Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Ellis Thomas Nicholls letters, 3 January-21 May 1919
MLMSS 2250 (K 22185 / Folder 9)

[Page 1]
Australian Red Cross Society [this title appears at the top of each page]


My dear Mother, Father and Brother,
We have not had any mail since writing last, everyone is the same. The last letter we had was in France dated 18/11/18 and all the boys are the same, but we are told mail is about, and it seems ages since we had a letter, but I shall be able to tell you some local news. First of all Harry and I are quite well and very comfortable again for while we were in France we had many ups and downs which we never told you of. But still it was a great experience and we can say we were in France and have ruffed it as others have done. We have been for some time trying to get away home before our time and to-day I paraded to the C.O. and

[Page 2]
asked him straight from the shoulder what had become of our papers and if he had approved of our early return and after ĺ hour talking he said staff, I am sorry but I cannot recommend your early return home and said it was absolutely impossible for him to allow us to go away at present. He said ďI value both you and your brothers service more than any N.G.O. I have, and while you were away in France we knew your value" and he finished up by saying when our turn came he would allow us to go. He also told me that owing to strikes both here and Australia the [indecipherable] for the A.I.F. have been cancelled till further notice so all we can do is to sit back now and wait our turn which is hard to say how long will be.

[Page 3]
I must say it came as an awful shock to us as we were quite sure we would be able to get away. So my dear people I ask you with all my heart not to worry and we shall come home to you all as soon as possible. God knows we have been parted many lonely months but happy days will soon come. Mother dear I ask you to comfort my little girlie and comfort her till I come home. Now I shall say au revoir with fondest love to all at home, and God bless you all bye bye till next week
Believe me
Your loving Son and Brother

[Page 4]

My Dear All
We have received a letter from home dated 3/11/18 and by jove you were excited about peace goodness only knows what the next will say. Ah well it means a lot to us too, we have been in France two months but we shall soon be leaving here for England again. I told you Harry and I wrote to Billy Hughes to try and get home at once. Well we received our reply to-day also some

[Page 5]
special forms to fill in which I believe will come out alright for us, anyhow we shall know very soon and we are now hoping for the best.
We are quite well and soon hope to come home. Really I cannot write a long letter as we are all too excited and shall tell you all when we come home. So with fondest love to all and now donít get too excited
Tons of love
Your loving Son and Brother

[Page 6]

My dear all
We are having awfully cold weather just now and plenty of ice and snow for the past 3 days. We have had no water all the water pipes being frozen up and to-day it started running again and so has caused nearly all the pipes to burst, and now nearly all the hospital has the water cut off till the repairs are done. Even the ink on my office table is frozen and most of the medicines are frozen hard. We have to melt the bottles over the stove or in hot water before we can give anyone a dose and we have plenty down with colds and influenza. By the way we have had rumours that the people of Sydney are wearing masks.

[Page 7]
on account of the influenza. We are not sure if this is right on account of having no mail for some time which had been caused by the strike. We have not had mail for nearly 6 weeks and no-one can tell how much longer we shall have to wait . It does seem rotten having to wait so long on account of people striking like this. Oh well we shall have to wait but I hope not for long.
Harry and I are quite well only for a cold which is quite the fashion now, and poor old Saddie likes the cold weather as you know only too well. I say George thanks very much for the running shoes which arrived 2 days ago and really I did not remember my own shoes, we have absolutely forgotten all our own things, I have often been going to write

[Page 8]
to you separately but I really cannot find enough news, so my letters home are for you all Lilly included and I so hope you will forgive me.
Now as for coming home well we are just as far off as ever. I mean, to know when but surely our turn will soon come, as we are fed up and want so much to come home to you all.
Harry has gone to Salisbury to a Dance and will not be home tonight. He is just the same as ever always away somewhere as for me I am a stay at home especially as it is so cold. Well I shall have to beg off to bed and will close with fondest love to all at home and kisses for all
Believe me
Your loving Son and Brother

