Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: On the Fringe of the Great Fight
Author: Nasmith, George G. (George Gallie), 1877-1965
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "On the Fringe of the Great Fight" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



       *       *       *       *       *

    +--------------------------------------------------------+
    | Transcriber's Note:                                    |
    |                                                        |
    | Inconsistent hyphenation, and unusual and inconsistent |
    | spelling in the original document has been preserved.  |
    | There are many punctuation confusions and errors in    |
    | this book.                                             |
    |                                                        |
    | There are many obvious typographical errors in this    |
    | book, these have been corrected in this text. For a    |
    | complete list, please see the end of this document.    |
    |                                                        |
    +--------------------------------------------------------+

       *       *       *       *       *



ON THE FRINGE OF THE GREAT FIGHT

    [Illustration: COLONEL GEORGE G. NASMITH, C.M.G.]



                       ON THE FRINGE OF
                       THE GREAT FIGHT

                              By

              COLONEL GEORGE G. NASMITH, C.M.G.



               McCLELLAND, GOODCHILD & STEWART
                 PUBLISHERS :: :: ::  TORONTO



                   COPYRIGHT, CANADA, 1917
           McCLELLAND, GOODCHILD & STEWART, LIMITED
                           TORONTO


                      PRINTED IN CANADA



                              TO
                         MY WAR BRIDE



IN FLANDERS FIELDS


    In Flanders fields the poppies grow,
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place, and in the sky
    The larks still bravely singing fly,
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the dead, short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunsets glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe.
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch: be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies blow
    In Flanders fields.

                    JOHN MACCRAE,
                      (Lt.-Col.)

_By permission of the author._



CONTENTS


                                                        PAGE
PREFACE                                                   xi

CHAPTER I.
ON THE ROAD TO A GREAT ADVENTURE                           1

CHAPTER II.
ON SALISBURY PLAINS                                       11

CHAPTER III.
EARLY WAR DAYS IN LONDON                                  32

CHAPTER IV.
DAYS WHEN THINGS WENT WRONG                               46

CHAPTER V.
THE LOST CANADIAN LABORATORY                              62

CHAPTER VI.
THE DAYS BEFORE YPRES                                     70

CHAPTER VII.
THE SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES                                83

CHAPTER VIII.
THE AFTERMATH OF THE GAS                                 107

CHAPTER IX.
THE MEDICAL ORGANIZATION OF THE BRITISH ARMY             125

CHAPTER X.
KEEPING THE BRITISH SOLDIER FIT                          134

CHAPTER XI.
LABORATORY WORK IN THE FIELD                             152

CHAPTER XII.
SKETCHES FROM A LABORATORY WINDOW                        169

CHAPTER XIII.
PARIS IN WAR TIME                                        189

CHAPTER XIV.
TABLE TALK AT A FLANDERS MESS                            211

CHAPTER XV.
ON THE BELGIAN BORDER                                    230



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


Colonel George G. Nasmith, C.M.G.               Frontispiece

Mechanical Transports in Salisbury Floods                 16

Major-General M.S. Mercer, C.B.                           64

German Barrage Fire at Night                             104

French Soldiers Advancing under Cover of Liquid Fire     176

The Camouflage                                           208

"Home, Sweet Home"--Mud Terrace                          232

British Tanks as Used in the Flanders Offensive          248



PREFACE


On April 22nd, 1915, the writer, in company with Major Rankin, saw the
Germans launch their first gas attack near St. Julien upon the section
of the line held by the French colonial troops and the first Canadian
division.

This book was written primarily for the purpose of recording this as
well as some of the other experiences of the first Canadian division
as seen from the unusual angle of a scientist, in the course of 18,000
miles of travel in the front line area. It had the secondary object of
giving the average reader some insight into what goes on behind the
lines, and the means employed to maintain the health and efficiency of
the British and Canadian soldiers in the field.

No attempt has been made to deal with the work of the real fighting
men on land and in the air; others far better qualified than I are
doing that.

If the book has no other merit, it has, at least, that of being
literally true.



ON THE FRINGE OF THE GREAT FIGHT



CHAPTER I.

ON THE ROAD TO A GREAT ADVENTURE.


It began with a wish. That takes me back to a pleasant day in early
August, 1914, and a verandah at Ravenscrag, Muskoka--a broad, cool,
verandah overlooking dancing dark waters. A light breeze stirred the
leaves and gently wafted to us the smell of the pines and the woods,
mingled with the sweet odours of the scented geranium, verbena, and
nicotine in the rock-girt garden. But my mind was far removed from the
peacefulness of my immediate surroundings: the newspaper I held in my
hand was filled with kaleidoscopic descriptions of the great European
tumult. Unconsciously I voiced aloud the thought that was uppermost in
my mind: "I would gladly give ten years of my life if I could serve my
country in this war." "Do not say that," warned my hostess, looking up
from her magazine, "for everything comes to you on a wish," and
nothing more was said of the matter at the time.

That day was a very quiet one with our little house-party. We made our
usual launch trip through the lakes but nobody talked much. Each was
busy with his own thoughts, wondering what England could do in the
great emergency. Could she, or could she not, save France from the
invading hosts of Germany? And deeper in each mind was the unspoken
fear, "Perhaps it is already too late to save France--perhaps, even
now, the question is 'Can England save herself?'" The great
depression in men's minds during those early days of the war when the
bottom seemed to have dropped out of life and men strove to grasp at
something upon which to reconstruct a new system of thought and life
and work, had enveloped us like a chill evening mist.

Those were ghastly days. While France, Russia and England were
feverishly mobilizing, the brave little force of Belgians was being
steadily rolled up by the perfectly equipped German war machine and
the road to France hourly becoming easier. England had commissioned K.
of K. to gather together a civilian army of three million men, and
Canada had called for one division to be mobilized at Valcartier Camp,
a place somewhere in the Laurentian Hills near the city of Quebec.
Little did any of us dream how prophetic was to be that apparently
chance remark of our hostess. But the first greeting from the maid
when we reached home that evening was, "There is a long distance call
for you, sir." The Minister of Militia had asked me to report in
Ottawa immediately. Next morning I waved my friends, "Au revoir." That
return was far from being as speedy as we expected, for my wish very
shortly came true.

The greeting of the Minister of Militia, Sir Sam Hughes, as he turned
from the desk where he sat in shirt-sleeves, with typewriters on all
sides of him, was a cordial handshake and a slap on the back. Would I
go down to the new camp at Valcartier and look after the purification
of the water supply? I was delighted to get the chance.

A short wait at the office gave me a splendid opportunity of seeing a
military headquarters office in operation. Officers of all ranks, from
Generals to Majors, hurried in one after another to obtain permission
to do this or that; prominent men anxious to do anything they might to
assist in the great crisis, crowded the office. Telephone
conversations, telegrams, cables, interviews, dictation of letters,
reading of letters aloud--to watch or listen to the incessant
commingling of all these, with the Minister of Militia as the centre
of energy, was a unique experience for me. Sir Sam cracked jokes,
dictated letters, swore at the telephone operator, and carried on
conversation with a number of persons--all at the same time. It was a
marvellous demonstration of what a man could do in an emergency, if he
happened to be the right man--the man who not only knew what needed to
be done but had sufficient force of character and driving power to
convert his decisions into practical achievements.

The following night on our return from an inspection of the new camp
at Valcartier I stood near the citadel in Quebec watching the moving
lights on the St. Lawrence far below. As I looked the flashes of a
powerful searchlight swept the river, lighting up the opposite shores
and playing upon the craft in the river. This was the first concrete
evidence I had that our country was at war; it was also a reminder
that there was even a possibility that Quebec might be attacked from
the sea.

Of the growth of that wonderful camp, of our experiences there, of the
training and equipping of 33,000 men, of the struggles for position,
and of the numerous disappointments and bitternesses because all could
not go, I will not here attempt to speak. There was a great deal to do
and to learn and the time passed quickly. It had been decided that I
was to accompany the contingent as adviser in sanitation and in charge
of the water supply, and, despite all delays and disappointments, the
day did finally come when we drove in to Quebec to board our steamer
for England.

At midnight, the Franconia slipped slowly and silently away from the
dock. Only three were there to bid us farewell--a man and two
women,--and though they sang with great enthusiasm, "It's a Long, Long
Way to Tipperary," the effect was melancholy. Imperceptibly the pier
and the lights of the city receded and we steamed on down the mighty
St. Lawrence to our trysting place on the sea. The second morning
afterwards we woke to find ourselves riding quietly at anchor in the
sunny harbour of Gaspé, with all the other transports anchored about
us, together with four long grey gunboats,--our escort upon the road
to our great adventure.

The brilliant afternoon sun of a typical Canadian Autumn day shone
down upon Gaspé basin. Idly we lounged about the decks, gazing at the
shores with their little white fishermen's cottages, or at the thirty
odd troopships, and the four grey gunboats which studded the harbour.
The surface of the water was rippled by a light breeze and all was
quiet and peaceful in the shelter of that sunny haven. Even the gulls,
gorged with the waste food from the ships, swam lazily about or
flapped idly hither and thither.

My gaze had fixed itself upon the nearest of the lean, grey gunboats.
As I watched, the sleeping greyhound seemed to move; in another moment
the seeming illusion gave way to certainty--it _was_ moving; gradually
its pace accelerated and it slipped quietly out toward the open sea. A
second gunboat followed, then a third, all making for the open.
Immediately we were all excitement, for the rumour had been current
that we might be there for several days. But the rumour was speedily
disproved as the rattle of anchor chains became audible from the
transports nearest the harbour mouth, and one by one they followed
their little grey guides; and so, at three of the clock on October the
third, 1914, the First Canadian Contingent with guns, ammunition,
horses and equipment, left Gaspé en route to the great war.

Gradually method evolved itself out of apparent chaos. Three gunboats
took the lead and the transports fell into line about a thousand yards
from one another, so that eventually three lines were formed of about
a dozen in each and the whole fleet moved forward into the Atlantic.
The shores of Gaspé, dotted with white cottages; yellow stubble
fields; hills red and purple with autumnal foliage--these were our
last pictures of Canada--truly the last that many of us were ever to
see, and we looked upon them, our hearts filled with emotions that
these scenes had never given rise to before. Our ruddy Canadian
emblem, the maple leaf, gave its characteristic tinge to the receding
shores--a colour to be seen often on the field of battle, but never in
the foliage of a European landscape.

We were making history; the great epoch-making enterprise of our young
country was taking place--an undertaking that would go down in the
annals of the Empire of Great Britain as a great incident of the
period when the young cubs raced to the assistance of the old lion in
her hour of need--this we realized. And yet it was hard to realize
that we were actually fortunate enough to be taking part in an
expedition, the like of which never was before, and probably never
will be again. Never before had there been gathered together a fleet
of transports of such magnitude--a fleet consisting of 33 transports
carrying 33,000 men, 7,000 horses and all the motors, waggons and
equipment necessary to place in the field not only a complete infantry
division, and a cavalry brigade, but in addition to provide for the
necessary reserves.

At night we steamed along like phantom ships. All windows and port
holes were carefully screened so that one might walk the deck and see
not a single ray of light to reveal the whereabouts of the
accompanying vessels.

Off Newfoundland as our three lines of ships were ploughing along,
about a mile and a half apart, we picked up H.M.S. "Glory" which took
a position about ten miles away on our right. Our ship, the
"Franconia," the flagship of the fleet, had the headquarter staff, the
90th Regiment of Winnipeg, and a number of nurses on board, and she
held place in the centre of the middle line.

How an orderly fleet could be immediately dis-organized was well
demonstrated one morning when our whistle blew sharply several times
"Man Overboard." As we slowed down, with throbbing engines reversed
churning the ocean into foam, we could see the tiny speck (a man's
head) floating by. While our lifeboat was being lowered and the man
was being rescued, the three lines of transports buckled and the ships
see-sawed to right and left in their efforts to avoid collisions.

The man proved to be a painter who, unobserved, had fallen off the
"Royal Edward" in front of us, and but for the vigilance of the
lookout on our ship, would undoubtedly have perished.

There seemed to be about a thousand nurses aboard the Franconia--the
real number was about a hundred but they multiplied by their ubiquity;
they swarmed everywhere; sometimes they filled the lounge so that the
poor Major or Colonel could not get in for his afternoon cup of tea.
The daily lectures for officers, particularly on subjects like
"artillery range finding" had an abnormal fascination for the nurses
while subjects like "the Geneva Convention" and "Hygiene" which they
might have found useful held little attraction for them. Such is the
perversity of the nurse when given the rank of an officer and freed
from all hospital restraint. At the concerts few officers could obtain
seats and a few of us were mean enough to wish that it would get rough
enough to put some of the nurses temporarily down and out. The nurses
were in a doubly fortunate position in that they could demand the
rights of both officers and women, according to which happened to be
advantageous at the moment.

The 90th Regiment "the little black devils" of Winnipeg was a very
fine body of men indeed; they were drilled by the hour on the decks,
and were given lectures. They entertained themselves in their spare
time by getting up boxing bouts and concerts. The antics of a bear cub
and a monkey, the battalion mascots, amused the men for many hours at
a time.

One night the officers gave a dinner party. The first plan was to
invite no nurses at all. Then other counsels prevailed and invitations
were to be given to a limited number. As this would have caused all
sorts of petty jealousies and heart burnings, a compromise was
effected by--asking them all.

The dinner was a great success. An eight-piece band, for which the
instruments had been purchased the day before we left Quebec, had been
practising assiduously on the upper deck for days with effects of a
most weird character, and there made its first public appearance. With
the aid of a pipe band it helped to drown the popping of corks and the
various other noises due to the consumption of many bottles of
champagne and hock. The dinner was followed by a dance and the nurses
were allowed to stay up till midnight instead of being chased to bed
at the usual hour of ten o'clock.

One of the unique and most interesting occasions of the trip was when
the famous battle cruiser, the "Queen Mary" came up about dusk one
evening and ran through our lines amid great excitement. This was the
battle cruiser that had not long before converted the German cruiser
"Emden" into a mass of twisted iron in a few minutes. As she steamed
slowly by she presented one of the finest spectacles I have ever seen.
Somehow nothing in the world looks as efficient for its particular job
as a battle cruiser; it is the personification of power and beauty.

One morning at six o'clock a light was discovered in the distance.
Someone said it was the light-house off Land's End. So it proved. By
eight o'clock we could make out clearly the coast of Cornwall. As the
land grew nearer the famous Eddystone Lighthouse came into view, and,
making a great sweep around it, instead of running for Southampton as
we all had expected, we headed for Plymouth. A number of torpedo
boats, commonly called "Ocean Lice," accompanied us for the last few
miles, as a protection against submarines.

The approach to Plymouth was wonderfully soothing. The hills covered
with beautiful foliage in shades of brown and olive green were a most
restful change from the monotony of the sea. A marked contrast to the
peacefulness of the countryside were the fortifications everywhere
visible commanding the approach to perhaps the most strongly fortified
port in Southern England. With the possible exception of Sydney,
Australia, Plymouth is said to be the most beautiful harbour in the
Empire. One could well believe it.

Tugs puffed out to meet us, pilots climbed aboard, and we slowly
steamed up the long sinuous channel, past Edgecombe to Davenport. All
the warships being built or equipped, the forts, the training ships
and the docks, indeed every point of vantage was thronged with
cheering crowds of people,--civilians, soldiers and sailors. Cheer
after cheer from our Canadian soldiers responded to those from our
English friends as we slowly made our way up the channel. It seemed as
though everybody had gone crazy.

It was a never-to-be-forgotten reception; we felt that we were indeed
a part of the Empire in spirit as well as in name. About three o'clock
we came to anchor, and during the afternoon ship after ship followed
in and anchored alongside. At night we crowded up even closer to give
the late-comers room. For the first time on our trip the vessels were
all brilliantly illuminated, the bands played, the giddy ones danced,
and all were happy to be once again in sight of solid land. At dinner
the commandant, Col. Williams, made a speech and called for three
cheers for our Captain, and never, I suppose, did any other Captain
receive such hearty cheers and such a tremendous "tiger." It was the
culmination of a marvellous and historic trip.

The trip to Salisbury by motor next day was a dream--a dream of hedges
and great trees meeting over-head; of hills and valleys with little
thatched cottages and villages nestling in them, of beautiful estates
and sheep, of quaint old English farms, of ancient towns and villages.
Through Ivy Bridge and Honiton to Exeter, where we stopped to see the
beautiful old Cathedral, so warm and rich in colouring and passing by
one long series of beautiful pictures, in perhaps the most charming
pastoral landscape in the world, we came to the white-scarred edge of
the famous Salisbury Plain.



CHAPTER II.

ON SALISBURY PLAINS.


It was on the 15th of October that we landed in Plymouth. A few days
later the whole of the 33,000 (with the exception of a few errant
knights who had gone off on independent pilgrimages) were more or less
settled on Salisbury Plain. The force was divided into four distinct
camps miles apart. One infantry brigade and the headquarters staff was
stationed at Bustard Camp; one section was camped a couple of miles
away, at West Down South; a third at West Down North still farther
away, and the fourth at Pond Farm about five miles from Bustard.
Convenience of water supplies and arrangements for the administration
of the forces made these divisions necessary.

The plains of Salisbury, ideal for summer military camps, are rolling,
prairie-like lands stretching for miles, broken by a very occasional
farm house or by plantations of trees called "spinneys." A thin layer
of earth and turf covered the chalk which was hundreds of feet in
depth; at any spot a blow with a pick would bring up the white chalk
filled with black flints. The hills by which the plains were reached
rose sharply from the surface of Wiltshire, so that Salisbury Plain
itself could be easily distinguished miles away by the white, water
worn rifts in the hillsides.

When we first arrived the plains gave promise of being a fine camping
ground. Tents were pitched, canteens opened, work was begun and our
boys settled down impatiently to receive the further training
necessary before passing over to that Mecca to which one and all
looked forward--the battle grounds of Flanders.

For a few days all went well; then it began to rain. About the middle
of November it settled down in earnest and rained steadily for a
month; sometimes it merely drizzled, at other times it poured; but it
never stopped, except for an hour or so. The constant tramp of many
feet speedily churned into mud the clay turf overlaying the chalk, and
the rain could not percolate through this mixture as it did the
unbroken sod. In a few days the mud was one inch--four inches--and
even a foot deep. Many a time I waded through mud up to my knees.

The smooth English roads, lacking depth of road-metal, were speedily
torn to pieces by the heavy traffic of motors and steam traction
engines. Passing cars and lorries sprayed the hedges with a thin
mud-emulsion formed from the road binder, and exposed the sharp flints
which, like so much broken glass, tore to pieces the tires of the
motors.

Cold high winds, saturated with moisture, accompanied the rain and
searched one's very marrow. Nothing would exclude these sea breezes
but skin or fur coats, and though accustomed to a severe climate, we
Canadians felt the cold in England as we never had at home. Sometimes
the temperature fell below the freezing point, and occasionally we had
sleet, hail or snow for variety. Tents were often blown down by the
hundreds, and it was a never-to-be-forgotten sight watching a small
army of soldiers trying to hold and pin down some of the large mess
tents, while rope after rope snapped under the straining of the
flapping canvas. One day the post office tent collapsed, and some of
the mail disappeared into the heavens, never to return.

The officers of the headquarter staff were fairly comfortable in
comparison to the others. Our tents were pitched in a quadrangle
formed by four rows of trees and scrub, which had evidently been
planted around the site of a former house and served to break the high
winds. Each officer had a tent with a wooden floor. Mine was carpeted
with an extra blanket to exclude draughts and make it feel comfortable
under one's bare feet in the morning. The tent was heated by an oil
stove which was kept burning night and day; and at night I slept snug
and warm in the interior of a Jaeger sleeping blanket in a Wolseley
kit. My batman, Karner, had made a table from some boxes and boards
which he had picked up, I know not where. It is unwise to ask your
batman too many foolish questions as to the origin of things,--take
what he gives you and be thankful.

This table covered with another blanket, served to support a splendid
brass lamp with a green silk shade, for which I had paid a fabulous
sum in Salisbury town. It also held some books, brushes, and other
necessaries. A shelf underneath displayed a little brass kettle and
other paraphernalia for making tea, while my other books were arranged
in a neat row beneath.

The tents were wet all the time, and the clothes and blankets of the
men soon became water soaked and remained so for weeks at a stretch
for they had no stoves or other facilities for drying them. But Tommy,
the resourceful, learned that he could get warm by the simple process
of wrapping himself up in wet blankets and steaming as he would in a
Turkish bath,--with himself as the heater. He also discovered that a
pair of wet socks, well wrung out and placed next his chest at night
would be half dry in the morning. He had to sleep in a bell tent with
seven others, radiating like spokes of a wheel from the centre tent
pole. He had nothing to give him any comfort whatever.

It was impossible to do any work, even route marching, and, having
nothing to do but lie around and think of himself, Tommy began to
grouse. Each camp had become a morass with mud a foot deep, and Tommy
looked out upon it and behold it was not good, and he cursed both loud
and long whoever he thought might be responsible for the conditions,
and particularly Emperor Bill the cause of it all. The Canadian
contingent had begun a process of mildewing.

One felt sorry for the poor horses. Picketed in the open plain or in
the partial shelter of the occasional "spinneys," they stood with ears
drooping and tails to the wind, pictures of dejection. No doubt they,
too, cursed the Kaiser. Their feet became soft from standing idly in
the mud, and in a good many cases had become diseased; in general they
went off badly in condition. Standing orders prohibited the cutting
down of a bush or tree on Salisbury Plain, but in the night time we
could sometimes hear the familiar sound of an axe meeting standing
timber, and one could guess that Tommy, in his desire for wood to
build a fire, and regardless of rules, had grown desperate. As one of
them said to Rudyard Kipling when he was down visiting them, "What
were trees for if they were not to be cut down?"

Towards the middle of December, one evening there was a sharp tap on
the tent of Capt. Haywood, Medical Officer of the third (Toronto)
Battalion.

"Come in" he cried.

The laces were undone and Sergeant Kipple stepped into the tent. The
Sergeant was a good man--an old soldier and reliable as the proverbial
watch.

"Well, what is it?" said the M.O.

"I want you to give me somethink to buck me up" said the Sergeant in a
tearful voice.

"But what is the matter?" said the M.O. "Have you a cold?"

"No, I aint got no cold" he said, "I just wants somethink to buck me
up; some qui-nine or somethink."

"But what's the matter?" persisted the M.O. "What do you want it for?"

"Nothing's wrong with me" said the sergeant, "I jist want somethink to
buck me up; this rine is getting on me nerves. It rines all day, and
me clothes 'aven't been dry for a month--if I go out I get more wet.
All day long I 'ave to splash about in the blinkin' mud and rine. At
night I cawnt go to sleep. Me clothes are wet; me blankets are soaked.
I 'ears the bl---- rine coming down on the bl---- tent which leaks all
over; it makes a 'ell of a noise on the tent and I cawnt sleep. I gets
up in the morning and 'ave to do me work and do me dooty. But Doc,
it's gettin' me goat. I feel like cutting me bl---- throat. I 'ave 'ad
thirteen years in the awmy and 'ave me good conduc stripes. I 'ave a
wife and two kids at 'ome. I didn't come over 'ere to drown; I came
over to fight. I wants to do me work but I cawnt do it. If you don't
give me somethink Doc I am afraid I'll cut me bloody throat and I
don't want to die. Cawn't you give me somethink to buck me up, Doc
please?"

The Doc did give him something, and between that and a little
judicious "jollying" Kipple was a different man in a few days.

Of course there was trouble. The contingent was going through a rough
experience, and to most of us Salisbury Plain was becoming a
nightmare. A fairly large number of the men were given leave, and an
equally large number took French leave. The latter migrated in large
numbers to the little villages around the outskirts of the plain where
they settled down to a few days' comfort before they were rounded up
by the military police.

Some went to London, and, worshipping at the shrines of Venus and
Bacchus, forgot about the war, and tarried in the fascinating
metropolis. Others sought a few hours' respite and forgetfulness in
the town of Salisbury, where they hobnobbed with their British
confreres and treated them to various drinks. At times the British
Tommy, stung at the flaunting of pound notes where he had only
shillings, smote his colonial brother, and bloody battles resulted in
consequence thereof.

    [Illustration: MECHANICAL TRANSPORTS IN SALISBURY FLOODS.]

It was a curious fact that it was the Englishman who had gone out to
Canada a few years before and now returned as a Canadian, who was the
chief offender in this respect. He had gained a new airiness and sense
of freedom which he was proud of, and it brought him into trouble. My
own chauffeur, an Englishman, was the invariable champion of all
American cars as compared with English cars, which he delighted in
saying were from three to four years behind the times. This same man
four years before had been working on automobiles in London, where he
was born.

At one stage it looked as if the force was undergoing a process of
decomposition, and would disintegrate. The morale of the men under the
very depressing conditions which existed, had almost gone and they did
not care what happened them. Privates, perhaps college men or wealthy
business men in Canada, frankly said when arrested, that they were
quite willing to pay the price, but that they had determined to get
warm and dry once more before they were drowned in the mud. It is an
easy matter to handle a few cases of this sort, but when you get
hundreds of them little can be done, and threats, fines and
punishments were of little avail in correcting the existing state of
affairs.

As a matter of fact, under the conditions the military authorities
were hard put to it to control the situation. Each night the motor
lorries returned loaded with men under arrest, and each day an equally
large number left the camp to undergo the same experience.

All the time the wastage went on. One soldier fell off a cart and
fractured his skull; another had his legs amputated by a lorry; a
third was accidently shot, and another committed suicide. It is
astonishing how many accidents can occur among 30,000 men.

New huts were being built at Larkhill, near the ancient Phoenician
remains called Stonehenge, but the progress made was so slow that
finally our men were put on the job, and the huts began to go up like
mushrooms. Hundreds of Canadians, belonging to Highland and other
regiments, built roads, huts, and other works, in a country apparently
filled with labouring men with no intention of ever going to war, and
who, in fact, often did not believe that there was a war. We all felt
somewhat relieved one night when we heard that the German fleet was
bombarding the English coast, hoping that it would shake the country
out of its feeling of smug self-complacency and lethargy.

On November 20th, there were 150 men in our hospital at Bulford Manor;
three weeks later there were 780. It had rained every day in the
interval, and there was a great deal of influenza and bronchial
troubles, which made splendid foundation for attacks of other
diseases.

Towards the end of the year the men began to move into the new huts at
Larkhill. We had already officially forecasted in black and white,
that the huts, being raised from the ground, would be colder to sleep
in, and whereas there had been only eight men in the tent to be
infected should one man become ill with a communicable disease, there
would now be forty in each hut; and that in consequence we should
expect a great increase in illness from such diseases. And there was.

It began to increase as soon as the men got into the huts. These huts
were heated with stoves, and fuel was provided. Consequently the men,
before going to bed, got the stoves red hot, closed and sealed the
windows with paper, contrary to standing orders, and went to bed with
the huts overheated. When the stoves went out the huts cooled down and
the usual story one heard was of the men waking at three or four in
the morning cold and shivering. The heat also served to shrink the
floor boards so that the draughts came through and made matters worse.

Then the scare came. Prior to this the report of an odd case of
cerebro-spinal meningitis had not occasioned any concern. Under these
menacing conditions cases of the disease became more numerous and when
Col. Strange died of it uneasiness culminated in real alarm.

My proposed trip to Scotland for Christmas was postponed and instead I
was sent up to London to get an expert bacteriologist on the disease
and arrange to start a laboratory. The object was to see what could be
done in locating "carriers" of the disease germ, and thereby keep the
disease from spreading. Accordingly, on the day before Christmas, I
arranged with the Director of the Lister Institute for the loan of Dr.
Arkwright of his staff and for the necessary apparatus to equip a
laboratory at Bulford Cottage Hospital. It was a forlorn hope, but it
was the only thing that could be done to try to get this elusive
disease under control. I spent Christmas day in camp, and it was a
melancholy day indeed. The men were all well looked after, and for
those in the hospitals the day was made as bright as possible. It
seemed years since we had left Canada.

When we brought down the bacteriological apparatus by passenger train
a few days later we paid excess baggage on 780 pounds but we got it
through. It took five men to shove the trucks containing the boxes,
and we held the connecting train for five minutes at Salisbury
Junction until we made the transfer. This saved time, for the London
people would not guarantee delivery for five weeks.

The epidemic of cerebro-spinal meningitis proved to be a blessing in
disguise, for it educated both combatant officers and men as to the
necessity of observing certain simple precautions to prevent the
spread of any contagious disease; and it also showed them that when
disease once got out of hand it would be possible to put whole
battalions _hors de combat_. Col. Mercer kept his brigade moving about
on the sod in tents all winter, and as a result, there was very much
less sickness in his brigade than in the other brigades housed in
huts.

Then nature came to our rescue, and took a hand in the game. The rains
grew less frequent; the sun put in an occasional appearance; training
was begun once more, and a rapid improvement was immediately apparent
in the men. Again the sound of singing was heard in the tents at night
and on route marches; and again one began to see smiling faces. With
the improvement in weather conditions, training went briskly on, and
the division began to rapidly round into shape.

Meanwhile the artillery and cavalry had gone into billets in the
surrounding villages, and were behaving splendidly. The people took to
them very kindly, and the men themselves looked so clean and happy
that it was difficult to realize that they were the same unkempt,
dirty individuals who had been seen not so long before wading through
the mud and filth of the plains.

All sorts of rumours were current. A favorite one was that we were to
go to Egypt to finish our training there. Another one whispered among
the staff was that we would shortly leave for France. The men worked
hard at their training, anxious to make good and get to the Front.
They had the old Viking spirit of adventure in their blood, and wanted
to get to the battle ground. We all knew that many of us would be
killed, but we all felt that it would be the other fellow--not
ourselves.

After the laboratory had been started, the force had to a large extent
been reassured thereby that everything possible was being done that
could be done. When, with better weather, the sickness began to abate,
I obtained permission from our Surgeon-General to try to get the rest
of our men inoculated against typhoid fever. We had arrived in England
with 65 per cent. of the men inoculated, and it was my ambition to get
them all done before the division left for France.

Accordingly I settled down in the Bear Hotel in the little Wiltshire
town of Devizes, the head-quarters of the artillery brigade, and began
my educational campaign.

The old Bear Hotel was one of the famous old coaching houses of former
days; it had seen much life in ye olden times when it had been the
chief stopping place of the bloods of London en route to the famous
City of Bath and the historic Pump Room. It was a homey-looking old
place, with the usual appearance of comfort pertaining to an English
Inn, and the maximum amount of discomfort as judged by our modern
standards. The food was good, and the fire places looked bright and
cheery, like the bar maid behind the polished bar. It was mostly in
looks. No wonder that the British people fortify themselves with
copious draughts of stimulants to help keep out the cold. There were
some magnificent pieces of old furniture and Sheffield plate in the
halls--pieces that many a collector had tried in vain to purchase. My
room lit by two candles in earthenware candlesticks; and with a fire
in a corner grate--at a shilling a day extra--looked cozy enough but
the bedroom furniture was ancient and uncomfortable.

The officers of the Artillery Headquarters lived at the hotel, and I
took my meals with them. Col. Burstall, the officer commanding, gave
me every assistance and issued orders to his officers to aid in every
possible way in the campaign.

My object was to educate all the artillery and cavalry units on the
danger of using impure water, on typhus fever and how it was conveyed
by lice, and on the value and necessity of anti-typhoid inoculation.

The following day I gave my first talk in a large shed in the town, to
about 700 artillery men of the first artillery brigade. It was a
unique experience, standing on a great stack of boxes of loaded
ammunition beside Colonel Morrison and the medical officer Lt.-Col.
McCrae, talking to the brigade drawn up at attention around us. It was
an attentive audience; the men had to listen, though as a matter of
fact, they really seemed interested. When paraded next day 370
uninoculated were discovered and given the treatment; the few who
refused were sent to the base depot and replaced by others.

The campaign begun so successfully was carried on from day to day.
Arrangements were made by telephone or wire with the O.C.'s of the
various units, to have their men paraded for my lectures. The weather
was frequently wet, and the talks were given in farm yards, village
squares, churches, schools, hay-lofts, and open fields. In some
instances the units, broken up into small sections, were scattered
about the country so that I would have to talk to 50 men at once
instead of several hundred.

One of the most unique occasions was the Sunday when I addressed the
3rd Artillery brigade, after church parade in the market square of
Market Lavingdon. We arrived early and sat and listened while, from
the little stone church high up on the hill above us, drifted the
sound of soldiers singing. It was unutterably sad to me to hear the
full mellow soldier chorus swelling out on "Onward Christian Soldiers,
Marching as to War." One felt that the words must have had to all of
them a meaning that they never had had before.

Then the brigade formed up and was played by the village band to the
market place where they were drawn up into a square with some gun
carriages in the centre. When all was ready I mounted a gun carriage
and gave my talk with all the earnestness I could muster, while the
villagers congregated at one side, stood and gaped, and wondered what
it was all about.

My talk had settled down into a 20-minute discourse, and I gave
variations of it as often as four times in an afternoon at places 10
miles apart. In this way one saw a good deal of the Wiltshire scenery
in the late winter season. It was a never-failing source of wonder and
pleasure to me to see the ivy covered banks, the ivy clad trees and
the rhododendrons and holly trees in green leaf in the middle of the
winter. In the garden at the back of the famous old Elizabethan house
in Potterne--a perfect example of the old Tudor timbered style of
architecture--cowslips and pansies were in full blossom, and I was
told the wild violets were in flower in the woods. The trim, well kept
gardens, hedges and fields of the country side and village were a
continual delight to a native of Canada where everything in comparison
looks so unfinished and in need of trimming. The winter wheat was as
green as the new grass of spring time, and many of the meadows also
were fairly green. Some shrubs, and in particular an unknown
yellow-flowered, leafless vine, were in blossom. I heard afterwards
that it was the Jasmine.

During those January days when the sun shone fitfully, some wonderful
atmospheric effects were to be seen at times on the plains. For the
painter who wanted atmosphere and light and vivid contrasts, that was
the place to be, for never did I see elsewhere such wonderful pastel
effects; never such vivid-colored banks of spray and fog.

The little straw-thatched farm houses with their small paned windows
frequently filled with flowers in bloom, nestling in gardens and
shrubberies and orchards, had a more or less comfortable and homey
look during the day time; but at dusk when the light was failing and
the lamp light shone through the windows, these farm houses took on a
wonderfully attractive and romantic appearance. It made you feel like
going to the door and asking for a glass of new milk or a cup of
cider; and you had visions of blazing fires in the great fireplace,
and brass utensils, hanging from the walls; comfy ingle nooks, old
beam ceilings and ancient oak furniture; hams suspended from the
kitchen ceilings, and old blue willow pattern plates on the walls.
That nothing can give a house such a homelike appearance as a thatched
roof and leaded panes, I am perfectly convinced.

To a Canadian the bird-life of the plain was marvellous. There were
birds by the tens of thousands. You would see crows settling on a
spring wheat field on the open plain by hundreds; you would see
starlings in great flocks following the plough, and gulls sometimes
literally covered acres of newly ploughed ground.

One day as we approached a hamlet near Netheravon, I fancied I was
witnessing an optical illusion: the whole surface of a field was
covered with black and white, vibrating as though waves were passing
over it. When we came nearer we saw that the field was covered so
thick with gulls that the ground was hidden. The gull was a small
white variety about the size of a pigeon, with a black ruff around
its neck. The wave-like motion was made by the birds digging away in
the newly turned earth for worms and larvæ; judging by the way they
worked, they must have cleaned up millions of them.

Then there were robins, thrushes, magpies, and scores of other birds
which were unfamiliar to us, while later on the larks spiralled with
delirious songs into the sky. The pheasants were so tame they would
scarcely get out of the way of a passing car.

Salisbury Plain had evidently been the site of many an armed camp and
had probably seen many a battle since the time of the Romans. The
archæologists in charge of the unearthing of "Old Sarum," perhaps the
most ancient remains of a city in Great Britain, have, during the last
ten years, found many wonderful things. Old Sarum is situated about
two miles from the present city of Salisbury on the plain. It was
built on the top of an enormous circular mound of earth several
hundred yards in diameter, and was supposed to have been surrounded by
the usual fosse and ditch. Roman, Saxon and Norman remains have been,
and are still being, found, as the stonework of walls and buildings is
being uncovered. It is supposed that much of the original stone was
used in the 12th century to build the present cathedral of Salisbury.

One day at the opposite side of the plain toward Tinhead, Colonel (now
General) Panet, of the horse artillery, took me out to see the
enormous white horse cut in the chalk in the face of the hill
ascending to Salisbury Plain. The figure, representing King Alfred's
famous white charger is supposed to have been carved in King Alfred's
time, to celebrate a famous victory in the neighborhood. The natives
have kept the figure ever since carved white on the hillside by the
simple process of digging away the surface earth and sod, and leaving
the underlying chalk exposed.

Stonehenge, situated in the middle of the plain, is one of the
weirdest and most interesting sights of England. It consists of two
series of colossal stone columns arranged in circles with the lower
ends stuck in the ground, and the upper ends supporting huge slabs of
stone placed across them. A few of the stones have fallen, and lie
prone upon the ground. Perhaps no relics in the world have caused more
wonder and evoked more speculation in the lay and scientific mind than
these curious stones standing in the middle of the plain, miles from
any town. Books have been written about them. They are supposed to be
of Phoenician origin. Each stone weighing many tons, must have been
brought a great distance, and suggest the use of powerful means of
transport not known to-day. Hundreds of thousands of people have
travelled to Stonehenge and have gone away but little wiser than when
they came. What the stones were for no man knows; he can only
speculate and wonder.

All over the plain, too, are gently rising circular mounds called
"barrows" supposed to be Roman burial places. It is against the law to
dig into them or damage them in any way, just as it is unlawful to
harm one of the rabbits or hares, which abound on the plains. England
has laws to cover all contingencies.

In about two weeks I had completed my campaign, and returned to
Bustard Camp where I rounded out my course by lecturing to the
officers of the various infantry brigades with the exception of the
Highlanders. In this way, though the returns were not quite completed
before the division left for France, it was estimated that 97 per
cent. of the men had been inoculated against typhoid fever.

During that winter the difficulties of the medical service were very
great. At the beginning of December the manor house at Bulford was
obtained as a nucleus for a hospital and was equipped and manned by
number one general hospital. Across the way from the manor was a field
which was utilized as a tent hospital for venereal diseases. Then some
new cottages just being completed about 200 yards away were obtained
and equipped; two other houses at different places about two miles
apart were requisitioned and finally the riding school at Netheravon
was taken over as well as some shacks for hospital purposes.

The hospital, therefore, consisted of six distinct units spread over a
five-mile area, and all operated by the same hospital staff. It was
very difficult from the standpoint of administration, though it was
excellent training for the personnel of the hospital. At the beginning
it was difficult to obtain drugs. The transportation of sick men from
Pond Farm camp to Netheravon a distance of about 16 miles over very
rough roads in rain and cold can be better imagined than described.
And yet it was the best that could be done under the circumstances.
Salisbury Plain is a great rolling field without town or village and
the places chosen were the nearest and in fact the only places, that
could be found reasonably close to the camp suitable for hospital
purposes.

