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The Cadets p1 : The Summer Camp by thadeusz

This story is "part 1" of a set of 2 stories. It is suggested to read them in order.

My parents, Peter and Mieke Van Meeren, had a nice house in a little town in Belgium. This town was close to Brussels but on Dutch speaking soil, which is important for us Belgians. They were Dutch speaking people.

Next to their house, there was a house built by Charles and Marie Petersen, both French speaking. There was no wall between the two gardens.

My parents and the Petersen were good friends : this is one of the numerous Belgian miracles. The Petersen had a son, Thomas, called Tom by all his friends. Tom went to a French speaking school in Brussels. My parents had me, Jonathan, called Jon by his friends and I went to a local Dutch speaking school.

Tom and me had exactly the same age (Tom was one month older) and we had always been good friends. We played together in the two gardens and spoke both languages. We were excellent friends, even if we did not go to the same school. We were together when we drank alcohol for the first time. We were also together when we laid a girl for the first time, luckily they were different girls. We were always together. We started having long hair at the same age.

At 18 we both got our high school diploma and we were ready to go to University after the summer, Tom wanted to study philosophy while I had decided to study law because I wanted to become a lawyer.

One day, the day we had both received our high school diploma, about one month after my 18th birthday, we went for a walk (and lots of drinks) in the center of Brussels. All the streets were full of soldiers because the government was afraid of possible terrorist attacks (which took place anyway, but that is another story). We passed an Army "Information and Recruitment" office. We had already drunk a lot, when suddenly Tom told me:
"Do you realize that we have no military experience ?"
"That’s normal Tom, there is no conscription anymore in our country."
"But, Jon, we should at least know how it works. Let’s go in that Army office and let’s ask them."

In this office, a nice guy explained us how we could become soldiers, or try for the NCO Academy or even the Officer school. But I was not interested and I told him that we only wanted to have a little experience of Army life, like our fathers who had both done their military service. The recruiter, who knew his trade, had what he called "a brilliant idea" and he told us:
"The Army organizes every year many military youth Camps. At this period of the year, most of them are already full but there remain one possibility: the para-commandos. There you could live during two weeks in military uniform, have to learn and respect military discipline and probably make friends in a joyful atmosphere."
Tom reacted immediately:
"In which language is it organized ?"
"My boy, it is the only bilingual Camp since the para-commandos try to work in both languages."
"Are there still vacancies ?" I asked stupidly, since obviously the recruiter had manoeuvred us towards that Camp since we did not want to enlist.
The recruiter replied calmly:
"There are still a few possibilities, but not many. So if you are decided to go there, you better ask your parents to come rapidly and sign you in."
Proudly Tom replied: "We don’t need our parents, we are both more than 18."
"So, young man, are you ready to sign for it now ? This way you are sure that you will have it. Here is the contract, you just have to sign it."
Tom reacted in a jiffy:
"I will sign immediately if my friend Jon does the same."
"Tom", I said, "let me first read it completely."
I said that because the recruiter seemed too eager to sell us his Camp contract.
Indeed, there was an itchy point: there was a price to pay ! We had to accept, by binding contract, that we would not leave the Camp before the end, but that the Army could expel us at any time. Moreover, we also had to accept that, at the end of the 2 weeks Cadet Camp, we could be selected for two more weeks as para-commando Trainees and possibly have thus the choice to join the Army as candidate para-commando. I wanted to refuse this contract, since I wanted to spend my last days of vacation with my parents. Tom convinced me to accept by saying:
"We just have to behave badly enough not to be selected but well enough not to selected. And we will have two great weeks paid by the Army."
The recruiter finished to convince me when he said:
"This is perfectly possible. Moreover, during your two weeks you will wear real Army uniforms and have a real Army rifle. And if you are selected for the additional weeks, it will not create a problem for your studies: the Camp starts in one week from now and you will never be forced to sign a real enlistment form."
I accepted all that and I signed the contract, and so did Tom.

The recruiter congratulated us, calling us "Army Cadets". He gave us a small list of things to take with us, especially undies "since you will get the rest of your clothing there, and it will be nice uniforms". He also gave us a special form, telling us that we had to go "within two days" to Brussels Military Hospital to have a "simple medical visit" before we left.

We left the information center, very proud and continued drinking beers in several bars till very late in the night. What we considered, because of our diplomas and because of our Cadet contract, as our first adult night !

