The Diaries of General Lionel Dunsterville



January 4th
    Col. Ewart is now promoted Major General and this brings me on to the list of paid A.D.C's., for which I am duly grateful, and hope I may now at last begin to pay off my debt of £2000. My income is now £2090 a year and Daisie has her own £100 for her dresses. On January 1st, Daisie's birthday, Susanna had a very fine fancy dress party of all the children here, about 40, and we also dressed up, Daisie as a Swedish peasant, Miss Durell Dutch, and I in my beautiful uniform of Chasseurs à pied, which I got while I was in France last year.

January 17th
    Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Brigade Staff Tour under Division to Jalozai - interesting, and nice weather. No rain and everything very dry and dusty. Daisie was rather badly bitten by Velia on the 7th, and should have gone to Kasauli, but wouldn't. There was a mad-dog in the compound the day before and of course I feel anxious. Her hand festered, but seems all right now. Velia also snapped Susanna yesterday, not badly.

January 22nd
    Fancy Dress Ball at Club, Daisie as Swedish Peasant, I in uniform of Chasseurs à Pied I bought at Havre. Very jolly evening.

January 28th
    11 p.m., left for Pindi – Musketry Conference.

January 29th
    Arrived Pindi 6 a.m. and went into camp – work started 9.30 a.m. at Musketry School. Machine gun tactics in Trench and open warfare.

January 31st
    The Commissioner Lt. Col. Popham Young who was at Sandhurst with me invited me to stay, so I left the tents and went over - would have been far happier left on my own in tents. There are 10 Generals in this class, W. Barratt, Peterson, myself, Dyer, Luard, Crocker, Eustace, Watson, Bruce and Isacke.

February 3rd
    Class ended with a fine demonstration of machine-gun fire - left 4.50 p.m. arrived home 9.30 p.m. The Popham Youngs are rather weird, or at any rate she is, and I loathed having to play Bridge every night and grudged the money I lost and could ill afford. Such an atmosphere, too, of artificiality and humbug.

February 11th
    Marched to Wulai for Brigade Training. I have had a fearfully busy time inspecting and reporting on 7 Infantry battalions and doing in addition the Command of this huge station and interior economy and discipline of 3 batteries of artillery, 1 Regt. of Cavalry, 1 Sappers and Miners, 3 Field-Ambulances, 3 Motor Units, 1 Armoured car unit and 5 Transport units - no time to breathe.

February 28th
    Manoeuvres ceased at 2 p.m. and came home in a car, leaving the Brigade to march - very dusty. It was an enjoyable time, but I am glad to be back after marches, camps and bivouacs. The last 3 days I fought the 2nd Brigade under Gen. Beynon, which was interesting.

March 8th
    The great Fête in Mrs. Blakeway's garden for the Red Cross. Daisie has a stall of home produce, helped by Miss Durell, and Susanna dances with the lot of other pretty little girls - she enjoys it immensely. To-morrow she goes to the Longdens at Kohat for a week. I am out bivouacking to-morrow taking the 2/6 Devons for their test.

March 11th
    Good news, the Capture of Baghdad. Friday, Saturday I took out the Devon regiment for their test, but they broke down, so I brought them home from bivouac – these new Territorial Battalions cannot be expected to take so high a strain.

March 25th
    Rained all day and yesterday. Flowers beautiful, especially Nemesia, Pansy, Cineraria and Carnations. To-morrow I go to the Artillery Camp at Akora for manoeuvres.

March 30th
    Beautiful weather, garden lovely and roses just coming out. We returned from Akora on Thursday - it was very enjoyable though it rained most of the time. The battle-field was well depicted and we had 22 guns turned on to a 500 yard front with quick fire and High explosive. We sat in dug-outs about 300 yards this side of the enemy's trenches and had a splendid view – several short bursts of shrapnel and one Tommy in my dugout hit and very sorry for himself - Generals Johnson and Dyer had bad falls from their horses and a whole gun-team were wounded - none killed, by a H.E. burst at the muzzle. - there were 21 Generals at the show, mostly spectators, and I, as O.C., 1st. Brigade had the best part of the show to run. Several new Major Generals made and I am next on the list - Daisie thinks it will stop dead now and I shall never get it. I want it to give me the extra £100 a year pension, but as regards pay I am just as well off with £100 a year for paid A.D.C. to the King, which ceases when I become a Major General.

