Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Story of the 34th

About Nothing In Particular

page 136

About Nothing In Particular

Menu of A Company, 34th Battalion, on Christmas Day 1942—Tongatabu


  • Pineapple juice
  • Fresh eggs and bacon
  • Fresh potatoes
  • Toast
  • Jam
  • Tea


  • Roast turkey and dressing
  • Roast Potatoes
  • Gravy
  • Fresh green peas
  • Cabbage
  • Fruit salad and jelly
  • Raisin bread
  • Hard candy
  • Orange cocktail
  • Cigarettes


  • Baked Virginia ham
  • Fresh tomato and cucumber salad
  • Fresh cheese
  • Rhubarb pie
  • Bread—butter
  • Cocoa
  • Candied sweets

The Fish Story

Verily my brethren I say unto ye, that whosoever hungereth so shall he seek his dinner at the water's edge. And so it came to pass that the stores of the 34th Battalion were sore depleted, and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, for the bellies of the men were woefully empty. And they didst call down the wrath of seven 'devils on their company quartermaster when their appetites were not satisfied, and Owen son of Hannafin was sore distressed. Verily, verily, was there much muttering and the speaking of harsh words in the evening, when the men went forth to do battle with the mosquitoes which had been visited upon their weapon pits. Yea, they cried forth in a loud voice saying: 'Forwhosoever dost stand guard by the sea in the darkness, so shall he be deprived of his sleep in the day, and his belly shall be empty at all times, and his person tormented by the bites of fleas."

page 137

Verily didst a feeling of unrest settle upon the land and woe was manifested to all men. Then came a wise man among them saying: 'Forasmuch as ye do stand guard by the water's edge, so shall ye find food to sustain ye at all times.'

Thus was there discussion of much magnitude amongst the men, for their bellies and backbones were in close collaboration; so it did come to pass that Sneddon, who was of the mortars, and Oswald, who was a captain of high standing, didst go forth into the wilderness in search of food. There was much acclamation, and joy was manifest to all men, for were these not good men and true, and verily didst the hopes of all men rise as does the moon rise in the heavens. For so it came to pass that these men went forth into a strange land, and didst wander at the water's edge. For many hours didst they wander, and a great weariness was visited upon them, but they failed not, neither didst they falter.

Then didst they perceive a great shoal of fishes close into the shore, and they were greatly cheered, for had not the wise man said that thus would their food be delivered unto them. Then didst Sneddon say unto Oswald: 'Verily, my friend, we have found a multitude of fish. So shall we catch them in great numbers, and transport them to the encampment, where Owen son of Hannafin will be much rejoiced.'

And so didst Oswald stand forth saying in a loud voice: 'Take forth from out the box one sticky bomb, and grasping it firmly in thy strong right hand, cast it forth upon the waters.' And Sneddon did this and they didst shelter suddenly behind a large rock, whilst a large explosion didst shake the earth. Thus did a large column of water ascend into the air and all men were sore afraid lest it should not recede. And when the waters had receded so did they perceive a multitude of fishes upon the waters, to the number of several hundreds.

Then didst come upon the scene Logan, who was a man whom all men saluted, and he didst bring with him one Johansen, who was a Swede, and they didst load upon the carriage all the fishes, whereupon it was taken to the house of Johansen, and a host of soldiers descended upon it was large knives and staves. Then was a foul smell visited upon the atmosphere, and the soldiers didst wrinkle their noses for they were sore beseiged. So it came to pass that all the fish lay in the cookhouse where Owen son of Hannafin was of a joyful mind, and there was no doing of blocks throughout the day.

page 138

And in the morning, the men spoke praise to the name of William son of Moroney, who had expended much energy in the preparation of the meal, of which they had all partaken.

So it did come to pass that all men rejoiced and spoke the names of Sneddon and Oswald with great praise. And so I say unto ye that whensoever do ye hunger, go ye forth and linger at the water's edge, beseeching thee to take one ST Grenade Mark 2,, and a multitude of fishes will be delivered unto ye.

