All power corrupts, we know it’s true, And there are always some, just a few,
Who abuse their rank and authority.
" There was one," my mate recalled, quite vividly,
" Who always seemed zeroed in on me,
Revelling in blatant bastardry."
"Another night, having once more gone,
Reveille again ... again at dawn,
All lined up, answering to our names.
Daily duty lists were then outlined,
And various tasks to most assigned,
Except to odd 'sick' blokes, who made such claims."
Now amongst those marquees, up at B.H.Q.,
The Regimental Aid Post, stood there too,
Known to all as just ... ’The R.A.P.’
All 'sick' cases to there were sent,
To await their turn outside that tent,
Reporting on parade, to an order-ly.
And there he’d assess each man’s complaint,
Declare you crook or say you ain’t,
Send most away ... or on ... to the R.M.O.
That ‘Doc’ might class you as unfit,
Write out one or two day's work-free chit,
Written proof you’d have to later show.
Perhaps then a day lay up ahead,
When, with no duties, just rest instead,
You could lie upon your bunk, relax or read;
No patrolling, nor boring guard;
Such chores classified as far too hard;
Even mates to bring your meals, if you need.
" Yet, ‘Piggy’, that bastard, our CSM,
A bully-boy, like some of them,
This day was in his usual lousy mood.
This clown ignored this chit I had,
Assessed my condition as not that bad,
And ordered me to the mess, to serve his food."
" I, though fuming, never said one word;
Merely searched around, found a dried rat turd,
And ground it up, into his pepper pot.
To flavour all the food he ate,
I’d shaken it over his entire plate;
Oh boy! Was he sick from the gut ache that he got! "
" Meanwhile, a ‘phantom basher’ late one night,
‘Twas said he waited lurking out of sight,
With a 'club', a length of ‘two-by-two’.
This clown with the crown upon his sleeve,
Drunk, from the Sergeant’s Mess he’d leave,
A nightly ritual, for ‘Piggy', that we all knew. "
" Through the dark, amongst rubber trees he went,
Stumbling, staggering, back to his tent,
‘Twas a common path he always had to take;
Never reasoned why, that trickle of blood,
On his head, or why he was lying in the mud,
In the morning light, when he’d awake. "
" At a re-union just a few years ago,
I had to let this ‘turkey’ know,
About that day, when he got really crook.
So, I told him, grinning, just what I did,
Of things in his food that I then hid,
And shouldn’t have back then blamed the cook! "
" And there’s something else that I confess:
Recall those nights you’d left the Mess,
And woke up, out under a rubber tree?
Well, besides that crap in your food, I fed,
Someone clobbered you, on your way to bed,
And that someone...", I laughed, "...was me! "
Years have come and gone, since way back then,
We once ‘young boys’ are now just ‘old men’,
So I think about the good times, and the bad.
And a smile forms each time, that is true,
As I recall odd bastards, whom we all knew,
And the sweet revenge upon them, that we had!
4-Man tents at Nui Dat - 1967
It would be nice to believe that mateship was universal within the armed services. Unfortunately, that concept is mythical. Because of the cross-section of personalities in any organisation, there are always going to be present odd individuals that don’t belong and so the odd clash is going to be inevitable. No closer bonds can be formed than between men at war who co-exist in a co-operative fashion. Karma usually provides sweet revenge for those of a different ilk.
A fellow veteran related to me one day, many years ago now, a tale concerning his experience with a superior NCO who had given him a very hard time whilst serving overseas. The poem below is his story.
“I never forget a face! But in your case, I’ll make an exception!” - Groucho Marx, 1967.
“Time might heal all wounds ... but time wounds all ‘heels’!” - Jane Ace,1966.
“Revenge is a dish best eaten cold!” - Anon.
“Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on high office, a rotteness begins in his conduct!”
- Thomas Jefferson (1799) in The Arrogance of Power by Anthony Summers.