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Title: In The Firing Line - Stories of the War By Land and Sea
Author: Adcock, Arthur St. John
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "In The Firing Line - Stories of the War By Land and Sea" ***

Transcriber’s Note

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    The Daily Telegraph



    The Daily Telegraph

    Cloth 1/- net each

    Post free 1/3 each

    By W. L. COURTNEY, LL.D., and J. M. KENNEDY



    By J. M. KENNEDY


    Author of “The Red Badge of Courage.”

    The story of their Battle Honours.


    The Story of the Franco-German War. By H. C. BAILEY.
    With an Introduction by W. L. COURTNEY. LL.D.

    The Inner History of German Diplomacy.
    By E. J. DILLON

    A companion volume to “How the War Began,” telling how the world
    faced Armageddon and how the British Army answered the call to arms.
    By J. M. KENNEDY






    LONDON, E.C.


    _Drawn by Philip Daddd._      _Copyright of The Sphere._







      I.  THE BAPTISM OF FIRE                    7



     IV.  THE FIGHT IN THE NORTH SEA            90


     VI.  THE SPIRIT OF VICTORY                185




    “_E’en now their vanguard gathers,
        E’en now we face the fray._”

                KIPLING.--_Hymn before Action._

The War Correspondent has become old-fashioned before he has had time
to grow old; he was made by telegraphy, and wireless has unmade him.
The swift transmission of news from the front might gratify us who
are waiting anxiously at home, but such news can be caught in the air
now, or secretly and as swiftly retransmitted so as to gratify our
enemies even more by keeping them well-informed of our strength and
intentions and putting them on their guard. Therefore our armies have
rightly gone forth on this the greatest war the world has ever seen
as they went to the Crusades, with no Press reporter in their ranks,
and when the historian sits down, some peaceful day in the future, to
write his prose epic of the Titanic struggle that is now raging over
Europe he will have no records of the actual fighting except such as he
can gather from the necessarily terse official reports, the published
stories of refugees and wounded soldiers that have been picked up by
enterprising newspaper men hovering alertly in the rear of the forces,
and from the private letters written to their friends by the fighting
men themselves.

These letters compensate largely for the ampler, more expert accounts
the war correspondent is not allowed to send us. They may tell
little of strategic movements or of the full tide and progress of an
engagement till you read them in conjunction with the official reports,
but in their vivid, spontaneous revelations of what the man in battle
has seen and felt, in the intensity of their human interest they
have a unique value beyond anything to be found in more professional
military or journalistic documents. They so unconsciously express
the personality and spirit of their writers; the very homeliness
of their language adds wonderfully and unintentionally to their
effectiveness; there is rarely any note of boastfulness even in a
moment of triumph; they record the most splendid heroisms casually,
sometimes even flippantly, as if it were merely natural to see such
things happening about them, or to be doing such things themselves. If
they tell of hardships it is to laugh at them; again and again there
are little bursts of affection and admiration for their officers and
comrades--they are the most potent of recruiting literature, these
letters, for a mere reading of them thrills the stay-at-home with pride
that these good fellows are his countrymen and with a sort of angry
shame that his age or his safe civilian responsibilities keep him from
being out there taking his stand beside them.

The courage, the cheerfulness, the dauntless spirit of them is the more
striking when you remember that the vast majority of our soldiers have
never been in battle until now. Russia has many veterans from her war
with Japan; France has a few who fought the Prussian enemy in 1870; we
have some from the Boer war; but fully three parts of our troops, like
all the heroic Belgians, have had their baptism of fire in the present
gigantic conflict. And it is curiously interesting to read in several
of the letters the frank confession of their writers’ feelings when
they came face to face for the first time with the menace of death in
action. One such note, published in various papers, was from Alfred
Bishop, a sailor who took part in the famous North Sea engagement of
August last. His ship’s mascot is a black cat, and:

“Our dear little black kitten sat under our foremost gun,” he writes,
“during the whole battle, and was not frightened at all, only when we
first started firing. But afterwards she sat and licked herself....
Before we started fighting we were all very nervous, but after we
joined in we were all happy and most of us laughing till it was
finished. Then we all sobbed and cried. Even if I never come back
don’t think I died a painful death. Everything yesterday was quick as

A wounded English gunner telling of how he went into action near Mons
owns to the same touch of nervousness in the first few minutes:

“What does it feel like to be under fire? Well, the first shot makes
you a bit shaky. It’s a surprise packet. You have to wait and keep on
moving till you get a chance.” But as soon as the chance came, his
shakiness went, and his one desire in hospital was “to get back to the
front as soon as the doctor says I’m fit to man a gun. I don’t want to
stop here.”

“I have received my baptism of fire,” writes a young Frenchman at the
front to his parents in Paris. “I heard the bullets whistling at my
ears, and saw my poor comrades fall around me. The first minutes are
dreadful. They are the worst. You feel wild. You hesitate; you don’t
know what to do. Then, after a time, you feel quite at your ease in
this atmosphere of lead.”

“I am in the field hospital now, with a nice little hole in my left
shoulder, through which a bullet of one of the War Lord’s military
subjects has passed,” writes a wounded Frenchman to a friend in
London. “My shoulder feels much as if some playful joker has touched
it with a lighted cigar.... It is strange, but in the face of death
and destruction I catch myself trying to make out where the shell has
fallen, as if I were an interested spectator at a rifle competition.
And I was not the only one. I saw many curious faces around me, bearing
expressions full of interest, just as if the owners of the respective
faces formed the auditorium of a highly fascinating theatrical
performance, without having anything to do with the play itself. The
impression crossed my mind in one-thousandth part of a second, and was
followed by numerous others, altogether alien from the most serious
things which were happening and going to happen. The human mind is
a curious and complicated thing. Now that we were shooting at the
enemy, and often afterwards in the midst of a fierce battle, I heard
some remark made or some funny expression used which proved that the
speaker’s thoughts were far from realising the terrible facts around
him. It has nothing to do with heartlessness or anything like that.
I don’t know yet what it is. Perhaps I shall have an opportunity to
philosophise on it later on.”

There is a curious comment in a letter from Sergeant Major MacDermott,
who writes during the great retreat from Mons, when everybody had
become inured to the atmosphere of the battlefield.

“We’re wonderfully cheerful, and happy as bare-legged urchins
scampering over the fields,” he says, and adds, “It is the quantity
not the quality of the German shells that are having effect on us, and
it’s not so much the actual damage to life as the hellish nerve-racking
noise that counts for so much. Townsmen who are used to the noise of
the streets can stand it a lot better than the countrymen, and I think
you will find that by far the fittest are those regiments recruited in
the big cities. A London lad near me says it is no worse than the roar
of motor-buses in the City on a busy day.”

But the most graphic and minutely detailed picture of the psychic
experiences of a soldier plunged for the first time into the
pandemonium of a modern battle is given in the _Retch_ by a wounded
Russian artillery officer writing from a St. Petersburg hospital.

“I cannot say where we fought, for we are forbidden to divulge that,
but I will tell you my own experiences,” he says. “In times of peace
one has no conception of what a battle really means. When war was
declared our brigade was despatched to the theatre of operations.
I went with delight, and so did the others. When we reached our
destination we were told that the battle would begin in the morning.

“At daybreak positions were assigned to us, and the commander of the
brigade handed us a plan of the action of our artillery. From that
moment horror possessed our souls. It was not anxiety for ourselves
or fear of the enemy, but a feeling of awe in the face of something
unknown. At six o’clock we opened fire at a mark which we could not
distinguish, but which we understood to be the enemy.

“Towards midday we were informed that the German cavalry was attempting
to envelop our right wing, and were ordered in that direction. Having
occupied our new position we waited. Suddenly we see the enemy coming,
and at the same time he opens fire on us. We turn our guns upon him,
and I give the order to fire. I myself feel that I am in a kind of
nightmare. Our battery officers begin to melt away. I see that the
Germans are developing their attack. First one regiment appears, and
then another. I direct the guns and pour a volley of projectiles right
into the thick of the first regiment. Then a second volley, and a
third. I see how they fall among the men, and can even discern the
severed limbs of the dead flying into the air after the explosion.

“One of the enemy’s regiments is annihilated. Then a second one. All
this time I am pouring missiles in among them. But now the nervous
feeling has left me. My soul is filled with hate, and I continue to
shoot at the enemy without the least feeling of pity.

“Yet still the enemy is advancing, rushing forward and lying down in
turns. I do not understand his tactics, but what are they to me? It is
enough for me that I am occupying a favourable position and mowing him
down like a strong man with a scythe in a clover field.

“During the first night after the battle I could not sleep a wink. All
the time my mind was filled with pictures of the battlefield. I saw
German regiments approaching, and myself firing right into the thick of
them. Heads, arms, legs, and whole bodies of men were being flung high
into the air. It was a dreadful vision.

“I was in four battles. When the second began I went into it like an
automaton. Only your muscles are taxed. All the rest of your being
seems paralyzed. So complete is the suspension of the sensory processes
that I never felt my wound. All I remember is that a feeling of
giddiness came over me, and my head began to swim. Then I swooned to
the ground, and was picked up by the Medical Corps and carried to the



    “_And turning to his men,
    Quoth our brave Henry then,
    ‘Though they be one to ten,
      Be not amazed.’_”

                MICHAEL DRAYTON.

Most of us are old enough to remember how, when we entered upon the
South African Campaign (as when we started the Crimean and other of
our wars) the nation was divided against itself; passionate, bitter
controversies were waged between anti-Boer and pro-Boer--between
those who considered the war an unjust and those who considered it a
just one. This time there has been nothing of that. Sir Edward Grey’s
resolute efforts for peace proving futile, as soon as Germany tore up
her obligations of honour, that “scrap of paper,” and began to pour
her huge, boastedly irresistible armies into Belgium, we took up the
gauge she so insolently flung to us, and the one feeling from end to
end of the Empire was of devout thankfulness that our Government had
so instantly done the only right and honourable thing; all political
parties, all classes flung their differences behind them unhesitatingly
and stood four-square at once against the common enemy. They were
heartened by a sense of relief, even, that the swaggering German peril
which had been darkly menacing us for years had materialised and was
upon us at last, that we were coming to grips with it and should have
the chance of ending it once and for ever.

But immediately after our declaration of war on August 4th, a strange
secrecy and silence fell like an impenetrable mask over all our
military movements. In our cities and towns we were troubled with
business disorganisations, but that mystery, that waiting in suspense,
troubled us far more. News came that the fighting continued furiously
on the Belgian frontier; that it was beginning on the fringes of
Alsace; that the Russians were advancing victoriously on East Prussia;
and still though our own army was mobilised and we were eagerly
starting to raise a new and a larger one, we rightly learned no more,
perhaps less, than the enemy could of what our Expeditionary Force was
doing or where it was. Last time we were at war we had seen regiment
after regiment go off with bands playing and with cheering multitudes
lining the roads as they passed; this time we had no glimpse of their
going; did not know when they went, or so much as whether they were
gone. One day rumour landed them safely in France or Belgium; the next
it assured us that they were not yet ready to embark; and the next
it had rushed them, as by magic, right across Belgium and credited
them with standing shoulder to shoulder in the fighting line with the
magnificent defenders of Liège. But the glory of that defence, as we
were soon to find out, belongs to Belgium alone; the Germans had hacked
their way through and were nearing Mons before our men were able to
get far enough north to come in touch with them. Not that they had
lost any time on the road. It took a fortnight to mobilise and equip
them; they sailed from Southampton on August 17th, and four days later
were at Mons and under fire. This much and more you may gather from a
diary-letter that was published in the _Western Daily Press_:

  _Letter 1.--From Sapper George Bryant, Royal Engineers, to his
      father, Mr. J. J. Bryant, of Fishponds:_

    Aug. 17.--Sailed from Southampton, on _Manchester Engineer_, 4.45

    Aug. 18.--Landed Rouen, 6.20 a.m. Proceeded to rest camp at the
      Racecourse, Rouen.

    Aug. 19.--Left camp 9 p.m., and entrained to Aulnoye.

    Aug. 20.--Marched to Fiezines.

    Aug. 21.--Marched to Mons, and proceeded to the canal, to obstacle
      the bridges and prepare for blowing up. Barricaded the main
      streets. Saw German cavalry, and was under fire.

    Aug. 22.--Severe fighting and terrible. Went to blow up bridges
      with Lieut. Day, who was shot at my side through the nose. Unable
      to destroy bridges owing to such heavy firing of the Germans.
      Sight heart-breaking. Women and children driven from their
      homes by point of bayonet, and marched through streets in front
      of Germans, who fired behind them and through their armpits.
      Therefore, our fellows were unable to fire back. They rolled
      up in thousands, about 100 to our one. Went from here to dig
      trenches for infantry retreating. Was soon under fire, and had
      to retreat, and infantry took our position, and were completely
      wiped out (Middlesex).

    Aug. 23.--Severe fighting and bombarding of a town, shells bursting
      around us. Retreated, and dug trenches for infantry, but soon
      had fire about us, and retreated again and marched to take up
      position for next day, which was to be a rest, us having had but
      very little.

    Aug. 24.--Were unable to rest. Germans pressed us hotly, and fired
      continually. One of their aeroplanes followed our route, and
      was fired at. One of our lieutenants chased it, and eventually
      succeeded in shooting the aviator through the head, and he came
      to earth. Three aeroplanes were captured this day. We had no
      close fighting, and marched away to take up a position for next
      day’s fighting, which was a hard day’s work.

    Aug. 25.--We tried to destroy an orchard, but drew the Germans’
      artillery fire, which was hot and bursting around us. We
      continued our work until almost too late, and had to retire to
      infantry lines, and had it hot in doing so. I was stood next
      to General Shaw’s aide-camp who was badly wounded, but was not
      touched myself. We dug trenches for infantry, and then marched to
      join the 2nd Division, but fire was too hot to enable us to do
      our work. Germans were surrounded by us to the letter “C,” and
      we were waiting for the French to come up on our right flank,
      but they did not arrive. On returning from the 2nd Division
      two shells, one after another, burst in front of us, first
      destroying a house; the second, I received my wound in left leg,
      being the only fellow hit out of 180. Was placed on tool cart,
      and taken to Field Hospital, but rest there was short, owing
      to Germans firing on hospital. Orderlies ran off and left us
      three to take our chance. Germans blew up church and hospital
      in same village, and were firing on ours when I was helped out
      by the other two fellows, and on to a cart, which overtook the
      ambulance, which I was put on, and travelled all night to St.
      Quentin and was entrained there at 9.30 a.m. Aug. 26.

    Aug. 26.--Travelled all day, reaching Rouen, Aug. 27, and was taken
      to Field Hospital on Racecourse.

We shall have to wait some time yet for full and coherent accounts of
the fierce fighting at Mons, but from the soldiers’ letters and the
stories of the wounded one gets illuminating glimpses of that terrific
four-days’ battle.

  _Letter 2.--From Driver W. Moore, Royal Field Artillery, to the
      superintendent of the “Cornwall” training ship, of which Driver
      Moore is an “old boy” still under twenty:_

It was Sunday night when we saw the enemy. We were ready for action,
but were lying down to have a rest, when orders came to stand at our
posts. It was about four a.m. on Monday when we started to fire; we
were at it all day till six p.m., when we started to advance. Then the
bugle sounded the charge, and the cavalry and infantry charged like
madmen at the enemy; then the enemy fell back about forty miles, so we
held them at bay till Wednesday, when the enemy was reinforced. Then
they came on to Mons, and by that time we had every man, woman, and
child out of the town.

We were situated on a hill in a cornfield and could see all over the
country. It was about three p.m., and we started to let them have a
welcome by blowing up two of their batteries in about five minutes;
then the infantry let go, and then the battle was in full swing.

In the middle of the battle a driver got wounded and asked to see the
colours before he died, and he was told by an officer that the guns
were his colours. He replied, “Tell the drivers to keep their eyes on
their guns, because if we lose our guns we lose our colours.”

Just then the infantry had to retire, and the gunners had to leave
their guns, but the drivers were so proud of their guns that they went
and got them out, and we retired to St. Quentin. We had a roll-call,
and only ten were left out of my battery. This was the battle in which
poor Winchester (another old _Cornwall_ boy) lost his life in trying
to get the guns away.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 3.--From Private G. Moody, to his parents at Beckenham:_

I was at Mons in the trenches in the firing line for twenty-four hours,
and my regiment was ordered to help the French on the right. Poor old
A Company was left to occupy the trenches and to hold them: whatever
might happen, they were not to leave them. There were about 250 of us,
and the Germans came on, and as fast as we knocked them over more took
their places.

Well, out of 250 men only eighty were left, and we had to surrender.
They took away everything, and we were lined up to be shot, so as to
be no trouble to them. Then the cavalry of the French made a charge,
and the Germans were cut down like grass. We got away, and wandered
about all night, never knowing if we were walking into our chaps or
the Germans. After walking about some time we commenced falling down
through drinking water that had been poisoned, and then we were put
into some motor-wagons and taken to Amiens.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 4.--From a Lincolnshire Sergeant to his brother:_

It came unexpectedly. The first inkling we had was just after reveille,
when our cavalry pickets fell back and reported the presence of the
enemy in strength on our front and slightly to the left. In a few
minutes we were all at our posts without the slightest confusion, and
as we lay down in the trenches our artillery opened fire. It was a fine
sight to see the shells speeding through the air to pay our respects
to Kaiser Bill and his men. Soon the Germans returned the compliment;
but they were a long time in finding anything approaching the range,
and they didn’t know of shelters--a trick we learned from the Boers,
I believe. After about half an hour of this work their infantry came
into view along our front. They were in solid square blocks standing
out sharply against the skyline, and we couldn’t help hitting them.
We lay in our trenches with not a sound or sign to tell them of what
was before them. They crept nearer and nearer, and then our officers
gave the word. Under the storm of bullets they seemed to stagger
like drunken men, after which they made a run for us shouting some
outlandish cry that we could not make out. Half way across the open
another volley tore through their ranks, and by this time our artillery
began dropping shells around them. Then an officer gave an order, and
they broke into open formation, rushing like mad things towards the
trenches on our left. Some of our men continued the volley firing, but
a few of the crack shots were told off to indulge in independent firing
for the benefit of the Germans. That is another trick taught us by
Brother Boer, and our Germans did not like it at all. They fell back in
confusion and then lay down wherever cover was available.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 5.--From Private Levy, Royal Munster Fusiliers:_

We were sent up to the firing line to try and save a battery. When we
got there we found that they were nearly all killed or wounded. Our
Irish lads opened fire on the dirty Germans, and you should have seen
them fall. It was like a game of skittles. But as soon as you knocked
them down up came another thousand or so. We could not make out where
they came from. So, all of a sudden, our officers gave us the order to
charge. We fixed bayonets and went like fire through them. You should
have seen them run!

We had two companies of ours there against about 3,000 of theirs, and I
tell you it was warm. I was not sorry when night-time came, but that
was not all. You see, we had no horses to get those guns away, and our
chaps would not leave them.

We dragged them ourselves to a place of safety. As the firing line was
at full swing we had with us an officer of the Hussars. I think he was
next to me, and he had his hand nearly blown off by one of the German
shells. So I and two more fellows picked him up and took him to a place
of safety, where he got his wound cared for. I heard afterwards that he
had been sent home, poor fellow.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 6.--From Sergeant A. J. Smith, 1st Lincolnshire Regiment:_

We smashed up the Kaiser’s famous regiment--the Imperial Guards--and
incidentally they gave us a shaking. They caught me napping. I got
wounded on Sunday night, but I stuck it until Thursday. I could then go
no further, so they put me in the ambulance and sent me home. It was
just as safe in the firing line as in the improvised hospital, as when
our force moved the Germans closed up and shelled the hospitals and
burned the villages to the ground.

We started on Sunday, and were fighting and marching until Thursday.
Troops were falling asleep on the roadside until the shells started
dropping, then we were very much awake.

I feel proud to belong to the British Army for the way in which they
bore themselves in front of the other nations. No greater tribute could
be paid us than what a German officer, who was captured, said. He said
it was inferno to stand up against the British Army.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 7.--From Private J. R. Tait, of the 2nd Essex Regiment:_

We were near Mons when we had the order to entrench. It was just dawn
when we were half-way down our trenches, and we were on our knees when
the Germans opened a murderous fire with their guns and machine guns.
We opened a rapid fire with our Maxims and rifles; we let them have it
properly, but no sooner did we have one lot down than up came another
lot, and they sent their cavalry to charge us, but we were there with
our bayonets, and we emptied our magazines on them. Their men and
horses were in a confused heap. There were a lot of wounded horses we
had to shoot to end their misery. We had several charges with their
infantry, too. We find they don’t like the bayonets. Their rifle
shooting is rotten; I don’t believe they could hit a haystack at 100
yards. We find their Field Artillery very good; we don’t like their
shrapnel; but I noticed that some did not burst; if one shell that came
over me had burst I should have been blown to atoms; I thanked the Lord
it did not. I also heard our men singing that famous song: “Get out and
get under.” I know that for an hour in our trench it would make anyone
keep under, what with their shells and machine guns. Many poor fellows
went to their death like heroes.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 8.--From an Oldham Private to his wife at Waterhead:_

We have had a terrible time, and were in action for three days and
nights. On Wednesday the officers said that Spion Kop was heaven to the
fighting we had on that day. It is God help our poor fellows who get
wounded in the legs or body and could not get off the battlefield, as
when we retired the curs advanced and shot and bayonetted them as they
tried to crawl away. They are rotten shots with the rifles. If they
stood on Blackpool sands I don’t believe they could hit the sea, but
they are very good with the shrapnel guns, and nearly all our wounded
have been hit with shrapnel bullets. Each shrapnel shell contains about
200 bullets which scatter all around, so just think what damage one
shell can do when it drops among a troop of soldiers.

