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Notes from Corporal W.R. Morton, of Pentland Hills:—
19.7.15.—All the Marsh boys are well. We are having a few days off, in a place where, there is plenty of fruit and luxuries. You may bet your life that we made the most of the opportunity. Yesterday we walked to a village about 7 miles away. We had a
bonza time, but, oh, how tired we were when we got back again. The fruit we ate was rather over the fence—mulberies, pears, apples and oranges, a great assortment. It is very dusty here, but not nearly so hot as it is in the trenches.
31/7/15.—We are back at the trenches again. Charlie Crook has joined us again. The days are warm but the nights are rather cool. Bill McKenzie has had a touch of the sun, not bad, but he was sent to the Base.
11/8/15.—We got a big mail yesterday, got 10 letters and three papers. There are some horrible lies prinited in the papers about the landing and fighting at Gallipoli. I don't think those who wrote them were ever near the war or Gallipoli. Things have been lively here for the last day or two. The Marsh lads have done very well indeed. The flies are as bad as ever. They get into the tea and the jam, and get the biggest portion of it too. They can't be healthy, getting drowned in a fellow's tea. Billy Vallence stopped a piece of shrapnel, just bad enough to get a holiday. A bit of a spell won't do him any harm.
18/8/15.— Just 12 months to-day since we went into Broadmeadows. A lot has happened since then, and we have seen a lot. We get an issue of rum every night. We have a lot of hard work to do and we don't get enough sleep, so the rum is to put a bit of life into us, and keep us going a while longer. For the last month we just drop down and go to sleep where ever we happen to be, when let off duty. We don't even bother about a waterproof sheet or blanket. It is not unlike sleeping in the middle of a paddock, only there is plenty of stray lead knocking about. I'm be ginning to feel pretty knocked up. If the boys at home could only see how things are with us they might come and help us. Anyway, it would give them a bit of a shock if they could see how their comrades have to take their stand. The dead and wounded after a charge would stir the heart in any man, no matter how hard hearted he may be. Some of the wounds from the shells are terrible, and yet we have faced it, without a whimper, every day since we landed. I have been lucky, so far; I got hit on the hand with a spent shrapnel pellet, which made a nasty bruise, but it is alright now. Bill McKenzie is better and back with us again. All the Marsh boys are well.
[Corporal Morton has since been reported wounded, and is in one of the London hospitals.]
Trooper A. Drever, writing from Gallipoli to his parents at Coimadai, says he is in the best of health, and says he is a machine-gunner, but still a member of the 8th Light Horse. He wishes to be remembered to all friends, and asks that they write to him.
Trumpeter Charles Crook, of Bacchus Marsh writes:—Convalescent Home, Woodcote Park, Epsom, Surrey. Saw the Zeppelin raid last Wednesday night. It was a wonderful sight. One of them went right over the hospital, and it looked just like a huge silver cigar when the searchlights were playing on it. Don't know how many came over, but we only saw two. Am feeling pretty well, but will stay here for a while yet. It is a beautiful place, right in the country. I have read enough about the green fields, &c., of England, but I never thought I should ever see them. Frank Cowells, my pal, has died of wounds. He was wounded at Lone Pine, by a bomb, and hit in seven places. This was the same day as Maurice Whelan and Will Morton were hit. We have been taken out for motor rides. Am getting 14 days leave before I go back, so will have a chance to look round.
Notes from Clem. McFarlane (grandson: of the late Cornelius Mahoney, Bacchus Marsh), of. H.M.A.S. Sydney, now cruising the High Seas anxiously waiting to carry out Admiral Jellicoe's message to his fleet—
Strike! Strike hard! and Strike again! Many thanks. for
The Express. I was most interested to see the names of the men who have gone to the Front from the Marsh. Some of them are old schoolmates. Since I last, wrote I have got a commission in fact the only one that has been given, so far to any of the younger fry in the R.A.N. My rank is Mate. I rank with a Lieut in the Army; and within two years will be a Lieut, RAN who ranks withs a Captain in the Army. Mate rank is only just introduced in the R.A.N., but it has been in force in the R.N. for about three years. I am the first to get it in Our Navy. I went with some more of the officers to a garden party at Government House, and met Mrs. Allardyce. Had quite a long talk with them. about the Marsh. Everyone on the Sydney is well.
[The above information is given in answer to our query after the little episode the Sydney had with the Emden. Reading between the lines, we take it that some prominent part which Gunner McFarlane took in that action has now brought its reward. May he and the ship receive further honors.]
Patrick, Barry, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. J. Barry, Bacchus Marsh, was also on board the
Ballarat, and writing home says—I was on deck, and saw the torpedo coming straight at us I tell you it gives you a bit of a shock. The submarine got away, for the time being, but I believe six hours after they surrounded her, and sent her to the bottom. The troops behaved well, and went quietly to their stations. We were picked up by a fishing trawler after being in the boats about an hour. We were pleased to be on land again, as one torpedo was enough for us. It took us 66 days to do the journey, and it was getting very monotonous, being so long at sea. It was the boat's 13th trip—an unlucky number for us. We lost our kit and everything, we possessed. There were over 1700 on board, and no loss of life, as everyone got away safely. They were anxious times, I assure you.
Notes from Charles L. Lyle, of Bacchus Marsh:—
Alexandria, Egypt—Glad to let you know I am well. Oliver and Evans are here, and well, too. I suppose you know that Tom O'Leary and
Scottie Murdoch are dead. Tom was shot before he got out of the boat. Scottie got out, but only on to the beach. Young Hine was also shot in the boat. Alf. Farrow, was shot through the knee, and is at Malta. Tom O'Leary was buried at sea, but Scottie got back here, and was buried in Alexandria.
Scottie had two bullets through the stomach. One of our tent mates saw him on the beach, and asked him how he was, and he replied that he was good enough for three Turks yet. So it was a surprise to us to hear of his death. We were six weeks on the water, doing 2½ days' sail. We saw the lot. It was terrible. We were being shelled the whole of the time, and I do not know how we missed being hit, as the shells were dropping all around us for three weeks. We could not land the horses, so we had to come back here, and are now at Mex Camp, Alexandria. There is some talk of our moving again now, but where to I do not know. I never wish to see anything like that landing at Dardanelles again.
Notes from Corporal W. West, M.M., son of Mr. and Mrs. W. West, Gell street, Bacchus Marsh:—
Palestine, April 27, 1918. After staying a few days at Richon, we started on a stunt north of Jerusalem, towards Nablous, which proved one of the roughest we have ever had. It rained the whole time and the country was so rough we couldn't get limbers or waggons up. Had to make pack horses out of our saddle horses, consequently we were often without rations. It was almost impossible to move about these mountains ; men and horses began to go under, so we started back to Bethlehem. It took us two days — a terrible ride. We camped one night at a place called Ram-Allah ; we had nothing much to eat, were stiff with the cold and wet. I had made up my mind to walk about all night, but found a cave in the rocks ; although it had about two feet of water in the bottom the air was warm, so a few of us collected a lot of stones and built them up until we had a heap two feet above the water; then made a bit of a bed on top of the stones — it was hard, but we managed to get some sleep. Lots of horses and camels, as well as a few men, died — especially the men in the Egyptian Labour Corps. When these men get really cold they just lay down and die, they don't seem to have enough brains to move about and get warm. We got to Bethlehem and were billetted for a couple of days to get our clothes and blankets dry. The building we were in was an old German barracks, used by the German officers before we took the place. Its wonderful what a good feed and dry clothes will do; I didn't feel a bit the worse for it all, didn't even get a cold. We then started on a stunt over the Jordan river, via Jericho. The idea was to blow up a portion of the Mecca railway line. We had some job to cross the river, owing to floods, and the Turks had blown the bridge up. They also had good positions on the east side. Pontoon bridges were built and after a bit of trouble we got over. We had a rough time, as the Turks I reckon were 10 to 1 against us, and we had to fight them night and day for six days. At night the Turks used to come in 50 lots and throw bombs at us — each post they came to would not have more than a dozen men holding it, yet the Turks were knocked back every time. One night I was lying out about 100 yards in front of the post, listening and holding a bomb in my hand, waiting for the first Turk to put his head up out of the gully. The job lasted from 7.30 to 11.30, then the moon got up and I came in. Its a big strain, this sort of work. We blew up three miles of the Mecca line and then got out. You no doubt have read where the Mecca Arabs declared their independence and have been fighting the Turks for some time. There is a Mecca force on the west shore of the Dead Sea somewhere, about 20 or 30 miles from us and we have been trying to get in touch with them, so a Troop of 30 men made the attempt a couple of days ago. They got about 20 miles out and found that they were almost surrounded by Turks and hostile Arabs, who started to fire on them — even the Arabs they had for guides fired on them. These Arabs and Bedouins are no good, they can't be trusted, and will fight with us to-day and the Turks tomorrow. The Troop made a dash for it and after a most exciting time — and a wonderful escape — they managed to get through. They had about six men wounded and a few horses killed. The men who lost their horses had to double-bank. A signaller who was with them tried to signal with his heliograph, and by a bit of good luck it was picked up by Tommies on the Mount of Olives at Jerusalem, probably 40 or 50 miles away. The Tommies rang us up, and away we went to get them out of the fix, but by the time we arrived they got past the Turks — a great bit of work. You won't catch any of our fellows giving in. If that had been a Turkish Troop we would have bagged the lot. A number of Indians are with us now and do the trenches while we do all the outposts and patrols. We generally take Indians with us. They are very keen and think its great to be with us ; they are good soldiers with us but not so good on their own. It's great sport racing after the Turks, our horses are much better than theirs and consequently we soon gain on them. We fire at one another off our horses and if we happen to hit one of them or their horses they soon give in. The Indians are new at this game, but terribly keen, and want to chase everything they see. This Jordan Valley or Jericho Plains is a terri bly hot shop, owing to the fact that it is nearly 3100 feet below sea level ; supposed to be the hottest place in the world, the thermometer sometimes reaches 140 deg. in the middle of summer and that white men cannot live there. We felt the heat after the intense cold weather we had gone through ; and the flies and mosquitoes, especially those little sand flies, are very bad. This valley is about 10 miles wide, rough mountains on either side ; the Jordan river runs down the centre, its banks are from 1 to 1¼ miles wide ; the stream itself is narrow and dirty, runs fast — in fact its almost impossible to swim against it. On either side of the stream, between the main banks, is a thick jungle of old-man salt bush, a sort of salt scrub and several kinds of small trees ; its so thick that one cannot walk through it without cutting a way. Many birds, including partridges, also wild pigs, live in the jungle. I saw an old partridge with about a dozen young ones, just like chickens. There are a few small salt water creeks running into the Jordan, but in spite of this the water is quite fit to use, although very hard. They say there are some very good fish in the Jordan, but I haven't seen any yet. We go in swimming every day. The Dead Sea, of course, is very salt, supposed to have 49 per cent. of salt in it, and they say one can't sink in the water. The country in this valley, at the foot of the mountains is very rich, but as one gets nearer the river its no good — too much salt in the ground. We get quite big lumps of sulphur in this ground. There is a sort of salt bush which lies at the bottom and is splendid burning wood. A few miles west of Jericho there is a strip of country, about three miles by one mile, full of a stone like coal, which, once it is alight, burns well, I happened to read about it in a book so looked out for it and found it. The wild flowers are simply beautiful over here, many kinds grow in our garden at home ; we got some beautiful maiden hair fern on the banks of the Jordan, there is a good asparagus fern, too. All this counrty in the hills is quite useless. The people crop between the rocks, even if its only a square yard. But, of course, the country round Richon and along the coast is really good, and would do me to have a go at growing wheat there. I'm quite sure, properly farmed, it would grow splendid wheat and barley ; even now, some of the crops are really good and the ground never gets any manure. I don't think stock would ever do any good here — except goats. I was decorated with a ribbon the other day by Major-General Clayton. I haven't got the medal yet, but will send you the ribbon the first chance I get. I got your parcel also one from Miss Anderson, they came at a good time, as we had been on bully beef and biscuits for a long time.
