Volume 2: Letters written on active service, M-W, 1914-1919 - Page 401
I have seen the spot where the Turks put their boats across when they attacked on Feby 4 1915. Had a ride in one of the boats in fact some are being used by the various outpost Companies as ferry boats not Sydney Ferry boats but row boats, they are of Galvinized Iron about 14ft long. A cross of wood marks the spot where the German officer is buried. Turkish Ammn can still be picked up and I have some of it, I intend to put some in my first parcel to Thirza.
I have only been into one Egyptian Town Ismailia, half way between Suez and Port Said. It is a very interesting spot to spend the day. Half is French and half native, of 11,000 inhabitants 40 are English except for the troops. Hundreds of small private Bathing houses are on the lakes edge. House-boats, white . The Bazaar is funny dirty, everything in the Street. Ducks for sale tied up to verandah posts. Tables were you eat out on the path & road. Various kinds of sweets, dirty of course Baked crabs. A shoe maker in the road holding the boot with his feet whilst he sewed it. Public letter writers. I went to Dinner at a French Cafe cost 2/6 I had Fish, Roast Lamb, Prunes and Lovely Coffee. Turkish coffee is used at Ismailia, absolutely delicious if made properly. The noise and filth in the Streets is terrible. You can only rely on imported goods and these are dear Biscuits 2/- lb for any kind is stiff. Eggs are very small 3 for 2½d oranges are cheap 3 for 2½d very thin skins & sweet. Tomatoes are grown by the ton 2¼d lb & cheaper. Butter 2/6 lb, local has no salt in it. Cigarettes cheap 2½d for 10 & cheaper. The natives clean out our jam tins &c. On the wharf they ate all our scraps even the cook peelings off our potatoes.
Their houses are made of Bamboos & plastered with mud no windows flat roofs or none at all, it does not rain 1' per an they depend on the Nile and irrigate otherwise the ground that cannot be touched with the Nile water is a sandy desert and my word it makes you tired walking on it. All the Camps on on Sand now for hundreds of miles because you understand it is only the gardens that are green. It is 3 miles of heavy sand from here to the Rly Station. Camels & Donkeys are used, no wheeled transport is any good. The native houses are about 7 feet high & the goats are inside with them. Special little mud houses are built to house pigeons & fowls, about 3 feet high like a Beehive with an entrance to admit the birds. Women cover their faces from all men all the time, they reserve their Beauty for husband alone, they dont wear transparent dresses like Aust women.
The Entertainments do not start very early. I enquired because my train was to leave at 9.30pm if any thing