‘Then I Became a Mess Orderly For a Time!’ (1945)

'Mess orderly'‘Then I Became a Mess Orderly for a Time!’

This cartoon is a dig at the commonly perceived notion that a mess orderly would dishonestly use his unique position of access to stores to his advantage. This obviously rich man is recounting his personal history, and mentions his time as a mess orderly. Note the Changi mess tins on the mantel piece!

‘In order to cope, I believe, most men surrounded themselves in their own personal and protective armour. Mine, as I have already written, was work, an almost obsessive sense of duty; for others it was humour or religious faith; and for nearly all of us, it was the setting of a deadline: ‘home by Christmas’ or ‘home for my wife’s birthday, or some other date of personal significance. In establishing a mental goal to work towards we were focussing on a future life which we could anticipate living and, in the process, attempt to reject the reality of what we were experiencing, deferring our disappointment. Keeping an ‘end point’ in mind, even though deep down we know it was artificial, gave us hope – one of the most powerful weapons in the limited armoury of defence we could own. If we were to not only survive but also remain sane, it was all we could do.

Source: A Doctors War, by Dr Rowley Richards, pg 157, Harper Collins Publishers, 2006.

‘Surviving weekly menu for January 1944 gives some idea of the paucity and boredom of the Changi diet, and the ingenuity of the descriptions applied to it. Breakfast the consisted of a pint of ‘pap’,  one teaspoon of sugar, and a pint of tea, which on the face of it was not too bad, until one considered that ‘pap’ was rice porridge and that the tea had no milk. Afternoon ‘Tiffin’ as it was quaintly known was a pint of ‘hash’ with a little palm oil and more as it was plain tea. The ‘hash’ was of course more rice but supposedly had a little fish and vegetable added.’

Source: Lancashire Gunners at War – The 88th Field Regiment, 199 – 1945 by Stephen Bull, Pgs 91