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 bestjoke of all is the practical joke, and preferably played on someone whobegs to be taken in as a subject. One such guy was a soldier we'll callJohn. At the time of this event, the shooting war had stopped on July 27thand my unit, 2nd Btn RAR along with the 3rd Btn RAR, was camped near theImjin river near where we were busily engaged in preparing defenses alongour next front (if needed) called the Kansas Line. During our moments ofstand down we engaged in many and varied pastimes from boozing, to writingletters to our folks, or simply looking for a variety of practical jokesto carry out on the unsuspecting. And one of the most unsuspectinghappened to be John, who filled in his spare time searching oldnewspapers, magazines etc, for pen friends. You see, John just lovedgetting mail from girls back home, girls whom he had never met, and girlswho seemed to be just as lonely as he.

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

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

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

Arriving back in Camp, exhausted from the trip, the time in Tokyo, thegrog in Tokyo, and yes, the company in Tokyo. we were greeted by noneother than John with the ever so good news that he had been written to bythis great Canadian Girl called Mary Jane (giving her full name) andtelling 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 becamedepressed because Mary Jane had not answered his letter. He became quitesick because he didn't eat properly and his general condition started toworry me a little in case he did something desperate.

Finally, I confronted John with the fact that it was me who had writtenthe 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 Istarted quoting details about this girl that he hadn't disclosed, in aneffort to convince him that I spoke truthfully, to which he suddenlyresponded by accusing me of reading his mail. All hell broke loose, Johncame at me like a wounded tiger, with such venom in his voice that theensuing argument was broken up by our Sergeant who immediately paraded usboth before the Regimental Sergeant Major accused of fighting anddisturbing the peace and acting in a manner detrimental to good militaryconduct.

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

Me with captured burp gunKeith H. Hasler
New South Wales

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