The 1916 war diary of 2nd Lieut. Dick Willis Fleming


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This page contains a single entry by Dick published on April 20, 1916 11:59 PM.

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20 April 1916

Posted by Dick on April 20, 1916
Woke up at about 8! It felt very funny to be in between sheets again. We've gone properly bust and taken a room with a private bathroom attached. So this morning I revelled in the first hot bath since I left England. There were several kites making a lot of screeching in the tree outside our bedroom window; also several hoodies as tame as anything.

After breakfast we took a gharri and drove to the British H.Q. Savoy Hotel, where all officers coming to Cairo have to report. I tried to see Gen. Malcolm there but they told me he had left for England. I got some money from the National Bank of Egypt and then went to the Empire Nurses' Club to see if I could find Tara; who wasn't in, so I left a note.

Then we took a guide, and went to see the coronation mosque; it is a modern one, about sixty years old, a wonderful sight, the most lovely decorations: domes, marble, wood carving and inlaid work, chiefly ivory and silver in cedar wood. We had to wear funny sort of shoes over our boots while we were in there. Then we went to see an ancient mosque, the Sultan Hassan, not nearly so gaudy, but still awfully fine architecture. We went up one of the minarets (250ft high) where we had a most gorgeous view all over Cairo; you could see the Pyramids, the Nile, the citadel and countless domes and minarets of mosques. The guide told me there were 400 mosques in Cairo. The number of kites is extraordinary, as common as sparrows in an English town. The reason why there are so many is because they are strictly protected as being very nearly the only system of drainage there is in some parts of Cairo.

Then we drove down some low Arab quarters till we came to the Arab bazaars: narrow passages with high houses up each side, but the whole effect wonderful as it is just a blaze of colour. You could see the natives doing inlaid work, working brass, bronze, and silver. In fact, it wouldn't be difficult to spend a fortune there; some of the silk Kimonos and things hand worked by the ladies of the harems were perfectly lovely, but the smell and heat were against staying there long.

During lunch at Shepheard's I suddenly became aware of Hodges at a table close to us. He didn't recognise me till I spoke to him; it must be four years since I saw him.

After lunch we took a gharri and went to the Museum. The only interesting things to us ignoramuses were the mummies. We saw the one of Ramses III who is thought to be Pharaoh the --- horribly blackened and shrunken skin, but the hair and teeth and finger nails still preserved, wonderful embalming.

After the Museum we drove over the Nile to the Zoo, a very ordinary and rather mangy collection of animals but the flowers and the trees in the gardens were lovely. We had tea there and then drove back to the hotel for dinner. Very nice having a band playing during dinner.

After that we went to the Kursaal where there was a revue called "All In Khaki", quite an amusing show though all the cast was composed of blacks, Japs, and French. The performances went on till midnight.

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