[19th December ] a mounted orderly with rifles, belts, revolvers and everything we could wear to make us look important went to all the villages in the locality and demanded the local Sheikh. We explained what we wanted, men, women or children and they all promised they would send some. Next day about 70 arrived of all kinds from children of about 7 up looking more or less half starved.
We payed them all right which was a most troublesome performance. However, they were all very bucked with the silver and now our numbers have gone up to 150 and I hope we will have 200 in a few more days. The women are the best workers, but they can only do one thing, that is, carry stone on their heads. The children collect stone in baskets, the men lift it on to the women’s heads and dump it on the road and the women do nearly all the carrying.
We got mails from home yesterday, a letter from you and one from Mary, other letters and papers.
Food scarcity seems very bad I wish we had you here for a while as we are being fed wonderfully and entirely on rations except for oranges which we can buy locally.
We are getting the most luscious dates from Mesopotamia, I only wish I could send a box home.
I am trying to send a telegram to wish you all a happy Xmas but if it doesn’t arrive a happy New Year to you all anyway