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Title: An Onlooker in France 1917-1919
Author: Orpen, William, 1878-1931
Language: English
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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.

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Libraries)



[Transcriber's note:--The original page references for the list of
illustrations was 'facing page' therefore they have been changed in this
text to match the page numbers in this file.]



                         AN ONLOOKER IN FRANCE


[Illustration: I. _Field-Marshal Earl Haig of
Bemersyde, O.M., K.T., etc._]



                            AN ONLOOKER IN
                                FRANCE

                              1917-1919



                                  BY
                    SIR WILLIAM ORPEN, K.B.E., R.A.



                                LONDON
                        WILLIAMS AND NORGATE
                                1921



                   Pictures and Text, Copyright 1921
                                 by
                    Sir William Orpen, K.B.E., R.A.


        Printed in Great Britain by Richard Clay & Sons, Limited,
        Paris Garden, Stamford St., S.E. 1, and Bungay, Suffolk.



PREFACE                                                               (p. v)


This book must not be considered as a serious work on life in France
behind the lines, it is merely an attempt to record some certain
little incidents that occurred in my own life there.

The only thought I wish to convey is my sincere thanks for the
wonderful opportunity that was given me to look on and see the
fighting man, and to learn to revere and worship him--that is the only
serious thing. I wish to express my worship and reverence to that
gallant company, and to convey to those who are left my most sincere
thanks for all their marvellous kindness to me, a mere looker on.



CONTENTS


 Chap.                                                       Page

       PREFACE                                                  v

    I. TO FRANCE (APRIL 1917)                                  11

   II. THE SOMME (APRIL 1917)                                  16

  III. AT BRIGADE HEADQUARTERS AND ST. POL (MAY-JUNE 1917)     25

   IV. THE YPRES SALIENT (JUNE-JULY 1917)                      31

    V. THE SOMME IN SUMMER-TIME (AUGUST 1917)                  36

   VI. THE SOMME (SEPTEMBER 1917)                              42

  VII. WITH THE FLYING CORPS (OCTOBER 1917)                    50

 VIII. CASSEL AND IN HOSPITAL (NOVEMBER 1917)                  55

   IX. WINTER (1917-1918)                                      62

    X. LONDON (MARCH-JUNE 1918)                                67

   XI. BACK IN FRANCE (JULY-SEPTEMBER 1918)                    75

  XII. AMIENS (OCTOBER 1918)                                   84

 XIII. NEARING THE END (OCTOBER 1918)                          90

  XIV. THE PEACE CONFERENCE                                    98

   XV. PARIS DURING THE PEACE CONFERENCE                      111

  XVI. THE SIGNING OF THE PEACE                               116

       INDEX                                                  121



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


Plate

       I. Field-Marshal Earl Haig of
            Bemersyde, O.M., K.T., etc.            _Frontispiece_

      II. The Bapaume Road.                                    12

     III. Men Resting, La Boisselle.                           15

      IV. A Tank, Pozières.                                    17

       V. Warwickshires entering Péronne.                      19

      VI. No Man's Land.                                       21

     VII. Three Weeks in France: Shell-shock.                  24

    VIII. Man in the Glare, Two Miles from the Hindenburg
            Line.                                              27

      IX. Air-Marshal Sir H. M. Trenchard, Bart., K.C.B., etc. 29

       X. A Howitzer in Action.                                30

      XI. German 'Planes visiting Cassel.                      33

     XII. Soldiers and Peasants, Cassel.                       35

    XIII. German Prisoners                                     37

     XIV. View from the old English Trenches, looking towards
            La Boisselle.                                      39

      XV. Adam and Eve at Péronne.                             41

     XVI. A Grave in a Trench.                                 43

    XVII. The Deserter.                                        45

   XVIII. The Great Mine, La Boisselle.                        47

     XIX. The Butte de Warlencourt                             48

      XX. Lieut. A. P. F. Rhys Davids, D.S.O., M.C., etc.      51

     XXI. Lieut. R. T. C. Hoidge, M.C.                         53

    XXII. The Return of a Patrol.                              54

   XXIII. Changing Billets.                                    57

    XXIV. The Receiving-room, 42nd Stationary Hospital.        58

     XXV. A Death among the Wounded in the Snow.               61

    XXVI. Some Members of the Allied Press Camp.               63

   XXVII. Poilu and Tommy.                                     65

  XXVIII. Major-General The Right Hon. J. E. B. Seely, C.B.,
            etc.                                               66

    XXIX. Bombing: Night.                                      66

     XXX. Major J. B. McCudden, V.C., D.S.O., etc.             71

    XXXI. The Refugee.                                         73

   XXXII. Lieut.-Col. A. N. Lee, D.S.O., etc.                  74

  XXXIII. Marshal Foch, O.M.                                   77

   XXXIV. A German 'Plane passing St. Denis.                   79

    XXXV. British and French A.P.M.'s, Amiens.                 81

   XXXVI. General Lord Rawlinson, Bart., G.C.B., etc.          83

  XXXVII. Albert.                                              87

 XXXVIII. The Mad Woman of Douai.                              91

   XXXIX. Field-Marshal Lord Plumer of Messines, G.C.B., etc.  93

      XL. Armistice Night, Amiens.                             95

     XLI. The Official Entry of the Kaiser.                    97

    XLII. General Sir J. S. Cowans, G.C.B., etc.               99

   XLIII. Field-Marshal Sir Henry H. Wilson, Bart., K.C.B.,
            etc.                                              101

    XLIV. The Right Hon. Louis Botha, P.C., LL.D.             103

     XLV. The Right Hon. A. J. Balfour, O.M.                  105

    XLVI. President Woodrow Wilson.                           107

   XLVII. The Marquis Siongi.                                 109

  XLVIII. A Polish Messenger.                                 110

    XLIX. Lord Riddell.                                       113

       L. The Right Hon. The Earl of Derby, E.G., etc.        117

      LI. Signing the Peace Treaty.                           119

     LII. The End of a Hero and a Tank, Courcelette. _At the end_

    LIII. General Birdwood returning to his Headquarters,
            Grévillers.                                        "

     LIV. A Skeleton in a Trench.                              "

      LV. Flight-Sergeant, R.F.C.                              "

     LVI. N.C.O., Grenadier Guards.                            "

    LVII. Stretcher-bearers.                                   "

   LVIII. Man Resting, near Arras.                             "

     LIX. Going Home to be Married.                            "

      LX. Household Brigade passing to the Ypres Salient.
            Cassel.                                            "

     LXI. Ready to Start.                                      "

    LXII. A German Prisoner with the Iron Cross.               "

   LXIII. A Big Gun and its Guardian.                          "

    LXIV. Good-bye-ee.                                         "

     LXV. The Château, Thiepval.                               "

    LXVI. German Wire, Thiepval.                               "

   LXVII. Thiepval.                                            "

  LXVIII. Highlander passing a Grave.                          "

    LXIX. M. R. D. de Maratray.                                "

     LXX. A Man, Thinking, on the Butte de Warlencourt.        "

    LXXI. Major-General Sir Henry Burstall, K.C.B., etc.       "

   LXXII. Major-General L. J. Lipsett, C.M.G., etc.            "

  LXXIII. A Village, Evening (Monchy).                         "

   LXXIV. Christmas Night, Cassel.                             "

    LXXV. Blown Up: Mad.                                       "

   LXXVI. A Support Trench.                                    "

  LXXVII. Major-General Sir H. J. Elles, K.C.M.G., etc.        "

 LXXVIII. Dead Germans in a Trench.                            "

   LXXIX. A German Prisoner.                                   "

    LXXX. A Highlander Resting.                                "

   LXXXI. Man with a Cigarette.                                "

  LXXXII. Mr. Lloyd George, President Wilson, M. Clemenceau.   "

 LXXXIII. A Meeting of the Peace Conference.                   "

  LXXXIV. Admiral of the Fleet Lord Wester Wemyss, G.C.B.,
            etc.                                               "

   LXXXV. Colonel Edward M. House.                             "

  LXXXVI. Mr. Robert Lansing.                                  "

 LXXXVII. The Emir Feisul.                                     "

LXXXVIII. M. Eleutherios Venezelos.                            "

  LXXXIX. Admiral of the Fleet Sir David Beatty, Viscount
            Borodale of Wexford, O.M., G.C.B., etc.            "

      XC. The Right Hon. W. F. Massey, P.C.                    "

     XCI. General The Right Hon. J. C. Smuts, P.C., C.H.       "

    XCII. The Right Hon. G. N. Barnes, P.C.                    "

   XCIII. The Right Hon. W. M. Hughes, P.C., K.C.              "

    XCIV. Brigadier-General A. Carton de Wiart, K.C., C.B.,
            etc.                                               "

     XCV. M. Paul Hymans.                                      "

    XCVI. The Right Hon. Sir Robert Borden, G.C.M.G., etc.     "



AN ONLOOKER IN FRANCE                                                 (p. 011)



CHAPTER I

TO FRANCE (APRIL 1917)


The boat was crowded. Khaki, everywhere khaki; lifebelts, rain and
storm, everything soaked. Destroyers, churning through the waves,
played strange games all round us. Some old-time Tommies, taking
everything for granted, smoked and laughed and told funny stories.
Others had the look of dumb animals in pain, going to what they knew
only too well. The new hands for France asked many questions,
pretended to laugh, pretended not to care, but for the most part were
in terror of the unknown.

It was strange to watch this huddled heap of humanity, study their
faces and realise that perhaps half of them would meet a bloody end
before a new moon was over, and wonder how they could do it, why they
did it--Patriotism? Yes, and perhaps it was the chance of getting home
again when the war was over. Think of the life they would have! The
old song:--

  "We don't want to lose you,
  But we think you ought to go,
  For your King and your Country
  Both need you so.

  "We shall-want you and miss you,                                    (p. 012)
  But with all our might and main
  We shall cheer you, thank you, kiss you,
  When you come back again."

Did they think of that, and all the joys it seemed to promise them? I
pray not.

What a change had come over the world for me since the day before! On
that evening I had dined with friends who had laughed and talked small
scandal about their friends. One, also, was rather upset because he
had an appointment at 10.30 the next day--and there was I, a few hours
later, being tossed about and soaked in company with men who knew they
would run a big chance of never seeing England again, and were
certainly going to suffer terrible hardships from cold, filth,
discomfort and fatigue. There they stood, sat and lay--a mass of
humanity which would be shortly bundled off the boat at Boulogne like
so many animals, to wait in the rain, perhaps for hours, before being
sent off again to whatever spot the unknown at G.H.Q. had allotted for
them, to kill or to be killed; and there was I among them, going
quietly to G.H.Q., everything arranged by the War Office, all in
comfort. Yet my stomach was twitching about with nerves. What would I
have been like had I been one of them?

At Boulogne we lunched at the "Mony" (my companion, Aikman, had been
to France before during the war and knew a few things). It was an
excellent lunch, and, as we were not to report at G.H.Q. till the next
day, we walked about looking at lorries and trains, all going off to
the unknown, filled with humanity in khaki weighed down with their
packs.

[Illustration: II. _The Bapaume Road._]

The following morning at breakfast at the "Folkestone Hotel" we sat   (p. 013)
at the next table to a Major with red tabs. He did not speak to us,
but after breakfast he said: "Is your name Orpen?" "Yes, sir," said I.
"Have you got your car ready?" "Yes, sir," said I. "Well, you had
better drive back with me. Pack all your things in your car." "Yes,
sir," said I. He explained to me that he had come to Boulogne to fetch
General Smuts' luggage, otherwise he gave us no idea of who or what he
was, and off we drove to the C.-in-C.'s house, where he went in with
the General's luggage and left us in the car for about an hour. Then
we went on to Hesdin, where he reported us to the Town Major, who said
he had found billets for us. The Red Tab Major departed, as he said he
was only just in time for his lunch, and told us to come to
Rollencourt soon and report to the Colonel. The Town Major brought us
round to our billet--the most filthy, disgusting house in all Hesdin,
and the owner, an old woman, cursed us soundly, hating the idea of
people being billeted with her. Anyway, there he left us and went off
to his "Mess."

This was all very depressing, so we talked together and went on a
voyage of discovery and found an hotel; then we went back to the
billet and said "good-bye" to Madame and moved our stuff there. But
the hotel wasn't a dream--at least we had no chance of dreaming--bugs,
lice and all sorts of little things were active all night. I had been
told by the War Office to go slow and not try to hustle people, so we
decided we would not go and report to the Colonel till the next day
after lunch.

Looking into the yard from my window in the afternoon, I saw two men I
knew, one an artist from Chelsea, the other a Dublin man, who     (p. 014)
used to play lawn tennis. They were "Graves." My Dublin friend was
"Adjutant, Graves," in fact he proudly told me that "Adjutant, Graves,
B.E.F., France," would always find him. We dined with them that night
at H.Q. Graves. They were very friendly, and said we could travel all
over the back of the line by going from one "Graves" to another
"Graves." All good chaps, I'm sure, and cheerful, but we did not do
it.

The next day after lunch we drove to Rollencourt, and found the Major
in his office (a hut on the lawn in front of the château). He left,
and returned to say the Colonel could not see us then. Would we come
back at 5 p.m.? So off we went and sat by the side of the road for two
hours. Then again to the Major's at 5 p.m., when he informed us the
Colonel had gone out. Would we come back at 7 p.m.? (No tea offered.)
This we did and waited until 7.50, when the Major informed us that the
Colonel would not see us that evening, but we were to report the next
morning at 9 a.m. (No dinner offered.) We left thinking very
hard--things did not seem so simple after all. We reported at 9 a.m.
and waited, and got a message at 11 a.m. that the Colonel would see
us, and we were shown in to a wizened, sour-faced little man, his
breast ablaze with strange colours. I explained to him that I did not
like the billets at Hesdin, that Hesdin was too far away from anything
near the front, and that I intended to go to Amiens at once. To my
surprise he did not seem to object, and just as we were leaving, he
said: "By the way, General Charteris wants you to go and see him this
morning. You had better go at once." So that was it! If General
Charteris had not sent that message I might not have been admitted to
the presence of the Colonel for weeks. Off we went, full of hope,     (p. 015)
packed our bags and on to G.H.Q. proper, and got in to see the General
at once--a bluff, jovial fellow who said: "You go anywhere you like,
do anything you like, but don't ask me to get any Generals to sit to
you; they're fed up with artists." I said: "That's the last thing I
want." "Right," said he, "off you go." So we "offed" it to Amiens,
arriving there about 7 p.m. on a cold, black, wet night. We went to
see the Allied Press "Major," to find out some place to stop in, etc.
Again we were rather depressed. The meeting was very chilly, the
importance of the Major was great--the full weight and responsibility
of the war seemed on him. "The Importance of being Ernest" wasn't in
it with him. As I learnt afterwards, when he came in late for a meal
all the other officers and Allied Press correspondents stood up. Many
a time I got a black look for not doing so. However, he advised the
worst and most expensive hotel in the town, and off we went (no dinner
offered), rather depressed and sad.

[Illustration: III. _Men resting. La Boisselle._]



CHAPTER II                                                            (p. 016)

THE SOMME (APRIL 1917)


Amiens was the one big town that could be reached easily from the
Somme front for dinner, so every night it was crowded with officers
and men who had come back in cars, motor-bikes, lorries or any old
thing in or on which they could get a lift. After dinner they would
stand near the station and hail anything passing, till they found
something that would drop them near their destination. As there was an
endless stream of traffic going out over the Albert and Péronne Roads
during that time (April 1917), it was easy.

Amiens is a dirty old town with its seven canals. The cathedral,
belfry and the theatre are, of course, wonderful, but there is little
else except the dirt.

I remember later lunching with John Sargent in Amiens, after which I
asked him if he would like to see the front of the theatre. He said he
would. When we were looking at it he said: "Yes, I suppose it is one
of the most perfect things in Europe. I've had a photograph of it
hanging over my bed for the last thirty years."

But Amiens was a danger trap for the young officer from the line, also
for the men. "Charlie's Bar" was always full of officers; mirth ran
high, also the bills for drinks--and the drink the Tommies got in the
little cafés was terrible stuff, and often doped.

Then, when darkness came on, strange women--the riff-raff from        (p. 017)
Paris, the expelled from Rouen, in fact the badly diseased from all
parts of France--hovered about in the blackness with their electric
torches, and led the unknowing away to blackened side-streets and up
dim stairways--to what? Anyway, for an hour or so they were out of the
rain and mud, but afterwards? Often did I go with Freddie Fane, the
A.P.M., to these dens of filth to drag fine men away from disease.

[Illustration: IV. _A Tank. Pozières._]

The wise ones dined well--if not too well--at the "Godbert," with its
Madeleine, or the "Cathedral," with its Marguerite, who was the queen
of the British Army in Picardy, or, not so expensively, at the "Hôtel
de la Paix." Some months later the club started, a well-run place. I
remember a Major who used to have his bath there once a week at 4 p.m.
It was prepared for him, with a large whisky-and-soda by its side.
What more comfort could one wish? Then there were dinners at the
Allied Press, after which the Major would give a discourse amid heavy
silence; then music. The favourite song at that time was:--

  "Jackie Boy!
  Master?
  Singie well?
  Very well.
  Hey down,
  Ho down,
  Derry, Derry down,
  All among the leaves so green, O.

  "With my Hey down, down,
  With my Ho down, down,
  Hey down,
  Ho down,
  Derry, Derry down,
  All among the leaves so green, O."

Later, perhaps, if the night was fine, the Major would retire to the  (p. 018)
garden and play the flute. This was a serious moment--a great hush was
felt, nobody dared to move; but he really didn't play badly. And old
Hale would tell stories which no one could understand, and de Maratray
would play ping-pong with extraordinary agility. It would all have
been great fun if people had not been killing each other so near. Why,
during that time, the Boche did not bomb Amiens, I cannot understand,
it was thick every week-end with the British Army. One could hardly
jamb oneself through the crowd in the Place Gambetta or up the Rue des
Trois Cailloux. It was a struggling mass of khaki, bumping over the
uneven cobblestones. What streets they were! I remember walking back
from dinner one night with a Major, the agricultural expert of the
Somme, and he said, "Don't you think the pavement is very hostile
to-night?"

I shall never forget my first sight of the Somme battlefields. It
was snowing fast, but the ground was not covered, and there was this
endless waste of mud, holes and water. Nothing but mud, water, crosses
and broken Tanks; miles and miles of it, horrible and terrible, but
with a noble dignity of its own, and, running through it, the great
artery, the Albert-Bapaume Road, with its endless stream of men, guns,
food lorries, mules and cars, all pressing along with apparently
unceasing energy towards the front. Past all the little crosses where
their comrades had fallen, nothing daunted, they pressed on towards
the Hell that awaited them on the far side of Bapaume. The mud, the
cold, the noise, the misery, and perhaps death;--on they went,
plodding through the mud, those wonderful men, perhaps singing one of
their cheer-making songs, such as:--

  "I want to go home.                                                 (p. 019)
  I want to go home.
  I don't want to go to the trenches no more,
  Where the Whizz-bangs and Johnsons do rattle and roar.
  Take me right over the sea,
  Where the Allemande can't bayonet me.
  Oh, my!
  I don't want to die,
  I want to go home."

[Illustration: V. _Warwickshires entering Péronne._]

How did they do it? "I want to go home."--Does anyone realise what
those words must have meant to them then? I believe I do now--a little
bit. Even I, from my back, looking-on position, sometimes felt the
terrible fear, the longing to get away. What must they have felt?
"From battle, murder and sudden death, Good Lord, deliver us."

On up the hill past the mines to Pozières. An Army railway was then
running through Pozières, and the station was marked by a big wooden
sign painted black and white, like you see at any country station in
England, with POZIÈRES in large Roman letters, but that's all there
was of Pozières except a little red in the mud. I remember later, at
the R.F.C. H.Q., Maurice Baring showed me a series of air-photographs
of Pozières as it was in 1914, with its peaceful little streets and
rows of trees. What a contrast to the Pozières as it was in 1917--MUD.
Further on, the Butte stood out on the right, a heap of chalky mud,
not a blade of grass round it then--nothing but mud, with a white
cross on the top. On the left, the Crown Prince's dug-out and
Gibraltar--I suppose these have gone now--and Le Sars and Grévillers,
at that time General Birdwood's H.Q., where the church had been
knocked into a fine shape. I tried to draw it, but was much put off by
air fighting. It seemed a favourite spot for this.

Bapaume must always have been a dismal place, like Albert, but        (p. 020)
Péronne must have been lovely, looking up from the water; and the
main _Place_ must have been most imposing, but then it was very sad.
The Boche had only left it about three weeks, and it had not been
"cleaned up." But the real terribleness of the Somme was not in the
towns or on the roads. One felt it as one wandered over the old
battlefields of La Boisselle, Courcelette, Thiepval, Grandcourt,
Miraumont, Beaumont-Hamel, Bazentin-le-Grand and Bazentin-le-Petit--the
whole country practically untouched since the great day when the Boche
was pushed back and it was left in peace once more.

A hand lying on the duckboards; a Boche and a Highlander locked in a
deadly embrace at the edge of Highwood; the "Cough-drop" with the
stench coming from its watery bottom; the shell-holes with the shapes
of bodies faintly showing through the putrid water--all these things
made one think terribly of what human beings had been through, and
were going through a bit further on, and would be going through for
perhaps years more--who knew how many?

