He had so many nicknames, tucker fu&%er and bait layer

But when an army marches on its stomach, he is the major player

Our cook could serve up anything, boiled, baked or fried

Like the medic and the pay clerk you always kept him on side


When the CSM would charge you, on evidence unfounded

Epsom salts in his coffee, would keep him truly grounded

You only had to do it once and he soon got the drift

No one knew who did it, the result was always swift


If stray cats were a plague, he always knew

When it was time to rustle up, a hearty rabbit stew

There was always plenty of stock around and no one made a fuss

Even when a tuft of pelt, looked a little sus


Should unexpected troops arrived and leave him somewhat short

It didn’t seem to bother him, for this was his retort

“They say the good Lord Jesus, served five thousand souls and more

Some extra flour and water, will feed the whole corps.”


One day he looked like death warmed up, all that was missing was the wreath

When he had finished throwing up, he couldn’t find his teeth

We didn’t see them anywhere, no matter how hard we did forage

Then, they were located, in the boiler with the porridge


We were in the pub one Friday night and when Cookie appeared

He told us he’d won the seafood tray, but it had disappeared

It was discovered some days later, and it seemed so bizarre

His missus found it sitting on the back seat of her new car


Poor Cookie has long left us, to that cookhouse in the sky

He may not have worn a Michelin hat, but at least he had a try

Like so many of our company, he failed the final test

Some succumbed to their demons, Agent Orange took the rest


Generals receive the glory, for what their troops achieve

Aching hearts and memories, for loved ones left to grieve

A laugh is worth a thousand tears, as the years roll by

For they will never be erased, no matter how hard they try.


By Tomas ‘Paddy’ Hamilton
13 April 2021

Dedicated to my late father in law, Private Thomas Bateson Saunders NX104684



FILE PHOTO: Australian Army chefs and stewards prepare ‘hot-box’ meals in a field kitchen at Shoalwater Bay, Queensland, during Exercise Talisman Saber 2013. Photo by Corporal Jake Sims.






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One thought on “THE COOK

  • 29/03/2023 at 3:59 pm

    A few choice words were thrown at cooks throughout a miltary career.
    My favourite:

    Duty officer – ‘Who called the cook a #<nt ?'

    Entire Mess: – 'Who called that
    #<nt a COOK ?!!'

    Somehow we thought it was all contrived for the duty officer's entertainment.

    Another eposide: A soldier had sat down for lunch – when he something on his plate – and gagged !
    Picking up his plate, he stormed up to the duty officer, and shoved it up at him.
    "Excuse me, sir. WHAT IS THAT !!??"

    THE OFFICER looked down – and responded: "It's a grub, lad.

    IN VIETNAM, YANKS provided meals on some Ops, and we were amazed at how well the grunts were fed. We were told 'Eat as much as you like – but eat what you take'.
    We were unused to this line of hungry Yanks and Aussies 'out in the field' – but as we moved down the line, with 2 dixies & a mug, we were met at the end of the line, after filling them – to be confronted with a large ice cream container – too late !
    The 'cook' dumped ice cream onto already full dixies – right on top of a nice warm STEAK !!

    As far as I recall, we never had a repeat of THAT. Probably because we would never join the Yanks again on Ops – due to their alien 'up the guts' tactics, to hell with casualties.

    Such opposing tactics became a sore point between Aussie senior officers and even U.S. Generals – to the point where it was heatedly 'discussed' between Canberra and Washington.

    For once, Canberra sided with 'the men on the ground' – and their PROFESSIONAL TACTICS – while a lot of U.S. grunts 'had some strange habits' that lacked any real professionalism, shall we say.

    Later, a 'friendly' U.S. F.A.C. officer informed the Aussie senior BHQ officers – LAUGHING – that if any American officer had stood up to the generals the way THE AUSSIE OFFICERS had – they would have been COURT-MARTIALLED !!


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