3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Tuesday 4 June 1918 – inspection by Gen Chaytor, cleaning Solomon’s Pools

Inspection by Gen Chaytor-jolly nuisance ~ received parcel-biscuits, clothes, socks, soap & kill-em-quick ~ still on Hopscotch gun school ~ church services-OD in the YM, CofE outside, RC to a church near Bethlehem-they get the best go of any of us ~ play at the YM ‘Seven Days Leave’ tip top fun ~ at camp cleaning out Solomon’s Pools, digging wells, pumping for horses, making roadways, horse fodder ~ have to get up at 3.45am to ride to the fodder dump with the limbers (two-wheeled cart) ~ sun rises about 4.50am

Tel el Fatigue
Tuesday 4 June 1918

Dear Ruth

It’s your turn isn’t it? I hear that they are pulling down the GPO this aftie – so in case it’s time I’ll slip in to town & post this. Just had a bit of an inspection by General Chaytor – CO of the Anzac Mounted Division – jolly nuisance, they only ride round with a huge following & don’t see anything of the cleaning up & bother we’ve been put to. Still it helps to pass the time & apparently that’s the main idea in this war.

Had my two parcels the other day – Dorc’s ‘bisticks’ or ‘horse feed’ as she was pleased to brand it, & the parcel of clothes, socks, soap & ‘Kill-em-quick’! The clothes just hit it about right cos my old knicks are about worn out & singlets are getting more holy & dirty as the days go by. I see they are Coz Hazel’s make of socks – good – I owe Gwen a letter so I’ll write to Hazel also & tell her i’ve gor her foot warmers.

Course we took all chances & risked the consequences of eating the biscuits: no ill results fo far Dorc. Only thing wrong was that they didn’t last long enough. They were just as fresh & tasty & unbroken as if they had just come out of the oven. Still Aunt Flo’s cake has not arrived – but of course it may turn up: hope so anyway. I had a letter from her amongst last mail. Just previously I had written to Lewer & Billy: I’m afraid they’ll be thinking that their letters will never be answered.

The schools’ day in Adelaide must have been a large affair: you said Mr Hartley lent a motor to be decorated for the procession: when I didn’t know he had one. My word I’d have liked to have seen Stan play that single you told me about – it must have been great. That’s an old trick of his – winning the last 3 games straight & the match when the other chap thought he had won. Perhaps the game in France just now is like that eh? Fritz thinks he has got one in maybe, but he will doubtless stop something big & heavy directly & it will be our set, then only a few more to win & we’ll have the match altogether.

I wrote a week ago to Father. I’m still on the ‘Hopscotch’ gun school, only a couple more days to go. On Sunday we had a holiday: OD [other denominations] church service in the morning in the Y Emma, C of E out in the open, & RCs went to a church hear Bethlehem: they get the best go of any of us I reckon. The CEs [Church of England] have just got a new parson, a young chap who looks a big improvement on some others – & who gave a decent address on Sunday evening between times at the Sing-Song. The latter was a good one – lots of good old ’uns & we kept at it till pretty late.

Last night at the YM the ‘Blue & Whites’ gave a concert or play entitled ‘Seven Days Leave’ – in Cairo of course: they were mainly supposed to be officers – & they go round to the races – drinking etc etc. A Colonel and Captain & Lieutenant all meet a nice young lady & the merry Lt gets miles ahead of the others. So the Colonel gets the ‘impudent youth’s’ leave cancelled & he is packed off to rejoin his unit. However the train is wrecked at Romani. ‘Algie’ is hurt & returned to the 14th where his girl nurses him & to cap it all at the finish the old Colonel has to give her away at the wedding. ‘And this is the end of a Perfect Day’ – so they sang. It was tip top fun & plenty of made up songs & skits re the beloved ‘home’ in Palestine.

News seems about ‘mafish’ today. Quiess mongeree hinna – mush-mush (apricots), pineapples, pears, peaches, gooseberries in tins keteer, plenty paloose, moiya keteer, finish Turrk – koola quiessketeer! Which means – ‘good tucker here, fruit (canteen stuff etc) any amount – plenty money & water, no Jackos – all – or everything good – very much – or in Ausie – bonzar!’

Gouldie & Jack Hardwicke both heard about that Regimental club meeting of leddies at Port Road, Beverley – & I dare say Herb did too. He was still at Port Said the other day but about ready to come out again at any time. I expect Les W will get a chance of going through a signalling school before he comes back.

Rumours flying that we are yet to see ——-s & Doris Goode be4 the match is over: dunno. Only fit for Turks & n-ggers (Aunt Bertha’s n-gs) to work up the valley yonder during the summer. Still I don’t s’pose we’ll have such excitement as that would mean – we’ve heard these tales before. These chaps are there now in fairly large numbers.

The name of the camp is the result of the number of fatigues which were flying all ways when we first arrived – such as cleaning out Solomon’s Pools – digging wells in others places & pumping for the horses – making roadways, cleaning camp of stones – besides all the ordinary jobs – drawing horse fodder & rations and so on. If fatigue goes anyway towards winning the war well the LH have done their cut. It’s not so bad here now – but that’s not much consolation if we have to move – as we may any day.

There is one job which comes in turn – & our Squadron supplies the men every 3rd day. It’s only to draw fodder etc from the Brigade dump where we often go to water but you see the dump is 3 or 4 miles away (nearly into Bethlehem) & we have to get there with the limbers before 5am so are hoisted out of the blankets here at 3.45am. That’s not very nice, but it’s soon daylight & the ride is enjoyable afterwards on a nice springy morning. The sun rises these days at about 10 to 5 & sets somewhere round 6.30.

Yesterday in Bethlehem there was a bit of a celebration on account of the King’s birthday – a military Guard of Honour & march through. I was picked out as one to go from our troop – then had to stay home on account of Hopscotch school. An address was presented by the people in there to General Chaytor – the band played & people stood on the roofs of their houses to view the proceedings & to cooee in their way.

Did I tell you about Solomon’s Wells or Pools? Don’t know if he built ’em – s’pose so: three great big tanks – walled in to catch the water as it flows down between the big hills & when the first one is full the water runs on & into the 2nd & 3rd. They are about 150 yards long by 80 yards wide & 20 or more feet deep I reckon. So ask Lick what amount of water the 3 would hold when full: they look as ancient as lots of other things in this country & I don’t doubt they are very old. I think they must leak a bit, anyway the top one is nearly dry now. Course a lot of horses have had their long dry necks well washed inside a good many times, so it’s no wonder the water goes. What if Solomon had a ‘geek’ at us tho himself – when we are pumping away there?

It’s nearly dark now so I’ll stop – this must be posted tonight. Hope the kindie is still going jus-as-well! Sergeant Johnson just passed & said – give her my kind regards – so there you are. I think I’ve told you before that Johnson comes from near Mallala & I used to bump him at footie in the years of long ago.

Now hooroo, Good Luck.

Spence


HSK: Lots of little notes are put in with the socks do you know? This was in a pair of socks that came into our bivvie today. Dear brave soldier – these socks I have knitted for you. I hope they will fit & I also most sincerely trust this most terrible war will soon end & our sons, husbands & brothers come home safe & sound of limb to sunny South Australia. How tired you must be of this long long struggle for our country & the dear mothers of dear little children & how brave of you to endure such hardships. Good [?] from Mrs F Proctor, South Australia, March 1918. ‘God be with you’

We all have these gas helmets ‘in case’ – & have been through a trial test with them. They are not very comf to keep on for long – to walk or work in. Hope we will never need them.
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