Quick Draw

I really can’t remember the operation we were returning from, but the journey back to the pick up area was uneventful and we had arrived earlier than planned. I remember that we were told to stay where we were, for the time being, this was about 1400hrs so like good soldiers we at once started to sort our selves out and start a brew up. The lorries that were to take us back to Ipoh were delayed and would be later than expected anyway. The rubber plantation we were in was quite well kept and the area was clean and tidy. As I have mentioned before my work is with the radio, and I was now redundant until we returned to the main camp at Ipoh, and I was bored, I said as much to the NCO near me, he started to chat with me and then I asked him if I could do a stag guard duty, alright I’ll see the officer. I was of course told that yes I could go on sentry; it saved another poor sod from doing it. I was duly taken to a place slightly down the hillside facing the jungle we had just left, it was an old bomb hole it was about 15 feet in diameter, about 3 to 4 feet deep, covered with a light layer of fine grass, I was told I would be there for a couple of hours then relieved, keep awake and alert, see you later. I first looked out at the jungle wondering what I would do if a CT was to suddenly appear and run towards me, with my silly little .38 revolver, he would have to be within 10 feet of me before I could even think of hitting him. Anyway nobody appeared and again I was bored, I slumped down onto the bottom of the hole leaned against the wall of the hole and took my revolver from its holster, laid one cleaning cloth on the dirt, emptied my gun and started to clean the weapon. I cleaned the six rounds that I had unloaded from the revolver and placed them on the cloth, six rounds were loaded in the cylinder while I was in the jungle, we were ordered to only load five rounds into the revolver for safety reasons, an empty chamber was left in the cylinder so that if the gun was accidentally fired the firing pin fell on the empty chamber and no harm was done. BUT I did not like the idea of a CT appearing and me drawing my revolver pointing it then a CLICK then BANG, I wanted a bang the first time. So I cleaned the gun, reloaded it, put it back in the holster and resumed watch, for what I wondered when suddenly there was a sound of a thud behind me, I turned and there before me was a ……….mate, well after my heart had slowed down a bit I asked him what the bloody hell he thought he was doing, jumping into my hole and scaring the shit out of me. He laughed and said he was pissed off being on guard the same as me in the next hole just around the curve of the hillside, and thought he would have a chat with me to pass the time, you are stupid I said to him, I could have shot you, what with that little thing, pointing to my revolver, any way by the time you’ve got it out I would have shot you. Well you can imagine an argument started as to who would beat who in a shoot out, talk about kids well now it seemed so stupid to be doing this, but at the time I considered myself quite quick on the draw as we often practiced back at Ipoh, anyway he said he would be faster than me, and squeezed the trigger. Before I could draw my revolver, raise it to chest height and say bang, I should say at this point he had removed the magazine from his gun. Well we carried on for a while him clicking his gun, me saying BANG, we both getting rather annoyed at each other, each claiming that the other had been shot. I know that I had said BANG before the working parts of his machine gun had slammed forward to hit the breach to cause a click. Was I mad at him for not admitting he had lost, we had another go to decide who was the fastest. I drew my gun raised it to his face and pulled the trigger………….. he looked at the gun in front of his eyes then to my eyes and we both realised I had won, his gun was just coming up to my chest. I started to shake and tremble and sat down, he had turned a pale colour and started to sort of choke and he sort of collapsed to the floor of the bomb hole. After a while he spoke, “you f……. well pulled your trigger and I was looking down the f……barrel and saw the hammer raise and fall I am dead, why did you do it? I was in such a state I pulled the trigger to make it click, it was then that we both realised that there was only five rounds in the cylinder and the accidental firing fell on the empty chamber in the cylinder. Some time later he asked me what would have happened if I had killed him while we were playing, I did remind him where he was, where he is now, and when he had jumped into my bomb hole, I had turned round in surprise and shot him in a reflex action, well that would have been my excuse anyway. But it did not happen and we both learned a very sharp lesson, not to play games with guns, real or otherwise. Even now nearly forty years later, I hate to see any child point any sort of gun at me, be it a water pistol, cap gun, or a starting blank firing pistol, it could have been such a terrible thing to have happened. But it proves one thing, the way the army teach things to you it is instilled in your brain without you actually realising it, why did I only load five bullets into the cylinder, because I was taught to, I was not in any danger of being suddenly confronted by a CT, I was at the time in a relaxed state of mind, so I did what I was taught to do without any further thought. He still remained a good friend until I returned home to be demobbed; you see he was a regular soldier. He managed to return to his own bomb hole, and only the two of us ever knew just how close we had come to a tragic accident. Until now, now you know……….!!!!

The story was submitted by ex-Private Richard S Faulkner. No.23609631 Wireless Operator HQ Coy.1/East Amglian Regt. Warley Bks.(Brentwood)Essex. Served. Malaya 1959-1961 National Service. Operated from IPOH Perak Malaya

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