3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Saturday 25 January 1919 – good to hear about the Armistice rejoicings

Letters from all at home written about 4 December ~ good fun to hear all about the rejoicings ~ Captain Starlight quite well as usual ~ weighed ourselves this week-11 stone 3 lbs ~ been to Heliopolis this afternoon for a look and a tram ride ~ went to see Charlie Chaplin at the pictures and to the skating rink

 

Cairo
Saturday 25 January 1919
Dear Father

Yesterday bought me a ‘bit of alright’ in the shape of letters from all of you at home written about 4 December and one each from Miss Ashton and Mack the last dated 28 December [1918] so that was quite recent. One of Dorc’s was written on 17 November before she knew her results and just after the news of the Armistice had reached you.

[Censoring of letters is cut out now]

No doubt you must all have become well and properly excited over the good news. I guessed so before but it was good fun to hear all about the rejoicings and noises and crowds etc on the news getting out. I could just hear the hooters and whistles going and growing louder after Lic rushed in with her certain ‘war’s over’. Hooray Lickie – less than 6 months I hope and believe will see me home again.

I’ve been having a good look at our new flag too. That’s not too bad at all. I hope the joyful wind and peace air won’t have altogether wagged it off the pole before I get there to say good day to it.

Glad to know you have had letters from Mack. Also the cable which I sent. I guessed it would arrive on the day that your previous letters were posted. Two days isn’t bad going. I don’t know whether I’ll be able to send a cable when we leave here or not. But I dare say you’ll get wind of the sort of fish that the sea will chuck up at one date or another.

I mentioned Stew Malcolm in my letter to mother last Saturday. Well the following day, Sunday afternoon, I went out to the hospital and saw him and several other of our old troop mates. You may possibly see Molly sometime. He was to sail the next day, Monday, so he will be ahead of this letter. More men are going in a few days and one who may go soon is Walter Semmens of whom I have spoken before from Beetaloo way you know, and a grandson of old Mr Wakeham’s. He said he would try and look you up if he is anytime in town when he arrives. He’s a jolly decent little chap and keen soldier, but he’s had the rotten luck to miss several stunts through illness. Two other who are going any day are Bob Lucas [RP Lucas] of the Semaphore and our troop and Cpl Billy Jervois of Woodville B Squadron. The latter came over at the same time as Fred Hollis. Most fellows who are going from here are malaria men but most of course are decently well again now and probably will be as fit as any when they get off the boat at the other end.

Jerry Phillips is the chap whom Donie met. I guess he is a lucky man to be home again as well as he is. I remember one day at Marakeb beach before B’Sheba scrap we were swimming in a pretty rough sea and Jerry and another chap were carried away out beyond the breakers and we couldn’t get out to them with a line so just had to leave it to their luck to get in. They did eventually by floating and drifting up the beach the way the sea was running but they were absolutely out to it as soon as they touched land. Another time Jerry was wounded with a shell case I think. Marked it with his arm and we heard that the limb was as good as off, but I believe he still carried it with him practically OK.

Glad to hear that Tom Rosser is getting on a bit better with his clipped wing. It’s very decent of him to visit you every now and again and I’m sure his tales of soldiering days must be most interesting. All the better for me when I come home – I can forget it all straight away.

So you’ve gone in for a sheaved stack this year – good. Our little farm is surely good country to produce the crops it does each year. Uncle Ted’s won’t be too bad after all of his 8 or 9 bushels goes through as an average. You were asking about Captain Starlight. He was quite well as usual when I left him last week. It was a lucky fluke that just the day I left I had his photo taken with his rider across his back.

Les Williams wanted to have his own horse taken and asked me to click the camera for him, then he took me. I don’t know how it will turn out. Anyway he old nag is pretty ugly and hairy at present. Still I’m glad we snapped him. Bob Bell is going to have Jinny taken before the horses are taken away and he will let me have some photos of her.

I’ve had a photo taken since coming down here – went with Norm Hughes of our troop Kapunda SA to the pyramids last Sunday morning and we sat on camels like Lance Neville and I did nearly 2 years ago. When you get this one you’ll be able to calculate how long it will be before the sphinx and pyramids crumble away. Also the soldier who appears in both. We weighed ourselves one day this week. Norm went just under 11 stone and I went 3 lbs over so we’re not showing much sign of fading away just yet. Guess it’s the heaviest I’ve been for some month or longer.

I don’t think that trip to England is for me. Haven’t heard yet of any soldiers going from here except a few old hands and officers. I guess it would be good if the chance occurred and I’d take it even if it delayed my homecoming for a few weeks, but it’s most improbable and I’m not thinking of it in the least. No doubt we Gyppos would notice the cold a bit but some of our regiments who are up north are amongst plenty of rain and cold and snow even here.

