

Arrived Calais at day-break alongside a train of French wounded. Cold and wet and foggy, poor weather for the soldiers. but I expect it is worse for the Germans than for us. Saint Omer 9 a.m. The names up here “Ebblinghem” for instance, suggest that this country is really Teuton. As far as this the country has been flat and wet like land reclaimed from the sea. The real continent begins here. Saw the first Indians, only some measly looking followers. Towards Hazebrouck the country gets much more like lieber Deutschland. and Daisie and I could be quite happy here – Reached railhead Merville, at 12.30. Took a long time issuing. Took over 30 Germans prisoners of the 133rd Regt, had one passenger to take down. Lt. Butler R.F.A., who knew my camp with garden in Sonamarg. Not much artillery firing in this neighbourhood which means, I hope, that our fellows are pushing along and getting the Germans further back. Left Merville 8 p.m., arrived St. Omer at midnight and handed over my German prisoners. A most amusing incident: My crown and 2 stars in the faint gaslight look like 3 stars. A Major, Railway Transport officer, excellent fellow, disagreed with me about the escort necessary for the prisoners and I stuck to my opinion, whereupon he fiercely brushed his moustache and said “Look here, now, I’m a Major and you’re a Captain….” I might have let him go on, but it would have been hard luck, so I said “Oh, but I am a Colonel!” Frightfully apologetic – no need, I said, whatever my rank was if I was wrong I ought to be put right.

 

For those unfamiliar with insignia in the British Army, click on the image below, where you can see how similar the Captain and Colonel epaulettes are!

BritishArmyOfficer

1914 – October 15

Arrived Mont Notre Dame at 7 a.m. I see that Aldridge of the Royal Sussex who travelled with me exactly a month ago has been killed. Such a fine fellow and married, with one child – it brings it home to one. A nasty wet day and I had lots to do, but kept fairly dry and no twinge of rheumatics, but plenty of toothache. To-day we are just finishing extricating our 1st. Army Corps from the Aisne by here, and the French should now be taking up our line where I was the other day. – The Germans are evidently aware of this by spies and are now, 5 p.m. pushing a fierce attack here. The shelling is tremendous though we are just out of range. Braisne is being shelled where I was on Sept 18th and Oct 3rd and two old ladies have fled from Braisne and I am taking them down with me to Paris.

1914 – September 15

Sun at last. I hope the bad spell is over. German prisoners come through in trainloads. A lady breakfasting next to me in a restaurant this morning gargled water and spat it out into her wine-glass then cleaned her nails with a penknife. I am glad I am English.

Captain Aldridge of my old regiment, the Sussex, turned up at lunch and tells me the regiment did well yesterday. My only old friend in the regiment, Colonel Montresor, was killed in that fight. The Germans will not stay for our bayonets. As soon as they see them they throw down their arms. They captured at 2.a.m. in a village 40 Prussian Guards Officers drunk! And a French girl of 4 with bayonet wounds in both arms. Left 7 p.m.