3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Monday 3 March 1919 – on pay job at Hdqtrs, rumours of sailing for home

Latest yarn that 1st Brigade men to sail next Sunday ~ pay staff can apply for England leave ~ might go to bed for a month [after returning home] if it’s winter ~ fancy soldiers over here without horses, rifles, saddlery, mess tins ~ all they do at Rafa now is physical jerks then footie or please yourselves

Monday 3 March 1919

Dear Mother

I posted a letter to Dorc about 10 days ago & to Lic last Wednesday I think, but I must have a bit more yarn before getting on the boat.

The latest red hot yarn we hear tonight is that 1000 men of 1st Brigade are to sail per ‘Canberra’ about next Sunday – 1st & 2nd Regiments are named – as usual I don’t know how much truth there is in it. But I certainly believe that we shan’t be long. The Flying Corps & ‘odds’ are going on Wednesday per Port Sydney – perhaps this letter will catch that boat – & then the 1st Brigade is next to go if anything is true in this wicked world.

We ‘specially attached’ members of pay staff were today given an opportunity to apply here for England leave. Having already handed in my name through the Regiment I did not apply. I’m not mad enough on the trip to apply twice, so I’ll win or lose with the fellows up the line. I’m not expecting much to get it somehow & in some ways I’m hoping it won’t be granted to me – but if it is I’ll go gladly too & have a bonzar time – you bet – & probably it would hinder my homecoming by not more than two months which isn’t much in such a big war.

So if I do go, you’ll let me off won’t you? Think of the bonzar time I’ll be having – I’ll call on Wit in London & Jeff H in France – visit Miss Norman & Mrs Carter if I still have their addresses, besides going to bonny Scotland & falling in love with a ‘lassie’ – & then I’ll catch the same boat home as old Eckee & we’ll play at skipping & ping pong all the way so as to be in good form for rushing round when we lob.

I don’t know whether I won’t go to bed for a month though if it’s winter – sleep the cold weather out & wake up next 1st September for Dorc’s birthday & the spring. I’m not going back to WA to work this year at any rate if ever I start work at all that is. I’ll give the Comikal the ‘boot’ before I leave home for the first six months at least, (I wonder what a fella will do for a crust anyway?)

Did I tell Lic that Ken Gilmour is now down here on this pay job – with others from the 4th Brigade? Also have met a chap from the 9th called Koenicke – or some such – he is a nephew of old Miss Koenicke of the picture shop & Flinders Street Baptist Church. Not sure if I ever told you who came down beside me from our Regiment – Sgt Major Morton – a Tasmanian – & from C Squadron is the other ‘non sufficient’ officer, while the officers are Captain Kenyon, B Squadron & Lt Hamilton. Mort reckons he is a cert for a trip to England – if so I guess Hdqtrs staff will supply us with another worker for the voyage – we will have a fair bit to do for at least a part of the trip – work that cannot be done until after the men leave here – but we won’t strain our hearts at it.

I notice that some of my letters lately are bearing 1½d stamps – but none I think from you at home: what’s the reason for that? I believe I’ve heard some yarn about postage having been raised but I’m not sure. One thing I won’t be writing to many Gyppo cobras after I leave here so it won’t break me.

Our Regimental footie team arrived down here yesterday – I saw some of the chaps & spent some time with Blue Crase. Fancy soldiers over here without horses – without rifles – saddlery – even mess tins were taken away & all our Brigade is armed with is a striped belt per man! Bonz fun if Jacko came round the corner now eh? We would have to carry ammunition fro the fellows in other brigades who still have their gear. All they do at Rafa now is physical jerks early in the morning – a bit of marching drill during the morning – then nothing ’cept footie or please themselves. Some attend classes & schools of various kinds – but do no other parades.

Just thought tonight that when you said that my parcel had arrived you said nothing about finding the 2 or 3 Turkish notes inside – hope you did all the same. You did not say how Mr Ritchie is in health – leg off & so on – so I s’pose he’s pretty right. Hope Norm Ford arrived safe & well as expected.

Hope Fins Park has succeeded in finding a regular minister – I should think Mr Adcock would be alright for awhile at any rate. You can get Mr Norwood when he comes home.

So it was Aunt Flo’s cake that I couldn’t identify – well! Never once crossed my mind that it would be hers – cos it came ahead of the letter I think – & the letter said – ‘going to send’. Anyway it was bonz & my only grief was that it looked so good I was afraid to tackle it at the time; but some of the other chaps enjoyed it & I gave my little Irish nurse a piece to ‘sticky’ her fingers with.

I hope you saw Major Dick when he arrived. I wonder if you’ll have noticed Mr Macdonald’s name too – later on a bit. I don’t know that you’d call him specially brilliant as an officer – but I reckon he was jolly decent all the time he was with our troop: plenty of sense – for instance when getting ready for the last stunt he made particular enquiries as to how we were starting out with tucker etc – advising us to carry what we could of meat paste, milk & such like canteen stuff. Not so much need to tell us that perhaps – but he specially wanted to know how we were off for tea & sugar. Any old soldier knows that tea keeps him alive & so Mr Mac saw that we were able to fill our tea bags.

Yes please keep some of that apricot jam – I won’t be long – but I’m going well for missing the grapes again – still never mind, I will have some next summer. That vine out the side must have grown wonderfully – I’d forgotten all about that old shack I put up for Salome – those old posts must have been good solid timber to still be standing. S’pose those young fig trees too are getting a decent size now. Glad to know Uncle Harry Tuck is better & hope the improvement stuck.

Dickens of a noise going on here now – piano & singing so I think I’ll stop. I hope more letters wil come soon – can’t have too many. Hope you’re getting mine too – I heard from Wit the other day. He expected shortly to go to AIF Headquarters, London to do pay work – similar job to mine I guess. Wouldn’t it be a lark if we should lob home about the same time – both as pay Sergeants. I guess Wit has told you how the war finished soon enough for him to slip on his commission but he’s not worrying.

No news in this but I’ll send it going just to say Good Day – I’m feeling good.

So Good night.

Love to all from Spence