3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Tuesday 3 September 1918 – hot valley, Dead Sea, Mount of Temptation

Mail is coming ~ too dusty ~ this hot valley knocks a lot of chaps with malaria ~ gift stuff from League of Loyal Women ~ caught sight of the Dead Sea 6-7 miles away ~ can see Mount of Temptation with monastery built into the side ~ running water about 300 yards from camp ~ latest Two Wells news-Les Secombe killed

Same place
Tuesday 3 September 1918

Dear Lic

There is a mail coming – in fact some of it is here, so I’m going to get a start before my share arrives & have a return volley nearly ready to fire back at you. I wrote to Dorc about a week ago & since then I’ve had only enough inspiration for one letter – there’s ‘nothing to write home about’ here y’see except now the anticipation of letters which must come in tonight surely. And we will be ‘at home’ to read ’em. What’s that about counting chicks be4 they’re hatched? Bad luck.

Got this paper yesterday at the Y Emma – backsheesh & also borrowed a book from their library called ‘The song of the cardinal’ by your friend Gene S Porter: it’s only 160 pages & not too bad at all – about a bonny red bird; perhaps you’ve read it with all the other Limberlost stories. By the time you get this it will be nearly time for your birthday – so I’d better say ‘Many Happy Returns’ before I forget it – 16 eh! Gee you’ll be grown up before I get home if I’m not shaking it up a bit – & you won’t be ‘icklelome’ any more praps. Think you’d better send me another photo of yourself for Xmas if Hazel or Gwen still ‘snap’ you.

Wooder HS have been doing well at hockey alright – beating Unley & AHS [Adelaide High School]. S’pose I’ll hear about the B team match in which you were to play when my letters come. Hope you won – well I mean basketball of course & I’ve been talking about hockey all the time. I’ve still got that winter photo of our tennis court with you, Ray Joy & Mary Hartley playing hockey. It will soon be time to have another game of tennis too – who is going to help you scrape up and line the court? S’pose Ruth will have to get a working bee going one of these days.

I told someone about getting your socks safely. They are bonzars – best I’ve got & no doubt about it. I’m not wearing them down here – it’s too dirty: dust is nearly up to the horses knees in places on the track down to the water & it rises in clouds all round & hovers lovingly over us all the way. Course our faces aren’t bonz pictures when we get back: you can scarcely tell whether we are black of white or copper colour underneath. I don’t venture a guess at the colour of our lungs – think a bit of Oliland must have reached them many times before this. Finish – till the letters come!

Saturday 7 September 1918

Well it’s four days since I started this: you see my chickens didn’t hatch for two days after I expected, so I waited all the same: they were good plump healthy birds tho when they did break through & I had a jolly good hour or so on Thursday afternoon reading them – all from home came along OK, also one each from Aunt Sophie, Mrs Harry, Mrs Wellie & 3 from Miss Ashton – that’s up to 14th July, so they were only about 7 weeks old, not bad. They were written (several of them) that Sunday on which we were kept so busy out here with Fritz & Co & not on leave in Cairo.

That will be the day when the old Black & Whites go as a Regiment on leave. We are going sure enough but in twos & threes & ones sick to hospital: this hot old valley seems to knock a lot of chaps with malaria or some other complaint. Archie Blue went last night – don’t know zactly what’s the matter with him. Up to date I’m feeling bonz, in fact I’ve felt fit ever since we left here last July – during our spell & since coming down again.

We are not doing much- it’s not work that knocks us, it’s the country or weather or summat. Still jolly hot day times. Think I mentioned in a letter about a year ago that I had been on sick parade one day: that was in June – just after I joined A Squadron – well last June on the exact year after I had another trip to the quack – touch of stupidity or fever p’raps. He gave me some quinine pills to take for a few days & I was soon all right & have been goodo ever since. Things in the engine room seem to me to be working as strongly & smoothly as ever. I’m always hungry – a good sign here cos while you can eat fat bacon & stuff down here you’re pretty k’right.

Glad to hear you had such a good time at Balak with Hazel, Irene & co. Aunt Sophie said in her letter that she had seen you for a few minutes one day at the station. So the Noodle-in-Chief (H Peters R) has been keeping up the old Mitcham news by means of his presence now & again – has he? Good – I’m hoping – now he is right in the joke, to see him myself one of these days – won’t be bonzip will it having a noodle in Palestine – with all the rest of the ‘bhoys’.

