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Title: James Lusk—Letters and Memories
Author: Lusk, James
Language: English
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[Frontispiece: James Lusk]



  JAMES LUSK

  B.A. (CANTAB).;
  CHEVALIER DE LA LÉGION D'HONNEUR;
  CAPTAIN AND ADJUTANT
  6TH BATTALION THE CAMERONIANS
  (SCOTTISH RIFLES)



  LETTERS & MEMORIES



  OXFORD
  PRINTED FOR B. H. BLACKWELL
  BROAD STREET
  MCMXVI



This little book has been written, in the first instance, because
some of those who knew James have asked for it.  And, secondly, it
has been written for the sake of the Children whom he loved--the
children of his Sister and of his Brother--who may ask for it one
day, though they will never know how much they are the poorer for his
passing.  And, finally, it has been written to the greater glory of
God, Who so wondrously fashioned his life, that it seems to us, as we
look back upon it now, to have been 'a swift and shining track
straight to the Goal.'

M.T.L.

OXFORD,
  _December_, 1916.



CONTENTS


Prologue

I. Falkirk, August, 1914--March, 1915

II. Early Weeks in France, March--June, 1915

III. Festubert, June--November, 1915

IV. The Last Weeks, November and December, 1915

Epilogue



NOTE

Most of the letters which compose this book were written by Captain
Lusk to his Mother.  Grateful acknowledgement is due to those who
have allowed us to use other letters and Magazine Articles.  In many
cases it has not been possible to ask for this permission, but we
venture to believe that, could we have done so, it would have been
granted.  We are especially indebted for encouragement and help to
Lieut.-Colonel T. Martin Kay, lately commanding the 6th Cameronians.



PROLOGUE



PROLOGUE

James Lusk was the elder son of the late John Lusk, Dunavon,
Strathaven, Lanarkshire, his mother being a daughter of the late
David Colville, Motherwell.  He was born at Broomhouse, Lanarkshire,
September 19th, 1878, and received his early education at Uddingston
School and the West of Scotland Technical College, Glasgow.  He
entered St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1903, and took his degree
in the Mechanical Sciences Tripos in 1905.  He rowed in several Lady
Margaret Crews.

After taking his degree he returned to Scotland, and entered the Firm
of Messrs. David Colville and Sons, Ltd., of the Dalzell Steel Works,
Motherwell.  At first he occupied the position of Assistant Works
Manager, and later became one of the Directors of the Firm.  Those
associated with him in a business capacity have characterized him as
'an exceptionally able and clear-headed man of business.'  In
collaboration with Professor Barr, he carried out an important and
valuable series of tests on High Tensile Steel in the Glasgow
University Engineering Laboratory.  He designed a Slide Rule for the
calculation of weights and areas of steel, which is of great
assistance to those employed in Rolling Mills.  In the designing of
new Plant his experience was of great benefit to the Firm.  He was a
member of the Iron and Steel Institute, and an Associate member of
the Institution of Civil Engineers, and a member of the West of
Scotland Iron and Steel Institute, of which at one time he was a
Vice-President.  His relations with the men at the Works were always
of the happiest, and one of his colleagues wrote to Mrs. Lusk on the
night when the news of his death reached home,--'There will be many
sad hearts in the Works tomorrow.'

James Lusk was not a man who liked publicity in any form, nor yet one
who cared to talk much of the deepest things.  But after his Father's
death in 1913, he loyally tried to carry on the tradition of service
which was handed down to him.  The Council of the Lanarkshire
Christian Union passed the following minute in February, 1916:--'We
desire to minute our great sense of loss which we have sustained in
the death of our esteemed member of Council, Captain James Lusk.  He
was a man of the utmost integrity, who at all times exhibited a true
Christian character.  His was a life not of words but of deeds, and
he made the great sacrifice on the field of battle in the performance
of his duty.  "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay
down his life for his friends."'

In the Obituary columns of the _Temperance Leader_ of January 15th,
1916, it is noted that 'Captain Lusk .... has been a life-long
abstainer, and a member of the Scottish Temperance League since his
boyhood....  In the case of Captain Lusk and that of other brave lads
who have fallen in this cruel war, it has been clearly demonstrated
that a man may be a brave soldier and an efficient leader on the
battle-field without the taint of alcohol.'

