near Looka Longa
Sunday 2 September 1917
Same place still of course but I like to vary the address as much as possible. We are really a few miles down the coast from the old city above-mentioned & not out of sound of the popping (corks?) or something that keeps going more or less all the time in that neighbourhood. It was a bit more – with certainty – the other night when I was on picket. Sounded & looked like business but I don’t know what was doing: s’pose it was merely a local attack or a bit of trench work. That’s where the trenches are that you have read of – but the Tommies look after our side of that particular work. We get out further east & north – travelling more of course – get away in & round sometimes to worry the other fellows & see what’s doing a bit – & get out again. A case of ‘He who fights and runs away’: with us that’s part of the job – ‘the eyes & ears of the army’ as [illegible] to tell us finding out things.
Of course they know very well that we don’t & won’t always ‘do a duck’ – we’ll stay there one of these days. There used to be much talk of us LH going to help Stow, Tommy & Co – & we thought it was coming off – with our horses of course that would be a dinkum job! But it looks now as if it will rather be the other way round before we go across to them. I don’t think there has been anything much to put in the papers of late although out along the front there is plenty to do as you may have guessed by my letters – hence the scarcity of news from these parts; don’t forget ‘no news is good news – & don’t worry’.
You mentioned having had the photos & a letter from Fred Hollis: he is now in the motor despatch riders corps & so far has not come out here. He had to go to Alexandria for a course of training of some sort – he wouldn’t have to learn to ride a bike anyway. I wrote to him but wasn’t sure if the address would find him- anyhow haven’t had any reply yet.
Glad you saw Mrs Halliday & Jean before they went home. I must write to one of those girls some day. Also noticed that you had been at last to see Olive & Ellis & – oh I’ve got it – Helen Ladbury in their cottage on the hill. Last time I was there – saying ‘Pip pip’ there was a thunderstorm kicking about & we went out afterwards & picked & ate peaches. Oli’s socks are still going well – so are Sal’s original 3LH pair – tho I noticed for the first time the other day that one of my big toes was just peeping through in a thin place – so that shows how well they wear – or how little walking we do! I have about six pairs almost new – but in a month or so it will be getting cool & with winter perhaps we will have rains & floods & mud & such things so a few extra dry socks may be very handy & comfie. My original riding trousers are about worn out – but otherwise my clothes are not ragged or dirty nor am I any more unshaven – as you feared or wondered in a recent letter.
In fact while here at the seaside we are extra clean – the sand doesn’t make your clothes so dirty (it is dirty sort of sand out t’other way) & we have plenty of water here! If a towel or shirt gets bit discoloured you simply take it in with you for a swim – or knicks or socks or any other thing – ‘cept my silk singlet. I give that a drink of fresh water occasionally. Haven’t worn my last lot of stuff yet: good. But that last is no longer the last – cos this morning our parcels came – a week behind the letters – & mine with ‘em sure. Socks, hank & I think the socks are Hazel’s – are they? – seem to be HT marked alongside my name – I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt anyway, Think I’ll wear ‘em tonight for church. We have to put on tunics, socks & boots & leggings for church parade you see – & also wear bandoliers & belts. But that’s got nothing to do with the parcel.
A tin of Bourneville cocoa – that will be all right! Either for suppers etc here or for stunts out beyond: & some wash up rag – just wanted some badly too cos I used all my old rags & clothes for the ‘cleaning up’ parade lst week: & a tin of raisins, look like home dried sultanas & taste A1 & juicy. Anyway Mic & Sid Dunk each had a parcel too – one with a cake & the other with fig jam – some more cocoa & other odds & ends so our section is doing well again today.
Interval for dinner
You’d laugh to hear the barrack going on here just now! Our bivvie & the next one (in which camp Tom Marshall & Malcolm who knows Maude & two others) form double fronted villa – cos they join in the middle. Tom first remarked that they were doing well for dinner! ‘Haw, that’s nothing – we’re doing better’ from our side. Tom shows a big tin of preserved apple & reckons he has a win (we buy these apples at the canteen – real good, sort of stewed apples). But we also had been yesterday to the canteen & showed our tin & capped it by a tin of Nestle’s cream – received in a parcel! ‘Oh we had butter,’ says one of their crowd. ‘And we had home made fig jam,’ we replied, ‘and meat paste to start on.’’We’ve got cake for tea tonight,’ sez they: ‘We’ve a bigger one,’ sez Sid. ‘Ours is better quality,’ sez Tom. ‘Wrong there too! & what’s more we have raisins for dessert & a date cream!’ answers our side. ‘We’ve got peanuts,’ sez Tom in desperation & indeed we were about out of ammunition when old ‘Goldie’ chimed in ‘We’ve got marmalade!’ so that clinched the argument & won the case for us!
