Aussie sense of humour

2/401368 Keith H. Hasler, "D" Company 2RAR

Like most Australians, I like a joke as much as the next man and the best joke of all is the practical joke, and preferably played on someone who begs to be taken in as a subject. One such guy was a soldier we'll call John. At the time of this event, the shooting war had stopped on July 27th and my unit, 2nd Btn RAR along with the 3rd Btn RAR, was camped near the Imjin river near where we were busily engaged in preparing defenses along our next front (if needed) called the Kansas Line. During our moments of stand down we engaged in many and varied pastimes from boozing, to writing letters to our folks, or simply looking for a variety of practical jokes to carry out on the unsuspecting. And one of the most unsuspecting happened to be John, who filled in his spare time searching old newspapers, magazines etc, for pen friends. You see, John just loved getting mail from girls back home, girls whom he had never met, and girls who seemed to be just as lonely as he.

My chance came in November 1953, when my old mate Peter Crowe and I were chosen to go on R and R to Japan. Peter and I wisely chose Tokyo as our preferred place of relaxation, with the many bright lights, night clubs, bars, etc and etc. One day, we wandered into the Canadian Maple Leaf Club for the usual few beers as starters to our day of debauchery. I spotted some Club Stationery and it was then that the idea came to me...

Writing in my neatest handwriting, and calling myself Mary Jane something or other, I started my letter to John, introducing myself by saying how my Dad had brought home an Aussie newspaper from one of his business trips down under and in it finding where this "lonely soldier in Korea was looking for a friend". I went on to say how my Dad was big in gold-mining in the Yukon and how I too was a lonely girl of just a sweet 18 years. I quoted more details about myself over and over until I felt sure that John would fall for this "lonely Canadian Girl". Finishing my letter with the usual "write soon won't you"? I sealed it in a suitable Maple Leaf Club envelope and forwarded it on to John back in our camp.

Continuing on with our leave, Peter and I soon forgot the letter and a week or so later found ourselves on a DC3 of the Royal Australian Air Force, bound for Kimpo Air Base.

Arriving back in Camp, exhausted from the trip, the time in Tokyo, the grog in Tokyo, and yes, the company in Tokyo. we were greeted by none other than John with the ever so good news that he had been written to by this great Canadian Girl called Mary Jane (giving her full name) and telling us both in just a few minutes, all about this wonderfull girl.

The next few days passed normally but after a week or so, John became depressed because Mary Jane had not answered his letter. He became quite sick because he didn't eat properly and his general condition started to worry me a little in case he did something desperate.

Finally, I confronted John with the fact that it was me who had written the letter while on leave in Tokyo recently. He refused to believe me, saying I was simply making it up so as to gently let him down. Then I started quoting details about this girl that he hadn't disclosed, in an effort to convince him that I spoke truthfully, to which he suddenly responded by accusing me of reading his mail. All hell broke loose, John came at me like a wounded tiger, with such venom in his voice that the ensuing argument was broken up by our Sergeant who immediately paraded us both before the Regimental Sergeant Major accused of fighting and disturbing the peace and acting in a manner detrimental to good military conduct.

In front of all and sundry, I had to confess to my dastardly act of cruelty to John and offer him an unconditional apology for my part in this practical joke. I also had to promise to never ever ("If you come before me again, etc etc") engage in such acts of cruelty against my fellow soldiers. This I did and as we walked out of the RSM's quarters, John and I shook hands and I again promised him to be more humane in my choice of practical joke. The incident also cured John of his romantic endeavors with pen friends. I hope he went on in civvy life to meet the girl (or girls) of his dreams, as most of us have done, (eventually!!!)

Me with captured burp gun Keith H. Hasler
New South Wales

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