On the Tuesday our regiment went to the top of a hill which had a
big flat top. An outpost of a Scotch regiment reported to us on our
way up that all was clear, and we thought the enemy were about five
miles away. We formed up in close formation--about 1,200 strong.
Our commanding officer told us to pull our packs off, and start
entrenching, but this was the last order he will ever give, for the
enemy opened fire at us with five Maxim guns from a wood only 400 yards
in front of us. They mowed us down like straw, and we could get no
cover at all. Those who were left had to roll off the hill into the
roadway--a long straight road--but we got it worse there. They had two
shrapnel guns at the top of the road, and they did fearful execution to
us and the Lancashire Fusiliers, who were also in the roadway. Any man
who got out of that hell-hole should shake hands with himself.

This all happened before six o’clock in the morning. I have only seen
about sixty of our regiment since. Our Maxim gun officer tried to fix
his gun up during their murderous fire, but he got half his face blown
away. We retired in splendid order about 300 yards, and then lined a
ridge. Up to then we hardly fired a shot. They had nearly wiped three
regiments out up to then, but our turn came. We gave them lead as fast
as we could pull the triggers, and I think we put three Germans out
to every one of our men accounted for. Bear in mind, they were about
250,000 strong to our 50,000. We got three Germans, and they said their
officers told them that we were Russians and that England had not sent
any men to fight.

They made us retire about five miles, and then we got the master
of them, because our guns came up and covered the ground with dead
Germans. The German gunners are good shots, but ours are a lot better.
After we had shelled them a bit we got them on the run, and we drove
them back to three miles behind where the battle started. We did give
it them. I will say this, none of our soldiers touched any wounded
Germans, though it took us all our time to keep our bayonets out of
their ribs after seeing what they did with our wounded. But, thank God,
we governed our tempers and left them alone.

I said we got the Germans on the run. And they can run! I picked up a
few trophies and put them in my pack, but I got it blown off my back
almost, so I had to discard it. I got one in the ribs, and then a horse
got shot and fell on top of me, putting my shoulder out again and
crushing my ribs. Otherwise I am fit to tackle a few more Germans, and
I hope I shall soon be back again at the front to get a bit of my own

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 9.--From a private of the 1st Lincolns to friends at

Just a line to tell you I have returned from the front, and I can tell
you we have had a very trying time of it. I must also say I am very
lucky to be here. We were fighting from Sunday, 23rd, to Wednesday
evening, on nothing to eat or drink--only the drop of water in our
bottles which we carried. No one knows--only those that have seen us
could credit such a sight, and if I live for years may I never see such
a sight again. I can tell you it is not very nice to see your chum next
to you with half his head blown off. The horrible sights I shall never
forget. There seemed nothing else only certain death staring us in the
face all the time. I cannot tell you all on paper. We must, however,
look on the bright side, for it is no good doing any other. There are
thousands of these Germans and they simply throw themselves at us.
It is no joke fighting seven or eight to one. I can tell you we have
lessened them a little, but there are millions more yet to finish.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 10.--From one of the 9th Lancers to friends at Alfreton:_

I was at the great battle of Mons, and got a few shots in me. Once
I was holding my officer’s horse and my own, when, all of a sudden,
a German shell came over and burst. Both horses were killed. I got
away with my left hand split and three fingers blown in pieces. I am
recovering rather quickly. I shall probably have to lose one or two
of my fingers. I had two bullets taken from my body on Tuesday, and
I can tell you I am in pain. I think I am one of the luckiest men in
the world to escape as I did. War is a terrible thing. It is a lot
different to what most of us expected. Women and children leaving their
homes with their belongings--then all of a sudden their houses would
be in ashes, blown to the ground. I shall be glad to get well again.
Then I can go and help again to fight the brutal Germans. The people
in France and Belgium were so kind and good to our soldiers. They gave
everything they possibly could do.

I have not heard from Jack (his brother, also at the front). I do so
hope he will come back.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _Drawn by F. Matania._      _Copyright of The Sphere._


  _Letter 11.--From a wounded Gordon Highlander to his father, Mr.
      Alexander Buchan, of Monymusk:_

We had a pretty stiff day of it last Sunday. The battalion went into
small trenches in front of a wood a few miles to the right of Mons, and
the Germans had the range to a yard. I was on the right edge of the
wood with the machine guns, and there wasn’t half some joy.

The shells were bursting all over the place. It was a bit of a funny
sensation for a start, but you soon got used to it. You would hear it
coming singing through the air over your head; then it would give a
mighty big bang and you would see a great flash, and there would be a
shower of lumps of iron and rusty nails all around your ears. They kept
on doing that all Sunday; sometimes three or four at the same time, but
none of them hit me. I was too fly for them.

Their artillery is pretty good, but the infantry are no good at all.
They advance in close column, and you simply can’t help hitting them. I
opened fire on them with the machine gun and you could see them go over
in heaps, but it didn’t make any difference. For every man that fell
ten took his place. That is their strong point. They have an unlimited
supply of men.

They think they can beat any army in the world simply by hurling great
masses of troops against them, but they are finding out their mistake
now that they are put up against British troops. The reason for the
British retreat is this--all up through France are great lines of
entrenchments and fortresses, and as they have not enough men to defeat
the Germans in open battle, they are simply retiring from position to
position--holding the Germans for a few days and then retiring to the
next one. All this is just to gain time. Our losses are pretty severe,
but they are nothing to the Germans, whose losses are ten to every one
of ours.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 12.--From Private J. Willis, of the Gordon Highlanders:_

You mustn’t run away with the notion that we stand shivering or
cowering under shell fire, for we don’t. We just go about our business
in the usual way. If it’s potting at the Germans that is to the fore we
keep at it as though nothing were happening, and if we’re just having a
wee bit chat among ourselves we keep at it all the same.

Last week when I got this wound in my leg it was because I got excited
in an argument with wee Georgie Ferriss, of our company, about Queen’s
Park Rangers and their chances this season. One of my chums was hit
when he stood up to light a cigarette while the Germans were blazing
away at us.

Keep your eyes wide open and you will have a big surprise sooner than
you think. We’re all right, and the Germans will find that out sooner
than you at home.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 13.--From Private G. Kay, of the 2nd Royal Scots, to his
      employer, a milkman, at Richmond:_

You will be surprised to hear I am home from Belgium in hospital with
a slight wound in my heel from shrapnel. I had a narrow escape in
Wednesday’s battle at or near Mons, as I was with the transport, and it
was surrounded twice.

The last time I made holes in the stable wall, and had a good position
for popping them off--and I did, too; but somehow they got to know
where we were, and shelled us for three hours. Off went the roof,
and off went the roof of other buildings around us. At last a shell
exploded and set fire to our cooking apparatus and our stables. We
had twenty-two fine horses, and all the transport in this stable
yard. We hung on for orders to remove the horses. None came. At last
a shell like a thunderbolt struck the wall, and down came half the
stables, and as luck would have it, as we retired--only about six of
us--my brother-in-law, the chap you were going to start when we were
called up, went to the right and I went to the left. Just then a shell
burst high and struck several down in the yard--it was then I got
hit--smashed the butt of my rifle, and sent me silly for five minutes.
Then I heard a major say, “For yourselves, boys.” I looked for my
brother-in-law, but he was not to be seen, and I have not heard of him
since. During all this time the fire was spreading rapidly. I was told
to go back and cut the horses loose. I did so, and some of them got
out, but others were burnt to death.

Then God answered my prayer, and I had strength to run through a line
of rifle fire over barbed wire covered by a hedge, and managed to get
out of rifle range, three hundred yards or four hundred yards away,
and then I fell for want of water. I just had about two teaspoonfuls
in my bottle, and then I went on struggling my way through hedges to a
railway line.

When I got through I saw an awful sight--a man of the Royal Irish with
six wounds from shrapnel. He asked me for water, but I had none. I
managed to carry him about half a mile, and then found water. I stuck
to him though he was heavy and I was feeling weak and tired. I had to
carry him through a field of turnips, and half way I slipped and both
fell. I then had a look back and could see the fire mountains high.

I then saw one of my own regiment, and called to him to stay with
this man while I went for a shutter or a door, which I got, and with
the help of two Frenchmen soon got him to a house and dressed him.
We were being shelled again from the other end of the village then.
We were about fifteen strong, as some slightly wounded came up and
some not wounded. We got him away, and then met a company of Cameron
Highlanders, and handed him over to them.

I think I marched nearly sixty-three miles, nearly all on one foot, and
at last I got a horse and made my way to Mons, where I was put in the
train for Havre.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 14.--From Sergeant Taylor, of the R.H.A.:_

Our first brush with the enemy was on August 21st, about thirty miles
from Mons, but Mons, my goodness, it was just like Brock’s benefit at
Belle Vue, and you would have thought it was hailing. Of course, we
were returning the compliment. The Germans always found the range,
which proved they had good maps, yet in their anxiety they tried to
fire too many shells, the consequence being that a lot of them were
harmless, and they did not give themselves time to properly fuse them.
Only on one day--from the 21st to my leaving--did we miss an action. In
General French’s report you will, no doubt, see where the 5th Brigade
accounted for two of the German cavalry regiments, of which only six
troopers were taken prisoners; the rest bit the dust. One of these
regiments was the Lancers, of which the late Queen was honorary colonel.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 15.--From Private J. Atkinson, of the Duke of Wellington’s
      West Riding Regiment, to his wife at Leeds:_

Talk about a time! I would not like to go through the same again for
love or money.

It is not war. It is murder. The Germans are murdering our wounded
as fast as they come across them. I gave myself up for done a week
last Sunday night, as we were in the thick of the fight at Mons. Our
regiment started fighting with 1,009 and finished with 106 and three
officers. That made 109, as we just lost 900. It was cruel. At one
place we were at there were six streets of the town where all the
women were left widows, and were all wearing the widows’ weeds. The
French regiment that fought there was made up in the town and they got
wiped out.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 16.--From Private Robert Robertson, of the Argylls, to his
      parents at Musselburgh:_

The poor Argylls got pretty well hit, but never wavered a yard for all
their losses. The Scots Greys are doing great work at the front--in
fact they were the means of putting ten thousand Germans to their fate
on Sunday morning. I will never forget that day, as our regiment left
a town on the French frontier on Saturday morning at 3 o’clock and
marched till 3 a.m. on Sunday into a Belgian town. I was about to have
an hour in bed, at least a lie down in a shop, when I was wakened to
go on guard at the General’s headquarters, and while I was on guard a
Captain of the crack French cavalry came in with the official report of
the ten thousand Germans killed. The Scots Greys, early that morning,
had decoyed the Germans right in front of the machine guns of the
French, and they just mowed them down. There was no escape for them,
poor devils, but they deserve it the way they go on. You would be sorry
for the poor Belgian women having to leave their homes with young
children clinging to them. One sad case we came across on the roadside
was a woman just out of bed two days after giving birth to a child. The
child was torn from her breast, and her breast cut off that the infant
was sucking. Then the Germans bayoneted the child before the mother’s
eyes. We did the best we could for her, but she died about six hours
after telling us her hardships.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 17.--From Private Whitaker, of the Coldstream Guards:_

You thought it was a big crowd that streamed out of the Crystal Palace
when we went to see the Cup Final. Well, outside Compiègne it was
just as if that crowd came at us. You couldn’t miss them. Our bullets
ploughed into them, but still they came for us. I was well entrenched,
and my rifle got so hot I could hardly hold it. I was wondering if I
should have enough bullets, when a pal shouted, “Up, Guards, and at
’em!” The next second he was rolled over with a nasty knock on the
shoulder. He jumped up and hissed, “Let me get at them!” His language
was a bit stronger than that.

When we really did get the order to get at them we made no mistake, I
can tell you. They cringed at the bayonet, but those on our left wing
tried to get round us, and after racing as hard as we could for quite
five hundred yards we cut up nearly every man who did not run away.

You have read of the charge of the Light Brigade. It was nowt to our
cavalry chaps. I saw two of our fellows who were unhorsed stand back to
back and slash away with their swords, bringing down nine or ten of the
panic-stricken devils. Then they got hold of the stirrup-straps of a
horse without a rider, and got out of the melée. This kind of thing was
going on all day.

In the afternoon I thought we should all get bowled over, as they came
for us again in their big numbers. Where they came from, goodness
knows; but as we could not stop them with bullets they had another
taste of the bayonet. My captain, a fine fellow, was near to me, and as
he fetched them down he shouted, “Give them socks, my lads!” How many
were killed and wounded I don’t know; but the field was covered with

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 18.--From a private in the Coldstream Guards to his mother:_

First of all I sailed from Southampton on August 12th on a cattle boat
called the _Cawdor Castle_. We sailed at 9.30 at night, and after a
passage of 14½ hours landed at Le Havre, on the coast of France. We
went into camp there, and then left on August 14th, getting into a
train, not third class carriages, but cattle trucks. We were on the
train eighteen and a half hours, and I was a bit stiff when I got out
at a place called Wassigny. Then we marched through pouring rain to
a village, where we slept in some barns. The next day being Sunday,
August 16th, we got on the march to a place called Grooges, a distance
of about nine miles. We stayed there till Thursday.

Then we started to march to get into Belgium. We got there on Sunday,
the 23rd, just outside Mons. We dug trenches, from which we had to
retire, and then we got into a position, and there I saw the big
battle, but could not do anything, because we were with the artillery.
We retreated into France, being shelled all the way, and on the
Tuesday, the 25th, we marched into Landrecies. We arrived there about
one o’clock and were thinking ourselves lucky. We considered we were
going to have two days’ rest, but about five o’clock the alarm was
raised. The Germans got to the front of us and were trying to get in
the town. So we fixed our bayonets, doubled up the road, and the fight
started. The German artillery shelled us, and some poor chaps got hit
badly. The chap next to me got shot, and I tried to pull him out of
the road, so that I could get down in his place, as there was not room
for us all in the firing line. We had to lay down behind and wait our
chance. I had got on my knees, and just got hold of his leg, when
something hit my rifle and knocked it out of my hand, and almost at the
same time a bullet went right through my arm. It knocked me over, and
I must have bumped my head, for I do not remember any more till I felt
someone shaking me. It was the doctor--a brave man, for he came right
up amongst the firing to tend the wounded. He bandaged my arm up, and I
had to get to hospital, a mile and a half away, as best I could.

The beasts of Germans shelled the building all night long without
hitting it. We moved next morning, and by easy stages left for England.
I am going on fine; shall soon be back and at it again I expect. Keep
up your spirits, won’t you? I believe it was only your prayers at home
that guarded me that Tuesday night, simply awful it was.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 19.--From a wounded English Officer, in a Belgian hospital,
      to his mother:_

I do not know if this letter will ever get to you or not, but I am
writing on the chance that it will. A lot has happened since I last
wrote to you. We marched straight up to Belgium from France, and the
first day we arrived my company was put on outposts for the night.
During the night we dug a few trenches, etc., so did not get much
sleep. The next day the Germans arrived, and I will try and describe
the fight. We were only advanced troops of a few hundred holding the
line of a canal. The enemy arrived about 50,000 strong. We held them
in check all day and killed hundreds of them, and still they came.
Finally, of course, we retired on our main body. I will now explain
the part I played. We were guarding a railway bridge over a canal. My
company held a semicircle from the railway to the canal. I was nearest
the railway. A Scottish regiment completed the semicircle on the right
of the railway to the canal. The railway was on a high embankment
running up to the bridge, so that the Scottish regiment was out of
sight of us. We held the Germans all day, killing hundreds, when about
five p.m. the order to retire was eventually given. It never reached
us, and we were left all alone. The Germans therefore got right up to
the canal on our right, hidden by the railway embankment, and crossed
the railway. Our people had blown up the bridge before their departure.
We found ourselves between two fires, and I realized we had about
2,000 Germans and a canal between myself and my friends.

We decided to sell our lives dearly. I ordered my men to fix bayonets
and charge, which the gallant fellows did splendidly, but we got
shot down like nine-pins. As I was loading my revolver after giving
the order to fix bayonets I was hit in the right wrist. I dropped
my revolver, my hand was too weak to draw my sword. This afterwards
saved my life. I had not got far when I got a bullet through the calf
of my right leg and another in my right knee, which brought me down.
The rest of my men got driven round into the trench on our left. The
officer there charged the Germans and was killed himself, and nearly
all the men were either killed or wounded. I did not see this part
of the business, but from all accounts the gallant men charged with
the greatest bravery. Those who could walk the Germans took away as
prisoners. I have since discovered from civilians that around the
bridge 5,000 Germans were found dead and about 60 English. These 60
must have been nearly all my company, who were so unfortunately left

As regards myself, when I lay upon the ground I found my coat sleeve
full of blood, and my wrist spurting blood, so I knew an artery of some
sort must have been cut. The Germans had a shot at me when I was on
the ground to finish me off; that shot hit my sword, which I wore on my
side, and broke in half just below the hilt; this turned the bullet off
and saved my life. I afterwards found that two shots had gone through
my field glasses, which I wore on my belt, and another had gone through
my coat pocket, breaking my pipe and putting a hole through a small
collapsible tin cup, which must have turned the bullet off me. We lay
out there all night for twenty-four hours. I had fainted away from
loss of blood, and when I lost my senses I thought I should never see
anything again. Luckily I had fallen on my wounded arm, and the arm
being slightly twisted I think the weight of my body stopped the flow
of blood and saved me. At any rate, the next day civilians picked up
ten of us who were still alive, and took us to a Franciscan convent,
where we have been splendidly looked after. All this happened on August
23rd, it is now September 3rd. I am ever so much better, and can walk
about a bit now, and in a few days will be quite healed up. It is quite
a small hole in my wrist, and it is nearly healed, and my leg is much
better; the bullets escaped the bones, so that in a week I shall be
quite all right. Unfortunately the Germans are at present in possession
of this district, so that I am more or less a prisoner here. But I hope
the English will be here in a week, when I shall be ready to rejoin

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 20.--From W. Hawkins, of the 3rd Coldstream Guards:_

I have a nasty little hole through my right arm, but I am one of the
lucky ones. My word, it was hot for us. On the Tuesday night when I
got my little lot, what I saw put me in mind of a farmer’s machine
cutting grass, as the Germans fell just like it. We only lost nine poor
fellows, and the German losses amounted to 1,500 and 2,000. So you can
guess what it was like. As they were shot down others took their place,
as there were thousands of them. The best friend is your rifle with
the bayonet. But I soon had mine blown to pieces. How it happened I
don’t know.... I got a bullet through the top of my hat. I will bring
my hat home and show you. I felt it go through, but it never as much
as bruised my head. I had then no rifle, so I was obliged to keep down
my head. The bullets were whirling over me by the hundred. I stopped
until they got a bit slower, and then I got up and was trying to pull
a fellow away that had been shot through the head when I managed to
receive a bullet through my arm. When I looked in the direction of the
enemy I could see them coming by the thousand. Off I went. I bet I
should easily have won the mile that night. I got into the hospital
at Landricca amid shot and shell, which were flying by as fast as
you like. I got my arm done, and was put to bed. All that night the
enemy were trying to blow up the hospital, where they had to turn out
the lights so that the Germans could not get the correct range. Then
we were taken away in R.A.M.C. vans to Guise, where we slept on the
station platform after a nice supper which the French provided.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 21.--From Sergeant Griffiths, of the Welsh Regiment, to his
      parents at Swansea:_

The fighting at Mons was terrible, and it was here that our 4th and
5th Divisions got badly knocked, but fought well. Our artillery played
havoc with them. About 10 o’clock on Monday we were suddenly ordered to
quit, and quick, too, and no wonder. They were ten to one. Then began
that retreat which will go down in history as one of the greatest and
most glorious retirements over done. Our boys were cursing because our
backs were towards them; but when the British did turn, my word, what
a game! The 3rd Coldstreams should be named “3rd Cold Steels,” and no
error. Their bayonet charge was a beauty.

Among numerous other such letters that have been published up and
down the country is this in which a corporal of the North Lancashire
Regiment gives a graphic little picture of his experiences to the
_Manchester City News_:

When we got near Mons the Germans were nearer than we expected.
They must have been waiting for us. We had little time to make
entrenchments, and had to do the digging lying on our stomachs. Only
about 300 of the 1,000 I was with got properly entrenched. The Germans
shelled us heavily, and I got a splinter in the leg. It is nearly right
now, and I hope soon to go back again. We lost fairly heavily, nearly
all from artillery fire. Altogether I was fighting for seventy-two
hours before I was hit. The German forces appeared to be never-ending.
They were round about us like a swarm of bees, and as fast as one man
fell, it seemed, there were dozens to take his place.

There is one in which James Scott, reservist, tells his relatives at
Jarrow that British soldiers at Mons dropped like logs. The enemy were
shot down as they came up, but it was like knocking over beehives--a
hundred came up for every one knocked down. He thought the Germans
were the worst set of men he had ever seen. Their cavalry drove women
and children in front of them in the streets of Mons so that the
British could not fire.

