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THE BRITISH SOLDIER


HIS COURAGE

AND HUMOUR

THE
BRITISH SOLDIER
His Courage and

Humour

BY

Rev. E.

J.

HARDY,

M.A.

Chaplain to the Forces (Retired)

Author of

*'

How

to be

Happy though

"Mr. Thomas Atkins,"

Married/'

etc. etc.

" Nous entendons dire de tous cotes que vos pauvres


Tommies se battent comme des lions et que chaque jour
ils

font des exploits magnifiques.

et tres droles."

LONDON
i

lis

sont bons garcons

(Extract from a French lady's

T.

letter.)

FISHER UNWIN

ADELPHI TERRACE

W.C.

First published in 79/5

(All rights rtsentd.)

TO

THOSE

WHO HAVE

GIVEN THEIR LIVES

OR THEIR HEALTH
TO
SAVE CIVILISATION FROM BARBARISM
THIS BOOK

IS

DEDICATED

334053

CONTENTS
CHAPTER

PREFACE
I.

II.

---------------

PAGE
ix

UP TO SAMPLE

COURAGE

III.

COURAGE AND DISCIPLINE

17

IV.

BOYS OF THE BULLDOG BREED-

29

FACING FEARFUL ODDS

'

37

V.
VI.
VII.
VIII.

IX.

X.
XI.
XII.

"

"

FIGHTS TO A FINISH

45

CAVALRY CHARGES

52

GRIT

AND GUNS

57

GALLANTRY OF INDIVIDUALS

SELF PUT ASIDE

-----

BROTHERS-IN-ARMS

UNDER FIRE

" i've got it "

XIV.

FROM FEAR TO HEROISM

UNCOMMON COMBATS

XVI. IN

68

78

xiii.

XV.

THE TRENCHES
vii

91
I0 I

no

II7

123

I32

CONTENTS

viii

PAGE

CHAPTER
XVII.
XVIII.

XIX.

NOT DOWNHEARTED

142

PLAY AND WORK

148

WAR

AS A GAME

XX. THE COURAGE THAT BEARS


XXI. IN
XXII.
XXIII.

A MILITARY HOSPITAL

READY TO RETURN

1 58

1 64

170

176

FASHIONS AT THE FRONT

XXIV. GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS

XXV. UNCONSCIOUS HUMORISTS

182

189

"199

XXVI. NICKNAMES
XXVII.
XXVIII.

209

TENDER-HEARTED BECAUSE BRAVE

213

------

228

WHAT THE FRENCH AND BELGIANS


THINK

PREFACE
did not need a war of nations to learn about the

humour

courage and

book
I

As a

of the British soldier.

I wrote called " Mr.

Thomas

Atkins " shows,

had studied and appreciated him during the

one years in which


Still, it

served as Chaplain to the Forces.

was pleasant to read despatches and

from the seat


This book

Mr.

thirty-

is

of

war highly praising

my

letters

old friend.

based upon the strong, clear letters of

Thomas Atkins

pertinence of calling

(I

am

never guilty of the im-

him "

Tommy ")

which were

written amidst the stress and strain of war, often

even in the pauses of battle.

more than
of

select

and

the

British

little

The

soldier.

a credit to his head and his heart, and

throw a searchlight on the war.


of the things

we can

have done

classify the letters of that best

war correspondents

letters are

The

soldier

he knew about, and the result

see his

wrote

is

that

pen pictures.
ix

PREFACE

x
I

would

like to express

newspapers in which the


find

difficult to

it

of the

indebtedness to the

letters

do so as the

Press, so to speak,

mention

my

were printed, but

letters

and many

of

were

all

over the

them quoted without

paper from which they were taken.

know, however, that The Times, The Daily Mail,

The Daily

Telegraph,

The Daily Chronicle,

The

Evening News, The Star, The Standard, Reynolds'

and News

Newsletter,

papers from which

What

effect

of the

have taken extracts.

has war upon those engaged in

reflective soldier thus

the brutal instincts,


for I

World are amongst the

it

answers

war brings out

of instances of sacrifice

men who

in times of peace

upon as almost worthless characters."

are looked

May we

" If

reveals the God-like also,

have come across scores

even unto death among

it ?

not trust that

" Those

who live on amid our homes to dwell


Have grasped the higher lessons that endure

"

In reference to Mr. Thomas Atkins, the British


public

is

wont to blow hot and

cold.

When

he

is

engaged in a popular war they are inclined to make


a popular fool of him, talking as

if

it

were rather

wonderful, and not a matter of course, that he should

PREFACE

xi

bear hardships uncomplainingly and not skulk in


battle.

When

peace comes there are in some places

many

of public resort as

snubs for him as before

there had been sweets, pairs of socks, and other


" comforts."

The

following lines were cut

stone sentry-box at Gibraltar


"

God and

by a

soldier in a

the soldier

all

men adore

In time of trouble, and no more

For when war

And
God
And

all
is

over,

is

things righted,

neglected

the old soldier slighted."

Let us hope that when this war

is

over

God

will

not be neglected nor the soldier slighted.

The Author's

profits

from

for the benefit of soldiers.

this

book

will

be given

CHAPTER

Up to Sample

A Manufacturer

is

glad

when he can supply goods

up to sample, and we ought to be thankful that the


old mixture of English, Scotch, Irish and Welsh sent
to the war against Germany was as good as it ever
was.

Lord Roberts

said, "

and

fully at the front,

Army." Another
an audience that

Our men have done wonderI

am

old soldier,

proud

of the British

Lord Sydenham, told

British troops

had never shown

finer qualities.

" Ah, Monsieur," said a French Staff Officer to

an English

friend, "

have been

lost.

It

without your

Army we

should

proved that one volunteer

is

worth ten conscripts."


In the retreat from the Belgian frontier
small British

the huge

Army

army

it

was the

that kept back at fearful loss

Germany, and by doing so enabled


the French forces to fall back in safety.
of

One who was

associated with the British at the

beginning of this strategic retirement wrote

"I

TKE BRITISH SOLDIER

have seen a crack cavalry regiment almost annihilated in a desperate charge against the
artillery.

have seen the heroic Scots

German

mown down.

Yet the British have already forgotten those

tragic

days when they alone bore the weight of the German

When

onslaught.
soldiers

were told
they

regiments

in

my

of

the disasters to their best

never

We'll have the best of

it

presence

flinched.

those

'

British

Never

mind.

one day,' was the invariable

answer after a moment's silence."


Writing of the long resistance of our

overwhelming odds

men

against

in the region of Ypres, Sir

French said in his dispatches, "

No more

John

arduous

task has ever been assigned to British soldiers, and


in all their splendid history there

their

having

answered

so

is

no instance

magnificently

desperate calls which of necessity were

of

the

to

made upon

them."

The accuracy

of

British artillery

shooting surprised both our

French

officer

allies

and infantry

and the enemy.

attached to one of our contingents

was astonished at the coolness and ingenuity


our soldiers
food and

when under

fire.

He

of

noted their good

the celerity with which they

made

tea,

washed and shaved when the enemy's


He said that our aviators had
slackened.

cooked,
fire

mastered the technique of the new arm.


General Zurlinden wrote thus in The Gaulois

UP TO SAMPLE
"

The

has

Army, which grows from day to day,

British

done

miracles

shows

It

in

under

French.

Field-Marshal

engagements

all

its

incontestable

German infantry and artillery


German cavalry."
body of German prisoners in the

superiority over the

as well as over the

There
old

a large

is

on the Gironde, and the

Blaye,

of

fortress

French doctor told a friend that the

set of

first

prisoners hastened to inform later arrivals that the

were

English

with

fighting

French

the

against

" This, however," they added, "is of

Germany.

The English

no consequence whatever.
are not worth taking

account."

into

other prisoners arrived, and the

soldiers

By-and-by

same story was

repeated to them. They immediately protested.


" You make a grievous mistake," they said, " if

you believe

The English

that.

soldiers are terrible

fellows."

The following

a translation of a letter that was

is

found on a dead German


soldier

is

it

"

The English

the best trained soldier in the world.

The English
worse than

officer

soldier's

hell.

would be well

If

we

fire

ten thousand times

is

could only beat the English

for us,

but

am

afraid

we

never be able to beat these English devils.


are very brave

and

shall

They

fight to the last."

Even the Kaiser has found out that French's


little
Army " is like what the

" Contemptible


THE BRITISH SOLDIER

nervous lady

said

a mouse

of

small, but

horrible nuisance."

The deeds
British wars

present

of daring that

were done in former

were repeated over and over in the

one.

There were cavalry charges which

can compare with that of the Light Brigade at


only that nobody blundered.

Balaclava,

every day a small number of our

men kept

Almost

multitudes

Germans

at bay and got out of the tight corner


Guns were saved or taken with up-to-sample
bravery. Wounded men were rescued by selfof

at last.

comrades who were often themselves

forgetting

wounded.

Here
in

is

an extract from a sergeant's

The Evening News

"

When

letter printed

on the Monday

morning we were compelled, reluctantly, to

was
The
I

just as
line

retire it

though we stood on parade at Woolwich.

was as

straight

and steady as ever

it

was.

could not help thinking that here was an answer

to the blatant ranters

who

are for ever prating

about the degeneracy of our race."

Nor were our men afraid of the greater amount of


work which up-to-date war entails. An officer
mentioned having had during five days of a retreat,
two hours of sleep and nineteen to twenty hours
marching a day. " It was awful to see men with
but I am glad our
bad feet fall by the roadside
;

troops are

still

the British soldier of history, taking


UP TO SAMPLE

everything that comes in a most philosophical and

courageous manner.

Lying

in rain-soaked trenches

days under a murderous and hellish

for three

fire,

him to song and

wet, hungry, merely provokes


laughter."

corporal of the 16th Lancers wrote

"

We

are

from 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. and


then off again at three next morning

in the saddle

11 p.m.

not exactly playing billiards at the club."

sergeant-major was so worn out with marching

that at the battle of

Le Cateau he

fell

asleep

and

did not awake until his regiment, which had been in

was ordered to engage.

reserve,

Some men with

hot in their hands and their heads resting

rifles still

on the barrels

slept " the brave sleep of wearied

men."
In a

letter

passage

"

from

Our

the

fellows

front

say,

God

help the Germans,

but

especially

to.

But they

when we

them, for making us teetotal.'


of beer,

was

this

have signed the pledge

because Kitchener wants them


'

there

You can

all

get hold of
get plenty

would not disgrace myself with that,

on active service."

The French expected our

soldiers to

be fond of

drink, but they found that they preferred tea to the


free drinks of

The
British

girls

and

wine they

offered.

and women hung on the arms


said that their only

of the

hope was in them.

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

The

children played with

them and the

old

people

were cheered up by their songs and laughter as they

marched through the

was

villages.

Mr.

Thomas Atkins

as brave in resisting the temptations of this

popularity as he was

when he came,

as he soon

did, to his first battles.

The brave
soldiers

whom

always tender-hearted, and our

are

were as humane and considerate to those


they conquered as they were strong and

courageous in conquering.

men

with

longer

whom

enemies.

After the battle

the

they had been fighting were no

They
and

fellows to be pitied

were,

wounded,

if

poor

helped.

And our men were generous in their appreciation.


One man wrote "In spite of all we say about the
:

Teuton he

is

taking

his

punishment

we've got a big job on our hands.


isn't

well,

and

Getting to Berlin

going to be a cheap excursion."

CHAPTER

II

Courage

What

courage or fortitude

is

kinds of

" It

cases.

but

it,

is

Locke's

There are

him, or danger

in his

lie

Where duty

not to wait.

to halt or to go in

any other

where duty says, " Stand

Our

soldiers

says,

way."
"

Go

direction

still,"

self,

whatever

of his duty,

There are those who have courage to

cowardice.

many

covers most

the quiet possession of a man's

and an undisturbed doing


evil beset

definition

is

fight,

but

forward,"

cowardice

to go forward

is

have shown themselves

capable of both kinds of courage.

At the

battle of

when
ordered, though they were driving the Germans
before them at the point of the bayonet. They
Mons they were brave enough

said

that

they

could not

order to retreat was

to

retreat

understand

Tommy

the

given, but they trusted their

leaders.
"

why

Atkins, you're a fighter,

An' your work

is

clean

and sweet

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

When

you've got a job before you,

Why you goes an' does it neat


Tommy Atkins, you're a hero,
With your
"

'

masterly retreat

'
!

Tommy

Atkins, you're a Saxon,


An' you're bloomin' hard to beat,
And you've borne the brunt o' fightin'

And

you've kept upon your feet

An' you've learned the precious lesson


Of a masterly retreat
'

'

"

Tommy

Atkins, you're a soldier,


An' your work is clean and sweet,
An' you've won a dozen battles

By

a nicely-timed defeat

Tommy

Atkins, you're a hero,

With your
"

'

masterly retreat

Ah," said a French

officer, "

we

"
'

lose so heavily,

we French. We haven't the patience of the English.


They are fine and can wait we must rush."
:

But indeed the very constancy

may

of our soldiers
for granted.

We

sometimes hide

hail of bullets, that

a good umbrella

all

men brave

natural

is

take

it

Thomas Atkins amidst a

we begin

to fancy that with

we would be
Is courage

We

become so accustomed to read

of the coolness of Mr.

to the shower.

of the courage
it.

Quite

equally indifferent

then natural, and are

the

contrary.

an instinctive desire to save

What
life

is

and

COURAGE

and those who overcome

limb,

How

courage creates courage

him away through a storm


he

said,

"He

He

gave

all

of

so.

by a Con-

told

is

man who had

Writing of a

naught Ranger.

from a sense

this

duty ought to get credit for doing

of bullets

carried

when wounded

a grand lad and afraid of nothing.

is

who were near him courage by

his

brave

conduct."

There are
There
little

or

many

kinds and degrees of courage.

that which

is

no hope

is

calm, deliberate and with

of reward.

magnificent manifestation of this courage was

given by twelve Royal Engineers.

bridge on

the British line of retreat had to be destroyed.

party of sappers laid a charge

Then one

could light the fuse they were killed.


of the
fuse.

Engineers

He was

made a

but before they

rush, alone, towards the

killed before

he had got half-way,

but immediately he was down another

man dashed

up and ran on until he, too,


the body of his comrade.

a fourth, a

fifth

and

same way.

all of

them met

of the

German

their deaths in the

Others dashed out after them, one by

one, until the death toll

and

dead, almost over


third,

attempted to run the gauntlet

rifle fire,

for

fell

numbered

an instant, the German

rifle

eleven.
fire

Then,

slackened,

was blown up, for


the twelfth man, racing across the space where
in that instant the bridge

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

10

the dead bodies of his comrades lay,

lit

the fuse

and sent the bridge up with a roar as a German


him down dead.

rifleman brought

A
of

few British soldiers held at bay a large number

Germans who were trying

to rush a bridge.

Sergeant of the Royal Engineers perceived that

they did this our

men would be

cut

He

off.

if

des-

troyed the bridge with dynamite, the British troops

were saved, but a

took

shell

off

the

Sergeant's

head.

With the modesty

of a real hero Lance-Corporal

Jar vis, R.E., said to a newspaper reporter

am

proud to have gained the Cross, but

fellows at

the front deserve

it."

" Yes,
all

the

Jarvis got the

shown at Genappes on
August 23rd in working for one and a half hours
under heavy fire, in full view of the enemy, and
Victoria Cross for gallantry

in successfully firing charges for the demolition of

a bridge.

"

under

from three

The work on the bridge was done


Near the bridge

found Captain Theodore Wright, V.C., wounded

in

fire

the head.
'

Go back

so

sides.

wished to bandage him, but he

to the bridge

went.

The

behind barricades, and

must be done

it

infantry were

British

'

said,

and

posted

had to make quite a


I had to start oper-

detour to get round where


ations."
" Good-bye,

you

fellows."

Thirty

gunners

of

COURAGE
a British

11

battery had just been killed and

field

Thirty others had been ordered to take

wounded.

Knowing they were going

their places.

death, this

was the

last greeting to their

Two

in the reserve line.

man had been


went to the

to their

comrades

minutes afterwards every

put out of action, and another thirty

with the same farewell greeting,

front,

smoking cigarettes as they went to almost certain


death.

was presented when a British


was being shelled, and the less

pathetic picture

Red Cross shelter


wounded men carried the more wounded to a

place

comparative safety.

of

Some almost mad

things

were done by

men

in the trenches, in the intervals of coolly playing

games.

A man

stole forth

German maxim.

on a dark night to carry

He

off

wriggled on his stomach

to within a few yards of his object.

He

surprised

the guard of five Prussians, slew them, and returned

triumph to

in

with the

a sheep across his shoulders.

like

by

his trench

his success

he

ammunition and

sallied forth

belt

maxim

slung

Rendered brazen

again to collect the

which he had

left

behind on

his first journey.

One day the Gloucesters were


fire,

and a

shell

lying under shell

dropped right in the middle of

party having some food.

It

did not explode at

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

12

once, so one of the

men dropped

and threw the

out of the trenches.

shell

his biscuit, got

up

A sergeant of the Royal Horse Artillery who


had come back from the war for a rest, was asked
many men getting the Victoria Cross.
"Of course there are, but every
fellow who has fought has in some way or other
earned it. Why, our little trumpeter, had he been
saving a wounded man under the same conditions
if

there were

He

replied

as he collared a chicken for his comrades' dinner,

would have certainly obtained the coveted

We

were being shelled and

fired

on

fiercely

Cross.

when

a chicken suddenly ran into a very inferno of


'

There goes our dinner

'
!

cried

fire.

trumpeter,

the

and without another word he chased the bird

for

at least five minutes, never worrying a little bit

about the

shells

and

with a bullet in his

bullets.
leg,

Finally he

came back

but as proud as the Kaiser

himself, with the chicken in his arms."

Compare with

this

the

written

following,

by

Sergeant George Freshwater, of the Highland Light


Infantry

"

The other day one

of our fellows shot

a pig that came wandering towards our trench.

The

difficulty was,

however, to get him.

lay about 30 yards from us,


line of the

German

shot at him, but

We

drew

lots

it

fire.

and was

Some

of the

Germans

was our chaps who

who would go

The

pig

right in the
also

killed him.

out and fetch the

COURAGE
1

bacon

'

The chap who was stuck for the job


once, though some of us wanted him

in.

went out

18

at

to wait until

it

He

got dark, but he wouldn't.

got the pig in safely, though he got two shots through

and one through

his sleeve

We

shots in him.

six

his cap.

The

pig got

skinned and roasted the

and had a real good


him the next morning."
man crept up to a German trench and took

pig in the trench that night,

breakfast off

away from a

sleeping warrior a helmet, knapsack, a

pair of patent-leather boots (evidently looted),


forty-five

and

rounds of ammunition.
wrote

soldier

" There was a big, awkward,

gawky

lad of the Camerons

Scotch

collie

who took a fancy

that had followed us about a

one day the dog got

left

lot,

behind when we were

The big lad was

to a

and

falling

and went
and was trudging
along with it in his arms, making forced marches
to overtake us, when he fell in with a party of Uhlans
on the prowl. He and his dog fought their best,
back.

back to look

for

He

it.

terribly upset

found

it,

but they hadn't a dog's chance between them, and


both were
"

A man

killed."

of the

'

Glosters

'

noticed a horse that

had been struck with a shell and was in great pain,


and was neighing piteously for water. There was
none about, and with the Germans rapidly closing
in

it

was as much as any man's

life

was worth to

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

14

The brave chap knew that


wanted to make the poor

stay another minute.

as well as anyone, but he

animal comfortable before he cleared

clear out,

off,

so he

We

had to
and didn't know what had happened to
next day when we retook the position,

hunted around until he found water.

him until
and found the Gloucester lad and horse both dead."
The highest courage comes from forgetting self
and caring

for the welfare of others.

This was told by a corporal of an Irish regiment.


"

We

were in a place near Rheims and a Britisher

dashed out from a farmhouse on the right and ran


towards

We

The Germans

us.

fired

and he

fell

dead.

learned that he had been captured the previous

day by a party

of

German

cavalry,

and had been

held a prisoner at the farm, where the Germans

were in ambush

He saw

for us.

though he knew that

if

their

game, and,

he made the slightest sound

they would kill him, he decided to make a dash to


warn us of what was in store."
It was not enough for our men to show courage
they now do so also in the air.
on land and sea
At one time it was thought that the Germans
;

excelled in this

Kaiser was

Now

the

new kind

of warfare,

and that

their

" the Prince of the power of the air."

French and

British

have successfully

disputed this ascendancy.

The men

of

the Royal Flying Corps are not

COURAGE
" afraid of that which
stantly both
writes, "

by

friend

15

high."

is

and

" Fired at con-

John French

foe," Sir

and not hesitating to

fly in

every kind of

weather, they have remained undaunted throughout."

John Baker, Royal Flying Corps,


a letter

in

home

told the following


" While flying over Boulogne at

a height of 3,000 feet something went wrong with


the machine, and the engine stopped.
said,

'

die like a

officer

brave, and

Good-bye,' and shook hands with

man.

The next

me.

The

Be

Baker, our time has come.

remembered was that

was

in

barn."

Another new opportunity


the
is

work

in

it

for courage

given by

of the motor-cycle despatch-rider.

There

adventure, danger, hardship and every other

element

The

of romance.

take his machine over rough

dangerous by
as

is

shell holes.

despatch-rider has
fields

He

to

and roads made

has often experiences

bad as the one which Lance-Corporal Davies,


Welsh Fusiliers, thus describes
"I had to

of the

accompany one

of

the

sergeants

despatch across the battlefield under

in

carrying

fire.

We

had

not gone far before the sergeant was shot dead.


I took the despatch from his keeping with all haste^
and made at top speed for the staff officers for whom
it was intended.
As I delivered the despatch I

dropped into a dead

faint

from exhaustion, and

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

16

when

came round

found myself

in

the field

hospital."

The

despatch-rider

has

to

pass

sentries

who

shoot at sight, and sometimes he has to go through

even the

lines of the

enemy.

CHAPTER

III

Courage and Discipline


Before the

last

Boer

War

British

Army

officers

did

not take their profession as seriously as did Continental military

many came

into

men.
it

regiment was a club and

merely to have a good time.

After the lessons of the Boer

War all this changed.

Zeal and energy took hold of our officers and they

began to think that they were bound in honour to

make themselves

efficient.

And

they have done

so.

The rank and file know this, and respect them for
One soldier ended a letter with these words:
it.
" We are officered by excellent men, and we feel
that we are being led. Their coolness when in a
tight corner had a great effect upon the men and
pulled us through often."

In one of his letters at the

beginning of the war a sergeant of the Buffs


wonderful, with

marked, "It

is

how

and kind the

their

helpful

work to

all

re-

they have to do,

They know
some of you at

officers are.

their finger tips.

If

home who have spoken sneeringly of British officers


could have seen how they handled their men and
B
17

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

18

shirked nothing you would be ashamed of yourselves."

The other day Lord Raglan, Lieutenant-Governor


Man, related an incident which shows
do for his officer. He said that

of the Isle of

what a

soldier will

his son,

who

was

is

seriously

private soldier

a lieutenant in the Welsh Regiment,

wounded in Belgium, and that a


first bound up the wound, and then

said, "

They shall not hit you again, sir." He then


lay down in front of his wounded officer so that his
own body would protect him from the fire of the

enemy.

An officer of the
self-sacrificing

Mansergh was

Manchester Regiment was equally

for

soldier.

hit in the leg at

Lieutenant

Le Cateau.

near an empty trench he crawled into

comparatively

it

W.

G.

Falling

and was

Shortly after a soldier of the

safe.

same regiment crawled up to the same trench.


Mansergh pulled him in and got the man underneath

him (it was a short " two-man trench " for kneeling).
Mansergh was now exposed to shrapnel, though still
protected by the trench parapet from rifle fire. A
shell burst just in front of the

Mansergh was

An

officer

killed

trench low down.

on the spot.

wrote, "

You cannot imagine how one

gets to love these soldier chaps.

The other day

they found an egg which they wanted

Of course

me

to have.

wouldn't, but offered to cut for

it

(we

COURAGE AND DISCIPLINE


have got a pack of
to a

In the end

cards).

woman we met. They


way they look up to

advice and counsel on

Although

all

say

it

was given

it

are just like children

in the

small.

19

one and ask one for

kinds of subjects, great or


myself, I don't think they

could put more confidence in their officers than

they do at times

like these,

and

think most of us

appreciate the fact/'

Private Walker, of the ist Cameronians, wrote

mother: "I asked an officer for


some tobacco, and he gave me some of what he had

in a letter to his

been smoking, laughingly remarking,


dish.'

was

It

'

Caven-

It's

just leaves pulled off the trees, so

hard up were we for tobacco."

What
of

the

former

a contrast there

German and the


officers

is

between the

British

discipline

Army

and men are almost

In the

in the

same

other as warders and convicts.


The officers drive their men and do not lead them,
and dumb, driven cattle cannot be heroes in the

relation to each

strife.

"

German

think of their

officers

cannon fodder,"

ours

associate

games during peace time, and


hardships

It

was this

'
'

in

men

with them

war share

moral persuasion

that so often enabled our small

only as

army

'
'

all

in

their

discipline

to knock the

tail-feathers out of the Kaiser's eagle.

A corporal
Heaven our

of the ist
officers

Cameronians wrote

are not like

German

"

Thank

officers.

'

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

20

Ours are the best in the world.


is

way they

the

'

Come

on, lads

know how

cheer us, and the boys

to obey."

This war has shown that there never was in our

Army more
comes from

officers

with each other.

where

may

shells

and men being

A man who

in friendly touch

was lying

were exploding, said to his

I retire, I

The

men

kind of discipline which

of that best

have been

following are

" Sir,

officer,

hit three times

some

in a place

"
?

of the testimonies

which

returned from the war gave as to the good

feeling that exists

between our

officers

and

their

men.
This

is

from a corporal's

grand and they cheer our


jokes in the trenches.

and are always


seize

letter

men by

They

"

Our

officers are

their laughter and

are gluttons for work,

cheerful, cool,

any chance

and quick to

of delivering a punishing

see

and

blow at

any part of the enemy's lines. The only complaint


against them is that they will not take cover, but
expose themselves too much. The Boer War lesson
they teach to the men, but won't profit by

it

them-

selves."

Describing the fighting at Mons, a sergeant of the


" Captain Shott,
Royal Berkshire Regiment said
:

D.S.O., of our regiment, was, I think, the bravest

man
near

ever met.

On August

and were lying

23rd,

when we were

in our trenches

with

shell

COURAGE AND DISCIPLINE


fire

21

constantly around us, he walked out into the

open and, with

his cheery words,

gave us good heart.

He was puffing a cigarette and he said, Lads, we will


He was an officer and a gentleman in
'

smoke.'

every sense of the word, and when he was killed


later it was a great blow to us."
" Captain Berners, of the Irish Guards," wrote

two days

one of his men, " was the

When

shells

at the Palace.

humour about Brock's displays


But when we got into close quarters,
his

was he who was

fight

and didn't he
don't know how he got knocked over, but
in the thick of

me

one of our fellows told

There

is

of our lot.

were bursting over our heads, he would

buck us up with

it

and soul

life

not a

Tommy who

it,

he died a game

'

un.'

would not have gone

under for him."

We read of an officer of the ist Hampshire Regiment reading " Marmion " aloud in the trenches,
under a fierce fire, to keep up the spirits of his men.
"

He

is

shop.

as cool as a slab of salmon in a fishmonger's

He

is

a top-hole chap and worshipped by his

men."
Writing of the terrible

fire of

at the Marne, a soldier said

to keep on firing.

Our

the

German

officer

stood up in the

trenches and clapped his hands like as


clappin' a star turn at the Empire.

he yelled.

Good

artillery

"All we could do was

boys, stick to

it

'

'

if

he was

Good boys
That was

'
!

all

"

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

22

The next moment a piece of shell crumpled


him up. His death was a terrible blow to us. He
did not know what fear is, and shared everything
he

said.

from a biscuit to a cigarette with


So, too, a

guardsman wrote

in the whole Brigade of

readily admit that

his

When we

a hero.

charged our weak


of retiring,

Guards but what would

"

men have

officers.

Our Major (Mathieson) was

were hard pressed and they

we were almost on

line,

'

Never

let

the point
fire

be said that a Cold-

it

streamer retired in front of a

German

dog.'

After

as one man and never flinched."


was heard to say in his sleep, " This
must be held at any cost." This showed

we were

all

subaltern

position
his zeal

man

but he stood up in the midst of the

and shouted,

not a

read the following from a corporal's letter in

The Daily Chronicle

that

is

the hardships the

all

endured have been shared by the


I

men."

" There

and the tension

of his

battalion, full strength,

They stayed
resisting

there

day

overworked nerves.

went into the trenches.

after

day without

relief,

overwhelming forces which were trying to

them out. At last the time for relief came.


They came out of the trenches, but only a fourth of
those who had gone into them, and they came out
under the command of one who had become their
senior officer, a boy of nineteen.
When they came
out he formed up his men. He gave them the ordw
drive

COURAGE AND DISCIPLINE


and then he burst

to march,

fainting to the ground.

had done

all

was over the

28

and

into tears,

While duty required

he

when

that was wanted of him, but


strain

fell

it

it

was too much, and he broke

down.

An

officer said to his

men, " Surely British

soldiers

can keep back any amount of German waiters."

The men

way

said that they were "

of putting

bucked up " by

this

it.

In a letter to his wife, Private McKay, of the

2nd Highland Light Infantry, wrote

"

The High-

land Light Infantry, the Oxford and Bucks Light

and the Con-

Infantry, the Worcester Regiment,

naught Rangers have beaten

by doing 190 miles

in eight

all

records for marching

and a

and

half days,

at

the same time righting rearguard actions day after


day.

When

officers
1

regiment.'
'

men

on,

Think

That does

Hold your hand

out,

of

the

They

it.

so

down, but our

feel like falling

them on with a few words, such

help

Come

men have been

on the march the

run down that they

honour

as

the

start singing,

all

naughty boy

of

'
!

and

feel fit

for another 10 or 15 miles."

Another
often told

He

soldier

wrote to his parents

you what a

fine fellow

"I have

our captain was.

got knocked over with a piece of shell

but

kneeling on one knee, he was cheerful, and kept


saying,

'

My

bonnie boys,

make

sure of your man.'

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

24

When

he was taken away in the ambulance he

shouted,

'

Keep

cool

men he was always

and mark your man.'

wrote this about his

He was

his

a gentleman."

Bandsman Imeson,
"

To

4th
officer,

When

a hero.

Regiment,

Middlesex

Lieutenant Williams

he would

in the trenches

expose himself to danger so as to take good aim with


his

we

although

rifle,

men

him to

Look

at the

His answer was,

get under cover.

bounders,

frequently requested

don't waste a shot

aim, so that each shot

tells.'

It

'

take careful

was while he was

taking aim that he was shot through the stomach,

and

later died.

them.'

Another

soldier in

when he saw

cried

so

His

last

words were,

'

Men, give

it

"

letter said that

his captain shot.

"

he nearly

He

has been

good to us."
Big strapping troopers of the Horse Guards are

said to

have " cried

like kids "

when

their

Major

" If

you knew how much we loved


that man you would understand."
A soldier thus wrote, who had been asked to tell
fell

in action.

General A.

Wynn

about his son's death at Land-

recies

" Sir, these are a few of the instances which

made

your son liked by

all his men.


The last day he
we had got a cup of tea in the trenches,
and we asked him to have a drink. He said, No.

was

alive

'

COURAGE AND DISCIPLINE


Drink

yourselves

it

you are

then with a smile, he added,

in

want

We

pears and two loaves of bread.

And

it.'

we had been

and someone brought a sack

had a small

little

bread.

bottle of pickles in

haversack and asked him to have some.

of

Wynn

Lieutenant

accepted only one pear and a very


noticed this.

of

have to hold the

Again, at Mons,

trenches to-day.'
fighting all day,

'

25

We
my

But

it

was the usual answer


You require them yourOur
selves.'
regiment was holding the first line of
*

trenches,

and Lieutenant

Wynn was

company.

Word was

the right of the


to see

if

Lieutenant

just putting

up

my

Wynn was

told to hold

head when they

and

Wynn was

through the eye and died instantly.

doing his duty, and like the

was

me, and

hit

heard from a neighbour that Lieutenant


hit

down

passed

all right,

He

died

and gentleman

officer

he was."

and men were always on the watch to


help each other. At the battle of Mons an officer
stood over the body of a private who had previously
Officers

saved his

life

his revolver,

until

he had

and then

fell

fired his last shot

seriously

from

wounded.

private soldier carried on his back for 800 yards

a young subaltern,

who

afterwards died in hospital.

Trooper O'Brien, of the 3rd Dragoons, told in a


letter to his wife

how Captain Wright,

crept out under a

heavy

artillery

of his squadron,

and

rifle fire

to

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

26

and bring

try

in

"

two wounded men.

He

brought

one back to the trench and bandaged up and placed

He

in safety the other.

every other

man

my

in

is

a lovely man, and

and

squadron would follow him

anywhere to the death."

private wrote

" Officers seem to be mainly

concerned about the safety of their men, and

in-

upon themselves.
wounded man under

different to the risks they take

Lieutenant

heavy

Amos

rescued a

Several of us volunteered to do

fire.

it,

but

the lieutenant would not hear of anybody else taking


the risk."

Private R. Toomey, Royal

an

told of

officer of

hell

He had

lump

boys, give

them

Toomey, "

It

was a

him shouting."

Because of a foolish

Army
What

hell,

been wounded in the back by a

of shrapnel, but, said

treat to hear

Medical Corps,

the Royal Irish shouting at the

top of his voice, " Give them


"

Army

affair in Ulster, Ireland,

our

not so long ago was said to be insubordinate.

answer has the war given to

this

It

has

shown that officers and men never worked better


together, and that the educated, temperate soldier
of the present fights just as well as did his pre-

decessor,

whose mind was too uncultivated to

realise danger,

to

it

by

How

and who was not unfrequently blinded

drink.

well the officers

managed

their

men when

COURAGE AND DISCIPLINE

27

they were sore and disappointed at the order to


retreat after the battle of

Mons

General told

the South Staffordshire Regiment that they were

doing splendidly, but that they must retreat or

they would be surrounded.


willing to yield

impatience,

They were

ground that one

of

all

so un-

them, expressing

made a comment he would never


of doing in peace time.

have thought

The General

only smiled.

