3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Friday 11 October 1918 – filth & disease, struck down with malaria

Filth and disease ~ we are a sad affair at this day ~ 7 degrees over the allotted 98 temp so that settled it-malaria ~ seven chaps still in our troop ~ I’m the 30th to go since August & that is about the average for the squadron.

Friday 11 October 1918

Dear Mother

I s’pose it’s of a big war you’ll be expecting to hear? Well – it’s pretty large in places by all accounts, but I think it’s likely to be smaller as the years go by. We haven’t had much fun out of the last picnic, cos we got a lot of washing up to do – dragging along behind & out side & round about.

Our hardest scrape has been with filth and disease & we are a sad affair at this day. I’m supposed to be crook myself but I can’t exactly believe it – & I think even now I’ll slip back to the ‘remnant’ probably before I get far from here. The remnant is ‘what’s left of ‘em’ and here is a bit of a clearing station where I lobbed this am. I felt a big idjit [idiot] all right coming away cos I felt pretty right – but yesterday they caught me red handed trying to sneak 7 degrees over the allotted 98 temp so that settled it.

Today I’m normal but pretty tired. Seven chaps still hang on in our troop – I think I’m the 30th to go since we left our watermelon patch in August & that is about the average right through the squadron. Didn’t write anything since stunt started – you’ll be looking for letters no doubt & if this is only a note it will be an advance party for the rest.

About 3 weeks ago or more I had that good cable about Mack sailing etc. S’pose she’ll be at her destination by now almost. I must send her a letter. Then early last week a big mail came in. As you guessed there must have been two or even 3 mails in one but I didn’t mind. It was bonz to get the letters – ten from home 136-145, & ten others – so you bet I was busy reading them one afternoon & part of the next morning. Very nerve straining news re Dorc – I’m waiting now for the verdict of the great council – if it’s one way I’ve done with wishes completely. It’s not a fair go asking a nipper to ‘iggery’ [British army slang for hurry up] like that & pack up & get malaria like I’ve got & all these other stinking rotten diseases of the rotten east – or to chance getting them. Still I won’t growl any more till I hear the final.

Last Monday we had a pleasant surprise: a few old hands came back from details – Herb Groves among them, also Bert Moody & with them a parcel mail – course we didn’t hook in to some good stuff after our recent Bully Brek, Dinner & Tea. Mine from Aunt Alice & socks & Dorc’s biscuits came in good order & condition. The biscuits were just the thing – so were the pineapple & milk & butter. I’ve still go the tin of shortbread in case I do go off my tucker. I can’t remember whether the Canterbury cake was in with that lot (I think it was) or in a Perth Bap parcel which has some lollies, socks, cigarettes etc in it. We ate it anyhow & enjoyed it & my thanks are due to Aunt Alice for her part in the plot. If I go to hospital I guess I’ll have time to write & thank her.

That little parcel with soap & writing pad came the other day too – this pad won’t last long so I’m glad the other came along. As for soap – we’ve been using Jacko soap for 2 weeks or more – it’s hard sort of stuff but isn’t so bad after soaking in water for awhile.

This is a busy place – some fellows come in very queer and they take a good deal of looking after. I don’t know how some of the earlier ones stood the long ride in wagons on bumpy roads. I had a box seat this morning by the driver and another chap – a team of 5 mules & body of wagon filled with sick ‘sicker men’. I thought about the song – ‘We’ll jump into the wagon and we’ll all have a ride’ – hope I can sing it to myself every day & if I get a spell I’ll get fat again.

Glad to hear that Hunt had a berth in LH at last: it was a narrow squeak though. I might see him before long if I go to details. I haven’t heard of Wilf lately so don’t know whether he has been to Damascus or not – Roy Dyer either. I’d like to know how Stow, Lockie, Tommy & Co are going in France. Bad luck for Dave but aren’t the rotters getting it in the neck at last. Hope to goodness we can keep going.

Well this is all for just now so look out for more later.

Love to all from Spence.

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3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Saturday 21 September 1918 – war bound to be over any year now

Mack going to India ~ I’ll be home one of these days & then I’ll take over the cow business ~ the war is bound to be over any year now ~ GPO is to topple about our ears this morning, hence this hurried scrawl

Palestine
Saturday 21 September 1918

Dear Mother

Had a cable last night. Good O! S’pose Mack is about in WA by now – perhaps out on the wild ocean – lucky beggar. She is travelling at the best time in all the world too, & I thought the trip was right off. Aunt Bertha & Hal wrote quite definitely that she would not be going, but I’m jolly well glad, as well as surprised to find out she is.

No doubt you won’t be able to make out what’s gone wrong with PRB without a ‘Mack’ about, still the young fry will now have a chance to show their ability in their various ways. I’ll be home one of these days myself & then I’ll take over the cow business.

Guess I’ll just about get home ahead of Mack now cos the war is bound to end any year now. Dare say you’ll be looking for a cable from me before this, but I’ve had no chances of sending one lately; & just now I can’t – but perhaps I’ll be able to send something before very long & from a bit nearer Berlin, which would be more satisfactory eh?

At present most of our old 8 are well scattered. I’ve not seen Frank J for a week or two – or Jaick H either – but I guess they are still kicking about. I saw Laff the other day, but Les, Herb, Arch & Lance are all away. The last named went away sick two days ago, also Gouldie – from the Transports. Two good stickers.

Believe our GPO is to topple about our ears this morning – hence this hurried scrawl. I’ll be writing properly one of these days when I have more time & information. If Wilf is with his crowd now I reckon he could write a decent letter – since the last day or so – s’pose we’ll get our cut before long. We are quiet up to date here.

Finish for this trip – I’m still feeing OK, bonzar.

Love from Spence

3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Tuesday 3 September 1918 – hot valley, Dead Sea, Mount of Temptation

Mail is coming ~ too dusty ~ this hot valley knocks a lot of chaps with malaria ~ gift stuff from League of Loyal Women ~ caught sight of the Dead Sea 6-7 miles away ~ can see Mount of Temptation with monastery built into the side ~ running water about 300 yards from camp ~ latest Two Wells news-Les Secombe killed

Same place
Tuesday 3 September 1918

Dear Lic

There is a mail coming – in fact some of it is here, so I’m going to get a start before my share arrives & have a return volley nearly ready to fire back at you. I wrote to Dorc about a week ago & since then I’ve had only enough inspiration for one letter – there’s ‘nothing to write home about’ here y’see except now the anticipation of letters which must come in tonight surely. And we will be ‘at home’ to read ’em. What’s that about counting chicks be4 they’re hatched? Bad luck.

Got this paper yesterday at the Y Emma – backsheesh & also borrowed a book from their library called ‘The song of the cardinal’ by your friend Gene S Porter: it’s only 160 pages & not too bad at all – about a bonny red bird; perhaps you’ve read it with all the other Limberlost stories. By the time you get this it will be nearly time for your birthday – so I’d better say ‘Many Happy Returns’ before I forget it – 16 eh! Gee you’ll be grown up before I get home if I’m not shaking it up a bit – & you won’t be ‘icklelome’ any more praps. Think you’d better send me another photo of yourself for Xmas if Hazel or Gwen still ‘snap’ you.

