Thursday, November 20, 2008

Monday 24th August 1942

Course still going on. Heat, mass flies, mass sweat and mass study. It's really quite refreshing to use one's brains again though. On morse, I am now the bottom student...

This afternoon I had to go across to the Base Depot RA for my pay. It is the first pay I have bothered to get since the Course started. And how hateful the Base seemed!

A great parade of men – all “A” Battery – standing in long lines in the sun – waiting. Doing nothing. Just waiting. The rolls had been called and they all stood waiting – like the patient dumb beasts this Army has made them, - for whatever the Authorities decreed should happen next. (Picking up stones perhaps? Or altering the shape of some slit trenches? Who knows?)

They were still there, waiting, long after I had done my waiting and drawn my pay (not forgetting to salute the bored officer who handed the notes to me, across the table). I looked back and saw the poor sods. It was beastly hot. There seemed to be a draft going out, for many men, instead of being on parade, were staggering away from the lines carrying bed rolls, packs, haversacks, tin hats, greatcoats and all the impedimenta of men on draft.

None looked particularly gay; there was nothing of Laurence Binyon's “...They went with songs to the battle...” These men looked savage, irritated, browned-off and hot, as they wrestled with their loads of kit.

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