1918 – February 7

Snowing again, confound it, and all yesterday’s work spoiled. I determined to ride over with Duncan and no escort – all went well – snow in drifts 12 to 15 feet – got men working both sides. At Zagha a Russian officer Lieut. Zypaloff, took us on in a motor to Hamadan, where we arrived at the Mc.Murrays, Imperial Bank of Persia at 4.30 p.m. A lovely house and every comfort which made me unhappy, thinking of the others in the old serai at Asadabad. General Shore* meets me here from Tiflis to explain the situation.

*Brigadier General Offley Shore is mentioned in this book here, in which the situation in the area is being discussed. It is well worth spending a bit of time reading it.

1918 – February 5

Woke at 5 a.m. and found, good Lord what? Out of last night’s beautiful blue sky heavy snow and it is snowing still at noon – height here about 5000 ft. – we shall be buried soon and God only knows when we are likely to be able to get over that big Pass. One has to take what comes and I do not complain, but it is sad – one could have staked all one’s money on that blue sky. We luckily had tucked ourselves in very comfortably into the big serai which is not too dirty. Officers, 3 or 4, in the small rooms about 15′ by 12′, lying on the ground – and there are decent fire-places. Men sleeping in the cars and in a cow-shed where we do our cooking, all cars parked in the centre. One must be grateful for such decent accommodation which I think magnificent, but the guide-book says: “No accommodation for a European.” The headman called on me and I returned his call. The Russians have small posts all along here, but those who were here have deserted, and there are none. We have had no opposition yet, only one shot was fired at the last car as we were coming in to Kermanshah.

1918 – February 2

Left at 4 a.m. Sari Mil. 7 a.m., Karind 10 a.m. Harunabad 2 p.m., all cars in by 3.30 p.m. The Serai was very dirty, so we turned the Kurds out amicably and took private houses which were just like those in any Punjab village. It was very beautiful winding up the narrow Pass through the snow by moonlight – we had to get out and push here and there and the first 2/3rds of the road Karind to Harunabad was wet clay and very difficult. Last third quite good, only because it was dry – this place was one of the resorts of Harun-el-Raschid of the Arabian Nights, hence its name. All the road is between 4000 and 5000 feet above sea-level and it was very cold.

1918 – January 31

Sent touring-cars unloaded to explore – they took 2 hours doing 6 miles and reported deeper snow – it seems hopeless and I must stay here. Meantime the Turks are beginning to hear about us which is the most unfortunate aspect of the delay – a German plane flew over the Serai at 2 p.m. today, I thought he was going to drop bombs, but he flew on. I suppose he was out to reconnoitre and report and we shall get the bombs to-morrow. It is a hopeless situation, but I am an optimist and never without hope – I feel sure that God will guide us through. Tactical problems are so easy to solve, but these are far greater problems. Shall I start to-morrow? If so, how far can I expect to get? How much petrol expended? Will I be held up in the snow, unable to get forward or backward? One has to make a decision and stick to it, so I decide not to move to-morrow. But every day’s delay gives the Germans more time to arrange to thwart us. What an example of how weather affects military problems. I have realized this all my life, but never hoped to have such a bad actual situation. I am in bed with bad cold on chest. The old one I had in Baghdad which would have been cured but for this vile weather.

1918 – January 30

The oaks here are like the Himalayan Oak, but not evergreen – acorns enormous, 3 inches long, and over an inch in diameter. They make flour out of them. Started at 8 a.m. weather cleared, but much snow on the ground. Snow got deeper and deeper, and we only did about a mile an hour, all pushing and digging – so I gave it up and returned to the old Serai – which seemed quite snug. The country is absolutely full of partridge and there were marks of snow-leopard. Two dead horses in the serai!