3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Monday 1 July 1918 – Red Crescent & Red Cross, no news – nothin’ doin’

Tents with red crescent above 8 miles up the valley ~ Turkish hospital; visited hospital at Beersheba, red cresent flying, but before we left the Red Cross was flying ~ German & Turkish prisoners tried to escape in lorries loaded with bread, so a few chaps galloped after them and caught them-the bread fell into good hands ~ read Sir Henry Galway’s address at opening of Returned Soldiers Club ~ used to read all his speeches when I was still thinking about it in the West ~ not sure how much financial support the healthy returned soldiers will need


Monday 1 July 1918

Dear Mother

I’ve been over a week getting a start this time I think. I posted a growler to Mack about yesterday & a letter to Lic just before that. Don’t believe our last mail papers had some when I wrote – I had some WAs [West Australians] & the 20th April Observer with pictures of the School’s Day on the Adelaide Oval – & other things. Even in the paper pictures those maypoles, Union Jack & Australian Anzac etc looked quite plain: they must have looked bonz & I guess the nips thought it great fun to be in the show. The old Adelaide Oval looks alright with its setting of trees around & at the back of the photos St Peters Cathedral. Doesn’t take long to transplant yourself – I wish a bit of Adelaide’s beauty could be found here: this is too barren.

From our trench up on the hill we can see for miles up the valley: about eight miles up on the left side is a group of tents above which waves the Red Crescent – a Turkish Hospital. Another place looking similar & flying the same flag is regarded with suspicion – it is more than likely that its contents are there in readiness to make hospital patients of us. That’s the sort of thing Jacko & his Hun friends do.

I think I told you about a visit to the hospital at Beersheba – months ago. It was flying the crescent & full of Turkish wounded & their hospital staff including a Turkish doctor & at least two Germans, when we first saw it, but before we left the town the Red Cross flew from the tower above its second story. At another place where we have ‘visited’ twice we have seen another quite decent hospital & as we rode below in the narrow street there was a Deutscher quack looking very sourly at us & strutting up & down the balcony. I s’pose he didn’t like to see those cheeky youths riding so gaily along & grinning up at him – & what made ’em feel worse was the fact that the natives showed so plainly their pleasure at our coming. Crowds of them later on left the place with us.

So by the way – did some Hun & Jacko prisoners. Some of these objected to being caught & reckoned on getting away along a good road in big motor lorries: but these were loaded with fresh bread & other abdul stuff, & anyhow they can’t go very quickly – so a few chaps spurred up their nags & did a gallop & caught them. So the bread fell into good hands that day – & I never heard who paid the baker! Worse luck it was not our Regiment that had that bit of fun: still it helped to make the time pass pleasantly for us all.

You see I’m absolutely stumped for present day news – on account of ‘nothin’ doin’’. I borrowed a book & read it yesterday – not a bad yarn of the Indian civil service sort called ‘Angel’ by BM Croker. You see we laze a good bit in the day & play cats here at night. I’ve done a bit of digging – but have struck no gold yet: nor are we cultivating violets – still its nice to dig a little for the health’s sake in the cool of the evening.

I never hear now of Mrs Tommy: what has become of her lately? Doesn’t she still come to see you? It’s time we had another mail in – I hope it will come soon as our last letters are 2½ months old now. We ought to stand a chance of getting a big lot.

I read Sir Henry Galway’s [Governor of South Australia] address on the occasion of the opening of the Returned Soldiers’ home or club on North Terrace. He seems to know how to talk ‘inspiration’ – & I guess he works it too. He says he has ceased to talk ‘recruiting’ – I think it’s a pity cos I never heard anyone who spoke so well as Sir Henry’s sounded in print. I dare say I’m one of his recruits myself. I used to read all his speeches when I was still thinking about it in the West.

However much more money are they going to raise for returned soldiers? I guess a few are willing to be a bit independent when they get home & its only encouraging laziness & using money that in some cases I guess can hardly be spared, to raise great fat accounts in the Commonwealth Bank where it will probably remain for years & years to come. No doubt the crippled & sick may need assistance, & doubtless will receive it – but I don’t think the many healthy & able-bodied chaps who will be coming along some day need so much monetary preparation to be made. Still – I don’t know all the insides of the many schemes yet so I won’t argue.

Just guess whom I dreamt came here the other day – a new reinforcement for our troop? Only Father! We were sitting on the ground amongst the stones eating dinner – & not talking much – (too full for words! I thought it was bonz) & at the finish Father – who was clean shaven – pulled out his pipe & lighted it most naturally. So I looked in my haversack & found my Xmas pipe which I have never smoked, but lighted up just as if it was the usual thing. Nobody expressed any surprise – nor either of us at each other smoking. I never knew Father was coming & didn’t ask him why – or how he had left the horses & everything & everybody at home – never thought – then somebody said ‘Stand to’ & I woke. It would be bonz for me – but I’m glad there’s no chance of it happening all the same. And some people say soldiers aren’t stupid! Waal waal.

Did you hear of the mental hospital for returned soldiers which was opened a while ago? They call it their ‘Nut Factory’ – place for me. I forget if I told you how ‘chunder Loo’ got his name. Really he is only a Sergeant Major & his Aussie name is Ryan but you see he often says ‘Squadron atten – tchon!’ with such emphasis on the ‘chun’ that he got called ‘chun’ & so Chunder Loo & now he is spoken of as nothing else but ‘Chun’ for short.

If I think of any more after dinner I’ll tack it on before sending this going. But I think this is enough of rot & nothing for any one letter.

So I’ll ring off – with love to all of you

From Spence