Then, with a bag of home-made cakes under his arm and head full of advice, he hurried off for the train. The returning leave train with its mixed freight of humans caused Ted, when trying to sleep that night, to ponder on the strange ways of men. The great majority in that train were of course decent fellows, and they attracted little notice; as usual, it was those in various stages of drunkenness—sleeping, laughing, cursing, crying, vomiting, fighting or arguing—or with immoral women, who gave the superficial observer a disjointed and wrong perspective of life.
Like most others and particularly the younger men, Ted soon acquired the habit of evincing a coarseness of manner, which, though at times causing him to feel inwardly ashamed, served him as a means to outwardly establish and demonstrate his manhood.
Adapting himself to all phases of this new life, two weeks' training hardened him to soldiering. He growled with the others about the food, complained with them about the drill, and helped to plan revenge on the sergeant for not allowing regulation rests on the route marches. Some few miles out on a march one day the sergeant, who for about a mile, had shown signs of discomfort, called a halt.
It transpired that someone had put caustic soda in his boots, and so, after placing Ted in charge, he returned to camp. When he disappeared from sight, the troops, without waiting for an order, ambled down to the river with Ted bringing up the rear, and there enjoyed a quiet hour before returning to camp. Whether or not the medical officer diagnosed the sergeant's complaint is not known, but the events of the next day seemed to indicate that he had ordered m.
After a fortnight's training—during which there flew around many wild rumours known as "latrine wirelesses," and later "furphies," Furphy being the name of the sanitary contractor at Broadmeadows Camp, Victoria —the destiny of Ted's "mob" was determined, through its being classified as "C" Company, 30th Battalion. Leaving their palliasses and the much disliked sergeant behind, they now took up residence in a bell-tent encampment farther along the river bank.
To be posted to an original unit was the ambition of most recruits; and, although living in tents meant still more congestion and discomfort, it was regarded, at least by Ted, as being more soldier-like. That night he was detailed for the guard, and was looking forward to the experience; but, happening to be the only one to fall-in in a khaki rig-out—the others were still obliged to wear the blue dungarees that had been issued to them at the outset—he was accordingly dismissed from the parade.
A few days later Ted was selected, with others, to attend a signalling school in Melbourne. Much to the envy of those staying behind, they were marched to the Quartermaster's Store and issued with uniforms, numerals, badges and kit-bags. This occurred on a Saturday afternoon, and they were to leave for the south on the following day. Ted hurried home, dressed in full uniform and carrying his kit-bag. As he walked from his home-station he was very proud of himself and felt that everyone was looking at him, as indeed they were, though probably thinking more of his youthful than his soldierly appearance.
Of course he simply had to call and have a pint at the hotel where a week ago he had been refused a drink for being under age. Then, after visiting a few shopkeepers for the sole purpose of answering their anticipated questions as to when he was going away, he bought some breath-lollies and arrived home. What might possibly have been his last day at home—for the latest "furphy" had it that they would embark from Melbourne—was by no means a happy experience. His brothers and sisters were quiet and Mother and Dad were most serious.
Ted had a feeling that they might alter their minds and not allow him to go away. While at odd moments' they did give thought to taking such action, their patriotism and feeling of pride in their son would not allow them to go back on their word. The silence of father and son sitting side by side looking into the glowing coals of the evening fire was at last broken when the former, overcoming his restraint, warned his son of the many pitfalls of life and particularly those of a sexual nature.
When the time came for him to return to camp, Ted assured his family that, although he would be back from Melbourne in a few weeks, he would write to them often; and he made the parting as brief as possible. That night it was a most thoughtful lad who, after making a hole in the ground for his hip, and placing a waterproof sheet under him, rolled up in his blankets and tried in vain to sleep. Next day the lad's father visited him in camp and they talked of anything and everything except the subjects of the previous evening, which made Ted feel glad.
He introduced Dad to his pals and they all gave good reports. One of the company—the father of an old school chum of Ted, and now affectionately called "Dad" by all the boys—gave an undertaking that he would keep an eye on the lad. This offer was resented by Ted, but much appreciated by his father. There was a big crowd to see them off from the Central Station at Sydney that night.
After the train started, Ted found little chance of thinking or looking back, for a company of Queenslanders, already past the farewell stage, kicked up Hell's own row and caused trouble all the way to Melbourne. On arrival in Melbourne they marched over Prince's Bridge to the signalling school in the Domain.
Obtaining leave, Ted visited his uncle at Moonee Ponds, and returned to camp to find the rain coming through the flyless square tent and his cream blankets covered with mud. That night he wrote home a letter in which he said that he was well and was having a good time; but refrained from mentioning how one of the Queenslanders climbed through a window and scrambled along to another compartment, while the train was going, or of the smashing of windows and window bars on the Victorian train, though he did say something of a fight at Seymour.
It turned out that there had been some mistake in sending them to Melbourne, so, like the Grand Old Duke of York's men who marched up the hill and then marched down again, they arrived back in Sydney after spending only one night in Melbourne. Looking very weary and showing signs of a merry night's journey, they were marched to Victoria Barracks, given lunch at a cheap eating-house in Paddington, and returned to Liverpool, to be posted to headquarters signallers, 30th Battalion.
