Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Thursday 21st March 1940

It rained all last night and most of today, making the camp a muddy quagmire.
Bitter blow! The drill order was cancelled and in it’s stead they had a tent inspection. The tent next door, generally known as “the death house” because there was a case of spinal meningitis there (And “Red cross over the door” and “Bring out your dead” cries from passing men) went down the pan badly. They always were slovenly and since their NCO went to hospital things have been worse. So the BSM, knowing there were four NCOs in Tent 15, detailed one (alas! Myself!) to move into No.14.

Podgie Pond and I stumbled through the mud with my kit and dumped it in the “death house”. “This has buggered us,” said Dick Gilbert sadly, as I went, “Another patriot gone. The fascists will get us down now”. We had fierce arguments – and thoroughly enjoyed them – in Tent 15. Gilbert, Cartwright and I, conservatives and patriots, against the rest, led by Podgie, who were strangely enough, pro-totalitarian. (We’ve bombed Sylt!” I’d say excitedly, waving a copy of the “Palestine Post”. “Propaganda, boy!” Podgie would say, with a wave of the hand, “I don’t believe a word of it!” But when a Nazi success was mentioned, “There you are, boys, see? They’ve shaken us now, as I said they would. We’re as good as licked”.

It was all very pleasant. Sometimes pretending to weaken, I’d make a speech, crying for unity, and the destruction of the monarchy. “We are the people, and the time has come for us to sweep the indolent capitalist from their high places.”
And now – (“All this is ended”)

In the new tent were Nadler, Burch, Kirby, Parker (the first defaulter, whom I’d had to supervise at Chelmsford one afternoon instead of going to see Rio as I’d hoped) and three militiamen whom I did not know. This time when I moved, I did not cry or groan. “The moving finger writes,” I said in resignation.


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