We had been reviewed by Lord Roberts and the King early after our
arrival, and now it was rumoured that the King would review us again.
Inspections of various sorts became a daily occurrence; inspectors
from the War Office came down and condemned nearly everything we had
including motor and horse transport, harness and other equipment.
Later on we realized that it had been very wise to sacrifice a few
score thousands of dollars worth of equipment in England in order that
standard parts and replacements of equipment could be obtained at any
time in the field and the efficiency of the force thereby maintained
at all times. The authorities were much wiser than we knew.

Of course it rained on the morning of the day that the King came down
to review the Division; at breakfast the rain hammered the tin roof of
our mess room at Bustard Camp like so many hailstones and the outlook
was most gloomy. Later on it cleared, and when the guns boomed out the
royal salute announcing the arrival of His Majesty, the rain had
entirely ceased.

A review by the King in war time is a pretty sure indication that the
division will move shortly. I had an excellent point of vantage on a
little hill opposite the saluting base where the King and Lord
Kitchener stood. That review was the real thing. It lacked, perhaps,
something of the wildness of the review that took place on the sandy
plains of Valcartier, but it had a dignity that was very inspiring.

Only the division that was actually going across was reviewed. One
felt that it was the last review that many of the men were ever
destined to see and it seemed to be peculiarly fitting that before
they left for the field of battle they should see that figure,--the
head of the Empire--that stood for freedom and that intangible
something that had made them come thousands of miles to fight and,
perhaps, to die.

A young officer--Captain Klotz of the third battalion--of German
descent and a very fine boy,--sat with me and chatted for a while as
we watched the division march past. Although he was orderly officer of
his battalion he had not been able to resist the temptation to slip
away for the day to see a little of the march past. Poor chap! He was
killed at the second battle of Ypres three months afterwards. The
first Canadian division as it swung past was certainly a magnificent
spectacle and I was quite willing to agree with a General who told me
later in the day that though he had been at reviews for many years he
had never seen such a fine body of men in the whole of his career. The
King and Lord Kitchener both seemed to be greatly impressed with the
division.

Finally the time did arrive for the division to leave and one night it
disappeared--for Southampton everybody thought--though an officer who
had been left behind sick was unable to find any trace of it later on
in the day when he arrived at that port. Certainly the British do not
tell all they know.

The impedimenta left behind in camp was something to marvel at, and
included pianos, a Ford car, gramophones, bayonets, rifles and many
other things. Why a man should leave behind his rifle, and how he
managed to do so without getting caught, will probably always remain a
mystery. The first Canadian Division had passed on to the great
adventure in Flanders.



CHAPTER III

EARLY WAR DAYS IN LONDON.


In the early part of our sojourn in England I was sent to London on
duty. On the surface the city looked about as usual, except that the
taxi-cabs, buildings and squares, were plastered with recruiting
posters, the chief ones reading "Your King and Country need you" and
"Enlist to-day." After you had read them a couple of thousand times
they met your eyes with no more significance than do the bricks in a
wall or the people in a crowd.

London at night, however, was much different, because the city was in
darkness. The system of darkening adopted was rather amusing, as all
the squares and circuses, which in other times were most brilliantly
illuminated, now were darker than the streets, the contrast making
them, to an aviator, as distinguishable as before. Later on more
judgment was used in the control of lighting, as well as many other
things in England.

Soldiers were plentiful on the streets and in the theatres, hotels and
restaurants,--soldiers on leave from the various camps. But we were
more inclined to notice the tens of thousands of physically fit men
walking about in civilian clothes. Nobody seemed particularly
disturbed about the war. Kitchener was raising his army, and "the
Navy, thank God! was in excellent shape. Just wait till the Spring,
and Emperor Bill would get his bumps. We are willing to go if they
need us but not till they do. Why worry?"

In Clubland the difference was very marked--it had been deserted by
the younger men, and the clubs sheltered only a few of the older men
who had nowhere else to go. For, be it said to the eternal glory of
the man-about-town,--the wealthy knut who knew little more perhaps
than to run an expensive car, give expensive dinners and get into
trouble--the upper class drone--that he was among the first to
volunteer and get into active service. Perhaps all he could do was
drive a car; if so he did it--drove a London bus out at the front, or
a wagon; or did anything else at which he would be useful. Many of the
idle rich young men, and the majority of the young titled men of
England, rose to the occasion and went out and fought and died, and
many now lie buried in Flanders for the sake of Old England--for the
freedom of the world.

These posters shouting for recruits somehow did not look like England;
they were too hysterical; they were not effective: London, with more
posters per head of population than any other city in the Empire,
recruited men less swiftly than any other place.

Thousands of sight-seers crowded to the football matches while the
newspapers vainly lashed themselves into fury. It was only when Lloyd
George asked for more men, and gave convincing reasons that they were
needed, that the country responded. Day by day the newspapers made the
best of bad news from the front, and day by day did the readers
thereof conclude that England was doing well, and they "supposed that
she would bungle through." No man of prophetic foresight had yet
risen to say "This is a life and death struggle for us; we need every
man in the country, and every shilling to win the war." The common
talk was that we had stepped in to keep our treaty with France and to
assist poor Belgium, whose neutrality had been violated. Englishmen
did not feel that England's fall was first and last the object of
Germany's ambition. They did not realize that Germany saw in England
the nation which was always thwarting her and frustrating her desire
for "a place in the sun."

Should the theatres be kept open? should German waiters be still
allowed in the hotels? should German music be played at Queen's Hall?
should horse racing be continued?--these were the questions whose
discussion occupied a considerable amount of space in the newspapers.
Of course the theatres kept open, German music was played, and horse
racing continued: A large section of the public had to be amused, and
the livelihood of the actors and actresses and their relatives
depended upon it; if all German music were eliminated there would be
little left to choose from; and the important racing horse industry
could not be allowed to languish on account of a mere vulgar war.

So everything went on as before war-time except that gradually the
German waiters disappeared. "Business as usual" was the slogan, for
the ordinary business man rather fancied that he belonged to a nation
great enough to carry on war as a side issue without seriously
altering its daily routine.

For a while the big hotels and restaurants had a bad time of it, and
the management of the Cecil and Savoy thought of closing down. At this
trying juncture Sir Sam Hughes, Minister of Militia for Canada,
arrived in London and put up at the Savoy; other officers came to see
him and stayed there also. Temporary offices were opened; men looking
for contracts frequented the place and the Savoy quickly became the
Canadian headquarters in London.

Special rates for rooms were given Canadian officers and it was
possible to obtain a magnificently furnished, steam-heated room for no
more than was paid at other hotels for much inferior accommodation.
The Savoy Hotel, warm, comfortable and American like, located at the
heart of things, close to the theatre district and the War Office, had
a "homey" appeal to us, and it speedily became the centre of all
things Canadian in London; and the patronage of the Canadians tided it
over a bad financial period.

If you knew that one of your Canadian friends was in London, all you
had to do was to sit in the rotunda of the Savoy and watch the door.
You would be sure to see him come through those revolving doors some
time during the day. In that rotunda I met men whom I went to school
with, men who lived in my own city, but whom I had not seen for 20
years; others whom I met there had travelled all over creation since I
had last seen them. It soon got to be quite the natural thing to meet
old friends in this way.

In theatre land the problem play had disappeared as if by magic.
Several attempts to revive former successes of this type proved
absolute failures and the plays were quickly withdrawn; now there were
real tragedies to think about, and the old threadbare, domestic
triangle disappeared from the boards. Revues and musical comedies
succeeded, and "The Man Who Stayed at Home" a war spy play was a
tremendous success, as were the comedies "When Knights Were Bold" and
"Potash and Perlmutter." To be a success a play had to have the merit
of real comedy, or touch some national sensibility of the moment.

No new great literature had appeared, nor had the tragedy of the world
yet brought forth any great poetry. Monographs on special phases of
German character, thought and culture, were plentiful in the
bookstalls, and translations of Bernhardi and Treitschke sold in vast
numbers.

The love of music, so strong in England, was shown by the crowded
attendances at the Queen's Hall and the Albert Hall concerts. A good
deal of Russian music was heard, the Russian National Anthem being
played on every possible occasion. At the Christmas season not a seat
was empty at any of the presentations of the Messiah at Albert Hall.
Yet curiously enough England had banished her military bands, one of
the most effective aids to recruiting, and it was only after a violent
newspaper controversy on the subject had taken place that she used
them again.

Down in the city in Cheapside scarcely a uniform was to be seen; the
heart of ancient London seemed to beat as usual. In the theatre
district at night, particularly on the Strand, Leicester Square and
Piccadilly Circus, crowds of women promenaded as usual, like spiders
hunting for their prey. And the prey was there too, wanting to be
hunted.

This is one of the great tragedies of London,--the terrible maelstrom
of fallen humanity which is allowed to circulate there year after
year, sweeping into its vortex tens and hundreds of thousands of boys
and girls, who, but for it, might and probably would escape. In war
time when soldiers were involved, it was more terrible than ever, for
the results, as the medical men saw them, were disastrous from the
military standpoint alone.

From this great ulcer in the heart of London a deadly poison passes
far and wide into the national organism. The ulcer is there still for
the knife of some strong man to excise, for there is little doubt that
though restrictions will not prevent vice, it is equally true that
making vice open, enticing and easy, increases it.

During that first winter, tickets for the theatre were sold at half
price to men in uniform. On the other hand, an officer's uniform
seemed to be the signal for increased prices in the shops,
particularly in the smaller ones. A London physician, an officer, told
me that when he went shopping he always dressed in civilian clothes
because it was so much more economical to shop as a civilian.

The badge "Canada" of course, had been the badge for high prices from
the day we landed in Plymouth. It was "Canada, our emblem dear" in
very truth. It was well known that the Canadian Tommy received a
dollar and ten cents a day, whereas the British Tommy received only
25 cents, and it was assumed that officers were correspondingly better
paid than the British officer, while as a matter of fact, we received
less, rank for rank. The question of overcharging Canadians became
such a scandal that later on it was brought up in the House of Commons
in an endeavour to fix prices for certain commodities in the Canadian
Shorncliffe area.

The story is told of a Canadian going into a store and asking the
youngster in charge the price of some article. The youngster called up
stairs and the answer came back 1s. 10d. "But it is a Canadian" said
the child; "Oh, 2s. 6d." came back the answer.

The war in France was but faintly felt in England in those early days.
There had been no invasion of English soil such as had galvanized
France into a united endeavour to repel the invader. No Zeppelins had
yet dropped bombs on England. Great Britain had sent an expedition to
France,--"An Expeditionary Force," it was called. The very name did
not seem even to suggest a nation in arms. And yet away down
underneath it all England was uneasy. Well-informed people whose sons
were at the front knew the seriousness of the whole business.
Casualties had returned in large numbers, and the rolls of honour
published showed the terrible hammering England's wonderful little
army was being subjected to on the continent. Those despised Germans
had made great headway, and there were doubts as to whether the French
were sufficiently well equipped to stand the tremendous pressure put
upon them.

The battle off Chili had only been wiped out by Sturdee's victory, and
the exploits of certain raiders and submarines made the Briton realize
that the control of the oceans of the earth was a big undertaking. The
rallying of the colonies to his assistance touched him greatly, and
made him feel proud; on the other hand, strikes for higher pay in
munition factories and ship yards angered and disgusted him.

There was no great leadership anywhere, and the Englishman in his
heart of hearts knew it. Lloyd George, whom he acknowledged to be the
only genius in the Government, he either idolized or cursed, according
to whether he approved of his socialistic ideas or not. Englishmen I
talked to, even in France later on, fairly foamed at the mouth when
the little Welshman's name was mentioned, and refused to read the
"Times" which they said was run by "that traitor Northcliffe." It was
all very interesting to us, who hoped against hope that the man who to
our perspective was the one great man of vision would be given the
opportunity to become the man of action.

It was when one reached the heart of things, the War Office, that one
began to realize the undercurrents which were being set up in the
national life as a result of the war. In the court yard of the War
Office, which was carefully guarded by policemen, were large numbers
of women, young and old, waiting for news of son or husband, wounded
or killed. The looks on their faces were sufficient evidence of
tragedies which were increasing from day to day, and which would
eventually waken England. Inside the door was a reception room where
those who had business of any sort showed their credentials, signed
the necessary form, and were sent on to the various departments to
charge of a boy scout. Cots in the corridors, and specially walled-off
offices indicated the expansion going on in the various departments.

The war office authorities were going at the problem in hand in a most
unbusiness like way as far as the enlisting of recruits was concerned
but already had 800,000 men in training in England. Those in training
were not even equipped with rifles and uniforms.

After all the fault-finding in Canada before we left about the
slowness in getting us away it was interesting to learn that our
contingent had probably been more quickly outfitted and prepared for
the field than any other territorial or militia unit in the Empire.

In the course of my stay I dined at many of the famous London
restaurants, but the larger ones were usually empty and depressing.
One had to eat somewhere and one might as well take every possible
opportunity of seeing this phase of life in London in war time. One
night at the "Carlton" there were not twenty others present; even the
waiters seemed to be dejected, probably at the falling off of their
revenue from tips, and we left as soon as possible and went over to
the Royal Automobile Club in search of something brighter. There we
found a cheery log fire and sat in front of it until early morning,
talking of the war.

One heard the Russian and French national anthems very frequently, not
only in the streets, but in the theatres and public performances, such
as those in Queen's Hall. The finest playing of any national anthem
that I have ever listened to was the London Symphony Orchestra's
rendering of The Russian National Anthem one Monday night with
Safanoff conducting; it was sublime. I had heard the same number on
the preceding day in the same hall by another orchestra and the
difference was remarkable;--the first one sounding like an amateur
organization in comparison. No orchestra ever impressed me as did the
London Symphony Orchestra, with the possible exception of the Boston
Symphony Orchestra.

To be in London, not sixty miles from the firing line, in a city
firmly convinced of coming Zeppelin raids and prepared for naval
raids, and find the press discussing the plays and the music of the
day seemed strange indeed. It must have made the men in the trenches
nearly mad to realize that while they were fighting under the most
adverse conditions day by day and being killed in the defence of their
homeland, there were 30,000 slackers at one football match at home.

England is a strange country. We felt that perhaps if a force of
50,000 or 100,000 Germans would land in England she would waken from
the long sleep she had slept since her shores had been invaded by
William the Conqueror. 30,000 men could watch a football match at the
very moment the British line in Flanders was actually so thin that if
the Germans had tried to advance there was nothing to stop them.
Fortunately, for the moment, the enemy, too, was exhausted and before
he could recuperate our reinforcements had arrived.

The dying session of parliament was worth going to see; Bonar Law,
Beresford, McKenna, and Winston Churchill spoke. The latter made his
defence of the Navy which was as famous and as reassuring to the
country as Kitchener's statement in the house of Lords the day before
had been in regard to the Army. Mr. Bonar Law was the smoothest of the
speakers; Churchill gave one the impression of having much force of
character, despite his stuttering, but Bonar Law was the man you felt
could be trusted to look upon any proposition with coolness and play
the safe game for his country.

When the House was adjourned until February 2nd, there were very few
members left. This closing of the House of Parliament after a three
weeks' session in war time and after the raising of billions of
dollars of war loan by public subscription was remarkable for its
simplicity. There was no fuss or feathers, no music or formality. The
members just strolled out--those that happened to be there.

From the great window of the Savoy Hotel, I watched the funeral of
Lord Roberts, the national hero. The Thames embankment could be seen,
but, though a garden of not fifty yards in width separated the
building from the embankment, the fog was thick enough to make the
people as indistinct as though they had been half a mile away. Beyond
the embankment the grey wall of fog shut out everything but an
occasional gull which flitted out for a moment and disappeared again.

The embankment road was lined with Highland soldiers in khaki
greatcoats and Scotch caps, drawn up in quarter companies, while on
either side of the road stood a solid black wall of humanity--waiting,
some with umbrellas up to protect them from the fine drizzle. Not a
hundred yards away Cleopatra's needle stood like a tall sentinel in
the mist, and one wondered what tales of battle and heroic deeds it
could tell, if it could speak. One could imagine that during the long
ages it must have witnessed other magnificent funerals of kings and
heroes, and smiled, perhaps, at the brevity of human life.

The silence was broken by the long roll of kettledrums, and the
strains of Chopin's funeral march floated to us through the heavy air;
sadder than ever before they seemed to me, and yet, too, more
dignified than ever before. Then along the embankment, past
Cleopatra's needle, the head of the procession burst up through the
fog as though coming out of the ground.

The band came first, followed by the London Scottish with arms
reversed, the brass butts of the guns visible before the soldiers
themselves, making a curious reflection in the fog.

Then followed other regiments of infantry, squadrons of horses, Indian
troops with strangely-laden mules, guns; then, more cavalry. The
horses sent out great spurts of steam from their nostrils into the
cold raw air.

Then a space, and the funeral car drawn by six horses with riders
approached. The coffin, covered with a Union Jack, looked very small,
and a big lump came into my throat as I realized that this was all
that remained of the great little soldier, whose motor car not three
weeks before at Salisbury Plain had stopped beside mine, and whose
deeply seamed and furrowed face I had studied with the greatest
interest, remarking then that he looked very, very old.

After the car, the General's horse, with boots reversed in the
stirrups, was led,--riderless.

Next came a dozen or more coaches bearing the mourners, including the
King, and the pall-bearers, one of whom was Lord Kitchener. Squadron
after squadron of cavalry filed past two and two, until one felt the
procession was never going to end. The fog thinned somewhat, and a tug
and scow whirled past down the river on the rapidly flowing tide,
disappearing again into the mist.

As the last horses disappeared, the crowd began to move; motor cars
appeared; and the cortege of one of the greatest British generals
passed on to St. Paul's, the last resting place of the great soldiers
and sailors of the Empire.

One felt that Lord Roberts was greater than all those soldiers who had
gone before him, for his life had been without blemish.
Seldom--indeed, never before--had any British soldier or statesman the
opportunity to say to the nation "I told you so." For ten years
without avail, Lord Roberts had been warning the nation about the
great need of being prepared for a war that was bound to come; he had
tried by every possible means to wake it from its sleep and had
failed; and when the great war came as he said it would, he offered no
word in the way of reproach or self glorification, but bent all his
energies to help his Empire to his utmost in the hour of her greatest
need. And although he "passed over" before victory had come to us, he
had seen enough to know that the ultimate result would bring security
to the Empire and freedom to the human race.



CHAPTER IV.

DAYS WHEN THINGS WENT WRONG.


One day things went wrong; they are always going wrong in the
army,--that is part of the game. It takes a considerable portion of an
officer's time correcting mistakes of brother officers; otherwise
there wouldn't be much to do in peace times.

Well, as I was saying, things went wrong. We had been on the _qui
vive_ for two weeks, expecting a telegram from the war office to leave
for France. We had everything ready to pack aboard the motor truck in
one hour. Then, by diligent enquiry, we discovered that our truck was
to go to France when a spare convoy of trucks went over.

The Colonel in charge at Bulford Camp said it would not be this
week--there might possibly be a convoy going over the next week or the
week after--or next month--he could not really say when. He had a
letter from the war office on his desk about the matter and would
notify us at the earliest possible moment.

We went away tearing our hair out, and we have no superfluous hair to
lose. We held a council of war. We leaped into our trusty car and sped
swiftly into Salisbury. The Canadian General, the object of our quest,
had just left for Shorncliff and would be back, perhaps, in two or
three days. We hunted for the A.A. & Q.M.G. of the 2nd Canadian
Division. After searching the register of three hotels we ran across
an officer who said that the A.A. & Q.M.G. had also gone to
Shorncliff. We had arrived too late to obtain assistance from this
quarter.

As it was now after 7 o'clock we had to have dinner. This was an
ordeal for we hated the Salisbury hotels; they had been so crowded
that winter with Canadian officers and their wives that the
proprietors had lost their heads. They didn't care whether they served
you or not. One of them even paid a "boots" to stand at the door and
insult possible guests, the idea being to turn as many away as
possible. The hotel keepers must have heaped up untold wealth that
winter, and the abundance of custom had ruined their sense of
hospitality.

So we discarded the idea of a hotel dinner. We referred to our
chauffeur, who was "some chauffeur, believe me." "What about that
little chop house ('The Silver Grill') which he had frequently lauded
with fulsome praise?" He did not now wax enthusiastic--a point we
noted, and of which we found the explanation--but he drove us there.

The Silver Grill was a curious old place, with winding stair-case,
ancient beamed ceilings in the smoking-room, and a general appearance
indicating that it had seen service at least two hundred years.
Climbing to the attic, we entered a little dining room, perhaps twenty
feet long, with room for about sixteen diners. The tables were
occupied chiefly by officers, and we took the settee next the wall and
ordered the chef d'oeuvre--a steak smothered in onions, and French
fried potatoes.

Norah, the one serving maid, a pretty little thing, was evidently a
great favorite with the habituees of the place. The wife of the
proprietor was a handsome big woman dressed in a close fitting black
frock, with the figure of a Venus de Milo. She hovered about talking
to the men and acting "mother" to them all. One officer was plainly
"overseas". The landlady watched him like a sister, got him to put his
hat and coat on properly and steered him past the smoking-room and bar
to the front door, and she was careful to explain to us two, knowing
we were Canadians, "I have never seen Captain X like that before. You
know we have become very fond of the Canadians. Poor Lt.--who was
killed last week came to wish me good-bye." And, dropping into a chair
beside us, she talked of this and that Canadian officer; of how nearly
all the medical men and veterinary officers had dined at the Grill;
she told us also about her three children, including the baby which
was now eight months old and could talk.

By this time all the diners had gone except one, a civilian, sitting
in the farthest corner of the room. The land-lady had again begun to
talk about the Canadians, when the civilian suddenly interrupted
sneeringly "The Canadians! what good are they? An expense to the
country. What have they done? If I had my way I'd hang every one of
them."

For a moment we were petrified with anger. "What do you mean?" I
finally managed to demand.

"Oh! you know" he sneered.

"No I don't" I returned; "that is strange talk; you will have to
explain yourself."

"I don't need to explain anything" he said.

"Then allow me to tell you that you are a d---- liar" put in Captain
E---- glaring at the man ferociously; "I say you are a d---- liar"
repeated the Captain with greater emphasis and deliberation.

But the cad was very thick-skinned; he made not the slightest show of
resentment at the opprobrious epithet. So we got up and walked over to
him.

"You miserable shrimp" said Captain E---- as he stood over the fellow
with hands a-twitching to take hold of him. "You mean, skulking
coward, to talk like that of men who have come over to fight in the
place of wretched gutter-snipes and quitters like you."

"Three of us here are Canadians" I added, "and if you will be so
accommodating as to step outside, any one of us will be delighted to
give you the darnedest licking you ever got in your life."

The skulker didn't even move. Captain E---- got worked up to the point
of explosion as he watched the fellow unconcernedly keep on eating.
"You snivelling cur I've a good mind to rub your face in that gravy,
by G-- I will rub it in that gravy!" exploded the Captain, and in the
instant he seized the dinner-plate in one hand and the fellow's head
in the other and brought them quickly together, rubbing the man's chin
and nose briskly round and round in the mixture of congealing gravy
and potatoes.

"Be very careful what you are about" sputtered the creature, looking
up when Captain E---- had desisted, and wiping the streaming grease
from his face with his pocket-handkerchief.

It was tremendously ludicrous; the utter spinelessness of the creature
so at variance with the boastful scorn of his previous words and tone
so obviously showed him to be a coward that all we could do was laugh
and turn away. You could no more think of striking that weak,
backboneless poltroon than of hitting a six months' old baby.

We tendered the landlady a sovereign in payment for our dinner, but
she only kept eyeing with intense anger and disgust and shame this
wretched specimen of a fellow-countryman who had wantonly insulted two
of her colonial guests in her house and in her presence. During the
gravy-rubbing performance she had run downstairs to tell her husband
in case there should be a "scene," and he had retailed the story to
the crowd of "select patrons" gathered in the little smoking-room.
Again we called the lady's attention to the proffered coin, but in her
agitation, it took her at least five minutes to total our bill
correctly.

We offered our apologies for our forcible language, but she considered
no apology necessary. "You were insulted in my house" she said, "and I
admire you for the stand you took. That man will never enter this
place again." Following us downstairs she begged us to step into the
smoking-room "just a minute, to see that all our customers are not
like that one" and when she thought we were not going to accede to her
request she laid a hand on my arm and almost beseeched me to come back
and have a cup of coffee or something to drink.

Her husband, a fine looking, tall, curly-headed Englishman, seconded
her invitation, and we went back to the smoking-room. As we entered,
every man stood up and bowed, and several made room for us. They had
heard the story, and, by their reception of us they tried to show that
they strongly disapproved of their countryman's insult to the
colonials.

A few minutes afterwards, the clock struck nine, and the doors were
closed upon all but Captain Ellis and myself. Nothing was too good for
us, and to the accompaniment of numerous cups of coffee, brought by
Norah, we talked away till ten o'clock. Both the landlord and his wife
walked out to our car with us, and continued to offer their regrets
for the treatment which we had received.

By the time we got "home" we were fairly cooled off, and we went to
bed that night with the proud feeling that we had saved the name of
Canada.

Another time "things went wrong" was one Saturday afternoon when we
took a half-day off. It was not that we needed the holiday from
overwork, because, for two weeks, three of the four of us had been
doing nothing. The fourth man, a captain of Highland descent, had,
unlike the rest of us, really been working hard. Yet we all needed the
holiday, for loafing anywhere is usually the hardest work in the
world; but loafing on the edge of Salisbury Plain with little to see
was work even harder than the hardest. Napoleon is said to have
remarked that "war is made up of short periods of intense activity
followed by much longer periods of enforced idleness" or something to
that effect. Of the "intense activity" of war we as yet had had no
experience but with "enforced idleness," we were all too distressingly
familiar. In civilian life we had been very busy men; and here we had
been plunged into a world where for months at a time there was almost
nothing to do--and what was worse, there was no place to go to and
forget about it.

So, after a hard two-week's work doing nothing, we studied the map and
decided that the sea was within easy range of our four-cylinder
thirty. Accordingly we struck out for the sea, followed the track of
the little river Avon, which flows past Salisbury Plain, through
Amesbury and the ancient city of Salisbury and empties into the
British channel at Christchurch.

It was a glorious March afternoon, with intervals of brilliant
sunshine; the roads were good, and we rolled along through the little
English villages with their thatched-roofs, at a speed which quickly
brought us to the New Forest. All of a sudden a strange, familiar tang
in the air thrilled us. Every man sat instantly erect and gulped down,
in wonderment at his own action, a succession of great, deep
satisfying breaths: And then the explanation broke from two of us at
the same moment, "Canada!" It was the familiar Canadian smell of the
autumn forest fires that had for the moment penetrated from the
outward senses to the inmost soul of each and it left us for the
moment just the least bit homesick.

Less than an hour and a half brought us to the prosperous city of
Bournemouth, filled with the omnipresent "Tommy." The sea looked
mighty good to us, for we hadn't seen it since our landing in
October, though we had seen plenty of water--rain water--since. We
raced our car along the beach, got out and snapshotted one another,
admired the views, and cut up generally like a gang of boys let loose
from school. Then somebody said "tea," and we drove to a little rather
suspicious looking "Pub" on the beach.

There we got tea and toast but we didn't stay long, for out of the
window we could see the chauffeur under-cross-fire of a policeman, and
in England that always means trouble.

An itinerant dog fancier had two diminutive "Norwegian truffle
'unters" which he was anxious to part with, but we couldn't wait to
talk to him. Nor had we time to ask him whether truffle growing was an
industry in Norway, or whether the substituting of dogs for pigs in
hunting truffles was a recent innovation.

The Cop had been watching for us from across the way, and we were
hardly out when he was already upon us. "Excuse me, sir, but you
'aven't a hidentification number on your car" said the Cop.

"We have not" I replied, "what is the sense of having a number?"

"To hidentify the car, sir," said the Cop.

"Can't you identify the car with that label on" I queried, pointing to
the bonnet upon which was a label reading: _Canadian Government_; the
car also had three O.H.M.S. signs upon it.

"Our orders is, sir, to see that all cars on 'is Majesty's service
'ave Hidentification numbers" persisted the Cop.

"We are very sorry," I replied, "that we had our identification all
printed out so that you could read it, instead of getting a number; it
was stupid of us."

"Orders is orders" said the Cop.

"You people make me sick" suddenly broke in Mac. "We came over here to
fight for you and all you do for us is make it as damned disagreeable
as possible; you are a miserable people."

"Pardon me, sir" said the Cop softly, "I thought I was speaking to a
gentleman." During the controversy we had got into our car and without
ceremony we drove off, leaving behind us a discomfited policeman.
Fortunately Mac had not heard the parting remark of the policeman. Had
he done so it is doubtful if we would have left Bournemouth that
night, for heaven only knows what would have happened to that
policeman. When I chaffed him by repeating the policeman's sally when
we were a mile away, Mac was for a moment knocked speechless with
anger, then he begged us to go back and help him find the policeman.

Having escaped the arm of the law we went for a little drive about
town, with its wonderful shops: the shops of Bournemouth are the best
I have seen in England, and are rivalled only by those of Glasgow.
Then we drew up at the best hotel in town--"The Royal Bath Hotel,"
which, with its long low facade and its lack of upper stories looked
more like a luxurious club house than a modern hotel.

The main lounge was something to marvel at. Apparently it had been
given over to a band of decorators and furnishers gone delirious, for
the evidence of their delirium was to be seen on every side. The
walls were all broken up: One wall was covered with hangings; two
parts of the remainder had an upper border of hand-painted men in
battle array; a glass wall through which the dining-room could be seen
made a third; and the fourth was occupied by a balcony from which one
descended scarlet carpeted stairways into the room.

The woodwork was a hideous golden-oak. The ceiling was broken by a
series of beams radiating unevenly from one annular space, in all
directions, and with no apparent design. The furniture was rattan and
plush, upholstered and plain, and was crowded together with a few
writing tables scattered here and there. It was a discordant orgie of
decorative effects and the result was unutterably depressing.

We sank into chairs and gazed about us in awe. No hotel had ever
affected any of us like this before. At first we talked in whispers;
then as our courage revived, we became critical. Then somebody thought
of having a "Scoot"; tremulously he pressed the button for the waiter.
The waiter came and they had two "Scoots" each. Then somebody made a
funny remark and one of us laughed out loud. Suddenly the laugher
stopped and said, "I feel as if I ought not to laugh; I feel that
nobody ever laughed in this place before."

Dinner time approached. Old ladies in wonderful dresses began to
appear, followed by old English gentlemen in dress clothes. The
dining-room began to fill up. We decided to wait till the room was
nearly full before going in so that we could get an idea of the
fashionable watering place people of England. Somebody thought that
it would be as well to reserve a table, and Captain R---- was deputed
to do so. In fifteen minutes he came back twisting his black moustache
and looking depressed.

"Nothing doing," he reported in disappointment.

"What!" we cried.

"Nothing doing" he repeated mechanically. "We may possibly get a table
after 8.30."

"Do you mean to say" cried Mac, jumping from his chair in a rage,
"that we can't get anything to eat?" Captain R---- nodded. "Let's
leave this d---- morgue; I hate it anyway" stormed Mac, and we filed
sadly out.

In the hall we had a try with the head clerk, and another with the
head waiter, but it was no use. "Guests must be served first" was the
only argument; pointing out that there were a dozen tables yet unset
made no difference. Our chauffeur had gone, so we left our address for
him, ordered a taxi, and drove to the Burlington Hotel two miles away.
Before dismissing the taxi we took the precaution of seeing that we
could get dinner, and finding that the hotel authorities agreed to
furnish us with a meal we clambered out; after divesting ourselves of
our overcoats we were ushered into a dining room crowded with
beautiful women and, mostly, ugly men. There were some hummers among
the women.

The relief at the change from the dismal, deliriously-decorated hotel
to this bright, cheery room, was so great that we suddenly grew
exceedingly gay and enjoyed ourselves hugely. A little concert
afterwards added to the enjoyment, which was only slightly marred by
a bill for forty-two shillings.

Our homeward journey was through little villages all asleep, and
silent as the adjacent churchyards; and as we two tumbled into our
cots at midnight we voted that we had spent "a fine day" in spite of
the mischievous tendency of things "to go wrong."

Another of these "days" came later. We had been waiting at Bulford
Cottage for three weeks for orders from the war office to leave for
France, and we were growing decidedly fidgety. The fine weather
feeling of Spring in the air may have had something to do with our
restlessness. The buds were swelling on the great trees near by, and
the leaves had actually broken from their bonds on some of the hedges.
The air was full of bird songs; the lark in particular seemed to be
mad with the joy of springtime. At Bulford Manor I had picked the
first wall-flowers in bloom in the open garden; Roman Hyacinths,
Daffodils, Snowdrops, English daisies, and another little unfamiliar
white flower were in blossom, and even the Japonica was bursting into
scarlet against the sunny walls.

It was a pleasant time for loafing and under any other circumstances
we would have enjoyed it; but this was war time. Already our Canadian
Division had been at the front for four weeks and here were we doing
nothing, when we might have been making ourselves useful at the front.
The war office was advertising for "one hundred sanitary officers who
would be of vital service to the force in the field" and here were two
of us, with long experience in practical sanitation and eager to make
use of that experience, idling in the valley of the Avon on Salisbury
Plain.

Our chief was in France, and in our impatience we concluded that
something had gone wrong at the war office in regard to our little
unit. The only way to find out was to go to London; so we set
out,--the Medical Officer of Health of Ottawa, Captain Lomer; the
provincial bacteriologist of Alberta, Captain Rankin; and myself. We
left Bulford at eleven o'clock, or to be precise, at five minutes to
eleven. We stopped twenty minutes at Andover to send a cablegram, and
were held up at a level crossing for five minutes. At one thirty we
passed the official centre of London, Hyde Park corner, and were
having our dinner in the Marguereta Restaurant in Oxford Street at a
quarter to two. We therefore had covered the distance of ninety-eight
miles in two hours and fifteen minutes actual travelling time, or at
an average speed of nearly forty-four miles an hour. At one time our
indicator registered sixty-five miles an hour and for quite a number
of miles we travelled steadily at fifty-six miles an hour. Of course
this was in England, where roads are as smooth as asphalt and where
raised or sunken culverts, the curse of motorists, are unknown.

We did enjoy that Bohemian dinner. We had all the things that one does
not have in a military mess on Salisbury Plain. Hors d'oeuvres, salad,
fish, duck, and so forth. We were just finishing, and had lit our
cigarettes while waiting for coffee, when the door porter came in and
whispered to Captain Rankin that a policeman had our chauffeur in
charge and wanted to see one of us. The doughty Captain went out, and
came back in a minute to say that the cop wanted him to go to the
police station and explain why we did not have a number on our motor.
He also added that there was a number of people around the car. "What
did you tell him?" I asked. "I said I would go after I had finished my
dinner," said the Captain, which seemed to me quite Canadian and
reasonable.

He had not raised his cup to his lips when the same porter tapped him
a second time on the shoulder, with "Beg pardon, sir, but the officer
says he can't wait." We were grieved, and looked it.

"It's very unreasonable," said the Captain, "to disturb us at dinner
like this."

"If we don't go now I guess it will take a good deal longer to get the
car away from the police station," I said. "Besides, supposing Rad has
cheeked them and they lock him up, we won't be able to get back till
tomorrow. None of us can run the car well enough to get out of London
without getting into a smash up." So saying, I put on my coat and
sallied forth.

Before I got to the front door I could tell there was something doing,
for the restaurant windows were filled with diners standing on chairs.
Through a vacant space I could see a great crowd and two policemen's
helmets standing up above the middle of the throng. They considerately
opened a passage up for me to the two policemen who were standing
beside the car with Rad at the wheel looking quite unconcerned.

"What is the matter?" I demanded.

"Your car has no number on it," said a policeman.

It was so similar to our experience the week before at Bournemouth
that I smiled inwardly, and went through the same formula.

"Why should a government car have a number?" I asked.

"To identify it, sir, those are our orders, sir."

"Can't you identify that car?" I asked. "It says, written in big
letters on the front, "Canadian Government, Divisional Headquarters,"
in case you can't read! The car belongs to the Canadian Government. We
are waiting to go to France; we came into London less than an hour ago
on business to the War Office. Is there anything more you want?"

"We would like the chauffeur's name," said the cub policeman, who had
caused the trouble. I spelled it out to him three times; it sounded
very German, but he said nothing.

Then in turn I took out my note book and took the numbers of the
policemen. The crowd had listened with great interest, and were
evidently against the policemen. A boy looked under a policeman's arm
and grinned; I winked at him covertly, and he went into a paroxysm of
laughter. Then with dignity I got into the car and we drove off to the
bank, leaving behind the discomfited policemen and a crowd of several
hundred people.

"Where did the cop get hold of you, Rad?" I enquired.

"Over on Bond Street," he said, "he insisted on my going to the police
station with him. "All right," I said, "jump in," and he did so. I
knew where the police station was in a street off Oxford Street, but
when we got to the street I passed it. The officer called out, but I
didn't hear him. At the next corner he yelled again, but I got in
front of a convenient bus."

"Why didn't you turn there," he said.

"Then you would have had a real charge against me," I said, "for
breaking the rules of traffic."

Finally he asked "Are you going to turn or not?" and I said "I guess
we will turn here" and turned around, stopping in front of the
Marguereta Restaurant.

"What are you stopping for?" he asked.

"The officers who are in charge of the car are in there at their
dinner," I said, "you had better speak to them." Gee, he was mad."

All the rest of the afternoon I chuckled with delight at the picture
of the anger of that cub six foot two policeman as he was being
whirled along Oxford Street against his will, to a restaurant he did
not want to go to, to meet people he didn't want to see.



CHAPTER V.

THE LOST CANADIAN LABORATORY.


At the War Office in London, in the autumn of 1914, I met Captain
Sydney Rowland of the staff of the Lister Institute. He was a man who
had made a reputation in the scientific world and had just been
authorized by the British War Office to purchase a huge motor caravan
to be equipped as a mobile laboratory. The caravan had been built
originally by a wealthy automobile manufacturer at a cost of 5,000
pounds, and had been completely equipped for living in while touring
the country. It even had a little kitchen, and the whole affair was
lined with aluminium. Tiring of it, the builder had sold it to a
bookmaker who used it for less legitimate purposes.

Captain Rowland had heard of this machine and finally located and
purchased it. All the expensive interior was torn out and replaced
with work benches and sinks, while shelves and racks were provided for
glassware and apparatus. It was a beautifully equipped, compact
machine, and he was justly proud of it.

When he took it over to France he drove it up to the army area
himself, and told me that as he approached the front through villages
and towns at the rate of twenty-five miles an hour he had an
absolutely unimpeded road. After one look at this huge affair, which
was about the size of one of our large moving vans, bearing down on
them like a runaway house, people fled or took to the side roads.
Captain Rowland described with great glee the sensation it had caused,
and his enjoyment of that drive.

That was the first mobile laboratory, the beginning of the field
laboratories and the model upon which all others were constructed. The
list of equipment prepared and used by Captain Rowland was also used
as the basis for the requirements for all mobile laboratories
subsequently equipped. A second bacteriological laboratory and two
hygiene laboratories were sent out before permission was obtained from
the Director of the Canadian Medical Service, to send out a Canadian
laboratory. For some unexplained reason the Canadian Government
refused the necessary funds for the chassis so that we were compelled
to pack our equipment in twenty-four numbered cases, all of which
could be carried on a three-ton motor lorry. I had discovered that the
officers in charge of these laboratories at the front had already
found them too small to work in comfortably, and had removed and
placed the equipment in some convenient house, using the lorry merely
to carry their equipment. We were able to carry twice as complete an
equipment, costing altogether less than $2,000 in a borrowed lorry,
and saved the cost of $10,000 for the motor chassis.