Notes from W. West, one of the three fighting sons of Mr. and Mrs. W. West, Gell street, Bacchus Marsh:
Palestine, Jan. 24, 1918.—Have sent you some olive wood candlesticks, the wood is pretty, and grows about here. There are a lot of different kinds of Australian trees here, including gums and wattle, and it does one's eyes good to see them again. On the road between our camp and Ricton there is an avenue of splendid gum trees. This country reminds me of Berwick—undulating with hedges round the orchards, vineyards and orange groves. I don't mean to say the ground is like Berwick; the soil is much better here, and would grow anything. I do not think it: would be, much good for grazing, the grass is very thin, and would not last long owing to the very long spell between the wet seasons; but crops, such as wheat and barley, should do well. These people don't farm the country properly —only scratch the ground with one of those wooden ploughs. There is a German village called Wilhelm near here, and these Germans are up-to date in their farming, hay stacks, &c., as well as a decent dairy. The Jews seem to live on their orchards (mostly almonds) vineyards and orange groves. There are plenty of big wine making plants in the different villages, and some are still working. They run a few cattle but they are very miserable and small; plenty of goats, and a few half-bred sheep and goats, as well as plenty of donkeys and camels; not many ponies, and I have never seen a big horse. They do their ploughing with steers and camels, and sometimes donkeys. Its wonderful the work these little donkeys will do, and the weights they carry. Some are no bigger than good sized dogs, and I have seen two big bran bags full of oranges on one of them. This good country runs in a strip along the coast, and a big range of mountains looking out towards Jerusalem. There is an awful lot of jackals about here, and make very mournful sounds at night; they are something like a fox but heavier, and not such a big tail, nearly the same color. We were not in the taking of Jerusalem, owing to the nature of the country, and. the trouble to get supplies up to our horses. I understand its hard to get about some of these high hills, even on horseback, as only certain roads can be passed, so they used all Infantry. Snow falls on some of the high peaks ronind Jerusalem, and there are thousands of acres of olive groves. I rode into Jaffa on Sunday to have a look round. Part of the city is very old, but interesting; the Jewish portion seems quite new, and there are some rather nice houses. The place is surrounded by orange groves. The people are very poor, and have started business in a sort of way, but cannot get "stuff" —food is almost impossible to get. There is no doubt, the people were in a bad state before we took the place. I saw a place on the beach which is supposed to be the tannery where Simon lodged (I think its Peter lodged with Simon the tanner); this tannery is still there, but I don't suppose its the same one as Simon lodged in. Anyway, if you look up chapter 10 in The Acts you will read about Simon and Jaffa, or Joppa as they call it. They have pushed the railway out very fast considering the weather—its nearly up to Jaffa, and we have got several Turkish trains. running which we captured. When riding. through the country our troops had taken, one could see evidence of the way the Turks retreated—guns destroyed and the mules or bullocks all shot in the harness, thousands and thousands of shells, &c., left all along the roads. As our troops came near them they would drop everything and run. The Turk is a good fighter in a good position, but get him in the open and he is is useless. Less than 100 of our men took 360 Turks with mountain battery and machine guns, they charged them on horseback and they ran. We had a week in the trenches before Xmas, and witnessed one of the best bombardments on this Front. Most of the shells were fired over our heads; batteries of all sizes, as well as big guns from the boats. You can't imagine the noise these shells make —just like. ahn express train going at full speed; its very pretty at night, too. They chopped the Turks to pieces, and they went in all directions. Since then we have been spelling. Supose they will wait till winter is over, and dumps and railways get up before another push. There is a, West Australian family living in a village near here, and some of the boys have been to see them. They own an orchard and vineyard. All the people seem delighted to see us, and give old Abdul a bad time. We get as many oranges as we can eat—I think I eat about a dozen per day; they are worth about 2/6 per 100. We do not get many local papers out here, so do not know much news, but the Italian danger seems to be over. We expect big things from America but must be patient—armies cannot be made and put in the firing line in a few months. I hope the people will not get impatient, but stand firm and face the crisis as they have faced others. Peace cannot be heard of just now. Germany will be beaten, and made to accept our terms. The Russian trouble is serious, but I don't think they will make peace with Germany. If they do, it will not be any good to her, because the party that would make peace might be kicked out at any time and a hostile party to Germany get in; and while there is this trouble Germany must keep a big army on the eastern front. All these troubles must prolong the war, but we must face it. I was extremely sorry to hear Conscription was turned down, but half expected it. The question should never be put to any people—too much selfishress and sentiment attached to such things. I reckon Conscription is essential in every country in modern wars. I'm with Sir Wm. Irvine— pass a Bill and get it through. Well, if the "slackers" never come to help us we will fight on for the good people and our loyal supporters even if the slackers benefit by it. Hope we will all have plenty of good luck and cheer oh! through 1918.
Notes, from Ted Marsh, of Bacchus Marsh:—
Gallipoli, 4/8/15.—Just a line to let you know that we are still in the land of the living. Barney Lay is away with the sappers;
Mick O'Brien and Cyril Basto are well. I got a surprise when I saw
old Mick. The first of the Marsh boys had bad luck in. landing. I have not seen Alf. Farrow since we have been here. I saw C. Waterhouse, he was badly wounded through the mouth. I was over at the 4th Light Horse yesterday, and saw Whelan and Morton, and they told me the others are alright. It is hard to find anyone here, unless you know exactly whero they are. I believe there are a lot from the Marsh in the next Contingents. I would like to know who they, as one may not meet them. The chances are 1000 to one against knowing who will be next, as shrapnel is falling like hail, so it is like the old song,
get, down, and get under. We had a very successful landing, our Brigade lost only a few, but have suffered badly since, but we are in good spirits, and hope to settle this shortly. We are proud of our Battalion having won the honors, also L.C. Bert Jacka getting the V.C., which we all feel proud of he being the first Australian to win it. There is a lot to write about but we can't send it. Hoping things are looking brighter up in the Marsh since the rain.
Notes from Trooper Charles Edwards, of Bacchus Marsh:—
Mena Camp, Egypt, Dec. 21.1914.
We have been here a week and two days, and are getting settled down now. We untrucked the horses and led them to Mena, 10 miles. We had to walk all the way out, and we were tired, just coming off the boat. We are camped at Mena in the sand; the desert on one side, and irrigation land the other. All the Nile flats remind me of the Marsh flats. Where we are camped the sand is deep and heavy walk ing, but we are getting used to it now. There is a grand hotel here, but it has been taken over as a military hospital. English people come over here and put the winter in. Other winters they say the place is full of tourists, but there are none here now; I suppose there is no room for them, as Cairo and all round is full of soldiers. We are the only Light Horse at Mena, others are camped out the other side of Cairo. l was all thro ugh the hospital yesterday; it is a wonder ful building. "Bill" Vallence is in the hospital, he; has had a bad cold, but will be out in a day or two. This is a wonderful place. We have half-holiday on Wednesday, and a holiday on Sunday after Church parade. We were all over the Pyramids, and saw the various cham bers and the solid stone coffins. You can hardly believe the work done in and outside the Pyramids. The electric tram comes within five minutes' walk of the camp and you can get a car into Cairo for 2/. You would be surprised to see the irrigation land here. They work the land with bullocks. The natives are tricks. They do all the work, carting chaff and our tucker, with donkeys, mules camels, and themselves. The donkeys are strong as lions; and the little Arab ponies, which are only a handful, pull big loads on big lorries. You can hardly believe the little ponies and donkeys could pull such loads; and in making the roads the mules pull big drays (the same size as our drays) over the sand—you can hardly credit the strength of them. There were races at Cairo on Saturday. The fellows that were there reckon that they were good. All Arab ponies, only they say slow to what our ponies are. The Police here ride fine horses, Arabs too, but we have not seen any big horses, only ponies. Some of us had a ride on the don keys. They are easy little things to ride. The niggers run behind you all the way; Mine did blow, as I made the pace, and he had to go to keep up. We get all Egyptian money here—piatres. We can count it alright now; it as awkward the first day or two. We are not faring bad for '"tucker," but the horses could be fed better. The horses looked grand the day they came off the boat. They did prance round. You can hardly credit they are the same horses that left Victoria, they did so splendid on the boat. There are a lot of French people here. The Arab villages are dirty places. They are going to a lot of expense here, building mess rooms and cook rooms for us.We have seen nearly all the Marsh fellows here now.