I remember an officer saying to me, "Paint the Somme? I could do it
from memory--just a flat horizon-line and mud-holes and water, with
the stumps of a few battered trees," but one could not paint the
smell.

Early one morning in Amiens I got a message from Colonel John Buchan
asking me to breakfast at the "Hôtel du Rhin." While we were having
breakfast, there was a great noise outside--an English voice was
cursing someone else hard and telling him to get on and not make an
ass of himself. Then a Flying Pilot was pushed in by an Observer. The
Pilot's hand and arm were temporarily bound up, but blood was         (p. 021)
dropping through. The Observer had his face badly scratched and one of
his legs was not quite right. They sat at a table, and the waiter
brought them eggs and coffee, which they took with relish, but the
Pilot was constantly drooping towards his left, and the drooping
always continued, till he went crack on the floor. Then the Observer
would curse him soundly and put him back in his chair, where he would
eat again till the next fall. When they had finished, the waiter put a
cigarette in each of their mouths and lit them. After a few minutes
four men walked in with two stretchers, put the two breakfasters on
the stretchers, and walked out with them--not a word was spoken.

[Illustration: VI. _No Man's Land._]

I found out afterwards that the Pilot had been hit in the wrist over
the lines early that morning and missed the direction back to his
aerodrome. Getting very weak, he landed, not very well, outside
Amiens. He got his wrist bound up and had asked someone to telephone
to the aerodrome to tell them that they were going to the "Rhin" for
breakfast, and would they send for them there?

After I had been in Amiens for about a fortnight, going out to the
Somme battlefields early in the morning and coming back when it got
dark, I received a message one evening from the Press "Major" to go to
his château and ring up the "Colonel" at Rollencourt, which I did. The
following was the conversation as far as I remember:--

"Is that Orpen?"

"Yes, sir."

"What do you mean by behaving this way?"

"What way, please, sir?"

"By not reporting to me."

"I'm sorry, sir, but I do not understand."                            (p. 022)

"Don't you know you must report to me, and show me
what work you have been doing?"

"I've practically done nothing yet, sir."

"What have you been doing?"

"Looking round, sir."

"Are you aware you are being paid for your services?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, report to me and show me your work regularly.--Tell
the Major to speak to me."

The Major spoke, and I clearly heard him say my behaviour was
damnable.

This wonderful Colonel expected me to work all day, and apparently, in
the evening, to take what I had done and show it to him--the distance
by motor to him and back was something like 110 miles!

I saw there was nothing for it, if I wanted to do my work, but to
fight, so I decided to lay my views of people and things before those
who were above the Colonel. This I did, and had comparative peace, but
the seed of hostility was sown in the Colonel's Intelligence (F)
Section, G.H.Q., as I think it was then called, and they made me
suffer as much as was in their power.

       *       *       *       *       *

"BEAUMONT-HAMEL"                                                      (p. 023)

A MEMORY OF THE SOMME (SPRING 1917)

  A fair spring morning--not a living soul is near,
  Far, far away there is the faint grumble of the guns;
  The battle has passed long since--
  All is Peace.
  At times there is the faint drone of aeroplanes as
  They pass overhead, amber specks, high up in the blue;
  Occasionally there is the movement of a rat in the
  Old battered trench on which I sit, still in the
  Confusion in which it was hurriedly left.
  The sun is baking hot.
  Strange odours come from the door of a dug-out
  With its endless steps running down into blackness.
  The land is white--dazzling.
  The distance is all shimmering in heat.
  A few little spring flowers have forced their way
  Through the chalk.

  He lies a few yards in front of the trench.
  We are quite alone.
  He makes me feel very awed, very small, very ashamed.
  He has been there a long, long time--
  Hundreds of eyes have seen him,
  Hundreds of bodies have felt faint and sick
  Because of him.
  Then this place was Hell,
  But now all is Peace.
  And the sun has made him Holy and Pure--
  He and his garments are bleached white and clean.
  A daffodil is by his head, and his curly, golden                    (p. 024)
  Hair is moving in the slight breeze.
  He, the man who died in "No Man's Land," doing
  Some great act of bravery for his comrades and
  Country--
  Here he lies, Pure and Holy, his face upward turned;
  No earth between him and his Maker.
  I have no right to be so near.

[Illustration: VII. _Three Weeks in France. Shell shock._]



CHAPTER III                                                           (p. 025)

AT BRIGADE HEADQUARTERS AND ST. POL (MAY-JUNE 1917)


About this time Freddie Fane (Major Fane, A.P.M.) sent me up to his
old division, which was then fighting in front of Péronne. We arrived
on a lovely afternoon at Divisional H.Q., which were in a pretty
fir-wood, and consisted of beautifully camouflaged little huts. The
guns were booming a few miles off, but everything was very peaceful
there, and the dinner was excellent; but, just as we finished, the
first shell shrieked overhead, and this I was told afterwards went on
all night. Personally I had another large whisky-and-soda, and slept
like a log.

The next morning the General's A.D.C. motored me to a village about
four kilometres off and handed me over to a 2nd Lieutenant, who walked
me off to Brigade H.Q. These were behind an old railway embankment.
Everyone was most kind, but I saw no quiet place to work. Everyone was
rushing about, and the noise of the guns was terrific. The young 2nd
Lieutenant advised me to take the men I wanted to draw and to go to
the other side of the embankment. He said that there was no one there
and that I could work in peace, and he was right. The noise from our
batteries immediately gave me a bad headache, but apparently the Boche
did not respond at all till the afternoon. Then they started, and the
noise was HELL. Whenever there was a big bang I couldn't help giving  (p. 026)
a jump. The old Tommy I was drawing said, "It's all right, Guv'ner,
you'll get used to it very soon." _I_ didn't think so, but to make
conversation I said: "How long is it since you were home?"

"Twenty-two months," said he.

"Twenty-two months!" said I.

"Yes," said he, "but one can't complain. That bloke over there hasn't
been home for twenty-eight."

What a life! Twenty-four hours of it was enough for me at a time.
Before evening came my head felt as if it were filled with pebbles
which were rattling about inside it. After lunch I sat with the
Brigadier for a time and watched the men coming out from the trenches.
Some sick; some with trench feet; some on stretchers; some walking;
worn, sad and dirty--all stumbling along in the glare. The General
spoke to each as they passed. I noticed that their faces had no change
of expression. Their eyes were wide open, the pupils very small, and
their mouths always sagged a bit. They seemed like men in a dream,
hardly realising where they were or what they were doing. They showed
no sign of pleasure at the idea of leaving Hell for a bit. It was as
if they had gone through so much that nothing mattered. I was glad
when I was back at Divisional H.Q. that evening. We had difficulty on
one part of the road, as a "Sausage" had been brought down across it.

Shortly afterwards I went to live at St. Pol, a dirty little town, but
full of character. The hotel was filthy and the food impossible. We
ate tinned tongue and bully-beef for the most part. Here I met
Laboreur, a Frenchman, who was acting as interpreter--a very good
artist. I think his etchings are as good as any line work the war has
produced. A most amusing man. We had many happy dinners together at   (p. 027)
a little restaurant, where the old lady used to give us her bedroom as
a private sitting-room dining-room. It was a bit stuffy, but the food
was eatable.

[Illustration: VIII. _Man in the Glare. Two miles from the Hindenburg Line._]

One fine morning I got a message, "Would I ring up the P.S. of the
C.-in-C. at once?" so I went to the Camp Commandant's office. No one
was there except a corporal, so I asked him to get through to Sir
Philip Sassoon, and said that I would wait outside till he did so.
Presently he called me in, and Sassoon said I was to paint the Chief,
and would I come to lunch the next day at Advanced H.Q., G.H.Q.? after
which we talked and laughed a bit. When I hung up the receiver, I
turned round, and there was a large A.S.C. Colonel glaring at me. I
was so taken aback, as I had not heard him come in, that I didn't even
salute him. He roared at me, "Are you an S.S.O.?" (Senior Supply
Officer). "No," said I, "I'm a painter!" I never saw a man in such a
fury in my life. I thought he was going to hit me. However, I made him
understand in the end that I really was speaking the truth and in no
way wanted to be cheeky.

I had lunch at Advanced G.H.Q. the next day. The C.-in-C. was very
kind, and brought me into his room afterwards, and asked me if
everything was going all right with me. I told him I had a few
troubles and was not very popular with certain people. He said: "If
you get any more letters that annoy you, send them to me and I'll
answer them." I went back to St. Pol with my head in the air. A great
weight seemed to have been lifted off me.

Sir Douglas was a strong man, a true Northerner, well inside
himself--no pose. It seemed it would be impossible to upset him,
impossible to make him show any strong feeling, and yet one felt he   (p. 028)
understood, knew all, and felt for all his men, and that he truly
loved them; and I knew they loved him. Never once, all the time I was
in France, did I hear a "Tommy" say one word against "'Aig." Whenever
it became my honour to be allowed to visit him, I always left feeling
happier--feeling more sure that the fighting men being killed were not
dying for nothing. One felt he knew, and would never allow them to
suffer and die except for final victory.

When I started painting him he said, "Why waste your time painting me?
Go and paint the men. They're the fellows who are saving the world,
and they're getting killed every day."

The second time I was there, just after lunch, the Chief had gone to
his room, and several Generals, Colonel Fletcher, Sassoon and myself
were standing in the hall, when suddenly a most violent explosion went
off, all the windows came tumbling in, and there was great excitement,
as they thought the Boche had spotted the Chiefs whereabouts. The
explosions went on, and out came the Chief. He walked straight up to
me, laid his hand on my shoulder and said: "That's the worst of having
a fellow like you here, Major. I thought the Huns would spot it," and,
having had his joke, went back to his work. He was a great man. It
turned out to be a munition dump which had exploded near by, and the
noise was deafening for about eight hours.

This was the time of the great fight round the chemical works at
Roeux, and I was drawing the men as they came out for rest. They
were mostly in a bad state, but some were quite calm. One, I remember,
was quite happy. He had ten days' leave and was going back to some
village near Manchester to be married. He showed me her photograph,   (p. 029)
a pretty girl. Perhaps he was killed afterwards.

[Illustration: IX. _Air-Marshal Sir H. M. Trenchard, Bart., K.C.B.,
etc._]

The view from Mont St. Eloy was fine, with the guns belching out flame
on the plain in the midday sun.

One day I was painting the C.-in-C., and at lunch-time the news came
in that General Trenchard was there. The C.-in-C. said: "Orpen must
see 'Boom,' he's great," so I was taken off and we met him in the
garden. A huge man with a little head and a great personality, proud
of one thing only, that is, that he is a descendant of Jack Sheppard.
With him, to my delight, was Maurice Baring (his A.D.C.). The General
was told that I wanted to see the aerodromes, and Maurice shyly said:
"May I take Orpen round, sir? I know him." Gee! How happy I was when
the General said: "All right, you see to it, Baring."

I painted "Boom" a few days later in a beautiful château with the most
wonderful old stables. They have all been burnt down since. "Boom"
worked hard all the time I painted. A few days later Baring told me
that he had spoken to "Boom" and told him how much I admired his head.
"Boom" replied: "Damned if he showed it in his painting." And yet he
was worshipped by all the flying boys.

About this time I had sent from England Maurice Baring's "In Memoriam"
to Lord Lucas. It made a tremendous impression on me then, and still
does. I think it is one of the greatest poems ever written, and by far
the greatest work of art the war has produced.

Baring took me out for a great day round the aerodromes. We visited
several and lunched with a Wing-Commander, Colonel Freeman, who was
most kind, a great lover of books, a lot of which Maurice used to
supply him with. After this, we visited a squadron where there was to (p. 030)
be a test fight between a German Albatross, which had been captured
intact, and one of our machines. The fight was a failure, however, as
just after they got up something went wrong with the radiator of the
Albatross; but later Captain Little did some wonderful stunts on a
triplane. I also saw Robert Gregory there, but had no chance to speak
to him. But I learnt that he was doing very well and was most popular
in the squadron, and that he had painted some fine scenery for their
theatre.

St. Pol possessed an open-air swimming-bath, a strange thing for St.
Pol, but there it was--a fine large swimming-bath, full of warm water
which came from some chemical works. I used to swim there every
evening when I got back from work. The one thing that struck me at
that time was the difference between nudity and uniform--while bathing
one could look at and study all these fine lads, and I would think of
one, "Gee! there's an aristocrat. What a figure! What refinement!" and
of another, "What a badly-bred, vulgar, common brute!" Later they
would both come out of their bathing-boxes, and the "brute" would be a
smartly dressed officer carrying himself with ease and distinction,
and the "aristocrat" would be an untidy, uncouth "Tommy" shambling
along. Truly on sight one should never judge a man with his clothes
on.

[Illustration: X. _Howitzer in Action._]



CHAPTER IV                                                            (p. 031)

THE YPRES SALIENT (JUNE-JULY 1917)


It was about this time we moved to Cassel. Nothing very interesting in
the journey till one comes to Arques and St. Omer (at one time Lord
French's G.H.Q.). The road from Arques to the station at the foot of
Cassel Hill was always lined on each side by lorries, guns, pontoons
and all manner of war material. A gloomy road, thick with mud for the
most part, if not dust. It was always a pleasure to start climbing
Cassel Hill, past the seven windmills and up to the little town
perched on the summit.

Cassel is a picturesque little spot, with its glazed tiles and
sprinkling of Spanish buildings, and the view from it is marvellous.
On a clear day one could see practically the whole line from Nieuport
to Armentières and the coast from Nieuport to Boulogne. At that time,
the 2nd Army H.Q. were in the one-time casino, which was the summit of
the town, and from its roof one got a clear view all round. Cassel was
to the Ypres Salient what Amiens was to the Somme, and the little
"Hôtel Sauvage" stood for the "Godbert," the "Cathedral" and
"Charlie's Bar" all in one. The dining-room, with its long row of
windows showing the wonderful view, like the Rubens landscape in the
National Gallery, was packed every night for the most part with
fighting boys from the Salient, who had come in for a couple of hours
to eat, drink, play the piano and sing, forgetting their misery and   (p. 032)
discomfort for the moment. It was enormously interesting to watch and
study what happened in that room. One saw gaiety, misery, fear,
thoughtfulness and unthoughtfulness all mixed up like a kaleidoscope.
It was a well-run, romantic little hotel, built round a small
courtyard, which was always noisy with the tramp of cavalry horses and
the rattle of harness. The hotel was managed by Madame Loorius and her
two daughters, Suzanne and Blanche, who were known as "The Peaches."

Suzanne was undoubtedly the Queen of the Ypres Salient, as sure as
Marguerite was that of the Somme. One look from the eyes of Suzanne,
one smile, and these wonderful lads would go back to their
gun-pits--or who knows where?--proud.

Suzanne wore an R.F.C. badge on her breast. She was engaged to be
married to an R.F.C. officer at that time. Whether the marriage ever
came off I know not. Certainly not before the end of the war, and now
Madame is dead, and they have given up the "Sauvage," and are, as far
as I am concerned, lost.

Here the Press used to come when any particular operation was going on
in the North. In my mind now I can look clearly from my room across
the courtyard and can see Beach Thomas by his open window, in his
shirt-sleeves, writing like fury at some terrific tale for the _Daily
Mail_. It seemed strange his writing this stuff, this mild-eyed,
country-loving dreamer; but he knew his job.

Philip Gibbs was also there--despondent, gloomy, nervy, realising to
the full the horror of the whole business; his face drawn very fine,
and intense sadness in his very kind eyes; also Percival
Phillips--that deep thinker on war, who probably knew more about it   (p. 033)
than all the rest of the correspondents put together.

[Illustration: XI. _German 'Planes visiting Cassel._]

The people of Cassel loved the Tommy, so the latter had a good time
there.

One day I drew German prisoners at Bailleul. They had just been
captured, 3,500 in one cage, all covered with lice--3,500 men, some
nude, some half-nude, trying to clean the lice off themselves. It was
a strange business. The Boche at the time were sending over Jack
Johnsons at the station, and these men used to cheer as each shell
shrieked overhead.

It was at Cassel I first began to realise how wonderful the women of
the working class in France were, how absolutely different and
infinitely superior they were to the same class at home; in fact no
class in England corresponded to them at all. Clean, neat, prim women,
working from early dawn till late at night, apparently with unceasing
energy, they never seemed to tire and usually wore a smile.

I remember one girl, a widow; her name was Madame Blanche, who worked
at the "Hôtel Sauvage." She was about twenty-two years of age, and she
owned a house in Cassel. A few months before I arrived there her
husband had contracted some sort of poisoning in the trenches and had
been brought back to Cassel, where he died. Madame Blanche interested
me; she was very slim and prim and neat and tightly laced. Her fair
hair was always very carefully crimped. She looked like a girl out of
a painting by Metsu or Van Meer. I could see her posing at a piano for
either, calm, gentle and silent; and could imagine her in the midst of
all the refined surroundings in which these artists would have painted
her. But now her surroundings were khaki, and her background was the
wonderful Flemish view from the windows--miles and miles of country,  (p. 034)
with the old sausage balloons floating sleepily in the distance.

I must have looked at Madame Blanche a lot--perhaps too much. I
remember she used to smile at me; but that was as far as our
friendship could get--smiles, as I only knew about ten words of
French, and she less of English.

But one day she surprised me, and left me thinking and wondering more
of the strange, unbelievable things that happen to one in this world.

It was after lunch one Sunday: I had just got back to my room to work
when there was a knock on the door, and in walked Madame Blanche, who,
after much trouble to us both, I gathered wished me to go for a walk
with her. Impossible! I, a major, a Field Officer, to walk at large
through the streets of Cassel, 2nd Army H.Q., with a serving-girl from
the "Hôtel Sauvage"! I succeeded in explaining this after some time;
and then, to my amazement, she broke down and wept. The convulsive
sobbing continued, and I thought and wondered, and in the end decided
that I was crazy to make a woman weep because I would not go for a
walk with her. So I told her I would do so; and she dried her eyes and
asked me to meet her in the hotel yard in ten minutes.

When I got down to the yard the rain was coming down in torrents, and
there she was, dressed in her widow's weeds and holding in her arms a
mass of flowers. Solemnly we went out into the streets. Not a
civilian, not a soldier, not even a military policeman was to be seen.
All other human beings had taken refuge from the deluge: we were quite
alone. Right through the town we went and out to the little cemetery,
into which she brought me and led to her husband's grave, on which she
placed the mass of flowers, and then knelt in the mud and prayed for  (p. 035)
about half an hour in the pouring rain; after which we walked solemnly
and silently back to the hotel, soaked through and through. It was a
strange affair. I may be stupid, but I cannot yet see her reason for
wishing to take me out in the wet.

[Illustration: XII. _Soldiers and Peasants, Cassel._]

After working up there for about six weeks I began to feel very tired,
and thought I would go for a change; so I decided to run away and go
and see some "Bases"--Dieppe, Le Havre and Rouen. The day after I
reached Dieppe I received a telegram from the "Colonel": "When do you
return?" to which I replied: "Return where, please?" to which
apparently no reply could be made. But two days later I received a
letter from him saying he was moving to another job, but would always
remember the honour of his having had me working under him. This was a
nasty one for me, and I had no answer to give. About the same time I
received a telegram from Sir Philip Sassoon: "Where the devil are you?
_aaa_ Philip." Months later he sent me a great parcel of
correspondence as to whether this telegram, sent by the P.S. of the
C.-in-C., could be regarded as an official telegram, its language,
etc. The minutes were signed by Lieutenants, Captains, Majors,
Colonels, all up to the last one, which was signed by a General, and
ran thus: "What the ---- hell were you using this disgusting language
for, Philip?"

After a week I went back to Cassel, packed up and went south to
Amiens.



CHAPTER V                                                             (p. 036)

THE SOMME IN SUMMER-TIME (AUGUST 1917)


Never shall I forget my first sight of the Somme in summer-time. I had
left it mud, nothing but water, shell-holes and mud--the most gloomy,
dreary abomination of desolation the mind could imagine; and now, in
the summer of 1917, no words could express the beauty of it. The
dreary, dismal mud was baked white and pure--dazzling white. White
daisies, red poppies and a blue flower, great masses of them,
stretched for miles and miles. The sky a pure dark blue, and the whole
air, up to a height of about forty feet, thick with white butterflies:
your clothes were covered with butterflies. It was like an enchanted
land; but in the place of fairies there were thousands of little white
crosses, marked "Unknown British Soldier," for the most part. (Later,
all these bodies were taken up and nearly all were identified and
re-buried in Army cemeteries.) Through the masses of white
butterflies, blue dragon-flies darted about; high up the larks sang;
higher still the aeroplanes droned. Everything shimmered in the heat.
Clothes, guns, all that had been left in confusion when the war passed
on, had now been baked by the sun into one wonderful combination of
colour--white, pale grey and pale gold. The only dark colours were the
deep red bronze of the "wire" and one black cat which lived in a
shelter in what once was the main street of Thiepval. It was strange,
this black cat living there all alone. No humans, or those of her own (p. 037)
species, lived within miles of her. It took me days to make friends
and get her to come to me; and when at last I succeeded, the
friendship did not last long. No matter where I worked round that
district, the black cat of Thiepval would find me, and would approach
silently, and would suddenly jump on my knees and dig all her long
nails deeply into my flesh, with affection. I stood it for a little
time, and then gave her a good smack, after which I never saw my
little black friend again.

