Request a high resolution copy

Letter from Gertrude Bell to her stepmother, Dame Florence Bell

There is currently no summary available for this item.
Reference code
Bell, Dame Florence Eveleen Eleanore
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter plus envelope, paper

30.5257657, 47.773797

G.H.Q. Basrah [Basrah, Al (Basra)] May 26 Dearest Mother. Your letter of Ap. 13 comes today and tells me of the hopeless condition of baby Hugh but indeed from last week's letters I feared there could be no better news of him. I have a note from poor Moll which I have answered. You give me no news of Maurice, nor of yourself - I hope you are better. I have Father's letter from Paris, dated Ap 20 - you can't think what a joy it is when your letters come, one feels so immensely far away. Also I have a lace evening gown, a white crepe gown, a stripy blue muslin gown, two shirts and a stripy silk gown, all most suitable and the last superlatively right. Thank you so very much, and will you please tell the chooser of them how good her choice was. They are indeed necessary. One can bear nothing but the thinnest clothes and under my gowns I wear a petticoat and a combination and that's all. One is in a state of damp respektif - dripping heat all day long. I don't mind it. I ride pretty regularly in the mornings for an hour and a half, setting out at 5.30, and feel much better for plenty of hard excercise [sic]. One comes in wet through, has a bath and breakfast and begins work at 8 or a little before. After that you can't with any comfort go out in the sun till towards evening. The shade temp. is not much over 100°. You keep all doors and windows shut and electric fans spinning, and except for about an hour in the afternoon you don't feel it. One sleeps on the roof. The temp. drops to a little above 90 and probably to 80° or so before dawn. It's quite comfortable. I went yesterday afternoon, after 5, in an electric launch up the Shatt al Arab and turned into the new Euphrates channel a few miles above Basrah. The floods are out and the whole country is under water. We left the channel and went across several miles of shallow lake with occasional palm groves standing in it, derelict villages made of reed matting and even the reeds themselves sticking up where the water was very shallow. All stewing in the blazing heat. And in the middle of it was a solitary buffalo, knee deep in mud and water, eating the reed tops. Whether he was there because he liked it or whether he was there by mistake, I don't know. He looked quite happy, but if ever he wanted to lie down he would have to walk for days - it's slow going - to find a dry place to lie on. The Ark and all the rest become quite comprehensible when one sees Mesopotamia in flood time. But to see it now - ! my road when I go out riding lies usually through one of our big camps on the edge of the desert. Every sort of man and beast and human contrivance is to be found there. British troops, Indian troops of every variety, buffalo carts, mule tongas, motors and motor lorries of the latest pattern, camels, reed huts and telephone wires, and now and then a sudden conquest of the waters and your parade ground of yesterday a stretching lake today. And then behind it all the problem of government - what are we going to make of the country and the people. It's immensely difficult, and absorbingly interesting. Oh if we had only relieved Kut [Kut, Al (Kut al Imara)]! One doesn't get over that. I'm so much encouraged by getting my parcels that I send you another shorter list of requirements. But they are mostly things I've got at home. Ever your affectionate daughter Gertrude

IIIF Manifest