Sunday 16 December 1917
It’s Ruth’s birthday – I’ve only just thought of it! & it’s six o’clock in the evening so I hope she had had a good & happy birthday & will have many more & better ones. It’s no wonder I didn’t think of it though! If you had had 19 letters last night (whew) you’d have been as helpless as I. Our Xmas mail no doubt & I think bit of a double issue – yours dated from end of September to 28th October got all the numbers from 61 to 67 inclusive & Ruth’s & Mr Hales’ letters & the Teddy Bear card – also heard from Donie, Doc Paynter, Miss Cunningham (who did receive my letter), Miss Ashton (2), Marion Halliday, Mrs Harry, Mr MacQuilkin – strike me fat I can hear someone calling out ‘A Squadron for your mail!’ There must be some more about – short interval it’s here all right & I’ve only got 7 more to open & read! Hooroo – finish writing till I have seen what is doing the noo.
Thursday 20 December 1917
Bad luck Lic, I hope I have not missed any mails by this delay. Never mind here goes with a bit of luck I’ll finish off now without any further breaks. I’ve just been helping ‘Was-Eye’ get the dinner on. A bit of fresh meat to be boiled in a big Xmas billy & some cabbage which we have cooking in a Tommy’s steel helmet. These steel hats make jolly good cooking dishes when turned upside down. You see we turn everything to some good account here.
It’s wet today – but only showery. Yesterday it poured with rain during the morning & made our little canvas humpies leak a bit. But we kept our clothes pretty dry & slept ‘snug’ last night. The bivvies are jolly alright this rainy weather – altho they are pretty small.
We take the horses out each afternoon for exercise & a bit of grazing it it’s not raining: some of my rides lately have reminded me of the winter I rode Queenie to Balak[lava] to school & the wet – cold – but bonzar rides home. Every other day to Uncle Herb’s with the paper & perhaps a hot scone out of Aunt Soph’s oven! Often used to score something hot at home too – scones or cake just done – wouldn’t mind trying one now thank you!
Probably we’ll have a good ‘eat up’ on Xmas Day tho pretty stiff if our parcels don’t come before then: some have already arrived – not mine though. We had some cheese & little Xmas puddings in tins issued the other day, from some Comforts Fund or other – with a notice on top ‘Australia’s Greetings’. Keeping our pudding for Xmas in case the others don’t come.
I was telling you whom all my letters were from: a few more were as follows – Uncle Arthur, Mr & Mrs Aird, Mr Hollidge, Coz Gwen Tuck & Norm Ford a day or two previously. I had 3 from you which I’ll answer now. First one you told about your holiday at Olive’s – & oranges etc & you said ‘I’ll be 15 this month’. Next one written 25.10.17 you said ‘I’ll be 15 tomorrow’ & the last one (4.11.17) you told me about being 15 – your suitcase & cake from Ruth & dress-party at night. Also a copy of Father’s poetry – which is pretty k’right. You asked about getting my bike tyres mended! Well that’s funny now – cos I wrote to someone – I forget which of you sometime ago – suggested that you should do that same thing so as two of you can go for rides instead of one – or four instead of two eh?
If the letter hasn’t reached you by this bad luck – but carry on – & when the tubes are worn out – buy new ones & put them down to my account. They ought to be about finished by the time you get this. That will be for Xmas even tho it’s so late.
I’ve just had an inspiration! I guess today & tomorrow are the ‘Break up’ days for all of you nips for Xmas holidays. I think I’ll just peep in at the schools & see if there is anything doing. Primary certs or other honours being doled out by Sir somebody or other. Hope you’ve all scored well.
Did Peggy have 5 kits? – & did the cow have a calf? Pass the cream please!
I’m looking forward to seeing my parcel & the Xmas pudding & the cream to eat on it – as instructed. I’ll obey – don’t worry. Haven’t seen any tinned fruit for 2 months so the pineapple won’t last long when it lobs here: neither will anything else! We are pretty good eaters at any time – even on bully but this cold weather has put an extra keen edge on our appetites.
By the way – in that second batch of letter on Sunday night I had the remaining 3 numbers up to 70 from home. I wonder if they will pass the century? I see by the others’ letters that you had already had news of Beersheba – good! Of course we us & co were there – we are a long way from there now – you see old Jacko did a hickory for a good distance & we kept up with him.
If you read the lesson we had at church parade last Sunday morning – Acts 9 – starting at verse 32 – & so on – you will know where we live [al-Ludd or Lydda, now Lod]. I’ve seen the place where Peter visited the saints & it’s a dirty – n-gger – mud place now: don’t think there are too many saints living there now. It’s spelt a bit differently too – ell you double dee. I have not yet seen Dorcas’ house – in the other city [Joppa, now Jaffa]– but the old parson reckons he has. Also the house of Simon the tanner he says is still there. But that is a big decent place anyhow.
See also Zephaniah especially chapter 2 & the 4th verse – the padre reckons this caper has something to do with those prophecies [Gaza will be abandoned and Ashkelon left in ruins. At midday Ashdod will be emptied and Ekron uprooted]. It’s pretty true to fact anyhow. I haven’t seen Gaza – but of course lots have done so – the reinforcements that are coming up now come through there now per train & it’s certainly much battered & desolate old place at present. Some of those other places we have seen & the padre reckons that the place where I saw the hospital with the inscription ‘Hospitium S Nicodemi d Arimathea’ is quite likely the old original home of that old josser. It’s called Rambi now. We won’t see Jeroos [Jerusalem] by Xmas now – if ever cos we may pass it by altogether. They say our chaps are in there though – tommies mostly I expect. But I’ll be satisfied to stay here & be quiet as I think there’s a good chance of doing.
Finish paper – finish pad – finish letter.
I’ll be wishing you ‘A merry Xmas’ Tuesday next.
Love from Spence