8 January 1915

 

Dear Homefolks
Mum your letter ### 29th November for Vernie to hand ### but so sign of your ### that you mention. ## I suppose. That’s the ### this game. The mails are ###.

You must excuse ### written in pencil – no pen ##.
Well as I got a letter from Viola, I suppose I had better attend to Her Ladyship first. AH ME. Such is life. You know the saying or whatever it is about doing the disagreeable things first? _ _ _. Well here goes. Viola you commence a very nice interesting letter by stating that you are rather tired of doing nothing. You can hardly imagine how very pleased I’m to hear it. Never in my wildest flights of fancy, was able to conjure up a picture depicting you tired of doing nothing. It’s the unexpected that happens.

Anyway in spite of all you’ve done & haven’t done. I sincerely hope that you have passed your exam successfully that you’ll be a full blown Senior when this epistle reaches you.

When I get back from this bit of a scrap heap you wont have any cause to grumble about no one to take you out. I’ll go the whole giddy ox with you. Spose tho that there’ll be someone else in the way then that will have to get punched first. Anyway I’m learning boxing on ###. Mrs Johnstone gets married ## fortunate man my ###. Also wish ### good wich for me & tell ### good to the brave man ### his liberty & life at ###

Mum I’m so sorry that you ### & that you sprained your ankle. Hope to goodness that it’s all right now. Mind you look after yourself well while we are away. You needn’t bother when we come back. We’ll do it for you then. Mind you make your two eldest sturdy young ladys help you all they can. I get horribly homesick at times. I’d love the whole blooming show to be over & to be back at home again with you & all the others. Don’t worry over us or any old newspaper yarns that get about. We just found out from Austn papers that the Euripides & two other transports had been sunk by the Emden _ _ _. Also that we had been almost wiped out by the Turks _ _ _. Wiped out. I don’t think.

Hope that my little Rita is successful in her exam & that she is keeping well & helping Mum as much as her strengths will allow.

Am so sorry that Mrs Fox is worried over the war. It is effecting Mrs Foxs hade[?] & she is worried over Enids future. Next to you Mum I like her better than any other woman. Wish I was in a position to help her. It took me 2 ½ years to appreciate her thoroughly & even then didn’t find what an angel she is. Anything you ever do for her you will be doing for me too.

Nearly died of heart failure the other day when I got a letter from Flo. ## it did upset me. When I got it I chewed my moustache? _ _ _. For 28 mins before I opened it & then chewed it for another 40 when I saw it was addressed to “Dear Vern”_ _ _. She’s mighty familiar with “Dear Vern” I think the whole blooming affair needs going into thoroughly. Tell Flo I’m real glad you played that trick on her. I’m glad, Glad GLad, GLAd GLAD GLAD _ _ _.

You’d hardly realize the difficulties ## in writing this. The weather is very cold & the wind is blowing everything about a treat. Have to hang on to everything like grim death. Will knock off now till tomorrow.

Saty 9th Jan 15. Hope that Ida got throu her exam with flying colors. Ida you’re on a couple of kisses when I get back if you have been successful & your general behaviour is good. Just think it over like a good girl.

Hope Viv & Percy that you both had a good time on your holiday & that you didn’t find house hunting dry work. Hope you have been able to get a nice place, it would be lovely to be able to come back to our own home when we get back.

By jingo I can see that the mice have been playing since the cat left. Ricket! Goodness Gracious! Ricket! My word Viola you’ll be getting Ricketts if you’re not careful. My word I can see that I’ll have to get back in a big hurry. I once knew a little girl that couldn’t stand boys younger than herself. The same little girl often counted piebald horses for amusement. Funny, isn’t it. Perhaps after all, all the gush about the small attack of Ricketts, was only bluff. Perhaps you’ve got a big attack. You know, you never could stand boys younger that yourself _ _ _. What the dickens is making you so red? You look quick pretty that way. Oh I’m so sorry to hear that Nancy has been sick. Hope it didn’t last long.

I suppose Dad that this will find you at home, as Viola says that you’ll soon be home & that’s over a month ago. Hope you can manage to get home as it will be the best for all concerned.

The rumour that the troops were going to Egypt is quite true as you no doubt are aware of by now, but as to fighting the Turks – well there doesn’t seem to be any Turks to fight.

It would be nice if Tom could see his way clear to stay with you. Give him my congrats for his success in getting into H.O. He’ll probably get to know a lot of the chaps that I knew there. Ask him to remind me to the Coys.

And so my little spider got a broach for her birthday didums? Well my little Freckles I hope that they gave your hair a log of wigs for me. Also hope that Eric & Gordon did what I would have don’t if I’d been there – jumped you up to the ceiling & then tossed you over their shoulders _ _ _. That’s quite the correct way to treat girls that have birthdays. When you get older you’ll find that birthdays are unfashionable after twenty. I do so hope that Ida wins the 3d Percy promised if she passed the inter, also hope that my little mosquito wins her watch by getting a bursary with honours.

And so my teeny little Smiola is going to be a teacher she thinks. Well if ever I have the misfortune to have any kids she needed think that I’ll send them to HER school – at least not till they are six. I wonder if teachers ever get rickets? Or is it only caught by children. I know a child with a bad attack of them now _ _ _.

