Neither Bandsman nor Stretcher Bearers: there is only eleven of us left

CANAL ZONE, February 12th 1916

I am trying to get time to write my Sunday letter on Saturday as the mail closes at 12 noon on Sunday and we would have no time before then to do any thing in the literary line.

It is now dinner time and soon we will be out toiling again, our half holiday falls on Wednesday. We have been out most of the week fixing up trenches, but by the way things are going the Turks must be an awful way off. My opinion is that we are training here and at the same time safeguarding the Suez Canal. Although no bugles are blown by our Battalion yet the 23rd, next door to us, have their band going. I wish to goodness that it were possible to get our going also for at present, we are neither Bandsman nor Stretcher Bearers and so we are bundled from pillar to post with different companies.

One day we will drill or work with A Coy and then the next morning, we will go out with D Coy and in the afternoon get tacked on to B Coy and so on. It is a fair brute but as there is only eleven of us left, they can not very well do anything else.

By the way, Ralph got a letter from Cairo saying that his trunk containing my clarinet has turned up. I thought it was a goner. I wish I could get my films from Cairo. I have written asking Cyril to get them but the letter might never reach him. There might be a few good ones but the films were all very damp indeed (FALL IN) – later. - and now we are without a film. Cairo was cleaned right out so goodness knows when we will be able to take another picture. When we were in the reserve camp on the Suez, there were a couple of good snaps went begging, but here there is not much to take. I would have like to have taken a few Arabs with their measly camels who were arrested yesterday as spies. They were fierce looking and possessed, old, out of date passes, and so were taken for inspection and sent back to the Heads somewhere.

Our new parson is a vast improvement on the old and is starting a Bible Class reading circle and choir. He is a very young man and just a trifle too sober but thank goodness they are at last introducing something decent into the atmosphere. All we saw of the other was at Church parade for a few minutes and sometimes lately of a Sunday night at a bit of a sing song.

SUNDAY MORNING -

The mail came in last night two mails there were – one about December 28th and the other January 11th, but for far I have none from you although I have heard from Dad and Bill but as the mail closes at 11am this morning and there will be Church Parade in a few minutes I won't have yours in time to answer today. There is absolutely no news here whatever, we are all very tired of the place and will be well and truly glad to get away. The scenery is magnificent – sand – but the climate is absolutely it sharp nights followed by clear sunny days, just the days a chap would like in Australia.

The food is much better and we get porridge twice a week for breakfast and either a boiled joint or stew for dinner, some times both, that is one for dinner and the other for tea, and we have had bread almost all this week, so who said he wouldn't be a soldier.

Most of those who did not get a billy at Christmas got them yesterday and there was joy in the camp.

I would have finished this last night but we have no candles issued to us so our nights are useless to us.

I must now close with love to all.

Ps I have nearly answered all my mail now- only about two left.

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