3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Friday 21 June 1918 – new khaki trousers issued to everyone, heat & dust

New khaki trousers issued to everyone ~ shorts not permitted this summer ~ off the water job now ~ fair bit of spare time during the day ~ heat & dust ~ bath every day or evening ~ Ecce Homo the cleanest little church I’ve seen

Friday 21 June 1918

Dear Licko

Hooray – here we are nice & comfie in a new pair of khaki ‘Longuns’ – issued this morning – a pair to every man. Can’t think what the army is coming to giving us so many new clothes. These ‘slacks’are given us this year instead of shorts which are not permitted this summer for some reason or other – but these are a very good substitute & much cooler for general knocking about than our riding breeches & leggings. Mine are a bit too long though, so after I have washed them I’ll be cutting a few inches off the legs – then sewing them up again. Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, richman, poorman, beggarman, thief – quite a variety of ‘professions’ from which to choose our living when we return! Which shall it be?

This very flash paper was scattered round Backsheesh [free] just when my stock was almost out – but I have ordered a pad from the canteen, so hope to have plenty any day now. I have written a few letters during the week – am off my water job now, so have a fair amount of spare time during the day: we do outpost every other night but that’s pretty easy here.

Last night I had a snake for company – it crawled up my leg & over my hip before anyone saw it – then it showed up in the moonlight & I was soon told of it by the chaps about. I sat quietly till it decided to continue on its kindly way – & then grabbed my bayonet – but the beggar had dropped down between some big rocks on which we were sitting & no amount of poking & prodding brought him forth again. Another chap just 5 minutes before had chucked one out of the trench – which we were deepening a few inches. These ‘animiles’ are fairly common about here – but not very big, averaging 2 feet to 2 ft 6” long & thin like a whiplash. We have heard that their bite leaves a bit of a sting but no-one to my knowledge has troubled to sample.

Eh Lic – we had boiled mutton, potatoes & marrow & a tin of pineapple for dinner – good enough for home isn’t it?

The night before last I trapped a wandering ant in my left ear – so things are quite exciting. The ant wasn’t much trouble – got it out in the morning with a little warm oil. That’s a thing they teach you in first aid – anything in the ear will most likely float out if the ear is filled with oil: water should never be used cos it only causes swelling (a pea for instance) & you’d be starting a vegie garden in yer ’edd. So when you’re a mother of umpteen children Lic – remember that easy cure.

Well your letters are good fun! In one you were telling me all about the bonny time you had at 2 Wells during your holiday – & riding Topsy & swimming & all & all. Yes, I remember Hilda McCord a bit – she used not to be very big when I was there: I s’pose she told you that her brother Don is here in the 9th.

Judging by your last letter I should think Mr Hancock had been to see you – what fun – & I’m jolly glad you all enjoyed his visit so much. Ask him if he didn’t make a mistake when he told you I had had fever? What sort of fever I wonder? Never heard of the incident myself! Sure.

Have you got into B Basketball team I wonder? – & how goes the school work now? Much easier I guess by now & you’ll be up near the top of the class before the end of the year. What history book do you use for the Junior & what books for English? I have just started reading another book of Ethel Turner’s – which is running in instalments though the Observer: ‘St Tom & the Dragon’. I guess it’s not as good as ‘The Cub’ – but we’ll see. The papers from our last mail have not come yet – they are late getting here this time. We will be looking for more letters in a few days.

I took a walk down to where the horses are a few nights ago – about 1½ miles: saw Jinny – she is not working much & looks good & fat now – I’ll have to get her photo taken some day. I had a yarn with Mitch & Johnny & got some canteen fruit to bring back. I also went to see old Goldie for a little while. He had just had a small parcel from home – with some lollies & toffee in the middle of it – some of which he gave me. It was ‘very nice too’ as mostly is the case with home stuff.

We up here are having the better time of it: it’s very dusty especially at watering times with the horses. The chaps down there are kept pretty busy too looking after 3 or 4 horses each & doing all the other necessary camp work. Probably if we stay here we will be changed over – & we won’t do anything then except growl at the heat & dust. I still go down to our little ‘auger’ nearly every day or evening for a bath – think I’ll be going after tea tonight. It’s too hot during the day. No doubt it’s cold enough just now at home – today is the shortest day in the year – I s’pose here it is the longest – but there’s plenty of summer weather ahead of us yet, in fact it’s not much more than started.

Did I tell Dorry about my good luck in finding an extra water bottle & also a water bag down in the stream while working there last week? Anyway I did find them – so all I want now is a pack mule & I’ll never be short of water. My new water bags from home should be coming along soon I think: I wrote for them from Reshon (near Jaffa) – I think.

I posted you a little parcel the other day – a hankie scenter or something which I bought at the Church of the Ecce Homo in Jerusalem. I wish I had asked the nuns what the description on it meant. I dunno. That came from the bonzarest cleanest little church that ever I’ve seen – & the proceeds of sale of articles go to an orphans fund. The little cross is a sample of a class of work that is very common in Bethlehem: it is all rather frail – but the people make all sorts of things like that, some very fine. That little cross had bad luck – it’s broken as you can see.

Mack asked me if I knew Dave Killicoat. Sure thing – he has been officer temporarily in charge of our troop & gave me the brown paper to wrap up my parcel – as you may notice perhaps by his address on it. He was a Sergeant in No 2 troop & won a DCM at Beersheba & got his commission just afterwards.

Don’t think I know anything more just now – it’s fairly quiet here except for a few shells that kick about on most days. Now hooroo the noo. It’s time you were well in bed – about 3pm here so I won’t keep on talking to a sleeping Licadoo.

Love from Spence