Leave to conceive
We all expected the war to be over quickly, with a handful of casualties, so those first few days in the trenches were a shock to all of us, those that survived at least. Every single one of us lost friends, often standing beside them as they died. It was, what my teachers would call, a lesson in growing up.
It must have been similar back home. No tramping over piles of dead bodies to get to the latrines, but the flurry of telegrams and letters announcing deaths of loved ones soon became a daily even in every town. Surely every wife, father and mother must have expected the dreaded delivery of news.
So when Joe Henry returned from leave a year and day after signing up, his young wife unsurprisingly expected that this would be the last time she ever spent with him.
However, though her fears were common, her reaction was unexpected. She was determined to bear his child while she had the chance and spent every second of every day he was there forcing him have sex. (Well, according to Joe he was willing for the first dozen or so times but after that she took advantage of his state of exhaustion).
They did pause to go to church on Sunday, but she didn’t even wail ‘til they got home afterwards, accosting him in the churchyard on the grave of Mrs Ethel Phillips.
Eventually, Joe’s leave was over and to his relief he was returned to the trenches.
“You’re pleased to be here?” we laughed.
“Yeah, the worse that can happen here is trench-foot, mustard gas or a slow-killing wound in the gut. I was facing death by nookie.”
We all laughed again. His plight didn’t seem so terrible.
“I’ll show you,” he said, and in order to prove his point he dropped his trousers and pants. We immediately understood his point. His penis, which had seen the type of service that would surely have won umpteen medals had this been a military campaign, was raw red.
“My god, it’s glowing.” someone said.
Joe was persuaded to visit the MO. Though the MO thought he had seen everything during his year at the front, he was shocked by what he saw.
“I can’t send you out to battle with you penis in that state,” he said. “I’m sending you home on a month’s medical leave.”
“No, not that,” Joe begged. “Can’t you just chop it off?”
Joe was dispatched back to the arms of his wife, and spent the rest of the war at home on medical grounds. Last I heard he had three sets of twins and permanent frown on his face.