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

Relating to Records

page 14

Relating to Records.

If you are an orderly room clerk in the field, your compeers will have the opinion that you hold down an awfully good job. That, probably, will not worry you, but the number of returns required by the powers that be at the Base will cause you a good deal of concern. There are returns galore to be made at divers times and seasons; some appear useful and others of hazy value, but they probably go towards making up some other return at the Base. It is another case of the little fleas having lesser fleas upon their backs to bite 'em, and so ad infinitum. The field orderly room clerk has an unenviable job, and from the returns he has to compile most of the records kept at the Base are evolved.

After the war, the Army will be in possession of a delightful fund of information in regard to the individual. The Dental Service will have an odd chart or two as to how you appear to the sympathetic young gentleman who probes your pet cavities with a hateful wire implement. The Medical Service will have a medical history sheet that will coldly chronicle the periods of mumps and measles, etc. Then there are the Field conduct sheets (I can't imagine a framed copy of one hanging in the best parlour at home, and the family proudly pointing it out as "What Daddy did in the Great War.").

Then there are personal files and many other documents relating to you, of which, perhaps, you are blissfully unconscious. Apre la guerre, I suppose, these little bundles will be neatly tied with red tape and consigned to the oblivion of some dank cellar in the Defence Department's buildings. They may be dug up when you start to ask the paymaster why that thirty bob was docked off your pay, way back in 1915; or maybe your son's son wants another copy of grandfather's

Gallipoli medal. This keeping of records has been reduced to an exact science—very exact, in fact, it is. Your marching to and from your unit, your illnesses, your little peccadilloes, that maybe involve a few days' deprivation of pay, are duly chronicled on Army form B103, one of which exists for every enlisted soldier.

A most harassed-looking youth has charge of the records of your unit. He receives a galaxy of papers from orderly rooms, hospitals, "clinks", and such like places, not to mention casualty lists. Of everything that happens to you he soon has documentary evidence. You are made a lance-jack; he enters the fact in your record with a bored air. Ten days later he is advised that your promotion was only to cook, and he makes the necessary alteration. If you have run into trouble and are fined, or given seven days,or something agreeable like that, he has to type Out numerous big blue sheets that look as cheerful as an invitation to a hanging, and he enters them up. Should you have been lucky, or unlucky, enough to meet with an accident that necessitates your going to hospital, he will receive a most important-looking document with the evidence of your pals: that the bully beef tin did slip when you cut your hand, and that no blame is attachable to anyone; and that the injury was accidental. All very necessary from the State point of view, in respect tp pensions, in the years to come.