3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Tuesday 26 November 1918 – on leave in Alexandria & Cairo

On leave in Alexandria & Cairo ~ had a few bonzar swims ~ been to see the Catacombs & Pompey’s Pillar ~ been out for a sail in a small boat on the harbour ~ soldiers are provided with 3rd Class dog boxes in which to travel ~ we make ourselves comfortable in 2nd Class ~ took a trip out to the old rotten 31st [hospital] to see my 2 nice nurses ~ place is quite empty compared with when I was there ~ went to see ‘The Gay Parisienne’ at the Kursaal

Tuesday 26 November 1918

Dear Lic,

New brand of writing paper again you see. But it’s not not a new address for me [Alexandria Union Jack Club, 32a Nabi Daniel Street]– I’m going to have dinner here directly so am filling in time in writing part of the letter I owe you. Cliff Jenkin & I are going for a swim this afternoon, my last here. Cos I’ll be off to Cairo by 8.30 train in the morning.

My last letter home was written to Dorc & also a backsheesh one to the same chile both over a week ago when I was staying at the Windsor. I left there on Wednesday last & since have been living at the United Services Welfare Home – or some such title. It’s pretty handy to the sea & city & yet cheap so I’ve still a few ‘bob’ to call my own.

I’ve had a few bonzar swims – go out for a fine tram ride about 7 or 8 miles with the sea on one side & some jolly good houses & public parks on the other. The end of the journey is City Beach – or ‘Sidi Bishi’ as the trams call it, & it’s only 5 minutes walk to the best place going for a swim. I put in a whole day out there once – had a book with me tho but we usually do it in half a day.

I’ve been to see the Catacombs & Pompey’s Pillar (ask Dorc if she has ever seen ’em in those old Greek books), also to the Museum & War trophies exhibition: the latter is interesting – cos it contains lots of rubbish & things captured lately in Palestine – guns, rifles, aeroplanes (fair dinkum old Deutsch ones of course) & I don’t know whatnot. On two occasions I’ve been out for a sail in a small boat on the harbour.

Met an old friend out there too [ship] – name beginning with I – left Port Adelaide on a Saturday in November 1914. I wouldn’t mind risking another trip I know about on the same bus. Don’t get it into your head that I know about this trip either – except as a future event – same as the end of the war used to be. Perhaps by the time this gets home you’ll know that a good many of our men have returned to Aussie the 1914 pioneers. There are quite a number from our Squadron & at least two I think from No 3 Troop. Sergeant Johnson is one – I’ve told you about him before. I wish I’d asked him to go & say ‘Good Day’ to ye.

Another of my exciting adventures here has been a visit to the theatre on Saturday afternoon, when ‘The man who stayed at home’ was played: jolly good too. I’ve been to pictures several times – saw Wattle Day in Adelaide in the Australian Gazette one night – didn’t see Ruth there, but Mrs Galway & her hubby were present in the picture. Also there have been some interesting Palestine budgets & the usual Charlie Chaplins & ordinary old things. Heard a good lecture last night at the Y Emma dealing with the campaign on the Western Front – throughout the whole war.

On Sunday I went to the Presbyterian Church both morning & evening – Jenks accompanied me in the am. They have a good pipe organ & a chap who can play it pretty well. I’m going tonight to an organ recital in the church – ought to be pretty good I reck.

When Jenks came down from Cairo last Friday he brought me two letters from Mack: they were written during the voyage but the 2nd one was finished off after landing at Mr Somebody’s place in Calcutta – so I know the leddy didn’t get mined or torpedoed or shipwrecked. Evidently Mack enjoyed the sea trip & ship’s company very well after her ‘queer’ feeling of the first few days had worn off. No doubt she had given you all particulars of their fun & games. It must have been an early morning start at the Kentor ranch the Sunday morning the Gracchus sailed – guess you’ll be telling me in the letters which I’ll get soon (I hope) about you & Dorcie riding down on the bikes. By what Mack says I think you must have just returned the night before from Port Pirie – I’m not sure but time will tell.

Think I’ll leave this for a while – I want to read your last letters before I finish off & they are ½ mile away – so I’ll say ‘Good Morning Miss’ & go for dinner.

Here we are again! But now it’s Thursday eve & I’m in the YM writing room in Esbekich Gardens – you know what gay city that is. Well we had our swim allright on Tuesday afternoon & the organ recital was fair – not as good as Mr W at NA [North Adelaide] – then early to bed & early to rise. Made a made catch that 8.30 train with ½ hours to spare.

You know dirty common soldiers are specially honored by being provided with 3rd class dog boxes in which to travel (cept when they are just trucks) so we always pay 3rd class fare & as soon as the train trails out of the station & leaves the MPs [Military Police] behind we hop along & make ourselves as comfie as possible in good cushioned 2nd class cars. It’s a 4 hours express trip from Alex to Cairo so we just lobbed in time for dinner.

I drove in a gharry to the Metropole Hotel where I arranged to stay for the two days. I have only till tomorrow morning left & so must go somewhere tonight. Yesterday afternoon I took a trip out to the old rotten 31st to see my 2 nice nurses – specially one little Irish bonzar who used to get a few things a chap could eat whenever she could. I saw them & was told I was looking well – so that may interest the family. I am goodo now. I also saw a few of our ‘black & whites’ who still are in there, but the place is quite empty compared with its numbers of patients when I was there.

Last night I had the best laugh for 2 hours or more, that I’ve had for a long time. I went to see ‘The Gay Parisienne’ at the Kursaal – a good company – English – are there all this week & they are tip top. I may go again tonight to see ‘The Girl in the Taxi’. Last night the music & singing were real good – I’ve not heard a lady sing since I left home I s’pose – but I’ll bet one there last night & her songs would ‘bring down the house’ in many better places than this: she could sing. Then there was acting of course & antics by a runaway husband & a parlour maid – these two kept the whole audience in roars of laughter whenever they were on. I went home feeling much cheered up – you know – I wasn’t in the dumps before.

This morning after Brek I took a walk to our H Qtrs to see if any mail had come for me. I had heard of an Aussie mail being in so in I went – ‘Kentish’. ‘Oh’ ses ’e, ‘Are you the Lance Corporal? I don’t want to see you again for a fortnight’. He handed out – how many letters – I dunno – two different mails & I did score well no doubt. Nos 157 to 168 from home – all there good beside about a dozen others from Aunt Flo, Donie, Coz Flo, Elf, Mrs Aird, Finsbury Park SS Committee, Aunt Annie T & Clara & Mrs Harry, Dot McLennan, Maria Halliday & Miss Ashton. I think that’s about all & what a time I’ve had today reading them. It’s been my best day on leave – cos I’ve been home.

This afternoon I’ve been per gharry to the New Cairo British Cemetery where hundreds of our soldiers are buried. In fact there are very few other graves there as far as I could see. It’s away out away from the dust & noise of dirty Cairo – near the Nile – & is being well looked after. Many graves have marble slabs erected now – & all are marked by a wooden cross. I think this latter is part of the work of the Red Cross Society.

[no sign off]