James Lusk probably felt that the young men and boys of the great
busy town of Motherwell had a special claim upon his time and
thoughts.  He was President of their Dalzell Highland Pipe Band, and
also a Director of the Junior section of the Motherwell Young Men's
Christian Association.  What his fellow-workers thought of him must
be told in the words of a fine 'Appreciation,' contributed by one of
them to their _Young Men's Magazine_, January, 1916:--

'Some years ago, when we had erected our suite of rooms for the
working youths of the town, and had chosen about a dozen of these
youths to act as Directors of this Junior Section along with several
of our Senior Members, we looked around for two or three gentlemen
who could be invited to join this newly-constituted Board, and who
would bring distinction and character and personality with them into
the midst of these working lads.

'Greatly daring, having heard of his interest in such work, we asked
Mr. James Lusk, B.A., Cantab., to come and help us.  He readily
consented, and to all our subsequent meetings he brought in rich
abundance the qualities and influence we so much desired.  Our
members came at once in contact with a very perfect Christian
gentleman.  His gentlemanliness, his courtesy, his kindliness, and a
certain air of courtliness with which he surrounded himself as with
an atmosphere, all exerted a pervading influence on the lads in the
section.

'There always are and always will be certain qualities, as Arnold of
Rugby told us long ago, to which we must ultimately stand cap in
hand; and to the fine distinctive character of James Lusk our members
rendered instant homage.  His personality, as we have said, had its
influence.  The football-loving Juniors who thronged our rooms grew
up, and many of them migrated elsewhere, where the conditions under
which they played their game were not so wholesome as in the
Institute of the Motherwell Y.M.C.A.  It is within the writer's
knowledge that many of these young fellows found it very much easier
to resist the temptations to which they were subjected, just because
at an earlier period they had been permitted to associate to some
extent with such a man as James Lusk....

It was no surprise to us at the Young Men's Institute to learn in
these latter days that the men of his Regiment paid homage to his
virtues and character, as our juniors had done; neither was it any
surprise to us to learn that he resigned his position on the Staff to
go with his own men.  That was just _his_ way.....

'There were other characteristics of his which left their imprint on
some of us who were associated with him in the Y.M.C.A. Young Men's
Institute.  One of these was his enthusiasm.  His enthusiasm was one
of the earnest enduring kind that had been nourished down in these
depths where visions and passions dwell, and out of which truth and
beauty come because of the ever-growing and ever-deepening knowledge
of life.  We believe it was out of the wells that he had dug deep in
his own heart, that there sprang that eager desire to help these lads
with their football clubs, their gymnastics, their orchestras, their
book-club, their holiday-fund and their Bible and Mission Study
Circles, for he was quick to realize that all these things helped to
the making of manly men.

'Another truth his association with us constantly reminded us of was
the fact that it is as a rule the best disciplined, the best tutored
and the best educated minds that achieve the finest results.  He was
a clear and incisive thinker, and when his problems had passed
through that acute mind of his, they were quickly assorted out into
their elemental and component parts.....

'Many words will not enable us to put on record our deep abiding
respect and our great admiration of the quiet, modest, lovable
disposition of Captain James Lusk, of the very great abilities he
possessed, and of the strong, brave, bold, fearless soul that
dominated and shone through it all, and made him eager to serve alike
his Go, his King and his Country.  It will always be one of our
safely-guarded and treasured memories that we had the honour of
associating with him, for he was one of the very finest types of an
Officer and a gentleman that ever we have known.'


Captain Lusk took a Commission in the 6th Battalion The Cameronians
(Scottish Rifles), T.F., in November, 1908, and was gazetted
Lieutenant, July 31st, 1910.  The Cameronians are the successors of
the fighting Covenanters, and the 6th Battalion are men of the
district in which Captain Lusk's home had been, the districts of
Drumclog and Bothwell Bridge,--names which arouse grim memories of
valour in every Scotsman.  From the first he took a keen interest in
the efficiency of the Regiment, and gave of his best to its service.
One never thought of James as a soldier in those old days, though no
doubt some aspects of the work always appealed to him.  But the
strength of his character as an Officer, then and later, was not in
any love of fighting, but in a strenuous self-forgetfulness and a
keen desire to do well the thing that was wanted.

He was in Camp with the Battalion at Ayr at the end of July, 1914,
when the thunder-clouds of the impending storm of the European War
began to gather black and lowering.  From the date of mobilization,
the narrative of Captain Lusk's life may be followed in his own
letters, which form the groundwork of the present volume.

To James Lusk, as to many another, the great call for service and
sacrifice seemed to be just what he had been waiting for.  It gave
him his opportunity for the exercise of a devotion and a heroism
which those who knew him best had hardly dreamed that he possessed.