Mena Camp, Dec. 27th.
I am still well, and did not spend such a bad Christmas. We went to Cairo—Colin Todd, W. McKenzie, W. Clark, myself; and a couple more. We had a good dinner—soup, turkey, and Christmas pudding, for 2/. Cairo is a big place, and some fine buildings; but it is very dirty, with narrow streets. We have started riding our horses, but have not done much with them; think we will get plenty to do after the new year. Do you remember the pictures shown by Elwood Mead in the Marsh hall of irrigation, and the niggers watering with buckets. Well, that is the way they water here. The land is grand flats, and a big area, which they work in the old fashioned way—two old bullocks in an old wooden plough; then you see the natives with hoes. The King sent us his good wishes for Christmas. We are all well here—"Bill" Morton is as well as ever, and "Bill" Vallence is out of the hospital and about again.
Notes from Trooper Charlie Edwards, of Bacchus Marsh, a member of the First Expeditionary Forces, now at Galipoli:—
July 20th. We are having very decent times lately—having a holiday at an island about 15 miles from Gallipoli, where we came on the 17th, and expect to go back tomorrow. Then I suppose we will have to get to it, because it must be time we made a move there now. We still seem to have the good name we earned. We were told that is why we got our spell, and that we had done our work well, and did not growl; and my word, we did do a bit of pick and shovel work. But of course most of us were used to that, and can turn our hands to anything. The morning after we arrived here a German aeroplane flew over, and dropped three bombs, but none did any damage; they dropped one near our field bakery, but it did not go off. Two more were dropped on the bay, amongst some ships, but by good luck they were not dropped straight. We heard that the aeroplane was captured by one of ours as it wvent back, but do not know if it is true—hope it is. We are living very well here, as we can buy a fair lot of fruit and eggs, and bacon is issued every morning, so we make a tasty breakfast; then to-day for dinner we had cucumber, onions, stewed apples and cream-a bit rich after what we had been used to. Leave was given a party of us to visit a village six miles away. It was a long walk, and over rough hilly country, but it was worth going to see. All Greek people in it, who are very clean, but very old-fashioned—the real olden-day style. Their houses are small, and their shops are funny, but we enjoyed ourselves alright. After a nice meal of mulberries, we gave the children sixpence each, and they were quite pleased. There is no more I can tell you, as the letters are still censored, and you see by the papers how things are going —and see a good few lies printed too, I suppose. Six of us are sitting under a fine fig tree writing letters. It is alright to be able to sit down without having to dodge shrapnel.
Notes from Roy Edwards of Bacchus Marsh:—
As we had a "bonzer" trip through France, I will try and tell you a little about it. Looking at it from the sea, where we landed, it is a very, rough, wild looking place—all rocky cliffs; but the town is very pretty, as it is built on the sides of the hills, and all the houses, have red tiled roofs, so of course show up well. The harbour is poor, consequently they have a big breakwater built, and all the shipping, is done behind that. We anchored alongside the wharf at 6.30 p.m., and disembarked the next morning We were issued with equipment, marched to the station and entrained and left at 2 o'clock. We saw nothing of the town, as it was only a short distance from the wharf to the station. The trip right through was very pretty. The first two hours or so was through rough, hilly country, and a lot of tunnels they go through the hills here, not over or around them, as in Australia. We gradually came on to better and level country; and of course we had our heads out of the window, waving, to everybody we saw. It is very pretty all the way along. The crops are well up, about six or seven inches; fruit trees in bloom, and other trees out in-bud; all the houses red tiled roofs; patches of lucerne, and no fences the "cockys" must be very honest. when they can do without fences. Towards evening we pulled up at a station, where some men were loading bundled lucerne and grass hay on to trucks. It put me in mind of the Marsh. We also had some fun at a village, scrambling pennies to children, of whom there was a great number, and they can all ask for "souvenir." I did not put in a bad night in the train, and woke up next morning still going through pretty country. We pulled up for a while along the line, not at a station, where there were a lot of violets growing, so most of us picked a few. At one stop during the night we got a pot of coffee, and another about 9 next morning. We were stopped at a village then, and a lot of us slipped off down the street to get bread, as we were getting tired of biscuits. One shop was pretty crowded, so three of us set but to look for another. We jumped on to the back of a cart, and went till we found one; then had the fun of the world buying a loaf of bread and a tin of sardines. Of course they spoke French, and we spoke English, so you can under stand things wore a bit mixed. Then we found we had gone a long way. They have some "bonzer" farm horses in this country; but use bullocks, and even cows, a lot on the farms in the South , but up in the North they only seem to use horses. At one village we saw a woman doing her washing at a trough in the street, and another in a brook. All the way along the children would run out and ask for "souvenir," and of course we got rid of a lot of our badges to them and the girls; also a lot of biscuits—good biscuits too, as they would land on the metal road and would not break! We had some fun at a town at about 2 o'clock; it was where the line was over the street; we got rid of a lot of badges there, throwing them to girls. After we left this town, we passed through some more very poor hilly and rocky country for a couple of hours. Previous to this we passed through a lot of irrigated country. Then we came to a very pretty valley, where we had another pot of tea and a wash. Then on up the valley there was a road and a brook. running alongside the line, winding in and out, which was very pretty. They are "bonzer" roads, too, they seem smooth enough to play tennis on. Again, during the night, we got a drink of coffee, this time served out by ladies. We woke up next morning going through colder looking country, and pulled up about, 8 o'clock, and got a pot of tea. A Frenchman here brought loaves of bread along, and cut them up and gave us pieces; he would not sell it. From then on we passed through hilly country, with occasional woods or forests. Then on to a lot more farming, country, where they are just plowing or sow nig, so I suppose the further north we go the later it gets. It was very like an Australian scene here, but for the timber. Well we still went on, and the country was not nearly so pretty as it had been—of course it is much later, and will look much better in another seven or eight weeks. We got out of the train at a quarter to one, and slept in a plowed field, near the station. only a small machine, but it ties the straw up as it comes out—it has packers and knotter just the same as a binder. They don't waste their straw here like we do—in fact, they make use of everything. They have some beautiful farm horses here-a lot of iron greys, much the same cut as that black horse of Jim Wilkinson's. All the people about here can speak English fairly well, especially the children, about 12 or 14 years old, and they have only learnt it from the "Tommies." Pack Vallence is over here. I saw him one day.
Notes from Wm. B. Edwards, of Bacchus Marsh, now in Egypt :—
Have been to Cairo five times. It's a dirty old hole, and the native quarter most forbidding. Frequently one has to pass through smellful aleyways to see something really interesting. In fact, the most historic and interesting places are in the most objectionable quarters. The place where Moses is supposed to have been found is one of those places; a Coptic Church (the oldest Christian Church in Egypt) is another; and the Dead City another. My first visit into Cairo was made with some strange chaps, who regarded the native quarter as the most important! Certainly one has to see it to see Cairo completely. At anyrate, one visit suffices this chicken. On Saturday a party of about 100 was organised to make a tour round Cairo. The trip was rather enjoyable, and the ride round alone worth the 20 piastres charged. Three modes of conveyance here—electric trams, carriages, and donkeys. We rode five in a "garry" (carriage), and told our driver we would give him "backsheesh" if he'd keep in the lead. He did so, and we had fine fun watching him head off any "garry" that tried to pass him. He ran over the hoof of one horse and ran a big risk of overturning a carriage standing in the street. Called at Ghizereh gardens, rather decent, but nothing out of the way. Kitchener's Palace is situated in them, but did not see it. Crossed the Nile by a fine bridge, at each end of which is a great lion (of bronze, I suppose) and they set it off properly. Passed the Museum, but did not enter. Called at the Island where Pharoah's daughter is supposed to have found Moses. Found here a native school, which we rushed into, but the boys were not in the least concerned. They sit on the floor, and read their lessons in a sing song fashion, all the time swaying backwards and forwards, which I suppose went for earnestness--the more sway, the more learn. The school was well equipped with teachers, who sat in front of the class, and treated us with the same disdain as the kids did. Made a little expedition to Mataua, and visited the Mataria Needle—a pillar of solid granite, 50ft. in the ground, and 50ft. over the ground, and 6 feet square at the base. Marched to the Virgin's Tree and Mary's Well. Visited the Dead City, to see the tombs of the Mamelukes. We had to put on canvas shoes before entering, as the carpets are fairy costly, and I suppose the niggers do not want to do any unnecessary work. Wise men. The chief tomb is said to have cost £30,000, and the man who executed the work had his right and cut off. Walked back to the station, and were dismissed in the rain. Rained rather heavily all night. Charlie said it wouldn't be a bad plan to have a few acres of the desert under wheat this year, as the dampness seemed rather exceptional. Visited the Zoo, all the animals well cared for, not a bit cramped ; beats Melbourne. Ostrich farm close by the Camp. Only about 50 or 60 birds there. Saw a nest of eggs and a few young ones, which are like young turkeys, but very much larger. A few thousand camels right alongside us. Every morning we go out and drill among them. Charlie and I are well.
