We arrived back in camp just in time for tea, and very tired indeed, but it was very instructive for us, anyhow we have seen one of the Marvels of the World, or I should say seven wonders.
Now we have a very heavy week in front of us, doing various camp duties, which in a new camp there are may things to do, such as looking after the sanitary arrangements, water supply, etc. We intend to visit Heliopolis next Saturday for a change, I hope it is not like Cairo. Fly away time and let us see a little bit of the war for we are sick of camp life just the same as Sydney was, the same thing over again.
Tomorrow I am on guard, my first time under active service conditions. 6pm until the next day, a 24-hour guard, with two hours on and four hours off, and nearly on the main road. Here we are at last all ready for our guard, the bugle has just sounded come and do your picket boys, as that means we must fall in for duty. We fell in and were inspected by the Officer of the day, and away we marched to relieve the others. We went through the ceremony of presenting arms, etc. and our corporal took charge. I was on the second relief, which would mean me being on my post at 8 o’clock till ten, then again from 2am until 4. I was given 20 rounds of ammunition, with five in my rifle and I just felt like a man of war, ready for anything. The first post was not so bad, but the 2am until 4 was a knockout.
I had a very funny experience, in our duty we had to allow no motors or anything on wheels into camp office last post. I was pacing my post deep in thought wondering what my people were doing and the friends I had left behind (for that is the time you think when everything is quite) when I heard a carriage coming along. I was alert in a second, and when it arrived I called on it to halt. I heard the man inside tell the driver to drive on, so I told him the second time to halt; or take the consequences for I would fire and call out the guard. He stopped, and out walked our Colonel, I did not know what to do, but before I had time to speak he asked me what I meant by stopping him. Now I had a slight grudge against him for giving us extra fatigues one day. So I told my duty was to stop every carriage or motor, and make the people walk, and he would have to walk up the lines. He said he had his bag to carry up would I carry it for him. Now I nearly fell in over that, but I just remembered it would be leaving my post and would rank as desertion so I said no, so he had to carry it up himself, saying he would see about it in the morning! I thought that I was in for trouble, but I did not care, for I had the pleasure of seeing him carry up his own bag. I laughed to myself because I was top dog for once. I told the corporal about it, he laughed so did the others, but oh, tomorrow…
9.30am next day the guard has just be called out to be inspected by his royal highness the Colonel, I was in a dread now as to what was going to happen to me. He looked us all over, then he asked for the man that held him up that night. I was very much surprised when he started to compliment me on doing my duty, he said he was glad there was one man that would do his duty even though it was to his discomfort, that was all right, but we had to present arms to him, and he made us do it three times before he was satisfied with it, the old dog.
I am tired of saluting officers for you get nothing else all day long on this post. It is not so bad on the wet canteen, for you can always manage to get a drink passed out to you.
Saturday again, and we are off to Heliopolis, we take a tram to Cairo then get another to Heliopolis. It was a fine ride, with some very lovely views on route. There were some very fine buildings to see, but my mind is not on this sort of thing. I wanted to study the upper class, which I did, and find them not quite so snobbish as ours. We did not stay too long, for we made our way to Cairo again where we had tea, and took very good care that we did not get done this time. After tea we went to a French music hall. While in there we met a French gentleman and his wife, and they invited us to their place. Which I can tell you we took advantage of, for we wanted some place to go, for we are very much tired of seeing the same old thing. I do not intend to detail what we did during the week we were in camp for it would only tire anyone to read it. By this time it was only three days off Christmas day, and we are going to have a good time according to all accounts.
I see Q. M. S. has got a big stock of things in for us. Fancy spending Christmas in Egypt; I wonder where the next one will be and under what circumstances?