Same Date (7 April 1918)
I wrote to Dorc this morning & sent a PC to you both of which are handed in for the first chance of mailing. Now I’m nearly ready for church! I told Dorc that we had had no church for months & after dinner along came the Sergeant Major & said voluntary church service. So having written what I had – I think to myself ‘You’d better go me lad, even if it is a bit hot’ – so now I’m shaven & as clean as maybe.
You mentioned a matter of finance – waal – I reckon it ought to be all right: If you take £5 from that account & keep back a £5 from the next lot of pays you collect for me that will be a start: £10. And we can sure see it through once it gets a start. It would be better not to ask anything from any old Committee I reckon. But being at a distance I’m perhaps not the best judge of that: but Mack certainly ought to go [to India]. Anyway I arranged before coming away to meet her over there at Hal’s & Ess’s, so it will just suit.
I’m thinking that this might have the luck to land at Port Road, Beverley about your birthday time – so if it does, here’s ‘many happy returns’ for you & Father. I guess the girls will be looking for a bit of my cash – well I hereby authorise you to hand over any sums required – limit not to exceed £5000 [presumably a joke]. I wouldn’t be surprised if my letters next mail were written for my birthday – already past by 5 days. But that’s nothing – I’m looking forward to the letters & I’ll have another birthday when they come.
I was despatch riding for some Scottie Infantry the other night, and when I heard one officer say it was 1am I told him I was a year older than I knew. He said ‘Is it really your birthday?’ I said ‘Yep.’ (Here’s a Taube coming over – keep your heads down!)
That was interesting for Father to see someone from our Regiment – I guess he would have better luck if he went up when the next lot got home – which would be a few weeks ago – several in that lot whom I know well: some of our troop mates – Bell, Dowd, Burley – & I’ve mentioned Harry Hancock before. I hope you’ll see some of them – it’s more like a living link isn’t it?
Sometimes I have thought they had bad luck going away when they did – & then at other times we have no doubt that they were dead lucky: just the day before yesterday we saw bread for the first time for just on a month. But it’s been cold & hungry weather so the biscuits & bully went as fast as they were issued. We also had a fair bit of jam issued during the stunt which is a great help: & a bit of cheese & dates & a tin of milk now & again. The milk issue always means a quart pot of soaked biscuits – boiled & milked & sugared for brek! It’s good. Also we had some Oxo soup tablets & these melted down in boiling water make a good soup-drink in the cold weather.
I would have done A1 but for the loss (with three others) of my blanket & bivvie sheet & overcoat! That was a good Friday morning with a vengeance. That comes of our ‘poking about’ sort of habits – but we got through & still live, so it’s all right now.
You mentioned that Mr Norwood is now going to the Front. It’s a rough old job, but Mr N has had some experience that will doubtless help him & anyway he seems to know how to tackle a job. The trouble with half the Chaplains I reckon is that they rank as officers & mess & live practically with the officers – & then expect sympathy when they come to preach once in a blue moon to the men. I guess it depends largely on the man, as in other spheres.
Our old crowd is still pretty well split: Jack Hardwicke has been way for some months – but I think is in Moascar now – so he may be out again soon. Phil Prime is down at Beitoun at a signalling school. Laffer – our adopted member – has also been away sick for a long time, but I think he is at Moascar now. Les W, Herb G, Archie Blue & Lance Neville are all here & well. Frank Jones is A1 too – I saw him two days ago for a short time. We don’t always camp with his section of the M Guns – so don’t see so much of him.
In future – in Company cables I think I had better mention surnames of those out here – the others in Details or hospital can always send home much more easily on their own of they wish – so if I send & only about 5 or 6 names are mentioned you will know that we can’t answer for the others – but being away they are probably much more comfortable & better off all round than we are here. All the same I have no intention of going back to Details to live if I can help it. I’d sooner stick with the Regiment now till the finish than get a trip for sickness or some such. Some chaps are only too willing to go back & forth. They all politely known as ‘Ammunition carriers’.
I have just been reading a letter received this mail by Blue Crase from Mrs Hogarth (widow) – in reply to one Blue wrote on our behalf after Tom Hogarth’s death at Beersheba. Tom was not with us for very long but was a fine chap – a man of about 35 I think & managed a station before enlisting. Left two little nips beside his wife. He was a very well informed man & a cut above the average all round – so his death (he was killed while stretcher bearing) knocked quite a hole in the troop.
Any how Mrs Hogarth must be a jolly fine woman I reckon. She wrote a good letter thanking Sergeant Crase for writing etc. She reckoned that those who are killed as Tom was are not lost to us- & in her opinion it is the women whose menfolk don’t or won’t realise their duty who need sympathy at a time such as this. The MM [Military Medal] I think was awarded to Tom & this Mrs H says she is glad to have for the children’s sakes – but to her the letters she has received from Tom’s comrades & officers are more precious.
She wrote in a very fine way I thought. I’ve told you bout it in case you ever meet her. Probably you will not – her address I think is Robe Terrace, Medindie – or was. I don’t know where she lives now. I felt like writing a bit on my own to her after things quietened down a bit but not knowing her at all I decided not. I was at the funeral & saw Tom buried. It’s good to hear from one who has lost like that – I believe with Mrs H that a Turkish bullet is no ‘finish’ if a chap had done his job – & I know you do too. And tho of course a chap had no ambition to get shot or any such thing – still he does not worry & is not afraid. It was hard for Aunt Grace & all of them when Gib was killed no doubt. It is bad luck – but it doesn’t pay to think it too much: never never worry.
It is night now & I’m on piquet later on so must get some sleep. About 60 at church this afternoon: we could see the high buildings of Jeroos – 20 odd miles away up on the hills from there we stood.
Love from Spence
Just got a letter from Stow dated 18th March: he is tip top: he said Jeff Hartley is now attached to his Company – don’t know whether as officer, batman, cook or pioneer. Good day Ruth!
Here’s to the good old Regiment, to comrades it contains;
Their loyalty & chivalry each troop of tossing manes.
To squadrons surging thro the night to rout some Turkish throng
Through Egypt’s desert silence when the raiding rides were long.
There’s to the brace old Regiment whose colours black & white
Mean death before dishonour mean right before the might.
The foemen had forgotten that Australia’s southern breed
Would rally round the motherland to succour her in need.
Here’s to the grand old Regiment, Aye! to the whole Brigade,
From Anzac to Australia, may your glory never fade,
To boys we’re proud to fight beside, the gallant First & Second,
To comrades now beyond control – brave hearts from death had beckoned.
Written by some guy for the ‘Kia Ora Cooee’, a magazine lately edited for the mounted troops here. I couldn’t get a copy, worse luck!