Wooder HS have been doing well at hockey alright – beating Unley & AHS [Adelaide High School]. S’pose I’ll hear about the B team match in which you were to play when my letters come. Hope you won – well I mean basketball of course & I’ve been talking about hockey all the time. I’ve still got that winter photo of our tennis court with you, Ray Joy & Mary Hartley playing hockey. It will soon be time to have another game of tennis too – who is going to help you scrape up and line the court? S’pose Ruth will have to get a working bee going one of these days.

I told someone about getting your socks safely. They are bonzars – best I’ve got & no doubt about it. I’m not wearing them down here – it’s too dirty: dust is nearly up to the horses knees in places on the track down to the water & it rises in clouds all round & hovers lovingly over us all the way. Course our faces aren’t bonz pictures when we get back: you can scarcely tell whether we are black of white or copper colour underneath. I don’t venture a guess at the colour of our lungs – think a bit of Oliland must have reached them many times before this. Finish – till the letters come!

Saturday 7 September 1918

Well it’s four days since I started this: you see my chickens didn’t hatch for two days after I expected, so I waited all the same: they were good plump healthy birds tho when they did break through & I had a jolly good hour or so on Thursday afternoon reading them – all from home came along OK, also one each from Aunt Sophie, Mrs Harry, Mrs Wellie & 3 from Miss Ashton – that’s up to 14th July, so they were only about 7 weeks old, not bad. They were written (several of them) that Sunday on which we were kept so busy out here with Fritz & Co & not on leave in Cairo.

That will be the day when the old Black & Whites go as a Regiment on leave. We are going sure enough but in twos & threes & ones sick to hospital: this hot old valley seems to knock a lot of chaps with malaria or some other complaint. Archie Blue went last night – don’t know zactly what’s the matter with him. Up to date I’m feeling bonz, in fact I’ve felt fit ever since we left here last July – during our spell & since coming down again.

We are not doing much- it’s not work that knocks us, it’s the country or weather or summat. Still jolly hot day times. Think I mentioned in a letter about a year ago that I had been on sick parade one day: that was in June – just after I joined A Squadron – well last June on the exact year after I had another trip to the quack – touch of stupidity or fever p’raps. He gave me some quinine pills to take for a few days & I was soon all right & have been goodo ever since. Things in the engine room seem to me to be working as strongly & smoothly as ever. I’m always hungry – a good sign here cos while you can eat fat bacon & stuff down here you’re pretty k’right.

Glad to hear you had such a good time at Balak with Hazel, Irene & co. Aunt Sophie said in her letter that she had seen you for a few minutes one day at the station. So the Noodle-in-Chief (H Peters R) has been keeping up the old Mitcham news by means of his presence now & again – has he? Good – I’m hoping – now he is right in the joke, to see him myself one of these days – won’t be bonzip will it having a noodle in Palestine – with all the rest of the ‘bhoys’.

Does Miss Furner still teach you, I wonder, or have you Mons back again now? it’ll be nearly time for the Junior when you get this – so here’s to you Good luck & Lick up the exams in your best best & then let e’em rip & trust that the examiner will be kind. Glad to hear that Mary Mary Quite Contrary is still all right – I’ve got the love all right thanks. Sure she gets a bit too from me & you’ll be so good as to deliver it, with that photo if you like & she likes & everyone likes: I like anyway – have you a decent one to give her? See I didn’t forget to answer your question ’bout it.

In the first part of this letter I was fearin’ that you’d be ‘growd up altogether’ afore I get home – but 16 or 36 you’re not growd up unless you want to be – & you say you’re not – so I guess it’ll be all right. I’m not yet anyway – s’pose I’ll have to start when the war finishes worse luck, so how about keeping it going a bit to save any such disturbance to my mental or moral disarrangement.

Go to go to water now so I’ll call agin after dinner & finish. Hooroo the noo Mrs Buck. SK

Here again – just had dinner – stew – tinned – fruit – milk, bread & tea – quiess!

Had a bonz lot of gift stuff issued out this am – a tin of fruit to nearly every man, about 3 or 4 tins of Nestles Cow & some cheese, veal pate & pickles & sauce to whack up between us. It is marked with the round blue & white labels ‘From the League of Loyal Women’, 3rd LH Trench Comforts Fund etc & we are thankful I’m sure to whomever helps send it along. We are able to buy fruit etc here from the canteen – but its nice to get the gift stuff direct from home rope holders & barrackers – not just barrackers but dinkum barrackers & that sort of barracker counts all right despite what some people may say to the contrary.

Now I’ll be on the lookout for the parcel mail – cos there’s probably one small parcel from Aunt Sophie as well as the one from home – with Dora’s biccies & other things from Aunt Alice in it: sure it’s very nice of Aunt Alice to send a pore sojer a bone.

Just happened to gawk outwards from the Hump & caught sight of the Dead Sea – about 6 or 7 miles across the valley. It’s still ‘quite dead’ as Bob Bell once told us & if I weren’t a bit colour blind I’d tell you whether it looks green or sort of pale pale blue – (I’ll vote in favour of the latter) – & not a sign of movement on its surface.

It would take me about as long to ‘Go to Jericho’ per boot as it would take you to reach Mr Alex Aird’s from home, but I’m not likely to go there: there’s not much attraction in the place – dirty old shops mostly, but I dare say it will soon be improved – cleaned up when the summer is over a bit. Looking on to the opposite side I can see the Mount of Temptation with its wall all round at the top & buildings & monastery built into the side of the hill as you ascend. It’s not very far off either. So you see we’ve shifted back again a few miles since I posted to Dorc last week or rather since I commenced this letter.

It’s very dusty here going to water & always in the evening it blows up & we have tea & dust well mixed – but thanks be the water runs only about 300 yards from our camp & it will be easy to have a bath every evening after tea. I was down there last night & it was good. The little stream in this case is running from the Wadi Kelt – which goes back & up into the hills for some miles. It was on this stream that Elijah lived I believe – the time when the ravens fed him, so somebody has told me or I’ve read. It was somewhere round here.

Fancy those ‘Standards’ [Laura Standard newspaper] coming from Mrs Pledge – I never guessed her – tho I have wondered if it might have been one of her sisters. Don’t hear much of Laura nowadays since Perce Mitchell went to hospital. I don’t know how he is getting on down there. I saw Cliff Jenkin & Ern Pederick the other day – they told me latest Two Wells news. They heard of Will Ritchie’s wound, also that Les Secomb had been killed – bad luck – he had been wounded two or three times previously. He was Geo. Secomb’s brother, used to live at that house on the way from Horseshoe to Two Wells – by the old church with the harvester in it – he was coz. to the Rowes.

