Aussiosities [18 January 1918]

[Editor: The “Aussiosities” column of anecdotes and humourous items. Published in Aussie: The Australian Soldiers’ Magazine, no. 1, 18 January 1918.]


It wasn’t the kind of night to make anyone high spirited. The road was wet and slippery and the fog-logged air made it difficult to see more than a few yards ahead. The transport driver had feelings to match. He kept making harsh statements about Things in General and muttering unkind remarks to his unoffending horses, as he slowly picked his way along the shell-torn street of a shattered village. Suddenly the form of a woman came out of the darkness. The driver jammed on the brakes and tugged strenuously at the horses’ heads. He stopped just in time to avoid running the woman down. When he got back his breath, he vomited three mouthfuls of the great Australian slanguage over the figure on the road. She stood patiently and listened. He turned off the flow of words and motioned to her to get out of the way. But she made no sign of moving. He emptied another collection of variegated slanguage over her, and waited some more. No movement. He asked the atmosphere emphatically what the unprintable language it thought of the woman. Then he decided that she couldn’t understand Australian. So he tried French.

“Alley, toot sweet!” he shouted.

Still no movement.

“Alley!” he roared again.

Again no movement.

“Alley! — Alley! — Partie! — er — er . . . . For Gawd’s sake get out of the blanky road!!” he yelled in desperation.

Nothing happened.

He became silent. He was baffled. For the first time on record his remarkable accumulation of high-power language had lost its impelling power! He decided to put the “actions speak louder than words” proverb to the test He threw down the reins disgustedly and clambered off the waggon for the purpose of expostulating at close quarters.

“Look here, you ——”

He stopped short. He found himself talking to the stone image of an angel that had been unearthed from the ruins of a church and placed in position on the road.

A chorus of triumphant laughter came out of a ruined house.

— — — — —

There’s someone everywhere to keep Aussie’s end up. Down at Monte Carlo there’s a home for convalescing wounded Officers. Recently they held a golf match there, competed for by nine Officers, all from different parts of the Empire. And an Aussie got away with the prize. Ireland ran second.

— — — — —

“Bullocky” dumped his load on the duckboards and sat down with his mud-logged cobbers for a breather.

“Cripes,” said one as he regarded another ration party struggling, waist deep in mud, “that’s the thickest mud that I’ve ever seen!”

“Garn!” exclaimed “Bullocky,” with the air of a man of superior experience, “this is nothing to what I’ve been in! Why when I was driving a bullock-team on the black soil Plains in Noo South “Wales, I’ve had to keep belting the bullocks with me whip, because if they’d stopped moving they’d have sunk out of sight. Even then sometimes they’d sink until the mud was over their heads, and all I could do was to watch where where I saw the bubbles comin’ from!”

— — — — —

“Do you suffer from headaches?” queried the M.O. “Certainly I do,” rejoined the harried Infantry Officer, “If I enjoyed them as I do whisky and soda I wouldn’t have consulted you!”

— — — — —

Two officers were occupying a shell-hole. Fritz was putting over some big stuff. Every time a plonker landed near them, one of the officers energetically fired his revolver into the air.

“What the blank are you doing that for?” asked the other.

“Retaliation, my boy, retaliation! We must retaliate at all costs!” And he vigorously fired two more shots into the air, as the dirt from a 5.9 showered over them.

— — — — —

An instructor was putting a class of Aussies through the bayonet points.

“Now,” he said, “you’ve stuck one Hun, have put your hand up and made the withdraw, and you see another Hun coming along the trench. What would you do next?”

“‘Rat’ the one I’ve stuck!” came the reply.

— — — — —

“And how often do you get leave to Australia?” asked the inquisitive old lady.

“Once every war,” replied one of the dinkums; “at the end of it.”

— — — — —

A Tassie indignantly urges us to deny the Furphy that Tasmania is seeking a separate peace. He states that he and the other Tassies will never let the Allies down, and hopes that the Higher Command will not allow its strategic plans to be affected by the malignant furph, which has its origin in an enemy source and is intended to bring dissension and dismay to the Allies.

— — — — —

Pte. Leadswinger was a regular and enthusiastic attendant on the morning sick parade. One morning he lined up as usual, with a “the-world-has-got-me-snouted-just-a-treat” expression on his frontispiece. “Well, Leadswinger,” said the M.O., “what’s the complaint this morning?” “Well, Sir, I don’t think you can do anything for me, I should like to go away and get a Board.” “Very well,” replied the M.O., “you can go away and get a board. Corporal, give Pte. Leadswinger a duckboard, and send him away.”

— — — — —

Private Kummagutzer regarded critically the mysterious contents of his mess-tin. “What’s this? “he asked, perplexedly.

“It’s stoo,” said the pugnacious-looking cook, emphatically, “and if anyone says it aint stoo he can come outside.”

“I say it aint stoo,” said Private Kummagutzer. And he went outside.

He returned in about five minutes. His eyes were closed and swollen, his face bleeding, his hair dishevelled, his uniform torn.

“I think it’s stoo, alright, boys!” he said with conviction. “And if you take my advice you’ll all think it’s stoo!”

— — — — —

A Company Commander received an order from Battalion Headquarters to send in a return giving the number of dead Huns in front of his sector of trench. He sent in the number as 2001. H.Q. rang up and asked him how he arrived at this unusual figure. “Well,” he replied, “I’m certain about the one, because I counted him myself. He’s hanging on the wire just in front of me. I estimated the 2000. I worked it out all by myself in my own head that it was healthier to estimate ’em than to walk about in No-Man’s Land and count ’em!”

Aussie: The Australian Soldiers’ Magazine, no. 1, 18 January 1918, pages 2-3

Editor’s notes:
5.9 = a 5.9 inch (150mm) artillery shell, such as fired from a German 5.9 inch field howitzer during World War One [see: “15 cm sFH 13”, Wikipedia (accessed 5 March 2014)]

come a gutzer = to have a fall; to fail; to be demoted or removed from office (in swimming slang “gutzer” refers to an incident where someone dives or jumps into a body of water, subsequently hitting the surface primarily with their stomach, or “guts”, which can be a painful experience)

duckboards = wooden planks used as walkways, placed in the bottom of trenches and on muddy ground to help stop soldiers from sinking into the mud

expostulate = remonstrate; to argue or reason with someone, especially to talk them out of doing something or to rebuke them for something done

Fritz = Germans (“Fritz” could be used in a singular sense to refer to an individual German, as well as in a collective sense to refer to the German military or to Germans in general) (similar to the usage of “Hun”)

furph = furphy; a rumour

furphy = rumour

Hun = Germans (“Hun” could be used in a singular sense to refer to an individual German, as well as in a collective sense to refer to the German military or to Germans in general) (similar to the usage of “Fritz”)

Kummagutzer = a humourous fictional surname, taken from the expression “come a gutzer”

lead swinger = someone who is being lazy or slack; someone who makes an outward appearance of working, but who does as little work as possible; someone who pretends to be sick or injured, so as to avoid working (the expression “he is swinging the lead” was used to describe someone who was avoiding work)

M.O. = Medical Officer

plonker = artillery shell; an explosive shell that would “plonk” (land) on the ground (or on buildings, etc.) after being fired

rat = to steal or take something from a dead body (World War One slang)

slanguage = slang; slang language

variegated = having a lot of variety or diversity

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