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Tales from the Tiger

 

Australian Infantryman's Combat Badge

© Tom Davern
8 & 9 Platoons
1st Tour

Author: Tom Davern


The Australian one-man ration pack consists of a plastic bag containing 3 meals (when reconstituted) for 1 day, about the length and width of an A4 sheet of paper with a depth of about 4 inches. The American rations for 1 day consisted of 3 different individual cardboard boxes, eachHam and Lima Beans Ration Box consisting of 1 meal.  The yank rations did have some good things in them like smokes, ‘Pall Mall’, ‘Lucky Strike’. ‘Unfiltered Camel’, ‘Marlboro’, usually about 5 smokes per meal. They also had a couple of brands of ‘Menthol’ tasting cigarettes which tasted like shit and a rather potent and foul tasting meal in a tin called ‘Ham and Lima Beans’.

Usually we carried 3 or 4 Aussie ration packs and 9 or 12 Yank cardboard boxes (1 meal each) about one and a half size of a Dolphin Eveready battery.

 As it was my job to collect the rations and all the other equipment, and issue it to my  Section members, I used to lay  all the  rations and individual equipment out on the ground and at base, call the troops in to collect their gear.

Naturally, after Operation Hardihood, there always would be some frantic trading and swapping going on amongst the troops whilst packing both the Australian, and especially the yank rations into their packs (to lighten the load and get rid of  especially the menthol cigarettes and the mongrel Ham and Lima Bean feed).

As a fair and just Lance Corporal, I would always wait until there was just one stack of rations left, for me. Inevitably, for some further two months, I always ended up with at least 1 or 2 and on one occasion 3 yank feeds with the hated ‘Ham and Lima Bean’ feed amongst my supplies.

By this stage if the manufacturer of the ‘Ham and Lima Bean’ feed had walked into the base area, I possibly could have shot him!

“Why me Lord, why me?” I curse to myself, whilst once again stashing the disgusting feed into my pack.

Suddenly, I saw the light! You most definitely cannot trust your very close comrades in a war, even though you expect them to be fair and upright as you are!

The yank individual cardboard packs had printed on their tops what the meal contained!

I know, I know, but as a young fellow (then, and readers might think me a bit slow), I really believed ‘One for all, and all for one’ related to my Section. Hence the reason I am such a cynical elderly person now.

From then on all yank rations, were turned upside down, by me and strict instructions given “No one will tamper with them, pick them up and go.” Thinking to myself, ”Now you conniving pack of hyenas, go! Go, squabble and snarl over your prizes, you shall not leave me with the lees of your feasts again!”

And so it came to pass, that a mere lance corporal/croupier watched with bated breath whilst, the dice was cast, knowing full well, where the ‘Ham and Lima Beans’ feeds were situated.

I am sure this recollection, should cause all those surviving members from the pack, to hang their heads in shame.  I know it won’t. What I do know, they and I would have died for each other. And seeing that I,  so bitter and twisted as regards this matter didn’t die, as they didn’t, I could envision, upon  my death's door,  I somehow could arrange  the compulsory  force feeding of at least one meal a day of ‘Ham and Lima Beans’ to all of them, everyday, until they finally fall of the perch.


Article courtesy 'Tiger Tales' The official newsletter of the 5RAR Association.

 

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