Middle East 1943
Seconded to Cameronian Highlanders
"Blimey, the heat of this place, I'm shagged!"
I shuffled into the tent after a grueling forced march into the surrounding desert,
"Egypt is the arsehole of the world and this bloody place is three foot up it!"
Digger Dougal and Gus McGee had been my muckers since we had been in training as Royal Scots at Berwick-on-Tweed. All three of us had been seconded together to the Cameronians in Egypt. We all collapsed onto our beds to try and get some respite from the marauding Sergeant's roaring,
"Aye, frigg it an' that bust'd out there!"
"Could be worse Cocky"
"Bloody worse? How?"
"Stands to reason don't it? All the time we're out here we ain't getting shot at!"
"Aye, I know, but I reckon they've got something up their sleeves for us. When we're finished charging around this bloody desert playing at Lawrence of Arabia I reckon that they are going to send us up through Palestine to get the Krauts through their back door"
Gus leaned back with his arms behind his head,
"Och away with yer!"
I was adamant that what I had heard in the N.A.A.F.I was right and not just another one of the rumors that were prolific around the camp,
"If they wasn't going to send us up through Palestine, then why are we traipsing all over this damned desert at all hours?"
"Oh aye, I suppose Palestine is as good a place as any"
"Not as good as Glasgow on a Saturday night!"
"Aye an' after the Blues have frigged the Greens 3-0"
At that moment the rest of the Section came panting into the relative cool of the tent and fell onto their beds,
"Ma bleedin' feet are killin' me!"
"Aye, and they're killin' us an'all, do yer ken they're mingin'?"
"I canae help it! sweaty feet run in ma family, it's these bockley Army boots"
"Noses run in mine!"
"You shouldnae worry, I've got a rash round ma bollix!"
"It's probably dhobie itch!"
"Dhobie itch my arse! it's a trip to the M.O for you pal!"
"You got what's called in medical circles as blobby knobby, ha!"
"But I havenae done anything!"
"You been round one of those scabby bints at Port Said!"
"See, ye ken yer should use it just fer pissin'!"
"Aye laddie, an now you got a date wi' the old metal umbrella"
I was laughing with the rest of them at the poor unfortunate, when the dulcet tones of the training sergeant shouted from the tent's flap,
"Right you lot! P.T kit on! 5 minutes! Imshee!"
"Imshee, Imshee! Doesnae he ken any other word? I'm goin' to look like a bloody greyhound when this lot's over!"
"Aw bloody hell! where's ma vest?"
P.T kit on, we all ran out of the tent in a half hearted "at the double" dressed as very poor imitations of athletes, Digger Dougal joined me as we got to the drill area,
"I ken that we could give them bleedin' Arabs on their camels a run for their money"
"Aye, at least we know that we can get away from trouble faster than we get into it!"
"When them Germans cop the pong of Pop's feet, they'll just throw in the towel!"
"Aye, an' some foot powder!"
A shout from the P.T Sergeant brought me back to reality,
"You there laddie!"
I looked around at the rest of the blokes, then realized that it was me he was shouting at,
"You laddie, not shagged out yet?"
"No Sergeant, I mean yes Sergeant!"
The P.T Sergeant stood inches away from my face and roared at a point at the back of my neck,
"No Sergeant? yes Sergeant? you takin' the mickey laddie? you lot, get down, twenty five press ups, Imshee!"
Under his breath Digger Dougal growled as we dropped to the sandy ground,
"Aye an' Imshee yersel' yer bust'd!"
The sergeant had his hands on his hips,
"Private Dougal isn't tired yet, are you Private Dougal? so you lot will all give me another twenty, Imshee!"
Oh well! such was Army life in 1943
All around the Sylhet airstrip area there were absolutely tons of supplies in massive dumps. We started to do exercises in loading and unloading the Dakotas. There were also quite a lot of American Waco gliders parked around the airfield, I supposed that they were for the first wave of engineers to fly in, with the heavy equipment to construct our landing zone. Even though we knew it was a serious operation that we were going on, it still didn't take away our sense of humor. It's surprising what a state you can get into, especially trying to climb up a ladder into a plane loaded down with all your equipment. Men fell in heaps on the ground, mules wouldn't budge an inch no matter how much they were coaxed and over the whole airfield you could hear the roaring and shouting of red faced NCOs. Despite all of this, we managed to get it all sorted out in the end and worked like a well-oiled sewing machine, with only a few parts missing.
