The Prince of Wales Review and the leaving of Egypt

Llandovey Castle, March 20th 1916

I don't know when our mail will be sent, I am sure, but I will write as usual. We are still in Alexandria Harbour on a fine big boat of the Union Castle line, the best we have been on, but I think we will move off very shortly, now everything is on board.

It is now 9.30am and bugle has just gone for rifle inspection so finish for a while.

Later

We are on the move once more and are now about a mile outside the harbour and rolling a bit. I guess I had better finish this epistle off before I get down to it. None of us are sorry to say good-bye to Egypt. It is not the best of places, although in parts, it is interesting. Now that the English have Egypt, things may improve, for the natives are a terribly ignorant depraved mob.

The worst day I have ever experienced in Eqypt was last Friday, for it blew something terrible all day and Moaskar is a very dirty and dusty place. The dirt was cruel, and to crown all, we had a Review by the Prince of Wales but as luck would have it, we had a rain storm while we were awaiting his arrival which kept down the flying dirt and incidently, soaked up through but he came in due course and he only looks about seventeen – just like his photo. The inspection and march passed, went off splendid. The Sixth Brigade were the first Australians to be reviewed by the Prince and I think they made a favourable impression as they marched past with bare arms. In fact, I have never played to a march past like it before. They were just perfect and when it was over didn't the troops cheer. You could have heard them in Cairo I believe.

I think we are about the first troop to go to France. I don't know but there can not be many in front of us, if any.

Later – very much so – 21 March

I am feeling very much better now. I am afraid I am not improving as a sailor, but getting worse. I hung to my dinner and tea as long as I could but at last I gave it up. It is a lovely day and the old Mediterranean is pretty calm. We have to wear our life belts all the time and none of us are allowed to wear putties. I think it is so as we can slip off our boots easiely if we hit a torpedo, also none of us are allotted to boats this trip but all have to jump over board if any thing eventuates (they go well fried) and will be picked up later.

Ralph has got his promotion and is now ranked as a second class Warrant Officer and Sgt. Major of A Coy. I can see him getting his stars soon. He has worked hard any how and deserves it.

Who do you think I struck on this boat as soon as I arrived on board? - Old Stan Bingham. He got a job as Dentists' Assistant in AMC. It carries three stripes with it so I bet he is glad that he did not go with me and be a Bandsman, as we had arranged. The band is not the best of jobs by a long chalk. He is still the old sober sides – could not smile if you paid him.

Have you been getting my letters alright? I have had some returned to me, but none of yours. They don't go out of their way to post our letters for us. I have been numbering yours all long. It will be close on two months now before our letters get to their destination,but I guess that seeing that there is a war on we ought to be thankful that we are able to write at all.

Before I forget, there is to be an Anzac Souvenir printed and as far as I can make out at present, it is only available for the troops and so I have ordered two to be sent home to you.I hope you get them alright. It's over a month ago since I gave the order and I have just remembered. I have also sent in Aunt Eff's address.

We have been innoculated again this afternoon. They seem to make a hobby of it and while the Doctor was sticking me he said that they were preparing some nice new vaccines in France for us, but a dozen or so extra is neither here nor there. We must be proof against most things by now. I can not complain anyhow, for I have been exceptionly well all through,

I will ring off for the present I think. Did you get the second lot of Gallipoli photos I sent? They were not much but the best I could do under the circumstances.

So with heaps of love,

I remain your far away son.

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