A real scorcher again. This morning we went out to the guns and practiced in cooperation with aircraft: an aeroplane went up and dropped smoke balls over various targets for us to get on to. I saw a caravan of several hundred camels going out to one of our posts about twenty miles out in the desert the other side of the canal, with forage, etc. I bathed about four o’clock this afternoon; the major for a bet swam the canal smoking a pipe, and got across with it still alight.
Very hot again today though more breeze than usual. Rode over to the guns and spent most of the morning there. Bathed about midday; it was topping. Mails came in the morning; it was nice hearing from everybody and getting all the news.
The divisional band came and played to us in the evening. Old Garside, the doctor, came in for a chin wag after mess and we had some good laughs talking over the old Eastbourne times.
Orderly dog today. I had breakfast at 5:45 am so as to get all the horses straight and work done by 10:30, as it is too hot to do anything but bathe or sit still after eleven o’clock. I took the exercise at 6:30; all the others rode over to the guns. About ten o’clock we had some thunder and then about a quarter of an hour’s very heavy rain – a most unusual thing here at this time of year, as their annual rainfall is only one inch. But it got very hot again in the afternoon. I saw another enormous long string of camels going along the other side of the canal. It is extraordinary how terrified horses are of camels. I suppose it is their smell or something, anyhow horses shy all over the place at them. My little mare is getting more used to them now, but still a bit suspicious.
One of the Essex officers got hold of a gun today and shot about half a dozen quail. There are some sandgrouse about too, one could have great fun out here entirely for shooting. Jeans has gone away for three days leave to Cairo tonight. We shall all get it in time.
Nothing much doing in the morning but exercise and stables. I went for a bathe about eleven o’clock, and stayed in over an hour; the water was glorious. Till four thirty this afternoon we sat with the sweat pouring off us and then had to ride over the other side of the pontoon bridge to a lecture by the G.O.C. divisional artillery. A bit of a breeze got up about 6 o’clock, but still much too hot for comfort.
I have got my shoulders and arms burnt again through bathing in the sun, although I thought I was keeping under water for most of the time.
It seems to have been an even hotter day if possible than yesterday. I rode out to the guns this morning. Saw another hoopoe; he pitched quite close to us. This afternoon we had various swimming stunts amongst ourselves in the canal, and impossible bets – I ended up 30/ down so it wasn’t a very profitable afternoon.
This evening the divisional band came and played to the brigade – two bands, one bagpipes and the other a brass band. I believe they are going to come and cheer us up three times a week. A very big camel corps of about five hundred camels with Indian troops have been resting close to us all day; they went away again this afternoon.
We’ve had no fresh meat now for about a week. They say four meat transports have been sunk and we aren’t likely to get any for a long time, but we are existing very well on “bully” disguised various ways.
Several of the men have now got chameleons and are trying them on different backgrounds to see how many different colours they can change. One man caught a snake of sorts yesterday, I don’t know what sort he is – sand coloured and about three feet long. They gave him a small chameleon to eat yesterday and the bulge was still visible today.
There are a good many scorpions about and several of the men have shaken them out of their blankets; I hope I don’t get one in my flea bag.
I was orderly officer; took the exercise at 6:30. Mails came in about midday, the letters which had been posted about the 10th at home. I heard from everyone at home. They told me about poor little Terence, I had just a hope it might be a mistake in the casualty list, but I am afraid not.
I hear that Vectis and Sir Roger also did very well at London, it is quite the most successful London show we’ve ever had. I heard from C.A.P. giving me General Malcolm’s address in Cairo. I must call on him if we get there.
Some of the men have caught a chameleon and have got him on a palm branch in their tent, and are busy feeding him with flies. Very hot again all day but light breeze this evening thank goodness.
A nice breeze blowing all day. I had a bathe about midday. Went into Port Said in the afternoon with Franklyn. Talk about Alexandria being a dirty hole, it is clean compared with Port Said. I saw a biggish flock of flamingoes on the mud flats from the train; awfully pretty when they raised their wings and showed all the red.
We caught the 6:30 train back this evening from Port Said and had our horses to meet us at the end. I managed to get hold of a Times of the 17th in Port Said and it was a dreadful shock to see poor little Terence’s name in the casualty list. It is most awfully hard to realise it’s true, his letters from France were always so cheery – I shall miss him most dreadfully.
A lovely sunrise this morning and it began to get hot very early. General Murray, G.O.C. of the Med. Expeditionary Force, and the Prince of Wales, inspected the division this morning, with the Mysore Lancers as escort. It was pretty hot work for us. This afternoon they came and inspected the various camps of the division. They came round ours at about two thirty, and seemed very satisfied with everything, and thought the horses were looking fit. A light breeze sprang up in the evening.
More comfortable this morning. I rode out to the guns again this morning; the C.R.A. was having a look round. One of the men fainted – it really was horribly hot; but he is better now.
I watched a team of six camels trying to drag a gun along, but they were no good and more stubborn than mules. I did not bathe today, and shall only bathe after the sun’s gone in in future. I saw some big carrion birds today, not as big as the kites, but white with black edges to their wings, rather like small vultures. They were very tame and sat about close to the camp.
There was an observation balloon up over Kantara this afternoon, I wonder if the old Turk is thinking of trying again?
I felt quite fit again this morning; got into a real muck sweat in the night after the aspirin. Several of the Essex officers down with fever today and several of our men. I rode out over the pontoon bridge to the gun park this morning, about three miles away; got back about midday and had a bathe. A broiling sun, the hottest days we’ve had so far.
My back was awfully painful all this afternoon and evening after bathing. It was too tender to dry, owing to getting so badly sunburnt the other day, so I had to let the salt water dry on it. I smothered myself all over in Vaseline tonight and feel a bit more comfortable. The mosquitoes were rather lively tonight, so I shall sleep under a net. I have just administered some aspirin to one of our mess servants who is feeling a bit down.