THE NIGHT OF 23rd-24th MARCH.
Our Battalion started arriving at Sylhet airfield to embark on our "great adventure", most of us were apprehensive about what we were going to find when we got into Burma, even the old hands that had seen action in the desert. Our Section Sergeant was Rab McCallum, the Section members were Corporal Mathews, Lance Corporal Jock Mason and Privates Brady, Wallace, Digger Doyle, Tam Hunter, "Smudger" Smith and myself. Digger was taken out of the Section at such short notice, because he wore glasses, that we began the operation short handed from the start.
The Muleteer's name was Campbell who had charge of our devil of a Mule "The Puggler".
"Come on lads, get out of the trucks and get your kit"
The airfield was a hive of activity, aircraft were taxiing up to where we would have to scramble into their side doors. The muleteers were having a grand old time trying to control their charges, animals were kicking and biting as they were led up the straw covered ramps into the aircraft's interior. We were all having a good old laugh about how Campbell was going to get "The Puggler" up the ramp and into his plane. If the loaders didn't watch out, the beastie would give them a bite that they wouldn't forget in a hurry. All the mules had their vocal chords cut, so that they couldn't make any noise, it was a terrible thing to do to the animals, but what was the alternative? A mule's braying could put everyone in danger. Anyway, I think "The Puggler" had decided that if he couldn't make any noise, then he would get attention by whatever means and that usually meant biting whoever happened to be closest.
The Battalion had around one hundred mules, forty bullocks and twenty horses to fly in with us, so not only was it chaos getting the animals loaded onto the aircraft but the airfield looked and smelt like a farmyard.
As we thought, the old Puggler was a bit of a handful to get loaded into his transport. We didn't have anything to do with it, I'm glad to say, but we could see that the mule just refused to walk up the ramp into the aircraft. They pulled him, then pushed him, he wasn't going to have any of it. Then a rope was stretched round the back of him and even though he lent back on all his legs, he was gradually inched in. One of the loaders must have got a bite off the old bugger, because he took a swing at the mule. Like lightning, Campbell hit the bloke with a haymaker that nigh on lifted the bloke's feet off the ground. That was it! there was shouting and hollering going on and I could hear Campbell tell the Corporal, that if the bloke even looked at the Puggler again, then he would "fill him in!". Luckily enough, there was so much confusion going on in the area, that Rab went over and sorted it out with the Corporal, before any officer became involved. Campbell was lucky not to have been put on a charge, mind you, I think that Rab threatened to report that our mule could have been injured and the loaders were reluctant to pursue the matter.
We were lined up waiting for our turn to climb into to our designated aircraft and Lieutenant Muir came over to where we were waiting,
"Sergeant McCallum! No.1 and No.2 Sections are to load that aircraft there, get your lads in pronto sergeant and get those worried looks off your faces, you're not going to a funeral"
Wallace muttered to me,
"I wouldnae friggin' bet on that!"
Rab gave glen a scowl that snapped his jaw shut,
"Yes sir! Right ho, you heard Mr. Muir, Jhaldi!"
We double timed, or at least tried to considering our loads, across the baked hard dirt of the loading area, dirt and debris blown up by the many roaring engines smothered us as we got to the side loading door,
"Frigg this for a game of soldiers!"
An RAF corporal stood at the entrance of the Dakota, he looked tired and very disheveled, but had a grin that stretched across his face as he helped the first man with his kit as he struggled to climb into the fuselage,
"All aboard the Saucy Nancy, room for one more up top!"
He was greeted with a chorus of "up yer arse" and "Och, away and smoke yer pipe!"
He had obviously said these words every time that he had repeatedly moved hundreds of anxious soldiers into his aerial "Bus" and for his own reasons thought that he was funny,
"Oh frigg me, if it ain't the Jocks! Got a move on lads, we ain't got all day!"
Sergeant Rab McCallum turned towards him threateningly as he climbed through the door, making sure that he shielded the view from the officer present, he jabbed his fist into the pit of the RAF man's stomach and the unfortunate man let out an "oof!" as he folded round the clenched hand,
"Aye, we're the Jocks yer frigging Englishman, an' we're here to do all the dirty work that bustards like you can't do. They'll get a move on when I say so, savvy?"
