Letters

13 January 1915

From/To: Gertrude Bell to Charles Doughty-Wylie

Archival Reference: GB/DW/1/4

[13 January 1915] Boulogne. Jan 13 My dear. I have such a deadly heaviness upon me tonight a general I dont know what it is. If I talk to you for a little will it pass? The waste & misery of war, the anxiety, the good lives laid down sometimes it is almost more than I can bear. I suppose that is what is pressing upon me tonight I can [?] composure. Do you know what it is going to be, this war? It is going to be a draw. I believe either side can win that is what I truly think. Already on the Vistula the fighting seems to have come near to the conditions we know on this frontier deadlock, vain courage, profitless effort. Dont let us think of it. But as the months draw over, & more & more of what is fine & to be cherished goes down into this bottomless pit, ones spirit fails. Today I walked with Mr Howell, twice round the ramparts of the old town those peaceful walls & towers from which the tide of battle has long since receded. He told me of the troubles there had been with the Indians. It is the Gurkhas oddly enough, who have been most difficult to handle. The 2 battalions had a terrible experience about Dec 20th. Their trenches were shelled almost past bearing. They made a very gallant attack, took a German trench, even not, I believe, properly supported & had to retire, losing the greater number of their officers. The scar of defeat & disaster was too much for them. And the little Gurkhas are at a terrible disadvantage in our trenches. They are too small to shoot comfortably out of the loop holes. The dissatisfaction spread to the other battalions & the net result is that they lean all over as hard as they could, in the wrong direction, on every possible occasion. French wanted the whole Indian army to be sent back at once & Im not sure he isnt right. Barrow came over one day a week ago & I think it has been decided to send at least all the Gurkhas to Egypt, on the plea of climate not unjustified either, for they are delicate little creatures & the continuous deluge of this winter does not suit them. Being of no particular religion (& what they know of it, Hindu) they will take no harm in a Mohammedan country. Then in Egypt they will warm their rheumatic bones in the sun & get back heart. There is a man going over to England tomorrow, Mr Whittimore indeed, & I think I will give him this little letter to you. It will catch the mail if he takes it & tell you though I told you in the letter I sent yesterday that I love you & think of you & keep all the gates of my heart open to you. For only have free passage, your breath blows through me to carry away the black weariness, which is even now a little lightened by my having turned to you. Goodnight my beloved.

Gertrude

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