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WITH THE FORCES IN EGYPT.

IMPRESSIONS OF EGYPT.

A Peninsula volunteer who left with the main New Zealand Expeditionary Forces, writes as follows :—

January 10, 1915.

r"I am pleased to say that I have qualified for my marksman's badge for the coming year. When at Epsom I shot very badly, and failed to get anywhere near the badge, but I seem to be in better health or.something now. The badge is fired for at 100 yds five shots to be grouped, 200 yds five shots at disappearing targets 4 seconds exposure, five shots rapid same range on one target, and ten shots at 500 yds all on service targets which are very different to the old bulls-eye ones, lo qualify, 75 points out of 100 are required. I had 81 points We were paraded before Hon. T. Mackenzie and G Reid yesterday, and they gave short addresses. About a week ago we had a mounted review before Hon. Mackenzie. The cinematograph man was very busy on both occasions, so you will probably see the pictures in New Zealand. The mounted review was in squadron order, and as it was a very hard movement we made a very poor business of it. The 3rd, -lth, and 11th mounted rifles were the third line to pass the review point. General God ley is being sent home, and we are to have a now man, but I don't know his n>me. General Maxwell, in com mand of the Egyptian forces, is a comparatively young man. At the review his breast was one blaze of service ribbons. In the dismounted review we occupied the right of brigade, and were the first regimenT to pass the review point. We went (11th) for a trek last week across the desert to Mahdi, where there are 4000 Australians camped. It was a cruel day owing to drifting sand and very cold winds, but even so the desert is a wonderful placo. We passed through a narrow gorge where Moses struck the rock and the water gushed out. There were great stone quarries near here, aud the country had loopholed walls on the commanding eminences We reached our camping spot pretty late, and slept our first night without tents. It was not so bad except for a plethora of sand on food, clothes, and in the eye 9 and mouth Coming home we came up Abraham's Valley, and this day the wind was not so bad. We crossed miles of fossilised shells, and no doubt thia land mast have big deposits of phosphate rock. Then we would come to miles of petrified timber scattered on the sand, some of the tree trunks being hardly broken and everywhere the pebbles in the sand are of bright colours and queer

shapes, but the whole desert has undoubtedly been[undtt fchesaa. There's very little life of any kind, a few lizards, a rarely found snake and a few hyenas. I have not made a personal acquaintance yet. Next week we are going on a four days trek, when Wβ will have finished our squadron train

ing. Bo far we have only had reg ■ mental training, i c., the lltb. Lisf Sunday I visited the Cairo museum, which is devoted purely to Egytology In such a large building one 13 quite lost without) a guide book; unfor tunately the books are printed only in French and Arabic. The moßt wonderful thing is a huge block of stone, out of which is carved most beautifully some ancient King and Queen, They sit side by side on the throne with such a pleasant smile on their faces quite unlike the stony ex preasion on most Egyptian carvings The monuments must be over thirty feet high. I think it is wonderful bow they were ever moved to the museum The mummies are horrible and countless, but there are thousands of most beautiful ornaments, rings, scarabs etc. I enclose a few more stamps. If I knew we were to be here for soaie time I would get some New Zealand stamps to swap, but we may move any day. or not all. Of course there are rumours of a Turkish invasion on the canal, but beyond trouble with a few Bedouins 1 don't think there will be much scrapping here and possibly we will go forward bo Europe when the next expeditionary force arrives to take our place and keep a firm control. As regards tactics any opinion is worthless because these movements are kept absolutely quiet. I notice we are to have all buttons and brasswork paint ed if that is anything.

11th Feb., 1915. Our infantry are at the front, i.e., the canal, and some of them have bad a smell of powder. A sergeant major was knocked over with a bit of shrapnel. A great rush, I believe, took place to gather pieces of the first Turkish shells as mementoes It appears a hopelessly onesided business. The canal is a network of defences— quite a hopeless business for an invading force, We have seven warships patrolling, even with guns up to 9 inch. Miles of the country in front of the trenches can be instantly flooded, and all sorts of ingenious death traps provided. There and there, even between the wire entanglements, roads have been left beautifully mined, and further out stake pits for cavalry. A few Turkish prisoners come into Cairo every week, and from all accounts are " fed up." 14th February, 1915. I am making a feeble attempt to polish up my French, and it is very amusing to hear the conversation as carried on in our tent. Really very little conversation is carried on in English outside our camp. All the cafes and eating places are Greek and Italian, perhaps a few are French. The poorer class ones are Egyptian and Arab. They often consist of a mere niche in a building arched over with stone. I would like to introduce you to "Groppis," which is not of this class at all, The method of tuckering here is completely satisfactory to the consumer. It is only for light refresh ments.' You are banded a small plate and fork, and select from plates of every conceivable cake and pastry— just wbat you would like. You then march with the waiter close behind bearing the spoil with coffee or what you prefer (with as much military deportment as you are capable of) through many small tables surrounded by palms to an open air palm grove lit up with lanterns, etc. Afternoon tea at such a place runs about 9(3, which is coming from poetry to fact. The reinforcements have come at last, and no doubt will come and chum in with the rest. It is quite a pity that New Zaaland politicians are so want. ing in tact as to make those remarks about the reinforcements being 50% superior in physique training etc, to the main body. Those are the sort of re marks which will be exaggerated, an. lead to trouble. I'm afraid the new chaps bad a rough time from the Colonel on last church parade. Some had not been issued spurs, and it was "what's that man doing hero half dressed?" "No good to me," and "how comesfc thou here without spurs. Next time will bs severely punished," etc..

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AMBPA19150402.2.12

Bibliographic details

WITH THE FORCES IN EGYPT., Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume LXXIV, Issue 3411, 2 April 1915

Word Count
1,219

WITH THE FORCES IN EGYPT. Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume LXXIV, Issue 3411, 2 April 1915

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