3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Saturday 13 July 1918 – camped against a hill, shell fragments humming down

Camped against a hill so Jacko can’t hit us ~ M gunners nearby had a shell in their cookhouse ~ better conditions for sleeping because away from the horses ~ have not been stunting

Saturday 13 July 1918

Dear Dorc

I’ve just been filling up your birthday envelope with all sorts of rubbish – hope you’ll get them in time for the 1st & enjoy the reading of the (?) language I’ve copied for your edification. Since I’ve started writing here this afternoon we’ve had some moving pictures. We are camped against a big hill – & Jacko therefore can’t very well hit us cos you see if he lifts his gun to clear the top of the hill the shells must almost of necessity go over us – tucked right in against its side as we are. But some of the shells drop very close for all that. About a dozen have just dropped at anything from 30 to 150 yards from our ‘Home Boys Home’ – & the small pellets fling around all ways & drop like big hail stones around us: there’s another right now & the pieces are still humming down.

There is a section of M Gunners just 20 yards on our left & a couple of days ago the best shot on record lobbed a shell right in the midst of their cookhouse – & marvellous to relate never stirred a dixie on the fire. Luckily the cook was up in the bivvie above just for a minute – I reckon he would have got a puncture if he had been in his usual place. That’s just for something to talk about – it’s nothing of importance.

Now for an answer to – more shells & one piece just hit our bivvie – & a small piece just lobbed in front – here I’ll put it on paper to show you its small size & ragged shape – a chap might get a trip yet this afternoon – you never know your luck!

Now we have only deserted our home & found better cover under rocks etc but I may as well continue my missive. Rather interesting afternoon – & HOT. I was a’gwine to say before that I’d answer some of my recent mail. I posted a bit to Ruth the day before yesterday saying that I had umpteen letters or so – & all yours from home – then yesterday morning I had a 2nd edition from you & Mother – dated 19th & 20th May – & letters from Stella Rowe & Aunt Flo. I’ve answered Stell’s already also Uncle Bert’s – so am going well. I wonder if Hurt will have left SA by the time this arrives – s’pose he will try & get in the 9th with Wilf so I may see him before long. I was over at the canteen yesterday & stopped at the horses to see old Gouldie & some others on the way home. I saw Bert Cordon – a Two Wells lad who has been over here for about 6 months. He has been learning signalling & only came out to the Regiment a few days ago. He is a son of Old Mr Cordon & brother of Len’s lovely Mavis with the blue eyes & golden hair – eh Lic?

So Mrs Rowe & Hurt have been listening to Mr Hancock’s tales of Egypt too – good. Arch Blue told me yesterday that his sister had also had Harry to visit her & she said he spoke well at the 3LH Club meeting. Gouldie also heard about him from his wife.

Here I’m back again in the humpy – too hot & uncomfortable up there & I think the storm is nearly over now. Well – apple pie argument at Sunday dinnertime eh? ‘Gib it’ – as the Gyppo kids say – either hot or cold or both or neither – I won’t argue with it. On that same day May 5th I had a good feed too – it was the day after we got back from the 2nd Es Salt stunt – of which you seem to have read in the papers – & we had a bonz mail in – that’s about all I put in my diary for that day – & the next day I just remarked that I had had a full night’s sleep – the first since April 2nd. For longer than that now we have lived under similar sleeping or non-sleeping conditions – but it has been a much easier time – because we have been away from the horses & have not been stunting – & tell Sal it doesn’t matter about wither turkey or goose or any other thing the day we pull into the O[uter] Harbour. Sure thing I remember that spoggie we plucked – funny how such stoopid little things stick in your memory – or at least come to the surface now & again. I’m glad you got that Old Port Said letter after all – also that amongst Mr Hancock’s photos there were some of the old beach – El Marakeb – where we had such a bonzar time.

I’m glad the water bags are coming – they will probably be a day or two later than the letters – I’ve managed all right though up to date with the bag I found & an extra bottle.

You were telling me of terminals – one over & two to come: hope they all got knocked back as they deserved. Did you manage to spend that 30/- that you skinned Lady Deb Moulden Hackett for? Not too bad if you get 2 or 3 jobs like that now & again. Never mind of the kids won’t learn – that’s their funeral – not yours. Still like all schoolmarms I s’pose you want to see results.

Glad Father’s & Mother’s birthdays were satisfactory – & the cake Licko made for the occasion. I have not had that letter of Elf’s that you said she had written – but it may come yet. Bad luck Miss Jackson being ill – Stell Rowe said she had been at home at Two Wells for some time & Mrs J had also been ill. No you didn’t tell me before about that ‘Economic’ debate you had: you are sure & faith getting to be some leddy & stump speaker – you don’t want to make it too hot you know.

In Mrs Harry’s letter she told me that Gwen had been accepted for the job in India – not to happen for some time yet of course – also that Colin Wilson had gone into camp at Blackboy Hill. He is not very strong but very eager – & only just 19 so they are a bit anxious about him. Mr Wilson sent his regards to me & said he would like to hear! Well – if he wrote to me he might have a chance – not that I wouldn’t like well enough to write to him as it is – but I owe letters enough now. I used to enjoy my occasional visits to the Wilson’s home in Perth. Mrs W is bonz – & so is he. I went once with some of the Harrys & we had singing galore. Colin is a wonder on the goanna & organ – plays bonzarly. He has been conducting Perth Baptist Choir for the last year or more – & got on fine with it so says Mrs Harry.

I was interested to hear that George Ligertwood had enlisted. I had been wondering several times what he thought about the joke – especially since one of his old law student pals has got in – Mr Hannan. They have both got on jolly well in their profession. Fancy old Tommy marking a shell (or bullet) – a shell I guess: good old Eckee – I hope he will have a jolly good holiday out of it. Tell Mrs Tommy it’s the best thing in the world that could happen to a weary warrior as long as it’s not too bad.

I was glad that Mack’s & Lic’s letters which I wrote on March 10th had arrived safely – cos I didn’t write again for nearly a month after that & I’m afraid you would have a long wait: but you should have had our cable shortly after the date of your last letters – as it was sent on June 1st.

Ruth is a lucky ‘dorg’ – having holidays at Noarlunga – whom does she know down there I wonder? Well I think I’ll finish & take this to the mail bag – will be on outpost tonight.

Flash paper this isn’t it? I found it today amongst my old ‘doings’.

Now Hooroo old Dorcie – I’m fit, feeling bonz & we are due for another spell in about a week.


Love from Spence

PS – Forgot to say Many Happy Returns you old 22 year old – have to turn you out to grass pretty soon now: Good Day.