Lunched on flagship with Admiral Gaunt – Dined with Senior and General Sutton. Went on board the Egra after dinner and shook the dust of Mesopotamia finally off my worn-out shoes – no particular gladness or sorrow, but nice to think of meeting Daisie.
There is a sense of unreality in life when one lives in the scenes of bygone Kingdoms – down below in Mesopotamia, English soldiers are handling bricks from Babylon with Nebuchadnezzar’s seal on them, the Turks are just beyond them in Nineveh, and here I live in the town of King Darius, King Cyrus and the Great Alexander. How paltry human life seems. 2nd party arrived Zagha and we sent out a motor to bring in our mails. I purposed to call on the Governor, but he made excuses – didn’t want to see me, I suppose, as he is harbouring one of the Persian revolutionaries just returned from Turkey. That’s the very man I want to see.
Left at 7 a.m., arrived at Kasvin 2 p.m., staying with Goodwin, Bank and Consul, Sir Charles Marling and Col. Napier* – Minister and Military Secretary, Teheran, came to confer with me – very interesting talk. There never was such a terrifying situation – but one is not paid to be terrified. The Caucasus seems already to be in the thick of civil war – and Persia also on the verge. My port of embarkation is in the hands of Persian revolutionaries and my port of arrival in the hands of Russian and Tartar anarchists. Kasvin is a filthy, filthy town, and full of disorderly Russian soldiers. But beautiful fruit gardens all round – I have at last seen a pistachio-tree – after meeting the liquorice bush in Mesopotamia – and some beautiful coloured tile domes in the town.
* I cannot identify any of these men
Floods and deluges of rain – servants’ houses all flooded out and one washed right down. I am so pleased at having my proper pay of Rs.2100 a month that life seems quite different. My arrears are also Rs.1200 which enables me to pay all my debts at the shops. What a huge war this is. Bay writes from Belgium, others from France, Watts from Mesopotamia and Egypt, Irwin from East Africa, Cunliffe in West Africa, Bob and Wattie are in Salonica and here are we on the Afghan frontier. Bennett writes from Persia.
*Rs = Rupees
These Pathans are very outspoken and impertinent. Old Khalu came to see me to-day, an enemy Mohmand who did some secret service for me during the trouble last year. He says “You soldiers are like hawks, never know where you will be next. Sometimes like you in France, then on the Frontier here, then perhaps in Mesopotamia and so on. The Civilians are like your women-folk, while you fight and kill and lose your lives, they stay at home and look after the house and eat presents of fruit and reap the rewards of your deeds of valour!” A rather unjust view of the Indian civilian who’s just as ready as anyone to take his place in the firing line.
In 18 months of war what have we achieved? Held motionless in France, disastrously defeated in Mesopotamia, defeated and baffled in Gallipoli – too late to save Servia and so on and so on. Yet our tails are up and we will win.