Robert Goodwin - Bitten by a centipede

Running time
4 min
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


I was in a tent. The weather had broken, and the monsoons were just pouring out of the sky. We had about 14 men under a tent fly, if you can imagine that, trying to sleep after a heavy day's work. I got this blasted ulcer on the middle ... of my left foot. It just ached and ached and ached. I thought it couldn't possibly get worse, when all of a sudden, I got a dreadful pain in my right toe, in the middle of the right foot.

I realized I'd probably been bitten by something. I scrumpled the bit of bed clothing that I had over my foot and sort of tied up whatever was there. I rolled 'round for the rest of the night with pain in my right toe. I can laugh about it in the past ... in the present, but it wasn't funny then. I lost all the pain that, it was just aching, aching, aching, aching in the left foot, and suddenly this dreadful pain in this right foot. I was in, if you can imagine 14 men under a tent fly, under pouring rain, not comfortable.

The rest of the morning, I got this pain in this right foot. Dawn came, and I cautiously took the things off the foot that I'd thumped on. As I did, an enormous centipede ran off. I'd been bitten by a bloody centipede, and it was worse than the pain I had on the left foot. But by then, my pain had come back. We had this huge walk every day up almost a 45 degree for well over a mile.

Anyway, in due course, the Australian doctors, we had two Australian doctors in the camp, one wonderful fellow from Sydney. He was the sort of fellow that made you feel as though he ... he made you feel good just by talking to you. He made you feel as though he was being paid thousands of dollars for any operation he might do on you. He said, "I'm sorry, Mr. Goodwin, but I think the only way to treat that foot is to take the toe off." He immediately set to. I don't know what sort of anesthetic he gave me if any, and he took the toe off. It healed, got better. I got back to work, and that was that. That's my war wound, an absent toe.

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