William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD

SOME THOUGHTS ON THE “WET CANTEEN”

A tender young land, only seventeen,
to the Army I went, serving Country and Queen.
Many strange sights were vividly seen
most, whilst drinking in the men’s wet Canteen.

I met an old commando: he could fight like hell.
His name was John “the Greek” Cattell
He was captured twice in World War Two
Escaped both times, many Krauts he slew.

Old John was a Rifleman (a Private to you)
His chair in the wets was like a church pew
Greek had no children, no family, no wife;
His wet canteen was his way of life.

When a group of rowdies were ordered to go
by the duty Corporal, Canteen NCO,
they received one chance to head for the door
Or the Greek would lay them all out on the floor.

I listened to the stories about Korea;
‘Bout the Momma Sans who had Gone-a-ree-ha;
The tales of sadness, and horror and gore
Bout the wounded and dying in each bloody war.

I learned the poems, the ditties, the songs
‘Bout women who did their soldier boys wrong
I got twenty large beers for a two-dollar bill.
Me and Chink would drink half – the rest we would spill.

Staggering back to the barracks we’d sway
and “pay” on the square whilst drilling next day
Crawling through mud – route marching – no sweat;
we’d clean up our gear and then go for a wet!

Rifleman John ‘The Greek’ Cattell
WWII Commando, Rifleman John ‘The Greek’ Cattell, kneeling at the graveside of his mate
Sergeant Aubrey Cosens, VC