Sham fights and Diphtheria

I was very glad to get your letter of the 29-6 during the past week although I don't think the big mail came in for I was the only one in the band to get any letters and I got two, yours and one from Miss Crouch. I am still leading the band in the matter of letter receiving, its just the thing too and I hope to be in the lead when the war is over which I don't mind how soon it occurs.

Really, there is not very much to tell as we are just in a training camp like Broadmeadows and we have very little time to go anywhere as most of the places to be visited are whole day trips and cost a good deal of money and we only have Saturday afternoon and Sunday free and I always like to write on Sundays and go the Church in the evening with Alf. We had the usual Church parade in the morning after which I went to Communion in the YMCA. I like the C of E Communion very much it is held about eight am and this morning I was wondering what you were all doing. I pictured the kiddies after school Lester and Rita coming home hand in hand and Olive I don't quite know what little boy she would be bringing home And Mabel, well I had better not say anything, and Bill would be home before the nippers were hardly outside the school gate (I don't think). I guessed you would be sitting in front of the fire reading the Spec and as for Dad, well I didn't try to guess where he would be, but I know he would be coming home to tea, he has so many interests that it would be futile to try to imagine which one was taking his attention just then.

I have not seen Percy Hammond yet. I went down to his camp last night (Saturday) hoping to find him in, but he was on leave again. I will be there again this afternoon and perhaps will be more lucky. I would like to see him very much.

I expect that before Charlie Hocking gets here we will be up against it but perhaps I may see him.

Harry Ivory met a fellow yesterday that was in Ted's tent and he was saying that Ted got potted the second day, just above the knee and he didn't seem to think it was very much. He said that he wished he'd only stopped one like it as he got torn with shrapnel down the side he said “oh, Ted's in clover”.

My word, the recruiting seems to be doing alright, but it's time the Australians woke up to the fact that there is a war on.

We have an idea when we will be moving and our Colonel has just sent home for some more music (England) which will take at least a month to get here, so he can not think we will be going for a few weeks.

You would almost think we were there sometimes when we get out at one of our sham fights and hear the artillery practising further down, they do make a noise and shake the whole ground so I don't know what sort of a “Cuckoo's note” a “Big Lizzie” would make.

We have been to two more funerals this week. Diphtheria is the cause of most deaths here I would think I know Chopin's Funeral March off by heart now, we have played it so often.

I took a couple of snaps in the cemetery and if Stan Fletcher has time to fix them for me I will be able to enclose them in this letter, although it is such a tiny camera it takes beautifully sharp pictures and the small details show just as plainly as a big camera would.

We took a journey to the Pyramids last week specially to take snaps and used a whole film, took them to the developers to get the film fixed up and when he sent them back we found that he spoiled nearly all of them and we can only print from two of them so we will have to go again and take some more as Egypt is known by the Pyramids so we must get some good pictures.

Miss Crouch told me in her letter that Arthur McCutcheon was dead. I like him very much and very sorry to hear the news.

We have had two bivouacs this week. They are not bad but are very uncomfortable. We march out in the evening about eight miles then dig trenches, and fortify the place, then lay down on the sand and sleep. I take my waterproof sheet and generally keep myself fairly warm, also my Balaclava Cap which is invaluable for anything like that. I just scape up a heap of sand for a pillow, pull on my cap and there you are but I shall be much better pleased when I am once more in my little bed at 64 Brunning Street.

Early in the morning we have a sham fight which generally last until about 9 o'clock and often takes us further away from camp, then starts the march home which is always the worst feature of the outing, we fairly drip with perspiration and the chocking dust settles on us, and simply roar at one another, such cuts we look, especially those with moustaches which turn grey.

Yesterday morning we landed home and found the showers turned off so about two hundred of us fought for positions and sat under a tap, it was the best we could do.

I have only had one letter from Aunty Effie besides the one you forwarded so if she is writing every week they must be going astray. I wrote to her yesterday, also to the kiddies. I sent cards, Ralph wished to be remembered to you, he is very bronzed and has the cut of a real soldier about him, he knows his work better than some of his Officers themselves. Harry also wished to be remembered he has boil on his neck, or something an so wears it in a sling.

Ernie is writing to you, he's as fat as – well as fat as anything and so am I. The barber wanted to charge me two piastres for a shave the other day, just because I had a double chin. I will now close hoping you are well, your loving son.

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