[Illustration: XIII. _German Prisoners._]

Thiepval Château, one of the largest in the north of France, was
practically flattened. What little mound was left was covered with
flowers. Some bricks had been collected from it and marked the grave
of "An Unknown British Soldier." Even Albert, that deadly
uninteresting little town, looked almost beautiful and cheerful.
Flowers grew by the sides of the streets; roses were abundant in what
were once back-gardens; a hut was up at the corner by the Cathedral
and _Daily Mails_ were sold there every evening at four o'clock, and
the golden leaning Lady holding her Baby, looking down towards the
street, gleamed in the sun on top of the Cathedral tower.

A family had come back from Corbie and re-started their restaurant--a
father and three charming girls. They patched up the little house by
the station and did a roaring trade, and some few other families came
back. Once more a skirt could be seen, even a few silk stockings
occasionally tripping about.

Péronne was now like a polished skeleton--very clean, but very
brittle: a little breeze, and whole houses would tumble to bits. I
started painting, one day, a little picture from the hall of the
College for Young Ladies. When I went the next day I found my point of
view had been raised several feet: the top walls had come down. But   (p. 038)
here again they had patched up a great big house as a club. It was
airy, not intentionally so, but on a hot day it was ideal, with its
view down over the Somme. Bully-beef pie, cheese and beer--if one
could only have had French coffee instead of that terrible black
mixture imported from England, things would have been more perfectly
complete.

About August, a burial party worked round Thiepval. Lieutenant Clark
was in charge of it, a sturdy little Scot. During the month or so they
worked there, they dug up, identified and re-buried thousands of
bodies. Some could not be identified, and what was found on these in
the way of money, knives, etc., was considered fair spoil for the
burial party.

Often, coming down Thiepval Hill in the evening, everything golden in
the sunlight, one would come across a little group of men, sitting by
the side of the battered Hill Road, counting out and dividing the
spoils of the day. It was a sordid sight, but for a non-combatant job,
to be a member of a burial party was certainly not a pleasant one, and
I do not think anyone could grudge them whatever pennies they made,
and most of them would have to go back in the trenches when their
burial party disbanded.

Down in the Valley of the Ancre, just beside the Thiepval Hill Road,
there was a great colony of Indians. They were all Catholics, and were
headed by an old padre who had worked in India for forty-five years--a
fine old fellow. He held wonderful services each Sunday afternoon on
the side of the Hill in the open air; he had an altar put up with
wonderful coloured draperies behind it, which hung from a structure
about thirty feet high. In the mornings, it was a very beautiful      (p. 039)
sight to see these nut-brown men washing themselves and their bronze
vessels among the reeds in the Ancre; one could hardly believe one was
in France. And where was one? Surely in a place and seeing a life that
never existed before, and never will again. The rapidity with which
these Indians (they were a cleaning-up party) changed the whole face
of Thiepval and that part of the Ancre Valley was incredible.

[Illustration: XIV. _View from the Old English Trenches. Looking
towards La Boisselle._]

When working in the Valley of the Ancre region, coming home in the
evening, we would bring the car down to the water near Aveluy. It is a
long stretch of water, and the Tommies had put up a springboard. It
was a joy to take off one's clothes in the car and jump into the cool
water and watch all these wonderful young men stripping, diving,
swimming, drying and dressing in the evening sun, all full of life and
health. At one period, Joffroy, a very good French artist, who had
lost a leg, right up to his trunk, early in the War, used to swim
there with me. He had been a great athlete, and had a very strong
arm-stroke, and possessed one of the most beautifully-developed bodies
I have ever seen. One evening, after bathing, as we were driving back
to Amiens in the car, he stretched out his arms and said, "Orpen, I
feel like a young Greek god!" And, after a pause, added: "But only a
fragment, you know, only a fragment." He was a great man, and could
clamber over trenches with his wooden stump in a marvellous way.

I remember that summer a strange thing happened. One day I found, and
started painting, the remains of a Britisher and a Boche--just skulls,
bones, garments--up by the trenches at Thiepval. I was all alone. My
faithful Howlett was about half a mile away with the car. When I had
been working about a couple of hours I felt strange. I cannot say     (p. 040)
even now what I felt. Afraid? Of what? The sun shone fiercely. There
was not a breath of air. Perhaps it was that--a touch of the sun. So I
stopped painting and went and sat on the trunk of a blown-up tree
close by, when suddenly I was thrown on the back of my head on the
ground. My heavy easel was upset, and one of the skulls went through
the canvas. I got up and thought a lot, but came to the conclusion I
had better just go on working, which I did, and nothing further
strange happened. That night I happened to meet Joffroy, and told him
about these skulls, and how peculiar one was, as it had a division in
the frontal bone (the Britisher's). He said he would like to go and
make a study of it; so I brought him out the next morning to the
place, I myself working that day in Thiepval Wood, about half a mile
further up the hill. I left him, saying I would come back and bring
him lunch from the car, as it was difficult for him to get about. When
I did get back I found him lying down, not very near the place, saying
he felt very ill and he thought it was the smell "from those remains."
He had done no work, and refused even to try to eat till we got a long
way away from the skulls. I explained to him that there was no smell,
and he said, "But didn't you see one has an eye still?" But I knew
that all four eyes had withered away months before. There must have
been something strange about the place.

Most of these summer months John Masefield was working on the Somme
battlefields. He preferred to work out there on the spot. He would get
a lift out from Amiens in the morning on a motor or lorry, work all
day by himself at some spot like La Boisselle, and walk back to the
bridge at Albert and look out for a lift back to Amiens. If we worked
out in this direction, on the way home our eye was always kept on the (p. 041)
look-out for him; but really it never appeared to matter to him if he
got back or not. I don't believe he minded where he was as long as he
could ponder over things all alone.

[Illustration: XV. _Adam and Eve at Péronne._]

The small towns and villages in this part of the country, behind the
old fighting line of 1916, were, for the most part, dirty and usually
uninteresting; but once clear of them the plains of Picardy had much
charm and beauty, great, undulating, rolling plains, cut into large
chequers made by the different crops. When a hill became too steep to
work on, it was cut into terraces, like one sees in many of the
vineyards in the South; these often have great decorative charm. A
fair country--I remember Joffroy sometimes used the word "graceful"
regarding different views in those parts, and the word gives the
impression well.

There is a beautiful valley on the left, as one goes from Amiens to
Albert: one looked down into it from the road, a patchwork of greens,
browns, greys and yellows. I remember John Masefield said one day it
looked to him like a post-impressionist table-cloth; later, white
zigzagging lines were cut all through it--trenches.

In the spring of 1917 it was strange motoring out from Amiens to
Albert. Just beyond this valley everything changed. Suddenly one felt
oneself in another world. Before this point one drove through ordinary
natural country, with women and children and men working in the
fields; cows, pigs, hens and all the usual farm belongings. Then,
before one could say "Jack Robinson!" not another civilian, not
another crop, nothing but a vast waste of land; no life, except Army
life; nothing but devastation, desolation and khaki.



CHAPTER VI                                                            (p. 042)

THE SOMME (SEPTEMBER 1917)


About this time I got a telegram from Lord Beaverbrook asking me to
meet him the next morning at Hesdin (Canadian Representatives' H.Q.);
so I left Amiens early, arriving at Hesdin about 11.45 a.m. There they
handed me a letter from him explaining to me that something very
important had happened, and that he had left for Cassel. Would I have
some lunch and follow him there? I lunched alone at the H.Q. and
started for Cassel, where I arrived about 2.30, and found a letter
telling me that he found that the aerodrome from which he wanted to
get the news he desired was not near Cassel, so he had left, but would
I meet him at the "Hôtel du Louvre," Boulogne, at 4 p.m., as his boat
left at 4.20? Away I went to Boulogne, and walked up and down outside
the "Louvre." About ten minutes past four up breezed a car, and in it
was a slim little man with an enormous head and two remarkable eyes. I
saluted and tried to make military noises with my boots. Said he: "Are
you Orpen?" "Yes, sir," said I. "Are you willing to work for the
Canadians?" said he. "Certainly, sir," said I. "Well," said he,
"that's all right. Jump in, and we'll go and have a drink." So down to
the buffet we went, and we had a bottle of champagne in very quick
time, and away he went on to the boat, without another word, smiling;
and the smile continued till I lost sight of him round the corner of  (p. 043)
the jetty. A strange day: I wondered a lot on the way back to Amiens,
where I arrived about 9.45. I never knew then what a good friend I had
met.

[Illustration: XVI. _A Grave in a Trench._]

As before, in Cassel, I first began to realise how wonderful the
workwomen of France were, so in Amiens I began to realise how
different the young men of France were to what one was brought up at
home to imagine. I had always been led to believe that an Englishman
was a far finer example of the human race than a Frenchman; but it
certainly is not so now. The young Frenchman is a keen, strong, hardy
fellow, and his general level of physical development is very high.

I remember this was brought home to me by having baths at Amiens.
There was one bathroom in the hotel, and it contained a bath, but no
hot water ran into it. So I told my batman to get hot water brought
there in the mornings. The bathroom was on the first floor of the
hotel, across on the other side of the courtyard from where I slept.
The assistant cook, a man six feet odd high, and weighing about
thirteen stone, a merry, jovial great giant, used to heat water for me
and put it into an enormous bronze tub, which held a whole bathful;
and he and my batman used to carry this upstairs; but if I happened to
come along at the same time, this great man used to bend down and pick
me up with his free hand and set me on his shoulder, and so to the
bathroom.

One morning, about a year later, he told me he was going to leave. I
asked him if he had got the "sack," or if he were leaving of his own
free will. "Neither," said he. "I'm called up; I'm of age." This
great, enormous man had only then reached the age of seventeen years. (p. 044)
It amazed me. I remember a sad thing happened. When he left I gave him
fifty francs and one hundred "Gold Flake" cigarettes. He had to go
through Paris to get to his regiment, and when he arrived at the Gare
du Nord they searched him, and found the cigarettes, took them from
him, and fined him two hundred and fifty francs. It was a sad gift.

About this time I painted de Maratray--philosopher, musician,
correspondent and clown.

Fane had gone, and Captain Maude was A.P.M. Amiens. Maude was a good
A.P.M. His police were well looked after and adored him. He never
wanted an officer or man from the trenches to get into trouble, but
did his best to get them out of it when they were in it. Often have I
been sitting at dinner with him at the "Hôtel de la Paix" and one of
his police would come in and say, "A young officer is at the 'Godbert,'
sir. He's had too much to drink, and is behaving very badly." Maude
would curse loudly at his dinner being spoilt, but would always leave
at once, and would calm down whatever young firebrand it was, find out
where he had to go, and have him seen off by lorry or train to his
destination. All this meant much more trouble for Maude than to have
him arrested, and much less trouble for the culprit; but he always put
them on their honour never to do it again; and many are the letters I
have seen thanking him for being "a sport," and promising never "to do
it again"; and asking would he dine with them the next time they got a
night off? That was Maude's idea: he could not do too much for the men
from the trenches, and they appreciated it. Maude was loved all
through the North of France, except by a few rival A.P.M.'s. One      (p. 045)
could easily judge what his character was like from his favourite
song:--

  "Mulligatawny soup,
  A mackerel or a sole,
  A Banbury and a Bath bun,
  And a tuppenny sausage roll.
  A little glass of sherry,
  Just a tiny touch of cham,
  A roly-poly pudding
  And Jam! _Jam!!_ JAM!!!"

[Illustration: XVII. _The Deserter._]

A lot of nice people used to come to Amiens at that period; Colonel
Woodcock and Colonel Belfield, the "Spot King," and Ernest Courage,
"Jorrocks," in particular. It all became one large party at night for
dinner. Maude was very popular with all the French officials, and
great goodwill existed between the French and the British, and
Marcelle's black eyes smiled at us from behind the desk, with its
books, fruit, cheese and bottles; smiled so well that had she been
different she might have out-pointed Marguerite as "Queen of the
British Troops in Picardy." But no, her book-keeping and an occasional
smile were enough for Marcelle, and she did them both exceedingly
well.

Poor Marcelle! Afterwards I was told that when the Huns began to bomb
Amiens badly she completely broke down and cried and sobbed at her
desk. She was sent away down South, to Bordeaux, I think, and we never
saw her again. It was sad. She was a sweet child, with her great dark
eyes, and the little curl on her forehead, and her keen sense of the
ridiculous.

The song of that time was:--

  "Dear face that holds so sweet a smile for me.
  Were it not mine, how 'Blotto' I should be."

But one night Carroll Carstairs of the Grenadier Guards breezed into  (p. 046)
Amiens, bringing with him a new American song which became very
popular. The chorus ran something like this:--

  "When Uncle Sam comes
  He brings his Infantry;
  He brings Artillery;
  He brings his Cavalry.
  Then, by God, we'll all go to Germany!
  God help Kaiser Bill!
  God help Kaiser Bill!
  God help Kaiser Bill!

  "For when Uncle Sam comes...." (Repeat)

One day Maude asked me to go to the belfry, the old sixteenth-century
prison of Amiens, a beautiful building outside, but inside it was very
black and awe-inspiring. The cells, away up in the tower, with their
stone beds and straw, rats and smaller animals, made one's flesh
creep. I am sorry I never painted the old fat lady who kept the keys
in the entrance hall, a black place, lit by an oil lamp which hung
over the stone fireplace. I put off painting her and her hall then for
some reason, and later she was killed by a shell at the door during
the bombardment. Here in the belfry the deserters were put, in an
endeavour to make them say who they were, and Maude asked me to go
this day because he had an interesting case.

A young man in a captain's tunic had been found in a brothel, and his
papers were very incomplete. He had no leave warrant. They found he
had been living at the "Hôtel de la Paix" for about a week. He had
come to Amiens on a motor-bicycle, which he left in the street. They
telephoned to the "Captain's" regiment and found the "Captain" was
with his unit, but a tunic had been stolen from him at Calais. They   (p. 047)
also found a motor-bicycle had been stolen from Calais, and that it
corresponded in number with the one found in the street.

[Illustration: XVIII. _The Great Mine. La Boisselle._]

We were given a candle, and climbed the black stairs to his cell. The
youth was in a bad state, sobbing. Maude told him how sorry he was for
him, and asked him not to be a fool, but to tell him the truth, and he
would have him out of that place at once. He agreed, and told a long
story, or rather--another long story. This was his third day and his
third story, and it turned out there was not a word of truth in this
one either.

He was one of the best-looking young men I ever saw, tall, clean-cut
and smart-looking. The next day Maude found out that most of his tears
were due to the fact that he was very badly diseased, and of course,
without any treatment, was getting worse daily. Maude could not stand
this, so he sent him to the hospital for treatment, from which the
youth promptly escaped, and was not found again for ten days. They
knew some one must have been hiding him, probably a woman; which
proved right. In ten days he was found, plus forty pounds, which the
lady had given him.

Maude gave him one more twenty-four hours' chance in the belfry; but
it was no good, only more lies. So he was sent to Le Havre, where I
believe no deserter has ever lasted more than forty-eight hours
without telling the truth and nothing but the truth. I presumed that
after that he was shot. The only thing I learnt for certain, was that
he was a Colonial private. Some time later I used to go very often to
a little restaurant in Paris, and became friends with one of the head
waiters. He said a customer had come in, giving the name of Lord
X----, and had engaged a table for dinner. He evidently had some
doubt about Lord X----, and asked me if I would know him if I saw     (p. 048)
him. I said, "Certainly," as the name given was that of the son of
one of the best-known Earls in England. In he came for dinner, a very
good-looking man, wearing the Légion d'Honneur. Lord X----, the
deserter of the belfry!

The great mine at La Boisselle was a wonderful sight. One morning I
was wandering about the old battlefield, and I came across a great
wilderness of white chalk--not a tuft of grass, not a flower, nothing
but blazing chalk; apparently a hill of chalk dotted thickly all over
with bits of shrapnel. I walked up it, and suddenly found myself on
the lip of the crater. I felt myself in another world. This enormous
hole, 320 yards round at the top, with sides so steep one could not
climb down them, was the vast, terrific work of man. Imagine burrowing
all that way down in the belly of the earth, with Hell going on
overhead, burrowing and listening till they got right under the German
trenches--hundreds and hundreds of yards of burrowing. And here
remained the result of their work, on the earth at least, if not on
humanity. The latter had disappeared; but the great chasm, with one
mound in the centre at the bottom, and one skull placed on top of it,
remained. They had cut little steps down one of its sides, and had
cleared up all the human remains and buried them in this mound. That
one mound, with the little skull on the top, at the bottom of this
enormous chasm, was the greatest monument I have ever seen to the
handiwork of man.

There was another fairly large mine here, just by the Bapaume Road,
and there was a large mine at Beaumont-Hamel, and also the
"Cough-drop" at High Wood. These were wonderful, but they could not
compare in dignity and grandeur with the great mine of La Boisselle.

[Illustration: XIX. _The Butte de Warlencourt._]

Working out on the Somme, in the evenings as the sun was going down,  (p. 049)
one heard constantly a drone of aeroplanes, which quickly grew louder
and louder, and before one could think, two of these great birds would
pass just over one's head, quite close to the ground. A couple of
minutes later, Bang! bang! bang! bang! and the boom and crash of the
guns. Presently you would see the two birds, high up, returning to
their aerodrome. They had gone up to the Boche trenches, in the eye of
the sun, machine-gunning them and dropping small bombs.

The Butte de Warlencourt looked very beautiful in the afternoon light
that summer. Pale gold against the eastern sky, with the mangled
remains of trees and houses, which was once Le Sars, on its left. But
what must it have looked like when the Somme was covered with snow,
and the white-garmented Tommies used to raid it at night? It must
surely have been a ghostly sight then, in the winter of 1916.

About this time I went to Paris several week-ends at odd times and
painted for the Canadians Generals Burstall, Watson and Lipsett, also
Major O'Connor. Poor Lipsett was killed by a shell later. He was a
thoughtful, clever, quiet man, and was greatly respected. Burstall was
a great, bluff, big, hearty fellow, and Watson was a fine chap, a real
"sport." O'Connor was A.D.C. to General Currie, and had been twice
wounded.

Paris! What a city!

  "Paree!
  That's the place for me.
  Just across the sea
  From Dover!"



CHAPTER VII                                                           (p. 050)

WITH THE FLYING CORPS (OCTOBER 1917)


About this time, the C.-in-C. was granted the Order of a Knighthood of
the Thistle. It was given to him by the King during his visit to
France in a château at Cassel. No one was present when he received
this honour. Just afterwards I did a little interior of the room.

General Trenchard and Maurice Baring chose out two flying boys for me
to paint, and they sat to me at Cassel. One was 2nd Lieutenant A. P.
Rhys Davids, D.S.O., M.C., a great youth. He had brought down a lot of
Germans, including two cracks, Schaffer and Voss. The first time I saw
him was at the aerodrome at Estre Blanche. I watched him land in his
machine, just back from over the lines. Out he got, stuck his hands in
his pockets, and laughed and talked about the flight with Hoidge and
others of the patrol, and his Major, Bloomfield. A fine lad, Rhys
Davids, with a far-seeing, clear eye. He hated fighting, hated flying,
loved books and was terribly anxious for the war to be over, so that
he could get to Oxford. He had been captain of Eton the year before,
so he was an all-round chap, and must have been a magnificent pilot.
The 56th Squadron was very sad when he was reported missing, and
refused to believe for one moment that he had been killed till they
got the certain news. It was a great loss.

The other airman chosen was Captain Hoidge, M.C. and Bar--"George"    (p. 051)
of Toronto. Hoidge had also brought down a lot of Germans. His face
was wonderfully fitted for a man-bird. His eyes were bird's eyes. A
good lad was Hoidge, and I became very fond of him afterwards. I
arranged with Maurice Baring and Major Bloomfield that Hoidge was to
come to Cassel one morning at 11 a.m. to sit to me. The morning
arrived and 11 o'clock and no Hoidge. Eleven-thirty, 12--no Hoidge.
About 12:30 he strolled into the yard and I heard him asking for me in
a slow voice. I was raging with anger by this time. He came upstairs
and I told him there was no use doing anything before lunch, and that
we had better go down and get some food. We ate silently. I could see
he was rather depressed. About halfway through our meal, he said: "I'm
lucky to be here with you this morning!" "Why?" said I. "Oh," he said,
"I made a damned fool of myself this morning. Let an old Boche get on
my tail. Damned fool I was--with my experience. Never saw the
blighter. I was following an old two-seater at the time. He put a
bullet through the box by my head, and cut two of my stays. If old B.
hadn't happened to come up and chased him off I was for it. Damned
fool! But the morning wasn't wasted, afterwards I got two
two-seaters." I said: "Do you realise you have killed four men this
morning?" "No," he said, "but I winged two damned nice birds." Then we
went upstairs and he sat like a lamb.

