Letter to Mother from Jean Gilmour, Perth friend
Thursday 25 January 1917
Dear Mrs Kentish
Thinking Daddie’s telegram would be unsatisfying unless you heard from Spencer himself, Mother asked me to write and tell you all we know of Spence’s welfare so far.
The ‘Bulla’ came right into the harbour but anchored mid-stream at a good distance from the wharf. We would not have seen Spence at all if he had not broken away from a route march while the others went into a hotel for a drink. By chance the NCO marched them towards our place and Spence took his only chance of seeing us and ran down to the house.
He was in his usual good spirits and looked even better than when he left West Australia. He gave our bell a tremendous wrench and then ran around to the back and found Dad speculating as to which street arab he could lay the charge of ringing our bell. He stayed for a few moments and then Dad went down to the boat with him, to see if he could get him off for a few hours.
Mr Lamb met them in town and after the united request of him and father, the officer gave Spencer leave till two o’clock. It was then just on twelve. Mother and I and a lady friend of his from the Fields, I expect you’ve heard of her from Spence, a Miss Ashton, went down to see him off. Dad, Mr Lamb and I had lunch with him in town and Mother and Miss Ashton joined us at the restaurant and stocked him with cake, fruit and cocoa.
At two o’clock we went back to the wharf, but as his ferry was not there, nor any of his mates waiting, he decided to wait and we talked to him for about half an hour. His officer called them up eventually and we had to say goodbye in a hurry. He kept up his spirits splendidly and seemed the pluckiest of his squad. It was quite comical to see him keeping his mates off his parcels, waving his hat and shedding crocodile tears all at once.
We have written to Spence and will keep him supplied with Western news, just as we do Ken; it would be nice for them both. Thanking you for your kind wishes in regard to Ken,