The Same old Tent Once Again
28 February 1918
It’s about time I sent a note going homewards & your way again. We have had a holiday off letter writing for two weeks almost & I daresay you’ll have seen good news again in the paper which will explain where we have been tripping. I remember the time when it was a common enough saying ‘Go to Jericho’ but I didn’t reckon then that I would ever get there. Howsumeber – I’ve been – & to Jerusalem & Bethlehem & the Jordan & the Dead Sea & other less noteworthy places. So my ‘Travels in Palestine’ are gradually becoming quite extensive. But I’ll not tell you about it in this issue because this must get in the post to catch the first mail & say ‘Good Day’.
We arrived ‘home’ the day before yesterday at dusk, & found our old camp site still here & waiting for us. We were not sorry to get here & settle down again for a minute or two & the horses first showed their appreciation of the soft dry ground by having about umpteen good rolls, eating up their monger & then straight away stretching themselves out for a good lie down & sleep.
The weather is fine & fresh & springy but the grass & crops have not grown as I thought they would have done in the time we were away. The almond trees that were in blossom are now green with little leaves. I can see a clump of fine gums just out a bit form here & sand hills & sea not far away on our west. Anyhow you’d never guess there was a war on at all today from here.
It was quite a change the other day to be galloping to the tune of the big ‘madfus’ as the nigs call our big pop guns & a few shells lobbed pretty close to us at times but we maintained our name of the ‘Lucky Third’ & only one man I think was hit. One day as we were leading down a narrow track on a steep mountain side – which our friend was shelling – one ‘big one’ landed right opposite me & my ‘Brownie’ [horse] & chucked stones & dirt all ways & over us (it was not more than 10 yards off the track) & the stones rattled on our ‘tin hats’ (didn’t you know we had been given new steel helmets? We’ve still got our old ‘felties’ too of course) but that’s nothing. It was a real bucksheesh trip in that way – a few patrols & shells etc but scarcely any fighting. None our way at all you might say.
Conditions were pretty k’right for some pretty hard fighting & cos Jacko had the good positions but evidently he is still a bit scared of the felt hat brigade & he didn’t stay to say more than ‘How d’ye’ & then nicked off.
By the way what about a bit of mail in this way? It is six weeks since I had a dinkum mail – tho it is only a month since I had the letters that were waiting for me on my return from Port Said – your long one amongst them. You mentioned meeting Ken Hobbs in the train! That was peculiar now! He is not out here yet but I’ll keep a look out for him. Did I tell you that Myrt JT – in her last letter – told me that her little brother Wally had come away with reinforcements of the ninth? I’d like to see a few chaps in the 3rd Brigade but we don’t get a chance.
… & that’s where I was interrupted & now it’s Friday 1.3.18 & we got letters in last night! Hurrah – but not all mine are here yet. Nos 87, 88, 89 & 90 – & one each from Aunts Carrie & Flo! That one of Dorc’s that Mother mentioned has not come – telling me about Xmas – but it may do so today: also I’m hoping to hear from Vic & NSW at any day now.
Les Williams had letters from his sister from the conference camp. My letters from home were from Mother, Lic, Mack, Father, Billy & Lewer & you bet I was about pleased to get them! But I’ll answer them ‘bardin’ [?] – I’ve just been re-reading your long 31 pager written on your birthday – telling about various things but mostly your then recent doings up north & your arrival home for holidays. Sure you’re getting old & haggard all right! 23 isn’t a bad score for a bit of a nip – what about mesel’ – I’m nearly 26 – old & crabby & broken. Oh well – there’s always the workhouse when the war gives out so I’ll be able still to live without working. Evidently some people are afraid the war will finish & they will be out of a job – by the way they vote ‘Anti’.
I think I have mentioned having received your second cake – herewith are my best thanks direct: it was ‘quissketir’ [good]. That was funny about the 3d [threepenny] bits in that first one though. I only heard of the 6 that ‘Mallie’ found so some of us must have swallowed the 3d pieces. I was glad to hear from Mother that your missing letter had come to light from the Gunyah.
It’s pretty hard work writing just now – there are 8 beside me in this tent having an after dinner argument – & you know how hard it is to put down two sentences properly. I can’t think what I have to talk about with the noise & talking but his must be finished & posted. I haven’t heard lately from ‘Good old Jeff’ – nor written either. I wonder if he has got into his officers school or passed through it with honors. I hope he scores a ‘pimple’ on his shoulder this time.
You were lucky getting such good motor trips & rides on horseback all round the place before you left The Gunyah, especially going to Port Augusta. Your experiences with horses will have done you no harm: it’s good to be able to ride a bit anyway.
I’ve seen those thousands of rabbits that you speak of – or more thousands of similar ones. The trip I did with Harry Nicholls to Hammond with a load of wheat is still fresh in my memory & I can still see the sunrise over the plains on the day of the return journey – & the rabbits – rabbits eveywhere.
Mack is a lucky dorg getting Woodie again this year. I’m glad of that. No doubt Ray & Joy will be much missed but I guess you’ll see them occasionally. Old Jack up at school too eh?
I’m enclosing a newspaper picture of an old watering place of ours before we got Beersheba for keeps. I can’t pick out any of the chaps in it – though I know it is part of A Squadron. The chap who took the photo was in No 2 Troop: see some of the boys leaning down into the water to fill their bottles etc. The place is called Bir el Assani & my word we did look sometimes for its lovely cool water on our dry return trips from long hot patrols out Beersheba way. That’s part of a big ‘wadi’ you see.
Well hooroo & pip pip
Love from Spence