I expect my leg will be all right for marching. When I heard we were moving, I went to the hospital to consult the chief M.O. there about it. He examined both my legs gravely and then firmly grasping the sound one pronounced that it had still an excess of fluid in it: which I take to be a sincere though indirect tribute to the subsidence of the fluid in the crocked one. He proceeded to prescribe an exactly reverse treatment to that recommended by the other M.O., which had the advantage of giving me official sanction for pretty well anything I chose to do or not do. The upshot of it was that I decided to test the old leg for myself to determine whether it was fit for marching or not. So I began with a six mile walk on Friday, shooting: and found that my graceful limb did not impede my progress nor develop into any graver symptoms. I was more tired than I should have been a month ago, but that was natural. Yesterday was monopolised by Christmas functions; to-day I mean to try eight or nine miles, and ten or twelve to-morrow. If the thing is going to crock it had better do it before I start: but it shows no sign of it.
The latest way of indicating latitude and longitude is like a date, e.g. 32.25/44/10: you can take the N. and E. for granted.
It has most tactlessly begun to rain again to-day, and with an E. wind it may continue, which will mean a vile slime for marching.
The Christmas sports were really great fun: one of them—one-minute impromptu speeches—would make quite a good house-party game.
P.S.—You must think me brutal not to have mentioned my poor men. I have written so many letters this morning, I didn’t notice it in this one. They are still being bombarded and have had 21 casualties out of 180: 5 killed, one of my draft, 2 officers slightly wounded. I hope to see them about Twelfth Night—no, say second Sunday after Epiphany!
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January 3, 1916.
... That afternoon the new draft arrived, headed by Jack Stillwell and Lester Garland. They arrived only 45 strong, having reached Basra over 100. Basra is a nest of military harpies who seize men for obscure duties and make them local sergts. Only 68 escaped from it; and of these 23 fell out on the march—another specimen of R.A.M.C. efficiency. The M.O. at Quetta had merely passed down the line asking each man “Are you fit?” and taking his answer.
In this letter A. stands for Amarah, C. for Kut, B. for Ali Gherbi.
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Sunday, January 2, 1916.
TO HIS FATHER.
As I shan’t be able to mention places in connection with our movements, I shall call the station we left on December 31st A., this place B. and so on; and I think you ought to be able to follow, as I will make the lettering consistent.