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

The Brigade Orderly

The Brigade Orderly.

"You will be Brigade orderly to-morrow", said the orderly sergeant to me one day, shortly after I had joined the regiment, back in the days of the sand. "Report to Brigade Headquarters at 08:00". Fortunately it was at a time when we were experiencing a few days' spell, so far as stunting was concerned, and the job wasn't particularly difficult. I reported at Brgade next morning and found myself one of several, detailed from the various units to establish communication between them and the central authority. That first day convinced me that there are compensations in being in a mounted outfit, that one is apt to forget when the sergt major stirs you out for stables. The possession of horses entails a considerable amount of labour that an infantry unit escapes, in the days when the unit is out of the line. The Staff Captain had a continual stream of missives that had to go all over the countryside; to Divisional Headquarters, to neighbouring Brigades and to the units comprising our Own Brigade. It was an eye-opener as to the amount of clerical work necessary to the smooth working of a Brigade. Every little unit has its orderly room and orderly room clerk. I guess my prad covered thirty odd miles in the twenty-four hours of duty. It was no new thing for old "Ginger" to be on duty for a whole day.

When units are more or less settled down, the. work is a dull routine that has to be carried out like any other duty; but it is when the force is "in mobile" that the Brigade orderly has to exercise a good deal of prescience and acumen. A wide variety of jobs may come along, and you may have to find your way about the trackless country, alone, and often in the earlier days it was over country entirely devoid of any topographical features as guides to the lay of the land. Like all the others you have all your possession with you, and the mount is lucky if he has not 18 or 20 stone up.

When fighting is in progress, and signal communications have not been established, you may get an orderofthisdescription:"Divisional Headquarters are over there somewhere (a wide sweep of the hand in the direelion of the western horizon is the only indication of the position), deliver this message and bring back an answer. They are probably about four miles away". It is dark, and we await the opening of a scrap at daylight. It is on such occasions that the orderly has to use his nouce and sense of direction, for he has often little to go on in picking up his destination; and there is always the return with the prospect of wandering from the path that leads back to the starting point or wherever the outfit has moved to in the meantime. The bushman instinct is seemingly inherent in the majority of Colonials; though it is unbelievable, to anyone who has not had the experience in the desert, how easy it is to miss one's direction even in the daylight, let alone at night when there are only stars to guide the wanderer. It is then that bushcraft sands to the trooper. Before the country we have been operating over admitted of the use of motor cycle despatch riders, the work of the galloper was much heavier, and long treks on the sand were the common lot of the trooper. With aerial post services nowadays, the aeroplane is cutting into the work of the motor yclist.