3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Friday 11 October 1918 – filth & disease, struck down with malaria

Filth and disease ~ we are a sad affair at this day ~ 7 degrees over the allotted 98 temp so that settled it-malaria ~ seven chaps still in our troop ~ I’m the 30th to go since August & that is about the average for the squadron.

Friday 11 October 1918

Dear Mother

I s’pose it’s of a big war you’ll be expecting to hear? Well – it’s pretty large in places by all accounts, but I think it’s likely to be smaller as the years go by. We haven’t had much fun out of the last picnic, cos we got a lot of washing up to do – dragging along behind & out side & round about.

Our hardest scrape has been with filth and disease & we are a sad affair at this day. I’m supposed to be crook myself but I can’t exactly believe it – & I think even now I’ll slip back to the ‘remnant’ probably before I get far from here. The remnant is ‘what’s left of ‘em’ and here is a bit of a clearing station where I lobbed this am. I felt a big idjit [idiot] all right coming away cos I felt pretty right – but yesterday they caught me red handed trying to sneak 7 degrees over the allotted 98 temp so that settled it.

Today I’m normal but pretty tired. Seven chaps still hang on in our troop – I think I’m the 30th to go since we left our watermelon patch in August & that is about the average right through the squadron. Didn’t write anything since stunt started – you’ll be looking for letters no doubt & if this is only a note it will be an advance party for the rest.

About 3 weeks ago or more I had that good cable about Mack sailing etc. S’pose she’ll be at her destination by now almost. I must send her a letter. Then early last week a big mail came in. As you guessed there must have been two or even 3 mails in one but I didn’t mind. It was bonz to get the letters – ten from home 136-145, & ten others – so you bet I was busy reading them one afternoon & part of the next morning. Very nerve straining news re Dorc – I’m waiting now for the verdict of the great council – if it’s one way I’ve done with wishes completely. It’s not a fair go asking a nipper to ‘iggery’ [British army slang for hurry up] like that & pack up & get malaria like I’ve got & all these other stinking rotten diseases of the rotten east – or to chance getting them. Still I won’t growl any more till I hear the final.

Last Monday we had a pleasant surprise: a few old hands came back from details – Herb Groves among them, also Bert Moody & with them a parcel mail – course we didn’t hook in to some good stuff after our recent Bully Brek, Dinner & Tea. Mine from Aunt Alice & socks & Dorc’s biscuits came in good order & condition. The biscuits were just the thing – so were the pineapple & milk & butter. I’ve still go the tin of shortbread in case I do go off my tucker. I can’t remember whether the Canterbury cake was in with that lot (I think it was) or in a Perth Bap parcel which has some lollies, socks, cigarettes etc in it. We ate it anyhow & enjoyed it & my thanks are due to Aunt Alice for her part in the plot. If I go to hospital I guess I’ll have time to write & thank her.

That little parcel with soap & writing pad came the other day too – this pad won’t last long so I’m glad the other came along. As for soap – we’ve been using Jacko soap for 2 weeks or more – it’s hard sort of stuff but isn’t so bad after soaking in water for awhile.

This is a busy place – some fellows come in very queer and they take a good deal of looking after. I don’t know how some of the earlier ones stood the long ride in wagons on bumpy roads. I had a box seat this morning by the driver and another chap – a team of 5 mules & body of wagon filled with sick ‘sicker men’. I thought about the song – ‘We’ll jump into the wagon and we’ll all have a ride’ – hope I can sing it to myself every day & if I get a spell I’ll get fat again.

Glad to hear that Hunt had a berth in LH at last: it was a narrow squeak though. I might see him before long if I go to details. I haven’t heard of Wilf lately so don’t know whether he has been to Damascus or not – Roy Dyer either. I’d like to know how Stow, Lockie, Tommy & Co are going in France. Bad luck for Dave but aren’t the rotters getting it in the neck at last. Hope to goodness we can keep going.

Well this is all for just now so look out for more later.

Love to all from Spence.