War and History Fiction posted April 16, 2015

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Julia Bligh writes back to Reg on Gallipoli

Part 2: It Helps to Think of You

by mfowler


Dear Reg,
    Your letter came yesterday. I'm still blushing. Your descriptions of me are lovely. You even guessed my eye colour perfectly. I'm sitting under the tree right now. It's not a gum tree as you supposed, but an oak that my father planted when he first bought the farm.
    I'm thinking about you in that dreadful place you're in, only a candle to read by. We hear terrible things about what you're experiencing. The newspapers are full of war. Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett, the war correspondent of the Daily Telegraph who was  with the Australians covering the troops'landing, says that our boys were terribly brave. But, he hasn't told us anything about what the fighting's like, or how many are dying over there on Gallipoli.
    I'm praying for poor Sergeant Blake's soul. I'm praying for his wife and family. If you send me Mrs. Blake's address, I will write to her. If she's not too far away I will visit her if that is alright with you. I'll tell her what you said about her husband's love for her. I imagine he must have been a brave man and a good one. You obviously thought the world of him and I trust your judgement.
    Dear Reg, I loved what you said about my kindness. You say that I would be the sort of woman who would make you change your ways if I was your wife. To be honest, I wouldn't want to change you. Your letter tells me everything I would want to know. You're honest, loyal, sweet and brave. There, I'm blushing at my own forwardness, but this is not the time to be timid. Life has no certainties. You would know better than anyone, being in that horrid place.
    I was so thrilled to hear the socks are keeping you dry. You would know by now that I've knitted you another pair and included a vest to keep you safe against the night chills. I hope you like the embroidered ANZAC on the vest. Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett has been using that term in his articles and it really sounds like a lovely title to give the men.
    One day we will meet. I know it. Maybe, we will be more than pen-pals. I pray that this is true. I hope this wretched war finishes soon and you boys can come home. Until then, stay alive, and, of course keep your feet dry. Like you say of me, it helps to think of you.
Your affectionate friend,
Julia Bligh



Yesterday, I published a letter from Private Reg Hobbs to his pen-pal and supporter, Julia Bligh, back in Australia. Reg is caught up in a campaign on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey (1915) where an ill fated invasion by Australian and New Zealand troops are dug in on the cliffs of the unforgiving place. They are under heavy fire from Turkish troops on the high ground. The campaign has gone horribly wrong and the seige of the strip of land has gone on relentlessly for many months.

It was at Gallipoli that Australia and New Zealand troops won great affection for their tenacity and courage. The term ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) stuck and became the symbol of the young nation's self-identity.

This is the centenary year of the campaign.
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