3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Sunday 27 April 1919 – Anzac Day service, put flowers on Phil Prime’s grave

Cairo
Sunday 27 April 1919

Dear Ruth

Sunday afternoon here so must be about 10 o’clock at Port Road, Beverley. Nearly time to go to bed.

For dinner we have had macaroni, cold meat, spuds and beetroot and some pudding with raisins in it. Went to the Methodie church this morning. The Presbyterians start at 10.45 and I found I was running a bit late for them so went the other way.

Before brek 4 of us went up to Esbekich Gardens for a swim. It was good too, not crowded like it usually is in the afternoons. We were there yesterday afternoon – could scarcely move for fellows in the water. We’ve been several times for this early morning swim. Good Friday and last Sunday for instance. Other days it’s not easily done because the baths don’t open until 7 and we start work at 8 o’clock.

Several of A Squadron chaps have been in from the barrage on leave this week. I’ve seen something of them – Perce Mitchell was down, also Hopcraft another of our old section. A good many of the old hands from several Regiments have been down for Anzac Day last Friday. There was a service in the morning in All Saints Church, then the Anzacs were entertained for dinner at the Australian Soldiers Club – same institution that gave me this paper.

AnzacDay1919

In the afternoon there was a meeting at the Anzac Hostel at which General Allenby presided and said a few words. Also there was a solo, bible reading, prayer and address by a chaplain. The band played Dead March and buglers sounded the Last Post and the gathering dispersed. A whole lot of wreaths had been made and these were loaded into motor lorries outside the Anzac and a lot of cars and Red Cross ambulances were waiting to take anyone out to the military cemetery. A whole lot of nurses had been in nearly all day making the wreaths, Also some civvie ladies assisted by a few soldiers who happened along.

CemeteryCairo
Military cemetery, Cairo

I was down there changing a book at the library before dinner on Friday and one of the sisters came out and conscripted 4 of us to help tie green stuff on the hoops, two 7th Regiment chaps and a Newzie [NZ] beside me. So we hopped in the motors and went out to the cemetery and helped distribute the flowers. I took one to Phil Prime‘s grave. He is about the only one whose grave I know though there are others of our chaps buried there.

I’m going to give this letter to Sgt Armstrong to post either on the boat or in Aussie. He is going on pay work on the Dorset taking hospital patients and compassionate leave men and leaves here tomorrow morning. Arnie has been one of my room mates ever since we came to Corner House. He was to have gone with us on the 3rd regiment staff though it is from the 4th Brigade Ambulance and his home is Sydney. I’m giving him our address and if the old bus calls at Adelaide he will probably come and say ‘Sieda’ to you.

George Potter is going on this boat on compassionate leave. His father died a few months ago and since then his elder brother. George was in the old 23/3 you know and one of the best of them too. He may sing out at Bev some day too if we don’t chase after the Dorset pretty quickly. There are rumours going about that demobilisation is going to recommence very shortly but however that may be I’m not going to kid myself again until we are well out in the Red Sea.

I’m sorry I missed keeping that appointment for Easter Monday. It would have been a good risk if we had got away at our original date 21 March though perhaps quarantine would have kept us back on arrival. Mother said in her letter that she hoped we would have decent conditions for the voyage. Don’t worry, I am on the staff as the song says and good accommodation is always provided for the pay staff, besides which there will be a sergeants mess and you know how these beastly sergeants swank it – haw haw. Good bunk (maybe a cabin) good mongeree [food], everything quiessketir [good].

I don’t think your last letter had come when I wrote to Father. It came by itself later than the rest. Also 2 days ago my birthday cake arrived safe and sound. First go off we had some morning lunch on it and ate almonds and raisins and then our room had supper at night – quiessketir – and I’ve still got a small piece left. The tin had got a bit bent but the cake was undamaged and tasted bonz – beats me how it keeps all that time without getting dry and stale but it does keep until we get a glimpse of it and not much after.

Perhaps those raisins were some of ours which you had been drying after Mr Trott’s instructions. Maleesh. Better luck next time. You evidently had a good time at McLaren Vale. Glad Mrs Trott is better though I must confess I never heard she had been ill. Hope your tennis pupils at school have won a match or 2. I suppose it will be hockey again directly. Anyway I’ll come and barrack for Blackwood at least for one match before the season is over.

Glad to hear that old Dora is alright again. Tell her hooroo from me and we will play our singles at tennis next season. I’ll take a year to get into form – won’t be able to catch a game from Stan Hartley. I’ve been arguing about starting to play here but all the time we think we are likely to pack up and it stops a fellow from settling down to anything. Does Ted Black ever play tennis now I wonder?

Alex Young was dead stiff being sent back to Germany after thinking he was coming home. I suppose Jeff Hartley will be about the last man to leave seeing that he has to teach the chaps their ABCs. Perhaps he will finish up by marrying a Fritz bint [woman] and settling down on a sausage farm in Hunland.

I’m jolly glad those last 3 Cooees [magazines] got home. That makes the complete set. They’ll be interesting to show a man’s young nieces and nephews in the coming days. Sorry to hear about Mr Rowe being ill. Evidently he was still alright when Stell wrote cos she said nothing of it. She sent a couple of photos taken out in the paddock. Len and Mr Elbourne mongering up by a stook of hay and Mr Rowe on the binder. Three nice shining horses, a decent looking crop and stooks & scattered sheaves etc – just the thing.

I must write and ask Wilf and Hurt if they have had letters etc. Haven’t heard from them for several weeks. Hurt sent me a bit of cheek for my birthday and I think I heard from Mrs Harry and Jean Gilmore just about that time so I counted these as birthday presents. I didn’t feel the bump when the transfer into the senile decay class came through. Everything is the same to me now you see. Sometimes I just sits and spits and thinks, other times I just sits and spits.

Well – square the dink, I’m about done for news, No I forgot – we went to Romance last night at the Kursaal. Some ripper good plays on now by the same crowd who played Peg o’ my Heart and The Man who Stayed at Home. But we can never go unless we get special pass until 11 o’clock cos since the war we are supposed to be in by 9pm and only 10% are allowed late passes each night. I’m glad we got ’em for last night tho cos we had such a bonzar night. Haven’t been to the pictures lately.

Read ‘Glorious Deeds of Australians in the Great War’ last week. It’s not bad – an account of doings up to date of evacuation of Gallipoli. I’ve got Kipling’s ‘From Sea to Sea’ now but haven’t started reading it yet. I’m going to be on guard every other day now for a week so will have plenty of time for reading. Think I’ll send a few stray letters going too – I thought I’d quite finished that game but I owe a few now.

I told Mack over a month ago not to send any more letters here and haven’t revoked the order in my later letters to her but I hope she won’t take any notice of my instructions but probably she will cos I was so confoundedly sure. I’m jolly glad you’ve not stopped writing from home. A man would go mad here without letters, marry a Gyppo or something as stupid.

The desert is better than civilisation dangled before your nose – yet out of reach. A fellow is about half dead now anyway – I’m not just roaring – it’s a fact – and still I say maleesh [never mind] – which proves my statement.

With that cheerful ending I’ll whistle adieu.

Hip hip

Spence

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