Lieutenant Muir shouted up from the line below,
"What's going on Sergeant?"
Sergeant McCallum gave the RAF man a steely glare that made him swallow hard, this man had seen and done terrible things, not a man to cross lightly.
"Just fell sir, It's alright now!"
"Well carry on Sergeant, keep them moving"
..When we first went in, we were actually carrying a spare pair of trousers in our packs! It was ridiculous!
We weren't in for long, when we got to a bivvy area and decided to get rid of all the non-essential weight that we were carrying around. The heat was very oppressive and the sweat just poured out of your body, even when you were having a breather stop. We had been issued with anti-mosquito cream, but if you were daft enough to smear it on the exposed areas of your body, well it just blocked the sweat glands and almost made you pass out from heat exhaustion, so that was dumped. So were the extra pair of trousers, socks, pants, we even got rid of our puttees, so within days the lot of us looked like tramps, a big change from the usual "bull". A single "Dixie" can was kept to brew up, cook and shave in, plus a trusty spoon as an all round utensil.
We each had a waterproof oilskin pouch that could be stashed away into one of the oversized pack pouches. I had the photos of my wife and daughter, my watch, a local area map, small copies of the gospels of St. Matthew and St. John and a thin book of common prayer in mine. That was it, all the rest of the pack was taken up with ammo and rations, but it still weighed in excess of 70 lbs., we were just human donkeys.
Every now and then there would be a supply drop of equipment and usually there would be a new pair of trousers distributed by two pairs per Section. Clothes and anything else didn't last very long as it all went mildewed and rotted away. The smell of the jungle was rank, it was if the whole place was just rotting away. If you got to within a short distance of where someone or something had died, then the stench was stomach churning. The jungle rotted everything down so quickly, that it would be impossible to tell whether the remains had been friend or foe unless you could identify their equipment. There would be so many worms at work on the body that it moved and the swarms of black flies that settled on everyone and everything were a trial. The thought that the fly that had just settled on your food had just been feeding on a corpse, almost put me off my duff, almost!
The sound of the jungle at night was worse, I suppose it was just that it was nighttime, but the howls, screams and general unknown sounds of animals and other denizens of that green shitehole, just helped to keep me frightened enough to imagine a Jap creeping up in the dark to slit my throat. That, in itself was enough to keep me alert on stag, but the knowledge that there were also tigers, cobras, pythons, scorpions and all manner of nasty creatures, just waiting to rip, bite and sting this particular son of Scotland made my skin crawl.
Even though we were all exhausted by the day's march, we never got more
than two hours sleep at any one stretch. The nighttime can bring terrible
worries right into your mind. It wasn't just what may have happened to
you during the day, but also what you had done yourself. As I went through
more and more actions I was to dwell on what I had done. It is a terrible
thing to have the ending of a man's life on your conscience, it was easier
to think of the Jap as an "it" rather than a man. Eventually, we all became
blase to everything that was going on around us. It may have been the exhaustion,
lack of sleep and being constantly wet, but I think it was probably that
we couldn't afford to give ourselves the luxury of wasting energy thinking
about "what if?"
. When we arrived at a supply drop area, as soon as we stopped, Rab would send two of the Section to collect our rations. The American K Rations were the best that we had, they came in big boxes that had 36 small daily packs packed tightly into them. Those Americans were bloody clever, the whole of the pack was useable. Every bit of space was crammed with goodies and the pack itself was covered in wax, which meant that when we were allowed to cook, we used the package as fuel to heat our dixies. There was breakfast, tiffin and dinner, all the space inside was taken up right down to cubes of sugar, matches and most importantly a small pack of 4 cigarettes. It could be the worst conditions imaginable, but if you've got a fag to smoke, then it never did seem that bad. The cigarettes were Philip Morris, Camels and Chesterfield brands. There was a barter system, as most of the blokes preferred the Philip Morris smokes, so a Philip Morris was worth two Camels. Me? I smoked anything, I would have rolled up the leaves from the trees if I hadn't anything else, I was just glad of a smoke. We did get some British smokes, Passing Clouds, but they were packed close to the bars of soap in the British ration boxes and tasted as if you were washing your mouth out. The K rations actually included a small pack of toilet paper. We had to use this to start a fire in the wet, so it was always down to finding a big leaf when the time came. You got to hand it to the Yanks though, toilet paper in the jungle! what next? Coca-Cola?