[Page 9]
My dear All,
I am just a day late writing home as I have just come back from London after 3 days which I had made very happy being the first leave since arriving back from France. Since being away Harry has received 3 letters from home but as usual is out I believe at the washerwoman so poor Saddie cannot answer any questions which you may want to know, but I shall answer then in a few days.
First of all I arrived in London on Friday noon when I went straight away to A.I.F. H.25 to see if I could hurry up my return home to Aussie really during my time on this question I really saw quite 10 officers of various ranks from Lieut. to Generals but my great sorrow and disappointment could absolutely get no understanding only that my C.O. here has said on my papers that we cannot be spared at present and they cannot overrule his decision, which has made me mad with temper to think just because he says no I cannot get away. So all that I can do is wait which is making me very unhappy. So after leaving H.25 I went to see the firm to see if they could write in again and claim me.

[Page 10]
Mr Carter said he would write again and see if he could do something for me but really I do not think he can do anything, so you might see what you can do for me with Mr C.L. Jones, when he arrives.
While I was there I got some money, 12 pounds for myself and 5 pounds for Harry so will you fix it up at Sydney when they advise you.
While I was in London I saw Chec Chin Chow at His Majestyís theatre which was lovely and on Saturday went to Tower of London and saw most beautiful tropies of war and jewels and crowns of various Kings and Queens. To day I have applied for leave (12 days) and intend to go over to the Island and may leave here on Friday. When I come home Harry is also going on 12 days and we are also allowed a free warrant to travel.
We are both in good health but absolutely fed up and want so much to come home to you all. But my dear people for God sake donít worry as we are doing all we can.
So now will close with fondest love to all and hope soon to come home to you all.
Bye Bye
Believe me
Your loving Son and Brother

[Page 11]

My dear people
Harry came back from leave last night and today is Ettasí birthday, also now for the shock of your lives. I am leaving here for Australia to-morrow, but sorry to say Harry has to stay awhile, it does seem hard to leave each other after so long but only one could get away. I was the one chosen by the G.C.O. in London, it may easily have been Harry but it was my luck, but Harry will soon follow me. I leave here for Tovant Camp to-morrow to wait for a boat, it may be a few weeks but still thank God one of us to come to you at last, and to think of seeing your dear faces again it is all quite a dream to me and can hardly believe the news.
I am not writing long letters for I shall now soon be home and shall tell you all so with fondest love to all and you shall soon see me.
Believe me
Your loving Son and Brother

[Page 12]
Isle of Man

My dear all,
You will see by the above address that I am on 12 days leave with Aunt Annie. I left Bulford last Friday and on the same morning we received a number of letters from home. From Mother 9/11/18, 15/11/18, 1/12/18, 2/12/18, 21/12/18, 29/12/18 from Dad 1/12/18, 14/12/18, 21/12/18, 29/12/18, which I have now with me and have read them to Marie and Aunt. They are delighted to know you are all so well, so now I shall answer your questions starting with Mother.
By jove you did give the pony a try out 42 miles to [indecipherable] no wonder you could not sit down for awhile, and so sorry to hear poor Mrs Whitehouse is so bad but I am sorry to say she will never be well again poor soul we are sorry, and George Miller has arrived home

[Page 13]
at last and we shall soon be home too at last we hope so and are doing our best but so far without success, but we are sorry to say now is a long way out with Easter.
We were glad to hear Dave has been down home after such a long time, George had a good time at the mountains and only wish I had the same chance, and fancy uncle Dave coming to light again. Surely he must want something, watch him and by all accounts you are having an awful time with the flu and so are we, one thankful to say so far we are free and trust you all are the same. And also that poor Sandy has had a bad time and glad he is quite well again, now with regard to Dadís letters I have read them through and am much

[Page 14]
the same as mothers so now I shall tell you some local news. I landed here on Saturday night after a very good crossing but feeling very tired.On Sunday afternoon Uncle took me over to a friends farm and had tea and we had a good old chat about you all. You would be surprised to know that he is a real character and is full of fun. We walked about 8 miles and Uncleís now 69 years of age and walks very smart. On Monday Marie and I rode on cycles to Ramsay and Uncle drove in to the cattle sales. We all met for awhile and Marie and I met Capt. Collistonsí sister who is married and we went around to their home to afternoon tea and arrived home at 7 o/c. Tuesday I took

