Archive for May, 2015

Helmieh

Posted: May 30, 2015 by saraherhodes in 1915

Helmieh,
Helmieh Camp, near Zeitoun,
Sunday 30th May, 1915 

I seem to have a faculty for getting into various odd corners of Egypt now-a-days. Helmieh is about a mile further away from Heliopolis the Zeitoun. Yesterday morning Sgt. Kinnish and I humped our swags with about a dozen others, and found our way here. Mercifully a change had worked up and the temperature couldn’t have been above 97 degrees – quite cool. These heat waves are generally caused by very hot winds that last about three days. They are called the “Khamseen” (from the desert). The temperature seems to increase each day until the change comes. Our temperatures were 102, 108, 110, 111 degrees. Our camp isn’t much to go mad over, we can practically do what we like. Revielle at 5 a.m., roll call at 6, and then we can do as we please.

In fact an hour after I had entered the Camp I was off to Heliopolis. In the course of my travels I visited Luna Park, it is just the same as usual. I saw Jim Davidson there, he was with me when he got shot. I haven’t seen him since, so you can be sure we had a lot to say to each other. Another chap from “A” Company who came down about ten days ago tells me that Coffey and Jonah are all right although Jonah still has his head tied up. Also he told me that Phil Robin, Teesdale Smith and Bertie Stokes were all killed. Out of the eleven of us who used to inhabit that State-room of ours, only Blackburn and Coffey have escaped.

When we were passing through Cairo yesterday morning I saw a whole crowd of Italians enlisting at their Consul’s office. Every day huge numbers are leaving Italy. In the space of fifteen minutes we saw three native funerals. The niggers die off like flies in the hot weather. These processions are very funny. Paid mourners precede the coffin and chant some unholy stuff; the coffin carried by bearers is generally draped with some gaudy cloth, and at the head of the coffin is a hooked stick, on which the tarbosh of the deceased is hung. Behind the coffin straggles a miscellaneous assortment of mourners, the harem, dirty children, and a wailing, squalling, mass of humanity.

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wounded or killed?

Posted: May 28, 2015 by saraherhodes in 1915

Yesterday our temperature was 110 degrees at mid-day, and at 7p.m. was half a degree below 100. How would you like it? Last night several of us went down to Mr Logan’s. He has a lovely position here, a private touring car for the railways, and Mrs Logan travels with him.

Kinnish, and perhaps Cowan and I , are being discharged tomorrow. We go to the Base Details Camp at Zeitown. It will be a brute in the sand again. Guy Fisher said he saw some letters for Frank marked “wounded”, and others marked “killed”, so I don’t know what to think – I am hoping for the best. It was 111 degrees today.

Kinnie and I are leaving here tomorrow, so I will say goodbye.

Lance.

108 degrees

Posted: May 27, 2015 by saraherhodes in 1915

The only thing necessary to detail today is that it is hotter than it was yesterday, and yesterday it was 108 degrees in Helouan, and 111 degrees in Cairo.

casualties

Posted: May 26, 2015 by saraherhodes in 1915

The Age of Miracles has not passed yet. Today I received a full week’s mail. The fact that it is a month old doesn’t matter in the least. It is just glorious to see your hand writing again. We seem to get absolutely to  the end of our tether, and think we can’t stand it another day if something doesn’t happen, or some letters arrive, when they turn up again. We all sent our names into H.Q. asking for our letters and didn’t expect them for about three days, but Guy Fisher happened to be in Cairo and managed to get me my lot of the 25th March. You can guess how I pored over them.

Things have been going very quietly here. A batch of 1500 reinforcements and returned wounded left for the “Front” this morning – wish I was with them.

General Bridges, Commander of the 1st Division A.I.F. was posthumously awarded the K.C.B. Reuters say that we avenged his death by repulsing the Turks on about the 18th. Casualties for Turkey 7,000 (2,000 of whom we killed) Ours totalled less than 500. The Turks applied for and obtained an armistice of two or three days ending the 23rd, to bury the dead – 3,000 were buried. This was only at the Australian Section, all killed between 15th and 20th. Yesterday the temperature here was at mid-day 102 degrees, and at 9pm 97 degrees. It has been very hot for several days now. The sun is like a blast furnace. The sort of weather you describe is what we used to have in Lemnos. It is hard to imagine fires. The letters I received today have all been up to the trenches, and then returned to Cairo with wounded marked on them. Guy Fisher had three returned with “killed”, and three with “wounded” on them, rather off, eh! “Six o’clock” would get scant sympathy here, it is an awfully thirsty country, here you get to know the “lime-kiln throat” with horrible frequency. All day we are just one bath of perspiration. If you lie or sit down you leave a damp mark. The last I saw of Roy Fordham was about 6 o’clock on the top of the first ridge, looking excited with a Turkish bayonet stuck in his belt, that he had taken from a dead Turk.

