3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Tuesday 20 February 1917 – office job, acres of canvas

Working in the office ~ chaps tip top in health ~ food pretty good ~ acres of canvas in main camp ~ lots of rumours going around

Orderly Room
Tuesday 20 February 1917

Dear Ruth

I’m working (!) in the office just for a day or so – making up rolls and lists of various sorts: not a bad job at all – but I reckon I’ll get out as soon as possible: didn’t come here to do office work. The other chaps are going on with musketry & I must get out or I’ll perhaps be left behind. Guess I’ll be finished here though by the time they get on to the ranges – shooting.

Believe we have all to be inoculated this afternoon – if it’s no more interesting than our old Exhibition ‘sticks’ it won’t worry us much – but I s’pose it may be a bit stiffer. All our chaps are keeping tip top in health so far. We should do for it’s the loveliest weather ever you knew – cold enough at night – my word you soon know it if your overcoat or blankets slip off – but it’s cosy under them. The days are warm at midday but nearly always a gentle cool breeze is blowing – bright clear sky.

I was sent into the office here yesterday – nothing very interesting about the job. We have four here in the office of whom one is orderly – runs messages, cleans up the place & is supposed to be around when wanted.


The OC of this camp also has his office here, tho he is out a good part of the day. The office is a tent about 10/12 yards long & 6 yards wide. We men sleep in round tents – 8 in each as of old – but mess in a larger place with cane roof 7 walls – 10 at a table. Our 8 & ‘old Goldie’ (Goulden) & Harry Lewis make up our mess number so we are all right. Quite fixed up here with table to use & forms to sit on. No plates or pannicans provided here but we are all right with our mess tins & quart pots & knives, forks etc which we brought with us.

Food is pretty good I reckon: good bread always & plenty. For brek we usually get porridge & meat – either cold or tinned ‘Bully’ & tea. Dinner is not bad – jam & cheese: perhaps the hotel proprietors call that lunch – I dunno – however at 5pm we get a hot meal – sometimes. Last night it was a stew – not bad: but I guess we will miss our puddings & suppers of the last few weeks on board. Perhaps we’ll soon have to eat like soldiers! The mess room or shed is a fairly large place where all 3 reinforcements have their meals – 3 tables to each unit: also the camp canteen is on one corner, at which can be bought various things, good and bad. Milk, beer, shaving soap, tobacco, fish, jam & many odds & ends I dare say. I haven’t had much business there yet.

I posted a field postcard here yesterday – just for fun & to show you what they are like. Hope it arrived in good condition – addressed to Sally.

Last night (Monday) you should have been here with us. Jack H & I went out after dark (no fences here – only sentries walking round the camp area) & walked to the main big camp about 1 mile away – the same direction as the station where we left the train on Friday night. I’ve never seen such crowds of fellows – of course there are acres & acres of canvas round about here – lots of little Tommies who are going back home to hit the Deutschers – after spending 2 years odd on the Peninsula & desert.

There is a fair sized hall – Kitchener Hall – presented by the League of Loyal Women Deniliquin Branch (Deniliquin is up near where I went in NSW – about 20 miles I think from Frank’s farm). At the other end is a scroll ‘For God – for King & for Country’ with a YMCA triangle in the middle. The hall is about the size of Mitcham concert YM Hall – perhaps a bit longer & we saw it crowded out with boys listening to a concert by the ‘9th Manchester Jolly Boys’ – heard 2 items, one by a man with his arm tied up & they were both good songs, well sung.

We went on to where a crowd was waiting to get in for supper – a cup of cocoa and buns. They must wait for goodness knows how long before getting in cos the line was about 4 thick & 30 or more deep at either end. Only a few are let in at a time at the ends of the tent & out at a different place. The wet canteen is close by, walled in by boxes piled up about 5 feet all round a fair sized yard. The bar itself is in a long canvas booth. That is very well patronised of course. Next to that is the AIF dry goods canteen where the usual tobacco, biscuits, chocs etc may be procured. This too was crowded & a guard at the door let in a few men now & again.

It was very interesting to have a look round tho being dark & with few lights about we could not see as much as would be possible in daylight. That will be our privilege (?) when we are out of this isolation camp – may be 2 or 3 weeks – I don’t know.

Several of our previous reinforcements are still near here in the details camp but most of 22/9 have gone out – amongst them Wilf Rowe who left about 2 weeks before we lobbed. I wish I could have seen him but I may do so perhaps before long.

Hope we may get some letters any day now – the mail is expected in very shortly tho in that respect we are as much on the dark as you are at home. We are not told any more than we used to be re our future movements: of course there are always numberless rumours floating round. Well – I’ve a little to write about a walk we had on Sunday afternoon – Les & Phil & I but I’ll put this in I think & write about the other trip later.

Goodbye! How is the ‘kinder’?


Australian YMCA Canteen in Egypt (1917) courtesy Springfield College, Babson Library, Archives & Special Collections