Saturday, 16 May 2009

The Scraper's Diary, March 12th, 1947 Dortmund

We arrived back at Duesseldorf at 3.30 this morning.
I, having forecast that time to within one minute, won twenty five cigarettes.
Being told to move off at 10 for Wuppertal, I rose at 9, but, as usual, we didn't leave until 1.30 - and then, when we reached Wuppertal, we weren't expected until tomorrow, so we went on to Dortmund, and are preparing for a really long night's rest.

As I have a little spare time now, I will note down one or two things, that have been festering in my mind for a day or three.

Whatever you may hear to the contrary, the British soldier out here has a cushy time compared to us bods stationed in Blighty.

He gets better food. The worst meal I have had here was the equal to the best I have had at Larkhill. Moreover, the cookhouses are scrupulously clean, and smell-less.
Moreover, he never has to queue for his food.
Moreover, he is waited on by German men and sometimes, pretty women.

The barrracks here are all brick and centrally heated.
Moreover, they often have hot water.
Moreover, there are adequate wash-places and baths, and lavatories.
Moreover, the beds are all sprung.
Moreover, there are often German girls to clean the room and press his suits.

A soldier here can buy 75 cigarettes a week at 8d for twenty.
Moreover, his sweet ration is greater than ours.
Moreover, he gets 50 cigarettes a week free.

He can buy far more in his canteens and Naafis than we can in our shops.
He has all the facilities of the Black Market at his disposal - and these are terrific.

And now he has the R.A. (S.P.) band for a few weeks.

Of course, he doesn't get home at weekends, but German girls are very fetching and quite cheap.


"What did you want all them biscuits for, Pop?" says Bill.

"Didn't you see him", says Taffy, the driver, "Round the back with a tart?"

"What", says Bill, "Old Nelly, the three biscuit queen?"

General laughter.

"And him a respectable married man", says Ginger. "I don't know".

"He's the biggest old ram in the band, after the old man", says someone.

"Cor yes", says Bill. "Did you see him coming back from the dance? Sitting in the back of the bus with a blonde tart. Bit of all right, that was".

"Strewth", says someone else, "look at the bloody floods. look, splashed that old ----'s stockings, didn't we"?

"What time are we getting back?", I say.

"Dunno", says Ginger. "Tomorrow", and someone starts singing "We won't be home till morning".

"Cor", says Ginger. "Four weeks. Roll on. Bloody roll on".

And we lapse into a meditative silence as the coach rolls on through the devastation of Cologne.


  1. This post is very immediate and alive. Humans being humans, despite the bigger issues.

  2. I just can hear them speak! Another thing, my daughter helped me get to be a Follower of your blog because I had no clue how to do it. It looks like we did it twice. I hope not, and I would not know how to change it - she is in California and I am in Georgia. If it is a problem I'll call her tomorrow, but you may be able to change it. It also could be that it shows in duplicate on my screen only - I have not been a Follower before.

  3. I think I fixed it and deleted the duplicate picture. I hope I did not mess up anything!

  4. English Rider,
    A bunch of soldiers, even if they are musicians and should be on "a higher plane" (oh yeah?) are just men on the loose.

    Hi Vagabonde, everything is fine, no messing up and I've got you only once in my list. Thanks for joining.

  5. I've been reading several books lately set in the WWII time period--fascinating time. Love your descriptions and dialogue--puts you right there.


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