George Ryan’s letter home dated 17 Dec 1914
9th Battn Middx Regt
17 Dec 1914
Dear M & F,
I had no letter this week but I suppose I’d better write a few lines just to let you know I’m still alive. In fact I’ve had no letters at all yet except that one of yours. I ought to have had one from the office as I wrote to Mr W from Gib asking him to send me a diary, but perhaps it will arrive next Sunday. The mails seem very much delayed. I suppose they come all the way by boat.
We’ve about settled down to this place now, but I expect we shall soon get tired of it, there’s hardly anywhere to go in our spare time. Of course there are rumours about us moving shortly but I think we are here for a few months. We generally go to some soldiers’ recreation rooms in the evening about 20 min walk from here. There’s a reading room, billiards & supper rooms. The prices are as cheap if not cheaper than our own supper bar. You can have quite a good “tuck in” for 5d or 6d. There’s nothing to go in the town for. The native part is an awful place. It beyond description. It looks as if there’s been a big fire or an earthquake. The dogs don’t seem very fond of us soldiers. They all start barking directly they see any of us, and the smells & the dust are enough to choke you. I shan’t stroll round that part very often.
There’s an English Church in the English quarters about a quarter of an hour’s walk from here. We had a Church Parade Sun. morning & took our rifles, bayonets & 20 rounds of ammunition each. There were racks in front of each seat for our rifles. It’s been a rule to take them ever since the Mutiny, as a regiment of soldiers were trapped in church.
C Smith & I went to the Evening Service but of course we didn’t take rifles or anything with us then.
We are not working extra hard at present; we get the whole day off Thursdays, half a day Sat & of course Sundays. We find it very nice getting two days of rest per week.
I forgot to tell you we have a cup of tea in bed every morning. Or rather it’s a “mug” so I get about twice as much as you have, unless you have two cups. They are pint mugs & all we have to do is to walk about half a dozen yards for our mug, get our tea & sit in bed & drink it. It goes down alright as we get no breakfast till 7.45 before which we do ¾ of an hour’s drill.
Our Canteen, supper bar, library etc are run by the R.A.T.A. (Royal Army Temperance Assoc) so I have joined it, which is the same thing as signing the pledge. The sub is only 4d a month. A moderate drinker can be a member for 2d a month but of course he doesn’t get the same privileges as full members.
By all accounts we shan’t have much money to draw weekly out here. There are several compulsory stoppages, washing, sports, hair cutting etc. Evidently our grumbles on board the Dilwara were of some use; we’ve been given 3d a day messing allowance for the voyage (35 days).
My eyes started getting bad; I suppose it’s the glare of the sun, as they ache a bit too sometimes, but now I use the ointment they seem alright.
We are still wearing our old uniforms; we’ve been measured for the new ones so I expect we shall have them shortly now.
Well I hope I shall get a little more news this Sunday. I ought to get May’s letter that you mentioned at any rate.
Hope you are all quite well & getting along alright. Has dad still got something to do?
Love to all,
Yr affec son