I don’t remember how we went back home, but I woke up in my own bed, with a dreadful headache. I rapidly went downstairs for my breakfast and got a cup of coffee … to see my father arriving for his lunch. He looked at me with a big smile and said:
"Congratulations ! You got your diploma and you got seriously drunk for the first time, all that on the same day. Well done my son."
"Daddy, I think that last night I made a dreadful mistake."
"Because you got drunk ? That’s not so bad ! And it was a good opportunity. I also got drunk after receiving my diploma. As long as you don’t make a habit of it, it is not too bad."
"It is not that, Daddy. I really think I made a terrible mistake with Tom last night."
And I told my father what we had done in the Recruitment Office and the contracts we had signed.
"Well", my father said, "I did not see you as a future soldier, but since you have no obligation to enlist it might be a good experience before you start University. The para-commando regiments are good regiments, the discipline is very strict and you will have lots of sports. And no acool ! Everything you need to acquire more self-discipline before being alone in a University room. You will like it, especially since you are together, Tom and you."
"But Daddy, what if I am selected for this two weeks extension ?"
"Well, I assume you carefully read this contract before signing it. So, you simply have to live with it."
"You are not angry, Daddy ?"
"Certainly not, but you have to accept the responsibility of your actions. In any case, you have not yet been selected for that extension and should it be the case, you still have time to do it before University courses start."

Early in the afternoon I went to Tom’s house. He had not been as well treated by his parents as I had, but the conclusion remained the same: we had to respect our signature and go to this Army Summer Camp since we had signed a contract. So we called the Military Hospital to have an appointment for our "simple medical visit". The person on the phone, who identified himself as "Sergeant Droman" told us that, since this Army Summer Camp could end up with a real enlistment as para-commando candidate, we had to go through the full Army Medical Testing, which would last 3 days. He also told us to arrive early the next day with our shaving kit, other necessities and three sets of undies. He added that we would not need anything else : "the rest will be given to you upon arrival".

We went to my home where I knew I could find my father and ask for his advice. I told what SGT Droman had told me to my father who started to laugh. He then said:
"Well, this is the first consequence of your late night choice. Live with it, and even enjoy every second of it. I had to go through the same tests just before my Military Service."
"Yes", interrupted my mother, "but you did it as medical officer ! Jon and Tom are going to be there with future Privates, and not with educated people !"
"That will be excellent for their education", replied Daddy, "they will see real people and not school or University going people. Jon", he continued, "get your bags ready and Tom, warn your parents: since it is far, I will drive you there, but at 5 am, military time !"
Daddy was no longer smiling when he added:
"You both have long hair. You better go and get a trim before you go to the Military Hospital. They might give you there a much shorter one than what you expect. Go to Joseph’s, he works late and tell him why you urgently need a trim. Tell him that I sent you. Both of you !"

We did as Daddy had suggested. Joseph was nearly closing his shop. After I told him that my father had sent us for an urgent trim, I explained :
"Tomorrow morning we must both go to the Military Hospital for an evaluation so we need a little trim".
Joseph let us come in and started to work on me saying :
"I thought you were going to the University, but so you are going to the Army ?"
"Not too short please Joseph," but he kept using his scissors and whole chunks of hair fell from my head, "and we don’t go to the Army, just to an Army Summer Camp."
"And you will have this Camp in the Military Hospital ?"
"No Joseph, but please don’t cut my hair too short."
"So where are you going ?"
"To a junior para-commando Camp, as Cadets, and they don’t require you to have short hair. Please, not so short, Joseph."
"If it is for the para-commando, it must be very short. Let me do my job."
I abandoned my head in Joseph’s expert hands. He used his scissors to reduce the length of my hair on the top of my head, but not too much : he reorganized my haircut in such a way that there was now a neat parting more or less on top of my head, which was impossible previously. I thought it was finished, but he attacked the sides and back with his clippers saying:
"A real para-commando must have a very well shaved head. So I will shave your sides and back in order to let you give a good first impression."
"But Joseph, I don’t need to make a good first impression."
"Tat Tat Tat, believe me, it will do you lots of good."

After that, I was done. I looked at my head in the mirror and I had the impression to see a different me, not older, not younger but apparently more mature, and I did not really dislike that. Tom had seen the same change in me and he let old Joseph work as he wanted.

When I came home, Mother told me:
"This para-commando thing has one good aspect: it made you accept a decent haircut given by that good old Joseph."