Notes from Corporal J. J. MacPherson, of Bacchus Marsh and Melton, to his mother:—
Heliopolis Racecourse, Aug. 9.— We are now installed in Egypt, and I was very agreeably surprised with the place. It is awfully hot, but we get nice cool nights. We seldom see a cloud, and I believe it rains on an average once in seven years, and then only light showers. In spite of this, it is, about this part (and I believe for hundreds of miles) one enormous garden. Heliopolis itself, is a picture city, originally built as a rival to Monte Carlo, with headquarters at a lovely place called the Palace Hotel, but the Government refused to grant it a license, and the Palace, together with a place called Luna Park (exactly like our Luna Park) has been converted into a convalescent hospital for the wounded. Who should I run across the other day but
Charlie Waterhouse, of Bacchus Marsh, who was shot in the jaw at Gallipoli, and sent to England, writes from Woodcote, Park Camp, Epsom, Surrey, on 5th August, that he had been appointed Sergt.Major of the Australian Division (E) at the Camp. On 29th August he wrote that he was
still going strong, but waiting for his teeth (which of course were wrecked by a Turkish bullet). He was very busy on the sports committee of the Camp, and was Captain of the Australian cricket team. They had played two
test matches, of which England won the first, and Australia the second. In the second match he had taken five wickets for eight runs. The writer says—William Whiteley's are giving us a great day on Monday (bank holiday) cricket match in the morning (Camp v. W.W.); sports in the afternoon; all the fun of tihe fair, open air tea, &c., ending with a grand display by the Wimbledon Fire Brigade. The band of the Grenadier Guards will attend, also about 150 of Whiteley's girls (what! what!)
Charlie, Water house, who went from Bacchus Marsh with the First Expeditionary Force, and was wounded in the first attack which the Australians made on the Turks at the Dardanelles, writes as follows:—
No. 15 General Hospital, Alexandria, Sunday, May 2nd.
I have taken part in my first battle, and as a result, got
one on the jaw, which will, keep me out of the field for a few weeks. Do not worry about me, as I seem to be going on very well, though the doctor said that it was a nasty wound. We landed (as no doubt by this time the newspapers have told you) on the Gallipoli Peninsular on Sunday last, and incessant fighting has been going on ever since. Our division arrived off the north coast of the Peninsular late on Saturday night. The following morning we were up by 2.30; had breakfast (dog biscuit and bully beef) at 3; and then prepared for disembarkation in the boats of the men-of-war. As soon as ever it got light enough to see the Turks commenced firing shrapnel at us. This drew the guns of the Fleet upon them, and a pretty devil's din it ended in, I can tell you. As soon as ever our boats put off the Turks turned their attention to them. Whiz ! bang ! and a shower of horrible little black bullets and pieces of shell would plonk all around us. The nearer we got to the shore the worse became the fire, though the Turks are not such terrible good shots after all. Three men were hit in my boat, two of them Bacchus Marsh men — Hine and Murdoch. [Murdoch was killed, and Hine died of his wounds about a month later.]
Then came the landing, and some how, in spite of the seriousness of it, a man had to laugh. The surface was covered in large round boulders; and full of holes. We floundered about waist deep ; in some places, where holes intervened, it was neck deep. I fell down a hole, and rose up gasping and spluttering, only to tread on a round stone, and fell right over again. Eventually we all reached the shelter of an overhanging cliff, where the enemy's bullets could not reach us. All our rations (and we carried rations for four days), were wet through; so were we, to the skin. By this time it would be about 5.30 a.m. As. soon as all the Battalion was ashore, the Colonel said,
This way, 7th Battalion, and we commenced to attack with the bayonet the Turks on the ridges above us. It was very very difficult country high hills, narrow and steep ravines --the whole thickly covered waist high with a kind of prickly shrub. Soon our men began to fall under the fire of rifles, machine gins and shrapnel. But on we went, working our way slowly and with difficulty over the country. The fight developed into a series of efforts by small parties of men, led mostly by N.C.O's. It was a N.C.O. battle. We were supported as far as possible by the guns of the Fleet, especially the Queen Bess, which shook the whole place when she fired.
About 4 p.m., while engaged with a party in charging a Turkish machine gun, an explosive bullet (which the Turks used in large numbers) shattered my lower jaw, and knocked all my teeth out. I lost a lot of blood, the bullet having cut an artery. That makes me feel a bit run down, and I can only take on a milk diet, through a rubber tube. When writing is not so trying, I will give you a clearer and better statement of affairs, as I saw them. Don't worry, I am quite alright.
Color-Sergeant T. C. Waterhouse, who left Bacchus Marsh with the First Expeditionary Force, has been promoted, as he writes from Cairo, Egypt, on Jan. 9th, that
you people may now address me as a full-blown Sergeant-Major. Congratulations. The letter also says that there were only four of the S.M. jobs going, with plenty of candidates, so he expected he was lucky to get one. The new 1914 organisation of the British Army had been introduced into the Australian Division, and he went on to describe what had been done. Some of the Sergeants had been shuffled about. C. Coy. secured four fine chaps, in Jack West, late captain Melbourne University Football club;
Billy Kent-Hughes, one of this year's Rhodes scholars for Victoria; Dick Gibbs; cashier in a Melbourne bank; and
Coochy Waldron, late of the 13th Hussars, and he was on Kitchener's staff in South Africa. Some night operations were described. They marched past the Pyramids and Sphinx, which looked very ghostly by moonlight. As the scouts were unable to discover the trenches of the
enemy, he volunteered to find them out, and took his boots off, and crept forward in his socks to within 250 yards of them, without being seen. He could locate them by the murmur of talk coming from them. It was very exciting, as he might have been discovered any moment. He laid on his stomach listening for 10 minutes, then started back. A patrol of the
enemy then caught sight of him, and he took to his heels, cursing like the devil, as the desert is covered in small stones, and he had no boots on ! He got back with the information alright, but in all probability, had it been the
real thing, he would have had a bullet through him. S.M. Waterhouse says he must
cease fire, with best wishes to all, and that he is
quite alright, and going strong.
Notes from Trooper Colin Todd, son of Mr. J. N. Todd, Bacchus Marsh:—
Gallipoli, July 12.—Just a line to let you know I am quite well. All the Marsh colts are well. None wounded in our Troop yet although we have been here for nearly two months. We often get shelled pretty heavily, but somehow, we have the luck to miss being hit. The Turks put a lot of shells across to-night, but they did very little damage There is plenty of hard work here—the pick and shovel play a great part in this war.
15th.—An eighteen pounder shell has just fallen into the middle of our Troop's dugouts, but fortunately it did not explode, and did no damage. I had rather a narrow squeak yesterday, as one of the water cans I had in my hand was pierced with a shrapnel bullet. Needless to say, the can was useless afterwards. I have seen Colin Thomas several times lately, and he seems to be quite happy; but I believe he has had some very lucky escapes. [It has been officially reported that Colin Thomas (a cousin of Trooper Todd) died on 13th July, from shrapnel wounds.] I don't think we, will be home for Christmas, as this war will last a long time yet. We are getting very hot weather—105 in the shade not bad, is it. Received your letters and socks alright, they are just the thing; but I wish you had put a few handkerchiefs in, as they are very scarce things here. I can't write to all, as I have no paper, and I had to battle to get this to write to you. Remember me to all folk at the Marsh and the Hills.
Writing again on 23rd July, from Gallipoli, Trooper Todd says he is well, and still on the Peninsular. He adds—The Turks are still going strong. We have been away for a spell for a few days, and so have been able to get a supply of paper. Norman Flack, from Ballan, was in our Troop, and about a week ago he was wounded in the arm in seven places with shrapnel. He had a very lucky escape, from being blown to pieces. [In a letter from Lance-Corporal Norman Flack, published last week, he mentioned that, when he was hit, Private Colin Todd, of Bacchus Marsh, was standing just behind him. From this it would appear that he (Todd) also had
a very lucky escape from being blown to pieces.
Post card received from Trooper Colin Todd, who was a member of the Bacchus Marsh Light. Horse, and a son of Mr. and Mrs. John Todd, Werribee Gorge, Bacchus Marsh:—
Gallipoli, 21st June.—Just a line to let you know I am quite well. W. McKenzie and I divided a 10/ prize for the best dug-out in the regiment yesterday. It is very warm here now. War is a very remark- able thing. It is beyond all imagin- ation. We are quite used to it now. Sometimes a bit of shrapnel comes about, but we are quite safe in our dugouts.
Notes from Trooper Todd, of Bacchus Marsh:— Alexandria.— We anchored here after a lovely voyage. We stayed two days at Colombo, but did not get ashore. Then on to Suez, where we stayed fore one day; then through the Canal to Port Said, where we stayed for a week, but did not get ashore there, either, through some silly fellows thowing potatoes at the river police. We are bound for Mena, a town about ten miles from Cairo. Will Morton is well again, and on duty. He and I were on guard last night, and you bet we had a task, as everyone wanted to go ashore. There are nineteen boats around our ship selling all sorts of wares, mostly fruit. We have every thing ready to disembark, and served with two days rations-four biscuits and a tin of bully beef. We are going to bivouac—no tents to live in, like Broadmeadows.
Mena.—We have landed at last, after eight eight weeks on the boat. We have camped in the Saharah Desert, about a mile from the Pyramids. We disembarked at Alexandria, and entrained straight to Cairo, and walked to Mena. As we travelled through in the night, we did not see much of the country: is a lovely place to camp—nothing but sand—dreary sand! Our horses are looking well after their long trip but we have not ridden them yet, although they are fresh enough. The ship's captain could hardly believe his eyes when he saw them on the pier, they were so lively. I had leave to Cairo the other night. It is a very interesting place The irrigatiaon along the Nile is marvellous—irrigation for miles and miles. I was on top of the Pyriamid yesterday. The biggest one is about five thousand years old and a smaller one about five and a half thousand years old. The sandstorms have covered a sort of city of tombs, and they are busy digging it out, and finding the mummies. I went into the Pyramids, and saw the King and Queen's chamber. Inside the King's chamber the passages are solid granite, but the Queen's chamber is alabasto, There are air shafts right through. A little farther on are the tombs of the Saints. Most marvellous things under the ground. There are a good many other Pyramids further in the desert. The Saharah Pyramid is visible, about 30 miles away—a day's march; it is about six and a half thousand years old. The camels drive the horses silly. There was a stampede in the lines the other night—a camel walked through. It was a treat. Donkey and camel rides are very popular here, for one piastre each. We get paid in Egyptian money. Will Morton is doing well, so are all the rest of us.
