Archive for December, 2014

SHEPHERD’S HOTEL, CAIRO 31/12/14

Posted: December 31, 2014 by tripmanic in 1914

You needn’t think I have changed my address, by the above. Yesterday we had leave and also money. We were paid all our back money. We decided to do ourselves well. We started with a hot plunge bath at the “Eden Palace Hotel” then went to the “Criterion Café” for tea dined on poultry and what not – charge 20 piastres. We then went through Shepherd’s Hotel. It is the hotel of Cairo, and is a splendidly appointed place. Rich carpets and drapings, Negro waiters in rich red uniforms with brass buttons all over them. This place is really reserved for Officers, but a quiet word with the Manager works wonders.

We had a good look over the best part of the town, and returned to camp in state in a taxi, after spending a very enjoyable time. We paid 15 paistres for three cups of very superior coffee – the cup is about the size of an egg cup.


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The Zoo

Posted: December 27, 2014 by tripmanic in 1914

I paid a visit to the zoo. The Giraffes are the chief attraction, big ungainly creatures they are. There are lovely rockeries and grottos with water splashing over them. There is a pretty little Tea Garden built on an island in a lake. It was beautifully cool and a band was playing near by which enhanced the attractiveness.

One of our Corps here has a big ugly bull dog for a mascot, and he is as playful as he is ugly. The other day he got loose and being in a playful mood gave chase to a nigger. Of course the native ran with the bull dog after him. It was very funny watching him rush round the tents with an abject look of terror on his face, his clothes flopping behind him, now and then a piece coming away in the dog’s teeth. The whole battalion looked on and roared.

Yesterday we marched in a new direction, instead of the monotonous desert, we worked along the top of the hills overlooking the valley of the Nile. It is a lovely view – all over wide plain are dotted little villages and great groves of palms, showing out in vivid greens, in pleasing contrast to the drab eternal sand.

During the morning drill we noticed a big flock of birds – a species of hawk – they were chasing a fox, and it was just about done, of course the crowd broke and joined in the chase with rifles, bayonets and stones until eventually he was caught and killed.

We all wear identification badges around our necks, so that a man can be identified if he is mutilated, and to prevent false reports of death. If a man is arrested by Military Police they look at this disc, thereby preventing his giving a false name.


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Christmas Day

Posted: December 25, 2014 by tripmanic in 1914

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all. We got our Christmas present this morning – our first Australian Mail. I received letters dated Nov. 2nd, 3rd, and 29th. We went to church parade; we paraded by brigades, each brigade consisting of four battalions, so we don’t hear much.

I got the socks alright, thank you. I can tell you I was pleased to get the letters.

It is lovely day here, nice and sunshiny with a cool breeze blowing, quite different to our usually hot Christmas.

We have some natives building mess rooms here, they have only one tool, it is like a small adze with a hammer head at the back of it, they use it for everything except sawing.

Money is very scarce, fellows have come to bartering away things for oranges, etc. One bartered a knife for a couple of boxes of Turkish Delight, and is trying to get rid of a steel chain for oranges, but the native is not inclined to deal.

The whole camp nearly went mad over the letters. I hope you are receiving the post cards I am sending at various times.

I had a couple of coins given to me the other day, they are supposed to have been left in the Pyramids by the Romans, when they evaded Egypt; personally I think they are made in Birmingham.

On Saturday we had our weekly wash at the Baths, in the afternoon I went to town and visited the Museum. There is a splendid collection of antiquities there, Statues, Sarcophagui, Coins, Figures etc. it is well worth the trip. There are some lovely paintings on stone, they are beautifully coloured in reds, mostly pictures of Christ and the Apostles.

I received three cables, one from the combined families, one from the Rowing Club, and one from some friends. It cheers a chap up I can tell you, to know that people are thinking of you. The prizes for the Ascanius Sports were given out, I got a tobacco pouch and a pack of cards.


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Christmas Eve

Posted: December 24, 2014 by tripmanic in 1914

Today is Christmas Eve, and we can hardly believe it; there is no festivity in the town at all. Our only celebrations are a holiday without leave, and sports tomorrow, also we are having puddings, which we have to pay for, by the way. Today I took a picquet to town for some prisoners. It made a little outing, the town is very dead in the daylight, it is only at night that you see the gay side.

We have to carry our packs into the desert now.

As I am writing one of the chaps in the tent said “The best Christmas present I could receive is an Australian Mail” followed by a chorus of “here, here”. Everyone is writing letters tonight.


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Yesterday

Posted: December 21, 2014 by tripmanic in 1914

All the afternoon we have had to ourselves, so I put in the time laying matting on the floor af the tent, and fixing up rifle racks etc. This matting is made by the natives, of plaited grass and straw, and forms a very nice floor on the sand. The Military Authorities are erecting big mess rooms for us here. In every direction you can see big frame-work buildings going up, it looks as if we are going to be here a long while. Every night we have heavy dews, it wets everything through and through.

The last few mornings we have been having heavy mists, you cannot see more than about 50 yards ahead of you, it looks very funny as it lifts, to see the hills with the Pyramids completely blocked out of view.

As the sun rises through the mist, it turns all colours. At one time it will be like a huge ball of blood.

We get very pretty sunsets too, especially of the clouds are any good.

The native ploughs are just the same as they wee in Biblical times, just as you see the illustrations in Family Bibles. They use a bent piece of wood with a bit of iron nailed to it, and harness a bullock or buffalo to it, rather different to our eighteen furrow plough.

We get our washing done by the natives. We pay 2 piastres and can send as much as we like. I haven’t had any back yet, but I believe they do it well.

The Y.M.C.A. are building fine reading rooms here. We are anxiously looking forward to receiving letters, it is two months since we sailed from Outer Harbor, so it is quite time we got a few letters.

I am getting rather tired of the town, the incessant jabber of the natives, everyone wanting to sell you post cards, cigarettes, or shine your boots. You may be sitting in a Café, when you feel your foot being gently pulled from under you by a dirty little Arab wanting to clean your boots.

Every morning we have to march a little further. I suppose we get out about five miles now, and then skirmish home.

The Egyptians are taking the English Protectorate very well, they are pleased to see us about the streets, and say “Saedo” (good day).


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Tent commander

Posted: December 18, 2014 by saraherhodes in 1914

On Thursday I was detailed to take a fatigue party to Cairo for transport duty, we went to Casr-el-nil Barracks. Yesterday we had a hot time marching through the sand for hours.  A sentry was caught asleep on duty and was sentenced to death, but it was altered to 2 years cells.  We have been appointed to our right tents at last, we have thirteen in ours.  I am tent commander.


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Mena

Posted: December 18, 2014 by saraherhodes in 1914

Today I had charge of a picket to escort a crowd of prisoners to Cairo.  We had to go to the Citadel it is right at the other side of the town, and is a fine Military Barracks, with very thick walls.  The detention barracks are full, so we had to bring them back again.

Before we left we climbed to the top of the place and had a splendid view of the town, as far as the eye could see were flat roofed houses, and spires. There was an awful noise rising from the traffic below. One of our fellows fell off the Pyramid today, I believe he was killed.

Yesterday I had a swim in the baths at Mena House.  I won the Company Championship of 100 yards swimming, it was a hard race, without training.  In the afternoon we had to leave, and we took a taxi and rode all round the town.  We saw slums and palaces, the driver took us into lanes with about a foot to spare on either side, among heavy native traffic; he went through at about 15 miles an hour.  The various Embassies and Government buildings are fine places.  Lord Kitchener’s house is very fine.


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