Once a man always a man—Finding's keepings—A letter home—The battalion moves—Its colonel, his batman and others—A march through Sydney—A fair question—Sundry signallers—A crime and a visit to Hell—Barney and Mrs I-ti—A skating civvie and a bandy batman. Ted soon found his cadet-gained knowledge of signalling to be very elementary, yet his experience in Morse and semaphore "flag-wagging" was a good foundation for the more advanced training.
He liked the sham stunts in which three signallers would be sent out to man each visual signalling station. Sent out one day with Jim J. Jim was promptly told to go to hell, but, being a good fellow and always too tired to exert himself, just rolled over and went to sleep. An expert telegraphist, Jim considered that his effort towards winning the war would be confined to his skilled calling, so, except for taking part in route marches and in the general routine, he was never known to work. He would come back merry from leave and call out, "I've had two flounders, four bob each, and now I am going to assert my prerogative.
If there's a man amongst you let him announce himself. It was about this time that Alan L. Detailed to Ted's tent, he could not understand why all but one, Vic C. Vic was the grand champion of snorers, and even a half-open box of matches lighted on his nose failed to cure him. He took great pride in his hair and was most careful of his personal appearance and effects. One Sunday, after leaving camp with a lady friend whom he was taking to Sydney, he returned hurriedly from Liverpool station looking the picture of misery. During his absence Ted had found a pound note in the lines and, saying "finding's keepings," had promptly visited the canteen and also paid a deposit on his photograph.
He was enjoying a good feed when he was surprised to see Tom come back. Bronchitis and meningitis were very prevalent at the camp at this time, and Ted contracted the former complaint. The sergeant, going on week-end leave, allowed Ted to sleep on his stretcher in the store tent, and it was from there that Ted wrote home the following letter:. It is nothing much, so don't worry.
I am sleeping in the sergeant's real bed in the store tent and will be well enough to go on parade to-morrow. My bed faces the tent opening and I can see all the funerals that go along the road from the hospital. The band plays the "Dead March" with the drums muffled in black and the soldiers march with reversed arms. They go by very slowly and the music makes me feel as though I am in the funeral—I don't mean in the box. I suppose in time we will get used to such sights. I don't like the idea of being a servant and cleaning boots, but suppose I'll have to do as I am told.
You should have seen Toc going on leave. He had infantry breeches, light horse leggings and spurs he called 'ooks, a coloured artillery sig. Toc has flat feet, and Jack F. I have had my photo taken and will send you one with this letter. I will try and get leave on Thursday night and will come home to dinner, and I would like you to make some sausage-rolls for me to bring back to camp.
It is feared that Ted took good care to be a failure as a batman. The light duties of this office, cleaning boots, polishing leather and metal, making the bed, bringing shaving water, cleaning up and folding up were more or less welcomed as a period of convalescence, but both he and the O. During the month of September the battalion was transferred from Liverpool to the Royal Agricultural Showground in Sydney.
The change was greatly appreciated by all ranks, for it brought the city within easy distance of the camp. The made roads and grassy training areas of the adjacent Moore Park were a decided change after the sticky, oozing mud or thickly flying dust of Liverpool. By this time, as a result of the training, and the issue of uniforms and equipment, and of horses for the senior officers, the mob had been converted into something approaching the appearance and standard of an infantry battalion.
The 30th had for its colonel a tall and, but for a moustache, most unwarlike-looking man with a highly pitched voice, who sported a shrill pea-whistle. He lived with his bulldog in the show-ground glass-house, and had for a batman an Englishman named Silvertail. This man's name, when called by the colonel, was music in itself. It was "Silvertail, Silvertail, how many more times am I to tell you not to wrap my pyjamas in a wet towel? Next in command was Major H.
He differed from the C. Later he was given command of another battalion. With the leaders' contrasting qualities of ruggedness and blandness more or less serving to compensate each other, the H. A regular soldier, senior in age and military experience, he gave balance to the command and sympathetic understanding to those commanded. Affectionately known as "Tod," his pecuniary lavishness recouped more than one digger's loss at two-up, and at other times provided the wherewithal for sight-seeing and various kinds of recreation in Cairo and other pleasure resorts. The battalion was divided into four companies, which in turn were divided into four platoons each of four sections.
Each company and platoon had its O. For instance, there was Major B. Though at one time he had a company of Queenslanders who proved as impossible for him to manage as did their two mascot monkeys, his command now for the most part comprised Victorian naval men from Williamstown. This change of personnel he welcomed, but he found some difficulty in converting them from naval to military practice. On one occasion Sergeant Tosch reported as to so many being "aboard sir," the number "ashore sir," and the names of those "adrift sir"—which, interpreted with the retention of but one "sir," turned out to be a report on the number in camp, on leave, and absent without leave A.
