Letters

9 July 1916

From/To: Gertrude Bell to her stepmother, Dame Florence Bell

[9 July 1916] G.H.Q. Basrah [Basrah, Al (Basra)]. July 9 Dearest Mother. A letter of yours dated May 25 and one from Father of I think the 30th - I haven't it by me - also a cover said to enclose Printed Matter only, but not alas! enclosing even that, for the enclosure had slipped out. You both tell me of Maurice's new command and Father of his attempts to get him out to the front, which I devoutly hope will prove fruitless. The news of the great fighting in France is pure satisfaction, knowing that he is not there. I have no papers, by the way - not a single paper has reached me since I have been here. On the other hand I've had two parcels returned from Amarah ['Amarah, Al], they having taken a trip up the Tigris for fun I suppose. The only thing which hasn't reached me is the stockings I asked for and I confidently hope that they too will walk down from Amarah some day. My work at the Political Office continues to be delightful and I think it will prove valuable. I had a touch of fever this week and was off for a day but am now perfectly recovered - it was no more than the attack which I was nursed through by the old man in the mosque, you remember, and I may congratulate myself on having got through half the hot weather with quite exceptional immunity from all ills. George has just come back from Amarah - it seems to be the fashion to go there - with remarkable tales about the wild confusion which still reigns in the transport arrangements. It's difficult, I daresay it will even be impossible to assign the blame correctly, but human skill in organization and human foresight have seldom had a less satisfactory advertisement than in this campaign. Oh but it's a great game we're playing here, or we will play, please God and some day I shall have so much to say about the general principles of it. They are so simple and so obvious - and so apt to be neglected.

We've had some rather better days this last week, temp. something over 100 instead of something over 110 which makes a great difference. The first part of the night is always breathless and stuffy and it's clear that the annual north wind is a frost - we've had practically none this year and it's now too late to expect much. It's Ramadhan and the Mohammadans are abstaining from food and water all through the daylight hours. It must be awful in this weather - it's profoundly silly at any time and remarkably inconvenient now, for scarcely any work can be got through. How can you unload ships and tow boats upstream when you are starving and athirst? Ever your very affectionate daughter Gertrude

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