At

St.

Quentin Sir John French, " smiling

his face," explained to the troops the

the repeated retirements.

Up

to this the

almost to be pulled back by their


the explanation they

most hated thing

fell

officers,

in cheerfully

strategic

all

over

meaning

of

men had
but after

with that

movement

to

the

rear.

The men were pleased by Sir John and his staff


going among them to see their life in the trenches,
and whether they were being properly looked after*
" He has no side/ and is just as ready to smile on
'

the ordinary private as on the highest


stops

officer.

He

when he has time to have a chat for the sake


what we think of it all, and whether

of finding out

we

are properly looked after."

The

and the
men through them, is shown by words written by
Captain Norman Leslie a short time before he was
killed

spirit

"

which animates our

officers,

Try and not worry too much about the

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

28

war

we

units.

are

Individuals cannot count.

new page

writing a

of

Remember

history.

Future

generations cannot be allowed to read of the decline


of the British
live

our

Empire and attribute it to us. We


and die, and to some are given

little lives

the choice of proving themselves men, and to others

no chance comes.

Whatever our individual

virtues, or qualities

when we

may

be,

it

faults,

matters not

but

up against big things let us forget


individuals and let us act as one great British unit,
united and fearless. Some will live and many will
die,

are

but count not the loss.

It is better far to

with honour than survive with shame."

go out

CHAPTER

IV

Boys of the Bulldog Breed

sixteen years of age was, on return-

bugler only

ing from the war, being taken to the Royal Herbert

One of the soldiers said to


looking on, " He is a little hero,

Hospital at Woolwich.
the people

who were

and deserves a dozen medals.

He

did not leave

arm was blown off


off
with a shell and he had four bullet wounds in him."
Another boy of the bull-dog breed, who is a
sounding his bugle until his

left

trumpeter, did this heroic deed.

had

lost all its

lieutenant

horses and

and a trumpeter.

the sergeant-major,

wounded

all

By

its

British battery

men

except a

one of the guns lay

in the leg

and shoulder,

and the lad decided that he would make an attempt


to take

him out

His

of the line of fire.

to dissuade him, declaring that

it

officer tried

was sheer mad-

ness, in face of the awful shell fire that

ing like rain

all

round that spot.

The

was pour-

lad,

however,

was determined, and, getting hold of a spare horse


from the rear, galloped off to where the wounded
sergeant-major

lay,

picked him up,

placed

him

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

80

across his saddle,

and brought him

safely to the

hospital.

The
of the

great complaint our cavalry had against that

enemy was

that they would not stand and

have a respectable charge against them.

party of Royal Marines were going by train

from Antwerp to Ostend.

At 10

o'clock at night

the train was stopped and the Marines were fired at

by Germans from all


command was asked

The

directions.

to

" Royal Marines never surrender."

replied,

The no- surrender

boys fought their way through, though they

many

of their

in

officer

He

surrender.

lost

number.

Great was the pain that an order to retreat gave


to other boys of the bulldog breed.

While the

British were gaining a series of great successes, the

French were being defeated on the

right.

were unable to hold the Germans.

The

were ordered to

fall

back

in order that

They
British

they might not

be enveloped by the Germans and completely cut


off.

When

rebellious.

the order came, the men became almost


" Stalwart members of the Scottish and

Irish regiments wept."

The men, however,

as

it

proved, got even more

opportunity of showing courage in the retreat that


they did not, at the time, understand. " My story,"
says the

New

York World correspondent, " prin-

cipally concerns the bulldog-like resistance of the

BOYS OF THE BULLDOG BREED

81

British troops against the constant ferocious attacks

by the Germans holding the centre


line,

of the far-flung

while the French troops were engaged in push-

ing back the right flank

of the

Germans.

Official

statements conveyed but an incomplete idea of the

tremendous undertaking of the British and French


troops."

"If there be truth behind the splendid boast


That freedom makes of every man a host
And multiplies his courage and his might
Above the strength of peoples without right
To liberty now is the hour to show
The universe how Britain meets the foe."
;

The

following incidents have been mentioned in

despatches

During the action at Le Cateau on

August 26th the whole


of the British batteries

of the officers

had been

and men

killed or

one

of

wounded,

with the exception of one subaltern and two gunners.

These continued to serve one gun, kept up a sound


rate of

On

fire,

and came unhurt from the

battlefield.

another occasion a portion of a supply column

by a detachment of German cavalry, and


the officer in charge was summoned to surrender.
He refused, and starting his motors off at full speed

was cut

off

dashed safely through, losing only two


It is

no wonder that a French

lorries.

officer said

British soldiers were always " le bulldog.

not

know

that

We

did

that they could fight as they do, nor did

the Germans,

You cannot wear

out their spirits

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

82

even

you walk them

if

somehow, they

will

off their legs

they will crawl

never stop."

Writing about his soldiers after the battle of the


Aisne, a British officer used these words
is

" There

an extraordinary English atmosphere over the

whole show.

mean

that the

men

display a dogged,

obstinate resistance in the face of any odds and

absolutely refuse to consider the possibility of their

They won't admit

being beaten.

at

any time that

the Germans have got the best of them.


cheerfulness

extraordinary and nothing

is

is

Their
able to

depress them."

The

same battle
The Engineers built
a pontoon bridge across the river. They were under
shell fire all the time, but they stuck to the work
following account of part of the

illustrates the

above remark

"

Luckily the shells dropped in the river,

gamely.

and did not explode. The order was given to cross


the bridge man by man, six yards between each man.
It

was a race across under

fire.

saw men getting

ready for their turn, as if it were a hundred yards sprint

and the
It

officer

giving the word to the next

'
:

Go.'

was an exciting time, and lots of men fell in the river

and were drowned.


I

man

got over safely.

as the river

top

it

was

We

my

life,

but

advanced up a side

of a

hill,

ran the race of

was down a

all

valley,

and when we got on

open country, and the Germans held a

position on the hills in front of us,

and

their infantry

'

BOYS OF THE BULLDOG BREED


had trenches

just

Their shells started

We advanced a bit. We were getting


We lay down flat on our stomachs.

to drop on us.
slaughtered.

They were
they meant

below them.

33

well in the trenches,

to

make a

against their artillery.

and we could

see

We lay there helpless

stand.

The

shells ceased

a while,

and their infantry tried to rush us, but as soon as


they

left their

them.

trenches our

rifle fire

They were trying to rush

played hell with

us,

but we drove

them back time after time. My rifle I could hardly


It
hold, as it was red-hot with the continual firing.
was raining all the time, and we were lying in water.
I had to keep dropping my rifle and wet my hands
on the ground.

We

could not

move an

The

inch.

It was
was miserable lying in wet. We lay there
for four days, getting biscuits and bully beef at
night, when the supplies used to creep up to us at
shells

started again.

killed.

waiting to be

like

It

the risk of their

lives.'

Another instance of bulldog resistance was thus


recorded

"

At one place we had a

surprise attack.

We were just getting ready for some food, when all of


a sudden shells started bursting around us.
tell

you,

it

was a case

of being

and tea-cans were flung one

up and

side,

doing.

our tea

can

Dixies

spilt, fires

put out, and the order given to stand to our guns

and horses

everyone to prepare for action.

we were not to be caught napping.

Still,

Our boys only

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

34

when we get a chance of a sleep, so you


we were wide awake to the fact that it was a

close one eye

can

tell

Our

case of do or die.

them

held

gallant boys, the Guards,

our death-dealing pea-

until

them

put

shooters

bay

at

to

flight

nevertheless,

the

Germans made a strong resistance during the night,


and it was only after a hard struggle that we managed
to be victorious."

How

the Coldstream Guards saved a division of

British troops

mans were
to

swamp

"

The Ger-

tremendous numbers, easily

sufficient

is

in
us.

told

We

by one

of

them

had chosen the

position very

and our flanks were protected by barbedwire defences. The enemy suffered fearful losses
carefully,

along that narrow strip of road, but they never

by storm. So
Germans did manage

relaxed their efforts to take the place


fierce

was the

fighting that the

once to capture one of our machine guns, but they


did not keep

it

we soon had

long

it

back.

Rush

came during the night, but our lads held


The German big guns were very troublesome.
fast.
One of them was a particular danger, and the order

after rush

came
it.

'

to one of the machine gunners to try to scrap

Yes,

sir,

what range

'

'

Four hundred

yards,'

came the reply. The gunner adapted his machine,


and let drive. One shot was sufficient. It got the
German gun right in the breech, and it did not bark
again that night. The engagement proceeded all

BOYS OF THE BULLDOG BREED

night.

huge German force was held up by a

comparative handful of British


latter's

35

main body was able to

soldiers, while the

extricate itself from

a most precarious position."

soldier of the 1st Queen's described this case

of bulldog resistance

"On

September 17th we

were supporting the Northamptons,

engaged with the enemy.


hands, and the

their

home

who were

hotly

The Germans threw up

Northants ceased to press

As they approached, however,


surrendering, the Germans opened a

the attack.

instead

of

and the Northants were compelled to


Their danger was recognised by Colonel

withering
retire.

fire,

Warren, whose machine-gun section was disabled.

He

by

himself served a gun, assisted

and helped to pour

who

in a

suffered severely.

heavy

Both

gallantry with their lives.

fire

his adjutant,

on the Germans,

officers

paid for their

shrapnel shell from a

German gun burst over them, their gun was shattered,


and Colonel Warren and Captain Wilson were instantaneously killed."

soldier related

how when unable

to sleep one

night with the cold of the trenches the regiment


wished for some warming work and got it. " We

were called out to support an infantry brigade.


During the action at one point the line broke, and
our lads

fell

back

in

some confusion.

pressed forward to feed the fighting

Reserves were
line,

and the

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

36

Once more the Germans

advance began again.

were too heavy for our chaps, and again they were
forced back.

They halted for a little to take a rest


again.
They dashed up the slope

and then began


like wild cats

by

and closed with the Germans, who were

this time getting tired of

it.

and though

it

back

this time,

There was no

falling

was very hard work


was cleared and

indeed, the whole line of trenches

the Germans sent flying.


terrible in

tell

you that

the trenches at times, that

it

is

so

we mutter

through our chattering teeth prayers to Almighty

God only to give the Germans sufficient


make them come out and attack us, just

grace to
to

warm

us up and give us the exercise bur aching limbs are


crying out for."

how

his

ground to the

last,

After relating
held

its

regiment at one place


a soldier proudly added

" General French has thanked us for the

behaved, and praise from him

more than from other men.

is

He

way we

worth a great deal


is

not in a hurry to

say nice things about us, but when he does speak

we know he means every word of


more. That's the way to get round

it,

and maybe

the soldiers."

CHAPTER V
Facing Fearful Odds
This

how some

is

3,500

Germans

twenty-six British soldiers faced

Mons. The
As they were

after the evacuation of

British forces reluctantly retreated.

only giving ground step by step, twenty-six Fusiliers

entrenched themselves in a farm overlooking a long,


straight road.

machine

They were

in possession of several

guns and

these they placed inside the


doors 01 the xcum house. " Now, boys," shouted one
of the twenty-six, "

the grey devils

we are going to cinematograph


when they come along. This is

going to be Coronation Day.

Let each of us take

many pictures as possible/' As soon as the


Germans appeared on the road and started attacking

as

a canal bridge the Fusiliers very coollv turned the


handle of their gu

The

picture

witnessed irom

" living screen "

the

farm on the

by the canal bridge was one that


The " grey devils
dropped down in hundreds. Again and again they
came on only to get more machine murder. At
will

not easily be forgotten.

37

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

8$

it was wiser to continue


march and leave alone the twenty-six who

length they thought that


their

had

for a considerable time delayed

well-known

Member

it.

when

Parliament,

of

visiting a locality in

France where there had been

much

to a lonely wood.

fighting,

came

Around a
mounds enclosed by a

large tree were significant

On

palisade on which were hanging laurel wreaths.

a part of the tree from which the bark had been


" Here lie the
stripped was a rude inscription
:

bodies

German

of

This was a

twenty English heroes."

tribute to our countrymen,

who had

fought

The enemy

to the last against overwhelming odds.

admiring their bravery, had buried them and


this record.

A company

of

French

through the wood later on saw

left

soldiers passing

They stayed

it.

and upon

erect the palisade to guard the graves,

to
it

they hung twenty laurel wreaths.

One of the Lancashire


Mons continued to fire
gone. His bayonet was
at

Fusiliers

when

left

behind

was
he stood up

until his last cartridge

also gone, so

with folded arms until he was shot down.

Here

is

how

the brigade to which the Welsh

regiment belonged faced fearful odds.


"

'

The contemptible

little

Army

'

were opposed

by 300,000 Germans. Our brigade got a position


that, had the enemy made a dash at us, we should
have been overwhelmed.

Had

they had the pluck

FACING FEARFUL ODDS

89

mowed

they could have come over a ridge and

down,

we were

for

knew we were
All they did

all in

safe

us

a valley, but our General

from any attack

was to keep up a

in the open.

terrible artillery fire.

Shrapnel shells were bursting over us, but amid

we took heed of only one word, Advance,'


and advance we did. Our regiment had a centre
position.
On we all went. We neared the crest
all this

'

of the hill

behind which was our goal.

yards from the crest

we

lay

About twenty

down and our company

commander, Captain Haggard, advanced to the

saw the Germans and then shouted,


boys, here they are.'
soldier

He

What an

himself used a

'

officer

rifle.

top,

Fix bayonets,

We

'

What

fixed

'

and

were prepared to follow him anywhere, but we were


checked by a storm of
the sound that
force.

bluff

maxim

we were up

fire.

We

knew by

against a tremendous

There was only one game to play now

them

into the belief that

we were

as strong as

we were ordered rapid firing,' which


enemy the impression that the firing force
is strong.
We popped away like this for three hours,
never moving an inch from our position, and our
officers standing up to locate the enemy every now
themselves, so

'

gives an

and

again.

minutes.

We

lost four officers in

Men were

getting hit, bullets coming at

us from our front and both flanks,


on.

Just near

about twenty

me was

Still

we hung

lying our brave captain

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

40

As the

mortally wounded.

he would occasionally open his eyes, so

and

out

call

but

Welsh Regiment,
'

it,

Welsh.'

pain,

Stick

'

Many

of

it,

us

to crawl

'

to use.
into

stick

full of

up and down the firing


dishing out the ammunition we were unable

wounded managed
line

very weak

'twas

over us

burst

shells

So our lads stuck

action.

We

at

it

until our artillery got

Out

won.

in

that field

were

strewn thousands and thousands of German dead

and wounded.
barricades of

them up and made


their dead.
Towards dusk, though
exposed to terrible shell fire, and to

They even

we were still
move was almost
lads

piled

courting suicide, several of our

volunteered to collect and carry

wounded.

Many

cared nothing.

away the

so,

but they

We were taken to a little

farmhouse

got hit

in

doing

to wait for the field ambulance wagons.

were

telling us yarns,

Officers

were sending everywhere for

milk and resolutely refused to be bandaged until

we were seen
A wounded

to."

private of the Royal Munster Fusiliers

when the regiment had to bear the brunt of the whole German
" They
attack, while the rest of the brigade fell back
came at us from all points horse, foot, artillery,

told the following story of fighting

and

all,

shouting

and the

air

men waving

us like blue murder.

was thick with screaming,


swords and blazing away at

Our

lads stood

up to them

FACING FEARFUL ODDS

41

fear, and when their


came down on us we received them with
fixed bayonets in front, the rear ranks firing away
All round us we saw
as steadily as you please.
them collecting until there was hardly a hole fit
for a wee mouse to get through, and then it was

without the least taste of

cavalry

that the hardest fight of

took place, for

all

we

wouldn't surrender, and tried our hardest to cut

through the stone wall of the Germans.


" It

was

white

flag.

own work, but we never hoisted the


One of our men has been recommended

hell's

When

for

the Distinguished Service Medal.

man

who was working the machine gunwas killed

the

Then the gun was


hand blown off with

he came up and took his place.

smashed altogether, and

his

a shell."

The nickname
and because

of the regiment is " Dirty Shirts,"

of their

heavy

losses

on

this occasion

was said that the Germans had cleaned up the


"Well," said an indignant
"Dirty Shirts."

it

Fusilier, " it

was a moighty expensive washin'


them, anny way."

for

One of the Irish Dragoon Guards carried a wounded


trooper to a farmhouse under fire. A German
patrol called at the house and found them.
From
behind a barrier the Dragoons kept the Germans
at bay.
The Germans then brought a machine
gun up and threatened to destroy the house. Rather

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

42

than bring suffering on their hosts or the village


the two hunted

mad

men made

a rush out with some

idea, perhaps, of taking the gun that had been

brought against them.


the threshold of

They got no

further than

the door, where they

fell

dead,

their blood bespattering the walls of the house.

The 4th Royal Fusiliers were in a warm corner.


They were being fired at by outnumbering artillery
and infantry, and they were, as one of them said,
" like a lot of schoolboys at a treat " when ordered
" We had about
to fix bayonets and charge.
200 yards to cover before we got near them, and
then we let them have it. It put us in mind of
I was
tossing hay, only we had human bodies.
separated from my neighbours and was on my
own when I was attacked by three Germans. I had
a lively time and was nearly done when a comrade
came to my rescue. I had already made sure of
two,

but the third would have finished me.

already had about three inches of

steel in

my

side

when my chum finished him."


The special correspondent of The Daily Mail
One hundred and fifty Hightold the following.
landers were detailed to hold a bridge over the river

The Germans opened fire from the woods


around, and another body of them greatly out-

Aisne.

numbering the Highlanders rushed towards the


For a time they were kept at bay. Then
bridge.

FACING FEARFUL ODDS


maxim gun

the

belonging to the

whole of

its fire, for the

its

little

43

force ceased

crew had been

killed,

and the gun stood there on its tripod silent, amid


a ring of dead bodies. A Highlander ran forward
under the bullet storm, seized the maxim, slung
tripod and

all

his back,

on to

and carried

at a run

it

across the exposed bridge to the far side facing the

German

attack.

charged, and
sat

down

The

there,

belt

the

of

absolutely

gun was

alone,

the

still

soldier

view of the enemy, and opened a hail


upon the advancing column. Under the
fire the column wavered, and then broke.

in full

of bullets

tempest of

Almost the moment

after the

Highlander

fell

dead

beside his gun.

In a night attack upon the Worcester Regiment


the Germans used the bayonet, which they seldom
did,

and

it

was

far

from a success
"

there were great masses of them.


said a sergeant of
volley,

for

them, though

We gave them,"

the Worcesters, " one terrible

but nothing could have stopped the ferocious

impetus of their attack.

For one

terrible

moment

our ranks bent under the dead weight, but the

Germans,

too,

wavered, and in that

moment we gave

them the bayonet, and hurled them back in disorder.


The Germans have the numbers we have the men."
At Ypres our Army had to face and hold in check
;

250,000 Germans for five days.

In addition to the

ordinary shell and shrapnel there were shells from

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

44

heavy

These

guns brought from Antwerp.

siege

churned up the earth in the trenches and often


buried our

men who

Over and over

lay there.

again masses of the enemy's infantry advanced

Then they halted and


They had no relish for a

within a few hundred yards.

poured in a volley.
bayonet charge.

Over and over again men leapt

from the trenches and went at them with the

They

bayonet.
shoulders

as

shell

firing their

with

rifle,

rifles

mown down

and machine-gun

fire.

and shrapnel rained upon our

infantry were brought up.


critical

it

seemed as

if

The

our

until the fifth day,

tion

was saved.

with

Still their

Fresh

trenches.
situation

became

men would be

borne by sheer weight of numbers.

on

over their

Many hundreds were

ran.

and thousands were

captured,
shell,

fled,

they

Still

over-

they held

when relief came and the

posi-

CHAPTER

VI

Fights to a Finish

Those were

stirring

words which the Colonel

of the

men when

Manchester Regiment addressed to his

they were surprised at Douai by very superior

numbers
your
your

rifles,
rifles,

"No

surrender, lads

you have

First

then your bayonets, then the butts of


then your

fists

"
!

Even with their fists our


made the Germans pay for

soldiers,

on one occasion,

their treachery.

"

They

attacked our position in very strong numbers, but

we kept them

bay

at

until they played a trick

us that cost us dear, but not so dear as


selves.

They got

trenches, then the fire

it

cost them-

two hundred yards

to

was

hoisted the white flag.

so hot for

on

of our

them that they

Of course we stopped

and some got up to go out and take them

firing,

prisoners,

but as soon as they got up to them they opened a


pitiless fire

on our

were taken by
lifetime to see

the

For a moment our chaps

fellows.

surprise,

but

it

them a moment

German masses they


45

was the
later.

sprang,

sight of a

Straight into

and with

their

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

46

rifles, and even their fists,


The slaughter was terrible.
Soon the Germans had had enough of Tommy
Atkins when his temper is roused. They broke and
fled in utter disorder.
You ought to have heard them
yell
it was like a wild beast show let loose."
A company of the Middlesex Regiment were also
handy with their fists. Alas
these were not
sufficient.
They were digging trenches near Mons
when a mass of Germans, who seemed to come from
nowhere, bore down upon them. Bayonets in hand,
they rushed upon our men, who were quite unpre-

bayonets, butts of their

they set about them.

pared in the matter of equipment, but the sergeant

company set the lead by the use of his fists,


and
downed two Germans with two successive
blows." The whole company followed their sergeant's lead, but they were mowed down like grass.
of the

"

Here
Fusilier

is
:

a typical Irish description from a Munster


"

The Germans seem

to think that

you can

catch Irish soldiers with fly-papers, for they just

stepped up the other day and called on us to surrender, as bold as

you

like

and

bolder.

We didn't

in telling them to go about their


we just grabbed hold of our bayonets
to them to come on if they wanted any-

waste any words


business, but

and signed

thing, but they didn't

meet

us.

seem

in

any great hurry to

After a bit they opened

lire

on us with

a couple of maxims, but we fixed bayonets and went

FIGHTS TO A FINISH
for the

guns with a rush.

47

They appear

to be delicate

boys indeed, and can't stand very much rough


usage with the bayonet.

We

we

let

them have

got sick of

them

it

with bayonet and

altogether before long.

it

tried the other

of the

got their guns.

them back

cavalry had a try at getting

Royal

Irish

day to cut

up along the road

left.

but

rifle,

and they

A big

party of

four companies

Regiment advancing to

French force hard pressed on our


lined

off

Their

later on,

relieve a

The Germans
home

just like the police at

trying to turn back a procession that wasn't approved


of.

The Royal

until they

Irish

boys didn't take the

least

heed

were right up at the Germans, and then

they gave them

it

blazing hot with the bayonet.

The Germans' pluck lasts until we are fifty yards


from them, and then they are off. It would do you
good to

see our little chaps chasing great big fellows

shouting and laughing.

You

wouldn't think

it

was

war."

Guardsman related how his regiment


" Suddenly the cavalry
received German cavalry
remounted their horses, and came crashing down on
Now, Guards
our chaps.
was all the officer in
his
command said, but
men knew what he meant,
and they braced themselves for the tussle. They
lined up in the good old British square that has proved
a terror to European armies before, and the front
British

'

'

ranks waited with the bayonet, while the

men

inside

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

48

kept blazing away at the advancing horsemen.

came

closer

and

closer,

shake and quiver beneath their rush.

was

all

he said

commander

the
it

in a dull

They

and the earth seemed to


'

Guards

of the

Steady
said,

and

way, as though he were giving a

some noisy youngsters who


had been making a row. The men answered not a
word, but they set their teeth. Then the crash came.

nice piece of advice to

Steel

met

steel,

and sparks shot out as sword crossed

bayonet.

The game

down our

ranks, but they didn't

trick won't

work with

men kept
and

of the

Germans was

know

to ride

that that

and the Guards-

British troops,

their ground, in spite of the weight of

horses.

The Germans came

just then they got a volley

to a dead stop,

from the centre

men
and

of the

They broke and scattered, and then they


The order was given to the
Guards, and they dashed after them towards the
square.

got another volley.

point where our other

On

men were

expected."

another occasion the Brigade of Guards,

were doing a slow retreat for

rest,

who

and who were

being followed by a brigade of Germans, over double


their strength, suddenly stopped,

wood waited

for the

Germans.

and hiding

in

In a pitched battle,

with fixed bayonets, they wiped the whole crowd out

over

4,000 of them.

recorded,

and

special parade,

it

General French had this

was read out to

all

the troops on

FIGHTS TO A FINISH

49

Rifleman Cummings, of the King's Royal


wrote to his mother
first

it

silence

shall

Rifles,

never forget the

commenced on our left, and


time, in spite of heroic efforts, we watched
a battery of our guns. The ear-splitting

day under

in a short

"I

It

fire.

crash of eight shells bursting along our line at once

was

terrible.

of the night.

However, we held on

We

knew

it

all

was part

day and part

of the scheme,

our retiring, and, although hundreds must have been


suffering agonies with their feet, the

boys always

managed a song and a cheer. One night we reached


a town and had just settled down in our billets
saying to ourselves,

Now

for a well-earned rest/

when we were suddenly ordered to fall in. Our


officer told us the Germans had captured a bridge
about a mile from the town, and the General had sent

word

had to be taken

was a dark
road and we were all in single file. There was a continued stream of wounded coming up from the bridge.
After one or two charges the bridge was taken at the
it

at all costs.

It

point of the bayonet."

Private Fairweather, of the Black Watch, gives


" The
account of an engagement on the Aisne

this

Guards went up
having to

retire.

and then the Camerons, both


Although we had watched the

first

awful slaughter in these regiments, when

turn

we went

open country.

off

it

was our

with a cheer across 1,500 yards of

The

shelling

was

terrific

and the

air

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

50

was

Only a few

the screams of shrapnel.

full of

us got up to 200 yards of the Germans.


yell

and

we went

The

at them.

my

was then that

it

with bullets,

air whistled

shout of

42nd

'

for ever

finished with a different kind of yell.

had been presented with a souvenir

of

Then with a

Crack

my

in

knee.

lay helpless and our fellows retired over me. Shrapnel

screamed

round, and melinite shells

all

earth shake.

bore a charmed

my jacket,

through the elbow of

life.

made

the

went

bullet

my

another through

equipment, and a piece of shrapnel found a resting


place in a tin of bully beef which was on
I

was picked up eventually during the

dead from
There

of the glory of

is little

be picked up at
:

"If ever

me

wounded
up by the

for the

No wonder that an

home

talks to

d rude to him."
is

war

and wondering whether they

all.

This

night, nearly

are waiting to be picked

stretcher-bearers

for

back.

loss of blood."

when they

in a letter

my

officer

will

wrote

come back, and anybody

about the glory of war,

I shall

at

be

how another Scotch regiment cleared a road


artillery when German guns were pre-

French

venting them from passing along

it.

The General commanding the British troops demanded for his men the honour of clearing the way.
A Scotch regiment was ordered forward. They left
the road and advanced in open order across the

FIGHTS TO A FINISH
marshy ground on the

towards the position

left

where the German guns were


fire

51

The German

firing.

was deadly, but nothing could stop the Scotch


They made a series of short rushes, making

men.

ample use

of the ditches,

which every hundred yards

They were

or so cross the peat bog, to take cover.

soon within charging distance.

The

order for

bayonets was given, and with a ripple the whole

dashed forward.
of bullets

Ditches, barbed wire,

and a

from quickfirers did not stop them.

rush carried them right up to the

German

fix

line

hail

guns,

and

few

they bayoneted the gunners at their pieces.

minutes sufficed to damage the breeches of the guns

and so render them


fell

back,

its

useless,

and then the regiment

task accomplished.

The

brief period

this brilliant charge of the Scotch regiment had

lasted

was

sufficient for the

French guns to gallop

along the road to safety, and they soon came into


action.

CHAPTER

VII

Cavalry Charges

A nervous

young man broke down when trying at

a party to recite Tennyson's " Charge of the Light

The

Brigade."
it

in

considerate hostess said, "Just give

"

your own words, Mr.

My words are

very

inadequate to describe the charge of the 9th Lancers

damage was being done to British


infantry and artillery by eleven German guns concealed in a wood. At last the commanding officer of
the Lancers said, " We must take those guns," and
ordered his men to charge. They rode straight at
the guns though " stormed at by shot and shell."
"They were like men inspired," declared a spectator,
" and it seemed incredible that any one could escape
at Toulin.

alive."

Terrible

When
came

they

Horses and

the brave fellows got near the guns

across

hidden

men went down

however, could stop them.


cut

down

wire

entanglements.

in a heap.

They got

Nothing,

to the guns,

the gunners, and put the guns out of

action.

The Lancers took the

praises that were given to

CAVALRY CHARGES

53

them very modestly. " We only fooled round and


saved some guns," they said.
At St. Quentin the Black Watch and Scots Greys
acted in concert. As at the battle of Waterloo, the
Highlanders got into the thick of the fight by holding
on to the stirrup leathers of the cavalry. The Greys
plunged straight into the ranks of the enemy, each

horseman accompanied by a comrade on


the Germans, taken completely

by

foot,

were

surprise,

broken up and repulsed with tremendous


" Our men," said a wounded eye-witness

and

losses.

of

the

charges, "

came on with a mighty shout, and fell


The
upon the enemy with the utmost violence.
weight of the horses carried them into the closeformed ranks of the Germans, and the gallant Greys
and the Kilties gave a fearful account of them*

selves."

On

another occasion the Scots Greys, seeing the

by the German officers, went mad,


and, even though the retreat had been sounded, a
wounded cut

at

non-commissioned

officer

leading,

they turned on

hewed their way through,


Having got through, the
officers took command again, formed them up,
wheeled, and came back the way they went
the Potsdam Guards and
their officers following.

Truly the Greys lived up to or died up to their


motto " Second to none." They charged no less
than

five

times at the battle of Mons.

One

of

them

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

54

"

The Germans and our people had


been fighting at long range for several hours and we
stood looking on, impatient to get at them. Our
thus wrote

officers told

us not to worry, as our chance would

come, and we soon found that they were

right.

The

enemy, greatly outnumbering our chaps, kept creep-

up slowly in spite of tremendous losses. One


body was endeavouring to work round our flank,
and when they came close enough we had our chance.
We tore down into them, cutting and thrusting.
They did not wait long, we were covered with blood
and so were our horses."
ing

Of a combined charge

of the Scots

Greys and the

12th Lancers, a sergeant of the Berkshire regiment

"It was grand. I could see some of the


Germans dropping on their knees and holding up
wrote

their arms.

Then, as soon as our cavalry got through,

Germans picked up their rifles and started firing


again.
Our men turned about and charged back.
It was no use the Germans putting up their hands a
second time. Our cavalry cut down every one they
came to. I don't think there were ten Germans left
the

out of about 2,000."

commanding the brigade said that it


went through the German cavalry as circus horses

The

officer

might go through paper hoops.

Another episode was the capture

German guns by

of

fourteen

the 2nd and 5th Dragoons.

They

CAVALRY CHARGES
were attacked at dawn

in a fog,

and

it

55

looked bad for

them, but they turned it into a victory.


An officer wrote " There was no stopping them
!

Many

once they got on the move.


tunics

and fought with

above the elbow.

flung

away

their

up

their shirt sleeves rolled

One

trooper with his shirt in

ribbons actually stooped so low from his saddle as


to snatch a

wounded comrade from

instant death at

the hands of a powerful German.

Then, having

swung the man right round to the near side, he made


him hang on to his stirrup leather while he lunged
his

sword clean through the German's neck."

Well might Sir John French write in an


despatch, "

Our cavalry do what they

like

official

with the

enemy."
I

was

at Pekin at the

end

of the

Boxer trouble

in

China, and was standing one day near a German


officer when a regiment of Indian cavalry marched
past.
The German officer made many disparaging
remarks about them. The following is a description
of the first charge in this

war

of our Indian cavalry,

and the Germans must have learned from


Indian soldiers are as
rest of French's

"

army

The charge took

and were

it

contemptible as

little

is

that

the

place one

had been pressing us hard

had been at

it

all

hammer and

feeling the strain.

day when the enemy


along the

line.

We

tongs for three weeks,

Towards

nightfall the

56

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

enemy kept

pressing closer

and

closer,

and

it

looked

as though their deadweight alone was going to force

Their plan seemed to be to break our line

us back.

men to be most
when they were half way towards
Indians, who had arrived the day

at a point where they guessed our

exhausted.

Just

our trenches, the


before

up.

and were anxious to get into

At the word

of

command

it,

were brought

they swept forward,

only making a slight detour to get out of the line of

our
the

fire,

and then they swept into the Germans from


a whirlwind. The enemy were com-

left like

pletely taken aback.

The Turcos they knew, but


and

these men, with their flashing eyes, dark skins,

white, gleaming teeth, not to mention their terribly

keen-edged lances, they could not understand.


Indians didn't give them

much time

The

to arrive at an

understanding. With a shrill yell they rode right


through the German infantry, thrusting right and
left with their terrible lances, and bringing a man
down every time. The Germans broke and ran for
their lives, pursued by the Lancers for about a mile.
When the Indians came back from their charge they

were cheered wildly


think

much

of

all

along our

line,

what they had done."

but they didn't

CHAPTER

VIII

Grit and Guns


In no

way has

war than

British grit

in the capture of

shown

itself

more

German guns and

in this

in the

defence of our own.

At Neri three artillerymen of the now famous


L Battery R.H.A., inspired by their heroic commanding officer, continued to serve the only gun

The

not silenced.

three heroes have been given the

Victoria Cross.

Driver Grimes, of the Royal Field Artillery, gave


" We

the following account of what happened

were about two miles away when we got word to

come

to

the

relief

of

'

'

battery.

arrived on the scene a terrible sight

The

When we

met our

battery had been blown to smithereens.

eyes.