Mena, Egypt, 24/12/14.— I am well, so are all the rest of the boys. Will Vallence has been in the hospital since we came here but came out to-day. The hospital here is Mena House, a great hotel, erected at a cost of several thousand pounds. We had a swim at the swimming baths last Sunday. We rode our horses to-day, and they are quite strong and lively . We hear that the second force has been abandoned, but cannot say for the truth. I do not know how long we will be camped here. There is nothing but sand, as far as the eye can see. There as some very good land along the Nile flats, about four miles away; it is all covered by irrigation.
Mena, Egypt, 3/1/1915:— I received your letter of 2nd Nov. on New Year's day. It was just two months on the way. We have been here now for three, weeks and I never felt better in my life. We have been into Cairo several times. It is a nice place, but the streets are very narrow. We had a march past the Australian High Commissioner (Sir George Reid). The 4th Light Horse got great praise. There was a death in our squadron on New Year's day. Sergeant Morton, of Rochester, died from pleurisy and pneumonia. He was buried in a very pretty little British cemetery in Cairo. He lad a salute fired over his grave. We wore all very sorry to lose him. A fine strong young fellow, only 20 years of age, and the only son anid sole support of a widowed mother. We are going to collect and have a tombstone erected on his grave. One of our fellows got a cutting sent to him out of the
Herald, which said that two of the troopships went down in the Indian Ocean, after striking a mine. I hope it caused you no anxiety. I haven't yet seen the place that I would change for old Bacchus Marsh. The weather is very cold here at night, but rather warm in the day. I suppose that it is hot in Australia. I don't know when we are going to the battle front, but I would like to be there now. The inactivity in the sand is not too good, when we know there is hard fighting going on. All the B.M. boys are well.
Lieut. Pack. Vallence, of Bacchus Marsh, writes to us direct:—
4th Regiment Light Horse, A.I.F., Heliopolis, 6/10/15.
Just a few lines to let you know that I am in splendid health. You must know by this that Will was wounded—struck by a piece of shell on the head, just over the temple. I hear that he had a narrow escape, and suffered a great deal, but he does not complain himself:— he speaks lightly of it.
You must have heard so much about Egypt that anything I may add would not be very interesting. However, there are some wonderful things to be seen here. I have received some particulars of irrigation here which will be of interest. The Nile is a gift to Egypt, as without it Egypt would be a dreary, sandy waste, differing in no respect from the desert which hems it in on every side, save north. The periodical inundations of the Delta, by the overflowing of the river, gives to the soil an immense fertility. Fer tile Egypt, excluding the desert and Soudan, contains only 12,000 square miles. There are properties almost as big in central Australia, yet that space holds 12 million people. 940 to the square mile—far thicker than in England. Counting in the deserts, Egypt has 400,000 square miles. The Soudan (which means the country of the blacks) has 984,000 square miles. Before the beginning of his tory, the Egyptian had already dis covered that by enclosing their they could compel it to drop that rich Abyssinian silt. This gave them a manuring once every year, and on this, when history began, they were already growing one yearly crop of wheat or barley, two cereals (called grasses here), which nations in the centre of Asia had discovered to be good for food, and which the Egyptians had somehow borrowed from them. The same Egyptian can still be seen using the same system on the flats. The history of modern irrigation works in this country dates back to the British occupation. The old system of irrigation was really wasteful, because it only gave this one crop, whereas by bringing water on to the land all the year round several crops can be obtained. Accordingly, the Nile has now been dammed 600 miles above Cairo, at Assuan, and turned off into canals by means of a lower dam at Assuit, 250 miles above Cairo, and is applied from those canals to the fields at all seasons of the year. The land is continually under cultivation, as soon as one crop is taken off another crop is put in. The method of distributing water, is slow, checks too small, banks too low, distributing channels small, water raised from canals into channels by means of "Sakia'' (like a McCombas pump) large wooden cogged wheel horizontally working on to a vertical wood cogged wheel, with several earthenware jars, sometimes tins, fastened to a belt or rope, which discharges into an offshoot (concrete) as the wheel revolves. The other method is the Shadoof, which is a kerosene tin attached by a rope to a long pole, fixed to a cross piece on two upright poles; a weight is attached to one end, equal to the weight of a full tin of water. This is worked by natives in turn. Labor is cheap, 3 piastres.(7½d.) per day for laborers; -3/ for best tradesman (artisan). Bersim, like clover, is is the great fodder crop of Egypt, and is grown from Dec. to June. It is a leguminous crop important as the fodder crop of the country, and the cheapest wayof manuring the soil. Maize (durra) forms the staple food crop of the fellah (natives), who, as a rule, cannot afford to eat wheat bread. Millet, sugar cane, rice, beans, lentils, are also grown, but not in large quantities. Onions are grown, but they are bullnecked and irregular shaped bulbs. Dates are largely grown, 2lbs. for 2 piastres (3d.); other fruits are grapes, apricots, bananas, oranges, figs, custard apples, pomeganates,, watermelons; none: of which you could recognise, unless told. They are vile, wilted, tasteless things. Cotton is the rent paying crop of the fellah and large landlord alike. Its annual value in hard cash to Egypt is something like twenty million pounds sterling, or nearly LE 2 (40/0½) per inhabitant. Its cultivation is therefore worthy of every care, and as a matter of fact an enormous amount of labor is expended on it. It may, indeed, be said to receive garden cultivation over the whole 2,000,000 feddans, or 10,048,000,000 square yards. on which it is annually grown. The irrigation system here is a National one belongs to the Government, and so does nearly all the land. Farms range from 1 acre to 3000; middle class farmer has from one to two hundred acres, and the rent ranges from 18/ to 30/ per acre per annum, which includes water; no charge is made for water, which can be had as soon as and any time the farmer wants it, and is in an unlimited quantity. None of the farms are fenced off, there is just a wheeled track dividing them. The stock on each farm is a limited quantity, consists chiefly of a donkey, camel, couple of buffalo cows, which are kept tied up, or led about by a native. The cows while in milk are put to work the Sakia.
The Pyramids are the oldest stone buildings in the World, the VIIth dynasty, 4750-4450 B.C., open with the greatest and most accurate building known. The great pyrsmids of Khufu (Cleops) 451ft. high. This marvellous king reformed the religion, organised the administration, and trained the largest body of accurate workmen that has ever existed. The accuracy of the building is only limited by an average error of one in thirteen thousand of length and 12 inches of angle. Over two miillon blocks of stone were used, and the finished casing of white limestone covered thirteen acres, this casing was stripped off in the middle ages. Khafra, the next king built a pyramid nearly as large, and only slightly less accurate. As it is on higher rock, it closely matches the great pyramid. About forty courses of the smooth casing still remain on the top of it . A massive granite temple of his still stands below his pyramid. The third pyramid was built by his successor, Menkaura, and is only about half as high. It had about half the area of the casing made of red granite, and the accuracy was less than in either of the other two pyramids. Around these pyramids at Gizeh are lesser pyramids of the royal families, and a great number of tombs of the nobles of 'that age. The old monuments were not built without reason. The ancient Egyptians who built them believed that after a man died his spirit would continue to live, provided it had the food and utensils necessary to keep it going during its long wait in the tomb. For that reason they carefully embalmed the corpse so successfully that the hair and skin of many mummies are perfectly preserved to-day, and can be seen in the Museum at Cairo. They put in with it the necessaries of life—bread, beer, jewels, and ornaments, clothing, and even articles for the dead man's amusement, and then sealed the tomb with intense care, so that nobody would ever be able to loot it. The actual coffin chamber was deep in the ground, sealed with huge blocks of hard stone. Its entrance from the big oblong stone tomb above was so finished that no trace of an entrance was left. In the Pyramids, the coffin chamber was generally somewhere in the huge mass of masonry itself. In the King's and Queen's chamber, in the great Cheops pyramid, the walls are composed of huge blocks of polished red granite, 30ft. by 6 x 5ft thick, scientifically cut so as to key into one another at the ends, no mortar is used. It is evident that the ancient Egyptians knew something of hydraulics. We are told that they used an inclined plane. But you could not get enough human beings around the huge blocks of granite that I saw to even move them. Then again, how could they use an inclined plane 451 feet high?
The Sphinx, standing solitary near by, is more mystical still. This huge figure, unique in its, form, is believed to be the sole representative of a far earlier age than even the dim area which saw the building of the Pyramids and the erection of the temples, the remains of which have been unearthed along the Nile. It possesses a beauty of form and line which other Egyptian remains do not show. The face is now mutilated, the, nose is missing—supposed to be knocked off by one of Napoleon's cannon balls. At Matarieh, 1½ miles from here, a large sycamora tree is pointed out as having thrown its shade over the mother of Christ while she rested on her Egyptian journey and is conse quently known as the Virgin's Tree. A well close by, where she obtained water (and beautiful water it is) is also known as the Virgin's Well.
The people here are a mixture, most of them speak five and six languages; everybody speaks French. I saw Herb. McFarlane today, he is driving a car at Headquarters. Please give my kind regards to all. I see by the papers that the Recruiting Campaign was a hugh success. They will be all wanted and more too. This is a big affair.
Sergeant Duncan Ross, who was wounded at Bullecourt, sends some notes to his sister, Mrs. Alex Kerr, of Rowsley :—War Hospital Norwich. You see I am still in the same spot—12 weeks yesterday since I went into Hospital, so I have had a fair spell of it. Only two in the ward have been here longer; one chap had all his toes taken off, the result of trench feet. Several have been discharged, and others have rejoined their Battalions, so that we have very few left. But we will soon be full up again after this stunt in France. It was rotten luck the rain starting the very day the push started—it fairly teemed. I smiled when I got a cable from you telling me to cheer up, three months after I was
tug. I wasn't really very sorry when it happened if it had been the finish. I was tired, and just about run down with the continual going—51 days under shell fire, taking part in
hop-overs, raids, patrols, and two nights out in
no man's land, in charge of listening posts ; so things were fairly interesting. It is marvellous in one way that the casualties are not far greater in an advance (or hop-over, as the soldier calls it). If one can imagine two lines of trenches, about 200 yards apart, both filled with men, and then the one lot to simply hop up on top, and charge pell-mell over that 200 yards of open country (no man's land, they call it) and the other side thumping as much lead and iron as they possibly can into the men advancing.
