28 February 1915
Mena camp 28/2/15
Received a letter during the week from you Mum, but it only contained that page out of the Bulletin. I expect you forgot to enclose the letter _ _ _. Anyway the cartoon was very good & I’ve shown it to nearly all the men mentioned. Whitton who looked it over carefully, said “I see your sister did me the honor of leaving me out” & he was as pleased as Punch when he found himself being carried like a bag of spuds on another chaps back. Poor Elbell is very crook with pneumonia & he & Sprigy Fergusson are the only ones who didn’t see it. How did you come to miss out Cpl Rosser?
Well the blooming censor is being put on the job again so I’ll have to remain very very dumb on certain subjects so if there is no real news don’t worry.
Ida! IDA! Why the Dickens don’t you answer at once. Now Miss what do you mean by talking rot like that. I’ve decided to come home with a BEARD as well so there. Cant you see the game you you you I don’t know what. And I’m not going to stop growing my mo, till I can tie it in a nice double bow knot on my forehead after its been once around my head. You see if I come back like that, nobodyilnome & I could have a gay old time living like farmer lucerne seeds.
A coy had been going the pace lately. We held a sports meeting yesterday afternoon & a splendid concert at night. The only bad thing about the sports was that owing to lack of time one of the events had to be postponed. They are printing copies of the programme as sovenoirs & if I can get you one I’ll toss it over. They are very good & you’ll die laughing when you see it.
No. 1 platoon did best of all winning most of the events. The 100yds championship went to a man in my tent. The relay race – 1 offr & 4 men went to No1 also the horse race & sack race. No 3 won the tug of war after a great pull. A No 2 man won the mile & a No 2 sergt won fancy dress. He dressed up as “___” one of our officers & was immediately recognised.
The concert at night was even a greater success than the sports.
Vernie has gone up another stripe by todays Battalion orders. The Sergt of the Siglrs – staff Sergt. Maj Hains has been given a better job in the Engrs so Vernie has now got his job. He’s getting on finely. If anything should happen to GA at the front & the excitable little beggar’s nearly sure to be shot if he tears about at the front the way he does here, Vernie will get his job probably as a 2nd Leiut so he has good prospects.
I didn’t notice that I had not told you about the concert. One of the first events was a boxing match between Sgt McGowan, the tallest man in the Bn, & Sgt Woollsey the chiropodist who is the smallest man in the Regt. One is 6ft 6 & the other about 4ft 11. It was very laughable. Early in the contest Woollsey was knocked out, & on recovering he demanded his opponents gloves to be examined which resulted in the discovery of a horseshoe & a stone. The knockout was then disallowed & the contest proceeded. Woollsey however was getting much the worst of it as his opponent would put his glove on Woollsey face & keep him off. The third round was so willing that a chair got knocked into the centre of the ring & Woollsey seeing the chance of a life time sprang on it & hit with all his might & McGowan was counted out amidst wild & excited cheering.
After that came several comic & otherwise songs & recitations then a banjo & bones item which was very good, after that a banjo item in which the banjo was thrown & twisted over & over & not a note was spoilt. On being recalled we were given an imitation of a church service. You’d swear that you were listening to a distant organ & the tune was easily discernable. After the hymn you could hear the minister talking tho you couldn’t of course understand it, & then another hymn. “Very good. Very nice” as the nigs say.
Another boxing match was then introduced. It appeared that Lt Carter who rode the winning horse had made a bet of half a piastrie (1 ¼) with Capt McConaghy who had not paid. Consequence they decided to settle it out of court in the most approved style. There was considerable difficulty in keeping them apart till they got their gloves on, & then the poor referee, who was armed with a drumstick to enforce his authority, had the job of his life keeping the men to the confines of civilized boxing. He was compelled all throughout the contest to use the nobby end with more or less force as the occasion demanded, to prevent brutal disfiguring. In the end after he was tired out the opponents got together & with savage growls tried to pull each other to pieces, but their well meant intentions were all for nought as the officers of their respective coys rushed in & dragged them apart & the referee gave a draw. Shortly after that the band played “God Save our King” & for some reason or other everyone left so they had to finish up.
We had two bonzer 10 mile marches last week & in each case we did them before breakfast & we do another one tomorrow. We got up at 4am & after a light snack marched towards Cairo for 5 miles & then came back. It’s O.K. doing all our work in the early morning & then having the rest of the day off.
On Thursday last we left camp at 4pm & A & C took up a position about 1 ½ from the camp & we were to be attacked by B & D. They beat us badly but by underhand methods which would not have succeeded at the front. Two or three of them dressed up as “Nigs” & took oranges & chocs to sell. Of course as it was dark none of us took a tumble, as the niggers follow us with their good no matter where we go. They found out all our stragetic points & then finding that we were too strong to attack from within the stipulated bounds they attacked us in another quarter & won _ _ _. We got back to camp about 10.30pm & had tea. We had had nothing for 10 ½ hours & were pretty hungry.
Last Monday A & B went out shooting at target plates etc at unknown ranges. No 1 platoon came third. On the way home there was a bit of a scheme.
Oh I forgot to tell you that in the concert a presentation was made to Capt - now Major Brown the O.C of A & who is very very strict in every sense of the word & knows his work thoroughly. The presentation was got up by the old & new defaulters of A & when the miles of tissue paper was removed it was found to be an “Infantry training manual”. Everybody fairly rocked with laughter. It seemed so funny. He took it in the right spirit & informed them that he’d study it closely & try & discover some new method of getting at them.
A coy is very progressive & they often hold concerts. I believe that Major Brown is at the bottom of it all too. I’ve been hitting it fairly well with him lately tho my men are horribly incompetent. It makes me feel as if I’d like to be in the ranks instead of a flagwagger as I felt certain that with the men I’ve got I’ll never be able to keep the lines of communication clear.
It’s nearly lights out now so I’ll close with best love & wishes to you all. If you see Clytie or Mrs Fox tell them I’ll write them during the week. Haven’t got a stamp. Your loving son & brother Bert.