Most Hated Postings.

Discussion in 'General' started by wowtank, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    My wife's grandfather was stationed in the Aleutian Islands. He hated it with a passion. A good bit of the time, it was either cold and snowing or so foggy that he could not see more than 10 feet. FOr a boy raised in south Alabama, it was pure, unadulterated hell.

    Or Tennessee for that matter. He would appreciate this:


    The Cremation of Sam McGee


    The Cremation of Sam McGee



    By Robert W. Service 1874–1958
    There are strange things done in the midnight sun
    By the men who moil for gold;
    The Arctic trails have their secret tales
    That would make your blood run cold;
    The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
    But the queerest they ever did see
    Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
    I cremated Sam McGee.

    Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.
    Why he left his home in the South to roam 'round the Pole, God only knows.
    He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;
    Though he'd often say in his homely way that "he'd sooner live in hell."

    On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.
    Talk of your cold! through the parka's fold it stabbed like a driven nail.
    If our eyes we'd close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn't see;
    It wasn't much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.

    And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow,
    And the dogs were fed, and the stars o'erhead were dancing heel and toe,
    He turned to me, and "Cap," says he, "I'll cash in this trip, I guess;
    And if I do, I'm asking that you won't refuse my last request."

    Well, he seemed so low that I couldn't say no; then he says with a sort of moan:
    "It's the cursèd cold, and it's got right hold till I'm chilled clean through to the bone.
    Yet 'tain't being dead—it's my awful dread of the icy grave that pains;
    So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you'll cremate my last remains."

    A pal's last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail;
    And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! he looked ghastly pale.
    He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee;
    And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.

    There wasn't a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven,
    With a corpse half hid that I couldn't get rid, because of a promise given;
    It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say: "You may tax your brawn and brains,
    But you promised true, and it's up to you to cremate those last remains."

    Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
    In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load.
    In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring,
    Howled out their woes to the homeless snows— O God! how I loathed the thing.

    And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
    And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low;
    The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in;
    And I'd often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.

    Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay;
    It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the "Alice May."
    And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum;
    Then "Here," said I, with a sudden cry, "is my cre-ma-tor-eum."

    Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire;
    Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher;
    The flames just soared, and the furnace roared—such a blaze you seldom see;
    And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.

    Then I made a hike, for I didn't like to hear him sizzle so;
    And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow.
    It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don't know why;
    And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.

    I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
    But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near;
    I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: "I'll just take a peep inside.
    I guess he's cooked, and it's time I looked"; ... then the door I opened wide.

    And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
    And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: "Please close that door.
    It's fine in here, but I greatly fear you'll let in the cold and storm—
    Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it's the first time I've been warm."

    There are strange things done in the midnight sun
    By the men who moil for gold;
    The Arctic trails have their secret tales
    That would make your blood run cold;
    The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
    But the queerest they ever did see
    Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
    I cremated Sam McGee
     
    gpo son likes this.
  2. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

  3. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    It should also be noted that Catterick Camp was also home of the Tank regiments of Northern Command - and still is- nobody wanted a posting there - Barnard Castle was bad enough with three Tank training regiments - and an Infantry Battle school !
    Cheers
     
  4. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Espiritu Santo looks kind of nice.

    Looks can be deceiving. Many Allied airmen and sailors admired the beauty of the tropical islands from a distance, but when they actually got there they found that the beauty concealed a lethal climate. However beautiful it looked, the jungle was NOT hospitable to man, even to the native peoples who lived on its fringes. (And DON'T call it 'rain forest'--that is a contemporary, pansified phrase that conceals the ugly reality.) The jungle was infested with every kind of vicious insect and microbe known to science. The rain was incessant and there were clouds of mosquitoes. Most men got malaria, and they also suffered from jungle sores, immersion foot, chiggers, leeches, dysentery, and occasionally the lethal scrub typhus, to mention only the most common plagues. Anyone on this site who served in the South or Southwest Pacific (or in Burma, for that matter) will confirm this.