[Illustration: XX. _Lieut. A. P. F. Rhys Davids, D.S.O., M.C._]

One evening, during the King's stay at Cassel, I was working in my
room about 7 o'clock, when a little scrap of paper was brought me on
which was written, "I am dining downstairs.--M. B." I went downstairs
and there was Maurice Baring, and, with luck for me, alone. We had a
great dinner. He was in his best form; for after dinner we went up to
my room and sat by the open window and talked and talked. Suddenly    (p. 052)
Maurice stopped, and said: "What's that noise?" "What noise?" said I.
So we looked down into the courtyard--only about ten feet--and there
was "Boom," who had been dining with the King, and Philip Sassoon.
"What the devil are you two doing?" said "Boom." "We've both been
shouting ourselves hoarse for ten minutes. It's the last damned time
you dine with Orpen, Maurice!" It's true we never heard them--but then
Maurice was talking.

One morning, when the wind was very fresh, I got a telephone message
from Major Bloomfield telling me to come to the squadron at once and
see some "crashes." It was a glorious morning, blue sky, with great
white clouds sailing by. I got down to the squadron as quickly as I
could. A whole lot of novices from England had been sent out on
trials, and the Major expected "great fun" when they landed.

The fire was made big and a great line of blue smoke whirled down the
aerodrome to give the direction of the wind. Presently they began to
come back. Some landed beautifully--one in particular--and the Major
said to me: "Come on, I must go and congratulate that chap," and
started running for the machine. When we got closer, he stopped and
said: "Damn it! it's Hoidge, I forgot he was out."

I remember one poor chap in particular. He circled the aerodrome
twelve times, each time coming down for a landing and each time
funking it at the last moment. At last he did land, two or three
bumps, and then--apparently slowly--the machine's nose went to the
ground and gracefully it turned turtle. "Come along," said the Major,
and when we got to the machine the wretched pilot was getting out from
under it. "You unspeakable creature," said the Major. "Don't let me
see your face again for twenty-four hours." And away limped the       (p. 053)
"unspeakable creature," covered with oil and dirt. I must add that
after lunch the Major went up to him and patted his back and said he
hoped he felt none the worse. But the thing that amazed me was, that
although the machine seemed to land so gently, the damage to it was
terrific--propeller and all sorts of strong things smashed to bits.

[Illustration: XXI. _Lieut. R. T. C. Hoidge, M.C._]

Ping-pong was the great game at this squadron (56th), and I used to
play with a lot of them, including Hoidge and McCudden, but I did not
know the latter's name at that time. It was before he became famous.

One day I went there with Maurice Baring, and the Major was greatly
excited because they had just finished making a little circular saw to
cut firewood for the squadron for the winter. The Major had a great
idea that, as the A.D.C. to "Boom" was lunching, after lunch there
would be an "official" opening of the circular saw. It was agreed that
all officers and men were to attend (no flying was possible that day)
and that Maurice should make a speech, after which he was to cut the
end of a cigar with the saw, then a box was made with a glass front in
which the cigar was to be placed after the A.D.C. had smoked a little
of it, and the box was to be hung in the mess of the squadron. It was
all a great success. Maurice made a splendid speech. We all cheered,
and then the cigar was cut (to bits nearly). Maurice smoked a little,
and it was put safely in its box. Then Maurice was given the first log
to cut. This was done, but Maurice was now worked up, so he took his
cap off and cut this in halves. He was then proceeding to take off his
tunic for the same purpose, but was carried away from the scene of
execution by a cheering crowd. It was a great day. I remember Maurice
saw me back to Cassel about 1 a.m., after much ping-pong and music.   (p. 054)
"I'll go back to the shack where the black-eyed Susans," etc., was the
song of the moment then in the squadron.

Shortly after this Major Bloomfield was ordered home, promoted and, I
think, sent to America. At this loss, a great gloom fell over the 56th
Squadron. I never saw any squadron in France that was run nearly so
well as the 56th under Bloomfield, nor any Major loved more by his
boys.

[Illustration: XXII. _The Return of a Patrol._]



CHAPTER VIII                                                          (p. 055)

CASSEL AND IN HOSPITAL (NOVEMBER 1917)


About this time I went to Paris and met several Generals and Mr.
Andrew Weir (now Lord Inverforth), and it was arranged that Aikman was
to go home to the War Office and that I, perhaps, might have my
brother out later to look after me. Aikman left, and I was very
lonely. A better-hearted companion and a kinder man one could not
meet, and regarding the intricacies of "King's Regulations" and
such-like things, he was a past master.

After this, whenever I went to Paris, the great thing was to stop on
the way at Clermont and lunch with "Hunchie." "Hunchie" kept the
buffet at the station. He had a broken back and had been a chemist in
Paris, but said he had come to the station at Clermont for excitement.
It was so exciting that Maude proposed stopping there for a rest cure!
But "Hunchie's" lunches were excellent. I remember one day on my way
to Paris, I asked him at lunch if he had any Worcestershire Sauce; he
had not. He asked me when I was coming back North again. I said the
next day, which I did, and stopped for lunch. He had the sauce. He had
been to Paris to get it. "Hunchie" was a wonder, so was Madame, and so
was their dog "Black."

One spot in Paris, the Gare du Nord, will always mean a lot to the
British Army on the Western Front. What sights one saw there!--masses
of humanity, mostly British officers and men, each with their little  (p. 056)
"movement order": there they were in the heart of the Gay City. Yet
that little slip of paper would, in a couple of hours, send them to
Amiens, and a little later they would be at the front suffering Hell.
Laboreur did a wonderful etching of an officer bidding farewell to his
wife at the Gare du Nord. It gave the whole tragedy of the place--the
blackness, smoke, smell and crush. There, any night during an air
raid, one could not help thinking what would happen if the Boche got a
bomb on the Gare, with its thousands of fighting men all jambed
together under its glass roof in the semi-darkness. What a slaughter!
And yet through it all, if the old Gare could only speak, it could
tell some strange and amusing tales of that time--tales that would
make one laugh, but with the laughter there would be a catch in the
throat and a swimming in the eyes. It is extraordinary how funny
sometimes the most tragic things can be.

The weather had become very bad and cold, and I worked on all
impossible out-of-door days in my room in the "Hôtel de la Paix,"
which was known as the "Bar." My only rule was that the "Bar" was not
open till 6.30 p.m. At times it nearly rivalled "Charlie's Bar." At
what hour the "Bar" closed I was not always certain, as, no matter who
was there, at about 10:30 I used to undress and go to bed, and so
accustomed did I get to the clink of glasses and the squirt of the
syphons that I slept calmly through it all. Among the regular
attendants when in Amiens were Captain Maude, "Major" Hogg, Colonel
MacDowall of the 42nd G.H., Colonel Woodcock, Colonel Belfield (the
Spot King), Captain Ernest Courage (Jorrocks), Captains Hale and Inge
(then of the Press), Bedelo (Italian correspondent), and Captain
Brickman--a merry lot, taking them all round, and that room heard some
good stories; some may have been not quite nice, but none were as     (p. 057)
dirty or disreputable as the room itself, with its smell of mud,
paint, drink, smoke, and the fumes from the famous "Flamme Bleue"
stove. The last man to leave the bar had to open the window. This was
a firm rule. It sometimes took the last man a long time to do it, but
it was always done.

[Illustration: XXIII. _Changing Billets._]

By this period of the war nearly every French girl could speak some
English, and great was their anger if one could not understand them. I
remember a very nice girl, who worked at the "Hôtel de la Paix," came
to me one day and said solemnly, "My grandfadder he kill him."
"Gracious!" I said, "whom did he kill?" "He kill him," was the furious
reply. Apparently the poor grandfather, living under German rule at
Landrecies, had committed suicide.

I went back to Cassel and began to itch, mildly at first, and I was
not in the least put out. My brother came to France, and I went to
Boulogne to meet him. His boat was to arrive at 6.15 p.m., but did not
get in till just 10 p.m. They had been away down the Channel avoiding
something. Driving back to Cassel we had a fine sight of bombing and
searchlights. Hardly a night passed at this period that the Boche did
not have a "go" at St. Omer. One night, just then, they dropped three
torpedoes in Cassel as we were having dinner, but Suzanne, the
"Peach," at her desk, never fluttered an eyelid. I believe afterwards,
during the summer of 1918, when things were quite nasty at Cassel, she
never showed any signs of being nervous: just sat at her desk, made
out the bills, and occasionally made some lad happy by a look and a
smile.

On some evenings we used to give great entertainments in the kitchen
of the "Sauvage." I would stand the drinks, and Howlett (my chauffeur)
played the mouth-organ, and Green (my batman) step-danced. It was an  (p. 058)
amusing sight watching the expressions of those old, fat Flemish
workwomen of the hotel.

The itching got worse, so one wet, black evening I went to see the
M.O., took off my clothes in a dirty, cold, dark room, and he examined
me carefully with the aid of an oil lamp. "You've got lice," he said.
"Really?" said I. "Have you got a servant?" "Yes," said I. "Well, go
back and give him Hell, and tell him to examine your clothes." I asked
him about my foot, which had a hole in it about the size of a
sixpence. "That's nothing," said he. "Keep it clean." So back I went,
down the black cobbled street, called up my faithful boys, Howlett and
Green, and told them I was lousy. I took my clothes off, and they
examined them with electric torches and candles and oil lamps. Not a
thing could they find. "Do you mind my looking at you, sir?" said
Howlett. So he had one look. Said he, "If it were lice got you into
that state, you'd be crawling with them."

I stood the pain and itching another couple of days, and sent for the
M.O. to come to me. As there was more light in my room, he came and
had a look. "Ah!" said he, "I thought last time it might have been
that: you've got scabies. You must leave here for X---- in the
morning, and have all your bed-clothes sent round to me before you
leave."

[Illustration: XXIV. _The Receiving-room: 42nd Stationary Hospital._]

In the morning I broke the news gently to Madame that I was a "dirty
dog," and that my bed must go for a bit to be purged, and went round
to the A.P.M. to say good-bye. When I told him where I was being sent,
he said, "That place! Don't you do it. I was waiting there the other
day to see someone, and I counted ten bugs on the wall." That put the
wind up me, so I wrote to the M.O. and said I had an important        (p. 059)
meeting at Amiens that evening at 6 p.m., and that I would report at
the X---- hospital immediately after that. He seemed rather hurt at my
getting out of his reach, but he let me go (as I mentioned having to
see the C.-in-C. on the way. It was wonderful what the mention of the
C.-in-C. did for one!). He gave me my slip for the hospital:

     "Herewith Major Orpen, suffering from scabies. Please...."

and with this I departed for Amiens, where I reported to the Colonel
of the X---- Hospital. Over a whisky-and-soda I gave him the "slip,"
and he looked at my arm and said, "Yes, scabies," and I was put into
the isolation ward and treated for this disease. How more people did
not die in that hospital beats me. I personally never got any sleep,
and left in a fortnight nearly dead. Lights were out at 10 p.m. This
sounds good, but there were about eight of us in the ward. I had to
have my foot treated every three hours. The man in the next bed to
mine was treated for something every two hours; and nearly all the
other beds were treated three or four times during the night. For all
these treatments the lights blazed about twenty times each night, and
some of the treatments were very noisy. At 6.30 a.m., in the dark, the
nurse came round, and anyone who was not dying was turned out of bed.
Why, I know not: there was no heat in the place. If you were well
enough you went off to a soaking sort of scullery and heated some
water over a gas-jet and shaved. If you were not well enough, you sat
in your dressing-gown on a chair. You were not allowed to sit on your
bed. At 8 a.m. you were given an extraordinarily bad breakfast--porridge
with no milk, tea with no sugar, bread with--most days--no butter.    (p. 060)
After breakfast you could go to bed again, but this was not allowed if
you were going to be let out during the day, as I was most of the
time. So there you sat again, freezing, till an orderly came and said
your bath was ready, usually about 9.30 a.m.--three hours after you
had left your bed. The bath was in an outhouse about fifty yards
across the yard from the ward. In hail, rain or snow, you had got to
go there. In it I was boiled in a bath, scrubbed all over with a
nail-brush, and then smothered all over with sulphur--wet, greasy,
stinking sulphur rubbed in all over me. I dressed by putting on a pair
of pyjamas first. These more or less kept this grease from getting
through to my other clothes, and I was allowed out to work--a sick,
freezing, wet individual. But my room at the "Hôtel de la Paix" was
warm, and I sat over my "Flamme Bleue" all the morning. After I had
been treated with sulphur for "scabies" a couple of weeks, a hole came
in my throat just like the one I had on my foot--a white hole with a
black band round it, and all the flesh for about six inches beyond it
a deep scarlet. One morning the boy who washed me said: "I beg your
pardon, sir, but what are you being treated for?" "Scabies," said I.
Said he: "Don't say I said so, sir, but show the M.O. that thing on
your neck. You haven't got scabies, and this sulphur will kill you
soon." So I waited for the M.O. till he did his rounds. When he came
to me he said the usual, "Everything all right with you?" "No," said
I. "I've got a scabie on my neck that is worrying me." So he had a
look at it and said: "I don't think this treatment is doing you much
good. I shall get you dismissed from the hospital to-day." So I was
chucked out. I happened to have blood-poisoning, not scabies, and I   (p. 061)
have it still. During the time I was in hospital, I got four very
amusing poems from a General at G.H.Q. They were the bright spots
during those days. I am sorry they are too personal to print.

[Illustration: XXV. _A Death among the Wounded in the Snow._]

About this time an officer told me a good story about my friend,
Carroll Carstairs. The Cambrai battle was on, and the Grenadier Guards
were advancing through a village. Carroll was with a brother officer,
and said suddenly, "Look at the shape of that church now! Isn't it
magnificent?" Another shell shrieked and hit the structure, and he
said, "Damn! the fools have spoilt it." I believe it was during this
battle he earned the M.C.

My brother became very popular with those he met in France. Too
popular, indeed, with the girls in the hotel at Amiens to please Maude
or myself. Maude and I used to complain about it. Maude would say,
"William, here you and I have been slaving for months to make
ourselves liked by these girls, and your blinking little brother comes
along, and cuts us out in a few days. It's disgusting." It was true:
Maude, the A.P.M., and I, "le petit Major," took a back seat. We
worked hard to prevent it, my brother did nothing: he kept silent,
laughed, and won. It was very sad, and we were much upset.



CHAPTER IX                                                            (p. 062)

WINTER (1917-1918)


Christmas came with much snow and ice. Maude and I went to dinner at
Captain MacColl's mess in the Boulevard Belfort. Maude remarked once,
"MacColl is the only intelligent Intelligence Officer I know." We had
a great dinner, and at 10 p.m. Maude and I went, in a blinding
snowstorm, to the police concert. I'll never forget the fug in that
place: it reeked of sweat, drink, goose and fags. They were all very
happy, these huge men; all singing the saddest songs they could think
of, including, of course, "The Long, Long Trail." American police were
there also. They had come to Amiens to learn their job. We left late,
but we had promised to return to MacColl's mess, so started for there,
but after we had fallen in the snow a few times, we gave the idea up
and went to bed.

About this time I went to H.Q. Tanks, and painted the General and
Hotblack, and had a most interesting time. General Elles was a great
chap, full of "go," and a tremendous worker. Hotblack, mild and
gentle, full of charm; one could hardly imagine he had all those
D.S.O.'s, and wound stripes--Hotblack, who liked to go for a walk and
sit down and read poetry. He said it took his mind off devising plans
to kill people better than anything else.

Then there was the "Colonel" of the Tanks--"Napoleon," they called
him. A great brain he had. Before the war he knew his Chelsea well,
and the Café Royal and all the set who went there. And there was a    (p. 063)
dear young Highlander also, a most gentle, shy youth. He was very
happy one day; he had a "topping" time. He was out with the Tanks, and
he killed a German despatch-rider and rode home on his bicycle.

[Illustration: XXVI. _Some Members of the Allied Press Camp._]

One morning when I was painting the General, he told me that my old
"Colonel" from G.H.Q. was coming to lunch. I hadn't seen him since he
sent the telegram, "When do you return?" When he arrived we were all
in the hall, but he didn't take the slightest notice of me. Presently,
we went in to lunch. He sat opposite to me, and about halfway through
the meal, he said, "Hello, Orpen! I didn't see you before." To which I
replied, "You have the advantage over me, sir. I don't remember ever
having seen you before." It was no good. We would never have made good
friends.

I regret that one night, while I was staying at G.H.Q. Tanks, I got
"blotto." It wasn't altogether my fault, people were so hospitable. It
was a night when I dined with General Sir John Davidson, "the Poet,"
at G.H.Q. I left "Tanks" on a bitterly cold, wet evening, and called
at the Canadian château at Hesdin. I found them all sitting round a
big fire. It was tea-time. The Colonel, who saw I was cold, gave me a
whisky-and-soda, which he repeated when I left. I then went on to the
C.-in-C.'s château to see Major Sir Philip Sassoon, and found him in
his hut outside the château. As soon as I sat down he rang his bell.
The orderly came. "A whisky-and-soda for Major Orpen," said he. This
came. When I had got through about half of it, his telephone rang.
"Run upstairs, Orp," said he, "and see Allan (Colonel Fletcher), he's
laid up in bed." So off I went and found his bedroom. As soon as I    (p. 064)
came in he rang his bell. His servant came. "Whisky-and-soda," said
he. When I was about halfway through this, there were footsteps on the
stairs. "That's the Chief coming," said the Colonel. "Gosh!" said I,
and I pushed my whisky-and-soda well under the bed. In came the
C.-in-C. "Hello, little man!" said he, "you look cold; and they don't
seem to be very hospitable to you here, either." He rang the bell. The
orderly came. "Bring Major Orpen a whisky-and-soda," said he. That did
it. He talked for about ten minutes, and left. And in came Philip with
my half-finished drink, cursing. "I've been standing on those damned
stairs with Orp's drink for the last half-hour waiting for the Chief
to leave." So, of course, I had to finish it. And then the Colonel's.
And I went off to General Davidson's, and he had a nice cocktail ready
for me, and a good "bottle" for dinner--after which I do not remember
anything. But it was a bit of bad luck, one thing happening after
another like that.

When I went back to Amiens I saw a good bit of the Press. The "Major"
had gone, and Captain Hale of the Black Watch had charge. A fine
fellow, Hale, as brave as a lion. He told endless stories, which one
could hardly ever understand, and he laughed at them so much himself
that he usually forgot to finish them. Rudolf de Trafford was there,
and old Inge, a much-travelled man; also Macintosh, a Parisian Scot.
It was very peaceful; no one dreamt that shells were soon to come
crashing through that old château. Ernest Courage, with his eyeglass
fixed in his cap, used to come into Amiens and finish lunch with his
usual toast, and then sing Vesta Tilly's great old song:--

  "Jolly good luck to the girl who loves a soldier.                   (p. 065)
  Girls, have you been there?
  You know we military men
  Always do our duty everywhere!

  "Jolly good luck to the girl who loves a soldier.
  Real fine boys are we!
  Girls, if you want to love a soldier
  You can all (diddley-dum) love me!"

and very well he did it.

[Illustration: XXVII. _Poilu and Tommy._]

General Seely asked Maude and myself to dine one night at the "Rhin."
Prince Antoine of Bourbon was there--he was Seely's A.D.C. During
dinner I arranged to go to the Canadian Cavalry H.Q. and paint Seely,
which I did, and had a most interesting time. Munnings was painting
Prince Antoine at this period, on horseback. He used to make the poor
Prince sit all day, circumnavigating the château as the sun went
round. I remember going out one morning and seeing the Prince sitting
upon his horse, as good as gold. Munnings was chewing a straw when I
came up to them. "Here," said he. "You're just the fellow I want. What
colour is that reflected light under the horse's belly?" "Very warm
yellow," said I. "There! I told you so," said he to the Prince.
Apparently there had been some argument over the matter. Anyway, he
mixed a full brush of warm yellow and laid it on. Just before lunch I
came out again. There they were in another spot. "Hey!" said Munnings,
"come here. What colour is the reflection now?" "Bright violet," said
I. "There! what did I tell you?" said he to the Prince; and he mixed a
brush-load of bright violet, and laid it on.

As the sun was sinking I went out again, and there was the poor
Prince, still in the saddle. Munnings had nearly as much paint on     (p. 066)
himself as on the canvas. He was very excited. I could see him
gesticulating from a distance. When he saw me he called out: "Come
here quickly before the light goes. What colour is the reflection on
the horse's belly now?" "Bright green," said I. "It is," said he, "and
the Prince won't believe me." And he quickly made a heap of bright
green and plastered it over the bright yellow and bright violet
reflections of the morning and midday. So ended the day's work, and
the bright green remained in full view till the next sitting.

The day I arrived Munnings was much upset because he had no sable
brushes. He was telling me about this, and said, "Do you mind my
asking you three questions?" "Not at all," said I. "First," he said,
"have you got a car?" "Yes," said I. "Second," said he, "have you got
any sable brushes?" "Yes," said I. "Third," said he, "will you lend me
some?" "Yes," said I, and handed him over all I had. When I was
leaving I said to Munnings, "What about those sable brushes,
Munnings?" He replied: "Don't you remember I asked you three
questions?" "I do remember your asking me something," said I. "Well,"
said he, "the first question I asked was, 'Have you got a car?'" "What
the hell has that got to do with my sable brushes?" said I. "A great
lot," said he. "You can damn well drive to Paris and get some more for
yourself. I haven't a car."

About a week later I painted the Prince. He was a most devoted A.D.C.
to the General. It was very sad his getting killed afterwards.