April 5th
    The Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford arrived. I lined the roads with my Brigade, so did not have to do the meeting on the platform past. Then 6 p.m. at Government House delivery of address.

April 7th
    Garden Party at Government House. Daisie and I asked to the select tea-party which was very stiff and I got a very dull tea - Lady Chelmsford was not in an interesting mood and she talked to Sir F. Campbell all the time - I had fragments of conversation with the daughter, Joan, who had just been up in an aeroplane.

April 8th. Easter Sunday
    Cold and showery, we would almost have liked a fire in the evening. Col. Austin - Smith Surgeon to the Viceroy came to tea, he married Ettie Shewell, my second cousin. A very nice fellow and lots to say. We had lunch with the Rennies.
    The garden is wonderful - no one has ever seen such masses of roses. The new turf looks very smart. The Nemesias are over, also stocks and mimulus just going, but pansies are still beautiful and most of the others are not far beyond their prime.

April 9th
    At last the mail in, and at last a letter from Leo, but sad to say it was to the effect that he had had to leave Haileybury. I have planned out no career for him and do not desire any form of worldly success, I want him to be happy as a Christian gentleman, and that is always possible to the humblest of us.

April 9th [continuation] Dinner with the Viceroy. Daisie sat on his left and I had the normal 5 minutes talk with her after dinner. It was quite a nice evening and their Excellencies were pleasant to talk to. Daisie's curtseys were magnificent and her dress quite the smartest.

April 15th
    On Friday I took out the C.O's for a Staff tour, slept the night in Urmur canal bungalow and rode home on Saturday - it was interesting and not very hot. Life is an appalling turmoil just now of military engagements and social functions - look forward to a little peace and quiet in the hot weather. War news is good - 13,000 prisoners and 168 guns taken between Arras and Lens.

May 4th
    Warming up. I went to Kohat with Dunsford in his car and there General Eustace took me in his car 17 miles up the Miranzai valley. Daisie rode the mare while I was away and the mare fell head over heels with her, but neither were hurt.

May 9th
    Daisie took Rose and Susanna to Murree and the bungalow is very empty - lots of work and the Soldiers' Home keeps me busy. There is no chaplain, so I have to run it through the summer and have been busy getting a Committee together.

May 12th, Saturday
    Miss Davidson (missionary) came to tea yesterday to talk about the Soldiers' Home and persuaded me to take the Sunday Evening Service at the Home. I do not feel 'called' to it, but I will try.

May 15th
    Daisie returned all smiling by the night train, looking very well - always seems as if she'd been away for a year.

May 20th
    Been a teetotaller now for a month and I think that on the whole I am the better for it. I have no longing for the good things when they pass under my nose at dinner parties. Have also not smoked for some time. I was smoking too much. 8 cigarettes, 4 cigars and about 10 pipes a day - now nothing and I don't miss it very much.

May 25th
    My teetotal and non-smoke idea is rather a failure. I want to prove that it makes no difference to me whether I have these things or not, but as a fact I feel ill, cold, headache, liverish - and a sort of buzzing giddiness in the head that is quite like drunkenness . I daresay I am seedy and need not really attribute these symptoms to the teetotal and non-smoke business.

May 27th
    This affair of Leo's is costing me a heap of money, thank goodness it comes at a time when I can just afford it - still it is sad that these financial blows always come just as one fancies that at last one has got ones head above water. Among other trifles! Dr. Crichton Miller's fee is £50 for a month of treatment! and now they want me to pay £50 a term for a tutor. I have cabled certainly not - why on earth a tutor? If he has rendered himself ineligible for a first rate school he must go to a second rate one, but a tutor seems to me idiocy - he wants companionship not solitude.

June 17th
    Started running the Soldiers' Home myself - stiff work a regular heat wave, a subaltern in the 692 Co. Mechanical Transport died of heat apoplexy last night.

June 22nd
    One or two hot nights, but there has been heavy rain all round and it is quite cool now – Daisie works daily in the garden till 12.0 and amuses herself with her rabbits and pigeons. I have a lecture at the Soldiers' Home on Wednesday 20th on Russia.

