Fletcher wandered down the street of Alexandria, Egypt heading towards the noise coming from the pub. His ship had landed early this morning and he had been given a few hours to unwind before his war started. He noticed a vacant stool at the bar and took up his position ordering a beer.
“Hello” said a soldier in a cheery English accent “Howard Walker from Staffordshire. Did you just get in?”
“Yes. I’m Fletcher Brand from Dongara, Western Australia about 200 miles north of Perth. We move to Tell El Kebir tomorrow.”
Howard laughed “you’re much further away from home than me. I’ll shout you a drink.” As he motioned to the bartender Howard continued, “I’ve got a couple of days leave. I’ve been in Suez Canal since coming from Gallipoli, that was a madhouse I can tell you.”
Fletcher looked reflective and said “I’ve no bloody idea what I’m in for. I’m with the Lighthorse, as being a farmer I know which end of a horse is up.”
Howard said “Yeah they put me with the Field Ambulance as I worked as a hospital attendant back home. I can tell you it is a horrible business this war, all the broken men. Such a waste this bloody war” Howard said shaking his head as he stared into his drink.
“Let’s just hope it’s over quickly and we can go home.”
“I’ll drink to that,” said Howard as he raised his glass.
This story introduces my great-grandfather (my maternal grandmother’s father) Fletcher Alderwin Brand and my paternal grandfather Howard Walker. Fletcher was born 1881 Dongara, Western Australia and enlisted on 23/11/1915. He saw service in Egypt, and demobilised in Australia on 15/10/1919. Howard who was born 1893 Short Heath, Staffordshire and enlisted on 6/11/1914, saw service in Egypt and France, and was demobilised in England on 12/1/1919. I had a number of relatives fight in WWI and it is nice to imagine that Fletcher and Howard may have had a pint together.