Notes from Harry Moffatt, of Bacchus Marsh:—
France, May 26/18.—A few lines to let you know I am still alive and quite well, and not doing too bad. The weather now is real good—nice cool days and warm nights. The nights are too moonlight and the enemy planes come over bombing a lot. Everything is green here and some great crops of wheat and rye but most of them have no one to harvest them, as all the civilians have had to clear out. It is a great sight to see some of them, as there are a lot of bright red poppies and wild flowers of all colors mixed with the crops. There are plenty of fruit trees around, but it is as bit too early for them yet, strawberries and red currants won't be long though, and there are plenty of them about. We are living in a big chateau, which is knocked about a bit, and has been neglected, of course. It has been some
big head's place and has been a beautiful home. It has about five acres of fruit and flower gardens round it. We are on a pretty good job now—loading soap and wool from an old factory and unloading at the railway station about 10 miles away. We have motor lorries every day. The factory is in a village that has been shelled and gassed a lot, and is deserted now. There were 20 of us on the job at first, and, 15 have gone to hospital with gas, but only one is at all serious. It is a new gas, which affects the eyes and throat most, sometimes the teeth and gums. The eyes get very sore first, then the throat, and the voice goes altogether. I got one mouthful and that done me. It didn't take me long to get the gas helmet on. We are out in front of Amiens now and it is pretty rough at times. I think we should soon be going out for a spell now, as we have done over four months at a stretch. We go for a swim here nearly every even ing and it is great. We do some fishing and got five perch one day —the biggest about l½lbs., and they were just the thing for breakfast. I haven't had the luck to visit Paris yet, as leave is still closed, but think I will be right as soon as it starts again. I suppose the Marsh has altered a bit since I left, and won't know my way about, when I get back. This is my 20th month in France now, and reckon I'm doing well, as I haven't even been in a hospital yet, and not too many can say that.
As some Bacchus Marsh soldiers were on board the ill fated transport
Ballarat, the following notes from Cliff Williams (son of Mr. W. Williams, BA.) will read with interest:—
I will take you back to 24th April, when we were all steaming along quietly. About 11 a.m. the convoy broke up, and every steamer. went off by itself, accompanied by a destroyer. All day we steamed in a beautifully calm sea, and the day was typical of spring. That night there was a rumor that one of the boats had been torpedoed (this, however turned out to be untrue) and quite a little excitement was caused on board. As usual, all lights were out at 8 o'clock, when we all retired to bed. On the morning of the 25th, the Sergeant-in-charge of submarine guard reported, what appeared to be the wake of a sub. No notice was taken of this, as it apparently disappeared, and it was thought to be the course of a current. We all felt very secure on board, knowing we had the protection of the little, detroyer, which are wonderful things, owing to their high speed. We were going to do great things on the 25th inst., that being Anzac Day, and there were a large number of returned men on board. As it turned out, none of these arrangements were carried out; but, we had plenty of excitement, in a way no one wished.
After dinner, we were playing cards in the cabin, when at five past 2 o'clock we heard an explosion, and the ship seemed to quiver. At first I thought we had struck a rock, as it felt as if the bottom was scraping over something. The boat stopped immediately. We were for a moment undecided as to what, had actually happened. We were not in doubt long, as a fellow in the cabin, who had been torpedoed before, said
the ——— have got us at last! We immediately put on our life belts, and made our way to our boat station. In about five minutes the whole of our company were in position. We then' called rolls to see that every man was present. We then handed each man his paybook. I can't describe to you the behavior of the men, but it was magnificent laughing, talking and smoking. All the time the boat was gradually settling down aft, and the troop docks were beginning to fill. Our Company were supplied with rafts. They hold 20—not exactly hold, but 20 hang on to the sides, their bodies being in the water. By this time a great number of the boats had cast off; we people on the rafts staying back until last, as having to take to the water, the less time you are in it the better. While we were standing waiting for orders, we could see the wake of the sub. She passed within a 100 yards of some of the boats, and we expected another torpedo, but luckily for us it didn't come. I can't explain to you the coolness of the boys, but an instance will give you some idea. While waiting orders, they were allowed to sit down, and in many cases cards wore brought out, and I know of another where a man in our Company came to me for permission to go to his troop deck this was well under water at the time to get a bottle of beer he had there! By this time we had orders from the bridge that the vessel would keep up for a couple of hours. I then took off my putties and boots and hung them round my neck, as by now we could see the boat was slowly going down, and we thought any moment the order would come for us to jump into the water after the rafts. It was now about 3.15, and we could see two black spots on the horizon, and in a short time we had six destroyers, two patrol slips, and five aeroplanes around and over us. Two of the destroyers were picking the men out of the boats, while the others were bearing about at the rate of 30 to 40 miles per hour looking for the sub. After half-an-hour one of the destroyers came alongside the sinking Ballarat (from this you can imagine how calm it was, lucky for us) and took off the three companies left. Once we got aboard the destroyer we started off, and circled round the
A70 once, and then set off for Plymouth, at 30 knots. Well, it was worth while being submarined to have such a ride as this. As a knot equals 1½ miles, we were going at 45 miles an hour! Travelling at such a speed, all you can see is foam. A Sergeant, who was standing on the starboard saloon deck, prior to the explosion, told me he saw at about 2000 yards what to him looked like a periscope, and was going to tell a pal, when he saw a torpedo coming towards the Ballarat; it was steering amidships, but the people on the bridge, seeing it coming, jammed the ship hard aport, and it caught us aft, below the water line. The destroyer signalled to the Captain to keep moving, if possible, but it turned out that the propeller was blown off, and the engine room began to fill. The torpedo, when fired, is easy to distinguish, as it travels about 6 feet under the water, and has a frothy course. The vessel did not go down as soon as expected, for she lasted 13 hours (3 o'clock of the morning of the 26th inst.) At 9 p.m., 25th, the Captain left her, and it was decided to try and tow her to Falmouth, about 70 miles. This was started at 9 p.m., and at 3 a.m., the tugs and destroyers started off. In about a quarter of an hour the old Ballarat reared, and sank amid a cloud of steam from her boilers.
We arrived at Plymouth at 9.30 p.m., and were all marched to the Naval Barracks at Devonport. There we were marched from one place to another, until finally most of the men were fed. Eighteen of us were sent per motor car to the Citadel. This is a fortress, and is used as a depot for the Royal Garrison Artillery. In the morning we had a good feed at the Sergeants' mess, and at 9.30 were marched back to the Barracks, where all the boys were checked, as to who were missing, &c. At 2 o'clock we were entrained at Devenport en route for Annesbsury (Salisbury Plans) and arrived there at 10.30. We were from here marched to our Camp on Salisbury. (No. 5) where we were allotted sleeping quarters and a meal. The country, passed through is most beautiful, being very undulating, and the highways lined with hawthorn hedges, looks very picturesque. We were all entertained to afternoon tea by the Mayoress of Exter.
Notes from Lieut. Fred. Simpson, of Bacchus Marsh, who has since been killed in Action:—
France, 3.12.16.—This is about the only note I shall have time to write just now, as we are so busy censoring other people's. We moved from Larkhill on Friday, and after five days busy travelling eventually reached our destination, which I may not make known to you. Sufficient it is to say that our billets are in a town that was once in the hands of the Bosches, and evidence of his presence is not wanting—beautiful buildings wantonly destroyed; he seems to have gone to no end of trouble to smash up glass, there being hardly one sound window in any house in the town. I say town, but we in Australia would be glad to have a public function for the purpose of calling it city. Heavy street fighting was carried on here, and even now there are plenty of barbed wire entanglements, broken streets, &c. All the streets are paved with cobble stones, which makes walking very tiresome. The population of the place at outbreak of war was something like 29,000, but now only very few remain, the majority having evacu ated; the others consist of business people (proprietors of estaminets, which by the way, are doing enormously well), restaurants and caretakers of wealthy people's dwellings. There are plenty of beautiful homes ruined here. Our troops are billetted in what was once a magnificent hospital, but which is now a windowless, shell-holed, wreck; still, they are fairly comfortable. It is quite possible we may be shifting in a day or two, and we may get an even more comfortable place. The officers' quarters are not too bad: our place is owned by a wealthy lady, who is at present sheltering in Paris. The house has been boarded up, and is in the hands of a caretaker. The Hun, before evacuating, seems to have gone to a lot of trouble to smash every pane of glass in the place. There is a lovely garden, fountain, large hothouse, garage &c. Four of us sleep in the front room, and have our meals in the caretaker's kitchen at the back. The caretaker's wife keeps the kitchen beautifully clean her two stoves are a picture. They have a little daughter of 12, who understands English, pretty well. Our trip across the Channel was uneventful. I had a party of men on unloading work, and we came across on a horse and waggon transport, which took much longer than others. On arrival at destination we stayed the night at a rest (?) camp, and proceeded by train next day to this place. It was the longest train ride I have ever had; the men had rather an uncomfortable time of it —30 to 36 in covered in cattle trucks, not over clean and certainly cold. Thevy were issued with two blankets each in England—Australian blankets brought with us for use in France. Even these did not keep out the cold. The train travelled athrough some beautiful country en route; if it had been spring or summer the sight would have been more wonderful. But it was not, and we could by no means forget the fact, try as we might. The trains in France do not travel fast; the authorities cannot undertake to get you anywhere at a certain time. We entrained, at 9.30 a.m., and detrained at 8.30 p.m. the following day; then boarded big motor buses, which brought us right up to our present position. Our billets are practically within a few hundred yards of the firing line, which takes the form of a horseshoe round the town. Firing goes on night and day; shells screech overhead on their path of destruction; Lewis and machine guns, continually spit their deadly fire; trench mortar batteries hurl their death-dealing missiles into the Huns. At this spot they have the advantage over us in that their trenches are higher than ours, and they draw their water off so that it runs into ours. Our first trench is more than knee-deep in water so that it is neessary to wear
waders, which come right up to our thighs, absolutely waterproof. Parts of our front are so low that we cannot occupy them. The Huns are certainly good in some respects—to themselves. To prevent the occupants of the trenches from being drowned, it is essential that drainage parties get out to make gutters. Fritz sits quietly by and allows this operation, so he is thereby feathering his own nest. This is a comparatively quiet spot at present. Endeavours are being made to encourage local industries here, and quite a number of factories are working. Inhabitants still wander around carrying on their particular little jobs, treating the war and its bygone (to them) terrors as quite an ordinary event. They are provided with steel helmets (against shrapnel) and gas helmets (against ,gas attacks). When there is a gas attack on, and the conditions are particularly favourable, the gas strong enough to affect the people here. The gas alarm is given by hundreds of bells, &c., ringing, just like a wedding day. To-day I marched our chaps up for a bath. These baths are a great boon to men after they have been in the trenches for any length of time. The baths form part of a great dye manufactory. The men march in and undress; cap (steel helmet), tunic, breeches, puttees, boots, are left; they then move in to the bathrooms, hand in all dirty under-clothing, towel and socks, and receive clean or new stuff, put it in their lockers, then bathe. The baths themselves consist of huge vats of water, heated by steam; from 8 to 14 men per vat, and you should see them enjoy it. While they are bathing their uniforms are cleaned for them.
