Letter written by Lt Horrie J Rex in France to his sister, Connie
C/- Bank of NSW
29 Threadneedle St,
30 May 1917
My dear Connie,
It seems quite a long time since I last wrote to you. Also since you honoured me with the latest gossip of Braidwood. The last Australian mail has been in a week now but my letters have not arrived, expect them this week.
We are still out in billets resting, before going back to the trenches. All the AIF are having a spell. So we can expect something hot next time.
Poor Australians and Canadians seem to get all the hard Jobs!
The weather is a perfect treat, really had no idea that France could be so nice. Every place you go is a perfect picture. But as I said in my last letter, the houses are not half as good as the English. The French people all seem to have very dirty habits especially these villagers around here. Feel quite sure that you could not get a bath here for love nor money.
They all keep their cow & goat also a nice garden. I was very amused to see an old dame leading home yesterday afternoon 3 cows & 2 goats. They never let the cows or horses run about like we do & you practically never see a fence of any description. Dont think it would act in Australia.
Charlie Sharpe from Braidwood (not Mountain Ash) is camped here in this village. He is a corporal in the First Battalion. He gave me some "Braidwood District News" newspapers the other day. They were OK I tell you. Was sorry that I did not make arrangements to have them sent to France but when leaving home they told us that they could not ........
Went for a glorious ride after dinner last night. Cornwell called & we went to see Eric Birks & some of the other old Officers. By Jove it was a treat. The twilight is beyond description. It did not get dark until 9.45 pm and while I am at it, I might tell you that my horse "Worrigal" won a half mile sprint very easily. Birks & Cornie could not sight him, the old beggar bolted but thank Heaven I pulled him up after a long struggle. Hadnt to get somebody to hold his head like old Laddie - but very nearly. He takes some holding. First chance I get Ill have his Photo taken & send it to you. He is "Some horse." Skiter would be able to watch his shoulder beautifully on him. He prances & bucks all over the road but my 15st 6lbs stops him after a while.
On the way back we were jogging thro a village and a man struck his head out of a window & roared out to me. Pulled up & found it was my old orderly that I had in the 24th. He said, "I knowed yer voice, eard yer comin." He then came out and told me all his news in one breath - something like this -
went up to the line, got hit, sent to Camiers to hospital - stayed 2 weeks - came back - met all the boys - had a good laugh at then cos they thought "Old Tib" wasnt in the trenches, (Pause for breath) an ow are you Mr Rex - Gord Im glad ter see yer - Oh Im in the Snipers now - Good job - Oh, an did yer see Mr Gee, - ow is he - (another Pause for breath) - Then his went on for about 10 minutes before I could get a word in sideways - gradually then He told me all his story. I was glad to see him. He is a great old chap. Used to bringing horses up to Braidwood for the races. He is a combined trainer & ex jockey - but a grand old chap. He has 3 kids older than me. Dad may know him, his name is Robinson. He used to stable his nags at Craigs. - But Fancy the old beggar knowing my voice. - He used to rouse on me like fun if I went on Parade with the very least little thing dirty or out of order. He would say, "Yer know Mr Rex , the boys will say - "Any way Old Tib is a rotten "Horderly" e dont look after is Hofficer ertall."" Poor Old Tib was worse than Fred. He wouldnt leave a speck of dirt come within miles of you. Anyway he is coming over tonight to see me " and ave a long yarn ter yer" as he says. You might think his language rough but He is a brick - wish I could get him to the 1st Machine Gun Company.
All the Goulburn Officers are going to meet in A.... a big town near here on Saturday. So suppose all hands will have to tell their various experiences over again.
Ken Higgins is close by but I cannot get his exact address. Wish you would ask Mr Higgins for it.
Steve Dowell is only half a mile away. Am going to see him this week. He is a corporal in the 3rd Battn.
Beary Boyd & Leo Sullivan are about 10 miles way.
The 1st Division are holding a big Sports meeting next week and one event is a 3 mile cross country race for officers and as our CO is most anxious to win it, or rather for one of the 1st MGC Officers to win, He gets us out a 6am every morning to train. Then He gets us playing football and acting the goat generally every afternoon. Consequently we are feeling very fit & well. In fact, I dont really think I ever felt half as well as I do now. Nothing like good wholesome exercise for Young & Growing Lads.
Wish that you would remember me very kindly to Mr & Mrs Higgins & the Children. Also to Mrs Burke & Mrs Harvey. Oh & dont forget Maude Bell. Feel sure she will be glad to hear I havent forgotten her.
If you should be writing to Clarice or Inez remember me also.
Dont think Ill bore you any more.
Hope you are all well & Happy.
Love to all Horrie