Guns

some were untouched,


but useless, because there was nobody to work them.
Officers and men lay dead and wounded on every
side.
All the officers were killed, and one poor young
were smashed or overturned

fellow

lay

crushed

beneath an overturned gun.

Haystacks were blazing round about


57

the place was

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

58

dense with smoke from

them by

surprise,

The Germans took

shell fire.

and opened on them at no more

than 600 yards' range. It was wonderful that anybody could have lived through such a hell it was
nothing else. But there were the sergeant-major

and a couple

of drivers

working away

at one of the guns, coats

worth.

We

were only

madmen
and

They never looked

bleeding from minor wounds.

away

round, but kept potting

like

shirts torn open,

off,

for

all

they were

For almost im-

in time.

we came on the scene they fired their last


remaining charge. The Germans cleared off as soon
as we got agoing, and we never heard them that day
again.
I was one of those who assisted the three
men back to the ambulance.
Have you got a glass
of water ?
one of them asked.
We got it pretty
mediately

'

'

'

hot in there just now,' he added.


to

tell

us that,'

we replied,
German

holes which the

ground on every

'

You

don't need

looking round at the great


shells

had torn up

in the

side."

Captain Bradbury, R.H.A., had served a gun himself,

and knocked out one German gun.

leg shot

away

but

other leg was taken

and

all

fired off
off.

He had

one

a round or two, until the

doctor came to help him,

he asked from him was morphia so that the

men might

not hear him screaming.

In a charge at Toulin, Captain Grenfell, of the 9th


Lancers, was hit in both legs, and had two fingers

GRIT AND GUNS

59

Almost as he received
at the same time.
couple
of
guns
posted near were dewounds
a
these
shot

off

prived of their servers,

were struck by

all

of

whom

bursting shrapnel.

save one

man

The horses

the guns had been placed under cover.

for

" We'll get

the guns back," cried Captain Grenfell, and at the

head

of a

number

of his

men, and

in spite of his

wounds, he did manage to harness the guns up and

them away. He was then taken to hospital.


The final scene at a British battery during the
retirement after the battle of Mons is thus described
get

by Gunner B. Wiseman, of the Royal Field Artillery


" Our battery had fired their last round. The Germans were only three hundred yards away. The
Every man for himself.'
order was given, Retire.
It was a splendid but awful sight to see horses, men,
and guns racing for life, with shells bursting among
them. The Germans rushed up, and I lay helpless.
A German pointed his rifle at me to surrender. I
refused, and was just on the point of being put out
when a German officer saved me. He said, Englishman, brave fool.'
He then dressed my wound,
and gave me brandy and wine, and left me."
About fifty men of the Royal Berkshire Regiment
were trying to save some guns at Soissons, and this
is what happened in the words of a sergeant in a
" We had an order to abandon the
letter to his wife
guns, but our young officer said, No, boys, we will
:

'

'

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

60

German take a British gun.' Our chaps


let up a cheer, and kept up a rapid fire.
The guns
had fired all their ammunition, but we kept on.
Then the Staffords came up and reinforced us on our
left flank.
We then saw the gun teams coming up
never

let

to fetch the guns."

The

following

is

letter of

Field Artillery, to his wife

"

a major in the Royal

At

last

we came

to the

edge of the wood, and in front of us, about 200 yards

away, was a

little

cup-shaped copse, and the enemy's

trenches with machine-guns a


felt

sure this

them go on

wood was

full of

I started

earlier.

bolted out firing at us.

and

bolted.

lot to fire at

revolver as

from the
regi-

few they suddenly

stopped and dismounted

my

didn't change

held the horses, as

couldn't shoot

like that myself.

were more in the copse


galloped at

and

it,

Germans

them to make sure they

their minds.

As

my

off his rifle

of cavalry, for except a

yelled

them

loosed

fifty

had seen

They must have thought we were a

saddle.

ment

I loosed off

and

to gallop for

Suddenly about

the others followed.

fast as I could

farther on.

little

Germans, as

it,

so

yelling,

then suddenly saw there


I

with

mounted the party and

my

revolver held out.

came to it I saw it was full of Germans, so I


yelled
and pointed the revolver at
Hands up
them. They all chucked down their rifles and put
I

'

their

hands up.

'

Three

officers

and over forty men

GRIT AND GUNS

61

I herded
to ten of us with six rifles and a revolver.
them away from their rifles and handed them over to
the Welsh regiment behind us. I tore on with the
trumpeter and the sergeant-major to the machine-

guns.

At that moment the enemy's shrapnel, the


infantry who'd got away, and our own

German

we were hostile cavalry, opened


move the beastly things,
hot altogether, so we galloped back

howitzers, thinking
fire

on

and

it

We

us.

was too

couldn't

wood and they hailed shrapnel on us there.


I waited for a lull, and mounted all my lot behind
the bushes and made them sprint as I gave the word

to the cup

to gallop for cover to the

company was.

There

woods where the Welsh

got

them, and an infantryman

who

who understands

volunteered to help,

and ran up to the maxims, and took out the

and

breech mechanism of both and one of the belts and

away one whole maxim. We couldn't


manage the other. The Welsh asked what cavalry
we were. I told them we were the staff of the
carried

battery and they cheered us, but said

we were mad.

We

got back very slowly on account of the gun and

the

men

we have

wild with excitement, and

got the

one gun complete and the mechanism and belt of the


other.

The

who swept
it

funniest thing

in the air shouting,

ment.

He

was the

a German's helmet

is

'

little

off his

I've got

it,'

trumpeter,

head and waved

wild with excite-

an extraordinarily brave boy."

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

62

Lance-Corporal Bignell, Royal Berks,

saw two R.F.A.


Mons.

Shells

drivers bring a

had been

drivers

how he

of action at

round the position,

flying

and the gunners had been

tells

gun out

whereupon the two

killed,

" It

went to rescue the gun.

was a good

quarter of a mile away, yet they led their horses

calmly through a hail of shell to where the gun

Then one man held the

stood.

horses while the

other limbered up."

Highlander, called Wilson, single-handed cap-

tured a

German

Six

Germans were

Wilson picked

the gun.

bayoneted the

sixth,

on the enemy.
officer

gun.

five

off

and then

in charge of

with his

tried to turn the

Unfortunately

rifle,

gun

jammed, and an

it

coming up helped him to destroy

it.

Wilson

has been given the Victoria Cross.

Another Highlander had more


bargained

for.

of

In a night fight he

guns than he

lost his

regiment,

and was picked up by a battery


Artillery,

long,

of the Royal Field


But he did not rest
the kind gunners went into action ten

who gave him

for

lift.

minutes afterwards with their visitor sitting on one


of their guns.

private in the ist Lincolns,

home wounded,

described

who has

returned

how two companies of his


German guns, one

regiment captured a battery of six


of

which

is

now

" During the

in

London

German

retreat the British were held

GRIT AND GUNS


up on a

ridge

by a

Two

battery.

63

companies of us

the right, marched

made a detour on

out of sight of the

German

a wood on the enemy's

down a

valley

gunners, and entered

The German

left.

battery,

about 200 yards away, were busy with their work in

dreaming that we were on their

front, not

flank.

In extended order we took steady aim, and at the

man

German battery fell.


Our artillery continued
The other two
firing on the guns and smashed four.
were taken. We were afterwards commended."
round every

first

That was

all

we

of the

fired.

In The Times appeared the following account,


gathered from letters received from brother

officers

at the front, of the charge in which Lieutenant Sir

Archibald Gibson Craig gave his


M

He was

of a

life

shot while leading his

men

to the attack

German machine gun which was hidden

in a

wood. He located the gun and asked our second in


command whether he might take his platoon (about

twenty men) and try to capture the gun, which was


doing a

lot of

damage

The major gave


went

off

his

to our troops at the time.

top of the

hill

his

fired

and found themselves unexpectedly

face to face with a large

men

and Gibson Craig


They crawled to the

consent,

to get the gun.

body

of

Germans.

a volley, and then the lieutenant drew

sword and rushed forward, ahead of

calling to

Our

them

'

Charge,

men

At them

his
'

men,

He

got

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

64

to within ten yards of

them and then

fell.

By

his

gallant action he did a great deal to assist the general

advance

of the regiment, and, in fact, of the

whole

The remaining men silenced


two killed
and three wounded back to the lines, two miles,
under shell fire all the way, and not one was touched.
A brilliant little exploit was performed by one of
our cavalry patrols. Coming suddenly upon a
German machine-gun detachment, the subaltern in
of the troops engaged.

the gun, and brought their comrades

command

at once gave the order to charge, with a

Germans were killed, the rest


scattered, and the gun was captured and carried off.
One who was present described this " double

result that

some

of the

event "
"

The sky turned pure

black,

and

double event

see

'

shower

we were attacked

of bullets also.

in the rear,

knew we

But we had a

were going to have a heavy shower.

and

all

could

was con-

men soon woke up,


and we got the order to fix bayonets. Down came
the rain, and lightning and thunder. I stood for a
moment to survey the scene. It was like something

fusion for a few minutes, but our

you would read about. We got the order to charge


the guns, and you should have seen the Irish Guards,
3rd Coldstreams and 2nd Grenadiers rush on them
like

an avalanche.

It

was

all

over in ten minutes.

The Germans stood dumbfounded.

shouldn't like

GRIT AND GUNS

65

to stand in front of that charge myself.

were drenched to the

made

skin,

us twice as wild.

but we didn't

Our men

care,

only

it

Such dare-devil pluck

was

glad to see."

On

one occasion, when the Connaught Rangers

were charging with their bayonets to save guns of


the Royal Field Artillery, the

white

and afterwards

flag

Germans put up a

fired

on the Irishmen.

This got up the Connaught blood, and as one of the


Rangers said, that " is nasty to be up agin." The

Rangers

left their

mark on the treacherous

and

foe

saved the guns.

At Charleroi another

Irish regiment

showed

their

our cavalry to save guns.

The horses

were shot from under our men, and

the Uhlans

grit in helping

Then the Munsters


They dashed forward with fixed
bayonets, put the Germans to flight, captured some
of their horses, and all their guns.
tried to capture our battery.

stuck to the guns.

" There's been a divil av a lot av talk about Irish


disunion," says Mr. Dooley, " but if there's foightin'
to be done

it's

the bhoys that'll

let

nobody

else

thread on the Union Jack."

corporal

wrote

"

of

the Northamptonshire Regiment

The Germans, who seemed

to have the

position to a hair's breadth, sent shells shrieking

and

hissing around a battery of R.F.A.

The horses

got frantic and began prancing, kicking, and calling

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

66

The

out in terror.

dismounted

some

drivers,

whom had

of

in readiness for unlimbering, held

grim death, but the animals were

in

German

off

lines.

and

and did

The

drivers

on the ground were

who were mounted

all

party of

at last

with the guns in the direction of the

knocked down, and one was run over by a


but those

like

such a state of

terror that they could not be restrained,

they dashed

on

they could to restrain the

new men with

carriage,

stuck to their posts

mad

horses.

horses were brought out

and dashed off in pursuit of the terrified animals.


They caught them up soon and rode alongside to get
hold of the runaways. It was no use, however, and
now they came within range of more German guns,
and the shells were bursting overhead, making the
horses madder than ever. There was nothing for it
but to shoot them, and this was done after some
Then it was necessary to take out the
difficulty.
dead team and put the new one in, while German
shells
hit,
all

were dropping round.

Half of the

men were

but they meant to stick to their posts, and not


the Germans in the field could have driven them

away.

away a
scene, but by

Just as they were getting the guns

came on the
that time our battery had moved out to cover the
withdrawal of the guns, and we gave the Germans
party of

as

German

infantry

much as they could

stand."

Simple heroism simply told

is

the keynote of a

GRIT AND GUNS


which Gunner Batey,

letter

written to the parents of

says

him

"

God

the

of

Gunner

bless your son.

should not be alive to

R.G.A.,

has

Mann.

He

F. S.

If it
tell

67

had not been

the

tale.

We

for

had

been fighting for three days across the Meuse, and

was severely wounded by shrapnel, and


had to

retreat,

guns.

I fell

son and

fell.

We

but we were determined to save the

again,

had fought

and our men drove


side

by

side,

Your

off.

and he missed me.

came back through fires of hell, and


He was wounded, but not
dangerously. We are all proud of that boy
he is
always in the thick of it. All over the line you could
hear him shout,
Lads, lads
the sooner we get

The noble
carried

me

lad

to safety.

'

through, the sooner we'll get home.'

"

CHAPTER IX
Gallantry of Individuals

An

Irish Fusilier

regiment

was

a dangerous

in

and a messenger was wanted

position

to bring to

the men an order to retire. Who would go ? Every


man offered himself, though they knew that they

would have to cross an open country raked with

They

rifle fire.

tossed for the honour,

and the

first

man who

started with the message had not gone


more than 200 yards when he was wounded, but

he rushed on

little

till

man

Another

a second bullet brought him down.

took on the message and got only

way when he was

hit.

third messenger

almost reached the endangered regiment when he

was

shot.

in.

They

men

Half-a-dozen
all

were

hit

ran out to bring him

but the wounded messenger

making a supreme effort, crawled


and delivered the message.
Similar gallantry was
Fusiliers

to the regiment

shown when the Munster

were surrounded and

driver

of

the

R.F.A. named Pledge, who was shut up with them,


68

GALLANTRY OF INDIVIDUALS

60

to " cut through "

and get the assistance


mounted a horse and
dashed through the German lines. His horse fell
and Pledge's legs were injured. Nothing daunted,
he got his horse on its feet, and again set off at a
great pace. To get to the artillery he had to pass
down a narrow road, which was lined with German

was asked
the

of

Pledge

artillery.

He

riflemen.

not

did

but rode

however,

stop,

through without being hit by a single bullet.

conveyed the message to the


off

artillery,

to the assistance of the Munsters,

He

which tore

and saved the

situation.

In view of the death of Prince Maurice of Battenberg, the story told

Royal

by Corporal

has special interest.

Rifles,

J.

Jolley, King's

After the retreat

from Mons the Germans were severely punished.

On

reaching

height

overlooking

Chorley-sur-

Marne, the King's Royal Rifles were the advance


guard.

They noticed the Germans preparing

to

blow up a bridge, but they got away on seeing the

The

British.

latter

were ordered to take the bridge.

Prince Maurice was the

a house
alone.

all

The

by himself

first

man

over,

and searched

brave act for an

officer

British got across the bridge.

short time before he

was shot the cap

Prince was struck by a bullet.

of the

The Prince made

a joke of the occurrence and laughed.

Among

those

who

fell

at

Cambrai was Captain

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

70

Own

Clutterbuck, of the King's

He was

ment.

"Just

charge.

while

killed

(Lancaster) Regi-

leading

like Clutterbuck,"

bayonet

wrote a wounded

and adding,
" Lieutenant Steele-Perkins also died one of the

sergeant, describing the officer's valour,

grandest deaths a British

He was

lifted

officer

could wish

for.

out of the trenches wounded four

times, but protested

and crawled back again

till

he

was mortally wounded."

British

when
its

it

was

officer

in

one

of the

was being pounded by great

doom was
so,

but the

officer,

a captain to his sinking

A German
Fusilier

who had been

cut

about a

off

cartridge

left,

firing

and as

away

his

prisoner.

Lancashire

and refused to

He

render to two hundred Germans.

ground and kept

in

stuck to the fort as

was made a

told

mixed

They succeeded

who

ship,

prisoner

forts

When

shells.

sealed the officer ordered the

garrison to save themselves.

doing

Antwerp

until

sur-

lay on the

he hadn't a

bayonet was gone he

stood up with folded arms while they shot him

down.

A corporal
of

Germans

from

of the Fusilier

at

bay

for

different points,

Brigade held a company

two hours by

firing at

them

and so making them think

they had a crowd to face.

He was

getting on very

well until a party of cavalry outflanked him,

as they were right on top of

him

there

and

was no

GALLANTRY OF INDIVIDUALS

71

deceiving as to his " strength," so he bolted, and the

Germans took the

position he

Wyndham

Rev. Percy

had held so

long.

Guinness, Chaplain to the

was awarded a D.S.O.,


because on November 5th he brought Major Dixon,
16th Lancers, when mortally wounded to an ambuForces, 3rd Cavalry Brigade,

lance under heavy

fire,

and on the afternoon

of the

same day, being the only individual with a horse in


the shelled area, took a message under heavy fire from

4th Hussars to headquarters of 3rd Cavalry Brigade.

An

Englishman,

making

his

way by

who had

just

returned

from

the banks of the Aisne in an

attempt to take cigarettes to the troops, came across

Twice he passed it, and his attenwas arrested by the fact that kindly hands
each day strewed fresh flowers over it. On the
pontoon bridge near by a French detachment was
keeping guard, and the soldiers explained that the
grave was that of an English soldier who, quite

a solitary grave.
tion

alone,

had there fought

till

overwhelmed by numbers.

During the great retreat he had strayed from his

comrades and
able to find

abandoned

fallen

exhausted from fatigue.

them he took up

carriage,

Un-

his quarters in

an

but thirty-six hours later the

Germans appeared on the other side of the Aisne and


fired at him.
Undeterred by the fact that he was
utterly alone he replied, and such was his determination and accuracy of aim that the villagers declared

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

72

he accounted for six German


a general, before he

fell

officers,

one of them

under a volley.

The French

buried him where he had fought, and erected a cross


in

honour

The

ist

of his gallantry.

Royal Scots

Fusiliers

were defending

Germans were firing into them.


was severely wounded,
and would have fallen into the hands of the enemy
if he had not been rescued by one of the sergeants.
Cropp (that was the sergeant's name) went on the
bridge, seized the wounded officer, and placed him
a bridge and

An

officer

the

called Stephens

on his back.

Instead of risking a journey across

the shot-swept bridge, he decided, encumbered as

he was, to swim the canal, which he did.


with the wounded

officer

He swam

out of the line of

fire

to a

place of safety.

A
the

private in the East Yorkshire Regiment tells


following story " One of the hardest night

we had to face was made possible by the


momentary carelessness of a lad of the Loyal North
Lancashires who was on guard and somehow allowed

attacks

his

thoughts to stray in other directions so that he

didn't noticed the

him.

He was

Germans

until they

were on top

of

disarmed, and became terribly dis-

tressed over the prospect of

had brought on the Army.

what

his carelessness

He had

one chance of

fault, and he took it.


Just when the
Germans were half-way towards the sleeping camp

redeeming his

GALLANTRY OF INDIVIDUALS
he made a run for

He

it.

73

didn't go far, but the

by the Germans warned the camp of


what was coming, and the advanced guard held
them in check until the main body got under arms.
When we found that lad he was just able to explain
what had happened, but he was quite happy when
I told him there wasn't a soldier who wouldn't
shots fired

think that his heroism had atoned for the original

At that he smiled and passed away."


Another private wrote " One poor fellow here
deserves the V.C. He saved two officers under
fault.

heavy

firing

then after that a

a horse right in two.


across

the legs

fellow,

named

of

One

do

so,

came and blew

another wounded man.

Morris, of the R.E., rushed out

tried to pull the horse off him.

to

shell

part of the horse

He

just

fell

This

and

managed

and the chap could get up, when another

came and blew the wounded chap's head and


off, at the same time blowing half of
Morris's right leg off.
The brave fellow has a wife
and three children and is only twenty-five years
shell

shoulders

old.

am

glad to say he

is

getting better, although

the whole of his leg has been taken off."

This story was told by a sergeant of the Northum-

berland Fusiliers.
chester

" There

was a man

Regiment who was lying

ManGerman

of the

close to the

wounded. He happened to overhear


some conversation between German soldiers, and
lines terribly

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

74

being familiar with the language, he gathered that

they intended to attack the position


night.

we

held that

In spite of his wounds he decided to warn us

of the danger,
of over

miles.

five

moment he

and he

set out

on the weary tramp

He was under

fire

from the

got to his feet, but he stumbled along

in spite of that,

and soon got out

of range.

Later

he ran into a patrol of Uhlans, but before they saw

him he dropped to earth and shammed being dead.


They passed by without a sign, and then he resumed
his weary journey.
But this time the strain had
told on him, and his wound began to bleed, marking
his

path towards our

lines

with thin red streaks.

In the early morning, just half an hour before the


time fixed for the

German

attack, he staggered into

one of our advanced posts, and managed to

tell his

story to the officer in charge before collapsing in a

Thanks to the information he gave, we were


ready for the Germans when they came, and beat
them off but his anxiety to warn us had cost him
heap.

his life."

There was a time during the battle


our

line,

of

Ypres when

so thin in comparison with that of the

Germans, was

in great

danger of being broken, but

the courage of individuals of

all

ranks saved the

The General commanding the division


spent one day with his staff in the trenches encouragsituation.

ing the men.

Brigadier-General H. E. Watts rushed

GALLANTRY OF INDIVIDUALS

75

into the firing line on one occasion to rally the

infantry.

spy, a

German

in a British uniform,

had brought an order to retire at a moment when


retirement would have meant annihilation. From
his post in a chateau the Brigadier saw the movement.
of

He

He

acted at once.

shrapnel,

ran through a storm


the head

placed himself at

of

the

formed them up under cover of a road,

battalions,

and then headed them at the charge back to the


trench they had vacated.
Jones

Private

and

Coldstream

Battalion

Guards, decided

would rescue Colonel Ponsonby,

had

fallen.

fast,

the

Vennicombe,

Private

Although German bullets were

colonel's body.
in the leg,

they

that

their colonel,

two men made a dash towards

ist

who

falling

their

They found that he had been shot


Between them

and was unable to walk.

they managed to get back safely into the cover of


their

companions, carrying their colonel.

So great was the gallantry


of the Leinster

in

under

fire

no

of Private Goggins,

Regiment, that in a night he brought


less

than sixty wounded men.

Sergeant-major White, of the

Army

was awarded the Victoria Cross

of

move a convoy.

Uhlans and they gave

for four of

them with

it

deed which

We got orders
We ran into an ambush

he thus described to an interviewer.


at night to

Service Corps,

for a

"

to us hot.

my sword,

accounted

but we had to

retire.

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

76

When we

reached a place where we could pull

ourselves together the officer asked

seen Captain Grey,

who was

if

anyone had

charge.

in

It

was

had been shot down, and I said I would


I went and found him, and
placing him across my horse, galloped back to
safety with bullets whistling round.
I was hit in
stated he

go back for him.

both legs."
Lance-corporal F.
King's

Own

a wounded
fire

W. Holmes,

out of the trenches under heavy

assisted to drive a

letters to his wife

deeds, but after he

wound

gun out

in the leg,

recommended
officer

Fusiliers,

by taking

contained no mention of his

was invalided home with a

Militaire

and had been

for the Victoria Cross.

of

the 2nd Battalion Royal Dublin

"All

maxim

Tom

by men have to
Your son is under

letters written

be read and signed by an


(on the

bullet

he informed her that he had

writing to the parents of Private

Barry, said

me

of action

who had been wounded.

received the French Medaille

An

2nd Battalion

Yorkshire Light Infantry, after carrying

man

the place of the driver,

His

of the

gun),

officer.

and

read his

letters.

you that he has been


mentioned for conspicuous conduct. During an
advance the man carrying one of the maxims was
see he

is

too modest to

wounded and

tell

lying in the open.

Your son ran out

from under cover, brought the gun up to the

firing

GALLANTRY OF INDIVIDUALS
line,

and then went back

for the

previously been carrying.

and

am

have any more

War

like

a good

my

section.

Tom, send them out

"

soldier,
If

you

here."

has given to

described a duel between a

airman.

is

in

many individuals an
showing gallantry. An officer thus

in the air

opportunity of

ammunition he had

He

proud to have him

77

German and

The German manoeuvred

for

a British
position

and prepared to attack, but our fellow was too quick


for him,

and darted

tried to circle

into a higher plane.

round and

The German

and so

follow,

in short

spurts they fought for mastery, firing at each other


all

the time, the machines swaying and oscillating

violently.

The

British airman, however, well main-

tained his ascendancy.

Then suddenly there was

a pause, the German machine began to

wounded

pilot

had

lost

control,

reel,

the

and with a dive

the aeroplane came to earth half a mile away.

Our man hovered about for a


glided away over the German

time,

and then calmly

lines to reconnoitre."

CHAPTER X
Self Put Aside

The

following

are

abbreviated

letters printed in several

narratives

from

papers

Five wounded British soldiers

who had

lost their

regiment managed to limp in the wake of the army


until they found an officer lying wounded in a trench.
They were all too weak to carry him, but they told
him that they could not leave him there to the tender

mercies of the butchers. " Push on, my lads," he


" England wants every man who can
replied.
possibly save himself.
lost

than six."

Better for one

life

to be

But they did not leave him, and

soon almost jumped for joy to see a motor-car flying


the British

flag.

They were taken

in the car to a

French hospital.

We

are so accustomed, however, to read of officers

when mortally wounded, to their men, " Do


your duty, my lads, and never mind me," that their
saying,

self-forgetfulness almost ceases to surprise.

One

officer

was

hit,

and
78

his

men were

for putting

SELF PUT ASIDE


on his

" No," said he, "

dressing.

first field

79

past that, but for God's sake don't let the

am

Germans

break the line."

There was a British gunner whose

marksmanship was the

wonderful

One

talk of his battery.

blew up a railway station, the second

shell

plump

German

into a

third lopped off the

Finally the

victualling train,

team

of

German gunners

fell

and the

an advancing battery.
hit

him

in the legs.

Even then he would not leave the field. " Carry


me to the gun and let me have one more shot," he
implored. His comrades did so, and without a
groan he took his

last aim.

similar instance of self-sacrifice for the sake of

duty was related

in

The Evening News by Private

R. G. Tipper, of the 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards.


" There

was a man

a clean sheet
for

who had not

He

one thing or another.

He

lance,

and had

got hit in the

crawled back to the nearest


his

wound

dressed.

to go to the rear, but he refused,

culty

made

his

got

he was always getting into trouble

arm.

him

in the trenches

way back

field

We

advised

and with

to the firing line.

left

ambudiffi-

There,

wounded arm, he steadily went on firing


at the enemy.
Some time passed, and he was shot
in the right arm.
Again he made the difficult and
painful journey to the field hospital, and again,
despite his

with bothhis arms injured, he stubbornly insisted

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

80

on crawling back to the trench.


collapsed,

By-and-by he

shot clean through the body.

Several

comrades ran to him and raised him.


You must
get back now,' they told him.
No/ he said with
'

'

a white face,

me

this time.'

been

up

'

let

me

His

supported in

firing,

The

be.

rifle

still

its

blighters

loophole.

before you go,' he muttered,

another round, so help

me

have done

rested where he

Prop

'

'

Hoist

had

me

them

I'll

give

me

up, quick.'

They knew they could do nothing. They propped


him up beside his rifle and went to the other wounded
men. With fumbling hands the dying man pointed
his rifle, and let drive two more rounds at the enemy.
Then he slipped down dead."
The fighting around Ypres involved a great
amount of very risky observation work. In many
instances artillery subalterns took up dangerous
positions well in advance of the front line of infantry,

and, telephone in hand, gave the range to the gunners

with perfect calmness.

young lieutenant posted

himself in a tower a few hundred yards from the

German

trenches.

larly for half

He

an hour.

telephoned his orders regu-

Then he

said,

without any

trace of excitement, to the operator on the other


side,
I

" I hear the

have

my

Germans coming up the

revolver.

stairs.

Don't believe anything more

you hear." With these words he dropped the


receiver
and he has not been heard of since.
;

SELF PUT ASIDE

81

When there is the excitement and stimulus of a


" gallery " it is comparatively easy to be brave
;

but think

of the

heroism of such lonely work as that

which was done by Lieutenant F. H. N. Davidson,


Early in the day our gunners had found

R.F.A.

it

German guns which


rendering our trenches untenable. The

impossible to locate certain

were

fast

country was so
of

flat

that there was no possible point

vantage from which the gunners could observe

except the steeple of the church in Lourges.


the Germans

knew

that as well as

we

But

did, so the

church was being vigorously shelled, and already no


less

than twelve lyddite

it.

It

shells

had been pitched

into

was the duty of Lieutenant Davidson to

" observe," so he calmly went to the church, climbed

the already tottering tower, and, seated on the top,

proceeded to telephone his information to the battery.

was
in

In consequence

German battery

silenced, the infantry,

danger

of

after battery

which at one time was

extermination, was saved,

position, in spite of

an attack

in

by the enemy, was successfully


was rendered a scrap heap, but
on the remnants of his tower.

and the

overwhelming force

The church

held.
still

Davidson sat

For seven

solid

hours

expecting death every moment, he calmly scanned


the country, and telephoned his reports.

At dark
was done, and he came down to rejoin the
battery.
As he left the ruins a fall of timber in one
F
his task

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

82

the burning houses

of

sudden

was the crack

there

glare,

up everything with a

lit

of a rifle

the

German trenches were only a few hundred yards


away and a bullet passed through the back of his
neck and out through his mouth. But, without

hurrying his pace, he walked to his battery, gave


them his final information, and then said, " I think
I'd better

go and find the

field

beggars have drilled a hole in


ging."

And he walked

ambulance, for the

me

that needs plug-

half a mile to the nearest

" collecting point."

A man who

was struck with four

thighs remarked, "

that

What

bullets in his

luck to have got

means three comrades more

all

four

to fight the Ger-

mans."

private of the ist

War wicks was

hit

with a

shrapnel bullet at the battle of Mons. He said,


" Good luck to the old regiment," and rolled over

on his back dead.

What

esprit de corps

What

for-

getfulness of self

The gunner who wrote the


freedom from
"

self

following

had the

which enables us to sympathise

had comparatively little pain, though it seemed


that my arm had been blown away. I could not
I

verify this, because I

to move.

pal around
1

snuffing

was

so

numb

it

was impossible

What did hurt was the sight of pal after


me either killed outright at one go, or

it

'

in

agony quite near."

SELF PUT ASIDE


Another

83

though mortally wounded him-

soldier,

so much for a wounded pal that he said to


He is
the doctor, " See to that poor bloke first.

self, felt

home he will be home before me."


Some of the Irish Dragoons went to the assistance
of a man of the Irish Rifles who, wounded himself,
going

was yet kneeling beside a fallen comrade of the


Gloucester Regiment, and gamely firing to keep the

The Dragoons found both men


thoroughly worn out, but urgency required the
regiment to take up another position, and the
wounded men had to be left. M They knew that,"
said the trooper who related the incident, " and

enemy

off.

men

weren't the

to expect the general safety to be

risked for them.

Irishman,

us up

how.'

Never mind,' said the young

shure the

'

all right,

once to

'

an'

die, an' it's

if

Red

Cross chaps

they don't

well,

'11

pick

we've only

the grand fight we've had, anny-

"

Private F. Bruce, of the Suffolk Regiment, acted


in this self-forgetting

much

interviewer

me from
so

I'll

"

The

shooting.

bullet that hit


I

said to a mate,

make room for a better man.'

go in this
said,

way when wounded.

After

hesitation he told the story to a newspaper

'

lot,

Neck

you'll get riddled

or nothing,

mate

me
'

prevented

I'm no good,

He
with

said,

'

Don't

bullets.'

I'm keeping out

somebody who could do more good than me.'

got

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

84

up and ran about twenty yards, and a

lyddite-shell

burst about five or six yards in front of me, nearly

bringing

me down

regained

my

two

to

places,

the

with the suffocating fumes.

footing,

and ran

One was wounded

men.

artillery

further, until I

and the other was

right.

all

came

in five

After giving

wounded man water, I tried to get to another


Every time I made a start the Germans

fellow.

began

But

company.
a dash for

it.

was determined to go, and

my

made

ran about twenty yards, and dived

some standing

into

me, as they were closing round

firing at

corn.

got to the poor fellow.

had burst and hit him in the lower part


I asked him if I could do anything
of the body.
Yes have you got a rifle ?
for him, and he said,
live shell

'

Yes,' I said.

me

out of

that, so I

my

'

Well,' he said,

misery.'

I told

gave him water.

for

God's sake shoot

him

could not do

Highlander came up

wound straight through the elbow. I bandaged him up. At that time the Germans were only
about 60 yards away. We had to make a dash for
our lives. I saw my company captured just at our
rear, but we managed to get to safety."
Even for one of the enemy self was bravely put
aside.
Seeing a wounded German lying between
the German and British trenches, a British officer

with a

ordered the " Cease Fire," and himself went out to


pick

up the man.

He was

struck

by

several bullets

SELF PUT ASIDE

85

Germans saw what he was doing and ceased


firing.
Thereupon the British officer staggered to
the fallen man and carried him to the German lines.
A German officer received him with a salute, and,
before the

pinned upon the breast of the

calling for cheers,

British

the

for

Then the

hero an Iron Cross.

own

returned to his

succumbed

but

Victoria Cross,

Britisher

He was recommended

trenches.

to

his

wounds.

wrote

soldier

"

throw themselves

who were trying to cut


It

was one

saw a handful

off

of Irishmen

a regiment of cavalry,

a battery of horse

of the finest deeds I ever saw.

of the poor lads got

German

in front of

devils

pay

away

artillery got

away

alive,

artillery.

Not one

but they made the

anyhow,

the

to account for

many more

Ger-

the

to

kind,

in

and,

mans."

private

correspondent

on a

hill

told
:

"A

following

newspaper

picket of our regiment posted

overlooking our

left

was surprised

in the

by a party of German infantry who


had crept up under cover f a mist. Our men
early morning

refused to surrender, and


one,

all

who was overpowered by

were shot down but


the Germans.

They

wanted to get information about our strength from


him, and thought they had only to offer him his life
in return.

He

refused to

tell

anything, and then

they were going to shoot him, when he

made a dash

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

86
for

At that moment a party

it.

by the

firing,

came

of our

up, and the

men, alarmed

Germans were cut

off."

