Going back to Turkey

Posted: June 4, 2015 by saraherhodes in 1915

Yesterday was declared a half holiday on account of the King’s Birthday. Fisher and I went into town later on in the afternoon. We spent nearly all the time there lying in the Esbekia Gardens reading. It was very nice under the palms. After a quiet dinner we went round to the Egyptian Café and listened to the Orchestra for an hour or so.

The Esbekia Gardens up to a few years ago were practically the only gardens that Cairo could boast of – even now the civilians have to pay to go in. Fisher received a couple of letters today from Australia 6/5/15, mine unfortunately have all gone on to Gallipoli. A guard to escort prisoners back to Australia was picked out this morning. I had a chance to go, but my conscience (haven’t got much either) wouldn’t let me. It looks too much as if one has very cold feet. I could get a job here in camp if I liked – but can’t do it.

The Light horsemen are having great trouble with their horses. They are dying from sunstroke and pneumonia. Shelters have been rigged up to keep the sun off them. I believe 50,000 of Kitchener’s Army are at Lemnos. My arm is quite well now, just two little blue dots where the bullet went through.

I think Egypt is a long way ahead of Australia in many respects. Every town has electric lighting and ice can be obtained in any town up to 500 miles from Cairo, but in other things Egypt is still in the Chapter of Genesis.

By some streak of good luck I managed to get a batch of letters, they were posted on the 6th May and you had just received news of our little scrap. How you people must have suffered waiting for definite news. I doubt if I will ever get the socks, parcels and papers are all going astray. Not being with the Company upsets things very much. News has come out today that Kinnish and I are going back tomorrow (8th June). At first I was told I couldn’t go but managed to pull a few strings and have got on the list alright. There are only about three N.C.O’s and 30 men going from this Company. Up till now we haven’t done any duties at all here, but yesterday they snared a lot for guard – you ought to have seen the guard – some had felt hats, others caps, and helmets, some without putties, torn tunics, long pants. Every rifle was dirty. The men are very collar-proud, reckon they are above work.

Today they started to drill us, and great was the outcry. It will be a treat to get back to Turkey. Everyone is very jealous of me getting the job. Yesterday I had a rather interesting time. I took the train towards Cairo, but got off about three stations this side at a place called Demerdache, it is right in the pastoral and agricultural district. I watched the thrashing operations at closer quarters what I called sledges are really rollers with circular cutters, and they are drawn round and round until the chaff is finely cut and then it is thrown into the centre of the cleared space. Their pitchfork is made of wood, sharpened at the ends and polished. We wandered around wells and different gardens and then came across a thick jungle of prickly pear – there was just a small narrow track running through for about 100 yards when we came on to a canal, you would be surprised how close the stuff grew together. All around were snakes and lizards crawling through the grass – rather uncanny I can tell you.

We are leaving at 5.30a.m. tomorrow.

Don’t know what chance I will have of writing.

Goodbye,
Lance.

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