I don’t know the truth of this but this is a tale my father told of his time in the army during WWII. He could spin a yarn when he wanted.
He served as a mechanic in the tank corps and was stationed in the Northern Territory awaiting deployment. It was a large base and even boasted its own hospital. Now my father and his mates could not be described as candidates for the good conduct medal.
Each latrine was a trench in the ground. Two planks ran along supported by posts and the space between allowed a person to sit and relieve themselves behind the hessian screen that ran all round.
As my father told it, there was a fellow who was a bit slow of learning. It was his job to go out each night and throw lit matches into the trenches to burn off the excess paper. This gave extra time before a new latrine needed to be dug.
Anyway, my father and a few mates decided one night they would have some fun and play a prank on this poor fellow. They prepared an ink bottle with water and a few drops of blue ink.
Two of the group caught up with the fellow on his way to the latrines. They told him they had something that would make his job easier. Leading him to the tent, they gave him the bottle with a warning, “No more than two drops, and stand back when you throw the match. This stuff is really powerful.”
Little did he know, while he was distracted, the rest poured forty-four gallons of tank fuel into the latrine. The fellow did as instructed and put two drops into the trench, stood back, lit a match and threw.
My father finished this part of the story by saying, “Well, next morning we were digging a new latrine.”
Having blown the latrine all over the camp, the culprits were busy digging a new one. As it happens, this was the womens latrine, for the nurses.
When the trench was ready, someone had a bright idea. “Some of you guys keep digging, I’ll be right back.” Two men remained in the hole while the others prepared the planks and hessian.
Naturally, the nurses were growing desperate.
The man returned with arms full. They quickly dug a small cave in the trench wall and set up the speaker, running the wire out to a nearby tent. A microphone was fitted.
You guessed it.
Someone gave the all-clear and women rushed the new latrine. The men waited a few minutes for all to settle before one spoke into the microphone.
“Hey ladies, wait till we’ve finished, will ya.”
I remember my father laughing at this point, saying, “It’s amazing how fast women can run with their skirts pulled up around their waists!”
As I said, I don’t know if this was just another of my father’s imaginative tales, but they say there is a grain of truth in every story.