2020-10-29

Life in the Australian Army

(Editor’s Note: This piece was contributed by Mr. Rei Ozaeta who is a frequent visitor to Australia. He’s a Filipino American who now resides in Los Angeles. He once fought with the Philippine Army. Boat people and others who have just arrived in Australia will not appreciate nor understand the slang used in the letter below. I thought it is best published unedited for readers to appreciate.)

Dear Mum & Dad,

I am well. Hope youse are  too. Tell me big brothers Doug and Phil that the Army is better than workin’ on the farm — tell them to get in bloody quick smart before the jobs are all gone! I wuz a bit slow in settling down at first, because ya don’t hafta get outta bed until 6am. But I like sleeping in now, cuz all ya gotta do before brekky is make ya bed and shine ya boots and  clean ya uniform. No bloody cows to milk, no calves to feed, no feed to stack — nothin’! Ya haz gotta shower though, but its not so bad, coz there’s lotsa hot water and even a light to see what ya doing!

At brekky ya get cereal, fruit and eggs but there’s no kangaroo steaks or possum stew like wot Mum makes. You don’t get fed again until noon and by that time all the city boys are buggered because we’ve been  on a ‘route march’ — geez its only just like walking to the windmill in the back paddock!

This one will kill me brothers Doug and Phil with laughter. I keep getting medals for shootin’ — dunno why. The bulls-eye is as big as a bloody possum’s bum and it don’t move and it’s not firing back at ya like the Johnsons did when our big scrubber bull got into their prize cows before the Ekka last year! All ya gotta do is make yourself comfortable and hit the target — it’s a piece of piss!!  You don’t even load your own cartridges, they comes in little boxes, and  ya don’t have to steady yourself against the rollbar of  the roo shooting truck when you reload!

Sometimes ya gotta wrestle with the city boys and I gotta be real careful coz they break easy. It’s not like fighting with Doug and Phil and Jack and Boori and Steve and Muzza all at once like we do at home after the muster. Turns out  I’m not a bad boxer either and it looks like I’m the best  the platoon’s got. I’ve only been beaten by this one bloke from the Engineers. He’s 6 foot 5 and 15 stones and three pick handles across the shoulders and as ya know I’m only 5 foot 7 and eight stones wringin’ wet, but I fought him till the other blokes carried me off to the boozer.

I can’t complain about the Army. Tell the boys to get in quick before word gets around how bloody good it is.

Your loving  daughter,

Sheila