July 1st
    General Climo came up from Nowshera to relieve me.

July 2nd
    To Cherat to stay with the Divisional General, Sir Frederick and Lady Campbell. Train to Pabbi 7.45 a.m. Motor from Pabbi to Cherat 23 miles - arrived about 10 and had a good breakfast. Charmed with Cherat, cool and a perpetual breeze, only trees are olive and acacias - looks very healthy.

July 5th
    Left Cherat in motor, caught 2 p.m. train from Pabbi arrived Peshawar 5 p.m., not too hot and glad to be home - Daisie wanted to get back to her rabbits and pigeons. But we enjoyed Cherat very much.

July 11th
    It has been unbearably hot and life not worth living. Prickly heat very bad. A storm coming on now may cool us. Soldiers' Home going very well, I give them an address to-morrow.
    I really cannot do any more hot weathers - I have done so since 1884, and no nice billets in the hills, one stands them less well as time goes on. Pigeons and rabbits and gardening keep Daisie fit and busy but she looks forward to seeing Susanna in August. Her 6th birthday is on Saturday.

July 15th
    Only a month more and we hope to be getting some fresh air in Murree. It is interesting running the Soldiers' Home and issuing meat pies and ice-creams to soldiers and it is interesting too to learn the tricks and profits of contractors. The profits are enormous and must run to quite £500 a year! I make a quantity of lemonade that costs Rs 2/- and sells at Rs. 8/-, luckily, in my case, all the money goes back to the men. I do not try to make profit but it just tumbles into my lap! I have 4 private soldiers, 2 barmen, 1 Games and 1 Billiard man, and about 10 native servants. We get up Whist Drives, Dances (ye Gods! temperature of 118º in the shade!) Lantern lectures Lectures, Concerts, Billiard Tournaments. The men steal all the papers, knives forks and spoons. One in 10 does, the others are as honest as the day.

July 21st
    It is very hot. Our routine is, tea at 5 a.m. When I come back from riding at 8 a.m. I have mi1k and soda - then Soldiers' Home accounts etc., then Brigade Office - bicycle back to breakfast 10.30 a.m. back to office, bicycle home 1.30 p.m., a little fruit - mangoes. Bed from 2.0 to 3.30 then tea - writing, bath 5 p.m. We get outside about 7 p.m., it is too hot to go out earlier - dinner at about 9 p.m. Daisie spends most of her time feeding her new found dove which I saved from the crows who were pecking it to death, her rabbits and her pigeons and chickens.

July 28th
    Heat is appalling. I was very pleased to get a note saying that Sir Frederick Campbell was taking 15 days leave and I was to command the Division in his absence, so this agony ends on the 31st, when we go to Cherat - I really do not feel as if I could have survived much longer down here and even Daisie had begun to groan, to acquire a thirst, and to get prickly heat - things she has never done before in her life.

July 31st
    Left Peshawar 7 a.m. in motor-car and arrived Cherat in the clouds at 9. a.m. Such delicious breeze - it was like heaven to tear off ones clothes and lie on ones bed with the howling gale blowing over one and blowing away the vile prickly heat.

August 5th
    Rain and mist all the time which we enjoy. Prickly heat gone, but has turned into boils which are beastly. A very good Meeting on Thursday of the Church of England's Men's Society - I took the evening service to-day as there is no Chaplain. Daisie's Dove keeps her busy and happy, but it's not really a very interesting bird and it just hates her.

August 10th
    What luck that Providence fetched me away from Peshawar just in the nick of time - I should have had to go to hospital otherwise - My boils are frightful, they hurt just like burns, and sleep is almost impossible as I have no comfortable side to lie on. And boils are so disgusting.

August 12th
    A horrid day. Went to Parade and Early Service at 7 a.m., then at 12 noon, went up to Hospital and had eleven boils cut and probed and messed about and touched up with carbolic. I do not remember anything more painful, but I was delighted to have it done and felt as if I was scoring off an enemy. I do not ever want any more boils.

