August 1914

For Vernie
put No 1174

No 1175. H Smythe
F Coy 3rd Batn
1st Inf Brigade
Aust. Imp. Forces

Dear Viv
            The above is my address except that it is necessary for you to add "On Active Service" on the top right hand corner. That will be sufficient address to ensure delivery when we leave if the postal arrangements over the pond are not disorganised.

We went for a fairly long march the other day throu the city. Only had two short spells so it speaks well – that not a man dropped out, but two of F coy's men fainted while waiting for dismissal when we had returned.

Young Dean, who has been in the hospital with influenza is back again, but he is far from being well. He is fairly covered with pimples & sores & he is very frightened that the Drs wont let him go. There is no doubt he looks bad. It may be only bad blood.

Got my phiz took yesterday. It's not too bad, saw the proofs today. Not too bad was it. Of course I'll not see the finished photos. Clytie and Doris were out here this afternoon and Vernie and I togged them up in our equipment and got them taken. They both looked O.K.

My word Clytie a toff she's been out three times now & each time she brought all sorts of nice things. Why, we are getting quite pampered. She made Vernie a bonzer cake for his birthday & she gave me a splendid compass for mine. Tho its some time ahead.

Mrs Fox also has been very good to us. She has given us several presents that will be very handy.

We were issued with our sea kit bags day before yesterday. I've got mine packed, & I had a dickens of a job getting my things into it. It's crammed like a wool pack. We will not see our other kit bags until we get to England.

We are embarking on Sunday morning, & up to now have had no hint given of getting any leave. If they give any, it will have to be given tomorrow as we will have a lot to do on Saty. Hope to goodness we get leave. It would be crook if we had to go away without getting home again.

I've been very busy writing goodbye lettercards. I have them all dated for Saty & will post them sometime that day. If I had left them till the last I would have been in a fix. (I?) sent one to Mr Neuse. He is teaching at Rutherglen in Vic. It'll give him a surprise hearing from me.

We have been doing a fair bit of long distance signalling lately. Each time we go out the distance is increased. The scopes they give us are bonzer ones. You can see a man every movement perfectly with the scope where you cant see anything at all without it.

I have not been able to get in to get my type, so have given Charlie an order to get it for me. It will be quite safe with him. He is learning shorthand, so he will be able to practise typing a bit also.

We have had a military ## culture expert instructing us how to keep in good nick on board ship. He has shown us all sorts of games with medicine balls. He's a beauty with the bayonet. I'd feel quite safe if I was as clever as he at bayonet fighting. Must practise it up a bit on board. Lights will be out in a few mins now, so will close. Will try & write again before we go. Love from Bert.

Things have been happening here. Poor Dean was examined by the Dr with the result that the whole of our blooming tent are quarantined. The Dr says it might be small pox & he is not taking any risks. Every blooming thing that we own has been brought into the hospital here with us. Even the tent has been brought in. The worst of it, is that there will be general leave this afternoon & we wont be able to get out. He started to vaccinate us all again, & the blooming stuff ran out when Vernie was done & he was the one before me. If it is smallpox we will all be able to go with the others after we've been done except poor Jones. He has never been vaccinated & he is in rather a stew. We have just been told that if it is really smallpox the whole battalion will be quarantined. Mum & the youngsters will be out this afternoon.

Saty. It is smallpox right enough but in a mild form. They got more vaccine yesterday & did us all & at about 4 oclock we were all sprayed with some disinfectant & were then released. In the meantime Mum & Rita & E & G had come out; so we went out, after being given permission to stay out till 9.30 owing to being detained. While waiting at the tram for V & I, Clytie turned up. When V & I arrived we all adjourned to the city & spent the time there. At 8.30 we saw a whole lot of troops in the street & as we were passing Vernie & I were bailed up by an officer who ordered us to pull in with the others. He said that no one had leave after 6pm & wanted right or wrong to fall us in & march us off. Managed to convince him & got away.

We had to distribute ourselves among the other tents when we got back as ours had been pulled down.  This morning we were told by the Col. that he had bad news for us. He then told us that we were not going on Sunday & in fact might not go for 2 days or a week. Gave us no explanation. It is rumoured that our convoy is not ready owing to them chasing round after Germans supposed to be in the vicinity. Also that it is owing to the smallpox. There is another poor XXX got it now. A significant fact is that the Hospital tent is moved a fair distance away instead of being in the lines. The vaccination is working on me already.

I gave Clytie about a dozen goodbye letters to post for me after 1 oclock today & I had to spend 1/- on a wire to stop her. Hope she got it. My word this putting us off is disgusting. I suppose fully ¾ of the men were off yesterday saying a last & fond goodbye & then next day they find they do not go. They get us that way soon that even after we get outside the Heads we'll be afraid of a recall.
Well I'll close now with love from Bert






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