Another death I heard of (from Mrs Wellie) was that of her nephew Huntleigh East – the chap in the white wedding in Kalgoorlie nearly 3 years ago. Rupert Summers who was my fellow groomsman that day is still going strong in France.

Glad to hear about Tommy, Wit, Stow & co – have not had direct news from them for some time now. If you see Mr Harry Hancock give him my respects – I hope he is stronger by now.

Think I’d better stop Lickie – & keep some more ‘yap’ for another envelope. I feel as if I can write a few letters now the mail had come in with its bundle of ‘Good Cheer’ as the cardinal says.

So ‘Be good’, have a happy birthday & win those ’zams then a Merry Xmas & we’ll all be fine won’t we?

Love to ye all from

Spence

3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Monday 26 August 1918 – paper famine, Mountains of Moab, horse-Starlight

Might be taking another trip northwards like last November ~ writing in the YM with a cup of tea & biscuits ~ paper famine again ~ can see the Mountains of Moab from here ~ everything pretty quiet since 6 weeks ago ~ fresh writing pads at the canteen ~ riding a horse called Starlight

Dusty Oliland
Monday 26 August 1918

Dear Dorc

It will soon be the first of September once more. I hoped to have been in Port Said about now so as I could send you a cable for your birthday But I’m still morning ‘soldiering on’ & looking forward to a trip. By some whispers which float about we may be taking another bit of a trip northwards some time shortly like we did last November: if so I hope it will be just as successful – it would do me to pull up in Damascus if we could keep the stuff up for such a distance. You may think we’ve got a bit of cheek talking like that – still when we do start we must go forward. Hang ’em! Good news still comes through from France – may it continue & so say all of us.

Guess where I’m writing & under what bootiful conditions – dinkum. In the Y Emma – & along side me on the table a cup of tea & some biscuits – all backsheesh. It’s an every afternoon institution for anyone who troubles to come along & get it – What Ho things are looking up in our part of the land. I think I’ll be here pretty often – have a bickie! This tea is bonz & hot too. Wait till we get home & come in to the lawn for tea from the tennis court on Saturday afternoons. Spect I’ll be put on stoking cos every sojer will want a bucket full. Now this is where the sad affair starts! Paper famine again: none in my hump, none in YM & none at canteen ’cept this very block: you were all writing on old uni green paper last time (June 20th) – wish I had a bundle of it here. YM reckon they’ll have some in again tho any day now. There – finished my biscuits & tea – very nice too.

You’re a good judge of pencils my lad: this ‘Venus is a good one’ only arrived in nice time too as my others were all getting pretty short or lost. Eh I wrote to Ruth the other day from near Jericho – & told her about a book that may interest you called ‘The Feminist Movement’ by Ethel Snowden – deals with the increasing part women are taking in the world’s affairs.

On one of your recent letters I discovered at the end the letters SWAK – Swak I says to myself – SWAK – what the dickens does that mean? Got serious but I couldn’t nut it out at all. So I said to Hoppie (the chap who sent home the iron cross) ‘Do you know the meaning of this ’ere?’ He said no – but a week or so after I saw one of his envelopes with the same thing on so I reckoned he knew something – ‘Sealed With A Kiss’! – so he said – well I’m hanged – that’s the worst of not having a girl – you see a chap doesn’t get put up to all these jokes (Hoppie’s got one you see). It’s that what you meant it for – or have you another motto? S’pose that’s yours & Elf’s finish off to your love notes. Bad Luck!

See the Mountains of Moab from here. Had a bonz bath the other night down by the same little stream I told you about a couple of months ago – where I was on the mosquito job. It still runs as fresh & clear as ever. We keep the water bag full & hanging up in the tent & when we get a thirst up we sneak up to the bag & mention that ‘we’ll have an Auja’ [Auja – stream that flows into the Jordan] – it’s good to have the old water bag going this dry weather.

Hope you’ll be able to find your way through these scraps of your own old note paper. I’m not putting down much sense I’ll bet – cos there’s a crowd here of noise of course. Still there’s nothing to write about – so doesn’t matter much. We’ve got a new parson called Dow, a Victorian I believe – don’t know him yet, The Boozer Bates has gone home I believe so if ever you hear of him don’t believe a word he says.

I see by your letter that Mr Bloomin Crawley is still at home: did I tell you that I had a letter from Mr Diamond – Perth Manager the other day – & he told me that Willy Walker had resigned on account of ill health. The Mr Kaines who is taking his place was an inspector & once inspected us at Two Wells. Respects to Mr Slater & Bluntish if you see them any time in the old AO.

I saw about Lt Laurie’s death in the paper & wondered whether it was Jack – that’s stiff luck isn’t it? He used to play a bonz game of tennis – played for Salisbury against Two Wells once when I was there. Some of our chaps have been over today fixing up the crosses over Lt Kelly’s & another chap’s grave. Some reckoned he should have been taken back to Jericho for burial seeing that he was the first man to enter the town when we came round out of the hills last February. Still he’s not very far from it now – & I guess it doesn’t matter.

Everything seems to have been pretty quiet round here since that noise of six weeks ago. We are now on a bit of an outpost tonight near our old post but we are having a pretty easy time. All with the horses this time so far.

I s’pose Ruth’s letter wouldn’t get lost by any chance – I’m still surviving under the enormous responsibilities of Lance Corporalship of which I told her. Don’t think it’s worthwhile altering my address – I like the look of [?] just as well – if not a bit better. Did I tell you that Stan Prince had gone to a cadet school – & Chuc Riley, another old Kyrian in M Gun Squadron, is going at any time – something for Mr Hollidge to put in his pipe & smoke about. I wrote to him the other day – & to ickle Jan.

Toosdee [27 August 1918]

Hooray – had a win – went to the canteen after I had written all that rubbish yesterday & found that they had just received a fresh stock of stuff – writing pads included so I immediately purchased itneen [two] and & sold wahhed [one] to the Hon Bob Bell QED. Talking about old Comikals – did you notice that Lt JNB Loudon had won an MC or some sich. Well that’s ‘old Loudie’. I used to work alongside him on ledgers on A/O [Adelaide Office] & he was at Maleelalala [Mallalala] when I was at Two Wells till they made M an agency – & so we say ‘Good old Loudie’. He’s a jolly decent old stick.

We had an easy night on outpost last night – bonzar moonlight makes it all the better for ‘peering’ as no doubt Len would say. S’pose by now he is toot tooting around on the motorbike like any flash lad – unless Hurt is extra lucky & is still in SA. But they tell us that no-one stays long nowadays in camp at home so I guess he has left before this.

Last page

I haven’t heard anything lately of Wilf – dunno whether he is back with the Regiment or not – they went away from here when we came down, but as usual the change over was at night & I didn’t see any of them. S’pose I’ll meet Ern Jarvis one of these days – I went to see Roy Dyer too. It’s marvellous how little you see of anyone in another brigade. Did I tell you that Dick Ridge had gone to hospital with pneumonia. He did – & he is now getting on A1 & I spect he is looking for some one in Port Said to play him tennis.