A wounded non-commissioned officer of the Pompadours, whose regiment
left Wembley Park a week before the fighting began, says that in the
four days’ battle commencing at Mons on the Sunday, August 23rd, and
lasting until August 26th, they were continually under fire:

We had to beat off several cavalry attacks as well as infantry, and
when the trouble seemed to be over the Germans played on us with
shrapnel just like turning on a fire hose. Several of our officers were
hit on Wednesday. Heavy German cavalry charged us with drawn sabres,
and we only had a minute’s warning “to prepare to receive cavalry.” We
left our entrenchments, and rallying in groups, emptied our magazines
into them as they drew near. Men and horses fell in confused heaps. It
was a terrible sight. Still, on they came. They brought their naked
sabres to the engage, and we could distinctly hear their words of
command made in that piercing, high tone of voice which the Germans

The enemy had a terrible death roll before their fruitless charge was
completed, a thick line of dead and wounded marking the ground over
which they had charged. We shot the wounded horses, to put them out of
their misery, whilst our ambulances set to work to render aid to the
wounded. Our Red Cross men make no distinction. Friend and foe get the
same medical treatment, that’s where we score over the Germans.

If they had been Uhlans we should not have spared them, as we owe them
a grudge for rounding up some Tommies who were bathing. They took their
clothes away, and tied the men to trees. We swore to give them a warm
time wherever we met them.

A wounded corporal writes:

It looked as if we were going to be snowed under. The mass of men that
came at us was an avalanche, and every one of us must have been simply
trodden to death and not killed by bullets or shells when our cavalry
charged into them on the left wing, not 500 yards from the trench I was
in, and cut them up. Our lads did the rest, but the shells afterwards
laid low a lot of them.

The following is an extract from a letter received by a gardener from
his son:

You complained last year of the swarms of wasps that destroyed your
fruit. Well, dad, they were certainly not larger in number than the
Germans who came for us. The Germans are cowards when they get the
bayonets at them. A young lieutenant, I don’t know his name, was
one of the coolest men I have ever seen, and didn’t he encourage our
chaps! I saw him bring down a couple of Germans who were leading half a

A fact that stands out continually in these tales of eye-witnesses is
the overwhelming numbers in which the Germans were hurled upon them.
One says they seemed to be rising up endlessly out of the very ground,
and as fast as one mass was shot down another surged into its place;
the innumerable horde is compared by various correspondents to “a great
big battering-ram,” to a gigantic swarm of wasps, to a swarm of bees,
to a flock of countless thousands of sheep trying to rush out of a
field; to the unceasing pouring of peas out of a sack. It was the sheer
mass and weight of this onrush that forced the small British army back
on its systematic, triumphant retreat, and probably the most striking
little sketch of this phase of the conflict is that supplied by an
Irish soldier invalided to Belfast, which I include in the following
selection of hospital stories.

The last few weeks have been like a dream to me, says a wounded
private of the Middlesex Regiment. After we landed at Boulogne we were
magnificently treated, and everyone was in the highest spirits. Then
we set off on our marching. We were all anxious to have a slap at the
Germans. My word! If they only knew in our country how the Germans are
treating our wounded there would be the devil to pay.

It was somewhere in the neighbourhood of Mons, I believe, that we
got our first chance. We had been marching for days with hardly any
sleep. When we took up our position the Germans were nearer than we
thought, because we had only just settled down to get some rest when
there came the blinding glare of the searchlight. This went away almost
as suddenly as it appeared, and it was followed by a perfect hail of
bullets. We lost a good many in the fight, but we were all bitterly
disappointed when we got the order to retire. I got a couple of bullets
through my leg, but I hope it won’t be long before I get back again.
We never got near enough to use our bayonets. I only wish we had done.
Talk about civilized warfare! Don’t you believe it. The Germans are
perfect fiends.


(1) _At Southampton._

The first batch of wounded soldiers arrived at Netley on the 28th
August, coming from Southampton Docks by the hospital train. A _Daily
Telegraph_ correspondent was one of a quiet band of people who had
waited silently for many long hours on the platform that runs
alongside the hospital for the arrival of the disabled soldiers who had
fought so heroically at Mons; and this is his account of what he saw:

Colonel Lucas and staff were all in readiness. Here were wheeling
chairs, there stretchers. The preparations for the reception of the
broken Tommies could not have been better, more elaborate, or more
humane. It was the humanity of it all--the quiet consideration that
told of complete preparedness--that made not the least moving chapter
of the story that I have to tell. And out of the train stern-faced men
began to hobble, many with their arms in a sling.

Here was a hairless-faced, boyish-looking fellow, with his head
enveloped in snowy-white bandages; his cheeks were red and healthy,
his eyes bright and twinkling. There was pain written across his young
face, but he walked erect and puffed away at a cigarette. One man, with
arms half clinging round the neck of two injured comrades, went limping
to the reception-room, his foot the size of three, and as he went by he
smiled and joked because he could only just manage to get along.

When the last of the soldiers able to walk found his way into the
hospital, there to be refreshed with tea or coffee or soup, before he
was sent to this or that ward, the more seriously wounded were carried
from the train. How patient, how uncomplaining were these fellows! One,
stretched out on a mattress, with his foot smashed, chatted and smoked
until his turn came to be wheeled away. And when the last of these
wounded heroes had been lifted out of the train I took myself to the
reception-room, and there heard many stories that, though related with
the simplicity of the true soldier, were wonderful.

The wounded men were of all regiments and spoke all dialects. They were
travel-stained and immensely tired. Pain had eaten deep lines into many
of their faces, but there were no really doleful looks. They were faces
that seemed to say: “Here we are; what does it all matter; it is good
to be alive; it might have been worse.”

I sat beside a private, named Cox. An old warrior he looked. His fine
square jaw was black with wire-like whiskers. His eyes shone with the
fire of the man who had suffered, so it seemed, some dreadful nightmare.

“And you want me to tell you all about it. Well, believe me, it was
just hell. I have been through the Boxer campaign; I went through the
Boer War, but I have never seen anything so terrible as that which
happened last Sunday. It all happened so sudden. We believed that the
Germans were some fifteen miles away, and all at once they opened fire
upon us with their big guns.

“Let me tell you what happened to my own regiment. When a roll-call of
my company was taken there were only three of us answered, me and two
others.” When he had stilled his emotion, he went on. “So unexpected
and so terrible was the attack of the enemy, and so overwhelming were
their numbers, that there was no withstanding it.”

Before fire was opened a German aeroplane flew over our troops, and the
deduction made by Private Cox and several of his comrades, with whom
I chatted, was that the aeroplane was used as a sort of index to the
precise locality of our soldiers, and, further, that the Germans, so
accurate was their gunnery, had been over this particular battlefield
before they struck a blow, and so had acquired an intimate knowledge
of the country. Trenches that were dug by our men served as little
protection from the fire.

Said Cox: “No man could have lived against such a murderous attack.
There was a rain of lead, a deluge of lead, and, talk about being
surprised, well, I can hardly realise that, and still less believe what

By the side of Cox sat a lean, fair-haired, freckle-faced private.
“That’s right,” he said, by way of corroborating Cox. “They were fair
devils,” chimed in an Irishman, who later told me that he came from
Connemara. “You could do nothing with them, but I say they are no d----
good as riflemen.”

“No, they’re not, Mike,” ventured a youth. “We got within 400 yards of
them, and they couldn’t hit us.”

“But,” broke in the man of Connemara, “they are devils with the big
guns, and their aim was mighty good, too. If it had not been they
wouldn’t have damaged us as they have done.”

A few yards away was another soldier, also seated in a wheeling chair,
with a crippled leg--a big fine fellow he was. He told me his corps had
been ambushed, and that out of 120 only something like twenty survived.

On all hands I heard all too much to show that the battle of Mons was a
desperate affair. Two regiments suffered badly, but there was no marked
disposition on the part of any of the soldiers with whom I chatted to
enlarge upon the happenings of last week-end. Rather would they talk
more freely of the awful atrocities perpetrated by the Germans.

“Too awful for words,” one said. “Their treatment of women will remain
as a scandal as long as the world lasts. We shall never forget; we
shall never forgive. I wish I was back again at the front. Englishmen
have only got to realise what devilish crimes are being committed by
these Germans to want to go and take a hand in the fight. Women were
shot, and so were young girls. In fact, it did not seem to matter to
the Germans who they killed, and they seemed to take a delight in
burning houses and spreading terror everywhere.

“I have got one consolation, I helped to catch four German spies.”


(2) _At Belfast._

About 120 officers and men arrived in Belfast on August 31st, direct
from the Continent. They were brought here, says the _Daily Telegraph_
local correspondent, to be near their friends, for the men had been in
Ulster for a long time before leaving for the front, being stationed in
Belfast and later in Londonderry. They sailed from this city for the
theatre of war on August 14th, to the number of 900. It was remarkable
to note how many of them were injured in the legs and feet. All were
conveyed to the hospital at the Victoria Military Barracks. The men
were glad to see Belfast again, but those to whom I spoke will be
bitterly disappointed if they do not get another opportunity for paying
off their score against the Germans.

One soldier told me a plain straightforward story, without any
embellishments. What made his tale doubly interesting was the fact
that he spoke with the experience of a veteran, having gone through the
South African War.

Where the Germans had the advantage, he said, was in the apparently
endless number of reserves. No sooner did we dispose of one regiment
than another regiment took its place. It just put me in mind of the
Niagara Falls--the terrible rush threatening to carry everything before

No force on earth could have withstood that cataract, and the fact that
our men only fell back a little was the best proof of their strength.
At one stage there were, I am sure, six Germans to every one of us. Yet
we held our ground, and would still have held it but for the fact that
after we had dealt with the men before us another force came on, using
the bodies of their dead comrades as a carpet.

The South African War was a picnic compared with this, and on the way
home I now and again recoiled with horror as I thought of the awful
spectacle which was witnessed before we left the front of piled-up
bodies of the German dead. We lost heavily, but the German casualties
must have been appalling.

You must remember that for almost twenty-four hours we bore the brunt
of the attack, and the desperate fury with which the Germans fought
showed that they believed if they were only once past the British
forces the rest would be easy. Not only so, but I am sure we had the
finest troops in the German army against us.

On the way out I heard some slighting comments passed on the German
troops, and no doubt some of them are not worth much, but those thrown
at us were very fine specimens indeed. I do not think they could have
been beaten in that respect.


(3) _At Birmingham._

About 120 English soldiers who had been wounded in and around Mons
arrived in Birmingham on September 1st, and were removed to the new
university buildings at Bournbrook, where facilities have been provided
for dealing with over 1,000 patients. The contingent was the first
batch to arrive. Though terribly maimed, and looking broken and tired,
the men were cheerful. About twenty had to be carried, but the majority
of them were able to walk with assistance.

In the course of conversation with a _Daily Telegraph_ reporter a
number of the men spoke of the terrible character of the fighting. The
Germans, one man said, outnumbered us by 100 to one. As we knocked
them down, they simply filled up their gaps and came on as before.

One of the Suffolk men stated that very few were injured by shot
wounds. Nearly all the mischief was done by shells. The Germans, he
said, fired six at a time, and if you missed one you got the others.

One poor fellow, whose head was so smothered in bandages that his
features could not be seen, remarked, “We could beat them with
bladder-sticks if it were not for the shells, which were appalling. The
effect could not be described.”

A private of the West Kent Regiment, who was through the Boer War, said
there was never anything like the fighting at Mons in South Africa.
That was a game of skittles by comparison.

They came at us, he said, in great masses. It was like shooting
rabbits, only as fast as you shot one lot down another lot took their
place. You couldn’t help hitting them. We had plenty of time to take
aim, and if we weren’t reaching the Bisley standard all the time, we
must have done a mighty lot of execution. As to their rifle fire, they
couldn’t hit a haystack.

A sergeant gunner of the Royal Field Artillery, who was wounded at
Tournai, owing to an injury to his jaw was unable to speak, but he
wrote on a pad:

I was on a flank with my gun and fired about sixty rounds in forty
minutes. We wanted support and could not get it. It was about 500
English trying to save a flank attack, against, honestly, I should
say, 10,000. As fast as you shot them down more came. But for their
aeroplanes they would be useless. I was firing for one hour at from
1,500 yards down to 700 yards, so you can tell what it was like.


(4) _At London._

All the heroism that has been displayed by British troops in the
present war will never be known. A few individual cases may chance to
be heard of. Others will be known only to the Recording Angel. Two
instances of extraordinary bravery are mentioned by a couple of wounded
soldiers lying in the London Hospital in the course of a narrative of
their own adventures.

One of them, a splendid fellow of the Royal West Kent Regiment, told a
_Daily Telegraph_ reporter:

We were in a scrubby position just outside Mons from Saturday afternoon
till Monday morning. After four hours each of our six big guns was put
out of action. Either the gunners were killed or wounded, or the guns
themselves damaged. For the rest of the time--that is, until Monday
morning, when we retired--we had to stick the German fire without being
able to retaliate. It was bad enough to stand this incessant banging
away, but it made it worse not to be able to reply.

All day Sunday and all Sunday night the Germans continued to
shrapnel us. At night it was just hellish. We had constructed some
entrenchments, but it didn’t afford much cover and our losses were very
heavy. On Monday we received the order to retire to the south of the
town, and some hours later, when the roll-call was called, it was found
that we had 300 dead alone, including four officers.

Then an extraordinary thing happened. Me and some of my pals began to
dance. We were just dancing for joy at having escaped with our skins,
and to forget the things we’d seen a bit, when bang! and there came a
shell from the blue, which burst and got, I should think, quite twenty
of us.

That’s how some of us got wounded, as we thought we had escaped. Then
another half-dozen of us got wounded this way. Some of our boys went
down a street near by, and found a basin and some water, and were
washing their hands and faces when another shell burst above them and
laid most of them out.

What happened to us happened to the Gloucesters. Their guns, too, were
put out of action, and, like us, they had to stand the shell-fire for
hours and hours before they were told to retire. What we would have
done without our second in command I don’t know.

During the Sunday firing he got hit in the head. He had two wounds
through the cap in the front and one or two behind, and lost a lot of
blood. Two of our fellows helped to bind up his head, and offered to
carry him back, but he said, “It isn’t so bad. I’ll be all right soon.”
Despite his wounds and loss of blood, he carried on until we retired on
Monday. Then, I think, they took him off to hospital.

A stalwart chap of the Cheshires here broke in.

Our Cheshire chaps were also badly cut up. Apart from the wounded,
several men got concussion of the brain by the mere explosions. It
was awful! Under cover of their murderous artillery fire, the German
infantry advanced to within three and five hundred yards of our
position. With that we were given the order to fix bayonets, and stood
up for the charge. That did it for the German infantry! They turned
tail and ran for their lives.

Our captain cried out, “Now you’ve got ’em, men!” But we hadn’t. Their
artillery begins with that to fire more hellish than ever, and before
you could almost think what to do a fresh lots of the “sausages” came
along, and we had to beat a retreat.

During the retreat one of our sergeants was wounded and fell. With that
our captain runs back and tries to lift him. As he was doing so he was
struck in the foot, and fell over. We thought he was done for, but he
scrambles up and drags the sergeant along until a couple of us chaps
goes out to help ’em in. You should have seen his foot when he took his
boot off--I mean the captain. It wasn’t half smashed.

How a number of British troops made a dash in the night to save some
women and children from the Germans was told by Lance-corporal Tanner,
of the 2nd Oxfordshire and Bucks Light Infantry. On the Sunday the
regiment arrived at Mons.

We took up our position in the trenches, he said, and fought for some
time. In the evening the order came to retire, and we marched back to
Conde, with the intention of billeting for the night and having a rest.
Suddenly, about midnight, we were ordered out, and set off to march to
the village of Douai, some miles away, as news had reached us that the
Germans were slaughtering the natives there.

It was a thrilling march in the darkness, across the unfamiliar
country. We were liable to be attacked at any moment, of course, but
everyone was keen on saving the women and children, and hurried on. We
kept the sharpest lookout on all sides, but saw nothing of the enemy.

When we reached Douai a number of the inhabitants rushed out to meet
us. They were overjoyed to see us, and speedily told what the Germans
had done. They had killed a number of women and children. With fixed
bayonets we advanced into the village, and we saw signs all around us
of the cruelty of the enemy.

Private R. Wills, of the Highland Light Infantry, who also took part in
the march to the village, here continued the story.

We found that most of the Germans had not waited for our arrival, and
there were only a few left in the place. However, we made sure that
none remained there.

We started a house-to-house search. Our men went into all the houses,
and every now and then they found one or two of the enemy hiding in a
corner or upstairs. Many of them surrendered at once, others did not.

When we had cleared the village, some of us lay down on the pavements,
and snatched an hour’s sleep. At 3.30 we marched away again, having rid
the place of the enemy, and, getting back to camp, were glad to turn in.

A sergeant of the Royal Field Artillery, who was wounded by shrapnel
just outside Mons village, said that the German artillery fire was
good; once the enemy’s gunners got the range they did well.

Their shooting was every bit as good as ours, and although our battery
made excellent practice, three of our men were killed, and twenty out
of thirty-six were wounded. I lay on the field all night, and was
rescued the next morning. Fortunately, the Germans did not come and
find me during those long hours of loneliness.

In such tales of these men in hospital, and in the letters they have
written home, there is a common agreement that the German rifle
shooting is beneath contempt--“they shoot from the hip and don’t seem
to aim at anything in particular;” but their artillery practice is
spoken of with respect and admiration. The German artillery is very
good, writes Private Geradine, of the 1st Northumberland Fusiliers,
but their aeroplanes help them a lot. It is a pretty sight to see the
shells burst in the night, he adds--it’s like Guy Fawkes Day!

I like too, such robust cheerfulness and gay good-humour in face of the
horrors of death as sounds through the letter of Sapper Bradley:

I have never seen our lads so cheery as they are under great trials.
You couldn’t help being proud of them if you saw them lying in the
trenches cracking jokes or smoking while they take pot shots at the
Germans.... We have very little spare time now, but what we have we
pass by smoking concerts, sing-songs, and story-telling. Sometimes we
have football for a change, with a German helmet for a ball, and to
pass the time in the trenches have invented the game of guessing where
the next German shell will drop. Sometimes we have bets on it, and the
man who guesses correctly the greatest number of times takes the stakes.

And surely no less do I like the equally courageous but more sombre
outlook of the Scottish Private who complained of the famous retreat
from Mons, It was “Retire! retire! retire!” when our chaps were longing
to be at them. But they didn’t swear about it, because being out there
and seeing what we saw makes you feel religious.

I like that wonderful diary kept by a driver of the 4th Ammunition
Column, 3rd section, R.F.A. It was sent over from Paris by Mr. Harold
Ashton, _The Daily News_ correspondent, and is as naïvely and minutely
realistic as if it were a page out of Defoe. The driver’s interests
are naturally centred in his horses, they hold the first place in his
regard, the excitements of the war coming second. He records how he
went from Hendon to Southampton on the 21st August:

Got horses on board all right, though the friskiest of them kicked a
lot. Got to Havre safe. Food good--rabbit and potatoes and plenty of
beer, not our English sort, but the colour of cyder. Us four enjoyed
ourselves with the family, had a good time, and left ten o’clock next
day well filled up. Our objective was Compiègne. We got through all
right, watering our horses on the way from pumps and taps at private
houses. The people were awful kind, giving us quantities of pears, and
filling our water-bottles with beer. That was all right. Our welcome
was splendid everywhere. At Compiègne we got into touch with the
Germans. Very hot work. We marched from Compiègne about eleven o’clock
on the 31st, which was Sunday. The way was hard. Terrible steep hills
which knocked out our older and weaker horses. Collick broke out among
them, too, and that was bad. We lost a good many.... Slept until 5
a.m. and then marched on again, still retreating. Hot as ----. Nothing
to eat or drink. Plenty of tea, but nothing to boil it with. At last
we got some dry biscuits and some tins of marmalade. Bill ----, whose
teeth were bad, went near mad with toothache after the jam.... No dead
horses, thank God, to-day. I hope we have checked that ---- collick,
but my horse fell into a ditch going through the wood and could not get
out for over an hour. I couldn’t go for help, because the Germans had
got the range of the place and their shells were ripping overhead like
blazes. Poor old Dick (the horse), he was that fagged out by the long
march. At last I got him out and went on, and by luck managed to pick
up my pals.... The Germans were lambing in at us with their artillery,
and poor old Dick got blowed up. I thank God I wasn’t on him just
then. Sept. 2.--More fighting and worser than ever. I don’t believe we
shall ever get to Paris.... Now we come to Montagny, and fighting all
the time. Rabbits and apples to eat gallore, but still no money, and
no good if we had because we carnt spend it. Sept. 3.--We progressed
this day four miles in twelve hours. Took the wrong road, and had to
crawl about the woods on our stummoks like snakes to dodge the German
snipers. We had one rifle between four of us, and took it in turns to
have goes. We shot one blighter and took another prisoner. They was
both half starved and covered with soars. Then the rifle jammed, and we
had nothing to defend ourselves with. At last we found the main body
again. They wanted more horses, and we were just bringing them up and
putting them to the guns when a German areyplane came over us and flue
round pretty low. The troops tried to fetch him down, and some bullets
went through the wings, but then he got too high. He dropped a bomb in
the middle of us, but it exploded very weak and nobody was hurt. Next
day we started on a night march, and got to Lagny Thorigny, and camped
outside the town, where the people fed us on rabbits again. I said I
was sick of rabbits, and me and Bill walked acrost to a farmhouse and
borrowed three chickens, which we cooked. It was fine.... Outside Lagny
there was more fierce fighting--20 miles of it--and the Germans were
shot down like birds. Sept. 3 (continued).--Firing is still going on,
but it is not so fierce, though scouts have come in and told us there
are 10,000 Germans round us this day. To-night I got two ounces of
Navy Cut. It was prime. Sept. 8.--We are marching on further away from
Paris. We shall never get there, I guess. Sept. 12.--In the village of
Crecy. Plenty of food and houses to sleep into. Here we have got to
stay until further orders. Collick still very bad.