August 15th
    And so our Cherat trip is over and I am not sorry. I certainly thank God that He brought us here for those 15 days, when my boils were about to spring on me – I should have died down below. I am still very sick and get little sleep at night, but I suppose things are improving. In Murree I am to be injected with some sort of anti-boil stuff. We leave here to-morrow 7 a.m. spend the day packing and perspiring in Peshawar, leave by the night mail, arrive Pindi 6 a.m. arriving by motor in Murree at 9 a.m. if all goes well.

August 17th
    Arrived Murree about 9.30 motor car, rather dicky. Nice to be at rest in Forest Dell - everything looking beautiful and green. Showers of rain.

August 30th
    I am comfortably installed where I ought to be - at last - in the Station Hospital, my first time in a hospital in 33 years service though often sick in quarters where no hospital was. I like it because one feels that one is giving no trouble as in a private house, there are heaps of people and the job is what they are paid for. And I know that my boils will get well much quicker. All mostly gone now, except the very bad one which is carbuncular on my neck and one nasty one on my shoulder-blade, but I sleep like a top at night for which I thank God. Daisie does not look well and it was quite time she got up too, and now she wants tonic and fresh air. I walked up to the hospital on Saturday and was at once admitted.
    I forgot to say that on the journey down, in the middle of the night I woke with Daisie shouting out something and I saw a man hanging on to the carriage-door from outside, with one arm inside. I leapt up and grabbed him for a thief, which he probably was, but he said he was the ice man and had got left at the last station and hopped on to our footboard. I was too sick to worry, so said no more. Lucky Daisie didn't shoot him off-hand she had her revolver with her.

August 23rd
    My army birthday - 33 years service completed to-day. It pours and pours and pours. Rose has been very ill - just as well I'm out of the house as it has taken them all their time to attend on her. All boils gone except one beast on my neck that goes on for ever.

August 27th
    Daisie is the only one alive. Rose will have to be operated on for apendicitis, Susanna has fever. Got Rose up to Lady Robert's Hospital and she was promptly operated on for abscess of the appendix, they didn't remove the appendix. Thank God a very successful operation by Captain Ritchie R.A.M.C., it is a great responsibility. It will cost me a pretty penny just when I hoped for once to have a balance over, but I am glad that we were here at the time to arrange things and that I can meet the bill without running into debt.
    My nasty boil on the neck was again sliced in 3 places, which hurt a good deal - the others are all right now. Susanna has got rid of her fever.

August 29th
    2nd inocculation and escaped from hospital. Neck still bad and has to be fomented. It has been a quaint experience and I really must say I do not like being visited. I daresay the men do. A large girl with specs gave me 2 bunches of crocuses yesterday and I hadn't least idea what to do with them - no vases!
    Ritchie came to see me at 9 a.m. this morning with the dreadful news that poor Rose was dead. It is a very great shock, she was like one of the family. and what poor dear little Susanna will do I cannot imagine - she loved Rose as much as, perhaps more than, her mother. The operation was quite successful, but her strength gave out. What are we to do? She was a good girl in every sense and ready at any time to answer at the Day of Judgement - one can only believe that she is happy now.

August 30th
    We buried poor Rose yesterday evening in the cemetery at the foot of the hill - she was taken down by 6 men of the Yorkshire regiment. Mrs. Thompson, a friend of hers, was there, Miss Key, Daisie and myself. Rev. J. Williams, Major Dunsford and Miss Attree of the G.F.S. Revd. Dixon conducted the funeral - a nice fellow. Susanna has not been told about it yet.
   It is nice to escape from hospital, but I have a fresh boil on my right knee. I believe Velia, the dog, misses Rose most, she runs from room to room looking for her. Daisie told Susanna this morning that she would never see Rose again, that Rose had gone to God to be an angel and nurse little angel children in heaven. Susanna took hardly any notice and asked no questions - it was as if she had known it all along. But who can tell what a child's thoughts are? It is very merciful. I also cannot, I'm glad to say, realize our loss till I deliberately turn my mind on to it. From a purely selfish point of view the loss is irreparable.

August 31st
    Weather fine. The loss of Rose has been a great grief to me, and to all of us, but none of us feel it like the nursery dog, Velia, who seems to guess what has happened, and yet listens and hopes at every footstep. With all our grief none of us are really inconsolable - only the wonderful attachment of a dog can be that - human beings are not in the running.

