So in the end I became a Corporal, leading a section, going out on patrols and things like that. I couldn't help but think to myself, "I've been bleedin' mugged here." There's no doubt about it.
Incidentally, one of the fellows who riddled his way out of the motor cycle platoon, and I'm telling you this to put you wide, because you get all these crafty bastards. I met him by chance in Canada twelve years after I had last seen him in Burma, when the Colonel had got a lot of them together who were no use, the ones who kept deserting. The Colonel got them all together and, I would have felt ashamed, he got them in front of the Battalion and he said, "You're no use to man nor beast. I don't want you. You can make your own way back to India, I don't care how you get back." He gave them an address in Delhi to report to; some Army Headquarters. I'm telling you this because by chance, this fellow who was a keen motor cyclist then in the Army, he now had this motor cycle shop in Vancouver. By chance I met him,
"Do you know what was the happiest day of my life?" he said, "The day the Colonel told us to bugger off." You see, that's how thick-skinned he was. That's the sort of people I'm telling you, now, not just about the Army, about life in general. Beware because there's a hell of a lot of them, you can't insult them. There too thick skinned, all they think about is themselves.
That was the final thing really. I'd finished up with a couple of stripes that I didn't really want in the first place. You get a bit more pay and cushier conditions when you're not fighting but, that's the sort of thing that finally convinced me that I'd taken a wrong turning, and that it's a mugs game, there's no doubt about it.
Another thing I should mention being asked, "What's it like to fight in a war." When you're attacking the enemy positions, you're own big guns, the artillery, fire from behind you. They might be five miles back, firing just in front of you. The purpose of that is to keep the enemy distracted, so they can't calmly take pot shots at you when you're advancing, The idea is to keep their heads down. So you can imagine what it's like. You start off from your own trenches walking towards the enemy positions. When you get very close, I should say about a couple of hundred yards from the enemy positions, your own artillery will put down a first 'Salvo' as they call it, the first round of shots. Those shells will be landing just in front of you, fifty yards at the most in front of you. They can't fire too far in front. So you always have the worry about a shell falling short. So you have not only got that, you have the worry of the enemy and you're own artillery bleedin' blowing you to shit. Then it's ten to one that the enemy's artillery will have a go at you, and if they don't have ago at you, the mortars will. Trench mortars are their full name. To put it roughly, they're like a drainpipe, with one end blanked off.
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