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Mosquito discipline

by CSV Actiondesk at BBC Oxford

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Archive List > British Army

Contributed by 
CSV Actiondesk at BBC Oxford
People in story: 
Bill Harvey, Alan Jones
Location of story: 
Buseli, North Africa
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
27 July 2005

‘Life at Buseli where we were building a 600 bed hospital, had just 2 drawbacks. The first was mosquitoes. We had a marquee to house the 20 of us and we fed with the medics. We had captured Italian cots to sleep on. Each cot had its own mosquito net and part of standard orders was that the net was to be properly tucked in by sundown. Also included in these orders, was the instruction that our shorts designed with a turn-up should be turned down as a further guard against mosquitoes’ Bill recalls.

‘The second problem was discipline which was surprisingly strict among the medics. One of their officers was a proper pig who seemed to take an instinctive dislike to us engineers.’

‘One of his foibles was to inspect the tents each night to make sure the mosquito nets were properly fitted. One night he caught us with one of the nets up so the lads could play cards. Naturally he collared me as the NCO in charge and told me to report to the orderly room next morning.’

‘I reported next morning, and was waiting to be called, when our boss Staff Sergeant Alan Jones arrived and glanced at us. I didn't say anything because he seemed to be in a terrible rage and who could blame him. When the call came for me to march in he told me to stand fast and he went in himself.’

‘The orderly room was just a tent and with flaps up to allow ventilation so everyone could watch what transpired. He certainly had a field day. I was so proud of him. He told the officer that if he didn't drop this ridiculous charge, he would report to the Chief Medical Officer, remove all the engineering staff from the site and bring the whole matter to the attention of the Chief Engineer Officer in Cairo. In the face of this threat the officer was quick to climb down and we had no further trouble during their stay at Buseli.’

This story was submitted to the people’s War site by a volunteer from CSV Oxford on behalf of the late Bill Harvey. It is a transcript of his own diary and several interviews. He gave written permission for the material to be edited and published.

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