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Jo'Burg Days: 1915 - And All That

In this brief tale Barbara Durlacher encapsulates the ghastly mundanity of warfare.

Head-in-the Sand


‘Gi’ us a drag,’ he muttered, scratching his stubbled chin.

‘Pushing ya luck, you are!” his pal growled, taking the fag-end from behind his ear and lighting up. Exhaling a cloud of rank smoke, he passed the stub over and together they gazed into the fog and swirling cloud.

‘Then wa’ happened?’ the first man queried, pretending a curiosity he did not feel.

‘I got compassionate leave, and found her in bed wi’ me best pal.’

‘Wa’ya do then?” he enquired, his interest rising, hoping for some salacious details.

‘Got the bugger by the back o’ his neck, a’course, an belted him down the stairs and threw him out! Then I showed Stella wha’ for and took a turn meself! She’s warn’t half scared, I can tell ya! An I did; ya can bet yer life I did, after a’ that!’

The two men guffawed together, thinking of the cowed woman, beaten and humiliated by her coarse husband, taking his pleasure with her, after throwing her lover out.

‘Right Boys! Ready?’ came the officer’s voice. ‘Fix bayonets! Here we go. Up and over the top. Kill every man you can, and make your bullets count!’

And then the barrage started.

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