Letters from James Joseph Makin to his family, 1915-1916, Part 9 of 12

Conflict:
First World War, 1914–18
Part of Quest:
Subject:
  • Letters
Status:
Awaiting approval
Accession number:
RCDIG0001425
Difficulty:
3

Page 1 / 8

Tomewhere in France, 3/7/16 Dearest Mother & Father She mail has been extended mpl homorrow, so I shall give you the absolute last edition news. Tirst of all, I am guite well and in the best of spirik, - domething which I know you most want to hear each has brail. That great shring expectation and been at work during the past week it is the one thing, which prevents this mmilitary life from becoming iksome. The expectation of something doing at my time, an impending maib from dear old Melbourne, or of seeing new places and new things keeps us always from noticing Lardship, fangue or monotong The mail has not yet come but it is only a matter, of days, they say. Some muts had theirs several days ago -dated 16/5/16 The last fews days have been easy ones and we have had a good old Rest We have also had a nice hot bath and
a dleam change of undercloshes, - indeed in boon to those who have become something of a stronghold of those peots of all pest Famely, Chap. To far I have been very fortmate on this respect, but others have had a bad time. There is really very little news to tell You. I could easily write you a lot of staff, but I am afraid it would not be very orteresting. However, two pages looks mean for a letter, - so here goes! My nayor having gone blunk and my hair closely resembling a professor, I decided to visit the barbers the other night. There are on red, white and blus sosk and barbers poles here to look for, so you guot walk along witil you see a mall board sticking out from a door and on is written coiffeur. On you go, sometimes along a passage, (don't hesitate to open my doors you come to and you will arrive at the saloow. The particular place I struck the other night was something of a family concern.- I was nrected with bon Sow, Monsieur, shown to the operating chair, and the Derformance started 1ORI 301
Father was busy shaving someone, so mother cnt my Lair (and a good out it was for). In The meantio several more customess came m so further assistance was requisitioned. It arrived in the person of the daughter a girl about 15 or 16 years old. moved onto the next Chair, and Miss Conffense proceeded. The lashered my face with great care, and was lavish on the use of soap. I did not know what was coming- was surprived at each more. I fully expected that the would carryion and finish the operation but suddenly, my face having been lattered with meticulors care, I was motioned to seat No.3 where father proceeded to finish the job. This he did with the opeed and souch of the skilled artist. I was then shown a bowt of water in a corner where. The Superfluon soafs io removed. (Perhaps I looked as if Iwanted a wash I cryway the incident inded i paying madee donne sons Ce and I bide all three 001
bow soie which they returned with politesse. I have Sprcal French leamed to condine myself stietly to English, except of course the unversal bon soir bon your, no bon"be, which all Anonalians use by this simo. It ao like tr- you think out a nice little sertence remember your Dronunciation and surprise Monsian, who immediately thinks you speak French and opens out on you mmercifully so to the gozen Of course you are hopelessly at sea land feel squasted Cas Hube would say, To now I please rgnivance and amuse myself in trying to follow then conversation. It is amusing to hear our Australian soldiers adoting themselves to the Country they are m and its leguage. In Egypt the umiversal salutation was sayeda (ooddays; here it is bow your, monsien Csomesimes umcommonly like Conver ingaure"). You never think of Gaying 1001
Yes here; at is always our, one, When you sell amyone myhing, and ask him if he gets you, it io invariable I doubt if you will compre compre? all this striff. We ae very jubilant at the news of a British and French advance on both sides of the Somme, and hope it will not be the only one. The Hrms are still strwing for a decision at Verdin, but shll with little success The frssions are shll mitating Johne Walker, but have considerably more 1820 to their credit. I see Billy dhughes is on his way back He sure made some bit in Blighly. He is only a Docket edition in sirg, but his speeches have the weight of a Eyclopss. I have not heard, from Les sice I last wrote I must now desirt Hell, dear pcople I think I have nfflicted aeready to much 60 yours affect son Iom. upon you at or 907.
Siewhere in France 8/7/16 Dearest Mother and Fathen, I do not know whether there is a wail No Snotralia before next month but as letters are collected as usual, Derhaps it so just as well to write each week. Your letter of 15/5/16 has just come to Land, also a letter and card from onby, a card from Hundie Kate, and two letters from Harry. I am still from Les. I cannot awaiting a letter understand why t letters are delayed as I am sure he so writing each week, I am glad my letters from France reached you alright. I thought you would know I was in France before you received my letter. So far. I have received three out of the five parcels you have sent. The two containing socks are still on the way The only papers to arrive so far are several Ages and Drgus's, but. I see a good few papers srevertheless. 1014
It present we are billetd in a from house, in the barn attached thereto I should say. We enjoy a very comfortable bed at present - plentyof clear straw. The people are very kind The farm has the nual and obliging. and is on a typical Tharched no Muddy road of Northem Fnance. The land about here is very ferble will tothe crops and gardens are looking present splendid. The family at father mother Grandmother, Consist of and two grown up daughters. The latter work from morning till night dressmaking. I do not profess to be but a judge of sewing &c, certainly think their work ss most Both speak a little English beautiful iocious to improve themselve and ane ao I seized the opporomity of conversing with them now and then so as to leavn more French They speak and
work at high opeed (at the same time I think I am making Good headway at Trench now, under such able futon. She diews of the Combinee French and British advance as very satisfactory and the Gerans must be feeling the pressure on all the fronk just now Yet ws hope, they will soon have felt the full weight of England and her Laid punch There is very little news to tell you this he so I must adjours till Next week. Your affectionate son fim J.S. Fom sending some o Percey Ruly and Gertie EMORI

 

 

Somewhere in France,
3/7/16.

