18 December 1914

[sidebar] Please post to Dad Viv & Percy
Bert

Mena Camp
Near Pyramids Cairo
18/12/14

Dear Homefolks,
Well we are getting used to living, moving & having our being, in a sandy sea of sand. We have got our tents now & things are getting a bit more comfortable. The cooking is getting a bit better to, the cooks are evidently learning how to cook without getting sand in it. When we first came here they used to sometimes put sand in instead of salt.

The 3rd Btn has been selected to represent the 1st brigade, in the ceremony of taking over all Egypt on Sunday. It was originally intended to hold the ceremony tomorrow (Saty) but late this afternoon it was postponed till Sunday. We don’t expect any trouble during the actual ceremony, tho they are giving us 50 rounds in case of emergency, but they reckon that there is a big chance of trouble a few days later with the Turks. They might possibly rush us off to Palestine.

Marching about here is very heavy work indeed. Our parade ground is about 2 miles away & the whole district is nothing but soft sand. We do all our drilling in the mornings. Get up at 6am, brecker 7. Parade 8am to 2pm. Then dinner & loafing for the rest of the day. We have a muster parade at 7pm.

We get leave from 4pm to 11pm every six days. I drew my first leave last Tuesday & visited Cairo, with a young chap who’d been in before. We had a splendid tea for 2/- each. It was worth it. I never tasted such lovely steak. Its just as well I started off with something nice, before we had a look round as I saw very little of nice things afterwards. As soon as we got off the main street. Found out that fully 90% of the houses carried on a business that is very heavily punished in Sydney. Here it is carried on quite openly & not only that, but is licensed. I was terribly disgusted & if it was not for the fact that I know several good women in Aust, my faith in & my respect for women would have been shattered. Every house we passed, they would call out to us or else rush over to us & try to drag us over. Of course most of them were ugly but others were decidedly good looking. We went into a rather respectable hotel for a drink. My mate ordered beer, & I ordered lemonade. There were men all over the place with girls snugging them & sitting on their knees. As soon as we sat down a very nice looking girl came & sat on my mates knee & another came & sat down alongside of me, as my knees were under the table, she then went to caress me, but I pushed her off & moved off a little. She got indignant, & stalked off very much offended. Another then came up & she was more persistent – until the lemonade arrived _ _ _. That settled her. She jumped up & pointing to the lemonade she walked off talking loudly in some foreign language. A little after a couple of officers came in & every girl in the shop rushed over to them. You’d really have to see things here to understand how horribly bad they are & how very low a woman can go. I don’t think that a single respectable woman is outside after dark & dear knows there are enough women about – more than men & you can imagine how many men are about, with 50000 troops camped here.
I hear that the Terriers are off back to England in a few days time. They will stay in England for a few days, & are then off to France, but not right to the front. They will be in the line of communication.

Sunday 20th Dec 1914. Well we’ve been throu the ceremony of taking over Egypt, without firing a single shot. (we were armed with 20 rounds of ammunition in case of trouble). We went in by train & came back on boot. Left camp at 6.40 am & were lining the streets at 8.30a. About 9.30 the sultan or whatever he’s called, passed, being preceded & followed by English & Egyptian cavalry.  Each line of men were against the footpath & facing the road & we had to watch the crowds on the opposite side for any sign of trouble. The head serangs turnout was very flash. The harness of the horses was all silver & gold plaited. There were four runners, dressed in white, running along ahead of the turnout. The old chap got a few cheers from the people, but nothing to rave about. He is an oldish looking man with a large moustache. After the ceremony we were marched to the Terriers barracks & had a light lunch – a roll of bread, a piece of cheese that’d knock you down, & a half cup of coffee. Being hungry I beat the cheese & knocked it down _ _ _. After lunch we were marched home. On the way we had a bit of a spell & the men rushed to the side of the road shouting like mad & fighting Old Harry out of two bullocks that were ploughing & some niggers. The bullocks bolted full gallop to the far end of the furrow dragging a two furrow plough with them, & the driver chasing them. When they reached the end of the furrow they swung round & inspected us. It was enough to make The Sphinx laugh. We all fairly roared. The niggers that bolted stopped about 100 yards off. Our feet were pretty tired when we go home after our ten mile tramp. We felt it, as the road is very hard & we’ve been drilling in the sand. The old colonel said our conduct & behaviour was perfect. (feel 3 in taller) & as a reward he was going to try & get us a whole day off.

Got a mail yesterday. Got one from Elsie dated 26th Oct. the one before has not arrived yet. Also got a very nice one from Mrs Fox 19/10/14, one from
Doris, Minnie, & one of those outlaws at the rock _ _ _. Tell Doris I’ll write to her next mail. The mail closes 10am every Monday here for Aust. Cant think of any more news so I’ll close now with love to you all from your loving son & brother
Bert.

 

 

 

 

 

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