The rations would be pretty basic, a tin of chopped ham and pork, three or four long biscuits (some sweet, some not)and cereal, which had meat and wheat mixed together. I would mix it all together in my dixie, more often than not it would be all eaten cold. This is the infamous "biscuit duff", it tasted like dog food! There was a big concentrated fruit bar included, which was to keep our bowels open, as if we needed to do that I ask you! most of the time we would have settled for a cork or something. To cap it all off, included were two small sachets of instant coffee, this tasted pretty good, even if you drank it cold.
Tiffin would be similar, but instead of the chopped ham and pork it would be meat loaf, three or four larger biscuits, a sachet of lemon and a packet of dextrose tablets wrapped in brown paper. These would melt in your mouth like a fizzle and give you a bit of energy when you needed it. Later we would survive on just these sweets for over three days when trying to rejoin our unit. It was said that we needed 5,000 calories a day just to replace the energy that we used, it was no wonder that we were always hungry, most of the time my stomach thought that I had cut my throat. There would also be another pack of four cigarettes included in the tiffin pack. The dinner pack was similar to the tiffin pack with another four cigarettes. It doesn't sound that bad when you see it down on paper, but we had to eat and fight on this for nearly five months. Occasionally we would get large tins of British rations, but it was not really the food for eating in the jungle. There would be big tins of meat stew and if there was corned beef, well that would pour out of the can in a liquid. Occasionally we would get four-pound tins of preserved fruit. It was a luxury to eat pear halves in sugary syrup, the only trouble though was that it would go though you like liquid paraffin, worth the trouble though, just for the sugar syrup.
Normally fires could only be able to be lit at night, you either had no time or weren't allowed a fire during the day. It all depended where we were and if the Japanese were close. There was one thing that got given to us occasionally, that was Navy rum. I suppose it enabled us to get over some of the horrors that went on during the previous day's action. As my Section got smaller due to casualties, the amount of food and rum was still distributed as if we were still nine men. You can only eat so much rations in one sitting, especially when your stomach has shrunk, but we still managed to polish off all the rum that was issued, it helped us sleep between stag duties.
There was some one-way communication from our families at home. Obviously we couldn't write any letters back, my wife would get a short note every month from the War Office that just stated that "Your husband is alright and to keep sending him correspondence". It must have been terrible for my wife and family to just get this notification every month. She didn't have a clue what was going on, or what we were doing in Burma. I just lived for a letter from her, that hopefully would be dropped with the supplies. It was a strange feeling to get a letter that told me all the news from back home, but to be reading it by the light of my cooking fire, in the middle of the death and destruction that had become my normal life, made me very sad. There were occasions though that had us rolling around the bivvy area laughing like hyenas especially, when we had been issued our rum ration. Early on, Wallace had made a discovery that proved, to him, what he had been saying since we had flown in,
"Now, yer know I've said that this is the arsehole of the world?"
We all looked at him puzzled,
"What yer on about?"
Wallace stood there with his map gesticulating,
"Take a dekho at yer maps, you'll see!"
Shrugging, we took our maps of the local area out, but still couldn't see what he was on about,
"It's a map, so?"
Wallace was adamant,
"Look at all of the names of the hills and mountains!"
We all studied our maps and still couldn't see what he was on about, he began to point out features,
"Look! Kalakon Bum! Pumpat Bum! Pumrawng Bum! see!
Blimey! he was right, the whole map was covered in places named Bum,
"Yer stupid bugger!"
"It means hill or something!"
Wallace wasn't having any of it though,
"Look, if this place wasn't such a shitehole, they wouldn't give names like that eh? even the locals call it what it is!"
Rab muttered, shaking his head in disbelief,
"I don't believe this, Wallace, bum is English for arse! The bloody Burmese don't know what it is in English! for frigg's sake!"
Wallace was nodding his head as he folded his map away, as if he had discovered some mystical secret,
"See I ken, it just goes to show yer!"
"Goes to show what?"
"I dinae ken yet, but just you wait"
"Yer friggin' nuts, yer ken that pal?"
"It makes you think though, don't it?"
"Frigg me, not you an' all?"
