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Letter from Gertrude Bell to her father, Sir Hugh Bell

Letter in whch Bell discusses the ongoing visit of Secretaries of State to Baghdad, reporting on their activities, including a state dinner held by the Prime Minister and a meeting with Percy Loraine, and reflects upon the possible outcomes of the visit as they relate to the development of the Iraq Army. Bell discusses a dinner party at which Sir John Shucksburgh spoke on the subject of Zionism, the arrival of Evelyn Baring, her feelings towards Leopold Amery and an upcoming trip to Ukhaydir with Ken Cornwallis and Lionel Smith.
Reference code
Bell, Sir Thomas Hugh Lowthian
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Person(s) mentioned
Cornwallis, Ken
Dobbs, Henry
Wilson, J.M.
Cooke, R.S.
Smith, Arthur Lionel Forster
Clayton, Iltyd
Hussein, Feisal bin al-
Nasser, Huzaima bint
Churchill, Winston
Allenby, Edmund
Amery, L.S.
Sa'id, Nuri al-
Bourdillon, Bernard Henry
Loraine, Percy
Shuckburgh, John Evelyn
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter, paper
Iraq ยป Baghdad

33.315241, 44.3660671

April 8. Baghdad Dearest Father. I seem to be much busier ouside the office than in it and I'm going to write to you this morning while I'm waiting for more files to turn up. We have been finding the world somewhat overpopulated, especially with Secretaries of State. They were to have come back from their northern flights last Friday, but the whole country was wrapped in the most terrific dust storm - like a yellow London fog, we worked in the morning by electric light - and they were delayed in Kirkuk. This entailed the hasty alteration of all arrangements, since their every hour had been mapped out. They finally arrived on Saturday and Sir Henry and Mr Amery turned up at the R.A.F. sports, to which Ken and I had dutifully gone. We were rewarded, for we had amusing talks with Mr Amery and Sir John Shuckburgh. On Saturday evening the Prime Minister gave an official dinner - Secs of State etc, Ministers, Advisers and me. It was given in the Council Room at the Sarai and was very well done. As I sat between Nuri and Hilton Young I was well entertained - unusual at an official dinner. I like Hilton Young so very much; he is a real human being. On Sunday I spent the customary morning mainly at the Museum and in the afternoon Ken and I took Hilton Young for a picnic in the gardens of Fahhamah above Baghdad. I had a dinner party to meet Sir John Shuckburgh, Lionel, Ken, Iltyd and Mr Cooke. Sir John was very nice and talked interestingly after dinner about Zionism. We all felt (though we were none of us Zionists) that he was making a case, and I confess I think that the new university is a great achievement and one of which Zionism may be proud. Some tourists, namens Spielman had turned up during the week with introductions to me. She is a cousin of Lady Samuel - a dull couple they were. But she told me that Sir Herbert when he leaves in June doesn't intend to go back to England for a year. He is going to spend the winter in India writing a book on his Palestinian experiences. I wonder what he will do afterwards. English politics don't seem to have a niche for him. We began Monday morning with a display of Boy Scouts with which Mr Amery was much pleased. I went to call on the King and Queen in the afternoon having received a rebuke from Her Majesty that she never saw me (it's Ramadhan and she is fasting so I thought it discreet not to go); in the evening I gave a dinner to meet Mr Amery and Group Captain Burnett (Sybil's husband, he is out with the Secs of State.) Col Joyce, Ken and Iltyd were the party and we had some satisfactory talk about our various difficulties. Mr Amery is - if I may so describe it - rather overweighted with brains. His knowledge is encyclopaedic - he acquires it with extraordinary speed and never forgets what he has once acquired. He is not the least a pedant; what he knows he knows quite naturally and simply. But I'm not sure that he knows how to put it all to the best advantage. Though I like him infinitely better than Winston Churchill, for instance, I haven't the same sense of swift power. On the other hand, I have a sense of great sympathy and consideration and of an earnest desire to do the best thing possible, if only he knew what it was. On the whole, I fancy the visit of the two Secs of State has been very advantageous. They have modified the original army proposals, which no one thought were workable; and on their part the King and the 'Iraq Govt have been so much alarmed by the first suggestions that they are ready to take the modifications with gratitude though they wouldn't have looked at them a month ago. Whether they will really result in a speeding up of the development of the 'Iraq Army I can't say because I don't know enough about it. It was yesterday that the world seemed to be rather overcrowded. Percy Loraine had flown down from Tehran [(Teheran)] the day before and was at a loose end when his conference with the Secs of State was over and anxious to go out shopping for Louise. So I went with him. Percy is really rather delicious as the married man carefully examining toilette waters and skin foods and considering whether they would please Louise. Evelyn Baring, Katie's son, has turned up also. Mr Cooke is lodging him. He is a delightful boy, a splendid great creature to look at and touring himself about the world with the utmost skill. I took him out to Aqar Quf in the afternoon with two of Mr Amery's secretaries and we had tea under the Zigurrat [sic]. He was full of interest in everything. In the evening Bernard and his wife, Ken and Iltyd dined with me and we went to some amateur theatricals given by the R.A.F. - very good indeed. Sir Henry and Sir John were sitting in front of us and we were all amused. This morning Percy has flown away to Tehran and the Secs of State to Basrah [Basrah, Al (Basra)]. Lionel and I are gong to take Evelyn out in the afternoon and he is dining with me - not a very exciting dinner party for him, the Mackays (excavators at Kish) and the J.M. [Wilson]s It couldn't, however, be helped for tomorrow afternoon J.M., Ken, Lionel and I are going to Ukhaidhar [Ukhaydir] for an Easter joint [sic] - I scarcely like to mention it for these plans of ours so often fall through, but I faintly hope that we may bring this one off! Ever dearest, your very affectionate daughter Gertrude. I've privately gathered from Mr Amery that George Lloyd is almost certain to get Egypt when the Allenbys go, but I don't know when that will be.

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