In accordance with "establishments," the battalion absorbed transport, machine-gun, and signalling sections, as well as a band which, under the leadership of Sergeant Les W. The 30th was thus as complete and evenly balanced as its brief history and available equipment would permit. The battalion's 1st Reinforcements joined the unit at the showground. Lieutenant Mac when they were straggling along on a march. The boys accordingly struck up "We'll Hang Old Macfarlane on the Sour Apple Tree"—and that was the last time he called on them to sing.
To celebrate and demonstrate its advent, the battalion, wearing the latest type of equipment, made of green leather, and with its accoutrements highly polished, marched through the streets of Sydney. With the signal section leading, we fall into step with Ted and share with him the countless thrills that travel up and down his straight and youthful spine to the accompaniment of inspiring martial music from the band. By the time the marching column reached King Street Ted felt as though he were walking on air.
As it wheeled into George Street, the sight of a girl falling from one of the top windows of a store through the awning to the pavement below momentarily prompted him to break from the ranks and run to her assistance. But though he felt that as a participant in the march he was in some way responsible for the accident, he carried on, and was brought back to his bearings when an acquaintance on the sidewalk in Martin Place advised him that he was the only one in step.
Instead of calling the members of his section boys and treating them as men, he addressed them as men and tried to manage them as school children. Military training and school teaching were to him synonymous terms, and Sam C. Stanley took great pains to instil into his men that they were the eyes and ears of the battalion, and, impressing upon them the necessity of being observant in all things, he invited questions on their observations.
At one such question time Sam sought some information. With all the intelligence and power of observation that I, like my fellow signallers, have acquired from your teachings, sir, I regret to say that my research in the subject has, owing to my humble status as a private, been restricted, and I am unable to proceed to a definite determination of the final phase. And now, sir, I respectfully seek your aid and enlightenment, since you, as a commissioned officer of His Majesty the King, and commanding officer of this intelligence wing of our unit, are more favourably privileged to observe the finer points of the subject, which to my mind is the mainstay of the battalion command.
Could you tell me, sir, if it is B. When the laughter subsided Sam came in for severe reprimand and, when the class was dismissed, he was given twenty alphabets to send by Morse flag. Ted received similar punishment for being the most outstanding with his laughter. Sam, who liked to demonstrate his superior learning, wore underneath the collar of his tunic a stiff white collar, the feeling of which probably served to keep him from sinking into the uncouth habits of a soldier.
But at times he would get a little bit rough and argumentative under the influence of higher class drinks, which he was careful to talk of for fear one might presume he had been partaking of common beer. The signal section—excluding its sergeant and Toc R. With three signallers of the 1st Reinforcements, they were billeted in what had been a furniture showroom, which was like a home away from home, though without palliasses the floor was something of a disadvantage.
The front opened on to a veranda where a trestle table served for taking meals, as well as for buzzer practice and card games. It was not until the night before leaving these premises that the erstwhile tenants discovered that gas was still connected to a meter in the room, and, when the main pipe was lit, the resultant five-foot flame served as a farewell beacon.
One night, after they had returned from leave partly under the influence and given an acrobatic display in the nude among the rafters, Perlmutter sat fair in a bucket of water which had been purposely placed on his locker. Rex, Reg, and Peter were the reinforcement signallers, and, as such, were looked upon by the originals as being below their standard.
This view had no real foundation, for the length of service of these three was equal to that of the others, except Jack F. Those two, by the way, were wont to tell of the special service medal that was going to be struck for that campaign. It is doubtful, however, if the reinforcement signallers ever felt any inferiority in their position. They were morally, socially, and generally in accord with each other, and, being so admirably suited, had no occasion to consider this other "secondary" status. The foundation of their friendship was, despite some difference in religious creeds, based on their code of moral ethics.
That they did not adopt an attitude of aloofness, but joined in the collective amusements of the section was an influence for their good as well as for that of the others. It tended to broaden their outlook while at the same time rounding off the rough corners of others, for, if army life taught anything, it taught tolerance of the ways of men. Other signaller friendships were for the most part based on some mutual characteristic or interest, yet the friendship of Eric W.
The former was a parson's son whose main interests lay in the direction of eating, sketching and photography, while of Bill it was said that he was writing a correspondence language course for bullock drivers; but each soon became an apt pupil of the other and they were almost inseparable. Intellectual superiority and its finer tastes for both humour and edibles brought Sam C. On their returning to camp one evening Ted invited them to join him in his supper of fish and chips and beer, and was severely crushed by Sam's reply—"Fish and chips! Why we have just dined at Paris House!
Cipher was of an inventive turn of mind, and at the time of his enlistment was in the midst of inventing some patent kind of headlight that would automatically project round corners. There was in the section another Jack G. Other members of the section included Ron C. He shared with Ted the distinction of having a tunic embellished with officers' embossed oxidized metal buttons, and was the owner of a safety razor which Ted, receiving it as a parting gift, had exchanged with him for ready cash.
Then there was Reg H. Reg was another of the signallers' saints, and, when provoked in excited argument, as was frequently the case, because he was a good "bite," the only wickedness he was ever known to utter was "Ah, me tit! In , however, Ted was in Mac's black books for having helped himself to the latter's gold-tipped cigarettes.
