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Amy

My star is on an even keel

September 26, 1917
last letter

The last letter

18th Bn. France, 26/9/17

Dear Amy,

Still going strong back with my own section, getting along well. The old boys in it will do anything for me and there are enough of them to make everything pleasant and easy. The new ones I am getting to know. We had a stiff row to hoe very soon after I got back and everyone was tested good and hard and not found wanting. My old luck has not changed with my new job and I am as confident as ever. My star is on an even keel. Was very confident when we were tried out and the section has as much confidence in me as I have in myself. I am kept very busy because I’m a bit strange I have been on theoretical work for six months – different stuff from my olden present job (which was kept for me.) So – I’m a bit rusty to be in concert pitch. We have to get tuned up and I’m going through the process. I’ve an orderly to look after me – can carry more luxuries than before and everything is O.K.   I’ve commenced schooling again – Pelmanising. Now am having my work cut out to make time for it but feel if I can stick at it, it will do me good. I won’t be so short of time when I’ve been at it a bit longer.

Heaps of love to all,

from brother Stid

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Signaller Hull 18th will always find me

September 26, 1917
The Old Curiosity Shop Postcard 29 Sept 1917

France, 26/9/17

Dear Amy,

These cards will be posted in England in a day or so. I’ve seen the originals but haven’t time to send other postcards just now.

I am O.C. 18th sig. now days and getting along O.K.

Signaller Hull 18th will always find me all right.

Heaps of love,

Stid

The last postcard to Amy

The last postcard to Amy

Piano, billiards and a good time generally

September 5, 1917
Letter from 18th Bn. France, 15/9/17

France, 5/9/17

Dear Amy,

I am still having a good time. Have not caught up with my battalion yet. – expect to in a few days.

I spent Sunday last in Harve. It’s a fairly big place, much like Manly. it has been built into a tourist place. There are many bathing places and cafes and there were thousands of people out.

The people are showy and gay and fond of rainbow hued dresses. I guess it would be very gay in peace time. I got a few pictures to send with this mail. I haven’t had any home letters since I left Oxford. I guess I’ll get them when I get back the the battalion. The weather is lovely except it rains too much. I’m still sleeping in a civilised bed whether it rains or not. Bad weather is largely a matter of quarters. We have a good mess here- piano, billiards and a good time generally.

Love to all, Stid.

 

I haven’t been back in France very long

August 22, 1917

Dear Amy:

I haven’t been back in France very long after being in England it looks a dirty old place. It’s villages are not nearly so French and clean as English places. English kiddies get dirty and black with any but French kiddies get filthy. They are pretty babies but seem to grow out of most of it and grow much coarser on this side of the Channel. This place is only as big as Lockhart and has a couple of churches. The battle of Crecy was fought very close by.

Love from Stid.

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It’s splendid picnicking country

June 24, 1917

No.4 Officers’ Mess,

Perham Downs, England. 24/6/17

Post Card, Tidworth

Dear Amy,

I am in a camp about a mile from this place. It’s splendid picnicking country.

We finish our day at 4 and it’s light until 11pm, so we ramble and enjoy it. I carry field glasses and a revolver and there are a few rabbits to shoot. I can get them sometimes.

Love from Stid.

 

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It gets me out of parades

June 14, 1917

No1 Command

Durham Downs. 14/6/17

Dear Amy,

I’ve left Oxford. Had a fly around back in Camp and leave on the 21st and will be among the boys soon. I am 2nd Lieutenant and like the job. There is still plenty for me to learn but I have a fair groundwork for a base and my old experience will help me. Seeing other people work is much easier and cleaner than doing it myself. I have a man clean my boots and room and attend at meals so am to have a better time now onward if my old luck sticks and it probably will. Everything is good.

I’ve been acting orderly officer yesterday and today and probably will be while I’m here. It’s usual to get only a day at a time but the other chaps aren’t keen on it and I don’t mind. I keeps me occupied. it’s much easier to do a job continuously than to keep changing about and I’ve a fair eye for what agrees with me. It gets me out of parades. I am just as busy or even more busy than those who go out but I don’t like drilling much even when it’s only the yelling part. Officer’s job is something like that of the M.C. at a bush dance.

By the way I had a few waltzes in London one evening and found there is just as much fun in it as ever and I’m just a kiddie soldiering in England. It’s a comparatively easy matter to spend money and though we us and company must not carry our bags it’s a kind of unwritten law and it amuses me to slip out of a taxi and wait for someone to get my bag who isn’t better to carry it than I am. Still, it’s all part of the day’s march and I guess the habit will grow on me in time.

There are four 18th officers here. The others have been wounded and are returning with me so we keep each other company. Clap trap ends.

Love to all,

Stid.

 

Being saluted and carrying leather gear

June 4, 1917
Letter from Stid

London, 4/6/17

Dear Amy,

I got through my family alright and have the commission. I got 10 days leave the day after the exam, 31st May to June 11 – the same date I was on leave from France last year and Jim Harrison, a lad who has been with me since I became a soldier is in London from the 18th Bttn.

I am to meet him this afternoon and will probably spend the time with him. Aunt sent me Arthur Wigram’s address and I went to see him at Skippall’s (?) Bush. He is interested in aircraft building and I thought he maybe able to help me to get into it. He couldn’t, but he was very nice to me as was his wife who is a very pretty girl. They have a nice home and no children. We had a nice dinner in the city and theatre after. I stayed with them until today. They wanted me to spend all my leave with them but I felt it would be mean. If I knew them well I would rather spend more time with them because I have plenty of money to go to the theatre etc. and like a home better than pubs.