The calm matter-of-fact air with which he encounters whatever comes
to him, the keen joy he takes in small pleasures by the way; his
philosophic acceptance of the fate of “poor old Dick”--the whole thing
is so unruffled, so self-possessed, so Pepysian in its egoism and so
artlessly humorous that one hopes this phlegmatic driver will keep a
full diary of his campaignings, and that Mr. Ashton will secure and
publish it.



    “_Such food a tyrant’s appetite demands._”


The stupid arrogance of the German military caste has always made them
ridiculous in the eyes of decent human creatures; it was surprising,
amusing, and yet saddening, too, to see an intelligent people strutting
and playing such war-paint-and-feathers tricks before high heaven, but
it appears that the primitive impulses that survive in their character
are stronger and go deeper than we had suspected. There are brave
and chivalrous spirits among Germany’s officers and men; that goes
without saying; but the savage and senseless barbarities that have
marked her conduct of the present war will make her name a byword for
infamy as long as it is remembered. There seems no doubt--the charges
are too many and too widely spread--that her troops have murdered
the wounded, have shot down women and children, have even used them
as shields, driving them in front of their firing line; they have
ruthlessly murdered unarmed civilians, and have blasted farmsteads
and villages into ashes on the flimsiest provocation; sometimes, so
far as one can learn, without waiting for any provocation whatever.
Even if their hands were clean of that innocent blood, the wanton,
insensate destruction of such a city as Louvain is sufficient of
itself to put them outside the pale of civilised societies. No doubt
they were smarting with humiliation that they had been so long delayed
breaking through the stubborn opposition of the Belgians at Liège; but
Louvain was an unfortified city and they were allowed to take peaceable
possession of it. Nevertheless, on August 25th whilst the fighting
round Mons was at its hottest and Russia was sweeping farther and
farther over the frontiers of East Prussia, in some sort of burst of
vengeful frenzy they laid one of the loveliest old cities of the world
in ruins, burnt or shattered most of its priceless art treasures, and
left its citizens homeless. Of course they have been busy ever since
trying to cover up their shame with excuses, but such a wanton crime is
too great and too glaringly obvious to be hidden or excused.

Four impressively realistic descriptions of what happened when the
Germans thus went mad in Louvain have been published in the _Daily

1. From a _Daily Telegraph_ Folkestone Correspondent, Saturday, August

Among the refugees arriving here to-day were women and children from
Louvain and soldiers from Liège, all narrating thrilling adventures.
Some of the refugees had obviously hurriedly deserted their homes,
wrapping a few of their belongings in sheets of newspaper.

One woman from Louvain tore down the curtains from her windows, wrapped
them round some wearing apparel, and ran from her house with her two
children. In the street she became involved in a stampede of men,
women, and children tearing away from the burning town, whither she
knew not. This woman’s story was so disjointed, so interspersed with
hysterical sobs and exclamations, that it is impossible to make a full
and coherent narrative of it. Periodically she clasped her children,
gazed round upon the English faces, and thanked God and bemoaned her
fate alternately.

Although suffering from extreme nervous excitement, another woman
had intervals of comparative calmness during which she described her
experiences as follows:

“Ah! m’sieu,” she exclaimed, “I will tell you, yes, of the burning of
Louvain. We had pulled down some of the buildings so that the Germans
should not mount guns on them when they came. I believe that was the
reason. We were in a state of terror because we had heard of the
cruelties of the Germans.”

Every time the poor woman referred to the Germans she paused to utter
maledictions upon them.

“Well,” she proceeded, “they came, and all we had heard about them
was not so bad as we experienced. In the streets people were cruelly
butchered, and then on all sides flames began to rise. We were prepared
for what we had regarded as the worst, but never had we anticipated
that they would burn us in our homes.

“People rushed about frantic to save their property. Pictures of
relatives were snatched from the walls, clothing was seized, and the
people were demented.

“What was the excuse given? Well, they said our people had shot at
them, but that was absolutely untrue. The real reason was the pulling
down of the buildings. My house was burning when I left it with my
three children, and here I am with them safe in England, beautiful
England. But what we have suffered! We were part of a crowd which
left the burning town, and kept walking without knowing where we were
going. Miles and miles we trudged, I am told we walked over seventy
miles before we came to a railway. I never regarded a railway as I did
then. I wanted to bow down and kiss the rails. I fell exhausted, having
carried my children in turn. Footsore, broken-hearted, after the first
joy of sighting the railway, I felt my head whirling, and I wondered
whether it was all worth while. Then I thought of my deliverance, and
thanked God.

“What did Louvain look like? Like what it was, a mass of flame
devouring our homes, our property--to some, perhaps, our relatives. It
was pitiful to behold. Most of us women were deprived of our husbands.
They had either fallen or were fighting for their country. In the town
everybody who offered any opposition was killed, and everyone found
to be armed in any way was shot. Wives saw their husbands shot in the

“I saw the burgomaster shot, and I saw another man dragged roughly away
from his weeping wife and children and shot through the head. Well, we
got a train and reached Boulogne, and now for the first time we feel
really safe.”

       *       *       *       *       *

2. From a _Daily Telegraph_ Rotterdam correspondent, Sunday, August

The following account of the appalling and ruthless sacking of
Louvain by the Germans is given by a representative of the _Nieuwe
Rotterdamsche Courant_, who himself witnessed the outrages:

I arrived at Louvain on Tuesday afternoon, and, accompanied by a German
officer, made my way through the town. Near the station were the
Commander and Staff and many of the military, for a food and ammunition
train had just arrived. Suddenly shots rang out from houses in the
neighbourhood of the station. In a moment the shooting was taken up
from houses all over the town.

From the window of the third floor of an hotel opposite the station
a machine gun opened fire. It was impossible to know which of the
civilians had taken part in the shooting, and from which houses they
had fired. Therefore the soldiers went into all the houses, and
immediately there followed the most terrible scenes of street fighting.
Every single civilian found with weapons, or suspected of firing, was
put to death on the spot. The innocent suffered with the guilty.

There was no time for exhaustive inquiry. Old men, sick people, women
were shot. In the meanwhile, part of the town was shelled by artillery.
Many buildings were set on fire by the shells. On others petrol was
poured and a match applied. The German officer advised me to go away,
as several houses being still intact more firing was expected.

Under a strong escort two groups of men and women arrived, each a
hundred strong. They were hostages. They were stood in rows by the
station, and every time a soldier was shot in the town ten of these
pitiful civilians were slaughtered. There was no mercy. Tears and
pleadings were in vain. The good suffered with the bad. At night the
scene was terrible, burning buildings shedding a lurid glow over this
town, which was running with tears of blood.

This was no time for sleep. The sight of this terrible awfulness drove
away all thoughts and desire for rest. Towards dawn the soldiers took
possession of all buildings which had not been destroyed.

With the rising of the sun I walked on the boulevards, and saw them
strewn with bodies, many of them being of old people and priests.
Leaving Louvain for Tirlemont one passed continuously through utterly
devastated country.

       *       *       *       *       *

A Dutchman who escaped from Louvain says that when the German artillery
began to demolish the houses and the German soldiers began looting
everything he and his little son hid in a cellar beneath a pile of
pneumatic tyres. One woman took refuge in a pit, in which water was up
to her waist. Such was the terrible plight of the civilians in Louvain.
Peeping out they saw that neighbours had been driven to the roof of a
burning building, where they perished.

While still concealed in the cellar the Dutchman and his son discovered
to their horror that the house above them was in flames. The situation
was terrible, as the people who dared to leave their houses were shot
like rabbits leaving burrows. They heard floor by floor, and then
the roof, crash down above them. The situation was desperate. It was
impossible to remain in the cellar. Driven out by dire necessity, they
fled. They were immediately stopped by military rifles at the “present.”

“Do not fire, I am German,” said the Dutchman in German, seized with
a sudden inspiration. This secured his safe conduct to the railway
station. The journey through the town was, said this refugee, “like
walking through hell.” From burning houses he heard agonised cries of
those perishing in the conflagrations. While he was waiting at the
station fifty people arrived there, driven by troops, who asserted
that they found them hiding in houses from which shots had been
fired. These people swore by all they held sacred they were innocent,
but notwithstanding all were shot. The Dutchman is of opinion that the
first firing was not by civilians, but by the German outpost on German
soldiers retreating to Louvain from Malines.

_Note:_--There is no confirmation whatever of the Dutch correspondent’s
assertion with regard to the firing on the German troops. On the
contrary it has been expressly said by the Belgian Government that the
Germans fired on their own men by mistake.


    _Drawn by E. Matania._      _Copyright of The Sphere._


3. From a _Daily Telegraph_ Rotterdam Correspondent, Monday, August

“With a crowd of other men, I was marched out of Louvain, and at
nightfall ordered into a church,” said an escaped Dutchman to a _Nieuwe
Rotterdamsche Courant_ representative. “All was dark, till suddenly,
through the windows, I saw the lurid glow of the neighbouring burning
houses. I heard the agonised cries of people tortured by the flames.
Six priests moved among us, giving absolution. Next morning the priests
were shot--why, I know not. We were released, and allowed to go to
Malines. We were compelled to walk with our hands in the air for fear
of arms being concealed.”

       *       *       *       *       *

A Dutchman who has arrived at Breda from Louvain gives the _Nieuwe
Rotterdamsche Courant_ the following account of the massacre:

Several German soldiers were billeted on us, and just as we were
sitting down to the midday meal on August 25th the alarm was sounded
and the soldiers rushed out. Immediately firing started, and, knowing
the terrible consequences of civilians appearing in the streets at such
times, we sought refuge in the cellar. Next morning we attempted to
reach the railway station. We were arrested.

My wife was taken away from me, and the Mayor, the Principal of the
University, and I, with other men, were taken to a goods shed and
our hands bound. I saw 300 men and boys marched to the corner of the
Boulevarde van Tienen, and every one was massacred. The heads of police
were shot. We were then marched towards Herent, and on the way the
soldiers thought the enemy was approaching, and ordered us to kneel
down. Then they took cover behind us. Only after many such hardships
were we permitted to return to Louvain and escape by train.

4. From a _Daily Telegraph_ Rotterdam correspondent, Wednesday,
September 2nd:

A Dutchman who has just arrived at Breda from Louvain gives the
following vivid description of his terrible experiences in Louvain,
where he was present at the burning of the city:

We Dutchmen in Louvain at first had nothing to fear from the German
soldiers, but all the houses abandoned by their owners were ransacked,
notwithstanding the warnings from the military authorities forbidding
the troops to pillage. In Louvain, as in all other towns they have
occupied, the Germans imprisoned as hostages of war the Burgomaster,
two magistrates, and a number of influential citizens.

Before the Germans entered the town the Civic Guard had been disarmed,
and all weapons in the possession of the population had to be given up.
Even toy guns and toy pistols and precious collections of old weapons,
bows and arrows, and other antique arms useless for any kind of modern
warfare had to be surrendered, and all these things--sometimes of great
personal value to the owner--have since been destroyed by the Germans.
The value of one single private collection has been estimated at about
£1,000. From the pulpits the priests urged the people to keep calm, as
that was the only way to prevent harm being done to them.

A few days after the entry of the German troops, the military
authorities agreed to cease quartering their men in private houses, in
return for a payment of 100,000 francs (£4,000) per day. On some houses
between forty and fifty men had been billeted. After the first payment
of the voluntary contribution the soldiers camped in the open or in the
public buildings. The beautiful rooms in the Town Hall, where the civil
marriages take place, were used as a stable for cavalry horses.

At first everything the soldiers bought was paid for in cash or
promissory notes, but later this was altered. Soldiers came and asked
for change, and when this was handed to them they tendered in return
for the hard cash a piece of paper--a kind of receipt.

On Sunday, the 23rd, I and some other influential people in the town
were roused from our beds. We were informed that an order had been
given that 250 mattresses, 200 lbs. of coffee, 250 loaves of bread,
and 500 eggs, must be on the market-place within an hour. On turning
out we found the Burgomaster standing on the market-place, and crowds
of citizens, half naked, or in their night attire, carrying everything
they could lay hands on to the market, that no harm might befall their
Burgomaster. After this had been done the German officer in command
told us that his orders had been misinterpreted, and that he only
wanted the mattresses.

On Tuesday, the 25th, many troops left the town. We had a few soldiers
in our house. At six o’clock, when everything was ready for dinner,
alarm signals sounded, and the soldiers rushed through the streets,
shots whistled through the air, cries and groans arose on all sides;
but we did not dare leave our house, and took refuge in the cellar,
where we stayed through long and fearful hours. Our shelter was lighted
up by the reflection from the burning houses. The firing continued
unceasingly, and we feared that at any moment our houses would be burnt
over our heads. At break of day I crawled from the cellar to the street
door, and saw nothing but a raging sea of fire.

At nine o’clock the shooting diminished, and we resolved to make a dash
to the station. Abandoning our home and all our goods except what we
could carry, and taking all the money we had, we rushed out. What we
saw on our way to the station is hardly describable, everything was
burning, the streets were covered with bodies shot dead and half-burnt.
Everywhere proclamations had been posted, summoning every man to assist
in quenching the flames, and the women and children to stay inside the
houses. The station was crowded with fugitives, and I was just trying
to show an officer my legitimation papers when the soldiers separated
me from my wife and children.

All protests were useless, and a lot of us were marched off to a big
shed in the goods yard, from where we could see the finest buildings of
the city, the most beautiful historical monuments, being burned down.

Shortly afterwards German soldiers drove before them 300 men and lads
to the corner of the Boulevard van Tienen and the Maria Theresia
Street, opposite the Café Vermalen. There they were shot. The sight
filled us with horror. The Burgomaster, two magistrates, the Rector of
the University, and all police officials had been shot already.

With our hands bound behind our backs we were then marched off by the
soldiers, still without having seen our wives or children. We went
through the Juste de Litsh Street, along the Diester Boulevard, across
the Vaart and up the hill.

From the Mont Cesar we had a full view of the burning town, St. Peter
in flames, while the troops incessantly sent shot after shot into the
unfortunate town. We came through the village of Herent--one single
heap of ruins--where another troop of prisoners, including half-a-dozen
priests, joined us. Suddenly, about ten o’clock, evidently as the
result of some false alarm, we were ordered to kneel down, and the
soldiers stood behind us with their rifles ready to fire, using us as
a shield. But fortunately for us nothing happened.

After a delay of half-an-hour, our march was continued. No conversation
was allowed, and the soldiers continually maltreated us. One soldier
struck me with all his might with the heavy butt-end of his rifle.
I could hardly walk any further, but I had to. We were choked with
thirst, but the Germans wasted their drinking water without offering us
a drop.

At seven o’clock we arrived at Camperhout, en route for Malines. We
saw many half-burnt dead bodies--men, women, and children. Frightened
to death and half-starved, we were locked up in the church, and there
later joined by another troop of prisoners from the surrounding

At ten o’clock the church was lighted up by burning houses. Again shots
whistled through the air, followed by cries and groans.

At five o’clock next morning, all the priests were taken out by the
soldiers and shot, together with eight Belgian soldiers, six cyclists,
and two gamekeepers. Then the officer told us that we could go back to
Louvain. This we did, but only to be recaptured by other soldiers, who
brought us back to Camperhout. From there we were marched to Malines,
not by the high road, but along the river. Some of the party fell into
the water, but all were rescued. After thirty-six hours of ceaseless
excitement and danger we arrived at Malines, where we were able to buy
some food, and from there I escaped to Holland. I still do not know
where my wife and children are.--_Reuter’s Special Service._

So far as available evidence goes, it seems clear enough that by
some misunderstanding the German soldiers fired upon each other in
the town, and then made the unhappy townsfolk pay the price of their
tragic blundering. There are hopes that the beautiful old Hotel de
Ville escaped the general holocaust; otherwise Louvain and its ancient
glories of art and architecture are things of the past.

“Louvain is no longer anything but a heap of cinders.... In the name
of Europe, of which you have till now been one of the most illustrious
champions,” writes the well-known French novelist, Romain Roland, in
an open letter addressed to the German dramatist, Gerhart Hauptmann,
“in the name of civilisation, for which the greatest of men have been
fighting for centuries--in the name of the very honor of the Germanic
race, I adjure you, Gerhart Hauptmann, and the German intellectual
élite, among whom I count so many friends, to protest against this
crime. If you do not, it can only mean one of two things, either that
you approve, or that you are impotent to raise your voice against the
Huns who rule you. In the latter case, how can you still pretend that
you are fighting for the cause of human liberty and progress?... Are
you the descendants of Goethe, or of Attila?”



    “_Strong Mother of a Lion line,_
    _Be proud of these strong sons of thine._”


In the three weeks that followed on the declaration of war, tidings
came to us from time to time of how our ships were chasing and sinking
the enemy’s cruisers, capturing his merchantmen and keeping the
ocean-highways clear for our own and neutral commerce; but no word
reached us from the great British fleet that was keeping watch and ward
in the North Sea, waiting sleeplessly for the German Navy that was
sheltered behind the impregnable fort of Heligoland to dash out and
make its loudly threatened raid upon our coasts. We heard no word of
those guardian sailormen, but we slept peacefully in our beds at night,
confident in their strength, their courage, their alertness. Then
suddenly, on the 28th August, whilst the British and French armies were
in the heat of their strategic retreat from Mons, news of our seamen’s
dashing fight and victory in the North Sea flashed through the land.
They had grown weary of waiting, and as the German was too discreet to
venture forth to the attack they had slipped into his fastness under
cover of the dark and hunted him out. Until it is possible to compile a
connected, orderly narrative, the tale of that brilliant engagement is
best told in the letters of the men who had part in it:

  _Letter 22.--From Albert Roper, first-class petty officer of H.M.
      cruiser “Talbot,” to his brother at Leeds:_

I cannot give you any news about our movements. It is against the rules
to do so, and it’s a jolly good job, too, for if it was not so, things
would leak out, and that is just what we do not want. We are waiting
patiently for Willie’s fleet to come out to enable our chaps to have
a little practice. We try to make ourselves as happy as we can in the
shape of a sing-song occasionally. These evenings are well appreciated.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 23.--From Seaman Wilson, of the “Bacchante,” to his wife at

You will have read of our victory in the North Sea. It was fine. Our
ship brought the dead and wounded and the prisoners back. A grim job it
was, too. I only wish the whole German fleet would come out. We may get
a chance of coming home soon. Their firing is rotten, whilst our men
behind the guns are perfect. They get a hit every time.

The bounders won’t come out. That was the reason our ships had to try
and drive them out. You see the place is all mined, and if a ship runs
into one of these mines it means destruction.

The commander of the _Liberty_, a torpedo boat destroyer, asked his
ship’s company if they would volunteer to go up Kiel Harbour with him,
and every man said “Yes,” although it looked certain death. Up they
went, and got under the forts of Heligoland and let rip at the German
cruisers in the harbour. One of the wounded sailors of the _Liberty_
told me that the shells fired at them were enough to sink a fleet. Our
ship had only one torpedo and one round of ammunition left. So they
turned round to come out, when a shrapnel shell struck the _Liberty’s_
mast, killing the gallant commander and three others. The coxswain,
although wounded, brought the ship safely to our fleet that was waiting
outside. We pray to God that we may come off victorious, and I am
confident we shall, as every man jack in the fleet has the heart of a

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 24.--From a Welsh gunner on the “Arethusa”:_

Just a few lines to let you know how the war is going on. I cannot say
much, as correspondence is strictly secret and letters are likely to be
opened. The Commodore turned over to this ship last Wednesday, and we
were in action on Friday at 7.45 a.m. and finished a stiff eight-hours’
engagement, our loss being eleven killed and fifteen injured in this
ship alone.

We were done after the fight, engines disabled, and had to be towed to
Chatham. One man was all that was left at my gun. But still, after all,
we saw them off. We blew them to ----. Three fights we had. As soon as
we are patched up we shall be off again.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 25.--From Gunner John Meekly, of Leeds:_

Been in battle, and, wonder of wonders, haven’t scored a scratch. My
ship, as you know, is the _Arethusa_--“Saucy Arethusa” as history knows
her. She was the first there, and the first that shot home. It was her
that made them come out, and her that took the most prominent part, as
all the ship’s company know only too well. Now we are in dry dock.

We had to sacrifice ourselves almost to do what we did do--to get them
out of their shells. Not only were submarines and mines a menace, but
also the fire from the forts. We got within their range, and our ship
suffered the most. We have got a fearless admiral, and at the same time
a decent fellow.

I saw an account in the papers when we got in dock, and I was very
pleased with it, because another ship had been mistaken for us. The
name of our commodore is Tyrwhitt.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 26.--From Midshipman Hartley, of H.M. battle-cruiser “Lion,”
      to his parents at Burton-on-Trent:_

At last we have had a taste of gunfire, but it was only a taste. We
ran into three light German cruisers. Two of them were sunk, and one
managed to make off in a sinking condition and badly on fire forward
and aft. Of course, their guns had about the same effect on us as a
daisy air-rifle. The funny thing, which you should have seen, was all
the stokers grubbing about after the action looking for bits of shell.