Ted had so far made no particular friend in the section, being evidently satisfied to be one of the company and on good terms with them all. His youth no doubt excluded his being welcomed into the froth-blowing circle of the hard heads; and, as the company of the wise heads would have cramped his style and made his youth more apparent to himself, if not others, he—well, just carried on.
There and Back - Jeff Beck | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic
One morning Ted was carrying on at the top of his voice, abusing all and sundry, when Major H. Ted was sorely tried all that day, and, though he came in for a good deal of chaffing from his cobbers, refrained from repeating anything of his morning address. Some told him that he would be given No. The hard boards on which he continually turned in trying to get to sleep were harder than ever before, and when at last he did go off, it was only to dream of even worse punishment than had been predicted by his mates.
After he had faced the firing squad and received its issue of lead, his subconscious mind—taking a different course from that of most dreams—went travelling on through hell, where the devil took the form of the major who was gladly assisted in his tortures by all the signallers, and to make matters worse, he had been struck dumb. After ages and ages of continuous torture and just when he felt that he was about to die again, he heard the sound of Gabriel's trumpet, and awakening in a cold sweat, he found voice to curse the long drawn out blast of Lofty B.
Before the time arrived for orderly room parade, Ted paid an unofficial call on the major, who was then dressing and had evidently enjoyed a better night's rest than the lad, for, after receiving an apology and advising him to refrain from using such terms of "endearment," he withdrew the crime sheet. Ted, feeling that officers were not such inhuman creatures as he had previously imagined them to be, thereupon enjoyed a good breakfast and took added interest in the work of the day. That night he and other signallers went to the Union Jack Club at Petersham.
The club was run by a number of patriotic young girls, whose sole object was to entertain anything filling a khaki or naval uniform, and to send white feathers to those males who preferred civilian dress. They gave freely of lemonade, cakes, sweets, and kisses, and otherwise entertained with music, dancing, and games.
In return, they were entertained by the troops, of whom Barney K. Barney, sitting on the floor among a bevy of pretty girls joining him in song, laughed and joked and sang with the same assurance that he had employed all the way out in the tram when not otherwise engaged in argument with the conductor over the troops' refusal to pay fares. The roller skating rink at the Showground, opening as it did on to the street and into the ground, provided a good avenue for those taking and returning from French leave.
It also afforded plenty of opportunity to those who liked this form of thrilling recreation, and furnished a handy, though in some cases last, meeting-place with members of the opposite sex. A flash civilian, expert in the art of skating, took much delight in upsetting the equilibrium of the troops not so skilled as himself. Ted suffered several falls in this fashion, and waited three successive nights before squaring the account, almost breaking the civvie's neck.
Barney's challenge to a duel with or without skates was not accepted by the civvie, nor was the floor of the rink afterwards graced by his presence. At this time the daily routine of the signallers commenced with physical training, a break for toilet, breakfast, and dressing for parade. Afterwards they would assemble with the rest of the battalion on the ground at the rear of the skating rink, where Major H.
The battalion would then get under way in its daily march to the foot of Mount Rennie, led by the band playing its regimental march. At Mount Rennie the battalion split up for either company or platoon drill, while the band returned to camp to practise and the signallers got on with their visual training, which sometimes took the form of all-day stunts and resulted in their being spread out over the landscape as far as the sand-hills of Botany. They also had Morse buzzer practice and theory training, as well as instruction in infantry manoeuvres and rifle drill.
One day when both the O. Toc the batman had not previously been on a parade with the 30th, and, had not the colonel been immediately behind the signallers when Toc performed a fancy evolution with his signalling flag as he wheeled into the street, the boys would have all burst into laughter. Toc's left wheel resembled a tramwayman on point duty eurhythmically posing as Mercury in search of somewhere to go, and no doubt he was glad when his bandy legs and flat feet eventually got him there. When the battalion made arrangements to stage a military tattoo, the signallers, because they were supposed to know something about telephone wires, were given the job of erecting electric-light poles in the show-ring, and for some years after the war these stood as the only visible monument to their existence as a unit.
So congenial was the Showground camp, the spring weather, and conditions of training interspersed with liberal leave, that the two months preceding embarkation passed quickly, and during the last few weeks of that period the troops went on final leave in relays. Ted, now a sun-tanned youth of five-feet-six and weighing ten stone two, was in perfect condition, and in his khaki uniform looked ready for the feast of Mars. His final leave was spent at home, visiting and being visited by friends and relations the majority of whom bored him stiff with their patronage and well-meant words of advice.
They all said how brave he was and how well he looked; some asked him to kill a Turk for them, but most wanted the life of some sausage-eating, barbarous German. All said much the same things concerning his welfare welfare and safe return to Australia, and asked him to write often and tell them about the war.
Then a final "Good luck," "God speed," or "Goodbye," along with a shake of the hand or a pat on the back or a kiss. Ted and his old school pal, Dab, were given a send-off by some of the village boys and girls. Apart from the red, white, and blue decorations, a bunch of Allies' flags with the Union Jack placed upside down, and the uniform of the guests of honour—who remained seated to their toast while the company sang "Australia Will be There"—it was the usual merry party of youth as in peace-time.
