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21 Battalion

Some Very Big Game

Some Very Big Game

‘As we got close we saw the badges of rank of the tall member of our trio of near-captives. My heart, already doing 60 to the dozen, missed a beat because, unless I was greatly mistaken, those interwoven epaulets meant a general! Unconsciously I must have taken a firmer grip of my rifle for the tall one hoarsely yelled, “Nein! Nein! General! General!” He was a general all right! General von Ravenstein, no less, second-in-command to the great Rommel. Twenty-first Battalion “I” section, had, all unconsciously, bagged some very big game indeed.

‘I had the pleasure of relieving the general of his excellent Luger pistol—a beautiful thing I fully intended smuggling out of Libya and home to New Zealand in defiance of all orders! Then D Company commander and many of his chaps came up. Captain T. wanted binoculars. His chaps wanted anything they could souvenir.

I protested. “Hey! You're not trying to rob us of our prisoners, Alan?” To which he replied: “No! No! They're your prize all right—but I am short of binoculars.”

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‘So was Bob Nicol, and the binoculars were already snugly settled inside his shirt so I was able truthfully to say: “Well, I don't see any around.” Poor old Alan stopped one for keeps an hour or two later.

‘We wasted no time in getting our prize to battalion battle headquarters in his own car and obtained permission to take him back to Brigade. Before leaving we made a cursory examination of the car. It was most comfortably furnished! And the general had displayed a truly catholic and international taste for, among other things, he carried a tin of Aulsebrook's biscuits (yes, we got a shock too!), several cartons of South African cigarettes, a case of Crosse and Blackwell's tinned goods, a bottle of Greek brandy and a jar of rum, country of origin unknown but excellent quality for all that.