The Germans fought awfully well and bravely, but the poor beggars
hadn’t a dog’s chance of living through it. The _Mainz_ was the name
of one of those sunk. Two of their destroyers were also sunk.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 27.--From a Scottish seaman (Published in “The Scotsman”):_

It was a sight worth seeing. We chased two German destroyers of the
“S” class, one of which went on fire, and the other was sunk by eight
British destroyers, including the _Defender_. We chased them for about
four hours, and one showed great pluck as the crew refused to haul down
the flag, and she sank with the German flag flying. When she sank, and
even before it, the sailors were swimming towards the British ships,
shouting in broken English that they had surrendered, and appealing for
help. It was a terrible sight to see the wounded in the water, and we
assisted in throwing out lifebelts and ropes to them, while the whaler
and a skiff were also lowered, together with small boats from the other
British vessels. While engaged in picking up the wounded and other
survivors, we were fired on by a big four-funnelled German cruiser, so
that we had to leave our two boats. We watched the cruiser firing seven
or eight 11-inch guns, which made us keep going well ahead to keep out
of the way.

A piece of shell struck one of the gun’s crew on the head, and dropped
at my feet, and we had to keep dodging the shells round the bridge.
A light cruiser at last came to the rescue, for the destroyer’s guns
were no use against those of the Germans’. Our cruiser sank the German
cruiser, and a good many of the enemy’s boats escaped. About 12 o’clock
on Saturday one of the latest submarines signalled that she had saved
the boat’s crew (9 men and 1 officer) while following the big cruiser
to torpedo her. It was believed these fellows had been lost, and their
mates on board never dreamt of seeing them again. Some German survivors
were put aboard a destroyer, and they were cheered by the British tars
who were anxious to hear the news from them. A German stoker said they
did not want to fight England, and it was too much Germany fighting so
many countries. It was terrible to hear the cries of the wounded in
the water, and we did not get a chance to pick them up. The men on the
sinking destroyer stuck to their guns to the last, and they were firing
at their own men who dived for our ships. Some had lifebelts on, and
the officers tried to frighten them by saying the British would put
them in front of their guns. We had only two hurt.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _Drawn by Philip Dadd, from a sketch
    by G. H. Davis._

    _Copyright of The Sphere._


  _Letter 28.--From a gun-room officer on H.M. battle-cruiser
      “Invincible,” to his parents at Hove:_

The particular ship we were engaged with was in a pitiful plight when
we had finished with her. Her funnels shot away, masts tottering,
great gaps of daylight in her sides, smoke and flame belching from
her everywhere. She speedily heeled over and sank like a stone, stern
first. So far as is known none of her crew was saved. She was game
to the last, let it be said, her flag flying till she sank, her guns
barking till they could bark no more. Although we suffered no loss
we had some very narrow escapes. Three torpedoes were observed to
pass us, one, it is said, within a few feet. Four-inch shells, too,
fell short, or were ahead of us. The sea was alive with the enemy’s
submarines, which, however, luckily did no damage. They should not be
under-rated, these Germans. They’ve got “guts.” That cruiser did not
think apparently of surrender.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 29.--From a Bluejacket in the North Sea, to his friends at

On August 24th we made a dash for the German coast and were lucky
enough to come across two German cruisers. Then the fun started. We
pursued one, and when I tell you we can do thirty knots, you can
imagine what chance she had of getting away. She was a heavier boat
than us, and the engagement lasted four hours. At the end of that time
she was a terrible sight. She was on fire from stem to stern; the
Germans were jumping overboard, and at the finish only seventeen out
of 400 were saved. It is a fact that the Germans only stayed at their
guns under the orders of their officers, who stood over them with
revolvers. Three dozen of their bodies, which were picked up, bore
marks of revolver shots. Five days every week for the last four weeks
we have swept the North Sea, and all we discovered were the aforesaid
two cruisers and about a dozen trawlers, which we sank. There is no
sign of the big German Navy. They are in Kiel Harbour, and if they come
out--well, there will be no German Navy left. The only things they are
using are mines and submarines. In fact, the so-called German Navy is a
“wash-out.” We have been within ten miles of their base and they will
not come out.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 30.--From Seaman-Gunner Brown, to his parents at Newport,
      Isle of Wight:_

We and another ship in our squadron came across two German cruisers. We
outed one and started on the second, but battle-cruisers soon finished
her off. Another then appeared, and after we had plunked two broadsides
into her she slid off in flames. Every man did his bit, and there was a
continuous stream of jokes. We pencilled on the projectiles. “Love from
England,” “One for the Kaiser,” and other such messages.

The sight of sinking German ships was gloriously terrible; funnels and
masts lying about in all directions, and amidships a huge furnace, the
burning steel looking like a big ball of sulphur. There was not the
slightest sign of fear, from the youngest to the oldest man aboard.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 31.--From a man in a warship’s engine-room:_

We stayed down there keeping the engines going at their top speed in
order to cut off the Germans from their fleet. We could hear the awful
din and the scampering of the tars on the deck as they rushed about
from point to point. We could hear the shells crashing against the side
of the ship or shrieking overhead as they passed harmlessly into the
water, and we knew that at any moment one might strike us in a vital
part, and send us below never to come up again. It is ten times harder
on the men whose duty is in the engine-room than for those on deck
taking part in the fighting, for they at least have the excitement of
the fight, and if the ship is struck they have more than a sporting
chance of escape. We have none, and the medals and pats on the back
when the fight is won are not for us, who are only common mechanics.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 32.--From Seaman Jack Diggett, of West Bromwich, to his

You will have heard of our little job in the North Sea. We sank five
ships and ran a few off. Of course it was only a trial spin. We kicked
off last Friday about six in the morning, and we won 5--nil. Not bad,
considering we are playing “away.” Their goalkeepers could not hold
us, we were so hot. Our forwards shot beautifully, and our defence was
sound. We agreed to play extra time if we had not finished, but we had
done in time. It must not be thought that we had it all our own way,
for they were very brave, and fought until one of our boys fired a shot
at the last gun in the _Mainz_ and blew the whole gun and crew as well
into the sea. One of our officers had both his legs blown off, and
still shouted out to give the Germans another. We are all getting ready
for the big match of the season now when their battle fleet chooses to
come out. One German officer we got out of the water asked, “Are you
British?” When our officer replied, “Yes,” he said, “God help us!” They
thought we were the French fleet.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 33.--From a seaman on H.M.S. “Hearty”:_

The destroyer _Laurel_ seems to have suffered the most. She had one
funnel carried right away and the others riddled like a pepper-box.
One shell struck her right forward, went through her bulkhead, through
one galley door, and out through the other. The cookie was in there at
the time, but it missed him and cut through the other side of the ship.
That cook was born under a lucky star. It’s on the bridge and around
the guns where they suffered most. On the _Liberty’s_ bridge, everybody
except one was killed; in fact they say they were never seen since.
Poor devils, they must have been carried right overboard. The skipper
of the _Laurel_ had both his legs shot away.

The scout _Arethusa_ came in last. She brought 100 Germans picked up
off the cruiser _Mainz_. We didn’t see them; they were landed down at
Sheerness. They’ve got one keepsake off her. They picked up a German
officer, but he died, and they buried him at sea. They’ve got his
uniform hanging up. The cooks on the _Arethusa_ were not so lucky. Two
cooks were in the galley, just having their rum, when a shell killed
one and blew the other’s arm off. A funny thing, they’ve got a clock
hanging up; it smashed the glass and one hand, but the blooming thing’s
still going.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 34.--From a seaman on H.M. destroyer “Lurcher,” to a friend
      at Bradford:_

We had orders to pick up prisoners. As we steamed up dead bodies were
floating past the ship. We went up alongside the German cruiser _Mainz_
just before she sank, and it was an awful sight. We got 224 prisoners
in a most terrible state, and most of them died. It is impossible to
describe it all on paper. Our decks were red with blood, and you see we
are only a destroyer, so you may tell what a mess we were in.

All the Germans seemed quite happy when we got them on board. The worst
job of all was getting them out of the sea. Some of them had legs and
arms shot away, battered to pieces. I was in our boat just below when
their vessel sank, and there seemed to be many who were helpless on
board her. The captain remained behind, having had both legs shot away.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 35.--From a Naval Lieutenant to a friend:_

That was all. Remains only little details, only one of which I will
tell you. The most romantic, dramatic, and piquant episode that modern
war can ever show. The _Defender_, having sunk an enemy, lowered a
whaler to pick up her swimming survivors; before the whaler got back
an enemy’s cruiser came up and chased the _Defender_, and thus she
abandoned her whaler. Imagine their feelings--alone in an open boat
without food, 25 miles from the nearest land, and that land the enemy’s
fortress, with nothing but fog and foes around them. Suddenly a swirl
alongside and up, if you please, pops his Britannic Majesty’s submarine
E 4, opens his conning tower, takes them all on board, shuts up again,
dives, and brings them home 250 miles! Is not that magnificent? No
novel would dare face the critics with an episode like that in it,
except, perhaps, Jules Verne; and all true!

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 36.--From a seaman on one of the British destroyers:_

We have at last had an innings at the Germans. It was a go. Fully
seven hours we fought shot for shot. I had the pleasure of seeing four
German ships go down. We never knew but it might be our turn next, as
great shells were falling all around us. Several shells went just over
our heads, whistling just like a needle on a broken record. Would you
believe it, one of our boats had actually stopped to pick up German
wounded when the Germans fired on her?

I think all our men took it just as though we were having our annual
battle practice--cool, laughing, and cracking jokes, with shell all
around them. All the thought was just of shooting it into them--and
they got it! I was told they lost 1,500 men. I shall never understand
how it was our ship was not hit, for we were within range of their
cruisers and the Heligoland forts. We are ready for another smack at

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 37.--From a seaman on H.M.S. “New Zealand” to his uncle in

The torpedo craft had rather a hot time with the enemy in the early
morning, but suddenly we appeared out of the mist. To say that they
were surprised is to put it mildly, because before they knew where they
were we were playing our light cruisers, and the destroyers worried
them like terriers. Then for us to come along and give them the _coup
de grace_ was absolutely _It_.

Two of their ships, I am convinced, would have been floating to-day,
but as our small ships gathered round them to take off their
survivors--all their flags were struck--they opened fire, only to be
sent to Davy Jones’s locker a little quicker than they could shoot.
Well, we succeeded in sending some good ships and some unfortunate men
to the bottom in something like fourteen minutes. Not a bad score for
the cricket season, is it?

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 38.--From a seaman on board the flagship of the first
      destroyer squadron, to his friends at Wimbledon:_

We had a very decent splash last week off Heligoland, as doubtless you
have read. Our ship was not hit at all, though some shots were pretty
near. It was a fine sight to see the _Lion_ demolish one cruiser.
We could see her (the cruiser’s) shots falling short, but still the
_Lion_ did not fire. For fully ten minutes the cruiser belted away
without getting a hit. Then the _Lion_, who was leading the line,
hoisted “open fire,” turned slowly and majestically round and fired
her broadside--once. It was quite sufficient. Up went a cloud of smoke
and steam from the target, and when it cleared her aft funnel was at a
rakish angle, and a huge rent appeared the length of her side.

After a few more “salvoes” she was rapidly sinking by the stern.
Shortly afterwards she half-hauled down her ensign, and as we were
steaming up to stand by and rescue her survivors, she hoisted it again
and opened fire. It was a dirty trick, but they got their deserts.
Once again the _Lion_ turned, and this time fired but five shots from
her huge turrets. Amidst a shower of splinters, smoke, and fire she
disappeared. We steamed over the spot, but although there was plenty of
wreckage, not a single living thing was to be seen. This incident only
lasted about forty-five minutes, although the whole battle was raging
for eight hours.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 39.--Front leading telegraphist H. Francis, of Croydon:_

We had the first taste of blood on Friday, and I can tell you it was
O.T. The battle lasted from 6.30 a.m. till one p.m., going at it hammer
and tongs all the time.

We came back with sixty prisoners, one of them being Admiral von
Tirpitz’s son, who was second-lieutenant in the _Mainz_. We were within
twenty yards of her when she went down, and I can tell you it was a
grand sight.

Their officers were shooting the men as they jumped overboard, and one
chap on the bridge was beckoned to by our commander to come off. But
there was “nothing doing.” He simply folded his arms, shook his head,
and as the ship rolled over he never moved. The captain also went down
in her. He had both his legs blown off.

For a quarter of an hour the sea was simply alive with Germans, all
singing out most piteously, and, as we pulled them on board, we
marvelled how they managed to swim with the wounds they had, some with
feet off, some with one or two legs off, some with their arms gone.

The Kaiser has been stuffing his men up that the English cannot shoot.
They know differently now. They were greatly surprised when we picked
them up and looked after them.

Pleased to say I am enjoying myself, and longing for more.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 40.--From Gunner T. White:_

We didn’t waste more shots than was necessary on the Germans off
Heligoland. One of their destroyers was knocked over first shot. It was
one of the cleanest shots you ever saw, and the man who fired it is the
proudest man in our ship to-day.

Next time I fancy the Germans will want to make it a rule of the fight
that a German ship must be allowed at least ten shots to one of ours
before the knock-out is fired. Of course, it’s very hard on the rest of
us, because it simply means that the gunner who gets first shot does
the trick, and we may be in a dozen fights and never get a shot at the
enemy once, because there’s nothing left to hit.

Since that first engagement, the British Fleet has been waiting alert
for the enemy to come out of hiding and give them a second chance;
and has incidentally been busy sweeping the sea of floating mines and
prowling after mine-layers that, disguised as Grimsby trawlers, have
succeeded in putting in some deadly work.

An interesting account of the efficiency of this policing of the North
Sea was related by two trawler skippers, a week after the fight, to a
_Daily Telegraph_ Correspondent who remarks that the _modus operandi_
necessitates a continuous vigilance, mostly under cover of the
darkness, and entails a strain upon the naval officers and men that can
only be appreciated by those who witness it.

The first skipper stated that he had just come from Iceland:

At one point up north there was, he said, a solid wall of warships,
which made it impossible for any foe to break through undetected. The
scrutiny did not end with a mere examination at the point mentioned.
After being released our boat was followed by a couple of torpedo
destroyers until we reached our destination. In this way we were not
only convoyed, but the warships made absolutely certain that we were
British trawlers. The experience, being novel to us, was very inspiring.

The other skipper’s story was even more interesting. He is in charge of
a North Sea boat, and anchored each night near the shore.

We were laid under the land, he said, when about two in the morning
a cruiser suddenly appeared alongside of us. All his lights were
extinguished, and the quiet way in which he came up and the clever
tactics he showed in getting alongside without doing any damage was

Talk about cats seeing in the dark, these naval officers are wonderful.
When the cruiser reached us all we could see was a huge black object
hemming us in. A voice shouted out, “Who are you?” and I answered back,
“A British trawler.” “What is your name?” he asked, and I replied.
“When did you leave?” he next asked. I told him. “What were your orders
when you left?” he next asked. I told him and in a flash the commander
of the cruiser shouted back, “All right.”

It was a fine piece of work, believe me, but there was something even
more astonishing. Directly the commander had finished talking to me
another voice from the stern of our vessel sung out, “The name is quite
correct, sir.” A submarine had crept up behind to verify our name and
number, and although all the crew had come on deck to see what was
happening, not one of the men aft had seen the submarine appear. The
whole episode only occupied a few minutes, and the cruiser, after
wishing us good morning and plenty of fishing, disappeared in the
darkness. I have seen the British Navy in times of peace, but to see
it in war time makes you feel proud of it. No swank, simply good old
Nelson’s motto all the time.



    “_The Lilies of France and our own Red Rose
      Are twined in a coronal now:
    At War’s bloody bridal it glitters and glows
      On Liberty’s beautiful brow._”

                GERALD MASSEY.

In his despatch to Lord Kitchener, dated September 7th, Sir John French
tells of the four-days’ battle at Mons, and traces his masterly,
triumphant retreat, in the face of irresistible odds, to Maubeuge, to
Cambrai, to Le Cateau, to Landrecies, and so almost to within sight
of the walls of Paris. He pays a glowing tribute to the magnificent
fighting spirit of the officers and men who carried out these
stupendous movements with such complete success, but at present it is
to the men themselves you must turn again for detailed information of
the horrors and heroisms, the grim and glorious hours that darkened
and lightened through those tumultuous days. “What we did in that
three weeks English people at home will never know,” writes Private J.
Harris, of the Worcestershire Regiment: “We were marching and fighting
day and night for three weeks without a break.”

  _Letter 41.--From Private Smiley, of the Gordon Highlanders, to his
      brother, Mr. G. A. Smiley, of Chepstow:_

On Sunday, 23rd, at Mons, we rose at four a.m. and marched out 1,100
strong. We took up ground on the extreme flank of the British force.
Immediately we started to entrench ourselves, and to the good trench
work we did we put down our freedom from casualty. Later in the day a
hellish tornado of shell swept over us, and with this introduction to
war we received our baptism of fire. We were lining the Mons road, and
immediately in our front and to our rear were woods. In the rear wood
was stationed a battery of R.F.A. The German artillery is wonderful.
The first shot generally found us, and to me it looked as if the ranges
had been carefully taken beforehand. However, our own gunners were
better, and they hammered and battered the Germans all the day long.

They were at least three to our one, and our artillery could not be in
fifty places at once, so we just had to stick it. The German infantry
are bad skirmishers and rotten shots, and they were simply mowed down
in batches by our chaps. They came in companies of, I should say,
150 men in file five deep, and we simply rained bullets at them the
live-long day. At about five p.m. the Germans in the left front of us
retired, and we saw no more of them.

The Royal Irish Regiment had had an awful smashing earlier on, as also
had the Middlesex, and our company were ordered to go along the road as
reinforcements. The one and a half mile seemed a thousand. Stormed at
all the way, we kept on, and no one was hit until we came to a white
house which stood in a clearing. Immediately the officer passed the gap
hell was let loose on us, but we got across safely, and I was the only
one wounded, and that was with a ricochet shrapnel bullet in the right

I knew nothing about it until an hour after, when I had it pointed out
to me. I dug it out with a knife. We passed dead civilians, some women,
and a little boy with his thigh shattered by a bullet. Poor wee fellow.
He lay all the time on his face, and some man of the Irish was looking
after him, and trying to make him comfortable. The devils shelled the
hospital and killed the wounded, despite a huge Red Cross flag flying
over it.

When we got to the Royal Irish Regiment’s trenches the scene was
terrible. They were having dinner when the Germans opened on them,
and their dead and wounded were lying all around. Beyond a go at some
German cavalry, the day drew in, and darkness saw us on the retreat.
The regiment lost one officer and one man dead, one officer and some
men severely wounded.

We kept up this sort of game (fighting by day and retiring by night)
until we got to Cambrai, on Tuesday night. I dare not mention that
place and close my eyes. God, it was awful. Avalanche followed
avalanche of fresh German troops, but the boys stuck to it, and we
managed to retire to Ham without any molestation. Cambrai was the
biggest battle fought. Out of all the glorious regiment of 1,100 men
only five officers and 170 of the men answered the roll-call next day.
Thank God, I was one of them.

Of course, there may be a number who got separated from the battalion
through various causes, and some wounded who escaped. I hope so
because of the heavy hearts at home. I saw the South Lancs, and they
were terribly cut up, only a remnant left of the regiment.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 42.--From Corporal W. Leonard, of the Army Service Corps (a
      South African War reservist) to his mother at Huddersfield:_

I know that you will all excuse me for not receiving a letter from me
this long time, but I hope that you will excuse me. Don’t, whatever
you do at home, don’t worry about me. If I just thought that you won’t
worry at home I shall be all right. You know, mother, I know more about
war this time than I did last, and the conditions also. It’s all right
when you know the ropes, and my African experiences are serving me in
good stead here, so I hope and trust that you at home are not worrying
about me; time enough to worry when there is cause. Well, I hope and
trust all are well at home, as it is hell out here. Up to this affair
I thought that the Germans were a civilised race of people, but they
are nothing but savages; niggers would not do what they do. Just fancy
mounting maxim guns on ambulance wagons bearing the Red Cross, cutting
the right hand off prisoners and turning them loose afterwards minus a
hand. By jingo, mother, the boys (our boys) are absolutely all in. We
did give the Boers a chance now and again, but these devils we don’t
give them a cat in hell chance; we’re playing the game to the finish. I
would not care to write so much, as I had better tell you when I come
home. The Boer War was a tame affair. We are moving off again to-night.
I don’t know where, and we don’t care either; it’s a do to a finish
this time. I hope you got my postcards from Rouen in France, as there
was some doubt as to whether they would let them through or not. I will
write home as opportunity occurs, and I hope you won’t worry about me,
because you all know at home that I shall always be where I’m wanted,
and my duty every time, so don’t worry. Tell anyone who enquires I am
O.K., lost a bit of weight perhaps, but not the worse so far, and above
all don’t believe all you see in the papers, as they know practically
nothing, as everything is done under sealed orders, which never leak
out. We are not even allowed to say in our letters where we are, as
they are opened and read by the captain before they leave here, so you
can judge for yourselves how things are. And I might say, mother, that
we are very busy.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 43.--From Corporal Edward Hood, to his father, at Taunton:_

The fighting lately has been hot all round, and the French have
had much harder than us in some places, but they’re sticking at it
manfully, and they deserve to win a victory that will wipe the Germans
off the map. The French make a lot of us in camp, and when we pass each
other in the field, no matter how busy the Frenchman may be, they give
us hearty cheers to encourage us on our way. There’s plenty of friendly
rivalry between us when there’s hard fighting to be done, and when we
do get there before the French they don’t grudge us our luck. They’re
good sports right through to the core, and the British soldier asks
nothing better from allies in the field.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 44.--From Private William Burgess, of the Royal Field
      Artillery, to his parents at Ilfracombe:_

We left our landing place for the front, on the Tuesday, and got there
on Saturday night. The Germans had just reached Liège then, and we got
into action on the Sunday morning. The first thing we did was to blow
up a bridge to stop the Germans from crossing. Then we came into action
behind a lot of houses attached to the main street. We were there about
ten minutes, when the houses started to fall around us. The poor people
were buried alive. I saw poor children getting knocked down by bursting

The next move was to advance across where there was a Red Cross
Hospital. They dropped shells from airships and fired on it until the
place was burnt down to the ground. Then they got a big plan on to
retire and let the French get behind them. We retired eight miles, but
we had to fight until we were forced to move again. We got as far as Le
Cateau on Tuesday night. We camped there until two o’clock next morning.

