28 March 1915

Mena Camp
Sunday 28/3/15

Dear Mum & Dad & Brothers & Sisters.
If I break out in violent & unseen language while I’m writing, you must overlook it. Today is – well the limit. Its blowing like mad, & you can imagine what that would result in, in a place like this. The dust is something awful. The messrooms are unbearable. I was there trying to write but had to give it up, so now I’m in the tent, which is swaying about like mad.

This weeks mail is a blank & no mistake. Not a word from you, or Marrickville or Jd. Luckily tho, I got one from Clytie & Dorothy & also one from Minnie & Ella. According to Minnie’s letter things are umpty do in Tassie. They’ve had bad bushfires which have destroyed nearly all their fences. But I suppose that you got a letter from there yourself.

Do you know what you could do if you liked & could manage it? Post me a bottle of Dugong oil. I broke the bottle I had which me whilst on board. It is sure to come in very handy & I would have no trouble carrying it about with me. If you send it, be sure & pack it up very securely – in a small wooden box if possible, & address it very plainly. I can’t get it over in this part of the world & wet weather would have no effect on me if I had a bottle handy. Pity I didn’t ask as soon as I landed, it would have been here by now. You could send one every say 3 or 4 months if you can manage it.

I’ve had a slight dose of Nile fever, but it was not serious enough to send me to the Dr or to cause me to miss any parades, tho it was very uncomfortable & irritating when I perspired. This inoculation against fever must be very effective when you consider that fevers are very fatal to visitors to Egypt, but are unknown in any serious form among the military. This is a fine country to live in. Its very unsafe to eat any fruit raw unless it is well peeled. All raw vegetables are taboo, also salads milk & ice cream. Unless you personally boil milk its dangerous & for that reason we are advised to only drink coffee in town, as it is always made from boiled milk. The only milk we are advised to is that tinned variety. We are not allowed to go about barefoot in the sand or to paddle in the Nile or any of its channels owing to a small insect which gets under the skin & then works right throu the body & renders the victim dangerously ill. I’m very fond of lettuces, but since my arrival here I’ve carefully refrained from indulging myself owing to the fact that the natives have a dainty habit of washing their wares in any filthy pool that happens to be handy just before they reach market. The canals that are used in the irrigation schemes are the general wash tubs & cess pools of all natives living in their vicinity. Natives have been seen actually washing the dust of the luscious strawberry by rolling them in their mouths. And to think that I was tempted to buy strawberries & cream once but luckily did not have the wherewithal to do so. There’s no doubt about it. Egypt’s a fine place to live in.

The photos that Vernie has been taking with his camera are very good. I was looking throu some of his efforts & they were quite good. The photo of the 5 JD larrikins turned out very fair. I think Vernie will be sending you one. I cannot as he could only let me have one & of course it had to go to JD.

Tomorrow we are being reviewed by Sir Ian Hamilton & I’ve been busy tonight getting my things ready & trying to find my belongings in the dust. We are supposed to shave every day & in order to see that NCO’s do so & are clean in other particulars they are all fell out in front & inspected. Owing to having light colored beard I can always go one day without shaving without any fear of being detected, while my darker companions would be caught tho they would not have as much growth.

There was a tug of war on today amongst the double sections in A coy. Nos 1 & 2 after a very keen struggle came second. Our team only had 4 decently heavy men in it, while the winning team consisted of all heavy men. Of course I wasn’t in the team – I was merely a vey excited spectator.

Had a fairly easy time last week. I got off very light on Thursday there was to be a night scheme so of course we did nothing during the day. In the afternoon A had to supply guards & almost every man in the coy was required. There were so few left that it was generally accepted that we wouldn’t go out so I went to the pictures after tea & on getting back found that they had been throu the lines looking for those not on guard. I was afraid that there’d be trouble over it but apparently I wasn’t missed. The best of it was, there was nothing doing all next day owing to the strenuous nights work, so you see I scored _ _ _. Our letters are still subject to the censors approval so we cannot give any military information. Well I run out of news & that on top of the fact that the last post has gone compels me to close _ _ _. Hope everyone of you all are well & happy as we are here. Your loving son & brother Bert.

[on the back]

Tell Mrs Fox & Clytie that I’ll write during week. Got a letter from Clytie & Dorothy this last mail.






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