3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Thursday 2 August 1917 – lunar eclipse, prickly pears, Turkish prisoners

Back in the same place as 2 or 3 weeks ago ~ near the wadi, bath every day ~ only one bit of a stunt ~ saw eclipse of the moon a few weeks ago ~ saw a few ‘blue uniformed’ prisoners ~ eating prickly pears

What Ho Dorc,

I think you are ‘doing’ your brother for his porridge so to speak cos by my diary it’s time & turn for me to write to Ruth – but since last mail I’m not quite sure of her address: there should be another in though if the boat isn’t sunk (we hear it had been!), in a day or so, & then I may hear some more definite instructions re the address of ‘The Gunyah’ etc etc so I’ll wait a few days before squandering my writing: not much to report since I posted last – to Mother, that was about Tuesday week.

We are back in about the same place as we were 2 or 3 weeks ago – nothing exciting came about last week after all – & our good job down by the waddy near the water & with a bath every day – ran out last Saturday: only one bit of stunt since & we didn’t get near enough to get mixed up with the noisy things. Plenty of work tho somehow or other: I’ve been about 8 days getting a letter written to Len Rowe: various things seem to interrupt a fella.

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Some reinforcements came out the other day & we thought ‘Jaick’ would be with them, but he wasn’t. Jack Taylor (who was ill with pneumonia etc) is out at last & in C Squadron. Some of the 27ths are out now & we hear that the 28ths are in Moascar & believe Cliff Jenkin, Charlie Williams & Bert Gordon are with that lot. The last named batch – 2 Wellsites [from Two Wells].

I saw Charlie Murrell the other day, another old 2 Wells footballer: he came over originally in the 9th Regiment with his brother Bob – but they are both in the Camel Corps. Our ‘Family’ is all well & waiting for Jack’s appearance to hold a ‘raisin’. Les W may soon be leaving his & this dusty earth behind – or below – cos he has applied for the flying corps! He will still remain in this country of course – plenty of work for them here.

A few weeks ago I remember writing to Mother – a bit of a note – on a Sunday when we were part way home from ‘somewhere out’ – & I meant to tell you that the sun that night, as it set, looked like a pyramid – just exactly – for quite a while: never noticed it ever before & it seemed funny for it to play such a trick here, not very far from the real old pyramids: and also a few nights before when we were riding home pretty late there was a good moon – must have been nearly full – & suddenly it began to get dark & lo & behold – an eclipse – we lobbed home in the dark & had our tea & went to bed & still there was no sign of the moon. We were wondering whether the eclipse was visible at home – same as here & total – or only partial. That’s nothing to write about but I often meant to mention it before – don’t think I have done so – & it just shows you that moons & stars shine & fall just like they do in ‘Stralia velly good’ even in this war – fly-dust-Turk-smitten Holy Land.

The stars come in handy at night very often as guides for the chaps out in front on the screen: they save a lot of wobbling to & fro. Talking of stars – a few have been hitting chaps (Sgts or Sgt Majors) on the shoulders lately. Two in our squadron are now entitled to the salute & Sgt Clarrie Chambers, B Squadron, is another one. I’ve ‘speculated’ about this chap but haven’t met him yet.

I remember getting a letter at Boulder written from Willowie by you or Mack – telling of Rita Chambers who lived at Uncle Ted’s at the time – & she had a big brother at the war & so I guess & calculate this is the same ‘one & only’. I’ve seen him a few times & he looks like a Chambers.

Mother was asking once about Major Dick: I know without asking him that he is the one who came from Mount Templeton. Lance Nev used to know him in private life. He is in charge of A Squadron – then next on the list is Captain Briggs & 4 Lieuts – one to each troop. Mr Kelly whom Mother will remember (he was at our ‘23rd Flag’ presentation one day at the Botanic Gardens). Mr Hamilton – whom I’ve mentioned before (he was in Moascar when I lobbed – so was Cpt Briggs) Mr Sandland – our No 3 troop officer – a jolly nice chap & a good officer who has worked up to his present position from a private – & Mr Riley. Then you have various NCOs & about 30 men in each troop – & that’s only one squadron.

We used to reckon at Mitcham that it was something to go out all together – about 30 mounted men. But just reckon that it takes 4 troops to a squadron; 3 squadrons to a regiment; 3 regiments to a brigade; 3 brigades I think to a division – besides AMC Corps, M Gun squadrons – artillery – signallers etc etc (including Colonels & Generals & all such) – & you can guess it looks pretty good to see such a crowd – let alone an army all mounted & on the move. They cover a fair bit of ground. I s’pose that is one interesting sight you’ll have to be content to see by proxy – bad luck.

And you are not likely either to see any of our ‘blue uniformed’ prisoners – I’ve seen a few – some were brought in last week. They don’t look bad – a bit dark skinned, clothed pretty well & certainly not starved. There is always a rush for their lances, rifles, a clip of ammunition or any article apart from the Jacko clothing or personal stuff. I have not scored anything yet: Faith Hollidge (modest maiden) asks me for ‘only a German’s helmet’ Good!

It’s nearly dark – or may be moon light & so I must hurry & finish. I’ve been reading about a dozen old letters ready for a bonfire directly. Mother told me in one of a good crop of pears! Well we have been eating pears today – prickly pears – just ripe & not bad tasting & growing around a garden. They are used here as hedges round the garden patches. Did I ever tell you I found those photos which Elf took of you & Father & Mother? Course I did – not too bad of you – but rather ghastly looking of Father & Mother – neffer mind. Ted Black sent me some very good ones – there is one of G McGargill & C Follett taken on our court on Tennis Day & another taken at York SS picnic – the ‘ill’ one – & Father & Will Jarvis show up well. Lots more – taken all over the place – some of Woodville Repatriation crowds & I can pick out a good many familiar faces. That ‘Baptist’ came all right & I found the piece about Mr Harry – also found a few pieces bedside which were good reading.

You were going for a holiday to the Horse Shoe – good – I hope you enjoyed it as well as the one 4 years ago. Hope your P&E exam results turned out well: it will be nearly time for the finals by the time you get this letter perhaps: wonder how the mails will be carried to & fro.

I can see Miss Langman at the Greek with you & her ‘professional’ wrath at your howlers & misconstructions: it’s mostly put on though as no doubt you have decided for (hang this pen) yourself. She isn’t a bad old stick at all at all. Tell Mr Henderson at the uni that I’m hoping shortly to write to him – I owe him a letter. Yep old George Powell was there in ‘my day & generation’ & I guess remembers me all right. I was good pals with him – & his duster at his belt was his trade mark even then. Tell him ‘Good Day’ sometime & see if he does remember me, S’pose Mr Wilson is still there?

Good for the hockey – keep at it – it’s not as ‘unlady-like’ as it’s cracked up to be. Good for Lic & her cooking. I’ll have an iced birthday cake & a jam roly poly when I come home just to sample her work. Hope you’ll be able to read this – it’s nearly dark & I can’t see it. Moon will be up directly but I want to get it posted. It’s too windy for a candle. A year ago today by the day I ‘swore in’ – wonder when we will all have the chance to swear out.

Good Day & Good luck

Love to ye all

Spence

Only 2 ½ hours sleep last night, out doing pick & shovel work

 

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