[Illustration: XXVIII. _Major-General the Rt. Hon. J. E. B. Seely,
C.B., etc._]

[Illustration: XXIX. _Bombing: Night._]



CHAPTER X                                                             (p. 067)

LONDON (MARCH-JUNE 1918)


I was now ordered back to London--I forget what for, something about
expenses, I think. Lord Beaverbrook had become my boss, and they were
going to pay all my expenses. It was a nice thought, but they never
did.

I went with my brother up to G.H.Q. on March 20th to get warrants from
Major A. N. Lee, D.S.O., and went on to Boulogne, and there met Ian
Strang, who dined with us at the "Morny." There was a raid on when we
came out from dinner, and people wished us to take shelter; but we had
dined very well. The next morning there was a thick mist low down,
with a clear sky above. When I got on the boat I met General Seely,
who introduced me to General Sir Arthur Currie, who said: "You used to
billet at St. Pol, usedn't you?" "Yes, sir," said I. "Well," said he,
"I have just come through it. They got seven fourteen-inch shells into
it this morning." "Has the offensive started?" said I. "That's about
it," said he.

London seemed very strange to me at first. I felt very out of things.

Nobody I met, except the soldiers, or those who had been to France
like myself, seemed to have any thoughts in common with mine: they did
not appear to want to think about the fighting man or of the colossal
deeds that were being done daily and nightly on the several fronts.
No, they all talked of their own war-work. Overworked they were,      (p. 068)
breaking up--some at munitions; some at shoemaking classes; others
darning socks--and they were all suffering terribly from air raids. In
fact, to put it in a few words, they were well in the middle of the
world war; they were just the same as the fighting man in France or on
some other front.

Then it was that the definite thought came to me: the fighting man,
the Hero, will be forgotten; that the people of England who have not
been "overseas" and seen them at work, would never realise what these
men have been through--win or lose, they would never know.

Their constant talk was of the terrible things they at home were going
through on air-raid nights. It hurt me--their complaining about their
little chances of damage, when I knew that millions of men were
running a big risk of being blown into eternity at any moment, day or
night. It is true, my first visit home made me realise that the
fighting man after the war would be ignored, and I knew the
reason--"Jealousy." I had been given the chance of looking on, and I
had seen and worshipped. But if I had not seen, I might have felt just
the same as those who stayed at home. Jealousy is one of the strongest
things the human mind has to struggle against. Even now, after joint
victory, it is one of the things the Allied nations have to guard
against, for it exists between them, but surely the bond of the dead,
that great community:--

  "The Chosen Few,
  The very brave,
  The very true,"

French, British, Belgian, Italian, Portuguese and American, surely    (p. 069)
they should be enough to hold us together in love and respect, without
jealousy, or any envy, hatred or malice in our hearts!

It was decided that an exhibition of my stuff should be held, so
photographs had to be taken of each little thing, a title given to
each, and the whole bunch sent to G.H.Q. for Major Lee to censor,
which he did, refusing to pass nearly all of them. But General
MacDonough, however, squashed all that. Then one of my titles got me
into trouble. My first "Colonel's" set had been waiting all the year
to get something against me, and now they worked up a molehill to a
mountain. I had to go constantly to the War Office, and I was talked
to very severely. In fact, I was in black disgrace. My behaviour could
not have been worse, according to Intelligence (F), or whatever they
were then called at G.H.Q.

I was lunching with Maurice Baring at the "Ritz" one day, and he told
me McCudden was in London. I said I would like him to sit. "Well,
write and ask him," said Baring. "But," said I, "I don't know him."
"Right," said Baring, "I'll write to him." The thing was arranged, and
one morning I heard a cheery voice below and someone came bounding
upstairs, and before I saw him he shouted: "Hello, Orps! Have you a
ping-pong table here?" He was the little unknown boy at the 56th
Squadron with whom I used to play ping-pong only a few months before.
Now he was the great hero, Major McCudden, V.C., D.S.O., etc., and
well he wore his honours, and, like all great people, sat like a lamb.

The news one got in those days was terrible--one could not realise
it--it seemed utterly impossible. Péronne taken! Bapaume taken! The   (p. 070)
Huns were back over the old Somme battlefields; they had taken
Pozières; the great American stores there had gone; they were back
over the great mine of La Boisselle. Terrible! And the golden Virgin
had fallen from the Cathedral tower, and one remembered the old
prophecy, "When the Virgin of Albert falls from her tower the end of
the war is at hand," and now she was down in the dirt of the street.
Did it mean defeat? Amiens was being shelled, the Boche swarmed on the
heights of Villers-Bretonneux, and they could see clearly that great
landmark of Picardy, Amiens Cathedral.

The railroad from the North to Paris was smashed, and they very nearly
destroyed the great railway bridge near Etaples--great masses of
masonry were blown out of it--everything was bombed right back to the
sea. Then the Huns turned South. On they rushed--Montdidier shelled,
Clermont in danger, on they went to Soissons and Château Thierry. One
Sunday news came to the War Office that Paris had been bombed all day.
A few minutes later this was corrected to "Paris has been shelled all
day." It was awful! unbelievable! Paris shelled! Where had the Huns
got to? Was the prophecy true of the Virgin falling from her tower?
Were the Allies beaten? All the towns in Germany were ringing their
victory bells, and we had our backs to the sea. It was a black period.

The afternoon my exhibition opened, they sent a message for me to go
to the War Office immediately. There a Colonel showed me a minute from
Intelligence (F), G.H.Q. My former Colonel's followers had really put
their backs into it this time. They got me fairly and squarely. The
_Daily Express_ (I think it was Lord Beaverbrook's little joke)
published a supposed interview with me in which I laughed long and    (p. 071)
loud at "the Censor fellow." This, of course, I had never done, but
there it was in print. Intelligence (F) saw it and sent it to the W.O.
with the minute. I don't remember the exact words, but the gist of it
was this: "That Major Orpen's behaviour had been such that they
thought it undesirable that he should be allowed to set foot in France
again under any circumstances until the war was terminated." I asked
the Colonel what I could do. He said sternly: "Nothing." I asked him
if I might have the minute for half an hour. He said: "No," and then
"Yes," so I took it away to another and higher office. Here its career
ended in the waste-paper basket. I went back to the Colonel, and said:
"I regret, sir, I cannot return the minute, it has been destroyed."
The expression on his face was priceless, and it gave me the only
pleasure I had that day.

[Illustration: XXX. _Major J. B. McCudden, V.C., D.S.O., etc._]

Shortly afterwards I lunched at a house--a large party, including two
Generals. One sitting near me was telling a lady that he and the other
General were going to G.H.Q. the next morning for two days. I said:
"Sir, don't you want an extra batman with you?" He said: "Have you any
business you want to go to France for?" "Yes, sir," said I, "I have a
lot of my stuff moved to Boulogne from Amiens, and I want to see to
it." He said: "All right, telephone to ---- at the War House and he
will have your warrant ready and will get your seat for to-morrow
morning." Gee! I was excited when I left that lunch, and darted back
to my studio and telephoned to the War Office. Everything was arranged.
They even telephoned Intelligence (F) that my car was to meet me at
Boulogne. That must have been a nasty knock for Intelligence (F), but
my faithful Howlett was there with the car when I got off the boat. We
went and had lunch at the "Morny," and I saw my stuff was quite safe  (p. 072)
at the "Windsor Hotel," then I motored off to St. Valery-sur-Somme and
visited the Allied Press Château (Captain Rudolf de Trafford was now
the Chief of the Allied Press, Captain Hale having gone back to his
regiment, the Black Watch), and arranged with them that I could get a
billet there if I could manage to break down the opposition at
Intelligence (F). Then I motored back to the École Militaire at
Montreuil, where I was to meet General Sir John Davidson, who was
giving me dinner and putting me up. After dinner he had to go and see
the Chief at his château, and he asked me to go with him. The
C.-in-C., as usual, was more than kind, and asked me to dinner the
next night. Then I got a bright thought and I asked his A.D.C.,
Colonel Fletcher, if he would be so kind as to do me a real good turn.
He said: "Certainly." So I explained that I wanted him to ring me up
at "Bumpherie" (H.Q. Intelligence (F)) at 10 o'clock the next morning,
and say the C.-in-C. wanted to know would I dine with him. At 9.15
a.m. the next morning I got down to the little wooden huts which were
H.Q. Intelligence (F). There I saw, through the windows in the
passage, the two Colonels and Major Lee talking. They saw me all
right, but pretended not to, so I walked up and down till a few
minutes after 10 a.m., when out came the Major. "Hello, Orpen! is that
you? I didn't know you were here." I said cheerfully: "Oh yes, I've
been here quite a long time. How are you, old bean? Lovely morning,
isn't it?" He said: "Look here, a telephone message has just come
through from the C.-in-C. He wants to know if you will dine with him
to-night." I said: "A telephone message from the C.-in-C. to me! But
why did you come out here?" He said: "To tell you, of course." "But,"
I said, "you didn't know I was here!" He said: "Answer 'Yes' or       (p. 073)
'No.'" "Oh," I said, "answer 'Yes.' I want to fix up with him what
date I am coming back to France to work."

[Illustration: XXXI. _The Refugee._]

That did the trick. Intelligence (F) saw they were beaten. No more
opposition! Perfect harmony was established. I at once became "Orps."
Drinks were offered, lunches, dinners--any old thing that could be
done was "a pleasure."

The dinner at the Chief's was most interesting. Some American Generals
were there, and I learnt a lot about how things were going on, and
returned to London the next day, and started making arrangements to go
back and work in France again.

About this time I received the following from France:--

  "Dear Woppy, I am glad that you
  Will soon be back at G.H.Q.,
  With brushes, paint and turpentine,
  And canvases fourteen by nine,
  To paint the British soldier man
  As often as you may and can.
  The brave ally, the captive Boche,
  And Monsieur Clemenceau and Foch;
  But, on the whole, you'd better not
  Paint lady spies before they're shot.
  We're living in the Eastern zone,
  Between the ----, the ----, the ----
  (The orders of Sir Douglas Haig
  Compel me, Woppy, to be vague.)
  But you can find out where we are
  And come there in a motor-car.
  We hold a château on a hill
  .  .  .  .  .  .  . (Censored)
  A pond with carp, a stream with brill,
  And perch and trout await your skill.
  A garden with umbrageous trees
  Is here for you to take your ease.
  And strawberries, both red and white,                               (p. 074)
  Are there to soothe your appetite;
  And, just the very thing for you,
  Sweet landscape and a lovely view.
  So pack your box and come along
  And take a ticket for Boulogne.
  The General is calling me.
  Yours, till we meet again,

  "M. B."

[Illustration: XXXII. _Lieut.-Colonel A. N. Lee, D.S.O., etc._]



CHAPTER XI                                                            (p. 075)

BACK IN FRANCE (JULY-SEPTEMBER 1918)


Early in July I returned to France. My brother had now left me, and
was doing regular Army work, and I brought Dudley Forsyth over with
me. We stayed in Boulogne a few days till our billets were fixed at
St. Valery, and during this time I painted a portrait at "Bumpherie"
of Lee, who had then become the boss of Intelligence (F) Section and
was Colonel A. N. Lee, D.S.O. Things had changed. "The stream of
goodwill, it would turn a mill" at "Bumpherie." "Dear old
Orps"--nothing was too good for him. "Do you think you could put in a
word for me to ----?" "If ---- speaks of the matter to you, just
mention my name." Oh yes, the Colonel was really my friend now, and
all the underlings appealed to me--and a good friend he has been ever
since. Dear old Tuppenny Lee; I hope he'll forgive me writing all
this, but he was a bit tough on me that first year, and he knows it
jolly well, but he has more than made up for it since by a long chalk.
There was only one wrong note in the harmony at "Bumpherie" then, and
that was a "Colonel" with a large head and weak legs. He never forgave
me--he wasn't that sort of fellow.

St. Valery-sur-Somme is a very pleasant little town at the mouth of
the river, and the Allied Press held a nice château with a lovely
garden. When things were quiet they used to have musical evenings,
when Captain Douglas would sing most charmingly, and Captain Holland  (p. 076)
would play the fool well. Poor Theo! The Boche were at it hard now,
and they were bombing all round every night. One night my window and
wooden shutters were blown in--four bombs came down quite close. The
roar of their falling was terrific. I remember well, after the second
had burst, finding myself trying to jamb my head under my bed, but
there wasn't room. I was scared stiff.

Soon after this great things happened. The whole world changed--the
air became more exhilarating, birds seemed to sing happier songs, and
men walked with a lighter step. One great thing happened quickly after
another. Ludendorff's black day arrived, and the Boche were driven off
the heights of Villers-Bretonneux, and they lost sight of Amiens
Cathedral. One day news came that the French had attacked all along
the line from Château Thierry to Soissons, and had taken four thousand
prisoners! It was all wonderful! Any day on the roads then one passed
thousands of field-grey prisoners--long lines of weary, beaten men.
They had none of the arrogance of the early prisoners, who were all
sure Germany would win, and showed their thoughts clearly. No, these
men were beaten and knew it, and they had not the spirit left even to
try and hide their feelings.

That great French song, "La Madelon de la Victoire," connecting the
names of Foch and Clemenceau, was sung with joy, and yet, when sung,
tears were never far away--tears of thankfulness! Many have I seen
pour down the cheeks of great, strong, brave men at the sound of that
song and the tramp of the sky-blue poilus coming along in the glare
and dust.

Forsyth had a song which became very popular about this time. The
chorus ran:--

  "Mary Ann is after me,                                              (p. 077)
  Full of love she seems to be;
  My mother says, it's clear to see
  She wants me for her young man.
  Father says, 'If that be true,
  John, my boy, be thankful, do;
  There's one bigger bloody fool in the world than you--
      That's Mary Ann.'"

[Illustration: XXXIII. _Marshal Foch, O.M._]

In August I went down South to paint Marshal Foch at Bon Bon. General
Sir John Du Cane kindly put me up at the British Mission, which was
quite close to the Marshal's château, and I had a most interesting
week. The morning after I arrived, General Grant brought me over to
the Marshal's H.Q., a nice old place. We were shown into a
waiting-room, and in a couple of minutes General Weygand (Chief of
Staff) came in, a quiet, gentle, good-looking little man. It was
impossible to imagine him carrying the weight of responsibility he had
at that time. He was perfectly calm, and most courteous, and after
talking to General Grant for a few minutes, brought us in to the
Marshal. And there was the great little man, deep in the study of his
maps, very calm, very quiet. He would certainly sit. How long did I
want him for? An hour and a half each day, for four or five days?
Certainly. When did I wish to start? The next day? Certainly. He would
sit from 7 a.m. to 8.30 a.m. for as many mornings as I wished. Might
he smoke while he sat? Yes! Bon! Would I go and look out what room
would suit me to work in? Any room I liked except the one I was in
with the maps. I fixed up a little library to work in--a long, narrow,
dark little place, but with a good light by the window. I got up very
early the next morning and arrived there about 6.15 a.m., and as
nobody seemed to be about, I walked in, and as the only way I knew    (p. 078)
how to get to the library was through the room with the maps, I opened
its door, and there he was, deep in study. He got up, shook hands, and
said he would be with me at 7 a.m. In he came at 7 a.m., very quietly,
and sat like a lamb, except that his pipe upset him. It seemed that
some of his English friends thought he was smoking too many cigars,
and they had given him a pipe and tobacco, and asked him to try and
smoke it instead. But up to that date the Marshal was not a star at
pipe-smoking. He could light it all right, but after about two minutes
it would begin to make strange gurgling noises, which grew louder and
louder, till it went out. The next day I brought some feathers and
cotton wool, and the Marshal looked on me as a sort of hero, because
each time we rested I used to clean out the pipe and dry it.

During all the time he was sitting great battles were going on and the
Germans were being driven back. News was brought to him about every
ten minutes. If it was good, he would say "Bon!" If it was bad, he
just made a strange noise by forcing air out through his lips. During
that time the Americans were having their first big "do," and I
remember he was very upset at the Boche getting out of the St. Mihiel
pocket in the way they did, without being caught.

I remember one morning (the Marshal did not know I understood any
French at all) a General came in and sat with him, and the Marshal,
very quietly, gave him times, dates, places where battles would be
fought up to the end of December 1918, naming the French, British and
American Divisions, and so forth, which would be used in each. When I
got back to the Mission, I wrote down some dates and places I
remembered, but told no one, and, as far as I could judge, everything
went exactly as he said it would till about the middle of October,    (p. 079)
when the Boche really got on the run. Then things went quicker than he
expected.

[Illustration: XXXIV. _A German 'Plane Passing St. Denis._]

It seemed amazing, the calmness of that old château at Bon Bon, yet
wires from that old country house were conveying messages of blood and
hell to millions of men. What must the little man have felt? The
responsibility of it all--hidden in the brain behind those kind,
thoughtful eyes. Apparently, his only worry was "Ma pipe." His face
would wrinkle up in anger over that. That, and if anyone was late for
a meal. Otherwise he appeared to me to be the most mentally calm and
complete thing I had ever come across. I would have liked to have
painted him standing by his great maps, thinking, thinking for hours
and hours. Yes, the three memories I brought away from Bon Bon were
maps, calmness, and a certainty that the Allies would be victorious.

While I was there General Grant brought me over to Vaux. What a hall!
Surely the most beautiful thing of a private nature in existence, with
its blue dome and black eagle at the top.

I left one evening and stopped in Paris that night. There were two air
raids, and in the morning I heard Big Bertha for the first time, and
when we left about 10 o'clock, just past St. Denis, a Boche 'plane
came over to see where the shells were falling.

There was a wonderful service in the Cathedral at Amiens one morning,
the first since the bombardment, a thanksgiving for the deliverance of
the city from shell-fire. The Boche had been driven further back and
the old city was out of shell-range and at peace. It was a lovely
morning with a strong breeze, a little sixteenth-century Virgin had
been rescued from Albert Cathedral, and it was set up on a pedestal
in the middle of the chancel. There was a guard of honour of          (p. 080)
Australians; birds were flying about above and singing; they had made
the interior of the Cathedral their own. Bits of glass kept falling
down, and the wind made strange whistling noises through the smashed
and battered windows. It was all very impressive. General Rawlinson
and his staff came over from Bertangles, a few natives of Amiens came
into the town for it, otherwise the whole congregation was British. It
was strange! Australian bugles blaring away inside those walls!

I painted Maude and Colonel du Tyl, the brave defenders of the
interior of the city during the bombardment, in Maude's cellar in the
"Hôtel de Ville." General Rogers (then Colonel Rogers) used to come in
constantly--a charming man, very calm, with a great sense of humour,
and as brave as a lion. His little brother was working under Maude. At
that time his little brother was very silent--one could not get a word
out of him. Maude used to call him "my little ray of sunshine." Now he
is as cheerful a "Bean" as you could wish to find.

The day the Boche were driven out of Albert, General Rogers went there
and brought back the story of the cat. When the Tommies got into the
town, even through the din, they heard the wailing of a cat in agony,
and they found her crucified on a door, so they naturally went to take
her down, but as they were pulling the first nail out, it exploded a
bomb and many were killed. It was a dirty trick! Yet they who did it
may be sitting beside me now in the little Parisian café in which I
write--it is full of Boche. It's a strange thought, almost beyond
understanding.

The light in Maude's cellar was most interesting to paint, and I'm
afraid I spent far too long at it, but Maude was a good companion.
Things were changing now daily. Instead of feeling the sea just       (p. 081)
behind one's back, so to speak, each day, it was getting further
and further away, and there were fresh fields to explore. I was due
officially to leave for Italy, but I couldn't go. Why leave France
when wonder after wonder was happening? Hardly a day passed that some
glorious news did not come in. No, I couldn't tear myself away from
Picardy and the North. I felt that I would feel more out of it in
Italy than in London, and now I know I was right. I did not do much in
the way of my own work, but I saw and felt things I would never have
got down South--things which were felt so much that their impression
increases rather than diminishes. It is difficult at times to realise
what is happening. Somehow other things keep one from realisation at
the moment, but afterwards these other things diminish in importance
and the real impression becomes more clearly defined.

[Illustration: XXXV. _British and French A.P.M.'s Amiens._]

I painted General Lord Rawlinson at Bertangles, which was then his
headquarters, a charming man with a face full of character. He paints
himself, and was good enough to take great interest in the sketch I
painted of him. He had a mirror put up so that he could see what I was
doing. This wasn't altogether a help to me, because, at times, perhaps
when I was painting the half-light on his nose, he would say: "What
colours did you mix for that?" By the time I had tried to think out
what colours I had mixed--most probably not having the slightest
idea--I would have forgotten what part of the head I was painting and
what brush I was using. But Bertangles in August was lovely, and the
lunches in the tent, even though full of wasps, were excellent.
Certainly H.Q. 4th Army was well run.

A little later the H.Q. 4th Army moved to the devastated country close
to Villers Carbonelle on the Péronne side. It was a wonderful bit of  (p. 082)
camouflage work. This great H.Q. just looked like an undulating bit of
country even when right up beside it. I remember standing in the
middle of it one frosty moonlight night, and it was impossible to
believe that there were hundreds of human beings all around me there
in the middle of that abomination of desolation.

I also painted Brigadier-General Dame Vaughan Williams of the
Q.M.W.A.A.C.'s at her H.Q., St. Valery--a strong-minded, gentle,
earnest worker, much loved by those under her. She held a château in a
large garden and held it well. The mess was excellent.