It’s a wee bit strange to be walking about as an officer, being saluted and carrying leather gear. I will send some photos along in a day or so. I may as well let you have one of me as a second Lieutenant. Feeling a bit bushed now and not in much of a writing humour so it’s just claptrap.

Love to all, Stid.

 

Letter to Stid

We us and Co. have been at Warwick

April 27, 1917
The Courtyard Warwick Castle

Post Card, (Warwick Castle)                                                      Warwick, 27/4/17

Dear Amy,

We us and Co. have been at Warwick for a week target shooting. On Wednesday we celebrated Anzac Day with a dinner and generally gay evening. We Australians visited the castle in force in the afternoon. It is quite the finest in existence with very fine views from the top of its walls. The interior is very luxurious. Its owners live in it about three months of the year. I got your February letter this morning.

Love, from Stid

AnzacDayatWarwick

Anzac Day at Warwick menu

The Courtyard Warwick Castle - postcard to Amy

The Courtyard Warwick Castle – postcard to Amy

I spent some of Easter Monday at the park

April 22, 1917

New College, Oxford

22/4/17

Dear Amy,

I spent some of Easter Monday at the park. There were some good bands playing and thousands of people and it hasn’t been filled up with gardens as most parks are. Flowers are pretty, but in a big city a piece of tree covered ground that is all open is a godsend. When the Duke of Wellington gave it to the public he was wise.

There are thousands of seats which pair off in the evening.

Love from Stid

Post Card

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We mix with the best people

April 22, 1917

“A” Company

No. 4 Officer Cadet Bttn.

22/4/17

Dear Amy,

I had a letter from Daisy yesterday. My letters have been coming regularly, so I am lucky.

Many of the lads have not been getting their mail. They messed it up somehow altering the address when they came here.

The weather is lovely now- haven’t seen snow for a week and it’s getting quite warm. Ice-cream carts are working the streets already and the evenings are drawing out. The place is growing pretty too.

We got our photos taken – the Australians in a group. I’ll send it and the book. I had intended getting a picture of myself to send but will wait until I get my harness on.

This course has about 15 weeks to run so I expect to be a commissioned officer. I’ve been getting through the exams OK. At first I was a bit dubious about them but am used to the work now.

I’ve been getting my teeth fixed up too while in England and as we get ten days leave when we get through looking forward to having a look around. Any of us who have been sent here from France get free railway passes too so I am thinking of looking at the map and going as far as the train goes. We got five days leave at Easter and I used it to go on top of a motor bus and went wherever it went. When they put it in the sheds I got out, went for a meal somewhere then to the theatre. It was a pretty good day. London is fine for theatres and so far as I could see is just as gay as if no war was on except there are so many military men about. The lights are fewer and shaded but people who know the city say it is just the same as it is in peacetime. I suppose there is no need for the city to be down in the dumps until it really is bad.

We have plenty of work here but it is very pleasant to take and being a schoolboy is good fun.

Socially we mix with the best people and are treated as officers and Br. officers are treated well.

They have a great reputation as gentlemen and I feel the three months or so I spend here will do me good when I go back to France. I’ll have a better trip than before although the latter part of it I hadn’t an officer over me and can manage the work all right in the Field but three months schooling will give me a lot of useful knowledge. Wearing nice clothes and gloves and seeing others work is very easy to take. We get twenty five pounds to spend on clothes when we get through. I’ve had eight pounds of it in the uniform I wear for walking out. The Tommies get fifty pounds but only draw seven shillings per day pay. We Australians get one pound a day and it’s easy to spend, too. From what I have learned we don’t get any clothes issued when we get commissioned, but our pay will clothe us. We will get 3 shillings a day Field Allowance when on active service. I think it is so we can get a few extras from the mess. In the town they ask for the address when we buy anything although we have very big pockets in our tunics it looks untidy to make ports of them.

We get put in charge of this place for the day (Acting Orderly Officer) Every cadet must salute the OO of the day. We have an old hand to go about with us to save us from being too foolish while on the job which is the inspect quarters generally, take charge of the parades attend court.

We must do the job properly, too, because if we pass a place and it’s not in order we get on the mat the next day and may get awarded no evening out – C.B (Confined to Barracks) or extra duties which maybe carrying a pack up and down on sentry when we could have been having a good time. The Orderly Officer of the day must see everyone is home when he should be.

If someone comes home late and isn’t reported AWL the Orderly Officer gets his award. (punishment?) I haven’t learned yet why it is called an award.

On parade we are taught to be in charge. Some of the lads get a wee bit more officious than is necessary for the job. A Tommy was put in charge of the Australians. He “shimied?” us up and made us do it several times. He got a stage whisper telling him not to be so foolish – which he ignored, lost his head and invited the nearest man to him to fight after the parade, got a good thrashing and lesson too and some advice from a Dinkum OO on handling men.

It’s a pretty good education taking charge in turn because if the job is handled well, all the lads want you to succeed, but if someone is foolish and fancies himself too much he gets a lesson he’ll never forget.

A favourite trick is an organised raid by a Section (12 men) against some other Sect, rooms when buddy gets heaved out of windows etc and flying water is used for ammunition. If we who are raided have caught any prisoners of the Enemy, Lord P. do the clean up under direction of the Victors by good tactics. A section awarded in recent raid got raiders trapped in passage and with fullicious fire trapped the section who had to surrender then clean up.

Love to all, Stid.

page 5 of letter from Oxford