Don’t think I told you about ‘Starlight’ (developed from Spot as I first called him). He is the horse I’m riding at present, but not for good, cos he is a spare from No 4 Troop – not a bad old crock. I was sitting in the hump having Brek one morning & I spotted the little white spot on Starlight’s ribs so I called him Spot on the spot, but that didn’t seem aristocratic sounding enough for his tall height, so I carried on in the same strain & got to Star – Starlight – Captain Starlight (you know the famous bushranger?) but his common working everyday name now is Starlight – good!

I’ve had a bit of a cold – but feel as right as apple pie the noo & ’ope as ’ow you’re the same.

Time to knock off & post this don’t you think – so hip hip

From Spence

3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Thursday 22 August 1918 – promoted to Lance Corporal, within big gun range

Within 5 minutes walk of Jericho ~ land of dust and heat ~ now within big gun range and likely soon to be closer ~ jolly good concert given by Flying Corps chaps ~ 4 new Lance Corporals including Lance Neville and this youth.

Thursday 22 August 1918

Dear Ruth

(on British Red Cross stationery)

Lucky to be in [hospital]

more like the [Regiment]

where I am at present that is within 5 minutes walk of where the walls fell down with the much blowing of trumpets etc. Back again in the land of dust and heat you see after several days steady travelling and now we are within big gun range and likely soon to be closer.

We had a couple of inoculations just before leaving our fruitful plain but they didn’t worry us. Perhaps our watermelon treatment acted as a pain neutraliser.

One night up there a jolly good concert was given by the Flying Corps chaps – some tip top singers and actors amongst them. It was one of the best shows I’ve seen over here. Two of them dressed up as ‘Bints’ [girls] and looked real bonz. We left our beautiful home on Saturday and stayed at 3 camps on the way here. Travelled mostly in the day time this time so it didn’t tire us as much.

Thought I might have gone on leave before this but still the Port Said party hasn’t gone: it’s all better in a way cos if we go from here we’ll miss a bit of the dust etc.

Old Goldie went off the other day after nearly 15 months with the regiment without leave or illness to Cairo I think on 8 days leave, so he was pleased you bet. Who do you think are the latest made NCOs in A Squadron? There were 4 new Lance Corporals made a week ago today and 2 of them were Lance Neville and this youth. Not anything wonderful as a rise you know but you do miss a few fatigues and guards and pickets or at least are put in charge of ’em instead of doing the shift. It means taking the leadership of a section and there’s always a chance of getting a little job to do when the squadron or regiment are out on patrol or scouting around. The definition of a ‘Lancers Jack’ (in case you have not heard it) is a trooper with his brains knocked out!

So now they’ll have to appoint a new stretcher bearer for our troop – didn’t tell you I was stretcher bearer did I? Haven’t had any work to do in that line though since I took it on. Good luck. We’ve just had dinner. Would you like to hear what we had to eat? A tin each of one salmon and one herrings, 2 small tins of pineapple and a large one of quinces, bread and jam and cocoa and tea.

We are boiling up for ourselves just now, so can make what we want. The cooks just boil the meat, nothing more while we are on the shift. We had bread and milk for brek – our section is 6 strong at present – Bluey Crase, Mick Dunk, Billy Hughes (Sgt), Bob Bell & Stroppie Hopcraft & this belated Lance Cpl. There is a canteen now open in the old Jordan Hotel building so it’s easy to live well here.

Some flash paper isn’t this? I must try to get a block [pad] somewhere. Writing paper is the scarcest thing in the world here. There’s not much to write about this trip. I’m afraid I can’t seem to get much of a go on today. It’s blowing and dusty which goes far toward drying up the knowledge that’s in me – bad luck.

Let’s see what your last letters said. Think there’s something to answer there. You must have had some fun that evening of the kinder teachers reunion. Don’t know however those names of books were guessed from your silent charades. It would be no good to me except for the dummy prize. Tell Dorc for her Economics sake to look up in the Uni or public library for a book by Ethel Snowden called ‘The Feminist Movement’. I don’t know if she would have time or inclination to read it all but I think some chapters of it deal with stuff she gets lectured about. I’ve not read much of anything just lately.

You were asking if I had any photos of my old Brownie [horse]. Well I haven’t, worse luck. I was going to have one taken too at first good opportunity – wait till I get another horse of my own. I’ll have its photo taken if it’s worthwhile. I can’t send you an more flowers now cos there are none here. If I’m still here next winter I’ll get you some though. You’re a lucky dorg getting that Noarlunga holiday all backsheesh [free] too. Must have been quiesska bonzar. Wouldn’t mind it myself. I can see Mrs Hinde’s school going to the pack pretty soon. The mothers of the girls will hold up holy hands of horror at the idea of that long legged Miss Kentish teaching their offspring the gentle game of hockey & they’ll be quietly removed to less dangerous regions. Good luck anyhow. Have you played your young team in any matches yet? Spose you’ll have to captain them.

I wrote to Father last and posted in last camp about a week ago yesterday and think there was a note for Lic in it. I also posted to you a parcel containing six Kia Ora Coo-ees [official magazine of the Australian and New Zealand Forces in Egypt, Palestine, Salonica & Mesopotamia], a magazine printed here & dealing with the Light Horse and Camel Corps doings in this country. I want to keep a copy of each month so I’ll just post them home from time to time. Will you please look after them for me. Keep ’em safe – better not lend them away out of the house I guess or they’ll perhaps go astray. They’ll be interesting to read when I come home from this dreadful war and come home to live on my pension.

Thinks that’s all for the noo. Hip hip.

Spence

3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Tuesday 14 August 1918 – orange gardens, stone tanks, hymns at YMCA

Received mail & parcels ~ fit for another taste of the valley but won’t be sorry if we don’t get there ~ don’t expect rain before December ~ dark heavy sandy country but moist a couple of feet down ~ orange gardens watered from wells ~ water pumped into tanks that we use as baths to swim in ~ doing a bit of mounted drill these afternoons ~ Sunday night church service at the YM, good singing of the old favourites ~ news of Stow’s good soldiering

Same good place
Tuesday 14 August 1918

Dear Father

I posted a letter to Lic about 9 days ago & one to Mother on Thursday last, but since then another batch of letters has arrived – the ones I said were missing have all come from home I think, & besides these I heard from Alex Aird, Donie & Elf. So I spent Friday evening after their arrival with very much pleasure. Then on Saturday some parcels came – only four for me – the one from home with Sal’s flash socks – think I’ll have to keep them for Sunday or the boat journey home, Lic – I’ll wear them the day we land at O’Harbour! Also in the parcel a pencil, towel, soap, letter cards – very good indeed.