I have just been served with a nice drink of iced water, by a big ebony figure in a big white flowing garment and a red tarbosh on his head. We have a man in our room who saw the Bouvat sank in the Dardanelles. He is a R.M.L.I. man, and was at Antwerp, then the first landing at the Dardanelles. And now again.

A lot of things you mention haven’t turned up. The mufflers didn’t arrive, and up to date I have only had one lot of sox. I lost three good pairs in my pack. I expect DuRieu went up with the batch that went today, I wish I could have gone with him. You would write pages and pages of stuff if you only knew how much it is appreciated. That is why I often write such a lot of uninteresting drivel, thinking you will like it as much as I do – even if it is only for the sake of reading. One seems nearer to you when reading or writing. My glasses have come in very useful at times. I used them a fair amount in the firing line. I fancy it drew a lot of snipers fire on to me too – thought I was an Officer.

Mrs. Logan a British Resident here, has managed to get us a piano, also a gramaphone and about 26 records, when one isn’t going the other is. We have some fine pianists here and all day long the room is rocking with choruses, and whistling to all the latest (when we left) and popular airs, especially ragtime.

He will hold me fast

Posted: May 23, 2015 by saraherhodes in 1915

Australian & New Zealand Convalescent Hospital
Hotel Al Hayat Helouan.
Sunday 23rd May 1915 

Our uneventful life is still going on like the brook. We get up in the morning to save missing breakfast at 7am. From breakfast time till dinner time 12.30pm we have to stay in the reading room, or outside in some of the outhouses because we aren’t allowed to go back to bed. After dinner we go back to bed until tea comes on the scene. After tea we can do what we like – stay in, or go down the town. The evenings are the only decent time of the day. A cool breeze generally springs up and it is very refreshing after the hot sun.

Yesterday was a regular scorcher of a day, no one could stir outside. There is a place called the “Casino” in the town, it is used as a picture show and Café now, but about 20 years ago it was a regular “Monte Carlo”. There is a big Concert Hall, and a gambling hall inside. In the gambling hall were old moth-eaten card tables scattered about. There are quite a number of big hotels here that have gone to wrack and ruin, apparently there isn’t enough trade here to keep them all going.

Helouan appears to be made up of hotels, and health sanatoriums. There are big sulphur baths here and also big surgical and electric messaging plants. We have a man here every night massaging the wounds of fellows. He is from the Thermal Institute here. He massaged my arm last night, and he tuned me up pretty well. My wound has healed alright but is still sore, and my arm is very stiff.

We had a church service this morning, it was conducted by a resident Church of England parson. We sang the hymn “For those in peril” you will remember that I always liked that hymn, and I don’t suppose I will ever forget it now. We had a service on board the “Ionian” the night before we went into action. Just before we sang it, a sailor who had been on the “Ocean” remarked that they had sung it the night before the “Ocean” went into action, and went down. On top of that, the first time I go to church after the scrap it is sung again.

This evening we had Mr J.J.Virgo, he sang a few hymns, and gave us a fine address. He makes a feature of “He will hold me fast” and had us singing the chorus time after time.

I had my arm massaged again tonight. The Masseur lies my arm on a table and straightens it as much as he can, and then punches, and works the muscles – it is a very painful process.

letters

Posted: May 22, 2015 by saraherhodes in 1915

Well I must post my letter today. I would like to get a few letters from you people, goodness knows where they are. I haven’t had any for five weeks now. We get general leave every night now for Helouan, but there isn’t much to see or do. The 3rd Contingent left for the Dardanelles the other day, they are lucky chaps to drop into a scrap right away.

Goodbye.
LANCE

mess tin

Posted: May 21, 2015 by saraherhodes in 1915

I have quite a batch of photos to send you now. I hope you get them all, for some of them are pretty good. I am sending home the lid of the mess tin and the handkerchief that was in it. The flat edge of the tin was on my back, so you can see how close it went to me. DuRieu has gone to the Base Details Camp at Zeitown. My arm isn’t doing too well, it is getting very stiff, so I have to have it massaged every day. We have a very nice Matron here, she is Sister Quarterman from Victoria. Her brother was killed up at the Dardanelles.