Dear Father,

I think it is about time I wrote you.  My usual letter, the last one I had from you was written by you about the time when you had my cable about the MC.  I have not yet had the honor of being presented with it but am living in hopes of going to Buckingham Palace to get it. Some of our chaps have been fortunate enough to have cash to make the trip but should be able to manage it before I come back to Australia which will not be for some time yet.  Demobilization is going along steadily but not so fast as was expected at first.  Strikes in England have a lot to do with this also, congestion on the railways at present.  I am in the vicinity of Chaleroi doing nothing but eat and sleep as there is practically no work to do and thereby dozens of officers to do what little there is so that we just enjoy ourselves whilst we have any francs to spend ‘and with the cat’ when we are short. I am trying to see as much of this part of the world as possible so as to educate myself and give myself something to talk about après laguerre.  About a fortnight ago I visited the Abbey D’avene to which supposed to be the most interesting ruins in Belgium which I described in my last letter home.  I also visited the German military cemetery at Gozee about 4 kilometers away where the Germans buried their dead who were killed in the fighting around the vicinity of Gozee during the early part of 1914.  The cemetery is the usual style of German burial that is the graves are all set in rows like an orchard of trees and there is a separate place for officers with bigger and more classy headstones.  At one end like a guardian angel there is a huge pyramid built of granite and inscription in German in memory of the fallen.  The graves of the men have granite headstones and each grave is planted with a rosebush at the head of it.  When the roses are in bloom it looks pretty.  I always think that the Germans think more of the dead than they do of any race.  They don’t mind the expense and labour which in this case was the locals.  I have just arrived back with the battalion after 4 and a half days leave and left the battalion with three hundred francs in my pocket.  Boarded the train and went to Charleroi railway station where I caught the 2:15pm passenger train for Brussels and arrived at Brussels at 4pm.  My pal George Richardson another lieutenant and I decided to go steady as we did not consider we had too much cash.  So that we did not go in for the gay and giddy side of Brussels side of life and spent most of our time sightseeing.  We took a double at the Metropole hotel at 18 francs each per night and left our haversacks and coats in the room.  We then had a wash, shaved and perfumed ourselves, cleaned our boots and galloped sallied forth to see what could be seen before nightfall.  First of all we went for a stroll down the avenue Kayser which connects the Gare du Nord station with the Gare du Nord and then feeling peckish we got 10 francs of chocolate and cream puffs etc.  After this we walked back up to New street and looked at Duville House and corporation houses of which I have sent home some views.  It was then becoming dark so we went into a picture theatre for a couple of hours and after that had our dinner at the tavern Joseph.  This cost us 12 francs each, both 2 francs for a tip and it may be interesting to note that they had just meat, vegetables and beer.  We found most of the meals ran into 15 francs each as meals are fairly expensive but there is a good assortment of vegetables, although to have a big meal of 4 or 5 courses of wine would have run into 30 francs at least.  It is the same in all parts of France, Germany and Belgium and Normandy I believe.  Well after a meal we then took at further promenade through the streets during our preamble visited some of the dancing cafes.  Dancing and drinks go on together until most people are tight but it gets light in the small hours of the morning.  We then went home to the Metropole to our sumptuous bedroom in which there were electric light and marble washing font, a latrine, a wardrobe, a dressing table, hat and coat stand and a thick carpet on the floor.  The beds were usual continental wooden beds each showing white sheets and pillows which were scented.  When I got into bed I could not think of the contrast between the present and the past when I was in the Willeske trip to my knees in mud with the rain running down my neck and wishing I was dead, but such are the experiences of a soldier’s life.  One day pigging it out and the next living in the height of luxury.  The next morning we found our boots had been shined by the boots and we rose at 11am as we do not have breakfast when on leave and sallied forth to see the sights again.  First we visited Palis De Justice which covers six acres of ground and cost 52 million florins to build.  I think you mentioned having seen it once and if you were as much impressed by the enormity and magnificence of the place you will remember it yet.  After that we went down the Rue de Reginsee and saw the Cathedral Patel Sablon.  The Palais de Beaux Arts the synagogue, the park of little sablon place du Royal and Kings House.  We then visited the lace factory where real hand made lace “Brussels” is made and where they are happy to emerge without being 50 francs the poorer as the girls there are the best salesmen I have seen.  They did not make me buy anything as I am too experienced in the art of salesmanship.  I myself are to be impressed by anyone like that.  The next thing we inspected was the Palace of King Albert and lingered about in the vicinity in the hopes of seeing King Albert himself but were not satisfied so we went for a walk through his park and palace grounds and said that we had walked at least where he walked and had to be content with that.  We then caught a train, no fares required for soldiers, and went to the Cinquentenaire Quarter, but found we were too late to see the Wurt Gallery and then they closed the square.  We just examined the buildings outside and walked through the park and looked at the station etc.  After about two hours in this quarter we came back to the botanical gardens and strolled through the hot house and looked at the tropical ferns and plants for which the place is famous.  The gardens however are ridiculously small and there was nothing in there worth seeing partly because the gardens are neglected owing to the Hun occupation.  The next thing we saw was the cathedral of Gudule which I described on the view of the building.  It was now dark so we made it back to the starting point and had dinner at 7:30pm in the same café.  After dinner we went to the opera and the theatre royal, Monnaire and listened to Rigoletto which to our untutored ears did not appeal.  It was all in French and Italian and we could not understand it, but the music was very pleasant to listen.  The theatre itself is a magnificent building and was worth spending 10 francs to see it.  After the Opera we went to a tavern and had an oyster supper and then went to bed.  The next morning we caught the 9am train for Antwerp as I had always been curious to see that town.  The journey took an hour and we passed the Malines and the Plains of Flanders enroute.  The scenery was very pretty and was just like one of the scenes on picture cards and the windmills, red tiled houses and rows of poplars at waterways etc.  I think I have written enough to go in one envelope so we will leave the Antwerp trip for the present.  I have just heard of Nora’s death from influenza and I am sorry to hear it for all that family she was the most cheerful and made life possible for a visitor and frankly speaking I thought she was like a lily in manor.  It is a terrible pity she has gone.  I will close now.  Love to all from your affectionate son Walter.  7/3/1919

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