" There was a

man of the
who carried a wounded chum for over a mile
under German fire, but if you suggested a Victoria
Cross for that man he would punch your head, and
as he's a regular devil when roused the men say as
little as they can about it.
He thinks he didn't do
anything out of the common, and doesn't see why
his name should be dragged into the papers."
So, too, an English colonel who had saved the
sergeant wrote

Buffs

life of

a French private kept the deed a secret for

fear of " a beastly fuss " being

made about

it.

shown by a Highlander who


helped a wounded comrade for four days through a
Similar modesty was

country

full of

wrote a lance-corporal,
biscuits

between them.

man

tell

to

"

Germans.

me how

When

" they
I

found them,"

had only a few

pressed the un wounded

they managed to get through

the four days on six biscuits, but he always got

angry and told


anything

me

to shut up.

He had gone without

and had given the biscuits to the wounded

man."
Near Cambrai one dark night the British took

who were holding


a bridge spanning the canal. When our men reached
an embankment running sharply down to the river

the offensive against the Germans,

SELF^PUT ASIDE
and

several failed to secure a foothold,

Four

water.

were

in

and

German

to swim,

drowning, when Corporal

an excellent swimmer, plunged into the

clambering
a

of

into the

fell

men who were unable

imminent danger

Brindall,
river

of the

87

rescued

all

up the
shell

four

in

He

turn.

embankment

was

when
him in-

himself,

exploded near him,

killing

stantly.

A man

West Yorkshire Regiment took off


his coat and equipment, and walked over to the
German trenches under a perfect hail of bullets and
brought back the adjutant, then made ten more
journeys, bringing in the colonel and nine men.
He has been recommended for the V.C.
"

of the

A soldier wrote in this way of


We got the order to retire none

an engagement

too soon, for we


when the Germans swept
across the plain where we had been entrenched.
Our officer in command was wounded at 3.30 a.m.,
but notwithstanding his wound he stuck to his
post, and it was not until 1 p.m. that we discovered
he was wounded and unable to walk. As we
marched past him it cheered us greatly to hear him
say,
Good boys, you've had a very successful

had

just left the trenches

'

"
day.'

In one of the
soldier

first

battles of the

war a

British

rode on a bicycle through the bullets of

German sharp-shooters

to

warn French

soldiers that

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

88

they were going into an ambush.

After the daring

deed the French commander dismounted from his


horse, took

had won

from

his

own

cyclist's breast.

rade" he

said,

tunic a medal he himself

and pinned

for bravery,

it

" It

on the British

was given to me,


" for saving one life.

honour to present

it

you

to

mon camaI

have the

for saving the lives of

hundreds."
Private J. Warwick, of the 2nd

Durham

Light

Infantry, did not wish to speak of the deeds for

which he was recommended

some persuasion, however, he

for

After

the V.C.

"

told the story.

The

Germans were entrenched not 80 yards away on


the other side of a hill, their trenches being far more

We

formidable than ours.

had not very long

wait before shells and bullets began to


us in
hill,

all directions.

but

hail of

first

fire.

Our men

about

fly

tried to rush

to

up the

one and then the other fell under the


The Germans were at least twelve to

men held their own, fighting as I have


men fight before. We had a great leader
Major Robb. He led the men splendidly. Lieu-

one, but our

never seen
in

tenant Twist, one of our number, tried to advance

with a company up the

down.

was

flying

saw him
and

hill,

shot,

but he was quickly shot

and although the shrapnel

bullets were

coming

like rain, I

made

a dash and brought him back to the trenches.

Then

saw Private Howson, a Darlington chap,

fall,

SELF PUT ASIDE

89

and I succeeded in bringing him from the firing line.


The poor chap was shot through the neck and the
though

shoulders,

believe he

is

living.

still

then went back and succeeded in bringing Private

My

Maughan.
of all.

had to

journey was the most

last

travel over the crest of the hill to

within 30 yards of the


I

German

escaped being killed

crawled on

and

could,

Robb back

and how

trenches,

really

my stomach and
I am glad to say

bringing Major

difficult

do not know.

got along as best


that

succeeded in

right, as it were,

from

It was a hard job


was shot through the

the very noses of the Germans.


to get him,

back and

and

in

my

effort I

fell."

A Royal Fusilier wrote

" While

we were

chatting

and smoking, German shrapnel began to burst on


the trees above us.
see

home

again, but

did not think

we were

all

should

cool enough.

Eight volunteers were wanted to cross the bridge

and

retire.

We

a section in danger of being captured to

tell

made one

when

bullets

almost

feel

they pass.
'

We

volunteer,

and

my chum another.

were walking between some railway trucks

began to whistle through

We

down

lay

for a minute,

must get there somehow.'

and four
bullets

one could

the heat of some of them, so close did

of us

came

went

over,

on.

and

I said,

Four stayed there

Directly

we got up more

and one poor fellow got one

in

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

90

We

the neck.

left

and made a run


the section.

and

lying

him

for

in the care of the other four

it.

We

got there and warned

Coming back we had

down

alternately, but got

with only one wounded."

to keep running

back

in the

end

CHAPTER XI
Brothers-in-Arms

Whatever
ence

Christians

who

brotherly love,

to

more do

in refer-

soldiers

are

profess

British

real

brothers to each other on active service. Each


man seems to say, " He that sheds his blood with

me,

be

shall

The

my

brother."

letter in The
Out there sublime deeds of
being performed every day by common

following

News

Evening

heroism are
soldiers

whom

from a sergeant's

is

the ordinary

'

civvy

'

with contempt in times of peace.


I

was thrown a

lot

We took refuge

one day the Irishman had the


himself to a party of

took

it

into his

game by

After Cambrai

with a wild Glasgow Irishman

belonging to the Royal Scots and a


of the Dorsets.

would pass by

in

wounded man

a farmhouse, and

ill-luck of

showing

Germans on the prowl.

He

head that he hadn't played the

bringing the

Germans down on us, and


was going
a dander. He had not an

after reporting their presence he said he

out just for a bit of

earthly chance of escaping.


91

Before he

left

told

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

92

him

so,

but that didn't weigh with him at

like this/

he

said,

to look after.

'

So's that

chap

my

if

I'm shot

this

I'm as

in the corner.

bad as they make 'em, and nobody


the poorer

It's

all.

you've got a missus and children

will

be a thraneen

very minute.

It

was

away
They don't know there's anybody here but me, and if I rush out they'll get me
and go off content. He walked coolly out to the
carelessness in going about that gave us

to the Germans.

and made a rush into the fields to the


The Germans saw him and fired. He fell

front gate,
left.

with bullets, and they went after him.


They must have thought that he was the only man
in the house, for they didn't come back, and we lay
there for three days until we managed to get back
riddled

to our

own

Another

lines."

man

also thought of wife

and

kids.

a night fight one of the Gloucesters had his

knocked out
at
his

rifle

and a big German lunged

of his hand,

him with a bayonet.

" In

Quick as lightning one of

mates sprang between him and the German, and

He died within an
him why he did it, his

received the thrust in his chest.

hour, and

when they asked

answer was,

'

Oh, God,

a wife and kids.'

couldn't help

it.

He's got

"

A corporal of the Bedfordshire Regiment wrote


" Near our trenches there were a lot of wounded, and
:

their cries for water

were

pitiful.

In the trenches

BROTHERS-IN-ARMS
was a quiet chap
it

no longer.

could lay hold


air

was

of the Engineers,

He
of,

all

That chap knew

who

could stand

collected all the water bottles he

and said he was going

and

thick with shell

yourself at

93

was to
it

The

sign your death warrant.

as well as

He

not going to stop him.

out.

and to show

rifle fire,

we

did,

but that was

got to the

first

man

all

No sooner
right and gave him a swig from a bottle.
did he show himself than the Germans opened fire.
After attending to the

first

man

he crawled along

the ground to others until he was about a quarter


of a mile

away from

Then he stood up and

us.

zigzagged towards another batch of wounded, but


that

was the end

and

hotter.

slight

upward

like the

The German fire got hotter


and with just a

of him.

He was

hit badly,

fling of his

hero he was.

arms he dropped to earth

Later he was picked up with

make them
The wounded men for whose sake he
had risked and lost his life thought a lot of him, and
were greatly cut up at his death. One of them
who was hit so hard that he would never see another
Sunday said to me as we passed the Engineer chap,
who lay with a smile on his white face, and had more
bullets in him than would set a battalion of sharpthe wounded, but he was as dead as they

out here.

shooters

up

in business for themselves,

rare good one, he was.


for to

have seen a deed

It's

'

He was

something worth living

like that,

and now that

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

94

have seen

it,

we

That's what

don't care what becomes of me.'

about

all felt

it."

One
how a Highlander milked a cow under

of the King's Royal Rifles told in a letter

fire

rifle

and

shell

to get something for his wounded mates to drink

when

the water ran out.

Also

Connaught Rangers rushed out

how

a boy of the

of the trenches

under

by to get an apple for


a wounded comrade who was suffering from thirst
and hunger. u He got the apple all right, but he
got a German bullet or two in him as well on the
way back, and dropped dead within 50 feet of the
The wounded chap had his apple brought in
goal.
after an artillery man had been wounded in getting
at it.
I hope he valued it, for it was the costliest
apple I ever heard tell of bar one, and that was a
heavy

fire

to an orchard near

long time ago."

Sergeant
Rifles,

long

J.

wrote

2nd Battalion King's Royal

Rolfe,

"

When

lay there, but a

got hit, I couldn't say

chum

of mine,

Tommy Quaife,

under a perfect hail of bullets and

me

to safety, and said,

fag.

I'm going back

He

for

never got there.

shell

'

how

shells,

dragged

Cheer up, Smiler, here's a

Sandy'

(his

other chum)
i

Poor

Tommy

got a piece of

and was buried the same night."

In a lancer charge near Cambrai a


letter.

It

to mount,

had arrived

man dropped

just as the order

was given

and he had not had time to read

it.

BROTHERS-IN-ARMS
Even

in

his tunic

Two

mid-charge a comrade saw

and returned

it

out of

fall

it

at great risk.

were

Highlanders

95

carrying

wounded

comrade, and he dropped a stick of chocolate, a


thing of which only soldiers in the
conditions

about

it,

know

and

to go back for

He

the value.

to where

it

under trying

and worried
chums volunteered

fretted

at last one of his


it

field

had been dropped, not

more than two hundred yards away. He never


came back. In full view of his companions he was
hit

by a

case
life

and

bullet

where a

fell

There was another

dead.

religious

Dublin

because he stayed just long

Fusilier

lost

his

enough to cross the

hands of a dead comrade, and say a prayer

for his

departed soul.

man

West Yorkshire Regiment


took off his coat and wrapped it around a wounded
chum who had to lie there until the ambulance
took him away. All that night he stood in the

One

night a

of the

trenches in his shirt-sleeves, with water

quietly returning the

noon

up to

and the temperature near to freezing

waist,

of the following

The

following

was

German

fire.

On

his

point,

the after-

day he had acute pneumonia.


related

by a

British Hussar.

After the charge of the Highlanders on the

German

heavy guns near Hanbourdin the Hussar was sent


with a message to the base. On the way he encountered a Seaforth Highlander going in the same

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

96

Something in the man's

direction.

the question

" Are

was

matter,"

the

you hurt

reply.

shattered from shoulder to


to sick

bay?"

and a

half away.

said the

set face

"

prompted

" Aye, a sma'

The man's arm was


" Are you going
elbow.
" It's a mile
" No, no,"
gee."

said the cavalryman.

"

Scot,

my

Get on
I'll

many

walk, you'll find

just

worse hit than me."


Private D. F. Gilmore, of the Seaforth Highlanders,
told this in a letter

had had a hard day.


than

care to

tell.

"It was on the Aisne.

We

Our casualties were greater


was with a fatigue party col-

lecting the wounded and burying the dead.


We
came on a sergeant of artillery and about twenty
wounded men. The sergeant was nearest and I
signed to my mates to take him first. He waved us

away.

'

can wait.

much

worse.'

sisted.

He

rank, and

That was what he


angry.

got

you disobey

if

That

ordination.'

the others.

Get the others

We

'

I'm

I'll

settled

your

so

we

got the last away, and

for the sergeant.

He was

stone dead.

to us he had been bleeding to death.

They're

We

superior

you

report

it,

first.

said.

perin

for insub-

started

on

came back

Unknown
He must

have known that when he made us attend to the


others.

Had

he been taken at

first

his life

would

same

battle

have been saved."

The night

before the beginning of the

BROTHERS-IN-ARMS
of the Aisne,

two men

of the

97

Middlesex Regiment

had a disagreement and came to blows. The


conqueror was struck with shrapnel next day,
and the man who was beaten endangered his life

When

to save him.

he had nearly dragged him

to a place of safety a shell killed both men.

stretcher party

Only

six could

One man solved it. " I'm


he said. " If you take me I'll

seventh.

the

select

came on seven men wounded.

be taken, and the problem was to

the worst case,"

probably die on the way.

These other chaps

will

through and make good soldiers yet.

let

me have my

Leave
you try to take me I'll
be the end of me, so you'd better
way." What could they do but

let

him have

way

all

pull

You won't ?

me.
resist,

hour

and

that'll

his

Well,

if

And

so he

was

An

left.

they came back, and he was dead.

later

" There were

two men

of the

Camerons who had

been chums since their boyhood " (writes Sergeant


R.

Duffy,

together,

scrapes

Rifle

and

'

"They had 'listed


don't know how many

Brigade).

and been
scraps

in
'

side

by

side.

In the fighting

around Ypres one night one of them got hit in a


bayonet fight. The regiment had to return to the
trenches, leaving the

wounded

to take their chance

for the time being out in the cold.

man's chum caught sight

way

of

him

The wounded

lying in the road-

witlf the pallor of death in his face, and his

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

98

teeth chattering with the terrible cold.


Jock,' he exclaimed,

canna' lee ye, so

'

is it

a'll

you

My

'

God,

that's lying there

stay wi' ye tae the morn.'

The wounded man wouldn't hear of it, but his chum


meant to have his way, and he got it. Next morning
we had a look for the two, and we found them side
by side both dead. They had crept together under

greatcoats

their

found them

all

keep warm, but death had

to

the same."

cavalry sergeant, though he had got

three

wounds, went to a badly wounded corporal who

was shouting to be taken out of the way of the line.


The wounded sergeant bound up the other man's
wound, set him on his own horse and sent him back
out of the way. Then the sergeant limped along on foot
as best he could after his regiment to fight again.

W.
how

Roberts, ist Life Guards, wrote to a friend


his

assistance

regiment
:

"

We

gave

had been raining

We

were only just

and

thoughtful

were sent to help the Queen's

Regiment one day.


it

timely

It

was

for three
in

just getting dark,

and

days without stopping.

time, and they had given up

The Germans were just about to charge


them, but when they saw us they made it as you
all

hope.

'

were.'

We

helped to carry out the wounded.

was awful. They were nearly wiped out


with arms and faces smashed. It was

The

trenches were

full of

water, and the

It

chaps

terrible.

men were

BROTHERS-IN-ARMS

99

blue with cold, and as our chaps went to carry out

wounded the Germans fired on them.


them as comfortable as we could, making
them fags and giving them tea, and we took their

the dead and

We made

places in the trenches that night."

How

these acts should rebuke us

we

peace

When
trouble,

refuse to

do small deeds

do not

allies

There

is

soldier.

"

and there
good

is

"

is

a fine fraternity between the

out, " Bravo,

Tommie

not the case in the

is

French and the British


replies, " Right,

in time of

pull well together there

but happily this

present war.

when

of kindness

and

It is

The French

calls

his British brother

not a long conversation

no dangerous discussion, but

it

shows

will.

Once at

least

play-fellows.

French and British

Seven

of our

soldiers

men having

were

lost their

regiment joined a French one for the time being.

They taught the French how to play football, and


often played with them when under fire.
One of the Royal Lancasters said in a letter that
the sign manual of friendship between the French
and the British soldier is a cross on the throat
" The French
indicating their wish to the Kaiser.
Tommies copy us a lot, and they like, when they
have time, to
game.

They

stroll into

our lines for a chat or a

are fond of the

exchange things

for it."

jam served

to us

and

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

100

On one

occasion the appreciation of the French

was even embarrassing. They had seen


the Irish Guards put to flight great numbers of the
" Kaiser' crush," and when the regiment marched
back the French stood up in their trenches and
soldiers

roared applause.

The

Irish Guards,

a regiment after the Boer


this
it

French

was

fuss.

war,

They did not

their first time in action,

honour was brand new.

who only became


felt

shy about

like the idea that

and that

their battle

CHAPTER

XII

Under Fire
Asked what
replied

it feels like

to be under

a soldier

fire,

"It makes you sweat waiting

shock of getting

hit.

the

for

It is the suspense that tries.

The first few weeks at the war are awful. You


awaken in your sleep and think you are being fired
at.
Not that the German infantry are good marksmen (the artillery are). Why, the other day I
noticed a chap who had been aiming in my direction
for several minutes, and none of ours had been
touched.
I stood up and said to a chum
Watch
that chap. I bet you he won't hit me.' And he
didn't, for I heard the bullet whistle by several
:

'

inches wide."

The

feeling of waiting to

described
costs,

"

We

go under

fire is

thus

were to hold the trenches at

all

and things began to take a serious turn. It


I and my chum took photographs

was then that

we had with us from our pockets and looked long


we had left at home. Then

into the faces of those

101

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

102

we took out our

small books and

made our

wills,

and then waited."

private of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment


" There were many field artillery drivers
wrote
:

with spare horses behind a shed, and one was asleep


in front of

me on

a truss of hay.

from a

shell

came over the corner of the shed and


dropped not more than 8 feet from me. It killed
the poor driver and blew one horse up and the other
horses into a heap. It seemed to me as if I had
1

Black Maria

'

been suddenly thrown into a white hot furnace,

and a big metallic door slammed on me. I was


dazed for five minutes and shaky all day, but the
feeling soon wore off.
It is wonderful how soon you
get over these things.

make a screaming
plosion,
splinters
fire

but the

These

'

Black Maria

noise, followed

by a

effect is purely local,

'

shells

ex-

terrific

except for

Next day we came under


as big gun fire. Then we knew it.

flying.

as well

rifle

It

was not a pleasant sight to see men falling around


you screaming. I remember saying to a chap
alongside of me, "

wouldn't give twopence for

chance."
" It's a curious sort of
wrote, " to be under fire.

war

is

feeling,"
It's

another

well you

feel

my

man
that

a really dangerous thing."

Much

of

course

temperament.

An

depends
officer

upon

the

soldier's

had the moral courage to

UNDER FIRE
write

in

"

letter,

times now, and like

it

103

have been under

less

fire

a few

every time."

An

Indian soldier gave the impression of himself


and of his fellows " The shell fire was a bit trouble:

some

at

because

first,

it

was

far

worse than anything

ever experienced in frontier fighting, and

we had

few of us had had any experience of being under

We

fire.

soon got used to

us more than thunder.

and

it,

The

it

rifle

didn't trouble

wasn't so

fire

Germans aren't very good shots. Still,


was annoying to us to have to lie still under it

bad, for the


it

when we
"

like to

An

officer

My

platoon

be getting to close grips."

described a retreat under

fire

as follows

men) was some 200 yards behind

(fifty

the firing line to start with.

was soon ordered to

bring them up, which was not a too comfortable

were bursting by now just in front

job, as shells
of

us.

them

However,

further

up the

of the firing

and

resight,

shouted to the men, telling

and saying that they would be

to go on,

hill.

Then the battery doing most

on us stopped

and

safer

got the

for a

moment

to reload

men on a hundred

yards,

and then the shells began bursting like hail just


where we had come from. Then they kept altering
their range

from time to time, and you could some-

times hear the shot and shell come

few yards

off,

and

of course

the shell singing through the

down only a

you could always hear


air,

and sometimes

felt

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

104

Around me the men behaved

the breath of them.

(The whole regiment has been con-

splendidly.

gratulated on

having done

its

We

well.)

the potato crop like partridges.

in

were

we

too petrified to

all

move

lay there

we

think

but where we were

lay just below the crest of a ridge waiting to

crawl up to see to

We

along.

and

fire if

any German infantry came

lay under that shell

feeling of thinking that the

be dead
ing

fire for

three hours,

think that none of us will ever forget the

what

moment we might

next

perhaps blown to atoms.

it

was going

kept wonder-

and

to feel like to be dead,

all

had done, and places


years ago and had quite forgotten,

sorts of little things that I


I

had been

to

kept passing through


of this

mind.

it

before,

think you get so strung

into

have often heard

happening to a drowning man, but have

never experienced
I

my

and don't want

up that your nerves

My

an abnormal condition.

extraordinarily

proud of and

cool

am

and

still

which

and saw them moving and twisting


ordinary way, as

when

I tried to

Germans,

it

if

use

was

as

greatest effort to get


I

could scarcely

my

looked at

get

seemed

brain

collected,

but

to again

was

hands

an extra-

in

they didn't belong to me, and

my

field-glasses to

much

them up

see.

came our company got

spy at the

as I could do with the

When
it late.

to

my

eyes,

and then

the order to retire


I

told

my

platoon

UNDER FIRE
those

who were

left

105

to double back and assemble

behind a house in a road behind

us.

stopped

behind to collect stragglers and to carry a couple

wounded into the house, where the doctor was


and I believe I was the last to
seeing to them
leave.
this
time
the bullets had begun to
By
sing all round us, and the German infantry were
getting close, so it was high time to clear out.
I and a last party of five climbed up a pear tree
and over a garden wall, and so, creeping along
of

with the bullets

now

flying all round,

we

got over

another wall and so up a path exposed for a short

way.

We

ran along

this,

and

remember, as an

moments
jumped out
suddenly from
haversack, and I ran back
five or six yards to pick it up, and risked a life
for a hair-brush
I found subsequently two holes
in my haversack where a bullet had passed through,
just grazing my clothes, and it may have been then
that it went through."
instance of the stupid things one does in

excitement,

of

my
my

little

hair-brush

did not myself

Lord Cowdray's

know Mr.

Geoffrey Pearson,

son, but a friend of his told

much about him

that

it

me

so

was with sorrow that I


He and a

read the dramatic story of his death.

sergeant-major were acting as motor-cyclists with


the motor transport, and what happened
told

by the sergeant-major

"

We

is

thus

were going along

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

IOC

a straight piece of road, with open country on either


side,

they

and were
were

our machines out for

letting

We

worth.

were

alone.

all

Suddenly,

without the least warning, we seemed to ride into


a perfect hailstorm of bullets which came over

from somewhere on our

left.

ran into a

'

I said,

little

wood.

Ahead

Come

on, we'll ride for

and we dashed through

had we entered the wood

of us the road

belt,

in safety.

however, than

German cavalry

rode into a group of

it,'

Hardly

about

we

fifty

them scattered about on either side of the


They immediately fired at us. We saw
the game was up, as there was no getting away
from them at all, so we tumbled off our bikes, put
up our hands, and surrendered. The Germans
treated us shamefully. They gave us nothing to
eat, and taunted and jeered at us at every opportunity.
That night we spent in the open, lying on
the roadside between two men. We had no overcoats, and it was most bitterly cold.
I think I have
never been so cold in my life as I was that night.
The Germans took us on with them on their advance
against the French. They made us go into the
of

road.

trenches with them.

We

with the rest under a

terrific fire

guns and infantry.


for

it.

fight,

We

were thrust in the

line

from the French

decided to

make

a dash

The Germans were all very busy with the


and we were able to crawl away unperceived

UNDER FIRE

107

out of the trenches and through the long grass.

we were about 200 or 300 yards


Germans saw us, and a number of them

Moreover, when

away

the

immediately opened
the head.

We

Pearson was shot through

fire.

were under

fire

with a vengeance."

Speaking of a particularly fierce fight a


Highlander said that

it

might have been a sham

one the way the Gordons took


they sang Harry Lauder's

it

Gordon

In the thick of

it.

latest.

could not sing whistled, and those


whistle talked about football,

Those who

who

could not

and joked with each

other.

One of the West Kent Regiment speaking of the


German artillery fire said that the din seems to
hit you.

You

and the teeth


little,

feel
fall

as

if

your ears would burst,

out of your head.

He

however, of the enemy's infantry.

thought

"If we

badly as they do we would be put in

fired as

jail."

A Dublin Fusilier said that while the shells shrieked


blue murder over their heads they

sang about the

girls,

" If I should arrive

and were as

home

smoked

cigarettes,

cool as Liffy water.

safe I think I shall get

a job as doorkeeper at an oyster shop, as

having a course of

shell

am

dodging."

Corporal F. Leeming, R.F.A., wrote to his wife

"

am

time a
round.

all right,
'

but

still

messenger from the Kaiser


It is

have to keep ducking every


'

comes whistling

not exactly like throwing eggs about

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

108

when

They make a hole in the


across, and the noise is terrible

their shells burst.

ground about 20

feet

You feel pretty shaky at first.


According to Private Thomas Mulholland, Highland Light Infantry, shells were not as much appreciated at a dance as ladies would have been
"In
the trenches last week we held a dance, for want of
and nerve-racking.

something better to do.

were fellow-soldiers

Of course, the only partners

but

the monotony of shell

still it

was a change from

Not that the

fire.

shells

were absent, for just when we had settled down


to enjoy the jigging the
shrapnel.

The

shells

enemy began
burst

burst in the middle of a

a Gaelic four-hand
After that

reel.

we thought

it

all

little

to

worry us with

around,

group

of

and one

men

Every man was

giving
killed.

best to stop."

"

The
mugs were passed round with the biscuits and the
bully
as best they could by the mess orderlies,
but it was hard work messing without getting more
than we wanted. My next-door neighbour, so to
Afternoon tea under

fire

was

like this

'

speak, got a shrapnel bullet in his tin, and another

two doors

had his biscuit shot out of his hand.


Private Plant had a cigarette shot out of his mouth,
and a comrade got a bullet into his tin of bully beef.
It saves the trouble of opening it,' was his remark."
off

One day a
pot,

shell

smashed a breakfast porridge

and another scattered a dinner

of stew.

"

We

UNDER FIRE

109

cursed more about that stew than

if

we had been

hit ourselves."

" It beats Banagher," said a jocular private in


the Royal Irish, " how these Germans always dis-

turb us at meal times.

suppose

it's

They seem

the bacon that they're after.

of

just the smell

to

look for a blooming Ritz Hotel in the firing line."

Men can even

sleep

when under

fire.

"It

is

a most extraordinary thing," said an officer to The


Daily Telegraph special correspondent, " to see
soldiers lying

German

on their straw soundly asleep when

shells are bursting all

keep on snoring even after a

shell

5 or 6 yards over their heads

trenches with fresh earth.

the
it

firing,

that,

though

soon becomes far

for instance."

it

round them.

has burst within

and

One

half rilled their

gets so used to

may sound

less noticeable

Men

incredible,

than city

traffic,

CHAPTER
" I've

Sometimes a man

XIII

Got

It

"

under

after being

fire for

a con-

wounded begins to
fancy that he has a charmed life and that he is " not

siderable time without being

for it," as soldiers say.

Still, if

a bullet the bullet will in

Then, he

who has been

either side of

him

its

is

find

him

out.

a more personal

When

matter, an affair of his only.


is

to be a billet for

seeing comrades falling on

will find this

to a poor fellow he
place " before he

he

own time

the end comes

generally gone to " another

knows he

dead

as

an

Irish

does the average soldier say or do

when

is

soldier said.

What

wounded, how
casually

and

does he take

it ?

He

usually remarks

quietly, " I've got it," or "

Men speak and

I'm hit."

act differently according to tem-

perament, according to moral and physical condition.

Some

as they roll over give a groan

cry to mother or wife.


officer said,

ing of his

when

Some

pray,

some

and a

curse.

An

"I'm done for," but immediately thinktold them to lie down.


A soldier

men

hit said, " I've got a ticket through.

no

I'm put

11

out of mess," but


fell

began a

him

letter to

Sometimes a
until the fight

that.

Another

" Good-bye, old man.

dad

Tell poor old

for.

111

was not as bad as

and said to a chum

done
I

it

IT "

GOT

I'VE

you

finish it."

wound

soldier is too excited to feel a


is

A man

over.

I'm

died at the front.

wrote in a letter the

following when describing the battle of Mons


" When the Germans attacked us we were singing
:

Hitchy Koo.'

chorus the

Before

man

next to

part of his arm.

He

we were half through the


me got a wound in the upper

sang the chorus to the

finish,

and did not seem to know he was hit till a comrade


on the other side said, Don't you think you had
'

better have
"

bound up

it

It's

beginning to

make

a mess.'

A sergeant sent back to a hospital in England said


44

It

me

was at Ypres
in the elbow.

sensation

was

felt

any kind,

of

shot.

The

bullet struck

no pain there and no


except

in

the

tops

of

fingers, which began to stiffen and freeze.


But even then I didn't know I was shot. Five or

the

ten minutes afterwards

my coat began to stick to my


down my sleeve, and I

arm, thick blood came


realised that I

One man,

was wounded."

shot through the arm,

a sting, nothing particular.


into me.

dropped out

my

only a bit of

Just like a needle going

was nothing till


hand and my arm fell."

thought
of

44

felt

it

my

rifle

That

is

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

112
the

feeling

wound.

a clean bullet

of

Shrapnel,

however, " hurts pretty badly."


This

how
"I

is

being hit

another

man

know what had happened

didn't

the time, but afterwards

had entered

my

in a letter described

shoulder, grazed

lodged pretty firmly in the back

you wounded, mate

up to me.

'

Looks

'

like

at

found out that a bullet

of

my spine,
my neck.

asked a corporal

Are

who came

pointing to

I replied,

it,'

and
'

my

With that he ripped up the sleeve of my


tunic, and had just bound up my wound when a
shell struck him full in the back, and he fell forward
shoulder.

dead without a word."

A man

hand jumped out of the


trench and shouted to the man who had shot him to
come and fight him. " It was hailing lead, so he was

when

hit in the

pulled back into the trench and told that he

rather amusing, but

Two men
is

are resting in a trench but not lying low

One

enough.

flicking

is

munching a

man

with

indignantly, " Say,

that stone at

me?"

you're wounded."

harmless pebble.

He had

it,

leaps

Bill,

Bill denies

perceiving the occasion for

and the other


particularly

the biscuit fancies,

He

him on the neck.

demands

biscuit,

small pebbles at him.

sharp stone, as the


strikes

was

silly."

round and

did you chuck

the charge, and,

rejoins, "

Why, mate,

got a bullet and not a

Firing in battle
distances that

may

if

IT "

TVE GOT

"

now

is

one

is

carried on at such long

in the

neighbourhood at

not be able to keep out of

the case with

me

113

in China.

on the right of

and another on the

left

me

and

fell

said,

it

came.

it

"I'm

hit,"

As no enemy

did the same.

was visible I thought that


I saw blood spurting up.

he

came

hail of bullets

round us and we did not know from whence

A man

all

This was once

it.

was a grim joke

until

Writing in a letter of a second occasion on which


" This

makes twice
their shrapnel has pipped me.
If they do it again I
shall say, I ain't going to play any more
You are
he was wounded, a soldier said

'

too rough

"

!
'

man was hit


He carefully

Another
ing tea.

the

left

brutes have hit me," fired his

back

ter

and observed, " Be


and

drink-

a bullet got him an Irishman, exclaiming

" That's one

me

arm when

transferred the pannikin to

hand, and finished his tea

When
"The

in the right

jabers,

the second toime."

rifle

Then he got

them."
if

and

said,

hit again

they haven't struck

was too much


number three. The

third hit

he expostulated, " That's

blackguards might leave a party alone after they've

him wance."
With a machine gun a Highlander at a bridge over
the river Marne kept back a column of Germans
until reliefs came up. When he fell dead and was

hit

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

114

away

carried

thirty bullet

wounds were found on

his body.
It is strange to

hear soldiers at

who have gone

soldiers

wounded

or died.

them, nor do they

to war,

home

and have been

They seldom express


feel

much.

And

what might seem a natural sensation

due to a conviction that a

do

and that to

it

covers

pity for

the want of
is

fine, for it is

his duty,

talking of

really very

man

has to

die in the performance of

him with honour.

Strange, too,

themselves,

ior

is the way soldiers can joke when hit


when someone near them has "got

In one of the Highland regiments there was a

it."

very fat pipe major.

when he was

shot in

His legs were

them

like barrels,

he said, " Weel, I

and

wonder

they didna do that before."

Two chums
their

were discussing the relative values

birthplaces.

The

Cockney

was

of

evidently

having the best of the argument, when a shrapnel


shell burst

above them and the Londoner received a

bullet

each

in

leg,

while

the

Birmingham man

escaped unhurt.
" I should think you'll give

way now

" said the

man from Birmingham.


"

Why ?

" asked the Cockney.

" Well, you haven't a leg to stand on,"

was the

reply.

After a

little

experience of campaigning in France

IT "

GOT

" I'VE

115

officer wrote, " I tried to like

a young

many

heard and read so


could not

it is

fine things

Any

just beastly.''

war, having

about
one

it,

but

who

talks

war should be invited to walk over


when the fighting has ceased. He will

of the glory of

a battle

field

see those

who have

" got

it

" from shells or bullets

many

writhing in agony, he will hear

someone

for the love of

God

to kill

of them asking
them and put them

out of their misery.

A member

of

the Royal

Army

Medical Corps

gives the following vivid picture of a battlefield

guns had ceased

after the

"
ful,

The

last fight I

was

firing

in the carnage

and dead and dying

together.

Tommy

of

had been

fear-

both sides were piled

In one corner you could see a British

with a bad

wound

lying with his head

pillowed on the shoulder of a dying German, while a


Frenchman near by was doing his best to cheer them
up, and emptying his pockets in quest of some
treasures to soothe the last moments of the other
two. Close by a British Guardsman was propped
against a tree smoking a cigarette and gazing
intently at a photograph.
Near to him was a
wounded Frenchman, holding a little glass in one
hand while he tried to curl a straggling moustache

with the other.

Further along

saw two men, a

French artilleryman and a British rifleman, quietly


playing cards while awaiting their turn to be taken

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

116
to hospital.

Next to them was a man

Cameron
munching a

of the

Highlanders, with both legs shattered,


stick of chocolate,

and trying to hide the twitching

of his face as the pain

racked his body.

another Highlander.

was what he

said,

'

It's

ma

with a wry

approached

birthday the day,

face,

and before the

mouth he was dead.


