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

The Bombologist

The Bombologist

In my callow days of military life I listened to discourses by the O.C. on bombs, their construction, their uses, and, most important, how to use them. Fortunately for myself, but perhaps more fortunately for a lot of other people, my enthusiasm for bombs died out after the first lesson in handling live ones. Not so, however, with one chap in my Unit. He delights in them. He'll walk miles to pick one up. He always has a spare one in his saddle wallet; he has them in his bivvy—sort of ornaments; and if he could only get them light enough he'd no doubt have one on a bootlace around his neck to balance his discs. His bivvy is the finest safe deposit in Palestine—if not the world. He can keep anything in it in full view of everybody. Nobody's game enough to go inside.

The Bombologist is known by the sobriquet of "Magnune Mick". No doubt he deserves the title, but if he isn't repatriated soon, he won't be the only one to be termed "magnune". He's driving us all that way. With every explosion that is heard near our camp everyone rushes for a rifle, to be ready to form a firing party over his grave; for his demise is expected with every explosion. "Jacko" may imagine that he is clever in concealing bombs to trap the unwary, but he hasn't been able to catch "Magnune Mick", who finds them every day, and brings them back as evidence.

Beersheba was "Mick's" Paradise. What other people innocently regarded as rubbish discarded by past or present inhabitants of the place, he discovered to be bombs, or some other of the many ingenious death-dealing devils left by the retreating enemy. A man with his facualty for unearthing such things, in the minds of most people is, no doubt, an asset to any Unit. But ours is a peaceful Unit, which believes in the axiom of letting sleeping dogs lie; and as far as regarding "Magnune" as an asset—well, we have repeatedly tried to swop him, and to throw in /a case of Ideal milk with him—in fact, a case every day till he's either at rest or returned to Australia, "unfit". But it's no go; his eccentric habits are too widely known, and there seems to be no chance of his being evacuated to hospital; he's obviously immune from bombs, and he eats too heartily and sleeps too soundly to even suggest the possibility of his even becoming ill, On the last day of our stay in the town of the Seven Wells, we fondly imagined that we had got rid of "Mick". But it proved to be yet another delusion shattered. We had missed him, as usual, when he was unearthed by a sergeant, contemplating what was apparently an innocent piece of wire projecting from a building.

The sergeant, after a glance at "Mick", began eyeing the wire, but at a respectful distance. Then, proceeding to move away, he said, "I don't know what it is, Out don't you touch it. A lot of these wires are mines. Let the R.E's have a look at it." A semblance of a grin was coming into "Mick's" face as he advanced closer to the wire. Assuming a desperate look and reaching towards it, he remarked, ' Oh well, I don't think it's anything"; then making a grab at the wire, "Anyway, I'm chancing it."

The sergeant rushed for cover around the other side of the building. There was an explosion .... Everybody was out in an instant, fully expecting to see fragments of "Mick" about. In fact one man brought a sack wherein to place the remains; but alas, we found "Mick" still intact and standing quite calmly, examining a piece of wire which he held in his hand.

"What's the matter with you fellows?" he remarked to the gasping and excited crowd.

In a few words he was told. Breaking in to uproarious laughter he said, "Well, you idiots, the wire was all right. Look at it. Mine be hanged. Why I put it there myself. The explosion? O, a little secret of my own. You fellows are so scared of wires, that when You get back to civvy life you won't be game to open even a telegram."