(Magpie 54, ABC Wednesday, Writer's Island, Sunday Scribblings)
I don’t talk much about my wartime heroism.
Perhaps because there was so little of it. :-)
But the truth is, as far as war is concerned I’ll have you know I was there, a few decades ago, right in the thick of it, as the saying goes, enduring bombings and strafings -- fire from the right, fire from the left.
As a result I wound up in a miserable jungle hospital in the middle of a miserable jungle.
They had carefully placed huge Red Crosses on the hospital tents, but the enemy saw fit to ignore them. They had perhaps heard that I was laid up in one of those tents and were out to get me. :-)
Anyway, I learned the routine. I was given a bunk in a huge tent that was filled with other bunks and each poor wounded warrior had an insect net. That jungle had the most god-awful insects nature has yet created.
The rules for the patients were clear, there was no way to improvise. Most of the time we were to stay in our bunks, with the net carefully tucked in all around to keep out the insects, but when the bombing started – and it happened any time, day or night – we were, those of us who were ambulant, supposed to get to a series of slit trenches just outside.
When the bombing let up, assuming we were still more or less alive, we were to stagger back inside the tent to the comfort of the bunk. Trouble was, what with the desperate need to get to the slit trench as fast as we could we were usually unable to carefully tuck in the insect net, so when we returned there was a horrific assemblage of insects – large, loathsome creatures -- lying in wait on the bed.
They all seemed to be chortling among themselves: We made it! We got inside! Now the fun begins! It was a tossup which was worse, the bombs or the insects.
They say there are no atheists in foxholes. I wouldn’t know.
During the time I spent in slit trenches – and a slit trench was just like a foxhole -- I was too busy trying to stay alive to think much about theology.
When my kids asked me about my experiences during the war, I was embarrassed to report that I hadn't done anything heroic; most of the time what I was experiencing was fear.
But the Magpie prompt of this week somehow captured one of those moments in the slit trench I’ll never forget, the moment when the bombardment was happening all around me – chunks of earth flying here and there.
Mother earth being chewed up, breaking into pieces like a jigsaw puzzle.
1 year ago