Norman – Mum: 19 Aug 1917

Sling Camp
August 19th 1917
Dear Mum
We are in England at last after a voyage of about 9 weeks. There was nothing very exciting or interesting about the trip as the sea looks the same in Auckland harbour as it does in mid Atlantic. England surprised me in being so much like the pictures you see on almanacs.  The barbed wire fence and the wooded houses with sharp corners and galvanised iron roofs  are conspicuous by their absence and in their place are the old stone farmhouses with slate roofs and the neat well kept hedges.  Everything has the appearance of having been completed for about a century.  We have just heard about Vic being wounded on July 10th and we have wired N.Z. Records London for information as to his condition and where abouts but no reply has come to hand yet.  If he is in England we will try to get to see him on our four days draft leave.  In the meantime we are finding out all we can.  The general impression is that we will stay here about a fortnight or three weeks, then have four days  draft leave, stay a few more days in camp and then go straight over to France.

Nothing definite is known of course and general impressions are often wrong, but I think the chances are that we will be in France by the time you get this.  From first impressions of Sling camp  I dont care how soon it is.  They keep us busy from morning to night and this is the first opportunity we have had of putting pencil to paper.  The weather is very mild just now and we are fairly comfortable in our quarters, but there are drawbacks.

I did not get any letters in Australia as we went straight to Albany and stopped there only 2 1/2 days so there was no time for a mail to catch us up and we did not get your letter till our arrival here.  I got the result of the 33rd ballot yesterday and missed Gorries name as usual.  There is no mistake about it the sooner he invests in Tattersal’s the better as the Devil’s own luck seems a joke to his.  Remember to pay Building Society and remind Gorrie or Dad to have a look at my camera and give the bellows a rub up if it is going mouldy.

We are to have a review by the Dook of Cornnought tomorrow which I suppose will be a very impressive affair.  I heard from a letter received from George MacPherson that John, his brother, had been slightly wounded about June sometime, but I can get no more information so I suppose he has returned to the line by this time.  We cabled from Plymouth on arrival there weekend cables are allowed at 8 pence a word so it was no extravagance when split up among four of us.  This is a great place for aeroplanes.  They are buzzing overhead all the time and on the evening of our arrival we counted 19 in the air at once.  If we hear anything important about Vic we will cable but if he gets on alright we wont bother — We have just had to knock off writing and put in half an hour with the wheelbarrow and shovel .  Its just a way they have of keeping Sunday here.

Our medical examination comes off this afternoon and we will then know whether the Imperial authorities consider us fit to go to France or not.  There is really nothing more till now so I will wind off and write again next week.  I understand a mail closes here to night, but I am not sure.  We are both pretty well and we have not so much to grumble at.

Au revoir just now
Kind Regards to all