Padre O’Connor. Holy Communion in the Mc.Murray’s Drawing-room – just ourselves, then off for Kermanshah. A very sad parting with this homely home and these good people of incredible kindness and hospitality. Very hot and dusty – car at last broke down 30 miles out of Kermanshah, but luckily just opposite the camp of the 48th Pioneers where we stayed the night very comfortably.
To Hamadan. Such pleasure to be back again in the hospitable house of the Mc.Murrays.
I hate travelling on Sundays and I always find myself doing so. I left to-day by motor for Hamadan – a very good journey – arrived there about 6 p.m., stayed with the Mc.Murrays. I had arranged for an aeroplane to meet me at Hamadan and fly me down to Baghdad. If it had not been for that I would not have undertaken the trip. I want to get to Baghdad very badly to make them understand things, but I calculated I could not afford to be away as long as a week. The aeroplane had been unable to rise properly owing to the heat, it fell on its nose and they will not send me another. They say I must get down to the flat first, and plane from there.
Goodbye to Hamadan for a time and perhaps for ever. To-morrow we go to Kasvin – which is hotter, but more central for my work, as the Turks are coming down the Tabriz Road. I got the first of my four aeroplanes to-day, and my eight armoured cars will soon be here – and 1000 infantry are coming up in Ford vans, so we shall soon be getting to work. Dined with the Mc.Murrays farewell party.
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!
What comfort in the nice house of the Mc.Murrays – such a sleep and such a rest – The vile weather continues and it snows again. I hear Barttelot had to abandon his cars and ride from Kermanshah, likewise Offley Shore – it is a marvel how I have brought these 40 cars over this 1000 miles of bad road and 7 snow passes without losing one. Now we are permanently blocked with heavy snow on the passes each side of us.
Sent many cables home, but no reply yet. As what I have suggested amounts to a change of policy in Persia, I suppose they have had to have a Cabinet Meeting* about it and that will cause the delay. They want me to go by the Tabriz road** – how little they understand the situation. I should have to be taken prisoner or shot the first day, or take a force big enough to fight. The people we are out to help seem a worthless lot and cannot pull together. The Armenians and Georgians hate each other and the Tartar hates them both. I shall never cease to marvel at our escape from Enzeli – I expect they are now cursing their foolishness in letting us go. Each was trying to get the other to fire the first shot and neither dared, but the Red Guards who arrived from Baku just as I left, would doubtless have done it, and they had us cold. If I had stayed another 24 hours it would have been all up. Thanks be to God! The situation all round is bad, but here, at least, we can put up a fight – I have implored Baghdad and London to send troops, but they take no notice.
* The involvement of the British Government’s Cabinet Office gives some indication as to the significance of this mission.
** The map below shows the location of Tabriz (I couldn’t get it to stop saying Pars Hotel) to demonstrate the alternative route that the War Office in Baghdad wished Dunsterville to take.
At last the cars got over, dragged by coolies – they got in about 4 p.m. and the men were very hospitably entertained by the American Missionaries. All officers dined with the Mc.Murrays, a party of 20 and very jolly, singing and an impromptu dance afterwards with Mrs. Mc.Murray the only lady.