Topic: Gillanders WD - WWI letter 1917 January 13

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Transcript of a letter written by William Duncan Gillanders after a scrap with German machine gunners.

Egypt

13.1.17

Dear Ken
I have been in a scrap at last & came out of it alright nothing came near enough to hit me although we had a gallop for it once or twice as there were some german machine gunners who weren't particular whether they fired on the red cross or not, but a miss is as good as a mile. We were kept pretty busy during the battle & right on until three o'clock next morning when (14.1.17) we turned in for three hours then home again to el arish where we are now. We were from Monday morning until Wednesday night with only those three hours sleep so you can understand how tired we were. We left here dinner-time Monday & traveled all night & at daylight the Turks at Raffa were surrounded. You can guess what a surprise they would get when their planes saw us just before we left a distance of twenty six miles away. You will remember young Finlayson you would have heard me talk about he got a hit in the leg but I don't think it is anything serious. Well since I started this letter I have had a run of luck. I got the pel from Waitete with the shortbread & tobacco I have enough tobacco now to keep me going for a month or two & the shortbread is the real mackay & upholds the reputation of the Valley.

I did not get a letter this mail but better luck next & no news is good news. I have not had any papers this last few times but expect to get six or seven in a bunch. I got the Christmas no. it was pretty good this time. Well I know you must be pretty busy just now & I hope all your assistants are keeping well & not giving way to over strain. I hope to get back soon to give you a bit of a hand again. Is the war still going on we are afraid they might stop it suddenly some day & forget to tell us. I don't know how things are going as I have not seen a paper for some time. We also got a pel each from the patriotic fund & a handkerchief tin of milk boot laces a tin of plum pudding etc, also a billy between four, we drew lots for the empty billy & an air pillow that came in it & I was the lucky one & drew both so you see I am well set up. I can tie the billy onto the cart & boil it when we like when we are out on a stunt.

Norman & Billy McNaught were asking after you Ken, I also saw Hammond Berry. I hardly knew him he is looking far better than when he left New Zealand he wanted to be reminded to the Valley folk. Well how is everybody getting on I am afraid you have too much work to do especially your assistants & Mam & Dad but never mind we will all go for a holiday when the cows go dry. It must be pretty near show time when you get this are you going to have a shot at the cup or are you too busy. I forgot to tell you I got a bosker cake from Aunty Doll just after we came back from the scrap. In a caramel box same as our old hanky box. I can often see you as I lye in bed chopping wood just before tea time or feeding pigs & doing dozens of other things at different times of the day. Do you get letters from me fairly regular as I generally write every week but if I miss the mail don't be alarmed as I might just miss it by a day or so because I never know when the mail goes. How did you get on about the bush I expect I will hear in your next letter. Well I had better look out if I eat much more of this shortbread seeing we are not used to such delicacies, but I keep on taking...

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