Sunday, November 16, 2008

Friday 24th April 1942

Five days of routine but fairly interesting work and instruction. We now enjoy a regular siesta between the hours of 12:30p.m. and 6p.m. when we parade again for instruction until 7:30p.m. There are three half holidays each week, not too bad. Ironically enough, it has been more cool since these arrangements were made – never more than 90 degrees.

The monotony of this life was rudely broken last night, when some stranger (there are many strange NCO's and men wandering about here nowadays) came to the door of our tent with a list in his hand and said “Is Bombardier Clarkson here?” “NEVER HEARD OF HIM!” I bawled rudely, - I always like to reply thus to such questions, if there is any doubt of the matter.

Undaunted, he looked at the next name on his list. “Well, is Bombardier Dawson here?” “Yeah, that's me,” I ungrammatically replied. (How we degenerate!) “Right,” said the battery office “runner”, “Report to the Sergeants Mess at 7:30.” “Whaffor?” I demanded, “Mess waiter or something?” “Oh no,” said the “runner”, “You're a lance sergeant.” And with these words he disappeared.

After brooding on this statement for a few minutes, I realised that bullshit did indeed baffle brains, and that I was now a lance sergeant (signals). So I proceeded to the Sergeants Mess, and found the RSM giving a talk to other new three-stripers, on the etiquette of the Mess and so forth. This was outside the door. At the conclusion of his brief address, RSM Essler said, in his famous staccato manner, “... And Hif you want to come in, the Mess is open to you tonight.” Whereupon we all thanked him, and sort of filed away, disconsolately.

Among the “new boys” I noticed George Kerry, Jack Taylor and Rogers D. (an ex-regular) There were quite a few promotions. Jack Chenery and Stan Ling become full sergeants. Bob Andrews (“X” Battery pay clerk) gets his first stripe and Tom Gibbon and Richardson, in my sub-section, get a second stripe each.

This morning I was taken into the Mess (auspicious moment) by a friendly sergeant. Handshakes and congratulations; like joining a club or something. Stan Ling greeted me, and Ken White, and Herbert Golding (“X” Battery clerk) and Bill Oxley.
Certainly it's nice to drink tea out of cups and eat off china plates and be served by a waiter instead of having to queue up for food. However – I don't know – I was quite happy as a bombardier!

This afternoon I moved out of my homely sub-section tent and into the sergeant's tent, which, I notice is situated cunningly convenient for parades, mess, and early morning tea issues! Around me are Jack Tabor, Bill Oxley and Don Pounds (Battery NCO i/c Sigs).

In the evening after dinner there was mass beer and singing in the Mess. I, however, sat solemnly with Jack Chenery, discussing that old favourite, the tactical situation. Bags of beer, of course. Trapper 1 states that when an old soldier, on returning to civil life, is accused of heavy drinking, his classic (and typical) excuse is, “Long service and bad stations!”

Jack Taylor and I left the Mess at about 10:30p.m. It is now nearly 11p.m. (bloody late for an evening in camp) and so I'm going to turn in.


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