When the first Canadian Division went to France, No. 1 Canadian
General Hospital had been left behind on Salisbury Plain, to take care
of the sick. It had been decided that I was to go to France in command
of the Canadian Mobile Laboratory, and that I should take with me two
officers and several men from the staff of that hospital. The Lozier
car which had been given me by the Canadian Government was also to go
as part of the equipment. After working in the office of the Director
of Medical Services for a couple of weeks straightening out the
records in regard to typhoid inoculation, and cerebro-spinal
meningitis, and in purchasing the necessary equipment, I received word
that the laboratory was to go to the front immediately. The
Surgeon-General accordingly made all the necessary arrangements, and
left for France, while I went down to Bulford to wait for the expected
telegram which was to speed us on our way.

We waited over three weeks for the message, growing more and more
desperate every day. Finally we went up to London and found that
somebody had made a mistake and that we were supposed to be in France
long ago. We were instructed to leave on the second day following.

The men were all greatly excited at the good news. We had a farewell
dinner that night at the mess, which assumed a somewhat convivial
character, and when I left to drive two visitors into Salisbury, the
hospital dentist was making a rambling, tearful plea to a few
hilarious auditors, on behalf of Ireland, while the great majority
were paying no more attention to him than if he did not exist.

Next morning with our equipment, men and car, we set out for
Southampton, amid the envious farewells of our brother officers, whose
call had not yet come. Everything was loaded on board the transport
at noon, and late in the afternoon we left for Havre, accompanied by
two torpedo boat destroyers.

    [Illustration: MAJOR-GENERAL M.S. MERCER, C.B.
    Former Officer Commanding Third Canadian Division.
    Killed in action, June, 1916.]

After some delay at the Havre docks for petrol, we got away and
reported our arrival at one of the rest camps on the outskirts of the
city. Our elation at having finally arrived in France was marred only
by the news that we would probably be detained at the base for two or
three days. Having been informed that the Hotel Tortoni was the
liveliest place in town to stay, and not to go there on any account,
we went and concluded that we had been the victims of a practical
joke, for we had not seen anything so dull in all our lives; it was as
dull and as good as a hotel at Chautauqua. There was more "life" to be
seen in an English hotel in a minute than one could see in the Hotel
Tortoni in a month.

As there were no theatres or concerts to go to and nothing else to do,
we went to bed in the chilliest bedrooms that I had ever been in up to
that time. I soon learned that French hotel bedrooms in winter have
the same cold, clammy feeling as the interior of refrigerator cars in
summer. This accounts, perhaps, for the French being a hot-blooded
people.

Of all the cities of the world that it has been my privilege to visit,
the city of Havre is the dirtiest, the ugliest, and the least
interesting. We could find no public buildings with even the slightest
pretence to beauty, and the rest of the city was as dull and
commercial as it is possible for a seaport town to be; one can say
little more than that, in consideration of any city. With the
exception of the docks and the casino there is nothing of interest,
and even the casino, like all the casinos in France, had been
converted into a hospital.

After two days of killing time, our orders came through to leave for
the front, two of us to go by motor and the rest by train. Our
experience with the British officer at the base had certainly been
pleasant and proved to be a happy augury of our future relationships
with them. The British officer in France is quite a different man from
the same officer in England, and does not impress you with the fact
that the war is being carried on by his individual efforts.

At the base we learned for the first time that we had been a great
source of anxiety to some of the officials of the British army three
weeks before, when the war office had announced our departure from
England. When we had failed to report our arrival at Havre the
authorities had assumed that we, being Canadians and more or less
independent, had gone off on a little trip of our own into the
interior of France. In their efforts to locate us they had telegraphed
far and wide; consequently when we did arrive everybody knew of us as
"The Lost Canadian Laboratory" and seemed to be quite pleased that we
had been found. When anything goes astray in the army it causes a
tremendous amount of consternation and trouble until it is located;
the easiest thing to lose is a soldier in hospital but as he can talk
this matter usually rights itself sooner or later.

The morning on which we set out on our first day's "march" to the
front was misty and raw, and motoring was very cold. Even this early
in the season--mid March, 1915--the fields were being ploughed, but
the ploughing and harrowing was being done by women, old men and
boys. Hardly one able-bodied man was to be seen, the contrast with
England in this respect at that time being very marked. A crowd of
schoolboys pleading for souvenirs were made to earn them and amuse us
by running races while we had a tire replaced.

The banks on the roadside were yellow with the first primroses, and
patches of golden daffodils could be seen in the woods, though spring
seemed to be far enough away that chilly day. It was characteristic of
one's experience in France that, as we sat down to dinner that evening
in an Abbeville hotel I had beside me an officer in the British army
who had been in Canada for a number of years and who had, during that
time, been a frequent caller at my home in Toronto. The spontaneous
manner in which the two of us rose and rushed at each other with
outstretched arms would have done credit to native born Frenchmen.

As we approached the front, the long straight French roads gave way to
winding narrow ways, frequently paved with cobble stones called pavé.
The country became flat, and the roadside ditches were filled to the
brim with water. That we were within the sphere of military operations
became more and more evident. Motor cars carrying officers passed
frequently; motor transports carrying food and fodder rumbled along
the roads or were parked in the outskirts of villages or in village
squares; motor ambulance convoys were drawn up in front of hospitals,
and, in general, we felt that we were nearing the real seat of
operations, the front line.

It was a drive of a hundred miles to the little town which was to be
our headquarters for nine long months, and I remember the thrill that
I had when we first saw the effects of shell fire--a hole about two
feet in diameter in the bricks above the door of the Hotel de Ville.
As we later discovered, the village authorities had decided not to
repair that hole but to leave it as a memorial of the day when the
Germans had been driven from the town and had fired some shells back
into it, killing a dozen of the inhabitants.

After reporting to the corps headquarters in town, we were instructed
to attach ourselves to No. 7 Clearing Hospital, where we were made
most welcome by the commanding officer and his staff. Colonel Wear
found billets for us in the town, and a splendid room for a laboratory
in the Hotel De Ville. This room, 22 × 36 feet, had been the banquet
hall and band room, and was well lighted by windows and gas. When
equipped as a laboratory it presented a most imposing appearance, and
from it we had a fine view of the village square, commonly called the
Grande Place. As everything going through the town had to pass by our
windows in order to cross the bridges over the canals, we could view a
continuous panorama of never-failing interest whenever we had the
leisure to look down upon it.

Captain Rankin found his billet at the top of a house on the opposite
side of the square from the laboratory; Captain Ellis found his in a
house in the corner of the square, and mine proved to be a little room
over a grocery shop on another corner of the square. My room was
reached by passing through the shop, up a very steep staircase, and
through a storeroom filled with boxes of soap, biscuits, bundles of
brooms, and other staples. The room itself was clean but without heat,
and I usually fell asleep after a couple of hours of shivering in the
depths of a damp, cold, feather mattress. Eleven crucifixes and two
glass cases of artificial flowers, together with portraits of the pope
and local curé, constituted the decorations of the room, and was
typical of the region, for this part of France was thoroughly
Catholic.

Our equipment did not arrive for three days, so that we had some
opportunity to look around and get our bearings in the area in which
we were to work. The Director of Medical Services of the army had
called just after we arrived, and had given us instructions. Like all
the British officers we met in the field, he treated us with the
greatest kindness and consideration. Faultless in dress, precise in
manner, with monocle and carefully trimmed hair and moustache, he gave
one the impression of just having stepped from his dressing room after
a bath. And yet his knowledge of the military game as it applied to
the medical service was just as accurate, precise and complete as his
external appearance indicated. He was a tremendous worker and
efficient to the last degree, as his record since has demonstrated.



CHAPTER VI.

THE DAYS BEFORE YPRES.


The following day we drove over to Estaires, five miles away, to see
the first Canadian division coming back into rest after a month in the
trenches. As we passed the infantry on the road it was pleasant to see
broad smiles spreading over the faces of the men who recognized us as
having been with them at Valcartier and Salisbury Plain. Fit and
rugged they looked as they swung along with the confident air which
newly arrived troops often seem to possess. Their officers were
pleased with them, and were satisfied that the division needed only an
opportunity to make good. The division had been on the left at the
battle of Neuve Chappelle, and had had no real fighting as yet; but it
had received an excellent month's training in trench warfare, and was
now well broken into the new game.

The division remained for a week in that neighborhood resting, and we
had several opportunities of visiting our friends. On Sunday three of
us called on my old friend General Mercer of the first brigade, and
had tea with him and Majors Van Straubenzie and Hayter of his staff.
General Mercer expressed himself as being delighted with the men and
as having the highest confidence in them.

We also had dinner with Colonel (now General) Rennie and our old
friends of the third (Toronto) battalion who were located in a little
peasant cottage in Neuf Berquin. In a room adjoining Captain Haywood,
the medical officer of the battalion, lay on a pile of straw with
symptoms of appendicitis. He was not too sick to give some extremely
graphic descriptions of his first experiences in the trenches, while
we all sat around and smoked. The room was lighted by a single stable
lantern which also smoked and we sat on boxes; I have seldom passed a
more pleasant evening in my life than that spent in the little peasant
cottage with my soldier friends, Captains George Ryerson, Muntz,
Wickens, Major Allan (all since dead), Major Kirkpatrick (now a
prisoner in Germany), Captains Hutchison, Bart Rogers, George,
Lyne-Evans, Robertson, (of the first battalion) and others. Some of
these chaps I knew well in Canada and we talked of home and the old
times, all the while realizing that some of us would never again get
back. The feeling was now fast settling down upon us that we were
actually at war, and that soon some of the men we had grown to admire
and love would have to pay the price.

During the evening two stocky little French girls came in and sang
"Eet's a longa, longa wye to Teeperaree" in English for the "seek
Capitan."

The Canadian division was in rest during those early April days when
the cold, long-drawn out spring became almost imperceptibly warmer and
the buds were beginning to swell on the trees and bushes.

On the first day of April, Bismarck's birth-date, we were expecting
something unusual along the front and were not disappointed. While
driving up to the Clearing Station to breakfast, we noticed a couple
of Hun aeroplanes being shelled by our "Archibalds." When we returned
to the town half an hour later we found that the place had been
bombed.

One bomb had gone right through Rankin's billet, exploded in the
workshop on the ground floor and blown out all the windows; another
had fallen in the square about twenty yards in front of my billet and
had failed to explode, while six others had fallen in different parts
of the town, half of which were "duds." Nobody was hurt and no other
damage was done.

Bittleson, Captain Rankin's batman, who happened to be looking out of
the top window at the time, swore that the bomb which went through the
roof beside him had grazed his forehead.

The bomb which had failed to explode in the square was taken
possession of by our staff sergeant and placed on my laboratory table
as a souvenir. A staff officer from headquarters, fortunately, came
along before we returned and bore it off to his chief after promising
to return it. Needless to relate it never came back, much to my relief
and to the disgust of the staff sergeant who on several occasions
referred to the iniquity of this high handed action.

On Easter Sunday we were invited to some sports by the divisional
cavalry. As we drove up to the orchard specified in the invitation a
crowd of typical big western cowboys with their broad brimmed Stetson
hats came streaming up the road from a nearby farm where they had been
foregathering.

A clear stretch of turf was selected, a ring formed by the crowd and
the first event was announced--a cock fight between Von Kluck and
Joffre. Cock fighting is the native sport of the countryside in that
region where nearly every farmer keeps a couple of game cocks and
fights them on Sunday afternoons, incidentally betting on the results.

After everybody had been warned not to move, the two birds were placed
gently on the ground on opposite sides of the circle. Carelessly, and
without apparently having noticed one another, the roosters walked
about picking at the grass but gradually getting nearer to one
another. When they got within a yard of each other they became more
wary, though still feigning carelessness, until one seeing an
opportunity, sprang into the air and struck at the head of the other
with the curved wire nails attached to his legs in place of spurs. The
other dodged and counter attacked and the action became general.

Using beak, wings and spurs they jumped, flew and struck at one
another as opportunity afforded, until Joffre got a strangle hold on
Von Kluck and buried his spurs again and again into the prostrate body
until he finally struck a vital spot and the combat was over. Then,
stretching himself, the victor flapped his wings once or twice as if
to say "bring on the next" and went on picking at the grass as before.

It was the first time that I had ever seen a cock fight and I hope it
will be the last. The concentration on the faces of those men as they
watched the cruel "sport" and the play of expression passing over them
was intensely interesting to me; you could almost tell what some of
them were saying within their minds and it was pleasant to know that
to the great majority of them the game was as repulsive as it was to
us. It was obviously unsuited to the taste of our new country and men
who might themselves be dead in the course of a week or two.

One other cock fight was put on and then we turned to a game much more
suited to our men--a wrestling bout on horseback. Four men on each
side mounted on horses, without saddles or bridles, were drawn up at
opposite sides of the field. The men were dressed in trousers and
shirts only; the horses were guided solely by a halter.

At a given signal the two parties approached one another at a trot,
each man selecting as his antagonist the one opposite him. In the
first crash a couple were dismounted almost instantly, and the battle
resolved itself into several separate encounters.

The horses seemed to enter into the spirit of the thing and backed up,
wheeled, side-stepped and did their best to help their owners win.

Meanwhile the riders, grasping one another by body, arm or leg, did
their utmost to tear one another off their horses. When it became
three against two, the two would tackle one opponent and it was the
task of the single man to try to keep the two others on the same side
so that they could not grasp him on both sides at once. It was
exciting enough to see one man being pulled by one arm from one side,
while another man was trying to throw his opposite leg over the horse.
Even when they succeeded in accomplishing this he clung to the horse's
neck and it was only with the greatest difficulty that his feet were
made to touch the ground and he was thereby put out of the game.

One or two obstreperous animals who objected to the game ran away with
their riders and tried to brush them off on the apple trees. The
contestants were all as hard as nails and could stand any amount of
rough usage such as they received in this gladiator-like contest.

After the games were over we adjourned to the Colonel's billet for
afternoon tea and music. The Colonel was exceedingly fond of his
gramophone, and, being troubled somewhat with insomnia, would
sometimes rise in the middle of the night and put on a few of his
favorite records, much to the annoyance of the rest of the staff
billeted in the same house. Knowing this, one did not think it so
strange as it might otherwise have seemed, that, during the course of
a move of the division, the gramophone fell from a wagon and was run
over by six other wagons. What did seem mysterious was the fact that
none of the drivers had seen the gramophone in the road until it had
been crushed as flat as a board.

When I visited the divisional cavalry a few months later the Colonel
was still carrying forty dollars' worth of records with him but had
not yet ordered a new gramophone.

Gradually the Canadian division moved on. One night we found them in
the neighborhood of Winnizeele and Oudezeele, hamlets near the Belgian
border. In searching for a battalion headquarters we asked one soldier
sitting in front of a barn what village this was and received the not
uncommon answer "I don't know." It was astonishing how frequently
that answer was given. Apparently some men were quite content to be
moved about like pawns in a game of chess without question as long as
they were fed and clothed; they seemingly had adopted the attitude of
the Mohammedan, "It is the will of Allah."

We had dinner with Colonel Rennie and his staff that night, and a
pleasant dinner it was. I remember yet how envious we were of Major
Kirkpatrick who took us up to his room and there opened up a box just
received from his wife in England--a box containing cigarettes,
chocolates, taffy, gum, magazines and other things so greatly
appreciated by the soldier in the field, and so liberally shared by
them with less fortunate ones. Some men were very lucky in having
wives who seemed to spend a great deal of thought--and money--in
things that would be appreciated by their husbands in France. The
Major was taken a prisoner a fortnight later and I sincerely hope that
he was as lucky in having his boxes come through to him in Germany.

After dinner we accompanied some of the younger officers to a
mysterious place called "The Club"--an Estaminet in the village,
operated by a French woman and recently "out of bounds" for several
days because of failure to observe the early closing law.

The scene in that little French "Pub" that evening might have been
from a comedy written of the period of one hundred years ago. In the
common room were a number of officers playing cards at little tables.
The air was blue with smoke and numerous bottles of wine stood on the
tables.

A young French woman sat over in a corner chatting confidentially in
French to a Canadian officer who thought he was replying in the same
language. Neither understood a word that the other said, though both
were obviously delighted at their success in making themselves
understood, so what was the difference?

The scene, which grew more and more interesting as the evening
advanced, was brought to a sudden conclusion by the entrance of a
Lieutenant, who announced that nine o'clock had struck; in a moment
the room was emptied, lights were out and we were all wending our ways
homeward.

The first impressions of a soldier at the front are invariably the
most vivid. A week after we had settled down to routine work we had
occasion to visit one of the advanced dressing stations in our area.
Leaving our little town by motor we crossed the canal by the
lift-bridge after waiting to allow three Dutch barges to pass through.
These lift bridges are hinged about one third of the way from one end
and are raised by means of stout cables hitched to the other end and
passing back to towers. They are so balanced that little effort is
required to raise or lower them.

Turning to the left we struck into a pavé road which led for some
distance along the canal bank. Pavé is not a bad road when kept in
good repair as this one was, and when you get used to the vibration of
the car bouncing from one cobble stone to another; when, however, it
is not kept in repair, depressions form which rapidly increase as cart
and motor wheels fall into them and hammer them deeper and deeper.

A little grey tug boat, painted the regulation battleship grey,
slipped quietly along through the canal towing several barges loaded
with road metal and lumber.

A buzz like a huge bee approaching us across the fields attracted our
attention, and we looked up to see an aeroplane, like a gigantic
dragon fly bearing directly down upon us. A hundred yards away it left
the ground and passed over our heads climbing steadily in a great
spiral into the sky. Another aeroplane, and another followed till
there were five circling above us, getting smaller and smaller as they
soared into the heaven, looking like herons in flight among the
clouds. They then made off towards different parts of the German lines
to their daily task of reconnaissance.

The women, old men and children, were busy on the farms ploughing,
harrowing and putting in the seed. Though the men were away there was
no dearth of labour on the farms and everything was going on as it
should. The silly-looking, heavily-built, three-wheeled carts, empty
or loaded with manure, bumped along behind the broad-backed Flemish
horses, guided solely by a frail looking piece of string. The driver,
seated crosswise on a projecting tongue of wood, guides the horse by
mysterious signals conveyed through jerks of the piece of string, and
steers the cart by leaning over and shoving the small front steering
wheel to the right or left by hand. The Flemish horses are very placid
and are never startled by motors, gun fire, or anything else.

Away to the right we could see the spires of a church in a little
village nestling among the trees. Our road took its tortuous course
through fields as flat as a board. Tall trees flanked the roadside
which was separated from the fields by ditches three or four feet
wide, serving to drain both road and fields and ultimately emptying
into some canal or creek. In this particular part of Flanders hedges
were not in universal use for fences. In one place we execrated the
Germans for having cut down dozens of the roadside trees, only to
discover later that the British themselves had cut them down in order
to clear the course for aeroplanes ascending and descending to the
aerodrome close by.

We overhauled a trotting dog team dragging a heavy little milk cart
and driven by a boy who ran alongside. At the sound of the motor horn
the dogs turned sharply to the right without waiting for orders from
the boy, ran over his foot, and nearly upset the cart. One judged that
they had had some previous and possibly not pleasant experiences with
motor cars, and were taking no chances. What the boy said to them was
shameful, judged even by our limited knowledge of French and the short
time we were within hearing of him.

Coming into the little town of La Gorgue we could see to our right a
chateau in quite pretentious gardens--a chateau in which the German
Crown Prince is said to have been staying when a British shell crashed
through the roof and made him move on the double quick. This town like
our own was intersected by a canal which was used both as a sewer and
source of water supply for washing purposes. The streets in this town
are dirty and ill kept; the stores uninteresting, and the houses
squalid; it ran into the next town of Estaires by the continuation of
the main street.

Canadian soldiers were everywhere in evidence, wandering along the
roads in the manner so characteristic of them. Canadians have never
been over fond of saluting officers, and have never quite accepted the
statement that it is the uniform of the representative of the King
they are called upon to salute--not the man.

The first story I heard was about a chauffeur I had had in Valcartier.
He had been standing at the doorway of a store trying to talk to a
French girl when a couple of British officers passed. The man did not
see them till they were just going by and drew himself up to a sort of
a half attention. The officers passed, halted, and came back.

"Why didn't you salute?" queried one officer.

"I didn't see you," replied the man.

"Oh, yes, you did; you came to a kind of sloppy attention as we
passed," said the officer.

"Yes," said the man. "I did as you were almost past; but anyway we
don't salute much in our army."

"What?" said the officer, "are you a Canadian?"

"Yes, sir," said the chauffeur proudly, and the British officers went
on laughing heartily.

The officers we came to see were out and we seized the opportunity to
run over for a look at the shell-shattered town of Laventie--the first
battered town we had seen. To us, at that time, it was an
awe-inspiring spectacle, though nowadays it would be considered a
comparatively undamaged town.

The houses on the outskirts were quite intact, but as we approached
the centre of the town, shattered windows, pitted walls, and scarred
woodwork indicated that the town had been heavily shelled. Near the
church the buildings were wrecked; roofs were lifted off, windows
blown out, and walls were frequently half down or had great holes in
them, while the block right around the church was a heap of rubbish.

The church itself had been hit scores of times, and the walls though
still standing were perforated like a sieve. The stones in the
foundation of the church were fractured by the force of the exploding
shells into tiny fragments, still pressed together with the weight of
the material above them. So crushed were they that if removed, a tap
with a hammer would make them fall into thousands of splinters.

The houses round about the church had been completely razed to the
ground. Those adjacent were partly unroofed, with perhaps a wall blown
out showing an upstairs with a stairway swinging from the floor, beams
from the roof fallen over the iron bedstead, sheets of wall paper
dangling from the walls, and every other imaginable combination of
wreckage. And yet a few doors away down the street where the houses
had not been very badly damaged they were occupied by civilians who
tried to eke out an existence by selling candy and foodstuffs.

It is a never-failing source of wonder to see people in such places
which were being shelled daily, hanging on desperately to the old
homes, not knowing when a shell might come through the roof and kill
them all. That was brought home to me later on when, as I passed
through a village one afternoon, I saw three women being dug out of
the cellar of a house in which a shell had exploded a minute before.
On another occasion in a village close by a mother with her babe at
her breast, three children of various ages, the husband and the
grandmother, were all killed in one room by a German shell, the walls,
ceiling and floor being splattered with blood and brains. And so it
goes on day after day among the civilians in the shelled area in
France. Most of them escape but many of them pay the price.



CHAPTER VII.

THE SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES.


It was a glorious spring day on Saturday, April 17th, 1915, when I
motored to Ypres. The first Canadian Contingent had gone into the
salient several days before, and had now settled down to business in
the trenches. Our laboratory had been given permission to keep a check
on the purity of the water supply of the Canadians; hence this trip
from our laboratory, located twenty miles away in another part of the
line.

The cobble stone or pavé road between Poperinge and Ypres was like a
moving picture to our, as yet, unsatiated eyes. Here a small party of
soldiers marched along quickly; there three blue-coated French
officers, with smartly-trimmed moustaches, cantered by on horseback; a
pair of goggled despatch riders on throbbing motor cycles dashed along
at terrific speed, leaving long trails of dust behind them; a string
of transport waggons with hay and other fodder, crept along leisurely;
a motor ambulance convoy sped past with back curtains up, showing the
boots of the recumbent wounded, or the peering faces of the sitting
cases with heads and arms bound in white linen; some old women arrayed
in their best dresses, and with baskets on arms, were coming from
market gossiping volubly; boys and girls garbed in the universal
one-piece black overdress of the country, played games on the
roadside; an armoured-motor machine gun halted beside the children to
make some adjustment; great three-ton lorries lumbered along;
officers in touring cars, sometimes with red and gold staff hats, flew
by, taking salutes with easy nonchalance, while we, with ears and eyes
wide open, bowled along towards the famous city of Ypres.

It was war,--apparently an easy going, leisurely sort of game.
Everybody seemed to be going about as if they had been at this sort of
thing all their lives; as if, in fact, they couldn't do anything else.

Every vehicle and every person that went into the salient had to
travel on that broad highway, flanked with tall trees, and paved with
cobble stone. Wire entanglements and trenches traversed the roads at
intervals, and shell holes filled with water in the adjacent fields
showed the road to be within range of the German guns.

As we approached Ypres we could see that, like all the towns of
northern France and Belgium, it was sharply separated from the
adjacent fields; there were no extensive suburbs such as are found
around the modern British or American city causing them to merge
gradually into the surrounding country. When we passed the first
houses we were practically in a solid compact town.

According to the custom in Flanders, the houses and stores of Ypres
were built close together, right on the sidewalk, without gardens or
spaces between them. Many were white, and the effect of the white
stucco and red brick gave the city a clean and sanitary appearance. It
was a town with a population of less than 20,000, a mere reminiscence
of that ancient city of Ypres of the 12th century which had had a
population of 200,000 inhabitants and which had been the most powerful
city in Flanders and one of the richest in the world,--a city larger
and more powerful than London. Ypres was famous for its cloth in the
13th century, when it had 4,000 looms in use. Through wars and
religious persecutions the population of Ypres had dwindled at one
time to 5,000 people. Her fortifications had long ago been dismantled,
and with the exception of a few magnificent buildings, her ancient
glory had departed.

As our car slowly passed through the town evidences of shell fire were
abundantly apparent. Here was a house with its roof blown off; another
with the windows blown out, the woodwork splintered and the walls
pitted with shrapnel; while another had been completely gutted. We
turned to the right and came upon the famous church of St. Martin's.
Great piles of stone and debris lay in front of it, the roof was gone
and the windows had disappeared, but the tower was still intact; the
houses in the neighborhood had been blown to atoms.

Our hearts beat faster when we came upon the building adjacent to it,
facing the Grande Place,--the glorious cloth hall of Ypres, beautiful
even in its ruin. Few such wonderfully majestic specimens of
architecture as this ancient monument of the weavers of Ypres have
come down to us through the ages. On the great square in the heart of
the city it stood, nearly 500 feet long and half as wide. The walls
were yet fairly intact, also the main square tower in the centre and
the graceful pointed turrets at each corner. Most of the roof was
gone, but enough remained to show that it had been very high-pitched,
and that the proportions of the building must have been perfect. The
interior was a mass of rubble; here and there direct hits had blown
holes in the wonderfully carved walls, and some of the statues of the
famous men of the ancient city had been tumbled from their niches
between the third tier of windows. None of the woodwork of the famous
painted panels of the interior remained; it had all been destroyed by
fire from the incendiary shells of the apostles of culture.

I stood and gazed, quite carried away by the beauty of even the
fragments of the magnificent bit of Gothic architecture, and with
indignation at its destruction. The warm spring sun of midday played
about its columns, making heavy shadows under the windows and ruined
arches; soldiers crossed the square and stood about as if they were a
thousand miles from the German lines. Several officers could be seen
wandering about studying the ruins; two of them I knew and they came
over to shake hands. I asked where I could get some dinner, and was
directed to the only decent restaurant left in the town, located just
beyond the Cloth Hall on the square.

As we stopped at the door of the estaminet Lt.-Col. (Canon) Frederick
Scott, one of our Canadian poets, came by and stopped for a chat. I
had not seen him since the memorable days of Salisbury Plain, and he
was full of his experiences as a regimental chaplain. He drew from his
pocket the manuscript of a newly-written poem and, oblivious of his
surroundings, stood by the car and recited it to me.

The little restaurant was well filled with officers even at this late
lunching hour of two o'clock. It had been a millinery store, but
latterly there had been little sale for millinery and there had been a
great demand for food; the three pretty Flemish sisters who owned the
shop had therefore accommodated themselves to the situation and now
served most excellent food daintily on clean tables, though not with
great despatch. At any rate, my omelette, cheese, toast and coffee
tasted very good to me that day, while I chatted to two engineers who
had countermined and blown up a German mine at St. Eloi a few days
before.

After lunch we hunted out No. 3 Field Ambulance, whose personnel came
largely from Toronto. Colonel McPherson of Toronto, the officer
commanding, seemed glad to see me, as he always did, and showed me
over the ambulance and billets where the officers were quartered. I
took water samples for examination of their drinking water supply,
which was not above suspicion. The garden at the rear of their
temporary home was vibrant with sunshine; the pears, trained against
the walls in the rectangular manner so much in vogue in France, and
the peach trees, were already bursting into clusters of pink and white
blossoms. I picked some beautiful blue pansies to press in my pocket
book and send home as souvenirs of my first visit to Ypres.

Upon leaving the ambulance we passed over the river by the bridge,
where soldiers were filling water carts by means of hand pumps;
passed the ancient ramparts on the river's edge and through the hamlet
of St. Jean to Wieltze, where the advanced dressing station of the
ambulance was located. Here I saw my friend Captain Brown and
collected water samples for examination. Returning to Ypres we went
out to Brielen to see the A.D.M.S. of the Canadian Division and there
found some letters from home waiting me.

While in the office a sudden commotion among a group of soldiers
outside and the raising of glasses skyward drew us forth to watch an
aerial battle in progress. With the aid of borrowed glasses I could
see six machines in the sky manoeuvring for position. Two in
particular seemed to be closely engaged when the German suddenly
turned tail and fled. A white puff of smoke beside him indicated that
the Archibalds had been watching the combat closely. A second, third
and fourth followed in rapid succession until suddenly at the
fifteenth burst the Taube began to drop and flutter down, like a leaf
falling from a forest tree on a quiet October day. Five minutes later,
far out in the salient, we saw a second driven down in a straight nose
dive, making the third for that day in the vicinity of Ypres. One
might watch for months, as I afterwards did, without seeing another
aeroplane brought down.

When we were on our way back from Ypres on our return, a horse ridden
by an officer suddenly curvetted across the road in front of us. Rad
pulled up the car to a full stop, and the officer pulled in his horse
at the same time. The horse reared, his front feet caught in the
fender, he pawed the air wildly for a moment and, losing his balance,
he fell over backward rolling on the officer. Soldiers quickly caught
the horse and pulled him to one side, and greatly to our relief the
officer was able to get up and walk. It was characteristic of the
British officer that he had no feeling towards us on account of his
accident; on the contrary, bruised and aching as he must have been
though he would not admit it, he came over to the car and apologized
for having caused us inconvenience. It is the British way of doing
things.

As we traversed Ypres on our homeward route, a little girl held up
bouquets of spring flowers and we stopped while I bought a large bunch
of daffodils for the equivalent of two pennies. Crossing the railway
tracks by the shell-shattered station we struck into the
Dickiebush--Bailleul Road, and drove slowly homeward over the rough
pavé.

Near Dickiebush the fields were pitted with numerous shell holes, and
the rails of a light railway at one place pointed heavenward where a
shell had exploded between them.

A pup, evidently unused to motor traffic on this bad bit of road, took
a chance and tried to dash across in front of the car but
miscalculated his distance and was bowled into the ditch.

It was curious to see one field ploughed with shells and full of
holes, and the next field with prominently placed new signs bearing
the inscription, "It is forbidden to walk over the growing grain." As
we passed through the rolling land of Belgium under the brow of "The
Scherpenberg," with Mount Kemmel over to the right honeycombed with
dugouts, it was difficult to believe that, locked in a death grapple,
not three miles away, were thousands of soldiers living underground
like moles, and that at any moment the air might be filled with shells
carrying death and destruction.

At the end of a peaceful day we reached our little French home town,
glad to have seen our friends in their new area by the famous old city
of the Flemish weavers.

Springtime had come in truth; the hedges of Northern France were
beginning to bloom white, and the wild flowers were quite thick in the
forest of Nieppe near Merville. It was the time in Canada when the
spring feeling suddenly got into the blood, when one threw work to the
winds and took to the woods in search of the first violets.

On the twenty-second day of April the very essence of spring was in
the air; I felt as if I had to go out into the open and watch the
birds and bees, loll in the sun, and do nothing. We struggled along
until noon with our routine work, and having completed it Captain
Rankin and I left for Ypres. A soldier had been transferred to us, and
as we did not need him we decided to register a formal protest and see
if he could not be kept with his present unit. Our road lay through
Dickiebush and we made good time, again reaching Ypres about two
o'clock.

It was quite evident to me as I retraversed the streets of Ypres that
it had been heavily shelled since I had been there a few days before.
Many more houses had been smashed, and unmended shell holes were seen
in the roads. As we crossed the Grande Place there was scarcely a
soldier visible. The Cloth Hall, which the Captain had not seen
before, showed further evidences of shell fire. After viewing the
ruins we drove to the little restaurant kept by the pretty milliners,
only to find that the place had completely disappeared--literally
blown to atoms. Later on we found that a fifteen-inch shell had landed
in the building next door and both houses had simultaneously vanished.
A well known officer, Captain Trumbull Warren of the 48th Highlanders,
Toronto, coming out of a store on the opposite side of the square had
been killed by a flying fragment of the same shell.

We wondered whether the milliners had escaped, and somewhat depressed,
drove along in search of another restaurant. A sign "Chocolat" on a
door in a side street made us inquire, and, curiously enough, we found
this also to be a little restaurant kept by two other milliners. They
informed us that the first three milliners had escaped when the
bombardment began, and before their restaurant had been blown up.
One's interest in a place or in a battle is often in direct proportion
to the number of one's friends or acquaintances there.

After lunch we drove to Brielen, but found that the A.D.M.S., whom we
were in search of, and his deputy were both out. We were shown maps of
the salient, and had the area pointed out to us where the French
joined up with the second and third brigades of Canadians, and where
the British troops joined up with the Canadians. When about to leave,
a friend, Major Maclaren of the 10th Infantry battalion, riding a
mettlesome horse, rode up and I got out of the car and held the bridle
while we had a long talk about the experiences of the Canadians since
we had left Salisbury Plain.

We then drove back to the Ypres water pool, which was the largest
supply of drinking water in the area. There were at least thirty-five
water carts in line waiting their turn to fill up at this presumably
good supply. We were told that it was safe because twice a week a
couple of pounds of chloride of lime were chucked into the middle of
the pool. We took samples of the water and passed on to Wieltze,
intending to walk into the salient to see what "No man's Land" was
like. Men had told us that, unlike the rest of the front near the
trenches, there were no growing crops, and no birds sang in that
desolate, dreary, shell-shattered area, and we wanted to see it for
ourselves.

We were surprised and delighted to find Captain Scrimger, whom we had
left convalescing at Bulford, England, in charge of the Advanced
Dressing Station. He had just arrived that afternoon, and was in hopes
of getting his old battalion again, explaining that on account of his
illness in England he had been temporarily replaced as regimental
medical officer by Captain Boyd. We talked with him in the little
estaminet in which the dressing station was located, while the old
woman who kept the place and two peasants chatted quietly together in
a corner and drank beer. I wondered at the time whether they were
spies. Captain Scrimger walked with us up to the edge of the village
and then returned to his charge.

At the outskirts of the village we noticed a peasant planting seeds in
the little garden in front of his house. The earth had all been dug
and raked smooth by a boy and a couple of children. To our "Bon jour"
he replied, and added "Il fait bon temps n'est ce pas?" looking up at
the sun with evident satisfaction.

No motor transport was allowed to pass Wieltze because the road beyond
was exceedingly rough, and it would only have been inviting disaster
from breakdowns and German shells to have proceeded farther.

As we tramped along towards St. Julien our attention was attracted to
a greenish yellow smoke ascending from the part of the line occupied
by the French. We wondered what the smoke was coming from. Half a mile
up the road we seated ourselves on a disused trench and lit
cigarettes, while I began to read a home letter which I had found at
Brielen.

An aeroplane flying low overhead dropped some fire-balls. Immediately
a violent artillery cannonade began. Looking towards the French line
we saw this yellowish green cloud rising on a front of at least three
miles and drifting at a height of perhaps a hundred feet towards us.

"That must be the poison gas that we have heard vague rumours about,"
I remarked to the Captain. The gas rose in great clouds as if it had
been poured from nozzles, expanding as it ascended; here and there
brown clouds seemed to be mixed with the general yellowish green
ones. "It looks like chlorine," I said, "and I bet it is." The Captain
agreed that it probably was.

The cannonade increased in intensity. About five minutes after it
began a hoarse whistle, increasing to a roar like that of a railroad
train, passed overhead. "For Ypres," we ejaculated, and looking back
we saw a cloud as big as a church rise up from that ill-fated city,
followed by the sound of the explosion of a fifteen-inch shell.
Thereafter these great shells succeeded one another at regular
intervals, each one followed by the great black cloud in Ypres.

The bombardment grew in intensity. Over in a field not two hundred
yards away numerous coal boxes exploded, throwing up columns of mud
and water like so many geysers. General Alderson and General Burstall
of the Canadian Division came hurrying up the road and paused for a
moment to shake hands, and to remark that the Germans appeared to be
making a heavy attack upon the French. We wondered whether they would
get back to their headquarters or not.

Shells of various calibres, whistling and screaming, flew over our
heads from German batteries as well as from our own batteries replying
to them. The air seemed to be full of shells flying in all directions.
The gas cloud gradually grew less dense, but the bombardment redoubled
in violence as battery after battery joined in the angry chorus.

Across the fields we could see guns drawn by galloping horses taking
up new positions. One such gun had taken a position not three hundred
yards away from us when a German shell lit apparently not twenty feet
away from it; that gun was moved with despatch into another position.

Occasionally we imagined that we could hear heavy rifle and machine
gun fire, but the din was too great to distinguish much detail. The
common expression used on the front, "Hell let loose," was the only
term at all descriptive of the scene.

Streaking across the fields towards us came a dog. On closer view he
appeared to be a nondescript sort of dog of no particular family or
breeding. But he was bent on one purpose, and that seemed to be to put
as great a distance as possible between himself and the Germans. He
had been gassed, and had evidently been the first to get out of the
trenches. Loping along at a gait that he could, if necessary, maintain
for hours, he fled by with tail between his legs, tongue hanging out
and ears well back. And as he passed he gave us a look which plainly
said, "Silly fools to stand there when you could get out; just wait
there and you will get yours." And on he went, doubtless galloping
into the German lines on the opposite side of the salient.

By this time our eyes had begun to run water, and became bloodshot.
The fumes of the gas which had reached us irritated our throats and
lungs, and made us cough. We decided that this gas was chiefly
chlorine, with perhaps an admixture of bromine, but that there was
probably something else present responsible for the irritation of our
eyes.

A lull in the cannonading made it possible to distinguish the heavy
rattle of rifle and machine gun fire, and it seemed to me to be
decidedly closer.

The Canadian artillery evidently received a message to support, and
down to our right the crash of our field guns, and their rhythmical
red flashes squirting from the hedgerows, focussed our attention and
added to the din.

Up the road from St. Julien came a small party of Zouaves with their
baggy trousers and red Fez caps. We stepped out to speak to them, and
found that they belonged to the French Red Cross. They had been driven
out of their dressing station by the poisonous gas, and complained
bitterly of the effect of it on their lungs.

Shortly afterwards the first wounded Canadian appeared--a
Highlander,--sitting on a little cart drawn by a donkey which was led
by a peasant. His face and head were swathed in white bandages, and he
looked as proud as a peacock.