The next day, I woke up awfully early and, following my mother’s advice, I had a solid breakfast. Just before 5 am Tom arrived with his little bag. Mine was already ready. Father suddenly popped in and told us to go and sit in the car. He drove us to the Military Hospital where we arrived, despite the traffic, at 05:35. I know the exact time and the special way to write it because it was stamped on our documents upon arrival, the documents which the recruiter had given to us. The guy who stamped these documents was a young soldier guarding the gate. Father lost no time to kiss me and say goodbye, he was already gone to his job as MD in one of Brussels civilian hospitals.

A man in uniform (I know now he was a Sergeant) looked at our forms and showed us that it said "arrival before 05:30". He told us that we were nearly late. He took our identity cards and sent us to a big room with "clothing room" printed on it. Each of us received a green overall with "Belgian Army" in big white letters on the back and a pair of comfortable, green sport shoes. The Sergeant who was there told us to put them on and to leave the clothes we were wearing in a bag which would remain with him until we left the hospital. He also created for each of us a label with our name, and a letter : N for me since I was Dutch speaking (N from ‘Nederlands’) and an F for Tom since he was French speaking. He then sent us to two separate groups. Tom complained and said that the recruiter had told us that the Summer Camp would be bilingual, but the Sergeant replied:
"The Camp maybe, but the tests are not bilingual. In any case, these are the orders. Go now, or you will be taken by force."

Another man in uniform (and I know now that he was a Private) led me to "my room". It was a big room with 8 beds, a large window but no curtain. There were also 8 cupboards, each with a padlock. On each bed, there was a bedsheet, a pillow and a dirty khaki blanket. The private told me to make immediately my bed, to store ‘my things’ in the cupboard assigned to me and to lock it. The Private suddenly abandoned me there after telling me that I was supposed to wait. 7 other guys were already waiting : they had arrived on time !

I felt strange, being now in an Army uniform, without my "buddy" but with boys about my age wearing exactly the same uniform. I did not know these young men but definitely, they belonged to the "real people" as Daddy would have said and they were not intellectuals like me. In fact, there was some feeling of unity, of belonging, although we had never met before. All that because of our uniform ! We started to discuss and all of them said that they came because they wanted to join the Army. One of them, Mickael, even said that he wanted to join the para-commandos but that after the tests he would have to wait during two months. He had no job and hoped to be called to the regiment as early as possible. He was surprised when I told him that I just wanted to go to the Summer Camp and certainly not to join the military afterwards: my plans were clear, I wanted to go to the University and become a lawyer. Mickael told us after I had spoken that he did not know about this Summer Camp, otherwise he would have tried to go there and then be selected for the para-commandos. In a few minutes Mickael and me became friends. I know it might sound weird, but we were there, blocked in a room, wearing identical clothes and hoping to pass successfully the same tests !

After a certain time, about one hour, a Sergeant opened the door and told us to start moving towards the exam rooms, and to move fast. That was my first lesson in "wait and hurry": I had many others after that one.

At the entrance of this exam room an officer looked at one of us: he had long hair like Tom and me had … until yesterday. The officer simply said:
"Do you hope to join with such hair ?"
"Yes, Sir"
"Not here, go immediately to the barber. The others it is OK."
The poor hairy man went where he had been told while we waited longer and another group passed in front of us. When the hairy man came back, he was bald and secretly I thanked my father for his good advice.

We entered the exam room, and there were IQ tests on computers, later we had to take sport tests, a lunch (rather decent) and a medical visit. During all that time, I was next Mickael and whenever we good we discussed. Mickael was slightly older than I was and he had a high school diploma from a technical school: he was a mechanic. He could have studied further, but his only dream in life was to become a soldier and if possible a para-commando.

The night was calm, alcohol was not available, not even beer. In our room, the 8 of us discussed a little bit about the tests of the day and about our hopes for our future. Mickael was the only one who really wanted to join the Army for positive reasons, his dream. The other ones wanted to become soldiers because they not found anything else in life. I was the only one who wanted just to have a short experience of Army life before becoming a lawyer.

The tests continued during the second days and included a psychological test, an interview with a psychologist and more sport tests. Finally came the third day during which we were supposed to stay only during the morning. There were more tests of all kinds, and always it was "wait and hurry". Finally came the last test.

