29 November 1914


Red Sea
Sunday 29/11/14
SS Euripides

Dear Mum,

After all we are not to go to England just yet. The Colonel told us yesterday that we are to go to Egypt and stay there until the spring (about March or April) when we are to go to the front. This move is either, to give more room at home for the Canadians, or because they think there may be trouble in Egypt.

I'm a bit disappointed at not going straight through to England but it will be good experience to see Egypt, & if we see any service there it will steady us & we will be practically old soldiers when we get into action in Europe. We don't know what the arrangements are – whether we all go into camp together, or whether the Force will be split up and sent to different parts of the country. I fancy we will all go into barracks at Cairo. I hope we do, for I would like to see Cairo. I don't know just how big it is, but it is bigger than Sydney. We are at present approaching the Suez Canal, which we will probably reach tomorrow night or Tuesday morning. The New Zealand boats have gone ahead – I suppose to get thro' the canal before the rest of us arrive, and so save a good deal of time. We will probably reach Cairo Thursday or Friday. I hope the papers report our altered destination so that you will address our letters to the new address. The same address plus Egypt instead of England, ought to get us. As soon as we get settled I will write and give you our full address. We will have to forgo our English Xmas eh?

I'm told that the Egyptian winter is delightful, & it is winter there now.

The cooks very nearly disposed of some of our men the other night. They had not kept their cooking boilers over clean, & the result was that about 400 of the men had an attack of ptomaine poisoning. Luckily it was not severe enough to be fatal, but it was pretty bad. The poor beggars were lying all over the deck and were fearfully sick. Nearly every man had to be carried to the hospital. By great good luck Bert and I escaped it. It was so bad that at 2 am the Master of the ship, & all his officers, as well as all our head officers, got up & had an inspection of the cook-house, & gave the cooks the soundest shaking up ever they are likely to get. Our Brigadier told them that if any man died over it, he would hand them over to the civil power to be tried for manslaughter. I guess that after this we will get our food cooked in clean boilers.

We arrived at Aden last Wednesday 15th & put in one day there. It is a deadly looking place. They only have rain about once in five years, & they have to condense the sea water for drinking purposes. The country is nothing but a rugged jumble of rocky mountains & sand. It gives one the creeps to look at it. It is the punishment station of the British Army. We left there the following morning & were not sorry to get away from such a dry & dispiriting looking place. We entered the Red Sea Thursday afternoon & at once struck hot weather, which continued until last night when a cool Northerly sprung up, and since then the weather has been ideal. We are getting along finely at our work, & are hoping for promotion soon.

Today everything has been a bustle of preparation for landing. Washing uniforms & equipment & in general overhauling everything. We were measured tonight for fresh uniforms, so I suppose they are going to give us a lighter uniform. Well, Mum, I'll write again when we get settled, and let you know what is doing. Tell Eric I hope he is developing into an efficient signaler.

Don't forget the new address. One good thing is that it will only take your letters three weeks to reach us. Hope all at home are well & in best of spirits and happiness. Best love to all from your loving son Vernie.


1 pm 1st Dec. We are now in sight of Suez (town) which is only about 6 miles ahead. We disembark on Saturday. Just closing this letter. V





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