Australian Medic at work during the Vietnam War - (Internet source)
Every soldier has a story to tell of at least one unusual experience with the Army’s medical staff. This is but one.
NB. The terms R.A.P. and R.M.O. refer respectively to the Regimental Aid Post and the Regimental Medical Officer.
♪♪ And can you tell me Doctor,
Why I still can’t get to sleep? ...
And night time’s just a jungle dark,
And a barking M.16? ...
And what’s this rash that comes and goes?
Can you tell me what it means? ...
God help me! ...
I was only ... nine-teen! ♪♪
- from the song I Was Only 19, by Redgum, 1983.
At the R.A.P.
At the R.A.P.
Now I’ve got a little story,
For a change ‘tis not a ‘warrie’,
That I’d like to really tell youse all about;
If in the army you’ve not been,
Then there’s things you haven’t seen,
You’ll think I’m exaggeratin’ ... there’s no doubt!
“When ya’re in the infan-try”,
My uncle’s good advice to me,
Was: “Avoid the army ‘doc’ ... the R.M.O..!
Turned out freshly in his trade,
Good for probably just first aid;
Being in the bloody ‘Big One’, I should know!”
“They’re all off the bottom rung,
And usually far too young,
Any bloody good ones, I just never knew!
Unlike their ‘civvy’ peers,
They’re still wet behind the ears;
Bleedin’ butchers, who haven’t got a clue!”
Now I’m sure he hadn’t lied,
Just tryin’ to be my guide,
But what he claimed was maybe in the past?
Might well’ve been the case before,
Another time, another war,
Yet, such standards surely wouldn’t last?
Meanwhile, in training camp I found,
South west of Sydney town,
Conditions were really rough and very crude!
Old huts in which we stayed,
Paltry wages we were paid,
Consuming stuff they had the hide to label ‘food’.
Then it happened late one night,
‘Twas the start of my sorry plight,
About the end of my initial year;
I was never one to whinge,
But I awoke with just a twinge,
A discomfort throb I felt ... within my ‘rear’.
So I went im-mediate-ly,
Down to the ‘Doc’ at the R.A.P.,
“These’ll help the pain lad, you will find!”
Bullet-shaped and smoothed with oil,
He unwrapped them from their foil;
Then ... inserted ... two of them ... up my behind!
Well ... ‘twas three hours, maybe more,
Nearly bloody half passed four,
It was certainly close to that, or ‘round about.
All that time spent on the dunny,
And don’t laugh! ... it wasn’t funny!
My empty bowel had been ‘blown’ ... inside out!
And when I limped back in next day,
I learned ... much to my dismay,
Just what I had been given, for my ache;
‘Twas bloody pre-op medication,
For a nasty haemorrhoid operation;
I’d been given the wrong stuff ... by mistake!
I’m now tellin’ ya that it’s true,
If ya’ve ever been to any zoo,
You’ve seen the ugly rear end, of a chimpanzee!
Don’t wanna be soundin’ lewd,
Yet, if I’d stood before ya in the nude,
That’s the image that resembled ... poor ol’ me!
Overseas once more I dared,
Once more my groin again I bared,
A ring-shaped rash upon my skin, so it seemed!
Mercuro-chrome painted waist to toes,
And when next day I shed my clothes,
A Vung Tau bar girl, terrified, staring, screamed!
So from that day I swore there’d be,
No more army ‘docs’ for me;
I’d endure all signs of illness, silent-ly.
And no matter what the pain,
I’d never go there ever again;
Stay well clear of those blokes ... at the R.A.P.!