Does Miss Furner still teach you, I wonder, or have you Mons back again now? it’ll be nearly time for the Junior when you get this – so here’s to you Good luck & Lick up the exams in your best best & then let e’em rip & trust that the examiner will be kind. Glad to hear that Mary Mary Quite Contrary is still all right – I’ve got the love all right thanks. Sure she gets a bit too from me & you’ll be so good as to deliver it, with that photo if you like & she likes & everyone likes: I like anyway – have you a decent one to give her? See I didn’t forget to answer your question ’bout it.

In the first part of this letter I was fearin’ that you’d be ‘growd up altogether’ afore I get home – but 16 or 36 you’re not growd up unless you want to be – & you say you’re not – so I guess it’ll be all right. I’m not yet anyway – s’pose I’ll have to start when the war finishes worse luck, so how about keeping it going a bit to save any such disturbance to my mental or moral disarrangement.

Go to go to water now so I’ll call agin after dinner & finish. Hooroo the noo Mrs Buck. SK

Here again – just had dinner – stew – tinned – fruit – milk, bread & tea – quiess!

Had a bonz lot of gift stuff issued out this am – a tin of fruit to nearly every man, about 3 or 4 tins of Nestles Cow & some cheese, veal pate & pickles & sauce to whack up between us. It is marked with the round blue & white labels ‘From the League of Loyal Women’, 3rd LH Trench Comforts Fund etc & we are thankful I’m sure to whomever helps send it along. We are able to buy fruit etc here from the canteen – but its nice to get the gift stuff direct from home rope holders & barrackers – not just barrackers but dinkum barrackers & that sort of barracker counts all right despite what some people may say to the contrary.

Now I’ll be on the lookout for the parcel mail – cos there’s probably one small parcel from Aunt Sophie as well as the one from home – with Dora’s biccies & other things from Aunt Alice in it: sure it’s very nice of Aunt Alice to send a pore sojer a bone.

Just happened to gawk outwards from the Hump & caught sight of the Dead Sea – about 6 or 7 miles across the valley. It’s still ‘quite dead’ as Bob Bell once told us & if I weren’t a bit colour blind I’d tell you whether it looks green or sort of pale pale blue – (I’ll vote in favour of the latter) – & not a sign of movement on its surface.

It would take me about as long to ‘Go to Jericho’ per boot as it would take you to reach Mr Alex Aird’s from home, but I’m not likely to go there: there’s not much attraction in the place – dirty old shops mostly, but I dare say it will soon be improved – cleaned up when the summer is over a bit. Looking on to the opposite side I can see the Mount of Temptation with its wall all round at the top & buildings & monastery built into the side of the hill as you ascend. It’s not very far off either. So you see we’ve shifted back again a few miles since I posted to Dorc last week or rather since I commenced this letter.

It’s very dusty here going to water & always in the evening it blows up & we have tea & dust well mixed – but thanks be the water runs only about 300 yards from our camp & it will be easy to have a bath every evening after tea. I was down there last night & it was good. The little stream in this case is running from the Wadi Kelt – which goes back & up into the hills for some miles. It was on this stream that Elijah lived I believe – the time when the ravens fed him, so somebody has told me or I’ve read. It was somewhere round here.

Fancy those ‘Standards’ [Laura Standard newspaper] coming from Mrs Pledge – I never guessed her – tho I have wondered if it might have been one of her sisters. Don’t hear much of Laura nowadays since Perce Mitchell went to hospital. I don’t know how he is getting on down there. I saw Cliff Jenkin & Ern Pederick the other day – they told me latest Two Wells news. They heard of Will Ritchie’s wound, also that Les Secomb had been killed – bad luck – he had been wounded two or three times previously. He was Geo. Secomb’s brother, used to live at that house on the way from Horseshoe to Two Wells – by the old church with the harvester in it – he was coz. to the Rowes.

Another death I heard of (from Mrs Wellie) was that of her nephew Huntleigh East – the chap in the white wedding in Kalgoorlie nearly 3 years ago. Rupert Summers who was my fellow groomsman that day is still going strong in France.

Glad to hear about Tommy, Wit, Stow & co – have not had direct news from them for some time now. If you see Mr Harry Hancock give him my respects – I hope he is stronger by now.

Think I’d better stop Lickie – & keep some more ‘yap’ for another envelope. I feel as if I can write a few letters now the mail had come in with its bundle of ‘Good Cheer’ as the cardinal says.

So ‘Be good’, have a happy birthday & win those ’zams then a Merry Xmas & we’ll all be fine won’t we?

Love to ye all from

Spence

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