The wind had continued unabated for two days and now blew almost a gale. The dust was intolerable and made any attempts at washing hopeless. Indeed one’s eyes got so full of it the moment they were opened that we sat blinking like owls or shut them altogether. So it was a cheerless afternoon, with rain threatening. Our supply ship with our tents had not come up, but the Major (Stillwell) had a bivouac tent on the second line transport, which he invited me to share, an offer which I gladly accepted. We made it as air-tight as possible, and built a wall of lumps of hard-baked mud to protect us from snipers, and slept quite reasonably warm. It came on to rain heavily in the night, so I was lucky to be under shelter.
15th, Saturday. This morning it rained on and off till nearly noon, and the wind blew all day and the sun never got properly through: but the rain had laid the dust.
N.B.—With regard to parcels, none are arriving now, just when they’re wanted. The fact is they have to economise their transport most rigidly. A staff officer told me that our supply of river-boats just enables one boat (with its pair of barges alongside) to reach us every day; our food for one day fills one entire barge, so that you can imagine there is not much room to spare after ammunition and other war material has been put on board. The mahila convoys are extra, but as they take several weeks to do the journey their help is limited.
I have just seen the padre who has been working in the field dressing station. In his station there were two doctors, two nursing orderlies and two native sweepers; and these had to cope with 750 white wounded for five days till they could ship them down the river. Altogether our casualties in the two battles have been well over 5,000, so the Turk has rather scored.
This afternoon news is ([Greek: a]) that we have got a new Brigadier. Our brigade manages its commanders on the principle of the caliph and his wives, and has not yet found a Sherazade. ([Greek: b]) that we have got a brigade M.O.O. ambulance. This is a luxury indeed. We are only just over twenty miles from C. now, so we hope to get through after one more battle.
16th, Sunday. Still in camp. No sun. More rain. Friday’s gale and the rise in the river has scattered our only pontoon bridge, and Heaven knows when another will be ready. All our skilled bridge-builders are in C. The people here seem quite incapable of even bridging the Canal, twenty feet wide. Typical, very.
I want a new shaving brush—badger’s hair, not too large.
Mail just going. Best love.
P.S.—We had a Celebration on a boat this morning, which I was very glad of, also a voluntary parade service.
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