Some civilians had now come back to Amiens, and it was possible to get
a room in the "Hôtel de la Paix," so I left St. Valery and came to
live there. This hotel escaped better than any other house in Amiens
from the shells and bombs. The glass was, of course, broken, and
slates knocked off, but that was all, except where little bits had
been knocked out of the walls by shrapnel. It was wonderful to be
there and watch the town coming to life again week by week.

After a time the Allied Press came and patched up their château, or
parts of it. Some of the correspondents slept there and some got
billets outside. Shops began to open. The _Daily Mail_ came once more,
and gradually the streets filled with people, these streets, the
pavements of which were now more hostile than ever. Even a few of the
girls came and settled there--"early birds."

That sweet, natural woman, Sister Rose, had remained in Amiens all
through the bombardment, and when the people began returning, she was
asked one day: "Are not you pleased, Sister Rose, to have the people
round you again?" To which she replied: "Yes, of course I am in some
ways, but I loved the bombardment. I felt the whole city was mine,    (p. 083)
each street became very intimate, and I could walk through them and
pray out loud to my God in peace. But now! why, if I prayed to my God
in the streets of Amiens they would think me a damned lunatic!" I can
understand her very human feeling at that time--people who had run
away from the city in its agony returned when its tribulation was
over, and claimed it as their own again when the calm of evening had
come; while she, Sister Rose, had borne the burden and heat of the
day. But this feeling soon left her, and she worked whole-heartedly
once more to succour the poor in distress in the city she loved so
well.

[Illustration: XXXVI. _General Lord Rawlinson, Bart., G.C.B., etc._]



CHAPTER XII                                                           (p. 084)

AMIENS (OCTOBER 1918)


The nights were very black, there being no lights in the streets at
all.

A little later Maude left his billet on the Abbeville Road, and came
to live with me in the "Hôtel de la Paix." One night we were dining
there, and at about 8.45 p.m. a young Flying Officer left a friend and
came and asked Maude if we would come to their table and have a drink
with them. Maude said Yes, and the lad went back to his table. "Who is
your friend?" said I. "I don't know," Maude replied. "They asked me
for ten minutes' extension of time last night, and I gave it to them."
Presently we went over to their table and they ordered a round of the
deadly brandy of the hotel. Maude introduced me as Major Sir William
Orpen, and I learnt that their names were Tom and Fred. After a couple
of minutes Tom wanted to ask me something, and he started off this
way: "By the way, Sir William----" "A little less of your damned Sir
William!" said I. "All right," said he, "don't get huffy about it,
bloody old Bill." So naturally we all became friends, and we mounted
the stairs to my room, and the bar was opened and Tom recited. Fred
insisted on it. "But," said Tom, "you always cry, Fred, when I
recite." "It doesn't matter, Tom," said Fred, "I like it." So Tom
recited and Fred cried, and Maude and I looked on and wondered and    (p. 085)
drank "Spots." They left about 11 o'clock to drive back to the
aerodrome in an old ambulance they had in the yard. At about 7 a.m.
the next morning I was awakened by a violent knocking at my door, so I
shouted: "Come in," and in came Tom and Fred. They both walked over
and sat on my bed. "What on earth are you here at this hour of the
morning for?" I asked. "That's just what we've come here to find out,
bloody old Bill," said Tom. "Are you hurt, Bill?" "No," said I. "Why?"
"No furniture broken, no damage done to the room, Bill?" "No," said I.
"Why?" "Well, look here, Bill, it's like this," said Tom. "Fred and I
are puzzled as to exactly what happened. Fred, tell him what happened
to you, and then I'll tell him about myself."

Fred rubbed his chin and started: "Well, Bill, the first thing I
remember was that I found myself walking along a country road, and I
met a M.P. man. Said I: 'Can you please direct me to the Gare du
Nord?' 'Straight on,' said he, 'and you'll find it on your left. It's
about a twenty-minute walk.' So I went straight on, and sure enough I
came to the Gare du Nord, and I came on here and found Tom juggling
with the wheel of the old ambulance with its radiator against the
wall." "Yes," said Tom, "and look here, bloody old Bill, I had spent
half the night juggling with death with that wheel--thank goodness the
engine wasn't going. Then Fred woke me up. What do you make of it all,
Bill?" I couldn't make anything of it, so I dressed and we had
breakfast and they went off to their aerodrome in the Somme mud.

After this we became great friends and we had many happy evenings,    (p. 086)
in some of which Tom looked for a "spot of bother," and Fred warned
him "it was a bad show." On "good nights for the troops," which meant
that the weather was impossible for bombing (they were night-bombers),
they would come into Amiens for dinner. These nights were "not devoid
of attraction," and on the "bad nights for the troops" I would often
dine at the aerodrome and see the raiders off. It was uncanny, these
great birds starting off into the blackness--to what?

Tom and Fred lived together in a little hut in the Somme mud, off the
Péronne Road, which they called "Virtue Villa," and when I worked
anywhere away up this old East-West Road, I never could resist
visiting "Virtue Villa" on the way back. "Virtue Villa" with its
blazing stove, its two bunks--Tom's below, Fred's upstairs--its
photographs (especially the one of Fred with the M.C. smile), the
biscuit-box seats and the good glasses of whisky--truly "Virtue
Villa," with its Tom and Fred, was not "devoid of attraction" on a
cold October evening, with the rain splashing on the water in the old
Somme shell-holes.

They were a great couple and devoted to each other. One could not eat,
drink or be merry without the other, yet they were completely
different. Fred was a calm, thoughtful English boy, very much in love
and longing to get married; but Tom was just a heap of fun, a man who
had travelled to many corners of the earth, but at heart was still a
romping school-boy.

About this time George Hoidge's squadron came to a place near Albert,
and I had the pleasure of seeing Colonel Bloomfield there again, still
as hearty and full of fire as ever. He was going to sit, but things
began to happen too quickly then, and I never got a chance of         (p. 087)
painting him.

[Illustration: XXXVII. _Albert._]

Some weeks later, Hoidge came in and said: "I have bad news for you,
Orps. Tom and Fred have gone West." It was bad news. Tom and Fred, two
gallant hearts, dead! I was told afterwards how it happened. One of
the last days of the fighting, Fred went out to test his machine with
his mechanic. He taxied off down the aerodrome, which was a huge old
Boche one that his squadron had moved forward to. As he was taxi-ing
he hit a Boche booby trap, planted in the ground, and up went the
machine and fell in flames. The mechanic was thrown clear, but not
Fred. Poor Tom saw it all from the door of "Virtue Villa." Out he
rushed straight into the flames to Fred. I feel sure Fred's spirit
cried out when it saw Tom coming in to the flames: "You're looking for
a spot of bother, Tom, but it's a good show, Tom, a good show!"

When the petrol burnt out and they got to them, they found Tom with
his arms round Fred. Greater love hath no man. That is how Tom and
Fred "went West." I hope they have found another "Virtue Villa" not
"devoid of attraction" high up in the blue sky, where they were often
together in this life. Let us admit they were a "good show"--in death
they were not divided. Their Major wrote to me: "The Mess has never
been the same since." The world itself will never be the same to those
who loved Tom and Fred and their like who have "gone West."

Thinking of them reminds me of those good lines by Carroll Carstairs,
written in hospital after he was so badly wounded:--

  "I have friends among the dead,                                     (p. 088)
  Such a gallant company,
  Lads whose laugh is scarcely sped
  To the far country.

  "Jolly fellows, it would seem
  That they have not really gone--
  Rather while I've stayed to dream
  They have marched serenely on."



THE CHURCH, ZILLEBEKE                                                 (p. 089)

OCTOBER 1918


  "Mud
  Everywhere--
  Nothing but mud.
  The very air seems thick with it,
  The few tufts of grass are all smeared with it--
  Mud!
  The Church a heap of it;
  One look, and weep for it.
  That's what they've made of it--
  Mud!
  Slimy and wet,
  Churned and upset;
  Here Bones that once mattered
  With crosses lie scattered,
  Broken and battered,
  Covered in mud,
  Here, where the Church's bell
  Tolled when our heroes fell
  In that mad start of hell--
  Mud!
  That's all that's left of it--mud!"



CHAPTER XIII                                                          (p. 090)

NEARING THE END (OCTOBER 1918)


The Boche were now nearly on the run. I remember one day I went out
with General Stuart and Colonel Angus McDonnell--the General was the
railway expert, and was out to ascertain what amount of damage the
Boche had done to the lines, permanent way, etc. General Stuart was a
quaint little man. He seldom spoke, but when he did it was very much
to the point and full of dry humour. The Hon. Angus McDonnell, a true
Irishman, was a most attractive person, full of charm. He'd kissed
more than the Blarney Stone, and had received all the good effects,
and we had some most interesting days together. On the particular one
I mention, we went away beyond Cambrai to a place called Caudry, where
the General inspected the station and the general damage to the metals
and permanent way, after which we left and lunched by the side of a
road which ran through fields. All was peace, not a sound from the
guns--when suddenly shrapnel started bursting over these fields. No
one was in sight; a few Englishmen on horseback galloped past,
apparently for exercise. The Boche, I presume, couldn't see, but just
let off on chance. It was better than leaving the shells there for us.

After lunch we motored down to St. Quentin, and on the way stopped and
explored the great tunnel in the Canal du Nord. What a stronghold! It
seemed impossible that the Boche could have been driven out of it.    (p. 091)
On the way down we travelled along a road _pavé_ in the middle,
with mud on each side and the usual rows of trees, then a dip down to
the fields. These fields were full of dead Boche and horses. The road
had evidently been under observation a very little while back, as the
Labour Corps were hard at work filling in shell-holes, and the traffic
was held up a lot. In one spot in the mud at the side of the road lay
two British Tommies who had evidently just been killed. They had been
laid out ready for something to take them away. Standing beside them
were three French girls, all dressed up, silk stockings and crimped
hair. There they were, standing over the dead Tommies, asking if you
would not like "a little love." What a place to choose! Death all
round, and they themselves might be blown into eternity at any moment.
Death and the dead had become as nothing to the young generation. They
had lived through four years of hell with the enemy, and now they were
free. Another day I went to Douai, and there I saw the mad woman. Her
son told us she had been quite well until two days before the Boche
left, then they had done such things to her that she had lost her
reason. There she sat, silent and motionless, except for one thumb
which constantly twitched. But if one of us in uniform passed close to
her, she would give a convulsive shudder. It was sad, this woman with
her beautiful, curly-headed son. Later she was moved to Amiens, where
she had relatives. After about six months she became quite normal
again, and does not remember anything about it. The last time I saw
her she was cleaning the upstairs rooms at "Josephine's," the little
oyster-shop off the Street of the Three Pebbles.

[Illustration: XXXVIII. _The Mad Woman of Douai._]

One night at the "Hôtel de la Paix" a weird thing happened. One       (p. 092)
often hears strange stories of the powers different men and women have
over individuals of the opposite sex. As a rule, one hears, one
smiles, or one is rather disgusted; but seldom do we admit to
ourselves that these stories may be absolutely true--we nearly always
smile and think we are clever, and say to ourselves: "Ah! there's
something behind that." Rasputin, for instance, what was he? Had he
power? We wonder a little and dismiss the thought.

On this night, at about 9 o'clock, the early diners had gone, but
there were about thirty of us left who would testify to the truth of
this tale. A man walked in and sat down at a large empty table. He was
a French civilian, dressed in black, tall and slim, with an enormous
brown beard--a "Landru." Marie Louise, one of the serving-girls, asked
him what he required, and he said: "A glass of Porto." This she
brought him, but as she was placing it on the table, he put out his
hand and touched her arm, and let his fingers run very gently up and
down it. He never spoke a word. She retired and returned with another
glass of port, and sat down beside him and commenced to drink it; no
word was uttered. Again he raised his hand, beckoned to another
serving-girl; the same act was gone through, and she sat down with her
port. This continued without a word of conversation until he had all
the serving-girls, about eight of them, sitting round in silence. We
all sat and looked on in amazement for a while, but after about ten
minutes hunger got the better of us, and we started calling them for
our food. They took not the slightest notice of us, but in the end we
made so much noise that Monsieur Dyé, the manager of the hotel, came
in. He was a hot-tempered man, who never treated the girls under him
kindly, and when he saw and heard his customers shouting for food, and
saw all his serving-girls sitting down drinking port, his face went   (p. 093)
black with rage, and he rushed over to their table and cursed them all
roundly, but they took not the slightest notice. Then he turned on the
man with the beard and ordered him out of the hotel. He never
answered, but got up slowly, put on his hat and left. As soon as he
rose from the table all the girls went back to their work as if
nothing had happened, and we continued our dinner. It was a strange
affair--not one of those girls remembered anything about it
afterwards.

[Illustration: XXXIX. _Field-Marshal Lord Plumer of Messines, G.C.B.,
etc._]

Again I went to Cassel, to paint General Plumer. I arrived there one
evening, and had dinner with Major-General Sir Bryan Mahon, who was on
his way to Lille. I woke up in the morning, got out of bed and
collapsed on the floor. "'Flu!" After three days the M.O. said I must
go to hospital. I said: "Hospital be damned! I'm going to paint
to-morrow." So I wrote and told General Plumer I would work the next
morning if he could spare the time to sit. He replied he could. So on
a very cold morning I made my way rather giddily up the stone steps to
the Casino and on to his little château. There I was met by the
General's grand old batman. He stopped me and said: "Have you come to
paint the Governor's portrait, sir?" "Yes," said I. "Well," said he,
"let me have a look at you. You're feeling a bit cheap, ain't you? The
Governor told me you've been having the 'flu'." "Yes," I said, "I'm
not feeling up to much." "Well, now," said he, "the Governor is busy
for the moment, but he told me to look after you and fix up what room
you would like to work in, but first I want to get you a bit more up
to scratch. Just come along and have a glass of port." So he brought
me off and gave me an excellent glass. Then I chose the General's
bedroom to work in, and we fixed everything up. Then he said: "Now    (p. 094)
I'll go and fetch the old man." Off he went and back he came, and with
a wink, said: "He's coming," and in walked the General. A strange man
with a small head, and a large, though not fat, body, and a great
brain full of humour. He also was very calm, and made things very easy
for me, but his batman was not so easy to please. When I got the
General the way I wanted him, the batman leant over my shoulder, and
said: "Is the Governor right now?" "Perfectly," I replied. "No, he
ain't," said he, "not by a long chalk." And he went over to the
General and started pulling out creases in his tunic and said: "'Ere,
you just sit up proper--not all 'unched up the way you are. What would
Her Ladyship say if I let you be painted that way?" At last we got him
satisfied, and he departed. When the door was shut, the General said:
"Well, that's over," and settled down in comfort.

After I had worked for about an hour and a half there was a knock at
the door and in the batman came. He took no notice of the General, but
laid his hand on my shoulder and said: "Look up at me." I obeyed.
"Won't do," said he. "You wants keeping up to the mark," and retired,
and came back with an enormous glass of port. When the sitting was
finished, I went back to bed at the "Sauvage," very giddy and slightly
muzzed.

The next morning the batman again arranged the General "to Her
Ladyship's liking," and left. As soon as he had gone, the General
said: "We've got him on toast. He's worried to death because you
haven't painted the gold leaves on my red tab. Don't do it till the
very last thing." It worked splendidly. The old chap was really upset.
Every hour he used to come in and tap me on the shoulder, point to the
red tab, and say: "What about it? If you don't get them gold leaves   (p. 095)
proper, I'll get it from Her Ladyship." He was a great servant of the
true old class, one of those who never lose their place, no matter how
freely they are treated, and was ready to die for his master at any
minute.

[Illustration: XL. _Armistice Night. Amiens._]

Soon after this the General and his staff moved forward, and Cassel
became a dead little place as far as the Army was concerned. Things
were going very quickly, and scarcely a day passed that one could not
mark a new front line on one's map.

I went out to see the damage done to Bailleul. In a few days British
artillery had flattened it out as badly as Ypres. One could hardly
find out where the main _Place_ had been. Now one could wander all
over the Ypres salient. Was there ever a more ghastly place? Even the
Somme was outdone. Mud, water, battered tanks, hundreds of them,
battered pillboxes, everything battered and torn, with Ypres like a
skeleton. The Menin Road, the Zonnebeke Road, what sights were
there--mangled remains of superhuman effort!

I remember one day in the summer being down at Lord Beaverbrook's when
news came in that Locre had fallen. I had no knowledge of Locre, but
Lord Beaverbrook, I could see, felt that the loss of it was a very
serious thing. So I went to see Locre--a ghastly place!--the fighting
must have been terrific. Shell-holes full of dead Germans. Everything
smashed to pulp. I should imagine, before Hell visited it, Locre must
have been a very pretty little place. It is on a hill which looks down
into a valley, with Mont Kemmel rising up the other side.

Suddenly my blood poisoning came on again badly, so I returned to
Amiens on November 10. When we had just passed Doullens we got the    (p. 096)
news that the Kaiser had abdicated. Great excitement prevailed
everywhere. The next day, at 11 a.m., I was working in my room and
heard guns, so I went to the window and saw the shells bursting over
the town, but I could not see the Boche 'plane. It must be very high,
I thought. About ten minutes afterwards there was a sound of cheering,
so I knew the fighting was over. I went again to the window and looked
down into the courtyard. It was empty, except for one serving-girl,
Marthe, who had her apron to her face and was sobbing bitterly.
Presently, Marie-Louise came up to my room and told me the news, and
we had a drink together in honour of the great event. Said I: "What
has happened to poor Marthe? It is sad that she should be so upset on
this great day. What is the matter?" "Ah!" said Marie-Louise, "it is
the day that has upset her." "The day?" said I. "Yes," replied
Marie-Louise, "you see, her husband will come out of the trenches now
and will come back to her. C'est la Guerre!"

Later, Maude came in, and I asked him what on earth a Boche was doing
over Amiens just at the moment the fighting ceased. "Oh," said Maude,
"there wasn't any Boche, but the anti-aircraft chap got orders to fire
off his guns for ten minutes when the Armistice was signed, but, as he
had nothing but live shells, he thought he had better stop after two."
But why he burst his shells right over the centre of the town was
never explained.

Yet, on this day, looked forward to for years, I must admit that,
studying people, I found something wrong--perhaps, like all great
moments expected, something is sure to fall short of expectations.
Peace was too great a thing to think about, the longing for it was too
real, too intense. For four years the fighting men had thought of     (p. 097)
nothing except that great moment of achievement: now it had come, the
great thing had ceased, the war was won and over. The fighting
man--that marvellous thing that I had worshipped all the time I had
been in France--had ceased actively to exist. I realised then, almost
as much as I do now, that he was lost, forgotten. "Greater love hath
no man"--they had given up their all for the sake of the people at
home, gone through Hell, misery and terror of sudden death. Could one
doubt that those at home would not reward them? Alas, yes! and the
doubt has come true. It made me very depressed. The one thing these
wonderful super-men gave me to think that evening was: "What shall we
do? Will they do as they promised for us? I gave up all my life and
work at home and came out here to kill and be killed. Here I am
stranded--I cannot kill anyone any more, and nobody wants to kill me.
What am I to do? Surely they will give me some job: I have done my
bit, they can't just let me starve." "When you come back home
again"--yes, that crossed their minds and mine for them. Wending my
way home through the blackened streets that night, I met a Tommy who
threatened to kill me because of his misery. I talked him down and
brought him to my room, and told him I really believed he would have a
great time in the future. I doubted what I said, but he believed me,
and went off to his billet happy for that one night.

[Illustration: XLI. _The Official Entry of the Kaiser._]

Could anyone forecast the tragedy that has happened to so many of
these men since? That great human Field-Marshal, Lord Haig, the man
who knows, works for them still, and asks--but who answers? Great God!
it makes one think, remember, think and wonder, what impossibly
thankless people human beings are. It is sad, but very, very true!



CHAPTER XIV                                                           (p. 098)

THE PEACE CONFERENCE


Captain Maude left Amiens and became Major Maude, D.S.O., A.P.M.
Cologne. I missed him greatly, and it depressed me very much being
left in that old town, but the doctors flatly refused to let me move,
so I just had to grin and bear it.

I then got more ill and took to my bed. My recollections from that
time to the middle of January are very hazy. People were very kind to
me, and used to come and sit with me for hours, especially two Rifle
Brigade boys--Stevens and Riviere--two of the best. Stevens had just
come back from Brussels, where there had been great times, music and
dancing. Apparently the great tune of that period was "Katie"; anyway
Stevens could not get it out of his head. He never knew how near he
was to sending me completely mad, by singing gently to himself as the
winter afternoons drew in:--

  "K-K-K-Katie, beautiful Katie,
  You're the only g-g-girl that I adore,
  When the ke-moon shines on the Ke-cowshed;
  I'll be waiting at the Kitchie Kitchen door."

Long afterwards, during the Peace Conference, whenever I heard that
tune in the "Majestic," my mind went back to the misery and
semi-darkness in that dirty room in Amiens.

On New Year's Eve, Angus McDonnell came all the way from G.H.Q. and   (p. 099)
had me lifted out to dinner, so I must have been better then. General
Sir John Cowans also came all the way from G.H.Q. to see how I was.
Kindness is a wonderful thing.

