December 5th 1939 – Uttapanayskanna


“C” company did a bit of mountain warfare yesterday. I was horrified at it, but perhaps the methods I was taught are wrong after all. Anyway, no one will believe a word I say about it. Did a bit of field firing and ordered the local police to clear the range area by, say, 6am. We then have to clear it ourselves and start shooting around 7.30, having been just about to start once before and observed a man in dhoti up above one of the targets. Two fat black policemen arrive at 9.30 and say sorry, had made mistake but now alright. One platoon has just finished firing and a local is then seen crossing the area, nearing the targets. I grab the arm of the fattest man and point a quivering finger at the apparition and threaten to get him sacked. He says ‘excuse please’ a few times and then sends his friend off to clear him out. The local is then sen doubling back out of the area like a frightened hare.

We then ask fatty if we may start firing again. He says ‘yes’ so we ask him if he wants his friend to be killed – he had forgotten him, who is this moment coming back down the middle of the range.

Went into Madura on Sunday to watch hockey vs police. Went in the back of a police lorry and nearly shaken to death. There had tea with Hamilton D.S.P. and drinks after the game. The D.S.P. happens to stand and talk to someone when his Sgt Major, a madrasi, falls in two men behind him. Hamilton looks around, they look a bit sheepish, so he asks the SM what the hell they are doing. SM answers ‘to keep the sun off you, sar!’

Came back in the mess car which we have hired for 4 annas a mile and drivers food, which is exceptionally good I think. After a hair0rasing drive in which we take the hair off a few old men and the driver strains her, by refusing to change down, we reach home, having got stuck in the sand whilst taking Golly back to his camp, where A and B Coys are. A letter from Ma, enclosing one she had from Peggy, who is by way of being the girl that Hugh married – Peggy, Pegs – I wonder!

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