Christmas is almost unbearable in war-time: the pathos and the reproach of it. I am thankful that my Company is at Kut on half-rations. I don’t of course mean that: but I’m thankful to be spared eating roast beef and plum pudding heartily, as these dear pachyderms are now doing with such relish. I’m glad they do, and I’d do it too if my Company was here. I’m always thankful for my thin skin, but I’m glad dear God made thick ones the rule in this wintry world.
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EXTRACT FROM LETTER TO N.B.
It seems odd to get just now your letter answering my arguments against the advance to Baghdad. They were twofold (1) Military, that we should not have the force to hold it and our communications would be too vulnerable. These objections have been largely met (a) by large reinforcements, which will nearly double our forces when they are all up, (b) by the monitors—the second is here now; they solve the communication problem. I think now it will take a fresh Army Corps from Constantinople to dislodge us: and I now hear that the difficulties of its communications would be very great. (2) Politically. I thought the occupation of Baghdad would cause trouble (a) with Russia, (b) with Indian soldiers, (c) with Moslems generally. Here again (a) P. tells me Russia is giving us a free hand, (b) trouble did occur with some Indian Regiments, but it took the mild form of a strike, and the disaffected units have been dispersed by Coys. over the lines of communication. (c) As regards Moslems in India, I think I was wrong. The bold course, even to bluffing, generally pays with Orientals. We have incurred their resentment by fighting Turkey and on the whole we had better regain their respect by beating her. Of course we shall respect their religious feelings and prejudices in every practicable way.
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December 26, 1915.
I hope you safely received the MS. I sent you last mail.
Orders to move have interrupted my literary activities, and I shall have to spend the few days before we start chiefly in testing the fitness of my leg for marching. I went shooting on Friday and walked about six miles quite successfully, bar a slight limp; and I mean to extend progressively up to twelve.
The weather has suddenly turned wet, introducing us to a new vileness of the climate. I hope it won’t last—it means unlimited slime.
I shan’t be able to write much or often for some time, I expect, as we shall be marching pretty continuously, I reckon. I shall try and write to Ma and Pa at each opportunity, and to you if there’s time and paper available. Your little writing-block may come in handy.