Archive for May, 2016

K5B

Posted: May 31, 2016 by saraherhodes in 1916

I am just waiting to be relieved now. Everything is packed up. We are being relieved by an English Company. I am returning to Company headquarters today and going to Railhead tomorrow, and then away at some date to be fixed. I have to hand over the trenches and everything appertaining thereto.

It is a lovely day, just a trifle too hot in the sun, but still endurable. The only thing to break the monotony to the eye is the Great Bitter lake on our left, looking towards the canal. We can see Deversoir Station and a fair amount of the lake. It is beautiful at present. The water is a beautiful blue colour, broken here and there by a steamer wandering off to Australia or India. Behind the lake is a big range of hills. I think it must be the Mokkattam Hills. The extreme point of which rests right behind Suez. There are hundreds of little lizards about here. They are a sandy grey colour about six inches long. They are tame little beggars and seems to enjoy life pretty well. We often see them tumbling each other about, and generally frisking around. Of all the fauna of this place I think the Camel is the sweetest, prettiest and daintiest – he is a pearl (I don’t think).

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Saturday 27 May 1916

Posted: May 27, 2016 by saraherhodes in 1916

Things are going just as per usual. I am getting things a bit ship-shape here now. I had a very fair dinner considering we are about ten miles from the canal, and about 150 miles from the source of supplies. Salmon, pickles, butter, bread, tea and tinned pears with milk. How does it get you? Of course it only comes occasionally, but still…….

A funny thing happened last night. A mouse ran along the trench just as everyone got settled, of course it came on them before they could catch it. A man would fall over himself trying to grab it, and yell to the man round the next traverse. He would just wonder what was doing when it would be under him. One fellow was lying down. He just had time to sit up when the mouse darted under his legs. He gave a yell and fell back on his neck with his legs in the air. The wee beastie managed to do the trench three times before it was finally captured.

Yours, Lance.

Post K 5B-56

Posted: May 26, 2016 by saraherhodes in 1916

Yet another move. Yesterday my platoon packed up and moved off to the right about two and a half miles, and took over this post. I have it all on my own. The place is in an awful mess and will take some time to get ship-shape. So far we have had nothing definite about our long move. Suppose some day they will turn up records of a division of infantry interned in the desert.

I am having great fun with watches now-a-days. The last one I got has “turned dog” on me, and refuses to move. It makes things very awkward.

Have seen Jonah a couple of times at various intervals. He is quite well and almost as fat as ever. This desert is taking a little out of him. I have been receiving papers at various odd intervals for about the last week.

The flies are our worst pest here. I have a very nice dug out it isn’t flyproof yet, but hope to make it so tomorrow.

I suppose we will have to keep a look out for “tin fish” again. Haven’t heard of many boats being torpedoed lately.

I have quite a pretty little card of pictures taken from the backs of magazines in ads for Lux and Pear’s Soap etc. They don’t look half bad. Most of my photos are back at Serapeum in my trunk. I usually have them plastered about. I tell you I can spread myself when I start.

We are not allowed to take our cameras to France with us. Think I will send mine to Lanyon’s and ask them to keep it for me.

21 May 1916

Posted: May 23, 2016 by saraherhodes in 1916

Have just received my mail. I received seven letters all together. I will have quite a contract answering them all. You all seem to have excelled yourselves this time. At various times we have quite a fair amount of shooting. We usually start at the miniature 30 yards range. Grouping, applications and rapid. Our fellows have to get them grouped in a 3 1/2 inch ring. After that comes work at about 200 yards on moving targets, men running or men kneeling. At times we have had iron discs set up in groups, and used sections or platoons on them. The fire all being directed, and range judged – usually about 500 yards. I have done a fair bit of work instructing in front and behind the bank.

The nigs here just say hohshsh, or a noise like that, or hiss to get the camels on their knees, a tug on the rope, and a hit on the legs does almost as well.

I think I have told you that Fowler and Clark are Captains now. Fowler in command and Clark second in command of A Coy. It doesn’t much matter what tobacco you send. It is all good. Something fairly dark – a good medium is OK. Three Castles Cigarettes hold the floor I think. We get some horrible mixtures on issue here. The tobacco is like light grass, dried and tinned and the cigarettes are barely smokeable. I like your idea of a dog’s heaven. Perhaps a “dawg’s chawnce” may be worth having after all.

There is always a lot of bad feeling among Australians and Englishmen, also Australians and Canadians, I was rather about the latter too.

I have been doing a lot of barbed wire work today. The whole place is rigged up with miles of wire. It is like a rabbit proof fence. I guess the manufacturers must be making fortunes. I was in charge of a picquet the other night, and visiting one of my sentry groups I was challenged. I answered “Lieut. Rhodes” He said “Advance one and be recognised”. As I was by myself I wondered where the other man was.

