Sunday, December 07, 2008

Tuesday 29th December 1942

Yesterday's hardening and training programme was not so bad as I'd expected; and today it was the same. PT for instance. I was in charge of half HQ Troop, so was able to set my own standards of hardness (actually, I took them for a ¼ mile run yesterday and gave them a ½ mile run and a few minutes PT this morning).

As regards signal training, well, I'm in charge of that, too, temporarily, until the sergeants are available. So I was able to make up my own programme. And the respirators anti-gas – admittedly, Captain Adams was i/c the inspection of respirators and gas drill but I was his “ack” and merely had to follow him around breathing fierce words of warning. (“Put that face-piece back again, Wilson! The order was “gas alert,” not “gas”) and occasionally I would issue stern words of command (“Centre rank – 'chow! Front rank – standat – ease!”)

So, being more or less i/c Everything, life is at present fairly qwise and interesting. (“Give them plenty of lamp practice, Dawson,” said the BC, “Conditions are different in Europe.” “Ah, yes,” I said brightly, “In Europe sir, of course.” “Yes,” said the BC significantly, “We'll have plenty of scope for lamp work, in Europe.”)

My importance grows. Three weeks ago I became one of the two 519 Battery representatives on the regimental mess committee. I always have plenty to say at the meetings and always let it be known in the battery how hard I am fighting for their interests. I am constantly being approached with complaints, requests and suggestions, all of which I note down, and have visions of myself becoming a veritable dictator of food. Once, Sgt. Lee bullied me and made me cringe (he is our infamous cook, whom we have suffered since the war began). Now, however, he realises my power and is eager to placate; he almost fawns on me.

However, a seat upon the messing committee is not the limit of my ambition. I have now become the Battery Librarian and am opening a small library, which contains some very good books, under the auspices of the BC. I'm going to be quite busy obtaining books, indexing them and so forth. The library will open every evening from 5p.m. to 6p.m., when it does start. For the time being I'll have to work from the battery office - but - (“When we get to Syria,” explained the BC, “You'll be able to have a proper recreational room, and the books can be kept in there”).

“Why are you so keen, Steve?” asked some of the Yeomen, “Getting mixed-up in all these stunts?” “Don't you see my idea?” I demanded darkly, “I'm getting you all accustomed to having me directly concerned in your welfare; then when the time comes, you'll elect me as your delegate on the Soldiers and Workers Councils!”

“Ha! The Junta!” exclaimed some well-advised person.

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