Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wednesday 25th August 1943

I have just discovered why some of us are daily taken for “exercise”, whilst most patients have to perform even more unpleasant physical training. It's because we are in the “P” (psychopathic) Div. whilst they are in the “N” (neurotic) Div.

One of the men in my ward was yesterday locked up in one of the closed wards – behind he tbarbed wire. This was because he hadn't shaved that day. The Colonel noticed his appearance, and personally ordered the punishment. In the Army, one loses one's set of values and is issued with another, inferior set, by condescending Authority. Prison for being unshaven! On my word of honour, such was this unhappy wretch's only offence! The duration of his sentence is not known – “during His Majesty's pleasure” I suppose.

A shell shock case from Sicily – a tall, thin, dark-eyed Scotsman – is in the next bed now. He is well educated and has a haunted expression. He cowers and cringes if a bang is heard, or a plane flies over, or a train shunts some trucks...

When the Highland Division fought the Hermann Goering division near Catania, both sides slaughtered the enemy's wounded, while the fighting surged to and fro over the same ground.

“We found they'd killed all our wounded that we'd left behind. So next time we pushed them back – we'd had no sleep for days; and we had plenty of wine in us – so we did the same to all the German wounded that we could find.”

When the Germans had no ammo left, they threw stones at the advancing Scots...
(Which reminded me of Battery Captain Robin Boulton, in Tobruch, over two years ago. Early in the Siege, he said wearily, “This war will go on for years and years. We shall end up by throwing bloody stones at each other”)

The sensitive-looking 21 year old Scot said that quite early in the Catania fighting they were struck by the fanatical desperation by the HG Div. of Jerries. Once they found a slit trench in which there were three German youths who had no ammo left. hey were good-looking chaps – the Aryan type you know, fair hair, blue eyes – and they wouldn't give in. “Sorry Jock, but we don't want to be taken prisoner,” said one, an NCO.

The Scots corporal lifted his tommy gun. “Come out while I count to five or you'll stay in there dead,” he said. He counted five, then gave the German NCO a burst of fire at two yards range. Afterwards, we asked the other two Jerries again to come out and surrender. They shook their heads, so we killed them, as well.”

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