Then Aunt Flo’s cake nearly filled another bundle: just the top of the tin was filled in with almods & peanuts: bonzar cake too – worse luck it’s all gone now. Two surprise packets were from the Perth Baptist Church friends – containing socks, hanks, singlets (one in each), a tin of tea & sugar – tinned Canterbury cake & Xmas pudding & chewing gum – & I don’t know what else. One contained a Xmas card with greetings. I don’t know whether it was meant for last Xmas or next – but it was good to have it & the knowledge of remembrance & good wishes with it. They are a jolly fine lot of people at that church – and seem always to be thinking of & working for their soldiers; & altho I was there for only a short time still I’m not forgotten.

I think I told you in a recent letter didn’t I that Colin Wilson has now gone into camp – but Mrs Harry in her letter said that he had just been given a month in which to get his teeth fixed up – he is only about 19 years old.

Well we have been having a fine rest & enjoying the cool weather while here – & feeling tip top too, so no doubt our turn to work is drawing close again. I reckon I’m fit now for another taste of the valley, all the same I’ll not be sorry if we don’t get there: it’s too hot there yet – but it will soon be cooler now.

A kid here today told us that in six weeks – plenty rain here – well it blows up & looks very much like it some days now – but according to last year’s experiences we shouldn’t have much rain – if any before December. All over this part it is dark, heavy & sandy country, & although it gets pretty hard just under the soft sandy surface, if you get through that down a couple of feet it’s wonderful how moist you find it. This is how the watermelons & things do so well no doubt – & the summer fields of maize & millet likewise. I reckon it would grow lovely lucerne or wheat or any crop for that matter, & the old saying tells us – it’s better further up – so I s’pose it’s up we’ll have to go to see for ourselves.

The owners of the orange gardens have good wells – with engines pumping the water into large stone & cement tanks & from thence it is run out in gutters all round the trees. So they are kept in good heart through the summer – & by the look of the orange crop which promises – it’s a good paying game. But these tanks interest us more – they are about 14 or 15 feet square & 8 feet deep & nearly always full of water. So while we have been here a great many of us have been able to use these baths to swim in. They are not far from camp so it’s easy enough to get down after tea in the evening for splash round – & to wash your clothes when necessary.

I was in for a swim last night, & on the way home called at Frank Jones’ bivvie for a few minutes. He & Lance Neville came back the other day from leave – they reckoned Port Said was pretty slow place for a holiday but I think they had a pretty fair time. I’ve had no chance to go away again yet. Our Squadron is doing a bit of mounted drill these afternoons, but as I’m day stableman today I’m not out: I’m keeping an eye on my few odd horses on the line from the bivvie where I’m writing this. I’ve not been given a horse to ride yet, but that doesn’t matter in camp like this – it’s all the less to do & I can always have old Jinny for a necessary trip if Bob isn’t using her.

On Sunday night at the YMCA we had a nice service & some good singing of the old favourites. The CE chaplain from the 2nd Regiment was in charge – he seems a decent sort of chap – quite young I reckon, but speaks well. I was having a continuation of the song service at the finish (with most of the song coming from those round the piano – not from me) – & after the chaps had sung out pretty well & gone home – one standing there said to me ‘You’re not CE are you?’ I said ‘No, Baptist. Why?’ He said ‘I didn’t think you could be or you wouldn’t know all those hymns.’ They were Alexies [Alexander Hymn Book] of course & altho I know ’em well enough I was certainly pretty rusty at playing – the other chap turned out to be a Church of Christ youth from Victoria – works in our Brigade Ambulance – & he was quite pleased to find I knew a few heads & places which he mentioned – Rev. Thomas for instance & Grote Street & Hindmarsh. I asked him if the fame of York had ever reached his ears but he shook his head at that. I’ve never been able to hear anything of Clem Richardson – nor have I had any chance lately of seeing Ern Jarvis – think their crowd is in the Valley at present.

I was pleased to know by your last letters that you had had some more letters from me – & I guessed that that very thing would happen with the cable – arriving just after you had posted the time be4. Glad to hear good reports of Norm F – old Eckie & all of the old boys we know. I wrote to several of them a month or so ago so I may hear soon – direct. Donie told me of the news they had of Stow’s good soldiering – that’s the stuff! The only other thing is the art of carrying out the advice which I found pinned inside my hat two years ago ‘Keep your bloomin’ head well down in the trench’! I hope to let the girl know soome day that I did. Probably Mrs Tommy may be about right with regard to the issue of MMs, VCs etc – but they don’t matter anyway – & in any case there aren’t enough to go round to everybody – so naturally the leaders get most of ’em.

Good for the rains you’ve had at last – hope the season will continue good right through. I haven’t heard anything of Frank for a long time now. I’ve thought I’d like to write to Aunt Grace some times – but I’ve never done it yet. I don’t know her address but perhaps I’ll write & send for Mother to post on. I think my news is about out – I’ll turn on again in a few days if all goes well & weather permitting. I posted to Aunt Flo & Clara the other day.

So Good bye for this time. I’m still looking for more letters & never satisfied! Love to Mother & the girls – still going strong, hope you’re all as fit.

Spence

3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Thursday 8 August 1918 – mounted parade for Gen Allenby, trip to the sea

3 years today since a busy day at Gallipoli ~ mounted parade for Gen Allenby ~ without a horse as reinforcements arrived last week-more men than horses ~ had a trip to the sea 5-6 miles away-took tucker for selves and horses and stayed overnight ~ mines and submarines around ~ can get watermelons, tomatoes, grapes ~ heard the war was over-worried a lot of us wouldn’t be able to get a job ~ lots of half starved brats pick up crusts from camp ~ church parade Sun am, Mon night band concert

The Land of Milk & Honey
Thursday 8 August 1918

Dear Mother

Writing the date reminded me that it was on the 8th August 1915 that they had a busy day on Gallipoli, the 10th Regiment especially were cut up & on that date the last was seen of Norm Dyer, Roy’s brother. Don’t think I told you did I – that on account of our last little stunt nearly a month ago now Major Dick won the DSO & Lt Treloar (No 2 Troop) & Foster (temporary No 4 troop) were decorated with a Military Cross each. I reckon our officer – Mr Macdonald – had the worst job of the lot tho & he got nothing. Still that wasn’t bad for the Squadron.

We had a big mounted parade last week & General Allenby told us what nice boys we were & praised the work of the old Brigade. I’ve got an idea meself that it’s the best Brigade in the world – except perhaps the NZs who with the 2nd Brigade & we us & co form the Anzac Mounted Division – that’s in case you didn’t know before. So you see it’s 3 Regiments to a Brigade & 3 Brigades to a Division & then you get to Desert Corps – & Armies & such things.

Yesterday the old Hoss in command of this Anzac M Division – General Chaytor (with umpteen ribbons on his chest & letters before & after his name) came to see our clean saddles & irons & bits & shiny leggings & well groomed horses etc & he told ‘old George’ (that’s the Colonel) that the show was very good.

We used to clean up for his inspections at the beach last year – you may remember, I’m without a horse at present as since all the reinforcements came out last week we have a few more men than horses. Perhaps we’ll have some new remounts before long & I’ll stand a chance again of getting one of my own. I’ll bet it won’t be as good as my old Brownie tho, or Jinny either. I was jolly sorry to part with the latter again as she is looking fine & well & she is a wonderfully good & strong little mare. She is still in our section cos Bob Bell came in and made up our four – in Perce M’s place. I haven’t heard yet from Perce since he went away. He was pretty bad [malaria] – but I guess they’ll soon have him right with rest & hospital comforts.

