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George served in New Guinea during WW2. New Guinea saw some of the most protracted fighting Australian forces were involved with during the war. The jungle being as much an enemy as the Japanese.
George's most bitter memories are from the way he was treated by those in command. Although quite short, he was designated as the platoon donkey. Chiefly his duty was to carry mortar bombs, grenades and any other supplies thought necessary. This was in addition to the regular kit of a normal infantryman.
His personnal weapon was a .303 SMLE (Lee Enfield bottle action rifle), it was the grenade launcher variant. This version was nothing more than the normal SMLE with the timber work reinforced at a certain point with a wire binding to keep the stock from splitting due to the concussion of the grenade being propelled out the muzzle cup by a blank round. The grenade "cup" was a simple attachment.
One day during an engagement a mortar round landed alongside George and his mate. George was knocked about but basically uninjured, his weapon was effectively destroyed. His mate was no where near as lucky and was killed outright. As you can imagine, this was rather traumatic, but George had the presence of mind to grab his mate's rifle (a standard SMLE) to defend himself.
Once contact had been broken and the after action phase was under way George reported what had happened and was castigated for the loss of his weapon. The fact that his closest friend had been killed was ignored. Also was the fact that he had recovered his mate's weapon.
You can imagine his anger when he was told that his pay would be docked the cost of the destroyed rifle, no allowance was made for his recovery of the other weapon.
Because his weapon was a "special" version, it's book cost was considerably more than a normal SMLE. His pay was docked by 50% for 14 months! Binding wire and a simple grenade cup would appear to have a value beyond the wildest dreams of most people............
A couple of months went by and George decided that he had had more than enough of the army and being a jungle donkey. As it appeared that he owned that job, irrespective of anything and everyone else, he decided that if horses and donkeys could break down then so could he. So he broke down and was evacuated and that was the end of his war.
I have never seen George march on Anzac Day.
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