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The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918

A Tin of Fags

A Tin of Fags.

The order that the men could smoke had been passtd down the column.

"Got any cigarettes, Welshy?"

"Yes, enough to go on with," Welshy surlily responded, as was his wont when in the saddle.

"Well, hand one over; now gimme a light."

Welshy muttered something unintelligible, handed over a full tin of fags, and passed across his lighted cigarette. Morty selected a fag with great care, lit it from the glowing end of Welshy's cigarette, and passed tin and fag back.

"Gold Flakes', eh'?" said Morty. "You'll do me!''

Headquarters halted in the rock-strewn hills to the south-east of Beersheba, and went about its business of directing the fight at the redoubts of Tel el Saba.

In the afternoon the cigarettes appeared again, but under peculiar and unfurtunate circumstances. The signal stations were lined up along the ridge, and their helios were flashing messages to, and receiving flickerings from, the forward stations.

Bang! Bang!—Bang! —Bang! Bang! Bang! Six "whizz-bangs" hit the ridge almost simultaneously, and dust and small pieces of rock flew in all directions putting the signal crews to undignified retreat over the ridge. Welshy topped the ridge last of all, with a helio case dragging on his spur. In the general upheaval, his tin of cigarettes fell out of his pocket unperceived by him, and rolled amongst the rocks. Morty glimpsed the tin and pocketed it in an instant, sneaking behind Welshy as he disentangled himself from the surplus equipment he had gathered while making for cover. Morty slid back over the ridge, handed out fags to the "nerve-shattered" sappers, lit one up himself and puffed away contentedly.

Welshy, having disengaged himself from the helio case, and feeling a lot better, thought he would smoke. He felt in the pocket where he usually kept his cigarettes, looked blankly around, and then hastily searched all his pockets and looked in his haversack.

He got hot round the collar, took in the happy circle of smokers at a glance, and then burst into a flow of talk which made the sappers look not a little surprised and grieved at such uncalled-for witticisms.

"Who pinched my camouflaged cigarettes?" he growled.

The smokers calmly smoked on, and looked stupid; then Morty broke the silence.

"You never had any cigarettes," he said, "so what are you roaring about?"

The total collapse of Welshy followed this retort courteous; but peace was restored by Morty handing out the last cigarette.

Welshy mumbled and muttered about unprincipled sappers, all the time he was setting and re-aligning the helio he had knocked over; and at the other stations the crews carried on in a cloud of dissolving "Gold Flake" smoke through which they smiled beningly.