Of course Ted and Dab received much attention from the girls, who were ever ready to kiss and be kissed; but, as this happened to be Ted's debut, he was rather shy. He walked home with a buxom bunch of sweetness who, in that hour of her hero worship, wanted more than the one kiss he gave her over the garden gate, but Ted, like Ginger Mick—or was it the Sentimental Bloke? Yes, he agreed they should write to each other, and he promised to keep her miniature photograph, which, by the way, was resting in a silver match-box that kept company throughout the war with the identification disk hanging against his chest from a piece of string tied around his neck.
On the way to his own home under the stars of a cloudless sky, Ted meditated on the beauty of her countenance and the warmth and brightness of her being, and, imagining the sweetness of her presence still with him, decided he was in love. Mother and Dad, waiting up for his return, may have guessed something of his feelings from the flush that penetrated his tan, but any serious thoughts they may have entertained were quickly relieved by the hearty manner in which he disposed of the dainty supper Mother had prepared.
He told them about the party, and was saying something of the girl he had taken home, when Dad came to his rescue and saved further explanation with the reminder that it was long past time for bed. His almost worn-out bicycle he handed over to the elder of his two young brothers, but he put away other souvenirs of his youth, such as his first suit of long-'uns, and his one and only school prize the inscription on the fly-leaf of which he glanced at with a grin.
The family having promised to visit him in camp on the evening before embarkation, this made his leaving home more easy, but more than once he looked back and wondered if he would ever see the place again. Next day the unit was paraded to hear the C. Mere words cannot adequately portray the emotional and touching scenes of that evening, when over a thousand of Australia's manhood parted, many for ever, from those they loved.
Some walked With the maidens they adored, no doubt whispering sweet vows of eternal love. Some parted from mothers who held and pressed them to their hearts again and again, and said nothing. Others parted from wives sobbing in awful fear, some of them accompanied by children yet too young to understand the tears. That rough old diamond Barney butted in everywhere with his cheery laughter and happy songs, and, as Ted and his mother broke their long embrace, Barney called, "Good-bye, keep smiling, Mum! Ted's father was waiting at the gate of the camp when, at 4. Many members of the tramway volunteers, between whom and the 30th there had been some unfriendly feeling, also gathered at the gate in various stages of undress, many of them in bare feet, and they cheered the departing troops in unison.
One chap with a voice reminiscent of a barracker's voice on the hill of the Sydney Cricket Ground, was heard to ask that they leave him a few Turkish tarts in the harem, and someone else advised suitable though unmentionable treatment for the Kaiser. When the battalion was marching at ease, Ted's dad, with one of Ted's kit-bags under his arm, took the opportunity of having a few last words with some of the signallers, and Ted would have been greatly agitated had he known that Dad had confided his son's age and a few other things to the O.
As the column neared No. I wharf at Woolloomooloo Bay, Dad again took his place alongside Ted, and, as he hurriedly handed over the kit-bag, the youth saw, through his own dim eyes, a tear on the strong yet smiling face of Dad, and received, without any self-conscious feeling, the emotional kiss of parting before he passed through those now historic gates to the troopship. After officials had checked up the embarkation roll and found all present and correct, they ordered the disappointed section of reserve men to return to camp, as there were no deserters' places for them to fill.
Then the troops filed up the gangway and boarded the troopship A. Breakfast of porridge and sausages was waiting on the mess-tables as the signallers took up quarters underneath the for'ard well-deck. They were in the midst of doing justice to the meal when Lieutenant Mac O. As he stood there frowning like fury, and with arms folded, Sam loudly asked Tom if he had ever seen the famous picture of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, and as Tom turned round to view the picture, Lieutenant Mac, red with indignation, said to Sam: With breakfast disposed of, the signallers moved across to what was the corresponding position on the right, or as Barney called it, starboard side of the ship, and after being issued with hammocks and rough, cream-coloured blankets, which they stowed in bins, they were allowed to go on deck.
For the whole fifteen minutes preceding departure it was just one long cheer, above which could be occasionally heard loud and piercing shrieks of women, until finally the blast of the siren announced that the ship was getting under way and the fussy little tugs took charge of her.
There was now a break in the cheering as the band played "Auld Lang Syne. When the vessel pulled into mid-stream, the ferries greeted it with shrill whistles of cock-adoodle-do. After the Governor-General had given an inspiring address to the "gentlemen of the light horse and men of the infantry," in which he dramatically mentioned they were going on special service to a new front, Alan Rubberneck got busy with his furphy wireless and gave it out that the Dardanelles had been forced and they were bound to back up the Russian "steam roller" via the Black Sea.
A rumour from the aft latrine then had it that Mesopotamia was to be their destination; and at dinner-time there was much argument, which was only rivalled in importance by a discussion on the merits of the menu. Having waved to the fleet of launches grown dim in the distance, and finally cheered the last cock-adoodle-do of a Manly ferry, the ship passed through the Heads at three in the afternoon. At last the long drawn out farewell had come to an end, and Ted, with sickly grin and believing no one to be looking, dropped his first but only half-smoked cigar over the side.
