Friday 22 June 1917
I have lost a few notes I had – things that needed answering – & also the little bit of letter picked up which should have done in with my last letter.
It referred to some chap’s reception home & dinner – he was to have roast turkey, suckling pig, plum pudding & I don’t know what not – none of which you may trouble to prepare for me, even if you are cook and mess orderly for the day. I noticed in the account of your doings on Good Friday that you carried out a programme similar to that of a year previous – viz while mother & ‘the girls’ went to the meetings you stayed at home & cooked for father! Good! I guess the dressing up & riding round was good fun for both you & Mary H too.
I’m looking for arrival of mail at any time now – it’s as bit late I think this week. Guess where we are now! Don’t forget we are supposed to be ‘sojers’ – bit it seems that even ‘sojers’ are given holidays & good times in between times – as now for instance while Wilf Rowe & his mates are out looking out for trouble – or to prevent it – we are 200 yards from the sea – ‘living at the seaside’ or ‘moved to our summer residence’ for a few days at any rate. Got everything here with us & have a bit of work – but plenty of swims. I’ve had 16 so far & we only arrived on Monday so I have a good average.
We are in a pretty bouncy-wavy place, quite close to where we used to come down last week & week or two before. Horse lines & water all close at hand & our ‘bivvies’ up on the sandhills right along – you should see it at night when the candles are going – looks like a quiet scattered township – lights all about. We have rigged a bit of a shade up for the day time with blankets over sticks & shovels & for night I have dug out a little posie [position] in the sand just big enough to admit my bed etc when made – very snug & comfie I tell you & with the continual roar of the briny to send me to sleep.
You might go down to the Grange with a couple of blankets – just scratch yourself a bit of a hole in a sandhill there & try it – better wait till summer comes tho cos I s’pose its a bit cool at home these nights & you’ll be putting in your Sunday nights by the fire on the hearthrug with a book. I’ll be there next winter again too – good luck.
I have been along to see all our chaps in their various squadrons during the lst 2 or 3 evenings. Frank is pretty comf now with the M Guns – Les seems to be better satisfied now he is in the signallers, Arch & Lance are ‘all right’ – ‘not too bad at all’ as Arch always says. Herb is up their way but at present is working in the cookhouse all his time. ‘Phillis’ went away sick a week or so ago & is down in Cairo with Jaick Hardwicke. Old Jaick is getting on well & thinks he is good enough to come back here directly. Arch was away in rest camp or field ambulance for a few days but is back all right again now. I’m not yet in a fit state for admission to hospital – as you may guess, especially on present treatment: good tucker, plenty of sea air & 3 or 4 swims a day! I never guessed that I’d ever associate the above with the war.
Mother mentioned having met Miss Cunningham & Mrs Rymill in the tram one day: Arch heard of that too – I s’pose his sister had not had his letters so was glad to get any general news.
Things I can see from here: sand & sandhills – bivvies on them & men & horses; one man riding along the beach – pretty smooth & sandy – sea now getting dark & blue for the night (it will be black & cold & hungry looking later on); clear sky – colours of sunset still in the west; a new moon & the first star – the evening star I s’pose – showing. Maybe a few boats up a bit. I can’t quite see ‘em from here.
You would laugh to see us getting around during all hours of the day – I wish you could. Just like a big school- boys’ camp – all knocking about in little short trousers some with boots, socks & shirt on – many without – main thing is to go as best pleases yourself & for me that means pretty little clobber generally as it’s easy to get in & out of the water quickly.
We have continued with our saddle & harness cleaning & yesterday had a ‘full dress’ inspection: not very much of that tin of Kiwi left now – it helped to create a bit of a shine though. I forgot to say that we swim the horses. Some of them are funny – they object when a big wave hits them ‘flop’! McGinty got out & away from me this morning but ‘George’ had a bit of a swim. I took one of ‘Stag’s’ horses in after – ‘Marjorie’ by name & she was stubborn, but we got her in at the finish.
It’s dark – I must try to find some candle or else go to bed. I think it will be bed & I’ll finish this tomorrow. I often go in for a swim after tea, but I think I’ll miss tonight. Mood often comes over – guess he is writing too tonight.
Guess where I am at last! In A Squadron – hurrah! Came up after dinner today & I’m in No 3 troop, same one as our old Sgt Campbell & Cpl Dunk – both privates now though – also Old ‘Goldie’ who has just come out from Moascar: it feels all right – after much trying – to be here t last. I couldn’t get into same troop as Herb, Arch & Lance – No 2 – but I’ll see them often here, they are only 20 yards away or so. I reckon I’ll feel more at home with these chaps: at any rate they are South Australians & a fair number are northern born. I met one just now from Booleroo named Bell – has asked me if I was related to Mr Ted Kentish & I found that he is Aunt Edie’s cousin!
I believe Sgt Chambers down in B Squadron must be the brother that Rita Chambers had at the war two years ago. I’ll find out some day. I saw a chap this morning named Dan Rickaby & was yarning to him – he comes from down Pinnaroo way somewhere & knows Arnold at Sherlock & Uncle Herb at Lam[eroo]. He was talking about ‘Mac’ who used to work for Uncle Herb. Perhaps Ray knows him?
3rd LH gift stuff in today – jam, fruit, pickles, sauce, lime juice etc etc – issued out in small lots to all the sections.
Just off for a swim – with Goldie & Newie – so will cut this out & write some more tomorrow. Good day & hurray for the noo. Saturday night again, Sunday tomorrow – don’t know if we’ll have any church or not.
Love from Spence