Then one day

27 09 2011

in late September 1943, they marched us from the Cricket Grounds to the docks and onto the ships and back to the war.
Crowds of women had gathered dockside. There may have been men among all that vast and waving throng, but our eyes could only see the girls, squealing their good-bys as the had squealed and hugged themselves in greeting nine months before.
” Look at them, Lucky,” said Hoosier. ” Don’t kid yerself they’re out just to say good-by. They ain’t only wavin’, they’re waitin’– they’re waitin’ fer the first boatload of doggies coming into the harbor.”
“So?” shrugged Chuckler. ” You’d do the same if you was them. You’re just jealous.”
“Hell, yes, Chuckler,” Hoosier said, replying with eagerness. “Ah’m just needn’t because Ah’m on the wrong boat.”
Just then, as though to fit the Hoosier’s estimate of the farewell scenes, as though to summarize the Great Debauch now lying behind us, that period receding ever faster with the ever widening water between the docks and our stern, the men aboard ship took to a farewell gesture of their own.
They dug from their pockets and wallets those rubber balloon-like contraptions for which they had no longer any use, and they inflated them. These they set adrift on the currents of wind whipping about the fantail. Soon the space between the docks and our departing transport was filled with these white and sausage-shaped balloons– dozens, then hundreds, then thousands of them– dancing in the breeze, bouncing up and down, seeming to flutter even on the wind of noise raised between the ever-separating camps, the hoarse and vulgar hooting of the marines and the shrill and pseudo- shocked shrieking of the girls– answering one another like the coarsest concerto grosso.
In the diminishing distance we could still see the balloons.
Hail and farewell, women of the West. We who are about to die insult you.

–Robert Leckie

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One response

27 09 2011
Niki Shelley

We are not so easily offended!

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