Another officer arrived. He was dressed like my father in the hospital, so I assumed he was a doctor. He asked which one of us was joining the para-commando. Mickael stood up and moved towards the door. The officer insisted:
"There is also a candidate for the para-commando Summer Camp."
"That’s me", I said while raising my hand.
"First, you must learn to say ‘Sir’ when addressing an officer, even if you are only a Cadet. Second, you come NOW with me for additional and special tests."

I followed him with Mickael, was reunited with Tom and we got a very light meal. We had then to pass special medical tests, including an fMRI to examine the state of our spinal cord. It was then again, ‘wait’. After a certain time, the officer said:
"It is OK, you can go now to the entrance office where they will give you your papers."
At the entrance office, the same Sergeant as the first day was waiting. He gave us back our identity cards and added a form mentioning "Admitted to the para-commando regiment". He added:
"Don’t be anxious, you are only Cadets but you could become much more !"
He gave the same form to Mickael but told him:
"You will go there in two months, wait till you get a written notification of the date, but everything is also OK for you."
He then gave all of us our train tickets and told us that we had to take an early train: the regiment was far from Brussels and we had to be there on time, and he showed that we were expected the next day at 5 pm (17:00) and not later. He finally told us:
"Don’t go by car, you would not know where to leave your vehicle ! And now go to the ‘clothing room’ and get your own clothes back."

At home I had a short discussion with my parents and Tom. I succeeded easily to convince them that it would be better for us ‘to be in the mood’ and to go with our military train tickets, all by ourselves, to the para-commando barracks. My mother did not like the idea, but Daddy, smiling, said that he perfectly understood my motivation. He added that we had in this case to go on foot to the nearest station. Tom and I accepted and decided to leave from my home, the next morning at 5 am once again ! Boyhood was forgotten !

The next day, Tom and me left very early our homes with a small bag. We went by tram to the nearest station and then took the train to the little town where the regimental barracks were situated. An Army truck was waiting for us, other Cadets were already in it and we waited a long time for the next bunch of Cadets. Finally the truck left and we arrived at the Camp where the Summer Camp would take place.

A team started immediately to take care of us: there was a Lieutenant (bilingual, like all Belgian officers), two Sergeants : a Dutch speaking one and a French speaking one, and a young Corporal who happened to be also bilingual. He was our main contact when we were doing the prepared exercises. His name was Guillaume Thoring. He counted us: there were 32 Cadets, and he started the first Army roll call of this Summer Camp. The Lieutenant made a short motivation speech and it all started.

We immediately received some sort of military like uniform : two camouflage BDUs, three green tee-shirts with the mention ‘Army’ in the back, a sport uniform, sport shoes and boots, and a military cap looking like the US Army recruit caps. I did not get the green beret that I had fantasized to wear during these two weeks ! In any case this "reduced" military uniform did not look like what the recruiter had promised us during our drunken night ! Each Cadet haircut was checked and there was no problem with some relatively long hair (but not too long) despite the protruding hair. Very long hair were simply cut, in a not very elegant way, using scissors "in order to enable the Cadet to wear a helmet" … which was not part of our uniform.

As soon as we were all in uniform, CPL Thoring led us to a big hall full of Camp beds. Each of us received a bedsheet, a blanket and a big green Army towel. We were told to make our beds and to put all our belongings in a box placed just next to the Camp bed. All our belongings except … our precious phones: these were confiscated by the Corporal who promised that we would be allowed to use them every day, after the evening meal and during 15 minutes !

We first learned some elements of military courtesy : military salute and ranks. What seemed most important was marching in step and respecting the nearly holy alignment. Then came the position of attention and the "At ease" command, all that while we remained aligned.

We also learned that we had to stand next to our table and wait in the position of attention until the Lieutenant told us with his strong voice: "Be seated and eat".

Remember, we were 32 boys or young adults (aged between 16 and 20) and we had come there for a Summer Camp. In the beginning, there were lots of giggles, quickly repressed by the Lieutenant who kept saying in these cases:
"You are in a military Summer Camp here, not in Kindergarten !"

Some of us were punished and there were push-ups and pull-ups to repress this "anti militaristic" attitude. I don’t know how the staff succeeded to do it, but after two or three days, our group was united. There was a strong feeling of cohesion, we obeyed orders without even thinking about them and we behaved like brave little soldiers. I strongly believe that the fact that we all wore the same clothes, the same uniform, played an important role in this cohesion.

