The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
We were camped in a long, winding wadi and those who were not out on patrol or doing other duties were busily engaged in preparing our frugal meal of "bully" and tea. This was no easy task, for what little wood we could gather was soaked with water, the result of the heavy rain which had fallen during the three previous days. The roads and fields stretching to the front line were regular quagmires, and men returning to camp were bespattered with mud from head to foot.
Just after dusk, we posted a relief about half-a-mile across the Wadi. The rise upon which we stationed ourselves was excellently suited for the purpose, behind us being a thick clump of bushes, and stretching before us was a vast expanse of poppy-covered country.
Corporal Dean, who was in charge of the first relief, was relating some of his Gallipoli exper. iences when, peering across the moonlit plain, he observed a small group of men walking slowly in the direction of the Wady. "Who goes there?" he roared. "A bloomin' cobber," was the reply. "Who's with you?"
"Three 'Jacko' prisoners, and a 'ell of a time I've 'ad with 'em."
In a few seconds four men stood among us, and a sorry sight they presented. Their clothes were soaking wet, and covered with mud,
"Better bring your prisoners over to the camp," said the Corporal.
The O.C. was on the verge of turning into his dug-out when the Corporal and the four men appeared before him. He listened to the former's statement as to how he had chanced upon the men.
"Where did you capture these three Turks?" said the O.C. addressing the mud-bespattered Billjim.
"They were prowlin' around our outpost, two miles down the Wadi. I fired a couple of shots over their 'eads, and they started the 'Allah' stunt mighty quick, I can tell you. Well, we thought it best to bring 'em here, they might try to escape. If you'll take charge of 'em, I reckon I'll go back to my mates."
"We can't do that", said the O.C. "You will have to take them to the dump, about a mile to the rear. There are other prisoners there. You can't help finding the place, for there is a road from here right to it. By the way, I'd better give you an escort. It's no easy job, one man escorting three prisoners."
"Don't see why I wants an escort," said Billj-im. "I've managed to bring 'em this far, and I reckon that I know 'ow to watch 'em for another mile."
"I'm not so sure about that," said the O.C. "When you get away from here, they might make a sudden break for their own lines."
Billjim was silent for a few seconds, and then, stepping in front of the O.C, said: Look'ere, Sir, the blokes reckoned it was a risky job, me takin' charge of these three 'Jackos'; but d'you know what I did? I just spoke to them Turks in a bit of Arabic, and told 'em, that if they started any funny business, Allah would soon 'ave an increase in 'is population. And then, when we came to mudholes, I made 'em take it in turns to 'oist me on their backs, and carry me oyer. Now, Sir, don't you reckon I can manage these chaps as far as the dump? If I can't, I've slipped a lot in the past couple of 'ours."
Evidently the O.C. thought that Billjim could manage, all right, for he turned on his heel and entered his dug out. Several times during the evening, we heard him laughing. As it is unusual for him to wax merry, we concluded that Billjim's confession had tickled him some.