29 Sept 1940
Private M Hickman
We have just been dismissed for the day. This morning for the first time in my life I attended a Roman Catholic church service. There are only two recognised services in the army. The Church of England and the RC. or as the skipper calls them the ‘rough carpenters’. Assuming that either service would do me as much good spiritually I went to the Roman Catholic service because of its greater physical comfort. The Church of England service is held in a clearing in the scrub – quite pleasant on a good day but on raw mornings like this morning what with cold showers from the trees and lazy winds cutting through you the service becomes a penitence [penance?] whereas the Roman Catholics have their service in the comfort of the YMCA Marquee.
Life in camp still maintains its interest. The carrier work offers more and better thrills as our training becomes more advanced and with manoeuvres, stunts, route marches and various phases of field craft we’re kept interested.
I haven’t had a letter from home for quite some time now. The last one I had from you was written from Melbourne on the 26th July, from Youngster on the 28th and from May, Jack and Mrs Toomey on the 8th July. You’ve no idea how we look forward to mail – a letter from home is the best possible tonic. It’s easy to understand Haig’s slogan – mail before bullets. The papers here are so small that their entire space is taken up with local news – even the Sunday papers though bigger contain very little Australian news and no Tasmanian news at all – so that anything at all that happens over there is news.
In one of their spasms of generosity the bureaucracy of this battalion gave twelve hours leave today – I went to another Australian camp where Dick and Ken Jenkins are. The entire personnel of the RAP – Dudley Raynor (the Sargent), Dick and Ken – all Tasmanians – were in a very happy mood. Both Dick and Ken’s stripes have been confirmed. They turned on hospitality in a big way – made possible by the fact that Dick had been loaned by the Medical Officer as barman for the Officers Mess for the day. He’s awake up to Dick all the same – When he asked him to go he said I hope you’ll be able to control your scrounging nature and not line your pockets. However we had an enjoyable afternoon tea – a marvellous cup of coffee – the best I’ve had since I left home – some cake and biscuits and after a few rubbers of crib partook of a real Sunday night’s tea – a plate of cold ham and pickles with bread and butter and more coffee. Later in the evening the sargent ordered a car and drove me back to camp – a fitting finish to a pleasant afternoon in most congenial company.
Well Mother I guess I’ve said my say, so with love to you and the pater and best regards to the troops I’ll say cheerio.
No mention of having run out of the Army/ YMCA letterhead, which I had previously assumed was compulsory.
I assume this is a reference to Field Marshal Douglas Haig , a British commander in World War I but can find no reference to the ‘slogan’ Dad mentions. Haig did however place great emphasis on undermining the enemy’s confidence so maybe there is a connection with that.