[Page 15]
Uncleís cycle and rode all over the place taking photos, today Uncle and I are going to the Kirk Michael for the afternoon and on Saturday Aunt Marie is going to Douglas with me for the week and to see Aunt Jennie and Grandmother so I shall write later and tell you of them. The weather over here is quite mild and far better than I expected and I am having a good time.
Now as for coming home will I have done all possible and so far without success but believe me I shall not give in and shall try again, we are just longing to come home and sometimes I can hardly wait for the time. Aunt Annie says she wishes Dad would come over and go home with us.

[Page 16]
Now really news is plentiful but as we shall soon be home and I shall tell you all then. All at the island send their fondest love so shall now say Au Revoir and with fondest love on a God bless yo all
Believe me
Your loving Son and brother

[Page 17]
Isle of Man

My dear All
You will see by the above I am still on my holidays and as the mail closes on the 4th I am just writing a few lines to catch it . Aunt Annie wrote yesterday and said that I am too lazy to write, but Marie and I had just come home from Douglas after spending two days. I visited Grandmother who is now staying with Aunt Jennie and I met the latter for the first time, she also has a little boy called George who is 12 years of age, his father was killed in France lately. Grandmother is very well but is suffering with scurvy and I have promised to send

[Page 18]
her a bottle of medicine when I go back to camp.
I have been here now 10 days and have two more to go. During my time here have had most lovely weather blue skies and sunshine and I am quite sure the weather on the Island is much warmer than the Mainland. I also have visited Ramsay, KirkMichael, Ballangh, St GeorgesíChurch, taken photos of the graves and church , visited Capt. Collistonís both sisters and God knows who, and I shall tell you of all when I come home but Grandmother says at present she cannot write as the sores on her hands are so bad Aunt Jennie has to do all her writing .She sends her fond love to all at home and will

[Page 19]
write when her hands are better. Aunt Annie, Marie and Uncle Tom are always talking of coming to Australia and I believe some day we shall see them in our Bright Sunny Land.
Harry has written since I have been here and says he will be over for 12 days leave starting 12/3/19 which will be our last trip to the Island and of course we feel it very much for Aunt Annie, Marie and Uncle Tom have been very kind to us and have always treated us as one of the family and have at all times been very kind to us if fact have been like parents to us but you gain, God knows you

[Page 20]
have suffered and we have too and there is no place like home and we hope very soon to see all your dear faces again, and never to leave you again. Now to all at home all at the Island send their love also so Au Revoir.
Believe me
Your loving son and brother

[Page 21]
My dear All
I have arrived back from the Island and a glorious time, and had visited Grandmother, Aunt Jennie etc. who all send their fond love.
Harry left today for 15 days also and will arrive tomorrow night, and I am quite sure he will have a good time. Poor Aunt Annie broke up when I came away, you know she would just love to keep us for good, but of course that is no good to me I want to come home as soon as I can but I shall have some difficulty, so I have written to Etta to write me a most pitiful letter, saying that as her Father is dead and her Mother very ill, and as we

[Page 22]
have been engaged for some time that I really must come to her and help her. I have also said that you will help her to write it if she wants help. This does seem to be and awful thing to do but my dear people, God knows we have been parted many weary lonely months and I am quite sure if this letter arrives I shall be able to do something, otherwise God knows when my turn will come. So do all you can and I am sure it will come off. Of course my turn may come before the letter arrives but if so that does not matter I shall say no more but will be anxiously waiting for it. I only hope to God that I shall not want it.
We are having and awfully busy

[Page 23]
time 150 admissions and still many more to come, really it makes one think and wonder what the world will be. Thank God I have always played the game and am proud of it. Now my dear people I really have no news to tell and feel very tired and have tons to do as Harry is gone away.
So I shall now close with fond love to all and hope to see you soon. Tom Posman is at Haufield Hospital at Dartford England, and I hope to see him soon so his dear people need not worry. I shall do all I can for him.
So Au Revoir and kisses for all
Believe me
Yours always the same