"Naw, but it does make yer think"
And that was that! For some time after, whenever we were climbing one
of these hills, Wallace would be heard to confirm his theory about "This
arsehole of a country!", I don't know, he may have been right after all
."Right ho! We're moving up, no more talking, keep quiet, expect enemy contact, keep your eyes peeled!"
It suddenly occurred to me,
"This is it!"
I began to climb with the rest of the blokes, but I didn't know what to expect when we made contact. I was a right idiot and like the rest who hadn't been in action before, didn't have a clue what was going on. We all began to scramble up the steep slope and kept glancing side to side at each other to keep in contact. If I went round a bush or copse area which was quite wide, I tried to get round it quickly as possible so that I could be back with my muckers, safety in numbers I suppose. We reached a bit of a dip, then all of a sudden there were shots and shouting up ahead. Rab and the rest of the NCO's were shouting,
I didn't know what to look out for! I didn't even know what a Jap looked like!
We were going into the attack, not running, but just walking at a brisk pace. It was then that I realized that this was exciting, my fear had gone and I just wanted to get into it. The adrenaline was coursing through me, as my heart was beating at twenty to the dozen. There was a hell of a lot of firing going on, even from my mates around me, but I didn't fire, I couldn't see anything to fire at! As far as I was concerned, if I was going to be firing, then it would have to be at something in particular. Suddenly, I saw somebody lying on the ground about four or five yards in front of me. I assumed that it was a Jap, but it could have been one of our blokes as far as I knew. He was lying on his front and I noticed that his trousers were pulled right up and the bottoms of his legs were bare. He wasn't wearing boots like mine but had on a funny pair of shoes. Rab was shouting to me,
"Make sure he's dead!"
In training, we were taught to finish off a suspected enemy who may be feigning death. The stories went around, of men who had left a "dead" body behind him, then got up and stabbed him in the back. Rab knew that I hadn't been under fire before, unlike the rest of the Section, so he was shouting at me and pointing at the body,
"Shoot the frigger!"
"Shoot that frigging Jap!"
He was shouting and screaming at me, I walked up to the body, I don't
believe that I actually sighted down my rifle barrel from a distance of
five feet and fired into it's head
It had taken the force so long to cross the railway that the order was to bivouac down where we were and proceed to the ambush point the next day. We were allowed small fires as the Japanese were miles away, over the cutts and wouldn't see them. I had some soup and stuff in my pouches and heated them up. We laid up in this area for the night and the rest of the next day. Scouts had been out all of this time and we eventually reached the designated ambush point at around 7 or 8pm, after laying up and eating any spare loose food that we had. We were already a day behind schedule as we made our halt. Wallace whispered to no one in particular,
"I can see a road through the jungle"
He pointed through the trees,
"Just down there"
"Friggin' 'ell! That's odd, what we doin' waiting' here?"
"Dunno, but we'll soon find out I reckon!"
As we moved closer to the road, I could see that it was winding up the side of a hill, it was curving and rising from right to left. The lower part had a small embankment on our side and the bank rose to about 6ft in height, where we were lying. Just before it got dark, we had a stand too and Rab got us into position. He then told us that we were expecting a large force of Japs marching from one depot to another and that they had no idea that we were in the area. We waited for what seemed like hours and I thought that the Japs must surely know that we were there, my heart was beating so loudly that they couldn't miss hearing it. There was no talking and you wouldn't have known that you were a part of a force of two hundred men. The silence could have been cut with a knife, I could feel the tension and suppressed excitement that was all around me.
The position that my Section had, was on a bank which was about six feet higher than the road. When the Japanese Column began to march up the road and pass my position, I could just about make out the tops of their heads and shoulders. The moon was up and I could see just as clearly as if it were daylight. I thought that if I could see them this clearly, then surely they must be able to see me? but no, they just marched past us, totally oblivious to the beast waiting to be unleashed.
I was astonished to see that at the head of the Jap Column, was an officer riding a white horse. We were the blocking force of the ambush, so we had to wait for the entire Jap column to pass us, wait for the signal to fire, then block the road and stop them from escaping. The stopping force at the head of the ambush would do the same, then the idea was to do murder with them trapped in withering crossfire.
The Japs were still passing us, where we were lying in wait. They were only about 8ft away from me,
I could hear the shuffling of feet, coughing, equipment squeaking and the general noise that can't be stopped
when a large group of men are moving. They seemed to take a long time to pass, we found out later that there
had been twelve hundred of them and only two hundred of us! Frigg me! No wonder they didn't tell us
anything beforehand. The signal to banjo the Japs in front of us, would be a single shot from one of our snipers.
