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Sunday, 3 October 2010

Letter Home - 5 October 1915

RA Mess

5th October, 1915,

Dear Dad,

We have not had a letter from down under for some time, the boats seem to run rather irregularly. I hear that you had good rains and that there promises to be a fair season.

Political matters are not looking too good over here at present, as Bulgaria certainly have their hand in with Germany, and Greece looks as if she will also break her alliance with Servia and Roumania. There is talk of the war going on for three years and also that we will have to have conscription in England.

We have had a fairly strenuous week - at least our 4th battery have. We were taken out on what they call an instructional battery on Monday, and it was the first time we had been out with a battery - and also the Tommies' and horses' first trip. You can imagine the result. I had rather an important position as a No. 1. It means I was in charge of a gun, and rode at the head of my near leader - I mean the left of him - and was supposed to repeat all signals, but, as I did not know them, we were not a great success. I must say that there is a lot of talk going on in this room as I write, and I keep putting in part of the conversation.

Well, we eventually came into action, and I had to supervise the work of the men on the gun and see that they were doing their work correctly, and before we had been in action very long we discovered that we had all been wiped out by our left section who were too far to the rear. However, I suppose one learns these things as one goes along.

Tuesday, was what is called driving drill, with the firing battery wagons. We had to ride the teams. I was in the centre, which is an easy position. Bee was on a leader. We managed to get along fairly well, but it is jolly hard with horses that don't know their work. On Wednesday, it was instructional battery again, with the same position allotted to us. We were a little better this time, but by no means good. Coming home the corrector scale, a brass instrument about two foot long, dropped off the gun. We ran over it which gave it a bit of a gliff. However, we were not as bad as the 6th battery, who ground a ladies' bike to powder—it was left standing against the curb. Thursday was a heavy day at the riding school, with a crowd of Tommies who did not know the horse's tail from its ear, and we, the officer, had a very rough passage, as they used to jamb in the centre and cross in front at a canter. The air was very thick that morning.

Friday, a big squad of us went out on reconnaissance. There were about 20 of us. You are taken down by lanes in the country. Then you are halted and have to find your position on the map. The squad usually has the senior sub in charge, and he has not much chance of keeping his brother officers in check. If the people on the road only knew what danger they ran in passing us, they would have a fit. Half the men have no control of their horses at all, which is not to be wondered at, considering they have only ridden for about seven days. One man, a Canadian who has rather a nice horse, tried to jump a gate. The beast took off too far before, and he crashed through it, finally finishing up on the horse's ear. The horse lowered its head and he slid nicely to his feet.

This morning was driving drill, but nothing exciting happened, except that we all got our legs well jambed and bruised by the offsiders squeezing the traces against our legs.


PS We were pleased to hear by the mail that the sheep country is looking so well and hope there is a good clip, but should think it very improbable

(I am putting this letter up a day early, as I'm not sure if I will be near internet access on the day. The next letter will be on 18 October.)


  1. I like his sense of humour. I hope the lady who owned the bike ground to powder had a good sense of humour too.

    How old would EWM have been here? Don't worry. I will go and look it up on the obit. post.

  2. Possibly 1890 making him 25 ... he went to Cambridge in 1910 from GG aged possibly 19 or 20.