[Illustration: XLII. _General Sir J. S. Cowans, G.C.B., etc._]

The Allied Press disbanded, and I gave a dinner to the boys at the
"Hôtel de la Paix." It was all arranged by my chauffeur, Gordon
Howlett, and my batman, Green, and it was well done. Great were the
songs and dances, and great was the amount of liquid put away. I was
lifted downstairs and laid out beside the table, and the lads
presented me with a magnificent silver ash-tray.

Towards the end of January, I was allowed out and about again, and I
went up to G.H.Q. to paint the Q.M.G., who put me up in his château. I
painted him, and also did some work down at "Bumpherie," including a
drawing of Lieutenant Brooks, who took the most wonderful official
photographs during the war, often at great personal risk. I remember a
story that went round in 1917, in which there was not a word of truth,
but it was amusing. A terrible-looking Tommy stopped Brooks in the
Street of the Three Pebbles and said: "Say, guv'ner, when are you
going to give me me photo?" "What photo? Who are you?" said Brooks.
"Blimy," said the Tommy, "you don't know me, and me the bloke as was
killed going over the top for you!"

I now got a reminder that I was due in Paris to paint the Peace
Conference. The whole thing had gone from my mind. I afterwards found
the letter, which I apparently had received and read, dated December,
telling me to go to Paris, but I was so sick I did not realise what it
was about. I realised now right enough, so I packed my bag and breezed
away to Paris, and found that great family gathering, the Peace       (p. 100)
Conference, and the life of the "Astoria" and the "Majestic" commenced
for me.

The great family really was composed of a number of little families.
Mine consisted of Lord Riddell, George Mair, Lieut.-Colonel Stroud
Jackson, D.S.O., George Adam, Sidney Dark and Gordon Knox, and great
were the meetings at Foucquet's before lunch.

For the most part, my life consisted now of painting portraits at the
"Astoria," or attending the Conference at the "Quai d'Orsay." During
these I did little drawings of the delegates. For a seat I was usually
perched up on a window-sill. It was very amusing to sit there and
listen to Clemenceau--"Le Tigre"--putting the fear of death into the
delegates of the smaller nations if they talked too long. Apparently,
the smaller the nation he represented, the more the delegate felt it
incumbent on himself to talk, but after a while, Clemenceau, with the
grey gloves whirling about, would shout him down.

President Wilson occasionally rose and spoke of love and forgiveness.
Lloyd George just went on working, his secretaries constantly rushing
up to him, whispering and departing, only to return for more whispers.
Mr. Balfour, whose personality made all the other delegates look
common, would quietly sleep. The Marquis Siongi was the only other man
who could hold his own at all with Mr. Balfour in dignity of
appearance.

As a whole there was just a little mass of black frock-coated
figures--"frocks" as we called them--sitting and moving about under
the vast decoration of "Le Salon de l'Horloge." Some of the little
people seemed excited, but for the most part they looked profoundly   (p. 101)
bored, yet they were changing the face of the map, slices were being
cut off one country and dumped on to another. It was all very
wonderful, but I admit that all these little "frocks" seemed to me
very small personalities, in comparison with the fighting men I had
come in contact with during the war.

[Illustration: XLIII. _Field-Marshal Sir Henry H. Wilson, Bart.,
K.C.B., etc._]

They appeared to think so much--too much--of their own personal
importance, searching all the time for popularity, each little one for
himself--strange little things. President Wilson made a great hit in
the Press with his smile. He was pleased at that, and after this he
never failed to let you see all his back teeth. Lloyd George grew hair
down his back, I presume from Mr. Asquith's lead. Paderewski--well, he
was always a made-up job. In short, from my window-seat it was easy to
see how self-important the majority of all these little black "frocks"
thought themselves. It was all like an _opéra bouffe_, after the
people I had seen, known and painted during the war; and these, as the
days went by, seemed to be gradually becoming more and more forgotten.
It seemed impossible, but it was true. The fighting man, alive, and
those who fought and died--all the people who made the Peace
Conference possible, were being forgotten, the "frocks" reigned
supreme. One was almost forced to think that the "frocks" won the war.
"I did this," "I did that," they all screamed, but the silent soldier
man never said a word, yet he must have thought a lot.

I remember when the Peace Terms were handed to the Germans at the
Trianon Palace, I tried my hardest to get a card to enable me to see
it, but failed. This may not seem strange, but it really was,
considering that about half the people who were present were there out
of curiosity alone. They were just friends of the "frocks." This      (p. 102)
ceremony took place at 2.30 p.m. on that particular day. I happened to
leave my room and go into the hall of the "Astoria" for something
about 3 p.m. There I met Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson. I said: "How
did you get back so soon, sir?" He said: "Back from where?" I said:
"From the handing over of the Peace Terms." "Oh," he said, "I haven't
been there. They wouldn't give me a pass, the little 'frocks' wouldn't
give me one." "I've been trying for days, sir," I said. "They expect
me to paint them, but they won't let me see them." "Look here, little
man," he said. "I've been thinking as I was walking back here, and
I'll give you a little piece of advice: 'Laugh at those who cry, and
cry at those who laugh.' Just go back to your little room and think
that over and you will feel better."

When I painted Sir Henry, he gave me his views on the brains and
merits of many of the delegates, views full of wit and brilliant
criticism, but when I had finished painting him I came under his
kindly lash. He called me "a nasty little wasp," and he kept a "black
book" for any of his lady friends who said the sketch was like him. In
it their names were inscribed, and they were never to be spoken to
again. With all his fun, Sir Henry was a deep thinker, and towered
over the majority of the "frocks" by his personality, big outlook and
clear vision.

General Botha was big, large and great in body and brain--elephantine!
Everything on an immense scale, even to his sense of humour. He had no
sign of pose, like most of the "frocks." He never seemed to try to
impress anyone. One could notice no change in his method or mode of
conversation according to whom he was speaking. The great mind just   (p. 103)
went on and uttered what it thought, regardless of whom it uttered it
to. In Mrs. Botha he had the ideal wife. Together they were like two
school-children. "Louis" and "Mother," how well they knew each other,
and how they loved their family and home! They were always talking of
"home" and longing to get back to it. Alas! Louis only got back there
for a very short time, and now "home" will never be the same for
"Mother."

[Illustration: XLIV. _The Rt. Hon. Louis Botha, P.C., LL.D._]

What arguments they used to have--fierce arguments which always ended
the same way! "Louis" would make some remark which would absolutely
pulverise "Mother's" side of the question, and as she was stammering
to reply, he would say very gently: "It's all right, Mother, it's all
right, you've won." And she would flash out with: "Don't you dare to
say that to me, Louis! You always say that when you get the best of
the argument."

She used to complain to me how terrible the General's love for bridge
was, and how she used to be kept up so late. He would laugh and say:
"But, Mother, you didn't get up till nine this morning. I was walking
in the Bois at half-past six."

I remember one afternoon they came to my room and Mrs. Botha said:
"Well, Louis, what kind of a morning had you?" He replied: "Not very
good, Mother, not very good. You see, Mother, Clemenceau got very
irritated with President Wilson, and Lloyd George the same with
Orlando. No, it wasn't a very pleasant morning. Nearly everyone was
irritable." Then "Mother" said: "I think it disgusting, Louis, that
these men, settling the peace of the world, should allow their own
little petty irritabilities to interfere with the great work." And    (p. 104)
Botha replied: "Ah! Mother, you must make allowances. Men are only
human." "I don't make allowances," jerked in "Mother," "I think it's
disgusting." "Don't say that, Mother," he replied. "I remember one
time, long ago, when we made our little peace, you used to get very
irritable at times, and I had to make a lot of allowances for you. You
must try and make the same for these poor people now." "Mother" never
even replied to this, but jumped from her chair and left the room, and
the big man's face broadened into a smile. Yes, Botha was big--a giant
among men.

Admiral Lord Wester Wemyss came along. He has a good head for a "Sea
Dog." He brought the sea into the heart of Paris with him. A man of
great charm, with a wonderful smile, which I did not paint.

I wrote and asked President Wilson to sit, and got a reply saying that
as his time was fully occupied with the Peace Conference work, he
regretted that he was unable to give any sittings.

I also wrote to Mr. Lansing and Colonel House, asking them. The
Colonel rang up the same afternoon and said, "Certainly," would I name
my day and hour? Which I did; and along he came, a charming man, very
calm, very sure of himself, yet modest. During the sitting he asked me
if I had painted the President. I replied: "No." He then asked me if I
was going to do so, and I replied: "No," that the President had
refused to sit. He said: "Refused?" I said: "Yes; he hasn't got the
time." "What damned rot!" said the Colonel, "he's got a damned sight
more time than I have. What day would you like him to come to sit?" I
named a day, and the Colonel said: "Right! I'll see that he's here,"
and he did. Mr. Lansing was also very good about giving sittings,     (p. 105)
and we had a good time, as he loves paintings, and knows all the Art
Galleries in Europe. He also paints himself in his spare time, and all
through the Conference at the "Quai d'Orsay" he drew caricatures of
the different delegates. President Wilson told me he had a large
collection of these.

[Illustration: XLV. _The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour. O.M._]

When Lord Reading sat he had the "'flu," and did not talk, so I got
nothing out of him except that he has a very fine head.

The Emir Feisul sat. He had a nice, calm, thoughtful face. Of course,
his make-up in garments made one think of Ruth, or, rather, Boaz. He
could not let me work for one minute without coming round to see what
I was doing. This made the sittings a bit jerky. I was going to paint
another portrait of him for his home, but we never hit off times when
we were both free.

I asked Mr. Balfour to sit, and he asked me to lunch to arrange it.
The subject was never mentioned, but the lunch in the Rue Nito was
excellent, and it was a joy to listen to Mr. Balfour. One could also
look down into President Wilson's garden, as Mr. Balfour's flat was on
the second floor, and one could see over the armed defences and view
the American Army on guard outside, with steel helmets and bayonets
flashing in the sunlight.

Mr. Balfour did sit in the end. I remember he came to my room about
12.15 p.m. He was sound asleep by 12.35 p.m., but woke up sharp at 1
p.m., and left for lunch. What a head! It put all other heads out of
the running. So refined, so calm, so strong, a fitting head for such a
great personality.

Dr. E. J. Dillon very kindly asked me to dinner to meet Venezelos, and
he arranged for him to sit, which he did at the "Mercèdes Hotel." He  (p. 106)
had a beautiful head, with far-seeing blue eyes, which had a
distinctly Jewish look. It was difficult to paint him, as he had no
idea of sitting at all. It was a pity, as he had a wonderful head to
paint. His flesh was fresh and rosy like a young boy's.

Da Costa, of Portugal, came along: a bright little man, full of health
and energy; and after him that quiet, thoughtful friendly person, Sir
Robert Borden, of Canada; even then he looked rather tired and
overworked.

General Sykes sat. What a strange head! A sort of mixture between Hall
Caine and Shakespeare.

The day arrived when President Wilson was to sit. He was to come at 2
p.m., so I went back to the "Astoria" about 1.30. When I got to the
door I found a large strange man ordering all the English motors to go
one hundred yards down the Rue Vernet. No British car was allowed to
stop closer. When I entered the "Astoria," one of the Security
Officers told me that an American detective had been inquiring the
direct route the President was to take to my room. I went on into
another little room I had, where I kept my paints and things; and
there I found two large men sitting in the only two chairs. They took
no notice of me, and were quite silent, so I proceeded to get ready.
Taking off my belt and tunic, and putting on my painting coat, I
started to squeeze out colours, when suddenly in marched an enormous
man. He looked all round the room and said in a deep voice: "Is Sir
William Orpen here?" "Yes, I'm here," I said. He walked up to me and,
towering over me, looked down and said in grave doubt: "Are _you_ Sir
William Orpen?" "Yep," I replied, in my best American accent. "Well,"
he said, "be pleased to dress yourself and proceed to the door and
prepare to receive the President of the United States of America."    (p. 107)
That finished me--I had been worked up to desperate action. So I
looked up as fully as I could in his face, and uttered one short,
thoroughly English word, but one which has a lot to it. Immediately
the two large men and the enormous one left the room in utter silence.

[Illustration: XLVI. _President Woodrow Wilson._]

Shortly afterwards the President arrived, smiling as usual; but he was
a good sort, and he laughed hard when I told him the story of the
detectives. He was very genial and sat well, but even then he was very
nervous and twitchy. He told endless stories, mostly harmless, and
some witty. I only remember one. A king was informed that all the men
in his State were obeying their wives; so he ordered them all before
him on a certain day and spoke to them, saying he had heard the fact
about their obeying their wives, and he wished to ascertain if it was
so. So he commanded, "All men who obey their wives go to my left!"
They all went to his left except one miserable little man, who
remained where he was, alone. The king turned, and said to him: "Are
you the only man in my State who does not obey his wife?" "No, sire,"
said the little man, "I obey my wife, sire." "Then why do you not go
to my left as I commanded?" "Because, sire," said the little man, "my
wife told me always to avoid a crush." It's a mild story, but it's the
only one I remember. The only other thing I recollect about President
Wilson is that he had a great admiration for Lord Robert Cecil.

General Sackville-West came, and we had some peaceful sittings. A very
calm, very sad man, but he was kindness itself. Many are the acts for
which I have to thank him.

Lord Beatty arrived in Paris. A lunch was given in his honour at the
Embassy, after which he came back with me to the "Astoria," and sat.  (p. 108)
A forceful character! I may be wrong, but I imagine he did not love
the "frocks."

George Adam gave a great dinner one night out at some little country
place near Paris. Mr. Massey, of New Zealand, and Admiral Heaton Ellis
were the two chief people present. Massey was a most pleasant big man,
with kind, blue eyes--a simple, honest, straightforward person, large
in body and big enough in brain to laugh at himself. He made me feel I
was back painting the honest people in the war. He had none of the
affectations of the "frocks."

I painted the Marquis Siongi in his flat in the Rue Bassano. There one
worked in the calm of the East. People entered the room, people left,
but I never heard a sound. The Marquis sat--never for one second did
his expression give an inkling of what his brain was thinking about.
He never moved; his eyelids never fluttered, and beside me all the
time I worked, curled up on a sofa, was his daughter--surely one of
the most beautiful women I have ever seen, soft and gentle, with her
lovely little white feet. I loved it all. When I left that flat I
could not help feeling I was going downstairs to a lower and more
common world, a world where passions and desires were thrust upon
one's eyes and ears, leaving no room for imagination or wonder. I
never pass down the Rue Bassano now that I do not think of the Marquis
and those lovely little white feet, the gentle manners and the calm of
the East which pervaded those apartments.

General Smuts sat, a strong personality with great love for his own
country, and a fearless blue eye. I would not like to be up against
him, yet in certain ways he was a dreamer and poet in thought. He
loved the people and hated the "frocks." He and I had a great night
once at the servants' dance down in the ballroom of the "Majestic."   (p. 109)
I found him down there during the evening, and he said: "You've got
sense, Orpen. There is life down here, but upstairs it's 'just
death.'"

[Illustration: XLVII. _The Marquis Siongi._]

Mary was, of course, the "Belle of the Ball." No description of the
Peace Conference could be complete without including Mary. One great
man said that the most joyous sight he saw in Paris was Mary. Mary
doled us out tea and cigarettes in the hall of the "Majestic"--doled
them out with a smile of pure health. Mary came from Manchester, yet
she made the Parisian girls look pale, pallid and washed out. Her rosy
cheeks had a smile for everyone, men and women; one and all loved
Mary. She really was the greatest personal success of the Peace
Conference. How the people of Manchester must have missed her, and how
lucky they are to have her back again!

Another delegate with no affectation was Mr. Barnes, a restful,
thoughtful soul. He brought Mrs. Barnes in one afternoon, a charming,
quiet lady. They should be painted together as an ideal English
couple.

Another good Englishman, Lord Derby, our Ambassador, sat to me. Some
day will be known all the good he has done in France. Loved by all,
this joyous, bluff, big-hearted Englishman has done great things in
keeping friendship and goodwill between the two nations through many
anxious moments. One felt better after being at the Embassy and
hearing his great laugh. He was not a bit like a "frock"; whether he
loved them or not, I don't know. He was far too clever to let me know,
but he was too kind-hearted to hurt anybody or anything, and he
certainly loved the fighting man--French, English or American.

Mr. Hughes made a big mark at the Conference. He was as deaf as a     (p. 110)
post, but he had a cutting wit. Many are the good stories told about
him, but they are not mine. Clemenceau and he used to have great
jokes. Often I have seen them rocking with laughter together,
Clemenceau's grey-gloved hands on Hughes' shoulders, leaning over him
and shouting into his enormous deaf cars. He came to sit one day with
_The Times_. He said: "Good morning." I asked him to sit in a chair.
He sat, read _The Times_ for about an hour and a half, murmured
something that I did not catch, got up and left. The next day he rang
up and asked if I wished for another sitting. I said: "No, sir," so
that was my only personal meeting with Hughes; but I gather he was
extremely cute and cunning, which is quite possible from the general
make-up of his head.

That warrior, General Carton de Wiart, V.C., came to sit: a man who
loved war. What a happy nature! He told me he never suffered any pain
from all his wounds except once--mental pain--when he temporarily lost
the sight of his other eye, and he thought he might be blind for life.
A joyous man, so quiet, so calm, so utterly unaffected. What a lesson
to the "frocks"!

Another man of great personal charm was Paul Hymans, of Belgium. He
was greatly liked and respected by the British delegates.

[Illustration: XLVIII. _A Polish Messenger._]



CHAPTER XV                                                            (p. 111)

PARIS DURING THE PEACE CONFERENCE


Shortly after I arrived in Paris I found one could get "Luxury Tax
Tickets." I had never heard of a Luxury Tax up North, but it was in
force in Paris right enough. So I went to H.Q. Central Area, and
inside the door whom should I meet but my one-time "Colonel" of G.H.Q.
"Hello!" said he. "What are you doing in Paris?" "Painting the Peace
Conference, sir," said I. "Well, what do you want here?" he asked.
"I've come for some Luxury Tax Tickets, sir." "To what are you
attached now?" he asked. "C.P.G.H.Q., sir," said I. "Well," he said,
"if you are attached to G.H.Q. you must go there and get your Luxury
Tax Tickets. You can't get them here." "Right, sir," said I. "Will you
please sign an order for me to proceed to G.H.Q. to obtain Luxury Tax
Tickets and return? and I will start right away, sir." "Well," he
said, "perhaps, after all, I will allow you to have some here, as you
are working in Paris." "Thank you very much indeed, sir," said I,
clicking my heels and saluting. But it was no good, we never could
become friends, as I said before.

One afternoon in the hall at the "Astoria" I saw a strange man--a
paintable person--and I asked the Security Officers to get him to sit
to me. He was a Polish messenger. He came along the next morning, sat
down and smoked his silver pipe. I said: "Can you understand any      (p. 112)
English?" "Yes," said he, in a strong Irish accent, "I can a bit."
"But," I said, "you talk it very well. Have you lived in Ireland?"
"No," said he, "but I went to the States for about six months some
fifteen years or more back, and that's where I picked up the wee bit I
have." I began to think he must be de Valera or some other hero in
disguise. Perhaps he was.

Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson asked me to dine at the "Majestic" one
night. In the afternoon I got a telephone message that the place for
the dinner had been changed from the "Majestic" to the Embassy. When I
reached there I was received by Sir Henry (Lord and Lady Derby were
also present). He apologised to me for the room being a little cold.
At dinner, which was perfect, he found fault and apologised for the
food, for the wine, for the waiting--nothing was right. It was great
fun. He kept it up all the evening. When saying good-bye to Their
Excellencies, he said: "I can't tell you how sorry I am about
everything being so bad to-night, but I'll ask you out to a restaurant
another night and give you some decent food and drink."

About this time I painted Lord Riddell, who, with George Mair and
others, was looking after the interests of the Press. Meetings were
held twice a day and news was doled out by Riddell, such news as the
P.M. saw fit that the Press should know. Great was the trouble when
George Adam would suddenly burst into print with some news that had
not been received through this particular official channel. Adam,
having worked in Paris for years, knew endless channels for news that
the others had no knowledge of.

Riddell was a great chap, full of energy, full of an immense burning  (p. 113)
desire for knowledge on every subject, too, in the world. One always
found him asking questions, often about things that one would think it
was impossible he should take any interest in. He must have a
tremendous amount of knowledge stored up in that fine brain of his,
for he never forgets, not even little things. He was most kind to us
all and was hospitality itself. He personally was a very simple
feeder, and he never drank any wine or spirits, but nothing was too
good for those he entertained. A lovable man, well worthy of all the
honours he has received. He had a great support in his secretary, Mrs.
Read, a charming, gracious lady, who probably worked harder during
those days than anyone else, except, perhaps, Sir Maurice Hankey.

[Illustration: XLIX. _Lord Riddell._]

One night I dined at "Ciro's" with George Adam and some others. I was
late when I came in. Before we went into the dining-room, Adam told me
to take notice of an English lady who was sitting a couple of tables
away from ours. This I did, and I remembered having seen her
constantly at the "Berkeley Hotel," London, years before. She was most
peculiarly dressed in some sort of stuff that looked like curtains,
tall and slim, with a refined, good-looking face, but a somewhat
strange look in her eyes. She was with two men. Presently a lady
joined the group from another table. Dancing began, and she left with
one of the men, danced and came back again. I could not remember her
name, so I asked Philippe, who told me she was an English duchess, but
he could not remember what she duched over.

