IT was one of those nice week-end stunts
arranged by someone, who, either by accident or design (we
have our own opinions to which it was), remains anonymous.
Now, as every Home Guard knows, the men who direct exercises
are specially chosen for their evil genius. It is rumoured
that Sector has a secret list of these Beings who take it
in turns to devise exercises, and each seeks to outdo his
fellows in devilish ingenuity.
Well, whoever concocted the "Cat" Exercise had
his fellow demons beaten to a frazzle. As my No. 1 on the
BAR so feelingly phrased it: "The perisher who thought
this one out should think of another, then die." No.
1 on the BAR had no critics for this observation, except,
perhaps, on the score of restraint.
For long afterwards, to mention the "Cat" Exercise
was to be regarded as something of a ghoul. But time is a
great healer, and I can now speak of it without cold shivers
running up and down my spine.
The exercise took place in early Spring -
very early Spring. We assembled at our Platoon H.Q. at 22.00
hours on a very damp, raw Saturday night. In spite of the
inclemency of the weather the Platoon was in the best of spirits,
and it looked as though a good time was to be had by all.
At 22.30 orders came through for us to move to our Battle
H.Q., which was a farm about a couple of miles across country.
Everything was still going fine and the men were still in
the best of spirits.
We arrived at the farm at about 23.00 hours, and from that
hour our trials and sufferings began.
We were shown into a stable, the floor of which was covered
with straw, and were told that here we would rest until further
orders came through. A sudden hush came over the men when
they saw this place. Gone were the happy smiles, silent were
the merry quips. But the Home Guard has the buoyancy of youth,
and it wasn't long before they regained something of their
former cheerfulness. True, it lacked its original boisterous