The bomb throwing on the Jubilee Oval would give you an idea, but it is very different when you know the bomb is aimed at you.

Well goodbye all you people.
Lance.

Habeita

Posted: May 23, 2016 by saraherhodes in 1916

Post  K 5 H -53,
Habieta  Sinai Peninsular
20/5/16

And yet again another move. We are not at the same place that we occupied before, when we were in the 10th. It is a little to the right. We moved out Tuesday morning with reveille at 0300. By this means we were able to get the march over before the heat had got too unbearable. Pat is at another post with his platoon. Here the men have tents, but we have dugouts to live in. I have a pretty fair one. It is built of sandbags, matting and hessian. It is one of the queerest concerns you ever saw. It is all wired up, and where I wanted to join the hessian I just cut a splinter of wood and used it as a pin. As usual I have just got it comfortable when I have to move. I have to build another one about fifty yards away.

Our work cuts out now that we are on duty every night. This means sleeping in clothes, boots, and equipment every night. “Stand to” comes at 03-15, and after that we work till 0830, and then we have the rest of the day between ourselves and the flies. So far we haven’t the slightest idea how long we are here for. When we marched out Tuesday a column of light horse hit the road just in front of us. I found out it was the 11th, and in one of our halts I managed to dig up Russell for a couple of minutes. He had come from Tel el Kebir the day before, and was looking as dirty as possible, although well. Dick Wilton is second in command of this company now. The machine gun officer stationed here happens to be Max Stewart of Northcote Terrace, Medindie. He has in the 3rd L.H.

It has been much cooler since we have been out here. The wind is fairly cool. The machine gun crew here happen to be all the men who were in my platoon in “A” Coy. They nearly all transferred. Rather a coincidence running into both crew and officer whom I knew. Jonah is over at Hars as A Coy,. is stationed there. Did you ever meet Bill Pasco of the 9th L.H.? He is a great pal of Jack Clarke’s. I often run across him here.

Do you remember that knife I bought before I left S.A? It succumbed to its fate yesterday. The big blade found a piece of wood just a trifle too strong for it, of course the corkscrew is still good enough. I received that last parcel of chocolate, sox, and cigarettes, all right, although the chocolate suffered from the heat to a large extent. Have managed to get a few more books together. Another of Dickens – “The Old Curiosity Shop”.

While we were at Railhead we were in a constant  state of readiness to move out at a moments notice. We were part of a composite force called the “Wadi Macksheeb Mobile Column”. We had to move out and capture a well and cut off the retreat of the Turks if they attacked. However that is finished now. It was just twelve months ago yesterday that our fellows mopped up the hordes or Turks when they attacked, almost twelve months ago today since Armistice.

Railhead – 16 May 1916

Posted: May 23, 2016 by saraherhodes in 1916

I am not writing because I have any news, but because the mail is closing tonight, and I wanted to let you know I am O.K. We are having awful weather now. It was 114 in one of our tents a couple of days ago. All we get is hot winds, flies and sand. To make things worse we are going into Habeita on Thursday. One thing though we have solved the problem of cool drinks. We have invested in a couple of goolahs (earthenware jars) they keep the water beautifully cool. This and a bottle of lime juice makes a perfect drink. You would be surprised at the number of friends Pat and I have (as long as the water lasts). Jonah still continues to get fat. He is a tremendous size now.

I had another experience with a camel the other day. I was loading a whole lot, and getting disgusted with the nigs, I bounced up to a camel and yanked out his head rope to make him sit down. Instead of complying like any intelligent animal he started to spit at me and chase me. In the end he had me dancing round tanks and over fantases (water tanks carried by camels) he knocked my helmet off into some black slime, and generally livened things up. We are using Indian camels wherever possible now. The Indians are much better, and the camels are almost twice as big, some of them are like big mountains.

I was on outpost again last night, and in consequence have today off. We have reveille at 0400 now, breakfast at 0430, and parade 0530-0930. Early hours but at 9 it is too hot to work.

I was playing football the other day without any boots on, managed to kick Murray Fowler on the leg. I have two of the most beautifully bruised toes you ever saw. Have a walk like a one legged kangaroo now.

One of the greatest wonders of this place is, that it is even too hot to drink beer, nobody will touch it.
I am sending some photos home by this mail.

News has come through that the 10th are in France. They are billeted there, and having a lovely time. We anticipate leaving shortly.

11 May 1916

Posted: May 23, 2016 by saraherhodes in 1916

Have just come off outpost. We are at the same old game again. Yesterday we marched out to the Front Line and back, I saw Habieta in the distance.

I received all your letters of the 5th the day before yesterday. The parcel hasn’t turned up yet. Jonah is looking well, he missed his commission through the vacancies being filled by outsiders. He is very disappointed.

Doc. Jeffries is turning out a great success here, he is very popular. The 1st and 3rd Division Bases have gone to France.