It is a fortnight since I wrote to you last, as since then I haven't had a ghost of a chance of doing anything in the literary line and I still have the letter in my pocket as we have no facilities for posting. You will be glad to see my new address I guess.
I hope they let you folk know something of our whereabouts before Christmas Day. It would have made your Christmas happier even if they only told you that we were away from the firing line, it would have been something.
We expect to go to Egypt where we hear rumours that the Sudanese have risen against the British and that there is a large force advancing on Suez Canal where we expect to be stationed but they are only rumours, for we get no news to speak of except an occasional War Office Telegram and have had nothing at all for over three weeks.
Likewise, we have no letters for about six months or more, it seems like that length of time anyway, and we won't get any until we get to Egypt or wherever we are booked for.
I was thinking of you all yesterday and wondering who got my threepennies out of the pudding. My word, I would have liked to have been there with you all. I was lying awake about 6am in my tent and I just pictured you washing up after dinner- it would have been about 2pm there.
Our billies were a great success although Headquarters got South Australian billies which were not up to Victorian standard but they were greatly appreciated. The contents of mine was a nice stick of shaving soap, tin of sardines, one big block of Griffiths chocolate (real good too), tin of curry, tin of tobacco (large), two tins of cigarettes, a huge pipe, a packet of pipe cleaners, packet of toothpicks (to dislodge pieces of duck, etc which we did not have) and a pack of cards. My mates are very glad that I don't smoke. Our puddings came to light on the 24th so we had them a day in advance, there was seven to eight men but they were very nice
My menu on Christmas was: - breakfast – bacon, bread, jam. Dinner – stew (cooks call it that and they ought to know for they perpetrated it) tea- bread and a little jam. So you see there is no excuse for high living? There is a village not far from here where oranges and nuts are very plentiful and I have had a good few dozen since coming here.
The people are Greeks and are very quaint and old fashioned and its a pleasure to stroll through the village – so different to the blanky Egyptians who look alright in photos where things don't show up or you can't smell anything but of course, all Egyptians are not bad, I suppose.
At first I said that I would never like to go back there, but it has one redeeming feature plenty of water. So far Lemnos is worse than Gallipoli in that matter on account of so many thousands of troops here.
It hurt to leave the Peninsula after so many had died to get the little we did get of it but after the messing up of the Suvla Bay landing we were done for as regards advancing any further.
The evacuation which is a very delicate operation, was entirely successful. We so bluffed the Turks that on the night before we left, they put out two extra rows of barbed wire and a taube that hovered about a lot knowing something unusual was a stir, evidently mistook the miles of stuff on the beach waiting to be taken away for equipment just arriving. There were guns, timbers and all sorts of thing there and on the day the last of us left, they bombarded our support trenches well and truly with 8-2 and some of the larger calibre, thinking that we had reinforcements. Not a man was hurt for the simple reason, there was not a soul there. We were all in the firing line on a post, every man was on duty. I was in the second last party to leave the trenches.
The Turks thought we were preparing for an attack and in reality, there was one tenth of us left to guard the trenches, even with one man on a post which formally held six men, there were many posts unoccupied, but all the same it was a pretty dicky time for us for the Turk is a pretty shrewd fighter and might have been on the bluff stakes as well as us. Our party marched out at midnight a week ago and even Beachy Bill was quiet. He only put along one shell whilst our party was making its way to the beach, no damage what ever ensuring the arrangements all were carried out without a hitch. We were on a steamer before you could say Jack Robinson and we said good bye to a place that will remain in history forever.
We were landed at a wrong pier at Lemnos and had a walk of about five miles before us, with full packs, blankets, one hundred and fifty rounds of ammunition and none of us fit. I had been two nights without sleep and managed to do about two miles when Stan Fletcher Ralph and I decided to camp for the night and finish our journey in the morning, which we did.
It seems funny now- for a start, being able to walk about without having to keep your ears cocked, listening for shells, but we are getting used to it. We are doing right turns by numbers which goes down hard after our free and easy life in the trenches.
In fact Ernie got into hot water for having his hair too long this morning. It was fully half an inch. So I played barber a little while ago, and now he had about as much hair as would grow on a dinner plate. What? Shouldn't cut hair on a Sunday. Why I could not have chosen a better day but we never have Sundays now. A short parade early in the morning and that ends it. The day never feels at all sacred. I always write home on Sundays to help me remember.
Well Mother, I'll say good bye now.
I don't know when or where I will be able to post this but I will get it away as soon as I can.
It will be some months before we are back again fighting for we are due for a few months rest as we didn't fifteen weeks right off without a spell.
I will write to the others as soon as I can. I hope they are all well and that you all had a Merry Christmas.