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Letter from Gertrude Bell to her father, Sir Hugh Bell

Letter in which Bell provides an update on the work of the Frontier Commission, noting a delay in the receipt of their report by the League of Nations, and comments on the appointment of George Lloyd as High Commissioner in Egypt and Herbert Plumer as High Commissioner of the British Mandate for Palestine as well as Lord Balfour's trip to Palestine and Syria. She also discusses her travel plans, and the continuing conflict within the Iraq government whilst noting a visit from Arthur Villiers and Major Adrian Keith-Falconer.
Reference code
Bell, Sir Thomas Hugh Lowthian
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Person(s) mentioned
Cornwallis, Ken
Hussein, Feisal bin al-
Allenby, Edmund
Balfour, Arthur
Clayton, Iltyd
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter, paper
Iraq ยป Baghdad

33.315241, 44.3660671

Baghdad May 24 Dearest Father. My last letter to you was on Ap. 29, posted to Ceylon [Sri Lanka]. Whether you have got all my letters or not I don't know. I wrote every week up to Ap 29 and then found that the idiot despatch clerk in the office had taken upon himself to send them all by sea though they were carefully marked overland mail - so they have not taken the quickest way. All your letters came by sea mail - they don't know about overland mail in Australia clearly. I have had 3 since I last wrote - March 31, Ap. 6 and yesterday one dated Ap 20. They are very interesting and amusing but they don't make me wish to live in Australia, nor even to go there. I would much rather hear about it from you. I loved the press cuttings and the pictures of you, and the speeches, and I'm much entertained by your appreciation of the economic outlook of the Australian in your last letter. They all sound very egregious, especially Sir James O'Grady. You have had a time, haven't you. I expect it has been well worth it from a business point of view too and that having got into personal touch with the people you are working with will make everything easier. I have written to Mother every week but there has really been very little happening. You know - or perhaps you don't know - that the Frontier Commission is not going to present its report to the League till Sep. It is a horrid bore being kept 3 months longer in suspense, with Turkish propaganda intensively active on the frontier. They have not done much harm but it means constant little tribal fizzles and frontier incidents and a general sense of uneasiness. It's possible (but I think secret) that H.M.G. may ask for a special meeting in July to consider the report. On general grounds I hope that may happen but I don't quite know yet how it may affect my plans. My present idea is to leave before the middle of July and go practically straight to Rounton for a couple of months - I should not of course like to go if things were very jumpy but I hope they won't be and anyhow the special meeting may not be agreed to. In another month we ought to see clearer - I want to come - I look forward very much to a peaceful time at Rounton, but I might think it better to stay till the end of July. We have had no heat yet but a great deal of south wind and dust. The dust storms are very trying but if they are bad enough they usually end in a splutter of rain after which we have a few days of quite cool weather, as we are having at this moment. So on the whole we have not had much to complain of. I have not been out of Baghdad since my visit to the King's farm of which I told you in my last letter. It is too hot now to go out anywhere with comfort. Lionel Smith comes to tea and takes me out for a walk, or I ride with Iltyd or motor with Ken in the evening. We have not begun swimming yet; it has not been what we call hot enough. Arthur Villiers has turned up with Mr Keith Falconer (the man he was with when we met him in C'ple [Istanbul (Constantinople)].) They are both very nice. I took [them] out sightseeing this Sunday morning and they are dining with me tonight. They are making a flying visit to Persia and are coming back by Baghdad next month. I wonder what you think of the two appointments - George to Egypt and Gen. Plumer to Palestine. Mr Villiers tells me that he understands that the F.O. have treated Lord Allenby very scurvily but I don't know details. Anyhow that's not George's fault. But it is a difficult job. I don't know anyone better for it than George if he won't try to be a little too much of a King Stork. As far as we are concerned it will be very nice having them there. Lord Plumer's appointment is most surprising and has roused the wildest conjectures, for instance that they want to have a distinguished general near at hand if the Turks attack Mosul [Mawsil, Al]. Sheer rubbish, of course, but I should not think that A.V.M. Higgins likes it! Sir Bertie Clayton has gone already and has not yet been replaced, so there will be two new men at the top which sounds rather difficult. Perhaps they will put Ronald Storrs into Sir Bertie's shoes, but it wouldn't, in my private opinion, be good. What did you think of the Balfour visit! I forget if I wrote about it. We privately heard that the French had anticipated a small demonstration and had not viewed it with disfavour, but they did not count on it's getting out of hand as it did. It has stirred up muddy waters and he had much better not have gone, either to Palestine or to Syria. We have weathered a Cabinet crisis during the last 10 days and are carrying on but on the footing of a sort of armed truce between the Ministers who are fundamentally mistrustful of one another. On the whole everyone seems to think it is better not to have a change now, but I doubt if the Cabinet will survive the meeting of parliament in the middle of June. May 25. [25 May 1925] I am going to send this by tomorrow's mail to Port Sa'id [Port Said] (we have two mails a week now) in case a letter posted on the 28th should miss you. You will probably write to me from Port Sa'id by overland but of one thing you may feel sure - the Egyptian post people will send the letter round by sea. They always do, the pigs. I'm so glad you are no longer so far away. I was feeling lontly[?] as George used to say. Ever your very affectionate daughter Gertrude.

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