Soldier full of praise for Australian nurses
Name: Jack Clarris
Unit: 2/15th Battalion AIF
Location: Middle East
Private Jack Clarris was full of praise for the Australians fighting at El Alamein and for the work of Australian nursing sisters and VADs.
He had good reason to be grateful to the nurses after spending more than eight weeks in hospital recovering from wounds.
With plenty of time on his hands while he was under treatment, he wrote letters home. One in particular to his cousin Edward Dale, recorded his feelings about the American troops who were in the Middle East and the hope that none of the girls in his family had anything to do with the Americans in Australia.
First of all I am now in a Convalescent Depot in Egypt. I was wounded at El Alamein & have spent about 8 weeks in hospital. I was hit by a shell in the leg, arm and back. I had my arm operated on & a small piece of shrapnel taken out & there is still a little piece in my back they have left there. It was the old leg that gave me all the trouble, but I am pleased to say that she (the leg I mean) has been patched up and is as good as ever.
I would like to be able to tell you something of the battle but fancy that the censor may object so that shall have to wait until I see you and then I can tell you everything; but I can say this much that Rommel & his Afrika Corp got the biggest hammering they ever got.
It was not by any means a walk-over and to see the way that our boys waded into him shall be something that I shall never forget. The lads have had such a belly-full of this place & they went in determined to do the job, which they did very efficiently, the only thing that I am crooked on is the good lads that we left behind up there. We had more casualties in 10 days fighting at Alamein than they have had throughout the New Guinea campaign.
One more word before leaving this war subject, don't ever let anyone tell you anything about our Australian girls (Sisters and VADs). They are simply wonderful, that is the only way I can describe them. When in hospital they do anything and everything for you bar eat your meals. No matter where you see our boys or girls over here it sends a surge of pride through you & makes you feel proud to be an Australian.
We are getting a few Yanks over here in the M.E. & if you strike them on leave in Cairo or Alexandria they would drive you silly with their skiting and bragging. If they fight as well as they talk they will be alright..
I shall get together a few Gippo & Palestine coins & let you have them later on. I have not attempted to collect any more but I will see what I can do for you.
I had a letter from Mother and she seems to be settled in & quite happy in her new home. I have met your brother George. I like him very much. I'll bet that he often goes to see the old lady. I am very pleased to know that she has someone near her like George.
The mention of girls in your letter Edd, what has happened to that little girl of yours, you did not mention her in your letter this time. I hope that all is well. Myself, so far as girls are concerned, I am not terribly interested in them. When I do get home & get amongst decent white girls we shall all be as wild as dingoes. The only women that we ever have anything to do with are the girls in the drum. You couldn't have anything to do with those outside because this country is rotten with venereal disease - (nice place) thinks you.
Good job you are doing with the patriotic dances, keep it up. I am sure that well appreciate all that you are doing for us. I had a letter from the girl who works for Dad & replied to it. Well Eddie, old fellow, as I have just about spun out of news such as it is, I shall now have to close & in so doing I would like you to convey my kindest regards to Mum, Dad, George, all at home & the lads in the office.
Your old pal
PS Write soon & let me know all the news. Cheerio.
The material for this article was supplied by Edward Dale of Queensland