After that, the first week foreseen for the Camp was really pleasant and full of joy. We had lots of sport and games, but also we kept learning to have more and more respect for our leaders. CPL Thoring checked regularly is we were clean, if our clothes had been washed and if our boots had been polished. He inspected everyday our 32 sleeping bags and punished the Cadets who had not perfectly done what was expected from them: they had to perform push-ups.

During the beginning of the second week, the activities changed a little bit. We had more military like activities. Each of us received a rucksack in which he had to put all his things. On top of this, the staff added small bags full of sand. The big group was subdivided into four smaller ones, of 8 Cadets each, and we had to accomplish marches through the adjacent forest. The marches were short, but every day it was a longer one and the bags of sand were of gradually increasing weight. We also learned to use typical para-commando half-tents : each Cadet had to carry in his bag a half tent and upon the group leader command, each one had to assemble his half tent with his buddy’s in order to form a full tent. I my case, the buddy was Tom.

Orders were given sometimes in French and sometimes in Dutch, and we all had to adapt to this situation, unusual for Belgium. Altogether, I liked these activities a lot.

On the thursday of the second and last week of the Camp, each Cadet received a rucksack with a heavy bag of sand. It was probably 20 kilos. On top of this, we had to carry in our bag our usual stuff and a half tent. We had to carry a (disarmed) exercise rifle. We also received military rations for two days. The lieutenant made a short speech:
"Cadets, you are now going to start your two days raid march. You will walk as usually with your respective leader, but you will have to sleep and eat in the forest. Remember that a real para-commando is always prudent with his rations and that he is always ready to help a brother para-commando in order to achieve the goal and accomplish the mission. Show now that you can do it like a real para-commando !"
All that sounded very exciting, at least for me !

My group, which included my buddy, Tom, had CPL Thoring as leader. I admired him: he was always neatly dressed in an impeccable uniform and he had a very short buzz cut leaving only slightly longer hair under his beret. He was only 5 years older than me and appeared as "a big brother" while the Sergeants and the Lieutenant looked all much more "adult and older". I was really pleased when I heard that we would do this raid march under CPL Thoring’s command. I don’t know why, but I felt comfortable under his authority.

The march started and I was careful not to eat too much of my rations: I had a hunch that the staff had in fact prepared an extension which would let us march during three days, and not two. I was convinced that they wanted to test us that way.

The first evening, CPL Thoring told us to stop near a little stream. After we had set up our tent for the night, using our two half tents, we started to eat our rations and I noticed that Tom had eaten all his first day ration. I told him:
"Tom, you should not have eaten all that !"
"Why ? I am hungry after this long walk !"
"I am hungry too, but I strongly believe that the Lieutenant wants to test us and that the staff is going to keep us walking during a third day."
"Without additional ration ? That would be unfair."
"Remember what the Lieutenant said before we left about rations and helping one another."
"You have a point there, but what am I to do now ?"
"Simply walk harder and eat less. Moreover, I have spared on my first day ration and I will share with you."
"That’s great, I knew you were a real brother for me."

After that we went to bed, if you can call ‘bed’ a plastic carpet placed under our sleeping bag. We slept well: we had marched during long hours with a heavy rucksack.

The next morning, thus the Friday and theoretically the last day, CPL Thoring made lots of noise by banging two metal pans one against the other. He did that to wake us up at 5 am. Tom and me had the impression that we had not had enough sleep. The Corporal told us:
"Get your things together, dismantle your tents and place everything in your bag in order to let me inspect you."
He inspected all of us, was not satisfied with some boys and gave them the dreaded order:
"Give me 50", meaning 50 push-ups.

After that, he gave us 15 minutes to get washed at the little stream and 15 more minutes to eat something. We had then to be ready to go. The Corporal inspected us again, was satisfied and told us:
"I hope you had a solid breakfast because we have very long march in front of us, longer than yesterday. If you want, you can always kill a rabbit and this evening we will cook it and eat it. By the way, does anyone among you boys want to stop this raid march ?"
Three Cadets raised their hands and the Corporal told them to wait. He took a whistle in his pocket and produced a long noise. Suddenly, other para-commandos appeared and took care of those who had given up. Another Cadet raised his hand and asked:
"Corporal, you said that we might cook a rabbit this evening, but aren’t we going to be in the barracks then ?"
"No, Cadet, you will spend another night in the forest and keep marching during a third day."