First thoughts—From hammock to officers' mess—Housie, banker and crown and anchor—A church parade—A dark horse and a fair cow—A concert and crossing the line—Maggots and weevils—Suez. What with the excitement of the day, that damned cigar I'd saved for the occasion, and the sight of pickles on the mess-table for tea, it is little wonder I'm not feeling too good myself.
Anyhow, I'm not the only one, and for that matter I guess the folk at home are feeling a bit off their tucker too. My thoughts up to now are mostly about what others are thinking, and I am worried about the sadness of Mother and Dad at home. I feel sorry that I have caused them so much trouble, but I am relieved to be at last on the way, for I know now that they will not call me back. Barney has just informed me he and I are mess orderlies for to-morrow, and, as the thought of it makes me feel like showing visible signs of seasickness, I'm going up on deck.
Some of the boys are playing banker at one end of the mess-table, and a game of housie-housie is in progress on the hatch. As mess orderly yesterday, I managed to dish up the boys' tucker and keep mine down. It is rougher now, but I'm feeling better, so don't suppose I'll be seasick after all. The daily routine, according to orders, is to be: Of course between parades there's always some fatigue duty to be done. The hammocks, much more comfortable than bare boards, are strung up over the mess-tables in formation, so that you have the heads of two and feet of two other of your neighbours meeting on either side about your middle.
The lights go out, the latecomers scramble in and are cursed for their bumps, someone sings a song and is told to shut his bloody mouth, a smutty yarn brings wild laughter while the wowsers go crook, and then, gently swaying to the motion of the ship, we fall asleep.
As the troops are packed like sardines above the line of port-holes, the air becomes thick with the smell of smoke and bodies; awakening with reveille, we hurry to the deck and wait in long lines taking deep breaths of the fresh salt air, as we push those in front and curse the slowness of the early birds, who seem to have taken up permanent residence in the improvised and much too small wash-houses and latrines.
After stowing hammocks and blankets, we eat some canteen biscuits, and then a bout of boxing gives interest to the physical jerks parade. Sitting on forms at the bare board mess-tables, we await the orderlies, who come very carefully down the steep companion-way, carrying porridge, stew or sausages, and dippers of vile-tasting tea. We laugh as one of the orderlies, holding a dish of stew with both hands, falls ace over head from half-way down the steps, and we add insults to his injuries.
Had it contained sausages we could have picked them up, but Tiny, our mongrel mascot, is already licking up the mess, and for us it only means waiting a little longer, for, as lots are suffering from seasickness, the galley has a surplus supply of food. Some; more finnicky than others, just pick here and there at the food, while a few, loudly complaining of the tucker, scoff it down their uncouth necks at a rate that is only checked by their belching after long gulps of the stinking tea. The morning parade of the signallers if one is not detailed for duty on the bridge, is taken on the boat-deck.
The usual flag-wagging and buzzer practice with the same old lectures will, no doubt, be dished up to us time and time again. We have to speed up the sending and reading of Morse to about thirty words per minute on the buzzer, and as Jim and Joe can do about forty they are marking time. Sometimes they talk to each other in Morse, and, judging by their amusement and the few words I pick up, "indulge in personalities," as Sam would say. Each of the three courses of the midday meal tastes about the same, but perhaps that is because the soup spoons and the fork of the second course have to be used for the sweet.
To-day's sweet consisted of plum duff, which was promptly labelled "guttapercha-pud," and, as according to my dictionary gutta-percha is a reddish-brown horn-like substance of inspissated juice of a certain tree, I reckon it's a good name. If the ship gets torpedoed when the men are carrying a belly full of this tack, they'll sink like stones. This afternoon we had some instruction about the mercantile international code.
In between parades most of the boys play card games and housie-housie, the latter being the only money game allowed. The most enjoyable part of the day, however, if you don't think of the good things they are eating, is the evening officers' mess when the band plays selections. I have just returned from the boat-deck, where, being alone, I feasted on the music, and, in the fading light of the setting sun, let my mind wander back to the old folk at home.
Somehow I like the lonely feeling that comes over me at sunset, but I must not mention this in my letters or they'll think I'm homesick, which at this time of day, I truly am. The weather is very rough and cold, so I am wearing my sheepskin vest for the first time. The officers have just finished dinner; I enjoyed it, I mean the music part, very much. There's a chap inviting all and sundry to try their luck at his crown-and-anchor board. Had another win at banker yesterday, but fell for the crown and anchor stunt again and am now down a few bob on the trip.
Somehow I can't enjoy a smoke. The chaplain addressed us about the purpose of our mission in the cause of righteousness, and said that God, being ever just and merciful, would lead us to victory in this war to end wars for evermore. He made me feel glad that I am on the winning side—not that I have ever felt otherwise—and some of us, forgetting it was a church parade, began to clap.
