Two page letter from Alfred Galbraith, describing how he spent Christmas 1915 in Egypt. The letter, which he signs 'Soldier Alf', was written at Ismilia Camp, 28 December 1915. He addesses the letter to family members including his mother - probably his stepmother, as Alfred stated in writing in a document dated 7 July 1915 that his mother was dead (p.16, service record).

Alfred writes that the men chipped in and bought Turkeys, that the Germans are close, and that there are some Australian and Ghurkha trenches 'to give them a welcome when they do come, they have already made one attack on the canal and a couple of mines have been found in the canal and some unearthed.' The letter was signed 'Soldier Alf'.

Galbraith took photographs of the Christmas celebrations; they were part of his personal effects returned to Galbraith's next-of-kin, his father, in 1917.

Born in Maryborough, Sapper Alfred George Finlay Galbraith was the son of Alfred and Amy C. Galbraith, of W.R. Institute, Flinders Street, Station Buildings, Melbourne. He trained as electrical engineer and enlisted in the Australian Army at the age of 20, in July 1915. His father gave written permission for him to join 'the Military Forces to serve the Empire abroad'. Galbraith served in the 5th Division Signalling Company, Australian Engineers, AIF, embarking from Melbourne on 23 November 1915 on the 'Ceramic'. He went to Egypt for further training, then was shipped to France, disembarking 27 June 1916 at Marseilles. Less than three weeks later, on 15 July, he received a wound in the thigh and a 'penetrating wound in the neck'. He died the same day at the 8th Australian Field Ambulance. He is buried at 254 Sailly-Sur-La-Lys Canadian Cemetery, France.

Physical Description

Two-page letter, hand-written in ink on one side of lined paper, now yellowed. In original envelope with date stamp.

More Information

  • Collection Names

    Returned and Services League (RSL) Collection, Military Memorabilia Collection

  • Collecting Areas

    Public Life & Institutions

  • Acquisition Information

    Donation & Subsequent Transfer from Mrs M. Jamieson, May 1985

  • Place & Date Made

    Ismailia, Egypt, 28 Dec 1915

  • Sender

    Alfred G. Galbraith, Ismailia, Egypt, 28 Dec 1915
    The writer was serving in the AIF.

  • Addressed To

    Mr Alfred Galbraith Senior, 5 Mackay Street, Essendon, Greater Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 28 Dec 1915

  • Organisation Named

    5th Division Signal Company, 28 Dec 1915

  • Organisation Named

    2nd Division, Australian Army, 28 Dec 1915

  • Other Association (See Comments)

    Australian Imperial Force (AIF), 28 Dec 1915
    The writer was serving in the AIF.

  • Language


  • Inscriptions

    Handwritten in ink on the first page, top right corner: Ismilia Camp/ Dec 28th 1915 Hand-wrriten in ink on the first page, body of text: 'Dear Dad & Mother Sisters & Brother / I am writing a letter to tell you how we / spent Christmas Day, we all; put in a shilling each. NCO put in two shillings / each & with the Major & the Lieut it made £3 not counting the shilling that / each man put in, and there were two one Turkeys also chickens more like / humin [sic] birds) soft drinks & a few biscuits the chickens were dealt out / 1 between 5 men and some of them would not fed [sic] one man let alone / 5, the one we got we tossed up to see who would get it & I won but I / half [sic] it with my pal & then the two of us went & bought some biscuits / & some tin fruit, but we can't say everything because we are on Active Service / now, the Major went to Cairo the day before to see about horses instead off [sic] / donkeys he took some men with him & I believe he gave them a good time / He eats exactly the same food as we do, once when one of the cooks asked / him would he have a piece of Steak for breakfast he asked him what were / the men getting, & when the cook said bacon he said he would have just / what my men are [previous three words underlined] getting & told him to get about his work. so we think / more of him now, he also gave us a whole day to go & see the town of Ismalia / but it's not up to much I can tell you, it is the dirty place under the / sun that what we all think of it. It will be Christmas Day or New Year for / the second time when we get letters, everybody is waiting for the mail to / come but we don't know when it is, the weather here is very funny it is very hot / during the day and terrible cold at night time sometimes in the morning when / you get up there is frost on the things outside a chap has got to be very careful / this hole nothing but sand every where you turn, we will soon be / into the fun shortly they expect a attack on the canal. The Turks headed by / German Officers are building a railway down for transport they are suppose / over'. Hand-written in ink on the second page, body of text: 'to be only 80 miles away, we have already got some trenches about / 8 to 9 miles out with Australians and Gurkhas to give them a welcome when / they come, they have already made one attack on the canal, & a couple / of mines have been find found in the canal & a couple more have been unearthed. / If you would not mind will you me Auntie Millie Address I forgot to / get it from her, I have written a couple of letters to her but I don't / know whether the letter & postcard will get their [sic] end or not. I / address them Mrs. H. [illeg.] London Rd. Armadale Melb etc. they / have a good chance you can ask her if she has got them. / 1 card & a letter. Remember me to Ray & Connie Lance also Mr & Mrs / Bridgeford, Boris, Ryan, Munro Stracham, Bertram & our / relative next door and tell them I am having a good time. / And tell them I will write to each of them later on it is / a hard job trying to write as the censor will cross out a lot / of things there is a lot of things which we would like to write / about but we are not aloud [sic] to do so. I hope you like the / Christmas presents I sent you in remembrance of the / ship which carried away from Dear Australia the Land of my / Birth which we will all be glad to see again only when / we have finished the Kaiser Bill off it will be a glorious day / if I live to see it out, but we can only trust in God for a / Safe Return to see our Relatives again, Well Dear Ones I don't / think I can say much more but am longing for a letter / from you all from the oldest to the youngest and that / is young Jackie Don't forget all of you must write to me it / will be a Birthday when I receive them out in these Sandy Desert. With Love to all / From Your Affect Son & Brother / Soldier Alf / XXXXXXXXXXXX / XXXX for all of you'

  • Classification

    Military history, Personal effects, Correspondence

  • Category

    History & Technology

  • Discipline


  • Type of item


  • Keywords

    Australian Army, Australian Military Forces, Christmas Dinners, Death & Mourning, Domestic Life, Letters, Military Memorabilia, Trenches, Wars & Conflicts, World War I, 1914-1918