Happy Diggers, July '53

Happy Diggers, July '53

The beer arrives and is being divided, note Smithy rubbing his stomach with anticipation.

This is on The Hook, no tin hats.

Well if there was one thing we Australians had over those goldarn Yanks, it was a beer supply in the line. On top of that, we had a small but potent rum issue before doing some serious work, such as a fighting patrol and so forth.

Once the war had stabilised down to the static phase, we had a fairly constant issue of one bottle per man, per day. There were a few non-drinkers, so if you did a deal with one of those, you could score two, almost enough to get 'tanked' on for us youngsters. The beer was of the Japanese variety and it tasted quite good, they learnt quickly those Jap folks.

The rum issue was another matter altogether, it was Jamaican I believe, and came in stone jugs encased in cane. During the winter we had a 'tot' every night, it went down very well in a mug of coffee. A very popular use for it was as a pick-me-up before going out on a raid, or fighting patrol. Needless to say you would try and score a tot before going out on anything, trouble was those stone jugs had a hell of a time getting past the rear echelons and BHQ. I'm not for one moment suggesting they drank more than their share, it was likely a lot of the jugs were broken en route. (yeah)

Winter time played havoc with our beer issue, even though each bottle was wrapped in straw, and came by the pine case in transit. The temperature was so low the beer froze, expanded, and burst the bottles. Twas a sorry sight indeed when a case was opened, only to find a few bottles had made the trip in one piece. Watching grown men cry is not a pretty sight. Many was the quaint method devised to thaw those frozen bottles, from sitting them on a heater to taking them into your sleeping bag. Using the heater method needed great care, sitting the bottle in a tin of warming water was a good way. Personally now, I prefer a drop of port.


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