September 12th
    We walked to Barian after tea, 6 miles. Dined in the R.A. Mess. and then a very good concert at which I was reluctantly compelled to perform, and had to sing from memory with a beastly vamped accompaniment. The men of the new drafts have lately lots of professional actors and singers among them, which rather puts off amateur. We got to bed at 2 a.m.

September 13th
    Walked back to Murree after breakfast and then lunch with the Griffiths.

September 14th
    Poor little Joan Dunsford died at night and will be buried at Pindi to-morrow. She survived the same operation as Rose for 21 days - it seems very hard – their only child.

September 16th
    Galfrid has elected to go into the Navy and I am very pleased indeed - it is time our family had a change from the Army. He should go up for the exam in July 1918, and enter Osborne Sept. 19th 1918. he would then be a full-blown sailor about Sept. 1922. Osborne till 8 April 1920 and then to Dartmouth till April 15th 1922 - when he will be 17 years old and I shall be 57. Leo will be nearly 20 years old and I suppose just going to Cambridge on his way to be an Engineer.

September 25th
    Rain and Rain and Rain and torrents and endless floods of rain - the world is being washed away! I am certain it is due to the fighting in Europe. 1000 miles of front with double row of guns all the way firing day and night for three years have filled the upper strata of the air with millions of millions of cubic metres of gas liberated which supplies the necessary medium for the condensation and precipitation of the moisture. Thus, whereas the moisture would remain perhaps 6 months in the upper regions awaiting the proper conditions to produce rainfall it now meets these conditions and descends at once - so the cycle of evaporation and condensation takes place 6 times in the year to every one of previous times and gives us a rainfall 6 times greater.

October 4th
    Susanna and I set forth on our great adventure - she in a dandy, carried by four men and I walking - Susanna also walked most of the way - Left Forest Dell at 9 a.m. arrived Chungla Gully Dak bungalow 12 noon 10 miles. Arranged our room and had lunch. In the afternoon Susanna slept for half an hour and woke in a sulk temper which she told me always was the result of afternoon sleep. She loved her big bath and splash in the evening and sitting up to late dinner with me. Slept fairly at night, but felt strange and a little unhappy at having no Mummie or Nannie - woke up once and cried.

October 5th
    Took Susanna for a long walk down the cliff and up through the woods. She was very tired but wouldn't give in. Afternoon we walked down the road to meet the others coming in, and they arrived at 6.30 p.m. Miss Key in dandy and Daisie walking.

October 7th
    Weather fine but very cold after hail. After Miss Key and Susanna to Murree and Daisie and I walked to Doonga by the long main road, arriving in time for tea.

October 8th
    Daisie and I walked up Mokshpuri hill, reaching the top in an hour. Wandered about the alpine meadows there, then drove through the woods to Nathia Gully and then home to tea. We took our tiffin in our pockets and had nothing to drink, so were glad of our tea 8 hours after our last drink (at breakfast) Heaps of Monkeys. Susanna also had the luck to run across quite a lot of monkeys while she was with me.

October 9th
    Daisie and I walked to Chungla Gully along the Pipe line.

Oct. 10th
    We walked in from Chungla in time for lunch.

October 13th
    Packing up. Motor left at 4.30 p.m. arrived Pindi Station 6.40. Our train left at 11 p.m. Very crowded and we could not get a reserved compartment. Susanna cheerful and good, but both she and mother were nearly sick coming down in the motor and didn't enjoy the trip at all.

October 17th
    Arrived 6 a.m. Quite cold - breakfast at the Soldier's Home - Looking very smart and nice. Garden and bungalow flourishing. It is nice to be home again, but the first few days mean a good deal of hard work and worry, mostly on Daisie's shoulders. Susanna is well and not troublesome.

October 28th
    Quite settled down now and comfortable – Weather ideal, very few sand-flies or mosquitos. Daisie has no one to help her with Susanna till Miss Key comes, so is tied to the house. Mrs. Denne arrived on Tuesday 20th to run the Home for us and stayed with us till yesterday morning. She is a good sort and will do well I think.

