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.
Spent the whole morning manoeuvring with steel hawsers on a sand-bank. Got off after some hours’ work. Stuck again a good deal and at midnight got into a regular dust-storm cyclone and were properly wrecked, but nothing can really happen to these big, shallow, flat-bottomed things, so we steamed on again quite cheerfully and got into Amara on October 6th at about 9 a.m.
Arrived Kut-el-Amara at 6 a.m. and sailed on board S/S Taraki. Lt. Colonel Wilmer, R.F.A. a very excellent companion, shares my cabin, and the 25th Punjabis, under Colonel Hunt, are on board – also Stork, my Staff Captain – The Captain of the ship is new on this ship and we have endless misfortunes – it is as well we are not in a particular hurry.
Dined last night with Stuart-Wortly – Left by train today at 8 p.m. for Kut-el-Amara. Arrived there at 6 a.m. on Oct 4.
Dined with Col. Gordon Brown commanding al Amara. Met Sir Percy Cox – started in train 9 p.m., a rather sleepless night with jolts and bumps.
Started at 7.30 a.m. with Grant on board, Captain Dunning as my A.D.C., arrived Kut el Amara 6 p.m.
NOTE: more excellent reading about the situation in (modern-day) Iraq and Turkey can be found here, with particular reference to Kut el Amara, which was witness to a disgraceful defeat of the British by the Ottomans. (For Dunsterville’s views on that defeat, see his entry of 1 May, 1916.)
My meeting of the Church of England’s Men’s Society on Tuesdays is rather interesting – there are some good fellows among the men and some humbugs. We got the news of Townshend surrendering at Kut el Amara yesterday with 6000 native [Indian] and 3000 white [British] troops. Not important as regards loss of men, but will stir up Mahomedan excitement in India, Persia and Cabul – however we’ll take whatever comes. Our muddleheaded pacific nation that despised its soldiers in peace time deserves these blows and the poor soldiers suffer.
Daisie tries keeping pets with miserable results. First 2 sparrows – cat got one, then another sparrow enlisted, mysteriously disappeared, and the third died. Then a dove, Daisie took the dove for a walk in the garden and it was carried off by a kite, now 2 quails and we’ll see what happens.
Keep your tails up! We lost a Battleship yesterday, mined in the Mediterranean, a submarine the day before, and to-day we get news (long expected as far as I am concerned) of Townshend surrender to the Turks at Kut el Amara with 9000 men! 9000 men doesn’t matter tuppence and very few white, but the whole thing will be greatly magnified and be a heavy blow to our prestige in the East, it may even bring the Afghans down on top of us, as they have long been hanging on the brink – however, it’s all God’s will and certainly our nation with its pre-war concentration on trade and rubbish, and utter neglect of its army, does not deserve to win this war.