Archiver > NEW-ZEALAND > 2002-10 > 1033798719

From: Karen or Paul <>
Subject: [NZ] Sling Camp
Date: Sat, 05 Oct 2002 18:21:17 +1200

To the lister who asked for info on the above - sorry I deleted your
message. (With indulgence from the list administrator).
This afternoon I read a section of a book called 'Anzac Diary' written by
'a nonentity in Khaki' which had this to say about Sling Camp:-
(Page 30).
Sling Camp, England. My first impressions of this camp are not by any
means happy ones. The gag 'You're in the Army now' has been bought home to
me now in earnest. Since our arrival here at 2.30 this morning we have been
badgered about from pillar to post. Rushed to the barber's for hair cut,
rushed elsewhere for medical inspections, issued with web equipment in all
pieces and told to assemble same (a monkey puzzle to the uninitiated), then
while we are still in the toils of piecing it together, ordered to parade
for dental inspection. No sooner we are back in our huts and at our monkey
puzzle again, still unsolved, when we are ordered to parade for G.O.C.
inspection. We are hounded about everywhere by barking, snapping N.C.O's who
apparently take a great delight in pressing upon us the infinite inferiority
of the recent arrival.
Good Lord! We don't need it further impressed upon us, we have suffered
from a severe inferiority complex ever since we opened our eyes at 6 o'clock
this morning.
(Page 33)
(talking about how he arrived at Sling) A little after midnight we reached
Bulford siding and from this point we marched in the dead of night through
sleeping camps until we reached this damned joint. Upon our arrival we were
given some supper and then we turned in in our new quarters ready to sleep
the clock around, the time now being 2 am. Alas! At 6 a.m. a Camp Sergeant
stamped his way through the hut bawling in a raucous voice 'Rise and Shine.
Rise and Shine'. Heavy-lidded we crawled from beneath our blankets and from
that moment we have been on the go with a vengeance, as previously stated.
17th June 1917
No! I'll never get to like this place. It's a clear case of efficiency run
amok. A man cannot call his soul his own. Reveille at 6 am., no chance of
another forty winks, out of bed one hops; rushes out to the ablution stand
for a shave and a wash; dashes back to the hut to roll up the mattress, just
so; arrange the tiny trestles and boards, just so; fold the blankets and
arrange, just so; sweep the floor, dust the shelves, clean the windows and
polish the stove. Those tasks completed then one tears around to the mess
hut and lines up for breakfast with tin-mug, and plate, knife, fork and
spoon in hand and marches in as a whistle is blown, accompanied by a great
din of forks beating upon plates. (after breakfast) No time to linger, back
to the hut one flies with all speed for boots, rifle and brass tags on the
webb (sic) equipment must be cleaned and polished. When these tasks are
completed and one is thinking there is just time to attend the lavatory, a
shrill whistle blows and a raucous voice yells, 'On Par-r-a-a-de!' and out
we tumble and fall in. Oh! It's a Lovely

(Page 32)
This bleak unlovely prison, Sling, is the chief New Zealand training camp.
It is situated 12 miles from the Cathedral town of Salisbury, and 2 miles
from the railhead at Bulford, in the heart of the Salisbury Plains, which
by-the-way are not plains at all but rolling undulating downs.
The huts are quite comfortable and each is heated by a Canadian Stove. The
food is good and well cooked and large Canteens supply extras if you have
the money to pay for them. The chief article sold at the canteens is beer
and in the summer evenings the boys fill their dixies at the counter and
then sit outside on the grass in the cool of the evening quaffing their ale
and spinning yarns. Darkness does not fall till after 10.00 pm. There is
very little drunkenness seen and the wet canteens are certainly a success.
In New Zealand camps intoxicating liquors are not sold in the canteens hence
when the troops are out of the camp bounds they go 'all out' and make an
orgy of it, first getting in the singing stage, then the fighting stage and
finishing up in the paralytic stage. The Military Authorities at home are
apparently afraid to make the canteen 'wet' because of the strong
Prohibitionist protests that would be made, still I think it is a mistaken
I suppose Sling has its good points but they are certainly outweighed by
its bad ones. One feels that one is in the vice-like grip of a harsh,
remorseless, soulless military system. We are made to look, and feel, the
veriest tyros. We are deprived of our re-inforcement badges and look
exceedingly slovenly in our dress. Only men who have been on active service
in France of Gallipoli are allowed to wear badges and they of course wear
the proper regimental ones and bright 'battalion patches' between the
shoulders on the back. We might as well be in civilian clothes, the
distinction is so apparent.

((I hope this resume may give you an inkling of the conditions that our
soldiers struck at the beginning of their sojourn in the Army during WW!.))
Best Regards
Paul DARRALL in Hamilton

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