John Steeles - Rations and mosquitoes

Running time
3 min 4 sec
Department of Veterans' Affairs


We were on pretty strict rations. Our ration, I suppose you know, our ration was a tin of bully beef and a packet of biscuits per man, per day, perhaps. And you'd have six blokes together. And today it's my turn to open my tin of bully beef, so I'd open it, and cut it off into very precise six portions, and your turn to open the biscuits. And you're as happy as Larry because there's 13 biscuits in the pack. So, everyone gets two, but you get three. And they were just like, we used to call them fibro biscuits. They were just like a sheet of fibro. You just, almost impossible to chew. But we enjoyed them.

You knew we were restricted on what we were allowed to take when we left Australia, did you? Right. Our pack consisted of half a blanket, half a towel, two singlets, two shirts, two shorts, half a Dixie. No knife or fork, a spoon. And that was, and a pair of boots. And the other pair of boots went into storage with all the rest of your personal stuff. So you learned to use your spoon as a knife, fork, and spoon.

Because we were sleeping on the ground, we had a cape, for a groundsheet, so that was our waterproof. And especially on the Bulldog-Wau Road, we always invite people to come in and spend the night with us, and share a bit of a meal, if we had one. Because when you sit down for a meal, normally, the mosquitoes are just there in a blanket, and it's impossible to put your food in your mouth without getting one or two mosquitoes to go in too. They're just there. So, when we got a stranger in camp, you couldn't see him for mosquitoes. We're sitting there, not a mosquito anywhere. They loved the new blood.

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