Topic: Gillanders WD - WWI letter 1916 Oct 11

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Transcript of a partial letter written by William Duncan Gillanders, new in Egypt with the Mounted Rifles.

Dear Ken Alick & Lil,
I got your letters all in one at least I got Ken's two days after the other two, so I may as well just write the one letter the mail goes out on Friday this is a Tuesday afternoon & I have an hour or so to spare. Thanks for all the news .You have no idea how glad we are to get the little items about the farm. When the whistle sounded the other night to fall in for mail, there was the quickest turnout I have ever seen, even if the Turks were to come suddenly on us we wouldn't turn out so quickly. And then afterwards everyone talking about the different news they got One chap sings out that his father has bought another farm & wonders what ever he is going to do with it as he has more now than he knows what to do with. Another chap tells us they have bought a new horse home & it turned out a rank jib & so on & so forth. I expect you have the mare back home again by this time, it was just as well to let Starnes have her as have her eating her head off doing nothing. How are the other horses doing. I hope you have my team of horses working satisfactory or perhaps you are just using the two mares. I think most likely you will be started ploughing by the time this gets to Waiteti.

You did not say how old hop-o-my thumb was getting on with his contract. We are getting great weather here for burning bush just a nice breeze & everything necessary the only trouble is there is no bush or any thing after that nature here but I will try & send you some of this weather in a letter to reach about the end of February & beginning of March so make the most of the wet weather you are having now.

I wish it did not take so long for letters to go between us because what you talk about in your letters to me you will have forgotten about by the time you get my answering letter but I can send a cablegram pretty cheaply from here for 4 or 5 shillings I think & I will send you one some time soon perhaps a month or so just so that you can hear from me without waiting about two months for it. How are D.B's heifers milking & is there much difference in the amount of milk from last year of the old heifers. You know what I mean, between their first & second season.

Are you still getting letters from Willie regularly. I am very glad that John has turned up I always thought he would but can't explain why I am going to write Willie from here. You have registered long before this but T don't expect either of you could be called up. What is to happen to the farm if you left. Well I sincerely hope it will never be necessary. By the number of men that run round these camps doing nothing you would think they would not want any more men till the end of the war. We know far less about the war & what is going on than you do in New Zealand. At present mat is the last two days ten of the Auckland troop are employed making mud walls around the camp, the walls are just six inches high but there are gateways & fancy kind of corner monuments make it look terribly flash specially when it is white washed. We make the walls out of sand & water & they set quite hard in the sun. I understand now the kind of bricks the Egyptians of old used to make, but they wouldn't last very long in the rain, but perhaps the straw might hold, but it does not worry us very much as it never seems to be any likelihood of any rain coming. I have run out of ink so as you see I will try & continue in pencil.

I don't think that I told you that we had a splendid swimming place a small lake part of the canal but quite big enough for us. It is about a mile across from where we bath to where the canal is but there must be some kind of opening from the canal into the lake but we can't see where it starts or stops. We generally get down for a swim two afternoons a week & we do enjoy it. You can swim as far as you like & it gets deep very sudden so sudden that it is quite safe to dive off the edge.

We are kept going pretty hard when we are on parade but get plenty of time off between times. We are still on foot & have not seen the horses except one day we had them. The camp commandant wanted to see how we could ride so they lent us some horses & gave us a flutter over a jump that was here. I missed the ride as I happened to be on fatigue that day worse luck. But I saw all the fun from the camp here. There were a good few got thrown off nearly all the bad riders were shown up & the old Commandant had a great old laugh he wanted to know if they thought it was a circus or what.

All the Australians do their horse drill here instead of in Australia like we did in N.Z. What price are sheep skins fetching just now did you get a big cheque for that last lot that you sent up. I expect the roads are beginning to dry up a bit now at least when you read this, have you had any cloud bursts lately? What are you using for the cream the old dray I suppose if the road is not too heavy. I am glad to hear that Sam is earning his tucker at last & in a good way too specially on the wet days. I see you had ... (remainder missing)

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