3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Monday 15 October 1917 – Hotchkiss rifle practice, morning swims

Received large batch of letters, one from Stow in France ~ drill, exercising horses, Hotchkiss rifle practice ~ morning swims, good sandy beach ~ parcel containing soap, welcome because of the dirt ~ another from Ruth with devilled almonds, chocolate, cake

 

Boomerangita
15 October 1917

Dear Dorc

I’ve been a good while after all before answering my last big batch of letters – spose you have had my last to Mother posted on Sunday – yesterday week – just after the mail arrived.

Well I might have written back straight after the mail arrived but it was such a feast that I couldn’t settle down to write at all last week. A few more stray letters came along – 2 from WA – Roy Dyer & Miss Ashton & Stow from France & today Hal from ‘Hinja’ [India] written just 3 days before he was going to join Ess at Darjeeling. Then we had papers galore – & so many all together that they have had only an imperfect reading. For me from home 2 Observers, 1 Reg, 1 Bap from Alice K at Finley, 1 Leader, 1 Age (Melbourne) & West Australian from Miss Ashton. A letter from Aunt Annie T – I had only posted to her a week before.

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Don’t think I had many more – I found the wattle tucked in one paper! Bad luck – is that off our tree – it looks like it so I think so. Not a bad week since I wrote – pretty busy with drill & exercising horses along beach or instruction in the Hotchkiss Rifle. I haven’t yet missed my early morning swim – it’s bonz & always one or two later in the day. Bonny sandy sloping beach here & no rocks – still some tides though & some big rollers breaking over the sand banks. I’m trying to learn to ride in on the crest of the breakers – surfing as they call it I think, but I’m not much good so far. Some chaps come shooting in for chains – it’s not too bad at all.

There have been a few concerts & 2 lectures on Palestine during the week – but I didn’t bother to go down. I rigged up a blanket wind screen & lit a candle & stayed at home reading papers etc. That reminds me that I had two more Laura Standards from the same unknown friend as previously. Account of Australia Day [30 July 1917] doings in one of them – they had a wet day same as you did in town apparently. No doubt some of you saw the proceedings in Adelaide & perhaps told me about it in the letters which are still coming. Aug 4th Observer which you sent had pictures etc of things.

Must have been some rain alright when the Torrens knocked at Mr Jolly’s door & nearly washed the weir out. Ern Pederick was telling me that in his letters from home there was news of floods about Two Wells, Gawler River over the fence etc & Roy Dyer & Miss Ashton spoke of floods & railway washaways in WA. Took old Kalg[oorlie] Express about 5 days to get to Perth one week! Roy D is still at Claremont Camp – been through NCO school & is now writing for a job & a boat. Perhaps he is on the way or nearly over here by this time.

I think I told you of meeting Ern Pederick – ‘Long Ern’ as Len would call him – last May at church one Sunday morning – but that must have been in the missing letter cos it was the same day that I got that first parcel – the Kiwi etc one. That Sunday was the next day to an exciting Saturday which we had – & I used nearly all Sunday’s page in my diary over it – so all I put in was ‘Sunday church – Slim Jim, Ern Pederick, Frank Jones, went for parcel (Wilson) & had great joy out of it, soap, sweets etc!’ Which – lengthened out a bit – means that I went to church in the am (Slim Jim was the parson) & while there screwed off this tall chap Ern P, whose face was somehow familiar. I placed him & after church followed him home to his lair – transport section, machine gun squadron – had a yarn etc & on my way back called at F Jones bivvie & helped him eat a few raisins and peanuts which he had just dug out of a parcel. Told him I was just going to the GPO for a parcel, which I did & found it & there met AD Wilson, an old ‘Comikal’ [Commercial Bank of Australia] of about my status: he had been round the branches a bit & we used to meet in AO occasionally – so another yarn.

