In the middle of this job we were recalled and told to march to the support of our outflanking force; but by the time we were collected and fallen in the need for our assistance had apparently passed, for we were merely marched to the Canal and then along it to where it joins the river; where we have been ever since. We got into camp here soon after noon, and were very glad to be within reach of water again. The weather was the limit. It blew a gale all the afternoon, and the dust was so bad one could hardly open one’s eyes. We had no tents, but the Major (Stilwell) had a bivouac and invited me in with him, which was a blessing as it rained all night.
Saturday, 15th. Rained all the morning on and off. Afternoon grey and cold. Nothing doing and no news. Sniping at night.
Sunday, 16th. Morning grey and cold. Rained all the afternoon and is still at it (8 p.m.). Padre held a celebration on one of the boats, and an open air voluntary parade service. Dug a bridge-head perimetre. We are waiting for the bridge. The gale and the river bust it.
Monday, 17th. Rained on and off all day. Grey, cold and windy. Ordered to cross river as soon as bridge is ready. Bridge reported ready 6 p.m. so we struck camp. We took only what blankets we could carry. When we reached the bridge, we found it not finished, and squatted till 8.15. Then the bridge was finished and immediately broke. So we had to come back to camp and bivouac. Luckily the officers tents were recoverable, but not the men’s.
Tuesday, 18th. Rain stopped at 8 a.m. Whole place a sea of mud ankle deep, and slippery as butter. Nearly the whole bridge had been washed away or sunk in the night. We got men’s tents from the ship, cleared spaces from mud and pitched camp again. Rain started again about 1 p.m. and continued till 4. The Canal or “Wadi” had meanwhile come down in heavy spate and broken that bridge, so we were doubly isolated. I went out to post piquets. It took two hours to walk three miles. Jubber Khan sick all day, so I had to manage for myself, helped by North’s bearer. Foster being sick North is O.C. “D.” Coy. and I share a 40lb. tent with him. He is 2/4th, son of the Duke of Wellington’s Agent at Strathfieldsaye, but has served three years in N. Rhodesia, so is quite used to camp life.
Desultory bombardment all day.
Wednesday 19th. Sun at last; first fine day since Thursday last. Orders to cross Wadi as soon as bridge repaired. Crossed at 4 p.m. and camped in a dry place.
Thursday, 20th. Fair, sun, heavy bombardment all day. Post going.
* * * * *
By an Officer who was There.
The Turkish position, which is about ten miles up stream from Shaikh Saad, is on the left bank of the Tigris. The position is a very strong one, thoroughly entrenched, with the river protecting its right flank and absolutely secured on its left flank by a very extensive marsh which stretches for miles.