One nearly related to James has succeeded with remarkable felicity in
putting into words what we had been vaguely feeling.  We quote at
length from his letter to Mrs. Lusk after her son's death:--

'It was a great privilege and a sad pleasure to read those precious
letters about James, which you kindly sent.  I wish to let you know
what impression they made on me, for they have set me a-thinking
about him and his life, now that it is ended here, so greatly to our
grief.

'I confess that these letters were a revelation to me.  I thought
that I knew James pretty well, but these letters from entire
strangers up till a short time ago to him and to us, all revealed
more to me about him than I was prepared for.  James, as we all could
see, was reticent on the higher things of heart and life, as many
Scotch people, myself included, are; and his little hesitation in
utterance doubtless made him more so than he naturally was.  I once,
as I thought, had a glimpse of his inner nature.  It was when I met
him first at Dunavon after his father had passed away.  He and I
happened to be coming together round the house at night from the
back.  He, with his usual consideration and helpfulness, took the old
man's arm to guide me along the paths.  We naturally fell into an
intimate talk, the darkness perhaps helping us both.  I spoke to him
about his father's eminent goodness, and of the precious example left
by his life to all of us.  He responded with hearty appreciation,
which seemed at the time to give me a peep into him, which was
pleasing, if not unexpected.  Probably other friends of James had
similar experiences at times.  But these letter-writers appear to
have seen quite clearly what others saw but dimly.  They made
acquaintance with him at the great period of his life, and in
circumstances fitted to brush aside all formality and
conventionality.  It was the War that did it.  The War, with its
reality and sternness, has evidently been both developing and
revealing the badness of some persons and nations, and the goodness
of others; and it seems to have developed as well as revealed the
strength and the beauty of James' character.  It seems to me as if we
saw the tender buds peeping at times timidly out of the ground, while
these strangers saw the flowers in full bloom and sweetness.  The
charm of what they saw won the respect, the admiration and the love
of both his inferiors and superiors.  And how glad they evidently
were to tell, in sincerity, not in flattery, what they had seen, to
you, to whom what they wrote was sure to be more than it could be to
any other person in the world!  They wanted to tell his mother what
an impression her son's gallantly and high-toned character had made
upon them who saw him at his best.  They have helped us to know James
better than perhaps any of us, even you, knew him before; and that
new knowledge is well fitted to raise him high in our loving memory.
Had it not been for the War, his good qualities would have been shown
by degrees in other ways.  Had he lived long, as we all hoped that he
would, his life would have been doubtless a prosperous, honourable
business life, a life of strict integrity and much usefulness, in
which he would have been an influence for good among his workmen and
others.  But God ordered things otherwise.  A great crisis in the
country's history, the greatest indeed in the world's history,
occurred, and the call came for defenders of Right against Might, of
high ideals and liberties, and James was ready and obeyed the call of
duty, not counting even his life dear to him, and that supreme
sacrifice in the great cause was required of him.'


A few of the letters referred to are inserted among Captain Lusk's
own at the points to which they relate; a larger number will be found
at the end of the book.  It remains to gather together here some
stray leaves which are too precious to be lost, from the wealth of
appreciation which was showered upon his Mother after his passing.


Of his military efficiency:--

'He was a good soldier.'

'An exceedingly capable, thorough and conscientious Officer, and we
all liked him.  He was straight always, and fearless to a degree.'

'If ever a man did his job thoroughly, he has done his.'


Of his kindliness:--

'I will always remember James Lusk's kindness to me about five years
ago when I lost my mother, and those were the kind of things he was
doing daily.'

'I cannot tell you of a third of the kindness he showed me during my
stay in Motherwell, nor of all I heard while there of many acts of
kindness and thoughtfulness he did to others, of which no one heard
anything.'

'I expect he went through his days doing so many kind things that he
did not look for thanks.'


Of the many attractive sides of his character:--

'His bravery and his gentleness.'

'His quiet consistent Christian life at home, and his self-sacrifice
and heroism abroad.'

'His sweet playing, so like his spirit.'

'Every day there is some reminder of him--even the toys on the
nursery floor which _he_ had given.'

'To us who knew James and his never-tiring work for the Highest, it
may perhaps seem that he would _rejoice_ in giving even his life, if
it had to be.  James had a greater power for sacrifice than anyone
else I know.'

'Those of us who are so proud and glad to have known him, and to have
come into touch with his passion for whatsoever things are lovely,
will feel a new pulse now of the tide of calm and beauty he inspired;
and in the memory and fellowship of his brave and quiet spirit we
dedicate ourselves again to the service of life.'