Under a little cluster of trees we find a party of
wounded Germans, English, and French men. They
were quietly praying for what they believed to be
the last time on earth. Beyond them a Seaforth
Highlander was lying with his Testament open at
words were right out

of his

the story of the Crucifixion.

He was beyond human

aid."

How much more

than " beastly " for the wounded

must be the waiting for the stretcher-bearers to pick


them up and the fear that they may not be able to

come

or

that

they

may

not find them

What

mind there is in the uncertainty


The next time we are impatient because a train is
unpunctual or the dinner a few moments late, we
torture for the

should think of those

sometimes

in

who wait on

sometimes exposed to great cold and


snow.

battlefields,

danger of getting more wounds and


falling rain or

CHAPTER XIV
From Fear to Heroism

A common

topic in letters

from the front

is

the

feel-

ing of the writers on going into battle. They were


" half mad with excitement "
they " did not know
;

what they were doing "

they

felt

" hot

and

cold,

and, as it were, stuck to the ground." One remarks,


" If anyone tells you that he is not afraid in his first
battle,

you may be sure that he is a liar."


girl was overheard asking an
who has shown himself brave above the

In a ball-room a
officer,

average,

what he

felt

when he went

into his first

My dear young lady," he replied,


engagement.
" I felt like making for the nearest hedge that would
"

hide

me

comfortably."

The South African soldier and statesman, Louis


Botha, was asked what it was like to be on a field of
battle, and whether men rise to the occasion. " That
depends," he said " on the spirit of the man."
Speaking of the science of slaughter,

of

which the

present war has been an exhibition, a soldier re-

marked

"I

don't believe there


117

is

man

living

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

118

who, when
is

first

interviewing an nin. howitzer shell,

not pink with funk.

After the

first ten,

one gets

quite used to them, but really, they are terrible

When Lord
he

felt

Clive

was an

"
!

ensign, in his first battle

almost unable to stand up from

company

fear.

Seeing

him that he used


to be that way himself, and then took him by the
hand and walked with him where the firing was
This reassured him, and the great general
heaviest.
used to say that no man ever performed a better
this the captain of his

told

service for another than this captain did for him.

The bravest soldiers are often the most nervous


when they first face an enemy, just as the most
eloquent orators are when they begin to speak.
This is because men fight and are eloquent by means
of nerve power.
Each must warm to the work
before he gets his nerves under control, and then he
astonishes the world, but no one so

much

as him-

self.

There

is

no man so brave as the man who

An

of being afraid.

officer

had a

is

afraid

confidential talk

a day or two before a battle that was imminent with

a subaltern that had just come out.


delicate looking

and nervous.

He

He was

said that he

was

a born coward and that he would disgrace himself


in his first battle.
fight began,

and

" I saw

him

just before the next

looking pitifully white and haggard,

never saw him again

but

heard that he had

FROM FEAR TO HEROISM


fought like a hero, and that he had lost his
effort to

"

If

life

in

an

save one of his men."

one did not know you, Colonel," said a sub-

altern, "

one would say you were afraid."

the answer, "

was

119

if

am you would run

you were

half as

much

"Boy,"
afraid as

away."

Shakespeare represents a hero thus speaking to

body before a battle begins

his
"

Thou tremblest, my poor body, but if thou didst know


Where I will bring you before the day is over
Thou wouldst tremble much more."
This was related by a sergeant of the York and
" Every soldier knows that the

Lancaster Regiment
first

experience of being under

fire is

terribly un-

and the best of men will admit that at times


they are tempted to run away. There was a young
lad of the Worcestershire Regiment who had this
feeling very badly, but he made up his mind that he
would conquer it, and this is what he did. He made
nerving,

it

a practice to go out of the trench and expose himto

self

German

boy trembled
the

weak

fire for

like

little

leaf,

a bit every day.

body holding

it,

the terrible ordeal for a week.

was

fatally hit.

can't say I

On
so

His

The poor

but his soul was bigger than

last

and he went through

On

the eighth day he

words to

was a coward, can they

me
?

'

were,

'

They

"

one occasion a subaltern of the Munsters was

little

afraid of a fight with the

Germans that

his

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

120

only fear was that they would not come on.

The

regiment was waiting for a night attack, and waited


in vain.

trenches

Hour after hour passed. The men in the


who had been warm with excitement began
Yet

to feel cold again.

no Germans came.

still

who had been walking

last the subaltern,

up and down behind the trenches


could stand

it

no

He

longer.

like

At

incessantly

a caged

lion,

glanced anxiously for

the twenty-fifth time at his wrist watch and mut-

"I do hope

tered,

nothing

happened

has

to

"

them

young

went

silly

wrote

soldier

and

"In

the

first

action I

mother ten times, but

cried for

a sudden courage loomed up in me.


could not have enough nerve to stick a

all of

thought

man

with a

bayonet, but during a charge one goes mad."

Much courage

is

needed to charge with a bayonet,

Young soldiers somewhen the order to charge

or to face a bayonet charge.

times get a sinking sensation


is

given.

man, and

It
is

it

horrid putting a bayonet into a

sometimes

" It was his

him.

cribing his

first

through him.
It is

is

life

"

and

In war mercy

but we do

it

out of

or mine," said a soldier des-

battle,

awful killing big, fine

harm

difficult to get it

is

ran the bayonet

only for the merciful.

men who have done

or they will do

it

us no

to us."

Private G. Glew, of the Coldstream Guards, wrote

" Once

had

my

bayonet

in a

German's shoulder,

FROM FEAR TO HEROISM


and could not get
on the German

it

121

out sharp enough to keep an eye

that was behind

me with

his

bayonet

ready for me, when the captain drew his revolver

and shot him, saving


Soldiers

do not

my

life."

like to talk

man

during a battle, but one


u

interviewer that

about what they


did

tell

feel

a newspaper

man

the sensation of killing a

is

not nice. Once done, however, your blood grows


A passion unhot, and you seem to see all red.

known
of

in other

moments

The more

possesses you.

your chums you see knocked down, the madder

you seem to
feeling

fight.

which

Soldiers

it is

One

impossible to quell."

nerved

are

different motives.

to

scorn

danger

from

of all

when
much

The highest motive

the " gallant private "


professional

gets a kind of bloodthirsty

who cannot hope

advancement

practises

his

obscure " simply from a sense of duty.

is

for

" heroism

Sometimes

we blame him.
in
the
artillery wrote in a letter home
A driver
M
We have got some brave men in the British Army,
but I saw more than one kneel down and say his
ambition urges him on, nor shall

prayers the night before a battle was expected."


strange that this

is

should think that there

Surely the best

to realise

How

is

any

between praying and being coura-

inconsistency

geous

man

way

of getting rid of fear

by prayer the presence with us

Higher Power.

In several letters

men

of a

wrote, after

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

122
describing

some danger that they had

prayed then as

young

never did before in

officer

service like the

once told

me

Holy Communion

to face death.

He

my

to face, " I
life."

that there was no


for

men who had

said he felt " square "

after-

wards.
Religion under

fire is

not apologetic

it is

quietly

dominant. Shadow, darkness and doubt vanish.


" My God " is the call of the heart, and a sincere
call

CHAPTER XV
Uncommon Combats
The

following curious bit of war-to-the-knife

was

by a sergeant to a newspaper correspondent


" I and four other wounded men got together and
hid under some wheat sheaves. Presently one man
put out his head to see if the coast was clear, and
was spotted by a German soldier. The fellow
came towards us, and, grasping his rifle by the
barrel, was about to batter out my mate's brains,
when I whipped this out (producing a formidable

related

jack-knife) and, springing up, jabbed


See, the blood stains are

still

there.

it

into his throat.

He went down

I had finished with


weapon he was done for. I kept at his
windpipe so as not to give him a chance to bawl for
assistance.
We managed to crawl or limp for some
distance in the wake of the army until we came
upon Lieutenant B. M. B. Bateman, of the Royal

and

with him, and by the time

this little

Field Artillery.

He

helped us to safety."

knock-out blow was thus described by a young


123

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

124

Frenchman, attached to the Interpreters' Corps


" Last

week

took

home

met him

He

my

parents had a pleasant surprise.

to supper one of your brave

Tommies.

me

his story.

as interpreter,

and he

told

fought the Boches (nickname for the Germans)

from the beginning

and was at Mons,

of the war,

and the

Charleroi, Landrecies, Soissons,

On

the Marne and Aisne.

battles of

October 15th he was

captured by a German patrol, composed of six


Uhlans,

and was disarmed, but kept

Three of the

six

went to get some

tea,

his

one went for

an interpreter, and two watched Tommy.


short time one of the two lay

while the other stood

Tommy

was

still

by the

horse.

down on

After a

the grass,

side of their prisoner.

for a quarter of

then suddenly gave the Boche an

an hour, and he
upper cut,'

'

and

The other Boche got up and


went for him, but the English Tommy knocked him
out with the first blow, and jumped on his horse.
The other Boches had heard the struggle, and as
he

fell

he rode

exhausted.

off

the bullets whistled past his ears, but

luckily he escaped.

asked him

and he answered me,

'

Rather

he was a boxer,

if

matched with

my cousin Fred Welsh, who is now a world champion


in the light weights

'

"

Corporal Isherwood, 2nd Manchester Regiment,

when he came home wounded,


his regiment in a

told

bayonet charge.

how
"

a boy led

On

October

UNCOMMON COMBATS
20th the Germans were

all

enfiladed our trenches.

around

us,

125

and

wounded, then the sergeant, and we were


out a single

command

officer to

their fire

our lieutenant was

First

left

with-

the platoon.

We

were wondering what to do when a drummer-boy,

baby

of eighteen, the

cap,

of the

company, threw up

and with a ringing cheer yelled

We did,

lads.'

'
:

his

Fix bayonets,

and charged the advancing Germans.

The boy was in the act of bayoneting a German


when the latter shouted, For God's sake, don't
'

stick me.'
1

it is

'

It is too late,' returned the youngster,

through you.'

"

Corporal Gleeson, of the Coldstream Guards,


this story

" At

our attention was attracted by

Soissons

He was
He

a young lad of the Connaught Rangers.

Germans.

fighting single-handed against seven

was doing

but just as he was withdrawing

nicely,

bayonet from the

his

fifth

German

to go down,

one of them caught him, and he dropped.


fought our

way

over,

managed

and

just

last

breath went.

said

we

won't
for

me

chaps.'

had.

blame
?

tells

and

We

finished the other two,

to catch the poor lad before his


'

You saw

You think I
me because

'

it,'

did

he

my

seven

and we
and they

said,

best,

was too many

I'm only a boy, and they were such big

We

told

him

if

any man said or hinted he

hadn't done his best, and more, there wasn't one of

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

126

He

him.

us wouldn't

kill

and then he

died.

We

smiled ever so sweetly,

drew our coat

sleeves across

our eyes to stop or hide the blinding tears that came


in spite of us."

The London

Regiment gave a good

Scottish

account of themselves in their

first fight,

and showed

that for pluck and dash this " crack " regiment of
Territorials

the

first

Territorial corps to take their

place in the firing line

has

nothing to learn from

They were ordered

even the pick of the Regulars.


to dislodge from an important

body

position

large

much vaunted Bavarian troops, and


in a way that Sir John French highly

of the

they did

it

praised.

On

one occasion the Kaiser, when addressing a

Bavarian corps,

said,

meet the British


have met the

"

just

want the Bavarians to

once

"

British, represented

Scottish, " just once,"

and

it

The Bavarians
by the London

was once too often

for

them.
Before the war the Germans used to say that God
had given British soldiers long legs to run away
with, and that men in kilts instead of trousers could
not fight. They know better now, and the London
Scottish greatly helped to enlighten them
Shouting " Remember you're Scottish, give them
the bayonet

"

the London Scottish rushed into

the village they had to take.

The defenders

resisted

UNCOMMON COMBATS
with great obstinacy, but at

last

127

they broke and

fled.

On

next

the

day the regiment had, without

adequate cover, to hold a position in face not only


of infantry,

day

but of artillery

fire.

At the end

of the

was necessary to retire through a storm of


and they marched back as steadily as on
parade. " A perfect hell, it was," said an eyeit

lead,

witness, "

and the wonder

is

that any of

them got

back."

The
those

noise of bag-pipes

who hear

it

must be very

for the first time,

terrifying to

and

it

seems on

one occasion to have been instrumental in winning

some

for

men

bloodless battle.

making a detour

Scotch

of

another

On

a dark, rainy night the

regiment a

men

of a field of roots and, stalking their

prey as silently as cats, got up to a position from

which the enemy had to be ejected.


Scots yelled, let

off

rifles,

rattled tins,

Then the
and made

up or rather squeal up. The


Germans were not soothed by the charms of this

the bagpipes speak

music, but were seized with panic and

fled.

Private S. A. Geary, R.A.M.C., wrote the following

"I was near

the trenches against which the

Kaiser sent his crack Guard Corps, the picked


of his

army.

up to
by the bayonet.

Several times they got right

the trenches but were hurled back

One young

men

officer

did a magnificent bit of work,

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

128

Nothing could stop him


trench and yelled,

me,

lads.'

With

performed miracles.
spellbound.
strength.

Old England for ever

of

his

Follow

company he dashed forward


and he and his men simply
As I watched them I was

half a

yards,

for quite 50

he jumped out

They seemed

superhuman

to possess

Caked from head to foot

mud

in

they

presented the most fearful picture that could be

imagined as they attacked

like wild beasts.

Germans were rushing on four

big

The

to one, but they

Those who were

could not beat our fellows back.

not killed or wounded got away to shelter, and our

boys returned to their trenches cheering and shouting.

and

Five minutes later the Germans came again


again, but not a single

man

got within 10 yards

of the trenches."

One
told

so

of

of the Scots Greys,

fighting with

Germans who must have

stumbling into our


quite a

warm

camp

welcome.

we grabbed hold
it

when

invalided home,

frying-pans.

"

lost their

after

which

No guns

their

way, came

were handy, but

of the first things

proved

dozen or

dark and received


handy, and as

was supper-time there were plenty

articles

worth.

of domestic

Dixey-tins

and frying-pans, containing our supper, were banged


on their heads until they had had enough and gave
themselves up to our tender care."

detachment

of British'cavalry, while playing

UNCOMMON COMBATS

129

water polo in the Oise, suddenly spotted a patrol of

German Uhlans. The British, naked as they were,


jumped on their horses and charged the enemy.
A private of the East Surrey Regiment recorded
grim experience

this

as

" Suddenly, out of the dark-

German appeared

ness, a

me

with a fixed bayonet.

near,

making

He came

straight for

right

above

stood in the trench, and thrust his bayonet

my face. I
my left hand

towards

just

managed

me

down

to catch hold of

with
pushing it from me, and at the
same time I thrust my own bayonet up into the
German. His rifle went off as he fell down on top
it

of

my left hand."
would seem from the following that a combat

me, and the bullet went into


It

caused by love

men

of

about a

is

" There were two

very severe.

the Connaught Rangers

who had a row

Under ordinary circumstances they


of the trenches and

girl.

would have gone to the back


settled

with their

it

fists,

but the regimental peace-

maker intervened with a suggestion that struck both


as being reasonable.
It was that instead of spoiling
each other's beauty they should take

Germans, and

man

of the

let

the

girl

it

out of the

decide which was the better

two when the

facts

were put before her

by a comrade.

They agreed, and that day they


went into action with more than usual eagerness.

When
fought

it

came to close quarters each of these chaps


he knew against as many Germans as he

all

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

130

We

could find to stand

up

what was behind

and so did not go to

it,

against him.

all

knew

their assist-

when the day was over everybody agreed


that the one who had downed eight Germans without
getting a scratch was the better man of the two.
The girl thought otherwise, for she decided in favour
of the chap who got badly wounded in his fight with
ance, but

the sixth German.

A corporal, named W.
from the war,

R. Smith,

who has

returned

a chivalrous duel that took

tells of

place between himself

and one

of the

enemy.

On

one occasion the corporal had got close to a German,

and both

levelled their

the trigger

first,

rifles.

The

corporal pulled

but the weapon jammed.

German, seeing what had happened, lowered

The
his

him another chance. " Of


rifle and
course," says the corporal, " there was nothing for
it but to shake hands and walk away from each
offered to give

other."

A
the

Royal Engineer told


mole-like

trenches

"

manner

We spent

towards the German

this story in reference to

attacking

of

the

enemy's

two days on a long mine out


and

lines,

getting to the close of our job

just

when we were

we heard pickaxes going

and then the wall of


clay before us gave way, showing a party of Germans
You never saw men more
at the same game
astonished in your life, and they hadn't quite
as fast

and hard as you

like,

UNCOMMON COMBATS

131

recovered from their shock when we pounced on them.

We had a
we got

the

laid out.

down there indeed, but


best of it, though we had four of our chaps
One German devil was just caught in

pretty sharp scrap

time with a fuse which he was going to apply with


mad idea of blowing us all up "

the

CHAPTER XVI
In the Trenches
'*

Punch

" represents a soldier newly arrived at the

front asking, "

hand

in the trenches answers, " Well,

in this water,

arrival remarks, "


"

I'm on

it

Sounds

seem to have

Durham

in the

"

your

An
lie

old

down

all

day and

life

"

The

like a bit of all right

This was a joke, but


soldiers

of

you

and you get peppered

and you have the time

night,

new

What's the programme

the thick of

it,

it

felt.

was very like what our


One of them, for instance,

Light Infantry, wrote

and enjoying

it.

"

We had

We

are in

an engage-

ment on Sunday, and managed to drive back the


enemy. We are still at it, but as happy as sand-

When

boys.

under

fire I

after eight

read in books of the coolness of

thought somebody was

weeks

of

it I

men

blathering, but

can say that no book has

ever done justice to the coolness of British soldiers

under conditions that would try anybody.


night

was

hit

we were

an interview with some

The

just leaving the trenches for

Germans who were trying


132

IK
some

THE TRENCHES

133

about our

of their fancy tricks

As we

left.

stood up there was a ghastly shower of bullets and


Into

shells bursting all round.

as

we looked ahead one

we'll

have to get

our great

raining bullets to-night,

and

we're not careful.'

Men

if

we had

it

of

taken up

all

it

comes on

and

think
it's

wet to the skin

C company
'

started

Put up your

The song was

wet.'

we went
were humming

along as

'

boys

coats,

we'll get

laughing, and then they took to singing,

umbrella when

to go,

of our chaps said,

into the thick of

it,

it as we dashed into
The Germans must have
thought us a mad crew. Another day there was an
officer of the Cheshire Regiment who was a bit of a

and some

the

of us

German

trenches.

cricketer in his day.

He

got uncomfortable after

lying in the trenches for so long,

He was

leg in shifting his position.

and as he

fell

back

all

leg-before-t he-wicket,

he said was,
as

Better luck next innings.'

and he raised

the

'

hit in the thigh,

Out, by George

umpire would say t

"

of the nights spent in the trenches in


will

bare thought of

me.

We

never leave
it

me

while

Soldiers

The horror

our soaking

life lasts.

sends rheumatic pains

all

know

isn't

fire,

a grouse.

up with that
officers were no

that they have to put

war time, and our

The

through

minded that more than the German

but you must understand that this

sort of thing in

"

A trooper of the 15th Hussars wrote


wet clothes

his

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

134

Some

them were worse. There was an


who gave up his blanket to a
poor devil who had the shivers something awful.
The officer caught pneumonia and died a week later
One night, when it was
at the base hospital.
unusually wet and miserable, and some of us had got
better

off.

the

all

of

the artillery

officer of

humps

that were ever seen on a camel's back,

the assembly sounded, and


night.

We fell in,

"

of the

We

surroundings.

Talk about

We

had

all

West Kent Regiment wrote to

his

get at 'em

A private
brother

'

like

demons.

fever/'

have been

living the life of rabbits,

we burrowed ourselves in trenches at


we remained for over fifty hours.

for

here

exciting

at mid-

glad to have something to take us

away from our miserable


fight ?
Why, we fought
got the

we were paraded

and not unpleasant experience.

and

was an
The burstIt

was continuous, and

it became
One chap used to raise a cheer each
time shrapnel and shell spoke, making such remarks

ing of shells overhead

monotonous.

as

There's another rocket, John.'

Another when
" I can't play

hit in the

"

knee calmly remarked,

now on Christmas Day

for

Maidstone

United."

"If all goes well we are going to have a football match to-morrow, as I have selected a team from
our

lot to

play the Borderers,

ing what they can do."

who

are always swank-

THE TRENCHES

IN
" There's

corporal

of

185

regiment,

that

won't name, that was a ticket collector on

when he was

railway before the war, and

the

back

called

to the colours he wasn't able to forget his old trade.

One day he was in charge of a patrol that surprised a


party of Germans in a wood, and, instead of the
usual
please

'
!

at, for

else ceases to
'

in the trenches
'
!

to set

in fits."

officer

wrote

football match.

"

We did seventy-eight hours on


This morning we had a

Football

is

takes the stiffness out of the

the trenches.

the only thing that

men

after being long in

They are such sportsmen."

Scottish Borderer described

in the following extract

time

amuse

Tickets, please

end in the trenches last spell.

Tickets,

they surrendered at once, but

you have only to shout out

An

'

never hear the end of the story, for

will

when everything
everybody

sang out,

The Germans seemed to understand what

he was driving
that chap

he

surrender,

to

call

life

from a

we played banker with

in the trenches

letter

"To

cigarette cards.

kill

We

become rather like schoolboys over food. One of


our mess had a small tin of biscuits sent through the
post yesterday
youngsters.

when,

like

all

our ancestors,

and woods again.

and

we

at night

crowed over

it

just like

One's joys are of the primitive type

(it

was not

we turn

to live in the fields

padre turned up yesterday,


safe to begin earlier)

we

held

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

136

men

a service at which a great number of our

We are a light-hearted lot and so are our


We dug out for them a kind of a subter-

attended.
officers.

ranean mess-room where they took their meals.

One

fellow decorated

with a few cigarette cards

it

and some pictures he had cut out of a French paper.


Their grub was not exactly what they would get at
the Cecil. A jollier and kinder lot of officers you
would not meet

in a day's

march.

One

officer

who

them

was well

stocked

among

men, and we were able to repay him for

his

his kindness

A number

with

cigarettes

divided

by digging him out from his mess-room.


up the turf, and the roof and

of shells tore

sides collapsed like a castle built of cards, burying

him and two others. They were in a nice pickle, but


we got them out safe and sound. There are apple
trees over our trench, and we have to wait till the
Germans knock them down for us. You ought to see
us scramble down our holes when we hear a shell
coming."

The experience
thus described

of ten

"

We

days

in the trenches

was

dig ourselves deeper and

we are completely sheltered


from above, coming out now and then, when things
are quiet, to cook and eat, making any moves that
deeper into the earth,

may

till

be necessary under cover of darkness.

Am-

munition, food, and drinking water are brought in

by night

the

wounded

are sent

away

to the hospital.

IN

THE TRENCHES

137

We

do not wash, we do not change our clothes we


sleep at odd intervals whenever we can get the chance,
;

and daily we get more accustomed to our lot. It is


rather an odd existence. Little holes dug beneath
the parapet just big enough to sit in are our homes,
with straw and perhaps a sack or two for warmth.
The cold is intense at night, and those good ladies
who have made us woollen caps and comforters have
also, we are getting used to it.
earned our thanks
The coldest moments are those when there is an
alarm of a night attack, and we spring from our
;

sleep to stand shivering behind the parapet peering

over the wall to see our enemies, and firing at the


flashes of their rifles.

It is exciting.

you put as much as your


there

is

little

Every time

finger over

a trench

a hail of bullets."

regiment was in trenches under

fire

and

re-

Two privates noticed that the French


was placed at a spot where the trench
was not wide enough to enable him to make proper

turning

it.

interpreter

use of his
said one,

rifle.

'

The Frenchman

and both

left

isn't comfortable,''

the trench, spade in hand,

knowing well that they were serving the enemy as


targets,

dug out the trench

in front of their

French

comrade, and returned with unbroken calm to their

own

places

and

their rifles.

There was a humorous attempt to be homelike.

sergeant-major by the

name

of

Kenil worth put

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

138

outside his bivouac " Kenil worth Lodge.

men's entrance at the back.

Beware

The dog was picked up at Rouen.


Other shelters were named Hotel

Trades-

of the dog."

Cecil,

Ritz Hotel,

Doux, Villa De Dug Out, etc. Soldiers called


ordinary
trenches, " Little wet homes in a sewer."
the

Billet

H.

Lieut.

R.A.M.C, described

J. S. Shields,

his

experiences in the trenches in a letter to his father.


" The Germans have a battery of four guns six miles
off, firing

a 901b.

shell

very accurately.

terrible bang, a miniature earthquake,

hole 4ft. deep

and

20ft. in circumference.

about 40 within 100 yards


nearest about five yards

christened

You can

'

their

of

eighty

We

had

us this afternoon, the

Two of them have been

off.

Weeping Willy

'

and

Calamity Jane.'

Here comes Jane


respective holes.
As a matter

two

makes a

hear the shell screaming towards you.

With a cry
for

It

and leaves a

of

occasions,

men

when

altogether,

'

all

dive

into

of fact, except

killed

and wounded about

it is less

dangerous than the

it

shrapnel, which hails once or twice an hour.

Two

medical officers have been killed up here, and two


wounded
one had his leg blown off by Jane.'
I make a point of entirely disregarding fire when it
comes to the point of seeing to a wounded man, and
*

pay no attention to

it.

I don't believe precautions,

beyond the ordinary one

of

not exposing yourself

more than can be helped, do any good, and

am

IN
rather a fatalist.
killed

best

THE TRENCHES
After

all, I

always think

doing one's duty one can't help

way of coming to an

am

end.

189

and

it,

one

if

it is

is

the

mentally repeat that

Somehow,
me
killed,
means
to
get
though
I don't feel that God
before I came out I had a conviction I should not
come back alive."
to myself

when

getting plugged at.

Quartermaster-Sergeant

A.

W.

Harrison,

Battalion King's Liverpool Regiment, wrote


course

but

we

am

are ready to

move forward

afraid the first three

No

havoc with one's nerves.

ist

"Of

at short notice,

months have played


description of

mine

could give you even a faint impression of the present

war.

Can you imagine one

for three or four

weeks

living,

in a trench 6ft.

wide, with such cover as one can

branches and a

day

in

day

deep by

out,
3ft.

make with a few

straw, not daring to leave

little

it

except for counter-attack, smuggling in your food and

ammunition under cover

of darkness,

and perhaps

being shelled hours at a time without seeing a single

Fancy not shaving nor even washing for this


If you can imagine all that you will
have just an inkling of what not only the private but
foe

length of time

the officer as well has to undergo.

has never been


Yet, thank

broken.

God

less

Certainly there

than three to one against

us.

the Liverpools' line has never been


Compliments from our General have been

showered on

us,

but

have seen very

little

mention

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

140

Our men laugh and say,


They refer to
What Do you want jam on it ?
the way some of the favourite battalions have been
of us in the British Press.
1

'

lauded for events which have been almost everyday


occurrences with us."

A private of the Royal Scots wrote to his wife


We were thirteen days in the trenches at one place,
:

where we only had to stand up a minute to bring


a battery of

German

artillery

and for hours we had to

lie still

But never mind, the sun

on the top

or be

of

us,

blown to atoms.

will shine again."

A British soldier described in a letter a curious


" While the shells
Sunday morning occurrence
:

were flying we heard the most impressive music.


There were strains

like

hymns, several hundred

We

voices evidently taking part.

not a bar except when a shell


a moment, and then

body

of

we

fell

listened, missing

and deafened us

discovered that

Germans holding some

sort

it

of

for

was a big
Sabbath

festival at the other side of the little village,

hardly

two hundred yards away. One section of them was


the other was singing hymns
and we
firing shells
;

were playing nap


Sergeant

"
!

Harlow,

of

wrote the following in a

the
letter

Connaught Rangers,
:

"

When we

were in

chum of mine, Johnnie Salmon, said


we would be the better of a cup of tea. At the

the trenches a
that

time there was a heavy artillery fusilade from the

IN
enemy's

THE TRENCHES

To make

lines.

141

the tea Salmon had to

The

enter a deserted house close to the trenches.

water in the kettle had reached boiling point, and he

was about to make the tea, when crash came a Jack


Johnson and whipped the roof from the house.
'

'

Fortunately Salmon when he extricated himself from


the debris found he was uninjured, and walking over
to

me

he nonchalantly remarked,

you want

tea,

The next time

Harlow, you can go and make

He was

self.'

lost the tea

'

it

your-

apparently more annoyed at having

than startled at his narrow escape."

Rifleman Edward Strong wrote to his mother


" Since
I

my

served

have had

many

strange jobs, but

ever had anything to equal

when

when

by, and

my

don't think I've

experience last week,

of my chums
was exciting work.

had to mend the boots

trenches under

fire.

It

was heeling one boot a


I

had

to run for

it.

shell

When

in the

Just

dropped near

came back the

boot had disappeared, and you can bet the chap


belonged to was very cross over

him a new

apprenticeship as a bootmaker

it.

I offered

pair of boots from one of the

it

to get

Germans

lying dead over the way, but he wouldn't be pacified.

As you may imagine, there is great difficulty in


work of this kind, but we solve it
by collecting the boots from the dead and cutting
them up for making necessary repairs,"
getting leather for

CHAPTER XVII
Not Downhearted
heavy German fire
would shout, " Are we down" and this would be loudly answered in

Frequently
some

in the midst of a

British joker

hearted

the negative

by

all

tainly that soldier

British soldiers near him.

Cer-

was not downhearted who pasted


and stuck

" Business as Usual " on a biscuit tin,


it

on top

of his trench for the enlightenment of the

enemy.

The Hampshire Regiment, when advancing against


the Germans, sang " Pop goes the Weasel " as each
shell burst.

Another

regiment

went

" Early doors this way.

They were

all

as cheerful as

football match.

One

into

battle

shouting,

Early doors ninepence."


if

they were going to a

soldier said that

wound because he became


when arguing about the

he got his

too excited to take cover


relative qualities of

two

when

were

famous boxers.

Two

soldiers in

the trenches

H2

shells

NOT DOWNHEARTED

143

bursting round

them played marbles with

from a shrapnel

shell.

On

one occasion our men, though being

bullets

fired at

by artillery, were kicking about a football. A


German aviator who observed this sent in a report
that the British forces were thoroughly disorganised

and running about

their post in blind alarm.

Many men remarked

casually in their letters that

the letters were written with bullets and shrapnel

One soldier told his mother that his


was deferred " because the Germans were

flying round.
letter

trying to worry us," but added, "


half the

man who made

seen or heard of a

You

anything.

not believe
I

haven't

complaint of

can't expect a six-course dinner on

active service, but

Do

about our hardships.

stories

we

get plenty to fight on."

Times correspondent told how he asked a

wounded
roadside

who was sitting on the


wound hurt him. He replied, " It's

British soldier
if

his

not that, but I'm blest

if I

haven't lost

my

pipe in

that last charge."

The same correspondent saw a number of British


come to Paris after a " terrible tussle "

soldiers

with the enemy, and said that they looked as

if

they had arrived from a day's holiday on Hampstead

Heath, for though dusty, they were trim and smiling,

and seemed to be

The

excitable

fit

for anything.

Parisians

admired the way Mr.

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

144

Thomas Atkins took everything

a matter of

as

accommodated himself to circumstances.

course and

They shrieked with admiration when they saw two


Highlanders with arms wounded dance a reel on a
railway platform.

In another part of France a train


soldiers

them, "
I

arrived.

Bravo

You

hope that you

sir ?

Frenchman

get used to

it,

but

some

of

have done splendid work,

" replied a gunner, "


for work.

said to

soon get home."

will

warmed up

full of British

It

why

"

Home,

we're just getting

took us a few weeks to

now we

love

and are as

it

fit

as

fiddles."

"

What

Royal

is it like

at the front

Irish Fusiliers

England.

" Well,

" a private of the

was asked

now

it's

in a hospital in

hard to

unless you've been there, but, faith,


try, just to oblige you.

It's

very

tell

I'll

you that

make a good

little different

from

what goes on at home. The day's made up of


grousing and fighting, except that instead of fighting
among ourselves it's the Germans we fight. Maybe
the grousing' s a bit different, too, from what it is in
peace time.

meals aren't

The Englishmen swear most when the


all

they might be, but

the

Scotch

mostly angered because the German


come out and fight so's we can give
them the cold iron. The English don't seem to
mind that so much, so long as they have full stomachs

and the

Irish are

devils won't

NOT DOWNHEARTED
and can keep

firing

and the

big guns

away

"lam

Engineers, wrote

feeling awfully well,

enjoying myself no end.

So

Germans with the

at the

rifles."

Graham Hodson, Royal

Corporal

to his parents

^5

Oh,

downhearted were

a great

it's

and

am
"

life

men

that an officer,
after observing them, said admiringly, " You are a
little

lively lot

his

You

of beggars.

don't seem to realise

we are at war."
One man, however, thought

that

inexperienced a
soldier

who was

on the

line

well to give the

He was

warning.

little

travelling in a train.

where

saw a brand new


to the front,

it

ran parallel with the road he

it

Territorial battalion

He

a wounded
At a point

marching up

stuck his bandaged head out of


? "
The

the door and yelled, " Are you dahn'earted


Terriers,

from the colonel to the smallest drummer,

shouted, " No-o-oh


" Well,

you

"

soon

The wounded man replied,


be when you get in those

will

trenches."

W hen they were


T

being heavily shelled a regiment

shouted to their comrades in some distant trenches,


" Are

we downhearted

"

pause ensued, then a

bloody spectre raised himself from a trench, shouted


"

No

It is

" with a last breath

and

a curious fact in the

fell

Army

the conditions the more cheerful the

everything

is

all

right there

is

back dead.
that the harder

men are.