You are getting mighty generous all of a sudden with your kisses. Actually 2 whole ones each. 2. ONE for each cheek. Oh of course I suppose your stock is getting exhausted. Please save me 3 next letter.

Viola you ought to be jolly well ashamed of yourself for carrying on that way at school does “horizontal bar” know about it. (That’s got you thinking _ _ _.)

Last Sunday 3/1/15, whilst writing letters in the YMCA, some French ladies who were visiting the camp, came into the building to have a look round, so our noble band sprang to the occasion like a cat at the feather on a string, & played “the Marsellaise” (is it spelt rite) & in honor of our visitors we all stood up whilst it was being murdered. When the last tune had died, we all Hip hipped & the bonny lassies from old France were enraptured, either with the music the cheering or US. Of course bashfulness prevents me from telling you which.

We got buried alive early on Wednesday morning the 6th Jan. It occurred about 4am & were interred till 6.15am. It all occurred this wise. Our tent pole, unable to stand the honor of being the sole support of 13 healthy rifles with some other gear & the weight of the tent thrown in, gave way & fell ignominiously to the earth, depositing the rifles in various ungraceful positions upon & around our devoted heads, & enveloping us in the folds of the tent. At first the air became so lurid that I was afraid the canvas would burn in spite of the dew, but it soon cooled down. Then without lifting much as our heads, we called the roll, & finding that everyone answered, we turned over & went to sleep again, & slept the sleep of just till 6am when we were disturbed by the rough treatment of the rescue party, who in their well intentioned efforts were causing us considerable inconvenience. There was also another incident that night, which however was nothing to our adventure. The water dam burst & flooded the Engineers out, washing tents, & gear right away. It made a channel 10 feet deep in the sand where the tents used to was.

On Wednesday 6/1/15 myself (in charge) & three other siglrs were engaged in a skeleton attack scheme in which the 1st 2nd 3rd & 4th were represented by the senior officers & 4 siglrs. Acting under instructions I set up a station at the 3rd Hqtrs & sent 2 men to keep in touch with the Col. O.H at the very start my 3 men messed up the very first message which was largely responsible for messing up the whole scheme. Of course it wasn’t found out till later. Nothing occurred till about 12 when I got a long message giving the Col instructions. We had to shift then & find him. Discovered that he was 4 miles away. Sent a man to him who returned in half an hour having met the Col. He had brought back a message to be sent. We just started on it when Hq gave us “wait” & then told up they were shifting but didn’t say where to. The Col had ordered us to go to a certain bridge. We set off. Got mixed up in a native village & then on getting out of it alive, we attempted to cut across country, but every way we turned we’d get about ½ a mile & then we’d be stopped by a bog. Well in the end we had to get a nigger to show us the way. He took us back throu the village where there were filthy houses, sweet smells slimy pools of mud with dead dogs lying in them & little kids bathing in high glee, who stopped to gape openmouthed at us, & all sorts of other lovely & otherwise sights which improved our appetite greatly, till we had got back to where we started & then one of my men after getting the right track to follow yelled out “Imshi” which is an expression which means another expression which amounts to “buzz off” after which the nigger “Imshied” in haste calling out back “schese” & “monish”  from a safe distance. We followed the niggers instructions & got to the bridge just as the days operations were finished – at 3p. We were the only siglns that turned up at all. The other three Bns gave up & went home. As we’d had no dinner we got permission to dismiss & then retreated in haste to a pub & had some eggs & butter & beer & tea. We doubled banked the eggs & bread & butter & tea & 3 of us double threble & forble banked the beer & brought two bottles home. Got back about 5pm by train & G.A. was quite pleased at we being the only ones to reach the bridge. I didn’t think it would be wise to mention about the message that was messed up, so I refrained. It wasn’t my fault, so it didn’t worry me.

On Thursday 7th Jan Vernie & 3 others were out on a similar scheme. No doubt he’ll tell you all about it.

Have just discovered that it remains with the major of each Coy, whether he makes his senior signaler a Lance corporal or a corporal, so I’m going to smoodge to him a treat & even lick the dust off his boots to get the extra stripe. Hope to goodness he makes me a Cpl it would be O.K. if he did. As I am always to be with him on any schemes. I’m going to keep under his notice as much as possible & ill be my own advertising agent. If I don’t I’m jolly sure no one else will. There is also a full corporal to be appointed in Headquarters. Don’t know who it will be. Vernie might get it if he has any luck at all.

We have heard nothing at all definite about our departure. It all seems very far ahead. Am enclosing the local rags report of Georgie Reids inspection of the troops.

Most likely will be in Cairo tomorrow or early next week & then I’ll post the chocolates to you. Everyone of the whole family is to have some. Hope you’ll like them. They had a paper band around them but I had to tear it off as I had written on it & you would have had to pay a nice little sum in postage if it had been opened for inspection.

Some of the chaps here have got queer pets. A chap in my tent has a dog & a white rat who wage eternal war. The rat is obliged to lie low all day, but its over everything at night when the dog is curled up in bed with its master. Another chap had a pet snake but he was made to get rid of it.

Well I’m about done, as far as news is concerned. There does not seem to be any more news here than in G.L. Hope everyone of you are all well & happy & that Eric & Gordon & helping Mum all they can in the work. Are you getting the money O.K. let me know. Some of the men say that their people are not getting it. Hope you are. Your loving son & brother Bert.

 

 

 

 

 

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