Saturday, November 22, 2008

Friday 11th September 1942

The Course is in it's later stages now. Harder and harder problems are given for our brains to solve; tougher and tougher theories are provided for our digestion. Today however we had a drill order. I was a wireless operator – the first time I've been a wireless operator on a drill order since 1939. The set was of a new type – the no. 21 – and I managed to work it OK although I made several procedure mistakes.

What with the sandy dust, gunfire on the ranges, mass bombers (ours) and the mass flies , it was just like the “bluey” Except that we all came back to camp at half past one and had a pleasant lunch (tomatoe, cucumber, cheese, bread and margarine) with plenty of hot tea. After having had the regulation pint of tea I went up to scrounge a bit extra. The cook was giving a ½ pint “baksheesh” to such as I, and of course the usual full pint to newcomers. Gee, I was thirsty.

“This is your first, isn't it?” said the cook, dipping in his mug. And the devil, dozing in the shade of the tent, rushed in, suddenly wide awake and seized me by the throat. “Say “yes”!” the devil hissed, half imploring, half threatening. “Lovely, lovely chai! Say “yes”!”

There was a tense moment of agonising inner conflict, then, pale and shaken I said to the cook, “No. I had some before.” Out of the corner of my eye I saw the devil collapse, sobbing, at my feet. “I might as well be truthful,” I said nobly, extending my mess tin. “Well, you can have a pint just the same,” said that most excellent cook, pouring in the tea. “The reward for virtue!” I said smugly as I tottered from the table.

Whereat the devil looked -(I thought) – slightly more hopeful.

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