Nov. 4th
    The Soldiers' Home interests me vastly, and is quite a success. It really is cold now. Everything is abnormally quiet. Finances are really looking quite cheerful with my large pay and with Insurance Policies ripening and dropping in at the rate of £225 a year. Some day we really shall be clear of debt and that will indeed be a red letter day!

November 9th
    I begin the 53rd year of my life and my 21st year with my sweet companion, Daisie, I should have liked a quiet wedding evening at home, but had to go to a big Durbar at Sir George Roos Keppel's so the celebration was rather spoilt, but we had our bottle of champagne last night and drank to the health of the two boys at home. Miss Key arrived last night to help Daisie look after Susanna, and be also an unpaid companion to her.

November 25th
    Staff Tour in the Miranzai Valley, left Peshawar 6 p.m. Monday, dined at Nowshera with General Climo, 3 days up the Valley hard riding and climbing, interesting work. Thursday dined with Gen. Eustace and Friday motored home.

November 29th
    It all sounds very gay, but it is not gay. These dinner-parties are "functions", necessary and regretable. I was in Cherat all day yesterday, Dinner party at night. To-day we dine with the chief Commissioner. Friday we have another dinner-party, Saturday Tennis party, mean-time Daisy has endless Red X work and the Mothers' Union and the 'Our Day' work. I am to be allowed at last to wear the American War Medal I got from General Chaffee in China 1900. Terribly shocked to hear of the death of Orlando Gunning, so sad for his wife and children, and such a good fellow and fine soldier.

December 4th
    Daisie had a tennis party on Saturday and so it poured all day, glad to have the dust laid anyway. What does one do when one retires after all this busy life - is it possible to sit still and do nothing? In addition to my Brigade Command I also Command this enormous station, then there is my beloved Soldiers' Home. then Masonry, I belong to the Craft Lodge, the Mark and Ark, and the Chapter, then I belong to the C.E.M.S. and have to read papers and lecture, then I have the side shows for "Our Day" Dec. 12th. Mrs. Jarley's Waxworks, Mock Picture Gallery, Cocoanut Shies, Fortune-telling. It can only be done by decentralisation and I am A1. at that I believe.

December 7th
    Paton of the Y.M.C.A., who we remember at Swanwick, arrived on Tuesday night and stays with us till Sunday.

December 16th
    Thank goodness Our Day is over - we all drew blanks except Galfrid who won a pony! Life is very busy and I am mostly out all day. Paton left us last Monday, we enjoyed having him very much. Dr. Farquhar (congregationalist) arrived to-day and is staying with us to give a series of Y.M.C.A Lectures. We have bought 2 cameras and have begun to take up photography again. It has been in abeyance since August 28th, 1912 (see diary). The tragic day when Galfrid and I climbed Mount Sinai and I abused him for not catching the Camera as it rolled past him.

December 24th
    A poor Christmas Eve for Daisie. At Dinner time I got orders to proceed overseas for duty with Russian troops - just exactly the job I am fitted for – Thank God for that, though it makes the parting with my darling unsurpassed wife none the less hard. Whatever happens to her or me we must both thank God for 20 years of the most unalloyed and intense happiness.

December 28th
    7 a.m. Just off! It is sad breaking up this little home where we have had 2½ happy years - but I felt all the time it was wrong to have so much happiness amidst the misery of War time. Our Christmas Dinner was a great success in spite of all - and my farewell to the Home was also inspiring. Last night I had 36 men of the Church of England Men's Society to tea - including Corporal Gould. Daisie comes down to the port with me and Susanna stays here with Miss Key.
   I suppose I go to Baghdad and thence go on to serve with the Russians, the very job I am fitted for and that I have desired since I knew that we had linked up with them. Daisie thinks the Russian anarchists and Bolsheviks will kill me, which is quite likely!

December 30th
    Daisie came with me to Delhi where I had to have interviews with the Chief and the Staff about my mission. We lunched with the Commander-in Chief and Lady Munro, who talked glibly to Daisie across the table about this very "Secret Mission" and told her many things I had refused to divulge to her!
   When state secrets are given away you may be the guilty ones are those in High places. Not the subordinates. Daisie came down to Karachi to see me off, and we stayed in a nice hotel.

[Here insert Vol B - Vol C War Diary]