Soon after, another Canadian Highlander came trudging up the road,
with rifle on shoulder and face black with powder. He stated that his
platoon had been gassed, and that the Germans had got in behind them
about a mile away, in such a manner that they had been forced to fight
them on front and rear. Finally the order had been passed, "Every man
for himself," and he had managed to get out; he was now on his way
back to report to headquarters.

Then came a sight that we could scarcely credit. Across the fields
coming towards us, we saw men running, dropping flat on their faces,
getting up and running again, dodging into disused trenches, and
keeping every possible bit of shelter between themselves and the enemy
while they ran. As they came closer we could see that they were
French Moroccan troops, and evidently badly scared. Near us some of
them lay down in a trench and lit cigarettes for a moment or two, only
to start up in terror and run on again. Some of them even threw away
their equipment after they had passed, and they all looked at us with
the same expression that the dog had, evidently considering us to be
madmen to stay where we were. It was quite apparent that the Moroccan
troops had given way under the gas attack, and that a break, doubtless
a large one, had been made in the French front line.

Then our hearts swelled with a pride that comes but seldom in a man's
life--the pride of race. Up the road from Ypres came a platoon of
soldiers marching rapidly; they were Canadians, and we knew that our
reserve brigade was even now on the way to make the attempt to block
the German road to Calais.

Bullets began to come near. Neither of us said a word for a while as
we saw spurt after spurt of dust kicked up a few yards in front of us.

"I think we had better move, Colonel," said Captain Rankin at last. As
he spoke, a bullet split a brick in the road about three feet away
from me, and slid across the road leaving a trail of dust.

"I think we had," I said as I walked over, picked up the spent bullet
and dropped it in my pocket. Another bullet pinged over head and
another spat up the road dust in front of us. "Those are aimed
bullets," I said. "The Germans cannot be far away; it's time to move."
It was then about 6.30 and we walked back to Wieltze, near which we
met our anxious chauffeur coming out to meet me.

Canadian soldiers with boxes of cartridges on their shoulders ran up
the road towards the trenches; others carrying movable barb-wire
entanglements followed them. A company of Canadians took to the fields
on leaving Wieltze, and began advancing in short rushes in skirmishing
order towards the German front, while their officer walked on ahead
swinging his bamboo cane in the most approved fashion. Another company
was just leaving the village, loading their rifles as they hurried
along. I overheard one chap say, as he thrust a cartridge clip into
place, "Good Old Ross."

As we approached Wieltze we could see ammunition wagons galloping up
the other road which forks at Wieltze and runs to Langemarck. Turning
into the fields they would wheel sharply, deposit their loads, and
gallop wildly off again for more ammunition, while the crashes and
flashes of the guns showed that they were being served with redoubled
vigor.

At the edge of the village the peasant, whom we had seen preparing his
little garden and sowing seeds earlier in the afternoon, came down to
the gate and asked rather apologetically if we thought that the
Germans would be there to-night; "in any case did monsieur not think
it would be wise for the women and children to leave?"

Behind him, standing about the door steps, were the members of his
family, each with a bundle suited to their respective ages. The
smallest, a girl about six years of age, had a tiny bundle in a
handkerchief; the next, a boy about eight, had a larger one. All were
dressed in their best Sunday clothes, and carried umbrellas--a wise
precaution in the climate of Flanders. We agreed with him that it was
wise to move away, because it would be possible to return, if the
Germans were driven back, whereas if they stayed they might be killed.

As we talked to the father, the eldest, a boy of eighteen, came down
to the gate with his grandmother, a little old lady perhaps eighty
years of age, and weighing about as many pounds. The boy stooped down
to pick her up in his arms, but she shook her head in indignant
protest. Accordingly he crouched down, she put her arms around his
neck, he took her feet under his arms, and set off down the road
towards Ypres with the rest of the family trailing behind him. About
ten o'clock that night my friend, Captain Eddie Robertson, standing
with his regiment on the roadside ten miles nearer Poperinge, waiting
for orders to advance, noticed a youth with a little old lady on his
back, trudging by in the stream of fleeing refugees.

Wieltze was a picture; the kind of moving picture that the movie man
would pay thousands for, but never can obtain. The old adage held that
you always see the best shots when you have no gun. Small detachments
of Canadian troops moved rapidly through the streets. Around the
Canadian Advanced Dressing Station was a crowd of wounded Turcos and
Canadians waiting their turn to have their wounds dressed. All the
civilians were loading their donkey or dog carts with household goods
and setting out towards Ypres, sometimes driving their cows before
them.

As we climbed into the car, which had been placed for shelter behind
the strongest looking wall in the town, and slowly started for Ypres,
a section of the 10th Canadian Battalion came along with our friend,
Major Maclaren, whom I had talked to at Brielen earlier in the
afternoon, at its head. I waved my hand to him and called "good luck."
He waved his hand in answer with a cheery smile. A couple of hours
later he was wounded and was sent back in the little battalion Ford
car, with another officer, to the ambulance in Vlamertinge. While
passing through Ypres a shell blew both officers' heads off.

At the fork of the roads, Lt.-Col. Mitchell of Toronto, of the
headquarters staff, who was directing traffic, came over and asked us
if we had seen certain Canadian battalions pass by. We told him we had
and we shook hands as we wished each other "good luck," not knowing
whether we should ever meet again. We picked up a load of wounded
Turcos and took them into the ambulance at Ypres. Fresh shell holes
pitted the road and dead horses lay at the side of it. One corner in
particular near Ypres had been shelled very heavily, and broken stone,
pavé and bricks lay scattered about everywhere.

All the while the roar of guns and the whistle of flying shells had
increased. We reached the ambulance in Ypres between dusk and dark; it
was light enough to see that the front of the building, which had been
intact earlier in the afternoon, had been already scarred with pieces
of flying shells. The shutters which had been closed were torn and
splintered, and the brick work was pitted with shrapnel. We forced our
Turcos to descend and enter the ambulance, though from their protests
I judged they would have much preferred a continuous passage to the
country beyond Ypres.

As we entered the door Major Hardy (now Colonel Hardy, D.S.O.) was
found operating on one of his own men; the man had been blown off a
water cart down the street and his leg and side filled with shrapnel.
It was rather weird to see this surgeon coolly operating as if he was
in a hospital in Canada, and to hear the shells screaming overhead and
exploding not far away, any one of which might at any moment blow
building, operator and patient to pieces. That is one of the beauties
of the army system; each one in the army "carries on" and does his own
particular bit under all circumstances.

A terrific bang in the street outside, followed by the rattling and
crash of glass and falling of bricks, caused Rad to remark "there goes
the good old Lozier car." At the same time the piercing shrieks of a
woman rang out down the street, shrieks as from a woman who might have
had her child killed. We went to the door and looked out; the Lozier
was still intact, though later on we found the rounded corner of the
metal body of the car bent as though a piece of pavé or metal of
several pounds weight had struck it, and the floor of the car was
covered with bits of broken glass and brick.

Major Hardy asked us to take his patient on to Vlamertinge as it was
doubtful when a motor ambulance would return, and we were glad to do
so. After being given the usual dose of anti-tetanic serum, he was
wrapped in blankets and made comfortable in the back seat. We shook
hands with the Major and started off for Vlamertinge.

It was too risky to go through the centre of the town on account of
falling walls, chimneys, and the swiftly descending fragments of
houses blown skyward. So we skirted the town and tried to get down a
side road to Vlamertinge. It was choked with refugees and transport,
and the military traffic policeman strongly advised us to take the
main road from Ypres. As there was no alternative we drove back to the
water tower in the city. This road was clear, for nobody was going
into Ypres at that time by that particular intersecting road.

We made all possible speed to get through the town and into the main
Ypres-Vlamertinge road. There wagons began to pass us going the
opposite way, the horses whipped into a gallop as they made haste to
get through the town to the bridge-head on the far side. Motor
transport lorries also drove at full speed to get by this danger point
as quickly as possible. As we cleared the town again, the traffic
became heavier, and we gradually worked into and formed part of a
great human stream with various eddies and back currents.

It was now dark, and but for the feeble light of a young moon, which
sometimes broke through the clouds and faintly illuminated the road,
nothing could be seen. All headlights were out, and not even the light
of a hand lantern or flashlight was permitted. Yet one's eyes became
accustomed to the dark, and when the pale moonlight came through we
could dimly see over on our right a line of French Turcos moving like
ghosts along towards Vlamertinge. Next them were the fleeing refugees
with their bundles, wagons and push carts, and their cows being driven
before them. If there was a cart, the old man or old lady would
invariably be seated on the top of the load, sometimes holding the
baby.

In the centre of the road we groped our way along with infinite care.
A shadow would sometimes bear down on the car, and suddenly swerve to
one side as a horseman trotted by. A motor lorry would approach within
a few feet of us before the driver would see, and stop before we
crashed into each other. On the left were troops standing by all along
the roadside, and we felt very proud as we realized that they were
Canadians, and that they were the only troops at hand to plug the gap
made by the German poison gases.

At one time the road became jammed, and we had visions of staying all
night in the midst of a road block. Gradually, with the aid of mounted
gendarmes and our military police, the mass, composed of cows, wagons,
horses, dogcarts, refugee men, women and children, with hand wagons
and baby carriages; motor lorries, horse transport, lumber wagons,
motor cycles, touring cars, and mounted horsemen, was dissolved, and
slowly began again to flow in both directions. Looking backward we
could see the red glow of fires burning in different parts of Ypres
and the bright flashes of shells as they burst over that much
German-hated city. All around the salient star shells flared into the
sky and remained suspended for a few minutes as they threw a white
glare over the surrounding country, silhouetting the trees against the
sky like ghosts before they died away and fell to earth.

At last we reached Vlamertinge and turned into the yard occupied by
No. 3 Field Ambulance. Our car was known, and several officers came
forward to see if we had any authentic news. Our patient, whom they
recognized as belonging at one time to themselves, was carried into
shelter, and we also entered the building. Lying on the floors were
scores of soldiers with faces blue or ghastly green in colour choking,
vomiting and gasping for air, in their struggles with death, while a
faint odour of chlorine hung about the place.

These were some of our own Canadians who had been gassed, and I felt,
as I stood and watched them, that the nation who had planned in cold
blood, the use of such a foul method of warfare, should not be allowed
to exist as a nation but should be taken and choked until it, too,
cried for mercy.

We could not help smiling as we shook hands with Captain Boyd, who had
been shot in the calf of the leg and was now getting the wound
dressed, particularly when he heard that Captain Scrimger had already
been ordered to replace him. (Captain Scrimger won the V.C. the
following day).

We offered our car to the Colonel of the ambulance for the night, but
he had to stay at his work, and the car was not very suitable for
evacuating wounded. As we could not be of use, we reluctantly passed
on out of the fighting zone toward home, and the refugees being not
so numerous we could travel faster.

    [Illustration: GERMAN BARRAGE FIRE AT NIGHT.]

Near the entrance to Poperinge a British Major came over to our car as
we were showing our passes to a military policeman. "Are you Canadian
officers?" he said.

"We are," I answered.

"Then would you mind telling your Canadian transport drivers to stop
going up and down this road; they insist on doing it, and I can't stop
them."

"There is a big battle up in the salient," I said. "Shells and many
other things are needed; our men have been sent for them and know what
they want; I wouldn't interfere with them if I were you."

He looked at us as though we were hopeless idiots, and we drove on.
The motor ambulance convoy, which we had been asked to have sent
forward, had already gone, and our last errand was done. Putting on
our headlights and opening the throttle, we tore homeward, reaching
Merville at eleven o'clock.

When we arrived at the Mess, Captain Ellis, who had been anxiously
waiting, said that we looked grey, drawn and ghastly, partly perhaps
from the effects of the poisonous gas. We had an intensely interested
listener as we recounted our experiences and drew plans of the line as
we thought it probably existed at the moment. Whether the Germans
could get through or not was the dominant question. Nothing lay
between them and Calais but the Canadian Division, and whether the
Canadians could hang on long enough in face of this new terror of
poison gas until new troops arrived, no one could even venture to
guess. We felt that they would do all that men could do under the
circumstances, but without means of combating the poison it was
doubtful what any troops could do. Supposing the Germans just kept on
discharging gas? Nothing under heaven apparently could stop them from
walking over the dead bodies of our soldiers, choked to death like
drowned men. We could not decide the question that time alone could
answer, and we went to bed to spend a long sleepless night longing for
the day, when we would get news of the battle.

The next afternoon I was sent for by General Sir Henry Rawlinson,
commanding the corps in our area. He had heard that I had seen the gas
discharged the day before and wanted to know what the gas was, what
the effect had been, how it could be combated and, in fact, all about
it. When I had finished my narrative he placed a large map in front of
me and asked me to sketch out the part of the line where the gas had
been discharged, and how I thought the line should be at the present
moment. I did my best, tyro as I was. It was one of the satisfactory
moments of my life when the General drew the map to one side and
showed me a map of the line as it really was, given him by General
Foch that very morning. The maps were identical, and the General
smiled a smile of appreciation as he thanked me for the assistance
that our laboratory had given in helping to diagnose and combat this
new mode of warfare, and I left his office feeling that we had been of
some real use in the war even if we never did anything else.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE AFTERMATH OF THE GAS.


The day after the gas attack I reported to headquarters, that in my
opinion the gas used was chlorine with possibly an admixture of
bromine, and that a mask with a solution of "Hypo" to cover the nose
and mouth would probably absorb the gas and destroy its effectiveness.
I also suggested that the battle area be searched for masks which the
Germans were sure to have had prepared as a protection for their own
men. (Most of the morning I had spent in bed with an attack of
bronchitis suffering from the effects of the gas.)

Later I learned that German prisoners had given the information that
the gas was contained in cylinders but would not admit that they knew
what kind of gas it was. They also said that the men who operated the
tanks wore protective masks and gloves.

All that day the Indians of the Lahore division from our area were
passing through our town on the way to Ypres.

On Sunday afternoon Captain Ellis and I left for Vlamertinge to find
out just what had happened. The suspense had become terrible and we
felt like quitters because we were not in the salient fighting with
our fellows. At Poperinge we saw a cart on the road beside a house
which had been recently blown down by a shell. As we drove slowly by,
a wounded old woman was carried out and laid beside the bodies of two
other white-haired women who had just been dug out of the ruins.
Though fatally injured, they were still living, and I shall never
forget the pitiful looks on those ashy gray faces as they looked up
into my face with eyes like those of sheep about to be slaughtered.

At No. 3 Canadian Field Ambulance we found that 2,600 Canadian
casualties had already passed through during the three days since the
gas attack. We heard there that Major Mothersill, Medical officer of
the Eighth Battalion, had been lying out in front of the lines for two
days, unable to move and apparently paralyzed. It was one of those
personal experiences which brings the war home to us with startling
reality, for I had made a tour of his area with him just a few days
before. You hear of the loss of a thousand men and it affects you very
little, but if you know personally a single one of the thousand, the
news of his death may give you the blues for days. The loss of a
million unknown Russians does not really mean as much to one as the
loss of a single friend.

On our return trip we passed a large number of London busses loaded
with wounded; they were all sitting-up cases and were a very happy
looking lot. It was an odd sight to see bus after bus tearing down
that long, straight road, with the tall trees on either hand, each bus
with rows of soldiers seated on the upper deck, with heads and arms
bandaged, looking about at everything with the greatest
interest,--like tourists rather than men who had just come from the
very gates of hell. They waved hearty greetings to the French
artillery which was then pouring up the side roads.

As the French 75's bumped along the roads, drawn by rat-tailed, wiry
horses, they looked like pale blue, painted wooden guns, instead of
what they were--the deadliest weapon that the war had till then
produced. An officer who watched them the following day gallop onto
the field, unlimber and start firing, told me that the way their fire
covered that front was an absolutely uncanny sight. With mathematical
precision the shells would begin to drop at one end of a field and cut
out a belt across it from side to side, the belt growing as each
explosion threw up a splash of dust from the showers of shrapnel;
having completed the belt they would begin another a few yards farther
back until the whole field had been covered and not a soldier hiding
anywhere in it left alive.

On the day of the first gas attack there were soldiers everywhere back
of the line; that day as we drove home there was not a single one to
be seen. They had all gone forward toward the front where they could
be of the greatest use.

When the French people of the little villages through which we passed
saw the name "Canadian" on our car they nudged each other and repeated
the word "Canadien." It was the name in everybody's mouth those days,
for it was now general knowledge that the Canadian division had thrown
itself into the gap and stemmed the German rush to Calais. The whole
world was ringing with the story of how the colonial troops had barred
the road to the channel to a force many times its size in men and
guns, and armed with poison gas, the most terrible device of warfare
that had yet been invented.

And well may it be said that the 22nd of April, 1915, was, to the
allies, one of the two most vital days since the beginning of the war.
The Germans had planned to break through and seize the French coast
along the narrowest portion of the channel. Once established there
they would have attempted to cover the channel with their long range
naval guns, while they would have established for their submarines
harbours which could be protected by the same guns. Under such
circumstances, cross channel traffic and the maintenance of our lines
of communication would have proved to be a very difficult matter
indeed, for the subs would then, at any time, have easy access to our
channel path.

The importance of the Canadian fight during that first twenty-four
hours was out of all ratio to the size of our forces. The whole
success of the battle hinged on the attack by two battalions on the
morning of the 23rd of April. These two battalions were sent up into
the centre of the gap left in the line by the retreat of the French
colonials. Supported by four field guns, they advanced steadily under
a terrific fire from the enemy. As General Mercer said to me
afterwards, it was, according to the book, probably as crazy a bit of
military tactics as could possibly have been tried, but the very
daring of the attempt proved its success. The Germans, believing that
such a counter attack must be backed up by much stronger forces,
hesitated to come on and the day was saved, for while they hesitated
and made sure of their ground, troops were hurried up from other parts
of the line and the Huns had missed their chance. That first night if
the Germans had simply walked ahead they would have found nothing to
stop them, but they were too much dazed with their own success to
realize the situation and take advantage of it.

Naturally we were thrilled with pride at the success of the division;
we had been present at its birth; we had watched it through the
various vicissitudes of its eventful career; and now its great
opportunity had come. Now its name had been indelibly written on the
scroll of fame. It had saved the situation in one of the most critical
happenings of the whole war.

The next day the General of the fourth corps, accompanied by his
staff, paid a visit to our laboratory, and the General told us that
the Germans had tried their gases on the Belgians the very day after
they had gassed the French and Canadian colonial troops. But the
Belgians breathed through wet handkerchiefs till the gas had passed
over, and when the Germans came on, full of confidence in the efficacy
of their deadly new weapon, the Belgians gave them a severe punishing.

On April 27th the three of us started out after 5 o'clock to the
Canadian area in search of news. The military policeman on the road at
the outskirts of Poperinge on being queried said, "All right, no
shells to-day in Pop." But we got only about 150 yards into the town
when there was a terrific hair-raising explosion near us, followed by
showers of bricks and bits of whizzing shell. It was a shell of very
high calibre, and as we passed the next cross street and looked up
it, we could see four houses settling into dust and a few people
running towards the spot. A telephone wire cut by a flying fragment
fell upon a car just ahead of us. It looked funny to see the doors of
the houses along the street belch forth their inmates who rushed to
the shutters, banged them to, rushed in again and no doubt hid
themselves in the cellars. It reminded us exactly of the actions of a
flock of chickens when a hawk appears in the sky.

A moment after, as we were leaving the town, another shell went
screaming overhead, exploded to our right near the station close to
the road, while a third went off on our left. Some Belgian soldiers
who were bringing in a wounded man on their shoulders dropped flat
upon the ground, letting the poor wounded chap fall with a crash. We
opened the throttle and speeded on. A motor ambulance convoy loaded
with wounded flew by us toward the base; in fact everything on the
road was going at top speed that evening. We buttoned our coats up to
our throats and took a fresh grip on our cigars as we tore up the road
into that "unhealthy" district, feeling that we must go on. "This is
the life," said the Major with a grin. Perhaps it was foolish but the
excitement was worth the danger.

In the fields by the roadside were picketed cavalry horses, saddled
and bridled, and ready to be mounted at a moment's notice. No
contingency appeared to have been overlooked; everything had been put
into readiness for anything that might happen.

At Vlamertinge everybody was standing by ready for the word to move.
Heavy shelling had been going on all day and the shells were still
coming pretty thickly. The street was littered with broken bricks,
fresh plaster and other debris; on all sides were crumbled walls and
ruined houses. The office of the A.D.M.S., Colonel Foster, had a shell
hole right through it and his desk was covered with plaster. The
office staff occupied the cellar and they informed us that the
officers were housed in a white chateau on the opposite side of the
street. There were several officers there; most of them evidently
thought that we were fools to come voluntarily into a place that they
would have given a good deal to be out of.

The front line was being held, and things were going fairly well in
the salient. But sitting around in a building that was liable to be
blown up any moment was not pleasant work for either officers or men,
and some of the men who had been subjected to the strain for several
days showed unmistakable evidences of it. The Canadians had lost
heavily but as yet no accurate figures were obtainable on account of
the complicated nature of the fighting and the fact that the wounded
were going through several ambulances.

We did not stay any longer than was necessary to obtain the news and
our return trip to Poperinge was a record one. We saw freshly-killed
horses on the roadside, and in the Grande Place in "Pop" the fresh
shell holes showed that the process of hammering was still going on
with undiminishing vigour. Dinner was half over when we reached our
mess that evening. As we entered the room a tin bowl fell to the floor
with a crash. Every person in the room started as though it were a
bomb, and we, fresh from our day's experiences, ducked our heads for
safety. Tired out, we said nothing about our trip and went to bed
early.

The next few days were full of interest. The news from the Canadian
Division was both good and bad, they had had 6,000
casualties,--practically half of the infantry,--but all the reports,
even those of the Germans themselves, agreed in giving them credit
for having fought like fiends and having spoiled the great German
plan. The first lists of the killed had come out and contained the
names of many of my personal friends, and the sense of a great pride
in the achievements of one division was marred by the sorrow for
their loss.

The town of Poperinge was now deserted. Travelling in that direction
one morning I met streams of refugees coming from it and on entering
it found it like a city of the dead. Not a soul could be seen except
one small unit which had been temporarily forgotten. The French
gendarmes had driven the inhabitants out of the place because it was
said to be full of spies who had been of great assistance to the enemy
at a time when any bit of information might be of incalculable value
to them. From one of the men of this stranded unit I obtained a
three-pound piece of the 15-inch shell which had exploded close to us
a few days before.

A non-com of the sanitary section who had come through Ypres an hour
before told me that he had seen an old woman over 80 years of age
sweeping the front sidewalk and polishing the windows. She was perhaps
the only remaining resident.

The city was being steadily reduced to ruins by a continuous avalanche
of shells and he spoke to her and tried to induce her to come with him
but without avail. "She had lived there all her life and she intended
to die there; it had been her custom to clean the windows and sweep
the sidewalks, and if Providence willed that shells should come and
knock down her neighbors' houses and make a lot of dust, she would
just have to sweep oftener, what was the difference anyway?" And so he
had to leave her.

The laboratory at this time was a place of much interest and many
distinguished generals and medical men came to find out about the gas
and methods of combating it. General Headquarters had sent for me to
watch some practical field experiments and to give them the benefit of
our experience on this question. With the chief engineer of the local
army we carried out some experimental work of our own on a large
scale. These experiments led to certain recommendations which were
later found to be of value in making the German gases less effective.
We also did a good deal of experimental laboratory work with other
gases which might possibly be used, with the object of discovering
their antidotes.

On May 5th the Canadian transport was strung along the roads leading
from Ypres and we knew that the division was out for a rest. We hunted
out some of our friends in Bailleul,--some of the few that were left.
There were 7 of the 25 officers in the 3rd (Toronto) battalion and 6
out of the 25 in the 48th Highlanders of Toronto, though the missing
ones had not all been killed. They were greatly changed in
appearance, were very tired, and could tell little of their
experiences in any connected way; at that time they had simply a
succession of blurred impressions; they could recall a terrible
excitement but had little idea of the sequence of events. The men,
sitting around the streets of Bailleul in the sun, looked as if they
had seen and experienced more than they could ever tell.

One of my officer comrades had gone insane, and another had been so
shell shocked that he was of no further use and had been sent to
England,--the latter was one of those officers whom I had seen in the
little club house at Winnezeele. Two of my friends had been buried out
in the front one night with two other officers--all in the one shell
hole.

The medical officer, Captain Haywood, conducted the burial without
candle or book. The green white light from the German flares and the
red flashes of the guns was the only light to show the sad little
party where their erstwhile comrades rested. The lay parson, exhausted
with seventy hours' continuous work, and unable to recall a single
word of the burial service, broke huskily into this rugged
commendation, "Well, boys, they were four damn good fellows; let us
repeat the Lord's prayer," but they couldn't manage to say even the
Lord's prayer among them.

What a setting for a soldier funeral! The black night, the roar and
flash of the guns and the green flare of the German star shells
silhouetting those bowed heads above the soldiers' grave. What a
fitting tribute to a soldier! The broken voice with the rough and
ready words of praise: "They were four damn good fellows." What more
could be said? What more would any soldier desire?

One chap had seen General Mercer, with his aide-de-camp by his side,
crossing a fire-swept field deliberately stop in the middle of it to
light his pipe. Everybody agreed that the General was the coolest man
in sight that day. The Aide himself assured me that it took several
matches to light the General's pipe and that the matches were the
slow-burning variety; he said that it seemed to him to have taken
about an hour to light that pipe, and all the time he was wishing
himself safe in the shelter of a ditch. It had not been mere bravado
on the General's part but a deliberately planned act to steady his
men.

Some of the Canadian soldiers came into the dressing stations during
the battle, accoutred in wonderful equipment that had taken their
fancies. One wounded chap wore an Indian's turban, a French officer's
spurs and a British officer's pistol.

Major W.D. Allan had seven bullet holes in his clothing, two of them
through his hat; and yet his skin was not broken. The nearest approach
to a wound was a big triangular bruise on his shoulder, made by a
piece of spent high explosive. One of the bullets had gone through his
hat and tipped it over his eyes as his unit was falling back from one
trench to another; he said that he was positive he had broken the
world's record for a hundred yards in the next few seconds.

The First Battalion, at whose mess I dined one night, had lost 400 out
of a total of 800 men during a 600-yard advance into the breach made
by the German gas in the face of a terrific fire.

Meanwhile preparations were in progress for a battle in our area
evidently for the purpose of relieving the pressure on the line
elsewhere, and on the 9th of May we were wakened at 4.30 a.m. by the
final bombardment. I had been invited to witness the battle by a
general on the staff but I was unable to go.

The first wounded came in about noon and by four o'clock the hospital
where we took our meals was filled. From the windows above we could
see scores of wounded lying in rows on stretchers in that sunny
courtyard, some conscious and others unconscious. Every conscious
wounded soldier held a cigarette between his lips and I even saw them
going in to the operating table smoking. The wounded were a depressed
lot that day; the men themselves realized that they had been badly cut
up for little purpose, for the wire had not been destroyed and they
had been unable to make any progress. The authorities in England had
not yet realized that high explosives were necessary to cut wire in
spite of the fact that everybody in the field knew it. It required a
newspaper agitation to convert some of the authorities as to the need
of high explosives.

After a rest the Canadians took over a new piece of line near
Festubert, and a hot spot it was. We knew this area well as far
forward as the advanced dressing stations, and had been there by day
and night in the car.

When the Canadian attack at Festubert began, I was wakened one night
by a lull in the booming of the guns, and got up to sit by the
window. It was one of those still nights in June when every sound
carries for miles. The odours of sweet flowers floated up from the
garden below, and the splash, splash of frogs hopping into the river
could be heard from time to time. The guns had stopped, but the rattle
of rapid rifle fire was as distinct as if it had been only half a mile
away; then the rattle of machine guns could be distinguished,
succeeded by the explosions of hand grenades, and I knew that the
Canadians were hard at it, probably with the bayonet. It was not a
comfortable feeling to sit seven miles away and listen to a succession
of sounds so full of meaning, nor is a vivid imagination a good thing
for a soldier to have in the field.

The following day a young lieutenant whom I had hunted out three days
before, came in to the clearing station down the street, wounded in
shoulder, head, hip and leg, with shrapnel. That boy is now Major
Mavor, M.C., D.S.O.

Two days after, we drove over to headquarters of the 1st army. With
the sun setting in a gorgeous glow, and with hedges in full blossom,
Flanders was transformed for once that evening into a land of beauty.

About ten o'clock we heard a hum of an aeroplane overhead and then a
series of explosions, like those of a heavy gun. Flashes were seen in
the direction of a French town where there were great steel works and
we drove home that way. The inhabitants of the country and the hamlets
along the road were all out of doors gazing at the sky, and as we
entered the bombed town we found everybody quite excited. Eight bombs
had been dropped in the place, but none of them had any effect,
except to rouse the populace to a condition of excitement.

Our headlights were burning, and suspicion was evidently aroused as to
the possibility of this being connected with the attack, for we were
suddenly halted by a blue-coated French soldier stepping in front of
the car and holding his gun above his head in the usual way while
eight other French soldiers surrounded us. Some of them pointed
bayonets threateningly at us while we were all covered by rifles. It
was quite a picture. Our headlights shone brilliantly on the three men
in front, while the faces of the others, nearly all with moustachios
and goatees, lit up by the moon and the glare of the red lights from
the works, looked most ferocious. The slender, flashing French
bayonets seemed to be at least three feet long.

As we waited to be identified, a British sergeant lounged forward, a
little the worse for beer, and nodded cordially as he leaned
carelessly on the front door and explained all about the bombs. At a
word from him the Frenchmen fell back, and we moved on. Every house
seemed to have a soldier on guard, but we were not questioned further,
and drove peacefully home along the canal, whose iris-decked banks
were perfectly reflected in its glassy waters in the brilliant
moonlight.

Again I changed my billet by the bridge to live at a fine old house
farther up the river. It had a beautiful old garden which was
separated from the street by a high iron fence on a brick foundation.
Walnut trees from the garden overhung the street and shaded a little
octagonal summer house. The old-fashioned, square, red brick house
faced the lawn, in the centre of which was an elongated brick-lined
pool of water with a bridge over it. In the centre of the lawn was a
large polished silver ball on a pedestal; this was regarded as a fine
ornament. The lawn was separated from the garden by a high hedge. The
garden proper, a real old-fashioned one, containing many berry bushes,
fruit trees, and a few old-fashioned flowers, ran right back to the
river. A brick boundary wall kept the river from washing away the
banks, and brick steps led down to a little floating platform. There
was much shade in that old French garden; it was the most peaceful and
restful place that I ever found in France. Even aeroplanes sailing
overhead on their missions of destruction seemed from my garden to be
harmless.

I always took my French lesson there after dinner, when the bees
droned about and one had an irresistible desire to sleep. My teacher,
Professor Paul Balbaud, had been a lecturer in Toronto University, and
at this time was drawing the magnificent sum of one cent a day as a
private in the French 77th territorial regiment. On one occasion he
presented me with ten days' pay which he had received that very
morning, and I had the two five-sou silver pieces made into watch
charms. Monsieur Balbaud was engaged in the telegraph service, and was
an excellent teacher. Later on that year the pay of the French soldier
was raised to five cents a day.

Madam Carré, a dear old lady, owned the house and she was kindness
itself. Nothing was too good for the Canadians. Her grand-daughter, a
tall good looking girl of Spanish descent, twenty-one years of age,
had been married seven months when the war broke out, and her husband,
an artillery man, had been killed. Three times a day during that first
year did the girl go to church to pray for the safety of her husband,
for she would not believe him dead.

I was wakened the very first night at my new billet, about 2 a.m., by
the rat-a-tat of a kettle-drum, and two dreary notes continuously
repeated by a bugle. It was the alarm for a fire at a farmhouse about
half a mile from town. Our men from the hospital helped to get most of
the furniture out, and were standing around watching the farmhouse and
barns burn down, when the 17 Brigade Lancers appeared with the hand
hose-reel, which, however, proved to be useless. The Lancers had
broken into the fire hall and stolen the apparatus.

The local firemen afterwards came to the fire hall but found the
engine gone; after some discussion they went home and donned their
white duck trousers, blue tunics, and polished brass helmets. The fire
chief and first deputy then had a dispute about something which
resulted in the deputy going home in a huff, while the chief and the
second deputy (the whole fire brigade) resplendent in their spotless
uniforms of white, blue and gold, marched out to the fire. The British
soldiers lined up when they saw them coming, and gave them three
rousing cheers, while one of the Tommies solemnly swept the road
before them with a broom. As my chauffeur "Rad" said, "It was just
like a scene from a blinking comic opera."

The area was now well known to us, for, in the course of our work, we
had been over every bit of road in it. It was very noticeable how the
farmhouses along some roads, which paralleled the front line trenches
about one and a half miles behind it, gradually disappeared. On Monday
perhaps we would have to go down to a certain battery located on this
road, and there would be a dozen intact farmhouses in the course of a
half mile. On Friday of the same week, one or more of them would be
burned down, while the shell holes in the fields and road around them
indicated deliberate concentration of fire.

Our work was interesting and we kept busy all the time. The monotony
of working seven days a week, however, becomes very great after a few
weeks and seriously affects the health and the ability to work. In the
other army services work came in periodical bursts; ours was a steady
grind of seven days a week.

We saw the hay mowed and gathered in; we noticed the grain fields
gradually turn to gold, saw the reaping and all other operations of
mixed farming carried on in all its interesting detail. Meanwhile the
First Canadian Division had settled down in the Ploegsteert section,
which was out of our area, and the second Canadian Division had
arrived and joined up with them. The Second Division had come over to
teach the First Division a lot of things and there was a fair amount
of feeling between them as will be seen from the following
confidential conversation between two brothers in different
divisions, upon meeting for the first time:

"Say, we have had a hell of a time trying to live down your
reputation," said the younger brother.

"Yes, and you will also have a hell of a time trying to live up to it,
too," retorted the senior.

And there the matter rested until events subsequently showed that both
divisions were composed of exactly the same stuff.



CHAPTER IX.

THE MEDICAL ORGANIZATION OF THE BRITISH ARMY.


Each battalion at the front has a headquarters, usually in a dug-out
or a sheltered farm house close to the lines: each brigade, consisting
of four infantry battalions has a headquarters farther to the rear:
each division, consisting of three infantry brigades, artillery, etc.
has a divisional headquarters in some town, still farther to the rear,
out of shell range: each corps comprising two to four divisions has
its headquarters in a town back of this again: each army, composed of
two to four corps, has its headquarters still farther to the rear, and
the popular idea of the Tommy is that since the respective
headquarters occupy bigger and bigger chateaux the farther back they
go, away back somewhere in a town all by himself, living in a big
castle from which he operates everything, is the commander-in-chief of
the whole British Army.

General headquarters is usually a very busy place, for there are the
heads of the various services of the army, and all the orders
affecting the army as a whole are issued through it. The offices of
the chiefs of the services are business offices and are operated in a
most business-like way. The system is so perfect that it is difficult
to escape from it should an order be neglected or a duty left undone.

Among these chiefs is the Director-General of Medical Services of the
British Army in the field, General Sir Arthur Sloggett. Through him
and his deputy, General Macpherson, went all the general orders
affecting the health of the army.

At the head of each army medical service is a Surgeon-General (D.M.S.,
or Director of Medical Services), and at the head of each corps a full
colonel (D.D.M.S. or Deputy Director of Medical Service). The chief
medical man of each division is also a full colonel (the A.D.M.S. or
Assistant Director of Medical Services), and he is responsible for the
operation of the field ambulances and the evacuation of the wounded to
the casualty clearing station while his division is in the firing
line. The medical officers of battalions and the sanitary squad are
also under him.

The casualty clearing stations and the mobile laboratories, are under
the D.M.S. of the army, who is responsible for the clearing of the
hospitals by motor ambulance convoys and by hospital train.

There are normally three field ambulances to each division and one
casualty clearing station. The number of base hospitals to each
division is normally two, but as many of these are utilized as are
needed. They are scores of miles from the fighting zone, and do not
particularly concern us here.

When a battalion medical officer or sanitary officer wishes to make a
report or suggestion he does so through the A.D.M.S. of the division.
In the same way the A.D.M.S. of the division communicates with the
D.D.M.S. of the corps; the D.D.M.S. of the corps with the D.M.S. of
the army, and the D.M.S. of the army with the D.G.M.S. at G.H.Q. A
battalion medical officer cannot go over the head of his A.D.M.S.,
nor could the latter pass his D.D.M.S. to make a report or suggestion.
Everything must go up or down the system through the various heads,
and no side stepping is permitted.

The front line trenches were about seven miles from our laboratory
which was located in a town with three casualty clearing stations, a
railroad and canal. This made it possible to evacuate the wounded
rapidly to the base by means of hospital trains and barges during an
engagement.

The system which enables a sick or wounded man to be removed from the
front is simple enough. Each day the medical officer of a battalion,
who himself may be located in a dug-out in the trenches themselves or
in a cellar of a house not far behind the trenches, holds a "sick
parade" at his "regimental aid post." During a battle the wounded are
collected by the regimental stretcher bearers and brought to the aid
post.

Any soldier who is feeling unwell reports to the M.O. of the battalion
who, if the trouble is a minor one, may give him some suitable
medicine. It is one of the difficulties of the M.O. to distinguish
between a case of genuine illness and a fakir or "scrimshanker," and a
good supply of common sense and a knowledge of human nature is a great
asset in making correct diagnoses. It is almost impossible, for
example, to distinguish between a genuine case of rheumatism and a
clever imitation of it, because the only symptoms are pains, the
effects of which can easily be simulated by a soldier. If the man
shows serious symptoms he is sent back to the "advanced dressing
station" which will probably be a mile or so behind the front line
trenches, if possible in a house and on a road accessible to motor
ambulances.

If the man can walk he goes through the nearest communication trench;
if wounded he is given first aid, and if unable to walk he is helped
or carried back by stretcher bearers from the ambulance--to the
dressing station.

Some of these dressing stations taking in wounded under shell fire
were located in shell-proof dugouts. At many points light narrow gauge
railroads had been built which ran from the dressing stations right up
to the trenches. On these railways little cars pushed by hand were
used both for bringing out the wounded during a battle and for taking
in food, water and other supplies. It is, of course, impossible to lay
such railways in many parts of the lines where they would be exposed
to direct observation by the enemy, but they are becoming more and
more numerous as their value in saving time and labour in the "man
handling" of food and trench supplies has been proved. At one of these
dressing stations where the railway came right up to the shell proof
dugouts fresh shell holes in the neighborhood testified to the fact
that the work of the field ambulances is at times not unmixed with
excitement.

The cases which accumulate at the advanced dressing station are given
further treatment if required, and are evacuated by motor ambulance,
usually at night, as the road to the station is frequently under the
enemy's observation, to the field ambulance proper where they are
given further treatment or dressings as the necessity may be.

From the field ambulance the sick and wounded are cleared by motor
ambulance convoy to the casualty clearing station, or possibly in
cases of tired or slightly shell-shocked officers and men, to the rest
stations or convalescent hospitals, of which there are a number well
behind the firing line.

At the casualty clearing station the men are checked over, their
wounds redressed, operations performed, and all the work done
necessary to enable the men to be passed on to the base hospital by
hospital train or barge. These clearing stations, of which there are
usually three in a town, may keep certain serious cases for days until
it is deemed advisable to send them on.

