It's just marvellous how many things they can hang on a soldier!

Desert – 10,000 Miles from Anywhere, January 30th

We have got another address, as you will doubtless notice. Last Sunday it was Tel-El-Kabir, three days ago was Ismailia, and now we are on outpost duty about ten miles from the Suez with nothing but desert everywhere you look. Across country we can see the smoke of vessels going down or up the canal, which the long undulating sandhills hide them from our view and at night we see the search lights of the moving boats.

My word, I am sorry for the Israelites who had to spend forty years somewhere about here. I am glad it was them and not us, but at least they were well fed or they could never have stood it so long as they did, whilst anything does for us.

For today's dinner we had Bully and Biscuits and a drop of water. Great fun! We have not had a decent meal since we left Heliopolis for the trenches, and that's a fact and most of the fellows are just about fed up.

They expect us to do long marches with a full pack up with nothing to strengthen us in the way of food. We almost had a bit of a mutiny last night on account of of not having any water. Anyhow, they sent for some and it arrived early in the night so we got out of bunk and had a tea cup full issued to us. But things seem to be a lot better this morning. It is not as if they could not get the stuff to us for a railway runs within two miles of our camp, and there are dozens of camels and drivers to cart it the rest of the journey. We will have biscuits and cheese for tonights tea. Of course, the biscuits are not Current Luncheons. These could be stood on, jumped on, hammered on and you can not make any impression on them, but so far I can't complain for I am in the very best of health although not so strong as I was by a long chalk – but whose growling. I hope the Turks come soon so as we can get back to somewhere a bit closer to civilization.

Just close to us is the remains of the Turkish camp from where they made their last attempt on the canal.

Lately we have had some extremely cold weather, and wet, but today it is blazing hot and of course, just our luck, one of our number got sent away with the mumps this morning, so we have had to pull down our tent to air, so I am writing this out in the the open.

Last Sunday I had a visit from Cyril who is at Zeitoun, he's looking very well and we had a good old yarn. Ernie did not come with him but I expect that they will both be joining up with us soon. Harry Ivory also came. He has got a good job in the Pay Office in Cairo, lives in a house, has a nigger to wait on him, and does things in grand style. If he is wise he will stop there. (I think he is wise, somehow)

Last Monday we struck tents and once more put our instruments in their cases and consigned them to the base and of course, as soon as the tents were down, it must begin to pour and at night it blew a treat, intermingled with showers – great fun when you are sleeping out. As usual, Ernie and I got in together and managed to keep tolerably warm. During the night the wind blew a big square biscuit tin across the parade ground and Ernie stopped it.

The next morning we left Tel-El-Kabir in open railway trucks for Ismailia and on the way he had a hail storm. It wasn't cold or blowy either, arriving there and marched about six miles past Ismailia, across the Suez on a pontoon bridge and into the Reserve Camp.

The following morning, we were all asleep when the Reveille sounded and did not turn up in time for Physical Jerks so all the Signallers and Band were court marshalled and fined one days pay – a costly lay in and all the drill the Battalion did there was with full packs as a punishment for the Brigadier heard some of the fellows sing out for a spell the previous day, pretty rough seeing that the heads all ride horses and don't carry anything, but I am afraid they will do more harm than good if they try to break the Australians spirit like that – they are not Tommies.

On Friday we again broke camp, and having all our things on us again, and it's just marvellous how many things they can hang on a soldier, and started the heaviest days march we have ever done across the sandy desert for nine miles. Our ammunition, rations, blankets, possessions amount to something over one hundred pounds, so it is no joke. I hung to it until the last two miles when I was completely done up. I had to take my own time to finish the journey. I had about 50% of the Battalion as friends so I was not alone. Anyhow, I bribed a nigger with two piestres to put my pack and blankets on top of a camel and so finished in fine style. So far, drill has been the order of the day. Church parade was held this morning and tomorrow we start trench digging.

Last Sunday I received another parcel from you which I greatly appreciated as usual, for yours are always splendid ones. What a lovely pair of knee pads you made. I wonder how many hours a week you waste on working for me and I thought you would have less to do with me away. I also got one from Mrs Hohny and will write and thank her. I could not get a film in Cairo for the camera so am completely up the stick and have already missed some good pictures of the Suez. Please send me two VPK auto films per month.

With love to all.

Ps I was extremely glad to get the cable which arrived last Tuesday just before we left Tel-El-Kebir and so I suppose by it you got mine alright.

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