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

A Scottie's View of the Dinkums

page 22

A Scottie's View of the Dinkums

They came, in the evening, dust-covered and cheery along the brink of the Sweet-water Canal that led to Kantara West. There were miles of 'em, and the dust of their coming ascended from the whole length of the winding road leading to the East. To the creak of leather against leather, the jingle of curb-chain upon ring, the champing of many bits, and to the pleasing and old familiar smell of moist hide against sweating horse, their shaggy-maned, long-tailed ponies jog-trotted up to and beyond us. And as in the passing of men one catches, not the look of individual, but of the type, so I, meeting for the first time these Colonials in bulk, caught but an impression of deep-set eyes beneathove hung brims, of rough-hewn features, and of brick-red skins. Later on, mid the shimmering mounds of the Sinai; by the way side wells of Palestine; in the streets and off the streets of Cairo; among the Judæan Hills and on the Plain of the Philistines, — yes, by the unmarked graves on Wellington Ridge, away back in Romani days, when the back slope of each sand-knoll and bush upon the Turkish line was a litter of empty cartridge cases—later, I came to know what manner of man was this, and to draw the individual. But in this, my first conception, I sensed but the type. And these, I was told, were the "Dinkums"!

* * * * * * *

In the year one or thereabouts, by which, for such it appears to me, read "Before the War", the Australian and his New Zealand neighbour were made known to us through the medium of fanciful yarns about bushrangers, and the realities of visits from our cousins overseas to see the Old Country. I well remember looking forward, when at the tender age of six or so, to a visit from a real live "Australian," and being disappointed when, instead of meeting a tearing, swearing individual in a slouch hat and with a wonderful collection of lethal weapons, I was presented to a dapper young gentleman in an everyday suit of extreme conventionality. And the ensuing disappointment la-ted until the same individual produced from his luggage a "shooter", and later on initiated one into the mysteries of plaiting a whip lash!

But, reminiscence apart, we really knew but little about our Antipodean cousin until war brought us together. Little of fact, that is. Knowing him to be the progressive son of a young rising country we exptcted much, and now, having had insight into his character through the unhappy medium of that merciless revealer of all character, bloody War, we look with no small respect at those sons of Australasia. We are now thoroughly familiar with the lean, hardy, brick red individuals who come from "Aussie". Their slouch-hatted, easygoing figures have become to us as familiar as the Kilmarnock bonnets of our own "Jocks". And, in fight or in play, we have found in these same lean individuals the careless, devil-may-care, intrepid Anzacs that our hearts go out to.

* * * * * * *

But there, it's not the nature of a Scot to be outspoken where another's good qualities are concerned. Rather do we have, and perhaps we merit, the reputation of being critics of a rather severe type. Throughout the "Jocks" who trekked from Kantara in '16 however, one could get nothing but praise of the "Dinkums". "Aussies" and Anzacs and a heap o' other names they may be called by other nations, but, to us, the word "Dinkum" stood for all that it was desirable to have in the men who fought beside and in front of us.

So let me close by turning the old toast of the Scot the world over— "Here's tae us!" "Wha's like us?"

And, instead of our somewhat egoistic. "Deil a yin!", allow me to substitute "The Dinkums!".