Topic: Gillanders WD - WWI letter 1916 November 11

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


On the Desert

Dear Nan,

Thanks for your letter of last mail. It is a wonder you did not get some of my letters as I wrote a letter from every port, but I think it must have been quite accidental if they did not send them from home to you as when I wrote I just sent the one letter to save me writing the same thing over again. I think I told you that I got your letter that was addressed with the wrong number it did not seem to make any difference but it might an other time. You will be quite busy now mat Sister has left you couldn't you entice her back for the Spring & Summer months, you yourself will just bout have your hands full with his Lordship as the older he gets the more time he will take keeping him out of the fire etc. I supposehe will be just be thinking about trying his legs. I am glad he likes horses & driving that shows he is going to be very sensible.

I can quite excuse Jack not writing as I have got a pretty fair idea of the amt. of work he has to do & there is nothing like taking a rest at night when you have finished work. What I mean is you say to yourself you think you had better write a letter & you keep thinking & don't feel like writing. Well! You don't get any benefit from your rest.

I have never come across that young McLelland you asked me about, he isn't in the Mtds & must have gone to France with the Infantry. But there is another boy from Owaka here in the Otago troop George Falconer he came out here in the Mtd Ambulance with the other dozen of us. He is a very decent boy but I have never spoken to him about Owaka I just know he comes from in or near there somewhere. He is out with the mobile section. There is just Peter Lesllie & I left in this camp of the A.S.C. men the other two chaps went up to the mobile section today to relieve some men that were sick so I think it quite likely that we will be here for sometime as there will have to be somebody left here to look after the mules, we get a couple of R.A.M.C. men from the hospital to help us take the mules to water & feed them. There are noTurks within about forty miles of where I am & then it would just be an odd patrol the bulk of them are well back somewhere in the hills. The only danger here is from "Tanks" which pay us an occasional visit they very considerately fly past the old red cross flag & leave us alone. Still we are not taking any risks & have dug outs handy. There were some English regiments bombed the Other day & about a dozen casualties I don't know if there were any deaths or not.

All the boys here who have been through it all praise up the Turk for his fairness in fighting even although they are a good many German officers among them. One Australian who was here last night was saying he would always take his hat off to the Turk as a fighter. 

They are great boys these Australians very happy go lucky sort of. Sometime ago some high member of the Royal Family you can guess who when he was inspecting them in Egypt passed through a station where a lot of these Australians were. Of course they cheered him & waved their hats & because he did not salute they counted him out, one, two, three up to ten & men out. When he came back again they cheered again this time he saluted so, they started 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 in as loud as they could shout it. That is very characteristic of them they are no respecter of persons & take every man for what he is worth.

We being the Anzac Divisional hospital have as many Australian patients as New Zealanders. The patients in the hospital at present are mostly for dental treatment I must go & see the dentist myself one of these days when I have the chance, but it seems to be always the way when you live right in the middle of dentists you don't trouble to get your teeth looked to just like people living near some famous place don't trouble to go & see it
Well Nan I am having a real good holiday not too much to do & am living well seeing we are right beside a canteen & can buy all sorts of tin fruits & etc & with a ride of a few miles we can go & get dates off the trees & melons & tomatoes growing around the trees. Four of us went out with three pack mules the other day & brought home a big load of ripe water melons & I had the best lot of dates I have ever tasted in all my life.

In fact we are in quite a good home here having a proper tent to sleep in & good tucker well cooked at regular hours. If we were out with the mobile section of the Ambulance behind the Brigade we would have to rough it a bit sleeping out under the wagons & getting up at all hours of the morning, & very often nothing for days but bully beef & biscuits. I think my luck was in alright when I was left behind. It was only by accident too, there were four of us had to be left behind & Peter & I were away when he took the names of those who wanted to go out to the Brigade or else we were pretty sure to have handed in our names.

We have a concert in the Y.M.C.A. nearly every night & two or three nights ago we had an up to date picture show turned by hand of course but never the less none the ware' o that. Well Nan I am going to enclose a letter to Kath & a card to Nell on the chance that they are with you so with best to every one of you from your loving Bro.


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