i8 THE YPRES TIMES TO be unwell in peace-time and at home is not pleasantto fall seedy in war-time and abroad is very unpleasant, superimposed are the discomforts, the rigours, the penalties of active service. Fall in the sick This was the peremptory order shouted every morning by the Camp Orderly after the battalion had marched off to duty. Fall in the sick What a contradiction in terms. Such, however, are the vicissitudes of active service that an ailing man must needs rise from his soldier's bed however hard that couchand present himself before a doctor. Ah would he be worthy the name of soldier if he didn't. Furthermore, it is not certain that he is unwell. It is a law of our country that a prisoner is innocent until his trial finds him guilty it is the view of the military that a man is free of ailment until the doctor finds the contrary to be the case. So that most undesirable of all parades is formedthe sick parade. Furthermore, your Medical may not be in camp. It may necessitate a march of one or two miles before he is found and some of the men may be additionally burdened with their kit-bags slung over their shoulders. Why should that be as it is obvious they are not doing it for fun It is because there is a probability of their being sent direct to hospital and the Quartermaster must not be troubled with surplus kitsand probably lousy ones at that. I was unfortunate enough to take part in several of these excursions and to vary the monotony of the marchif our progress may be so dignified by such a term I turned on one occasion and asked the man at my side what he was going sick on if it wasn't too intimate a question. It appeared he suffered from two complaints, although even at that eleventh hour he hadn't made up his mind which to offer the doctor as his reason for being off duty. An old ear sore was troubling him again and varicose veins had got him elsewhere. But," I suggested, why not state both complaints at once and have done with it." Not likely," he replied, a man doesn't take a trick with two cards one card does it. I think I'll show him my ear this morning and let him see my leg next week." Evidently there was the gentle art of going sick. The medical tent having been reached the invalids are halted and are probably given the impossible concession to stand easy. Presently they are allowed the further liberty of walking about, but to keep within call. The doctor is engaged with other patients. A couple of hours pass painfully away. The weather may be of arctic severity or a tropical heat may possess the atmosphere. It is all one. It is another phase of the soldier's lot, but oh, the dreariness of it all. At length the men are once more paraded and conducted one by one before the doctor. One can believe it to have been a rich experience for some of the doctors. Here they encountered human nature in the raw. There were some poor fellows who probably hadn't the clearest notion what was wrong with them even the simplest of complaints would be difficult to explain and the impression conveyed wouldn't be favourable to the invalid. Still, the men of healing showed wonderful patience with their clients and it was only foreshortened under just provocation. The great staple complaint in the battalion was diarrhoea or, if not that, its opposite, and it was with one of these that a man could, in a way, hoodwink the doctoralthough a No. 9 might bring


The Ypres Times (1921-1936) | 1930 | | pagina 20