After dinner we went out and sat and watched the dancing and I forgot
all about her. About eleven o'clock, during a lull between dances, she
appeared before me. The moment she appeared two large waiters seized  (p. 114)
her by the back of the neck and ran her up the dance-hall and threw
her out. A strange sight, surely! An English "duchess" being thrown
out of a dance-hall in Paris.

Having been given a most excellent dinner by Adam, my feelings were
roused at this peculiar treatment of the English aristocracy, so I
went over to Philippe and asked him what he meant by this disgraceful
behaviour to an English lady. He replied: "The men she was with left
an hour ago." "But," said I, "I never saw her behave badly. Why didn't
you ask her to leave?" "I did," said he, "but she just patted me on
the back, and said, 'Don't let that worry you, old chap.'" Still, my
feelings--thanks still to the dinner--were roused, so I went out into
the hall to try and find her, as I had noticed she was wearing about
twenty thousand pounds' worth of pearls round her neck. Not that I
meant to take these, but I hated the thought of someone else doing so,
and I wished to see her safely home, but she had gone--vanished! The
only thing I learnt was that she was staying at the "Ritz." But when I
inquired there they informed me that they were housing no English
duchess.

A few days later I was passing the "Hôtel Chatham" and I saw her
coming towards me, very well dressed, in white furs this time and the
large globes of pearls still round her neck. She walked straight up to
me: "I want you to do something for me," she said. I don't remember
what I replied, but she said: "Don't be frightened--it's not immoral.
I'm not that sort. I just want you to come along with me to 'The Hole
in the Wall.'" "Where is it?" I asked. "I don't know," she said.
"That's what I want you for. I want you to find 'The Hole in the
Wall.'" "I'm sorry, Madam," I said, "I can't do it. I've got an       (p. 115)
engagement." She wiggled her finger in front of my nose, and said:
"Ah, naughty, naughty boy!" and went on her way. I followed at a safe
distance. Every man she met, no matter what class or nationality, she
stopped, all the way down the boulevard, and asked them to find "The
Hole in the Wall" for her.

None did, however, even though she was quite near it all the time, and
the last I saw of her was when she disappeared down the steps of
Olympia alone. Not quite the place for an English "duchess" to go
alone, with twenty thousand pounds' worth of pearls in full view. I
wonder who she was and where she is now? Perhaps in "The Hole in the
Wall."

About this time I introduced Lord Riddell to Mrs. Glyn, and we had
some very amusing out-of-door dinners at Laurent's. During dinner and
afterwards, Mrs. Glyn would teach us many things about life, Nature
and love: why women lost their lovers; why men did not keep their
wives; the correct way to make love; the stupid ordinary methods of
the male; what the female expected; what she ought to expect, and what
she mostly got. It was all very pleasant, the modulated voice of
Elinor under the trees and twinkling stars. Her elocution was
certainly remarkable, and Lord Riddell's dinners excellent.



CHAPTER XVI                                                           (p. 116)

THE SIGNING OF THE PEACE


The great day of the signing of the Peace was drawing near, and I
worked hard to get the centre window in the Hall of Mirrors reserved
for the artists. In the end, the French authorities sanctioned this.
They also promised to do a lot more things which would have made the
ceremony much more imposing, but these they did not do. It is a
strange thought, but surely true, that the French as a nation seem to
take, at present, little interest in pomp and ceremony. The meetings
of the delegates at the "Quai d'Orsay," the handing over of the Peace
Terms to our late enemies, were all rather rough-and-tumble affairs,
and, in the end, the great signing of the Treaty had not as much
dignity as a sale at Christie's. How different must the performance
have been in 1870! One man, at least, was there who knew the
difference--Lord Dunraven, who attended both ceremonies.

I drove out in the morning to Versailles with George Mair and Adam,
and we all had lunch at the "Hôtel des Reservoirs." When we started to
go to the Palace I found they had yellow Press tickets, by which they
were admitted by the side gate nearest the hotel; but I had a white
ticket, and had to enter by the main front gate. When I went round
towards this gate I found that all the way down the square, and
further along the road as far as the eye could see, the route was     (p. 117)
lined with people, about one hundred deep, with two rows of French
cavalry in front. These people had all taken their places, and they
would not let me through. I thought for sure I was going to miss the
show, and the sweat of nerves broke out on me. By great luck I met a
French Captain, to whom I, in my very broken French, explained my
plight. He was most kind, took my card, made a way through the crowd,
explained and showed my card to the military horsemen, and I was let
through. Then the sweat began to run. I found myself about
three-quarters of a mile away from the entrance to the Palace, all by
myself in this human-sided avenue--thousands of people staring at me.
I expected every minute to be arrested. Naturally, no one else entered
on foot. They all drove up in their cars. Guards at the gates scanned
my dripping face, but not a word was uttered to me, no pass was asked
for--nothing!

[Illustration: L. _The Rt. Hon. the Earl of Derby, K.G., etc._]

The marble staircase was most imposing, lined on each side by
Municipal Guards, but the Hall of Mirrors was pandemonium, a mass of
little humans, all trying to get to different places. In the end I got
to the centre window. It was empty. I was the first artist to arrive,
and very satisfied I was to have got there safely. Suddenly, up walked
a French Colonel, who told me to get out. I showed him my card and
told him this was the window reserved for artists. He explained that
this had been changed, and that the next window was reserved for them,
and led me off there. There I found all the French and American
artists huddled together. As soon as the Colonel left, I crept back to
the centre window. I was turned back again. This creeping to the
centre window and being turned back continued till I spoke to M.      (p. 118)
Arnavon, who advised me to stop in the artists' window till just
before the show started, and then to go to the middle window. Just
before the beginning there was great excitement. A stream of
secretaries came up the Hall, two carrying chairs, and with them two
grubby-looking old men. The chairs were placed in the centre window,
and the old chaps sat themselves down. They were country friends of
Clemenceau's, and he had said that morning that they were to have the
centre window, and that artists could go to--somewhere else. When the
proceedings commenced I slipped in behind their chairs, and, except
for a glare from "Le Tigre," I was left in peace.

Clemenceau rose and said a few words expressing a desire that the
Germans would come forward and sign. Even while he was saying these
few words the whole hall was in movement--nothing but little black
figures rushing about and crushing each other. Then, amidst a mass of
secretaries from the French Foreign Office, the two Germans, Hermann
Müller and Doctor Bell, came nervously forward, signed, and were led
back to their places. Some guns went off on the terrace--the windows
rattled. Everyone looked rather nervous for a moment, and the show was
over, except for the signatures of the Allies. These were written
without any dignity. People talked and cracked jokes to each other
across tables. Lloyd George found a friend on his way up to sign his
name, and as he had a story to tell him, the whole show was held up
for a bit, but after all, it may have been a good story. All the
"frocks" did all their tricks to perfection. President Wilson showed
his back teeth; Lloyd George waved his Asquithian mane; Clemenceau
whirled his grey-gloved hands about like windmills; Lansing drew his
pictures and Mr. Balfour slept. It was all over. The "frocks" had won (p. 119)
the war. The "frocks" had signed the Peace! The Army was forgotten.
Some dead and forgotten, others maimed and forgotten, others alive and
well--but equally forgotten. Yet the sun shone outside my window and
the fountains played, and the German Army--what was left of it--was a
long, long way from Paris.

[Illustration: LI. _Signing the Peace Treaty._]

After seeing some of the great little black-coated ones leave, amidst
great cheering, George Mair, Colonel Stroud Jackson and I went to the
aerodrome and saw the Press photographs sent off to the waiting crowds
in the British Isles. Then back to Paris. Paris was very calm, not the
least excited. I remember Mair gave some of us dinner at Ciro's that
night. When the band played the Marseillaise, we stood up on our
chairs, held hands and sang and cheered, but no one else moved, so in
the end we got down, feeling damned fools. It was all rather sad!

The next great show was the triumphal march through the Arc de
Triomphe. It was fine! But it must be admitted that the Americans
scored. They had picked men trained for months for this march, and
along they came in close formation, wearing steel helmets. It was a
fine sight!

But there were great moments when Foch passed, and when Haig passed at
the head of his men, and the roars that came from the "Astoria" must
have been heard a long way off. The "Astoria" was the hotel reserved
by the Kaiser for his friends to witness his triumphal entry into
Paris, so we had a good view. He chose well.

I remember during the war, when a "frock" visited some fighting zone,
he was always very well looked after and entertained by whatever H.Q.
he visited, and I was amazed on this day to find Field-Marshal Lord   (p. 120)
Haig and General Sir John Davidson lunching alone at the "Majestic."
Lord Allenby was also lunching at another table and General Robertson
at another. To me it was ununderstandable. These representatives of
the dead and the living of the British Army, on the day of its glory,
being allowed to lunch alone, much as they might have wished it.

As far as I remember, Lord Derby gave a dinner in their honour that
evening, but I am certain the "frocks" did nothing. After all, why
should they fuss themselves? The fighting was over. The Army was
nothing--harmless! Why should they trouble about these men? Why upset
themselves and their pleasures by remembering the little upturned
hands on the duckboards, or the bodies lying in the water in the
shell-holes, or the hell and bloody damnation of the four years and
odd months of war, or the men and their commanders who pulled them
through from a bloodier and worse damnation and set them up to dictate
a peace for the world?

The war was over, the Germans were a long, long way from the coast or
Paris. The whole thing was finished. Why worry now to honour the
representatives of the dead, or the maimed, or the blind, or the
living that remained? _Why?_ In Heaven's name, _why not_?

I remember one day, during the Peace Conference in the "Astoria,"
asking a great English General about the delegates and how things were
getting on, and he said: "I wish the little 'frocks' would leave it to
us--those who fight know best how to make peace. We would not talk so
much, but we would get things settled more quickly and better." Surely
that was the truth!


[Illustration: LII. _End of a Hero and a Tank, Courcelette._]

[Illustration: LIII. _General Birdwood Returning to his
                     Headquarters--Grévillers._]

[Illustration: LIV. _A Skeleton in a Trench._]

[Illustration: LV. _Flight-Sergeant, R.F.C._]

[Illustration: LVI. _N.C.O. Grenadier Guards._]

[Illustration: LVII. _Stretcher-bearers._]

[Illustration: LVIII. _Man Resting, near Arras._]

[Illustration: LIX. _Going Home to be Married._]

[Illustration: LX. _Household Brigade Passing to the Ypres Salient,
                   Cassel._]

[Illustration: LXI. _Ready to Start._]

[Illustration: LXII. _German Prisoner with the Iron Cross._]

[Illustration: LXIII. _A Big Gun and its Guardian._]

[Illustration: LXIV. "_Good-bye-ee._"]

[Illustration: LXV. _The Château, Thiepval._]

[Illustration: LXVI. _German Wire, Thiepval._]

[Illustration: LXVII. _Thiepval._]

[Illustration: LXVIII. _Highlander Passing a Grave._]

[Illustration: LXIX. _M. R. D. de Maratray._]

[Illustration: LXX. _A Man Thinking, on the Butte de Warlencourt._]

[Illustration: LXXI. _Major-General Sir Henry Burstall, K.C.B., etc._]

[Illustration: LXXII. _Major-General L. J. Lipsett, C.M.G._]

[Illustration: LXXIII. _A Village. Evening. (Monchy)._]

[Illustration: LXXIV. _Christmas Night, Cassel._]

[Illustration: LXXV. _Blown Up. Mad._]

[Illustration: LXXVI. _A Support Trench._]

[Illustration: LXXVII. _Major-General Sir H. J. Elles, K.C.M.G., etc._]

[Illustration: LXXVIII. _Dead Germans in a Trench._]

[Illustration: LXXIX. _A German Prisoner._]

[Illustration: LXXX. _A Highlander Resting._]

[Illustration: LXXXI. _A Man with a Cigarette._]

[Illustration: LXXXII. _Mr. Lloyd George, President Wilson and
                       M. Clemenceau._]

[Illustration: LXXXIII. _A Meeting of the Peace Conference._]

[Illustration: LXXXIV. _Admiral of the Fleet Lord Wester Wemyss, G.C.B._]

[Illustration: LXXXV. _Colonel Edward M. House._]

[Illustration: LXXXVI. _Mr. Robert Lansing._]

[Illustration: LXXXVII. _The Emir Feisul._]

[Illustration: LXXXVIII. _M. Eleutherios Venezelos._]

[Illustration: LXXXIX. _Admiral of the Fleet Sir David Beatty, Viscount
                       Borodale of Wexford. O.M., G.C.B., etc._]

[Illustration: XC. _The Rt. Hon. W. F. Massey, P.C._]

[Illustration: XCI. _General the Rt. Hon. J. C. Smuts, P.C., C.H._]

[Illustration: XCII. _The Rt. Hon. G. N. Barnes, P.C._]

[Illustration: XCIII. _The Rt. Hon. W. M. Hughes, P.C., K.G._]

[Illustration: XCIV. _Brigadier-General A. Carton de Wiart, V.C., C.B.,
               etc._]

[Illustration: XCV. _M. Paul Hymans._]

[Illustration: XCVI. _The Rt. Hon. Sir R. L. Borden, G.C.M.G., etc._]



INDEX                                                                 (p. 121)


_(The Arabic figures refer to the pages of the Text;
the Roman figures to the Plates.)_


Adam, George, 100, 108, 112, 113, 116.
Aikman, Captain T. T., 12, 55.
_Albert_, 20, 37, 40, 79, 80, 86; XXXVII.
Allenby, General Lord, 120
_Amiens_, 16 ff., 40 ff., 59, 70, 71, 76, 79, 82, 92, 96; XXXV, XL.
_Ancre, Valley of the_, 38.
Antoine of Bourbon (Prince), 65.
_Armentières_, 31.
Arnavon, M., 118.
_Aveluy_, 39.


_Bailleul_, 33, 95.
Balfour, A. J., 100, 105, 119; XLV.
_Bapaume_, 20, 70.
_Bapaume Road_, 18, 48; II.
Baring, Maurice, 19, 29 ff., 50, 69.
Barnes, G. N., 109; XCII.
_Bazentin-le-Grand_, 20.
_Bazentin-le-Petit_, 20.
Beatty, Admiral Lord, 107; LXXXIX.
_Beaumont-Hamel_, 20, 23, 48.
Beaverbrook, Lord, 42, 67, 70, 95.
Bedelo, Signor, 56.
Belfield, Colonel, 45, 56.
Bell, Dr., 118.
_Bertangles_, 80, 81.
Birdwood, General, 19; LIII.
Bloomfield, Major, 50 ff., 86.
Borden, Sir Robert, 106; XCVI.
Botha, General Louis, 102; XLIV.
_Boulogne_, 12, 31, 42, 57, 67, 71.
Brickman, Captain, 56.
Brooks, Lieutenant, 99.
Buchan, Colonel John, 20.
Burstall, General, 49; LXXI.


_Cambrai_, 61.
Carstairs, Carroll, 46, 61, 87.
Carton de Wiart, General, 110; XCIV.
_Cassel_, 31 ff., 42 ff., 51 ff., 93; XI, XII, LX, LXXIV.
_Caudry_, 90.
Charteris, General, 14.
_Château Thierry_, 70, 76.
Clark, Lieutenant, 38.
Clemenceau, M., 76, 100, 103, 110, 118; LI, LXXXII, LXXXIII.
_Clermont_, 55.
_Corbie_, 37.
_Cough-drop, the_, 20, 48.
Courage, Ernest, 45, 56, 64.
_Courcelette_, 20; LII.
Cowans, General Sir J. S., 99; XLII.
Currie, General, 49, 67.


Da Costa, Senhor, 106.
Dark, Sidney, 100.
Davids, Lieutenant A. P. Rhys, 50; XX.
Davidson, General Sir John, 63, 72, 120.
Derby, Lord, 109, 112, 120; L.
_Dieppe_, 35.
Dillon, Dr. E. J., 105.
_Douai_, 91; XXXVIII.
Douglas, Captain, 75.
_Doullens_, 96.
Du Cane, General Sir J., 77.
Dunraven, Lord, 116.


Elles, General, 62; LXXVII.
Ellis, Admiral Heaton, 108.
_Estre Blanche_, 50.


Fane, Major F., 17, 25.
Feisul, Emir, 105; LXXXVII.
Fletcher, Colonel, 28, 63, 72.
Foch, Marshal, 76 ff.; XXXIII.
Forsyth, Dudley, 75.
Freeman, Colonel, 29.
French, Field-Marshal Lord, 31.


George, Mr. D. Lloyd, 100, 101, 103, 118; LI, LXXXII, LXXXIII.
Gibbs, Sir Philip, 32.
Glyn, Mrs., 115.
_Grandcourt_, 20.
Grant, General, 77, 79.
Gregory, Robert, 30.
_Grévillers_, 19; LIII.


Haig, Field-Marshal Earl, 27, 50, 64, 72, 97, 120; I.
Hale, Captain, 18, 56, 64; XXVI.
Hankey, Sir Maurice, 113.
_Hesdin_, 13, 42, 63.
_Highwood_, 20.
Hogg, Major, 56.
Hoidge, Captain, 50, 51, 86; XXI.
Holland, Captain, 76.
Hotblack, Major, 62.
House, Colonel, 104; LXXXV.
Hughes, W. M., 110; XCIII.
Hymans, M. Paul, 110; XCV.


Inge, Captain, 56, 64.
Inverforth, Lord, 55.


Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Stroud, 100, 119.
Joffroy, M., 39.


Knox, Gordon, 100.


_La Boisselle_, 20, 40, 48, 70; III, XIV, XVIII.
Laboreur, M., 26.
Lansing, Mr. R., 104, 118; LXXXVI.
Lee, Major A. N., 67, 69, 72, 75; XXXII.
_Le Havre_, 35, 47.
_Le Sars_, 19, 49.
Lipsett, Major-General, 49; LXXII.
Little, Captain, 30.
_Locre_, 95.
Lucas, Lord, 29.


MacColl, Captain, 62.
McCudden, Major, 53, 69; XXX.
McDonnell, Colonel Angus, 90, 98.
MacDonough, General, 69.
MacDowell, Colonel, 56.
Macintosh, Mr., 64.
Mahon, Major-General Sir Bryan, 93.
Mair, George, 100, 112, 116, 119.
Maratray, M. R. D. de, 18, 44; LXIX.
Masefield, John, 40, 41.
Massey, W. F., 108; XC.
Maude, Captain F., 44 ff., 56, 61, 66, 80, 84, 96, 98; XXXV.
_Menin Road_, 95.
_Miraumont_, 20.
_Monchy_, LXXIII.
_Montdidier_, 70.
_Mont St. Eloy_, 29.
Müller, Herr, 118.
Munnings, A. J., 65.


_Nieuport_, 31.


O'Connor, Major, 49.
Orlando, Signor, 103.
Orpen, Captain, 57.


Paderewski, 101.
_Paris_, 49, 55, 70, 98.
Peace Conference, 98 ff.; LXXXIII.
Peace Treaty, 116 ff.; LI.
_Péronne_, 20, 37, 70; V, XV.
Phillips, Percival, 32.
Plumer, General Lord, 93 ff.; XXXIX.
_Pozières_, 19, 70; IV.


Rawlinson, General Lord, 80, 81; XXXVI.
Read, Mrs., 113.
Reading, Lord, 105.
Riddell, Lord, 100, 112, 115; XLIX.
Riviere, Captain, 98.
Robertson, General Sir William, 120.
_Roeux_, 28.
Rogers, General, 80.
_Rollencourt_, 13, 21.
_Rouen_, 35.


Sackville-West, General, 107.
_St. Denis_, 79; XXXIV.
_St. Omer_, 31, 57.
_St. Pol_, 26, 67.
_St. Quentin_, 90.
_St. Valery-sur-Somme_, 72, 75.
Sargent, John, 16.
Sassoon, Sir Philip, 27, 35, 51, 63.
Seely, General, 65, 67; XXVIII.
Siongi, Marquis, 100, 108; XLVII.
Smuts, General J. C., 108; XCI.
_Soissons_, 70, 76.
_Somme, the_, 16 ff.
Stevens, Captain, 98.
Strang, Ian, 67.
Stuart, General, 90.
Sykes, General, 106.


_Thiepval_, 20, 36 ff.; LXV, LXVI, LXVII.
Thomas, Beach, 32.
Trafford, Captain Rudolf de, 64, 72.
Trenchard, Air-Marshal Sir H. M., 29, 50, 52; IX.
Tyl, Colonel du, 80; XXXV.


_Vaux_, 79.
Venezelos, M. E., 105; LXXXVIII.
_Villers-Bretonneux_, 70, 76.
_Villers-Carbonelle_, 81.


_Warlencourt, Butte de_, 19, 49; XIX, LXX.
Watson, General, 49.
Wester Wemyss, Admiral Lord, 104; LXXXIV.
Weygand, General, 77.
Williams, Brigadier-General Dame Vaughan, 82.
Wilson, Field-Marshal Sir Henry, 102, 112; XLIII.
Wilson, President, 100, 103, 104, 106, 107, 118; XLVI, LI, LXXXII, LXXXIII.
Woodcock, Colonel, 45, 56.


_Ypres Salient_, 31 ff., 95.


_Zillebeke_, 89.
_Zonnebeke_, 95.





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