I really forget what I told Lick in the letter I posted on Sunday. Don’t think I mentioned our trip to the old sea. It’s only 5-6 miles from here – easy 1½ hours riding: we started as soon as Brek was over one day – took tucker for ourselves & horses for 4 meals & so stayed until late afternoon of the next day. Only a Squadron went down at a time so we had a real free & lazy picnic. Just pulled in on the sand which is flat for 300 yards or so from the water, put down a horse line & then made one rush for the water. It took till dinnertime to fetch most of us out that morning & we carried on them much as we pleased – ate up & swam up & swam the neddies for all we were worth. A limber load of grapes & wine was sent down to us – which made things pretty noisy at night. Cliff Jenkin was down there with the limber & after tea he & I went for a mooch up the beach as I often used to do at Marakeb. It was nice to roll into the blanket that night & listen to the sea roar for a sleepy lullaby.

We were in the sea again before breakfast next morning of course, & were thinking of swimming a few miles up – 7 or 8 perhaps – to Jaffa but we reckoned it was too far to go before mongering up & also there are the floating mines to be considered to say nothing of the submarines which I believe still visit the waters here abouts. Most of us have lost a square yard, more ore less, of skin since that trip cos our backs are not hard & brown like they were last year. We could go about in the sun with no more clobber on than a n-gger & never get sunburnt, but that doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t change this bit of country for that hot & dusty place where we thought a prickly pear a luxury in fresh fruit! Here we still can buy plenty of watermelons, tomatoes, grapes etc – besides which the Regimental funds buy grapes wholesale for the troops every 2nd or 3rd day. We heard last night that the war was over – & we were worrying for fear a lot of us wouldn’t be able to get a job – but this morning again up north I can hear the rumble in the distance of the big ‘Eckees’ talking – so I’m thinking someone must have started again, so we are saved from present anxiety.

A Jewish woman has just been here with washing: she says that before the war she used always to stay at home & give food to her husband & children. Her hubbie worked at the big winery near Reshon – & things weren’t too bad. Then the Turks took the hubbie for a soldier – he got sick & was taken to Stamboul (Constan.) where he died 3 years ago – so the Turks inform her – & now she has to get out & go round the camps looking for washing to earn money – & it is misquiess (no good). She has a daughter married with 2 children so we call her Grandma & treat her as well as possible. We were telling her we’d fix the Turks & the war would be finished etc – but she won’t be comforted altogether – she says ‘Yes – the war finish – & my husband finish!’ Well you can’t argue with her there & it’s not much use telling her that she’s not the only one. I believe now the Turks are out of it that the people are in for a much better treatment as far as the respective armies are concerned & in a few years time the country will show it everywhere.

On Sunday eve at the YM I couldn’t help noticing a little n-g. One of our chaps was at the piano & singing & this nip came to the open side of the marquee looking on in wonder & interest at the musical box. I wondered what his n-gger nipper brain did work out about it all. But what struck me most was his fat face & clean healthy appearance. Apparently he lives with the canteen chaps & has had good tucker for a while: you should see the difference in his appearance from that of the many half wild half starved little brats that come picking up crusts & empty (except for licking which they do) tins from the rubbish bags about our camps.

We had a sort of church parade on Sunday morning & I was amongst those detailed to go. The Bates [chaplain] affair was spouting. At night we had a bit of a sing song – not very many there but some of the bandsmen came & assisted to swell the music: good old hymns & finished up with ‘Abide with me’ – a good concert – & the last item was an exhibition piece for the drummer who is the best at his game that I’ve ever seen. A chap from the M Gun Squadron sang a couple of songs very finely.

Did I tell you that Lance Neville & Frank Jones went away on the last leave party to Port Said – not lucky are they – striking it together like that? Vic Rule (a 23rd) who has just come back said that he saw them down there with Bert Moody & Herb Groves, so there is quite a lot of the old crowd down there. Moody went sick some time ago & Herb had has typhus pretty badly since his wound was fixed – but they are both getting on A1 now I believe. George Potter has been away for some time but came back last week looking well & fat again. He had bad news recently from home – his father died in May after a short illness. George is the chap who used to win most of the running & jumping events in the Bulla & was a very popular 23/3.

Once more a mail has reached us – came in on Tuesday afternoon. Jean Halliday, Miss Ashton, Mrs Harry & Mr Diamond (CBA Perth) – & Nos 130-1 & 2 from home beside the envelope with the photos of Dorc’s club room – which looks very nice & clean & shady. I’m not quite sure what nos I had a fortnight ago at our Hebron Road camp – I think they ran up to about 126 but I didn’t put them down for once. However I know there are 3 or 4 still to come: the last were dated June 2nd & this mail June 20th – & this time you say you have posted letters a week ago in answer to some of mine – well I want those – but they’ve either caught a slower boat or else gone the long way round. I know you’ve had that June cable too, cos Aunt Annie T mentioned hearing of it.

That was interesting Ruth meeting Mrs Henderson Senior. I’m glad you saw Mr Jones that day & I guess it is interesting to hear indirectly of ‘Probable sons’ if you don’t happen to hear direct. Someday again the others may hear when you don’t. Thank you for squandering that £1 – action endorsed! You’re pretty tight at shouting for your own birthday aren’t you? 2/- too much – too much! Glad you liked the brooch the ‘sistren’ gave you – I think it ought to look all right. Hope Sal is allright – her throat especially – I guess she & Hazel would have a good holiday with Rex & Irene. My word – I hope you don’t mind hearing it again – but letters are good to get here. Benny wrote me bonz old yarnie letter – & Mrs Harry’s are always jolly k’right.

Father said that you always have an appetite for more news even at the end of a mail time: well I guess we do too – but perhaps as it is we appreciate what we do have all the more. It’s just like a real home trip & a dinkum yarn with the people who write. Kath Harry wrote me a rummy little letter & finished up by giving all her exam percentages – which were very good – & then some barbed & wire netting arrangement labelled 100 kisses & 50 hugs! I couldn’t help laughing t her ‘excuse spelling & writing cos I have to write to Billy & his wife’! She’s a bonny little kid.

Miss Ashton too always sends fresh cheery notes. I had not heard from the Hallidays for a long time until this mail – they are all well. Mr Diamond wrote a short note & among other things told me of the death of O’Gorman & Halliday in France, both fellows who went into Camp about the time I left Perth: both in CBA service. A brother of the latter was one of Jeff Hartley’s Sgt pals. If you see a few of these people please tell ’em Good Day for me – some of you gels – Mr Brooker, Mr Poore, Mr Ford, Alex & Mrs Aird & tell ’em I know I owe them a letter – pay it soon I hope: Clara Follett & congrats on her attainment of Professorship or summat – so Benny tells me. Vere Teague, Mrs Tommy & all old York Tennis Club any time: Stan H.

