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Western Mail, Thursday 2 November 1933, page 2


Dear "Non-Com.," - Herewith my first entry for the Diggers' Page Stakes.

On the Somme one night in '16 an old hand was escorting a new reinforcement officer up to his company in the line. After the first half-mile the digger whispered: "Look out for shell-hole, sir."

The officer followed suit: "All right," he replied, also in a whisper.

Then, the following conversation ensued during the march, all in a Whisper:

Digger (after another half-mile): "Look out for this dead mule, sir."

Officer: "Alright."

Digger (after another 500 yards): "Mind this broken duckboard, sir."

Officer: "Yes, alright."

Digger (after another 1,000 yards): Hurry past the cross-roads, sir."

Officer: "Righto. By the way" (his whisper was getting strained), "how far are we from these front line trenches?"

Digger (still whispering):, "About two more miles to go, sir!"

The officer's whisper ceased and he roared like a bull: "Well, what the hell are you whispering for?"

"Oh," returned the old hand, still in a whisper, "I can't talk any louder. I've got a cold!"

E.M., (2632, 12th Batt.), Kukerin.

Those in the story:

Narrator E.M. = 2632 Ernest MATSON, a 24 year old Farm labourer from 11 Forrest Avenue, East Perth, Western Australia enlisted in the AIF on 15 June 1915 and was allotted to the 12th Battalion, 8th Reinforcement which embarked from Fremantle, Western Australia, on board HMAT A68 Anchises on 2 September 1915. After the Great War he Returned to Australia, 13 April 1919.