Sunday, June 12, 2022

Cannon fodder

The glory of war? There is no such thing. As the Russians and Ukrainians on the front lines in the east of Ukraine are finding out right now. Instead, it is just a steady slaughter house where you are lucky to have your head blown off rather than arms or legs or worse.

This was brought home to me by a colleague of mine that I worked with in Sydney, Australia back in 1966. At the time he was receiving psychiatric treatment for PTSD symptoms after having served in the Australian Army in New Guinea during WWII fighting against the Japanese.

His problem was that some 20 years after the war finished, the Japanese were, once again, being portrayed as human beings, rather than animals to be exterminated at all costs, and his wartime experiences had come back to haunt him at night.

During front line combat, he told me, Japanese officers could be easily identified by special markings on their helmets and every man in the platoon had orders to “take ‘em out first”. After that, it was just a chicken shoot, he said, as Japanese foot soldiers seemed incapable of acting on their own without officer guidance and command.

My friend also told me about an experience of his combat group being locked down in a beach area in Papua – New Guinea, taking regular mortar fire from a Japanese unit dug in on a beach on the other side of a headland.

“Hell started every morning at 6am sharp”, he said, and before breakfast a certain number of us would be dead or maimed every day.
So, just before 6am my friend started to shake uncontrollably, in anticipation of what was to come shortly.

He survived, but it took 20 years for his healing to begin.

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