A letter home, 10/51

A letter home, 10/51
Envelope containing letter written at an American MASH unit

Following my first WIA, I wrote as soon as possible to my no doubt anxious mother, telling her I was OK and going to Japan for a bludge. That was the first time I tasted or even heard of Hershey Bars in that MASH, and got such pampering.

I note the date on the envelope says 23 October, as I was wounded on the night of 19/20 and taken to the Indian Field Hospital, I have no idea what was happening to us between those dates. I can say my first contact with Indian curry left a life-long impression on my taste buds, I haven't touched the stuff since.

I have several lasting memories of the American MASH though, and none are of 'Hotlips' alas. They did however have an abundant supply of both lovely and kind women, nursing sisters and red cross ladies. Actually I think they had a soft spot for we diggers, I always seemed to be getting a chocolate bar, or a needle in the bum.

I shall always remember when we arrived, there were three of us from the same patrol. A kind hearted nurse welcomed us 'Britishers' to her ward, and told us tea was on the menu. Now calling an Australian soldier (British) is a terrible sin, and we filled the poor lass in quick smart.

She won us over again with the offer of a mug of tea, pure heaven since damned powdered coffee was the beverage in our ration packs. Then she proudly pointed to a huge dixie, sitting simmering on a pot-bellied stove in the centre of the tent. 'We keep that going especially for you Britishers' she said, then hastily choked that back to 'Australians'.

Lovely we thought and acquired a mug full apiece, then the reality of an American's idea of tea in those days, differed considerably from most civilised persons. This dixie had been simmering on that stove for Lord knows how long, and as we were to witness, the system was for an orderly to top it up with water, and throw in a handful of tea leaves whenever he thought about it.

All that I can honestly say is this lad must have tanned buffalo hides back in the States, and that was the family recipe for curing them in. Oh well, the intentions were good I suppose.

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