3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Monday 16 April 1917 – ready to go, then not going

Getting ready to go then told not going ~ applied for Cairo leave with Lance ~ photo taken with Lauraites ~ on guard duty at short notice ~ swim in lake ~ mounted drill on horses ~ bayonet practice ~ working in Sergeants cook house

 

Same Place
Egypt
Monday 16 April 1917

Dear Mack

I think it’s your turn – might have been yours by rights yesterday but I thought I’d write to Father re our proposed trip up country: I dare say this will arrive just as soon as the other after all – so I’ll proceed to ‘come back all I said’ & tell you that we are still here.

We had breakfast (after I had posted Father’s letter) & immediately went on with harnessing ourselves up ready to be marched around to headquarters & over to the station – a few chaps came round shaking hands & saying ‘Pip pip’ etc when along came the Sgt Major & once more told us we were not to go! That’s the 2nd time for Lance & me so according to the old saying we’ll succeed next time & get away. It appears that we were required for the M Gun Squadron which is working with our brigade, not for the regiment, & at the last moment they discovered that we had not been schooled in the right guns for the M Gun Squadron – so they started tearing round looking for 2 or 3 chaps who have done the necessary gun & sent them going at 1 minute’s notice – they just had time to pack.

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Fred Hollis & I gave them a hand over to the station with their blankets & stuff, & so I saw the train off instead of getting on it! Bad luck – I’m glad I didn’t say anything about it in my cable on Saturday. One thing now – Lance & I had applied for Cairo leave for Thursday & Friday – we may get that: I hope so! So cheer up Kentor you’re not dead yet. It will be good to go there & see the big city & all the sights before going ahead, cos I dare say we won’t come back this way again! We will march right up & through & across to see ‘Bill’ on this throne.

After train had gone yesterday we Lauraites met & had a photo taken – Frank Burgess, Fred H & I (3rd), Dave Lines & Roy Hicks from the 9th. Don’t know what it will turn out like – it will be very small anyway – taken with Fred’s camera: a chap named Jervois from ‘Wooder’ worked the camera for us. He come over with Fred, a jolly decent chap – he knows a lot of people I do – I think I’ve heard you girls mention the name before, I expect in connection with the school or ‘Yab’.

Frank Jones & I always sing out about anything that happens down our way – or we did. Did I tell Father that he & Les went out last Thursday?

Last week of course we both had news of the great Fair – & in an Observer or ‘Chronicle’ we saw pictures taken of parties and stall holders on the ground. Did you see the photo taken up by Cook’s corner on the Port Road? Quite a big one – I can’t see who the people are though. I picked Harold Brooks in one. You must have had a good time – though busy & the results are good I reck.

To continue re yesterday – another surprise packet awaited us at dinner time ‘Main Guard at 3.45’ – bad – they didn’t take long to give us a job after our trip. Roy Hicks & I had arranged to have a swim & as my gear was all clean I called for him soon after dinner & we walked down to the good old lake & had a bonny kick round before I had to go back & get my harness on for guard.

I haven’t had a bad time: it’s pretty warm here today & flies are rather numerous, but I’ve finished my shift & we’ll be away in less than 3 hours now. I wanted to go to church last night as I missed in the morning, but of course that had to be cut out, I wrote a couple of letters last week one to Aunt Flo & one to Wit & one also to Norm Ford.

I don’t know if I told Father about our days last week – I wrote in a hurry yesterday morning & didn’t have time to read the letter over. We were shooting on Thursday & Saturday mornings & one Thursday afternoon had a swimming parade! That’s some sense now if you like – course I had a bonz swim needless to say. On Friday morning we were out on the horses, doing a bit of mounted drill & that afternoon we were bayonet fighting. On Wednesday Frank Jones & I were over in the Sergeant’s cook house & mess respectively. I had to set the table – wait on ‘em – (‘ave gravy on yer rapples Sgt?) & after I had eaten up I had to wash up the dishes!

Talk about the army being monotonous – that’s all bosh – I wasn’t doing the same more than 2 days all last week – every day a change. Did I tell you I had another letter from Herb Groves? He wrote about 2 weeks ago & said he was in the cook house for the time being & recommends his puddings as a sure cure for Australiaitis – cos he reckon they would soon send us all home. He & Arch were well. They were having a fair number of swims in the sea then but I guess they have moved by now.

I also had a note from Ken Gilman the other daylight; he is well & busy. I did up a paper on Saturday & posted to Sal. An ‘Egyptian Gazette’ it was. That is our evening paper, comes from Alexandria where it is printed I think. The ‘Mail’ is our morning paper – comes from Cairo – I’m going to send on of ‘em one of these days. If I get one I always seem to lose it before I get it done up.

Think I’m out of news so I’ll have a look at your last letter & see if anything needs answering. Good on Mr & Mrs Rowe & Hurt for coming to see you! That was a surprise I reckon & a pleasant one! By the way no-one ever said anything bout Mrs Halliday & Agnes coming again – I wonder if they did? I thought Jean was going over with her mother, not Agnes. Fred Hollis had Mother’s letter to him he told me the other day.

You must have been having it warm all night – hope you are not grease spots yet! Kind of you to mention the Saturday evening spent between the fig trees, vines, water bag & lawns! I’d like a bunch of grapes right here now!

Has ‘Good old Jeff’ gone to the war yet? I would have written to him if I’d thought I could have caught him – but I s’pose you’ll send his address when he does go & I’ll write then. There was quite lot about the Wooder Fair in the Observer, Critic & other papers: the various Queens must have had flash turn outs & looked well by all accounts – including your own. Good shot ‘Yorks’ for getting so near top place.

“Old’ young Jack must be a character! I wonder if he got home without losing himself. He must have picked up the knack of swimming pretty quickly: good on him. I see that it is ‘high time to milk’ so I won’t keep you any longer this time – so Hip! Hip!

Oh – I nearly forgot – I noticed that Miss Kentish was among the notorious people at the Fair – in the paper (?) Is that the mere Miss K – or is it the Miss Ruth K who in company with some more leddies [ladies] (who wore ‘so & so’ & looked charming I expect), went to someone’s house to say hooroo to Miss DeLissa a few weeks ago? This was also in the paper – Critic I think – we are coming on! Wot you say?

Good Day

Spence

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