Captain J I Chrystall MC

Captain Chrystall kept a well-written and entertaining diary of his time in Mesopotamia, of which some extracts are reproduced here:

24th Aug 1916 "The heat is very bad today, and you find me writing this under a mosquito net at 3pm. The flies are awful, and without a net writing would be impossible. I am lying practically stark naked, and am sweating buckets! Bathing is carried on in a very primitive form. I stand on a sack (after dark of course) and simply sponge myself all over from a horse bucket - it is the best one can do, and it really is not half bad."

26th Sep 1916 "We just got a patent fly-trap in the mess, a Japanese thing which slowly revolves a wooden wheel on which you place sugar and lime juice: The flies are gradually dropped over into the cage. This is a great invention and catches them by the handful...Our sick list is diminishing now, I am glad to say, as it does make work so hard for the men, having about 5 horses to look after. This country is remarkably good for horses, and they do very well except for a sort of biliary fever."

20th Jan 1917 "Today we were within one and a half miles of Kut, 'So near and yet so far'. And we hear today some trenches have been taken, so things are looking up a bit. Today we got a splendid ration of beef, a sirloin, probably the first one ever in Mesopotamia...One has to be very drastic with these people, the women being just as bad as the men. If you do not take strong steps they will shoot you in the back, even if they have shown the white flag, which they usually do when we are advancing, but when retiring they shoot at you."

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