3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Monday 24 February 1919 – sights of Cairo, possibility of England leave

Met up with Hurt & Pete & Melv McCord down from Moascar on leave ~went out to see Pyramids &  Sphinx ~ not going back to WA to work this year ~ up at Rafa the horses and all spare gear have been taken away ~ put in for England leave ~ fed up on yarns of going this month so things are mightily unsettled

AIF Headquarters, Cairo
Monday 24 February 1919

Dear Lic

Not much doing this afternoon so I’m going to say ‘Howdye’? I’ll just tell you a few items of events which have happened during the last few days.

On Friday last I had 2 letters, 1 from Donie of 2nd January & one from Dorc dated 7th. It looked like the beginning of a new mail but no more letters have arrived yet tho I’m sure there were some others sent from home; perhaps they’ve gone up the line! Dorc was telling of a weekend spent with Minnie Clark – but she didn’t mention whether you had passed the Junior or not. S’pose she wasn’t allowed by you – & no doubt all the news about it will be in your epistle when it comes – the results must have been out by that date.

Well on Saturday morning I was just walking up the steps of our building coming to work when two youths came into view – ’urtle Pete & Melv McCord – they had come down from Moascar on 48 hours leave. I hadn’t time to yarn much then but arranged to meet them immediately after dinner.

We met & soon hopped on a car for the Pyramids & had a gawk at the old Sphinx and his temple & the pyramids including the usual donkey ride etc – then we rode back as far as the zoo – had a look round & some tea & cakes & were turned out at shut up time. Back to Corner House for tea & then Mac went to bed (they stayed at Anzac Hotel quite close by) & Hurt & I went to the Kursaal & laughed at ‘Charlie’s Aunt’ til about 10.45 o’clock – supper – yarned for about 2 hours & then we sneaked to our beds.

I had applied & been granted Sunday morning off so we met again yesterday morning & went to see my old friend the Sultan Hassan Mosque – the Citadel & Mohomet Ali Mosque, bazaars etc – ate fruit (bananas, oranges & cocoanuts) – dinner – then to the museum to see the mummies & co, round about & back to Esbekich Gardens for a short swim – water pretty cold in the baths – then a good tea in the YM – bread & butter & sandwiches & cakes – & down to the Cairo Station before six – where the bhoys had to catch their train.

Time had gone very quickly but it was tip top & a little bit while Hurt was here. It was just like old times – come to light in a strange place to be knocking about with one of the Noodles – I wish we had had more time, But I enjoyed what we had. I saw the train off for Moascar & Hurt & I are going to meet again soon – in South Australia!

That picnic Dorc was warning us for is right on – tell her: we’ll all be there – rain or fair & with a big appletite too so look out.

Don’t know anything but it’s just within the bounds of possibility that I might be taking a little jaunt first all the same – who knows? I don’t. Fact is I saw Capt Bigg from A Squadron & was asking him about things in general up at Rafa: the horses and all spare gear have been taken away so our Regiment is no longer ‘dinkie die Light Horse’ – which is a good sign too, cos it means that all is ready for a quick move for home.

Also I asked ‘Johnnie’ about the England leave & I told him if it wasn’t too late to put in my name for a chance with the crowd who want to go. He said he would do so – so there you are! Of course only a small number can go – about 10% of troops here I think so it’s only a chance & I don’t know how the winners will be selected so I’m not banking on it & if I don’t go I’ll be perhaps better pleased cos I’ll come home sooner, but I thought I’d be a goat not to allow myself a chance of there should be one. Am I cracked or not? I want to get home & I don’t know whether I want to go to England or not. Perhaps later on if I didn’t put in I’d wish I had done so – but square the dink: if they put me on a boat for home I wouldn’t care a ‘tuppence’ about missing the other – anyway now I don’t know much about which may happen. I suppose if England leave comes off it will be sometime pretty soon – & if it’s ‘home’ that ought to happen in the first half of March.

We were fed up on the yarns of going this month – but it’s nearly the end of February now & nothing definite is known to us – so things are mightily unsettled – to say the least of it.

Wednesday night

Your ‘Lickle’ bonzar mail in properly at last & seven letters for me today. I wish I could tell you how bonz your ‘lickie’ letters are – I wish I could keep them always but unfortunately soldiers’ portmanteaux are of very limited capacity – still never mind; you were writing out in your hammock under the trellis – I wish I could just hop up & do what you ask to ‘come home’ – & it was only last night I was telling you my scheme for staying away longer!

I’m a very disappointing sort of brother to have eh? You scarcely know me cos I haven’t been at home to speak of for 7 years & before that you were nearly a baby & well this England leave is only a month long so if I do get it please let me go & I’ll try to be very good when I get home. It’s a mix up isn’t it? Father said a few letters ago ‘Go if you have a chance’ & then I didn’t think I’d have any chance – now after I’ve put in I believe you’d all sooner I shouldn’t go – on a/c of sickness & all & all.

I’m not growling – only exploding a bit – I hardly know what to do myself. I want most at present to be home but my idiotic reason says ‘You’d be a goat not to have a trip if you can get it’ so there you have it. Cheer up on the sick account anyway. I’m not going to be ill or any such thing – don’t worry. I’m feeling pretty fit now – only want some work or tennis to be in real good form. When I came down here first the change on to ‘good’ soft food didn’t seem to suit me – but I’ve overcome all signs of shying at food & now eat all & anything that’s given me.

I’m thinking that you at home might be more liable to be dodging those influenza germs than I: please don’t have them in SA or Adelaide or old Kilkenny – whatever happens. According to cable reports there had been a bad outbreak in Vic & NSW. Well let’s cut out these things that are not facts & see what we’ve got to say about other things.

Hooray – you had a late letter from me. I hope the others turned up after: & the little tin box of tricks got safely to its home! I was glad to hear that. Bad luck – I never imagined that inkwell as a flower vase: lack of imagination you see- still you & Ruth soon got on the right tack.

Glad you like the clock & the ‘God mit the Huns’ belt. I think the Germans were a bit like the Turks in some ways – carrying buckles like that with the motto on. You know when old Jacko made an attack you could hear quite plainly beside the rifle fire etc his chant of Allah Allah Allah – as he came running in: but Allah went back on them a few times – or else they went back on him, cos they didn’t always win. They reckoned that if they were shot while crying the name of Allah that they were righto for the next world – if it is so there are several Jackos in heaven already!

Good luck – you didn’t do too badly in the Junior after all – & you passed your music exam – so that’s square up to date. I hope the Tormore House plan has come off & that you like it – I’m sure you will. New tennis net – good again – that saved you working long hours to make one in holidays as you had intended. I hope Donie will enjoy a few games over it in its new position: no doubt she will too. Sounds alright to listen to your ‘splashes’ in the briny too. You must be getting an expert swimmer now. I’m out of of form in that fun at present.

Peggy [cat] is still quite well & happy despite the loss of her family – is she? There’s a playful little tabby & white kit living here at Corner House but I haven’t made a close acquaintance with it – or washed its face yet. Eh which box is Ruth filling with the ‘carpets’ & dish mats & things? The chest or the big box in your room or the piano case?

I’ve lots more I want to just yap about but I think I’ll close up on this lot & perhaps write again to Mother tomorrow or the next night – do Goodnight Lickelomie.

Love always from your wandering old ‘grizzly’ Spence.