AUTHOR'S NOTE TO REX
There where prayers for the Allies, the loved ones at home, and for forgiveness of the enemy. Found out to-day that if you are in the know and have a few bob for a steward, you can get a hot bath and decent cup of tea, so I had both and a piece of toast as well. And now, having been to church, had a bath and a clean cup of tea, and written home, I feel at peace with the world, so will turn in. Someone has told the O. He probably remembers the night at the Showground when I overheard him taking a lingering farewell of "Babby"—she called him "Tanny. Yes, I think he will keep my secret, and Barney reckons it will be all right.
Fell down the blasted steps to-day, and, as I was bending down to get a view of my bruise in a polished steel mirror, someone squirted it with a mouthful of water. That's his idea of a joke—the dirty cow. Don't feel like sitting down any longer, so am going for a walk with Barney to get a drink of fresh air before turning in. The crown-and-anchor king has been put in clink for getting drunk.
The early morning topic of conversation was a review of what we were doing at that time a week ago—marching down to the transport. And then, at the same hour as leaving Sydney, we passed the hospital ship Kyarra homeward bound with wounded. Painted all white and flying a Red Cross flag she looked very nice, and I suppose those poor chaps on board are feeling very excited and happy at seeing the Aussie coast, at King George's Sound, which has just faded from our vision.
I believe we expected to feel like different beings once the ship sailed, but after a week at sea we have come to realize ourselves as being little changed. The sight of the hospital ship has established our bearings—we have got a long way to go. To return to the present—what is there to growl about? Only that something has gone wrong with the latrine just above our mess-deck and, as the filthy overflow would come through the port-holes, we have to keep them shut.
It will be pretty rotten sleeping here to-night, so I think I'll go with Barney who has taken up lodgings on some bales down in the hold below. We both slept in, missed the last sight of Aussie at 6. Our bikes are stowed in this hold, and as there is plenty of room, we practise trick riding. This possie is below the water-line, and it gets a bit depressing in the dim yellow light of a few small electric globes.
If anything goes wrong while we are down here I wonder if we'll hear. Must ask someone up top to give us the office if the alarm goes. A boxing match on the fore hatch this afternoon only lasted two rounds. But for the advice the spectators kept shouting, it was most uninteresting. The ship has taken to rolling instead of pitching, but otherwise things are much the same. Machine-gun positions have been fixed, and the best rifle-shots have also been detailed to act in the event of a submarine attack.
I find myself almost wishing that a submarine would pay us a visit, and my thoughts have gone so far as to picture the signal section afloat on a raft, with O. Stan giving us physical jerks and complaining, as he does now, about our inability to remain steady despite the changing of the centre of gravity. It is a change to think of what might happen but I don't suppose anything half so interesting will come our way. In fact I am afraid we will be stiff enough to arrive too late for the war. It being our tenth day out we had a medical parade to-day, a most amusing affair, except for a few who have been isolated.
Weather getting hot and sea very calm. Had life-belt drill this morning, and someone remarked that Jim J. Wish I could use my fins a bit better, but according to Barney I'm not the worst boxer on the boat. Barney has a long skinny chap in secret training, who is as slow with his fists as he is in waking up to the leg-pulling stunt. We rub him down with rough bags and engine-oil, and have him running round our hold for hours on end while we play cards. He has just come back for more and wants to know if he should enter for the heavy or lightweight championship of the boat, but Barney advises him to remain a dark horse, as indeed he will for many a day because we are gradually increasing the proportion of lamp-black in the engine-oil.
Heads to be shaved and upper lips to be left unshaved is the latest King's Regulation. The boys have grabbed him and have run one bald stripe from his forehead to the back of his neck. Poor old Reg is going crook a treat, but as he does not swear he can't get anyone to believe that he really wants the job finished. He'll be the goat on the altar at church parade to-morrow, and in a week's time I'll be the kid without a mo.
It is time to go to the concert, the first on board I wonder what it will be like? He gave us the Governor-General's speech and took Major H. The colonel, however, failed to see the joke and did not move a muscle or turn a hair of his so far un-bald head. Did not go to church parade this morning; was spud barber instead. The weather now being tropical, awnings have been placed over the bridge and decks and most of us have cut our dungarees down to shorts. A canvas swimming-bath has been erected on the well-deck and an officer and several N.
Os have been ducked fully dressed. One of the chaps has a hunt scene tattooed on his back, but as the fox is hopping into its hole you can only see its tail. The ocean is a beautiful blue to-day, and is only broken by the bow of our ship where I have spent a few hours sun-baking and looking at the flying-fish.
Reg has the hair off one side of his head now, and as he is beginning to froth at the mouth I think it's time to finish the job, so have invited him down here. As Barney shaves Reg's head and shouts encouragement to Puglongun who in his oiled nakedness is running the meat off his bones, this dismal hole looks like a rat-house. There has been a slight improvement in the food to-day—yesterday's was rotten. On my way to the boat-deck this evening I had a look at the officers feeding.
The port-hole did not permit a full view of the performance, but I saw sufficient to convince me that at least a few know more about swinging a walking-stick than of wielding a knife, fork, and spoon. To one who tipped his soup plate the wrong way I felt like shouting, "When in doubt wait for the roll of the boat. Food seems to be the principal subject of my diary, and so it should be, for did not some general say, "An army marches on its stomach. The evening band programme was, as usual, the most enjoyable event of the day. It beats me what they find to write about.
