3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Wednesday 9 January 1918 – Beersheba a bonzar rotten, bitter-sweet day

Received WA papers rolled up in calico ~ gathering of Two Wells chaps for supper ~ since Beersheba mounted troops have been spread about ~ after that content to lie in the dust and get some sleep ~ newspaper clippings about Rupert Brooke’s burial & Adelaide soldier, Justin Hanley

Wednesday 9 January 1918

Dear Mack

I’ve not yet written that ’18 [1918] many times & it always takes thinking hard to stop the pencil making a ’17. I guess a few of my letters will slip. That’s if they ever get written! Every mail now finds me farther & farther behind – I can’t seem to settle down lately to write letters – bad luck.

Just had a supplement the other day to my last mail – two more letters from Miss Ashton & one each from Jean Gilmour & Mrs Harry – also some WA papers & Observer, Bap (2), Laura Standards & ‘Bullies’ from Miss Harwood Public Library. The last mentioned were rolled up & sewn in a calico wrapper – & in the very middle was a box of raisins & lollies – not too bad at all at all! The little parcels from home with knicks & soap & hanks also arrived: don’t think I had them when I wrote to Father.

Since posting the above I’ve written to Ruth addressed to The Gunyah. S’pose she’ll be back there again soon, I’m wondering if Ruth & Dorc are gadding round Sydney about now. Pretty good trip if they managed it, wouldn’t mind doing the same with them. Still I have time to meet you on your oriental tour – & that will lick mere Syd holler! Hope we can both do that. It will do me & I can see your part of the contract being sure fulfilled.

letter19180109

Course we didn’t have a gathering of the Two Wells clan here the other night: had Sgt Johnson’s & Cliff Jenkin’s bivvie as headquarters. Ern Pederick came up from the Transports. Don McCord & Curly Williams & Frank Porter (from Dublin) came over & we expected Wilf too but he didn’t arrive. However we had a pretty good evening & home made cake & biscuits for supper & I went over early the next day (Sunday) & saw Wilf before they moved on.

Didn’t see Dave Lines but ‘Robbie’ who was in 23/9 told me that he was getting on alright. Old ‘Wolf’ is just the same old stick – seems pretty well & has been right through the stunt with no hurt. Good. He had had November 4th or 5th letters from home – the same date as those I had from Ida & Mrs R. Also he said he had had a good many parcels & good stuff for Xmas although it was wet – & with him – spent in the trenches out near Jerusalem.

We had a week of that caper too – but near Jaffa & came out just two days before Xmas for which we were all duly thankful. We have been ‘neutral’ ever since – the infantry are ahead of us. It’s a bonz day today after a day or so of dull & rainy weather. More railway line washed away – my word the rain came down properly the other night. I had a pretty wet bed despite my good little humpy.

If you hear of Wests putting the ‘L Horse’ on at the pictures – it may be we us & co – I think the official photographer has been taking the various brigades, the Camel Corps etc lately – that’s the worst of being notorious you see! But no pictures at that show will give anyone much idea of things: the dinkum pictures are photographed on what is left of our brains.

Hoorah I believe you would have had our cable just in time for Xmas after all! Frank Jones is now back & he told me he sent from Port Said on about Friday 21st. ‘Old crowd & Laffer all well’ greeting so I hope it arrived before the day. My own message – just sent last week through AIF will be backsheesh now & won’t do any harm. Glad I sent it anyhow in answer to yours.

Things you told me of in one of your five letters dated from October 8th to November 21st – holiday at Balak – good time apparently. Harold Bruce Frayne Erith ‘Littry’ – Herb G Chairman (Mother has since written of death of Mrs Goldney – bad luck) – Mrs Neville & photos – & your ‘old time’ rides round etc. Not bad letter – good!

No 2 Everyone stewing for exams – cow in – singing & songs – I know ‘Where my caravan has rested’ – it’s one Miss Wellie used to sing – a bonzar song too. Garden – bonz roses (I spec so) – ‘Doling’ out tea to soldiers (very interesting eh?)

No 3 – got the camels framed have you? Bad luck – yes please – a piece of ginger cake! Right oh – not bad at all.

