To Baghdad – thank God for the last of the Motor-cars for a bit after that 600 mile drive on a vile road. The Jilu refugees – poor things – blocked the road everywhere and I feel half responsible for them though it was not my fault that Government would not take up my Urmieh scheme. Billeted in No. 2 Mess – Stuart Wortley. Dined with the C.-in-C.
A wire telling me to return to Baghdad. I am not offended. I have done excellent work under trying conditions, and produced very good results out of nothing in spite of apathy and misunderstanding of War Office and Baghdad. But after my telegrams they had no course but to relieve me and to try me, I suppose by Court Martial. Thank God Rawlinson and his little steamer arrived all well after having run a heavy gauntlet of fire. Armenian refugees a great problem.
The Port here is quiet, but although we have arrested and sent to Baghdad the Bolshevik leaders, we cannot yet get real control of the port and the shipping, as I have very few troops and cannot show force. In fact, the Bolsheviks or the Jangalis or both together might attack me at any time and knock me out. One has to take big risks but I must send all I can to Baku and keep only the minimum here.
I have had bad diarrhoea for some time and on the road down I felt as if I were going to die – I determined to eat nothing, but at the Nagober toll-gate I had to accept hospitality and I was hungry, so I gave in and drank tea and coffee and ate cheese and omelette. After that I nearly died again and gave up worrying, so when we got to the Resht toll-gate and I was again tempted, I ate everything I wanted. Bray suggested a Russian cure, vodka with pepper in it, so I drank three pepper vodkas which were very consoling! and from that moment to this I have been as fit as a fiddle – it was, I suppose, too much for the microbes.
When one arrives in a new town, one is deluged with interviews that tire one to death. Yesterday I had M. Hunin, head of customs. Khachikov and Senizavin, controlling the Caspian fleet, Gendre, the Social Revolutionary, Dr. Araratiantz, head of the Armenian National Council, Mr. Ogamiantz, Soc. Rev. Alkhari – Bicherakov’s man; great schemes are propounded, but each is playing for his own hand. To-day I have already had heaps of time-wasters, mostly Russian and British refugees trying to get a job – (that is, money) out of me. Baku still holds up and I hope Bob will pull through, but my reinforcements are small and time flies.
[I cannot identify the location of Nagober but I believe it to be somewhere in Iran]
Travelling all day, lines blocked. We are one of row of fourteen trains travelling behind each other on one line 20 yards apart! Reached Rouen 10 p.m. slept on the floor in I.G.C. Office. Train was full of refugees. Our soldiers and French women and children all piled up together in the brake van. Wherever I sit down the ladies surround me and ask: “Is it really certain we shall beat them!” and so on. No food obtainable all day. Whenever the train stops on the line the French soldiers get out and pillage the orchards. French ladies dying to know whether my Highlander Sergeant has anything under his kilt or not!