Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Saturday 28th August 1943

This morning I went before the Colonel – happily not the infamous one, this was a lesser, Lieut. Col. and he considered my story. I was not formally arraigned on a charge. The Colonel was strictly impartial. “You have been insolent to an NCO but I intend to do nothing about any charge, because of your condition. But, (Ah!) also because of your condition, you'll have to remain in Ward 3”...

Well, Ward 3 is not too bad. It is generally quiet. Some of the patients are more crazy than in Ward 1. There's a fellow opposite me with glittering dark eyes and a fixed, empty smile. Yesterday there was an elegant young Englishman, religious maniac, who used my locker as a High Altar and my tea bowl as a Chalice. Rather embarrassing...

I'm used to all that, but what I'm not used to is being behind barbed wire. It's ironical that Italian prisoners of war pass up and down outside, free as air, it seems, whilst we are caged in like beasts.

I am not allowed to go to Occupational Therapy... The most depressing thing of all is, however, that things are not improving. When I left Sarafend and especially when I was at No. 92, I felt fine, and all the nightmares and fears were receding into the past. Now, this bloody place is going to keep on dragging me down until I'm crazy again.

The frontispiece of this section - “Homeward Bound” is the most inapplicable I've ever known. My God! I must have been more cheerful when I wrote that than I am now!
And what can I say in my letters home? I'd been so happy and wrote saying I'd recovered – now there are letters from home rejoicing that this is all over! It's best not to write yet, I think.

Dammit, I'll end the mockery of that gay and hopeful frontispiece by starting a new chapter and with a more suitable rhyme to it! It is about the time for “Dust” to begin, anyhow, I find on referring to my list of desert diary titles. Dust! There's acres of it here, and around here as far as the eye can see!

8:0p.m. Before I go to bed, let us consider what is bright. “... our gold...old friendships...loves...”

There is that £3 my Father sent. With that I'm able to have lots of little luxuries – extra cups of tea and plenty of really good pipe tobacco – which I couldn't normally afford on the army's weekly 10/-. And Bill Lias, braving his fears, came in to the ward to see me, and promised to get me stuff from the canteen and brought me two letters. One was from Jack and one from April. Curiously, both said, in different ways, “You are not alone.”


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