Archive for February, 2016


Posted: February 29, 2016 by saraherhodes in 1916

Well you see we have completed our “ trek” again. Last Saturday we packed up and came away. Practically Nos. 1 and 2 Platoons came intact from A Coy. Nobody was sorry to get away. I was on a loading party. We had to load all our luggage on to camels and transport it to Rail-head (about half-way from Habeita to Serapeum). We bivouacked at Railhead for the night, and next morning we moved on to Tel-el-Kebir. It was the same old Sunday for moving, also by a coincidence the identical day on which we left Mena last year.

At Railhead I ran across Bill Christophers and Fritz Hubbe, also a couple of old rowing chaps in the A.S.C. Managed to catch a couple of good feeds. Sunday morning we loaded the luggage on to a train. It is only a light railway but very fine. It is run by a motor, just the thing for the job. At Serapeum we had to unload, and reload on to transport wagons. Here I met hordes of fellows I knew. Rather I should say they knew me, I had forgotten most of them. I met Holland and Crompton and Charlie Hilton, old P.A.C. men, also Henderson who used to teach us gymnastics at Archer Street. Here it was blowing the usual dust storm that always accompanies us when we move. It was just good luck getting on the transport job though as I got my gear carried for me in every case. From Serapeum we again put all our stuff on the train and when we eventually reached Tel-el-Kebir we had to load it up on transport wagons again. I am quite a genius at loading up stuff now, could get a job as foreman at any good station I reckon. By the way I met Les Matthew at Serapeum, he is in the 20th A.S.C. He wished to be remembered to you all. At Tel-el-Kebir there was another deputation waiting to see me from the 32nd. There were Hughes and Basedow from the Bank of Adelaide and also Jack Angelo who wished to be remembered to you all. Spent several hours with Charlie Bath yesterday. So far things look pretty good here.

We are the 50th Battalion of the 13th Brigade. We are know as “the dirty half hundred”, “The up and downs” (because our colors are to be worn up and down instead of across the sleeve, “the deep thinkers”, and “the Super-dinkums”. Major Hurcumbe to be C.O., of the 49th (old 9th) Major Ross (3rd Brigade Staff) C.O. of the 51st (old 11th) and Major Baker C.O. of the 52nd (old 12th). It seems to be a general mixup. The 7th reinforcements of the 27th took our place s at Habeita, as reinforcements to the 10th, and the 25th took the place of the 9th, but the best move is that we are getting the reinforcements for the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th. It was a very disconsolate crowd we left behind. Col. Beevor is C.O., and major Redburg senior Major. Our reinforcements arrive today.

I got some very fine photos of the Canal, got a dozen returned to me blank though, fancy some dirt must have got in the shutter. They were photos I took of the Turkish burial ground at Serapeum. As far as I can make out we are here for some time. Murray Fowler came up with us, also Lieut. Clark. The day we arrived at Railhead we got a mail. I got several papers and lots of letters. I notice you have a bit of mine in the Chronicle, everyone who has spoken to me mentions those bally letters – rather embarrassing.

When we left Habeita Brigadier Gen’l. Maclagan addressed us. He made a happy little speech, said, some of us had faced Turks and Fray Bentos together. (Fray Bentos is a malignant type of American bully beef) most of us had survived the Turks but few the bully. Mr. Rowe came up with us too, he is Adjutant to the 49th, Noel Loutit is Adjutant of the 50th. I saw DuRieu a few days ago, he is looking very well. We are all going strong here. Jonah is just as pink and round as ever. The only trouble about leaving the old battalion was that I left so many good pals behind me, am getting used to it now though.



Posted: February 7, 2016 by saraherhodes in 1916

I was out on outpost duty a couple of nights ago and got beautifully wet, all I was able to do was to dig a hole to get out of the wind, and sit in it with my blankets and oilsheet round me. The last twenty four hours I have put in on guard. We tried that cocoa and milk for tea last night, it went very well. The tobacco has made a great hit, have been smoking it at the rate of a plug a day. After giving a couple of plugs away I am left with one now. I think the only parcel I haven’t received that you have sent in the last six months, is the Christmas tin box. From all accounts it would be worth getting too.

I had my hair cut (or shorn) last night. It is one of the old time fore and aft clips. All in out tents have had a similar clip, and with a palm branch or two, people might easily be misled by our appearance.

Murray Fowler has come back again, he left us at Serapeum and went to the hospital. I forgot what was wrong with him. Fordham has got a job as clerk on Divisional H.Q’s., rather a good job. Do you remember Dr. Dean Dawson of Pirie? He used to play football for Norwood’s. He is our M.O. at present. He joined us at Tel-el-Kebir and is very popular.

Have just finished the last installment of tobacco, it was very good, and while it lasted I was a great favorite. I’ll tell you what you can send sometime. I broke my pipe this morning, but have one of the original ones left still, and it will keep me going sometime, also tobacco is always acceptable, as well as eatables etc. Have just received that pair of sox Mollie knitted, they were wrapped up in a Mail of the 28/8/15. It came for me whilst I was away from the Peninsular, and went back to the Base.

Well as there is no more news I will say goodbye,
Lots of love

Habeita near Suez Canal

Posted: February 4, 2016 by saraherhodes in 1916

Letters of 23rd and 29th December to hand, with parcels fairly regularly now. We have moved again. Tuesday we packed up and marched straight out into the desert for about nine miles. The desert is one big plain for about six miles and then there are big ranges of sandhills. We are camped in a hollow with sand all round us. Our work is mostly outpost duty. All our transport is done by camels. We are far more isolated than we were on the Peninsular.

Many thanks for the tobacco. It is just the sort we wanted. Have just finished a plug of Lucy Hinton sent me by Elliott Monfries. Yesterday I got a small parcel of eatables from Una Dumas. I saw Charlie Bath again last Sunday night and had a long yarn with him. He is on a fine job – wonders why we are sick of the war.

I visited the place where the Turks attacked the canal last year. All over the ground are big mounds – the only relics of a past army. In places the wind had blown the sand away disclosing heaps of rags and bones – all the rags were blood stained and torn. In one place there is a cross with Major Von dem Hagan, killed in action 2nd February, carved on it. He was killed just on the edge of the canal, and apparently led the attack. I can’t admire the Turks enough for taking on the Canal proposition. It means a march of 150 miles of desert, carrying food and water with them, also pontoons to cross the stream in. I think they must have got to the stage of where it was death to go back, and perhaps death to go on, so they chanced their luck and made the attack.

In the afternoon Colby and I swam across the canal and back, it was a long cold swim but we both enjoyed it. On the Monday I had a sweet job on. Had charge of a party of men to work a punt across the canal. The Engineers had rigged a pontoon bridge across, but it couldn’t always be open as ships are always passing up and down. As it happened this day, divers were laying a water pipe across and we couldn’t work, so we lay in the sun and cooked food all day. At Serapeum food was fairly scarce, but here it appears to be all right. We have a good camp here. There are only two companies of us. We get plenty to eat and lots of fresh air. All round us are large sandhills.