Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hospital Blues

On re-reading Matthew Parker’s version of “ Cassino” and Spike Milligan’s breakdown and treatment in No.2 General Hospital at Naples after the second battle where both the New Zealanders and the 4th Indian took such a beating that they were never the same again in the third battle and subsequent battles at the Gothic Line. All to attempt to save the slaughter that was happening to the forces at Anzio. These battles reinforced all of our opinions of the efficiency of the staff wallahs running the campaign – our opinions were not favourable

Spike’s problems reminded me of an Infantry type who was occupying the bed next to mine at the Gen. Hospital at Bari which I now understand was the British 98th General.
He had been shot in the leg which was now fully recovered but he was claiming that something was still wrong – and didn’t feel right . So every morning during rounds, three doctors and two nurses would descend on him and a very sharp needle would be pushed into the back of his knee cap - not once but three or four times – without a flicker from the patient. After some ten days of this it was decided that indeed there was something amiss with his leg – and he was due for Blighty – as I was – and so jollifications were called for.

As we were once more in adjoining beds on the Hospital Ship , which was well on it’s way – I asked him how his leg was – his reply stunned me – “ there’s bugger all wrong with it but there was no way I was going back up that line !” We both roared with laughter as he had beaten the odds – my laughter turned almost to tears when I was hauled off the ship at Catania for skin grafts as we were running out of manpower at that time and it was case of “patch ‘em and match ‘em - and bang ‘em back up the line !

My friend sailed on to Blighty !

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