The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
Getting Down to the Base. — by "detector."
But I wasn't; and the M.O. remarked one morning, "Well, perhaps you had better go along to the hospital after all." I went, in a limber behind two mules-stupid things—and while my cobber, who drove me down, was making enquiries as to the wnereabouts of the receiving station, those mules started to take me back 1 I wasn't too brilliant in the head at the time, but I recollect now that it was just about "feed-up" time.
I get there eventually, but found myself wondering if it really was a hospital or a "sleeping-out" cure? For there were men lying every where, right from the back-fence to the front-fence, and back again; and still more after that. They were all over the "gadgett," in every conceivable position and looking mighty uncomfortable.
"Better sit down for a while, son; we've got our hands pretty full here."
I sat down, realising that the orderly at least possessed the quality of truthfulness. How long I remained there I know not, for I indulged in a sort of sitting doze; but I came to abruptly when I felt the bayonet going home in my ear! No, it was only a neeole, and I became quite interested in the fellow who was amusing himself with a sample of my blood and a couple of glass slides.
"You're a positive," was all the information he vouchsafed; and he might even have saved him elf the trouble of that remark, for it meant nothing to me. And then I was whirled on to a stretcher by "Jacko" prisoners, and found myself dashing madly about, finally coming to rest on a blanket-and was there politely, yet firmly, told to try to get some sleep.
I tried. But was that blanket abnormally thin, or was it the tiled floor? I think some poet once said of tiles (it may have been Kipling) that "they are hard and get harder every minute." While I was still figuring out how I was to counteract the hardness of those tiles, I noticed the M.O. approaching, carrying an instrument which brought to my mind a picture of the syringe father used to spray the fruit trees with at home. I might have become quite fascinated, but for the segeant's terse command, "Bare your hip."
Firstly, three inches of needle, then about a gallon or so of serum, and the operation was all over. That became quite a part of the daily routine, and after I had had the last injection, I quite missed it. The result was a leg so stiff that it might easily have been wood for all the use it was to me, and with only one hip to argue the point with those tiles!
Then a day came when I was pushed, with many others, into a train, and there suffered in silence for hours while dashing along at about tea milts an hour! But that railway did have a terminus, for "Jacko" had been considerate enough to blow up one or two bridges on the way to Beirut. So we spent the night in another improvised hospital; and men who had had little to eat since 6 a.m. were at 6 p.m., tempted with cold tea and biscuits. Those biscuits!! I offered a prize to the first man who legitimately got his teeth into one. Nobody clamed it.
Oh! how I longed for the Arrowroot King of the hospital we had lately left; he whom, but a day before, I had heartily despised. But no, he was too far away.
Next morning we were away early in the ambulance motors—38 miles! I, for one, wasn't sorry when those panting "Sunbeams" came to a halt. And once more I found myself in an improvised hospital, and once again had the pleasure (?) of arguing the point with more tiles; but that was only for a day or so, and then off to the hospital ship.
We were soon on the move again, for the order was. "Aussies disembark first." And before the c'ock had reached 10 a.m., we were steaming off tne whart in the hospital train. I just managed to screw my head round sufficiently to get a parting glimpse ot the "Karoola" as we left Alex, behind.
An interesting magazine and the box cf sweets given me by the Red Cross when leaving the ship made the hours seem like minutes; and before I fully realised it, I was once more in a motor careering through the streets of Cairo en route to Abbassia and the Base Hospital. And here I am! And I'm beginning to feel something like a patient now with the regular royal blue outfit and the boy-scout shirt.
The morning bath and shave are delicious luxuries, and so long as the "munger" doesn't prove too rich! and make the bilious, and the supply of smokes comes rolling along regularly, then truly, "This will do the Old Man for awhile."