Notes from Sergeant Harry Campbell, son of Mr. and Mrs. H.G. Campbell, Bacchus Marsh.
Cairo, 5.1.16. We left Suez by rail, and travelled along the Canal for a few hours, then cut overland to Cairo. The journey lasted about eight hours. It was rather interesting to see the natives living in their native style. The majority of them are Arabs. A rather sad incident occurred, one of the boys in my platoon fell out of the train into a river and was drowned. I have two University boys in my tent and we are studying the antiques, &c. It is very interesting. We call ourselves
The Society of Archaeological and Egyptilogical Research. Our sign is an old skull that I dug up from an old tomb. We have visited nearly all the places of interest, including Mary's well. It was here the Virgin Mary rested on her way to the Holy land. Went to the Pyramids, and climbed right up to the top. I can tell you it is some climb. The stones are about 2 feet square, and you you have to climb from one to the other, 470 feet. If a fellow slipped, he would get his name in the paper. We also went right up into the King's chamber. The passages inside are very narrow, and are made of poiished granite. In some places they are as much as 200ft. high, and in other places one has to crawl to get along. The stones are inmmense. In places they are about 11ft. square, and in the Queen's Chamber they are 20ft x 25ft. No one knows to this day how they got such huge stones up so high. From the top of the Pyramids one gets a lovely view of the surrounding country, the ruins all around, and the tombs of the Kings who lived 3000 years B.C. The Sphinx is a wonderful piece of work. It is quite as old as the Pyramids, and at one time it used to talk to the people who came to worship it. That is explained by a passage that runs right from a temple near by up into the head of the monster. The priests used to do the talking. There are nine pyramids in all, but only two big ones. At one time they were covered all round with polished granite, but that was removed when they built the citadel.
I have met Lieut. Vallence, and he is very well. He is camped near all the other Marsh boys. I have seen Charlie Edwards, Willie MacKenzie, Fred and Ivan Russell. I believe that Fairbank and all the other boys are about here some where. Also saw Willie Morton, he has just returned from England. He had a wonderful escape he and another chap were sitting back to back, when a shell hit them. The other chap was blown to bits, and Morton's face was badly cut about but that was all; the doctors made a wonderful job of him, because you can scarcely see any mark left. Reg. Evans had been left here with horses, but he ducked away to the Peninsular with a machine gun section. I understand he was one of the last to leave it, and is now at Lemnos. I am in excellent health and spirits. Cannot tell you how long I am going to be here.
THE EMPIRE'S CALL.
Corporal Charles H. Platt has been awarded the Military Medal for bravery on the battlefield. He is a Bacchus Marsh soldier, and a son. of Mr. and Mrs. C. Platt, Merrinm House, Grant street. No particulars of how the honor was won are yet to hand, but the following is an extract from Corporal Platt's letter:—
My shoulder is right now, and after being in hospital for four months it was great to be 'up and doing' again. I met E. and P. Barry, F. Sergeant, Frank Ward and H. Grant in a French village, and it was grand to have a yarn about the Marsh. I suppose you will be pleased to know that I have won the Military Medal. I am enclosing the ribbon of it, which General Birdwood presented to me. Will get the medal later.
Corporal Platt enlisted over two years ago, went into Camp, but as he could not stand the marching was transferred to the Light Horse, from which he was later discharged as unfit. Persisting in his desire to serve his country, he enlisted again 10 months later, and succeeded in getting away in Nov., '1916, eventu ally taking his place on the battle field with honor.
Trench Night—Tuesday next.
Notes from Corporal W. Platt of Bacchus Marsh:—
King George Hospital, 13/10/15.
I am still in the hospital, and do not know when I will be sent to the Base, but I am much better, and have been out a good deal lately. Two Australian ladies have been taking three of us out day and night for a week. One evening we were taken to the Lyceum theatre, and enjoyed it immensely; we laughed all the time, the first laugh we had since we left Egypt. But by jove we did not laugh on entering. We were carried into a stall near the stage, and the silence seemed dreadful, then there was a cheer for the little hit of khaki. It seemed an age before we got settled. One day we were taken to Buckingham Palace, and as we were entering the gates Queen Alexandria was coming out in her car; we saluted, and she graciously acknowledged us with a nod and a very sad smile. No doubt we considered it the greatest privilege of our lives to be able to serve one whose whole time is spent in visiting sick and wounded soldiers, but it makes a fellow feel that he has done very little, and is anxious to do a bit more, when he sees our gracious Queen's careworn face, anxiety is written plainly there. I am pleased to see by the Ballan and Marsh papers how well the boys have responded to the call, and no doubt if they only knew how welcome is the little word "help" to those who are holding on to a trench, and seeing their comrades falling, they would be more than repaid for the sacrifices they are making.
I will tell you my experience from the start. First of all, the old Turk is a hard nut to crack, but a very fair fighter, and what is more, we have to acknowledge they know how to fight, and know just as many tricks as we do, but one good thing, they won't stand up, to the steel. The day we got word that we were going to charge, everybody was pleased, not that we expected a walkover, and did not realise what was before us. We knew what to expect. The hills are almost per pendicular, and heavily timbered. Our trenches were on the sides, and for weeks and weeks we were there. Every day the Turks would drop bombs over us, that would kill a few of our men, and fill the trenches up, and we would have to dig them and build our parapet up again. So you see a fellow would welcome any change, even for battle. On 6th August we were told to be ready to charge at 4.30. You would think we were going to a picnic, we were all so excited. But as the time drew near, every man knew that he was going to face certain death, but soldiers count their lives as nothing. Fear goes when facing a task. All you think of is, we shall win, and must do our share, we can't expect to without, and right is might. Well, right on the tick of 4.30, the guns of the ship started, and then our batteries and howitzers. The Turks started to pour bombs into our lines for all they were worth. The shells were screeching and bursting all round, rifles cracking, and the rumble of the distant guns. All together it put you in mind of a terrific thunder storm. I hate to think of it now. Then at 5 o'clock suddenly the noise ceased. We know something was going to happen. The order was given to tho 4th Batt. to
charge. Then the awful din commenced. Our Batt. (7th) was in the support trenches at the time, waiting their turn. The steady fire was kept up right along the line. We just laid in our trenches, waiting our orders. We lost a good many men from the shells, but our turn came. We were sent down to the Lone Pine to relieve the 4th Batt., who by this time had taken a trench. It was a terrible corner. I have seen sights I shall never forget. There were hundreds of Turks and our boys lying together, and every spare trench and corner was packed with dead bodies. The Turks' next trench was, only ten yards away and I can tell you they were pour ing the bombs over on us. We were replying, but our men were falling fast, and I expected my turn any minute. I got knocked out three times that night. First with a piece of steel on the back of the head, which is numb yet, and cuts all over the face. I got them dressed (our brave Red Cross workers are with us all the time), and rushed back to my post. I didn't think we would be able to see that relief through. My word, you don't know what anxiety is until you think you are losing, and dying for nothing. I had a few narrow escapes. A bomb dropped at my feet, but did not go off. Another near me killed my old camp mate, and another rolled into the trench and killed three of our men. Some of the poor fellows who were badly wounded crawled out of the trench, and were hurried back into safety. I had to keep my fire on the communication trench all the time, to keep the Turks from getting round and throwing bombs up the trench. One black brute got through and fired at me but missed. I kept my fire up, but do not know whether I hit him or otherwise, as it was dark. Our boys were falling fast, and I did not know how long I would last, as the Turks were gain ing on us. I was beginning to feel a bit faint, as by this time my legs and arm had not a few shrapnel cuts, but I dare not leave my post. At last I got hit on the jaw and dropped. That put me out of action. I did not know where I was, or what I was doing, and did not seem to care. I hobbled down the trench toward the beach (someone else took my post) when a bullet caught me in the side, and I dropped. I remembered no more until I was on a hospital ship, bound for Alexandria, where we stayed four days. We may do a little in this struggle, but, by jove, where would we be but for our brave Red Cross boys, and the still braver nurses. They win the battles. When we are able I think we will be sent to France. I hope so.
Notes from Corporal W. Platt, of Bacchus Marsh:—
King George Hospital, 11/9/15.
