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

['Twenty-Two': He was the interpreter to the Brigade...]

page 5

"Twenty-Two": He was the interpreter to the Brigade. We called him Jack, not because that was his baptismal moniker, but because it was much easier to pronounce than his dinkum one, which was Greek, and embraced two or three lessons in geometry. He was always willing to sit down and absorb weird tales relative to the one and only country that is worth a tinker's damn. All might have been well if the fellows had only used moderation, but one day they fairly went over the line. It was watermelon time, and we had a bit of a blow-out, having found a patch where they were as big as Cinderella' pumpkin. One thing led to another, and at last Bill gravely starts: "Yes, they're not bad, for this land, but you should have been with me but on the Downs. Water-melons! No, not exactly big ones, just medium son of size. Old Bluey Jones and myself lived in one for over four months. Dinkum! it took us nearly three weeks to saw the end off to make the doorway, But then, our gear wasn't up to much. Reckon that if we'd had a decent kind of saw, we would have had the end off and the place fitted up in a fortnight at the outside." When I came to, I crept away to the bivvy. It was too much for me.

* * * * * *

"Bill Bowyang": Remember the time the Y.M.C. A. opened a canteen on Anzac Beach. They generally sold out their stock in half an hour, and a chap had to get in early to secure anything better than a comb or a pair of bootlaces. On the side of the hill above the canteen there was a big hole, where all sorts of rubbish, such as decayed meat, Stale preserved vegetables, etc., was thrown. "Birdy" happened to be prowling around the beach one day, just after the canteen had sold out, and he spotted one of the Billjims kneeling over the rubbish hole, and gazing into its depth. "Hello, my lad," he says, "what's up?" "My tunic's down there, Sir," replied Billjim, "it slipped out of my hand." "Well, never mind, you'dnot wear it again after being in that filthy mess, would you?" asked "Birdy". '"No," replied the Dinkum, "But I waited three hours to get a cake in the bloomin' canteen, and, by cripes I it's in the pocket of that tunic. I must get it."

* * * * * *

"Gelantipy": Pass the word to "Harry Quail," who had something to say about Jack Burgess in your last issue, that he can put his battered lid on again. He is right off the track when he states that Jack was in the Light Horse. Jack came to Egypt with the Remounts over two years ago, and recently returned to Australia. I've known him for years, and was with him in Queensland when he contracted to lift 3,000 bullocks at Wave Hill Station, (Northern Territory), to be delivered at Burrindilla, 2,000 miles away. As a judge of horseflesh, old Jack took some beating.

* * * * * *

"F.R.": About the coolest chap I met on the Peninsula was Billy Walls. I remember, a sniper's bullet grazed his face one morning and drew blood. Billy felt the scratch and walked on, whistling, just as if nothing had happened. I reckoned that after that nothing short of an earthquake would scare him. Judge my surprise, when I dropped into Billy's dug-out one evening, and found him quiet and moody. "Had a h—I of a fright last night," he said, "haven't got over it yet." I asked for further particulars, "it was this way;" he said "yesterday the Indians and not turn up with the rations. I would not have cared so much, only that it was rum issue day, and when the boys came down from Quinn's they would be looking for a drink. I goes down to the A.S.C. dump, and borrows a mule, loads him up with tucker and rum, and takes the lot up to our camp. On my way back, I was leading the mule by a long halter, and just as I came out of the sap near the beach, a loud 'swish' made me jump about two feet in the air. 'Cripes!' I said, 'Old Beachy Bill nearly got me that time:' I did not look around, but hurried along as fast as the heavy sand would let me. When I gets to the dump, I says to the A.S.C. cove, 'Hey, mate' I've brought back your mule?' 'Where's the mule?' he says. I looked behind, and, spare me days! there was only a long-piece of blood-stained rope in my hand. 'Beachy's' shell had shot the mule clean out of the halter."

* * * * * *

"Field Censor": Billjim is a terror for brevity. Following is a letter, which was handed to me for censorship the other day: "Dear Mother. Letter received. You are well, I am well, we are all well. Yours affectionately, Bill."