Tales from Kohima.
(This is an extract of 342 words out of the 2704 words in the full version of "Ponies")
After the ambush, dead men and horses seemed to be scattered everywhere; lying in the road and on the hillside. I looked into the nullah and saw dead men in the stream. One horse, I remember, was on its back in the water; its legs pointing skywards. Other horses, more fortunate perhaps, were roaming around here and there.
There were only about twenty of us; remnants of the defunct Motor-Cycle and Bren Carrier Platoons. We had been in reserve to "A" Company, but needs were now becoming obvious elsewhere. The Trench Mortar Platoon, like the rest of us, was on the move, and on foot. They needed to move their equipment and everyone by now, was short of water. Consequently it was decided to round up the loose Jap ponies and use them as pack-horses, with the ex- carriers and motor-cyclists in charge.
One of the ponies had been hit in the neck and breast, by shrapnel; two or three small cuts, with a larger open wound, full of maggots, in the centre of its chest.
During the round-up I was called over to this animal, which was stood, head down, giving occasional short snorts. I wasn't a medic, and I had no knowledge of first aid, but I carried a can which had been supplied by some womans' organisation and it contained bandages, dressing pads, sticking plaster and iodine. There was also a card of safety pins. I cleaned out the maggots with a matchtick, but the bandaging was a problem; and I couldn't get the plasters to stick. Then I realised that if I could take the large bandage around the pony's neck, and down round its foreleg, I could fix a pad exactly over the largest wound. This I did, and by the time I had finished the column was lined up and ready to move.
That's how I came to be responsible for "Daisy". I called her Daisy after a coal horse my father had when I was young.
When we moved off I realised........
© COPYRIGHT RICHARD PATTERSON 2001