With a gap in the available diaries covering the 10th March, 1915, we've
made use of the space to publish a letter home from 2114 Driver Albert
Edward Boyle, of the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade Ammunition Column.
The original letter (paraphrased below) was written at Mena Camp on
the 28th February 1915, & was republished in The Brisbane Courier on
the 30th March 1915.
[Courtesy of National Library of Australia - Trove]
A letter written by Driver A. E. Boyle, 3rd Field Artillery Brigade, First Australian Division, from Mena Camp, Egypt, under date February 28, to Mr. E. Lowther, Superintendent of the Prince Albert City Band of Hope, refers, in the first place, to the eagerness with which news is received from ''dear Australia" - not that the writer is homesick yet, for he says he is enjoying the open, healthful refreshing life, nor does he desire to return until he has had a "slap at the Germans or the Turks." Speaking of making new friends, the writer remarks that some of his comrades were at first a little cool on learning that he was a teetotaler, but that little trouble soon righted itself, and now he is as popular as any. "We have had two or three night marches this last fortnight," he writes, "camping out all night and coming in to camp next day. I rather enjoy the experience, as it broke the monotony of camp life, sleeping out in the sand alongside our horses. I have heard that our brigade is the most efficient of the First Division, and that is saying a lot, as we have No 1 Battery against us, and they were all permanent men in the old batteries. I was out at the mosques yesterday, and I cannot describe them - they were simply magnificent. The work and the carvings were wonderful. I would not have missed the sight for the world." There were four mosques in all, and they did not have time to see the citadel. He had been to the zoo, and got much fun there. "The lions," he says, "were very poor. I don't think they are too well fed, poor things, but, all the same, I wouldn't like them to escape and make a meal of me, as then I would be sorry for both of us. I would be no more, and the lion would have indigestion." Australian birds also were there to be seen. The writer refers to the fact of having met Mr. East, who was assistant secretary at the Brisbane YMCA, and Mr Sparkes, both of whom are in the 7th Battery, and they wished to be remembered to their friends at the Y.M.C.A. They both had a bombardier's stripe, and, the writer adds: "There are not any finer chaps here than those two, except Corporal Hare, who was my corporal on the voyage over, but we both were transferred into the South Australians." He also met Private Reece, who was looking well. The writer wished to be remembered to certain friends, including the Band of Hope boys and girls. In conclusion he says that he has written the letter in the Y.M.C.A. building, and encloses a copy of what he describes as the latest "hit," sung to the tune of "Tipperary" -
It's a long way to St Helena,
Its a long way to go,
It's a long way to St, Helena,
to the fortress that we know.
Good bye, German Empire!
Farewell, Kaiser Bill!
If you don't know the way to St Helena
You d__ well soon will.