Dearest Mother & Father,
The mail has been extended until
tomorrow, so I shall give you the
absolute "last edition" news.
First of all, I am quite well and
in the best of spirits, - something which
I know you most want to hear each
mail. That great thing expectation has
been at work during the past week, and
it is the one thing, which prevents this
military life from becoming irksome. The
expectation of "something doing" at any
time, an impending mail from dear
old Melbourne, or of seeing new places
and new things keeps us always from
noticing hardships, fatigue or monotony.
The mail has not yet come, but it
is only a matter of days, they say.  Some
units had theirs' several days ago - dated
16/5/16.
The last fews days have been easy
ones, and we have had a good old rest.
We have also had a nice hot bath, and

 

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a clean change of underclothes, - indeed
a boon to those who have become something
of a stronghold of those pests of all pests,
namely, 'chats'.  So far I have been
very fortunate in this respect, but others
have had a bad time.
There is really very little news to tell
you. I could easily write you a lot
of stuff, but I am afraid it would not be
very interesting. However, two pages looks
mean for a letter, - so here goes!
My razor having gone blunt and my hair
closely resembling a professor, I decided to
visit the barber's the other night. There
are no red, white and blue posts and barber's
poles here to look for, so you just walk along
until you see a small board sticking out
from a door, and on it written "coiffeur".
In you go, sometimes along a passage,
(don't hesitate to open any doors you come to),
and you will arrive at the saloon. The
particular place I struck the other night was
something of a family concern. - I was
greeted with "bon Soir, Monsieur", shown to the
operating chair, and the performance started. 

 

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3
Father was busy shaving someone, so mother

cut my hair (and a good cut it was too). In

the meantime several more customers came in,

so further assistance was requisitioned.

It arrived in the person of the daughter -

a girl about 15 or 16 years old. I

moved onto the next chair, and "Miss

"Coiffeuse" proceeded. She lathered my

face with great care, and was lavish 

in the use of soap. I did not know

what was coming, - was surprised at

each move. I fully expected that she

would "carry on" and finish the operation,

but suddenly, my face having been lathered

with meticulous care, I was motioned

to seat No. 3, where father proceeded

to finish the job. This he did with

the speed and touch of the skilled

artist. I was then shown a bowl of

water in a corner, where the superfluous

soap is removed. (Perhaps I looked as

if I wanted a wash) Anyway, the 

incident ended in paying "madame"

"douze sous" (6s), and I bade all three

 

 

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"bon soir", which they returned with

typical French "politesse". I have

learned to confine myself strictly to

English, except of course the universal

"bon soir", "bon jour", "no bon" &c, which

all Australians use by this time. It

is like this, - you think out a nice

little sentence, remember your pronunciation

and surprise Monsieur, who immediately

thinks you speak French and opens

out on you unmercifully "20 to the dozen".

Of course you are hopelessly at sea,

and feel "squashed" (as Rube would say).

So now I plead ignorance and amuse

myself in trying to follow their conversation.

It is amusing to hear our Australian

soldiers adapting themselves to the country

they are in, and its language. In Egypt

the universal salutation was "sayeda"

(good-day); here it is "bon jour, Monsieur"

(sometimes uncommonly like "bonzer

manure"). You never think of saying

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"Yes" here; it is always "oui, oui".

When you tell anyone anything, and

ask him if he "gets you", it is invariably

"compre?" I doubt if you will "compre"

all this stuff.

We are very jubilant at the news

of a British and French advance

on both sides of the Somme, and hope

it will not be the only one. The

Huns are still striving for a decision

at Verdun, but still with little success.

The Russians are still imitating Johnie

Walker, but have considerably more

than 1820 to their credit.  I see

Billy Hughes is on his way back.

He "sure made some hit in Blighty".

He is only a "pocket edition" in size, but

his speeches have the weight of a Cyclops.

I have not heard from Les since

I last wrote.

Well, dear people, I must now "desist"

as I think I have inflicted already too much

upon you at once.  Yours affect' son, Jim.

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Somewhere in France,

8/7/16.

 

Dearest Mother and Father,

I do not know whether there is a mail

to Australia before next month, but as

letters are collected as usual, perhaps it

is just as well to write each week.

Your letter of 15/5/16 has just come to

hand, also a letter and card from

Ruby, a card from Auntie Kate, and

two letters from Harry. I am still

awaiting a letter from Les. I cannot

understand why his letters are delayed,

as I am sure he is writing each week.

I am glad my letters from France

reached you alright. I thought you

would know I was in France before

your received my letter.

So far I have received three out

of the five parcels you have sent. The

two containing socks are still on the

way. The only papers to arrive so far

are several Age's and Argus's, but I see

a good few papers nevertheless.

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At present we are billeted in a

farmhouse, - in the barn attached thereto,

I should say. We enjoy a very

comfortable bed at present, - plenty of

clean straw. The people are very kind

and obliging. The farm has the usual

thatched roof and is on a typical

muddy road of Northern France. The

land about here is very fertile and

both crops and gardens are looking

splendid. The family at present

consists of grandmother, father, mother

and two grown up daughters. The

latter work from morning till night

dressmaking. I do not profess to be

a judge of sewing &c, but I

certainly think their work is most

beautiful. Both speak a little English

and are anxious to improve themselves,

so I seized the opportunity of conversing

with them now and then so as to

learn more French. They speak and

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work at high speed (at the same time).

I think I am making good headway

at French now, under such able tuition.

The news of the Combined French

and British advance is very satisfactory

and the Germans must be feeling the

pressure on all the fronts just now.

Let us hope they will soon have

felt the full weight of England

and her hard punch.

There is very little news to tell you

this time, so I must adjourn till

next week.

Your affectionate son,

Jim

P.S. I am sending some PIC's

to Perce, Ruby and Gertie.

 

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