The Battle Of Waterloo

The tactical story of the Battle of Waterloo was explained to officers and non-commissioned officers of the battalion at a lecture given one night in Tongatabu by the commanding officer Colonel Eyre. Private C. J. Doran, of the mortars, has told the story somewhat differently, in verse, of which here is a sample:—

Now British folk can always boast
A splendid reputation
For tough and wiry fighting men
"Who've built a famous nation
By sweat of brow and honest blood
"We've paved the way to glory
On rolling seas and battlefields
In struggles grim and gory
But of the battles we have fought
You'll find there's very few
Can match the fight the 34th
Put up at Waterloo.

The Duke of Eyre was in command
A soldier keen and bold
He'd fought a dozen duels or more
Amongst the knights of old
The Lord of "Wernham, 2 i/c
Of that supreme command
Had swung a truly vicious sword
In many a foreign land
The Lords who led the companies
"Were held in high esteem
McMillan, Braithwaite, Brooks and Toon
"With Logan formed the team.

page 139

Pidgin English

I go me go
I did go me been go finish
midday sun straight
what do you want? what name
where are the New Zealand forces where altogether army along New Zealand
to wound to kill
to kill to kill finish
boy man picaninny
day after tomorrow next tomorrow
day before yesterday next yesterday
sore head sore leg along head
hair grass

Japanese Diary

These are a few extracts from a Japanese diary captured on the Treasury Islands.

Oct. 27 4.40 am All hands to battle stations.
5.45 Received attack from enemy ships.
6.10 35 large and small landing barges entered western entrance. Engagements. Bombardments fierce.
6.30 All along vicinity of the point and river No a landed and fought. HQ was CP for battle.
7.15 Guns destroyed. Retreated to vicinity of dispensary.
7.23 Mountain artillery attack began. Severe fighting at various places.
8.25 Retreated to line of mountain artillery positions. Caused fire on medium sized transport. 10.25 Battle gradually became fierce.
11.25 Run out of mountain artillery ammunition. Enemy artillery fire fierce.
11.57 Enemy pursuit very rapid.
12.00 Battle line became confused.page 140
1.13 pm Large number of troops advanced from three directions. Explosions at Falamai still fierce. Decided to retreat.
6.25 This point completely surrounded. Went into hills. Participated in night fighting.
11.50 About this time assembled strength and headed towards northern coast. Decided to enter into a decisive battle.
Oct. 28 11.30 am Friendly fighter activity seen. Our spirits were strengthened.
Oct. 29 3 am Sent signal to friendly plane. Believe they understood.
8.00 Reached northern coast. Enemy signalling by whistle fierce. Reconnoitred terrain.
4.55 pm Ran into enemy trench mortar attack.
5.15 Sent out patrols everywhere.
Oct. 30 10.45 am Patrols discovered enemy defence line. We are not yet discovered.
10.57 Decided to attack 'A' point. Sent out many more patrols. Reconnoitred enemy guns.
4.25 pm Enemy defence line is circular in shape from shore to mountains. Rations gone.
4.50 While planning on decisive penetration on an niversary of Emperor Meiji's birthday, considering strength of personnel and morale, decided to penetrate tomorrow night.
Oct. 31 8.30 am Rations gone, but all hands ate roots of trees and weeds and caught a few fish. Morale did not drop.
9.00 As a result of contact with planes last evening, decided to penetrate 'A' point tomorrow night.
Nov. 1 6.0 am Saw four cruisers and seven destroyers heading towards Shortlands. They are thought to be friendly.
7.0 Guns still firing at Shortlands. Activity of enemy PT boats fierce. (This is the last entry).