No 4 Tennis afternoon – old players minus the ‘sojers’ – good. (Glad to hear Perce Ryan is still going strong. Kind regards to Hazel W & Clarrie J & all of the old team!) I think I told you I had a letter from Clarrie – I must write to her one of these days – shifting again soon I believe: up.

5th & last dated 21.11.17 – Mrs Tommy home – good (wonder if she had my letter?) Hope the Engl. mail of ‘Bukra’ brought you some Egypt letters as you were hoping. It’s a long time to wait – all the way here & back for an answer isn’t it? Wait till the aerial mail service has been instituted – we’ll get letters red hot then – right off the ice. Stawell is spelt so I think – not Stall – by the way: also tell Dorc that a BA student should not talk of a ‘spring union’ [onion] – or hear & there – bad luck– I’m a pretty rotten speller myself & I remember that in Ruth’s letter the other day I put two Ms in imagination which now I know is wrong: often I put down the best I can guess – pretty often wrong spelling no doubt but ‘malish’ (bad luck) much ado about nix to get on with the biz. Hope the rest of the exam results were ‘not so bad’ all round. I’ll hear soon I expect how Ray & Joy & Sal got on: bad luck Dorc missing ‘Sikology’ – good – I can never zactly get that pshychology or something – better luck next time. Oo-oh ah finish.

In all these recent letters of course there is a certain amount of screeching about the [?] of the ‘cold footers’. Of course we have been in things pretty much – here & there – but since B’sheba [Beersheba] the mounted troops have been spread about a bit – & we couldn’t be this side & that at the same time. The front is more than 100 yards wide – you mentioned the account of the ‘sweeping movement’ & so on: well that only meant a fifty mile stunt – the last 25 of which was accomplished the night previous to the attack: then our own crowd had stiff day – which, combined with the casualties – made us quite content to lie down quietly – in the dust or anywhere & get a bit of sleep – that was some time after dark of course.

So although we were amongst those who ‘cut through’ – it fell to a fresh crowd from reserves to take over & ‘gallop cheering into the town’. For my part they were welcome to gallop just then – we could have kept on if we had had to – but the need was not there & we were tired. It was a bonzar rotten, bitter-sweet day – the worst in some ways that we had & some since haven’t been too serene. But here we are – etc & feeling as right as rain: so all that’s not growling ye get me? I’m only just a’tellin’ you.

It’s dark – I’ll have to finish in the bivvie directly with a light. Got a candle tonight – goodO. Think I’m nearly out of news & now this is so long that I’ll not have the cheek to ask an officer to censor it. I’ll use a ‘greenie’. Our officer Mr Cock is away at a school for a week or so, so I’d have to dig up one of the other troop officers if I wanted letters read. I’ll enclose two cuttings which may interest you. One is of old time doings in this old country – the other is about the Burial of Rupert Brooke: if you have seen the little collection of his poems which I have seen, you’ll be interested perhaps in this account.

Also death notice of Mr Hodges’ worry & scalliwag – JTA Hanley– poor old Justin – he was always in for rows in those days – but he has proved himself a good soldier & a man. In a recent paper too I saw George Gardiner’s photo among the ‘Heroes’. That’s bad luck isn’t it? He did his job too apparently cos he was a Sgt [illegible] or some such decoration.

Well – finish!

HoorooSpence

I could talk all night – what about you?


Dear Mother

Old Goldie of whom I think I have told you before – came over in 23/3: he lobbed out here in June – just when I transferred to A Squadron & he & I were together in the section with Mic & Sid Dunk. Since Beersheba he has left us for a good job – driving the AMC cart & he gets on fine & likes his present job better than the old game in the troop. Do you get me? An other thankless errand? I don’t think so – his wife & two kiddies live at 89 Port Road, Southwark. They are bits of ‘Coz Jacks’ by the way & used to live at Wallaroo – but the point is – Goldie thinks a terrible lot of his wife & kids & by what I can guess she & the kids think a terrible lot of him – but I don’t think he is the sort that writes a great deal – not in his line you see. I’m sure Mrs Goulden wants dinkum cheerful sympathy – & perhaps some news – if you could ever have time to find her & see if you could be sort of friendly. I reck she is a leddy [lady]: I’ve seen her photo. So will you try sometime.

Spence

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