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Letter from Gertrude Bell to her stepmother, Dame Florence Bell

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Reference code
Bell, Dame Florence Eveleen Eleanore
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Person(s) mentioned
Brooking, H.T.
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter plus envelope, paper
Iraq ยป Baghdad

33.315241, 44.3660671

Baghdad May 9 Darling Mother. I've just come back from Rammadi [Ramadi, Ar] to find a mail with your letters of March 6 and Feb 27 and Father's of March 4. My correspondence seems to arrive quite as erratically, however - I do hope Jones is better. He was very ill when Father wrote. He wd be a great loss. But oh dear! it's nice to hear from you. Bath sounds a good plan - I hope you will be rested.
I've had a charming little jaunt of 5 days. I motored to Rammadi in about 5 hours and stayed there with General Brooking for whom I have a great affection. Happy to say it's returned. The last time I was at Rammadi was in Ap 1914, when I spent a night there with Ali Sulaiman, Shaikh of the Dulaim, before crossing the Syrian desert on my way home. It's a pleasant little place with wide streets and big houses set in gardens. The journey also was pleasant for this wonderful spring has set the desert abloom and in the hollow places there were acres of yellow mulberries and purple salvia and all the other flowers of the wilderness. After tea - we had already seen the hospital and called on my friend Mr Nalder, the very capable P.O., and inspected the General's chicken-breeding establishment, where, on my expressing admiration of the chickens, the N.C.O., ex-farmer, replied "Yes mum, we've 'ad no casualties, not as yet" - well after tea I motored with the General all over September's battle field - he explained on the spot every stage of the 2 days' action when he took the place. It isn't often that one goes over such ground with the man who directed operations and I was deeply interested, all the more because he loved telling his tale. Next morning I motored on to Hit [(Is)] over a barren desert road which not even this year's rain can bring to life. And there I stayed the night in the general's quarters. I lunched with the A.P.O. Captain Yetts, a very nice creature, and then a most extraordinary thing happened - it streamed with rain all the afternoon, the 6th of May! a miracle. I spent the afternoon most pleasantly gossiping with the Intelligence Officer, Major Eadie, an old ally, and rejoicing in feeling quite cold. After it cleared I walked about Hit which is the strangest place, unlike any other in Mesop. set up a high steep mound, made of some 6000 years' of former Hits. I called on the Mayor, a useful man, and saw other notables, and my guide was the 'Aqaili, 'Ali, who rode with me to Hail and is now in Major Eadie's service. Major E., Captain Y. and I all dined together wrapped in thick coats. Next morning I was out riding at dawn with 'Ali. We went through the pitch wells to a strange ruin which no [sic] has visited but I and I'm going to dig it out under the General's aegis, next autumn. I've no idea what it is. And then we went on into the edges of the desert, flower strewn, struck the Kubaisah [Kubaysah] road, where I met several dead people who were once me, riding on camels, and gave them greeting with mixed feelings. And so I came home to breakfast. And then there turned up all the people I had ever known, the innkeeper, and this one and that one, and finally the zaptieh Husain who rode with me in 1909. We all fell on each other's necks - it was amusing, if expensive. I took some photographs, corrected some maps and motored back to Rammadi to lunch - an exquisite shining day after the rain. I had tea and a long talk with Mr Nalder who next morning brought me in 'Ali Sulaiman and other Dulaim shaikhs and I worked hard at the analysis of the tribe till lunch. And in the evening I gave a magic lantern lecture to officers and N.C.O.s on my journey in Arabia. The magic lantern wasn't good, but the audience all that could be desired. Mr Nalder and I motored today before breakfast to 'Ali Sulaiman's encampment which was quite near, the big black tents set in a grassy hollow near a canal. We drank coffee and I called on his wife whom I knew before - a charming woman who gave me an affectionate welcome - and I photographed her and Ali and the children. After breakfast I motored in to railhead and came back to Baghdad by train. It's still deliciously cool - are we to have no summer? One of Ali Sulaiman's daughters is almost blind after small pox. Mr Nalder and I are going to bring her in to the excellent Civil Hospital here to see if anything can be done. Capt. Carey Evans, Ll. George's son in law, is very clever with eye cases - and indeed with all else. He is a capital young man.

We've made a successful raid up to Kirkuk and one way and another I expect a good chunk of the Persian hills will be open to me in July. I also feel less anxious about France - I hope with reason. I've just seen Hugo Tyrrell's death in the papers - will you please post this letter to Maisie. Poor, poor people!

This is a supplementary letter for I wrote to Father before I went to Rammadi. My dear love to you all. Your ever affectionate daughter Gertrude

No, I won't have anything to do with the Moslem World (newspaper.) I don't trust its editor.

IIIF Manifest