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.

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