It was the rainy season, just outside of the Courtney Rubber in mid 1971. It was near on last light as we moved into our harbour position for the night. We weren’t far from Courtney Hill and I could actually see it outlined against the sky. The area we were in was wet and overgrown with reeds and Elephant grass that grew in thick mats. We settled down in a place with the water over our ankles. We spread out and set out the claymores. We settled in and a misting rain was coming down in the humid heat. When off gun piquet, with the hutchie covering and lying on the reeds in the warm atmosphere, it was really kind of comfortable because the thick reeds when pressed down made a pretty good mattress and it was no trouble to drop right off to sleep.
Sometime in the early hours there was contact initiated by another platoon from the company a few hundred or so metres off to our left flank. Our platoon never needed to fire a shot and played no part in the contact.
The next morning the blokes got up and did the usual stuff, like taking in the claymores and trip flares and cooking and eating whatever rations they had. Then one of diggers in my section started acting a little upset.
“Okay, who took my bloody hat?” he asked.
Nobody answered.
“Really funny but I’m bloody serious. Time to give it back.”
Nobody responded.
“Alright you #$@%^& .You are really &^%$$# ing me off now!”
Again nothing.
Then after a few minutes a bloke came forward.
“Found this, John. Look like yours?”
The hat had the band chewed out. Some rat had pulled it off his head
in the night while he slept when not on piquet and chewed the band for the salt content.

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