The Nile: a wonderful feat of engineering
Aerodrome Camp, Heliopolis
I received your welcome letter yesterday and I think you are a real sport to have trotted right into the GPO to ensure it catching the mail. I would have been disappointed though if I hadn't heard from you, we waited for more than a fortnight for the mail and expected a double supply but just got one weeks letters. I was lucky enough to get seven letters, three Spectators, one Age, two Heralds. I got one letter from you, one from Camberwell, Bill, Flossie, Mrs Downs, Mrs Grundy, Aunty Effie. The Specs were thoughtfully sent by Mr. Carey, Heralds by Floss, and the Age, of course, from home which particular person being responsible I don't know. I read the Specs first then Ernie then Miss Ricketts get last look.
Hard luck for Billy Tid's people, he was a very decent chap and I've often been for walks with him after SS. He was a trick and a great favourite with everybody.
Thank Olive for the card it is hanging over my bed and all the chaps have been over and read it, although I haven't been singing at all perhaps the splendid men feel a bit shy about singing their own praises. Let Bill come if he can get in the AMC but not otherwise, he's too young to prick Turks with bayonet. You'll have to get someone behind him to get in I'm afraid unless he gets his St. Johns Certificate which is not very hard to get.
The trip will do him good and help to make a man of him but there are very few boys of eighteen that I'd like to see here. But Bill is different and knows how to take care of himself.
I must look out for J.A.G., he will be better than some of the parsons here although I like one chap very much.
We had an endurance test last Friday we marched out at about 5 o'clock in the evening about five miles across the desert without a spell then climbed up some hills and entrenched ourselves we were digging the whole night through until day break when we manned the trenches and fought a sham fight until 7 o'clock when we had a piece of bread and jam and marched home.
It gets very cold towards morning now and we only had our knicks and shirts on. We used to get very cold if we had any spells. I've got blisters on my little hands to remind me.
When we got home the mail was waiting for us so by the time I had had my breakfast and shower and written to Olive I just had time to slip down to the Hospital to meet Miss R. and Alf to go out to the Nile Barage for the afternoon, where we spent a very pleasant afternoon.
First of all we missed the one thirty train and had to wait til 4 o'clock which we did by hiring a turnout and driving through Cairo, over the Nile to the Golf links which are surrounded by most beautiful walks, and gardens where we put in a good time until we had to get our train.
When we arrived at our station we found the most peculiar tram service imaginable, just a little trolley pushed by two Egyptians. They issue proper checks and do everything in fine style.
There were four of us all told, a cousin of Alfs was also with us and we all crowded on and got pushed for about a mile to our destination. The Barage is in itself a wonderful feat of engineering. The Nile, being divided into five channels, each one having an enormous weir across damming back millions of tons of water. It is used to keep the Nile at the same level all the time, we were lucky enough to see a number of boats passing through the locks to get to the other side. All around the weirs are the most lovely gardens I've yet seen. In parts they surpass our own botanical gardens.
I took some snaps and when changing the film I did a most brainless thing, I'm not going to tell you what I did but until I get the film developed I don't know the extent of the damage but I think they are all spoiled.
I think that before this reaches you that we will be gone from here. Some of the NSWales lot go today and the rest during the week, and we will have to follow on but of course you will know soon after we land and long before our letters arrive.
Miss Ricketts is going to keep me posted up with envelopes and paper. She says all the wounded when they come in complain that they had no paper at the front, and so found it hard to write. She is worrying a good deal over a brother of hers of whom she can get no news.
We are all well, Ernie, Ralph, Dorey and all wish me to remember them to you.
Harry is all tied up, he had some pimples on his neck which got septic, also some scratches on his knee but they are on the mend. All I am suffering from is blistered hands, but it is my own fault I suppose for working so hard. I will close now with love from your son.