BY RICHARD WEST
Copyright is held by the author.
DICK WALKED into the tent and looked over his platoon. They all looked up from their dinner and stared at him.
“Hello, Corporal. We didn’t expect you until late tonight.”
“Yeah. We thought you would have a few pints at the King’s Head after your leave. Before coming back here that is.”
“So, you think I’m a piss artist, do you? I’ll remember that next time I’m considering placing you on a charge, Sandy.”
“We all thought the same, Corp.”
“So, you all want to be on a charge?”
“Did you save any dinner for me?”
“Good thing I had fish and chips before I got on the train in London.”
“How was the ‘Smoke’, Corp?”
“Full of smashed buildings and piles of bricks from the bombing. But everyone is bright enough. Now the worst of the Blitz is over, people are hoping these night raids will slowly tail off.”
“How is the place your missus got to live in?”
“Don’t ask. It’s a wreck. Windows all blown out and boarded up. Plaster cracked to hell. Roof leaks. Years of work to put the mess right.”
“At least she has a roof over her head.”
“A bloody land mine fell a few weeks back. Blew the house, two doors down the road, completely away.”
“Sorry to hear that.”
“Mind you lads, there is a big pub at the end of the road.”
“What’s it called?”
“The Swiss Cottage.”
“I think I’ve seen it. A big white building.”
“Suppose you paid it a visit, Corp?”
“My sisters and their husbands came over and we visited the pub.”
“Sounds like a good shindig, Corp?”
“It was a family get together. That’s all lads.”
“When we got home I was really touched. Winn had remembered I love banana sandwiches and she gave me a round. I felt she really misses me.”
“You sure they were bananas, Corp?”
“Of course they were.”
Dick looked over the eight men. He saw eight innocent looks.
What am I missing?
“Sandy. Why are you all looking like butter wouldn’t melt in your mouths? What’s wrong?”
Sandy looked at his fellow Privates and then back to Corporal West.
“Sorry, Corp. But there ain’t been any bananas in Britain since early in 1940. Not sure what was in your sandwiches.”
Dick looked at his “lads” and frowned.
“So, what could it have been?”
Private Jones stepped in, “Well, Corp. If I was going to do that, I would boil some turnip, mash it up fine and then lace it with banana essence.”
Dick looked at his lads again.
“Well, I did enjoy the sandwiches. I also enjoyed the beer at the pub.”
“So, it was a good leave, Corp?”
“You bet it was.”
“That’s good, Corp, because it’ll be the last for a long time.”
“Why’s that, Sandy?”
“We were told this afternoon that all leave is cancelled and we are confined to barracks.”
“We aren’t in a barracks.”
“OK, Corp. We’re confined to camp until further notice.”
Dick looked at his lads.
“Sounds like we are going over to France lads. I hope we all get to remember the summer of 1944.”