SNAKE ENCOUNTER By Bob Meehan, 4 RAR/NZ
I woke up very early one morning, dressed and headed for our mess hall which was about 50 metres from my tent. Dawn was just breaking and I noticed no one else in the area. Along the front of the mess hall and along its sides was a loose gravel walkway. Just when I turned the corner of the mess hall to go to the side door, a bloody snake slithered from underneath the mess hall and all I could think to do was step on its head. Bugger me if it wasn’t the same colour as the ones we had back in Cowra where I was born, kinda like a smaller version of a Brown Snake, except it wasn’t as aggressive. I tried to kill it by swivelling my boot with most of my weight on that foot. The snake simply curled its bloody body around my leg. Thanks to the loose gravel, all I seemed to be doing was making that snake mad as it curled tighter around my leg. I looked around. Still no one was to be seen and I could not see any cooks in the mess hall. Out of desperation, I began yelling for help, hoping someone would hear me. Finally, Cpl Charlie McKenzie, who slept in a tent nearby, came around the corner still in his underwear, wanting to know what I was yelling about. I pointed to the snake wrapped around my leg and its head under my boot. His eyes got as big as dinner plates as he said the inappropriate words, “Don’t move,” before running back to his tent. He quickly returned with his M16, saying, “Hold still and I’ll shoot it.”
“What the fuck!” I shouted as he started to take aim while standing about eight feet from me. “Are you fucking crazy? Go get a bayonet and cut its head off. If you shoot, you’ll probably hit me!”
Charlie stood there for four or five seconds pondering my advice, before returning to his tent. He returned with a knife to deal with the snake. I breathed a deep sigh of relief. I still owe Charlie for effort.
Never draw fire; it irritates everyone around you.