Volume 2: Letters written on active service, M-W, 1914-1919 - Page 474
their publication, when the surroundings in which the troops found themselves are taken into consideration
Perhaps there was disorder & crime but would not the same state exist in Australia as any other country if 50,000 soldiers, usually not Apostles of Aestheticism, are landed in a strange country where the legislative & executive control was weak & mismanaged, gaiety the sole object in life and the morals of the people bad.
The facts are, the country being under different nations & different systems of control, with a very cosmopolitan population, has developed inferior laws, bad administration and the extremes in the possession of wealth.
The judicial power over foreigners is vested in their consuls who are usually lenient to their own countrymen and the country whom they represent having no control over Egypt is not conducive to them acting for the reformation of this land.
Everywhere, in the administration "Backsheesh" plays an import part & scandels are announced every day in the newspapers, which, by the way, are of an extraordinary low standard as far as the English ones are concerned.
I have seen the native police in the street openly demanding ransom from intended prisoners and fruit sellers purchasing the right to trade by a gift of their wares.
The Municipal control is mysterious. I read in the newspaper that at Suez, the qualifications of an elector were unknown & depended on the favour of a committee who granted franchise to a man one year & cancelled it the next according to their fancy.
The education of the nation is neglected and is only to be obtained by fees, which are far beyond the reach of the bulk of the inhabitants, the primary school costs about 5/- per week.
Everywhere you see poverty & the results of disease, children working in the streets up till 12 o'clock at night – & then sleeping in their rags on the footpath. The shops are open every day & up till 12 o'clock at night and nearly every second one selling ixtoxicating drink, for no fees are paid here for a liscene to sell but only the usual inland revenue tax is collected from the brewers.
The hospitals supported by the Government are few and the bulk are assisted by religious & and foreign communities.
The homes of the peasant Arabs are as primitive as the Australian Gunyah & sanitation is unknown.