Snake! - memoir of David Roberts

Submitted by Editorial team on Friday, 23 May 2008 - 10:43am

FSB THRUST had many odd little events during our occupation.

There had been some well rated intelligence information that we were likely to be on the receiving end of VC mortar fire, and as a consequence an Australian mortar locating radar detachment was deployed to the FSB. The detachment was placed in our portion of the FSB mainly because we had a bit of space that could be used, and because the detachment were also artillery (albeit Australian) the infantry thought it best that we all be lumped together.

One of the members of the mortar locating radar's detachment fancied himself as one of those mythical outdoor, outback Australians familiar with snakes and reptiles and who knew what to do when such revolting and frightening things appeared. FSB THRUST being on the dry, sandy and scrubby ground that it was there was no shortage of transient wildlife and it was inevitable that something would eventually appear that would allow our resident Australian to demonstrate his expertise.

The beastie that fronted up in the midst of a group of soldiers just on evening stand-to one night was a black and white banded krait. These things prefer to avoid human contact even more than we humans prefer to avoid theirs but when they do decide to sink in their teeth, or fangs, the results are said to be most unpleasant.

Our expert knew what to do. Whack off its head with a machete and it can't bite anyone.

Swish and whack goes a machete in the growing dusk.

Off comes the head of the snake.

Off goes the snake!

Off it goes, HEADLESS??

Head be damned; the right berk has whipped off the last six inches of the bloody thing's tail end. This krait is not going to appreciate this.

Unerringly the abruptly shortened and offended snake heads for cover. By chance cover takes the form of the Australian expert's hoochie. In it goes like the proverbial robber's dog.

Now we have, no, he has a problem. Although our Aussie compatriot (not a bad bloke either) says not a word it doesn't take a genius to figure out that this is not a scenario he is familiar with.

Here we have darkness falling with that startling speed that it does in the tropics, no lights allowed and a hoochie that is occupied by a snake that has quite recently been brutally reduced in length and which it can be safely assumed is not well disposed towards the 'shortener'. In fact it is a fair assumption that the snake is right pissed off! It would therefore be unwise to enter the hoochie.


Four hours later I have finished a shift in the CP and I pass by the scene of this incident on my way to bed and there, sitting outside his hoochie is our radar detachment member still pondering his dilemma. Wisely he opted to spend the night elsewhere.

The snake was gone by morning. Well not completely! There was a six-inch section still on the ground.


Extract from unpublished memoir of David Roberts (1937-2005)

How to cite this page: 'Snake! - memoir of David Roberts ', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 04-Sep-2013