    I am, of course, speaking of these regions as they were 60 or 70 years ago. At that time, they were very isolated and almost totally undeveloped. Conditions have evidently improved somewhat since then, as the Wiki promo for Espiritu Santo suggests, but I knew a man who was a missionary in New Guinea not long ago and by his account not a lot has changed in the interior since WWII.
     
  5. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    Apropos joke:

    Exactly!
     
  6. Rav4

    Rav4 Senior Member

    Some RAF members couldn't have been very thrilled at being posted to Archanelsk in Northern Russia. Getting there and back was also no joy ride.
     
  7. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

  8. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Not quite sure whether or not I read the thread title correctly in the first place.

    If we are being asked which area we most hated being sent to, then it has to be the month or so that we were in the Monte Cassino area. I can't think of a single redeemable feature during our stay in that hellhole :(

    If however we are being asked which areas we would have hated being posted to, then my original comment stands, the Far East was definitely on my "no thank-you" list.

    Ron
     
    gpo son likes this.
  9. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Reading the account of the Shetlands in both World Wars,it could be a very lonely place especially for those who were detailed for duties such as coast watching from remote desolate locations.Read about two soldiers who were detailed for a stretch of this type of duty and were left to their own devices with rations and with nominal support.

    Billeted and on duty in abandoned shelters with one other as company,it was, apparently mentally stressing to some individuals.
     
  10. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

  11. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Harry

    Your posting about the Shetlands set me thinking about guard duty in a lonely spot and I remembered writing about such a place in the BBC Archives:

    WHITBY, Yorkshire, 1942

    In December '42 I was stationed at Whitby being trained as a Driver/Wireless Operator in the Royal Artillery.

    Most nights, after a hectic day's training, we would find ourselves on guard and manning pill boxes strategically placed on the cliff tops of nearby Robin Hood's Bay.
    Two men to a pill box, armed with Lee Enfield rifles and 5 rounds of ammo each.

    The pill box had no creature comforts whatsoever, just the bare bleak concrete walls, the only light coming through the weapon slit facing seaward. Toilet arrangements non existent, ditto for seating, and food was what you had been issued with if the cooks were in a good mood.

    However many layers of clothing we donned before going on guard we froze and by the end of our shift we were comatose having exhausted whatever conversation we used to keep ourselves awake.

    Looking back now, we only did this type of guard duty perhaps a couple of times a week, if it had been every-night, day in & day out, I could well see that it could have affected our mental state and you are right to point this out.

    Ron
     
  12. Ednamay

    Ednamay wanderer

    delete spammer

    what on earth is this?
    Edna
     
  13. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    what on earth is this?
    Edna

    It was a spammer's post I was in middle of banning.
    if you see any similar posts please click the Warning Triangle icon [​IMG] over to the left rather than quoting it.
    cheers
     
  14. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    I believe my WW2 Naval veteran friend would always insist that the Arctic Convoys to Russia were the worst.

    Not only U-Boats, Surface raiders and Bombers to contend with, but the icy conditions, hacking off ice with axes from the ship!

    Makes me cold even thinking about it.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  15. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

    I believe my WW2 Naval veteran friend would always insist that the Arctic Convoys to Russia were the worst.

    Not only U-Boats, Surface raiders and Bombers to contend with, but the icy conditions, hacking off ice with axes from the ship!

    Makes me cold even thinking about it.

    Regards
    Tom


    I decided to remove my comedic clip. Trying to be funny at this point in the thread wasn't right.

    I apologize.

    Dave
     
  16. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Dave,

    They should be so lucky!
    No-one was allowed off ship.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  17. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    Dave,

    They should be so lucky!
    No-one was allowed off ship.

    Regards
    Tom

    85 merchant ships and 16 Naval escorts lost.

    Yet!

    No keys to the city, no marching bands.
     
  18. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    And for nothing, as the bulk of Lend-Lease went through Persia and Vladivostok. Quite frankly, the Murmansk-Archangel run was a complete and unnecessary waste of lives given the alternatives. God bless their souls.
     
  19. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    I knew a man who was in the merchant marine on the Murmansk run. He finally said "screw this," and joined the 101st Airborne instead. It was probably safer.
     
  20. belasar

    belasar Junior Member

    If you were an African-American, probably port duty loading ammunition was about the worst.
     

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