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The Day Before Yesterday: 62 - Snakes In The Jungle

Gladys Schofield's brother-in-law is posted to the Far East to engage in jungle warfare.

It became clear the War Office was moving up the age scale again and my oldest brother was of an age to enlist. He was nearly thirty and didn't look a fighting man but it takes all sorts to win a war: the fighters, the sailors, the soldiers and Cliff who was taking care of the big bomber engines, a job so very different to his one in civvy street as they called home.

Harold got a job in intelligence. He would work from an office in the Air Force. A hernia made him unfit for armed combat but at least he would be needed on the home front. He spent the first three months recovering from an operation He hadn't even know he had a hernia. They said he had lived with it a long time. Though he was stationed in this country, most of the action was down South and he was amongst all the bombing, even though their rooms were underground. He was offered a commission near the war's end but he turned it down. He never did like fuss for himself.

In the summer of 1942 Reg came again. He was alone this time. He had reached the age when they could go overseas. It was embarkation leave, Cliff wasn't due for a leave but I informed him anyway, as he may not see his brother again for years. He managed to get a forty-eight hour pass to see his brother. They were allowed supplementary food rations when they came on leave. A good job too as they always had healthy appetites.

It was lovely to see the brothers together and they made the most of it.

It was July and we spent most of our time outdoors but two days isn't much and Cliff said "Blow them," or words to that effect, "if they want me, they must fetch me" and stayed on. He had only been home an extra day when we received a telegram from the camp where he was stationed saying "Return immediately or you will be brought back.''

We knew the latter would be bad punishment and he was already in trouble, so
reluctantly the boys parted company and Cliff went back to face his punishment. He still got seven days confined to camp (jankers) but Chiefy (as he called his superior) said he "Couldn't do without Cliff,'' as he cared for the two starboard engines on the large bomber and he was a man short without him, He was released for duty.

Reg went to Burma. He must have spent two years in the jungle, with an occasional leave in India, The damp heat of the jungle was very hard on the health of the troops, who came down with all sorts of tropical diseases.

He said the Colonel worked at their side all the time and was not afraid to do what they did. They fought against the Japanese and knew if they got taken prisoner, they would suffer even more terribly than they were already doing. They were a cruel enemy and very cunning. The jungle itseif was almost as bad as the enemy as snakes slithered through the dense undergrowth. The lads had to avoid these and cut a passage as they travelled each day. That young lad saw enough horror to last a lifetime in those few years and his health was never the same.


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