Then we all heard there was a big fight coming off, so we all got
together and cleared the field for action.... (The letter mentions
the numbers of men engaged, and states that the Germans were in the
proportion of three to one.) ... We cut them down like rats. We could
see them coming on us in heaps, and dropping like hail. The Colonel
passed along the line, and said, “Stick it, boys.”

I tell you, mother, it was awful to see your own comrades dropping
down--some getting their heads blown off, and others their legs and
arms. I was fighting with my shirt off. A piece of shell went right
through my shirt at the back and never touched me. It stuck into a bag
of earth which we put between the wheels to stop bullets.

We were there all busy fighting when an airship came right over the
line and dropped a bomb, which caused a terrible lot of smoke. Of
course, that gave the Germans our range. Then the shells were dropping
on us thick. We looked across the line and saw the German guns coming
towards us. We turned our two centre guns on them, and sent them yards
in the air. I reckon I saw one German go quite twenty yards in the air.

Just after that a shell burst right over our gun. That one got me out
of action. I had to get off the field the best way I could. The bullets
were going all around me on the way off; you see they got completely
around us, I went about two miles, and met a Red Cross cart. I was
taken to St. Quentin’s Hospital. We were shelled out of there about two
in the morning, and then taken in a train, and taken down to a plain
near Rouen.

Next morning we were put in a ship for dear old England.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 45.--From a Corporal in the King’s Royal Rifles, now at
      Woolwich Hospital:_

I was in three engagements, Mons, Landrecies, and Cambrai, but the
worst of all was Mons. It was on Sunday, the 23rd of August, and I
shall never forget the date. They were easily twenty-five to one, and
we eventually had to retreat with just over a thousand casualties, but
heavens, they must have had a jolly sight more. At Landrecies, where
we arrived at 7.30, we thought we were going to have a night’s rest,
though we were wet through and no change, but we hadn’t been there long
before they (the Germans) started firing; they seemed to be in every
place we went to. The only thing we heard then was, “turn out at once.”
It was about 10.15 when we turned out, and the Colonel’s orders were
that we had to take a bridge if every man was killed. (I thought that
sounded a wee bit healthy.) I had my last drink out of a dirty glass of
beer. I says, “good health Billy,” and off we went with bayonets fixed.

On our way to the bridge we met the regiment who had tried and failed,
bringing back its wounded and killed in scores. (I thought more
encouragement for the corps.) I was carrying my pal, the rifle, with my
right hand. Well, we got near the bridge and found out from our scouts
that there were 10,000 German troops on each side of the bridge and
we were 1,300 strong. (More encouragement.) So we lined a long hedge
about two yards apart so as to make a long line and harder for them to
hit. We lay here till daybreak just before 4 a.m., and we could hear
them talking all night about 300 yards away. We could see them quite
clearly by this time; so we started to fire and rolled them over by
dozens. It wasn’t long, though, before the bullets were whizzing past
my ears on each side, and I began to get my head lower and lower till
I think I should have buried it in the mud if it had got much lower.
Their superior numbers began to tell and we had to retire as fast as we
could. I couldn’t go fast enough with my pack on (it weighs 84 lbs.),
so I threw it away as did hundreds more, and I finished bridge-taking
with my old pal only (the rifle).

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 46.--From Lieutenant O. P. Edgcumbe, of 1st Battalion
      D.C.L.I., to his father, Sir Robert Edgcumbe, Commandant at

            29th August, 1914.

For the last week or ten days we have been fighting hard and are now
for one day resting. Altogether, during five days and five nights, I
got six hours’ sleep, and so am rather weary. However, bullets and a
real enemy are a wonderful stimulant, and I feel as fit as anything. Do
all of you write as often as possible, and send me some newspapers. It
does not matter whether there is any news--the sight of a letter from
home is very cheering.

All our men are somewhat fatigued, but are very keen and full of fight.
My regiment has had a bad time, and I am dreadfully afraid that they
have been badly cut up, although I can as yet get no details. They
were caught in a village by Germans in the houses, who had managed
to get there by wearing our uniforms. Never again shall I respect
the Germans, or any of them I may meet. They have no code of honour,
and there have been several cases of their wearing French and British
uniforms, which is, of course, against the Geneva Convention.

The weather is good, for which we are thankful.

Everything is so peaceful now, and it is such a perfect day that were
it not for the continuous growl of the guns, which never cease, one
would hardly believe one was in the midst of a huge war.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 47.--From Private D. White:_

German airships we seldom see now, though we used to have them every
day over our heads. They are finding the French more than a match for
them, and they most likely prefer to rely on their ordinary spies, of
whom they have thousands. They are found often among the men engaged
for transport work, but they are such clumsy bunglers that they give
themselves away sooner or later. Some of us who haven’t the heart to
drown a cat never turn a hair when we see these scum shot, for they
richly deserve what they get and a soldier’s death is too good for them.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 48.--From Private Spain, of the 4th Guards Brigade (late
      police-constable at Newry):_

We have had three engagements with the Germans since I arrived, and I
came out quite unhurt. The two first were fought on Sunday and Monday
following. You see I cannot give date or place. Secrecy is our motto
_re_ war and movement of troops for international purposes, etc. Our
third engagement was nearly fatal. We arrived at the town of ----,
very much fatigued, and fully intending to have a good rest. It was
a fine town, about as big as Newry, but more compact, with many fine
buildings. We were just about five minutes billeted in the various
houses, and just stretching our weary legs, when an officer came
running in, shouting “The Germans are upon us; outside everyone.” We
came out, magazine loaded, bayonets fixed, and eager to get a good
bayonet fight with them. It appears they do not like it. But we found
none. They had not yet arrived. It was 10 p.m. before they did so.
In the meantime the poor people were leaving the town in crowds, with
as much goods and chattels as they could carry away, and it was well
for them, too. It was a dark night when we formed up in the streets,
and the lamps but dimly burned. The noises of rifles and field guns
were terrific. We rushed to the heads of the various streets, where
our German foe would advance. Our Field Artillery and the Coldstream
Guards went out to delay their advance whilst we stripped off our coats
and commenced to tear up the square setts, gather carts--in fact,
everything that would build a barricade to keep back our numerous
German foe, and we did so under perfect showers of shrapnel shell that
struck and fell around us, and struck the houses about us, but we were
undaunted, and so succeeded. Firing ceased, and we advanced out towards
the Coldstream Guards’ position. They had given them a good fight, but
many of them lay for ever silent upon the ground. The Germans would not
advance upon us, so we retired.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 49.--From Corporal Sam Moorhouse, of the King’s Own Yorkshire
      Light Infantry, to his wife at Birkby:_

Our company were reserves, and came under fire about noon. We were in
a ditch--as we thought safe--when “Ping! ping!” came the bullets, and
off we shot across the open, under a railway embankment. On the way we
passed four artillery horses shot dead with shrapnel. Then we took up
a position on a hillside, when round the corner, 700 yards away, came
a German maxim gun. They were busy getting it ready for firing on us,
and we were firing at them, when our artillery--which was only half a
mile away--sent two shots and blew up the gun and all the men. Then we
cleared off and marched till twelve midnight. Up again at two and off
for what was called a rest camp. Still wet clothes, and filthy; had no
boots off for days. Instead of “rest” camp we marched nearly thirty
miles, arriving at 8 p.m. Here I had a good meal of jam, cheese, and
bread--first bite of bread for days.

Next day we were up before daylight and taking up position. We dug
trenches, and were fired on before we had finished. We were at the
back--a sort of last firing line. So we lay down in the trench, and
waited. Shrapnel and lyddite were flying round us like hail, and our
gunners were firing too. Such a noise! Just like thunder! Well, we
stuck out as long as we could when we got the order to retire. However
I came safely away goodness knows.

I picked up my gun and ran up the hill and dropped on one side of the
road to rest. Then I had to get across the road, so got up and was
half-way across when a shell burst and knocked me flat on my face. It
must have fused at the wrong time, as I got only a cut on my thumb from
a fragment. Then I got across and dropped in a trench where a fellow
was lying dead. I stayed there only a minute, and then ran off over the
hill and safe. The bullets were flying in all directions and shells
were bursting four at a time. South Africa was nothing compared to this.

I had had no sleep for nights, so decided to go back to a little
village we had just passed, where I sat on a doorstep till I fell
asleep, and woke up one hour later wet through and chilled to the bone.
It was still dark when I got back to where I left our regiment, and
they were off. So I trekked away alone, and got on the wrong road.

About nine in the morning I came across some transport, and rode along
with stragglers of other regiments to a camp. There were about sixty
of us, and we went to a large camp, about 2,000 of us--all lost. There
I came across Guy Jessop of Huddersfield, who was also lost, and was
glad to meet a pal. We had a walk in the town together, and called
in a café. We had some coffee and rum (Guy paid, as I had no money).
I played the piano and sang “Mrs. Hullaby.” Lucky job they could not
understand English, or they would have been shocked.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _Drawn by Christopher Clark.      Copyright of The Sphere._


  _Letter 50.--From Private E. W. Dyas, of the 11th Hussars, to his
      parents at Mountain Ash:_

We landed at Havre, and travelled up country. We were under fire for
about twenty minutes on the first day, and the shells were bursting
like rain all around us. We got away with only one horse killed. It
was marvellous. We are continually under fire by day and travelling
by night. It is awful to hear the artillery booming death night and
day. We were fighting day and night for three days. The slaughter was
terrible. I took a dispatch across the battlefield when the Germans
were retiring, and I passed their trenches. The dead were piled up in
the trenches about ten deep, and there were trenches seven miles long.
It was terrible to see. We are collecting the three cavalry brigades
together at the present moment for a massive charge. I am writing this
in the saddle. I may get through this again. One bullet penetrated my
horse’s neck and another one went through the saddle. I have had a
sword-thrust through my sleeve. So I am getting on well.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 51.--From Lieut. Oswald Anne, of the Royal Artillery, to his
      father, Major Anne, of Burghwallis Hall:_

Dear Dad.--Just got yours of the 13th inst. Battling yesterday and
the day before. I had a pal killed in another battery--five bullets
in him. I have just seen the first Sausage-maker prisoner in hands of
some infantry. They had the greatest difficulty in stopping the French
populace from knifing him. The German shrapnel is very dangerous stuff,
having high explosive in it. It bursts backwards, and so nullifies our
frontal shield. No more time or news.

            August 29th.

The boom of French guns is now in full swing, and we are standing easy
for the moment. Did you get my other letter three days back? Just after
I had finished it, we had the alarm, which proved false, but that night
Germans marched into the town, thinking we had left it. So they say! A
gruff German voice answered a challenge, and 15 rounds rapid fire from
rifles and maxims behind the main road barricade, laid out every man.
Eight hundred were picked up next morning in this one street.

An R.E. told me on the canal bridge a maxim fired 9,000 rounds and laid
out another 1,000. The first Germans arriving in one end of this town
were in French uniforms. Luckily, those in the rear were seen and fired
on, stampeding the ammunition mules, scattering the “Sausages,” who
were almost laid out in a few rounds of fire. Lots of “espions” here,
male and female. I have hardly seen a German, except prisoners. Poor
Soames, of the 20th Hussars, was sparrowed first fight. W. Silvertop
(20th Hussars) is hard at it “biffing” Sausages, and a N.C.O.,
yesterday, who had lost the Regiment, told me 48 hours ago he was well.

“Cigs.” all arrived, and saved my life, also load of chocolate.
Screaming women rush everywhere during conflicts howling “Trahie,”
“Perdue,” “Sauve qui peut.” One of “D” battery, R.H.A., N.C.O., told
us they had mowed “Sausage-makers” down for ten minutes in one action
as hard as they could load and still they came in masses, till at last
the shrieking men ran all ways, not knowing where, leaving heaps of
semi-moving remnants on the ground.

Our crowd, having so far escaped untouched, are very lucky. Several
Brigades have had the devil’s own hail of shot over them. Please send
me some newspapers sometimes, as we have not seen one since I left, bar
some old French _Petit Parisiens_.

The Scots Greys from York and the 12th Lancers did great work yesterday
on hostile cavalry, and about wiped out those opposed to them. The
“Guardies” are in great form. Very little sleep nowadays, up at dawn
almost always, very often before that hour.

A German regiment, dressed in English uniforms, the other day billetted
with an English regiment (at the other end of the town), and when
the latter marched out they were about broken up by maxim fire from
the bedroom windows. A German force arrived elsewhere, the Berkshire
regiment were on guard, and the former, in French uniforms, called out
from the wire entanglements that they waited to interview the C.O. A
major went forward who spoke French, and was shot down immediately.
This sort of thing is of daily occurrence, and only makes matters worse
for the “Sausage-makers” when our infantry get into them.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 52.--From a reservist in the Royal Field Artillery (Published
      in the “Glasgow Herald”):_

I got a nasty hit with a shell on the thick of the leg. The Germans
caught us napping on Wednesday, and what slaughter! It was horrible to
witness. The Germans came along the village, killing the poor women and
children and burning all the houses. Our division could not hold out.
We were expecting the French troops to meet us, but they were two days
late. Our battery had a lucky escape of being cut up. We entrenched our
guns to come into action next day, but somehow or other we cleared
out, and had only gone ten minutes before the place was blown up.

The officer in charge of my section had his head blown off. I was
carried off under heavy fire on a fellow’s back, and it is to him I
owe my life. It was a long way to hospital, shells bursting all round
us. We dropped behind some corn stacks, then on we went again. I had
no sooner got bandaged up when a chap came galloping up and said the
Germans were in sight. I was the second last man to leave the hospital,
and ten minutes later it was blown up. You cannot imagine what things
were like. The women and children of England can think themselves
lucky, for the poor women here had to walk from village to village,
young children in their arms. It touched my heart to see the sight.
The Germans did not use rifles, but big guns, against our infantry’s
rifles. They are most brutal, killing all wounded in a most horrible

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 53.--Front Trooper S. Cargill:_

The Germans let all hell loose on us in their mad attempt to crush us
and so win their way to Paris. They didn’t succeed, and they won’t
succeed. I saw one ghastly affair. A German cavalry division was
pursuing our retiring infantry when we were let loose on them. When
they saw us coming they turned and fled, at least all but one, who came
rushing at us with his lance at the charge. I caught hold of his horse,
which was half mad with terror, and my chum was going to run the rider
through when he noticed the awful glaze in his eyes and we saw that the
poor devil was dead.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 54.--Front an Irish soldier, to his sister in County Cork:_

I am writing this on a leaf out of a field service pocket-book, as
notepaper and envelopes are very scarce, and we are not allowed to
send picture postcards of places as they give away where we are. Well,
this is a lovely country. The climate suits me very well. Everything
grows like mad here. It is rather like Ireland, only ten times as
rich. All that I have seen yet--and that is a good lot--is far and away
better than the best part of the county Limerick. I think it would be a
pleasure to farm here.

At the present time I am billeted in a farmhouse. I sleep in their
best bed-room--that is when I can go to bed at all--and they give me
home-made cider, cognac, and coffee, apples, plums, etc., and lovely
home-made cheese for nothing, though they need not supply any food, as
the rations are served out by the regiment every day.

’Tis great fun trying to talk French to them and I am picking it up
gradually. It is wonderful how words and sentences that I learned at
school come back to me now, and I can generally make myself understood
all right. It is an awful pity to see this beautiful country spoiled
by war, and it is no wonder the people are so eager to fight for it. I
don’t think there is a single house that has not sent out one or more
men to fight with the French Army, and their mothers, sisters, wives,
etc., are very proud of it. There are two gone out of this house.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 55.--From Private Carwardine, to the father of a

I am very sorry, but I don’t know for sure about your Joe. You see,
although he was in the same company as me, he was not in the same
section. I only wish he had been. The last I saw of him was when we
were in the firing line making trenches for ourselves. He was about 600
yards behind us, smoking, and I waved to him. Then all of a sudden we
had to get down in our trenches, for bullets started coming over our
heads, and shells dropped around us.

We were fighting twelve hours when I got one in the back from a shell.
After that I knew no more until I found myself in hospital, and I asked
one of our chaps how our company went on, and he told me there were
only seventeen of us left out of 210. I hope Joe is among them. You
will get to know in the papers in a bit when they call the roll.

So cheer up and don’t be downhearted, for if Joe is killed he has died
a soldier of honour on the field. Excuse writing, as I am a bit shaky,
and I hope to God Joe is safe, for both your sakes.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 56.--From Private G. Dunton, of the Royal Engineers, to his
      family at Coventry:_

I am in hospital, having been sent home from France, wounded in my
left hand. I have got one shrapnel bullet right through my hand, and
another through my middle finger against the top joint. I was wounded
at Cambrai last Wednesday. I have been in four hospitals in France, but
had to be removed on account of the Germans firing on the hospitals. I
do not think much of them, for if it was not for their artillery they
would be wiped out in quick time. No doubt our losses are great, but
theirs are far more. The famous cavalry of theirs, the Uhlans, are
getting cut up terribly. All that have been captured have said that
they are short of food. I must say we have had plenty to eat. I was
near Mons a week last Saturday and we were attacked the same day. We
have been on the retire ever since last Wednesday, when I got wounded,
but we shall soon be advancing, for they will never reach Paris. I
am very pleased to see that the Germans are being forced back by the
Russians. I hope they will serve Berlin the same as the Germans have
done to Belgium. The 9th Brigade was cut up badly; in fact, my Division
was, but more are wounded than killed. There are 1,000 wounded in this
hospital alone, without other hospitals. I must say that I am in good
health. My hand is giving me pain, but I do not mind that. I only had
four days’ fighting, but it was hard work while it lasted. The Germans,
although four to one, could not break through our lines, and they must
have lost thousands, as our artillery and infantry mowed them down like
sheep. Their rifle fire took no effect at all. All our wounds were done
by shrapnel. My hand is not healing at all, but I must be patient and
give it time. The French and Belgian people were very kind to us and
gave us anything we wanted.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 57.--From a Manchester soldier, in a French hospital:_

There was a young French girl helping to bandage us up. How she
stood it I don’t know. There were some awful sights, but she never
quailed--just a sweet, sad smile for everyone. If ever anyone deserved
a front seat in Heaven, this young angel does. God bless her. She has
the prayers and the love of the remnants of our division. All the
French people are wonderfully generous. They gave us anything and
everything. You simply cannot help loving them, especially the children.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 58.--From Private A. McGillivray, a Highlander, to his

Of my company only 10 were unhit. I saw a handful of Irishmen throw
themselves in front of a regiment of cavalry who were trying to cut off
a battery of horse artillery. It was one of the finest deeds I ever
saw. Not one of the poor lads got away alive, but they made the German
devils pay in kind, and, anyhow, the artillery got away to account for
many more Germans. Every man of us made a vow to avenge the fallen
Irishmen, and if the German cavalrymen concerned were made the targets
of every British rifleman and gunner they had themselves to thank.
Later they were fully avenged by their own comrades, who lay in wait
for the German cavalrymen. The Irish lads went at them with the bayonet
when they least expected it, and the Germans were a sorry sight. Some
of them howled for mercy, but I don’t think they got it. In war mercy
is only for the merciful.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 59.--From Private W. Bell, of the South Lancashire Regiment,
      to his wife:_

I shall never forget this lot. Men fell dead just like sheep. Our
regiment was first in the firing line, and we were simply cut up. Very
few escaped, so I think I was very lucky, for I was nearly half-a-mile
creeping over nothing but dead men. In the trenches, bullets and shells
came down on us like rain. We even had to lift dead men up and get
under them for safety.

When we got the order to retire an officer was just giving the order to
charge when he was struck dead, and it is a good job we didn’t charge,
or we would have all been killed. I passed a lot of my chums dead, but
I didn’t see Fred Atkinson (a friend of the family).

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 60.--From Corporal T. Trainor:_

Have you ever seen a little man fighting a great, big, hulking giant
who keeps on forcing the little chap about the place until the giant
tires himself out, and then the little one, who has kept his wind,
knocks him over? That’s how the fighting round here strikes me. We are
dancing about round the big German army, but our turn will come.