When

grumbling, but as

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

146

soon as things are bad they

get as

all

happy

as

sandboys.
The " wild pulsation of strife " seems to be a
n
rapture " to some, and that soldier no doubt

meant what he
"

You

said

believe

can't

the Germans.

when he wrote
how happy
as

felt

if

to his parents,

was

were

fighting

a football

in

match."

A wounded
"

You

An

made him wish


everybody

forget all fear,

You

ment.

officer

was a

soldier said that there

tion in battle that

fascina-

to be in one again.
is full

of

excite-

hardly think of your funeral."


wrote,

after

describing

the

terrible

marches our troops had to make in their strategic


retirement

long ordeal came to a sudden end.

"

Our
For reasons we

to the neighbourhood of Paris

could not understand the Germans were retreating

on our

left

and forsaking the tempting

On September

bait

of

we got the order to


advance, and instantly new life flowed into our
It is amazing how speedily we forget our
veins.
fatigue and the mental and physical horrors we
had gone through. Though their feet were sore
and many of them bleeding, the men stepped back
to the Marne singing, 'It's a long, long way to
It's a wrong,
Tipperary,' or the new version,
"
wrong way to tickle Mary.'
Sir Douglas Haig, the General who led so well
Paris.

5th

NOT DOWNHEARTED
in the retreat,

had good reason

for saying,

have had hardish times, but nothing


has surpassed the

by the

troops."

147
"

We

in our history

fine soldierly qualities

displayed

CHAPTER

XVIII

Play and Work


So

well did our soldiers keep

they were always ready for a

engaged in hard work and


instance given

little

play even

fighting.

last cigarette in

done the company


it,

their spirits that

Here

by a Coldstream Guardsman

were down to the

to get

up

for a week.

when
is

an

"

We

a box that had

There was a

fight

but the sergeant-major said we would

have to shoot

for

it

like the King's Prize at Bisley.

was to go to the man hitting most Germans in


fifty shots.
A corporal was sent up a tree to signal
Half the company
hits and misses as best he could.
entered, and the prize was won by a chap who had
It

The runner-up had twenty-two,


and as a sort of consolation prize he was allowed to
sit near while the winner smoked the cigarette.
He said being near the smoke was better than

twenty-three

hits.

nothing."

Seven men
able to

do a

of the Worcestershire

little

when they were


They encountered

business one day

told they could go for a stroll.

Regiment were

PLAY AND WORK

140

a party of Germans, and captured them all without


a shot. It was so simple. " We just covered

firing

them with our

Few

rifles

and they surrendered."

work in time of peace in


the playful spirit which was shown by our soldiers in
the trying experiences of the trenches. This is what
an

of us take our easy

officer

wrote

" For three weeks

we remained near

the Aisne, east of Soissons, taking our turn in the

trenches in shifts of four days and nights with two

We made

days' rest south of the river.

wonderful

trenches.

rabbit warren

The men

and themselves

the most

them the

called

and when the

rabbits,

big guns gave ten seconds' warning they cried out,

Here comes the gamekeeper,' and darted into their


holes."

soldier invalided

home

told of this mixture of

play with work, or of work with play.

my wound

in a fight that

because

in official despatches,

of our

own.

We

attack.

It

you

had some

leisure in

where we used to go

night,

coming back

we were

was a

of revelry
in,

still

got

little affair

call

a night

our position along

little

village near our

for a bit of a lark.

One

were about ten of us

surprised to find a light in an

house, and were

peeped

there

never hear of

was what you might

the Aisne, and there was a


lines

it

will

"

empty farm-

more surprised to

find sounds

coming out through the window.

and there were about

fifty

We

Germans

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

150

drinking and eating and smoking, and generally


trying to look as

time.

we ought to
we were all
fierce

if

they were having a

jolly old

daredevil of an Irishman suggested that


give the
in

Germans a little surprise, and


Doing our best to look

with him.

and create the impression that we had at

least a brigade

behind

without any ceremony.


passage, where
their rifles,

most

we flung open the door


Our first rush was for the

us,

of the

Germans had stacked

and from there we were able to cover

the largest party in any one room.

They were

so

taken aback that they made very little resistance.


The only chap who showed any fight was a big
fellow, who had good reason to fear us, for he had
escaped the day before after being arrested as a
spy.
He whipped out a revolver, and some of his
chums drew swords, but we fired into them, and
they threw up their hands, after one had sent a
revolver

them up

bullet

through

my

arm.

securely, collected all the

We

fastened

smokes and grub

they had not touched, and marched them

off

to the

camp."

soldier

wrote

" One day last week

the move, and were about as

we were on
hungry as men could

when we came on a party of Uhlans just about


to sit down to a dinner, which had been prepared
for them at a big house.
They looked as if they
had had too much of a good time lately, and wanted
be,

PLAY AND WORK


thinning down, so

we took them

151

prisoners,

and

let

them watch us enjoying their dinner. They didn't


and one of them muttered something
about an English pig. The baby of the troop asked
like it at all,

but he wasn't

him outside

to settle

having

After the best dinner I've had in

it.

we went round

life

mandeered the

it

with the

fists,

to where the Uhlans

and

supplies,

offered to pay,

the people were so pleased that

we had

my

had combut

got the food

Germans that they wouldn't hear

instead of the

of

payment."

On

another occasion Uhlans were driven out of


" supper

their

room

"

by a small body

of

our

They left a finely-cooked repast of beefand fried potatoes all ready and done

cavalry.

steaks, onions

to a turn, with about fifty bottles of Pilsener lager

which was an acceptable

beer,
It

was

as good as a play

relish.

when some

of our soldiers

were looking at and wishing for walnuts, and a

German
for

shell

came and knocked them

off

the tree

them.

On

another occasion when a German shell had set

some wood on

fire

they cooked their food on the

opportune flame.

bombardier, R.F.A., wrote

to sleep for the pouring rain,


fire

and

Annie Laurie,' and

"

We

were unable

sat at a big

camp

The boys asked me

with hot tea and rum.

to sing

was never

in better

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

152

When

voice.

even the

staff officers,

in the rain to join in.

and
the

officers,

and

who had come

over the

field

They were nearly

Annie Laurie,' after

'

there were

finished

bullet

to a Scot

what

One fellow
Boiled Beef and Carrots,' when a

Marseillaise

was singing

is

all,

Scotch,

all

is

'

to a

came and knocked

Frenchman.
cap

his

An

off.

officer

nearly died of laughing."


" The labour that delights us physics pain," as
the corporal of the Garrison Artillery found, who
" There is something terribly
wrote of his work
:

and every day


some new excitement and experience. I feel

fascinating about this sort of thing,

brings

more the hardened old veteran each day, and don't


care a straw where they send us.

where we

much

are,

but

am proud to

sport as most of them.

may

say

We

not

we have

tell

you

seen as

are being looked

Our officers are all kindness and


consideration. The major is a typical warrior, and
a thorough sport (as you well know). We don't
care where he leads us, we are so fond of him."
When at one place the German searchlights were
after splendidly.

turned on the British lines and an artillery fusillade


began, a

man

of the Middlesex

his

comrade,

in

the limelight."

I say, Bill, it's just like

that

some

of

our

a play an' us

The enemy had not got

range accurately, and so


fire

Regiment shouted to

little

was the

men laughed

the

effect of the

loudly and held

PLAY AND WORK

153

up their caps on the end of their rifles to give the


German gunners " a bit of encouragement."
Rifleman Horace Copley,

Royal

mans have
think

is

King's

The Ger-

just fired over forty shells at

what they

wrote

Such a good joke


There

a line of trenches.

flashing in the sun,

Some

Battalion

ist

Rifles,

and they think

joker has fixed the tin,

is

a biscuit tin

it is

a heliograph.

and they

fired at it all

day yesterday, exploding thousands of pounds' worth


But the tin is still flashing. Ha,
of big shells.

ha!"
If

on

this occasion the failure of the

Germans

caused amusement, on another occasion the success


of our

"

The

war) did the same.


in charge," said a looker-on, " gave

gunners
officer

the order to

(so

fire

hideous

is

and no sooner was

to the gunners,

the order given than

was carried

it

out.

What

made me laugh was every now and then the officer


would say, There are some Germans over there,'
*

and the reply from the gunner was,


I'll

soon have them down,'

the gun, and had

Even out

of

them down

'

All right,

then he started
in

sir,

firing

a few seconds."

the fighting at Mons,

Bandsman

Wall, and others of the Connaught Rangers, got all


the fun of a fair. " We had nothing to do but

shoot the Germans as they


ing dolls

down

came

up, just like knock-

at the fair ground.

are beginning to fancy

Some

of our

men

themselves as marksmen.

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

154
If

they don't hit every time they think they ought

to see a doctor about it."

So playfully did our


a

man had

soldiers take their

work that

a football tied to him as he marched to

battle.

Another could not help writing almost


letter

home

for the
I

in football

European Cup

terms

"

The

all

great

his

match

being played out, and

is still

daresay there's a record gate, though you can't

see the spectators


rules of the
of all their

from the

field.

That's one of the

game when this match is on.


swank the Germans haven't

In spite
scored a

goal yet, and they're simply kicking at the ball any

way

in their blind rage at not being able to score.

Our team is about as fit as you could have them,


and they're all good men, though some of them are
amateurs and the Germans are all
pros.'
The
German forwards are a rotten pack. They have
no dash worth talking about, and they come up
'

the field as though they were going to the funeral


of

their

nearest

and

dearest.

charged they nearly always

fall

When
away on

they

are

to their

backs, and their goalkeeping's about the rottenest

thing you ever set eyes on.

wouldn't give a brass

farthing for their chances of lifting the Cup, and


if

you have any brass

Franco-British team,
that

we haven't time

to spare

who

you can put

it

on the

are scoring goals so fast

to stop

and count them.

The

PLAY AND WORK

155

Kaiser makes a rotten captain for any team, and


it's little

would
his

wonder they are

like to tell

losing.

Most

him what they think

of our side
of

him and

team."

Harold Ashton,

Mr.

The Daily News and

of

Leader, showed to a Horse Artillery gunner a copy


" Where's the sporting news ? "
of that paper.

asked the artilleryman as he glanced over the pages.


" Shot

"

away

What

Arsenal

the

the

in

" exclaimed

Well,

war,"

replied

Tommy,

Mr.

Ashton.

" not a line about

I'm blowed

This

is

war "
!

One day men of the Lincoln Regiment had a


game of football, and French soldiers looked on.
During the game a German aeroplane came over
and dropped a few bombs, but no one was

injured.

The game was stopped and there was a rush for the
rifles.
They fired, but did not succeed in winging
the aeroplane, and a French machine gun was
brought into action. It finished the aeroplane and
the game was continued. The Frenchmen cheered
and

said,

able.

"

You

English are very misunderstand-

Fancy playing

football

are dropping from the skies

The

difficulty

is,

explained, that "

when German bombs

!"

however, as one football devotee

you can never count on getting

your team together.

I was
when
bang
came
men

Only the other day

talking to four of our best

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

156
a big

and when

shell,

see a trace of

them

picked myself up

blown to atoms

I couldn't

like that."

Football is difficult in such circumstances, but think

which enables the men to play

of the spirit

The
heard

way

following

Some

it.

at night

amused those

of our gunners

wandered about

to drop with fatigue.

Then

it

at all

in the trenches

having

until they

who

lost their

were ready

in the darkness they

ran into a detachment of cavalry posted near a

wood.

They could not make out the

colour of their

uniform and feared that they were Germans.


relief

out, "

Their

was great when one of the cavalry shouted


Where the hell do you think you are going

"

" I do not approve of swear words," said


the gunner who related the adventure, " but I was

to

more than glad to hear one then.

It

made us

know that we were with friends."


"

Yarns "

to watch or

There

is

like this are

spun by those who have

who have nothing to do but wait and

always a funny

man

to raise a laugh,

see.

and

not infrequently rival jesters enter into competition.

There are rhymesters, too, and they try to put into


crude verse and apply to a well-known air something that
If

has happened

a private has lost the photograph of the

left

it

girl

he

behind him, he cannot get consolation from

his best friend, for the


of

on the previous day.

and sing about

it.

whole company would hear

PLAY AND WORK


Sometimes

their

work

157

led the troops to a little

bit of sport.
We billeted for two days at a place
two days' march from Belgium and had a pretty
good time bathing and what was most amusing
fishing in a small pond for tiddlers/
I and a chum
went to a woman at a house and, making her understand the best way we could, begged some cotton
and a couple of pins. We had a couple of hours
fishing and captured quite two dozen, although

"

'

before long lots of our chaps caught the complaint

and did the same as we


ment.

did, causing

suppose that French

much amuse-

woman had

to

buy

a new stock of cotton, but she was a good sort and

was as much amused as the

soldiers.*'

CHAPTER XIX
War

as a

It has been said that war

would not play

if

is

Game
a

game

their subjects

at

which kings

were wise, and the

German nation was certainly not wise when it


allowed its Emperor to make war against the world.
Germans, however, do not think of war as a game
at

all,

but as a most

serious,

even moral thing, and

they are indignant with our soldiers for applying to

grim experiences the

its

and
It

common

especially of football.
is

enables

sporting spirit

this

them

Commons

forgive

of its great

our soldiers that

said of the

House

of

" dull

it
was
with some great
The same may be said of war, and our
its dangers and dullness for the sake

that

moments."

of

to fight gamely and to die gamely.

Disraeli (Lord Beaconsfield)

men

terms of sport,

moments.

In one engagement the Royal Highlanders jumped


out of the trenches and charged
kicking

off in

a Cup-tie

final."
158

"as
They

if

they were

commenced

WAR
to shout, "

men

On

AS A

GAME

159

the ball, Highlanders

and " Mark

"

"

They continued yelling to one another


Who
until they had driven the Germans back.
"
"
did
not
have
a
men
your
Mark
that
can say
stimulating effect upon the Highlanders ?
your

"

Dodging

son, R.E., "

shells

far

is

and bullets," wrote Sapper Ander-

more exciting than dodging

foot-

ballers."

subaltern wrote

big picnic

We

" I adore war.

It is like a

have never been so well or so happy.

are enjoying all the benefits of a Continental

holiday.

It

has done

me

a world of good coming

out here."

private of the 3rd Worcester Regiment wrote

" In the trenches the British are excelling themselves as


killing

men

work

of

stamina,

for,

believe me,

Six

men and an

to go into hospital with frostbite, and

not got the circulation back yet.

is

Yet they

perfect murder, in fact.

hardly ever complain.

it

officer

my

feet

had

have

Never mind, we

must keep up our reputation as British soldiers, and


stick it.
The snow has gone again, and it is up to
your neck in

mud

in the trenches.

have had one

or two pack ponies to look after, but I have thrown


up the job, as it was too tame. I prefer being with
the company in the firing line, as I felt lost being

with the transport and no shells flying over

makes you long

for

it.

It

your chums after being with

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

160

them

all

We

the time.

helmets, which are

young

all

over the place."

who had been

officer

German

play football with

fighting ever since

the beginning of the war was ordered a month's


" I've got a month/'
leave for the sake of his health.

he said to a correspondent, " but


be back

shall

in a

andand

week.

rather fancy I

It's fine to

be at home

But when you've once


been in the thick of the game it holds you like a
magnet. I'm only a few miles away from the hot
again

stuff

of

now, but

am

that magnet

going upstairs

all

that.

already beginning to feel the pull

I'm

off

to bed.

Funny

We've been diving

weeks and weeks

rabbit

sensation

into

holes for cots

bed

for

and straw

you are lucky) for counterpanes, and the only


chambermaids we've had to knock us up in the
(if

morning have been the 12

Some

of

our

battle of Mons.

men were

Good-night

lb. shells.

defending a

cafe*

"
!

at the

In the cafe there was an automatic

saw the enemy coming one


" Put a penny in the slot,
soldier said to another
Jack, and give them some music to dance to." So

piano,

and when they

first
:

every time there was a German attack after that the


"

band " struck up.

declared, as though
of

game they had

it

They fought, eye-witnesses


was a new and delightful kind

discovered.

Lieutenant C. A. E. Chudleigh,

with the Indian Force, says in a

who

letter

"

is

serving

One usually

WAR

GAME

AS A

161

spends most of one's slack hours in

terrific efforts

and

to dig oneself out of several layers of grime,

cold water out of a ditch.


I

it

a job, too, with nothing but scrubbing soap and

is

expect, but

it isn't

one thing we are getting

bad as

No

to

and

it,

I really

if

becomes

spirit it really

rotting

For

sounds.

it

used

so

approached in the true holiday


quite a sort of picnic.

sounds awful to you

It

really as

have

we have
many jolly

thoroughly enjoyed the last few weeks since

been here.

good laughs

in

don't think

looking back,
search

in

and

people,

It is as

my

think

and now

Speaking

came

times,

life

scenes

shell (he

splendid

my
work

motor-

"I've never really lived

We

to the war.

have to rough
is

laughed

came down about


is

my

in profusion.

of dispatch-riding in the war, a

got through with

This

of

interesting

have found them

but the fun we have

Yesterday a
this)

and

good as a cinematograph."

cyclist said to a reporter,


till

a funny thing that, on

have spent most

excitements

of

have had so

It is

life.

fifty

it

at

simply gorgeous.

much when he

said

yards from me, but

dispatches without a scratch.


for

the nut

who wants an

outlet for his high spirits."

And

our Indian troops get equal enjoyment from

the game.

dusky warrior being asked how he

liked being in action replied,


beautiful, but this one

is

" Sahib,

all

wars are

heavenly."

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

162

At the beginning

of winter at the front,

were arranged for leisure days and evenings.

games
There

were to be inter-trench and inter-army football

matches.

pack

of

Hunt Club was formed, and a

Battle

foxhounds brought over from England.

phonograph company sent songs, which, with the

aid of field telephones, could be " turned on " to

any trench at any time.

We
new

suspect that

chiefly

it is

arrivals at the front

The game must seem

game.

young

who

soldiers

and

think of war as a

to be played out

when

winter days have to be passed in cold wet trenches,

when

when wounds

frost bites,

are inflicted,

Many poor

food and other supplies are delayed.

must echo the sentiment


number who wrote at the end
soldiers

must admit that


comes.

At

shall

ness of

The

it I

shall

of

one of their

of

letter,

" I

not be sorry when peace

A little of the game

first it is interesting,

when

of

war goes a long way.

but the horror and

foolish-

never get over."

following extract from a letter of a young

officer to his

parents suggests that the pleasures of

war, depending as they do on excitement, are, to say


" People at home, and even
the least, fleeting.
other corps out here, do not realize what the infantry

have to go through.

Such things as many nights

out in the open, rain or no rain, long marches over


roads which have almost become bogs, perhaps no

WAR
food

GAME

163

day, not because the A.S. Corps don't

all

bring

AS A

you have a lot too much


and when you haven't got anything

up, but because

it

to do to eat

it,

We
you are too exhausted to eat it.
manage to keep our spirits up and are quite cheery

to do,

one

feels

feel it is

very

down when one

loses

a pal, but

we

impossible to turn aside the wheels of fate.

So we leave them to

their

behind

rest

us, forget

about them and cheer up."

Another
hell

officer

on earth

this

wrote

" If there

must surely be

the firing-line for four days


three,

and

is

it.

such a thing as
I

have been

in

in the trenches for

just behind in support to-day,

which

isn't

all

day, and you

have to creep into the farthest corner

of the trench

much

better.

They

shell

us nearly

At
present we are holding back thousands compared
to our hundreds. They attacked yesterday and
expecting the infernal things to burst on you.

to-day in masses, but were driven back.

washed or had

mud

my boots

off since I

haven't

got here, and

almost from head to foot, including hair."

am

CHAPTER XX
The Courage that Bears
The

courage that bears and the courage that dares

are really one

At a

and the same.

certain period of the night

ingly important that the

it

became exceed-

enemy should have no

indication of the position of a detachment of British

had been moved up towards him.


Unhappily a stray shot shattered an arm of one of
infantry which

our men.

In his agony the poor fellow allowed

Next moment,

a cry to escape him.


of turf

seizing a piece

with his uninjured hand he thrust

mouth, where he held

it

in position until

to crawl back through the

it

into his

he was able

lines.

Not less of the courage that bears was shown


by Corporal Lancaster, of the Coldstream Guards.
He received an agonising wound, but was warned
by his comrades that if he groaned he would disclose
their

position

to

the

silence for six hours


If patience is

very brave

Germans.

and then

He endured

died.

a form of courage, those

men were

who went through the days and


164

in

nights of

THE COURAGE THAT BEARS

165

marching that had

to be done during the retreat

after the battle of

Mons.

"

We

were told

if

we

fell out it was at our own risk as we would be captured


by the advancing Germans. My feet were bleeding, the blood coming through the laceholes of my

Even when they were marching men fell


The Army Service Corps had, at times,

boots."
asleep.

work twenty-two hours out

to

of twenty-four to get

food up to the men.

Royal Medical Corps

hospital trains wrote


terrible,

not a

man who worked on

Some

the

of

wounds

but the patients are very plucky.

one carriage

in

"

man

how they

were.

could move, was,

our wounds are going on

where they

fell

The

We're

'

on wet ground

of artillery

A man whose

nose had been hit said that


big.

for

starting,

'

Buck

it

they
fire.

always

chap who had been wounded

twenty-five times, said to a

was

chum,

few had lain

had been too

asked

though

for four days, as

away because

could not be taken

all right,

fine.'

reply,

are

up, Jack,
"

chum when
I'll

meet you

the train
in Berlin

Christmas dinner.'

who have

wounds often speak


mere scratches." They are plucky
of them as
and do not want to annoy other people. If indeed
they groaned and whimpered they would be told
by their comrades to " shut up " and " make less
Soldiers

got bad

row."

friend of the writer

who

is

a Chaplain to

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

166

the Forces, speaking of the

wrote

wounded

would not have conceived

after a battle,

" But, oh, the patient endurance of these


it

men.

possible that they

should have borne what they did bear so absolutely

without complaint

nay, not only without complaint

or murmuring, but with an unaffected gratefulness


for not being worse,

They

get their

and

wounds

for

having escaped at

all.

dressed, take chloroform,

give consent to have their limbs amputated just


as

if

they were going to have their hair cut."

Give them a cigarette and

let

them

grip the

operating table, and they will stick anything until

they practically collapse," wrote Corporal Stewart,


R.A.M.C., in a letter from the front referring to the
British

wounded.

private of the Royal Munster Fusiliers did not

mind a shrapnel wound in his left arm, but deeply


repined that it had taken off a tattooed butterfly,
which had long been his pride and joy. He consoled
himself with the elaborate tattoos on the other arm
" But the loike of that butterfly I shall niver see
agin," was his sad reflection.

"

What gets over me," a soldier who had been


shot in the foot remarked, " is how it ain't done
"
more damage to my boot
!

And wounded
attention that

soldiers are
is

who was brought

most grateful

shown to them.
into

An

for

any

Irishman

a hospital a mere wreck,

THE COURAGE THAT BEARS


after being washed,

167

shaved and put between sheets

told his nurse that he could not " sleep for comfort,"

and then asked, "

How

what you have done

can

for

ing for you, for there

is

me

thank you enough

for

There's no use pray-

a place in Heaven reserved

for the likes of you."

Of a nurse

in a

French hospital, which was a

church, a British soldier wrote

"If ever anyone

deserved a front seat in Heaven she did.


bless her

She has the prayers and

the remnants

of

Fourth

the

God

the love

all

Division can

give

her."

How

Ruskin would have appreciated the gratitude

man

of a

ghastly

wounds

in his breast,

booked through.
edition

of

He was

Ruskin's

'

it

and

"He

of

thought he was

Wild

immensely.

with him for a few minutes he told

book had been

his

companion

had two

quietly reading a

Crown

seemed to be enjoying

little

whom

of the Lancashire Fusiliers of

sergeant of the 5th Lancers wrote

all

little

Olive,'

and

As

me

that this

chatted

through, and

when he died he wanted it to be buried with him.


His end came next day, and we buried the book with

that

him."

War

is

always

not

exciting,

monotonous, tedious and painful.


as in the day's work.
trouble,

most

of

but

frequently

All this

is

taken

" Sore feet are the great

us being a bit lame.

We

also

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

168

and lying so much on

get sore hips from sleeping

the

ground.

But

The

funkers.

first

imagine

don't

we were

time

there

in action

are

most

of

us were a bit trembly, but soon the nerves got in

hand, and our

officers

hadn't

Steady, boys.'

What

gets at

'

much
you

is

use for their

not being able

to come to close quarters and fight man to man.


As a fact, we see very little of the enemy, but blaze

away

at the given range

and

and only know by the

trust to

Providence.

own
ambulance men

For that matter we see very

little of

our

fellows,

passing

what regiments are near us.


For hours we stick on one spot, and see nothing but
smoke, and something like a football crowd swaying half a mile off. Our grub department works
through our

well, as

lines

we have not moved very

rapidly, but

it

sometimes happens that outlying companies, and


even regiments,

lose

touch of their kitchens for a

There has been some trouble

day or even more.


caused by one

manoeuvres.

to

win the game."

of the 3rd

Hussars wrote

That's the

One
here

is

doesn't
in the

is

It is all

way

the rations meant for


bound to happen, even on
Keep smiling.
in a lifetime.

lot collaring

another, but that

very

stiff;

in

fact,

come anywhere near

"
:

The work out

the Shop Hours Act


it.

We

go out early

morning and about the following week we

think of coming in for a sleep.

You would be

THE COURAGE THAT BEARS


surprised

if

you were

to see

how

169

cheerful

all

our

troops are."

soldier

wrote to his wife

gone through
shall

if

ever get

" After what I have

home from

the war

never grumble at meals or care where

I sleep."

Surely the thought of the hardships and wounds

which our soldiers bore so bravely should cure our


" nerves " and give us a little of their courage to
bear.

Writing from an ambulance, Percy Higgins, of the

Royal Medical Corps, said

"It

is

surprising to

me

anybody should ever complain of ordinary


aches and pains when you see men here with legs
and parts of their bodies plastered up in plaster of
paris, quietly reading and telling you they feel
that

grand."

CHAPTER XXI
In a Military Hospital

When
of

there

is

war a military hospital


but the heroism

miseries,

its

On

them.

the

greatly

mitigates

soldiers

show the courage that

a microcosm

our soldiers

field

dares,

they are brought into hospital

they have

is

of

is

it

of

battle

and when
found that

also the courage that bears.

" It's a treat," wrote a R.A.M.C. man, " to see

the

'

Tommies

dressed.

You may

are feeling pain,


trifle,'

when

'

wounds

their

ask them twenty times

and they

will

say

'

being

are

No,' or

'

if

they

Only a

until at last they collapse."

The

self-forgetfulness of

sublime.

Writing

of

some

patients

wounded is
who had passed

of the

Hospital 5th Division,


" We had one
in France, Dr. Ludwig Tasker said

through No.

14

Clearing

poor fellow whose tongue was actually on his neck,


as the result of having had his

left

Of course, he could not speak, and


from him,
on

it

gave him a sheet

was that

his captain

170

off.

when, at a sign

of paper, all

was worthy

Cross."

jaw blown

he wrote

of the Victoria

IN A MILITARY HOSPITAL

When

171

Private H. S. Funnell, of the 2nd Sussex

Regiment, died in a French Military Hospital, a


nurse wrote this to his wife

"

Your husband was

apparently thinking about the battle a good deal,


the last he called out

for quite at

boys, at 'em again.

hundred

or

Last

The good

man

medical

mind

don't

one.

to

Good-bye, lads.

'
:

Come

I'm

fight.

with

serving

grand

is

R.A.M.C.

the

He was

peppered

lay on the table,

he

said,

we

'

all
'

got three

over,

and

I said

damned

him,

I said to

and he

said,

dressed

him

Why

him

to

you

to
'

said,
1

the name
Shells.

did you try to stop three

We

in the head, the back, the right shoulder

Are you

hit

anywhere

Well, I think there are

leg,

and

couldn't get out of the way.'

as he
'

German

and the buttock, mostly nasty wounds.


'

Our

night.

last

coal-boxes

give to the big Black Maria


'

in

What happened

"

was one

There

fellow.

manbrought

and Derby

Notts

done.

old Sussex."

at the front, in a letter to a friend, said

Tommy

on,

they are six

if

else ?
and he
two or three on my

but they don't matter.

cigarette

used to

this.

'

Will you give

gave him one, and he

I'm a

in pit accidents,

Then

'

collier,

and

said,

said,

right

me
'

I'm

I've been twice

but I'd sooner go through those

than run up against another coal-box.' "

To have been wounded

in eleven

places

is

the

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

172

remarkable record

of

Private E. Johnson, of the

now

Yorkshire Light Infantry,

Duchess

in the

Westminster's Hospital at La Toquet.


his wife in a letter that

that nearly

and thinking
nearly breaks
Violet

he has pains

make him mad

my

but never mind,

let

in the

head

but forgetting himself

heart to think

and Bessie and

tells

children he continues

of his

Lillie

of

He

"It

cannot send

little

something for Christmas

us hope

we

shall live for

another

Christmas."

who had been maimed

Highlander

asked afterwards in Hospital

for life

was

he regretted becoming

if

He replied, " No, because I've had a good


home and a man with a good home should fight for it."
An English artilleryman, who before the war
a soldier.

was a

professional footballer in the

died

in

hospital.

amputation

of

He had

both

legs.

North

previously

Up

of

England,

undergone

to the end he chatted

who had come to solace his last


The dying man, who in his time had

with two visitors

moments.

been a great centre forward, told them he did not


fancy living with his two legs

off

while

all

the other

" boys " were out playing, but declared he would

not have missed the excitement of the last battle


for anything.

Refusing grapes and chocolate, he

took a cigarette and said


papers with you
football

news before

"

Have you any news-

should like to glance over the

I
I

pass out."

IN A MILITARY HOSPITAL
There

an

is

Welsh

irrepressible

Stanley Hospital, Liverpool,


" the Joker of the Regiment."

wounds, and yet he

bullet

173
the

Fusilier at

who is known as
He has three bad

as cheerful as a lion

is

comique, and keeps his fellows as cheerful as children


at a circus.

After telling his mother in a letter that he was


" This
:

" in dock for repairs," a soldier continued


leaves

me

good-bye,

with a smile on
lest

we

my

only

face,

I'll

say

should never meet again."

Rifleman P. King, 2nd Battalion King's Royal


Rifles,
I

wrote from Portsmouth Hospital

have been home

have had a

now one

4 inches below the knee, so


will last twice as long,

boot to clean

So

them

it is

as I shall only have one

that the brave spirit of our soldiers enables

off

hand

of

at the battle

For some time after being admitted to

hospital he

How

amputated

tin of blacking

to joke even at serious wounds.

Mons.

" Since

"

a Royal Irish Rifleman was shot


of

leg

was very despondent about

could he

earn his living

he broke out with a laugh.

his future.

One day, however,

" If

all else fails,

I'll

get a job as a shorthand writer."

Another Highlander, with arm terribly shattered

by a

shell, said

"I

be

will

taxi doors in the Strand

first-rate for

lucky

it

was

opening

my

left

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

174

soldier told a reporter this

about a wounded

When brought to hospital he began


and those who had picked him up at great

Highlander.
to swear,

him that this was a strange

risk told

to

men who had most

likely

sort of gratitude

saved his

"

life.

you have, and maybe you haven't saved


he said

in his dogged,

onnything aboot that


is

what did ye dae

me wee

wi'

life,"

saying

want to hear

cap.

It's loast, it

but what

my

A'm no

me

ain

times a good soldier dislikes to go

to

but especially so on active service.

He

hae tee pay for anither oot

an' A' 11

is,

"

dour way.

Maybe

o'

pocket."

At

all

hospital

wants to do

all

he can for his country and he dreads

to be suspected of " skrimshanking."

ance of Colonel Loring,


Battalion

of

the

who commanded

reluct-

the second

Royal Warwickshires, to go to

hospital caused his death, which

Wounded

the Army.

The

in a foot

was a great

loss to

by a shrapnel

bullet

he refused to go to hospital, had his foot bound up


in a puttee
his

men on

spicuous

when unable
horseback.

mark

for

to wear a boot

This

and

made him a

led

con-

after two
him he was himself

sharpshooters, and

chargers had been killed under


shot dead.

Great courage

men

is

shown by

orderlies

and ambulance

connected with a military hospital.

the danger of catching infectious diseases

There

is

and the

IN

A MILITARY HOSPITAL

175

danger of collecting the wounded during and after


a battle.

For ambulance men there

is

ment, or the stimulus of " hitting back "


often get hit themselves.

no
;

excite-

yet they

CHAPTER XXII
Ready to Return
the letter of an Army Service man
Evening
News. " There was a Guardsprinted in The
I

read

man

in

this

in hospital in

France with

me who had

eight

bullets in him, besides three ugly bayonet wounds.

He had
his

'

the constitution of a horse, and after he had

rattles/ as

he called the

bullets,

taken out he

swore that he would be back before Christmas to


square accounts with the Germans.

was

All he

wanted

to return to the fighting."


"

He

lies

upon

his

bed of pain.

Despite of nurses deft and kind

He

is unhappy
it is plain
That something weighs upon his mind.
Ask him his dearest wish to name,
And, smiling even on the rack,

He

tells,

How

without a trace of shame,

he

is

anxious to get back."

In a half humorous

wounds.

way

They knew from

our soldiers took their


experience,

as a dis-

tinguished officer once said to me, that a battle


176

READY TO RETURN
field is

177

a disagreeable place, but keen soldiers that

they were, they thought that there

was one thing

worse than a battle, and that was not to be in one.

Many
home

soldiers

were quite indignant at being sent

what they

for

" scratches that will

called

heal."

sergeant

was anxious to return

war

to the

because he thought that he ought not to have been

He was

sent

away from

why

for this trifling

it.

hit

by

five bullets,

but

matter should his colonel have

ordered him out of the firing line and into

ambulance
"

an

Men make light of wounds in arms, hands and feet.


They have just earned us a little rest. We shall

soon go back to the trenches again."

