3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Wednesday 8 July 1917 – Bedouin graves, listening post in no man’s land

Out for 16 hours ~ made pint pot of tea on grass & sticks fire ~ passed Bedouin burial ground ~ need water bags sent over ~ on listening post in no man’s land
A ‘pleasant Sunday afternoon’
Wednesday 8 July 1917
Dear Mother
Our mail arrived yesterday (Saturday) evening just after we had gone to bed – only a week since the previous one which was delayed somewhere. So now we are up to date once more: I don’t know whether it’s all in yet, this time – find out tonight I s’pose when we get home – dunno what time that will be – it’s about 6pm now & we have a good number of miles to go. It’s sixteen hours since we started this am on another visit to Mr Eedle Obble.

You should have had a cup of tea with us today at midday. Our section didn’t bring any tea or a billy cos often we can’t light a fire: today however we could – so I cadged a bit of a mixture of tea & sugar – mostly that latter & put on my billy lid – a pannican you know & boiled it with a grass & little stick fire. That wasn’t bad at all & Goldie & I had it between us! Then as we were still in a fit state for drinking we refilled the ‘pannie’ on the once boiled leaves & made some brown burnt water. It was hot though & very acceptable to us – only the ½ pint tea pot was a bit too small that’s all.

It’s bonny & cool here now & there is a bit of a picking up of green grass for the horses. A mile or so back we saw a sort of cemetery – quite a large number of roughly finished mounds with limestone dumped about: you can’t mistake them for graves. They were on the side of a hill on a bit of a hump close the the waddy – Bedouin graves – so the old chaps say. No fence round the place of course – no fences anywhere here – they seem to go in for a piece of rising ground & put the graves really close together – don’t see many of them, the people, out about this part at present.

Their crops are all ripe & mostly knocked down now – a good many acres have gone to waste this season. I picked up a few pieces of green maize this morning & carried it a mile or so & gave it to Jinny [horse] at first stop. She has had two ‘issue’ ie nosebag feeds today & two drinks so is doing well. I reckon I’m lucky having the horse I have: hope I’ll be able to keep her. She is quiet, but a pretty good traveller, a dark chestnut – looks well – in fact she is apparently one of the best ‘doers’ in the troop – about six years old I think. I must try & have her ‘phiz’ taken.

In case my last letter doesn’t arrive – (Mack’s & a business note to Dorc – posted yesterday) – please ask Dorc to see Colton P & Prestons [Colton, Palmer & Preston – wholesale harness and hardware business] & get two water bags similar to those we brought with us – I think Mr Carp bought the 23/3 lot at CP & P’s so they will know the sort. We carry them on the horses and they are all right. Send ’em along as soon as possible with a/c of cost , postage etc. Our others cost 8/6 but you may have to give more.

You have mentioned G McCord in several of your letters. I didn’t see him at Moascar – didn’t know he was there till I had your letters reading in the tram the day after we left. I was nearly as far as Kantara [El Qantara] by then, so couldn’t go back – but he is out here now in C Squadron with G Potter who is a mate of his & I’ve met him & seen him several times. He was a great pal of Len’s & Hurt’s in their 2 Wells school days. I didn’t tell you much about my mail – not so big as last time but a good one for a’ that & all my home letter 29, 30 & 31 including Dorc’s, yours, Father’s, Mack’s & Sal’s wee note re Brooch & hiding in the chest from Mary: good.

I don’t know whether your has gone again to the 3rd Brigade – as Ruth’s . They say people in love do queer things! Besides the forementioned I had a good letter from both Uncle Bert & Jeff H. Uncle writes a good newsy letter & so does Jeff. The latter had been to a hockey match at which REK [Ruth] stood on her chin! That’s the worst of not looking where you are going, Ruth: you don’t want to play to the ‘grand stand’ so much.

It seems wonderful that it’s just about a year since I went to Blackwood with the hockey team & since the memorable ‘Choos’ match on the Unley Oval. But here we are – it’s true – I’m in a different climate just now. I s’pose Demp Mudie is in a cold one tho far removed.

Jeff was telling me of the arrival of some of Will’s effects at last. Mack must have felt bout 6” ‘big’ instead of so many feet when the youngsters said ‘What’s your Ex’ to Mr Marples. I wonder how the proper affair turned our after all.

A year ago today was my last Sunday in Perth! I remember having a good day & spending the evening after church at Mr Harry’s. If I were there in Perth now I’d be booking my passage to Adelaide on Tuesday & sending a letter gram home telling of it: how about doing it from here & setting sail this weekend from Suez!!! Well we may all do even that before long so don’t worry.

Father said in one of his letters re my cable – send another – so I will try & do so sometime this month. It may not be so easy from here – I don’t know.

Tuesday eve

Must post this directly in case a mail may be going. No time to write since Sunday – or now. I am enclosing a railway ticket & 3 stamps for Lic – the stamps are interesting being real Egyptian – they were on the parcel of photos sent to Lance Neville – our pyramid photos – which by the way I’ve just done up & actually posted at last. Send on a good one to Mr Neville – Balak[lava] – & all those small ones in the envelope please – one of the big ones got stuck to the brown cardboard & is about spoiled.

The cover I have used is rather torn & dirty but I hope the parcel will arrive in safety. The train ticket is mine of course – one I used to come back from Cairo. Soldiers may not buy better than 3rd Class tickets but we travelled 2nd Class all the way both trips. Hang ‘em! The 3rd Class is ‘dog box’ variety & stinks of Gyppos.

We got home at a little after 12 on Sunday night, so it was nearly a 24 hour day: then last night I was on ‘listening post’ – out in no man’s land – you ‘listen’ for 1½ hours & sleep for 1½ hours & each of us did 3 shifts so that was only 4½ (or less) hours sleep last night. I hope to get more tonight. Of course it’s a picnic the LH are having but I’m feeling fine & as long as that lasts & no doubt it will last I don’t care so that’s a’right. But I’m just tellin’ yer!

Oh – I found 2 more letters for me – perhaps they had been over to C Squadron – one each from Miss Ashton & Jean Gilmour. They are both good & willing correspondents aren’t they? & they don’t seem to expect too many letters back. Needless to say they do get a few. I think Mr & Mrs Gilmour are going for a trip to Eastern States so you may see them: I hope so.

Well it’s about dark – nearly time to ‘feed up’ & go to bed. So goodnight to ye all.

I hope you get half the fun out of my letters as I do from all yours.

Love from Spence