Second Diary Entry (No.13)
Diary Entry No. 13 29th April 1944
In all honesty these past days have been the most fascinating in my life. Each evening I wonder at the end of my bunk, flask in hand and nursing a bruised forehead, the state of the human condition and how loyalty can come and then go with servicemen. Currently the rate of fatigue is high and morale is low. After we departed an aghast Kenworthy and his cronies, we set off into the unknown Indian jungle in search of the remaining first infantry division, lurking somewhere in the bush, primed and ready for us as we were them.
On our journey a quote from Thomas Hardy crept into my mind while I immersed myself within this fantastical landscape: “The languid perfume of the summer fruits, the mists, the hay, the flowers, formed therein a vast pool of odour which at this hour seemed to make the animals, the very bees and butterflies drowsy.” And not to mention the lads and myself also might I add.
We crept amidst the bulrushes, determined not to give away our position to the enemy. There was a pop. A lad named Livingston was killed. No sniper was spotted. And after waiting a good few minutes we got to our feet. Winfrey, damn brave fellow, was on flamethrower duty as it happens, was the first up.
You see, in the underground boxing match, Johnson was so wounded that he was to be hospitalised for at least a week, hence why Winfrey had to take over despite his inexperience in the field. Poor boy.
Once up, Winfrey led a path for us of scorched earth and smouldering heaths. Then, after traversing through the jungle for near on an hour there was a rustle. We hit the floor. “The trees,” he whispered. He directed his weapon upwards and pulled back on the trigger. The Devil’s breath, I like to call them, engulfed the thing and a Jap, tumbled down from the tree’s bosom, his ankle tangled in the rope. He was aflame. Startled, we opened fire, tearing the poor sod to shreds with our Lee-Enfields while he hung, lifelessly from that blasted tree.
I will always recall the look of shock in his greyish palour.
We camped out in the sticks that night, Kenworthy had sent us on this escapade – resulting in the death of a young man, barely out of his adolescent years. Typical of the bastard. He is only a Lieutenant, yet he deliberately choses to forget the order of rank.
He is a Major to the lads.
Although bit and stung by the insects around me, my pain exceeded that of Livingston – the pang of guilt. I should’ve refused Kenworthy’s suggestion but orders are orders and I am a soldier, first and foremost.