Two chaps in the same room as I am upstairs come from the 4th Brigade and they have told me of their snowy doing up beyond Beyrout [Beirut] in The Lebanon mountains and showed photos of snow etc. They have the horses in proper stables up there and rugged as well so they are protected fairly well from the weather. I guess Wilf Rowe has seen some of this sort of thing. We were stiff coots not going up there alright but never mind, the war’s over so nobody cares a hang where we have been or not been now.

One of the above room mates of mine says that Ken Gilmour is still up there and going strong. This chap belongs to the 4th Brigade MG [machine gun] Squadron though not to Ken’s troop. I’ve heard recently that Roy Dyer and Fred Hollis are alright. You see there are about 3 chaps from each regiment down here on this job of ours. That’s how I’ve heard the news. I asked about Nip Smith but the 11th fellows don’t know him well but reckon he’s alright.

Haven’t run across tracks of Ern Jarvis yet at all. I was talking just now to Bob Murrell, one of our old Two Wells footy team. He is down on 2 weeks leave and is well. I met Charlie his brother in Moascar a few weeks ago. Think I mentioned that my last mail 2 weeks ago brought a card from Will and May Jarvis. I think a lot of these letters will wait now until I return for an answer. Never wrote so few since I came away as during the last few weeks and now my work is indoors, it’s not likely I’ll catch up any. We have to go to work tomorrow morning from 9 to 12 but will be free in the afternoon.

Last Sunday evening I went to All Saint’s Church of England to the service. I don’t know who the preacher was but I liked him and we had some good hymns. Finished up with The Day Thou Gavest Lord. I reckon that hymn must be known just about all over the world – it ought to be anyway.

I sent one of my pyramid photos and a song and letter to Mack last night. The song was called ‘Down the Vale’ – I haven’t heard her say anything of it so I guess she hasn’t had it. Mack said in her letter that Meads had just had a cable to tell them of Col Wilson‘s death – early in December. That’s terribly hard for Mr and Mrs Wilson. Col was not over strong and quite young but he was so keen to go to war. He must have arrived too late but illness must have got him even then. It seems worse now the war is over.

Well it’s bed time. My watch is ticking away merrily on my wrist once more and it says 10.20pm so I’ll go up to sleep. We’ve been looking around the town quietly during the week. This stay will give us a chance to know Cairo pretty well but I doubt if there’s much new that I could tell you. Things aren’t as arresting or interesting as they were 2 years ago. I’ve been out to Heliopolis this afternoon for a look and a tram ride. Several of us went to see Charlie Chaplin and co at the pictures and another night to the skating rink, I was going to have a buster or two but the fellows reckon the floor and the skates weren’t up to much so I didn’t put the skates on. Tennis is played but Saturday afternoons would be my only time for a game so I guess it will keep until I come home. I’ve written a scrap to Dorc besides this – must send something to the BA [Bachelor of Arts] lady.

So here’s a finish to this so goodbye the noo. You’ll be about getting up now – Sunday morning at home.

Spence


Saturday 25 January 1919
Cairo

Good day Miss Dorc G Kentish BA – what! what! And how do you find yourself this evening?

I was pleased to hear the dinkum oil about your exams and no doubt about it. Hope the commission rests easily on your soul. No doubt the Sam Brown [gown] will fit you finely. You see I heard of it all yesterday when some letters came for a small boy about my size. I’d have liked to have been at the commem on the suspicious occasion of the coronation.

What a lark if Licko has passed the Junior after all despite her word that 4 subs are absolute and outside limit. Doesn’t matter now, it’s all over anyway Lick so cheer up.

Good for Miss Willsmore too. Rises coming out all round.

It was on the same day as your glory that I was attacked with the news of my paying stripe though it dated back to 7 December which was the day I lobbed out at Reshon after the malaria stunt so I enjoyed a small reflection of your success even at this distance. My stripes still cling together alright and quite possible will do so until we get home.

Nothing but sickness or slackness in performance of duty (?) is likely to interfere and I guess we can cut out sickness too. Course I don’t know about the other – time will tell.

Anyway I’m satisfied that Billy Gill‘s verdict (given just after we hit Moascar first) is not far out. He reckoned that a Corporal is the best paid man in the army. Certainly I should hand mine all back by rights – it’s so easily picked up and I won’t say earned. But then again if they must throw it away they may as well throw it at me as at any other body so I’ll stick to it.

As I’m not writing to you this time but to Father I’ll turn off.

So long.

Spence.

Advertisements