[Page 24]

My dear People
I have some good news to tell you, do you remember Harry and I saying that we had applied to get home while we were in France, well my application had been approved of but poor Harryís not.
We were only saying I suppose only one of us shall be able to get away, and I said to Harry you go and he said he would rather me go. Better anyhow the A.I.F. headquarters has picked one of us, and I am the lucky one. Harry was away on leave when the news came so I wrote to him and I had a lovely letter back saying it was hard to think we were not going together, but said

[Page 25]
we were lucky for one of us to get away so soon, for the a long way behind the infantry for returning for instance the Infantry are sending home March 1916 men while the A.M.C. are only up to June 1915 so Harry will follow me very soon.
I do not like to leave him but it is his wish for me to go, so my dear people I leave here on 26/3/19 for Fovant that is the A.A.M.C Depot to wait for a boat so my dear all at last thank God you shall see one of us very soon. Harry comes back from leave on the 25th and I am all packed up so I shall soon be home and shall tell you all I am really too

[Page 26]
excited to write so I shall now say Au Revoir with fond love to all and yo shall see me soon, expect a cable soon now. Good night and God bless yu all
Believe me
Your loving son and brother

PS. I have held this letter back for a week to make sure I was surely coming and soon enough you shall see me.

[Page 27]

My dear All,
Harry is away on 14 days leave and since going away I have received a number of letters dated in January and I am glad to know you are all so well. I have not heard from Harry since seeing him on leave but I am quite sure he will be having a good time.
I also have had some letters from Etta and poor [indecipherable] she seems to be having a bad time with her Mother and Grandfather. It does seem all too bad, why with all that worry she will be quite old and grey before I come home, so my dear Mother do all you can and cheer her up as I know you always do.
You have said Tom Porman is at last in England I knew of that as my previous letters will tell you. I am trying to write to you but patients are knocking at my office door and will not give one a chance, it they come much more I shall blow off.
I did not tell you but I am now Chief Wardmaster and in charge of staff of 140 N.C.Oís and 1300 patients so my hands are full of work.
Also I am glad to hear Mr Porman was [indecipherable] home and you say many people are asking after us, well you inform I may be coming home very soon now, but not Harry for a little while. I did not want to excite you but will say no more till I hear something definite so donít be surprised if you hear I am coming

[Page 28]
and donít be surprised to hear I am [indecipherable] so my people do not be grieved if you hear no good news.
I shall try and see Tom Porman very soon but as I have just come back from leave it will be difficult for me to get away now on leave.
3hour, no more news but will now say Au Revoir with fondest love to you all and home soon to see you all.
Believe me
Your loving Son and Brother

[Page 29]
At Sea

My dear Brother
We arrived at Colombo on 9th of May and to my surprise the Kanowman was in Port. She is now a troop ship and was on her way to England. We went ashore at 12 noon, and bought some curios and have to be on board at 6pm.
We did not sail the next day so were allowed ashore again at 9am for the day, so another Sgt and myself hired a motor car at the Y.M.C.A. for 20shillings for 2 Ĺ hours and went for a glorious drive to Mount Lavinia a distance of about 12 miles out. Harry old boy it was just beautiful and donít miss this trip if you call at Colombo. We left Port at 6pm on 9/5/19 an so far have only

[Page 30]
seen only one steams since leaving that was to-day at 9am
We were to have gone to Fremantle but received a wireless to proceed to Albany so we are now 24 hours steam from seeing the 1st Aussie Port. We will probably remain there 1 day and we should arrive in Sydney about 2/6/19. Of course we are all excited, but will not say too much because I can quite understand your feelings.
Now old boy I am in the pink of health and all on board the same. I shall write later so give my kindest regards to all. So with fondest love and hurry up and come home
Bye Bye
Believe me
Your fond loving Brother

[Transcribed by Trish Barrett for the State Library of New South Wales]