3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Saturday 20 July 1918 – malaria, old Jerusalem, back to the beach

4000′ nearer heaven than a week ago ~ after a peaceful time I came near to going to Berlin ~ rotten luck in losing Mr Kelly, one of our best officers ~ a few have had malaria-so far I’m exempt ~ got a job with advance party to new camp ~ leave pass to go to old Jerusalem-got my hair cut, big feed of watermelon & dinner at a restaurant ~ plenty of tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes ~ water bags arrived ~ job as quartermasters assistant ~ we are moving-2 day trip back to the old beach

Finish Tel El Bellum – Hurrah
Saturday 20 July 1918

Dear Mack

It’s not so bad weather here at all at all – you see we live about 4000 feet nearer heaven than we did a week ago – so if a chap uses his horse blanket as well as his own to keep himself warm at night you won’t growl I guess – it’s quite a pleasant change too quite apart from the weather.

I wrote to Dorc last Saturday & told her what a quiet peaceful time we were having & in less than 12 hours afterwards I came as near going to Berlin or further (?) as I’ve done yet. Whatehum! It was some night – but we were set as soon as it got daylight & our dinkum ‘freund Fritz & Hans & Karl’ wished they were further. Now they that didn’t go to glory are tasting the luxuries of an enemy internment camp somewhere in Egypt.

Some of our fellows were wounded – not very badly but we had rotten luck in losing Mr Kelly. No doubt you’ll have seen of his death in the papers by this time – he was one of our best officers – they seem to always get it first. A youngster who had only just joined up was also killed – it’s bad luck for their people – but taking things all round we came off with wonderful luck & a sure good win. Most Deutschers ever captured on this front – to say nothing of poor old Jacko’s casualties which were pretty numerous! Now it’s ‘kidstakes’ from the heads handed out right & left – backsheesh.

Perce Mitchell is very unwell – malaria probably – it has got a lot of us lately – I think Perce will most likely get a trip to hospital. So far I’m exempt.

One thing I stopped writing letter for a week – & now I’ve found some paper again. This belonged to ‘Johnny’ our Sergeant – who got a nice little one in the cheek: s’pose he is just about ready to go tracking round Port Said again by now.

I had a bit of luck – got a bit of a job – coming along with an advance party to our new camps & so had more comfortable travelling. We stayed one night just outside old ‘Jeroos’ & yesterday morning I went in for a few hours on a leave pass & poked around shops etc. Got my hair cut at a barber’s shop – bought a Collins pocket dictionary (to study in my spare time), had a big feed of watermelon & dinner at a restaurant. There are plenty of tomatoes & cucumbers here now, & grapes too, tho the last are still a bit sour. & all pretty dear to buy, but it’s good to be able to get fresh fruit. I’ve had a few pears & apples too so we are likely to get fat again here. I wasn’t sorry to say Hooroo to our beloved old valley for a time again.

Those water bags came to light the other day – good luck – I’ve not filled them yet as my little old one is still good – but I guess we’ll use them before long. They look goodO & should hold all right.

Monday 23 July 1918

Finished writing on Saturday & yesterday was busy most of the day, so could not continue till now. I’ve got a job for 2 or 3 weeks while our Quartermaster’s assistant is away on leave – & as Tom Marshall is QM it’s not a bad job either. Tom is an old No 3 troop man – wounded – trip to Aussie & back here 18 months ago.

We hear today that we have to do another shift on tomorrow night – with the old Beach (!) as our destination: it is a two day trip from here & if they do it in easy stages it may take 3 days – but I think two will do it. If we really camp right on the beach & stay there for a month I’ll go mad – won’t be bonz —– plenty of good fruit land all round there too you know. Those trees that we left in bloom in spring time & the vines too should be in good bearing now – & ‘dickin’ we won’t hop into the old sea for a swim – still this is all bubbles up to date so I’ll shut up.

One thing that was not bubbles was a mail that came in yesterday – written just 7 weeks ago – June 1st & 2nd – goodO. You were all saying how long it was since you had heard from me – bad luck – I didn’t write any letters from March 10th till about that date in April – but I would not be surprised if you had our cable on the very day you posted those letters to me – it was sent on the 1st June from Port Said. No doubt I’ll hear next mail that you had it safely – so that’s all right. Beside your letters 122,3,4,5,6, I heard from Elf, Donie, Mrs Harry & Miss Ashton – & a mail from elsewhere brought me letters from Hal, Aunt Bertha & Wit.

The Indian gawks have turned you down I hear! The stupid things evidently don’t want to encourage private enterprise in missions – serves ’em right if they go short. You didn’t know this when you wrote but you doubtless heard soon after – cos Hal’s letter is dated 18th June. Bad luck & guess you’ll be a bit disappointed at not doing the trip after having thought of it for so long.

Good lad Dorc for getting a 1st Class – phew, not some scholar – hope she can keep it up in all her subjects till the end of the year. Ruth’s account of her gadding about was quite interesting: she will know SA geography by experience better than any of us at this rate. I’m wondering how your school singing class is progressing under your baton!

You were talking of teaching yourself ‘hooks & crooks’ in prep for India. I dare say you have cut it out by now, but if you have not – & still intend to learn shorthand you’ll do well to find our from some authority as to which is the latest & best & speediest way. I think that old Pitman of mine is out of date now, & it would be a pity to waste time over a style if there is a better one available. I have an idea there is a better one.

Thanks for Tommy’s kind regards – over the ‘Sunday afternoon’ gate – it is a Sunday afternoon gate isn’t it? – quite a different creation from the ordinary everyday passage blocker from house to stable yard. I can see it now just as if I had been there yesterday – & the tap (or the water) just drip-dripping into the trough – even to the everlasting cow – as you call her. Wish I had her here anyway in a standing camp.

Many interesting items of news in my mail but I must not stop to argue about ’em now. It’s nearly watering time & mail is closing here very soon. I’ll write again in our next camp.

Hooroo the noo old gal from your unrelenting unfaithful Bruder Spop