While one clearing station is filling up and treating the patients,
the other will be sending all possible treated cases down the line.
From the base hospitals, which are near the sea, the men are forwarded
as soon as advisable by hospital ships for distribution among the
hospitals of England.

While a battle is in progress the men pass through this system so
rapidly that they may be wounded one morning and be in a hospital in
England the next.

The medical officer, of course, is attached to the battalion, and goes
everywhere with it, and under him are a number of stretcher bearers
who gather up the wounded. The advanced dressing station is merely an
advanced party from the field ambulance which itself is divided into
three sections, each of which may operate independently according to
the nature of the country. Each ambulance is self-contained, having
its own transport, and by using tents can work in an area which has no
houses or other shelter.

The casualty clearing station, on the other hand, having an
established capacity of nearly 600 beds, has much heavier equipment
and is not supposed to be a mobile unit, though it is capable of
moving with the aid of its two lorries by making repeated trips. Many
of the casualty clearing stations are located in huts which can be
torn down and moved forward and rebuilt by the engineers and
construction units.

There is also in each division a sanitary section composed of one
officer and 25 men, whose function it is to keep an eye on the
sanitation of the divisional area, report failure on the part of units
to observe the established sanitary regulations, see that the
incinerators are operated, have new sources of drinking water tested,
look after the bath houses on occasion, search for cases of typhoid
fever, etc., among the civilian population, and, in general, make
itself as useful as possible.

The British army regulations are such that each officer and man must
be a sanitarian and must not only observe the regulations but see that
others do the same; the principle underlying this system being that
"if each before his doorstep swept the village would be clean."
Consequently it is not left to the sanitary section to clean up a
divisional area, but rather to report those responsible for not
keeping it clean. In this way every man is made a responsible party,
and if the officers of any unit see that the regulations are enforced
by each man, the unit will be a sanitary one.

Naturally as the battalion M.O. is directly connected with the field
ambulance to which he sends his cases, he is most interested in the
efficiency of that unit. Since the field ambulances are under the
direct supervision of the A.D.M.S. of the division, you will find the
latter during a battle visiting these to see that they are operating
smoothly and whether more motor ambulances, stretchers, supplies or
other necessities are being provided.

At the same time you will find the D.M.S. of the army visiting his
special pets, the casualty clearing stations, and seeing that the
evacuation of the wounded by train is working smoothly.

The hospital trains are specially fitted up with beds, kitchens and
dispensaries, and with nurses and a medical officer in charge.

The hospital barges make the finest little hospitals that you could
desire. They are the ordinary flat-bottomed square-ended Dutch barges,
roofed in, and when the interior has been cleared out they form
elongated covered floating boxes. Skylights in the roof give a
splendid light, and the barges are wide enough to allow of two rows of
beds with an aisle down the middle. The medical officer's surgery and
bedroom are at one end of the barge, while the nurses' quarters are at
the other.

The barge is entered through the roof by a stairway, and the first
impression one gets on descending these is one of cosiness and
restfulness that is never forgotten. Whether the barge is moving or at
rest cannot be determined while one is inside, because the motion is
so easy through these sleepy placid canals. Usually only serious cases
that cannot stand the vibration and jar of a train journey are taken
by the water route.

In the British Army there are specialists of renown in medicine and
surgery who are supposed to supervise the medical and surgical work of
a certain given area. They travel about, find anything new that occurs
of interest, act as advisers, and hand on to other units the special
information or "stunts" that have been worked out or discovered at
home or in the field. The consulting surgeons are usually to be found
during a battle operating where there is the greatest need of skilled
surgery.

Besides the sanitary officer of each division there is a sanitary
officer for each army, and a chief sanitary officer for the whole
expeditionary force. These are all in touch with the sanitary adviser
at the base and the authorities in England. Since, under war
conditions, new developments are always taking place in this work, the
knowledge gained of practical value filters through to the army by
these channels as well as through the scientific journals.

Each army is provided in the field with one or more "advanced depots
of medical stores" which keep on hand and give out the drugs and
medical materials demanded by the various hospitals and medical units.
If, for example, a field ambulance wants a lot of iodine, absorbent
cotton, etc., the officer commanding sends an ambulance with an indent
signed by himself, and the officer in charge of the depot hands over
the material required.

There are other branches of the service, like the gas schools and
inland water service, which, though strictly not medical, are closely
akin to it.

It would be of little avail to speak of all the minute detail, of
which there is a tremendous amount in each and every one of these
offices and sections of the medical service. The methods of filing
correspondence and records alone is wonderful when one thinks of the
conditions and number of men involved, and comparatively few mistakes
are made. This appears the more remarkable when one has had numerous
experiences with the mistakes made in the offices in England where one
would think the systems would have been systematized long ago.

The medical service of the British Army in France is a marvel of
efficiency and one that the nation can well afford to be proud of.



CHAPTER X.

KEEPING THE BRITISH SOLDIER FIT.


The history of war has always been a history of epidemics. The fact
that in an army men are crowded together makes it easy for all
communicable diseases, once introduced, to spread with great rapidity.
And because soldiers are always associated with the civilian
population, it means that such diseases are readily communicated from
the army to the civilians, and from the civilians to the army. It is
therefore apparent that during a war, disease, unless quickly checked,
may run like wild fire through a country, and be disseminated far and
wide by soldiers returning to and from their own homes, or other
distant places while on leave.

Advances made in our knowledge of how diseases are spread and
controlled, particularly through recent studies in bacteriology and
immunity, have made it possible to keep communicable diseases in
absolute subjection. The marvel of the age is the lack of epidemic
disease in the army to-day. This is particularly striking in view of
our experiences in other recent wars. In the Franco-Prussian war of
1870, for instance, smallpox was fanned into a great flame, and there
resulted the largest smallpox epidemic in 80 years. It is interesting
to note that the medical authorities in Paris, in the first year and a
half of the present war, vaccinated over 25,000 strangers passing
through Paris; they are taking no chances with another outbreak of
smallpox.

In the Boer War the British losses through typhoid fever alone were
8,000 against 7,700 killed by bullets, shells and other agencies.

The British army of nearly five million men in France and England
to-day, has so little typhoid that it is practically a negligible
quantity, and this holds with other communicable diseases. There must
be some basic reason for this freedom from contagious diseases, for we
know that such freedom does not come by accident.

No attempt will be made to deal with those auxiliary forces employed
to keep the men physically and mentally fit. Such things as the
provision of an adequate and wholesome food supply; proper clothing;
amusements, such as games, competitions, horse shows, cinemas, variety
shows; and Y.M.C.A.'s are all an integral part of the machinery
necessary to keep an army in the field well and happy.

Only an attempt will be made to discuss the principles underlying the
prevention of disease in use in the British army in France,--principles
with which the average layman is comparatively unacquainted.

In the first place, it is well to realize that in the temperate
climate of Europe, the vast majority of communicable diseases of
importance from the military standpoint are contracted largely from
three sources:

Group 1. From throat and nose secretions; e.g., diphtheria, measles,
etc.

Group 2. From biting insects; e.g., malaria, typhus fever, plague,
etc.

Group 3. Through intestinal secretions; e.g., typhoid fever, cholera,
dysentery, etc.

The first group, which includes practically all the ordinary diseases
like measles, mumps, whooping cough, influenza, colds, pneumonia,
scarlet fever, diphtheria, etc., is conveyed in most cases by one
infected person transmitting directly to another person,--through
coughing, spitting or sneezing,--germs present in the nose and mouth
secretions.

The second group is conveyed by insects biting people or animals
infected with the disease, and subsequently biting people who are
healthy. In this way the disease-producing organism is introduced into
the body of the healthy person, and beginning to multiply, brings
about the symptoms of the disease. Malaria is transmitted in this way
by the anopheles mosquito; typhus fever by lice, and plague by the rat
flea. These are all diseases greatly to be dreaded in the army.

The third group, including typhoid and paratyphoid fevers, cholera,
and dysentery, all of which are intestinal diseases, is largely
conveyed from the sick to the well indirectly through contaminated
water and food. To develop one of these diseases means that the
excreta of somebody who has the disease or who has had it, has been
taken into the mouth and swallowed, and the germs finding a favorable
medium in the intestines have multiplied and produced the typical
symptoms. One of the chief ways in which this type of infection occurs
is through drinking sewage-contaminated water or milk; another is
through contamination of food by the hands of the person excreting
the germs; and the third is through the contamination of the food or
eating utensils by flies and other insects which carry filth germs
from place to place on their feet and bodies.

With these facts in mind and with some knowledge of sanitation and
medicine it is easy to see how most epidemic diseases can be held in
check. Put briefly, it means that the sanitary organization must be
such that the germs from one infected soldier are prevented from
reaching another, or as is sometimes said, some link in the chain of
circumstances whereby disease germs can pass from one to another, must
be broken.

The methods employed to break these links are simple; the carrying out
of the methods is oftentimes very difficult.

It is obviously essential in the first place to remove from the army,
at the earliest possible moment after it has been diagnosed, every
case of communicable disease. This means the adoption of measures for
picking out soldiers who show symptoms of disease, which really comes
down to the fact that the medical officers must always be on the alert
and carry out the instructions of the director of medical services of
the army with despatch. In the British Army this is one of the most
important features in the control of epidemics. If a man is suspected
of having any communicable disease he is instantly placed under
quarantine until the diagnosis has been confirmed, after which he is
removed from the army area altogether as a possible focus of
infection. The British Army takes no chances, and its wonderful
record of freedom from contagious disease proves that it has been
absolutely sound in its technique.

This is practically the only way of eliminating diseases, such as
measles and scarlet fever which cannot be diagnosed by bacteriological
methods, but of course the procedure is employed in all other kinds of
epidemic disease as well.

Great Britain has been fortunate above all other nations in this
respect that she sent over at first a small army of regular troops,
perfectly equipped from the medical standpoint as well as in every
other way. Efforts had been made for years to remove typhoid carriers
from the regular army, and naturally no soldier was sent into the
field who was known to have typhoid, or to be a carrier of typhoid or
any other contagious disease germs. Furthermore, the soldiers had
practically all been vaccinated against smallpox and inoculated
against typhoid fever.

As division after division was sent out to the army in France, they
too were completely equipped with sanitary squads, casualty clearing
stations, field ambulances, water carts, and other necessary medical
equipment. Consequently as the army grew and expanded into a huge
force it was thoroughly equipped not only with the necessary apparatus
for caring for sick and wounded, but also with the experience acquired
by those already in the field. In this way the British Army differed
from all of our European Allies who had been compelled to mobilize
everything at once and found themselves woefully lacking in medical
equipment and personnel, so much so in fact that they had been in the
beginning unable to handle all epidemics successfully.

With a realization that the medical equipment of the British Army was
complete; that it had been sent into the field free of communicable
diseases; that it had been vaccinated and inoculated against two of
the most dreaded diseases, smallpox and typhoid fever, and that every
reinforcement subsequently sent out had been carefully freed from
suspicious cases of disease, it can be readily understood that the
British Army began under auspicious circumstances, and that thereafter
its freedom from contagious disease depended to a great extent on the
preventive measures adopted.

It is impossible, however, to prevent our soldiers billeted in France
from occasionally contracting communicable diseases from the French
civilian population, and it is obvious that as there were from 3 to 5
per cent. of the soldiers uninoculated against typhoid fever, we would
get some cases of typhoid fever.

Besides this, unless further precautions were taken, the army would be
susceptible to disease such as cholera, dysentery and the like should
there be cases of these in the war zone.

We therefore arrive at the conclusion that, as there might be some
"carriers" and undiagnosed cases of disease among soldiers and
civilians excreting disease germs, additional means must be adopted to
destroy such germs before they could reach other soldiers. This is the
place where sanitation and hygiene steps in, and it is in these
matters that the army of Great Britain is unexcelled by any army in
the field to-day.

Since the group of intestinal diseases can originate only from the
excretions of people who are giving off the specific germs, it would
be logical to endeavour to destroy such excreta or render it incapable
of contaminating water or food. This is done. All excreta behind the
front line and reserve trenches is destroyed in numerous incinerators,
which are kept burning night and day. The British Army is the only
army which has succeeded in doing this. All excreta which cannot be
burned is buried so that it cannot be reached by flies.

As it may happen through accident or carelessness that water supplies
have been contaminated, it is the rule to sterilize all water used for
drinking purposes, either by boiling, by the use of bisulphate of
soda, or by chlorine. The chlorine method is the one in general use in
the British Army, as it is in all of the other allied armies.

The possibility of using chlorine in the field was brought to the
attention of the British Army authorities by the publication of a
method evolved by the writer in 1909. According to this method a stock
solution of hypochlorite of lime was added to the water, the amount
necessary for any given water being determined by a solution of
potassium iodide and starch. This was particularly useful in the
trenches where it was possible to accurately sterilize a pail or a
barrel of water if necessary. Small tablets of hypochlorite of lime,
each one sufficient to sterilize a pail of water, were also ordered
and issued to the first Canadian division, and proved useful.

The great bulk of the water supply, however, is sterilized directly
in the water carts by adding one or two spoonfuls of the dry chloride
of lime to the partly filled water cart, the mixing being done by the
addition of the rest of the water and by agitation during the trip
back to the place where the cart is stationed.

In addition to this, large mobile filter units, after a plan draughted
in September, 1914, and officially suggested by the writer in 1915
after experience in the field, were built and issued to all the
British armies. These mobile filters are capable of filtering and
sterilizing large quantities of water and delivering it to water carts
or into stand pipes, ready to drink. A check is kept on the efficiency
of the filtration and sterilization by mobile field laboratories.

Standing orders forbid the use of unboiled milk in the army as well as
fresh uncooked vegetables, so that there is little danger from these
sources. When ones sees the peasants watering their vegetables with
sewage, the reason for such regulations are apparent.

As it is possible for flies to carry typhoid bacilli and other disease
germs from excreta to food, a constant war is waged against these
filthy insects. Flies breed chiefly in manure, and one fly will
produce many millions of flies in the course of one summer. The
obvious method of keeping down flies is to destroy their breeding
places, and therefore it is the duty of everybody concerned to see
that all manure piles in the army area are gotten rid of. Some of it
is burned, some spread on the fields, some buried, and so forth. On
the other hand food is screened from flies whenever possible, and
privy pits made inaccessible to them by the same means. On the whole
the house fly has not yet, in so far as we know, played any great part
in causing epidemic disease in the British Army in France, because so
many of the precautions outlined have been carried out.

By getting rid of cases of intestinal disease, and "carriers" of
intestinal disease, destruction of excreta and garbage, screening of
food, destruction of breeding places of flies, sterilization of
drinking water, boiling of milk and vegetables, and in the case of
typhoid and paratyphoid fevers, inoculation, the chances of intestinal
disease germs getting through from one person to another are
comparatively small, as the results would indicate.

To show that these results are not due to accident an example will
demonstrate: Early in the war when the British took over from the
French a section of the line in the Ypres salient, the Belgian
population in the little village of Vlamertinge and neighborhood was
being devastated with typhoid fever, and the French troops also had a
great many cases. When the British troops took over the line they not
only escaped getting typhoid fever themselves, but they succeeded in
absolutely stamping it out among the civilian population, and in
getting rid of any "carriers" of the disease.

The cases were discovered by a house-to-house investigation by "The
Friends' Search Party"--a group of Quakers who had conscientious
scruples against bloodshed. This search party notified the medical
authorities, particularly the laboratory in the area, of any doubtful
cases, and the diagnosis was then made by laboratory methods. In the
last six months of my stay in France, near the Belgian border, I do
not think that the Friends' search party unearthed a single case of
typhoid, and as a matter of fact few cases of the ordinary epidemic
diseases such as measles or diphtheria were discovered, although they
continued to make house to house investigations and report to us
regularly.

The insect-borne diseases in the Western Europe war zone are, as far
as we know, carried by flies, lice and mosquitoes. Flies carry disease
germs more or less mechanically, and are controlled by the methods
outlined above.

Mosquitoes are responsible for transmitting malaria and yellow fever,
though the latter never occurs in Europe. Malaria in France is also
comparatively unknown, though we found the Anopheles mosquito which is
responsible for transmitting the disease elsewhere.

There were also numerous cases of malaria recurring in soldiers from
India, Egypt, and other hot countries, so that we had both the
infected individual with the malaria parasites in his blood, and the
mosquito which was capable of carrying the organisms. Yet in 1915 we
had only a dozen cases of malaria develop in men who had never been
out of England, and were therefore, presumably, infected in France.

Possibly the chief reason for this was due to the fact that after the
mosquito has sucked the blood of an individual infected with malaria,
and been infected with the malaria parasite, the weather was not warm
enough for the parasite to undergo its necessary transformation in
the blood of the mosquito. A continuous warm period of several days'
duration is necessary for this purpose, and in France these time
periods never occurred of sufficient duration. Here was a climatic
feature which proved to be of very great importance in preventing the
spread of a disease most inimical to the health of any army.

Here again, any cases of malaria developing were removed as rapidly as
diagnosed, so that mosquitoes did not have much opportunity of
becoming infected.

Typhus fever is one of the most dreaded diseases in the army, for it
is highly fatal, and both in former wars and in the recent Serbian
campaign has proved a terrible scourge. It is quite a different
disease from typhoid fever, and is conveyed from man to man solely
through lice. In other words, the phrase "No lice, no typhus" is
scientifically true.

Every army in the field is a lousy army, and every soldier in a
fighting unit is more or less lousy. The louse commonly present is the
body louse, and it lays its eggs in the seams of the uniforms and on
the underclothes. The eggs hatch out quickly so that when a man once
becomes infected the lice multiply with great rapidity.

For typhus to get a grip on an army means that there must be at least
one case of the disease, and there must be lice on the case. Some of
these lice will fall off, wander away, or be left on the bedding, in
the straw, or in the patient's discarded clothes. If these lice have
bitten the typhus patient and thereby been infected, it seems to be
necessary for a certain length of time to elapse for the organism to
develop in the body of the lice before they are able to introduce the
virus into uninfected individuals by biting them.

As yet there have been no cases of typhus fever in the British Army in
France, though it has occurred to a greater or less extent in Germany,
Austria, Russia and Serbia. The quarantine services at the ports of
the countries bordering on the Mediterranean have prevented it
spreading to any other country.

Typhus fever is known as a dirt disease, and its control is possible
through the plentiful use of soap and water. The most difficult thing
for a soldier to obtain in the field is a bath. Normally he is in the
front line trenches for a week, in the reserve trenches for a week,
and in rest for a week. This means that he cannot get a bath for at
least two weeks, and he doesn't. So that though a soldier goes back
into the trenches clean and free from vermin he is sure to become
reinfected from lice left in the dugouts; or some lice eggs on his
clothes perhaps have escaped destruction, and he may be as lousy as
ever when he comes out of the trenches again. The old straw in the
barns and the billets is sure to be infected with lice, and it is very
difficult to sterilize the men's blankets. Consequently a persistent
continuous fight against this variety of vermin must be kept up, for
lice are not only a potential source of danger in transmitting typhus
fever and relapsing fever, but they are a great source of irritation
to the men and responsible for much loss of sleep.

The greatest luxury at the front is a hot bath, and these are provided
in every divisional area on the British front. Three or four miles
behind the trenches in the rest areas, in places where a plentiful
supply of water can be obtained, the army has established bath houses.
Sometimes a brewery, or part of it, has been taken over for this
purpose, because the breweries all have deep wells from which a
plentiful supply of water can be obtained. If the bath house is in a
brewery they may utilize the large beer barrels cut in two for baths.
These are filled with cold water and live steam turned into the water
to warm it. After the bath the men dump the barrels, which are
immediately refilled by attendants, for the next group.

Most of the bath houses, however, are in improvised shacks built upon
the edge of creeks or ponds. The water is pumped into an elevated
reservoir and heated frequently by means of a threshing machine
boiler, rented or purchased from some neighboring farmer. One section
of the shack is divided off for a bathroom with a number of showers
and the other rooms devoted to the receiving of dirty clothing,
storing the clean clothing, washing, drying and sterilizing.

As you pass along the road you will see perhaps a platoon or a section
of a platoon marching to the bath house, without belt or equipment,
and carrying towels. At the bath house a certain number, say twenty
men, pass into the first room where they undress. Their underclothes
and shirts are thrown to one side to be washed; their caps and boots
are not treated in any way. The uniforms are hung on numbered racks
and placed in the disinfection chamber where they are immediately
treated with live steam, or they are taken into an adjoining room
where the seams are ironed with hot irons to destroy lice and eggs.

The men then pass on into the bathroom where they are given about ten
minutes to luxuriate with plenty of soap and hot water. As they pass
out of the bath through another room they are given clean socks,
underclothes and shirts, and by the time they are dressed their own
uniforms, disinfected, are handed back to them. The whole operation
takes from twenty-five to thirty minutes, and from a thousand to
fifteen hundred men can be put through each bath house in a day.

The discarded clothes are washed by local peasant women paid by the
army; in one of these establishments in our area there were 160
Belgian peasant women engaged in this work. Mending is also done by
them, while socks and clothes too far gone to be mended are packed in
bundles and sent away to be sold.

The waste wash water from the baths and laundries entering the creeks
naturally causes trouble from troops down stream who may have to use
it. Horses will not touch soapy water, and the brewers object to
making beer with it; they say it spoils the beer.

Consequently the sanitary officers have in many cases been compelled
to put in tanks to treat this dirty water and purify it. This is
usually done by adding an excess of chloride of lime, which
precipitates the soap as a curd and carries the dirt down with it. By
sedimentation, and filtration through canvas, cinders and sand, the
water is clarified and turned into the creeks again clean. So
completely can this be accomplished that the experience at one bath
house is worth narrating.

This bath house was built on a little pond which accumulated in winter
and was not fed by springs or any other auxiliary source of supply;
consequently with the advent of warm weather it would have dried up
unless the water had been conserved in some way.

The sanitary officer in charge was equal to the task. With the advice
of engineers and the laboratory he built a plant which subsequently
worked to perfection. The water used to bath at least a thousand men a
day, as well as the wash water from the laundry attached to the bath
house, was collected and treated with acid to remove the soap; the
scum formed carried to the top all of the dirt, which was then
filtered off by means of sacking, cinders, and sand. The excess of
acid was treated with lime which neutralized it, and the excess of
lime was removed by soda. The water was all filtered before it was
returned to the pond into which it flowed just as clear as it had been
before, and with enough hardness present to give it a lather with
soap.

The system was operated during the whole summer and gave complete
satisfaction. It really did what nature would have done in a much
longer time and with a much bigger plant. Had the pond been used to
bathe in direct it would have been unfit for use in the course of a
few days, whereas by the method employed it was always perfectly sweet
and clean.

The common sense and resourcefulness of the British sanitary officer
is well shown by this solution of a difficult and apparently hopeless
problem. It is indeed a difficult problem which a British officer will
acknowledge to be hopeless, and it is this very British quality that
the Hun should always keep in mind in thinking of the end of the war
and the reckoning afterwards.

As far as we know there has been no plague among the warring armies in
Europe. Plague is conveyed from rats having this disease to human
beings by means of rat fleas. These fleas become infected by biting
the infected rats and subsequently infect human beings by biting them.
There are plenty of rats in the trenches and dugouts, particularly in
winter; in the summer they breed along the water courses, and in the
autumn are attracted to the trenches where there is plenty of waste
food to be had.

Numerous devices are used to destroy them, and it is a common thing to
see a soldier sitting patiently in the trenches with his rifle between
his knees and a piece of toasted cheese on the end of his bayonet. As
Mr. Rat, attracted by the savoury odour, approaches and takes the
first sniff, the trigger is pulled and there is one living rat less.
Prizes are sometimes given to the man who can kill the largest number
in a week, and bags of 25 and 30 are not uncommon. Sometimes poison is
used, and even ferrets have been employed with, however, little
success.

In connection with the rat problem, we had an illustration of how
impossible it is even for a rat to escape the British army system.
Army routine, the result of many years of experience, once put into
operation is as sure and certain as death and taxation.

The regulations are that if any considerable number of rats have been
noticed around the trenches sick or dying, some of them shall be sent
to the field laboratories for examination. Bubonic plague is a rat
disease; consequently if rats are dying in any great numbers, we would
conclude that some disease, possibly plague, must be the cause.

In this case the Director of Medical Services of the army had been
notified that a rat had been despatched to a laboratory for
examination. Consequently he was anxious to know the result of the
examination, and when a report was not forthcoming he sent a telegram
to the officer commanding the Canadian laboratory asking that a report
on the rat be forwarded at once. As we had not received the rat we
reported the same to the D.M.S. who put the matter up to the D.D.M.S.
of the corps who had forwarded the rat. The rat had gone to another
laboratory, and "the system" to locate the rat was put into operation.

The following is the correspondence upon the subject:

     1. _To D.D.M.S. J. Corps._

     In accordance with your 1w/ER, 16 of 1/2/3, a rat is being sent
     from trench x.y.z. to No. 1 mobile laboratory at ----.

                                   (Signed) A.D.M.S. K. Div.


     2. _To O.C. No. 1 Mobile Laboratory._

     Please let me know the result of your examination of this rat.

                                     (Signed) D.M.S. Z Army.


     3. _D.M.S. Z Army._

     I have not received this rat.

                           (Signed) O.C. No. 1 Mobile Lab'y.


     4. _To D.D.M.S. J. Corps._

     With reference to attached, will you please say what has become
     of this rat.

                                     (Signed) D.M.S. Z Army.

     5. _To D.M.S. Z Army._

     It has been sent to Canadian laboratory and report has been
     called for.

                                 (Signed) D.D.M.S. J. Corps.


     6. _To O.C. (Canadian) Mobile Laboratory._

     Will you please let me know the result of your examination of
     this rat.

                                     (Signed) D.M.S. Z Army.


     7. _To D.M.S. Z Army._

     This rat was quite normal and had evidently been killed by a
     blow. The report was forwarded to A.D.M.S. K. Div.

                      (Signed) O.C. No. 5 (Can.) Mobile Lab.

Even a partly decomposed rat was unable to escape the army system.



CHAPTER XI

LABORATORY WORK IN THE FIELD.


With the medical organization of the army in mind it may be seen that
a small mobile laboratory might be of great practical service to the
army in the field. Under the conditions which exist in the present
war, the army itself is not very mobile, nor is it necessary for the
laboratory to be, but it is of great importance to have a car which
will permit of the area being covered quickly should a specimen,
sample or investigation be required. The car is the really essential
mobile part of the unit.

Our laboratory had charge of both the bacteriological and hygiene work
of a given area; it was the only laboratory that did both types of
work. When our apparatus had been unpacked and set up in the old ball
room of the Hotel de Ville it made quite an imposing show, and after
we saw what equipment the other laboratories had we were decidedly
proud of ours.

Our first bit of work proved to be the examination of a number of
soldiers who had been in contact with a case of cerebro-spinal
meningitis, to detect "carriers" of the specific germ. Then material
of all sorts began to come in for examination from the casualty
clearing stations, field ambulances, sanitary and medical officers,
rest stations and other places. Most of the routine bacteriological
work proved to be of much the same nature as that done in a health
laboratory at home, and consisted of examinations to detect some of
the ordinary communicable diseases such as diphtheria, cerebro-spinal
meningitis, typhoid fever, malaria, dysentery, tuberculosis, and
venereal diseases.

Should a case of diphtheria, for example, be found in a soldier, all
his immediate friends and companions with whom he had been in contact,
would be swabbed to see whether they were infected. Those found to be
infected would be removed from the army at once.

In a case of suspected typhoid fever the examination of serum, blood
and excreta would be necessary to determine whether the case were
really typhoid or not. If found to be typhoid the laboratory would be
called upon to try to discover the source of the infection. The same
general methods hold good in other epidemic diseases where the
laboratory is capable of making the diagnosis, to see whether any
danger lurks in "contacts" or "carriers" and to find the source of the
infection where possible.

Very frequently material from wounds is sent in by the hospital
surgeons to see whether wounds are infected. The soil of Flanders has
been liberally manured for hundreds of years, and in every cubic yard
of this manured soil are millions of the germs which cause gas
gangrene and tetanus (lock-jaw) when introduced beneath the skin. If a
wound is infected with gas gangrene or other dangerous organisms, the
knowledge that they are present may materially modify the treatment
used by the surgeon, and the laboratory is of value to him sometimes
in determining that point.

The usual routine work of a hospital clinical laboratory was also
carried on by us for the casualty clearing stations in the area, and
all kinds of work from the making of a vaccine for the treatment of
bronchitis in a British General to the inoculation of a civilian child
with anti-meningitis serum came within our scope.

The hygiene work of the laboratory is also of a varied character: It
consists of the examination of water supplies, milk and foods; the
detection of poisons in water, and, occasionally, in human beings; the
evolving of methods to purify effluents discharged into streams; work
on poison gases and methods used to combat these, and many other
things.

In each division there are some sixty water carts, each of which holds
about 110 gallons. We attempted to get samples from all of these in
turn, to see whether the water had been disinfected. As all the
sources of water supply in Flanders, with few exceptions, contain
large numbers of bacteria, and as a properly chlorinated water
contains very few bacteria, it is easy to tell from a couple of simple
tests whether or not the water in the carts has been chlorinated.

As we sometimes had eight divisions in our area at one time, this
water control meant a good deal of work. The water carts were usually
to be found at the headquarters of the unit to which they belonged,
and we quickly discovered that the way to get the largest number of
water samples in the shortest time was to travel by the map up and
down the twisting narrow roads which intersected each other as though
following the trails of the original inhabitants.

It must be remembered that four or five miles behind the front line
every farm house and barn is in use most of the time for billeting
soldiers, and that these farm houses are infinitely more numerous than
they are in America. Little villages and towns are very frequent and
many of them bear the same name as other towns and villages a few
miles apart. Thus there are at least two Bailleuls, two Givenchys, two
Neuve Eglises and so on. In our quest of these water carts we had to
search the countryside diligently and we averaged a great many miles a
day; we soon got to know every road and almost every farm house in our
area.

When a cart was found it was necessary to get the man in charge of
it--the water detail--in order to obtain information as to the source
of supply, the amount of chlorine used, whether there had been
complaints of taste and so forth. While the information was being
obtained, officers of the unit would often come out to see what the
trouble was and would ask questions; possibly some non-coms and men
would also gather about, and the first thing we knew would be giving,
to a very interested audience, a little lecture on the dangers of
drinking untreated water; their interest would be greatly increased if
a bottle filled with the water, to which a couple of drops of solution
had been added, turned bright blue, thus showing the presence of the
free chlorine. By such means a good deal of practical educational work
was done, and the danger of men drinking raw water thereby reduced.

Reports of all samples were sent to the A.D.M.S. of the division
concerned, who forwarded them to the medical officers of the units,
with more or less caustic remarks should the samples be bad. The M.O.
in turn would get after the man in charge of the water cart, who
usually had some more or less plausible excuse.

The water details of the first Canadian Division were the best trained
lot of men we ever ran across. The very first day we took samples from
their water carts they were all sterile, and there were no complaints
about taste. It was an excellent example of what training could
accomplish, for they had all been carefully trained in their duties in
Canada and England.

As the water details of any division were constantly changing, the
efficiency of the treatment depended to a great extent on the constant
supervision of the problem by the A.D.M.S., medical and sanitary
officers.

We have found divisions coming into our area for the first time with
only 25 per cent. of their water carts chlorinated, whereas before
they left they would have 90 per cent. or more chlorinated, and the
division thoroughly educated as to the necessity for sterilizing their
drinking water properly.

Wells, springs, creeks, and ponds used as sources of supply were also
examined, and not infrequently samples from "springs," encountered
while digging new trenches, were sent in to be tested. The tremendous
number of bacteria found in some of these "spring" samples we on
several occasions reported as indicating the presence of buried animal
matter in the immediate vicinity of the springs, and resulted in
finding this to be correct. In one case in which a badly polluted
water was so reported upon, the burial place of some fifty Germans
was found only a few feet away.

One suspected epidemic of dysentery was a typically water borne
infection which did not prove to be the real thing. Half of one
company was in a front line trench and half in support. Part of the
one section took their drinking water from a shallow well near at hand
without treating it, and practically every one who drank it,
thirty-one in all, came down with typical symptoms of dysentery, while
all the others who did not drink it raw escaped. The well water was
found to be badly polluted. The sick were all quite well in four or
five days, and able to return to the front line, but it proved to be
an excellent lesson in hygiene to that Division.

A curious phenomenon in connection with the army water supply was
noted that first spring in Flanders. The flat surface of the country
in our area consisted of a very tenacious clay, and the farm wells
were usually sunk ten to twelve feet in that clay. In the months of
March and April, though the fields were water logged and the ditches
brimming over, the wells which were being used by the troops were
going dry. In other words the soil was almost impervious so that once
a well had been emptied it would not fill up again for days.

For this and several other reasons we reported the necessity for large
mobile water purification units, which could take the water from
larger bodies of water such as ponds, creeks, canals or rivers, purify
it, and deliver it filtered and sterilized into the water carts or
tanks. Such a system was subsequently adopted by the war office and is
now in general use in the British Armies.

One hot morning in mid June we received a telegram from the Surgeon
General to investigate a water supply complained of in the Festubert
region. A premonition seized me that I was going to be killed, for the
battery to be visited was in a very "unhealthy" spot. So I made a new
will, and wrote a letter of farewell, to be posted in case of
accident.

The battery was found nestling in the midst of an orchard, but the
M.O. who knew all about the water supply, was not to be found.
Reluctantly I accepted from the Colonel an invitation to dinner, for
the feeling was still strong in me that some danger was impending.
Half-way through dinner there came the well-known scream of an
approaching shell, which burst at the other end of the orchard. A
second shell burst a little closer; a third came closer still, and a
fourth rained shrapnel on the roof; all the others, with one
exception, fell short, and the shelling was over for the time. It was
just another one of those "intuitions."

While the shells were flying we all kept on eating as if this were a
usual everyday accompaniment to lunch, though I noticed that they
watched me with as much interest as I eyed them during the process,
each curious to know how the other took it.

The varied nature of laboratory work in the army and its practical
applications may be seen from the following examples:--

One day the O.C. of a hospital sent over a pint of tea suspected of
poisoning 28 out of 29 men who drank it. From the history of the
affair we did not believe that this could possibly be the cause, and
after making a few rapid tests to exclude metals, we proved that the
tea was not poisonous by the simple, practical test of drinking it,
Major Rankin being the official tester. This method of making a
practical physiological test rather astonished the British
authorities.

A German gas mask found on the battle field was submitted to us to
find what chemicals were present. That mistakes were sometimes made by
the Germans was evident when we found that the mask had not been
treated with chemicals at all; some of the Huns at least had been
unprepared for a gas attack.

The clarifying apparatus on the British water carts was mechanically
defective and usually broke at certain definite places.
Recommendations were made by us after we had experimented with rubber
instead of rigid connections, which resulted in all the water carts in
the British army being equipped with rubber connections, the results
being entirely satisfactory.

A great deal of experimental laboratory and field work was done with
chlorine gas and the efficiency of gas masks and helmets. Experimental
physiological and pathological work was done on animals with chlorine
and other gases, and on the drying out and deterioration of gas
helmets and the chemicals used in them. Subsequently a Gas Service was
inaugurated and all work of this sort carried out in special
laboratories at G.H.Q.

Quite a number of cases of nephritis occurred among soldiers, and
arsenic was suggested as a possible cause. The laboratory was asked to
examine a considerable number of samples of wine and beer to see
whether traces of arsenic were present or not. None was found. A large
quantity of wine found to be diluted with ditch water, and sold to our
soldiers, was destroyed, and the vendors fined.

One day a young medical officer, so excited that he could hardly
speak, rushed into the laboratory with a lot of dead fish. After some
questioning we found that there were tens of thousands of dead fish in
the Aire-La Bassee canal and, as this ran into the German lines, he
suspected that the canal water had been poisoned by the enemy. We told
him that we thought the fish had probably died from asphyxiation as a
result of organic matter from a starch works being emptied into the
stream. He went away unconvinced, to make a further enquiry and
returned later in the day to report that the fish in the canal died
every year in the spring when a certain distillery dumped its waste
into the canal. Thus did former experience with starch mills pouring
their effluents into Ontario streams and killing fish prove of
unexpected use.

The laboratory was used a great deal by the highly trained officers of
the Indian Medical service, who were always wanting some unusual
parasite or insect identified, and made a good deal of use of our
library.

A German high explosive percussion bomb was brought in one day for us
to identify the explosive present. We did not allow the messenger even
to lay it down but besought him to hold it tight and to keep moving
towards the explosives laboratory seven miles away while we escorted
him quickly and safely from the premises. The way some of those chaps
handled bombs and shells made you tired. It would have been a great
pity if that two hundred year old building had been blown up and the
British Army compelled to pay for it.

A poor soldier up and died one day without warning or preliminary
sickness. They thought it might be poison, and his wife would have
been deprived of her pension if the man had committed suicide. We were
asked to examine the stomach contents to decide whether poison was
present. No poison was found.

We were sent a little vial containing a small amount of material and
asked to determine the nature of the contents. The bottle had been
found beside a dead German. It proved to be opium, and the owner had
evidently been prepared for a painless passage across the Styx when
such necessity arose.

Occasionally we had to investigate possible cases of cholera among
troops coming from India. One day we received a telegram to proceed to
a certain place about ten miles away and report on the sanitary
surroundings and particularly on the water supply of a place where an
old Frenchman had died with "choleric dysentery." We found the place
after some search, and discovered that the old man had died a month
before, and that the suspected water supply, unboiled, had been used
ever since by a certain headquarter staff without ill effects.
Needless to say that was the best proof obtainable that the water
supply was safe.

The use of raw milk was forbidden in the army, and condensed milk was
issued instead. Sometimes "blown" cans of this were sent in for
examination and found to be infected with gas producing organisms.
Whenever such occurred, the report would be forwarded back through the
system to England and the manufacturer would be apprised of the fact
and checked up on his methods. Canned foods of various sorts were also
brought in for examination, but nothing of a harmful character ever
discovered. The food supply of the British Army, as a matter of fact,
was of the highest quality and had been subjected to rigid examination
by the Government inspectors during its preparation; practically none
of it was ever found to be bad.

Another unusual problem arose out of the fact that several soldiers
had contracted anthrax, both in England and in France, and the shaving
brushes issued were suspected of being the cause. We undertook to
search them for anthrax spores, but found it was too long and tedious
a job for a field laboratory, for the brushes were full of spores of
all kinds. Later on in England anthrax was actually found by other
bacteriologists in some of these brushes, according to reports
published.

These few examples taken at random will serve to demonstrate the
varied character of the work of a field laboratory, and to show that a
certain amount of experience is necessary in order to handle some of
the problems affectively. We were peculiarly fortunate in our combined
experience. Major Rankin, a first rate pathologist and bacteriologist
of the government of Alberta, had been in charge of the government
laboratory at Siam for five years previous to the war, and knew
tropical medicine like a book, while Captain Ellis had carried on
research work for three years in the Rockefeller hospital laboratories
in New York and was thoroughly conversant with all the most recent
work in vaccine and serum therapy. Consequently there was practically
nothing that we could not tackle between the three of us, either in
bacteriology, pathology, sanitation or treatment of epidemic disease.

