Topic: Gillanders WD - WWI letter 1916 November 8

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Transcript of a letter written by William Duncan Gillanders in 1916 while serving in Egypt.

8.11.16
Dear Rod,

Thanks for the book. I have not had a chance to read it yet, but will one of these nights it looks good. I got the book last mail & your letter this although the book was just two days before the letters but as you will understand all the letters are sorted & sent after us first as they are generally the most important
The post office here must put a terrible lot of mails through their hands especially now it is getting on to Christmas & again when the pcls begin to arrive for the soldiers.

I am still in the reserve hospital & having a good time as far as it possible here. On Monday Peter & I & two medical men one of them a captain went out on a melon hunting expedition. The season is nearly over now & most of the other "blokes" were laughing at us & called us "melons" hunting melons but they changed their tune when we came back with three mules carrying a load between them of three hundred weight of ripe juicy melons. It was about dinner time when we sighted them they were planted in an oasis by the Bedoins the "Pirates of the desert"; We had dinner before we started to collect our spoil, the dinner consisted of Bread Bully Beef melons & dates. The date palms were simply loaded with dates great big juicy fellows. There were also fig trees there but the fruit was all gone. After we got our loads on & started to come home we came across a big patch of tomatoes they were all ripe & very good flavour but they were none bigger than a big gooseberry. The captain took home a haversack of them but we did not bother as there were very few left after we had a feast of them. It must be great for a chap to come across an oasis like that when he had been a day or so with out water of course there is no water in the oasis unless you dig for it & then it is brackish to taste but some of the men or at least all of them drank it when they were hard up but they carry more water with them now than they used to do & the water pipes are going down all the time beside the railway.

The niggers or "Gippos" as we call them here are kept working laying the railway night & day. They lay over a mile a day not bad is it & it is not just a light railway great big engines run over it some of the engines have London & South-West on them. Of course there is no ballast to go down as a matter of fact there is no ballast on any of the Egyptian railways the sleepers are laid in the sand after it is levelled off a bit & away she goes.

Well Rod I will expect to see Assistant Postmaster at the least if you are still in the P.O. when I get back, I hope you have had your well earned holidays by this time.

Well Rod goodbye till next time & many happy returns of your Birthday although it has reached me yet it will be a thing of the past when you get this. Love from Will

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