Digging trenches in sand like flour

Canal Zone Sunday February 6th

I have made a start but I'm blessed if I know what I am going to write about for we have had no mail for about three weeks, which seems more like three months, so I have none of your letters to answer and we are just stuck out in the desert digging trenches and doing route marches to keep us fit and I don't want to growl any more as it does not do a bit of good.

They certainly have improved the water supply but they are very tight with the biscuits and bully. They evidently don't class the Australians as solders, for soldiers are well fed. We got far better treatment on the Peninsula.

We don't have very much time to ourselves here – one half holiday per week, Wednesday and Sunday afternoon (practically all day.)

I have made a desperate effort I wear done my unanswered letters, but I have only written about eight during the past week – mostly during the dinner hour.

There is still a fair amount of sickness and now we only have about eleven of the band left so I don't expect we will ever be asked to play again. I used to love the little bit of music but now it is all work.

On Friday we did a route march of twelve miles with all our ammunition, overcoats and pack to keep us fit. We followed the Turks of old, telephone wire that they put up last February (1915) and we are collecting their poles. They are to utilised in various ways.

Whilst out on the march, the Officer used to ram down our throats that the Turks on the day of last years attack marched thirty miles, carried the poles (and they are big, square, clumsy things), put them up and then attacked the Canal. It would be just possible on a good road but on the desert Never. Anyhow soldiers are not allowed to think, to do anything we are told.

It's lovely sand here as white as any along our beaches with no old sea-weed or anything to marr it , and as fine as flour almost. It's heart-breaking to dig trenches in as the sides all run in on you and by the time the Engineers get to work to board the sides up they very often have to look for the place where the trench originally was.

The weather now is slightly warm and soon we will be having the old Egyptian weather back which will be great if we have to stop out here with no water for showers or comforts.

I took a few photos on Gallipoli but where I was in Cairo, I left them to be developed but of course, have not a ghost of a chance of ever getting them for some considerable time, so I wrote to Cyril enclosing the necessary but I don't know if he will ever get it as reinforcements (always) run a slander (as the boys say) to mails.

Our old parson has left us. He was not much good. I couldn't talk about him before as he used to be the Censor. He was a Church of England man and on the Peninsula was always too frightened to come up to the trenches, and this morning we had a new one, a young one, also CofE. I don't know if he is permanent. He was far too meddling so wish we had a wowser but the twenty-third have him.

I think I had better draw this cheerful epistle to a close.

We got a bit of news last night but don't know if it is true that the Germans have had a great victory in France.

I am anxiously waiting for some news as to Bills movements. I hope you are quite well and that the nips are keeping good. With love to all.

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