By Christobel Mattingley
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Extra resources for Battle Order 204
It was mid-January. There was no shade or shelter for the young airmen, and the planes, made of wood and plywood, sat out in the sun all day, and were blisteringly hot when on the ground. They were Oxfords, twin-engined monoplanes, more than twice the size of the single-engined biplane Tiger Moths. The landscape, too, was very different. After Tasmania’s spring and early summer verdure, rivers and purple mountains, the expanse of sunburnt brown paddocks shimmering in the heat, windswept and treeless, was a shock and the glare was much harder on the eyes.
Fatigue, punishment for small misdemeanours such as being late on parade, meant extra latrine cleaning or kitchen work. One day, David and his companion were on guard duty when a carload of girls became bogged in the sandy track nearby. In reward for their gallantry in digging out the car, the girls gave them each an enamel mug full of sherry! The boys were lucky to escape punishment. At dinner, everyone was also hungry for the mail which was distributed, eager for news from home. The big moment when ‘the eagle shat’ came once a fortnight at pay parade, and each man received four pounds and four shillings – six shillings per day.
Drill, marching and physical training before lunch provided a welcome break from concentrated study. The recruits moaned about the weekly cross-country run, but gradually everyone grew fitter and tougher, losing puppy fat or flab. indd 26 2/4/07 3:15:57 PM Name, Rank and Number Daily duties included kitchen work, cleaning latrines and guard duties. Fatigue, punishment for small misdemeanours such as being late on parade, meant extra latrine cleaning or kitchen work. One day, David and his companion were on guard duty when a carload of girls became bogged in the sandy track nearby.