Monday, 2 April 2007

Chapter 10: Back in Egypt - Dysentry, Mumps and Training

From service record:
7 January 1916
Dysentery. Transferred to Egypt per "Essiquibo". Non cot case.
11 January 1916
Admitted to No 2 Aux Conval Depot
21 January 1916
Transferred to Con Depot
2 February 1916
Discharged to duty ex Helouan and rejoined Regiment

3 Feb Letter to brother-in-law, Dave Lade:

Sister Maud, and brother-in-law, Dave Lade, with their grandchild.

Letterhead of The Young Mens Christian Association with H.M. Mediterranean Expeditionary Force in Egypt.

Heliopolis Feb 3rd 1916.

Dear Dave

As you will know before you receive this I am in Egypt again. I was sent to the convalescent home at Helouan, about twenty miles up the Nile from Cairo, and after having about a fortnight there was allowed to rejoin my regiment here.
I could have gone home if I had wished, but as I felt so well I did not care about that, there being so many more in need of a trip than I was. The doctor was doubtful about letting me stop, as they make a point of sending typhoid cases home for three months; but here I am, and hope I will be able to see the war through before being sent home sick or wounded.
I got another batch of delayed letters yesterday - about a dozen in all including one from you, one and a postcard (view of Strath) from Maud, and one from Hilda. They were very old ones - written mostly in September and August.
Will Ross is a lieutenant in my regiment, and although I have seen him once I have not had an opportunity of making his acquaintance.
I also met Dave Patterson, and he wished to be remembered to you. He has been sick, but is better again now.
Will tells me that they have started what is very nearly conscription in Australia, and is not sure but what he might be called up.
I think myself that Australia has done quite her share now, and will not be doing much good by sending her young married men away.
Everything is very quiet in Egypt, but as you know there are possibilities of stirring times shortly.
However, I cannot say much about that, as the censorship is very strict at present.
We are having perfect weather in Egypt now, but I expect it will soon be getting warm again.
I was glad to hear you have had such a fine season in Australia, and I suppose it was most welcome after last year.
You said in your letter your nephew Perce was in the 13th L.H., so he will be in the same lot as Dave Patterson. It is not far from where I am so will try and see him shortly.
You said you were a great believer in prayer for soldiers, and I am sure it will interest you to hear what fellows in the trenches have told me.
I have been told by the most hardened of men that in the hour of greatest danger, they have offered up a prayer - the first in most cases since they were children - and have been surprised at the benefit they received.
This is about all this time.
Yours truly, Percy
Remember me to all your people.

AWM photos:Al Hayat Hotel, Helouan, used as a Convalescent Depot (P00156.019)
Al Hayat - the Australian Convalescent Home (J06424)

From Service Record:

25 February 1916
Mumps (mild): adm No 4 Aux hospital

1 March Letter to sister, Maud Lade:

No 4th Auxiliary (sic) Mumps Hospital
March 1st 1916

Dear Maud
As you see by this address I am in hospital again, this time with the mumps. I came in last Friday 25th and am getting on alright now, although my face is still a bit swoolen. I think they will keep me hear three weeks as that is the time they allow for isolation of mumps cases.
A great number of the soldiers here are getting mumps for some cause or other.
I had a number of letters the day after I came here including one from you and one from Dave. They were both written in Oct. though. However I had some later news from Mother also one from Berta. They were written in the middle of Jan.
By the way I am to congratulate myself I suppose on the possession of several new nephews.
I expect you would be disappointed - Mother especially - when you heard I was not coming home after all, but I think you will agree I did the right thing, as it would not be too nice returning when there was nothing wrong with me. In any case I would only have meant coming straight back again.
We had just finished three days sham-fighting in the desert before coming in here. It was very interesting and exciting while it lasted although hard work.
We used to get up early march out about five miles - sometimes further - and then double about in the sand all day. By the time we got in at night we would be tired enough. The 4th L.H. is very much over strength so all those who have come back from hospital lately have gone in what they call the details, and have no horses yet. The details consist of D + E squadron. I am in D squadron under the command of Lieut Ross.
I was speaking to him for a few minutes the other day. I was to go to his tent and have a yarn with him but have not been able so far. He wished to be remembered to you and Dave. He is looked upon as a good officer and got the most points with his men in the sham-fighting.
Auntie Sarah and Uncle Arthur are getting quite gay in their old age running about to the lakes and so on. I have not heard anything of Eric lately. Have been wondering if he has enlisted. Berta too was down Gippsland she says. I have not come across any more Strath boys. I fancy they most of them are down on the canal somewhere.
We have a chap - Sgt Major - in our lot name of Purves. He comes from Yea, and used to visit Henny Yorston at Strath. I wonder if you know him.
I have also seen Jim and Arthur Knoop. Arthur is in the next tent to mine and Jim is in the 8th L.H. Also one of the Collins from Break-a-day is in the 4th and a Pat Nelson brother of Mrs Mitchell of Strath.
All these chaps belong to the late reinforcements.
I think this is about all this time.
I would tell you a lot more that would interest you, but the censor won't allow I'm afraid.
Hoping you are all well

I wrote to Dave about a fortnight ago.

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