Wherever an action was about to occur on the front the hospitals were
evacuated of all sick and wounded in order to obtain the maximum
number of empty beds. Consequently when fighting was going on the
hospitals were very busy but the laboratory routine greatly decreased
except in hygienic work. We therefore undertook scientific
investigations of various kinds to keep busy and be of the maximum
use.

At the suggestion of the D.M.S. of the army, Major Rankin made a
survey of the army area for anopheles mosquitoes. The Indian corps was
in our area at the time and he obtained the co-operation of the
officers of the Indian Medical Service, who being particularly keen on
biting insects collected many specimens for him. This variety of
mosquito transmits malaria, and, as we were getting a few cases of
malaria in troops who had been in tropical climates, it was important
to determine accurately the varieties of mosquitoes present,
particularly since the numerous ditches, canals and ponds of the
country were ideal places for their multiplication. In spite of the
anopheles mosquito being found everywhere, Major Rankin reported that
he did not believe that there would be many new cases of malaria,
develop in France and such proved to be the case.

Captain Ellis began an investigation into the grouping of the various
strains of "meningococci"--the organism causing cerebro-spinal
meningitis, with the ultimate object of obtaining a more efficient
anti-serum for the treatment of this disease.

Apparatus designed to purify wash water from baths before turning it
into the streams; designs for the building of small chlorinating
plants near the trenches, and the construction of field incinerators
for consuming garbage, were constantly being referred to us for
consideration and suggestions; we thus had a variety of sanitary work
of an interesting and useful kind, which helped to keep us busy.

The nature of our activities carried us through the area of shell
fire, among the batteries and sometimes quite close to the trenches.
We were free lances to all intents and purposes and frequently had to
hunt out new problems to work upon. In travelling about in the course
of our work we saw things more or less from the spectator's
standpoint, and there were few things going on that escaped us.

Many sad and depressing sights were witnessed, and one received many
vivid impressions of what war means to an invaded country,--impressions
which can only be attained by actual experience.

Accompanied by the sanitary officer of the 19th division one morning I
saw a very sad example of what ignorance of the essentials of hygiene
can bring about. Down in a swampy spot on a branch of the canal was a
little hamlet, and one of the tiny houses was occupied by a family of
refugees from La Bassee.

When we entered the house swarms of flies flew up from the table and
buzzed about while we did our best to prevent them from settling upon
us. The father of the family was in bed unconscious, with typhoid
fever. The mother, dead from the disease, had been buried the day
before.

During the funeral the eldest daughter, a pretty girl of sixteen, sat
up in a chair trying to look after the visitors. When we called she
also was in bed delirious with the disease in the same room as her
father.

The baby in the carriage had had typhoid. A little two year old boy
was just recovering, and was thought to have been the original case.
Two other boys of seven and nine years of age were getting some bread
and milk for their dinner, one of them being probably a mild case; and
a girl of eleven, evidently coming down with the disease, was going
about looking after the household.

With that swarm of disease-carrying flies in the house there was no
possibility of any of the children escaping the infection. It was with
the greatest difficulty that the sanitary officer of the division
succeeded in getting the French civilian authorities to move in the
matter and remove the cases to the French civilian hospital. The
father died a week later, and the sanitary officer himself was
subsequently killed during the battle of the Somme.

The French refugees do not complain; they are not that kind. They
told their stories simply and invariably finished with a shrug of the
shoulders and the phrase "c'est la guerre n'est ce pas?" (That is war,
is it not?) But if the French army ever gets on German soil I would
hate to be a German.

One night we found that our first Canadian brigade was going into the
trenches at Festubert without the chemical necessary to saturate their
gas masks, which had just been issued to the soldiers; we succeeded in
borrowing 500 pounds from a wide-awake army corps and took it down in
the car to an advanced dressing station which the brigade would have
to pass. The Germans were particularly jumpy that night as we felt our
way along that very rough road with no light to guide us except the
electric green light of the numerous German flares, the occasional
flashes of a powerful German search light sweeping the sky and ground,
and the angry red spurts from the guns which lit up the sky like
summer lightning.

Once we had occasion to make a trip from one shelled village to
another, the driver had been given the direction and no further
attention was paid to him until we came across a reserve trench manned
by Ghurkas. This drew our attention to the fact that the country was
quite unfamiliar. However, the next French sign post showed us that we
were on a road leading to the desired village and we kept on.

The day was very quiet and hazy and it was impossible to see very far.
We suddenly came upon the remains of a little village which had been
literally levelled to the ground; not two feet of brick wall could be
seen anywhere. At the cross roads in the centre of the village two
military policemen seemed to be surprised at our appearance with a
large motor car but said nothing, evidently thinking that we knew our
own business best, and we made the correct turn according to the sign
board and kept on. About two hundred yards farther on we ran into a
veritable maze of trenches, barbed wire entanglements and dug-outs,
without doubt part of the front line trench system. Needless to say we
made a rapid right-about face and speedily retraced our steps by the
road we had come.

We found later on that the road we had taken did go to the village
that we wanted to visit but that it went through the German trenches
en route. At the point where we had turned, which was only four
hundred yards from the German trenches, thirty men had been killed by
snipers during that month while getting water at one of the wells in
the neighborhood. The haze in the atmosphere saved us from observation
for we would have been a fine target for rifles, machine guns and even
whiz bangs.

We met officers in every branch of the service,--infantry, cavalry,
artillery, flying corps, ordnance, army service, medical, engineers,
construction, water transport, etc., and thereby obtained a splendid
idea of what was going on, and how the various branches of the service
worked together and viewed any given problem.

Some of these views were quite at variance with one another. For
instance the artillery man looked upon the infantryman as the man who
protected his guns and kept off the enemy while he killed them. The
infantryman naturally looked upon the artillery as the arm to support
him in time of trouble and prepare the ground while he did the dirty
work. The aviator called them all "ground soldiers" in a more or less
lofty manner.

The medical and other services looked upon the fighting man as the one
who gave them a great deal of work, and they all usually forgot that
they existed for the express purpose of keeping Tommy in the trenches
clothed, fed, healthy and protected from the assaults of the enemy;
for Tommy is the man, say what you will, without him everything else
goes smash; it is the human being who still counts in war; it is the
man power which will win.



CHAPTER XII.

SKETCHES FROM A LABORATORY WINDOW.


_The Bandstand in the Square._

Many interesting little affairs happened in the Bandstand in the Grand
Place beneath our laboratory windows. One Sunday evening in June a
khaki-clad figure ascended a pulpit which had been improvised there;
the seats in front of him were filled with rows of generals, colonels
and other officers. In a rich, stentorian voice he gave out the lines
of a verse, and led by a cornet, the strains of the grand old hymn "O
God our help in ages past" swelled on the summer evening air, sung as
only soldiers can sing.

The crowd of soldiers about the bandstand grew, and little French
children playing about in their best Sunday clothes, stopped in
curious wonderment to hear "Les Anglais" sing. A few of their elders
strolled over and even though they could not understand, they listened
attentively.

Our thoughts flew thousands of miles over the ocean to other Sunday
evening services at our home in Canada. We could see the old family
pew; we could hear father and mother and the old friends singing that
same old hymn, while our youthful minds were likely busied with
recollections of a lacrosse match or baseball game that we had seen
the day before, or maybe of a visit to the old dam where we had had
the finest swim of the season. We could see women attired in spotless
white, and men in frock coats and silk hats, walking sedately to
church, and we longed with an intense longing for one more such Sunday
in the old home town. It seemed ages since we had been there; we
wondered whether we would ever visit the old scenes again, and we had
a premonition that we never would. The theme of the brief sermon was
the old, old story of Christ's coming to save sinners, and the guns
boomed and a belated aeroplane overhead buzzed homeward while the
speaker appealed earnestly to his hearers to serve Christ by following
his example in true living even as they were now, by offering their
lives, serving humanity.


_General Haig presents medals._

One summer evening, after the battle of Aubers Ridge a number of
junior officers and private soldiers, including Indians, began to
gather about the bandstand. As ten o'clock approached, motor after
motor drew up, numerous staff officers descended and formed themselves
into groups. There was much saluting and hand-shaking, the saluting
being done by the junior officers and men, and the hand-shaking taking
place among the seniors.

Although furniture was none too plentiful a table which was secured
somewhere, was placed about six paces in front of the grandstand
steps. A cloth was placed upon the table, and two officers began
spreading on it in orderly array various small boxes. A list was
produced, names were compared and carefully checked. The officers and
men who were to receive decorations were then paraded, and as the
roll was called each man took his place in order in the line. The list
was again checked over, and compared with the boxes on the table.

At 10.20 a big car drove up and a figure stepped out--a figure known
to the whole world--Sir Douglas Haig. Well groomed, handsome, quick of
his movement, he looked as he was, every inch a soldier. As he
approached the groups everyone stood to attention; the senior officer
gave the salute, and the General acknowledged it.

After a few words with the officers in charge, General Haig took his
place behind the table and made a short speech, after which the
soldiers were called up one by one while he pinned on their medals or
decorations. Each soldier saluted as stepped forward, and as he
stepped back to his place he saluted again in acknowledgment of the
remarks of the General.

There was no fuss, no feathers; the affair was typically British. Such
decorations as the Legion d'Honeur and Croix de Guerre, had to be
presented, and they were, after which everybody shook hands and went
away. It was all very simple. In serving your country you risk your
life, and incidentally you may get a decoration for bravery. Why make
a fuss about it?


_An Old Flanders Hotel._

There are many kinds of hotels in the little towns and villages of
northern France, some good and some bad;--mostly good if you only want
bread, cheese and beer, and very bad if you want anything else. Still,
you do occasionally run across an hotel which is capable of providing
a decent meal, though the rooms and general accommodation are, as a
rule, exceedingly poor. Heat is a thing unknown. If you raise a row
and demand a fire, they will provide it for sundry francs and centimes
extra. In war time coal becomes more and more difficult to obtain, and
the inveigling of a fire out of mine host becomes increasingly
difficult.

The M---- Hotel was rather a pretentious hostelry. It occupied part of
the City Hall or Hotel de Ville which faced the Grande Place. The
Hotel de Ville is a rather good looking red brick building, three
stories high, and is said to be over 200 years old. In the centre an
arch way, protected by heavy iron gates, leads into an inner court,
occupied chiefly by stables. To the right is the entrance to the
police magistrate's office and court, and to the left is the entrance
to our Hostelry.

A typical old Frenchman, with a snow-white drooping moustache and
closely cropped white hair, runs the hotel with the aid of his rosy
cheeked daughter and a couple of maids. The old man spends his time in
dispensing wine and beer, looking after the maids, occasionally
cooking a meal for a particular guest, buying the food, and playing
billiards with the little groups of old cronies that foregather in the
common room each evening. Like all Frenchmen, he had been a soldier in
his time, and had never forgiven the Germans for 1870. His picture as
a young man in uniform, hung in the dining-room of the hotel.

Moreover, he was a musician, and before the war had played the French
horn in the town band. His banquet hall, which we were now using as a
laboratory, had been the band room and the home of all band practices
in the long winter months. How the old man did roll his eyes with
ecstasy and raise his hands with unutterable joy as he listened for
the first time to the wonderful mellow music of the British Grenadier
Guards' band as it played in the bandstand in the square. Handel's
largo, the overture to Tannhauser, and a fantasia on British
airs,--each brought forth a different series of gestures. "Monsieur, I
have not heard such fine music since I heard the Republican Guards'
band at Paris; in fact, monsieur, this is finer--the tone is richer,
rounder and more mellow. It is marvellous, Monsieur le Colonel,
marvellous; it is entrancing; a-ha! heavenly!"

M---- Hotel in the evening was an interesting sight. Little tables
were spread about upon the sawdust sprinkled floor, each table with
two or four guests discussing the official communiques of the day, the
flow of talk assisted by a bottle of red or white wine. M.X., the
miller, at heart more or less of a pessimist invariably got into an
argument with that fierce optimist, M.Y., the lumberman. Night after
night they would argue as to the progress of the war; whether Germany
was really short of food; whether there were really three million men
in "Keetchenaire's" army; whether the country was infested with spies;
or why Von Kluck's army turned back from Paris.


_An Indian Concert._

Towards four o'clock, one afternoon, we noticed an unusual clearing up
of the village square. Military policemen were ordering away motor
cars, wagons, and lorries, while everything in the square was made
spick and span. About four-thirty, Sikhs, Beloochis, Pathans, and
Ghurkas began to stroll into the square and congregate in groups,
shaking hands with acquaintances they had not met for some time, just
like typical Frenchmen. Those who came later carried drums and
bagpipes of the regulation kind. At five minutes to five the
bandmaster made his appearance, and the band lined up while they tuned
their chanters.

Sharp at five o'clock, with a punctuality that was remarkable, the
band stepped out across the square to the tune of "The Cock of the
North," played in perfect time and tune. At the far side of the square
they wheeled about and back they came with ribbons flying and chests
inflated, looking like real natives of the Scottish hills. It was the
most perfect pipe playing I had ever heard. The French were delighted.
As the strains died away in the wail of the chanters, a hearty round
of applause brought smiles to the serious faces of the Indians, and
away they went again to "Highland Laddie," followed by "The Campbells
are Coming."

Then another band followed with performance on the Indian pipe which
is something like a chanter, without the bag or drones. The effect was
awful. To make a hit they attempted "La Marseillaise," and it was a
hit. Had it been a farce it could not have been beaten--no two
instruments were in tune and some of the notes of the scale were
altogether missing, so that the most ghastly discords were sprung upon
us. No wonder such instruments can lash the hillsmen into fury. They
had us nearly fighting mad.

To hint that we were not entranced with their efforts, we clapped but
faintly--but the musicians took it as hearty applause, and burst forth
with fearful onslaught upon "Rule Britannia." When they were through
you could have heard a pin fall. Not a soul risked a sound lest the
players should mistake it as an invitation to renew their
entertainment; so the real pipe band came on for another whirl and we
were made happy once more.

Precisely at five-thirty, the concert ended, and the cosmopolitan
crowd of French civilians and soldiers, British Tommies, Indians,
Highlanders, and Canadians, melted away. Five minutes after, save for
the presence of a few blue rock pigeons flitting about in search of
their evening meal, the square showed no sign of life.


_The Jail._

The town jail and dungeon is in the Hotel de Ville. Heavy barred doors
open into a little dimly-lit store room, with windows high up
protected by iron bars. Through this room a small doorway leads to a
dungeon without light of any sort. We always knew when this prison had
an occupant--in the morning a fatigue party under a corporal would
appear marching across the square carrying food rations. The corporal
would halt his men, step forward and give the signal on the door; it
would be opened by the sentry guarding the inner cell. The food was
then conveyed to the prisoner, the fatigue party marched away, and the
sentry with rifle on shoulder paced up and down the front of the jail
until his relief arrived. At no time was the guard off duty for a
moment until the prisoner, perhaps under sentence of death, had been
removed.

Once we had to report on a swab from a prisoner under the death
sentence. Military law says that no man can be shot while suffering
from any disease in hospital. Consequently when this man was found to
have a suspiciously sore throat, it was reported by the Medical
Officer and there was great excitement. Telegrams flew back and forth
about the matter while I had to stay up till midnight to obtain a good
culture. The culture, much to the relief of the staff officer who was
waiting for the report, did not show diphtheria bacilli, and at five
o'clock the following morning the poor chap met his fate.


_A Canadian Graveyard._

The road to Bethune was always of interest to us, because near the
pretty little village of Hinges was a hill; in fact Hinges was right
on the top of this hill--our area, elsewhere, was as flat as a board.
Hinges was interesting because it was full of trees and hedges and
gardens, and somehow reminded one of the beautiful little sequestered
villages of England, rather than a French village.

On the far side of the village, where the hill descending swept
away off towards Bethune, a fine big French chateau nestled in the
midst of a huge park of enormous trees. From the chateau a sweeping
view of the surrounding country was obtained. Not more than two miles
below it, on the La Bassee Canal, could be seen the spires and towers
of the real little city of Bethune. Away beyond Bethune one could see
the blue hills in which the Germans were strongly entrenched. To the
right among these hills projected three sharp-pointed, pyramidal
hills, indicating the location of the dumps of French coal mines, then
operated by the Germans.

    [Illustration: FRENCH SOLDIERS ADVANCING UNDER COVER OF LIQUID
    FIRE.]

For a time during the battles of Givenchey, one of our field
ambulances had been located in the spacious shady grounds of the
chateau. A little graveyard near the main gateway, on the roadside, is
the last sleeping place of a number of Canadians who died in this
ambulance. To-day a neat fence surrounds this little area of Canadian
soil and the graves are kept trim and covered with flowers. Even
before the authorities took any action I saw the French country people
themselves decorating the little mounds beneath which lay "Les
Canadiens" who had come so far "to fight for France" in this struggle
for the freedom of the world.

It is a beautiful little sleeping-place, and somehow it never seemed
to me so sad a spot as some of the other graveyards in France where
our Canadians lie. As the roar of the British guns increase as the
months go by, and the number of shells carrying death and destruction
to the Germans, multiplies--one can imagine that the spirits of those
who lie below are watching the enemy lines being pressed back towards
Berlin, and that they will understand that their sacrifice has not
been in vain.

And, one night as I passed the spot, during the battle of Loos, when
the sky flickered red as from summer lightning with the flash of
myriads of shells, and the horizon was defined in electric green from
the flares of the Germans, I fancied that I could see the shadowy
spirits of the departed ones hovering over this spot before their
final departure, and I felt that they must realize that the work of
our army in its struggle for the freedom of the world was being
carried on with increasing efficiency.

Indissoluble ties now bind France to Canada: her soil has been watered
with our very best blood and the bond of a common suffering in a
righteous cause has united us forever.


_A Hot Day in the Field._

One hot day in early June I made a tour of the ---- divisional area
with the sanitary officer. We had been asked to go over this area, and
make suggestions for the improvement of its sanitary condition. It was
the only time during two summers spent in France that I felt I was
really in the "sunny France" of my imagination. The sun beat down on
the floor of our open car so that when one stopped for a minute it
became a veritable little red hot radiator. So long as we kept moving,
the breeze created made it bearable; but when we left the car for a
minute the seats become too hot to sit on, and the perspiration
fairly streamed down our faces.

The air rising from the fields and roads vibrated like that over a hot
stove; the dust raised by motors hung suspended for long minutes in
the motionless air, and filled one's nose and mouth. The chickens in
the farmyards stood with beaks wide open gasping for air.

Even military form was relaxed on account of the heat, and lorry
drivers, men on transports, and troops marched and worked with their
coats off. All the water ditches near the front were filled with
soldiers bathing themselves. It is extraordinary how war conditions
will break down conventions. Many times that day I saw absolutely nude
men bathing in a roadside ditch, and women passing only a few yards
away, neither of them being at all concerned about the others.
Sections of the Aire-La-Bassee canal looked like the "old swimming
pool" in midsummer. Hundreds of soldiers dived, swam, and rolled about
in the dirty waters. Finely built, rosy-skinned chaps they were too,
playing about like care-free boys, with aeroplanes buzzing by
overhead, and shells exploding in a village to the rear.

After a busy morning making our inspection and taking water samples
for examination, we dined at the divisional Mess B and set out again
to complete our tour. We visited the various filling points of water
carts and gradually drew nearer the front line trenches. Turning down
one arm of "the tuning fork"--a forked road near Festubert, we came
upon an advanced dressing-station. A little to our left was a grey
pile of bricks and rubble, all that remained of the village of
Festubert.

The medical officer of the dressing-station told me that only ten
minutes before the enemy had been shelling the spot about a quarter of
a mile farther on, which was our next point of inspection.

"What do you think? Shall we go?" asked the sanitary officer.

"I leave it to you," I said, and we proceeded.

As we approached our destination I picked up the next numbered bottle.
It was number 13. A curious sensation passed over me and I put the
bottle back, taking up number 14. "Why don't you live up to your
disbelief in superstitions," I said to myself and I put bottle number
14 back. When we arrived at the place I took up number 13, got the
water sample while the car was being turned and "beat it." Of course
nothing happened and we finished our trip at 5 p.m. after a 60-mile
tour through the area occupied by as fine a Scotch division as
Scotland ever produced.

There are compensations for almost everything in life if you can
discover them: I never enjoyed a bath more in my life than the one I
had when I reached home that night, sticky and dusty and hot, with the
aid of a sponge and half a gallon of water. (Baths are rare in French
houses.)


_The Fire Fete._

Merville is a staunch compact little town with a big church whose
lofty byzantine, rounded dome projected high into the air forms a
landmark that can be seen for miles. We have been able to pick up
this tower quite easily from a point in Belgium fourteen miles away--a
point from which we were actually watching the bombardment of our
lines at St. Eloi on the 10th of June 1916. The church is a very large
one for a town of the size, but as the people are very good Catholics
in that district, it was in constant use from early morning to late at
night. Funerals passed to and from it daily and the chants of the
resonant-voiced priests became such a frequent thing that we ceased to
pay any attention to them. Funerals in France are a most terribly
depressing sort of thing, anyway.

One Sunday there was evidence of something unusual on hand. A stage
twenty feet across had been erected against the wall of the Hotel de
Ville, facing the square and approached by a flight of a dozen steps.
During the course of the morning it was covered with green boughs and
flowers, a cross was erected on the top while various coloured banners
and the tricolors helped to make a very effective and pretty stage.

Meanwhile around the church square there was great excitement. Girls
of all ages in white, and boys with short white trousers, blue coats
and tam-o-shanters had been going towards the church since early
morning. From our laboratory window we could see these youngsters
being collected into groups and being instructed by nuns. Banners of
various kinds floated in the air and hung from the windows of the
houses round about.

We had settled into our daily work when the sound of children's voices
floated through the laboratory windows, and we looked out to see a
procession coming across the Grande Place, led by an old man carrying
a gilded staff and wearing a cocked hat. Right behind him walked a
priest between two altar boys, all three wearing elaborately worked
tunics of lace; the boys carried poles with lanterns on the top.

Following them came, two and two, the smaller boys of the village.
Then came a band of tiny boys carrying wooden guns over their
shoulders and dressed as Turcos; large groups of bigger boys followed
dressed in white trousers, blue coats and tam-o-shanter hats, and
headed by a bugle band.

These were succeeded by a number of girls dressed entirely in white,
the smaller ones being in front and the larger ones behind. Then came
the really beautiful part of the procession. In this section every
girl was dressed differently, each dress being of some period in the
history of Flanders. As a study in costume alone it was exceedingly
fine.

Some of the dresses were quite beautiful. One had a blue-laced bodice
over white and a red velvet skirt with a high pointed black straw hat;
another had a black bodice with a white under vest and a blue skirt,
the hat being of white lace. Others which I cannot now remember in
exact detail were very interesting and recalled all the historical
tales that I had ever read of ancient Flanders.

Next came a canopy supported by two of the older men but with choir
boys on the four guy ropes. Under it walked the priest who was to be
the master of ceremonies for the day. Then came other girls in white,
depicting various characters in French history, such as Joan of Arc.
The prettiest girl of the village was the one chosen to be the angel,
she wore a large pair of wings and was dressed in a white filmy
material which made her quite realistic according to the commonly
accepted ideas of angels. After these walked the older girls and women
of the village according to their age, the tottering old grandmothers
coming last. Finally came the men in the order of their age.

By this time the procession had doubled backward and forward on itself
as it gradually approached the altar under our windows. The
officiating priest, which on this occasion happened to be the
clergyman from our own hospital, slowly mounted the steps of the stage
as the chant swelled into greater volume, and the whole crowd went
down upon its knees in prayer. After certain offices had been
performed by the priest at the altar he descended and the procession
dispersed.

Such was the interesting "Fete de Feu" of Merville. We were told on
the very highest authority that at one time over two hundred years
ago, the town caught fire and that nothing could be done to save it.
In this dire extremity the parish priest prayed to God and promised
him that if he would save the village the town would each year for all
time have a memorial procession of thanksgiving; immediately the fire
went out and the thankful villagers and their descendants have since
that time never failed to keep the sacred promise then made.


_Toban's Pup._

Private Toban, contrary to army orders, owned a dog. It was a
nondescript pup, with a cross eye, and also a kink in his tail. It was
coloured a sort of battleship grey with two or three splashes of brown
on the flanks, and his nearest blood relative was probably a French
poodle--though his ancestry was a subject of prolonged and sometimes
heated debate between Toban and his mates. A Tommy who had scornfully
described him as "A 'ell of a lookin' dawg" had been promptly felled
by a blow from Toban's right.

Before the second battle of Ypres, when the division was in training,
the Canadians did a good deal of route marching. Toban used to take
the pup along with him and the pup used to become tired. Then Toban
would pick him up and carry him. Finally the medical officer noticed
his fondness for the dog and would, on occasion, take the pup in front
of him on the saddle.

Once the battalion was going into action and the M.O. was busy at his
regimental aid post, making preparations for a rush, when Toban came
in. "Say, Doctor," he explained, "I can't take the pup with me and I
tied him to a tree down the road."

"I will look after him" promised the M.O. and Toban disappeared.

"Here Corporal, find that dog, and label him with Pte. Toban's number
and company," ordered the M.O.

In a couple of minutes the Corporal returned.

"Say Captain," he reported, "I found the pup wrapped up in Toban's
blanket and tied to a tree."

The rush began and the doctor forgot all about the dog until an hour
later, when Toban, spitting teeth and blood, stumbled into the room
with a bullet through his jaw.

"Oh, say Toban," called the M.O., "I found your dog, and he's all
right."

When Toban's face was bound up the M.O. asked, "Do you think you can
make the field ambulance by the bridge?" Toban nodded and started off.

A minute later he thrust his head into the room--the pup was in his
arms, still wrapped in the blanket--and spluttering gratefully through
the dressings, "I got 'im, Doc, good-bye," away went Private Toban en
route to Blighty.


_The Incorrigible._

Private Saunders of the ----th Canadian battalion was a hopeless
alcoholic. In England he had become such an incorrigible that the
regimental officers decided to get rid of the man. Major M---- hearing
the case being discussed by some fellow officers, said, "Let me have a
try at him" and with relief they agreed to his transfer to the Nth.

In due time the battalion went to France, and like all others in the
first division, took part in the second battle of Ypres. During one of
the attacks Major M. was shot through the chest, and left on the field
as his battalion was slowly forced back. Saunders learned that the
Major--the one man who had treated him like a human being, was
somewhere out in front. Under cover of night he left the trench and
crawling on his hands and knees searched about for hours amid a hail
of bullets and shrapnel, till he found the Major.

"You can't carry me, Saunders, leave me and go back," commanded the
Major.

"Now look here," said Saunders, "you have always been my boss and I've
done what you told me, now it's my turn; you do as I tell you," and
getting the Major on his back he carried him 200 yards to the shelter
of a ditch. Then obtaining assistance he went out and succeeded in
having the Major conveyed to a dressing-station.

Again taking his place with his battalion, Saunders went into another
attack the same night, and had his head blown off. Here was a case
where, as far as the officer was concerned, kindness had its own
reward; and here again was a case of an apparently useless man, when
his hour had struck, arising to the supreme heights of self-sacrifice.


_Dirty Jock._

You can't always tell the real worth of any man to the army. Some men,
who are efficient and valuable, in times of quiet, are not able to
stand up in the gruelling of a battle; while other men, ordinarily
useless and difficult to handle, will develop wonderful initiative,
resourcefulness, and daring under stress or emergency. The quality of
heroism may be surrounded by the most unlikely exterior--but at the
supreme moment the hero in every man will come out and he may
surprise us by rising to undreamed heights of self-sacrifice.

Jock Smith was a nuisance to the whole regiment; he was a constant
reproach to the Colonel, the Medical officer and everybody else. The
very day his regiment landed in England he got gloriously drunk and it
was only by the simple but very certain method of prodding him with
the point of a bayonet in the immediate rear that he was kept from
falling out of the ranks and going to sleep on the roadside.

"I didna know ye were gaun ta march the nicht oor I wudna hae got
drunk," he apologized.--So it was always. Smith was dirty. Smith was
troublesome. Smith, in short, could have well been done without. So
dirty did he become, in fact, and so verminous, that his medical
officer ordered that he be given a bath; and the order was carried out
by a squad of four husky Tommies with a considerable amount of
enthusiasm on the part of the squad and a tremendous amount of
profanity on the part of Smith.

One bright day "a show was pulled off." Like the rest of the
battalion, Smith was in it. As they went over the parapet with the
cheer that the Germans have learned to know and dread, Smith was well
up in the van. He did his part with an enthusiasm that was a credit to
his brigade. An officer passing through a captured trench found Smith
in a quandary with three prisoners backed up against the wall. "Come
along" cried the officer, "leave those men for somebody else." An hour
later Jock walked into the dressing station wounded. "Well, what is
the matter with you?" said the M.O., looking up from his work of
bandaging the wounded. "I think am hit, Doctor," he answered, and he
was, for a great chunk of flesh had actually been blown out of his
thigh.

About that time the officer of the trench episode came in with a
couple of bullet wounds. Catching sight of Smith he said, "Hello
Smith! Where did you leave those prisoners?" "Dinna ye ask foolish
questions," was the reply, and nothing more could be got from Jock.

Smith submitted to the surgical dressing without a murmur, and was
laid out on a stretcher to await the ambulance. Finally it came.

"Here, take Smith," ordered the M.O.

"No, never mind me, Doctor," said Smith, "jist tak the ither men, I'll
be walking."

"Do as you are told," commanded the M.O.

"Now Doctor, jist pit the ither boys in; they're worse nor me, I'll
walk."

"Damn your eyes," snapped the Doctor, "don't be a fool; get in there,"
and in spite of his earnest protests Smith was hoisted into the
ambulance to leave the firing line for all time.



CHAPTER XIII.

PARIS IN WAR TIME.


Early in March, 1916, a telegram arrived appointing me representative
of Canada on the War Allies' Sanitary Commission. This Commission,
which had been formed for the purpose of mutual assistance and
co-operation in matters of hygiene and sanitation, was to meet in
Paris in the middle of March. It was a splendid opportunity to meet
some of the great medical men and scientists of the Allies, and during
the few days before the congress met I gathered together all the data
that I thought might be of use, as well as plans and photographs.

It was a bright spring day when I left by motor for Paris via Amiens.
We stopped at Merville to call upon my old French friends whom I had
not seen since my leave in Canada, and distributed a number of
presents which had been sent to them from home by my family. They were
greatly pleased at having been remembered by their Canadian friends,
for the French have a real regard for us.

As we bowled along over hill and valley, through the sector occupied
by the British Army, freed of all responsibilities, we felt as though
we were off for a holiday. The area as far as Amiens had recently been
taken over by the British and we were surprised to find that there
were no British troops in that town excepting a few officers. It had,
for good and sufficient reasons, been placed "out of bounds." Amiens
was a real city, the first that we had seen in the north of France; it
had wide paved streets, broad boulevards, double street car lines,
electric lighting and all the things that go to make up a modern city
in any country.

The road from Amiens to Beuvais led away from the front and all
evidences of military operations disappeared. The country in that
region was rolling, well tilled and well wooded. Numerous quaint
little villages, each one different in character from the other,
nestled in the shelter of the valleys. At one place we stopped to pick
the mistletoe from a row of apple trees that were simply covered with
the green parasite; while we watched, away to the west, a gorgeous
sunset flame and die. It was the finishing touch to a day that had
been almost perfect, and we tumbled into bed at the Hotel de
l'Angleterre in the ancient city of Beuvais to sleep the sound sleep
induced by fresh air and sunshine in those who have not been
accustomed to it.

Next morning at ten o'clock we set out for Paris, and, crossing the
Oise at the point where the British had blown up the bridge during
their retreat from Mons, reached the gate of St. Denis in the walls of
Paris at noon. Although every pedestrian and wagon driver was being
stopped and made to show passes we were asked no questions.

Paris seemed cleaner than ever in the spring sunshine and I was more
than ever captivated by the beauty of her buildings. The street market
of St. Denis was thronged with women and had a fair sprinking of
bearded French soldiers. Even at that early date quite a number of
men were seen hobbling about in civilian clothes with service medals
on their coats. We saw many Belgian soldiers but British soldiers were
entirely absent, for Paris, too, was "out of bounds" to the British
army. The very few men of military age seen was remarkable compared
with London, and though the great battle of the war, Verdun, was then
at its very height not sixty miles away, Paris, as far as we could
judge, was not at all worried.

At night the city was brightly illuminated till nine o'clock; then the
lights were lowered. Even at midnight the streets were light enough to
see to get about. Paris had little fear of Zeppelins; they had made
several attempts to reach the city but had failed in all except one
raid. The establishment of listening posts and other devices near the
front for detecting the approach of the airships made it a simple
matter to prepare plans to intercept them and give them a warm
reception, for it takes a fairly long time for a Zeppelin to reach
Paris after it enters French territory. A few weeks before our arrival
French anti-air-craft guns and search-lights mounted on motor lorries
had pursued and brought down a Zeppelin and the Huns had probably
decided that the game was not worth the candle.

Paris, therefore, freed from worry from this source, went its usual
way at night and crowds thronged the Montmartre district, the quarter
inhabited by the student and demi-monde class. Most of the theatres
were in that quarter, and, although the majority of the regular
playhouses were closed, the picture shows and music halls, such as
the "Folies Bergeres" were crowded nightly.

There were two performances a week in the Grand Opera House,
consisting of acts from different operas. The "Comedie Francaise" the
Government endowed theatre, still gave performances at regular
intervals, which in perfection of acting were, as always, unequalled
anywhere in the world.

The Opera Comique also gave grand opera on Sunday afternoons, and the
one performance that I was fortunate enough to see--Carmen--was the
most perfect production of grand opera that I have ever seen or heard.
From the standpoint of the critic I could find no flaw, and though
Carmen is not a favorite of mine, I revelled in the perfection of
staging, acting and singing of this performance. The street and mob
scenes were so realistic that one forgot that they were not real
street scenes; the acting of the singers was so fine that one was
carried away by it and forgot all about the wooden acting of grand
opera customary in America and England; and it was only when the
curtain finally rang down that one realized that the flawless
performance had been but a play.

The restaurants on the Rue des Italiens, near the Place de L'Opera in
the Montmartre district were thronged with people. The weather was
warm enough for the crowds to sit at the tables under the awnings in
front of cafes and sip their wine or coffee, and there I spent many a
half hour after my evening lesson in French, watching the crowds
surging up and down the broad sidewalk.

Men were scarce in Paris, particularly men of military age. A few
"Poilus" home on leave, and a number of Belgians, with a sprinking of
other soldiers, were the only evidences of war. The men seen were
practically all over the military age. It was the golden age for the
"has been"; the old man had again come into his own.

The girl of the demi-mondaine was having a hard time of it in Paris.
There was no travelling public such as usually thronged Paris in
search of pleasure and excitement and upon which she had been
accustomed to batten. She was therefore forced to take up with an
older and often inferior class of men which she would have scorned in
times of peace.

Rumour said that many of these women were starving, and judging by the
voracious manner in which they tackled pedestrians openly on the
streets at night there was ample ground for that belief. Men were
followed and grabbed by the arm who had no intention or desire to make
or receive any overtures.

It was so different to what one had heard of the French women of the
street that it came as a great revelation of how the times were out of
joint, and how difficult it really must have been for such people to
obtain the money necessary to live. One would have expected cruder
things in London but such was not the case, though there is this
difference that solicitation is not permitted on the streets of London
while it is in Paris.

Official Paris allows the people within its gates to do as they like
in matters of morals without let or hindrance. And so the "Petite
Parisienne" whose man had gone to the war and perhaps had been
killed, took to the streets again in search of another, and was forced
to take up with men she would have despised in other times.

English speaking people have no idea of the Parisian viewpoint on
questions of morality; in fact our view points are so diametrically
opposed to one another that we have no common ground for discussion.
The average Parisienne of the street is not immoral; she is unmoral,
that is to say she has no morals because she never did have any. She
has been accustomed to look upon herself as a commodity of barter and
trade and we cannot in fairness judge her as we judge women who have
been brought up to other ideals.

As I sat sipping my coffee one evening one of these women leaned
across the aisle and entered into conversation. As she rattled away a
poorly-clad child selling bunches of violets approached and looking at
me placed a bouquet on the table beside me. Mechanically I put my hand
into my pocket for a penny, but by the time I had found it to my
surprise the child had passed on. The woman stared at me and at the
retreating child and asked, "What did she do that for?"

"Perhaps because I smiled at her," I said.

The woman asked no more questions but got up and walked away; the
child's action had touched her as it had touched me and I like to
remember that on four different occasions little French children,
strangers to me had given me in this same sweet way flowers that they
might have sold.

The English soldier was popular in Paris. Before the city had been
put out of bounds for the British Army it had been a favorite resort
of men and officers, who had made a great reputation with the
Parisians for being courteous, kind and liberal. The Belgians on the
other hand were quite unpopular, being openly called "dirty Belgians"
and, judging from my own personal observation, there was a certain
amount of reason for this disrespect.

Towards nine o'clock, when the lights were lowered, the genuine
Parisian who had been dining in the cafes began to go home, as did the
successful women and their consorts, causing the crowds to become
perceptibly thinner. Those women who had not been successful,
redoubled their efforts, and it was really pathetic to see the
attempts of some of these poor outcasts who were little more than
children, to capture their prey.

At midnight the Place de L'Opera was absolutely deserted. On two
occasions I watched this strange fascinating panorama of human life
and emotion, forgetful of the time, and found myself quite alone there
as the clock struck the midnight hour. Alone I watched the moonlight
streaming down upon the Grand Opera house transforming it into the
purest marble.

I wondered whether it was all a dream. Could it be really true that I
was there in Paris in the middle of the great war? Was it possible
that the greatest battle of all time was taking place at the very
moment not sixty miles away? Yet it was a real "Bon soir" that a
passing gendarme gave me as I strolled homeward past the great bronze
shaft erected by Napoleon in the Place Vendome and now towering black
in the white moonlight, while the river Seine shimmered like molten
silver in its way to the sea. It was really true but it was one of
those times when a soldier in Europe finds it very difficult to
accommodate himself to the violent contrasts which he is constantly
meeting, when transferred suddenly from the war zone back into the
peaceful life of the civilian.

The quiet and dignified Hotel Lotti on the Place Vendome was described
in the guide books as frequented by the French nobility and the
aristocracy; the claim proved to be correct for when I was there two
French countesses, an English knight and a Duke had apartments there.
The Hotel Lotti is next door to the Hotel Continental and is owned by
the former manager of that Hotel. Both the Hotel Continental and the
Meurice across the road are supposed to be particularly fine and
"splashy."

Shortly after we came, the Prince of Serbia arrived in Paris and
stayed at the Hotel Continental. At the same time representatives of
all the allied governments arrived and stayed at one or other of these
hotels. There was a guard of Serbian soldiers always at the entrance
to the Continental as well as a crowd of onlookers which sometimes
swelled to tremendous proportions. The newspapers chronicled the
movements of the Serbian prince and when it was announced that he was
to leave the hotel the traffic on the street was blocked with cheering
crowds.

If I heard the Marseillaise sung once I heard it sung twenty times by
the throng on the street below my windows, for the Prince of Serbia
was the symbol to France of that brave people whose valour had won for
themselves immortal renown and had captured the imagination of the
French people. The French are certainly a nation of hero worshippers
and though they no longer recognize an official nobility they do
dearly love a title.

The same kind of demonstrations took place when Lord Kitchener and
Asquith drove through the streets. Everywhere they went the roads were
lined with the dark blue uniforms of the national guard, the gendarmes
and some of the territorials in their light blue service dress.

