Sunday 6 May 1917
As you see by the above it’s Sunday today. I’ll tell you while I know cos at this place there is nothing to show one day from another & I may get a bit ahead or behind as time goes on. I’ll have to write up my diary regularly then I’ll keep correct count. My parcel has not come yet – I wish it would, cos it would be good fun opening it – beside if it didn’t eventually reach me I’d be wild to think you’d done it all for ‘nix’. Some of those that come even in tins get pretty much broken about: I don’t know how this one was fixed – but I guess it is secure that way. Dare say it will turn up all right perhaps by next mail: that is due in Egypt any day now I think – but may be a few days before it reaches us up here.
I finished off Mother’s letter last Tuesday in a bit of a hurry: we left our camp soon after & came on out here on horseback – steadily – took about 2½ hours. We tried to get into A Squadron with some of the others – but C needed the men so here we are for the present. Phil Prime is in this squadron but a different troop to mine: young Laffer is in my section & two Tasmanian chaps; & Frank Burgess is in the next section 4 to our. A few old 23/3 are in the squadron but I’d sooner get in A if any chance offers: Herb, Les & Arch are all there. Frank Jones is in the M Gun Squadron & I’ve not seen him yet. The others all seem well. Another of our chaps – Brit Powell – a friend of Moody’s – was wounded the other day after Jack Hardwicke.
You can address now to me ‘C’ Squadron, 3rd LH – just stick in the ‘C Squadron’ instead of reinforcement which I see you’ve already cut out.
The first day out here we new chaps got another cholera inoculation which was nothing hard – & we were good enough for outpost duty at night: not bad. Thursday we were doing odd jobs & looking after horses, grazing & watering. Friday morning out for a ride over near the Turks’ position – a fair number of us of course, very interesting to see them through the glasses – lined in their trenches & moving about over the way. A few of our chaps got pretty close & were fired on – no damage done.
There are some bonz crops out between here & there, some are still green & others about ready for reaping. Goodness knows if it will be reaped or cut this season though, at all – or by whom! Anyway our horses enjoyed getting their heads down & tucking into it whenever we stopped for a while. When we got back at dinner time we found that Mr Gobbler [the Turks] had paid our watering place a visit only overhead of course – & the eggs he laid were pretty rotten & burst with deadly effect on 5 or 6 horses: the chaps looking after them were lucky: worst was one with a broken leg.
That night I was on outpost again till dawn Saturday morning. Every day we saddle up at three [? crossed out] am & are then prepared to move anywhere necessary at the shortest notice. We go to bed at eight pm though so we are getting plenty of sleep at present. I forgot one important item re Thursday: Joe Bilton, Les W & I got 2 hours off to go down to the waddy (a big wash out or old creek where we get water) to wash ourselves & a few clothes. It was a treat alright, although we had only small canvas buckets to work with. I didn’t manage to get my clothes dry till Saturday morning so I don’t think I’ll be doing too much washing here.
We left another blanket & a few more things like shaving kit, mending kit, thick singlet, 2 or 3 pairs socks etc at our last fly-stricken camp so now my stock-in-trade is pretty light! I have 2 prs socks, 2 extra singlets (thin) 1 towel & face washer & little bit of soap – my cardigan jacket which I need at nights to keep warm, my overcoat & single blanket & my ‘spy glasses’ which I think now will be pretty useful.
I have one tin of Mrs Bennett’s ‘beetle killer’ – in case I meet any [beetles], which I have not done up to date tho some chaps find them bad – that’s rather mixed grammar – good. I think I’ll manage A1 with my present amount. I gave that big singlet & a pair of brown socks that Ruth made to Herb Groves the other day as he hadn’t a change left here. His stuff with lots more is down at our last dump & goodness knows when it may be procured ie a change of clothing.
Never know how long these little excursions may last. Added to that occasional pair of socks for me that I told Dorc of – please ‘ax’ mother to put in a very occasional thin singlet – & thin pair of knicks. I think she knows the sort I bought at Birks once & a bit of soap & envelopes & a trench writing pad like this will be the thing we’ll need: it’s not easy to get them here: alright at a permanent camp where YMCA is fixed up. Never mind about Kiwi – we haven’t any hair brushes (or much hair either to brush) let alone boot brushes: I’m afraid old ‘Eckee’ couldn’t turn out all nice & shiny here – like he does in France. I daresay he soon gets his stuff dirty again & muddy there – but here I s’pose all that would cause more transport than can be well spared – so shining us is cut out!
Some chaps shave – in fact most do occasionally but a photo of 23/3 as they are would look slightly different from that as they were: but this is a jolly sight nearer the mark! You can guess it’s a bit rough & ready – but I feel tip top & I like it better than the half & half sort of existence we had at Moascar. Things that mattered there – like shining boots, leggings etc, saluting officers – falling in in straight lines with your mouths shut (& ears open – this is pretty necessary here too), although all very well in their place are not the most important here.
Here it’s ‘dinkum’ to use our most common expression – we have to look after our horses – keep our rifles clean & at all times be ready. Just now since we have been here it’s been quiet, but Les, Herb & those others who beat us out got all they were looking for – a bit more. They were for 10 days some of them without a chance to take off their boots!
I hope there is nothing in this to worry the censor, & also hope you’ll be able to read it when you get it. I’ve lost my indelible pencil – you can tell Dorc to send me one if you like: I’ve still got my 2 fountain pens but it’s a nuisance manufacturing ink. I’ll try to make some before I write next time. I have written to Muriel – so if this gets brung up you’ll hear from them that I’m alright & ‘alive & kicking’.
Did I tell Mother about the 2nd batch of letters that I had by last mail – from Hal, Mrs Harry, Aunt Flo, Aunt Bertha, Miss Ashton & Maggie Halliday – beside the previous five: I’m doing well eh? I must cut: It’s Monday now but that’s nothing.
Love from Spence