3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Monday 26 August 1918 – paper famine, Mountains of Moab, horse-Starlight

Might be taking another trip northwards like last November ~ writing in the YM with a cup of tea & biscuits ~ paper famine again ~ can see the Mountains of Moab from here ~ everything pretty quiet since 6 weeks ago ~ fresh writing pads at the canteen ~ riding a horse called Starlight

Dusty Oliland
Monday 26 August 1918

Dear Dorc

It will soon be the first of September once more. I hoped to have been in Port Said about now so as I could send you a cable for your birthday But I’m still morning ‘soldiering on’ & looking forward to a trip. By some whispers which float about we may be taking another bit of a trip northwards some time shortly like we did last November: if so I hope it will be just as successful – it would do me to pull up in Damascus if we could keep the stuff up for such a distance. You may think we’ve got a bit of cheek talking like that – still when we do start we must go forward. Hang ’em! Good news still comes through from France – may it continue & so say all of us.

Guess where I’m writing & under what bootiful conditions – dinkum. In the Y Emma – & along side me on the table a cup of tea & some biscuits – all backsheesh. It’s an every afternoon institution for anyone who troubles to come along & get it – What Ho things are looking up in our part of the land. I think I’ll be here pretty often – have a bickie! This tea is bonz & hot too. Wait till we get home & come in to the lawn for tea from the tennis court on Saturday afternoons. Spect I’ll be put on stoking cos every sojer will want a bucket full. Now this is where the sad affair starts! Paper famine again: none in my hump, none in YM & none at canteen ’cept this very block: you were all writing on old uni green paper last time (June 20th) – wish I had a bundle of it here. YM reckon they’ll have some in again tho any day now. There – finished my biscuits & tea – very nice too.

You’re a good judge of pencils my lad: this ‘Venus is a good one’ only arrived in nice time too as my others were all getting pretty short or lost. Eh I wrote to Ruth the other day from near Jericho – & told her about a book that may interest you called ‘The Feminist Movement’ by Ethel Snowden – deals with the increasing part women are taking in the world’s affairs.

On one of your recent letters I discovered at the end the letters SWAK – Swak I says to myself – SWAK – what the dickens does that mean? Got serious but I couldn’t nut it out at all. So I said to Hoppie (the chap who sent home the iron cross) ‘Do you know the meaning of this ’ere?’ He said no – but a week or so after I saw one of his envelopes with the same thing on so I reckoned he knew something – ‘Sealed With A Kiss’! – so he said – well I’m hanged – that’s the worst of not having a girl – you see a chap doesn’t get put up to all these jokes (Hoppie’s got one you see). It’s that what you meant it for – or have you another motto? S’pose that’s yours & Elf’s finish off to your love notes. Bad Luck!

See the Mountains of Moab from here. Had a bonz bath the other night down by the same little stream I told you about a couple of months ago – where I was on the mosquito job. It still runs as fresh & clear as ever. We keep the water bag full & hanging up in the tent & when we get a thirst up we sneak up to the bag & mention that ‘we’ll have an Auja’ [Auja – stream that flows into the Jordan] – it’s good to have the old water bag going this dry weather.

Hope you’ll be able to find your way through these scraps of your own old note paper. I’m not putting down much sense I’ll bet – cos there’s a crowd here of noise of course. Still there’s nothing to write about – so doesn’t matter much. We’ve got a new parson called Dow, a Victorian I believe – don’t know him yet, The Boozer Bates has gone home I believe so if ever you hear of him don’t believe a word he says.

I see by your letter that Mr Bloomin Crawley is still at home: did I tell you that I had a letter from Mr Diamond – Perth Manager the other day – & he told me that Willy Walker had resigned on account of ill health. The Mr Kaines who is taking his place was an inspector & once inspected us at Two Wells. Respects to Mr Slater & Bluntish if you see them any time in the old AO.

I saw about Lt Laurie’s death in the paper & wondered whether it was Jack – that’s stiff luck isn’t it? He used to play a bonz game of tennis – played for Salisbury against Two Wells once when I was there. Some of our chaps have been over today fixing up the crosses over Lt Kelly’s & another chap’s grave. Some reckoned he should have been taken back to Jericho for burial seeing that he was the first man to enter the town when we came round out of the hills last February. Still he’s not very far from it now – & I guess it doesn’t matter.

Everything seems to have been pretty quiet round here since that noise of six weeks ago. We are now on a bit of an outpost tonight near our old post but we are having a pretty easy time. All with the horses this time so far.

I s’pose Ruth’s letter wouldn’t get lost by any chance – I’m still surviving under the enormous responsibilities of Lance Corporalship of which I told her. Don’t think it’s worthwhile altering my address – I like the look of [?] just as well – if not a bit better. Did I tell you that Stan Prince had gone to a cadet school – & Chuc Riley, another old Kyrian in M Gun Squadron, is going at any time – something for Mr Hollidge to put in his pipe & smoke about. I wrote to him the other day – & to ickle Jan.

Toosdee [27 August 1918]

Hooray – had a win – went to the canteen after I had written all that rubbish yesterday & found that they had just received a fresh stock of stuff – writing pads included so I immediately purchased itneen [two] and & sold wahhed [one] to the Hon Bob Bell QED. Talking about old Comikals – did you notice that Lt JNB Loudon had won an MC or some sich. Well that’s ‘old Loudie’. I used to work alongside him on ledgers on A/O [Adelaide Office] & he was at Maleelalala [Mallalala] when I was at Two Wells till they made M an agency – & so we say ‘Good old Loudie’. He’s a jolly decent old stick.

We had an easy night on outpost last night – bonzar moonlight makes it all the better for ‘peering’ as no doubt Len would say. S’pose by now he is toot tooting around on the motorbike like any flash lad – unless Hurt is extra lucky & is still in SA. But they tell us that no-one stays long nowadays in camp at home so I guess he has left before this.

Last page

I haven’t heard anything lately of Wilf – dunno whether he is back with the Regiment or not – they went away from here when we came down, but as usual the change over was at night & I didn’t see any of them. S’pose I’ll meet Ern Jarvis one of these days – I went to see Roy Dyer too. It’s marvellous how little you see of anyone in another brigade. Did I tell you that Dick Ridge had gone to hospital with pneumonia. He did – & he is now getting on A1 & I spect he is looking for some one in Port Said to play him tennis.

Don’t think I told you about ‘Starlight’ (developed from Spot as I first called him). He is the horse I’m riding at present, but not for good, cos he is a spare from No 4 Troop – not a bad old crock. I was sitting in the hump having Brek one morning & I spotted the little white spot on Starlight’s ribs so I called him Spot on the spot, but that didn’t seem aristocratic sounding enough for his tall height, so I carried on in the same strain & got to Star – Starlight – Captain Starlight (you know the famous bushranger?) but his common working everyday name now is Starlight – good!

I’ve had a bit of a cold – but feel as right as apple pie the noo & ’ope as ’ow you’re the same.

Time to knock off & post this don’t you think – so hip hip

From Spence