Then French soldiers lining the route across the Place de la Concorde
on the day when we drew up to see Lord Kitchener, Mr. Asquith, General
Cadorna of Italy and other foreign representatives pass, looked small
and insignificant in their, to us, sloppy uniforms; yet those were of
the race "who had threshed the men and kissed the women of all
Europe"--the soldier, which through all the centuries since the time
of Julius Caesar, had shown the most consistent fighting ability of
any nation in Europe. Their soldiers at that very moment were fighting
for their very existence and week after week were pouring out their
best blood in torrents on the battlefield of Verdun, demonstrating to
the world the possession of qualities which we had prided ourselves
belonged to the Teutonic races and particularly to Britons,--the
quality of "sticking it."

They are a wonderful people, the French, marvellous in their spirit
of self sacrifice. The French woman does not weep when her son or
husband goes to war. No, he goes to serve "La Patrie" that word for
which we have no synonym, the something which is greater than
everything else, for which all must be sacrificed with joy. France is
a name to conjure with; it is an ideal as well as a country, for it
embodies all that Frenchmen have fought and died for in all the
centuries.

Paris had never before seemed half so clean, but this is the
impression that you always get when you return to it. Perhaps it was
the contrast with the filthy, muddy streets of the little northern
villages in the war zone,--streets traversed daily by hundreds of
motor lorries and thousands of men each of whom brings in, from the
surrounding country, a certain amount of dirt.

On Sunday morning towards eleven o'clock the great avenue--Le
Bois--leading towards St. Cloud, was crowded with the better class of
Parisians, all wending their way to the woods and parks for the day.
They were there in tens of thousands, on foot and in taxis, and very
frequently carrying lunch baskets.

Never does one see such a smartly dressed crowd of women as one sees
in Paris. No matter what the combination of colour, no matter what the
style, they look well, for they have the national gift of knowing how
to wear their clothes. Even the widows in mourning, and there were
many of them, looked most interesting. French women have a grace of
carriage and know how to walk, which is in striking contrast to the
majority of English, Canadian or American women. It is the ensemble
which gives the Parisienne that air of distinction which is so
characteristic.

The children were dressed in the styles which are usually seen only in
the fashion plates and as much pride and thought was evidently spent
upon them as on the dress of the mothers themselves. The French
children in Paris are particularly well behaved and obedient.

The trees in Le Bois were just bursting into leaf on that first Sunday
of mid March. The rented boats on the little lakes were filled with
young boys and their sweethearts, and they splashed up and down and
ran into each other, and made much noise after the manner of people of
that age under similar circumstances the world over.

Crossing the Seine we ascended the hill to the race course of St.
Cloud, from which a magnificent view of Paris is obtainable. It was a
splendid situation for the French Canadian hospital established there
under the command of Lt.-Col. Mignault of Montreal.

The French authorities did not want the wounded from Verdun to come to
the Paris hospitals, for it might depress the people too much. So,
though Verdun was at its height, no wounded were seen in Paris and the
hospitals in fact were almost empty at the time. And as the Parisians
did not see any evidence of great losses through the presence of
wounded, it was quite natural to conclude that there could not be many
wounded. If not why worry, for the newspapers were full of the
tremendous casualties inflicted on the enemy? The French army must be
very good to be able to hold the German back like that, must it not?
So Paris was optimistic and the wounded went elsewhere to the country
where it was said the air was much better than in a large city like
Paris.

The French Canadian hospital, however, was not going to be done out of
the work that they had come so far to do, and demanded patients. As
the hospital was situated in the suburbs (where the air was presumably
good) permission was granted and it was filled with wounded from
Verdun on the following day.

Though not fully completed when I saw it, the hospital was in running
order. It consisted of a series of wooden huts arranged in the area
behind the grand stand, and had just enough shade trees around to
shelter the huts partially from the sun. It was always a marvel to me
to see soldiers recovering from what have always been considered to be
fatal wounds. I saw one man that day at St. Cloud who had been shot
through the centre of the forehead two days before at Verdun, the
bullet coming out of the top of his head, and leaving the brain
exposed. The man was sitting up in bed reading and when the wet
dressing was raised by the surgeon one could see the brain pulsating.

Of the meetings of the War Allies' Sanitary Commission there is little
to be said because they were of a technical nature, and chiefly of
interest to scientists. The first meeting was held on March the 15th
and one was held thereafter every afternoon for the next three weeks,
with the exception of Sundays. About thirty-five delegates were
present altogether, representing the civilian, naval and military
services of Russia, Italy, Serbia, France, Belgium and Great Britain.

At each session some subject on sanitation was discussed according to
a program decided upon the previous day. Some countries had already
had experiences with certain epidemics, which were quite unknown as
yet to the other allied countries; in such a case the experience
gained by one country in devising ways and means of stamping out an
epidemic would be of great interest and practical value to the other
countries.

A striking example of this was the experience of Serbia with typhus
fever. Typhus is conveyed from man to man through the bites of lice
infected through biting some one who already has the disease. Serbia
had had a tremendous epidemic of the disease both in the army and in
the civilian population, and had had to resort to all kinds of
improvised means of controlling lice when their regular disinfecting
apparatus had been lost or destroyed during their retreat. Naturally
the experience of Serbia was of the greatest interest to all the other
armies which were also lice-infected but had had no typhus fever as
yet.

All the discussions were conducted in French, and curious to relate
the non-French Allies understood one another more readily if possible
than they did the French themselves, largely due to the fact that the
latter talked so rapidly. Many scientists of great note were present,
among them being M. Roux who had succeeded M. Pasteur as chief of the
Pasteur Institute in Paris. He was by far the easiest speaker of all
to follow,--so easy in fact that I constantly congratulated myself on
my knowledge of French when he was speaking, only to sadly admit when
the next Frenchman began that I had still a long, long way to go.

Every morning the five of us who were representatives of the British
army, Australia and Canada, met and drafted our joint report of the
previous day's meeting for submission to our respective governments
when the Congress would be over; many days of labor were thereby saved
since the report was complete when the meetings ended. This used up
the mornings, and the regular meetings took up the afternoons till
five o'clock. Every evening I took a lesson in French conversation so
that there was not much time for sight seeing even if there had been
anything to see. It was in reality three weeks of hard work yet I
managed to see quite a bit of Paris and of what was going on in our
spare half hours and the two or three half days during which no
meetings were held.

Some of the delegates were very remarkable men. The Frenchmen were all
scientists of note. One of the Serbian delegates had been continuously
in the battle field for four years and was thoroughly tired of war. He
was a handsome and very interesting man. In fact all the Serbs whom I
saw in Paris were big, fine-looking men.

The chief Russian delegate was a prince, a lieutenant-general of
cavalry, and a wonderfully well informed scientist. Though a man over
sixty years of age and without a medical degree, he seemed to be
perfectly informed in every question relating to bacteriology,
chemistry, sanitation and medicine and would put the average notable
medical officer of health to shame. He was to all of us a perfect
marvel. He spoke English and French fluently and had the keenest sense
of humour of any member of the congress, constantly enlivening the
proceedings by his witty and humorous remarks.

One day the Commission visited the French storehouses in Paris, where
all the drugs, medical and sanitary supplies for the French army were
kept. Something of the magnitude of the war being conducted by the
French could be gauged by the enormous warehouses, packed to the roof
with medical supplies for the army.

We also visited the series of wooden buildings being erected to house
the Red Cross supplies sent to France as gifts from other countries.
The Canadian building was the only one completed and stocked and we
were shown that as a sample of the others; all the French
representatives were very careful to explain to me individually that
Canada had been very good and more than kind in remembering France.

The Russian Prince, who objected strenuously to this trip, vented his
satire during the whole of the afternoon. We would, perhaps be ushered
into a huge warehouse packed with wooden boxes to the ceiling, when
the Prince would adjust his eyeglasses and looking them over with a
comprehensive sweep of his hand say to me, for we travelled together
that day,--"Ah, yes, boxes! how very interesting! do you know,
Colonel, nothing gives me greater pleasure than spending the afternoon
looking at piles of boxes?" Each syllable was so clearly and
distinctly enunciated that the simplest remark made by this born
comedian of a Prince was perfectly delightful, and we had a joyous
afternoon together.

Pasteur is a name reverenced by one and all in France. The first
question asked when you are introduced as a scientist to Frenchmen is,
"Do you know our Pasteur and his work?" and when you reply in the
affirmative they beam on you and look as if they wanted to kiss you.

The Pasteur Institute was devoted entirely to putting up the various
sera, vaccines and other material required by the army in the field.
We were shown over the Institute by M. Roux, the Director. The
reverence with which each foreign delegate removed his hat as he
approached the rooms where Pasteur had lived and worked was most
impressive to the resident of a country where there was little
reverence for anything in the way of ability of any sort except that
for making money. Pasteur is buried in a mausoleum in the Institute
and numerous tributes from societies and great men the world over
testify to the esteem in which he was held by the thinking portion of
the world.

One particularly interesting feature of the work of the Institute was
the manufacture of a certain poison for rats in the trenches. Rats are
a great nuisance and a possible source of plague to the armies in the
field. In the Autumn the rats come into the trenches where there is an
abundance of waste food, and are particularly numerous where there is
lots of water near which they like to breed.

The method used to kill them is quite ingenious. The rats are fed at
a certain time every day for about ten days, at the end of which they
will come in large numbers almost on the minute. The poisoned food is
then placed for them and a large proportion of the rats are destroyed.
Where poison has once been tried it is useless to make any further
attempts with the same poison for a long time to come, for the rats
will refuse to touch it. The wholesale method outlined has been found
in practise by the French to give the best results.

Our trip to the French front in the Champagne was interesting. Leaving
the station one morning at eight we arrived at Chalons-sur-Marne about
eleven and visited a couple of hospitals there. The hospitals were
well equipped, and some of the surgical devices in use were new and
exceedingly ingenious.

The most vivid impression which remains of those French hospitals,
however, was the lack of fresh air in them; seldom have I breathed a
more vitiated atmosphere. Though it was a warm, pleasant day outside,
every window in the hospital was closed tight.

It is another indication of the strong scientific contradictions
sometimes met with. Though, in theory, the French are most excellent
sanitarians and as a country revere the name of Pasteur, while we have
forgotten, if we ever did know, the name of Lister, in practice they
are about as poor a nation in practical sanitation as it is possible
to be. Imagine a hospital, thoroughly equipped and clean as a new pin,
with such bad air that one of our party fainted and another had to
leave in a hurry to escape the same fate.

After an excellent lunch at the town hotel we left by motors and
char-a-banc for the field hospitals. The drive of some twelve miles
was made over the chalk plains of the Champagne and the dense clouds
of white dust, raised by the cars ahead, half smothered us. The only
trees on this rolling country were scrub evergreens and only enough of
these had been left for cover, the rest having been cut for stakes,
and pit props. Through these bits of woods and across the open country
ran the numerous white ditches used for reserve trenches.

The field hospitals themselves were as fine as I have ever seen in
equipment and appearance. They consisted of series of huts, well laid
out and with walks planted with trees and shrubs from the surrounding
country. That was the artistic touch that made French field hospitals
look better than the British hospitals. Wells had been sunk for
hundreds of feet in the chalk, pumping engines installed, and
disinfection chambers and baths built with a capacity of a thousand
men a day.

While there we saw German aeroplanes being shelled and were much
interested to note that the anti-air-craft fire of the French gunners
was just as bad as that of the British.

On our return we visited a French mobile laboratory at Chalons, and
were much struck by their method of running it; like our own Canadian
laboratory they carried all their equipment in boxes which were
conveyed by a single motor lorry.

We arrived in Paris at midnight tired and sleepy to find my trusty
"Rad" waiting for me, and we drove home a load of thankful friends,
while the rest of the delegates searched in vain for taxis which were
unobtainable at that time of night.

A small item appearing in the Parisian journals on the following day
made us think. It read, "Chalons-sur-Marne bombed by aeroplanes."
Whether the aeroplanes that we had seen being shelled had carried back
word that an expedition of some sort had been seen coming and going
from Chalons in a large number of motors and whether they had
suspected that it was the congress including Lord Kitchener, Mr.
Asquith, General Cadorna and others will never be known; the fact
seemed to be that Chalons had never been bombed before our visit.

The saddest and at the same time the most inspiring sight that it was
my privilege to see in Paris or during the whole war was during our
visit to the institutes for the maimed and blinded soldiers.

The institute for the maimed had for its purpose the starting out in
life afresh men who had lost arms and legs in battle. The French are
at the bottom an exceedingly practical people even if they do not
appreciate fresh air as they might. They discovered very quickly that
the first thing necessary in the treatment of disabled soldiers after
they were ready to leave the hospitals was to make them realize that
they were still valuable and useful members of society. To this end
the soldier was fitted out with the best mechanical appliances in the
way of wooden arms and legs that it was possible to give him; and it
was characteristic of the French people that they had these
artificial limbs made by the disabled soldiers themselves. This saved
the labor of able bodied men and gave interesting and necessary work
to the disabled soldiers.

The trades being taught were basket making, brush making, piano
tuning, draughting, typewriting, tailoring, tinsmithing and so forth;
while classes in reading, writing and other subjects were held for
those who were deficient in these requirements, and anxious to learn.
And here the astounding observation was made that in certain cases
uneducated men have been able to learn more in six months than the
average child learns in as many years. In such cases the individual
has an extraordinary power of assimilation and simply "eats up"
everything put before him. The maimed men were all happy and smoked
and sang at their work. They were heroes still.

The school for the blind was, in some ways, of quite a different
character. At the time of our visit there were about 350 soldiers in
the school, learning to be self-reliant and useful citizens. Naturally
it is a much more difficult task to teach a blind man than a maimed
one that he is still a valuable asset to his country and the first
weeks in the Institute are frequently devoted to convincing him of
this cardinal fact. When he has learned to dress himself, get about
alone and begins to learn a trade he becomes convinced of this truth
and the victory has been won. For the appalling future facing him of a
life in total darkness dependent on a wife or parents is too terrible
a one for any man with any self respect. Unless new hope can be given
them they face the prospect of becoming drunkards, beggars and
parasites on society. And the principle underlying all this work, is
to make the blind man feel that he is yet a self-reliant, valuable
citizen of "La Belle France."

    [Illustration: THE CAMOUFLAGE.
    Anti-aircraft artillery disguised against enemy observers flying
    above.]

How it is working out a glance at the men in the various buildings
clearly showed. Here was one group of men wearing smoked glasses
feverishly manufacturing brushes; as they worked they whistled. In the
next room another group was mending the seats of rattaned chairs; in
the next they were making raffia baskets; in the next willow baskets,
chairs and tables. Another lot was learning to set type for books for
the blind; others were learning typewriting, piano-tuning, barrel
making and boot repairing.

Perhaps the most interesting of all were the men learning to be
professional masseurs: This is a particularly suitable profession for
the blind because it depends for its success altogether on the sense
of feeling, and these chaps rubbed and manipulated each other's
muscles and joints in the most approved expert style, using one
another as patients. Some of the blind graduate masseurs were already
practising their profession in Paris.

One recent arrival was being conducted about the garden by one of the
white clad nurses, who was evidently trying to comfort him in some of
his bad moments. The poor chap looked heart broken and one felt, even
though dimly, something of his Gethsemane as he realized that the
glory of the sun and all the beauties of nature were no more for
him,--that before him was only night eternal. Yet a moment afterwards
when the supper bell rang the rattle of canes on the walks and the
sound of scores of men whistling and singing as they came from all the
buildings round about proved most convincingly that hundreds of others
had gone through this same struggle and had come out victorious.

My visit to the Institute for the blinded soldiers was to me the most
inspiring experience that I had in France, strange as that statement
may sound, for it showed more conclusively than war itself the
infinite capacity for courage that exists in almost every man. Yet the
sights that we saw--so terribly pathetic--made one realize as never
before the truth of the epigram "War is hell."

When we again passed through the gates of St. Denis on our way towards
our "home" in the field, it was a sunny day and all the fruit trees
were in full bloom, making a broad belt of white for three or four
miles around Paris. With the exception of a stop at the cathedral of
Amiens to see the wonderful old stained glass windows, unequalled by
any in Great Britain, we travelled steadily all day without incident
and reached our little home town near the Belgian border by five
o'clock to find that all was well.



CHAPTER XIV.

TABLE TALK AT A FLANDERS MESS.


"Look out," warned the Colonel as they stumbled along the Rue de la
Gare, "there's a hole somewhere about here." The Canadian officers
passed gingerly on feeling their way down the inky street. A Zeppelin
had been over the night before and the lighting regulations were being
strictly enforced.

Suddenly the Captain stopped, passed his hand along a brick wall, gave
a pull at a wire, and a gong on the inside rang like a fire alarm.

"How in the dickens you can see in this darkness beats me," said the
Colonel. "You must have eyes like a French cat."

The door was opened by Bittleson, and the three officers entered and
walked along the dimly lit, tiled hall into a room at the far end.

"Home, Sweet Home," said the Colonel looking around the room. "It is
the nearest thing we can get to it anyway, worse luck." They all threw
their British warms and caps onto a large chair, flung their sam-brown
belts on top of them and picking out their own respective easy chairs
drew up before the fire, which was burning brightly in the French
grate stove in the corner of the mess room, formerly the dining room
of Madame Deswaerts. The whole side of the room facing the rose garden
and pigeon cots was glassed in and the two huge French windows were,
no doubt, a pleasant feature in the summer time; at present they
admitted a great deal of the cold, damp air from outside.

"Rawson," called the Colonel. Rawson a little black-haired Jew, the
Doctor's batman and temporary mess cook, entered.

"Yessir," said Rawson.

"Put some more coal on that fire; it's as cold as hell in here,"
grumbled the Colonel.

The fire was duly replenished while the Colonel took a cigarette from
his case and opened his "Bystander."

"Do you know how to cook that canned asparagus?" asked the Colonel as
Rawson turned to leave the room.

"No Sir," said Rawson.

"Well how do you think you would cook it?" asked the Colonel.

This was a poser; Rawson was evidently nonplussed.

"Would you boil it, Sir?" he ventured when the silence had become
oppressive.

"You guessed right," and the Colonel deftly flicked a burned match up
behind a picture of the local curé. "What would you do with the tough
part of the stalks?"

"I dunno, Sir." Rawson was stumped again.

"Have you ever eaten asparagus?" asked the Colonel.

"No, Sir," said Rawson, "but I've seen it in the stores."

"Well, go and boil it for five minutes with some salt," ordered the
Colonel, "and then serve dinner."

"Yessir," said Rawson, retiring to the kitchen.

"It beats hell," fussed the Colonel, "how ignorant that boy is; he
hasn't a single ray of intelligence; he carries on just like a trained
monkey; he never thinks, never."

"Yes, he does," contradicted the Captain looking up from a New York
Journal received that day, "I actually saw him thinking yesterday; I
could almost see the wheels going around; in fact, I imagined I could
hear them grating, so seldom had they been used. It was really one of
the most fascinating things I ever saw; you couldn't describe it but
you could act it. The Doc. saw it too. Wasn't it funny, Doc.?"

"It was a marvel," said the Doctor. "I have always classed Rawson as
belonging to the palaeolithic age and imagined the missing link to
have about the same brain capacity as he has; since our experience
yesterday I have come to the conclusion that Rawson is a 'throw back'
and had normal ancestry. This is more apparent when we know he is
never savage but on the contrary very gentle."

The conversation was interrupted by the entrance of Bittleson, the
Colonel's batman. Bittleson had been deposed from his position as cook
two days before for being dirty and careless. He now came forward with
his cap on his head and saluted as only Bittleson could salute.

"Beg pardon, Sir," he hesitated with a deprecatory smile, pointing
with his thumb to the kitchen door, "but Rawson aint really up to
cooking stuff like this here sparrow grass--not yet. P'raps I had
better take a holt."

"All right," agreed the Colonel, "are you sure you know how to cook it
yourself?"

"Sure," answered Bittleson with an inflexion that spoke volumes as to
his knowledge. "Why when we was at Salisbury--"

"Shut up," commanded the Colonel and Bittleson respectfully saluted
and retired.

When the dinner was served we waded through our passable soup, tough
roast beef with "frits" and waited with pleasant anticipation for the
chef'd'oeuvre of the evening. The asparagus duly arrived and was
placed on the table by Bittleson himself with something of a flourish.

"What the sam hill do you know about that!" said the disappointed
Captain as all gazed at the plate full of white asparagus butts,--as
hard as tent pegs. The tender edible portions had been thrown away.
The Colonel turned to Bittleson but the latter was too quick for him
and had already made a strategic retreat.

"What a mess-president?" said the Captain, "Eh, what, Doc.?"

"Go to blazes," growled the Colonel, "You can't get results without
tools; pass the coffee pot." And they relapsed into silence for a few
moments as they severally speculated on the number of Bittlesons they
knew of in the army--in all ranks.

"Well, I wonder how long this blinking war is going to last," queried
the Colonel. "No signs of light on the horizon yet; Fritzy is some
sticker."

"I am fed up with the whole thing," returned the Captain snapping his
cigarette butt viciously into a corner. "What are we out here for
anyway; what are we fighting for; what is the whole bally business
about; that is what I would like to know?"

"What did you come out for?" asked the Colonel. "You had a good
position and a good future in your profession over in the States;
something made you come; what was it?"

"I don't know what it was; chiefly a desire to be in the game and not
be a quitter I guess; I hate the idea of my kids, if I ever have any,
asking me what I had done in the great war. I went up to Forbes Bay to
play golf and forget the war and suddenly found myself buying a ticket
for Valcartier Camp and here I am." There was silence for a minute.
"What did you come out for Colonel?" asked the Captain.

"For adventure," replied the Colonel. "So did everybody else; anybody
who says he didn't come out here for some such reason as that is a
damned liar; don't you think so Doc.?"

"I don't think I did for one," responded the Doc., "but I wouldn't be
sure; I had every inducement to stay home if any man had, congenial
work, interesting hobbies, the finest woman in the world, and I hate
the military game; I guess there were lots of others like myself."

"Well, what in thunder did you come for; what was the big idea?"
demanded the Colonel.

"The big idea in my case was that I thought I might be of some use in
keeping our men efficient, in other words 'service,'" said the Doc.
"What is more, that is what you and the Cap. both came for if you
would only admit it."

"Piffle," snapped the Colonel.

"It isn't piffle, it's the truth," asserted the Doc. "Why do you feel
sore now because other fellows you know haven't come out? If love of
adventure brought you, there is no reason for feeling crusty because
your friends haven't the same love of adventure that you have. Let
them stay at home and mind their own business if they want to and
can't see things as we do."

"Yes, but it's different now to what it was at first. Everybody knows
we are in this fight to the death,--that if we are licked it is
'good-night'!" said the Colonel.

"You can't convince them of that in England--not all at once," argued
the Cap. "The newspapers still construe every local success into a
great victory, the great mass of the people think the war will be over
in the autumn, and the strikers still strike!"

"Well, if they don't see the desperate nature of the affair in England
how can you expect them to realize it in Canada?" questioned the Doc.
"England has air raids, bombardment of her coast towns by German
raiders, ships sunk by submarines and all the evidences of a nearby
war. Of course she thinks she has the money and that money will win. I
guess Germany hasn't much real money but she carries on pretty well
without it."

"She is like America in that respect in regard to money--thinks that
the last dollar will win," answered the Cap. "It won't, its the last
big army in the field that can strike at a vital point that will win
this war."

"That takes money," said the Colonel.

"Yes, but hang it!" countered the Cap., "Germany can print money and
keep on paying; as long as the war lasts paper money will be honored;
it has to be if the Government says so. Only when the end comes and
there is no gold to honor the paper will the crash come: Germany hopes
to be in the position to obtain compensation when the war ends. I
believe that Germany is deliberately trying to ruin the Allies and
particularly England by causing them to make tremendous expenditures
in gold, which is the only thing neutrals will honour; then when we
are weakened in both men and money she hopes to get in her knock-out!"

"As a secondary consideration she may be trying to ruin England
because she has failed to get in the knock-out blow; that is more
likely," reasoned the Colonel. "She has tried hard enough to give the
knock-out both in the first rush to Paris, at Ypres, at Verdun, at the
battle of Jutland, and by her Zep and submarine campaigns. Hitherto
she has failed. Now I believe she is carrying on in the hope that we
will become exhausted and quit; they don't know the English."

"Neither does anybody else," said the Cap. angrily, "they don't know
themselves. They laughed at Lord Roberts and nearly crucified him:
they laughed at the German navy, at Zeppelins, at subs and at poison
gas, and they paid no attention to Sir William Ramsay for kicking
against American cotton going into Germany to make explosives to be
used against us. Now they are having a great laugh at Pemberton
Billings because he says the air service is rotten and advocates the
building of thousands of aeroplanes wherewith to swamp the Germans
with bombs. When he talks in Parliament, they get up and walk out of
the house. That is typical of the English people as a race; they are
so intolerant and so d---- conservative that even in questions of life
and death they won't learn. The aeroplane is a new brand of the
service and therefore they won't take it seriously and they say
Billings is just a blatherskite. But you know and I know that when
sixty planes went over the German lines the other night they played
havoc with certain cantonments. If so why will not ten or twenty times
as many planes accomplish ten or twenty times as much? It is simply a
problem in mathematics. But will Englishmen see that? Not much.
'Muddle through' is their national motto and they are proud of it.
Thank God the Germans are just as stupid. If it was the United States
they wouldn't play the fool in regard to new ideas, believe me."

"Rubbish," retorted the Colonel, firing up at the mention of the
United States, "There is a nation with no sand; she hasn't even got
gumption enough to know that other people are fighting her battles for
her. She has a three-for-a-cent war on with Mexico and she can't raise
50,000 voluntary troops, while Villa sticks his fingers to his nose at
them. Their only aeroplane was brought down by a Mexican revolver
bullet; their fleet is a joke; they are the greatest bunch of bunco
steerers in the world to-day!"

"Don't you believe it," replied the Cap. with deliberation, "I have
lived in the U.S. for several years and I think I know the people.
They have the makings of a wonderful nation. They are keen as mustard
and without silly antique prejudices inherited from the middle ages.
It is true, as a nation, they have something of a swelled head. But
give them a chance; they will come up to the scratch some day; mark my
words."

"Dollars! Dollars! Dollars! that is the American God," continued the
Colonel, "like the children of Israel they worship the golden calf;
they have no other ideal than to become rich, buy automobiles and 'put
it over' the other fellows. The Germans spit in their faces every day
and they say 'business is business' and take it. The Germans sink the
Lusitania and the President sends a note advising them to be more
careful in future and so it goes. Why, any decent man will strike back
when he is struck by a filthy swine; even a worm will turn."

"He couldn't," objected the Cap.

"Why couldn't he," returned the Colonel. "What's the matter with him?
Is he a jelly fish?"

"Because he is the chief engineer of the nation," explained the Cap.
"He is head of a nation that is a conglomerate; it isn't yet fused; it
contains fifteen to twenty millions of people of German origin. It is
like running an express train. As long as the track is straight and
the levers are left alone the engine will keep the tracks if he can
keep his hand on the throttle and observe the signals. There are some
bad signals up in the States. It is overrun with spies who know
everything; the navy is in bad shape; the Mexican affair is on; they
are nervous about Japan and they have no army. With a publicity bureau
such as the Germans have, controlling many newspapers and magazines,
the enemy can do a tremendous lot to alienate public sympathy from the
allied cause, and until America is touched in the quick there will be
no demand for a change of conditions."

"Then the President should lead public opinion," announced the
Colonel.

"Yes, and bring down the wrath of the enemy upon him; just give him
time; he hasn't got that jaw for nothing; he knows history; his
opportunity will come and he will rise to it. Don't you think so
Doc.?"

"I don't know," said the Doc. "I used to think he had tremendous
reserve power; now I'm not so sure. The President, in my opinion, made
his great mistake when he failed to make a dignified protest on behalf
of the violation of Belgium's neutrality. The U.S. stood for great
things in the world; she was the ideal of the smaller nations to whom
she was the personification of Liberty. She fell down and to-day even
France shakes her head or smiles behind her hand when the name of the
United States is mentioned. Yet, I feel that we cannot judge because
we don't know all the facts. The best men in the United States are
with us heart and soul; they feel disgraced and degraded individually
and as a nation because they are forced to eat dirt; they want to go
to war for they realize the European situation. Yet, we can't tell
what is going on behind the scenes in the United States; we don't
know all facts; the cards are not all on the table. If we knew what
President Wilson knows, we might judge, but we don't. For all we know
Great Britain and the other Allies may want America to keep out. The
Japanese question may be a very ticklish one. We don't know and
therefore we can't judge; that is my opinion."

"What is the feeling over there anyway?" asked the Captain.

"It was hard to determine," said the Doc. "Apparently everything was
going on as usual in New York. The editorials of papers like the New
York _Tribune_ and _Times_ were absolutely the finest I have ever seen
showing why the United States should be in this war. On the other hand
the Hearst papers and many others were antagonistic; the middle West
at least is pro-German, and the South is an unknown quantity. I met
many thinking men who used to be very favorable to the President but
who now curse him and his typewriter. Many business men had signs hung
over their desks 'Nix on the war.' They are different from English
people who through their press are leading the politicians and forcing
the authorities to more strenuous action. The United States on the
contrary seemed to be willing to place all responsibility on the
shoulders of the President and follow him. Meanwhile, he senses public
opinion and plays golf. He has more power than any man in the world
to-day, far more."

"And you really think they will finally come in?" asked the Colonel.

"I think they will have to; there will be no choice," answered the
Doc. "If they would only realize that the British fleet is the only
thing standing between them and Germany they would become panicked.
But they don't and while the British fleet protects them from the
Prussian--who is out for world domination--they soak the British
hundreds of per cent. profit on supplies. It is really very funny if
you can see it from the humorous standpoint."

"It seems pretty rotten to me," said the Colonel, "for a nation to
take everything and give nothing, while others fight for it."

"They don't know anything about Europe; they don't, as a nation, know
what the war is about. As far as that goes we have nothing to swank
about in Canada!" said the Doc.

"Canada has realized her responsibilities, anyway," put in the
Colonel.

"Just exactly what she has not," contradicted the Doc, in turn waxing
wroth. "What have we done anyway? Put four divisions in the field, of
which two-thirds were born in Great Britain. We have somewhere about
nine million people in Canada; we should get 12 per cent. of that
number under a system of national service, that is nearly 1,100,000
men. They say we have recruited about 300,000 for service abroad. It
isn't as if the rest were mobilized for war purposes--they are not.
There is not even a home guard. There are tens of thousands of men
around the streets of Toronto to-day who should be at war; I know a
lot of them personally and they haven't 'bad hearts' either, or
dependent mothers. They are just rotters, nothing else."

"Some of them who work for Red Cross one day in six months, throw out
their chests and tell you they are 'doing their bit' at home. I saw
red all the time I was back and a lot of them felt very uneasy when
they met me. When I see these chaps here tramping in and out of the
trenches day after day and think of those spineless blighters at home
it makes me sick."

"Ottawa has no backbone. It hasn't nerve enough to do anything. Quebec
holds the whip hand and Quebec is anti-war. And so the political game
goes on while Canadian profiteers make barrels of money--blood
money--out of munitions and food-stuffs. We make the most of what we
have done but I believe that Canada's effort is a disgrace."

"Well what would you have?" questioned the Colonel, "Canada has to
produce food for the Allies; she has to carry on; she could easily be
ruined by conscripting all her men for active service."

"Nobody suggests that all her men be conscripted for active service,"
said the Doc. "What is needed is that every man should be working for
the Empire. Whether it is in growing wheat, making munitions or
fighting, makes little difference. We need everybody working for the
common cause. There are plenty of men trying to sell real estate
to-day who should be out ploughing land for wheat to keep French and
British soldiers fit; there are lots of chaps who cannot fight or
plough who can run a lathe in a munitions factory; there are plenty of
women who could replace men on farms; every woman and man in France
is working. Why should not Canada be doing the same?"

"Its quite a bit different," argued the Cap., with a wink at the
Colonel. "After all if Germany won out it wouldn't make much
difference to Canada."

"Wouldn't it?" demanded the Doc, hotly. "That is what a relative of
mine said and I am only waiting for an opportunity to see the swine
and tell him what I think of him. If the British fleet failed to-day
do you know how long it would take the Germans to get over to Canada?
About ten days! And about ten thousand German marines with a couple of
naval guns would make Canada throw up her hands as fast as a footpad
would an old lady in a dark lane. I would say that ten high explosive
shells in Quebec and about twenty in Montreal would do the trick. That
followed by the despatch of two or three regiments to Ottawa would
settle the matter. The whole thing would be too ridiculous for words.
The United States would mind their own business because the Monroe
doctrine would avail but little without troops to back it up."

"Then what?" asked the Colonel, as the Doc. stopped for breath.

"Canada is the ideal country for a powerful German colony. I honestly
believe they would prefer Canada with all its latent resources, its
water power, great wheat fields, minerals and forest wealth, to any
spot on earth. With their systematic methods, their thousands of
trained scientists in all branches of industry, their tremendous
capacity for work and resourcefulness, they would take a hold of
Canada and develop it in a way that would startle the world. Germany
has millions of surplus population that she would transfer to Canada
for development purposes. She would have 100 million people to the
south of her for a market and in ten years she would control the
markets of the whole world. That is the German dream and there is only
one thing that stands in the way of its accomplishment, only one
thing."

"The British fleet?" asked the Cap.

"The British fleet!" repeated the Doc.

"I think you look on the whole thing too seriously," objected the
Colonel. "After all we are not reduced to extremities or anything like
it."

"No and that is the idea of every other conservative man in the
British Empire," said the Doc. "They all hope that something will turn
up before long, and fail to consider that while they hope the German
works. Just take a common enough example of how the devils do work in
comparison to ourselves. You remember those trenches that we lost in
the salient for several days to the Germans. Well our fellows were
simply thunderstruck when we took them back. They were remodelled,
strengthened and put into such perfect shape that our chaps said they
had never seen a real trench before. The beggars must have worked
twenty-four hours a day to do it. Catch our fellows doing anything
like that."

"What good did it do them? We got them back," laughed the Colonel.

"Yes, and did you notice the price we paid. Everything we got from
them we pay the utmost for; they extract the last ounce from us; and
so it will go on to the end. If they work twenty-four hours in the day
we will have to do the same. You can't help taking your hat off to the
brutes."

"Just about once a day," agreed the Cap.

"Or oftener," said the Colonel.

"Well, what is the end going to be?" asked the Cap.

"Personally, I don't think there is any doubt about us winning out
finally, but the end is not yet in sight. We have not used all our
resources yet because as an Empire we have not felt that we were up
against it hard. But the British are coming to it and if the war lasts
long enough Great Britain will be rejuvenated. She was getting pretty
rotten before the war. Suffering is chastening her; I have great faith
in that for there is no doubt that trials and suffering strengthen a
nation just as they strengthen individuals. I believe a newer and
greater Britain will arise out of the ashes of the old. There will be
many problems between capital and labor to work out; there must be a
redistribution of land; people will have to work much harder than they
have ever had to before. But to five millions of men in the army of
the British Empire a man has become a man once more. When men stand
side by side in the trenches, while the German shells play upon them,
the men of wealth, or education, or title realize that a shell does
not discriminate between him and the workman by his side. The soldier
knows that the only thing that counts is whether a man is really a
man; when he has stood before his maker for weeks at a time in the
front line, not knowing when his hour would strike, he realizes that
there are few things in life that really count. He is going to take
that point of view back with him into civilian life and he is going to
put it into practice. He will have no fear of anybody. He will want to
make a comfortable living but he will not, at least for years to come,
adopt the old ideas that money or so-called position really count.
Because he knows what really does count; he has had the greatest
experiences and has felt the most tremendous excitement that can come
to a man in life and a great deal of what would have appealed to him
before the war no longer moves him."

"Therefore I believe that there will be a new understanding between
the rich and the poor; between the educated and the ignorant. There
will be a new idea of public service. These hundreds of thousands of
people who have been helping in Red Cross and other service work will
not go back to the old careless life, for they will have been moulded
to new points of view and a new sense of responsibility. All this, of
course, pre-supposes that the war will last long enough so that the
nation as a nation will suffer. The profiteer must be shorn of his ill
gotten gains; the taxes must be heavy enough to pinch everybody; the
necessity to save in order to provide for others must come home to
every man, woman and child. Through things like that and the suffering
which has come and will come to relatives of the killed and wounded
the nation will get a new outlook on life and a healthy one. I think
we are now in the dawning of a new era."

"Sounds like a book," commented the Colonel. "Do you really believe
that people will change? Personally I doubt it."

"I think so," reasoned the Doc. "The basis of all reform is education
and the world is certainly undergoing a process of education right now
such as has never been known in history. You have seen how quickly a
city can be educated by going about it properly and we all know that
the point of view of the world has undergone a tremendous
transformation on nearly everything since the beginning of the war."

"Only Canada lags about two years behind. She doesn't know that a war
is on. Far from here she pursues her peaceful way quite oblivious of
the war. But the very fact that she is safe, that she has not been
invaded, makes her moral obligation even greater than if she had been,
because she is free to develop her industries normally and without
loss. She can pay; she must pay. Canada's obligations are just as
great as her resources; no more; no less. That is the viewpoint that
posterity will judge her by. And if she does rise to the occasion she
will go down in history as a real nation and with a soul."

"The Doc. is right," agreed the Colonel.

"You bet," seconded the Cap. "Some speech that--eh, what?"

There was a ripping sound in the distance, followed by the crash of an
exploding shell. In the silence that followed the hum of an
approaching plane could be heard. "Bombs!" warned the Colonel.

Bittleson appeared. "Excuse me, Sir, Madame Deswaerts presents her
compliments and says would the gentlemen please come down into the
cellar till the aeroplanes pass over?"

"All right Bittleson," agreed the Colonel, as they got up and strolled
cellarwards.



CHAPTER XV.

ON THE BELGIAN BORDER.


Upon my return from Canada, while waiting in London for orders to
proceed to France, I received a telegram to appear at Buckingham
Palace on the following morning at 10.15. The taxi drove through the
outer courtyard to the inner palace entrance and my coat and hat were
taken charge of by a scarlet-coated attendant who gave me a numbered
check for the same.

An equerry-in-waiting asked me what my decoration was to be, and he
showed me into a large room with an immense bay window from which a
splendid view of a magnificent park could be seen. The bay window was
divided up by scarlet ropes into several sections, into one of which I
was ushered. One of these was for the C.B.'s, and contained a sole
occupant, a naval officer. The next sections were for the C.M.G.'s,
the next for the D.S.O.'s, M.C.'s, etc.

There were eight officers in our section, the first six being
generals. An attendant then came and placed a hook on the left hand
side of our tunics, our names were checked over and we were placed in
order according to rank.

When everything was ready the great doors leading into the room where
King George was to invest us, were swung back and we slowly proceeded
towards it. The first name was called and the naval officer stepped
forward and disappeared into the room beyond. The next officer, Lord
Locke, who was the first in line for the C.M.G. went next, and so they
proceeded quickly until my turn came.

As I advanced I could see the King standing about twenty feet in front
of a large window, dressed in a morning suit, and looking exactly like
his pictures. As he hung the decoration of the order on my little hook
he shook hands cordially and said "I am glad to give you the C.M.G."

