Jump to content
Free downloads from TNA ×
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Soldiers' Letter - an Anzac describes his boat trip to Salisbury Plain 1916


davidbohl

Recommended Posts

I'm reading bits and pieces in the Oz newspapers held on the Trove Newspaper Archive, especially about Lancashire lads and families(not this one though).

This is a splendid letter home which hopefully I've corrected most of the OCR errors.

 

The Canowindra Star and Eugowra News - Friday, December 8, 1916 (This is an outback town west of Bathurst NSW)

Soldiers' Letters.

Driver R. V. Rice writes from Salisbury Plains under date October 7:—

"No doubt you will be wondering what we are doing on this side of the

world. Well, I have found little room to complain about military life so far,

although the trip across on a troop ship is no picnic party. We had good

weather all the way and I was seasick only for two days. We stayed two days

at Albany, but did not get ashore. It looked a nice little place, situated between two hills. 

Our next call was Colombo. We arrived in the harbour

at 2 in the morning, and it was a fine sight to see the city by night and all

the shipping lit up—about 200 boats. I was ashore twice with the band on

short route marches, it was too hot to go very far. Queensland is a king

to it. Colombo itself is very nice, lovely roads, beautiful buildings, and

the essence of cleanliness. Would not mind spending a fortnight in it. Our

next call was Suez. We were ready to go ashore, but soon found that only

the Light Horse were to go off, and in a few hours we were on our way up

the Canal. It was a fine sight—-sand, trenches, and troops. Next, morning

we arrived at Port Said, and for the first time saw aeroplanes buzzing

about. We were not allowed ashore, but had a good view of the place from

our boat deck.  I soon learned that some of the Light Horse were in Port

Said on leave, and enquired after Geo. McDonald. His mates went across

and found him and we were soon having a yarn. He looked exceptionally 

well, but was ''fed-up" with Egypt. By the way, I met Hector

McDonald about three weeks ago— George's brother. Also met A. Manns

and Geo. Boothman. I think the latter are now in France. Pretty well

all the Canowindra boys were here. We could hear of them, but that was

all. This camp extends right across Salisbury Plains. Think most of them

have gone to France. We hear from G. Rue, Roy and Griff. Jones. They

are in France and having a pretty rough time. Roy's last letter contained

 the following: "Dear Bob,— It's ———” No more.

From Port Said we went to Alexandra, where we trans-shipped to the

Aragon (a fine boat) in record time. It only took us four hours and  we

were pulling out from the wharf with 2500 troops on board. One can hardly

credit so many men on one boat. Needless to say, we hadn't room to

play football. The officers had all the deck space and used to indulge in a

game of cricket, while we had hardly room to move about. Some of the 

returned men will explain the Aragon's mission at the Dardanelles. Ah,

what a time the officers have! For the remainder of our journey we wore

life belts—made a fellow feel queer. But we soon forgot about.the danger

of submarines. Our next port of call was Gibraltar. What a grand sight !

It is called a rock, but it is really a mountain. Guess the guns took some

getting to the top of it.. We only stayed a couple of hours, so we were

on our way to England. We landed at Plymouth on the 23rd of June—fifteen

weeks ago yesterday. We were soon on board the train and speeding

through lovely scenery, and as the sun did not set until 9.30 p.m, we

saw what there was to be seen for 160 miles—Plymouth to Salisbury.- This

is a fine place for a holiday, but give me Australia to live in. We were only

here a couple of days when we got our days leave to visit London. And

what a time we had! It's a fine old city, and the Australians are in the

boom—or rather Anzacs, as we are called. We were informed that we

would get no more leave for four months, so made the best of it and

saw what was to be seen. We were all over London, and soon knew more

about it than most Londoners ( !) I had no trouble in finding my way

about. Of course a fellow very often gets lost. But the police are exceptionally 

good to the Anzacs and will explain anything. I was in luck's

way for the next week. I had four days' leave with the band, and have

been to London three times since. Last week-end we had the best trip of all. I

had a ride and went out but was a job here to get anywhere without a pass. But I wanted

to hear a great French band that was visiting London, so ran the risk

and it worked A1, only I was somewhat disappointed as I fully expected

to see a Zeppelin raid. They visit the city weekends. My luck was dead

out. I left North London at 9 o'clock on Sunday- night to catch my train,

and at 10.30 quite a batch of Zepps. came over and one was brought down

quite close to where I had been. I believe it is a great sight to see one

falling.  But you get all the news about them. They do a lot of damage, 

but little, if any of military importance. Our division, and other

Australian troops (35,000) were reviewed by the King a fortnight ago.

But you will know about that long o'er this, and will most likely see the

pictures of same, which they are now showing in England, Ireland and Scotland,

entitled "Anzacs inspected by The King at Salisbury." It was a

fine sight, and could he seen by a camp of German prisoners— a fine

sight for them! Our training will be completed by the 17th, so we are

ready to move off at any time now. I have been off duty for about 10 days

with a poisoned hand, but it is getting on grand. Ces. is also on "no duty"

—got hurt yesterday while out manoeuvring with the limbered waggons.

We two, and Jack Sims, are drivers on ammunition waggons, ride one

horse and tend the other. Our section was attacked yesterday by a surprise

enemy and Ces.’s pair bolted and he hurt himself pulling them up. It is

doubtful if he will be able to stand any rough riding. Jack Sims is A1

and I am the same, only for my hand, and am 12 stone 4 lb. Do not know

how we are going to fare through the winter. This place is nothing but

mud, it is always raining. Some of our fellows have not seen frost, let

alone snow! Our huts, dining-room, and bath-house are all very comfortable. 

But Salisbury Plains is miserable place. And oh, last but not least,

we get fairly fed! But too much fish and bacon! Vegetables are plentiful,

but fruit is scarce. Military life is no joke, but it is worth a trip to England. 

Could write for a week, but this will suffice."

 

He may be R.V.Rice #1481 A.I

Dave

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fantastic resource Dave - many thanks for sharing it.  Ian

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mate,

 

The one LH man was;

 

McDONALD    George John    375    Pte    7 LHR    B Sqn WIA 21-7-15 R/hand bomb possibly digging sap at Holly Spur evac to Murdos (24 CCS) 7-15 rtn 7-15 to Sgt (from grinter) 10-15 (G) to SQMS B Sqn (from burke) 4-16 to hosp (VD) 7-16 rtn 8-16 to 2 LHTR 5-17 rtn 1-18 RTA 15-11-18 1914 leave brother Hector

 

S.B

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...