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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Never Take The Third Light

It was raining. In fact it wasn't just raining it was absolutely chucking it down.

The remainder of the platoon had split down and had gone off to set up some observation posts to witness any heinous activity that might take place in front of them.

There were only four of us left in platoon headquarters. Apart from the rain things weren't too bad - not much to do apart from try to stay dry and pass on the odd radio message.

Then the Company Commander and CSM decided to make an impromptu visit. I knew what was coming almost before the words left his lips:

"Don't s'pose you've got any fags Private ***** I've only gone and left mine in me bergan."

He really didn't have to lie. After all he was the CSM and only the RSM stood between him and God. It was kind of nice that he tried to cushion the blow though. It would have been even better if he hadn't 'forgotten' his fags the day before.

Only a few days in and the tailor made cigarettes were rapidly disappearing. In a day or two I'd be struggling to roll my own. Rolling your own with soggy fingers in a howling gale is never a recipe for success.

I pulled a half crushed packet of Bensons out of my pocket - took a fag and made half an effort to straighten it out before handing it to him. Then I took one for myself - after all you can't let a man smoke by himself.

My zippo lighter sparked first time between the CSM's cupped hands and after he'd got his lit I leant over and the flame was still there for me. Just then the Company Commander butted in:

"Can I get a light?"

"Now Now Sir. You should know better. No-one takes the third light."

Suitably admonished by the CSM the Company Commander retreated......

Now I know the reason for this tradition. I'd be interested at taking guesses from those who don't as to why it's considered bad luck.


Blogger Milton john said...

it occurs to me that the proposed legislation banning smoking in the workplace will probably mean that for soldiers, whose workplace is the battlefield, have a limited number of smoking days left......

8:04 pm  
Anonymous Pat said...

I think I remember. In the first World War it was considered unlucky to be the third. The first light would be seen - the second light would be aimed at and the third light would be shot. I'm sure I've made a mess of this. Sorry!

11:17 pm  
Anonymous Kath said...

I'm gonna go with pat on this one, I think I remember reading that in a book once!
~ Kath
In Training

1:21 am  
Blogger Just Jane said...

It gets mentioned in a book I'm reading at the moment..'Birds Without Wings' by Louis de Bernieres. And the person who got the third light did indeed end up dead (from a monkey bite.An undignified way for anyone to go, but this guy was a prince so even more embarrasing).

1:42 pm  
Blogger Universal Soldier said...

MJ - I wonder how far "Health & Safety in the Workplace" will extend.

Pat - quite right.

Just Jane - I've read the de Bernieres trilogy and Captain Corelli but not his latest novel. Is it any good?

1:56 pm  
Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

Bad luck comes in threes?

Third strike out?

C'mon Soldier, now you have to tell us.

2:01 pm  
Blogger Monica said...

Ah, now it makes sense. Clever.

11:42 pm  
Blogger Le laquet said...

I knew that one, sniper fires at third light ... nice "slap down" for the boss though!

11:01 am  
Blogger zoe said...

i was going along with GG .... looks like i was wrong as usual.

11:02 am  
Blogger Just Jane said...

I've just finished the book. It is brilliant. A lot of it is set at Gallipolli, quite horrific, and yet he manages to be funny too. I would thoroughly recommend it.

9:36 am  

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