Saturday 7 April 1917
I’ve just done up a parcel addressed to Licko – but I’ll write in a day or two to tell her about it. I’m going to register it so you should get it safely & as soon as this cos I guess no mails are going for a day or so.
I’m on guard once again so am going to write at least one letter. We finished up with our school on Thursday: that day we were out on the ranges doing some practice shooting with our new machines. They can spit out the lead too – I’d sooner be behind the guns than in front of them when their magazines are full. It’s not too easy to work them well the first time; a good m[achine] gunner would need a considerable amount of practice to get the best out of his gun. We all scraped along moderately well for beginners I think. In theory exams I came 3rd in our class: got 90% for description of parts, 98% for mechanism & 100% for rectification of stoppages, average 96.2.
We did nothing in particular on Thursday night – went early to bed. Yesterday – Good Friday – no work after an early parade: we went to church service at 9am in the YM – service conducted by Capt O’Halloran (whose signature you’ll find on the outside of my parcel).
During the afternoon I prepared the few things – which I have bought at various trips into the town – for Lic’s parcel, then it was time to get ready & come on guard. It was a bonny moonlight night & between 11pm & 1am when I was on, the frogs in the distance & the crickets nearer at hand kept up an unceasing song to the old moon. They were quite pleasant company.
I believe I went to church last Good Friday morning in Perth: then over to the zoo & played tennis with some very friendly strangers & had tea with them – in the afternoon – & back to Trinity church.
I’ve just come in from my last shift so that’s goodo! You should have seen me just now feeding a n-gger’s old donkey that is wandering about looking for tucker. He ate a whole loaf of bead that we had over – I broke it into pieces for him. The n-gs are always very joyful if they get any bread or cheese or jam chucked at themselves – ‘mongeree’ [food] as they call it – but they seem to reckon their animals can shift for themselves – ie live on sand.
I’m not getting on very well: our corporal has been talking about old Gallipoli day & telling us about Mr ‘Johnny Turk’.
Who do you think came here on Wednesday last? None other than Mr Carpenter! He has arrived at last with other reinforcements, the 26th: they are whacking them here now aren’t they? So it was our luck that we stayed so long at Mitcham – wot you say? We saw Mr ‘Carp’ for a few minutes to speak to; I know only one other chap who came in this lot. He was once with us – but he got 2 or 3 months harvest leave & so has just come along.
I don’t know that I have much more news: I’ll have a look at your last letter and see what there is to answer. First thing I notice is that you’ve started work with Miss Langman & Madame Waite. You have plenty of old school mates – or French mates – big class of 3. Wish I knew s much French as I used to know German – it would be handy here.
The ‘York’ fair must have been a mighty flash show! We are coming on; but I guess the Saturday afternoon at tennis etc was much better fun – according to [illegible] although there was a bit of a dearth of male members for playing. I found the newspaper cutting re the Wooder [Woodville] fair ‘to be’. I guess I’ll pretty soon have letters again & then it will be describing it as it ‘has been’. (S’pose Father hasn’t entered Captain & Major & his decorated trolley!) I’m wondering if it’s possible for an answer to get back – to my first letters from here – not this time I s’pose but maybe next mail will do it.
Tell ‘Billy’ that I hope to ‘swim it’ in case of any submarines at any time – perhaps I’ll come home on the nose of one of ‘em. I’m going to write to Aunt Flo some day in answer to hers – also Aunt Annie T who wrote a letter & sent an ‘Argus’.
Good on Rex Sargeant! He is coming is he? s’pose he left it a good while anyhow – same as some more of us. I wonder if he likes melon & raspberry jam! We get lots of orange marmalade here & altho I was never guilty of being fond of ‘marmie’ I like this ‘tack as Lenno would say – ‘bonzar’! When it’s not marmalade it is usually apricot jam here. We buy other sorts and treacle sometimes.
Your little ‘many ’appy’ note on Mack’s letter was ‘spied’ sure enough & so far the next mail is too late so it’s a good job you put ’un on.
Before I post this I’ll just write a note for Father’s & Mother’s birthdays. I dare say it will about catch them. For the noo Hooroo – till next mail: not much secretarial work yet I see: collect any necessary funds from my pay for your salary & ‘exes’ from time to time & for the above birthdays – for some presents which doubtless you have already bought. Get a razor strop for Father from me besides! You can get pretty fair ones at Harris Scarfes for about 5/- or so.
You can tell Ada S & Miss – I forget her name – the Fins [Finsbury] Park singer leddy about the jam! Also kind regards to Ada S & Miss Clarke.
Yours to a grain of sand
I wrote and posted to Stow one day this week when the train came in the other day with the newest reinforcements on board, the school had just been dismissed – so the old hands proposed going over to see the ‘stokers’ as they call them. When asked ‘why the name?’ they sagely remarked ‘cos they kept the home fires burning!’ Rather a dirty one isn’t it?
Les Williams – in return for your ‘respects’ wishes to be remembered kindly – I’ll tell Herb your message when I see him – soon. Les, Frank & Lance – all of us now – are on guard here with me: wonder when our eight will all join up again.
3pm Saturday afternoon
Time you went to bed Lic! How is Peggy?
Glad to hear you still ride the bike! Any punctures yet? Perhaps Sal will be able to ride mine when the weather gets cold & wet & makes those tyres stick up a bit. Good