Enough paper to risk in one envelope so here I wind up the clock.

Hooroo – I’m feeling tip top & a little bit – no word of my leave – it may be a week or so yet.

Good bye the noo

With love from Spence

3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Saturday 20 July 1918 – malaria, old Jerusalem, back to the beach

4000′ nearer heaven than a week ago ~ after a peaceful time I came near to going to Berlin ~ rotten luck in losing Mr Kelly, one of our best officers ~ a few have had malaria-so far I’m exempt ~ got a job with advance party to new camp ~ leave pass to go to old Jerusalem-got my hair cut, big feed of watermelon & dinner at a restaurant ~ plenty of tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes ~ water bags arrived ~ job as quartermasters assistant ~ we are moving-2 day trip back to the old beach

Finish Tel El Bellum – Hurrah
Saturday 20 July 1918

Dear Mack

It’s not so bad weather here at all at all – you see we live about 4000 feet nearer heaven than we did a week ago – so if a chap uses his horse blanket as well as his own to keep himself warm at night you won’t growl I guess – it’s quite a pleasant change too quite apart from the weather.

I wrote to Dorc last Saturday & told her what a quiet peaceful time we were having & in less than 12 hours afterwards I came as near going to Berlin or further (?) as I’ve done yet. Whatehum! It was some night – but we were set as soon as it got daylight & our dinkum ‘freund Fritz & Hans & Karl’ wished they were further. Now they that didn’t go to glory are tasting the luxuries of an enemy internment camp somewhere in Egypt.

Some of our fellows were wounded – not very badly but we had rotten luck in losing Mr Kelly. No doubt you’ll have seen of his death in the papers by this time – he was one of our best officers – they seem to always get it first. A youngster who had only just joined up was also killed – it’s bad luck for their people – but taking things all round we came off with wonderful luck & a sure good win. Most Deutschers ever captured on this front – to say nothing of poor old Jacko’s casualties which were pretty numerous! Now it’s ‘kidstakes’ from the heads handed out right & left – backsheesh.

Perce Mitchell is very unwell – malaria probably – it has got a lot of us lately – I think Perce will most likely get a trip to hospital. So far I’m exempt.

One thing I stopped writing letter for a week – & now I’ve found some paper again. This belonged to ‘Johnny’ our Sergeant – who got a nice little one in the cheek: s’pose he is just about ready to go tracking round Port Said again by now.

I had a bit of luck – got a bit of a job – coming along with an advance party to our new camps & so had more comfortable travelling. We stayed one night just outside old ‘Jeroos’ & yesterday morning I went in for a few hours on a leave pass & poked around shops etc. Got my hair cut at a barber’s shop – bought a Collins pocket dictionary (to study in my spare time), had a big feed of watermelon & dinner at a restaurant. There are plenty of tomatoes & cucumbers here now, & grapes too, tho the last are still a bit sour. & all pretty dear to buy, but it’s good to be able to get fresh fruit. I’ve had a few pears & apples too so we are likely to get fat again here. I wasn’t sorry to say Hooroo to our beloved old valley for a time again.

Those water bags came to light the other day – good luck – I’ve not filled them yet as my little old one is still good – but I guess we’ll use them before long. They look goodO & should hold all right.

Monday 23 July 1918

Finished writing on Saturday & yesterday was busy most of the day, so could not continue till now. I’ve got a job for 2 or 3 weeks while our Quartermaster’s assistant is away on leave – & as Tom Marshall is QM it’s not a bad job either. Tom is an old No 3 troop man – wounded – trip to Aussie & back here 18 months ago.

We hear today that we have to do another shift on tomorrow night – with the old Beach (!) as our destination: it is a two day trip from here & if they do it in easy stages it may take 3 days – but I think two will do it. If we really camp right on the beach & stay there for a month I’ll go mad – won’t be bonz —– plenty of good fruit land all round there too you know. Those trees that we left in bloom in spring time & the vines too should be in good bearing now – & ‘dickin’ we won’t hop into the old sea for a swim – still this is all bubbles up to date so I’ll shut up.

One thing that was not bubbles was a mail that came in yesterday – written just 7 weeks ago – June 1st & 2nd – goodO. You were all saying how long it was since you had heard from me – bad luck – I didn’t write any letters from March 10th till about that date in April – but I would not be surprised if you had our cable on the very day you posted those letters to me – it was sent on the 1st June from Port Said. No doubt I’ll hear next mail that you had it safely – so that’s all right. Beside your letters 122,3,4,5,6, I heard from Elf, Donie, Mrs Harry & Miss Ashton – & a mail from elsewhere brought me letters from Hal, Aunt Bertha & Wit.

The Indian gawks have turned you down I hear! The stupid things evidently don’t want to encourage private enterprise in missions – serves ’em right if they go short. You didn’t know this when you wrote but you doubtless heard soon after – cos Hal’s letter is dated 18th June. Bad luck & guess you’ll be a bit disappointed at not doing the trip after having thought of it for so long.

Good lad Dorc for getting a 1st Class – phew, not some scholar – hope she can keep it up in all her subjects till the end of the year. Ruth’s account of her gadding about was quite interesting: she will know SA geography by experience better than any of us at this rate. I’m wondering how your school singing class is progressing under your baton!

You were talking of teaching yourself ‘hooks & crooks’ in prep for India. I dare say you have cut it out by now, but if you have not – & still intend to learn shorthand you’ll do well to find our from some authority as to which is the latest & best & speediest way. I think that old Pitman of mine is out of date now, & it would be a pity to waste time over a style if there is a better one available. I have an idea there is a better one.

Thanks for Tommy’s kind regards – over the ‘Sunday afternoon’ gate – it is a Sunday afternoon gate isn’t it? – quite a different creation from the ordinary everyday passage blocker from house to stable yard. I can see it now just as if I had been there yesterday – & the tap (or the water) just drip-dripping into the trough – even to the everlasting cow – as you call her. Wish I had her here anyway in a standing camp.

Many interesting items of news in my mail but I must not stop to argue about ’em now. It’s nearly watering time & mail is closing here very soon. I’ll write again in our next camp.

Hooroo the noo old gal from your unrelenting unfaithful Bruder Spop

3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Saturday 13 July 1918 – enclosure – St George near Solomon’s Pools

Enclosure 13 July 1918

The original of this wonderful creation is just a stone arch – well built – which stands about 500 yards from Solomon’s Pools – 2 miles south of Bethlehem. In the little inset is a carved picture of St George stabbing the dragon & the iron flag waving above is cut to represent the same thing. I can’t find out how the monument comes to be there – but our RC padre reckons it is a hoax – you know the traditional place of the killing of the dragon is Ludd (old Lydda) near Jaffa – the abode of saints in Peter’s day but now the dirtiest hole I’ve yet seen.

