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THE GARDEN ISLAND. TUESDAY, DEC. 4. 1917.
THE GLORY OF
Kxtrnot Iroin letter written ty Minor
the Kcv. Stanley r.ishop, 1st North M il
lnnd FioM Amlmhincv, 1. K. F. July
As you know, I can't give you
dates or places or anything but. per
sonal details. For several weeks we
have been getting ready to do some
thing. I have spent a great deal of
my time in the, trendies, getting to
know, the lie of the land, in prepa
ration for what I might have to do.
Then came the day when all the
battle stations had to lx arranged
Wraith specially asked that I might
be allowed to go with the Ambu
lance, after I had begged him to
allow me to stand by them in foul
weather. The General agreed and
said he would be glad to have one
Chaplain right up in case of emer
gency. I worked out a complete
scheme for all emergencies and sub
mitted it to the Division. It was
printed verbatim as a Divisional
oider the same afternoon.
Well we all got into position.
Wraith and I had a hole in the side
of a bank and made it splinter
proof with three layers of sand-bags.
You remember saying that you felt
about ten days ago that something
unusual was going on. It was!
We were hurling tons of shells on
to the German lines and they were
replying. Of course we were right
in front of our foremost batteries
with the infantry, so all our own
shells were roing over us anil the
noise of the shells was terrific. It
seemed to make even thought im
possible.. We were very buy. Then
one morning the boys went over
with the bayonet and shell was let
loose. Every gun the Germans
could find was fired at full speed.
Shells burst everywhere. It was
nothing like a battlefield one reads
about. Altogether the ground we
were, interested in ours and the
enemy si was not twos.iuarenules.l
and over a thousand guns were I
hurling shells on to that small!
space hour after hour until there
was hardly a space of 'ten yards
without a shell hole. Dugouts
were driven in, trees and parts of
houses were flung through the air,
and amid it all the stretcher benrert
were bringing in the desperately
wounded, while the lighter cases
were staggering to the advanced
aid post. First they came in ones
and twos, then in tens, then in a
steady stream until hundreds were
passing through. Those hours arc
a confused nightmare. I remvin
bered seeing the first hatch of forty
walking cases off by the new trench
and then running back to report to
Wraith that they had leen seen
and the trench blown in behind
them making its further use im
possible. I found him cool and
steady, dealing with scores when
there was not room for ones. Then
a race to a battery telephone. Cars!
Right up under cover of the wood '
and we will clear across the open.'
Up they dashed a car at a time. I
remember standing out at a corner,
directing the wounded and the,
bearers to the cars and getting j
them off, four lying and two stand-,
ing or ten standing. Car after car,
while the shrapnel and high ex
plosives burst all round. Heavens!
What a scene. Blood everywhere,
men staggering, men dying and we
stopping our laughter and jokes--think
of it to help some poor
wretch over his last agony. Then
on again swat pouring off one,
but the wounded must be cleared.
That was the one note all through
clear, clear, clear, get them clear.
You know what weather it was.
Hair, face, clothes, no one was
recognisable. Faces twisted with
pain, some dumb, some singing,
some cursing. One lad came in
singing. Wraith took his leg off
above the knee. Quarter of an
hour later I was getting him into a
car. How those drivers and bear
ers worked. The bearers were stng-
gering but wouldn't give in. And
everyone was asking "How is it
going? Aro we through? Is it
true that the Colonel is dead?" and
hero and there men saying ovrr
and over "Where's my brother?
What an inferno! A shell strips
the roof of our shelter, but Wraith
goes on operating, while I,' out
side, stare stupidly as it bursts in
the bank and half blinds me then
laugh half mad, and cheer the boys
on to the car. "This way to Blighty,
lioys any more for the shore
step up 1 step up ! " Men are falling
parched with thirst. Water bottles
arc dry must have more, Buckets
from no where everyone is mad
but everyone is doing the right
thing instinctively. Still they come
and still Wraith and his men oper
ate steadily and coolly, vet not
wasting a second, while we un
skilled ones examine the field
dressings as men come along and
pass them or reject them and turn
them into the "surgery."
A staff officer dashes up has a
look and vanishes. Will they never
stop? Shelling, yes of course they
are shelling, but we were too busy
to talk or think about it. Every
word must be yelled, and even then
it is difficult to hear. Familiar
voices call for a hasty word "Wliere
is it, .old man? Oh! that's a sim
ple bighty-lucky dog. On you go."
Humours begin to filter through.
The cavalry are coming up Rot!
No cavalry could get through here.
But they are they've been seen.
I haven't seen them: besides the
5th are wiped out. The 5th have
takcn the second line and arc rush
ing the 3rd. The 5th have retired
the 5th never started and so on !
I know, every body knows, nothing.
It is getting dark now and must be
tvening. Wo have been at it for
14 hours. The numbers are steadily
growing less. Then it becomes
difficult to fill the cars. Only ones
and twos now. The battle is over!
WJiat has happened? We neither
know or care. The field for the
moment, is clear. "Come and have
! lunch. Wraith, it's ten'thirtv and
bed-time! "But he is already 'lying
in his corner under the bank. I
drop down beside him, and though
the guns thunder on for three hours
we lie there in solid sleep. Then
the second phase begins all over
again will it never end?
Well! It's ended now. Those
who arc lett aro taken out of the
line and replaced by others. Failure!
we didn't break through, but others
have. Our task was beyond us and
the old battalion has been thinned
out to less than half. All the old
faces havo gone Jeffries, worn out
with stretcher carrying, sobs as he
tells me that only six are left from
his platoon. More than half the
officers have gone. But! well all
our dead have lx?cn properly buried
such as are not up against the Ger
man wire. No truce would our
lads have, even to bring in their
dead. Their wounded have been
brought in. in contempt of the ene
my. I have just returned from the old
battalion, now commanded by the
Junior Major with Naylor as second
in command and only one other
captain left. They would go over
the top again to-night if they were
allowed. They are full of fight and
Eor me, I hope to forget all about
their heroism. I have seen and
heard too much, for there is a point
bevond which one's heartstring can
not be wrung.
The General has been so good as
to send for me and thank me for
what I did. I don't know what! I
did. Beyond the carefully thought
out scheme which I am told worked
automatically, all is just a ghastly
nightmare. I know I was doing
something all the time, but just what
I want to forget. I have now had
my boots off and slept in a bed !
What a luxury and a bath! Con
tinental in size, truly, but water
The "glory" of war is a lie spok
en by those who know nothing of
it. It is all hideous squalor suffer-
ing madness. God grant we may
make an end of war this time by
crushing right out that devilish am
bition and lust of power which
brought on this conflict, that our
children may have peace.
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