The diary also contains sketches of the defences at Soanotalu, and the plan for the Japanese attack on the garrison there, which occurred on the night of 1 November.

page 141

Malsi Madness

Adjutant: This man is charged with Using insubordinate language in that when asked why he entered for the Maiden Chop at the Malsi wood-chop and wouldn't chop at the time when he should have chopped, replied that he made only one chop in the Maiden Chop and then wouldn't chop any more.
CO: (a bit stunned)—er, read that a bit more slowly will you?
Adjutant: reads it again with tedious exactness.
CO: (turning to accused) So it was the Maiden Chop, eh?
Accused: No, the wood chop, sir.
CO: But you wouldn't chop, they tell me.
Accused: No sir, not in the Maiden Chop.
CO: Let's steady down and get this straight. You wouldn't chop in the Maiden Chop, because why?
Accused: Well, I made a chop…
CO: Yes, that's right, the Maiden Chop, but the Adjutant says it was a case of you wouldn't chop.
Accused: Of course it was a wooden chop. I wouldn't have entered if it hadn't been wooden.
CO: You could have chopped through the whole of the wood without stopping.
Accused: I didn't see no hole in the wood. You see, I made a chop, but didn't male no hole, so that's why I wouldn't chop any more.
CO: What I mean is—we wouldn't expect chaps who could chop to enter in a Maiden Chop, so you should have gone on chopping, because no one else could chop either.
Accused: But I made such a bad chop when I tried. If the others had only made one chop—
Co: But all the others weren't Maiden Chops. There were Novice Chops, and Championship Chops, and Standing Chops.
Accused: Were all those wooden chops, too?
CO: Yes, of course, you couldn't have a wood chop unless what you chopped was wooden.
Accused: Well, then, would a chap chop better if he chopped in more wood chops with other chaps?
CO: Of course, my boy. All you've got to do to have a wood chop, is to get the chaps, then the blocks, have the chops, then sweep up the chips.
Accused: Thank you, sir.
page 142

Mono Meanderings

To the tune of The Mountains of Mourne

We've a grand picture theatre, the roof shows the stars
Like the Civic in Auckland but no softdrink bars
And a palm-lounge is also a feature of ours
Whilst we even display a few tropical flowers;
The seats are made up of best coconut wood
If only they'd pad them they sure would he good;
It's really quite cosy—a roof's all we lack
So we often get trickles of rain down our back.

'Spam' Says

'Winner of the battalion's 150 dollar first prize in the art union is Private V. S. Thorburn. A man of simple tastes, Private Tor-burn, is employed on the Boyce estate. Interviewed by Spam's special reporter, he said he would continue in his present employ ment, and after the war intended to make a cruise of the Pacific islands.'

And there was of course the bloke who moved to the city because he heard the country was at war.

Crocodiles, Mandating—Big Game Hunters Go After

From the original in Spam of 25 January 1944

Despite the sceptical remarks of alleged big game hunters and others of the battalion it seems pretty conclusive that crocodiles do exist on this island. If you ask Captain Cotching or 'Jungle' Holmes or one or two others who recently spent some carefree days right in the croc country you will receive emphatic information on the point. 'Jungle' himself went to a lot of trouble to get one, reputed to be anything from six to 20 feet long, and it is on record that shots were pumped at one ugly specimen with the result that the bullets just glanced off its armour plate. It is also reported that a few grenades were tried, but without result, and then it was proposed to try out the anti-tank rifle (not a fair go). It appears however, that the croc knows as much about jungle tactics as anyone else, and he didn't present a target. It is further reported (sorry to be so indefinite about all this but you know how it is with big game hunters and anglers and such people) that there were two crocs. It page 143doesn't matter though because the field is still open and the hunters have yet to produce their first.

'What is known for certain is that one croc came down the river the other day and scared the devil out of certain gents engaged on their lawful occupations. Some shots were fired at him and he wisely took to the deep blue sea. There he was chased by the good ship Enterprise (Captain Hank) and a spirited sea battle ensued, with shots flying everywhere. As usual the Yanks went about it in a big way and permitted the use of machine guns, but it still isn't known if the croc got away or not. He listed it as "probably sunk". Not so long after Spam went to press with the above angling notes, who should walk in (or rather come in by boat) but Lieutenant C. E. A. ('Tony' or 'Barney') Buller, towing an innocent looking specimen of crocodile behind him. He sportingly acknowledged that several Americans and himself shot at the reptile simultaneously, while it was taking the afternoon air near Lake Akea.