I felt wound up like a spring and had to force my breathing rhythm in the
Our attack force consisted of five Platoons, made up from both Columns and we were told that from information supplied by local Burmese tribesmen, we would be able to set up another successful ambush. Rab asked the Lieutenant in passing,
"How much more successful does H.Q want Sir?"
As we had already attacked a force six times larger than ourselves and got away with minimal casualties! The Lieutenant's stock answer was,
"Our's is not too reason why, Sergeant?"
That answer had us all totally nonplussed, as the second most dangerous thing in the world of a soldier, is to hear an Officer quote from one of those "Glory" poems, the first being "A Lieutenant with a map!" We moved out on our way to the ambush area and rumors were rife as we got bits of information from other Sections as we rotated. The main rumor, was that this ambush was going to be even bigger than the one two days beforehand and that we were going to be in the area of Bhamo, further east of the railway. The force arrived at the designated map reference point, set up the ambush position and waited. Nothing happened all night, we were on stand too for hours staring and listening in the dark, but nobody came up the track. In the early hours, each man of a pair was told to get some sleep while his mucker covered them both, but it was impossible to shut your eyes when you thought about how many of the enemy may be moving in your direction. The dawn arrived uneventfully, so after the usual stand too, it was decided that we would march back to the column at the pre-arranged supply drop area rendezvous.
Our force began to make our way back to the rendezvous and even though we were all fatigued from lack of sleep, we all were in great spirits and making good time, especially with the prospect of getting some hot food into us. A ten-minute rest was called. I pulled my boot out from the clutches of some stinking mud, almost losing it in the process and just said to nobody in particular,
"The frigging stink of this place! it's mingin'"
If I ever get back to civvie street, I wonder if the foul stink will ever wash off. Smudger, who had a dose of dysentery, was just rushing for the bushes. Wallace shouted after him,
"Mind you bury that Smudger, We don't want the Japs to think that we are using poison gas"
"Bollix!" Smudger shouted back, as his bowels evacuated themselves with an audible blast,
"Oh bloody hell! there's blood in it!"
"Well maybe something's got up there, I've heard stories.."
I said to Smudger, who was busy trying to find a big enough leaf,
"I reckon that something crawled up there and died, by the stink anyway"
Smudger walked back buttoning his trousers,
"And I suppose yours don't stink eh?"
"Well, not like that it don't!" We all broke out laughing.
"Got a fag Cocky?"
"Aye, but only a camel though"
"Be like smoking Smudger's shite, eh?"
"Do you want it or no?"
I passed the pack around and we all attempted to get a light from Smudger,
"Nah, I'm not having third light"
"What the frigg's wrong with you now?"
"I heard about the third light in the last lot, the sniper sees the match, sights on the second and bang! poor bustard's got his head blown off without having a drag, see?"
Smudger lighted another match,
"Makes you think though don't it?"
"You think too bloody much, if you ask me!"
"Well, we didnae ask you!"
"For frigg's sake! You're like two old women, nag! nag! nag!"
"Piss off! who asked you anyway?"
Rab stood up and adjusted his pack,
"Alright lads! up you get, only a few more miles to go to that lovely grub and grog!"
We all struggled to our feet picking up our equipment and packs,
"Oh aye, a few more miles he says"
We all knew that the "Black Watch mile" was at least four times longer than any standard mile. Wallace was handed the Bren gun, the extra weight is not welcome, He complains loudly,
"I'm goin' to get arms like a monkey with the weight of this thing"
Smudger piped up,
"Well, they'll go with your face then won't they"
"Aw frigg aye! The pot calling the kettle black, your fizog would turn milk sour, anyway at least I know how to fire this thing, not like some I know"
"Smudger, Wallace, shut up! save your breath for walking!"
No.2 Section, who was behind us, walked through our line to take the forward position and we rotated ours to the rear of the Platoon. Rab stood back, shook his head and muttered under his breath,
"Gawd blimey! like a bunch of kids"
I had my head down following the man in front and the prospect of another
break in about an hour kept me going. I shifted the weight of my pack to
make it more comfortable, when....Zip! Zip! Zip!