Last Sunday we had prayers with shells bursting all around us, but the
service was finished before it was necessary for us to grapple with the
enemy. The only thing objectionable I have seen is the robbing of our
dead and wounded by German ghouls. In such cases no quarter is given,
and, indeed, is never expected.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 61.--From an Artilleryman, to his wife at Sheerness:_

I am the only one left out of my battery; we were blown to pieces by
the enemy on Wednesday at Le Cateau. We have been out here twenty-eight
days all told, and have been through the five engagements. I have
nothing; only the jacket I stand up in--no boots or putties, as I was
left for dead. But my horse was shot, and not me. He laid down on me.
They had to cut my boots, etc., off to get me from under my horse.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 62.--From Lance-Corporal J. Preston, of the 2nd Battalion
      Inniskilling Fusiliers, to his wife at Banbridge:_

I did not get hit at Mons. I got through it all right. We encountered
the Germans on Sunday at Mons, and fought on till Monday night. It
was on the retreat from Mons that I was caught. They had about one
hundred guns playing on us all the time we were retiring. We had a
battery of artillery with us. They were all blown to pieces, men and
guns and all. It was a most sorrowful sight to see the guns wiped out,
and the gunners and men lying around them. The whole plain was strewn
with dead and wounded. I hope my eyes will never look on anything so
horrid again. Our section brought in six prisoners, all wounded, and
they told us we had slain hundreds of them. We captured a German spy;
he was dressed in a Scotsman’s uniform, and was knocking around our
camp, but we were a bit too quick for him. I think the hardest battles
are fought; the German cannot stand it much longer, his food supply is
getting done.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 63.--From a Corporal in the Motor Cycle Section of the Royal

Last night the enemy made an attempt to get through to our base in
armed motors. Myself and two other motor-cyclists were sent out to look
for them. It was a pitch-black night, with a thick fog. One of our men
got in touch with them, and was pursued. He made for a bridge which had
been mined by the engineers, and that was the end of the Germans....
The German artillery is rotten. Last Saturday three batteries bombarded
an entrenched British battalion for two hours, and only seven men were
killed. The noise was simply deafening, but so little effect had the
fire that the men shouted with laughter, and held their caps up on the
end of their rifles to give the German gunners a bit of encouragement.

This is really the best summer holiday I have had for a long time.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 64.--From Corporal J. Bailey:_

It’s very jolly in camp in spite of all the drawbacks of active
service, and we have lively times when the Germans aren’t hanging
around to pay their respects. It’s a fine sight to see us on the march,
swinging along the roads as happy as schoolboys, and singing all the
old songs we can think of. The tunes are sometimes a bit out, but
nobody minds so long as we’re happy. As we pass through the villages
the French come out to cheer us and bring us food and fruit. Cigarettes
we get more of than we know what to do with. Some of them are rotten,
so we save them for the German prisoners, who would smoke anything
they can lay their hands on. Flowers also we get plenty of, and we are
having the time of our lives.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 65.--From a Sergeant in the Royal Field Artillery:_

If the French people were mad about us before we were on trial, they
are absolutely crazy over us now when we have sort of justified our
existence. In the towns we pass through we are received with so much
demonstration that I fancy the French soldiers must be jealous. The
people don’t seem to have eyes for anybody but us, and they do all they
can to make us comfortable. They give us the best they can lay hold of,
but that’s not much after the Germans have been around collaring all
they could. It’s the spirit that means so much to us, and even though
it was only an odd cup of water they brought us we would be grateful.
Most of us are glad to feel that we are fighting for a nation worth
fighting for, and after our experience there can be no question of
trouble between us and France in the future.

We lost terribly in the retreat from Mons, of which you have heard by
now, but artillery always stands to lose in retreats, because we play
such a big part in getting the other men away and we quite made up our
minds that we would have to pay forfeit then. Without boasting, I can
say that it was the way the guns were handled that made it so easy
for our lads to get out of the German trap. There was once or twice
when it looked as though it were all up with us, and some of our chaps
were fair down in the mouth over it; but I think now they didn’t make
sufficient allowance for the steadiness of all arms of our service;
and, between ourselves, I think they had got the usual notions about
the splendid soldiering qualities of the German army. They know better
now, and though it’s bad to get chesty about that sort of thing, we are
all pretty confident that with a sporting chance we stand to win all
the time.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 66.--From Private J. Toal:_

It’s tired we all were when we got through that week of fighting and
marching from Mons; but after we’d had a taste of rest for a day or
two, by the saints, we were ready for the ugly Germans again, and we’ve
been busy ever since drilling holes in them big enough to let out the
bad that’s in them. You wouldn’t believe the way they have burned and
destroyed the holy churches everywhere they went, and there’s many an
Irish lad betwixt here and the frontier has registered a vow that he
will not rest content till he’s paid off that score against the men who
would lay hands on God’s altars.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 67.--From Private W. Green:_

We see more Germans than you could count in the day, but they are now
very funky about it, and they will never wait for a personal interview
with one of our men, especially if he has a lance or a bayonet handy,
and naturally you don’t go out German-hunting without something of
the kind with you, if only just for luck. When they must face us they
usually get stuck away somewhere where they are protected by more guns
than you ever set eyes on, and likewise crowds of machine guns of the
Maxim pattern, mounted on motors. These are not now so troublesome, for
they are easy to spot out in the open, and our marksmen quickly pick
off the men serving them, so the Germans are getting a bit shy about
displaying them. Something we heard the other day has put new life into
us; not that we were downhearted before, but what I mean shows that we
are going to have all we wished for very soon, and though we can’t tell
you more you may be sure that we are going on well.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 68.--From Private G. A. Turner, to his father, Mr. J. W.
      Turner, of Leeds_ (_Published in the “Leeds Mercury”_):

I am still living, though a bit knocked about. I got a birthday present
from the Kaiser. I was wounded on the 23rd. So it was a near thing, was
it not? I got your letter at a place called Moroilles, in France, about
five miles from Landrecies, where our troops have retired.

On Sunday, 23rd, we had rifle inspection at 11 a.m., and were ordered
to fall in for bathing parade at 11.30. While we were waiting for
another company to return from the river the Germans commenced to shell
the town. We fell in about 1.0 p.m., an hour and a half afterwards, to
go to the scene of the attack. Shells were bursting in the streets as
we went. We crossed a bridge over the canal under artillery fire, and
stood doing nothing behind a mill on the bank for some time.

Then someone cried out that the Germans were advancing along the canal
bank, and our company were ordered to go along. We thought we were
going to check the Germans, but we found out afterwards that a company
of our own regiment were in position further along on the opposite side
of the canal, and we were being sent out to reinforce them.

There was no means of crossing the canal at that point, so it was an
impossibility. As soon as we started to move we were spotted by the
Germans, who opened fire with their guns at about five hundred yards
with shrapnel, and the scene that followed beggars description. Several
of us were laid full length behind a wooden fence about half an inch
thick. The German shells burst about three yards in front of it. It was
blown to splinters in about ten minutes. None of us expected to get out

They kept us there about an hour before they gave us the word to
retire. I had just turned round to go back when I stopped one. It hits
you with an awful thump, and I thought it had caught me at the bottom
of the spine, as it numbed my legs for about half an hour.

When I found I could not walk I gave it up. Just after, I got my first
view of the Germans. They were coming out of a wood about 400 yards
away all in a heap together, so I thought as I was done for I would get
a bit of my own back, and I started pumping a bit of lead into them.

I stuck there for about three-quarters of an hour, and fired all my own
ammunition and a lot belonging to two more wounded men who were close
to me--about 300 rounds altogether, and as it was such a good target I
guess I accounted for a good lot of them.

Then I suddenly discovered I could walk, and so I set off to get back.
I had to walk about 150 yards in the open, with shrapnel bursting
around me all the way, but somehow or other I got back without catching
another. It was more than I expected, I can assure you, and I laughed
when I got in the shelter of the mill again.

I was very sorry to have to leave the other chaps who were wounded, but
as I could only just limp along I could not help them in any way. They
were brought in later by stretcher bearers.

A man who was at Paardeburg and Magersfontein, in South Africa, said
they were nothing to what we got that Sunday. Out of 240 men of my
company only about twenty were uninjured.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 69.--From an Infantryman in hospital_ (_Published in the
      “Aldershot News”_):

I found myself mixed up with a French regiment on the right. I wanted
to go forward with them, but the officer in charge shook his head
and smiled, “They will spot you in your khaki and put you out in no
time,” he said in English; “make your way to the left; you’ll find your
fellows on that hill.” I watched the regiment till it disappeared; then
I made my way across a field and up a big avenue of trees. The shells
were whistling overhead, but there was nothing to be afraid of. Halfway
up the avenue there was a German lancer officer lying dead by the side
of the road. How he got there was a mystery, because we had seen no
cavalry. But there he lay, and someone had crossed his hands on his
breast, and put a little celluloid crucifix in his hands. Over his face
was a beautiful little handkerchief--a lady’s--with lace edging. It was
a bit of a mystery, because there wasn’t a lady for miles that I knew

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 70.--From Sapper H. Mugridge, R.E., to his mother at

We met the Germans at Landrecies on Sunday. We had a fifteen-hour
battle. It was terrible. There were 120,000 Germans and only 20,000 of
us, but our men fought well. We blew up six bridges. Laid our charges
in the afternoon, and the whole time we were doing it were not hit.
After we had got everything ready we got back into cover and waited
until 1.30 on Monday morning, until our troops had got back over the
river, and then we blew up the bridges. We retired about thirty miles.
The town where we stopped on Sunday was a beautiful place, but the
Germans destroyed it. Close to where I was a church had been used as a
hospital, and our wounded were coming by the dozens. But, terrible to
say, the Germans blew the place up. They have no pity. They kill our
wounded and drive the people before them.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 71.--From Sapper H. Mugridge, R.E._ (_Second letter,
      published in the “Sussex Daily News”_):

We were laying our gun cotton--ten of us were the last to leave, and
the Germans stopped us. We had to run for it down the main street of
the town of Landrecies, and, being dark, we could not see where we
were going. We got caught in some telegraph wires which had been put
across the street. We had to cut them away with our bayonets. On Monday
morning, when things were quieter, we went nearly into the German
lines. We could hear them giving orders. Our job was to put barbed wire
across the road. I was thankful to get out of it. We could see the
Germans burning their dead. They must have lost a few thousand men, as
our troops simply mowed them down.

I saw one sergeant kill fourteen Germans, one after the other. They
came up in fifties, all in a cluster, and you couldn’t help hitting
them. They were only 400 yards from us all day on Sunday. They are very
cruel. Our people used a church for a hospital, and it was filled with
our wounded, but the place was shelled and knocked down. They stabbed
a good many of our men while lying on the battlefield. They have no
respect for the Red Cross. To see women and children driven from home
and walking the roads is terrible--old men and women just the same.
At the town where we were we got cut off from our people--eighteen of
us--and the houses were being toppled over by the German artillery.
The people clung around us, asking us to stay with them, but it was no
good. When we left, the town was in flames. But our men did fight well.
You never saw anything so cool in your life. Anyone would have thought
it was a football match, for they were joking and laughing with one

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 72.--From John Baker, of the Royal Flying Corps, to his
      parents at Boston, Lincolnshire:_

While flying over Boulogne at a height of 3,000 feet, something went
wrong with the machine, and the engine stopped. The officer said,
“Baker, our time has come. Be brave, and die like a man. Good-bye,”
and shook hands with me. I shall always remember the ten minutes
that followed. The next I remembered was that I was in a barn. I was
removed to Boulogne, and afterwards to Netheravon, being conveyed from
Southampton by motor ambulance.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 73.--From Private G. Rider:_

The Germans are good and bad as fighters, but mostly bad so far as I
have seen. They are nearly all long distance champions in the fighting
line, and won’t come too near unless they are made to. Yesterday we had
a whole day of it in the trenches, with the Germans firing away at us
all the time. It began just after breakfast, and we were without food
of any kind until we had what you might call a dainty afternoon tea
in the trenches under shell fire. The mugs were passed round with the
biscuits and the “bully” as best they could by the mess orderlies, but
it was hard work getting through without getting more than we wanted
of lead rations. My next-door neighbour, so to speak, got a shrapnel
bullet in his tin mug, and another two doors off had his biscuit shot
out of his hand when he was fool enough to hold it up to show it to a
chum in the next trench.

We are ready for anything that comes our way, and nothing would
please us better than a good big stand-up fight with the Germans on
any ground they please. We are all getting used to the hard work of
active service, and you very seldom hear complaints from anybody. The
grousers, who are to be found in nearly every regiment, seem to be on
holiday for the war.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 74.--From Private Martin O’Keefe, of the Royal Irish Rifles,
      to his friends at Belfast:_

Our part in the fighting was limited almost entirely to covering the
retreat by a steady rifle fire from hastily-prepared trenches. We were
thrown out along an extended front, and instructed to hold our ground
until the retiring troops were signalled safe in the next position
allotted them. When this was done our turn came, and we retired to a
new position, our place being taken by the light cavalry, who kept
the Germans in check as long as they could and then fell back in
their turn. The Germans made some rather tricky moves in the hope of
cutting us off while we were on this dangerous duty, but our flanks
were protected by cavalry, French and English, and they did not get
very far without having to fight. When they found the slightest show of
resistance they retreated, and tried to find an easier way of getting
in at us. The staff were well pleased with the way we carried out the
duty given to us, and we were told that it had saved our Army from
very serious loss at one critical point. We put in some wonderfully
effective shooting in the trenches, and the men find it is much easier
making good hits on active service than at manœuvres. The Germans
seemed to think at first that we were as poor shots as they are, and
they were awfully sick when they had to face our deadly fire for the
first time.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 75.--From Sergeant W. Holmes:_

We are off again, this time with some of the French, and it’s enough
to give you fits to hear the Frenchmen trying to pick up the words of
“Cheer Boys, Cheer,” which we sing with great go on the march. They
haven’t any notion of what the words mean, but they can tell from
our manner that they mean we’re in good heart, and that’s infectious
here. We lost our colonel and four other officers in our fight on
Tuesday. It was the hottest thing we were ever in. The colonel was
struck down when he was giving us the last word of advice before we
threw ourselves on the enemy. We avenged him in fine style. His loss
was a great blow to us, for he was very popular. It’s always the best
officers, somehow, that get hit the first, and there’s not a man in
the regiment who wouldn’t have given his life for him. He was keen on
discipline, but soldiers don’t think any less of officers who are that.
The German officers are a rum lot. They don’t seem in too great a hurry
to expose their precious carcasses, and so they “lead” from the rear
all the time. We see to it that they don’t benefit much by that, you
may be sure, and when it’s at all possible we shoot at the skulking
officers. That probably accounts for the high death rate among German
officers. They seem terribly keen on pushing their men forward into
posts of danger, but they are not so keen in leading the way, except
in retreat, when they are well to the fore. Our cavalry are up to that
little dodge, and so, when they are riding out to intercept retreating
Germans, they always give special attention to the officers.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 76.--From Corporal J. Hammersley:_

The Germans in front of us are about done for, and that’s the truth of
it. They have got about as much fighting as humans can stand, and it is
about time they realised it. I don’t agree with those who think this
war is going to last for a long time. The pace we go at on both sides
is too hot, and flesh and blood won’t stand it for long. My impression
is that there will be a sudden collapse of the Germans that will
astonish everybody at home; but we are not leaving much to chance, and
we do all we can to hasten the collapse. The Germans aren’t really cut
out for this sort of work. They are proper bullies, who get on finely
when everybody’s lying bleeding at their feet, but they can’t manage at
all when they have to stand up to men who can give them more than they
bargain for.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 77.--From Lance-Corporal T. Williams:_

We are now getting into our stride and beginning to get a little of our
own back out of the Germans. They don’t like it at all now that we are
nearer to them in numbers, and their men all look like so many “Weary
Willies”; they are so tired. You might say they have got “that tired
feeling” bad, and so they have. Some of them just drop into our arms
when we call on them to surrender as though it were the thing they’d
been waiting for all their lives.

One chap who knows a little English told us he was never more pleased
to see the English uniform in all his life before, for he was about fed
up with marching and fighting in the inhuman way the German officers
expect their men to go on. When we took him to camp he lay down and
slept like a log for hours; he was so done up.

That’s typical of the Germans now, and it looks as though the Kaiser
were going to have to pay a big price for taxing his men so terribly.
You can’t help being sorry for the poor fellows. They all say they were
told when setting out that it would be child’s play beating us, as our
army was the poorest stuff in the world. Those who had had experience
in England didn’t take that in altogether, but the country yokels and
those who had never been outside their own towns believed it until they
had a taste of our fighting quality, and then they laughed with the
other side of their faces.

That’s the Germans all over, to “kid” themselves into the belief that
they have got a soft thing, and then when they find it’s too hard, to
run away from it. Our lads have made up their minds to give them no
rest once we get on to them, and they’ll get as much of the British
Army as they can stand, and maybe a little more. The French are greatly
pleased with the show we made in the field, and are in much better
spirits than they were.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 78.--From a Non-commissioned Officer of Dragoons:_

All our men--in fact, the whole British Army--are as fit as a fiddle,
and the lads are as keen as mustard. There is no holding them back. At
Mons we were under General Chetwode, and horses and men positively flew
at the Germans, cutting through much heavier mounts and heavier men
than ours. The yelling and the dash of the Lancers and Dragoon Guards
was a thing never to be forgotten. We lost very heavily at Mons, and
it is a marvel how some of our fellows pulled through and positively
frightened the enemy. We did some terrible execution, and our wrists
were feeling the strain of heavy riding before sunset. With our tunics
unbuttoned, we had the full use of our right arm for attack and defence.

After Mons I went with a small party scouting, and we again engaged
about twenty cavalry, cut off from their main body. We killed nine,
wounded six, and gave chase to the remaining five, who, in rejoining
their unit, nearly were the means of trapping us. However, our men
dispersed and hid in a wood until they fell in with a squadron of the
----, and so reached camp in safety. After that a smart young corporal
accompanied me to reconnoitre, and we went too far ahead, and were
cut off in a part of the country thick with Uhlans. As we rode in the
direction of ---- two wounded men were limping along, both with legs
damaged, one from the Middlesex and the other Lancashire Fusiliers, and
so we took them up.

Corporal Watherston took one behind his saddle and I took the other.
The men were hungry, and tattered to shreds with fighting, but in fine
spirits. We soon came across a small village, and I found the curé a
grand sportsman and full of pluck and hospitality. He seemed charmed
to find a friend who was English, and told me that the Germans were
dressed in the uniforms of British soldiers, which they took from the
dead and from prisoners in order to deceive French villagers, who in
many places in that district had welcomed these wolves in sheep’s
clothing. We were warned that the enemy would be sure to track us up
to the village. The curé said he could hide the two wounded men in the
crypt of his church and put up beds for them. It has a secret trapdoor,
and was an ancient treasure-house of a feudal lord, whose castle we saw
in ruins at the top of the hill close by.

Then he hid away our saddlery and uniforms in the roof of a barn, and
insisted upon our making a rest-chamber of the tower of his church,
which was approached by a ladder, which we were to pull up to the
belfry as soon as we got there. He smuggled in wine and meat and bread
and cakes, fruit and cigarettes, with plenty of bedding pulled up by
a rope. We slept soundly, and the owls seemed the only other tenants,
who resented our intrusion. No troops passed through the village that
night. In the morning the curé came round at six o’clock, and we heard
him say Mass. After that we let down the ladder, and he came up with
delicious hot chocolate and a basket of rolls and butter.

Our horses he had placed in different stables a mile apart, and put
French “fittings” on them, so as to deceive the enemy. He thinks we are
well away from the main body of the German army moving in the direction
of Paris, but will not hear of our leaving here for at least three
days. But I cried, “Curé, we are deserters!” The old man wept and said,
“Deserters, no, no--saviours, saviours; you have rescued France from
the torments of slavery.”

However, we have now secured complete disguises as French
cultivateurs--baggy corderoy trousers, blue shirts, boots, stockings,
belt, hat, cravat, everything to match--and as we have not shaved for
two weeks, and are bronzed with the sun, I think that the corporal and
myself can pass anywhere as French peasants, if only he will leave all
the talking to me.

The two wounded soldiers don’t wish us to leave them, because I am
interpreter, and not a soul speaks English in the village. So we have
explained to the curé that we shall stay here until our comrades
are able to walk, and then the party of four will push our way out
somewhere on horseback and get to the coast. The sacristan at once
offered to be our guide, and it is arranged that we take a carrier’s
wagon which travels in this district and drive our own horses in it,
and pick up two additional mounts at a larger village on the way to the

We must get back as soon as ever we can. Nothing could be kinder than
the people here, but this is not what we came to France for, and
hanging about in a French village is not exactly what a soldier calls

You cannot imagine how complete the Germans are in the matter of rapid
transport. Large automobiles, such as the railway companies have for
towns round Harrogate and Scarborough, built like char-à-bancs, carry
the soldiers in batches of fifty, so that they are as fresh as paint
when they get to the front. But in point of numbers I think one of our
side is a fair match for four of the enemy. I hope that the British
public are beginning to understand what this war means. The German is
not a toy terrier, but a bloodhound absolutely thirsty for blood.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 79.--From Private Tom Savage, to his relatives at Larne:_

            At Sea.

Just a line to let you know that we are landing outside ----. They
kept us without any knowledge of how and where we were going till the
last moment. I am quite well and extra specially fit. It is good fun
on a troopship, and we are going to have a nice little holiday on the
Continent. I’ll be able to “swank French” when I come back. I’ll write
a good long letter when I settle down. I’m writing this at tea time
just before we land. I have got two very nice chums, Jack Wright, the
footballer, who has seen service before, and Billy Caughey, both of

            In France.

I am writing this note while on outpost duty. I can’t say where we are,
or anything like that, but I am in the best of health and enjoying
the life. I am getting a fine hand at French. There is plenty of food
and the people are all very nice. It’s great fun trying to understand
them. Plenty of fruit here, pears and apples galore, and as for bread
big long rolls and rings of it, and all very cheap. When you happen
to be riding through a town the people give you cigarettes, fruit,
chocolates, and cider.