Then he added, "Have you been with my army in France?"

I replied, "Yes, sir, with the first army."

"Have you been out there long?" he queried.

"I have been there for eight months, was re-called to Canada for two
months, and am now on my way back," I replied.

He nodded, adding something I did not catch, shook hands for the
second time, and repeated as though he really meant it, "I am very
glad to give you the C.M.G."

I backed away a few steps, and retired by another route, feeling that
this was the simplest and easiest ordeal I had ever gone through. It
was impossible to make a mistake even if you had tried to and
everybody was kindness and courtesy itself. An attendant removed the
decoration, placed it in a box and handed it to me; another attendant
handed me my coat and cap and I left the palace. "So much for
Buckingham!"

Soldiers were drilling in the courtyard and guards sprang to attention
and presented arms as I passed, while a policeman hailed a taxi for me
in which I drove to St. Paul's to see the most beautiful chapel
there--that of "The most distinguished order of St. Michael and St.
George."

As I drove by West Sandling camp and through Hythe to take the morning
packet back to France a cold raw wind searched my very bones. The
channel was rough enough to make the windward side of the deck wet and
unpleasant and the officers with which the boat was packed huddled
into their trench coats and British warms trying to keep out the cold.
The torpedo boat destroyers threshed about hither and thither in
smothers of spray while away to the north the mine sweepers stretched
across from shore to shore intent upon their never-ending search.

It was rough travelling on the road to the north next day; rain, snow,
sleet and hail, driven by a stinging wind, lashed our faces during the
whole of the trip. En route we called at General Headquarters and Army
Headquarters to report, and arrived at noon in the little French town
on the Belgian border which was the new location of our field
laboratory.

The Major and Captain seemed glad to see me and escorted me to my new
billet near the railway station; there was no glass in the windows and
the room was very cold. The officers pointed out a big hole in the
pavement in front of the house, made the day before by a German bomb.
The bomb had killed a number of horses and several men and had blown
the glass out of all the windows in the neighborhood. But the Major
assured me that a bomb seldom struck twice in the same place and that,
as the Bosches were after the railway station close by at the end
of the street, the safest place was the immediate neighborhood of the
station. As this sounded quite logical, I remained at the billet until
summer time, though I never noticed any great eagerness on the part of
my two officers to move to the vicinity of the station from
comfortable billets in the centre of the town.

    [Illustration: "HOME, SWEET HOME"--MUD TERRACE.]

The very next day the town was bombed again and one "dud" fell in our
back yard.

The new town was larger than our old one, but very uninteresting and
very dirty in the winter months. The people were distinctly rougher in
dress, appearance and manners than those in France farther from the
Belgian frontier, differences possibly due to the effects of mixture
with Flemish blood. The surrounding country was rolling and much
prettier than that around Merville and it was a great relief to be
able to rest the eyes with the diversities of a rolling landscape
instead of constantly looking out upon a deadly monotonous level
country.

The headquarters of the Canadian corps was in the town and the
Canadians occupied the front line at, and north of, Ploegsteert wood,
opposite the Messines-Wytschaete ridge.

For days and weeks officers and men kept calling to get the news from
home in Canada, particularly about recruiting, and they would listen
as long as I would talk. Favorite questions were: "What does the
corner of King and Yonge streets look like?" and "How is Tommy
Church?"

Among those who called was General Mercer to whom I had brought a box
of candy from one of his office staff in Toronto and he stayed for
half an hour while I told him all the home news. We dined with him
that night and had a very pleasant evening with his staff, Lt.-Col.
Hayter, Lt.-Col. McBrien, Captain Gooderham, Lt. Cartwright; the
General was very optimistic as to the final result of the war, though
he felt that it would last at least three years longer.

Our laboratory was now located in a school which was being utilized as
part of No. 2 British casualty clearing station and the first visit I
made to this hospital was to see an old school friend, Captain Cole,
the medical officer of the Princess Patricia's who was there with a
bullet through his lungs. The very first day after his arrival from
the base after an attack of pneumonia he was caught by a sniper. He
made an uninterrupted recovery and eventually returned to active
service.

The British Army in France was steadily growing larger and troops were
beginning to be shifted about to give place to new divisions coming
into the line to train. A new division is never put directly into the
firing line and given a section of front; that would be too risky. The
new division is billeted in the area back of the lines and is
gradually brought up towards the front. The infantry is put into the
reserve and front line trenches by platoons and companies and mixed
with the old-timers who know all the ropes. In this way the new comer
picks up the routine of trench work very quickly, and, when the men
have all been broken in, the division gradually takes over its
section of front. In the same way the gunners are instructed in
practical artillery work and the men in other branches of the service
are similarly broken in.

There were rumours that the Canadians were again to move on to the
historic Ypres salient and those of the old brigade were not looking
forward to it with any perceptible amount of enthusiasm. Ypres had
associations which a whole year had not been able to eradicate.
Canadian casualties at this time were very slight; in fact almost
nothing. "Plugstreet" was supposed to be the pleasantest part of the
whole line, and to those who had been to Muskoka it seemed very much
like home, for there were log houses and rustic gates and all the
other accessories found in the wild playgrounds of northern Ontario.

"Plugstreet" was an easy place to approach since the woods prevented
observation and motor cars could get right up into the woods itself.
While standing in Ploegsteert woods by the car one day I heard
somebody singing an aria from Faust; the voice was magnificent and
evidently that of a highly trained singer who had sung in grand opera;
I listened with great delight while he sang with the utmost abandon,
and when he stopped, I watched for the owner of the voice to step out
from among the bushes. The songster proved to be a cook preparing the
evening meal. It was another example of the cosmopolitan nature of the
first Canadian contingent, which had in its ranks men of every
profession and walk in life.

Life was at this time becoming very monotonous for our men in the
trenches. The mail was the one great event of the day.

To relieve the monotony of trench life all sorts of games were devised
to pass the time. One unit had an intensely exciting morning in one of
the trenches--racing frogs. Two frogs had by mistake hopped into the
trench and were captured. Sides were formed and bets made as to which
frog would reach a given point first. As their leaders with the aid of
straws goaded their respective frogs into greater activity, the woods
of Ploegsteert fairly rang with the cheers of the rival parties.

Early in April the Canadians again found themselves in the Ypres
salient, as usual alongside the British guards. At St. Eloi they had
had casualties amounting in all to something over 500.

The Australian divisions had arrived on the western front, and two of
them came into our area. In length of limb and general "ranginess"
they greatly resembled our own westerners, and walked with the freedom
bred of a life in the open. Their usual question at first when they
met another soldier was, "Have you been to war or in France?" They got
the surprise of their lives when they found that life on the western
front was far more strenuous than it was on the Gallipoli peninsula.

The British army was learning by hard knocks how to do things, and the
truth of the old saying was constantly borne home to one that in the
early years of any great war England paid dearly for her experience in
blood and treasure.

The Fokker plane had "thrown a scare" into the air service, and there
was a general demand on the part of the British public for greater
efficiency. As a new arm of the service it was not considered by
Whitehall with the seriousness it deserved; only the men who saw
planes come over, hover about, and were in consequence heavily and
accurately shelled shortly afterwards, realized what the command of
the air meant. The air tangle, and the inadequacy of the air service
became such a scandal that Lord Derby and Lord Montague resigned from
the air board as a protest against the way this branch of the service
was being bungled.

As a matter of fact the Fokker was never considered, by our men, to be
a very wonderful machine, and we quickly evolved types that were
superior to it in every respect.

Nevertheless these were bad days on our front, and for a while as a
result of the enemy's air superiority we were bombed with great
regularity. At Canadian corps headquarters, where we dined with
Generals Alderson and Burstall one night after our own town had been
bombed, they were very much interested as they had occupied that town
for several months, and each officer wanted to know whether his former
billet had been struck.

The same night German planes bombed Canadian headquarters fairly
heavily, and also some of the camps and hospitals (the hospitals were
all marked with huge red crosses on the roof). During the same period
the enemy shelled towns, camps and roads far back from the front line
area, making life in the war area on the whole very uncertain and
very uncomfortable. It was necessary to visit many places under cover
of darkness, so accurate was the German observation and shell fire
during the day time.[1]

For example: one Sunday morning we travelled from Armentieres to
Ploegsteert by a road which in spots could be seen from the German
lines, though screened by green canvas at such places. Just before we
entered Ploegsteert village we were in full view of the enemy for a
short distance. Instead of passing right through the long village
street as I had intended we stopped for a minute to look at a well
which was being used as a source of drinking water. As we started
forward shells began to spray the road at the far end of the village
at the very moment when we ourselves would have arrived had we gone
right on. Naturally we changed our course and turned off at right
angles towards home, while heavy shelling of the town continued.

Half a mile out of the village we met a civilian with his wife and
little six year old girl, all dressed in their Sunday clothes, jogging
along in a two wheeled cart to their home in Ploegsteert village,
which was still being shelled. Why people should apparently discount
death as some of these civilians seemed to do, passed our powers of
comprehension; it never ceased to be an astonishing thing to me.

There was great air activity during that period on the part of the
Bosches and with a reason. We knew that they were ready for another
gas attack, for our artillery had burst a tank in the German trenches
and the yellow fumes of chlorine gas had been identified. A German gas
bag used for getting the wind drift was also brought in to us for
examination, showing that the enemy was awaiting a favorable
opportunity.

As I sat out in our garden in Bailleul one evening at the end of April
reading "The Morals of Marcus Ordeyne," three aeroplanes like great
birds volplaned slowly down from the clouds--coming home to
roost--until they were within 100 feet of the ground, just clearing
the house tops as they dropped into their nesting ground on the other
side of the town. I could see the pilots quite plainly.

In that brick-walled garden, full of rose bushes in leaf, I sat and
looked at the cherry trees in early blossom, and thoughts came to me
of other gardens away back in Canada, where I had spent many an hour
in the gloaming, while real birds and bats flitted about across the
sky. I leaned over to breathe the perfume of a white jonquil and a
thrill of emotion swept over me and almost made me dizzy--for the
odour was one I had not met with for a long, long time. This variety
of jonquil my father used to grow at the lake, and in the spring of
the year on which he died some of the bulbs planted with his own hands
were in bloom when we made our first trip up there; they had seemed
like a sweet message from the dead.

I went to bed that night very homesick, wishing that the Kaiser was in
Hades and the war was over. For a long time I could not get to sleep
and an agitated rapping on my door made me start up quickly from a
restless slumber. My window was open and the choking fumes of chlorine
poured into the room while Madame rapped away, exclaiming, "Monsieur
the Colonel; the asphyxiating gas has arrived." I slammed the window
to, soaked a muffler in water and wrapped it over my mouth and nose
while robed in a dressing gown, I hastened down stairs. My own gas
mask, carefully placed in a corner, had been moved, and, in the dark,
I could not find it. I gathered the four women into the inner kitchen
and made them breathe through towels wrung out in a solution of
ammonium carbonate, which we were fortunate enough to find, while we
excluded as much gas as possible by wet towels placed over the cracks
in the doors.

It was a most unpleasant experience. As we were nearly seven miles
from the German line, it was quite evident that the gas must have been
discharged in tremendous quantity to have reached us in the strength
it did. I had visions of the Germans discharging gas for hours and
killing everything that breathed for miles back of the lines. It was a
horrible sensation to realize that you had been caught like rats in a
cellar and would slowly die of asphyxiation. The gas crept in through
the doors, and it was quite impossible to breathe except through
towels saturated with the chemical solution. I wondered how the
Germans would feel about it when they came over through a country
devoid of all life and whether they would take the trouble to bury all
the women and children and dead animals.

Breathing was steadily becoming more and more difficult, when
suddenly the door bell rang. One of the girls insisted on going to
answer it, and quickly came back to report that a neighbor had called
to see whether they were all right, and that the gas cloud had passed.
Never did fresh air taste so sweet to me, and I wasted no time in
sending to a hospital for a set of masks so as to be prepared should
another gas cloud arrive.

The streak of gas that crossed our section of the town must have
drifted along some depression in the surface of the country, for a
good many people in other parts of the town, particularly where the
windows had been closed, were not greatly inconvenienced by it.

The gas was strong enough to kill all the young foliage of the roses
and other plants in our garden, while closer to the front a number of
horses were poisoned by it. Several hundred soldiers of British
regiments were gassed and the Germans, under cover of the gas cloud,
raided the British trenches in an endeavour to locate and blow up
certain mine shafts. That they did not succeed was shown recently when
these same mines on the Wytschaete ridge blew both Germans and
trenches far on the way towards the eternal stars.

Other gas attacks launched by the Germans the same night failed to
achieve any results; and in one section they managed to gas themselves
badly. We reported the gas to be chlorine, and the post mortems of
gassed soldiers carried out by Major Rankin, blood tests by myself to
exclude other possibilities, and evidence obtained elsewhere, all
indicated that the gas employed had been chlorine.

The New Zealand division which had come into our area, held the line
in front of Armentieres. A small epidemic of suspected dysentery in
that division took us through that town frequently, and we found it
almost completely deserted. The Huns shelled it almost daily and had
made the place almost untenable for civilians, though, as usual, a
number of them hung on and did a fairly good business.

The staff of our laboratory had been reduced from three officers to
two, and after a good deal of discussion, Major Rankin dropped out at
his own earnest request and was detailed to the Canadian Corps to
train for the position of D.A.D.M.S. To celebrate the occasion he gave
us a little dinner, and invested heavily in nectarines, strawberries
and peaches from the graperies. The occasion was only slightly marred
by the popping cork of a champagne bottle crashing through a skylight
and bringing down a shower of glass on the Cap.'s head, which bled
profusely.

One evening after dinner as we sat with French windows opened wide to
the warm evening air of late spring, puffing idly at our cigars, a
most beautiful bird song burst upon our ears--a song that made us
stare at one another in amazement; we had never heard its like before.
It might be described as a bird fantasia--the notes covered a wide
range of sounds and the effect was beautiful. Captain Ellis walked
quietly down the garden path and got close to the cherry tree from
which the trills and lilts continued to pour, but could see nothing.
Mlle. C---- said it was a chantresse (songster) but that did not give
us much idea of what it was like.

Every morning and evening after that, this indefatigable songster
made music for us (or rather for his mate, probably sitting on her
eggs) in the cherry tree on the other side of the wall. How we enjoyed
listening to it! Many a time we tried to locate the singer in his
leafy home, but in vain; the nearest we ever came to it was once when
we saw a branch shake as the bird hopped to another limb.

One morning the brilliant bursts of song were lacking, and we missed
them. Just before we left for the laboratory Mademoiselle C----
brought in a rat trap to show us, and there caught in it, was our
little shy singer with grey dappled breast, its head crushed by the
cruel steel spring. Evidently in search of food in the early morning
it had hopped on the trigger of the trap and met its fate. It was one
of the little tragedies continually occurring in nature; to the little
bird-wife waiting in the cherry tree it was just as great a tragedy as
would be the death of her husband to the woman waiting at home.

This was an eventful period in the history of the war for Canadians. A
heavy bombardment all along the line from La Bassee to Ypres
forecasted something unusual. My diary, unusually voluminous for the
day of June 3rd, shows that I was greatly impressed by the occurrences
of that day and had taken the trouble to write down my impressions at
length. The following extract is a word for word copy from my diary:

June 3rd.--Awakened at 2.15 a.m. by agitated firing of anti-aircraft
guns. Heard planes overhead and big guns going. Listened for a while
and got partly dressed and went down into garden. Two British planes
going up--no Bosches visible. Quite clear at 2.30 a.m. with low summer
clouds. Slept till 8. Asked Rankin and Ellis at breakfast about
bombardment; they hadn't heard it. Rad said 18 British ships sunk and
Canadians had lost trenches--laughed at him.

Sanitary officer 24th Division called re beer used at Dranoutre taken
from becque ¾ mile below Locre sewage outfall. Also discussed lime
treatment of sewage effluent, grease traps, etc., etc.

French paper at noon said British and German fleets had been engaged.

After dinner went with Ellis to Abeele, called on paymaster for money.
Major said Canadians had had 2,000 casualties. The Germans started a
5-hour bombardment at 9 a.m., June 2nd. General Mercer and Brig.
General Vic Williams were making an inspection at the time and both
wounded; were last seen at 3 p.m. going into a dug-out, which was
taken afterwards by Germans, and have not been seen since--probably
captured. Lt.-Col. Tanner, O.C. Field Ambulance, badly wounded. In
counter-attacks by 3rd Canadian Division--a good deal of trenches
recovered--not all. Attack made on 3rd Division--General Lipsett now
in command--and part of 1st division. 14th, 15th, and 10th Battalions,
1st Division, made counter-attack this morning--Toronto Highlanders
did particularly well. 4th and 5th C.M.R.'s said to have lost 500
each. Last official bulletin about fleet--Queen Mary, Invincible and
Indefatigable--battle cruisers, sunk. Also 3 cruisers sunk and one
abandoned; 6 torpedo boats sunk and 6 missing. Germans lost one sunk
and one damaged. Evidently the British fleet was done in badly, but
the reason cannot be explained until all the facts are known.

Went to No. 10 C.C.S. to see if Ellis' brother of the 7th Battalion
had been wounded--no news of him but arranged to have any information
telephoned, and that he be sent for by Captain Stokes--saw the
spirochaete of epidemic jaundice. General Porter there, and chatted to
him for a minute.

On the way back we stopped at Mt. Rouge and saw the German lines.

It was a beautiful clear day with a tang in the air like late
September.

From our little observation point on the top of Mt. Rouge we could see
for miles on all sides. Over in front lay Mt. Kemmel, bristling with
guns but not one visible with the field glasses. Beneath us and
between us and Kemmel, on the road that runs from Bailleul to Ypres,
nestled the little village of Locre, with its white walled cottages
and red tiled roofs.

To the left of Kemmel the sun made prominent the ruins of
Wytschaete--a village in the German lines. Just beneath Wytschaete one
could see the German trenches, two lines of them, which showed like
brick red seams in the earth and ran up over and along the crest of
the Wytschaete ridge, which itself ran towards St. Eloi and Ypres.
Between these German trenches and our own was a sandy waste--no man's
land--scarred and churned by untold numbers of shells. Even the forest
patches in this region were dead and slivered by rifle and shell.

To the left of Wytschaete one could see great bursts of brown, black,
greenish and white smoke over a width of country perhaps ¼ of a mile
and a length of 2 miles. It was here that the 3rd and 1st Canadian
Divisions were fighting with the Huns for mastery. Perhaps as we
watched these bursting shells were killing our own friends.

The region of St. Eloi was cut off by the Scherpenberg Mountain and to
the left of that again we could see with wonderful clearness the ruins
of Ypres. As we watched, great clouds of dust went up at intervals
from the square. The tower of St. Martin's Church, and the tower of
the Cloth Hall to the right were clearly distinguishable.

To the left of Ypres again we could see spires of towns, and one town
far away was right on the sea we were told, probably Dunkirk. To the
right of Kemmel was the ruined tower of Messines in the German lines;
to the left of that the smoking chimneys of Armentieres now also
somewhat battle scarred, and away beyond it and a little to the left
the City of Lille.

Thus we could see from Dunkirk on the sea to Lille, that fair city,
well inland in northern France, and could follow the battle line from
Pilken beyond Ypres to La Bassee. In that line we could actually see
the flashes and shell bursts in Ypres, St. Eloi, Wytschaete and near
Levantie. It was a wonderful day, and a view never to be forgotten.

It was a bitter day for us, and we had a bad evening discussing our
hard knocks.

At 10.30 p.m. Ellis came back from the lab, with the latest report of
the sea battle which has worried us so much:

                          LOSSES.

 British.                        German.

 3 Battle Cruisers sunk:         2 Dreadnaughts sunk.
   Queen Mary.                   1 Battle Cruiser sunk.
   Indomitable.                  3 Light Cruisers sunk.
   Indefatigable.                6 Destroyers sunk.
 3 Cruisers sunk:                1 Submarine rammed and sunk.
   Warrior.                      2 Battle Cruisers badly damaged.
   Black Prince.                 3 other ships damaged.
   Defence.                      1 Zeppelin destroyed.
 8 Destroyers and Torpedo Boats
 sunk.

               Hooray! even if above is not true.

The corrected report of the battle of Jutland was confirmed later and
caused profound relief in the army. Why such a report had been allowed
to pass and remain uncontradicted so long could not be fathomed. Those
were very black days for the army in the field and many a man died
with despair in his heart, convinced that what had been the greatest
fact in his whole life--the invincibility of the British Fleet--was a
myth. The British nation will take a long time to forgive the
Admiralty for that unnecessary delay.

In that dark period the army in France, with the fleet destroyed, saw
its lines of communication being cut, and the end in sight. I ran
across Lt.-Col. (Canon) Scott, C.M.G., in a rest station the day after
the correct report had arrived. His eye was blacked, his nose skinned,
and his wrist sprained and he presented all the signs of having been
in a fight, though as a matter of fact he had fallen from his horse
while suffering from the effects of anti-typhoid inoculation.
Notwithstanding his condition he had slipped away from the rest
station that night and had gone up to the Canadian area to spread the
good news of the naval battle in order to cheer up our men who were
going into action. A German barrage had prevented him from getting up
to the front line but he managed to have the good news telephoned in
to the trenches. That was characteristic of the unselfish work of
Canon Scott; he never spared himself and his thought was always for
"the boys in the trenches." He is a great soul.

The Canadian losses in the St. Eloi battle were said to be about 6,000
and there was little glory for anybody and a good deal of prestige
lost by many in that affair....

The death of Lord Kitchener off the Orkney Islands had startled the
world and all wondered what catastrophe would happen next. The loss of
Kitchener was greatly deplored by the French people who looked on
Kitchener, the inscrutable, as a great mystery and one to admire and
marvel at....

One day at Boulogne returning from leave after an uneventful channel
crossing with some sort of Russian delegation, we had picked up our
grips and started for the gangway, when the strains of a band on the
dock became audible, and we could see a group of French officers
waiting to meet the Russian delegates who were slowly filing down the
gang plank. The band slowly played the Russian national anthem, and we
all dropped our baggage and stood to attention. As the strains died
away we again seized our grips and began to push forward when the
band struck up the Marseillaise and again we dropped everything and
stood to attention. After an interval of about ten minutes the last
bars of the tune died away and for the third time we seized our things
only to hear the strains of the British national anthem rising on the
air. Again we dropped our stuff and smartly came to the salute like
good loyal subjects though we heartily wished that the delegation had
gone by the Archangel route, for we felt certain that the band would
play the national anthems of Belgium, Japan, Serbia and Italy.
However, like most things, it came to an end and we filed off after a
delay of what had seemed to be a good half hour. It is strange how we
were all keen to get back to the front to the work which we got so fed
up with and would sometimes give the whole world to get away from.

    [Illustration: BRITISH TANKS AS USED IN THE FLANDERS OFFENSIVE.]

The summer of 1916 was the period of the battle of the Somme and most
of our interests hinged on that offensive. At the beginning of July
the British began their big advance to the south and the fighting in
our area consisted largely of trench raids, artillery bombardments,
gas attacks, aeroplane raids and other events incidental to trench
warfare.

A spectacular show occurred when the offensive began and the enemy
observation balloons, hitherto practically unmolested, were attacked
by our airmen with some new incendiary device with the result that
nine were brought down in a few minutes in flames and the others were
quickly hauled to earth to remain there for many weeks. Only
occasionally during the succeeding months would a captive balloon
ascend and then would quickly disappear on the approach of one of our
planes.

Pens for German prisoners were under course of construction all along
the front--a most satisfactory procedure from the psychological
standpoint, as it seemed to express confidence in what the future was
to bring. The capacity of the hospitals had also been increased from
540 to 1,000 beds, which also indicated business.

The Canadians were still in the salient side by side with the Guards
and the latter used to cheer "the fighting Canucks" as they called
them, as they went into the trenches. The only regret of the Canadians
at that time was that they did not have the "Immortal Seventh
Division" on their other side.

An attack by the Australians on our front resulted in casualties
amounting to several thousands and the hospitals for many days
afterwards were filled with cases of gas gangrene due to the men lying
out too long in the open with infected wounds.

Divisions from our area would move out and go south to the Somme while
battered divisions from the Somme front would drift up into our area.
Among these was the Ulster division whose fife and drum band came
marching gaily up the street, nearly every musician wearing a German
cap. A few days later the south of Ireland division came up and the
two divisions occupied the line side by side. Needless to say they
fraternized in the best spirit while out of the line just as they
supported one another while in it.

In the second week in August the first Canadian division came out of
the salient into the training area preparatory to going down to the
Somme, and the other Canadian divisions soon followed.

During this period a Canadian medical officer, noted for his
self-possession, was proceeding along the road and came across a
private soldier who had been hurt in an accident. At the same time a
car stopped and a young lieutenant stepped out to see whether he could
be of use. The M.O. examined the injured man and said to the
lieutenant rather brusquely, "Is that your car?" The lieutenant said
that it was. "Well we'll just put this man in and take him to the
hospital in Hazebrouk if you don't mind," said the M.O. and without
waiting for permission helped the injured man into the car. The
lieutenant seemed to be quite agreeable and they drove to Hazebrouk
several miles away.

The M.O. thoroughly enjoyed that drive; all along the road officers
and men saluted the car deferentially and the M.O. acknowledged these
salutes most graciously. Somehow or other the world seemed to be
peculiarly affable to the M.O. and by the time Hazebrouk was reached
he simply beamed on everybody.

As they drove up to the hospital there happened to be a General and a
Colonel chatting to the officer commanding the hospital at the front
door. Much to the M.O.'s surprise the General saluted first but as he
made haste to acknowledge the salute, he observed that the General was
smiling at the lieutenant beside him. Then, only, did it dawn upon the
M.O. that the lieutenant was the Prince of Wales and his confusion was
so great that he could never afterwards recall just what he did for
the next three or four hours. He was heard to say that night that the
Prince of Wales was "an awful decent chap and a thorough gentleman"
and also that the Burgundy wine in Hazebrouk was of very inferior
quality.

The work of the laboratory was very heavy from routine work of various
sorts and an attempt to stamp out diphtheria from a Scotch division.
Much the same sort of experiences as have been related elsewhere were
encountered and we had entered upon the fed-up stage of life at the
front. It needed something of extraordinary interest to rouse one's
interest to any unusual degree.

At the beginning of September the three Canadian Divisions were en
route to the Somme, while the newly arrived 4th Canadian Division came
up to take over part of the line near the Ypres Salient.

The British and French were doing well and taking many prisoners on
the Somme, as were the Russians on their front while the Roumanians
began their offensive and swept far over the country much to the
horror of the critics and everybody else.

There was great elation on the day of the big offensive on the Somme
when the British first used "tanks." I shall never forget the thrill I
had when we read a telegram received at one of the headquarters
repeating a wireless message from an aeroplane observer to the effect
that he could see a tank wobbling into a village followed by cheering
troops. It was the first time that engines of warfare had led the way
to an attacking force and the picture of the enemy fleeing before
these new engines of terror spouting fire and destruction and rolling
over trenches and machine gun emplacements, while cheering Tommies
followed in their wake, will never be forgotten. We envied the air men
their view that day and thought of how they must have thrilled at the
sights below them.

We had been ordered to get out of our quarters in the school on
October the first. After some difficulty we decided to build a hut for
laboratory quarters and selected a field near the British isolation
hospital. The view from the site selected, overlooking the rolling
fields, with the Mt. de Cats surmounted by its monastery to the left,
and Mt. Rouge to the right, is about as fine as anything I have seen
in Belgium.

With the aid of a carpenter from the Canadian casualty clearing
station, we built the hut, 40 feet by 20 feet, ourselves, and when I
left for England early in October, it was a great satisfaction to feel
that we were established in what a Surgeon-General subsequently stated
to be "an ideal field laboratory."

On the way from what proved to be my last stay in France, we visited
the Somme area and saw some of our old comrades. The Canadians had on
the previous day suffered heavy casualties in trying to take Regina
trench and we passed homeward through the tent covered area behind
Albert with the knowledge that more of our old school friends were at
that moment lying out wounded and dead in no man's land.

As we drove along the moonlit road from Albert on the way to Boulogne
we passed company after company of soldiers trudging along towards
the front; they did not sing. It was the 4th Canadian Division going
into action--about to experience that great adventure of battle for
which they had trained so long and had come so far to obtain.

Farther along the road we could hear away in the distance a song; we
could not distinguish the words but we knew that soon we would hear
"Pack up your troubles in your own kit bag and Smile, Smile, Smile!"
They were Canadians coming out of the trenches.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Our men have since been astonished at the wonderful view of our
    lines obtained from the Messines-Wytschaete ridge.



INDEX


A


Air service, 237;
  battle, 88

Alderson, General, 94, 237

Advanced Dressing Station, 128

Ambulance, work of, 129;
  Field, Canadian, No. 3., 104, 108

Artillery, Canadian, in billets, 22;
  Shelling by, 158

Aubers ridge, battle of, 170

Australians, arrival of, from Gallipoli, 236


B

Band, British Guards, 173;
  Indian, 174

Bailleul, garden in, 116, 240

Balbaud, Professor Paul, 121

Barrows, Roman, Salisbury Plains, 27

Battalion, first Canadian, 117;
  third Canadian (Toronto), 70, 115;
  Winnipeg rifles, 7;
  work of medical officers of, 127

Baths, divisional, 146, 147

Bird life, Salisbury Plains, 25;
  the nameless, 242

Bombs, on Bailleul, 233;
  on Canadian Headquarters, 237;
  on Merville, 72

Bournemouth, 52

Boyd, Capt, 104

Brielen, 91

British officers, 66

Buckingham Palace, investiture at, 230

Burstall, General (C.B.), 94, 237


C

Canadian contingent, first, leaving Gaspé, 5;
  arrival at Plymouth, 9;
    Salisbury Plain, 10;
  sickness among, 19

Canadian division, first, review by King, 29;
  after Neuve Chappelle, 70;
  sports of, 74;
  German attack upon, 97

Canadian division, second, arrival in France, 123

Canadians in Ypres Salient, 1916, 250, 252

Canadian graveyard, 176;
  laboratory arrival in France, 65;
    work of (See 'Laboratory').

Casualty clearing station, work of a, 128

Chalons-sur-Marne, 206

Champagne, visit to, 205

Channel, crossing the British, 232

Cartwright, Lt., 234

Chlorine gas used by Germans, 94
  treatment of water (See 'Water'), 140, 155

Cole, Capt. Cooper, 234

Cock fighting in France, 73

Creeks, pollution of, 147


D

Disease, (See 'Epidemics');
  "Carriers" of, 139, 142

Dressing Station, Canadian Advanced, 99

Dysentery, suspected epidemic of, 157


E

Ellis, Major Arthur, 68, 107, 164, 232, 242, 245

Epidemics, how spread, 136;
  lack of, in British Army, 134


F

Festubert, battle of, 118, 166

Fire fete of Merville, 180

Flowers in Spring, England, 57;
    France, 67;
  Experience with Parisian flower-girl, 194;
  in Bailleul garden, 239;
  in Merville garden, 121

French artillery, 109;
  front, visit to, 205

Foch, General, 106

Foster, Col. (C.B.) (Surgeon-General), 113

Funeral, a Canadian Soldier's, 116


G

Gas, original, attack on Canadians, April 22, 1915, 93;
  attack by Germans, Spring, 1916, 240;
    on Belgians, April, 1915, 111;
  masks, suggested use of, 107;
  poison, nature of, 94, 95, 107;
  work of laboratory on, 115

Gaspé basin, 5

Gooderham, Capt., 234

Graves, Canadian, 176


H

Haig, General Sir Douglas, 170

Hardy, Lt.-Col. (D.S.O.), 101

Hayter, Lt.-Col. (D.S.O.), 234

Haywood, Major Alf. (M.C.), 71, 116

Highlanders, Canadian, at Ypres, 96;
  (Toronto), 115

Hospital on Salisbury Plain, 28;
  French Canadian, Paris, 199;
  at French front, 205;
  barges, 131

Hotel, Continental, Paris, 1916, 196;
  Lotti, Paris, 1916, 196;
  de l'Angleterre Beuvais, 1916, 190;
  Savoy, London, 1915-16, 36

Hutchison, Capt. John, 71

Hughes, General Sir Sam, 2, 35

Hygiene work of laboratory, 154


I

Institute for maimed soldiers, Paris, 207;
  blind soldiers, Paris, 208

Indian band concert, France, 174;
  (Lahore) division, 107

Inoculation against Typhoid in Canadians, 24

Investiture, a royal, 230


J

Jutland, battle of, 244, 247


K

Kemmel, hill of, 245

Kipple, Sgt., description by, 15

Kitchener, death of Lord, 247

Kirkpatrick, Major, 76

Klotz, Capt. Herbert, 30


L

Laboratory, Canadian Mobile, 253;
  work of Canadian Mobile, 123, 152, 154, 159

La Gorgue, 79

Laventie, 80

Larkhill, 18

Laundries, waste from army, 147

Leicester square, 1914-15, 37

Lice and typhus fever, 144

Lipsett, General (C.M.G.), 244

London, 1914, 32

Locre, 245


M

Maclaren, Major, 100

Macpherson, Surgeon-General, 126, 169

Malaria, work of Rankin on, 163

Mavor, Major Wilfred (D.S.O., M.C.), 119

McBrien, Lt.-Col., (D.S.O.), 234

McPherson, Lt.-Col., (C.M.G.), 87

Mitchell, Lt.-Col., (C.M.G.), 100

Milk, use of, in army, 141

Medical service, British organization, 126, 138;
  officer's duties, 127;
  specialists, work of, 133;
  stores, advanced depot, 133

Mercer, Major-General (C.B.), 70, 110, 117, 233, 234

Mignault, Lt.-Col., 199

Moroccan troops (French colonials), 96

Mosquitoes and Malaria, 143

Muntz, Capt. Jerry, 71


N

New Zealand division, arrival of, 241


O

Opera in Paris, 1916, 192

Orbeliani, Prince, 202


P

Paris at night, March, 1916, 195;
  demi-mondes, 193;
  morality of, 194;
  women and dress, 198;
  Montmartre district, 191;
  opera in, 192

Pasteur Institute, Paris, 204

Piccadilly circus, 1914-15, 37

Plague, how spread in armies, 149

Ploegsteert, 235-238

Prince of Wales, 251

Poperinge, 105, 107, 111, 113, 114

Pollution of water (See 'Water').


Q

Quaker search party, 142

Queen Mary battle cruiser, 8


R

Rankin, Lt.-Col. Allan, 68, 93, 97, 112, 163, 232, 242

Rats, destruction of, in army, 204;
  carry plague, 149;
  story of, 150

Red Cross, Canadian, in Paris, 203

Rawlinson, General Sir Henry, 106

Refugees, 98, 102, 165

Rennie, General Robt., 70, 76

Roberts, Lord, funeral of, 42

Robertson, Capt. E., 99

Rowland, Capt. Sydney, 62

Ryerson, Capt. George, 71

Russian delegation, 249


S

Salisbury Plain, Old Sarum, 26;
  Silver Grill, 47;
  Stonehenge, 27;
  white horse, 26;
  arrival at, 10;
  description of, 11;
  bird life, 25

Sanitary Commission of War Allies, 189, 200

Sanitary section, organization of, 130

Sanitary officers, 132;
  methods employed in field, 137

Scrimger, Capt., (V.C.), 92

Serbia, Prince of, 197

Scott, (Canon) Lt.-Col. Frederick George, (C.M.G.), 86, 247

St. Jean, 88

St. Denis, 210

St. Eloi, 246, 248

St. Cloud hospital, 200

Search party (Quakers), 142

Sketches, Dirty Jock, etc., 184

Sloggett, Sir Arthur, 126

Somme, battle of, 249-253


T

Tanks, 252

Tanner, Lt.-Col., 244

Tetanus, 153

Typhoid fever among refugees, 165
  absence of, in British army, 135

Typhus fever in Serbia, 144, 145, 201


U

Ulster division, 252


V

Valcartier camp, 1, 3

Verdun battle, Paris during, 191

Vlamertinge, 104

Van Straubenzie, Major, 70


W

War office, London, 1914, 39

Warren, Capt. Trumbull, 91

Water carts, 155;
  chlorination of, 140, 155;
  mobile filters, 141;
  supply, 140, 157;
  purification, control of, 154, 156;
  value of analysis, 156

Williams, General Vic., 244

Wickens, Major Bert, 71

Wieltze, 88, 98, 99

Winnipeg battalion, 7

Wounded, evacuation of, 128

Wytschaete, 245


Y

Ypres, city of, April 17, 1915, 83;
  April 22, 1915, 84;
  description of, 84;
  history of, 85;
  Cloth Hall of, 85;
  second battle of, 94, 100, 102, 109, 114


Warwick Bro's & Rutter, Limited.
Printers and Bookbinders, Toronto, Canada.

       *       *       *       *       *

    +-----------------------------------------------------------+
    | Typographical errors corrected in text:                   |
    |                                                           |
    | Page  23: arious replaced with various                    |
    | Page  26: probobly replaced with probably                 |
    | Page  37: dealy replaced with deadly                      |
    | Page  38: correspodingly replaced with correspondingly    |
    | Page  38: Canadans replaced with Canadians                |
    | Page  49: accomodating replaced with accommodating        |
    | Page  49: darndest replaced with darnedest                |
    | Page  50: eying replaced with eyeing                      |
    | Page  60: identfy replaced with identify                  |
    | Page  71: 'Bismarck's birthplace' replaced with           |
    |           'Bismarck's birth-date'. Logic being that Otto  |
    |           von Bismarck was born April 1st 1815, and the   |
    |           author is referring to a date.                  |
    | Page  72: heaquarters replaced with headquarters          |
    | Page  83: goggled-despatch riders replaced with           |
    |           goggled despatch riders                         |
    | Page  91: retaurant replaced with restaurant              |
    | Page  94: Aross replaced with Across                      |
    | Page  95: chorine replaced with chlorine                  |
    | Page 109: divison replaced with division                  |
    | Page 144: seemes replaced with seems                      |
    | Page 147: sedimentaton replaced with sedimentation        |
    | Page 159: water cars replaced with  water carts           |
    | Page 163: Servce replaced with Service                    |
    | Page 173: ecstacy replaced with ecstasy                   |
    | Page 174: goups replaced with groups                      |
    | Page 176: Conseqently replaced with Consequently          |
    | Page 178: 'army in it's struggle' replaced with           |
    |           'army in its struggle'                          |
    | Page 181: attenton replaced with attention                |
    | Page 191: exept replaced with except                      |
    | Page 203: humerous replaced with humorous                 |
    | Page 216: snapper replaced with snapped                   |
    | Page 230: whch replaced with which                        |
    | Page 239: artilley replaced with artillery                |
    | Page 245: Wystchaete replaced with Wytschaete             |
    | Page 255: Index entry Auber's ridge, battle of, 118       |
    |           replaced with Aubers ridge, battle of, 170,     |
    |           so that it would point to the right page.       |
    | Page 258: Mayor replaced with Major                       |
    |                                                           |
    |         Further Notes:                                    |
    |                                                           |
    | Prince Orbeliani, indexed on page 260, to be mentioned on |
    | page 202, is not named in the main document.              |
    |                                                           |
    +-----------------------------------------------------------+

       *       *       *       *       *





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "On the Fringe of the Great Fight" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home