Old Army songs
Quotes and sayings
Dad's brother -
1911 - 1944
CATANIA JULY 17th 1943
(At the foot of Mount Etna, Sicily)
FEAST OF DEATH.
I am dressed for the occasion.
You see my bandoliers that cross my shoulders,
like the coloured chains of Christmas.
You see the grenades, like party balloons,
that hang from my belt.
The submachine gun strikes an incongruous note,
although we could make believe it was my fairy wand.
So let us go, my friends, to the party,
and perhaps we will meet the Master of Ceremonies -
An infantry unit in a combat zone.
Men, who had spent the night, in various stages of rest,
anxiety and terror, lonely fear, begin to stir.
In the dim, misty dawn, harsh, unharmonized sounds
blend into a raucous symphony.
Coughing, spitting, farting and belching.
Noses being blown and the sound of urine hitting the leaves and stubble.
The rattle of steel against steel,
and the sound of clothing being shaken.
Curses bubbling from dry, sour throats.
No gratitude for the nights rest,
because they fear the day that has dawned.
All this sound - and where else would you hear a sound like it.
The footsoldiers reveille!
In the army we called them 'trick-cyclists'-
for a very good reason.
I stood in front of three of these eminent gentlemen,
with poison from a head wound oozing from my scalp,
and shivering with malaria.
And these very observant gentlemen asked,
"Well soldier, how about rejoining your battalion?"
We are the unwilling
Sent by the unqualified
To do the unacceptable
For the ungrateful.
When I was in the army (1940-45)
and our rumblings and mutterings
about the microscopic pay we received
(in my case five shillings -and oh joy!
sometimes seven shillings and sixpence a week),
were investigated by higher authority,
we were told that we were the highest paid
soldiers in Europe,
in comparison with the French, Germans,
Italians, Belgians, etc.