A Soldier's Diary

Monday 17th June

Well, this is it! At last I am in the army, and today was my first day. I have decided to keep a diary of all my experiences, and maybe one day, when I am a national hero, I shall publish extracts.

Today was mostly taken up with enlisting, and I am now an Enlisted Man. When the sergeant found out that I could write, he said that I would be an officer in no time!

I am now sitting around the campfire with the rest of the men in my group. Although it is really quite late, we haven’t yet been shown where our bedrooms are.

Tuesday 18th June

I can’t believe it! No bedroom! I had to spend the whole night in the open air! I complained early this morning, and the sergeant explained that we would never have bedrooms. In fact, the campfire was a special treat because it was our first night!

Well at least we started soldiering today. We were issued with our weapons first thing – a shield, a sword and a spear. We all went on to the parade ground to be shown how to use them. The drill sergeant is not a very nice man, and seems to think that we are all deaf, since he shouts a lot.

“Right you ‘orrible bunch of wasters,” he screamed, “I am ‘ere to show you ‘ow to use your weapons! First let me describe each of them to you. The long pointy one is your spear; the medium, sharp one is your sword and the big round blunt one is your shield. The spear is for jabbing the enemy with the sharp end, or, if he is too far away, for throwing at him. The sword is for jabbing the enemy if you have already thrown your spear and missed him. The shield is for stopping the enemy from jabbing you if you have missed him with the spear and the sword. The shield is specially designed for not getting dead, and should never be confused with the spear – keep it with you at all times, and never throw it at the enemy.”

He then explained the science of war, “The first secret of war is to not get dead. The second secret of war is to get the enemy dead.”

I’m still not an officer.

Wednesday 19th June

I don’t think the drill sergeant enjoys his job. He seems very stressed and is always losing his temper. It is very difficult to remember what to throw and what to hold, but I am getting better at it. At least he has noticed that I can throw the shield further than any one else.

We were taught the martial art of shouting today. Shouting can frighten the enemy, but only if you shout the right thing. Cries of “Hello” and “Right, I’m off” are not allowed.

I really am getting a bit tired of the food. It is always the same, and always cold. Perhaps officers’ food is better.

Thursday 20th June

We have been told that we are going to the front. This might mean we get the food first and that it will still be hot. Because we will be at the front we have to do much more weapons practice. I now have the camp record for the longest shield throw.

We will also be going on long runs.

We will be moving out on Monday. How can we move out when we haven’t even been in a tent yet?

Saturday 22nd June

I couldn’t write anything yesterday. I was too sore everywhere. I don’t like running, I don’t like weapons practice and I don’t like sleeping out in the open. When I am an officer, all this will change.

Sunday 23rd June

Why does he keep screaming at me? I know I’m not supposed to throw the shield, but it still knocked him out for five minutes, so it must be fairly effective. He says I frighten him, so my martial shouting must be good.

Still no news of my promotion.

Monday 24th June

We moved out today. Heaven only knows where we are, since we marched all day. My feet hurt, and they are not looking forward to moving back in.

We are obviously not at the front yet, since the food is still cold.

Tuesday 25th June

We climbed to the top of a hill this morning and got the fright of our lives. Across the valley there is another hill, and on top of that there was another army, which shouted at us, martially. We shouted back at them, but they are louder than us, which either means that they have been better trained or there are more of them. The sergeant says that “they is Philistines and Philistines is the henemy and the henemy wants us dead.”

We stood in lines at the top of the hill all day and shouted at the henemy enemy. They stood all day at the top of their hill and shouted at us. Then, when it got too dark to shout, we marched back to the bottom of our hill for the night.

I don’t like this anymore, and want to go home.

The sergeant says I can’t.

Wednesday 26th June

Up to the top of the hill again today but, before we had even finished our first shout, this HUGE soldier came into the valley from the enemy side. He was at least nine feet tall, and he must have been important, because he had someone to carry his shield for him!

He shouted at us, “I am Goliath. Choose a champion to fight me. If he kills me, we will be your slaves, if I kill him, you will be our slaves!”

I have to say there wasn’t a mad rush of volunteers. I did consider throwing my shield at him, but it is too risky “his shield is much bigger, and I’m sure he is a better thrower. He strutted about till lunchtime, then came out this evening again, issuing the same challenge. No takers.

Monday 1st July

This is getting monotonous. Every morning we get up to the top of the hill, Goliath comes out, issues another challenge, calls us a bunch of wimps, has a rest till the evening, comes out and shouts at us till dark. Then we all go back to the bottom of the hill for the night.

Nobody accepts his challenge. I would, but I’m so upset about still being a private that I don’t see why I should.

Monday 15th July

It’s been over two weeks now, and still the same. Goliath is getting ruder every day. King Saul keeps increasing the reward for the man that kills Goliath, but nobody is brave enough. I think everyone is just a bit fed up with the whole thing, and I have no idea how we will get out of this. It’s all very embarrassing.

Monday 4th August

Forty days and we are still here! At least the weather is quite good – I’m getting a rather nice tan.

Bored with being a soldier, and don’t care if they make me an officer or not – I’m out of here if nothing happens by the end of the week.

Wednesday 6th August

What a turn up that was! Yesterday was such a brilliant day! It got off to the usual start and we all yawned. But during the morning this young lad turned up on our side. He was very obviously a shepherd, because he smelled even worse than we did.

Anyway, when he heard Goliath mouthing off, he went absolutely crazy! He thought it was a right cheek that a Philistine should defy the army of the living God, and said he would have a go at him. He was taken up to King Saul in no time. He told Saul that his name was David and that he would go and clobber Goliath. Saul laughed, but the boy convinced him that he could do it. He said that he had killed a bear and a lion, and that God would protect him from the giant.

There was a buzz of excitement in the camp. King Saul took off his armour so that the boy could put it on. That was a laugh! The kid could hardly stand up in it, and when he tried to move it was anybody’s guess where he would end up! Off came the armour.

He picked up his staff and five pebbles and set off for Goliath. When the giant saw him he laughed. “Are you going to fight me with that stick? Come here and I’ll feed you to the birds,” he said.

David replied, “I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut of your head.”

As Goliath moved towards him, David put a stone in his sling. WHACK! The stone hit the giant on the head and down he went! The boy ran at him, took his sword and cut off his head, just as he said he would! The effect that had on everyone was tremendous! Everybody started running -the Philistines were running home and we were running after them, AND WE RAN FASTER! As David had promised Goliath before the fight, we gave the birds a good feast on the Philistine dead, and the whole world now knows that there is a God in Israel!

What a wonderful day! I like being a soldier, especially now that I know I am in God’s army!

Based on 1 Samuel 17