3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Wednesday 8 May 1918 – three whole nights sleep, lots of flies & skeeters

Three whole nights sleep ~ old tunic has suffered since Port Said ~ out on mountains of Moab again ~ early reveille here when Jacko comes across & lays fresh eggs for brek ~ haven’t been to the Dead Sea yet but NZ chap says it’s dead rummy water to swim in ~ Les Williams’ head dented to depth of about 2″ – he is getting on ok ~ lots of flies and skeeters ~ good wheat crops ready for the binder

Back again
Neutral Land
Wednesday 8 May 1918

Dear Dorc

Had 3 whole nights sleep! What do you think of that? Found letters in to welcome us on Sunday morning – Nos 103 to 106 inc, from all of you – dated up to 13th March. Good. I’m glad you had my Port Said letters & the bit of a parcel: & you liked the ‘twiddlebits’! That’s all they were – I could get waggon loads of rubbish – by spending the money but hanged if I could see much that you wouldn’t buy just as well if not better in Adelaide. Don’t s’pose I’ll have much chance of buying up in Bethlehem or Jerusalem if we go back that way – but I would like to have something from there.

I sent the last 2 photos in my last letter – to Mack. Yes that’s my old tunic – but it has suffered a bit since Port Said. I’m afraid I’ll have to pension it off. The hat is a new one last Xmas & the band is just a bit of ‘dirty flash’ – white stripe our brigade colour. The above in answer to Mother’s remarks. Think a few of my letters don’t get home somehow – sorry for that – I’m very lucky cos I seem to get all yours.

Haven’t had the papers yet by this latest mail – nor any parcels. Did I tell you I had a cold? Well it disappeared quickly – no trouble. Mother was telling me about Mrs Goulden’s visit with her nips: am glad she enjoyed herself – I know she did cos old Gouldie had a letter & he told me she was awful pleased to have met someone with a ‘probable’ [pun-prodigal?] son over here. Thought Mother was a very nice – I’m not sure if it wasn’t lovely leddy – & the girls were ‘orright’. Course I didn’t say nuffin to put the show away! But you know I had me hown opinion. Gouldie seemed deadly pleased himself when he found out the trick I had played on him & said he’d often wished Mrs G knew someone to compare notes with & so on, so I hope as ’ow no ’arms done.

Got Roll Ryan’s & Jim Campbell’s adds thank you. I was telling Mack last week that I had been over to see Wilf & all that crowd – & saw Ken Gilmour for 5 minutes. I’d like to see ’em again now for a minute to know that they got through all right last week. We had a pretty busy time – out in the mountains of Moab again. Haven’t seen Clem Richardson yet: he may be with Brigade Ambulance – but he is not with our Regiment.

Young Weston – Donie’s friend’s friend – came over this morning for ½ hour or so: this last has been his first ‘rough awakening’ & he – well the 4th Brigade – are noted for putting up a pretty good tale – & I think he will prove a worthy member. Hope he doesn’t scare poor Miss Perce too too much with his squaks & squeaks. He’s not a bad poor coot. Please tell Donie I’ve met him – in case I don’t write to her for a week of two. I’d only just posted a letter to her.

So your greek is over – good – s’pose I’ll hear next mail that you had a win. Are you having a cut at the whole hog this year? Hope so – good luck. I’ll just be home & comfortable in time to see Sir GJ congratulate you. Reading ‘Pollyanna’ were you? I’ve just read a book by WW Jacobs – ‘The Castaways’ – rum sort of thing – no plot, no nothing in it – but it makes you laugh at the pure cheek etc of a certain Mr Knight.

You’ll have a well furnished boudoir before you’ve finished with the ‘Blue Room’. I should think the bookshelves were more needed than lots of things. Glad to know you still have some tennis. Ruth was telling about the Saturday Charlie & Flo were down & Len & Hazel Wilsie & others: go it – we shan’t be long. I heard from Hazel W by this mail – also Donie, Uncle Arthur, Miss Ashton & Mrs Harry. The last named always writes such a bonzie little letter: generally short – cos she writes such a lot, but just k’right. She has sent several snaps of their Busselton Xmas holiday – they are all well. Gwen must have done very well in her Uni exams last year.

Tell Ruth I know the old song ‘They were only playing leap frog’. Father mentioned Ern Jarvis – do you know – I’m sure getting worse! I was over there the other day & quite forgot to find out if Ern was there yet – also Wally Tear: not dopy! I’ll find them next time perhaps. Snaps by Gwen’s camera enclosed in Mack’s letter are not bad – the MC’s glasses spoil the Mount Lofty picture – bad luck. I wouldn’t mind being on that old platform now. Uncle Herb looks A1 & so does the maize crop. Jean’s nip is a little darkie isn’t he?

Talking about babies – Hal’s got the biggest neck of anyone I know. He hasn’t yet advised me of the fact – or else his letter has gone where many good letters go nowadays. Anyhow I s’pose we’ll have to hold the nip responsible for any & every shortcoming now in the parents. No doubt I’ll hear all about Miss Margaret in doo course. Interesting for Mack to meet old Donk Bray: I’ll never forget the day we buried Howard’s cap – & after Fred Hollis, Doug McDowall & I attached to those form irons – Bonz!

