Observations of an Orderly eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 129 pages of information about Observations of an Orderly.
the Press about the “shirkers” they think they have detected, were of the opinion, long since, that the R.A.M.C. should be combed out.  Certain journals made a great feature of this proposal.  Whatever may be the case elsewhere, I can only say that as far as our unit was concerned it had already, months before the newspaper agitation, been combed out five times; and this in spite of the fact that, at the period when I enlisted, our Colonel declined to look at any recruit who was not either over age or had been rejected for active service.  The unit was thus made up, even then, of elderly men and of “crocks.” (This was before the start of the Derby Scheme and, of course, considerably before the introduction of Universal Service.) Perhaps it is allowable to point the moral against the “shirker"-discovering armchair patriots aforesaid:  that no small proportion of our unit was composed of over-age recruits who, instead of informing the world at large that they wished they were younger, “And, by Gad, I envy the lads their chance to do anything in the country’s cause,” did not rest until they had found an opening.  In my own hut there were two recruits over sixty years of age.  Elsewhere in the unit there were several over fifty.  Our mess-room at meal times was, and still is, dotted with grey-haired heads, not of retired army men rejoined, but of men who, previous to the war, had lived comfortable civilian lives.  At a later date, when the few fit men that our combings-out revealed had gone elsewhere, the unit was kept up to strength by the drafting-in either of C3 recruits or of soldiers who, having been at the front and been wounded, or invalided back, were marked for home duty only.  So much for the “slackers in khaki” which one extra emphatic writer (himself not in khaki, although younger than several of the orderlies here) professed to discover in the R.A.M.C.  Those “slackers” may be having an easier time of it than the heroes of France, Gallipoli, Salonika, Egypt and Mesopotamia.  But they are not having so easy a time as some of their detractors.

The hospital orderly is not (I think I may assert on his behalf) puffed up with foolish illusions as to his place in the scheme of things.  It is a humble place, and he knows it.  His work is almost comically unromantic, painfully unpicturesque.  Moreover—­let us be frank—­much of it is uninteresting, after the first novelty has worn off.  Work in the wards has its compensations:  here there is the human element.  But only a portion of a unit such as ours can be detailed for ward work:  the rest are either hewers of wood and drawers of water or else have their noses to a grindstone of clerical monotonousness beside which the ledger-keeping of a bank employee is a heaven of blissful excitements.  You will find few hospital orderlies who are not “fed up”; you will find none who do not long for the war’s end.  And I fancy you will find very, very few who would not go on active service

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Observations of an Orderly from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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