3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Wednesday 10 July 1918 – darning socks, no stunts lately

Reading The Valley of the Moon by Jack London ~ mail has come in to HQ ~ not much news ~ tried to darn my sock ~ no stunts lately ~ trench comforts a week ago ~ new quart pot issued ~ lots of fellows play Patience-first sign of insanity

Same Place
Wednesday 10 July 1918

Dear Ruth

About a minute ago – or less – I finished reading ‘The Valley of the Moon’ by Jack London – hurry up & get it – you’ll enjoy it & no doubt. Some of the people may seem ‘toughies’ at the start but they turn out alright. Wait till you hear ‘Billy’ telling some one ‘You’re standin’ on your foot – get off it!’ Better tell Elf about it too; she won’t regret the time spent in reading it. Neither would Mack & Dorc for a’ that but they are probably such busy ‘leddies’ these days: one preparing for a tour of the mystic (& dirty) East & the other occupied with ways & means to such honorable mention as never yet so ‘ached’ a head. New word – to ache – active.

Only gone silly again s’mornin’: heard that there is a mail over at Brigade HQ so I’m getting in early with this, meeting it half way so as to get a good kick off with an answer as soon as it hits here. Course it’s not time either – only 4 weeks since we had any letters & they were written nearly three months ago. Still I’m not minding that now – as long as this lot comes to light today.

I posted a letter to Father on Sunday – no news much in it I guess – and up to date I’ve got prezactly the same amount to write about today. Bit of a take down – the two pairs of socks I’ve got here: one sock developed a toe-hole a few days ago so I resignedly squatted myself down & tried my hand at darning it – in every way. I knew or didn’t know. Anyway the job had lasted & looks goodo up to date. But I washed the pair & wore them one day – & hanged if the other sock wasn’t showing ‘spuds’ that night. The hole is still there. To cap that one of the other pair caught the disease – a thing which has been wonderfully uncommon ever since I took to wearing fancy socks so being most unenlightened in the art. I couldn’t see my way clear to do any more darning. S’pose I’ll get a fit & mend ’em one of these days – but if they persist out they’ll go & I’ll restock by a visit to my saddle wallet where several good pairs still remain.

That’s where the double heel & toe comes in I guess – think that’s what I’ve heard it called in days gone by – & most of mine have been of that style: these are not. The heels don’t wear as quickly as the toes tho, but during the six months just gone we have been in some pretty rough patches for boots & socks: I pity the chaps who never learned to walk – or whose inheritance in the foot department was only second rate: mine was top-notch, but some of our hill-climbing has made me knock at the knees & my engine goes pit-a-pat. Still the petrol supply is good so she keeps going alright.

No stunts lately – I s’pose you look in vain for Palestine news in the paper – never mind – wait until it’s a bit cooler & doubtless we’ll warm up to some tune again. Here our ‘gardening’ just goes on & we peer like cats in the night from one house top to the house or hill – across the way & if we don’t meeow & fight like Kilkenny cats – still the big dogs behind & in front do a lot of barking.

Don’t think I told you about the last lot of trench comfort – fruit – milk etc that we had a week or more ago – also a new quart pot was issued to nearly every man. So wait till we go down to the Jordan again – we’ll empty it into our quarts – clear the woods from its banks & boil ’em – & then like Polly & Sukie – we’ll all have tea.

Eh Lic, can you play all those nursery song pieces now? & do you still play hymns anywhere ’cept home? & do you still go to Miss Rodger’s for music? I s’pose so but you haven’t told me about your music for a long time. You can give my respects to Miss Ledger & tell her I’m well – but say I’m neglecting my practicing awful. Still it might tickle her fancy to know that when I played The Watchman’s Song (Der Wachterlied) at the Empire Club piano, Port Said – a musical lady actually said – ‘Ah that is Grieg’s – isn’t it?’ (fancy her recognising the noise!) & when I further thumped & trampled on & utterly managed all the choice passages of that No 3 Hungarian Dance – Eckie’s favourite – I was immediately acclaimed a Hartist [artist]! & invited to play at a concert to be held shortly afterwards: that being the morning of my last day down there – I did what Dorc will tell you Proff Mitchell has been known to do – I regretted. You see Miss Ledger taught me those pieces but you might save her distress by telling her I held my tongue about that – so her connection is not likely to suffer as a consequence of my rashness.

Eh Ruth, did you ever learn to play patience – with cards I mean. A fella’s got to play it most other ways these days, but I’ve seen the fellows playing it so much along-side of me that I reckon I could shuffle the cards & play it myself. It’s a one-man game you know, & sure a first sign of insanity – but that’s nothing – cos we are all more or less ‘magnoon’ [mad – from Egyptian Arabic majnūn] here. This letter is first hand evidence of my case – but I’m afraid I can’t work ‘Aussie’ out of it yet: it takes a bad case to beat our ‘Snowy’ as Dr Baker is called. S’pose he got his nickname on account if his surname being the same as that of a famous Australian pug – ‘Snowy’ Baker.

‘No 3 for your mail’ – hurrah – I wonder if there’s any for me – hang on a minute while I go & find out. Stiff luck – it’s only an overture – but the few letters that are here are dated & posted up to middle of May – which is as it should be & promises well for tonight or tomorrow whenever the big bulk reaches us: none of mine here yet.

So I’m finished writing for now.

Hooroo

Spence

Thursday morning

Course we didn’t get a mail today Oh no: for me nos 117-120 inc – which means none missing but Ruth’s from Noarlunga has missed the bus this time. Also I heard from Uncle Bert – Coz Donie, Gwen, Dora, Aunt ‘Callie’, Mrs Harry, Kathie, Miss Ashton. So I’ve had some fun since coming off outpost early this morning. I’ve only just finished reading them now – Father’s letter last so as to prolong the ‘agony’, & I’m so full of news & gladness that I don’t know of anything to write about – so you’ll have to wait till I sort things up a bit. I think I’ll post this & write again to Dorc to catch her birthday if possible. Then if one letter drowns you may get the other one. Letters received are dated up to May 15th.

Old Tommy wounded – well I never! & I was only asking about him in my last letter & wrote to him a couple of weeks ago. I’m glad of that. Hope his wound is not serious & then he will perhaps have a good spell away from France. Tell Lance [?] Good Day for me when you see him.

More news to follow – for the noo – Hooroo with stacks of the best from

Spence

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