Perhaps you can make something out of the inscription cut in the stone of this arch which I have copied to the best of my ability. I did it one cold day when we were camped nearby – I was on the pump so on the way back to camp from Sol’s Pools I stopped – much to Brownie’s [horse] disgust & took the copy. With the bridle rein over my arm & Brownie dancing around & cold fingers it was a bad job I made of it – but still I’ll send you what I got & you can translate it perhaps.

3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment

Saturday 13 July 1918 – camped against a hill, shell fragments humming down

Camped against a hill so Jacko can’t hit us ~ M gunners nearby had a shell in their cookhouse ~ better conditions for sleeping because away from the horses ~ have not been stunting

Bellum
Saturday 13 July 1918

Dear Dorc

I’ve just been filling up your birthday envelope with all sorts of rubbish – hope you’ll get them in time for the 1st & enjoy the reading of the (?) language I’ve copied for your edification. Since I’ve started writing here this afternoon we’ve had some moving pictures. We are camped against a big hill – & Jacko therefore can’t very well hit us cos you see if he lifts his gun to clear the top of the hill the shells must almost of necessity go over us – tucked right in against its side as we are. But some of the shells drop very close for all that. About a dozen have just dropped at anything from 30 to 150 yards from our ‘Home Boys Home’ – & the small pellets fling around all ways & drop like big hail stones around us: there’s another right now & the pieces are still humming down.

There is a section of M Gunners just 20 yards on our left & a couple of days ago the best shot on record lobbed a shell right in the midst of their cookhouse – & marvellous to relate never stirred a dixie on the fire. Luckily the cook was up in the bivvie above just for a minute – I reckon he would have got a puncture if he had been in his usual place. That’s just for something to talk about – it’s nothing of importance.

Now for an answer to – more shells & one piece just hit our bivvie – & a small piece just lobbed in front – here I’ll put it on paper to show you its small size & ragged shape – a chap might get a trip yet this afternoon – you never know your luck!

Now we have only deserted our home & found better cover under rocks etc but I may as well continue my missive. Rather interesting afternoon – & HOT. I was a’gwine to say before that I’d answer some of my recent mail. I posted a bit to Ruth the day before yesterday saying that I had umpteen letters or so – & all yours from home – then yesterday morning I had a 2nd edition from you & Mother – dated 19th & 20th May – & letters from Stella Rowe & Aunt Flo. I’ve answered Stell’s already also Uncle Bert’s – so am going well. I wonder if Hurt will have left SA by the time this arrives – s’pose he will try & get in the 9th with Wilf so I may see him before long. I was over at the canteen yesterday & stopped at the horses to see old Gouldie & some others on the way home. I saw Bert Cordon – a Two Wells lad who has been over here for about 6 months. He has been learning signalling & only came out to the Regiment a few days ago. He is a son of Old Mr Cordon & brother of Len’s lovely Mavis with the blue eyes & golden hair – eh Lic?

So Mrs Rowe & Hurt have been listening to Mr Hancock’s tales of Egypt too – good. Arch Blue told me yesterday that his sister had also had Harry to visit her & she said he spoke well at the 3LH Club meeting. Gouldie also heard about him from his wife.

Here I’m back again in the humpy – too hot & uncomfortable up there & I think the storm is nearly over now. Well – apple pie argument at Sunday dinnertime eh? ‘Gib it’ – as the Gyppo kids say – either hot or cold or both or neither – I won’t argue with it. On that same day May 5th I had a good feed too – it was the day after we got back from the 2nd Es Salt stunt – of which you seem to have read in the papers – & we had a bonz mail in – that’s about all I put in my diary for that day – & the next day I just remarked that I had had a full night’s sleep – the first since April 2nd. For longer than that now we have lived under similar sleeping or non-sleeping conditions – but it has been a much easier time – because we have been away from the horses & have not been stunting – & tell Sal it doesn’t matter about wither turkey or goose or any other thing the day we pull into the O[uter] Harbour. Sure thing I remember that spoggie we plucked – funny how such stoopid little things stick in your memory – or at least come to the surface now & again. I’m glad you got that Old Port Said letter after all – also that amongst Mr Hancock’s photos there were some of the old beach – El Marakeb – where we had such a bonzar time.

I’m glad the water bags are coming – they will probably be a day or two later than the letters – I’ve managed all right though up to date with the bag I found & an extra bottle.

You were telling me of terminals – one over & two to come: hope they all got knocked back as they deserved. Did you manage to spend that 30/- that you skinned Lady Deb Moulden Hackett for? Not too bad if you get 2 or 3 jobs like that now & again. Never mind of the kids won’t learn – that’s their funeral – not yours. Still like all schoolmarms I s’pose you want to see results.

Glad Father’s & Mother’s birthdays were satisfactory – & the cake Licko made for the occasion. I have not had that letter of Elf’s that you said she had written – but it may come yet. Bad luck Miss Jackson being ill – Stell Rowe said she had been at home at Two Wells for some time & Mrs J had also been ill. No you didn’t tell me before about that ‘Economic’ debate you had: you are sure & faith getting to be some leddy & stump speaker – you don’t want to make it too hot you know.

In Mrs Harry’s letter she told me that Gwen had been accepted for the job in India – not to happen for some time yet of course – also that Colin Wilson had gone into camp at Blackboy Hill. He is not very strong but very eager – & only just 19 so they are a bit anxious about him. Mr Wilson sent his regards to me & said he would like to hear! Well – if he wrote to me he might have a chance – not that I wouldn’t like well enough to write to him as it is – but I owe letters enough now. I used to enjoy my occasional visits to the Wilson’s home in Perth. Mrs W is bonz – & so is he. I went once with some of the Harrys & we had singing galore. Colin is a wonder on the goanna & organ – plays bonzarly. He has been conducting Perth Baptist Choir for the last year or more – & got on fine with it so says Mrs Harry.

I was interested to hear that George Ligertwood had enlisted. I had been wondering several times what he thought about the joke – especially since one of his old law student pals has got in – Mr Hannan. They have both got on jolly well in their profession. Fancy old Tommy marking a shell (or bullet) – a shell I guess: good old Eckee – I hope he will have a jolly good holiday out of it. Tell Mrs Tommy it’s the best thing in the world that could happen to a weary warrior as long as it’s not too bad.

I was glad that Mack’s & Lic’s letters which I wrote on March 10th had arrived safely – cos I didn’t write again for nearly a month after that & I’m afraid you would have a long wait: but you should have had our cable shortly after the date of your last letters – as it was sent on June 1st.

Ruth is a lucky ‘dorg’ – having holidays at Noarlunga – whom does she know down there I wonder? Well I think I’ll finish & take this to the mail bag – will be on outpost tonight.

Flash paper this isn’t it? I found it today amongst my old ‘doings’.

Now Hooroo old Dorcie – I’m fit, feeling bonz & we are due for another spell in about a week.

Hurrah

Love from Spence

PS – Forgot to say Many Happy Returns you old 22 year old – have to turn you out to grass pretty soon now: Good Day.