I

FALKIRK

August, 1914--March, 1915



I

FALKIRK

August, 1914--March, 1915

Immediately after the declaration of War on the ever-memorable August
4th, 1914, the 6th Cameronians were sent to Falkirk.  On August 7th
Lieutenant Lusk was appointed Transport Officer of the Battalion, and
in those first days of hurried preparations and dispositions, his
work was to scour the country-side for the necessary horses and
carts.  The experience of the future months justified his selection
of horses, and he used to display them with pride to his friends in
their field at Bantaskine.

Then followed the routine work of training and camp life.  Here is
Lieutenant Lusk's account of the day's work:--


AUGUST 16, 1914.

I get up at 5 a.m. and parade the men of my transport section at
5.45.  Then at 6 o'clock they water, groom and feed the horses.
Breakfast at 7, then get ready for the day's work.  On Friday we were
out on the road from 8 till 2 p.m. (fourteen miles), and after that
we have to bring the regimental rations from the station to
headquarters, and then distribute them to the various schools where
the different companies are billeted...  Everyone must be in at 9.30
p.m., when the roll is called.  Discipline is being more rigidly
observed than at camp, but everybody is quite cheerful under it.


But before much time had passed an important decision had to be made,
and two letters to his Mother will show the spirit in which
Lieutenant Lusk made it:--


AUGUST 23, 1914.

A good many Territorial regiments, including our own, have been asked
if they--or at least some of their number--would be willing to serve
abroad if required.  It is generally considered very unlikely that
Territorials would be sent to any places of real importance if they
volunteered to serve outside of the British Isles.  I have felt quite
sure that you would wish me to go wherever I was most needed, and it
makes little difference whether that is at home in this country or
elsewhere, and so I have told them that I for one was quite willing
to serve abroad if it was required.  I have had no hesitation at all
in saying this, because I have felt so clearly led to the view that
it is the right thing to do in case it should be necessary, and I
know that you will feel the same.


AUGUST 29, 1914.

Our contribution to the Foreign Service Battalion, consisting of five
officers and about 240 men, went off to their new station
to-day--they are only a few miles away.  It was with mingled feelings
that the rest of us watched them go, but our turn may come later, and
we must be willing to go where we are most needed.


This 'Foreign Service Battalion' was never actually sent out, so
Lieutenant Lusk lost nothing by not being chosen for it.  During that
first winter of the War, his work was in Falkirk, and during most of
it, it was that of Staff Captain to the Scottish Rifle Brigade.  He
took up these new duties on November 6th, and resigned them on March
9th.  The reason of his resignation was that a short time previously
his own Battalion had been told that they would shortly be sent
abroad without the rest of the Brigade, and he wanted to go with them.

A few extracts from his letters illustrate the life of that winter:--


OCTOBER 23, 1914.

It is difficult to overtake all that seems to be before me waiting
attention just now, but I am well and glad to be able to do it....
It will be some little time before I take up my new duties at
Headquarters....  The Headquarters' Staff consists
of:--Brigadier-General S. W. Hare, commanding No. 3 Brigade Area,
(including S.R. Brigade; Royal Field Artillery; Army Service Corps;
and Field Ambulance Corps): (2) Captain E. S. Girdwood (Brigade
Major): and (3) your unworthy brother (Staff Captain).  So you see I
shall have dealings with all these different arms of the Service.


NOVEMBER 12, 1914.

I am writing in the office of Brigade Headquarters at the Crown
Hotel.  It is a very comfortable room with a fire in it, and five
tables and a sideboard, with no end of papers spread on them all.
There are two Orderly Room clerks always writing or typing something,
and they always like either the Brigade Major or the Staff Captain to
be in the room, or at least on the premises.  There are three
telephones.  One direct to Sir John Spencer Ewart's room in Edinburgh
(Commander of the Forces in Scotland); another direct to General
Egerton at Bridge of Allan (Commanding the Lowland Division); and a
general telephone, which is kept going most of the day.  There seems
to be an impression now that the 6th will not go for some time, and
that they have changed their minds about sending it without the 7th
and 8th: but this may be only rumour; it is difficult to tell when no
one seems to know, not even the Generals themselves.


FEBRUARY 21, 1915.

There has been some rumour of the possibility of the 6th going out
without the rest of the Brigade, and if they do I mean to resign my
Staff appointment and go with them.  They may not let me give it up,
but it is considered unlikely that they would refuse to release me if
I wanted to go.


