It’s time to stand-to betwixt night and day
As the god of the east sends darkness away,
In grey mists of dawn amongst the bamboo,
An alien wild world that few of us knew.
A malaria tablet and a couple of salt pills,
Washed down with rum the cure of all ills,
Each man peering at a wilderness of green,
In a Unit with just two aged over nineteen.
Oh beautiful that jungle for us paradise,
There was pure magic in its’ amazing sunrise,
At battle alert listening in strict silence
To Gods’ creatures celebrate their environment.
Was it like this on Creations first day
Before the human race lost the plot and the way,
And innocent world pure yet untamed,
Though soldiers we were, some felt ashamed.
A jungle is neutral it doesn’t take sides,
There are no rules of on or offsides,
This Garden of Eden with danger was fraught,
The worlds’ worst place for a war to be fought
The tiger is an animal that all men fear,
Scared not of mankind’s bullet or spear,
What he thought of our antics we couldn’t tell,
Sensed he was nearby his pungent smell.
We clear the area for the airdrop supply
Rations and stores will float from the sky,
And fondly talk of manna from heaven
From the benevolent belly of the C47.
Our harmony with nature won’t last long,
The Dakota’s engines silences bird song,
When the parachutes plop, tumbling to earth,
All jungle creatures run scared and berserk.
Thinking it was the end of their world,
Impossible to tell them no need to worry,
The tiger too dashed past in the race,
And all remembered the hate on his face.
Some used to ask “what did Santa Claus send”,
Opening boxes, packs and cartons of tins,
With sarcasm say “surprise surprise corn beef”—
Knowing full well it was the best food to eat.
In a couple of hours we’ll patrol elsewhere,
And no one could tell we’d ever been there,
The jungle hides all its’often been said
And sometimes, sadly—also the dead.
by Edward Coppinger
Salt tablets were for serious sweat loss. Taken daily with Rum prevented some from spitting them out! Rum issued only on jungle ops.