If you are all extra good I’ll bring you home a pet German. How is Home
Rule getting on? Send me a paper, but I don’t know when I’ll get it or
you’ll get this. I suppose the papers are full of this ruction. I can
write no more as I’ll soon have to go on guard.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 80.--From Mons. E. Hovelange, of Paris, written on August
      30th, to Sir William Collins_ (_Published in the “Sussex Daily

How serious the situation is here it is hard for you to realize in
London. We may be encircled at any moment by these hordes of savages.
Such murderous cruelty has never been seen in the annals of war. The
Turks and the Bulgarians were no worse. It is the rule to fire on
ambulances and slaughter the wounded. I know it from eye-witnesses. The
Germans are drunk with savagery. It is an orgy of the basest cruelty.
They are rushing Paris at all costs, squandering their men recklessly
in overwhelming numbers. Our troops are submerged and can only retreat,
fighting desperately, but the spirit of our soldiers is splendid.
All the wounded I have seen laugh and joke over their wounds and are
burning to have another go at the barbarians. Victory is certain. But
what disastrous changes shall we know before it comes. I am prepared
for the worst--another month of hopeless struggle perhaps. But we will
light to the last man. The tide will turn, and then--woe to them. I
know you will stand by us in the cause of civilization, common honest
truth till the bitter end. But if you want to help us you must hasten.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Letter 81.--From a young officer who has been through the whole
      campaign, from the landing of the British at Boulogne:_

I wish you would try to make the people in England understand that
they should be most exceedingly thankful that they are living on an
island and not in the midst of the dreadful things which are happening
on the Continent. Do enforce upon the public that England must fight
this thing out, and must conquer even if it has to spend the blood
of its young men like water. It will be far better that every family
throughout England should have to sorrow for one of its members than
that England should have to go through similar ordeals to those which
Continental countries are suffering.

The sight of old women and men fleeing from village to village; young
mothers with babies in arms, with their few personal effects on their
backs, or in some more fortunate cases with their goods and chattels
surrounding the aged grandmother stowed away in an old farm cart, drawn
by a nag too venerable to be of service to the State; this is what one
has seen daily. Picture to yourself our night marches with the burning
villages on all sides set fire to by German shells--and the Germans
have been rather careless whether their shells struck fortified and
defended positions, or open ones. In some cases the fires were caused
intentionally by marauding patrols.

Do not imagine that things are not going well with us. We are all
satisfied and confident of the end; but at the same time the only
possible end can be gained by sacrifice on the part of those at home
only. All is well with me personally; I have a busy time, but it is
most interesting work.


(1) _At Salisbury._

A non-commissioned officer of the Royal Field Artillery, invalided home
with shrapnel wounds in the thigh, from which he hopes soon to recover,
has given this vivid description of his experiences at the front after
passing north of Amiens, to a _Daily Telegraph_ correspondent:

Pushing forward from our rest camp, covering from twenty to thirty
miles a day, with the infantry marching in front and cavalry protecting
us on either flank, we received information that we were within a few
hours’ march of the enemy. Needless to say, this put us on the alert.
There was no funk about us, for we were all anxious to have a go at the
Germans, about whom we had heard such tales of cruelty that it made our
blood run cold.

Our orders were to load with case shot, for fear of cavalry attack, as
shrapnel is of little use against mounted troops. The order was soon
obeyed, and after passing the day on the road, we moved across country
north of ----, where the infantry took up a strong position. We saw the
French troops on our right as we moved up to gun positions which our
battery commanders had selected in advance. It was Sunday morning when
the attack came, and the sun had already lit up the beautiful country,
and as I looked across at the villages which lay below in the valley
with their silent belfries I thought of my home on the Cotswolds and
of the bells ringing for morning service. I pictured dad and my sister
Nell going to church.

It was, however, no time for sentiment, for gallopers soon brought the
news that the enemy was advancing, and that a cavalry attack might be
expected at any moment. Infantry had entrenched themselves along our
front, and there was a strong body posted on our flanks and rear. These
became engaged first with a large body of Uhlans, who endeavoured to
take them by surprise, the front rank rushing forward with the lance
and the rear using the sword.

We were on slightly higher ground, and could see the combat, which
appeared to be going in our favour. Our men stuck to their ground and
shot and bayonetted the Uhlans, who, after ten minutes’ fight, made
off, but, sad to say, a dreadful fusilade of shrapnel and Maxim fire
followed immediately, and our guns also came under fire. To this we
readily replied, and must have done some execution, especially to the
large masses of infantry that were advancing about a mile away.

We got a favourable “bracket” at once, so our Major said, and we worked
our guns for all we were worth, altering fuses and the ranging of our
guns as the Germans came nearer. Shells fell fast around us, some
ricocheted, and passed overhead without bursting, ploughing the ground
up in our rear, but not a few exploded, and made many casualties. Three
of my gun detachment fell with shrapnel bullets, but still we kept the
guns going, the officers giving a hand.

At one time we came under the fire of the enemy’s machine guns, but two
of our 18-pounders put them out of action after a few rounds. The order
came at length to retire so as to get a more favourable position, but
our drivers failed to bring back all the gun teams, only sufficient
to horse four of the guns. The remainder of the animals had been
terribly mutilated. These were limbered up, the remainder being for a
time protected by the infantry. The Gordons and Middlesex were in the
shelter trenches on our left, and the latter regiment was said at one
time to be almost overwhelmed, but aid came, and the masses of Prussian
infantry were beaten off.

Still, there was terrible slaughter on both sides, and the dead lay in
long burrows on the turf. We should have lost our guns to the Uhlans if
the infantry had not persevered with the rifle, picking off the cavalry
at 800 yards.

It was grand shooting. In the afternoon we slackened fire, as also did
the Germans; in fact, we did but little from our new gun positions, as
we were destined to cover the retreat of the infantry later on.

As the wounded were brought to the rear we heard of the deeds of
heroism from the men of the Royal Army Medical Corps in the fighting
line--how an officer stood over the body of a private who had
previously saved his life until he had spent his last shot from his
revolver, and then fell seriously wounded, to be avenged the next
moment by a burly sergeant who plunged his bayonet into the Prussian.

In the ranks of the South Lancashire Regiment, from what has been
heard, many deserve the Distinguished Conduct Medal, if not the V.C.,
for the manner in which they charged masses of German infantry through
the village to our front. Uhlans got round behind them, but they did
not flinch, although serious gaps were made in their ranks.

A non-commissioned officer of the Medicals related how he saw a party
of Fusiliers rush to the aid of their Maxim gun party when Uhlans swept
down on them from behind a wood. They accounted for over twenty and
lost but one man.

At night we were ordered to move on again, and we marched south-west
in the direction of ----, covering twenty miles in the darkness. Our
unhorsed guns were got through by splitting up our teams, and with the
help of the brawny arms of the infantry.

The enemy were aware of our retreat, and kept up an incessant fire,
bringing searchlights to the aid of their gunners. The moon slightly
favoured us, and, with the help of local guides, we found our way. I
heard of the brilliant work performed by our battalions, who kept the
enemy at bay whilst we withdrew all our vehicles, and we gunners felt
proud of them. They kept the enemy busy by counter-attack, and made it
impossible to get round us.

Next morning the enemy were again in the field endeavouring to force
our left flank. Field-Marshal Sir John French, whom we saw early in the
day, was, however, equal to the occasion, and so manœuvred his troops
that we occupied a position from which the Germans could not dislodge
us. The artillery kept up long-range fire, and that is how I received
my wound. Within a few minutes first aid was rendered, and I was put
in an ambulance and taken off with other wounded to a field hospital,
where I met with every attention.


(2) _At the London Hospital._

By a _Daily Telegraph_ correspondent.

A description of a thrilling fight in the air, which had a dramatic
climax, was given to Queen Alexandra when her Majesty paid a visit to
the London Hospital.

Among the wounded soldiers there is a private of the Royal Engineers,
who was himself witness of the incident.

He said that following a very hard fight on the day before, he was
lying on the ground with his regiment, resting. Suddenly a German
aeroplane hove in sight. It flew right over the British troops, and
commenced to signal their position to the German camp.

A minute later, amid intense excitement of the troops, two aeroplanes,
with English and French pilots, rose into the air from the British
rear. Ascending with great rapidity, they made for the German
aeroplane, with the intention of attacking it.

At first some of our men, who were very much on the alert, fired by
mistake at the French aeroplane. Luckily, their shots went wide.

Then the troops lay still, and with breathless interest watched
the attempts of the French and British aviators to outmanœuvre
their opponent, and to cut off his retreat. After a little time the
Franco-British airmen abandoned this attempt, and then the Englishman
and the German began to fly upwards, in the evident desire to obtain
a more favourable position for shooting down from above. Owing to the
protection afforded by the machine, it would have been of little use
for one aviator to fire at his opponent from below. Once a higher
altitude was attained, the opportunity for effective aim would be much

Up and up circled the two airmen, till their machines could barely be
distinguished from the ground. They were almost out of sight when the
soldiers saw that the British aviator was above his opponent. Then
the faint sound of a shot came down from the sky, and instantly the
German aeroplane began to descend, vol-planing in graceful fashion.
Apparently it was under the most perfect control. On reaching the earth
the machine landed with no great shock, ran a short distance along the
ground, and then stopped.

Rushing to the spot, the British soldiers found, to their amazement,
that the pilot was dead. So fortunate had been the aim of the
Englishman that he had shot the German through the head. In his dying
moments the latter had started to descend, and when he reached the
earth his hands still firmly gripped the controls.

The aeroplane was absolutely undamaged, and was appropriated by the
British aviators.


(3) _From a “Daily Telegraph” correspondent at Rouen_:

It was known that there were British wounded in Rouen--I had even
spoken to one of them in the streets--but how was one to see them? The
police commissaire sent me to his central colleague, who sent me on to
the état major, who was anxious to send me back to him, but finally
suggested that I should see the military commissary at one of the
stations. He was courteous, but very firm--the authorisation I asked
for could not be, and was not, granted to anyone. At the headquarters
of the British General Staff the same answer in even less ambiguous

It was then that Privates X., Y., Z. came to my aid. Private Z. had a
request to make of me. It was that I should see to it that the black
retriever of his regiment now at the front should be photographed, and
that the photograph should appear in _The Daily Telegraph_. Private
Z. had a temperature of 102·5, and looked it, but he was not worrying
about that. He was worrying about the photograph of the regimental
retriever, which I understood him to say, though dates make it almost
incredible, had gone through the Boer campaign, and had not yet had his
photograph in the papers. So I met by appointment Privates X., Y., and
Z. outside the Hospice Général of Rouen, and by them was franked in to
the hospital, where a few dozen of our wounded were sunning themselves.
It was just time, and no more, as orders had been received a few
minutes before that the British wounded were to be transferred from
Rouen to London, for something grave was afoot.

“Do you want to get back to England?” someone called out to a soldier
whose arm was in a sling, and the whole sleeve of whose jacket had been
ripped by the fragment of a shell.

“Not I,” he shouted; “I want to go to the front again and get my sleeve
back, and something more.”

I managed to speak with two or three of the wounded as they were
getting ready for the start. One of them, an artilleryman, had been
injured by his horses falling on him at Ligny, I guessed it was--only
guessed, for Tommy charges a French word as bravely and much less
successfully than he charges the enemy. It was the same story that one
hears from all, of a heroic struggle against overwhelming odds. “They
were ten to one against us, in my opinion,” he said. “They were all
over us. Their artillery found the range by means of aeroplanes. The
shell fire was terrible.”

He says that it was very accurate, but that fortunately the quality of
the shells is not up to that of the shooting. My informant’s division
held out for twenty-four hours against the overwhelming odds. Then,
when the Germans had managed to get a battery into action behind, they
retired during the night of Wednesday, steadily and in excellent order,
keeping the German pursuit at bay. The next man I spoke to really spoke
to me. He was anxious to tell his story.

“I have been in the thick of it,” he said; “in the very thick of it. I
was one of the chauffeurs in the service of the British General Staff.”

He told me that he was not a Regular soldier, but a volunteer from the
Automobile Club, an American who had become a naturalised English
citizen, and had once been a journalist. His own injury, a burnt arm,
was from a back-fire, but his escape from the German bullets had been
almost miraculous. Three staff officers, one after another, had been
hit in the body of the car behind him. This is his story:

“On Friday, the 25th, the British were just outside Le Cateau. On
Saturday morning the approach of the Germans in force was signalled. On
Sunday morning at daybreak a German aeroplane flew over our lines, and,
although fired at by the aeroplane gun mounted in the car, and received
with volleys from the troops, managed to rejoin its lines. Twenty
minutes later the German artillery opened fire with accuracy. The
aeroplane, as so often, had done its work as range-finder. For twelve
hours the cannonade went on. Then the British forces retreated six
miles. On Monday morning the bombardment began again, and at two that
afternoon the German forces entered Le Cateau from which the English
had retired. Many of the houses were in flames. The Germans, who had
ruthlessly bayonetted our wounded if they moved so much as a finger as
they lay on the ground, were guilty of brutal conduct when they entered
the city.

“On Tuesday, the British, who had retired to Landrecies, were again
attacked by the Germans. They believed, wrongly, that on their right
was a supporting French force. The range was again found by aeroplane,
and the British were compelled to evacuate. That was on Tuesday. The
British troops had been fighting steadily for four days, but their
morale and their spirits had not suffered.”

As I write, a detachment of the R.A.M.C. is filing past, and people
have risen from their chairs and are cheering and saluting. Half an
hour ago Engineers passed with their pontoons decorated with flowers
and greenery. The men had flowers in their caps, and even the horses
were flower-decked. Tommy Atkins has the completest faith in his
leaders and in himself. He quite realises the necessity for secrecy of
operations in modern warfare. Of course, he has his own theories. This
is one of them textually:

“The Germans are simply walking into it. Of course, we have had losses,
but that was part of the plan--the sprat to catch the whale. They are
going to find themselves in a square between four allied armies, and
then,”--so far Private X., but here Private Y. broke in cheerfully:
“And then they will be electrocuted.”

And at this moment it begins to look as if--apart from that detail
of the square of four armies--Privates X. and Y. had known what they
were talking about; for some few days ago the great retreat came to an
abrupt end, the British and French forces carrying out General Joffre’s
carefully laid plan of campaign, turned their defensive movement into
a combined attack, the Germans fell back before them and are still
retiring. They marched through Belgium into France with heavy fighting
and appalling losses, only to be held in check at the right place and
time and beaten back by the road they had come, when Paris seemed
almost at their mercy. But that retirement is another story.



    “_He only knows that not through_ HIM
    _Shall England come to shame_.”

                SIR F. H. DOYLE.

Even through those three weeks when they were retreating before the
enemy, the whole spirit of the British troops was the spirit of men
who are fighting to win. There is no hint of doubt or despondency in
any of their letters home. They talk lightly of their hardest, most
terrible experiences; they greet the unseen with a cheer; you hear of
them cracking jokes, boyishly guying each other, singing songs as they
march and as they lie in the trenches with shells bursting and shots
screaming close over their heads. They carried out their retreats
grudgingly, but without dismay, in the fixed confidence that their
leaders knew what they were after, and that in due time they would find
they had only been stooping to conquer. “They won’t let us have a fair
smack at them,” says “Spratty,” of the Army Service Corps, in a letter
home. “I have never seen such a sight before. God knows whose turn is
next, but we shall win, don’t worry.” This is the watchword of them
all: “Don’t worry--we shall win.”

“Wine is offered us instead of water by the people,” wrote Private S.
Browne, whilst his regiment was marching through France to the front;
“but officers and men are refusing it. Some of the hardest drinkers in
the regiment have signed the pledge for the war.”

“Tommy goes into battle,” a French soldier told a reporter at Dieppe,
“singing some song about Tip-Tip-Tip-Tipperary, and when he is hit he
does not cry out. He just says ‘blast,’ and if the wound is a small one
he asks the man next to him to tie a tourniquet round it and settles
down to fighting again.” A corporal of the Black Watch explained to a
hospital visitor, “It was a terrible bit of work. The Germans were as
thick as Hielan’ heather, and by sheer weight forced us back step by
step. But until the order came not a living man flinched. In the thick
of the bursting shells we were singing Harry Lauder’s latest.”

Trooper George Pritchard wrote to his mother from Netley Hospital the
other day: “I got hit in the arm from a shell. Seven of our officers
got killed last Thursday, but Captain Grenfell was saved at the same
time as me. What do you think of the charge of the 9th? It is worth
getting hit for.”

“We are all in good heart, and ready for the next round whenever it may
come,” writes Private J. Scott, from his place in the field; and “South
Africa was child’s play to what we have been through,” writes Corporal
Brogan, “but we are beginning to feel our feet now, and are equal to a
lot more gruelling.”

“We are all beat up after four days of the hardest soldiering you ever
dreamt of,” Private Patrick McGlade says in a letter to his mother. “I
am glad to say we accounted for our share of the Germans. We tried hard
to get at them many a time, but they never would wait for us when they
saw the bright bits of steel at the business end of our rifles. Some
of them squeal like the pigs on killing day when they see the steel
ready. Some of our finest lads are now sleeping their last sleep in
Belgium, but, mother dear, you can take your son’s word for it that
for every son of Ireland who will never come back there are at least
three Germans who will never be heard of again. When we got here we
sang ‘Paddies Evermore,’ and then we were off to chapel to pray for the
souls of the lads that are gone.”

“Some of us feel very strongly about being sent home for scratches
that will heal,” writes Corporal A. Hands. “Don’t believe half the
stories about our hardships. I haven’t seen or heard of a man who made
complaint of anything. You can’t expect a six-course dinner on active
service, but we get plenty to fight on.”

Cases of personal pluck were so common that we soon ceased to take
notice of them, a wounded driver in the Royal Artillery told an
interviewer. “There was a man of the Buffs, who carried a wounded chum
for over a mile under German fire, but if you suggested a Victoria
Cross for that man he would punch your head, and as he is a regular
devil when roused the men say as little as they can about it. He thinks
he didn’t do anything out of the common, and doesn’t see why his name
should be dragged into the papers over it. Another case I heard of was
a corporal of the Fusilier Brigade--I don’t know his regiment--who
held a company of Germans at bay for two hours by the old trick of
firing at them from different points, and so making them think they had
a crowd to face. He was getting on very well until a party of cavalry
outflanked him, as you might say, and as they were right on top of him
there was no kidding about his ‘strength,’ so he skedaddled, and the
Germans took the position he had held so long. He got back to his mates
all right, and they were glad to see him, for they had given him up for

“No regiment fought harder than we did, and no regiment has better
officers, who went shoulder to shoulder with their men,” says a
non-commissioned officer of the Buffs, writing from hospital, “but you
can’t expect absolute impossibilities to be accomplished, no matter how
brave the boys are, when you are fighting a force from twenty to thirty
times as strong. If some of you at home who have spoken sneeringly of
British officers could have seen how they handled their men and shirked
nothing you would be ashamed of yourselves. We are all determined when
fit again to return and get our own back.”

Everywhere you find that the one cry of the soldiers who are invalided
home--they are impatient to be cured quickly and get back “to have
another slap at them.” We know how our women here at home share that
eager enthusiasm in this the most righteous war Britain has ever gone
into; and isn’t there something that stirs you like the sound of a
trumpet in such a passage as this from the letter a Scottish nun living
in Belgium has written to her mother?

“I am glad England is aroused, and that the British lion is out with
all his teeth showing. Here these little lions of Belgians are raging
mad and doing glorious things.

“Tell father I am cheery, and feel sometimes far too warlike for a nun.
That’s my Scottish blood. I hope to goodness the Highlanders, if they
come, will march down another street on their way to the caserne, or I
shall shout and yell and cheer them, and forget I mustn’t look out of
the window.”

An extract from Sergeant T. Cahill’s letter to his friends at Bristol
gives you a snap-shot of our women in the firing line, and of the
fearless jollity and light-heartedness with which our Irish comrades
meet the worst that their enemies can do:

“The Red Cross girleens, with their purty faces and their sweet ways,
are as good men as most of us, and better than some of us. They are not
supposed to venture into the firing line at all, but they get there all
the same, and devil the one of us durst turn them away,” and he goes on
casually, “Mick Clancy is that droll with his larking and bamboozling
the Germans that he makes us nearly split our sides laughing at him
and his ways. Yesterday he got a stick and put a cap on it so that it
peeped above the trenches just like a man, and then the Germans kept
shooting away at it until they must have used up tons of ammunition,
and there was us all the time laughing at them.”

But I think there is perhaps nothing in these letters that is more
touching or more finely significant than this:

“The other day I stopped to assist a young lad of the West Kents, who
had been badly hit by a piece of shell,” writes Corporal Sam Haslett.
“He hadn’t long to live, and knew it, but he wasn’t at all put out
about it. I asked him if there was any message I could take to any one
at home, and the poor lad’s eyes filled with tears as he answered: ‘I
ran away from home and ’listed a year ago. Mother and dad don’t know
I’m here, but you tell them that I’m not sorry I did it.’ When I told
our boys afterwards, they cried like babies, but, mind you, that’s the
spirit that’s going to pull England through this war. I got his name
and the address of his people from his regiment, and I am writing to
tell them that they have every reason to be proud of their lad. He may
have run away from home, but he didn’t run away from the Germans.”

And if you have caught the buoyant, heroic ardour that rings through
those careless, unstudied notes our gallant fellows have written home,
you know that there is not a man in the firing line who will.

    _Wyman & Sons Ltd., Printers, London and Reading._

Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced
quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

Page 68: “smoking concerts” probably should be “smoking, concerts”.

Page 72: “from Mons, It was” was punctuated and capitalized that way.

Page 150: “1.0 p.m.” was printed that way.

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