Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

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

A Dead Sea Stunt

page 8

A Dead Sea Stunt.

"There's a stunt on on Thursday", your Section leader tells you, on Monday. "Abdul", one of the camp walids, told him. You ask the Adjutant's batman, as the person most likely to know; he scorns the idea, but tells you. quite confidentially, that the C. in C. will be in Haifa, Damascus, or somewhere, by Christmas. The Colonel's batman says there's something in it, because he, the Colonel, wrote to his wife the other day, and he always writes before a stunt. You are still inquisitive, and the Troop leader informs you that the Brigade is resting, and that there will be no work for a fortnight. Small matter that he falls in his Troop next morning, and goes off for a day's road-making.

You observe the Quartermaster's offsider hunting for sacks. Now, that is a sure sign that there is a move on. That worthy's dreams are haunted by visions of Courts of Inquiry into the whereabouts of sacks that are "charged up at five dizzies each." A move seems to galvanise him into action that would do credit to a "cocky" the day before he expects a threshing mill. The Farrier Quartermaster sons up the worst of the crocks, and sends them to Mobile. The Veterinary officer doesn't send them back, saying they are quite fit. There must be a stunt on.

"The Regiment will move out at 04.00 on Thursday. All bivvies to be stacked by the Quartermaster's dump at C8.00 Tuesday", so reads the movement order. Now, you wonder why those bivvies aren't allow ed to stay up until some time on Wednesday? You are sorely tempted to discuss the matter with the Squadron Sergt-Major, but you remember, of course, that it is an order and get to work. You roll up your bivvy and sleep out in the night, as you have done before. You sleep out for two more nights after that, because the Brigade didn't move out till two days after the time-table date; but that is by the way. You want to know whether you are going out on a dinkum Armageddon, a second Ayun Kara, or just a plain sort of a stunt. Two lance-Jacks don't know, so what's the use of enquiring further.

When you start to sort your gear up, and throw last week's water out of your bucket, you discover that the iron rations for your horse have been "cleftied". The Troop Sergeant is coldly unsympathetic, the Quartetmaster's off-sider is more than unsympathetic—he is aggressively hostile.

Now, these iron rations you have been warned to guard zealously and treasure, and to feed "Ginger" on them only at the express order of your Squadron Commander. You go along the line and explain the position to "Ginger." He is tired, and if he were told that a firing party would assemble at dawn for his benefit, he would take it with the same stoic indifference. The Q. M.'s offsider intimates that he might be able to arrange a little bakseesh if you could get some sacks. No refusal could be more emphatic than that. We'd have to trust to luck. Certainly, the Q. M. does turn up with rations at unexpected places.

* * * * * *

"Get ready to move in half-an-hour." We moved two hours later. The night was dark. We tack up our positions near Headquarters and waited for the other Regiments to assemble; and then the Brigade Headquarters hove in sight. For once we were not on the screen. We moved a mile or so, then a halt. Two hours later we moved on. Four miles further on we passed a Tommy camp, with fires burning, "drumming up," as the Tommy calls boiling the billy. It was no use asking the Lance-Corporal anything, his liver was out of order; he had not dubbined his saddle for five months, and his pony would jog—it had never learned to walk. With many halts, we rode far into the night; and the Troop leader's batman said the boss told him that we had covered six miles. The Troop leader's batman, being a man of impeccable veracity—he was an auctioneer in civil life—I curbed my inclination to tell him that I harbored a suspic on that he wasn't a descendant of George Washington. The word came back, " Halt for
Camp Followers.

Camp Followers.

an hour; all packs off". We had taken the gear off the Officers' Mess packhorse and the Troop leader's pack horse, and stretched out for an hour. "Get ready to move in five minutes." We got going again at the trot for a mile or two, then came another halt; and on again. We dismounted for action just after daylight, and the Colonel climbed the ridge that we were to look after. The screen reported "all clear," and it was decided that the Turks must have "imshred". All that day we rode back over the "six miles". When we arrived at the old camp site, the cooks had Armenian biscuits and bully for tea The Quartermaster had sent our bivvy sheets to the dump, twenty miles back. When the horse lines had been put down and changed the inevitable couple of times, it commenced to rain!