By this time I suppose you have received some of the letters I have written to you from England. I hope you have. I received five this morning, they had been sent to Gallipoli from Egypt, then on to me here. It is lovely to get a dear home letter, especially when lying here idle, and there is nothing so precious to a soldier as a letter from home. I am able to sit up now, the shrapnel wounds in my arm and legs healed up very quickly, but it was a rifle bullet in the side that steadied in that awful Lonesome Pine encounter. If you could only see the corner we were hemmed in. I can't' describe it and even now I can hardly realise that I am spared. Some of our brave boys have bad wounds, but, like true Australians, they do not murmur. The only thing that grieves me is to be lying here, when we are all so urgently needed, but must be patient. Our boys have been given a royal time here, but I have not been out yet. A lady will send to the Supt. asking him to allow 40 soldiers to go to her house; the motor cars are ready, and they are driven to all the principal places; then, as the boys put it,
we had a great spread. Then they are driven to the theatre, after that, home to bed. A number of Australian ladies come to see us, and are exceedingly kind. Some of my old mates from Broadmeadows camp were brought in to-day, and we were a happy lot, despite our little troubles. I cannot tell you how kind the English people are to us, it would take pages to tell you. Every day we have visitors, who bring us cakes of every kind, summer drinks, fruit and tobacco; and every night there is a concert, some of London's best talent coming here. When I was admitted I was in one of Princess Christian's beds. The smoke room of this Hospital was furnished by Lady Warner; this room alone cost £400 to fit out. It is said to be the largest Hospital in the world, over 1,700 beds in it, and everythinig, from the bandages to the most valuable instruments, were given by people who could not give a dear boy. The ladies of England are doing equally as much in this. war as the men. Last night, about 3 o'clock we thought we were back in the trenches. We were awakened by guns. In an instant all those who could got out of bed, and rushed to the windows to ascertain what was wrong, and the nurses after them, hauling them back. The boys forgot their wounds, the excitement was so great. By this time the guns were ringing out everywhere. Then a bomb dropped, you could hear it hissing as it descended. Then a terrible crash. So you see we were not too far away. No doubt you read it in the papers. There is one consolation, our Hospital is supposed to be bomb proof, and we have been supplied with respirators, in case they use poisonous gas. There were three Zeppelins over us that night. Now, be sure and don't worry. If every mother could see her boy in this land of gratituide (and sorrow combined) she would not worry, as somebody else's mother is taking her place, as well as she can. Send along as many Australian papers as you like; we get plenty of papers, but real
home papers are scarce. The boys read every inch of them. Address any papers to King George Hospital, London, S.E., care of the Supt. Give my kind regards to all those who so kindly enquired after me.
Notes from Corporal W. Platt, son of Mrs. C. Platt, Bacchus Marsh :—
We arrived at Adrianople on 21st May, after a lovely trip. There was not a hitch on the voyage, and we are all in the best of health and spirits. It is very hot here—up to 120 in the shade. We are up at 5 o'clock in, the morning, and drill from 6 until 9 a.m., and from 4 until 6.30 p.m.. We have lectures in the middle of the day. We went into Cairo the other day, but it is not to be, compared with Melbourne. Every public house has a picture theatre, or an entertainment of some sort, and a great business is carried on. I suppose you have read of the wonderful work achieved by our brave boys at the landing, especially the 7th Battalion. It was marvellous. I feel proud to think our Battalion is to reinforce them. So you see we have something before us to keep up that great name. But we will do it. I would like to tell you a lot about that landing, but cannot just now. I hope to when I come back. No doubt our boys are men to be proud of. When you see columns of brave men at drill, anxious to be at the front at once to help our brothers, it makes you feel proud indeed that you are one of them, and our officers are splendid. We were at rifle drill the other day, and they considered me up amongst some of their best shots. I have Corporal before my name now. Kindly remember me to all the boys, and hope it won't be long before I have the joy of seeing you all again, but not until our side has righted many wrongs. Haven't met any of the Marsh boys yet, but as most of them belong, I believe, to the 7th, I hope to have the pleasure of seeing a good old home face.
Notes from W. Platt, of Bacchus Marsh, who was wounded at Gallipoli, and invalided to England;— King George and Queen Mary Club, Edinburgh, Scotland 24/12/15. You see by the address that I am on furlough. I have only been out of the Auxiliary Hospital a fortnight. I spent a week at the Khaki Club in Blackheath, and then came over here. We get free passes. I will stay a week, and then I go back to London. I don't know what they are going to do with me yet, but will know my fate next week. This is Xmas Eve. I was invited to the dinner given by Sir Geo. Reid, at the Hotel Cecil, but did not want to miss the chance of coming here, and ve are going to have a great time to-morrow, Xmas day. No doubt Scotland is a magnificent country. I have been to nearly all the princi pal places, but Edinburgh Castle is first and grand. No one would wonder at Britons fighting the way they do, their Isles are indeed worth fighting for, and our own Island is just as grand. Everywhere you go you have just the same freedom and kindness, and although so many have given their best they have a warm spot for the khaki boy, and every home is open to you. Our Club is situated on the banks of the Firth of Forth. Most of my mates returned to the front, but I don't know if I will ever get back. I have been unfortunate in not being able to do more than I did. We are all wanted, and the colours are worth fighting for. I saw Dick Mee han, from Myrniong; he has gone back to the front. I will be going back to London again this week. It is wonderful the way the traffic is regulated there, although thous-ads are in the Strand every day, there seems to be no bustle, or a hitch of any kind. I get a bit con-fused travelling by the trains, as there are so many different ones to take. There are the underground and tube trains, the ordinary steam train, the overhead train, and the electric train. The tube train is right under the ground, stations and all. It is like a big round tube, just big enough for the train to run through. The thing that struck me most was the moving staircase. It works like an elevator, from the underground station to the surface station. Thousands of people travelling every minute. Before I left the Hospital we were taken to the King's stables. My word, it is a sight, simply grand. Also to the Tower of London, there we saw all the crowns worn by all the Kings and Queens of England, and one of the Queen Victoria's diamonds, worth £10,000. The jewels are beyond describing, you can only imagine what they are like. The two Australian ladies who have been so good to us are Lady Robinson and Lady Weir. They are good to the Australians, but I think we get a bit too much praise. The British soldiers are fighting all the time, and do not mind us being made so much of at all. They are real gentlemen. With fondest wishes to all for a good time this Xmas, and hope the New Year will see this terrible war over, as there is nothing but sorrow everywhere. I received some Marsh papers last week, and I did enjoy them; also the parcel you sent for Xmas.
[This week Mrs. Platt received word from the Defence Department thant her son left England for home on 12th Jan and has since been admitted to the 21st General hospital at Alexandria, Egypt, until arrangements can be made to send him home.]
Private Lindsay has written two letters home since being wounded. The first, written on May 10, is as follows :— Just a few lines to let you known that I am still in the land of the living, althoughl Fritz gave me one to put me out of action for a while. I suppose you have recieved news of my being wounded a good while ago, but it is nothing very much: a slight wound in the right shoulder. A shell burst about 200 yards from where we were standing, and a piece about nine inches by two inches flew back and struck me before I had time to hop out of the road. I was taken away to the clearing station and operated on and had the wound cleaned and dressed. I was then, sent to the Australian Hospital at Boulogne, where I stayed for a few days, and was then sent on to the convalescent home, where I am at present. We are right on the coast here; it is a nice walk down the beach and along the coast. Dr. Robinson, who used to be in Horsham, is here in this hospital. He didn't recognise me this morning when he was inspecting the patients, but I shall have to have a talk to him. I have the piece of shell in my pocket that hit me, and will send it home whenever I get a chance.
The second letter is dated, France, May 14:— Just a few lines to let you know that I am still in the hospital, and am getting on O.K. I was shifted from the Australian Hospital at Boulogne. and am now in the 25th General Hospital at Hartelot, which is a British hospital, but there are Canadians, English, and Australians here. I thought I was going to get a trip to England, but my luck was right out. We could see the cliffs of Dover from the Hospital at Boulogne. I daresay you got a bit of a shock when you heard that I was iwounded butI am nearly right again. I get up every day the same time as the rest—about seven o'clock and go for a walk down to the beach, which is only about two hundred yards or so. This is a very pretty part about here. We are. almost surrounded by woods except where the building faces the sea. When we went into the trenches we relieved the Twentythird Battalion, but I did not see Joe Riley, Fatty Davis or Ted Bradshaw. I was going over to see Joe after we came out of the trench, but I did not last long enough, only staying in for three days when I got hit. I did not feel the hit until the next day, when I had to go under an operation, and then, I can tell you, I felt it alright. I had four stitches put in, also a rubber tube, but they have since been taken out, and the wound is healing up nicely. Dr. Robinson came up and had a yarn to me the day or so after I came in here. He was asking after all at home. He has gone on leave to England, but willl be back again shortly. All the boys were well when I left the trenches. Bert had a narrow escape one day. He was looking through a pesiscope, and bang away she went, smashed to pieces ! His nose was cut a bit, and he got a few fragments of broken glass. but they were quickly removed, and he was as right as rain the next day, and on duty again. I was going to send home the piece of shell I got wounded with, but it might not reach you safely, so I think I will keep it, and bring it with me when I come home; then it will reach home safely. Those sort of souivenirs are worth having. I think I will have to close now, as there is nothing else to write about. Hoping this finds you all well and not worrying.
Under the above heading the Tallangatta
Herald gives the following soldiers' letter, which has local interest as Lieut. Bennett is a son of Mr. and Mrs. James Bennett, of Bacchus Marsh:—
Mr. Waters, Head Master of Benalla High School, has received from Lieut. J. R. Bennett, formerly Sloyd Master, a letter dated London, June 6, which he read to the pupils. Lieut. Bennett states:—
Rather a peculair incident occurred the other day, which again reminded me of the good old days I had at Benalla. I was wounded early last month, and eventually arrived in a London hospital. I am now allowed out a little, and a few days ago accepted an invitation to a place near by. Five others went and whilst we were waiting for a car I noticed a stick one had. I immediately grabbed it, and made the startling discovery that it was one we had made at the Benalla sloyd room whilst I was there. The chap was really pleased with the stick, as he said it was so strong and light. He had got it from the Red Cross room in the hospital there. I intend trying to get one myself, for old time's sake . I trust you will pass this on to the boys, so that they may see their work is doing some good and being appreciated. My wounds were mainly about the head. I have lost the sight of my left eye, my right eye not being too good at present, but gradually getting stronger. Captain Akeroyd (Inspector of Schools) is in the next ward to myself.
To the Editor of the Express.
Dear Sir, - I desire to thank, through you, Cr. James Watson, J.P., and my many friends, who so willingly and unexpectecly joined together in taking off my crop.
Pte. T. L. HAWKINS, A.M.C., Royal Park.