Good lad Lic – did you keep on winning that tennis? Waiting for next instalment. How’s the old school going? A bit better by now I expect – you always hit up against something that knocks you for a while – but later on you’ll make it look as silly as a £5 note in Cairo. It’s getting dark – I think I’ll have to knock off for tonight. We get an early reveille here as usual – Jacko comes across & lays us fresh eggs for brek – as soon as it is light: they are rotten enough tho by the time they hit the ground. Goodnight.

Going across to the ickle stream for a wash before going to bed – do you know whether the city of the waters spoken of In places in the Old Testament has any reference to Jericho?

Thursday afternoon

Just had a swim & washed some of my clothes – pretty good after my bath last night eh? You see some of us were brought down here this morning & let go on a sort of picnic – till 4pm – it’s about 2 o’clock now – time to finish this & have another swim before we meet to go back. Perce Mitchell is here with me – we have boiled the quarts & eaten our dinner & washed Jinny & Tommy. I think I was writing to Mother one day at the same spot a few weeks ago. The river runs at 4 or 5 miles per hour – so if we liked to just drift – we would be down in the ‘Salt Sea’ by 3 o’clock. I haven’t been there yet – but a NZ chap here s’mornin’ told me that it’s dead rummy water to swim in – he says you can’t sink in it: can sit up & cut your toe nails almost!

Here the river is about 35-40 yards from bank to bank – & we being out of form it’s hard enough work getting across straight & as for making headway against the stream – finish!

Heard the other day that Les Williams’ head was dented to depth of about 2 inches & might have been a go – but he is getting on all right now: he doesn’t seem to like living in the 14th much, but no doubt he will appreciate the change of scenery – when he gets out & about. Herb Groves is doing all right too. Did I tell you that Jaick H & young Laffer came back a couple of weeks ago? They did & Jack has gone on to the Transports as a driver – not a bad job – he reckons he is ‘home & dried’. Frank, Lance & Arch are all OK. We had a bit of a gatherin’ the other night to discuss recent events & our health. Dick Ridge from the first was over the other night – he is still going strong.

I could write a bit more comfortably if about 50,000,000 flies & sketters would clear out & get drowned but hang ’em I’ll go a bit yet.

Perhaps you noticed in New Years honours the name of Brig. General Cox – commonly called ‘Old Charlie’ in these parts. He’s our Brig – that’s all: got the CMG or something. Now our Regiment’s Colonel Bell has the CMG – & as his name is George the fellows reckon the letters stand for ‘Call me George’. Other recent issues were MCs to Lts Griffin & Kidman – also some MMs to NCOs & soldiers. Mr Kidman was with our troop for a while – (you may have noticed his sig. on my letter) & it was on account of the doings on the night we lost our blankets that he caught this MC – so we were not altogether losers. Mr Kidman is away at a school now & Mr Macdonald – whom I remember telling you about last October is now our troop officer. I think he is likely to remain & we should get on all right with him.

The ‘Company’ was discussing ‘Cable’ the other night – but as we hope & almost expect to be going way out of it for a spell very shortly we decided to hang off a little longer. Hope we will go back to our Xmas possie in the land of oranges & near the sea. They tell us the oranges are still good over there. It won’t be long before those green vines & fruit trees that we left will be bearing & then I’ll be offering you a grape or a fig – perhaps. There are some over in these parts too – but nothing like such good gardens – & less attention.

Our horses have had the benefit of a few bonzar wheat crops about here for a month or so past – just ready now for the binder some of them: the cutter tho will probably be a sickle. Think I’ll stop short on this paper – I’ve never answered your long conference & holiday letters properly – have to wireless.

Hip Hip for this trip.

See you another day.

Spence


Enclosure

Eh Dorc

Thought of a bit of biz. Will you pay in £4-10/- to your a/c at C’wealth Bank at 30th June next or upon receipt of this letter. I don’t remember Mother telling me anything about paying my insurance: spect she has done so though. Also my Y Emma subscription runs out in August – so instead of £4-10/- as above – give the bank £4 & the YMCA 10/6- – I think that’s it. Carry on independently as regards the squandering of the principal deposited.

The colours enclosed may interest you. Once piece is new – the other was on my coat for six months & I changed it for a new one. The other original old one has been on for over 12 months now – you may remember if I mentioned it – that I had ’em sewn on while on leave in Cairo 20-4-17 – the morning of the day I went to the Pyramids. I’ll send you the other old one some day when I’ve energy enough to sew a fresh one on my sleeve.

This time last year I was getting my introduction to Jacko at Shellal.

The page of the Bible or Koran or whatever it is I found in an old monastery at which we watered – five or six miles from here. It is part of a large book anyway – the monastery is noted on [?] of an old tomb which is there said to be the tomb of Moses. I don’t know what Moses cos he is supposed never to have stepped across the river. The place is deserted & dirty & broken now though. There is also another place near here named after John the Baptist – we got shelled there 3 months ago.

Better shut up eh?

Hooroo

Spence

 

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