Frank Leward: Memorials
Same to the Same
Same to the Same.
Dear old B. Im still in this place and getting beastly tired of it. I left Alexandria in March and I've been knocking about here ever since. I thought I had never seen anything look so splendid as this did just as we came round whats called Seraglio Point where you first see the beginning of the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. But when you land its the dirtiest beastliest place in existence and you loose all the jolly feeling that you are coming to a beautiful place. You have to go through streets more like long pools of mud with dead dogs and cats lying about and all manner of nasty things. Beastly half starved dogs lie about all over the place asleep in the day and at night they go about in troops and pick up anything they can get to eat There aren't so many page 209now as there were when we first came because our sailors and especially the middies go about at night knocking them over the head with clubs. They say these brutes are useful because they eat up all the beastliness lying about but they are a great nuisance and if it wasn't for them I suppose the Turks would have to become their own scavengers which might be a good thing.
Of all the low greedy stupid lot in the world commend me to the Turk to beat them all. They will rob you and abuse you and havn't the slightest gratitude to us for coming to help them. Better let the Russians or any one else have the place than these Turks. If the Russians aren't so good as they might be any sticks good enough to beat a dog as they say though for my part I think its a shame to call them dogs I'd rather be a well-bred retriever or mastiff any day than a Turk.
They were beastly impertinent too at first, used to spit on the ground when any of us went by and wouldn't let us go into their mosques and places but were knocking all that out of them pretty fast. I don't think they care much about our coming now to tell you the truth. One old Pasha said the other day he'd like the Russians to come or any one else if they could only get rid of the English and French.
I've seen a good lot of the country both on this side and the other over by Scutari. Then I went to Varna where most of our soldiers and the French are but the cholera was so bad I went on up to see the Turks on the Danube I went with a man on the staff who had to page 210take despatches and things to Omer Pasha the chief of the Turkish army. We had an awfully rough ride wet through most of the time and no place to sleep in at night. Sometimes it was raining awfully and the roads fearful no road at all most of the way. We had a guide who didn't seem to know the road much more than we did. When we got up to the Turkish army we were very well received. They are a much better lot than those in this place. We got to Silistria after a lot of tremendous bothers where the Turks had been fighting like anything and got the best of it too. They aren't half bad soldiers when they have good officers. That's the difficulty. Under Omer Pasha, who is not a Turk, and some good English officers like Butler to lead them they do all right but most of their own officers are as ignorant and cowardly as can be. Its the rotten way the Pashas govern the place that does all the harm. If you want to keep the Russians out get rid of the Pashas govern the place properly and there will be no fear of the Russians getting it. When Turkish soldiers find they can trust their officers they fight very well. I believe some of the Turkish gentlemen and merchants are just as honest as most English and French are but the Pashas who get into being Pashas any how ruin the whole thing. They have all the appointments and shove their boys pipe bearers coffee makers and the devil knows who more than any one else I should think into being officers and whats the result just what you would expect. The soldiers are most of them poor ignorant peasants dragged away from their homes and page 211licked along the road but awfully superstitious and when they are told they are going to fight the enemies of their religion they get excited and can fight as well as the same sort of most other countries, but they see their officers know nothing about the business are lazy and cowardly so they loose heart and run away on the first opportunity.
Still I say on the Danube where they have had some decent officers they have shown they could fight very well.
I suppose you have read all about Santa Sophia and the other mosques of course you have and if you hadnt I couldnt describe them. The first lot of English soldiers that came here found nothing ready for them and didnt know where to go to and had to stay some time on board ship. Most of them are now at Varna where the cholera is fearfully bad its bad enough here but worse there. Heaps of our men poor beggars have died in hospital before they had a chance of fighting. What on earth weve been doing all this time I cant make out. If wed had a good army ready to send out directly war began and went straight into Russia by the Black Sea or any other part before they knew where they were what could they have done. In my opinion its a great mistake the English and French going together. We ought to take one part and the French another they will never do together I can see already. As it is most of these splendid-looking troops have been loafing about doing nothing here or at Varna in beastly unhealthy places and lots of them have died already.page 212
Now weve got to go to the Crimea where we ought to have been last March if we were to go there at all and I suppose we shall get there just as winter begins and one half will be frozen to death and the other be killed off with the wet. All this time the Russians are fortifying Sebastopol and filling it with ammunition and provisions and by the time we get there we shant be able to take it in a hurry if theyve got anyone who knows how to defend it.
Its all rot thinking we can storm it with our fleet. We cant do anything of the sort. I took a short cruise round there in a small coasting vessel last May and you may be sure our ships will never take it from sea and by the time we get there at our present rate it will take us all we can do to take it from behind. If we had gone at it at once we might possibly have done that without much loss.
However I believe we are to start directly so Im going up to Varna again. Ive got to know a lot of naval officers and Im going in one of the ships. They are awfully jolly fellows without the airs some of the soldier officers put on. Im to pay my share of the mess of course.
I will write again if I get to the Crimea all right. Yours old man