We started then our second day of raid march, but in the file two Cadets were grumbling about the lack of food and uncomfortable boots. At noon, they complained that they had nearly no food but the Corporal replied that he told them to kill a rabbit. I wanted to give them some of my ration, but the Corporal asked me:
"Are you sure that you will have enough with what is left for a third day, Cadet ?"
"No Corporal, but I intend to kill a wild animal before this evening."
"In that case, do as you want."

I was disappointed because we did not see any rabbit, but I was sure that, since I had spared food, Tom and me could survive with what was left in both our bags. Luckily, around 4 pm, the two complaining Cadets gave up: there was no need to feed them anymore. The Corporal used again his whistle to for help and immediately two others soldiers appeared and took care of the grumbling Cadets. There were only three of us left, plus the Corporal.

The march changed rhythm. We were going faster, and the Corporal started to sing. The three of us did the same and we followed rapidly the steps of the Corporal. This led us to another little stream, in a place the Corporal seemed to know well. It was starting to get dark and we were exhausted, but we had kept walking with our rucksacks. CPL Thoring raised his right hand, making us a STOP sign the three of us understood immediately. He then said:
"Prepare your tents. Since there are only three of you left, I will sleep with Cadet Van Meeren and the two other ones are going to sleep together since they are both French speaking. Hurry up, eat what’s left of your rations and go to sleep: we have a long way to go tomorrow."
When we had finished eating, the third Cadet, a certain André, asked the Corporal:
"Are we going to get more food for that last day, Corporal ?"
"No, you should have done as Jon did and spare your food. Tom did it also, but only after the first day." This was the first time he referred to me using only my first name and I felt really pleased, as if I had accomplished something important.
"In that case Corporal", continued Cadet André, "I don’t know if I will be able to go back to the Camp."
"Cadet, you are strong, you are a man and must behave like a man. What’s a day without food if the mission is accomplished ?"

With those strong words, we went to bed and I fell immediately asleep.

The third day had to be the last one: it was the last Saturday of our Camp and our parents were coming to fetch us during the Saturday afternoon. It started with the corporal ‘bangs’ like the previous one, but I did not mind it anymore. I stood up and immediately did what I thought was expected from us: putting my stuff back in my bag, getting washed at the little river (but not shaved, that seemed impossible), eating a tiny little bit (I had promised to share with Tom) and standing in the position of attention, showing that I was ready to go. Tom arrived a few minutes later and André arrived painfully about 15 minutes later.

We were hungry, but ready to go and accomplish our "mission". The Corporal told nevertheless to André that he was late and that this was not a real para-commando attitude.

We started again to walk, and walk, and walk when suddenly the corporal made a sign showing that we had to be silent. He then made a jump, came back with a small rabbit which he told me to kill with the butt of my rifle. I obeyed his order and he then told me to place it on top of my rucksack. Since the rabbit was heavy (that’s what the corporal said) he asked the two other Cadets:
"Which one of you is ready to help Cadet Jon and carry his rifle while he carries our lunch ?"
Tom raised his hand but André did not. I interfered then saying:
"Corporal, I am not ready to give up my rifle. Could I give what’s left of my food to Cadet Tom ?"
"Good reaction Cadet Jon, keep your food and your rifle. THIS IS AN ORDER."

Around noon, the Corporal made his STOP sign and told me to take the Army knife which part of our kit in order to get the rabbit skin out of the way. While I was doing that, he showed us how to make a fire in the forest. He then took a small branch from a tree and pushed it through the rabbit. He told Tom to place the branch (with the dead animal) above the fire and to turn it in order to, more or less, cook the animal. After a certain time, CPL Thoring declared that "food was ready" and used his big Army knife to cut pieces. Jon and me ate it with delight, the best food I had ever had. The corporal ate also, but the third Cadet, André, looked with dismay at this meal and chose to ask for the last bits of my rations, which I shared with him hesitation.

After that wonderful meal, we started again our "little walk" as the Corporal kept saying. Finally we arrived singing (the Corporal, Tom and me) at the regiment a little before 6 pm. We were the first ones ! Later, when all the groups had arrived, the Lieutenant, the two Sergeants and the Corporal disappeared in the Lieutenant’s small office to discuss each case and decide who would be selected for the additional two weeks. In the beginning I had hated this idea, but now after our raid and our "rabbit on the fire", I really hoped that I would be selected. Tom told me that he hoped that too, because of our singing in the forest, but that he was decided not to enlist. Many others, and among them André, said that they really did not want to stay in the regiment.

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