A SOLDIER'S SOLILOQUY
by
Billy Bennett
(Almost a Gentleman)
Billy Bennett
My young brother has joined the army, he's in the gunners.
Of course, he was a gunner when he was at home, it was, 'Gunner, do this,' and 'Gunner, do that,' but he never did anything!
He's lost a lot of weight since he joined the army. The first week he was there he lost three pounds on physical jerks, and £2 10s Od. on Crown and Anchor.
He came home on leave the other day, and I noticed he was limping.
I said, 'What's the matter? Are you wounded?'
He said, 'No; mother sent me a pair of socks, and there's a mouth organ in the right foot.'
He told me he got pulled up the other day for smoking on parade. The sergeant major said to the C.O., 'This man was smoking cigarettes on parade, Sir. Shall I put him in the guard room?'
The C.O. said: 'No, ask him where he got them from!'
My brother says it's no good going to the N.A.A.F.I. that means 'Never 'Ave Any Fags In'!
A lady in our street calls herself the village belle, some want to ring her up, others want to wring her neck. The other day she said to me, 'Why aren't you in uniform?'
I said, 'Lady, for the same reason you ain't in the beauty chorus, totally unfit.'
All the same, I fought in the last war, and I fought very hard. Of course, I had to go at the finish. I remember when I enlisted, I went in front of an officer and got sworn in and coming away I trod on a sergeant major's corn and got sworn out!
I remember firing my first round of musketry. I got down and loaded my rifle four in the tin box and one in the funnel. I pulled the trigger and up came a flag. I thought I was doing fine, but I wasn't. The sergeant very encouragingly said: 'Never mind, try again, darling!'
Well, he told me a few things about myself that I never knew before and about my father and mother, so I pulled the trigger again and up came another flag. He said, 'Where are your shots going to?'
I said, ' I don't know, but they're leaving here all right.'
He said, 'Why don't you try and hit the bull?'
I couldn't see any bull, but I saw a cow in the next field, so I hit her and had to pay for it through my accounts!
The sergeant said, 'What were you in civvy life?'
I said, 'A tailor.'
He said, 'Well, you should be good at this, you're used to threading needles.'
I said, 'Yes, but we didn't thread them at 500 yards!'
When I got back to barracks I was late for dinner. All they had left me was a drop of jippo in the dixie, and that was full of sand, so when the Orderly Officer came round I made a complaint. I said, 'This stew is full of sand, Sir.'
He said, 'What did you join the army for, to fight for your country?' I said, 'Yes, Sir, not to eat it.'
So I went down to the cookhouse scrounging a bit of buckshee scoff. The Bobajee gave me a bit of steak.
I said, 'Is it tender?'
He said, 'Yes, as tender as a woman's heart.'
I said, 'Well, swop it for a couple of rissoles.'
The next day we went up the line, and next to me was old Nobby Clark; but we hadn't been two minutes under fire when a sniper got him hit him right between the parapet and the dug-out. They took him to a dressing station and bandaged him up, one bloke took his temperature, another took his wrist watch.
I went up to hospital to see him. I got there at tea time.
Nobby looked at his sumptuous repast and said, 'Who buttered this bread?' The nurse said, 'I buttered it.'
Nobby said, 'Well, who the hell took it off again?'
I used to look forward to Sunday in the army. I loved the church parade, because we didn't get enough sleep during the week. I liked to hear the Padre tell the story of how Cain killed his brother Abel and then transferred to the Military Police.
I got a staff job dishing out the blankets to the A.T.S. I used to say something like this:
'Name, please? Miss Philips, two blankets. Name, please? Miss Thompson, two blankets. Name, please? Miss Winterbottom I can't help it, two blankets same as the others.'
I will now conclude with a little dramatic poem entitled: 'You can tell it's Italian Lumbago, when you get stabbing pains in the back.'
 
The end