Home with parcel – which beside the above mentioned important things contained cocoa, milk & I think a pair of socks (Stell Rowe’s) & a hank or two. The soap was extra welcome on account of prevalent dirt & the sweets comprised chocs, butterscotch & almonds I think. All of which may or may not be interesting to you. But there it are & there it will stay.

D ——— Wal – isn’t that funny now? ’Scuse scrawl, I’ve got my finger tied up like a Xmas cake: opening our favourite dish (marmalade) & tried to cut my finger off – that’s nothing.

It’s now Tuesday 16th – & our parcels have arrived! Parcels I say – one from home, one from Ruth & one from Perth Baptist Friends – whew! In the last mentioned I found a pair of socks, some biscuits, [illegible] & a little 2” x 2” x 1” box of Foster Clark soups – Oxtail – a good meal if I’ve only got a billy & water & fire & bread sometime on a stunt! Bonz pair of socks – think that was all. Ruth’s contained some devilled almonds (not too bad at all) – a big piece of Griffith Choc & a cake – cooked by Ruth & iced & inscribed Xmas 1917. Good Luck – so that was a’right. I’ve only nibbled the cake & icing yet, cos we have got one of Sid’s only half eaten – but I know enough to say the cake is tip top & a little bit. Eat him up tomorrow perhaps.

It’s a bit early for Xmas isn’t it? But that’s no matter – there are a good many Xmas cakes by this mail – & having them we are sure of them – which will do me. Yours came quite unadvised – I reck it is introduced in one of those ‘still coming letters’ – & as you may know contained almonds, peanuts etc on the top: a tin of raisins, tin of butter scotch, milk (partly used already), cocoa & 2 prs socks – one from Dorc with ‘flash’ black & white near the top & a ‘knitted in the tramcar’ note inside – think that’s about all. Everything in good order & condition despite a bit of a bend in the box – good – & thankee!

Hopin’ as ’ ow there ain’t no ’arm [harm] done Sir – yours respectably etc. And I forgot the singlet & hank. The singlet will soon get work tho the last is still in good trim. Now for a few ‘answers to correspondents’ – you’re first Dorc – Hockey – well I was quite excited to find out the result of the final – after reading of the draw & then the 7am match. That was fun alright with its ‘Go it Millicent’ etc & Prof Henderson down barracking! Stiff luck losing the final against Aroahs – but apparently you had a good match & good time nae doot. Elf learning singing too – is she? All getting musical in your old age. How does the Mack kid go now with the bellows? Ray on the kerosene tin? Strike me fat – I won’t know yous all again.

Glad you enjoyed the cable & also glad that at last some of our mails have lobbed at home. Still here of course – worse luck: if the next cable comes from Bowden Mother you don’t want to get speculatin’ as to our whereabouts. Guess you have had my letter ere this in which I acknowledged receipt of your return cable in quick time.

Thanks for seeing about waterbags & other ‘business’ – Sec: you know that you can draw on that account don’t you – at the C’wealth? If any ‘deserving causes’ come under your notice use your discretion squander a bit of it. While I think of it, there will be £4-12/- due to go into it at end of Dec or thereabouts – so look out & get a drop from my screw a bit later on. Tell Mother to carry on with birthdays as she thinks fit – not much good my making suggestions from this distance. All correct up to date – good. Mumps at Aunt Flo’s eh? Hmmm. Give my love to Aunts Eva & Alice when you see them. Good luck for the Queen of Chickens at Two Wells. Stell would look all right too I guess. Tommy is staying away a long time.

Better wish old Mr & Mrs Harding ‘a Merry Xmas’ for me – if you get this anywhere round there. Harry Hancock – who probably knows – has just been round telling us to get our Xmas mail posted this week so the later ones may catch – or they may not. Good for the supervising! Hope you’ve since had the big photos – you’ll recognise one sodjer from t’other in those I think. I’ll put in an order for diary – I’ll keep it going if possible.

I’ll be writing to Ruth straight away & will have to finish my yarn on hers. ’Spect she’ll send it home.

From (as you say) yrs joyfully

Spence

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