3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Wednesday 28 November 1917 – on the track again, can hear the enemy

On the track again ~ received mail and parcel with waterbags ~ scarcely had our boots off for a month ~ clothes washed in the sea ~ can buy brown bread, oranges ~ long days without water but lately old wells, lovely water, plenty ~ can hear the enemy today & see him overhead ~ eating bully beef, cocoa, tea, brown bread, jam & cake



Wednesday 28 November 1917

Dear Mack

Dunno if that is exactly the day or date but I think that’s right. We are on the track again & liable to hear ‘saddle up’ at any minute so it’s not ‘odds on’ for a settled decent sort of letter – but I’ll just twist this pencil for a few minutes in case I hear of some chance of posting.

Had some parcel & paper mail on Monday last – I got the waterbag safely – thank you muchly. Also inside a tin of cocoa & small tin of meat paste & pair of socks made by ‘B’ whoever that may be! Is it Lic putting Blanche to puzzle me or would it be Barb Campbell’s pair – I dunno. Oh yes also a paper Jackass on a kangaroo’s back & bonbon with ribbon inside ‘3LH’ (for ever). I hope not said Mic Dunk when I showed him it. Good luck anyhow to the old Black & White.

I had another parcel from Perth Baptist Church – jolly good one too. It had in it just 2 or 3 things that I specially wanted – pair of mits & a woollen waistcoat! Bonz. Course I left one each of those things in my kit bag in Moascar last April – in the heat & now it’s cold I can’t get at ’em (in Cairo) but these will do A1.

Also another pair of socks & tin of cocoa & but of butterscotch & chewing gum – not too bad at all. Mic Dunk got two parcels too with various things & a cake in one & a billy from the station he was on. I have given away 2 or 3 pairs of socks lately – Lance Neville. Blue Crase & ‘Washeye’ – otherwise EL Billinghurst of Beetaloo – been here most of the time & known commonly by the above – at present in our section.

My socks just lasted long enough through the last month to let me get a change now & again! We scarcely had our boots off for that time – never at night – only took ’em off to change – & put on again. I’ve got my stuff washed now – in the sea the other day. Also my 3 singlets were similarly well dirtied & stretched over the time. The new warm shirt which I had issued just before we started out from the beach has had a rough spin – worn all through & never washed till last Sunday in the old sea! Wasn’t dirty – quite. Hope you get this letter – for fun.

We have struck good places the last week or so where white people live & you can buy brown bread – not bonz after biscuits – & lots of oranges about. Down at Moascar I have bought these big oranges – from the famous orange growing district where we now are – a place Paul [Biblical] once camped at or sailed from or came to – I think only like some others its name is slightly changed nowadays. One recent warm spot called in the papers perhaps by the name Bir Saba you may be able to recognise as Beersheba – likewise Joppa is Jaffa or vice-versa & so on. ‘Tel el’ so & so betokens a hill – while ‘Bir el’ or ‘beer’ most likely means holes or holes of water or wells.

Course it wasn’t pretty k’right seeing houses with doors & windows & white people & furniture & all such: & the people were able to speak English – a little anyhow between Arabic, French, German & Australian we made our wants known & had a few of them satisfied in the way of ‘monger’ [food] mostly of course.

We had one or two long dry stretches without much water but lately have done well – old old wells & lovely water & plenty. I think I told you before that we were given those small waterbags some time ago – which Mother says were sent by the Comforts Club – very handy too – mine lasted till last week & now hanged if I haven’t got my new one – so I’m set. I rigged mine up in the old leather casing of the one I brought with me & so made it last better. Even tho it’s not hot now – still we use a lot of water for the old quart pots! Tea just about kept us alive a few days.

Well – I’d better knock off – this is a big lot to risk in one envelope already – but I don’t think I’ve said anything amiss – or that could be of use to the enemy. Can hear him all right today – have seen him in fact overhead.

Eating bully beef – cocoa – tea – brown bread – jam – & cake today so that’s not bad – also oranges. There’s another kind now with more of them – still plenty of n-ggers all over the country. We have done a few hard winning catching gallops – a good many of ‘our friend the enemy’ who won’t worry us again at any rate during this war: except to feed ’em the rotters.

Well – I repeat – I hope you’ll get this safely. I don’t know whose turn it was to get a letter from me. I missed yours & Ruth’s birthdays – I mean writing for them – but better luck next time.


Love from Spence

Sent a cable last Saturday. Hope you’ve had it before this. Laffer went away 2 days ago – ill – not serious I think. All other still OK. Les Williams only 10 yards away from me now reading paper. I had Observer & papers from V Baker & Miss Ashton.