Sam only draws sixpence a day and has everything worked out, even to the number of words he can write with an ink tablet. Wish this war was a bit nearer. Think I'll chuck up writing this diary until we arrive at the Big Smoke. It's about time we got some pay as I have spent nearly all my money except a pound I lent to Potash, who is running a banker school and has promised me a fiver if it turns out all right. While others ate roast meat, Barney and I shared a tin of canteen tongues, and we were enjoying the issue of stewed dried-fruit when someone discovered the ground-rice-looking-substance to be weevils.
Then the orderly officer came, and was greeted with song: So what we missed in nourishment, if any, we made up for in merriment, and some of the chaps suggested going on strike. Any strike other than a hunger strike would of course be mutiny on the high seas, and, though it was difficult to see how we could all be put in clink, the idea was ruled out. A boxing match that looked like providing the material for a real burial at sea came to an end when the prospective corpse's second threw in the towel at the end of the second round.
It was not because of anything in particular that the chaplain said—he, the officers, and we men were as one—but it seemed that the sky, the ocean, the breeze, and our singing were all sublimely blended in one beautiful presence. One does not discuss the spiritual with one's fellow men, but I am sure that they all equally feel, not the service, but the Presence. The service was but the medium that brought us together, and now that the chaplain and officers have returned to their saloon and we to our lesser quarters, I feel that we remain spiritually united in this great adventure of life.
Life, as I see it, is like looking with envious and critical eyes through the port-hole of the officers' mess on one's way to view and enjoy the beauty and restfulness of the sunset. In time perhaps I might earn my place in that mess, but meantime I can share with them the sweet music of the spiritual life. That material life is one damn thing after another is true enough, but the thing to remember is that there is always something good.
Must make a note in my diary twelve months hence to remind me of this day, for I might never again have the inspiration for such deep thought. Father Neptune and his retinue of roughs came on board last night. Heralded by bugle, cornet, and trombone artists, all playing independently, and followed by other instrumentalists playing likewise, Father Nep. So that we might attend Neptune's court, this afternoon was proclaimed a holiday.
From my high position on one of the derrick booms overlooking the well-deck I had a good view of the amusing proceedings, and was safe from being shanghaied into it. As each victim sat on the seat of initiation the barber's naked nigger offsider swiped him over both cheeks with a soap-sudded whitewash brush, and then the barber shaved him with two mighty sweeps of his immense wooden razor and knocked him rotten with a crack under the chin into the canvas tub where several willing slaves proceeded to try and drown him.
So that's the delightful ceremony of crossing the line. For a while the "old timers" had it on us until the show ended with Nep. Crossing the line has brought the signallers some new work. We start off to-night by getting familiar with the stars of the northern hemisphere—Charlie Chaplin, Flora Finch, John Bunny, etc.
Drew a pound's worth of my eighteen-pence-a-day allowance yesterday, and proceeded to do it in at banker, but my luck changed for the better, and I'm now well in funds. It gives one a feeling of some contentment to have a well-filled money-belt rubbing against one's less contented tummie. A lecture about Egypt, the customs of the people, and the precautions to be taken against venereal disease, was, though more to the point, much about the same as I have already heard.
Now, with that being said; no one mentioned the book. If one was familiar with The Hobbit an The Lord Of The Rings, they would know that the main protagonists Bilbo Baggins, Froto Baggins an lastly Samwise Gamgee are the authors to a major story saga that they experienced first-hand which would later be titled There And Back Again: However, Bilbo Baggins is the main author of this extremely enormous book due to the fact that he began creating the book in his perspective. Then from there, the rest is history. Though what the title meant to him is pretty much what everyone has been saying.
The sense of adventuring. Busukxuan, your ideal of the meaning towards the phase is correct but like I said though im not sure if the phrase can be used as an idiom. If I remember correctly While the phrase "There and back again" is pretty straight forward an does not have another subliminal meaning [at least not to the person hobbit who created the phrase]. This is the true meaning to the phrase "There and back again", one who went on an adventure from home only to return home to speak and share their learned wisdom an give birth to knowledge storytelling.
There and Back
I am not too sure if my interpretation is correct, so I hope I can get some confirmation here. It means essentially what you say, only the expression is used in a variety of figurative senses. When you say "is it alright to use it as if it were an idiom? It might be that you're just using it as a figure of speech or actually just a literal description rather than as an idiom. It can mean believing in the validity an argument then realizing it's bogus, going on an emotional "journey", and several other things.
Whether "the devil is in the details" is an idiom has nothing to do with whether it's used as part of a larger sentence. Let's just simplify things here and say that "There and back again" is not an idiom. It's referring to the path of a journey, eg "So, where did your adventure take you Bilbo? Here's a little flowchart, asking about any phrase.
Max Williams 21k 5 40 Dan Bron 26k 12 86 You have posted a wall of text. Nobody can read that. Add blank lines between paragraphs. He means paragraph breaks.