So you see we are all right – & ‘there’s no need to worry at all’.
Bad luck Uncle Ern being ill – tho I’m not much surprised at it considering his wintry, wet, muddy, milky way: hope he is all right again before this – also Uncle Bert. I owe Uncle Bert a letter – must write soon. I know I posted Dorc’s letter only yesterday – but guess you’ll have time to keep on reading on all this trashy yarning.
Also I still had a few stray things to answer or talk about – that’s why I continued today. Did I say ‘Oh!’ about Dorc’s meeting with Mrs Reiher & Jack & Dessie. That was interesting. I’m going to write to Mr Reiher one day but he never answers letters. I sent a PC the other day to Nurse Howie – Mrs H Batten – ‘Oaklands’ Caltowie & she once told me in a PC that she would send me a photo of herself & Co – married – either here or to you at home. I told her if she still had one to ‘please send it home to mum – please Miss!’ So if it lobs you’ll understand eh?
What’s that Mack? Did you say ‘No cheek’? That’s not cheek at all: that’s how inmates of your hospital talk ain’t it? How’s little 3 foot Ginger Mick getting on with his reading? I don’t know whether it’s the common fault of school marms to go a bit dopey or ‘macnoon’ at times – but in a recent letter you just knocked off – straight – no finish: no name – no nothing – & Miss Ashton did a similar thing – good. However you said you were going to sew the cover on a parcel & address it to me – which you did – I’ve since had the parcel so I’ll let you off: but don’t get too old & grey & spectacles over your flock or you will go dinkum ‘macnoon’. Good job Vere Sgt is with you to help your poor old eyes to see the jokes which just happen every day. Certainly – I’ll be home – not in time to see next year’s almond blossom but to eat the almonds resulting from the present blossoms – with a bit of luck. I’d like to see the hills now – guess there’s a decent bit of wattle about: the most I ever saw was when Lenno & I were riding one day about 3 years ago from Moundie Gamb [Mount Gambier] to Glenelg River. We rode through miles of it & Len reckoned the perfume made his head ache; we had our grids decorated with it.
Eh Mack – still talkin’ to you. Do you ‘member writing one night & telling me where you all were, & what doing etc, ‘Lic & Joy at homework, Ray ill & Mother mending stockings etc’ – that was 8.30pm on Friday 11th May so I look up to see what I was doing. I was on horse picket that night – ‘strolling’ up & down the horse lines & see that no horses got loose or tangled in the ropes – or kicked to death – that was at Shellal & we used to go grazing in the day time if no stunts were on. I noted in my diary that day that two Taubes were over looking for targets to drop bombs but our guns ‘imsheed’ them. Also – more important I had just had a mail – the first after our arrival at the Regiment: s’pose I slept on the dirt with a blanket or so as usual so there you are.
Father was writing on May 1st & said at the end ‘ I hope you will sleep well tonight’. Well we did sleep all right as far as it went but that was our first night out & we had to get up & saddle our horses & get on our gear – commonly known here as ‘Stand to arms’ at 3am – so if we did sleep well we didn’t sleep for long – having spent the evening till pretty late in looking up all the old ‘diggers’ & yarning to them. I remember finding Stan Prince that night & comparing notes with him. Stan has been away recently for a few weeks – sick – but came back about 10 days ago – seems all right now. I often meet him before breakfast out in ‘mid-ocean’.
I saw or heard recently somewhere that Herb Bl… has got into the Flying Corps – that should be all right if he likes that sort of war. Have you heard what Roll Ryan is in? Perhaps Hurt could get his address. I’d like to have it if you can get it please.
Another date I’ve just looked up when Mother was hoping I was all k’right – Sunday 8th July. We had left camp the night before – got some [illegible] rations during [illegible] … again on the way home part way in when we halted for awhile I squatted down & wrote to Mother – it was peaceful & quiet enough then just at sunset: we arrived home bout midnight & got stew! S’pose it’s about 9 o’clock odd at home now so perhaps you have a Sunday sing-song on – with your much diminished choir – dare say I’ll help to have a sing-song at the YM tonight & church.
I put in today to go for a ride out to the 3rd Brigade to see Wilf R & any others but couldn’t go. Heard of him the other day; he had rec’d the letters I sent on. Hurt’s & Dorc’s. Good O.
Well after all this I’d better knock off, so pip pip.
Love from Spence