MARCH 14, 1915.

We had a nice Communion Service in the Parish Church this afternoon.
I played the organ, and it was a real pleasure to play the things
that I like so well.  Just before the Service began.  I played 'O
Saviour of the World.'  _I do like it_, and it does so remind me of
other days and other places.  Then we had Psalm 46 to Stroudwater,
Paraphrase 35 to Kilmarnock, and Paraphrase 2 to Salzburg, then the
National Anthem, and then I played Bennet's 'Lord now lettest Thou
thy servant depart in peace.'  I chose everything myself, and there
was no one to say that they liked what had been chosen or the music,
and it all meant a great deal to me.


MARCH 18, 1915.

We got a message this afternoon that the 6th Battalion will leave
Falkirk for Southampton on Saturday, the time will be given us later.
So at last we are released from home service, and are to be given an
opportunity of more real usefulness; may we be found faithful when
our turn comes.  Nothing else seems to matter quite so much as that.
I don't trust myself, but of course I mustn't try to do that, but
trust Another.


Side-lights upon the thoroughness of his work, and his happy
relations with those whom he worked with, are afforded by letters
from other people.

The Town Clerk of Falkirk wrote after his death:--'I can tell you he
was highly esteemed in Falkirk.'  Another gentleman in Larbert, who
had come into contact with him while he was acting as Billeting
Officer for his Battalion in the district, wrote:--'His business
tact, his high sense of honour and duty, and withal the kindly and
courteous manner in which he conducted all his affairs, made it
really a pleasure to meet and do business with him.'  Yet another
testimony comes through a friend:--'When Harry was at Grangemouth,
where James had been for some time, he found his memory there very
fragrant.'  And an Officer in the R.A.M.C., who had been associated
with Captain Lusk at that period, wrote to him to France some time
afterwards:--'I had a call the other day from an Artillery Brigadier
(formerly in Bridge of Allan), and in conversation he expressed the
opinion that the Stenhouse Muir Stables were about the best that had
been put up anywhere.  I thought you would like to hear this.'

Finally, one has glimpses into a happy little circle of friends which
formed itself during that winter, among whom James had his own place.
There are some treasured memorials of some of these friendships:--I
always felt one could never be in contact with him without feeling
one was near a very noble character.'  'He has left a beautiful and
blameless life.'  'No one can have known your son and not go through
life feeling the better for that knowledge.'  'Somehow at once one
felt his goodness and strength.  It helps one to be better, I think,
just to look at and think about a friend like Captain Lusk.'



II

EARLY WEEKS IN FRANCE

March--June, 1915



II

EARLY WEEKS IN FRANCE

March--June, 1915

The 6th Cameronians crossed from Southampton to Havre on Saturday,
20th March, 1915.  The story of their arrival there, and of their
first experience of the trenches, is told at length in the following
letters:--


MARCH 23, 1915.

