Request a high resolution copy

Letter from Gertrude Bell to her father, Sir Hugh Bell

There is currently no summary available for this item.
Reference code
Bell, Sir Thomas Hugh Lowthian
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Person(s) mentioned
Sa'id, Nuri al-
Hussein, Feisal bin al-
Askari, Ja'far al-
Cox, Louisa Belle
Cox, Percy
Haldane, Aylmer
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter, paper

R.M.I.S. Harding. March 29 Darling Father. I've been thinking daily of what you must be doing and today I reckon that you're embarking on the China. I long to hear of your Jerusalem [(El Quds esh Sherif, Yerushalayim)] adventures and oh dear, I've regretted not being with you! But never mind, next year, inshallah, when I come home on leave, we'll meet in Palestine and go up to Damascus [Dimashq (Esh Sham, Damas)] together, if the French can bear to have me. Maybe we'll go across Jordan and stay with the Amir Abdullah which would be still nicer. Moreover we would be sure of our welcome. I would like to show you that beautiful East of Jordan country. Don't you think that's a charming scheme? We reach Aden [('Adan)] tomorrow at the crack of dawn and I've wirelessed to Gen. Scott - who went on with the Viceroy - asking him to be so kind as to send me up to railhead. I hope he will manage it. It's about 30 miles inland. I don't suppose you will be at all warm on the Mediterranean - even we have had no hot weather - though we're into khaki and cotton gowns. Today there's a head wind and a bit of a sea, enough to make poor Lady Cox rather unhappy though this ship is wonderfully steady. Everyone is in a much more cheerful frame of mind than on the outward journey - even Sir Aylmer is quite genial. The only thing that disturbs me - between ourselves - is that my Chief and Gen. Ironside don't seem to be coming together. Now Gen. I. is essential for the vital part of our programme namely our promise to take over in 2 months time[?] the Mosul [Mawsil, Al] outposts - north and north east of Mosul in the hills - with Kurdish levies which are non-existent until Gen. I. creates them. If it weren't he I should say out of hand that the task is impossible but to do it even he must be given a straight run and that's what Sir Percy shows no sign of doing. He is a difficult man to tackle, is my Chief. He won't stand opposition unless it's very cleverly veiled and he likes to direct things he doesn't know about just as much as things he knows about. I expect there will be some pretty hard knocks between these two but I hope for the good of the job in hand that Gen. I. will get his way. If he talks to me about things, as he did yesterday, I can smooth matters out a little, but he is not a man who will talk unless he feels inclined and I was not a little surprised when he opened out. Well, there! Sir Percy will have to give way but I fear he will wriggle under it and it's not an attitude in which he or anyone appears at their best. We've got Ja'far's sister, Nuri Sa'id's wife, on board, a very delightful, charming woman. She and her sister in law, a widow who is with her, at first contemplated spending the voyage in their cabin, at Ja'far's request. But from thread to needle I got them up on deck and they now sit quite happily in a corner of the deck, wholly unveiled and enjoy themselves heartily. Each of them has a small son with her, very nice children. Madame Nuri is a much travelled lady. She has been to London and Paris with Nuri Pasha and the very intelligent little boy was 6 months at school in Paris and talks French fairly well - a little English too from his 3 months' schooling in Egypt. We are taking home some other Baghdadis - Fahmi Effendi Mudarris Zadak who was Professor of Arab literature at Paris, I like him particularly, and a famous Baghdadi poet, Ma'ruf Eff. Also a really charming Christian of Syria, Dr Ma'luf Eff., who was for 9 years an army doctor in the Sudan. Ja'far begged for him for his own medical service in Mesopotamia. I'm very glad we've got him for I feel he will be a great standby. He is an eminently reasonable man. I mean to keep in touch with him. There's no doubt about it we are going to have an anxious but a poignantly interesting time. Sir Edgar wires that when S. Talib returned to Baghdad from the provincial tour on which he embarked the moment Sir Percy's back was turned, one of the ex-Sharifian officers lately returned from Syria went to congratulate him on his achievements, whereupon all the other Sharifian officers set upon their colleague in the Ministry of Defence and soundly Bellaboured him. Passions seem to be running pretty high already. The blotch on the top of the first page is due to a flower vase having upset and the water run over the paper. I've had the debris cleared away. I expect I shall write you terrifically long letters from Baghdad - I'm not sure that I won't keep for the present a day to day diary as a record of the extremely interesting events we shall be passing through, and send it to you weekly. Would you mind that? I'll send you a word from Masqat [(Muscat)] which will probably be quicker than the post from Basrah [Basrah, Al (Basra)]. We hope to go up by rail to Baghdad but we aren't quite sure that the line is ready. Oh Father I wish you were just arriving - this time last year I was waiting for you in Basrah. What a wonderful time we had! However there's no reason we shouldn't repeat it some day, especially as you grow yearly a year younger as far as I can judge. You will have to pay a state visit to Faisal when we get him fairly installed. Goodbye dearest, I've several more letters to write. My dear love to Mother to whom I wrote a word from Cairo. I did love having you and it's too wonderful knowing that you take an eager interest in my country and its fortunes. Ever your very loving daughter Gertrude I sent you up a letter by Major Young - did you get it?

IIIF Manifest