A correspondent thus wrote of a second Lieutenant


of the

me
'

Royal Scots

" Only this morning he drew

a picture of war and

upon the novice.

its effect

Imagine your chaps groaning

all

around you, your

best pal shot through the heart at your feet

the

shrapnel

down and stunned


shells

exploding

shrieking,

bodies of
I

and

above

screaming

all

imagine

knocked

was

four times in a few minutes

imagine

men and

houses burning,

by

women

about the place the mangled

and blood, blood, blood.

horses,

suppose I'm chicken-hearted,

but

only

left

school last year.'

"

'

And your wound ?

'

'

Oh,

it's

not

much

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

178
still,

I'm going home

to see

any more

"Two

hours later I saw him leap into a train

labelled

Back

'

Never want

this afternoon.

war.'

'

Where

are

you

to

off

'

asked.

my

Can't bear the idea of

to the front.

regiment being there and

me

loafing about

some

health resort."'

A
this

private of the Royal Sussex Regiment wrote

from a hospital

painful,

but

it

France

in

"

My

soon get better,

will

hand

very

is

hope, as they

want us back in the firing line, and every man away


means fifty Germans kept alive and kicking."
Rifleman G. Harper wrote to his brother from a
"A bullet went through
hospital at Paignton
:

the

left side of

my

face, struck

my

teeth, turned

downwards, and just missed the main artery.


surgeon says I am one in a thousand to be
so

it is

better to be born lucky than rich.

think they will


if

I get

a chance

medical

let
I

me

am

go out there after

The
alive,

don't

but

this,

blood again.'
an interviewer, " I am

off after their

officer said to

glad to have been through the hottest part of the


battle of the Aisne,

and

at the hottest corner,

and

only hope to get back in time to see the aftermath.

The

attitude of the

those

who

wounded

those

wonderful, for

all

are not seriously hurt do nothing but

talk about getting well


1

is

Germans.'

"

and having another go

at

READY TO RETURN

179

After our King had visited in an hospital soldiers


sent back from the war the spirit of all the wounded
was voiced by a man who, describing his impression
of the King's visit, said, " He's real human, that's

what he is, and I, for one, shall be glad to go back


and fight for him again."
" So shall I," came in chorus from every bed in
the ward.

corporal of the Coldstream Guards wrote

"

If

you look over the official lists of casualties you will


see that I was killed in action,' so, strictly speaking,
'

ought not to

tell

you anything.

forward to getting back to the


the Germans will find

For bringing

me

fifty-nine

am

looking

and hope

firing line,

a lively corpse."

men

out of action

when

the officers and non-commissioned officers were

all

wounded, T. Burns,

or

killed

of

the

Middlesex

Regiment, was made a King's Corporal.

At the
him between his
eyes and he got a bullet through a thigh and one
through a wrist. Even this was not enough of it.

battle of

"

am

am

Mons a

bit of shell hit

going out again as soon as

am

well.

itching for sweet revenge, or another coconut

game

All

'

shie.

you knock down you have.'

What

"
!

The Morning Post correspondent wrote "

saw a

invalided

three

colonel

yesterday

times.

He had

who has been

seven bullet wounds, and had lost

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

180

two toes by a shell. The last time he was wounded,


though he lay exposed to a murderous fire, he
ordered

away

When

him.

all

rash attempts of his

his

last

men

to succour

wounds were healed in an


was so anxious

hospital in the South of France he

to return to duty at the front that the only leave

he asked for was twenty-four hours in Paris to


"

Not that the front


but because being away from it

his wife.

newspaper correspondent

saw a

train full of officers

and

is
is

visit

exactly pleasant,
just impossible."

lately

wrote that he

soldiers leaving

London
"funk

to go back after a few days' leave to their

holes " at the front.

"

They were," he

wrote, " as

cheerful as boys off to the seaside for a holiday."

Probably, however, some of our soldiers are not

now

as ready to return to the

war as they were when

less about it.


They have no
wade knee deep through blood."

they knew

desire again

to "

man who

returned lately to England said

found himself

do with a

me

in a

wounded
when he

comfortable hospital bed, "

rest here until they send for

me

could

to

make

Kaiser."

One

of

the Coldstream Guards,

who had been

invalided home, was asked if he was keen to return.


He replied, " No, I am not a liar or a lunatic, and

only a

liar

or a

madman would

anxious to return to

me

hell.

with a good heart."

say that he was

Still, I'll

go

if

they want

READY TO RETURN
When
is

man

181

has done his " bit " in the war he

sometimes unselfish enough to wish to give some

one

else a chance.

about

Once bitten twice shy

turn

play.

is fair

" Send out the

Army and Navy,


Send out the rank and file,
(Have a banana !)
Send out the brave Territorials,
They easily can run a mile.
(I

don't think

!)

Send out the boys' and the girls' brigade,


They will keep old England free
Send out my mother, my sister, and my brother,
But for goodness' sake don't send me."
:

Many

soldiers

who had

were ready to return to


they should in this

One

way

it.

retired

from the

It does

them

Army

credit that

desire to help their country.

of these heroic volunteers is Piper Findlater.

It will

be remembered that he gained the V.C. at

Dargai in October, 1897, when he continued playing


"

The Cock

o'

the North " after being wounded.

CHAPTER XXIII
Fashions at the Front
Sleeping out
clothes,

new

in the

and our

open

in all weathers is

had

soldiers

to treat themselves to

whenever they could pick them up.

suits

Highlander was rigged out in the boots

infantryman

killed at

the

of a Belgian

Mons, the red trousers

Frenchman, the khaki tunic

of a

Guardsman, and

of a

Glengarry cap of his own corps.

wanted

rough on

to look particularly smart he

When

he

wore a German

cavalryman's cloak.

An

complained that the trousers he

Irish soldier

had got from a dead man were


" I can

them

sit

down

in

my

skin,

tighter than his skin.

but

can't

sit

down

Another said that he bad been

trousers."

almost equally unfortunate.

His nether garments

were so short that they made him " look

blooming boy scout."

trooper

is

like

officer in

the

"

knocked out

is

Army

fit

six of the blighters."

an extract from the


Veterinary Corps
182

reported to have

said that he did not get a pair of Uhlans' boots to

him until he had


The following

in

letter of

an

FASHIONS AT THE FRONT


"

The

When

most curious creature.


gives

away most

marks

done

British soldier has

to the nearest

is

he goes to war he
all

distinguishing

and replaces

loses his hat

girl,

He

all right.

badges and

of his

188

and by not
washing or shaving for a week at a time makes himself look like a tramp or a gipsy, and as unlike a
with a chauffeur's cap or a

it

fighting

The

He

can be.

soldier as

warning

then

felt hat,

without

proceeds to show that he

man

dress

the slightest
the finest

is

in the world."

worn

in the trenches

makes us think

The "Trench Kit

Robinson Crusoe.

of

" consists of a

short greatcoat of goatskin, with the hair outside,

woolly Balaclava caps, and sandbags

straw for the legs and

Rifleman Roberts wrote to his wife


all

got nice fur coats

and they are

Teddy Bears we
'

'

can

all right, I

got a complete change of

tell

new

with

We

have

you.

The Sergeant-major

of

in a letter

the

"A

"

call
I

them

have

underclothing,

swansdown, and nice thick gloves and a

Regiment said

filled

feet.

ist

just
all

scarf."

Leicestershire

barber would do a

roaring trade here, no one having shaved for weeks.

Beards vary according to the age


Mine, for instance,

remember.
writer of
fect

They

is

of the individual.

something to gaze on and

are not

by any means what the

a lady's novelette would describe as a per-

dream."

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

184

In a letter to his mother an


haven't washed for six days at

officer

as

all,

wrote

one water-bottle each day for drink and


don't

know how

To-day

long

had

my

it.

It

could see

cooks with a pair

It

all,

only

and

the teeth split."

all

bullet once did a little hair-cutting.

took the cap of a soldier

off his

head and made a

groove in his hair just like a barber's parting.

who

thought that the German

London

have had a bath.

hair cut
you would faint if you
was done by one of the battery
of very blunt, loose scissors, and an

enormous comb with

A German

since I

it is

"I

we have

fired the shot

All

was a

hairdresser.

A private of the 4th Middlesex Regiment found two


German haversack, and

pieces of scented soap in a

got greatly chaffed for using scented soap on active


service.

The luxury

company

of Berkshires at

wine barrels nearly


the thirsty
officer

of a

full of

bath was indulged


one encampment.

Forty

water were discovered, and

men were about

stopped them.

by a

in

to drink

it

when

" Well," said one, "

not good enough to drink

it'll

do to wash

their
if

in,"

it's

and

with one accord they stripped and jumped into the


barrels

This was told of " wee


Private
Infantry.

T.

McDougall,

Hecky went

Hecky MacAlister

of

into a

the

Highland

burn

"

by

Light

for a swim,

and

suddenly found the attentions of the Germans were

FASHIONS AT THE FRONT


"

directed to him.
is

You know what

185

mark he

a fine

with his red head," says the writer to his corre-

spondent, " and so they just hailed bullets at him."


Hecky, however, " dooked and dooked," and

emerged from

his

bath happy but breathless.

"I happened to find a bit of


looking-glass.
As it was
It made a rare bit of fun.
passed from comrade to comrade we said, Have a
sergeant wrote

'

last

my boy, and bid yourself goodthen Advance


The laugh went round

look at yourself,

'

'

bye.'

and we were
"

One man

all

at

it

again."

of the Life

Guards was very particular

about his appearance (says Trooper Walter Dale,

now

and even in war-time


hand mirror about in order

at Newcastle-upon-Tyne),

always carried a

little

to take occasional peeps at himself to see that


right.

happened to pass him on the

had been badly wounded.

There he

field

was

with the

lay,

glass in his hand, curling his moustache.

all

when he

suppose

he was anxious that when death found him he should


be a credit to a smart regiment.
that time, but the next journey

him
and
'

to hospital.
his glass

quiff

'

was

It

was too

still

had been curled

had to pass on

we intended

late.

to take

He was

clutched in his hand.


till it

dead,

His

was a beauty."

Times correspondent wrote

" Within sight of

the spot where these words are being penned the


chauffeur of the General Staff motor-car

is

completing

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

186 ]
his

morning

and face

After washing hands

the open.

toilet in

in a saucepan,

minus the handle, which

is

balanced on an empty petrol can, he carefully brushes


his hair

with an old nailbrush, using the window of

the car in which he has slept as a looking-glass."

Another

man had

his toilet

completed in a French

any trouble to

hospital without

sent to England because of a

After being

himself.

wound

in his left thigh

he told a friend that his finger nails had been manicured.

" 'Shocking fingers/ the French nurse said,

for a

young man to go about with,' so she brought a


of soapy water and a box of tools and

'

bowl

manicured (that

what she

is

called

it)

my

finger

nails."

corporal of the Coldstream Guards wrote


" There was a chap of the Grenadier Guards
:

was always mighty


and

particular about his appearance,

persisted in wearing a tie

most

a frightful

'

'

This

What

tie is

proceeded to adjust

A
just

rifle fire,

Are you

'

fluster.

No,' he said.

"

the time, whereas

all

of us reduced our needs to the simplest possible.

One day, under heavy


'

who

is it,

he was seen to be in
hit

then

'

he was asked.

'

not straight,' he replied, and

it."

motor-cycle despatch-rider wrote

"I have

had a hot bath and shave, and complete change

of underclothing

glorious feeling,

the shock

and

am

may

kill

glad to say

me, but
I

it is

have by the

FASHIONS AT THE FRONT

187

use of iodoform kept free from vermin, which so

many fellows suffer from


"

hung

my

out here."

shirt out all night to

dry on a tree,"

Army

writes Lance-Corporal Laird, Royal

Medical

"

At daylight I found that a piece of shell


had taken the elbow of it. Good job I wasn't
Corps.

in it."

Some
a

man

of the shirts

wanted washing badly.

busily examining his shirt,

him had he caught many.


reply, " I think there's a

new

draft
shirt

man went

see us as they felt


of

what was

sir,"

to a party.

much safer.

in store for

a gentleman gave

them

was the

come in."
when an Army

We stayed at

"

The inhabitants were

four days.

asked

officer

" Yes,

Fashion demanded a clean


Service Corps

an

Seeing

delighted to

they dream

Little did

later on.

lady and

me and my two mates an invitation

They came down the lines to fetch us.


ourselves up as best we could under the

to tea.

We made

circumstances.

put on a clean

shirt,

We

shaved, and had a regular brush-up.

washed,

arrived at

the house, or rather mansion, and were quite out of


place, as

we thought, walking on

polished

passage, with our big heavy boots.


slide.

We

It

was a

the

perfect

took a seat by a big round table, had

wine, cakes, tea, cigars and cigarettes.

To our

sur-

The
was mayor of
whose husband was with his regiment about

prise, this lady's father

lady,

tiles in

188

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

eleven miles away, sang us two songs in English,


1

The Holy City

treat to

'

and

have one's

cups and saucers.

dream."

'

legs

Killarney.'

It

was a perfect

under a table to drink from

Next day we thought

it

was a

CHAPTER XXIV
Graphic Descriptions

Many

things surprised our soldiers on coming to

France, and they described them with

Speaking

of the

French

" Aren't their trousers baggy


all

the same, though.

paid

They

much humour.

soldiers a sergeant

remarked

They can march

D'you know what they're

get a halfpenny a day,

and they're

paid every five days in a crossed cheque.

Well,

As
sir ?
up they gather round and want
hand. It's as bad as bein' a parlia-

they seem glad to see us, don't they,


soon as ever
to shake

I pull

my

mentary candidate."
This

is

what a

soldier said of the

American Ambu-

when

lance at Neuilly, where he spent four weeks

wounded

"

My

word,

what an

American millionaires to wait on


right, too.

They're a decent

Waited on us 'and

an' foot.

lot,

Had

'ospital.

us.

them

They

did

it

millionaires.

An' the grub

All

French, an' cooked by a real French chef."

Another

soldier

described

French

tobacco

as

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

190
11

something you have to smoke

all

day to get a

smoke."
After his

with the Germans a soldier

first fight

who had been through

the last Boer war, said

" This

like.

is

fighting

tea-party to
sort of hiss,

thunder in

if

you

South Africa was a

it.
The shells go by with a horrible
and then burst with a roar that puts
the shade, and if you are near you

probably lose your head and arms, and various


portions of your anatomy."

Writing of a wound, a sporting soldier said


"

The next day, when

partridge

beginning at home, sure enough

among

man

'

was

winged

over.

"

when the shrapnel came


a motor-'bus and to hit him

said that

seemed as big as

all

shooting

was

the turnips."

Another
it

The

were

shells

like small beer barrels

in the air."

An

Irish

soldier

Kaiser's crush with

the

fear

stoical,

of

death

wrote

"

We

charged

the

a yell that would have put


into

the

heart

of

the

most

and with our bayonets we dug them out

of their trenches,

same as you'd dig bully beef out

of a can."

An

Irish soldier

remarked to an interviewer when

asked what the war was


to talk about.

like

It's fight, an'

" There ain't anything

march, an'

fight again,

with maybe a crack on the 'ead once in a while.

GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS
It is the biggest rifle

meeting

saw Bisley

ever

191

isn't in it."

The
he

rain that

said,

fell

in

September

was so heavy that

it

was

in the trenches,

like as

if

the earth

had been turned upside down and water had been


poured in at the other

side.

Another remark was that he had slept so much


in

odd places that now he thought he could

on a

sleep

clothes-line.

Another

soldier

who

slept

odd places was

in

Lance-Corporal Waller, of the 4th Royal Fusiliers


" I have slept with strange company since I came
out.

One night with sheep, another

in a schoolroom,

once on top of a pigsty, once in a manger, in several


ditches, in a first-class drawing-room, in 4 inches
of snow,

behind the counter of a

and

cafe,

in a

feather bed."

"

A gunner thus described the work of his


We just rained shells on the Germans

were deaf and choking.


position could
finished,

have sold

battery
until

we

don't think a gun on the

we had

for old iron after

and the German gunners would be just


of clothing and bits of accoutrement."

odd pieces

One

of the

Black Watch wrote

a fiendish week of fighting around


to force

our

way

step

by

step.

"

We

have had

We

Every inch we

marched was coloured red with the blood

men and

the Germans.

It

was

had

like passing

of

our

through

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

192

a graveyard where an earthquake had turned

up

all the corpses and left them lying above ground.


As we picked our way through the long lane of dead,
that never seemed to have any turning, we noticed
among them now and then wounded men, who
begged hard for water or some assistance in doing
up their bandages. It was pitiful, and we were so

helpless."

Another

wrote

soldier

"

You can always

tell

Germans who have never been in action against


us before. The ones who know what to expect
come up very gingerly, like men sneaking into the
the

vestry of a church to rob the collection boxes.

The new hands come

across in a fine, jaunty

until they get a volley into them,

stare

up

them.
for

and then they

at the sky to see who's throwing things at

That's the ones

some

way

of

them

who

are able to look up,

are done for,

the sky for the last time.

and have looked

We

at

are showing the

Germans that there are a few goods marked Made


in England.'
Our officers are the real goods, the
very best. If the Germans had been worth their
house-room they would have put an end to the
whole of us at the battle of Mons. They came on
It was
like a swarm of bees, and we did enjoy it.
like firing at a mountain
you could not miss it.
'

Sorry

We are going
my gun ?
What

can't stop to write more.

to business at 7 p.m.

('

Where's

')

GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS
would you

out of the crown jewels in Berlin

like

That's where we are bound

Some

193

soldiers

who had

for."

lost their

regiments gave
" When

Germans

this description of hiding from the

came we endeavoured to escape from our


perilous position, and just outside the door we found
a German sentry. We passed quite close to him,
night

but didn't stop to say


did

can't for the

it I

and then made


lines,

off

'

Good-night.'

me

of

life

tell,

How we

but we did

it,

as we thought towards the British

but to our disgust found we were going right

into the

German

We

lines.

decided, therefore, to

anchor there for the night and get away in the


morning.

We

found

quarters Staff, so that

the

German

was the German Head-

this

we can say we dined with

generals that night, the only difference

being that they were inside and

they were having wines,

and no

we were

outside

and we had swedes

etc.,

etc."

soldier said of a battle that it

was "

like

display of fireworks at the Crystal Palace with the

wounded and dead

left

Last week

out.

we

got

shrapnel for breakfast, dinner, and tea, but the

enemy might have saved

himself the trouble of

dishing out those doses, as they were absolutely


ineffective."

One

men gave a dying German soldier's


" When I was hit
the British Army
N

of our

opinion of

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

194
I

lay for hours on the ground,

and got chummy

who had

got a nasty sabre

with a German chap,

cut in the head as well as a bayonet stab in the


kidneys, and

number was

was

'

He knew

booked through.'

was as cheery

up, but he

his

as though he

He

were at a wedding instead of a funeral.

talked

about the fighting, and dealt out praise and blame


to French,

German, and British

alike.

our Army, and spoke highly of

lot of

He

capacity.

said

it

He

thought

its

fighting

was wonderful the way we

faced odds and difficulties that would have beaten

any other army.


were

'
:

Almost the

words he said

and you deserve to

You'll win this time,

win your

victory, but we'll never forget or forgive,

and some day a new Germany

The

last

will

avenge

'

us.'

following descriptions are from the letters

" Fighting's kindergarten

work comwashed
out trenches night and day with, maybe, not a
chance of getting any more warmth than you can
of soldiers

pared with lying in your

get

damp

from a wax match.

clothes in the

We

were lying

in

the

trenches in the early morning, with chattering teeth,

between which we were muttering prayers


a spoonful of good brandy or
into us,

when

rum

to put

there arose a frightful din

for only

some heat
all

round,

though a team

and the pickets were


of mad bulls was chasing them through the meadows
driven in as

at

home.

'

We're

in

for

it,'

says

to

Tommy

GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS
Gledhill,

my

chum.

here/ said he.


well as brandy,

Anything's better than lying

'

Anyhow,

'

and

195

it'll

it'll

warm

up just as
Germans

us

help a few more

to a place where they'll not be bothered with


"

We have had a lot

Sunday we got
than

but please excuse


time, I can

Three
that

men

my

smells all right.

left

We

strong words.

am

a hurry

my

am

life.

had a

fine

complete with

all

preparing the supper, which


perfectly happy, as this

the proper country for me, and I never


in

less

5th Lancers found a house

in

"I am

cooking pots.

On

a proper Guy Fawkes' turnout."

of the

had been

Nothing

"

lid off will describe it accurately,

you

tell

of fighting since the 5th.

very hot indeed.

it

with the

hell

chills.'

picking

up French

felt

seems
better

all right,

but

have not started eating frogs yet."

One of the Somerset Light Infantry wrote


" I made a pudding for the boys the other day.
I swear it was bullet-proof, but, all the same, it
went down with a little jam."
The following is from a letter written by one of
the Connaught Rangers and printed in The Evening

News

" Sure, and

entirely,
of

and

money.

It

our best time.


rearguard
it

no

all

it

was the grand time we had

wouldn't have missed

it

for lashings

was near to Cambrai when we had


The Germans kept pressing our

the time, and at last

longer, so the

we could stand

word was passed round that

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

196

we were

and on

pressing on

was

until there
like to
*

them

to give

be cut

Rangers

and

hell

murderous

fire

and we were
With that up got the colonel.

at least five to one,

off.

of Connaught,' says he,

Ireland are on

They kept

all.

in spite of our

you

this day,

and

'

the eyes of

all

know you never

could disgrace the old country by letting Germans

beat you while you have arms in your hands and


hearts in your breasts.

and

On, then, and at them,

you don't give them the soundest thrashing

if

me in
And we
what you would know of a

they ever got in their lives you needn't look


the face again in this world or the next.'

went

for

them with

just

prayer to the Blessed Mother of our Lord to be


merciful to the loved ones at

them

We

the fight.

fall in

until they

we should

if

charged through and through

broke and ran

in terror of the hounds.

babies.

home

like frightened hares

They screamed

just like

After that taste of the fighting quality of

the Rangers they never troubled us any more that

them came up, and


managed to cut off half a company of our boys
holding a post on our left. The German officer
day, but next day more of

rushed

off

to

Tim Flanagan,

the biggest caution in

the whole regiment, and called on

the

file

of

men under

his orders.

honour's after talking to in that


in that bold

way

of his.

'

him
'

to surrender

Is it

way

Sure, now,

'

me

your

says Tim,

it's

yourself

GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS
that ought to be surrendering, and

haun,

me

it's

of

will

do you between

word

you, for

I can't tell to

my

ribs

Tim nor any


Germans

it

but

of his

that

get

off

and the Kingdom

was
I

men

gave the

officer

and what happened

to his men,

between

this

Then the German

Heaven.'

you're not

you ill-mannered German omadbe after giving you as much cold

this very minute,

steel as' 11

if

197

after that

just then I got a bullet

can

tell

you that neither

surrendered, nor did the

position

until

pleased

it

the

colonel to order the retirement."

The Connaught Rangers, however, were not the


only soldiers who revelled in a fray. Here is what
even a sensible English soldier wrote in reference
to a battle

smashed

it

knocked

off

Then

"

At 12.30 a
to matchwood.
my head, and

my

rifle

and

next got

my

cap

shell hit

I
I

went to pick

got a bullet in the muscle of

which put

me down

never mind,

my

my

it

for a couple of hours.

dear, I

up.

right arm,

had a good run

for

But,

my

money."

Here

is

a pen picture of part of a battle

were being knocked out

'

Bill,

who had been

round, and wounded were

Frequently one would say to his

crying for help.

neighbour,

all

" Fellows

how's ta gettin' on

'

but

Bill,

as cheery as a cricket just before,

was found to be picked off. Our ranks were so


thinned that by the time we got within charging

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

198

distance of the enemy's trenches

men
and

left for
I

a charge.

thought

had

lost

we had not

sufficient

shell burst close to

both

my

legs.

me,

crawled

number of other
wounded fellows, and one who was not. The latter
was assisting the wounded. Presently some Germans
came up, and ordered the un wounded man to run.
He had not gone 10 yards when they shot him dead.
I thought my time had come, but the Germans
made off. An R.A.M.C. man had his head blown
off while putting wounded men into an ambulance.
I was close to Colonel Knight when he was killed.
His last words were, Never mind me, men
go
on and capture the guns.' The German shrapnel
firing was absolutely deadly."
The effect of searchlights is thus described:
" In the dark the Germans turned on searchlights.
to a haystack, where there were a

'

We

could see them hunting about for someone

to pot at.

Uncanny that was.

To see the blooming

big lane of light working round and round.

was

like a

we heard

monstrous eye, looking


the shells whistle.

for its prey.

And when

weird light came round to us and

we

just as I used to feel

a nipper and woke up and saw a

was a

ghost,

happen next."

the pale,

us up so that

could see each other's faces, Lord,

blood run cold

it

lit

It

Then

light

made my
when I was

it

and thought

and lay there wondering what would

CHAPTER XXV
Unconscious Humorists
It cannot be claimed, perhaps, for any one class of
society that they are
others,

but as soldiers

more humorous than are


live, day and night, in a

crowd, they sharpen each other's wits, and their


training has, or ought to have, the effect of

making

them good observers.


As the British soldier is brave without knowing
so

is

He

he an unconscious humorist.

it,

does not set

up to be that sad thing a " funny man."


Our soldiers began the campaign against Germany
facetiously by printing in chalk on the troop trains
at Boulogne " No-stop run to Berlin."

When

our soldiers come home, you will hear some

wonderful French.

A man

war correspondent to
" I did

into French.

He

looked at

agin, sorr.'

me
I

from Limerick asked a

translate
it

to the best of

very solemnly

did

it

an English sentence

again,

Whisht, hold yer jaw, or be


199

my

then said

ability.
'

Do

it

and he stopped me.

me

soul the guarrd'll

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

200

German spy yer Frinch


"
brought up on th' bottle.'

arrest ye for a

made

an'

is

home-

A bombardier of the Royal Field Artillery wrote

"

One of our fellows thought he would try for


some eggs at a farmhouse. Naturally they couldn't
understand him, so he opened his mouth, rubbed his
stomach,

flapped

doodle-doo

chap

arms and

all sorts of

and

to understand

queer signs the

said,

'

Cock-a-

'

cried,

The eggs came promptly.


get some bread at a farm.

'
!

tried to

had made

his

Another
After he

woman seemed

Oui, oui, M'sieur,' rushed

back into the house and brought back a bundle

hay

There was a

terrific

of

roar of laughter from the

The non-plussed look on the woman's face


fed up
expression on the chap's made a

troops.

and

'

picture."

Private Macnamara, of the Royal Fusiliers, relates that during the fighting

called out to a

we catch you
Fusiliers

company

on the Aisne a German

of Fusiliers

in our barber's

" Wait

till

The

shop in London."

wiped out the German company with the

bayonet, a private shouting

"

You

won't get to

London again."
Another

soldier wrote,

probably joking

"

Our

trenches and the enemy's were only a couple of

hundred yards apart, but we could not get the beggars


to give us a chance to pot them.
out,

'

Waiter

!
'

and up went

five

So at

last I called

heads at once."

UNCONSCIOUS HUMORISTS
At one time, when the German
ticularly

shells

201

were par-

numerous, a private of the ist Duke of

Cornwall's Light Infantry called out, " Fall in here


for

your

pay,

company."

There

was a good

laugh.

Another

shell also

rush to avoid

it,

two

and one actually

When

the

sat

caused a good laugh.


of our

men

upon the

fell

In the

over each other,

shell.

It exploded.

smoke cleared away the man was

dis-

covered to have escaped with very slight injuries to


himself

the great

but his trousers were torn to shreds, to

amusement

of his comrades.

private of the Royal Irish Regiment wrote this


" There's plenty of hard fighting
to his mother
:

coming our way these days, and though we

suffer

we always give them something to let them know that we have not lost our
fighting powers in Paddy's land,' whatever else we
may have lost. You could not help laughing at
some of the tales the German prisoners have about
us.
When they knew they had been captured by an
Irish regiment they wanted to know how it was
we were not at home in the civil war that was going
on.
Says I to one of them that came off with that
blarney in his queer English, This is the only war we
cruelly once in a while,

'

'

know, or want to know, about

and

for the time being,

there's mightily little that's civil


"
are behaving yourselves.'

way you

about

it

or the

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

202
It

was the birthday

of

Pat Ryan, of the Connaught

Rangers, and he thought that he ought to do something to celebrate

went out

Without

it.

anyone, he

of the trenches in the afternoon,

and came

dusk with two big Germans

back

after

How

or where he got

" Sure,

to catch the two.


Sorr," was the

and

surrounded them,

reply.

midst of a bayonet charge an Irish

in the

by

soldier caused laughter

thim German

tow.

in

them nobody knows. The


company asked him how he managed

captain of his

Even

telling

"Look

calling out,

with their backs

divils retratin'

at

facin'

us."

Private William Price, R.A.M.C., wrote

Sunday week about 6 p.m. a

shell (coal

" Last

boxes we

call

them), eight inches wide and four feet long, passed

through the roof and side wall of a barn in which the


bearers sleep, and

fell

into the grounds of the hospital,

where we were having a


God,

didn't

it

the

service

little

explode.

of

of the greatest, for

but, thank

the

and

this

sermon was

subject

was one

Strange to relate,
'

had

Miracles,'

come a

it

little later

there would have been several of us having food and


rest

in

the

The

barn.

smashed

shell

beams, hurling them just where

been

resting.

with a fence.
placed on

it

We
This

buried the
is

shell,

the verse

should

heavy
have

and enclosed

it

we made up and

UNCONSCIOUS HUMORISTS
Sunday, September 27TH,
" Here

lies

203

1914.

a shell of German invention,

To do us great harm was their intention


And in striking a barn it caused great alarm,
;

th Psalm.
While the troops were singing the
But don't be afraid, the danger is o'er
au revoir.'
Still if it goes off we'll say
So now we'll conclude with love and affection,
Sincerely trusting there'll be no resurrection."
;

'

An

Irish soldier told his

they had German

shells

mother
for

in a letter that

breakfast

not

egg

She was not to believe, however, about the

shells.

hardships they had to endure, even from her son.


" I never believe anything I hear and only half of

what

say."

Outside a temporary post


"

We

close

office

from noon to 2 p.m."

was the notice,


Underneath a

joker wrote, " Prussian cannon are requested to do

the same."

The Germans,
to enter a town.

in crushing
It

numbers, were about

was necessary to hold them

back long enough to enable the British troops to


retire

in

good order.

selected for this duty.

handful of Scots were

Sheltered in one of the

first

houses of the village, they kept up a well-sustained


fire

on the enemy, but had to endure themselves a

perfect storm of bullets.

flew in all directions.


bullet

holes.

Already

The

The shattered windows


walls were riddled with

several

of

our

men had

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

204

Suddenly the German

dropped.

enemy were
position,

ensued

fire

ceased

and one

of those silent

the worst

moments

of waiting

While the pause

of all to endure.

lasted,

a Scottish sergeant noticed that our

fortress

was a

On

grocer's shop.

An

few packets of chocolate.

Turning to

the

evidently shifting ground to a better

his

frail

a shelf he found a

idea occurred to him.

men, he held up the packets, saying

"

Whoever bowls his man over gets a piece." The


German fusilade began anew. The Scots, roaring
with laughter at the sergeant's marksmanship prizes,
fired

back as coolly as

at target practice.

if

sergeant, while keeping his

the effect of the

fire

own

rifle

handed over a cake


Alas

He

on the advancing enemy.


M

recorded each successful shot with

marksman.

The

busy, watched

of chocolate

Got him," and

to the winning

there were few prize winners

who

lived to taste their reward.

Here

is

an instance

of

dour Scotch humour.

Two

Highlanders, one bigger than the other, were both

and there was

one refused to entei

it

hit,

The little

only one stretcher available.

and the big one got angry at

the refusal, so raising himself with his unwounded


arm he cried, " You go the noo, Jock, an if you're

not slippy about

it,

you'll

gaur

remember when am a'


wait any longer after that.

ye'll

me

gae ye something

richt again."

British cavalry subaltern

who was

Jock didn't
cut

off

from

UNCONSCIOUS HUMORISTS
his

men

hid in the edge of a

wood by a

205
road.

It

was not long before he saw an unsuspecting armed


German soldier patrolling the road. He could have
shot the

man

without warning, but

would be akin to murder to


In order to
the

instil

little of

affair, therefore,

kill

him

felt

that

it

in cold blood.

the spirit of combat into

he crept out of cover, ran up

behind the " boch," as our Allies would

gave him a ferocious kick.

call

him, and

Instead of showing

fight the startled

and pained German gave a

ran for dear

leaving the subaltern laughing too

life,

yell

and

hard to shoot.
This sort of chivalry, however, had for once to pay
a penalty.

patrol of the Gloucestershire Regi-

ment met two German soldiers looting an orchard.


They did not like to shoot them with their backs
turned, so they shouted to give them a chance of
defending themselves. One of the Germans turned
about and sent a bullet crashing into the brain of
the man who had been the first to suggest that they
should be warned.

Highlander writes home from the war to a

friend that things are going so badly with " our

chum Wilhelm " that " I've bet X


a
new hat that I'll be home by Christmas."
Bets are common in the trenches. Gunners

dear old

wager about the number


the

number

of misses

of their hits, riflemen

by the enemy.

on

soldier told

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

206

a correspondent that they gambled in the trenches

on the next

man

"

to be killed.

draw names and

sweepstake,

always a favourite.

wait

held

One day

get

But

up a

little

There was

not

that

enviable position three times.

my backers

We'd

altogether

disappointed

noticed that a fellow a few

yards away kept on turning round to look at me.

He

did

it

so often that at last I realised with a bit of

a shock that he had drawn

He was

waiting to see

through me.

me

me

in the sweepstake.

tumble down with a bullet

would have been worth

It

15s.

to

him."

Here

is

an extract from a

your request

for

knocked over.
or

letter

a German helmet

off

"I

received

a head

had

Will try to get you a German's ear

some other portable article. I am very fit and


and trying to force British culture on the

well,

Germans.

think

now we have put a spoke

Kaiser's wheel for good,

that

am

have been a small splinter

It is

in the

proud to think

in the spoke."

unlawful to trade with the enemy, but our

soldiers consider that

as

was near,

is

it is

legitimate to play practical

Germans when

jokes on the
ours,

and

sometimes the

so our

men

their trenches are near


case.

beetroot field

carved caricatures of the Kaiser

on beetroot and inside put reports of the


successes in East

then adroitly hurled into

Allies'

The " busts " were


the German trenches.

and West.

