Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ismailia, Egypt 15/1/16

Dear Mother,
I sent a cable last week to say I was all serene. We are camped about two miles out in the desert on the bank of a fresh water canal which runs back from the town and eventually meets the Nile somewhere about Cairo.
I received your parcel of underclothing all right. It arrived at a most opportune time as we had brought no clothing off the Peninsula with us. Since then we have had a lot of gift stuff given to us and now we have a plentiful supply of socks writing paper chocolate etc.
The Sevenths and some of the Eighths arrived last week. Gordon seems to be in good trim. I saw Will Schaumann and Thomson the other day too, they seemed to be fit. The old hands are getting a few days leave in Port Said five percent at a time. I hope to be able to go soon. I am buying a vest pocket camera and intend to carry it with me in future I often wished I had one on the peninsula. The weather here is fairly warm at present but the heat is not yet oppressive though it is becoming warmer daily.
Love to all, your affectionate son, Rawei
[From Rawei's photo album, labeled "Catholic Church, Ismailia".]

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Egypt, 4/1/16 (No. 2)

Dear Dad,
I wrote you in a separate letter today. Things have been happening during the last fortnight.
Three weeks ago today we were in the trenches wondering if there was anything in the evacuation rumours. By 3 a.m. on Monday the 20th every man was off the Peninsula.
Our Gun Section left on the last night one gun was amongst the last party to leave. Everything went off without a hitch. Someone will no doubt be decorated for engineering the movement. To withdraw about forty thousand men from about a twelve mile front was a ticklish job and it was nothing short of a miracle that allowed us to get away without Jacko suspecting anything. We learnt on arrival at Lemnos that preparation had been made there to receive from ten to fifteen thousand wounded. Our casualties on the last night were three wounded- it took five nights to effect the evacuation nothing can be done on the beach during the day. When we first learnt that the evacuation was a certainty we were at first incredulous and afterwards a bit downhearted most of the older hands would rather have gone through another advance it seemed hard to withdraw after all that had been done there. However we soon came to understand that it must be for the best and everybody entered into the spirit of the thing and put in their spare time preparing surprises for Jacko when he came over. Devices, some worked by candles some by drips of water were rigged up to fire old and broken rifles hours after the last man had left the trenches. Bombs which explode on a spring being released are in all sorts of odd places. Altogether the first party of Turks that came over were due to have a few casualties. About the second day of the evacuation our men on Walkers Ridge stopped firing for about three hours. Jacko became curious and sent over some armed parties to see what was wrong. They all got wiped out. On another occasion we stopped fire on the whole front for 48 hours. This seemed to puzzle the Turk and we were sorely tempted to let fly when Jacko's curiosity bid him to show his head and shoulders over his trench. We were then in hopes that he  would attack but he was not to be drawn.
On our arrival at Lemnos we recieved a big mail and all hands ate a good deal more cake than was good for them. We made up for this on our trip to Alexandria however when we lived on Bully & Biscuits and had to wear lifebelts night and day as they feared submarines. We are now in Egypt and are soon to be joined by the sevenths and eighths so that I should see Gorden in a day or two. I have receieved a good many parcels so far all in good condition the parcel of clothing arrived today.
Love to all
Your affectionate son,

Monday, August 2, 2010

Canty Machine Gun Section, Canty Infty Batn, Egypt 4/1/16 (No. 1)

Dear Father,
I enclose a letter which I wrote from Gallipoli after our advance in August. It came back to me again in Lemnos about 24th Dec having been missorted in Alexandria. How many more letters have gone astray I don't know but I have often thought that I all that I have written did not reach you.
With regard my leave from the Bank I applied in October for an extension from 6th Jan to 6th July and have a note to apply for a further six months before July.
I am writing at greater length by the same mail as this.
Trusting that all is well with you at Alexandra.
With love to all,
Your affectionate son,

In future I will No my letters this is No. 1.

[Note: The brochure shown below was included in with Grandad's letters, and accompanied  parcels from New Zealand for the Christmas of 1915. If you are having trouble reading the writing, it says "One of these was enclosed with each of the parcels we received from the people of Canterbury".]