March 11th, 1940 – Wana


John, Tony, King of Swing and I went to Connemara on the last night. Two Mocketts, Wadsworths and Black Bess (as they call Marjorie), so we pick up Langford James there to make up numbers. We dance, eat fish and chips up top and then go to New Elphinstone (Madras’s poshest cinema). Marjorie takes me in her car and I hold her hand in the cinema, being seated on two-seater sofas. Then to Gym (the Gymkhana Club), where John is the only member and has to pay for all the drinks. I dance with Marjorie and back in bed by 1.30. Marjorie rather excitable and seems to be in rather a state, but prettier than ever.

On 29th I go down to the station at about 7am and load baggage. Have breakfast, and lunch there at 3pm. The farewells begin. Eve and Bang-me-Arse, and most of the Wilts. I catch old Buller eyeing me a bit queerly and have a word with him. Garlands of roses provided by Northland Sports Works, who provided us with kit in the Mount and took alot of money off me. I am almost reduced to tears and can only shake hands and chew my pipe. I then give Marjorie a quick kiss as the train moves off and get in quick. She gave me a horrid looking photo of her last night, suitably inscribed.

The journey is pretty bloody. I have Downe and Cotterill and the latter goes ashore at Delhi, gets tight, and is sick on his bed last night – a horrid smell. I do a lot of thinking and my life seems bloody. Why did I join the army? Any bloody fool could do this job, and there is no satisfaction of the craftsman in his trade. I could forget the journey quite happily.

Played football at Bhopal against State Forces on real grass, a polo field. First time since coming out here. Saw 14 dead tigers in one lad’s house. At Agra rushed off the train to see the Taj Mahal, but not looking very beautiful and fleeced of rupees at every turn. In Delhi we went to Cecil’s Hotel with Major J.L. Jones, who made us drunk (John, Tony and I) and gave us a bath and dinner. The neighbourhood of AHQ and ‘Marble Arch’ reminded me of Harrogate Stray. Arrived Mari Indus on the 6th, and I duly cross the bridge with Bill on foot. We are given tea by old pensioners in the Rest Camp. Spend two nights there, and reach Manzai on the 8th. A shocking place where we spend two nights with the 3/8. Then a convoy to Wana and relieve 2/8 Gurkha Rifles. I pray for a hold-up – but nothing, though two shots were fired at 2/8 going down the day before in the Shahur Tangi (JDW: a defile where a British convoy was ambushed with heavy casualties in 1937). A grim place, the Shahur Tangi, and Mehr Dil supposed to be about.

Met Lakri Woods, S.W.D. at Jandola. First glimpse of snow from Shahur Tangi above Spli Toi scout post. Wana is very bare and full of heaps of broken bricks, dust and rubble. John about to be married in April, Jerry hoping to get a job at J.O.S. Sangur and marry Pat Turner, Bill off to the I.A.O.R. in two months or so, Willie and Abbott presumably off to Staff jobs, Paddy Keen expected to go back to Political, Reggie wanting S.W.S. A new 7/13 to be formed and B.O.s required for it. So it will be pretty bloody soon. When I got my “A” License I applied for seconding to the RAF and Freeland said he wouldn’t hear of it ever, the old shite. I go on a gas course to Pachmari next month.

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