UNCONSCIOUS HUMORISTS

207

This sort of pleasantry frequently led to furious

abuse and the

exchange of

liberal

bullets, generally

harmless.

At one place the German trenches were advanced


to within sixty yards of the British
trenches.

The Germans had

fixed

first

line

of

up barbed wire

entanglements, to which they attached here and


there a

number

of

empty jam

way

couples in such a

tins,

arranged in

that on the slightest disturb-

ance they were bound to jangle.

Crawling very

cautiously out in the dead of night, one of our

men

fastened the end of a ball of string to the nearest

point of the barbed wire, and

let

the string run out

as he crawled no less cautiously back again.


first

The

tug at the string when he had regained the

shelter of the British trench started a faint jangling,

which startled the German


duced a fusilade
the clattering

The next proand the Germans blazed away at

jam

tins,

sentries.

while the British roared with

laughter.

For nearly a week a battery


ridge

had been

shelling the

the Germans could not find

of the R.F.A.

on a

enemy's position, and

them

but at

last

they

and made it so hot for a time that the gunners


had temporarily to leave their charges. When darkness fell, however, they removed the guns to a fresh
did,

position on the

left,

but, in order to mislead the

enemy, they rigged up some ploughs and bundles

of

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

208

straw to resemble guns, and

them

left

position.

The

men were

laughing up their sleeve

for the

dummy

ruse

was

in the old

entirely successful,

Germans kept up an

all

incessant

and our

the next day,


fire

upon the

guns.

In one trench, where a German sharpshooter


regularly opened the

day with a shot through a

cer-

by insuring
being waked up for the fighting.
They hung a strip
of metal at the back of the loophole.
The clang of
bullet on metal woke them up
an alarm clock
" made in Germany."
Here is a tale of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
The Germans opposite them get their
tain loophole, the trench

amused

itself

rations

cognac,

bread, and

meat

Thursday, and Saturday night.

every Tuesday,
The Argyll and

Sutherland Highlanders found this out, and regularly

on these nights they did a bayonet attack, and


brought back quite a

lot of grub.

CHAPTER XXVI
Nicknames

The nicknames

that are given in the

what keen observers

soldiers

are.

Army show

The German

howitzer shells are eight to nine inches in calibre,

and on impact they send up columns

On

smoke.

of greasy black

account of this they are irreverently

dubbed " Coal-boxes," " Black Marias,"


Johnsons " by our soldiers.

or " Jack

M
Guns were christened " Black Peter," Stammering Sam," " Jimmy," " The Warbler," " Weeping
Willie."

The German machine gun


penter," " The Gramophone,"

is

"

called "

The CarThe Alarm Clock,"

" Lightning."
" Souvenirs."

Some are called


" Will-o'-the-Wisps "
and " Humming Birds."
Some " Sighing Sarahs," some " Porridge Pots."
All

shells

are

" Woolly Marias " are shells that burst in double


puffs of white woolly smoke.

"

Baby

"

and " Mother

" are far-reaching

209

guns of

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

210

The

ours.

because it takes good


Another gun has the name of

latter is so called

care of our infantry.

"

The Hot Cross Bun " because it is hot, snorts as if


always cross, and takes the bun by its ability to hit
what it is fired at nearly every time.
Bullets are called " Haricot Beans."

This

is

from a

soldier's letter

company has got a


he

isn't

"

chap

in our

ripping cure for neuralgia, but

going to take out a patent, because

and might

risky,

kill

it's

too

He was lying in
mad with pain in
burst close by. He

the patient.

the trenches the other day nearly


his face,

wasn't
for

when

hit,

bit.

German

shell

but the explosion knocked him senseless


'

Me

came round.
1

'

neuralgia's gone,' says he,

And

so's six of

Oh,

cricky,'

says he.

that's

why we

call

Neuralgia Cure.'

the
I

His name's Palmer, and

German

am

when he

your mates,' says we.

shells

now

'

Palmer's

writing this under

fire.

Every now and again a little message from the


Kaiser comes whizzing in this direction, but no
damage is being done, and we don't worry. Bang
!

Another message."

Our
" Old

German General Von Kluck


One O'Clock," partly because of his name and
soldiers called the

partly because his troops nearly always attacked at

that time of the night.

German
the Uhlan

soldiers are

known

Lancers as the "

as " Sausages "

and

Ewe

The

lambs."

NICKNAMES
Kaiser himself
the Weed,"

is

211

no more to our men than " Willie

or " Crazy Bill."

In letters from the front there used to be puzzling


Now we know this is the
references to " Asquiths."

name

for French matches, because you have to


" Wait and see " what happens when you strike one.
German snipers are known as " Little Willies " and

some

of the shells as " Whistling Willies."

The outer

line of trenches,

where the men are

posted at first to draw the German fire, is known as


the " drawing-room," and the inner line, where the
attacks are really met,

The ground

is

called the "reception-room."

at the rear where the

dead are buried

is

the " dormitory."

a " Taube " aeroplane approaches British

When
lines the

men call out

" Here comes a stormy petrol."

Between 9 and 10 p.m. German sharpshooters


came out to fire on any man who exposed

generally

This was called " The good-night kiss."


The emergency ration becomes " The imaginary

himself.

ration."

British soldier

was given by a French-

man a tame rabbit. He kept it in one of the trenches


but called

it

an emergency

ration, because,

fond of his pet, he might one day have to


eat

though
kill

and

it.

Very appropriate

is the football metaphor, which


"
describes spies as
playing off side " and prisoners
as " ordered off the field."

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

212

Metaphor comes

when a man

also from picture houses, and


says that he " has been given a stall for

the pictures "

it is

understood that he has to do duty

during the night in a

rifle-pit close

under the enemy's

line.

Barbed wire entanglements are "


" spiders' webs."

certain village

was

traps " and

called shrapnel village be-

cause the Germans shelled

a chicken.

fly

it all

day and only

killed

CHAPTER XXVII
Tender-Hearted Because Brave
In his farewell advice to the British troops sent to
France, Lord Kitchener told them to be " invariably
courteous,

and kind," and

considerate

they

this

certainly were.

Here

First of all they were kind to each other.


is

tit-bit

from a private

soldier's letter

our chaps got a letter from

had given birth to

twins,

home

and

"

One

of

to say that his wife

just at the time

when

he had cause to be proud of being a father twice

German bullet knocked him out. That was


way of adding to the congratulations that

over, a
their

everybody showered on him.

and there was not one


have gone
Another

of us

It

was hard

who would

in his place."

soldier told with

much sympathy

his

chum immediately

94

have got through without a scratch so

that

after writing to his mother,


far "

was

" I could have cried," he said,

by a bullet.
when I saw the letter."

killed
94

lines,

not rather

In letters from the front


213

many

cases are recorded

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

214

men who have

of

would not accept

lost

their regiments,

shelter or food

but who

from the French

peasantry for fear of getting them into trouble with


the Germans.

We

men
made their faces sad was the instances they
German savagery to the civilian population.

are told that the only thing that put our

out and

saw

of

A man
a

of the

Army

Service Corps wrote

pitiful sight to see the people fleeing

"It was

from their

Our soldiers
were very kind to them, and gave them whatever
they could spare and sometimes more than that.
I saw one young woman trying to reach some fruit
from a tree which was a good way out of her reach.
I went over and gave her some pears which had been
given to me. She ate them rather hurriedly, but
homes carrying

all

they could save.

me

before doing so gave


It

was the tender hearts

as well as their coolness

old

a kiss on both cheeks."

women and

little

of the British soldiers,

and courage, that made the

children take to

them

as they

" Cheer up, mother," one

marched through France.


and another covered a shivering old

soldier shouted,

woman

with his coat.

French woman's clothes

had been taken by the Germans,


his kilt

The

and gave her part

it

so a Highlander tore

for

a covering.

children took hold of the hands of the brave

Allies, or tried to get

of

British sergeant

a ride on their shoulders.

went into a French farm house

TENDER-HEARTED BECAUSE BRAVE


He

by the Germans.

that had been shelled

that

215

found

the family had been killed " except a

all

little

about seven years, and she was just conscious.


Both her legs had been blown away near the knees,
and one of her arms was missing from below the
girl of

The

elbow.
age,

poor,

and

rain

took

moaning

to hold her on

was coming down

off

my

child in

my knee,

and gave me a grateful

into the wreck-

greatcoat and wrapped the


it.

down on

I sat

and she

just

the floor

opened her eyes

Then she moved her


sound arm, and the next thing I found she had lifted
something to my head, and it slipped over my
shoulders.
Her arm dropped. She was dead. She
had given me her rosary. I thought I had a heart of
look.

stone, but I cried like a child that night,

and

wasn't

the only one."

And

our soldiers were most thoughtful about

those belonging to

them whom they had

left at

home.

sergeant thus wrote of a brawny Yorkshireman


who had lost his regiment " His chief grievance was
:

that he had not been able to write and

tell his

where he was and how he was getting on.


sees, lad,'

he remarked

in perfect seriousness,

missus knows that

now and then

more

good

glasses than's

anxious.'
terrifically

'

for

wife

Tha'
'

th'

drink one or two

me, and

she'll

be gettin'

few days before he had been in a

hot engagement, yet the only thing that

worried him was the fear that the

'

missus

'

might

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

216

be anxious about what he called the


lay

teetotal

'

"
'

Private F.

W. Dobson, 2nd Coldstream

wrote this to his wife


" It

with the greatest pleasure that

is

letter, as it is

Guards,

our wedding anniversary

write this

September

we shall spend the next one together.


know by the time you receive this letter

30th. I only hope

You

will

that I have been

honour
fact, I

rades.

It

was

my

from our

really nothing,

officers,

way.

duty to save
but

the congratulations and

forget

my

only

com-

my

never

shall

praise

In

my

realise that it is possible.

chance, and did

an

for the V.C.

never thought would come

do not yet

my

took

recommended

received

comrades, and a Brigadier-

General."

sergeant of the 18th Hussars ended a letter to

his wife with these " home-sick "

cup

of tea with you.

come

in very nice

words

Your worst cup

"

Oh

of tea

for a

would

now."

Private O'Dwer, of the Irish Guards, said in a


letter

from the front to

relief

to hear from you.

his wife
I

was

"It was a great

just

having

my

tea

when I got your letter, and didn't I enjoy


during a
my tea much better. On Tuesday last I escaped by
lull

a miracle from a
It

bomb thrown from an

did no damage, only

ground

just

made a very

aeroplane.

large hole in the

where we were digging trenches."

TENDER-HEARTED BECAUSE BRAVE


Scrawled on the back of this

letter

which appeared

The Evening News, was the following

in

" Darling,

my

We

were completely cut

hope to see you again.

Love to baby and

turn up.

up.

am now

lying in a forest with

and don't know when the ambulance

leg shot off


will

217

It's awful.

all.Jack."

A King's Royal

Rifleman wrote to his wife that the

framed photograph

which was

and

of herself

dreamt

again and was playing with

telling her

some

if it is

Private G. Tomkins, of

ment, wrote this to his


out here,

'

sister

only the Kaiser."

"

Don't dream of home.'

be killed in his next

Tell her I

the Royal Sussex Regi-

a particularly vivid dream of


will

little

was back
Gracie and

stories of the fighting.

her something,

will bring

he

stopped a bullet.

in his breast pocket,

"Last night in the trenches

home

of their children,

We

have a saying

When

man

has

home he knows

that

There was a

man

fight.

awoke the other night from a beautiful


dream. He thought he was back at home on the
conclusion of peace, and he had a great reception
from his wife and two children. The two little ones
were crawling all over him, and laughing with
They were all happy, and the thing was so
delight.
of ours that

vivid that he
to please him.

had to

tell

us

all

Sure enough

about

his

it.

It

number was

seemed
up, for

that afternoon he was struck in the throat with a

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

218

and as he died the only words he uttered

bullet,

were

'
:

my

Oh,

God,

I shall

never see

my

children

again.'

In the trenches on the Aisne after a hard

wounded Seaforth Highlander found one

fight,

the

of

Gloucesters with an unfinished letter in his hand.

was written to

It

and

his wife

It

little girl.

hopefully of the future, and said

spoke

" Tell Annie I

will

be home in time to make her Christmas tree."

He

never got further, for a German shell had laid

him

out.

An

officer of

the Bedfords, while in the trenches,

was opening a parcel and a


in the excitement of the

forgot to take cover

letter

from his

moment

wife,

and

the poor fellow

and he was shot through the

heart.

pathetic incident also occurred in the case of a

private.

He was shot in the chest and the bullet also

passed through a corresponding spot in a photo-

graph of his

A
"

which he carried with him.

wife,

private in the Northumberland Fusiliers wrote

came

across a

against a tree

had placed
as to say

young chap

'

cerned, as I

with his back

dead, and around him

all his letters

sitting

Please post

am

dying.'

hand the photograph

in a circle

and photographs,

as

he

much

these to the people con-

Another chap had

of his wife

Talking one evening at a

and

camp

in his

child."

fire,

a soldier re-

TENDER-HEARTED BECAUSE BRAVE


marked

" I've got four

the eldest,

is

a proper

little

He

chap.

George,

nippers.

little

sent

219

me

a post-

card out here of a black cat and wrote on the back of


'

it

Please stroke the cat every night for luck.'

never forget to do that before

go to sleep."

Our soldiers certainly have domestic affections.


At a parade service near the trenches they were
singing away in fine style
:

"

Can a woman's tender

care

Cease toward the child she bare

The

singers broke

down and

"
?

the lines had to be

left

out.

The

was sent by Private Ingram, 2nd

following

Welsh Regiment, to cheer up

his

mother and en-

courage his brother


" As you say, the Germans do want

we

are

all

trying our best to do

it,

'

too.

boiling,'
I

am

and
glad

Army.
and remember

to hear Arthur [a brother] has joined the

Do

not worry, for

it is all

that a soldier's death


fighting for

my

could have, and

for the best,

is

country
I

am

a glorious one.
is

who

die

the greatest honour I

glad Arthur thinks so too."

In romance and even in history


shines in war,

To

achieves,

it is

who

the lover

who

conquers, whose

deeds of daring save situations at the psychological

moment and

When
war, a

help to win battles and wars.

the Guards were leaving

girl

leaning on the

arm

London

for the

of her soldier lover

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

220
said, "

Keep your pecker

my

he replied, " as needs keep

German

Women

Bill."

keeping up or keeping
"

" Taint me,"

up, Dick."

pecker up, but

have much to do with


soldier's " pecker."

down a

Thy

voice is heard through rolling drums


That beat to battle where he stands
;

Thy face across his fancy


And gives the battle to

conies
his hands."

In a letter from the front, a private of the Leicestershire

Regiment wrote

Berkshires who, like


after a

row with

" There was a chap of the

many more

hit,

me

of the girl

'

the

name

Tell her,' he said,

it

was

At the

his girl.

and had

Aisne he got

'

we hadn't had

if

to explain things to her,

at-homes.

than

Good-bye,

more cold nights


Sergeant E.

at

Mons went

tell

her.

bit for

it I

my

can never see her again

but I'm sure she

had been one

if I

old

should

country.

chap

will

of the stay-

there'll

think

be

me, anyhow.'

no
"

Turner, West Kent Regiment,

wrote to his sweetheart

me

my

in the trenches for

W.

enough to

and ask me to write to

seems awfully hard that

me now

'listed

I'm sorry we had that row, but

for the best, for

better of

had

crossing of the

just breath

not have been able to do


It

of us,

"

The

into one breast

out of the other, and in

its

wounded
pocket and came

bullet that

course passed through

your photo."

A man

said that

when

hit

by a

splinter of shell

TENDER-HEARTED BECAUSE BRAVE

221

he believed half his face had gone, but was now sure
that

when the

bruises

had gone from

his eyes his girl

would recognise him.

A
and

R.F. Artillery gunner wrote


after a

into our

was

It

mad

first

"

harnessed up,

we came

gallop of 2,000 yards or so

We

action.

opened

think everybody realised that

composed

of

flesh

fire

immediately.

camp, except that

just like our practice

targets

we were

firing

at

and blood instead

of

canvas, but having to concentrate our minds on


the working of the guns

it

soon passed

off."

Yes, our soldiers did realise that the


feelings like themselves.

wrote

" Their dead lay so thick at one point in

front of our trenches that

because

across,

enemy had

After a battle a gunner

we

couldn't get our guns

we were squeamish about

riding

over their dead in case there should be wounded

men mixed up with them."


In many letters we read of
when they had not much for

our soldiers giving food

themselves to wounded

Germans.

British officer

who was

being

moved

stretcher with a shattered arm, noticed a

being helped in with a wounded

once got

on

here.

arm and

off

He

The

leg.

off

German
officer at

the stretcher, saying, " Put that


is

hit in the leg

and

am

on a

man

hit in the

able to walk."

Somersetshire

Light

Infantryman

saw

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

222

wounded German in the river Aisne. He dived


in and was bringing him out when a German shell
burst and killed them both.
An Army Chaplain saw an English wounded
soldier lying next a German wounded prisoner who
was shot in both arms the Englishman was holding
a cigarette whilst the German smoked it.
One German gave a gold ring and another his
helmet as souvenirs to two British soldiers who had
given them water and bandaged their wounds.
The German prisoners got quite fond of our
soldiers.
One of them escaped, but returned next
day with eleven others whom he had persuaded to
;

desert.

In a lane through a

wood

at Soissons

a corre-

spondent met two British infantrymen helping a

wounded German towards the

place where they

The German had


been badly hit in the upper part of the body and
again in the thigh. He was in agony and kept

hoped to

find

an ambulance.

protesting under his breath that he could go no

His friendly enemies almost carried him

farther.

between them, and they were talking to him after


this fashion

"

Come on naow,

ol'

pal.

You

ain't

up naow. Almos' there, we are. Jus'


them there trees over there. 'Ere, take a

goin' to give

be'ind

drink

o'

water an' you'll

man, be a sport naow."

feel

better.

Come,

ol*

TENDER-HEARTED BECAUSE BRAVE


The

following

is

from the

letter of

Highland Light Infantry

the

from Mons an artilleryman,

"In

slightly

223

a corporal of
the

retreat

wounded, asked

a German for water, and was refused.

On

the

week the artilleryman recognised the


same German among a party of wounded, whose
Aisne

last

cries for

The

water couldn't be attended to quick enough.

recognition

was mutual,

and the German

stopped his crying, thinking he was sure to be paid

own

The artilleryman took out


it to the German without a word. You never saw anybody look so
shamefaced as that German."
Private Cooley, of the 2nd Connaught Rangers,
Cooley, with a comrade, was left
told this story.
in charge of a German officer and eleven German
privates, who had been found wounded in a cave.
" They asked us, in broken English, for biscuits and
water. We only had eleven biscuits and half a
bottle of water left, and this we divided among
them as best we could. At daybreak the Germans'
shells fell all round the cave, and part of the roof
fell in, while shrapnel came through the opening.
The German officer wanted us to put out a white
flag
but you can guess what reply I made to that.
back

his

in his

coin.

water bottle and handed

Three of the poor devils were suffering from

wounds, and

About

terrible

one died at four o'clock in the afternoon.

six o'clock

it

began to

rain,

and we managed

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

224
to collect

We

enough rain-water to moisten

were Germans.

About

the voice of the officer

we were not
hours

eight o'clock we
who had brought

mouths.

It

was the worst twenty-six


There was a bearer party

A wounded

sorry.

men

had to use

by the

it

for his

own wound was

Without the

one available.

them was
The bandage the

that one of

danger of bleeding to death.

handed

into hospital."

Dublin Fusilier lay for a time among

German wounded and found


Fusilier

recognised

us up, and

have ever spent.

with him, and they took the

in

their

could not help pitying them, although they

the only

slightest hesitation

over to the German, whose

life

he

was saved

application in time of that antiseptic bandage.

Unfortunately that act of


Fusilier his

life,

for

self-sacrifice

cost

the

he developed blood poisoning

through the wound not being bandaged at once,

and was buried a few days later. When the German who had profited by that lad's sacrifice heard
of

like

a baby, and for a while they had

him under
own life.

restraint for fear he should take

it

he cried

to put
his

private of the Coldstream Guards said that

they heard a German

who was

lying on the ground


"
Comrade, comrade
between the lines calling out,

Englander, Englander
our

"

When

men went and brought him

wounds.

night
in.

came two of
He had five

TENDER-HEARTED BECAUSE BRAVE


An

Yorkshire Light Infantry wrote

officer of the

" There

is

of that insensate hatred that

none

We

hears about, out here.

we

do, at

all

is

To

are out to

kill,

any and every opportunity.

done and the battle

universal

'

soldier spirit

some idea

give you

225

over,

is

comes over

'

what

of

and

But,

one
kill

when

the splendid
all

the men.

mean, the other

night four German snipers were shot on our wire.


The next night our men went out and brought one
in who was near and get-at-able and buried him.
They did it with just the same reverence and sadI went
ness as they do to our own dear fellows.
to look at the grave the next morning, and one of

the most uncouth-looking

men

in

my company

had

placed a cross at the head of the grave, and had


written on

it

'

Here

a German,

don't

He

died bravely fighting

For

And under

lies

We

that,

highest effort of

know

his

name,

his Fatherland.'

'

got mitt uns

all

the

men

for a bloodthirsty Briton,

eh

'

at
?

(sic),

that being the

German.

Not bad

Really that shows

the spirit."

The Germans have made


the British soldier, and

kind heart.

An

officer in

several discoveries about

know now

that he has a

the Prussian Guards put

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

226
his

arms round the neck

" Mercy,

officer

of a British officer

Brave men are kind to


were

and

said,

"
!

dumb

animals, and our

veterinary

officer wrote
" Our horses have stood the tough marches with

soldiers

this.

remarkable freedom from lameness and sore backs,

which

is

testimony to the very great consideration

and kindness which the troopers and drivers show


to their dumb friends. I have particularly noticed,
since riding with patrols,

how

anxious the

men have

been after a heavy day in the saddle to feed their

them a rough rub down before


taking a bite or a drink for themselves. They
always dismount and feed them on all occasions
with hay and wheat found on the farms and in
horses and give

stacks in the
"

fields, also

with clover."

A man of the 17th Lancers, who had lost his horse

near Binche in August

last,

had a curious adventure.

In a fight with a patrol of Uhlans he recognised his

mount ridden by a German. The animal recognised him and broke away from the enemy's ranks,
carrying the German rider with him. After the
new master was put out of action there was a joyful
old

scene between the old master and the lost horse."

Writing to his father a trooper in the Royal

Horse Guards speaks

in this

" Dolly goes very well.


corn, so

is

way

of his charger

She doesn't always get

a bit thin. 'Thanks for remembering

my

TENDER-HEARTED BECAUSE BRAVE


best friend.
her,

if

always pinch the smallest thing for

muddy

be only a

it

227

crust.

She greatly

enjoyed the sugar you sent for her."

Trooper
thus

S.

Royal Scots Greys, wrote

Stanley,

"I owe my own

my

whole army to

duty at a lonely
or see anything

spot,

my

and that
I

and though

rushed.

could not hear

got

down and came on a

He had a
meant to get me

in the long grass.

sword bayonet, and evidently


unawares,

of perhaps a

was on outpost

horse kept neighing and betray-

ing signs of restlessness.

German crouching

life

old horse.

and then the post would have been

I didn't

him have a

wait to ask his intentions, but

ticket for another country.

brought his mates down, but

row alarmed the guard and


surprising us.

You

eed that night."

His

let

yells

got away, and the

spoiled their attempt at

bet the old nag had a special

CHAPTER XXVIII
What the French and
After studying our

Belgians Think

soldiers for

a considerable time

a special correspondent of L'Indefiendance wrote


" Tommy
loves to laugh
he has clear
:

'

'

eyes and smokes almost continually a cigarette or

He

a pipe.

is

a sportsman,

who

views war as a

continuation of the sports he practises in peace

No

times.

Tommies

'

it

is

to be nervous.

war were driving

at the beginning of the

a motor-wagon from

Rheims

to

not the way,' someone told them,

If

the reply.

He

is

we meet them we
That

is

'

This

'

the state of

'

Tommy's

will

never loses an opportunity of taking

That doesn't

was

will shoot them,'

convinced that everything

is

towards Amiens

perhaps meet Germans.'

will

matter.

'

They

Amiens.

missed the way, and arrived at Rouen.

you

He
Two

one could be more placid than he.

know what

does not

'

soul.

be

right.

'

un tub

He
'

as

thoroughly as decency permits in the circumstances.

And

for

nothing in the world will he neglect to

WHAT FRENCH AND BELGIANS THINK


shave with care.

Recently there arrived at an

which flew the Red Cross

hotel, over

He had

English soldier.
right hand,

two

He

side.

a piece of

a wounded

went,

first

of

all,

in

shell

the

and one

to the barber's

They pointed
him that the ambulance entrance was at the
I see,' he said,
but I must be shaved

shop on the ground


out to

flag,

bullets in his left shoulder,

in his stomach.

229

floor of the hotel.

'

'

"
first

'

A French officer was also surprised at the extensive


our soldiers
"At Ypres I had the pleasure
making
of
the acquaintance of Tommy Atkins,
whose smart appearance and jovial manner I greatly
toilet of

soldier.
I saw him one
when Taubes were flying
over our heads and dropping bombs not far away.

admired.

He's a perfect

morning making

He

his toilet

and then, with a bucket of hot


water standing on the step of a railway carriage,
washed himself, much soap and rubbing with a
shaved

first,

large towel.

I lost sight of

him

just

when he was

putting his tooth-brush into a pot of paste to clean


his teeth."

The correspondent of the Petit Parisien wrote


that he was impressed by the excellent spirits and
devotion to duty of the British troops, and the
fraternal solicitude of the officers for their

" Ah, those British soldiers


officer.

" In

my

regiment

men.

" exclaimed a

French

you only hear such

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

230

Quel soldats

expressions as

How
and

splendidly they behave

'

sont

lis

superb.'

In their discipline

their respect for their officers they are

mag-

nificent."

The French people were delighted with the size


and with the kilts they wore.
woman shouted out in admiration as they marched

of the Highlanders,

past

" There

go the

women from

hell."

She

thought that was the biggest compliment she could


pay.

The French were

surprised to see our

into battle singing songs

men

going

and playing mouth-organs.

They liked their gaiety and sporting spirit. If they


had understood the words they would have relished in
the following marching song the allusion to the
order for the extermination
French's " contemptible little army "
Kaiser's

of

General

"

What

Wad

ye stop the pipers

Nay, 'tis ower soon


Dance, since ye're dancing, William,
Dance, ye puir loon
!

Dance till ye're dizzy, William,


Dance till ye swoon
Dance till ye're deid, my laddie
!

We

play the tune

"
!

The French must have been astonished at the


when they heard them first

pipes of the Highlanders


at

Boulogne and at the marching song

of the Irish

WHAT FRENCH AND BELGIANS THINK


" It's a long

way to Tipperary,
way to go,
way to Tipperary,

a long

It's
It's

a long

And

the sweetest

Good-bye, Piccadilly

girl I

know.

Farewell, Leicester-square
It's

231

a long, long

my

But

way

to Tipperary,

heart's just there."

For some time about twenty men of the London


Scottish Highlanders did military police
Paris,

and patrolled the

after British soldiers

any reason.

To

streets every

who might be

duty in

day looking

in the city for

the people on the boulevards this

was a popular institution, and they gave loud


Heep heeps " and cheers for old England when
they saw them coming. The kilt of the Highlanders
no doubt had something to do with this admiration,
and the curiosity of the fair sex must have been at
times embarrassing. But the dignified bearing of
patrol

"

the men,

their

genial

and their strict


hand sufficiently ex-

courtesy,

attention to the business in

plained their popularity.

The French

soldiers said that the charges of the

They also
was served,
they had good reason

British cavalry at Lille were marvellous.

admired the way the British

and on one occasion


for doing so.

Their 205th regiment of infantry was

German infantry with machine


One by one the officers fell, and the regiment

almost surrounded by
guns.

at least

artillery

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

232

was

led

by

On

sergeants.

the point of being forced

to surrender they saw, to their immeasurable

relief,

several batteries of the Royal Field Artillery dashing

up behind
So

terrific

across the shell-swept field towards them.

was the German

fire

that

The

it

seemed almost

come

impossible that the guns could

into action.

traces of the horses struck were instantly cut

men jumped

to seize the reins

They swept out

into

when comrades

more extended

fell.

order, wheeled

round, unlimbered, and in a few seconds were shelling


the

German

positions.

In ten minutes the Germans

retreated and the French regiment

The
lets

was saved.

following extract from a letter from the front

us see

one reason

why

British soldiers were

popular in Belgium and France

"

The

last place

we were reserve, and occupied a village. Our company was at an inn. The innkeeper used to get very
nervous when he heard the firing of big guns, and
often asked me confidentially to tell him when I
thought it was necessary for safety to depart. His
wife and family and many of the women of the
village had already gone.
One day we got a little
shrapnel over us, and you should have seen the
excitement everywhere.

and one saw huge


going to safety.

People began to push

carts full of

It

women and

was too much

for

off,

children

Monsieur when

the shells began to burst over the village.

He

solemnly dressed himself in his best, and almost with

WHAT FRENCH AND BELGIANS THINK

233

tears in his eyes entrusted his house to us to be at our

and pushed

disposal,
soldiers

had the run

The

some miles back.

off

of everything in the inn

not

Next day, as things were


Monsieur turned up with a beaming face,

a thing was locked.


quieter,

expecting to find half his things gone

make

it

out as he went up and

He

couldn't

down and found not a

thing touched, and "yet the soldiers had been there


all

the time

Finally he

came

to us

excellent discipline

and expressed

Army and

his entire admiration for the British

the

which prevailed."

W. Green wrote

"

The French girls are


awfully keen about our men, and you should see
them when we arrive in any of the towns. They
come and link arms with us until they are a bloomTrooper

ing nuisance.

It's just

we

goodness of heart, and

don't like to be chivying

them

off,

so they usually

get buttons, badges, or anything they can beg off us


just for a keepsake.

We

couldn't be better thought

of."

How
France

wounded
shown by the

were tended in

well our

soldiers

is

following letter from a

French nurse, who received her training


country

in

this

" Last Sunday I went to see some


lish soldiers at Versailles.

They

wounded Eng-

are nursed in one of

You
and how

the largest and newest hotels there.

should see

how happy and

petted by

jolly

they

are,

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

234

the French people

who go
They

favourites here.

with somebody

who

them and take them


Your soldiers are great
so glad when they meet

to see

tea, grapes, cigarettes, etc.

are

speaks English.

spoke to

them about England and English people, and we


sang English songs
Dolly Gray
and Tommy
Atkins.'
They made some tea and gave some to all

'

'

'

the ladies present."

woman who

French

could speak English said

laughingly to a Highlander, ''If you

you may marry

my

daughter."

that he would do that

have a hair

right

the Kaiser

of William's moustache.

Of a French
soldiers

all

kill

The soldier replied


and that she could

were

whose house four British

lady, at

one of them wrote

billeted,

" She was

wondrous kind, and when we left for the front Madame

and her mother sobbed as

if

we had been

their

own

sons."

Here

is

another

pleased with the

little

way

tribute

" I

am

very

the French have treated us.

They are good-hearted people. Don't matter who


you see out they all salute you, and the ladies bow
"
What more could you wish for ?
to you.
This man went on to say that he was always
addressed as Monsieur

(Why

began to think that he was an

And

not

?)

and that he

officer.

the Belgians also think of the British soldier

as a kind-hearted rescuer.

WHAT FRENCH AND BELGIANS THINK


A

little

girl,

an orphan refugee from Flanders,

was taken and cared

for

by a family

in a

London

In spite of the kindness that encompassed

suburb.
her, she

235

was unhappy and

full of terror.

She

re-

membered the strange people with a strange tongue


who had swept down upon her home in Flanders,
and the brutality and horror that followed

The English

incursion.

whom

with

people

their

she

stayed were kind, but they were strange, and their

tongue was strange, and they

terrified her.

One day

came home. He was in the


New Army, and he wore khaki. At the sight of the

the son of the house

khaki the

about his

little girl

legs,

and

flung herself at the boy, clung

called out " Anglais

She knew now she was

A wounded
woman
the

"
!

safe.

Seaforth Highlander heard that a

was being

Red

shelled

As he

by the Germans.

He

Cross van, rushed in and saved both

mother and child as a


roof.

Anglais

with a newborn baby was in a cottage in a

village that
left

left

shell

another

crashed through the


shell

demolished

the

cottage.

"

have often seen the British

French correspondent, "sharing


starving Belgian refugees.

soldier," says

his breakfast

with

In a corner of the big

courtyard where the British troops are quartered,

saw a little

girl of

English troopers,

ten fast asleep on the straw.

men with

Two

grey hair and moustaches,

THE BRITISH SOLDIER

236

had tenderly covered her up

in

a thick brown

and were watching over her as

rug,

went up and asked them how the

They

there.

told

me

*she slept.

had come

child

as they were returning from

the front after hard fighting they came upon the

Her parents had been shot, and she was alone


the world. At that moment the child woke up,

child.

in

and, seeing a stranger talking to her friends, asked

anxiously

if

he had come to take her away.

don't want to be taken away,' she cried

'

I want
The stranger reassured her, and the
pacified, was soon fast asleep again."
'

to stay here.'
little

one,

No wonder that
"

The Belgians

entered one town

a British

was able

to write

are delighted to see us.


all

As we

the population turned out and

and gave the men

cheered,

officer

cigars

and

cigarettes.

It

was almost embarrassing riding in at the head of the


column

it

was almost

like

a Royal progress.

It is

very extraordinary the faith the Belgians have in


the British Army.

Directly they see any British

troops they seem to think that

all will

go well."

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