The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
"Bill The Rager."
From the time that he came into Broadmeadows he did a perpetual growse. No, it was not bad temper, it seemed more an utter absence of temper; he reckoned that he was always in a good humour.
Right from the jump he growled.
I remember the first morning, when he complained about the quality and quantity of the breakfast that was provided by a grateful country. The squadron leader came around, and Bill breasts up, and thrusting his tin plate almost under the officer's nose, asks, "Do you think that is a breakfast for a hungry man? The meat is all fat, and it's not cooked enough for me!" The lieutenant was speechless for a moment, but when he got his eyes off the piece of boiled beef on the tin plate, he told Bill that he had better go around to some of his pals, who did not eat lean meat, and swap breakfasts with them.
It was always the same. If he was to go to town on leave, he either had no money or else he had too much. "What's the good of a pass till eleven when I've got three or four pounds? Why, I could have a week-end with that. When I've pounds, I get a midnight pass; and when I'm broke I can get. a week-end pass. The whole thing is worked wrong. Now, if I had the..." And then we would get the benefit of Bill's views on the subject. I don't think Bill meant to be a nuisance, but it was as necessary for him to growl as it was for him to eat. When the first lot went away, and Bill was not amongst them, he growled. When he, in his turn, was warned to go on board, he still growled. Nothing was ever right. On the boat he did nothing else but complain, that is, in the intervals between his seasickness—for old Bill was a bad sailor.
On arrival in the land of the ten plagues, Bill was as good as a pantomime. "To think of a man coming to this place! It's enough to make one burst into tears." However, when we were going over to the Penin., we thought old Bill would be all right. He had growsed that much about looking after the horses, that we were sure he would be satisfied with only himself to attend to. We were wrong. He growled more than ever. "Fancy a man having to walk about here. Why couldn't they leave a bloke alone with his horse. I'm a mounted man, and I'd like to know why we are gravel-crushing here."
He stopped one over on the Penin., and the language he used was something awful. To go away just when he had a good bivvie! You'd have thought Bill was the happiest mortal in Turkey. Well he came back to us when we had left Europe and were doing camel-trick in Sinai. He'd been away for over a year, and we thought he'd be in a sweeter temper after such a spell in old England. Not a bit of it; as bad as ever, if not more so. However, we were on a stunt, and on returning to the camp found that Bill was missing.
Two or three weeks later we were on outpost and saw a party of three or four "Jackos" coming in. We got them and saw old Bill with them. The leader had a note, saying that they could not possibly keep Bill; he was disorganising their whole camp as he was a confirmed growler. We afterwards learned that they were hoping he would growl on and so disorganise our force, as he had done theirs.