In Camp, Egypt
Sunday 18 February 1917
Here we are at last & doing as well as usual. Our luck is still in – for old ‘No 4’ tent is still intact – how’s that for good luck eh? We lobbed here in the isolation camp on Friday night at about 9 o’clock – quite dark of course, except for the few lights here & there. We were put into round tents – 8 men in each – had some tea & biscuits & our 3 blankets were issued to us & we went to bed on the sand floors of our new tents about 10 or 10.30pm.
Everyone was pretty well pleased with our start off – all our boat mates have come here with us too. No doubt they will soon be moved off to their base camps as we will.
We have to do a course of musketry while here I believe; that will be interesting and useful. The range is just over from us about ½ mile. Quite close between here & the station there is a big camp & plenty more scattered round in sight & out of sight.
There goes an aeroplane – up in the air about ½ a mile away – now it’s 3 miles away I guess. They don’t take long to sail away. I wish you could see us & our surroundings – jolly fine & interesting. Here some 2 more aeroplanes – one almost directly overhead – you can hear them coming miles away, kicking up a noise like a chaff cutter going at racing speed – some buzz along more quietly like a big motor car & they look A1. I reckon we’re on a good thing here. I’ve seen more flying in a day and a half then ever I’ve seen before: would have to pay 5/- or more on Adelaide Oval to see a bit of a fly round – here we get it all day long – & plenty – sometimes 6 or 8 at once – for nothing & a good sea trip thrown in.
The weather is just ripping! Cold enough tonight to make you wrap your blankets well round you – fresh & nippy at quarter to six am when reveille sounds – we fall in at 6.15 by which time our tents must be cleared of everything – blankets folded & stacked outside with coats rolled on top of them & kit-bags stacked on other side of the tent. The sun soon warms the air up & during the day it’s like early spring – in fact that describes the weather as far as we have gone so far – as nearly as possible. Of course they call this winter here – I think & no doubt it will be warmer when summer comes.
We are in a flat looking place – hills away eastwards & to the north & I reckon we can see the cliffs or rocky hills which we saw from Suez on the boat. They may be 50 miles away – perhaps less. There are pines in places & palms too but not close by here. Also I’ve seen some nice green patches of growing vegetables & fodder in places. We can see water across to the east – think it’s part of the canal or one of the Bitter Lakes [saltwater lakes] through which it runs. We came along it good bit in the train from Suez where we disembarked at 1pm last Friday.
I don’t think there was anything particularly interesting after my last letter on board. We had a busy day packing up our library books on Thursday & that night all hands gathered for a little while for a few farewell words from the Parson & OC. The officers were presented with a cake – by the old ship chief steward & 4 of the WA boys sang a quartette – a few more short speeches & we broke up & went to bed.
But of course we had a gathering of the clan first – for a good supper. We had some hot rolls from the cook & butter & cheese & cake – made tea etc, so had a good finish up on the old Bulla.
Yesterday morning (Saturday) we went out for troop drill on foot for an hour or so. It is sandy & a bit soft but not at all bad at present. We had an hour’s jerks before brek out in the sand too. We won’t get away from that for awhile perhaps. But it is fine & clean to sleep on & to wash our dishes with: we wash them first with sand & then follow with water of which we have plenty – laid on in pipes – but we are not allowed to waste it at all.
Believe this will go straight away if posted immediately – so I’ll post now.
Hooroo the noo.