There was a line of men waiting inside, so I took my place at the back and waited in silence. Every few minutes a door would open and a man would walk out. I had only a few seconds to glance inside before one of the men in front of me would shut the door as he walked in but I could see anything.
Eventually my turn came and I walked in, uncertain of what would happen next. The office was small, there were recruitment posters over every walls and a desk on the side. A man in uniform sat at the desk and stared at me. Should I stand at attention, or salute, I thought. The man put down his pen, picked up a pipe from a drawer, put it between his teeth and lit a match, all with his left hand. The left sleeve of his uniform was folded back up and pinned under his arm.
"It's not polite to stare, son. Lost it in South Africa a couple years back. Stand closer to me so I can take a look at you."
The soldier was of average size, with a neatly trimmed mustache, clean shaven cheeks and perfectly combed hair. "Yes, sir."
"Why are you here, son?"
"I want to go to war, sir. I want to fight." My voice betrayed my nervousness.
He put down his pipe, picked up his pen and put the tip of it on the blank form in front of him. “Music to my ears. Name?”
“Alexander, sir. Alexander Perkins.”
“Why do you want to join?”
I quoted a poster from the waiting room. “For King and country, sir.”
He looked at me and raised an eyebrow. “How old are you? Because if you are younger than eighteen you’ll have to wait before you join the fight. If you’re eighteen though, you’ll be on your way to the front lines before you know it.” He smiled. “No way I wouldn’t trust you, I have no doubt you’re an honest citizen.”
I’m fifteen, sir. “Just turned nineteen, sir.”
“Welcome to the Australian Imperial Force, son.”