For several months these pages have been, shall we say a little spasmodic. PiandO trust the reader will make alloawances. You see, when you are having fun, importsant things are apt to be neglected. Fo the past couple of years we have had to contend with planes, trains automobiles and ships; on one occasion being confined to forty-two days before the mast and in April 2017 it is envisaged the a train jurnmey across the continent will add to the trials and tribulations of just having fun.
In addition to the spasmodic publication of the PiandO pages, another circumstance is relevant. The Internet Provider made extensive IP changes.
We hope that this explanation and apology is sufficient.
As a way of making amends and show that errors have been made for many years, you may care to read;
Soldier, you have your orders.
In the last decade of the twenty-first century, political correctness dictated that apologies be made: To the aborigine races for atrocities committed upon them by European settlers. To the European settlers, some of whom were deported in prison hulks from England to Australia. To the stolen children. To just about anyone or anything to which an apology could be made.
Wait! What about the National Servicemen of years long gone and the early 1950’s. Those with orthopaedic and respiratory problems arising from the peculiar duties required of National Servicemen. Those whose eardrums have been permanently damaged by gunfire. Those whose injury or illness has been aggravated by the incompetency’s of the medical practitioners of the time, for instance, an obstetrician treating a soldier for mumps. Strange but sadly true stories.
No apologies are to be made to that group by the Government. But still they retain a sense of humour that has stood them in good stead during their lives. This is a tale of them and us. How two soldiers thwarted the might of the military brass and escaped to repeat it another day.
The year I became a number on a Bofor’s gun I lost most of my hearing. It was like that in 1954. The army found me at my family’s hotel in Portland. They invited me to finish National Service Training.
The military camp was on the show grounds at Port Fairy and gear was needed to be brought from the drill hall in Portland. I was volunteered for the job by Bombardier Warren Smith who was really a Wonthaggi pastry cook. Warren reckoned I’d be a good mate because my Dad owned the Gordon Hotel. He pushed me into the army truck.
“My first call is the Gordon,” Warren said, just after we arrived in Portland. “Your brother owes me a couple of beer’s.”
The two stripes on Warren’s arm meant that I had no choice but to follow orders. Warren ordered. Jock Clark, the head barman, pulled the beers.
“You’re in the shit,” said an old-timer, sidling up beside us at the bar. “Two brass just pulled up in a jeep. It’s Holsworthy Military Prison for you.”
It seemed my brother must have owed everybody a beer. Hurdling the bar with the Bombardier in close pursuit we huddled under the counter. Unseen but trapped, Jock made damned sure we had full glasses.
A chemist in real life, Major Theo Schmedje came in with Mal Johnston, a Captain when not managing a coal mine. They took our places at the bar.
Our only route of escape was through the cellar. I lifted the trapdoor and we lowered ourselves into the cool semi-darkness. Light filtered in from the grill that open onto busy Bentinck Street. It was there on most days I would toil shirtless, lowering the kegs of beer into the cellar as I tried to impress the office girls as they walked by.
Safely in the cellar, Jock kept sneaking beer down to us at such a rate Warren and I would be legless before the officer’s left. We pleaded with Jock to hand us down the keys to the grill.
“Coming down with your next beers,” Jock grinned, mischievously. “Just got to fill the Major’s glasses again.”
Eventually Jock passed down the keys. The grill open, we clambered from the cellar and took off for the safety of the drill hall.
Years later, it was great fun for Warren to torment Theo and Mal about our escape. I would love to have joined in but ever since I’ve had this ringing in my ears. That’s what a Bofor’s gun did to soldiers in 1954.
To the preceding story, there is a sequel:-
While accompanying my wife to a recent visit with her Gynaecologist and Obstetrician she explained my deafness, attributing it to the Australian Army sending me to a Gynaecologist.
The Doctor regarded me quizzically. Obviously he was unable to resist asking, “Why were you treated by a gynaecologist?”
I explained that during army service, anti aircraft gunfire caused an injury to my ears. Of course, the army arranged medical treatment. It was by an Army Reserve Officer who in civilian life was a practising gynaecologist and obstetrician.
Not only did the physician incorrectly diagnose the injury as the mumps virus causing my isolation in hospital, the damage to my middle ear was neglected, accounting in part for my present deafness.
As we left the doctor’s surgery he laughingly suggested, “Maybe he didn’t recognise the organ needing the attention?”