The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
"Shorty's" Plum Dufff
"Shorty's" Plum Dufff.
"Get an eyeful of that, cobber"! said "Bluey" Watson, as we sighted "Shorty" Cole hauling a lovely tin of plum duff out of his parcel from home. Every eye glistened, and later on, in at least three bivvies, whispered consultations were in evidence.
"Shorty," of course, was the recipient of many congratulations; and an outsider would naturally have supposed that perfect good feeling reigned between the rival messes. But experiences teaches, and "Shorty" was cunning enough to know that the feigned admiration was only a prelude to trouble. He scented impending disaster and decided to take no chances.
In the left hand bivvy (next to "Shorty's") which bore the title of "Angels of Palestine", "Smacker" Jones was delighting his hearers with details of a plot where by the coveted pudding would help to swell the contents of their "canteen ration box."
In "The Coolers' Retreat", on the other side of ' 'Shorty's" abode, "Bluey " Watson was also deeply engaged in plotting to obtain possession of the same delicacy. In "'Shorty's" bivvy, which bore the appropriate title of "High Life", his fortunate cobbers were being instructed as to the extreme necessity of caution and strategy, whilst in possession of such a prize.
The guarding of the duff was most successful, and at about 4 pip emma "Shorty" was observed carrying the tin, enclosed in a white ration bag,over to the cook-house; and our troop cook was to bring the pudding to a boil ready for tea-time. At the same time, "Shorty's" cobber, "Breezer", casually strolled over to "have a yarn" with the officers' cook.
An observant onlooker would have noticed that "Breezer's" shirt bulged and also that "Smacker" Jones's grinning face was peeping out of the "Angels of Palestine"; whilst simultaneously "Bluey" Watson's brick-red thatch was bobbing round the corner of the "Coolers' Retreat". All being home and dried, "Shorty" went over to the "Q. Emma's" to borrow a bit of "buckshee" sugar. No sooner had he gone than "Smacker" took up a position near the cook's fire. His flannel shirt covered a bulky ration bag; and though apparently unconcerned, he was very watchful.
Directly the cook's back was turned, "Smacker" quickly substituted his bag for the half-boiled one, and beat a hasty retreat. Glad to get into his bivvy, he quickly stowed the plum duff into a vacant corner, and though half-scalded, he triumphantly winked at his cobber, "Baldy", and executed a few lively steps, unmindful of the fact that, just at that moment, "Bluey" Watson was already stationed at the cook's fire, waiting an opportunity to exchange his ration bag for the one in the dixie.
To avert suspicion, Jones strode over to the horse-lines, and almost immediately a hopping, painfully-moving figure bounced over to the "Coolers' Retreat", hastily took from his shirt a scalding hot ration bag, and quickly dumped it down.
"Bluey's" teeth were set with a most painfully delighted grin, but he happily joined his pals with the light of victory in his eyes.
Tea-time came, and "Baldy" brought over with his "stew" a well-boiled, bulky ration bag. Furtive glances caught the look of disappointment on "Shorty's" face as he cut the ties and disclosed a marmalade tin full of stones; yet everybody seemed happy as "Shorty" waited for "Breezer'' to return from the officers' kitchen. Meanwhile a blanket was being draped over the entrance to the "Angels of Palestine" bivvy, and joyful chuckling gave away the fact that "Smacker" Jones"s haul was being untied. The consternation that followed was evinced by a softly whispered comment, "Slipped". "Shorty" grinned as he heard the disappointed rogues, and a self-complacent smile spread over his features as he waited for "Breezer's" return.
The occupants of the "Coolers' Retreat" were the next to draw their bivvy curtain, and very similar remarks issued forth as "Bluey" discovered a well-boiled fruit tin full of soil. Outside stood "Shorty", delighted with the success of his defence scheme, and quite satisfied that the biters were well bitten. But, in the distance, came the sound of "Breezer's" voice raised to a a record pitch as he reviled the officers' cook for being a short-sighted, thieving, dirty, greasy, "babbling brook"; and, with a parting offering to "hop out", he sadly turned for "Home" and his cobber.
The jovial expression on "Shorty's" face turned to bewildering anxiety as he listened to "Breezer's" explanation, that the pudding had gone and someone had got in on a grouter. The consequence was, a woe-begone "Shorty" and a dangerously wild "Breezer" sat down to cold mungeree, whilst away in a snug, and extremely select, bivvy, situated in the officers' horse lines, three delighted batmen regaled themselves on "buckshee" pudding, with many expressions of thankfulness.