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

May 27 G.H.Q. Basrah [Basrah, Al (Basra)] Dearest Mother. Your letters of Ap. 20 and 26 and Father's of Ap 26 came yesterday. I do grieve with you over the poor baby; it must have been a heartrending time for you. And how disappointing about Elsa - is it all to begin over again? I fear from your report of Maurice that he may be back in France by now - I hate to think of him there. It seems so endless, doesn't it. I can only hope that the fierce fighting and the long resistance at Verdun may lead to results. Germany must be overflowing with wounded and after her terrific losses one wonders where the men are to come from to carry out any fresh offensive. I do not know that we shall have any very speedy developments here, but it is not impossible. We have had in Basrah 3 of the Cossack officers who rode over the hills to 'Ali Gharbi ['Ali al Gharbi]. They had the time of their lives here. The Army Commander decorated them - we had a little function in the Gray Mackenzie garden, very successful and pretty. They could speak no word of anything but Russian and they were suitably attired in thick cloth Cossack coats and fur hats! There was nothing they seemed to mind however. Their ride was a very gallant performance. Native opinion in Basrah was a fine example of - Russian scandal, and went through the following phases:
a. There are no Russians at all and it is all English lies.

b. It's true many thousand Russians set out but the Turks fell on them and destroyed them so that only 3 escaped and fled to the English - haven't you seen them driving about in motor cars?

c. The Russians have taken Mosul [Mawsil, Al] and entered Diyarbekr [Diyarbakir (Amida)] where they found General Townsend and set him free, and three have come down with the news, - haven't you seen them etc.

So that's for the Russians, what the next move will be I don't know. But the country is now so quiet that they are letting me go up to Nasiriyah [Nasiriyah, An] which will be very interesting. I go the day after tomorrow and shall be away 5 or 6 days. If by chance I stay a day or two longer and miss next mail you must not be surprised. It's to be opes [sic] it won't be very hot. We had a few trying days last week, temperature 105 - the wet bulb thermometre [sic] at 80 which meant that everything was wringing damp. Then suddenly came a north wind which blew for 3 days and the thermometre [sic] fell incontinently to 95°. From the 1st of June, they say, the north wind blows for 40 days - Inshallah! It makes all the difference. You might please ask Marie to post to me an old white muslin embroidered gown of mine - it will do well enough here - and a blue and green cotton gown with a brown ribbon band only she must arrange the latter so that it is easy to do up. We have 4 more months of this weather and I daresay that before the end of it I shall be glad of a slight addition to my wardrobe. I might as well use up the clothes I've got. Oh yes, and there is a white cotton gown with mauve spots, but the fastening must be changed a little if possible. I have been having some extremely interesting work - some day I'll tell you. Your very affectionate daughter Gertrude

IIIF Manifest