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60763: Letter from 494 Sergeant Joseph Cecil Thompson to his brother upon arrival in Egypt in 1914 prior to Gallipoli action.

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posted on 2024-02-23, 23:00 authored by Great War Archive Project Team

Letter from 494 Sergeant Joseph Cecil Thompson to his brother upon arrival in Egypt in 1914 prior to Gallipoli action.

[Transcript, page one]
Quarantine hospital, Alexandria. Egypt. Dec. 8th 1914
Dear Len
Just a few lines to let you know how I am getting on, and what sort of place we have struck for a start. We have had very little to do on the ship and a long time to do it in. Old Lee has proved himself a real pig so far. He still thinks he has a lot of schoolchildren under him. I beleive [sic] he is getting shifted from over us, and a dammed good job if he is. I am sure none of the men will be sorry. The tucker was very bad after we left Ceylon, and the men started to complain to the officers. They took no notice till the men went to them last Tuesday, with some rotten fish that was served to them for breakfast. They told the men that it was quite good enough for them, so they took it straight up to the Doctor and he condemned it at once; and ordered more breakfast for them. The officers dine high and have ducks, fowl, turkey, fish and everything like a big hotel. I am pretty sure half of them will never come back if we see a bit of a scrap. While we were between Ceylon and Aden[?], some of the chaps got down the hold amongst the beer. They weren't found out for some time, and had seven cases finished before they were caught. Our chap got 25 days in ˜Klink over it, and that is all that was done to them. Another day they got a gimlet out of the Carpenter's room, and broke open the door of the beer room, on deck and took 40 gallons. They would not have been found out, only they forgot to plug the last cask up, and it ran out all over the deck. They never found out who it was, but they stopped all the beer for the rest of the trip. You will see in Dad's letter how they all broke ship here, and went into town. I do allright here, and always had plenty of tucker and extras on board. We used to get hot rolls from the baker in the morning and I used to make tea or cocoa and we used to have cocoa before we went to bed. Transcript, page 2]

[begins: No. 1 Case. 10 tins Calorifuge, 10 tins Antiphlogistine “ scrubbed out in red pencil - letter then continues] The band have a very easy time and we had no drill or practice for the last week. I wish you could be here and see all these old places that we have often read about. Nearly all the band fellows broke ship the second night and said they had the time of their lives in town. They have all gone to Cairo by train, and we will follw them when we have been discharged from the hospital. I have nothing at all wrong with me and am having a lousy[?]busy[?] Time. The niggers here are dirty Bu-----rs, and s---t and piss in the streets. I hope you are doing allright in the shop and have plenty of work. I saw in an Egyptian paper where Senator Pearce[?] gave out in Australia on Dec 4th that we had a narrow escape from the Emden. He said we were less than 100 miles away, when we we[re] within 25 miles. The Emden would have got some of us, as we had no protection at all behind. The Omrah was last in our divisions, so we would have stood a big chance of being first to go. Well I haven't much more to say. I told Dad that if Mum does not use my money, for him to use it in the shop. We might not be back for years yet, as we will train here for some months and then go to the front. Tell Mum to still use the same address, as it will find us anywhere we are. Remember me to Fred[?] Pliss[?]Oliver[?], and any other old pals. Excuse this paper as its just about my last sheet, till I get some more. Well I will close now wishing you the best of luck, from your aff[ectionate] Brother Cecil



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Thompson, Joseph Cecil


8th December 1914

Date Created


Temporal Coverage









1, 2, 3, 4

Number of Pages



Richard Marshall | Ellen Thompson


The Great War Archive, University of Oxford / Primary Contributor


The Great War Archive, University of Oxford

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