War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

humour and morale and loss

I hear from them still – in fact, just today I received another care package with coffee and lovely words of encouragement in an envelope that was taped within an inch of its life (because soldiers sure know how to secure things) from one of them. They know what it feels like to be so far from home and how a parcel can improve morale. Today’s had little packets of my favourite coffee and a very kind letter. It was from someone who looked after me in the field a long time ago, when dirt and diesel and stress and death (there was an S.I.W. on that Ex) was all pretty new to me. And I’m grateful as always.

I’ve written so many times about how freaking funny soldiers can be and how utterly incapable I am of conveying that humour, especially because it’s so B-O-Y oriented and so filled with coded language. And I feel this is a huge failure on my part. But maybe not. Maybe it’s meant just for them. And when I think of all the time I spent with them I often remember how funny they are and how much I laughed, even when I was sick, or tired, or afraid.

Recently, trawling through a First World War nurse’s diary, I read a poem about lice written by a young convalescing private in a hospital in France. Jaunty and humorous and clever, it made me smile to think about this PBI kid with perhaps trench foot or some serious illness or injury lying around a hospital ward and inking poems for the nurses’ amusement. Dire times = big, dark, senses of humour.

Just had a call from the homeland from one of the boys heading off for his shift. He’s left the army and is working in another challenging environment. He called to check in as he does from time-to-time and to tell me about yet another S.I.W. – one of his platoon. Goes with the business of war I’ve learned, sadly, very sadly – just today we read S.I.W. by Wilfred Owen in class – and I’m so very, very sorry for the man’s family. Afghanistan goes on and on says my friend.

I gave him my condolences. But then after we talked it out we got yacking about other things and soon he had me crying with laughter as he told me of the shenanigans the boys used to get up to in the field and in theatre and esp. how they played pranks on anyone who gave them a hard time or who did something stupid. A real-time payback that had them all laughing at each other and with each other. And I can’t tell you the nicknames, nor can I give you the details, not now, not here, maybe never. Suffice it to say I’m now looking back and wondering if they set me up at any time and sat back for a good laugh. Hmmmmm. I guess I’ll never know. But it sure the hell upped my morale, just like the coffee and kind thoughts.


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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled humour and morale and loss. It was posted here on March 05, 2013.

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