When we reached the river (10 on sketch), it began to rain again and we spent a very chill and damp afternoon on the bank awaiting orders. About dusk B. and C. Companies were ordered to cross the river to guard the hospital there, and D. stayed to guard the hospital on the left bank. Mercifully our ship was handy, so we got our tents and slept warm, though all our things were wettish.
Monday. A quiet morning, no orders. A Scotch mist shrouded everything till noon and kept our things damp, but the sun got through at last.
C. Company returned to left bank, as all wounded were being shipped across. (N.B. They had to bring them across in our ship. There is still no sign of the Red Cross motor boats up here, though I’m glad to hear they’ve reached Basra.) We got orders to march to D. by night. We started at 8 p.m., “B.” Company marching parallel on the other bank. It was seven or eight miles, but we went very slow, and did not get in till 1.30 and our transport not till nearly 3, heavy guns sticking in the ditches. (N.B. Once we got behind the evacuated Turkish line, we found that the ditches had been filled in to allow passage of guns, an expedient which had apparently not occurred to the British Command, for no ditch had been filled in between B, and this point!)
Tuesday. When morning came we found ourselves camped just opposite D. (11 on sketch), and we are still there. Two fine days (though it freezes at night) and rest have restored us. A mail arrived this morning, bringing letters to December 7th, and your medical parcels.
I only returned you the quinine and bandages, of which people in Amara have plenty. They will come in handy for you to send out again. Here everything medical can be used, but I couldn’t have brought any more than I did. As it is, I’ve left a lot at Amarah.
I must close now. On these cold nights the little kitchener is invaluable, so is the soup. Of the various brands you sent, Ivelcon is the best. The chocolate is my mainstay on day marches. Also the Diet Tablets are very good. Bivouac Cocoa is also good. The Kaross is invaluable.
Stanford’s Map has arrived.
* * * * *
Saturday, January 15th, 1916.
TO HIS MOTHER.
I will continue my account of our doings in diary form. Last week we had a kind of general introduction to war. The last few days we have seen a few of its more gruesome details.
12th, Wednesday. After posting your letter and one to Luly I read some of the Mail’s papers. We have had absolutely no outside news since January 1st, and get very little even of the operations of our own force. I then went to see Foster who has had to go sick and lives on our supply ship. About 20 per cent. of our men are sick, mostly diarrhoea and sore feet. The former is no doubt due to Tigris water. They don’t carry the chlorinating plant on trek, and men often have to replenish water-bottles during short halts. Personally I have so far avoided unboiled water. I have my bottle filled with tea before leaving camp, and can make that last me forty-eight hours, and eke it out with soup or cocoa in the Little Kitchener at bivouacs.