I am  writing this in the train between ---- and ----!  This doesn't
convey much information about our whereabouts, does it? ... On
Saturday afternoon we got our horses and vehicles on to our ship
straight from the train.  The horses were led up an inclined gangway
and were arranged in rows close beside one another on two decks, and
the vehicles were hoisted into the holds by cranes....  We cast off
from the quay about 7 p.m. and set forth upon our voyage.  John and I
were the only officers of our Battalion in our ship, and between us
we had 50 men and 48 horses.  There were other portions of regiments
on board too and about 600 horses.  The main part of our Battalion
went over in a fast ship, and the remainder of our transport vehicles
and horses crossed in a third ship, so we were pretty well split up.
When we slipped out of Southampton Harbour and reached the open sea,
the moon just gave enough light to show us that two of our grand
Navy's silent watchers had slipped quietly alongside of us, one on
the port beam and the other on the starboard.  We watched them late
into the night, and sometimes they seemed little more than black
shadows on the surface of the water, and sometimes came so near that
we could make out their shapes, and saw that they were torpedo boat
destroyers.  Not a light showed either on our ship or on our escorts.
Fortunately the sea was calm and the crossing quiet.  We left
Southampton at about 7 p.m., and next morning we wakened up to find
ourselves in a large bay or estuary whose name I cannot give.  There
were many other ships round about us, and a big Hospital one lay
quite near us.  This was Sabbath morning.  About 10 o'clock we got
the anchor up and steamed inside the harbour, and then tugs got hold
of us and got us alongside the quay.  We soon got the horses ashore
into a big shed, and tied them up there.  Then the dock cranes
hoisted out our vehicles, and by 4.30 the last vehicle was ashore.
Next we got the horses harnessed into them, and started off on a five
miles' march through the streets of the town and up a winding hill to
a camp where we were to stay the night.  Everything was under canvas,
and the horses were picketed out in the open, and it was bitterly
cold.  I slept--or tried to sleep--with two others in a tent with a
wooden floor, and except for the cold it was all right.  There was to
be an inspection of transports next morning at 8 a.m., so we were up
before six getting the horses watered and fed and harnessed, and the
men given their breakfast.  The inspecting officer turned up at 9.30!
About 2.30 p.m. everything was packed up, and we moved off again down
the hill to one of the goods stations of the town.  We got there at
4.30, watered the horses again, and by 7 o'clock had all the horses
and vehicles into the train.  These days have been very strenuous,
but we have got through it all wonderfully well.  Some of the mules
have been very obstinate in refusing to be led into the railway
trucks; where persuasion has failed I got a strong rope, passed it
round their hind quarters and put three men on either end of the
rope.  This was always successful!  At 8 p.m. we were under way
again.  Before starting we got some hot cocoa and tea issued to us,
and, after our hard work and fast of about seven hours, there seemed
nothing quite so good!  This time, instead of splitting up the
Battalion into three trains as in our country, and running them at a
fast speed, they put everything, that is men, horses and vehicles, on
one long train of about fifty coaches, and trundled us along at about
25 miles an hour.  It is now about noon-day on Tuesday, and we are
still going along in a north-easterly direction to a destination
unknown.  Two Hospital trains have already passed us going the other
way.  The men have wrought very well.  The French railways use
exactly the same sort of trucks for horses as for troops, and each
truck is marked on the outside:--Men 40, Horses 8.  They do sprinkle
a little straw on the trucks where the men are, but that is the only
difference.  There are, of course, no seats of any kind.  The horses
are put parallel to the rails in two rows of four facing each other,
and all the saddlery and harness goes in the space in the centre;
also two men to look after them.  Their head-ropes are tied to rings
in the roof of the truck (which is covered), and the strong
breast-rope is fastened in front of each row and made fast to the
sides of the truck.  Each horse has his nose-bag hung round his neck.
The country is very flat; a good deal of it has been ploughed and is
being harrowed.  Some of the lines we have passed over are anything
but main lines, and a great many of the wayside signals are being
wrought by women.


WEDNESDAY MORNING, 24TH INST.

We have passed one night in billets, and go on to-day to join our
Brigade.


MARCH 25, 1915.

It is about 5 o'clock on Thursday afternoon, and I am sitting in the
little house where some of us are billeted, and I shall try to begin
again where I left off in my first letter.  I finished my last letter
rather hurriedly, so that it could go off at once.  I had got to the
point where we were just starting off to march to join our Brigade.
We left at about 10 a.m. and reached the place where we now are about
one o'clock yesterday.  That was Wednesday.  We are not quite at our
destination yet, as we are to move a few miles away to-morrow, and I
suppose that will be as nearly the end of our journey as we can judge
just now.  The travelling has been pretty constant since we left
Falkirk last Friday night, and we have just gone on and on, so that I
have to stop and think what we did each day and night....  Monday
night was spent ... trundling along at about 25 miles an hour, and
also the most of Tuesday.  We got to the end of it at 5.15 p.m., and
by about 6.45 I had my transport off the train, and the horses and
mules all harnessed and hooked to their vehicles, ready to go to
spend the night in billets, when the rain came down.  It poured.  The
men of the Battalion were all right, but my wretched transport horses
had to spend the night in a field that had been used for a similar
purpose before and was inches deep in mud.  We put the blankets on
them and, of course, they lay down in the mud, and everything was
such a pleasing sight next morning!  I slept that night in the same
room as the Adjutant in an empty house.  I lay down on my valise and
blankets on the floor about 11 o'clock and slept with few wakenings
till six in the morning.  I got up then and went to my muddy field to
see to the watering and feeding of my 72 beasts.  Then, as usual, the
blankets and cooking utensils had to be collected from the Battalion
billets, and everything belonging to the transport picked out of the
mud and got on the road ready for the march.  Several times my big
wagons stuck in the mud, but we got them out again.  It was about one
o'clock when we reached the little village where we now are, and all
along the road troops got more and more numerous, and motor-cars,
motor-ambulance wagons, motor-transport wagons came and went in
continuous streams, and we knew we were getting nearer the centre of
things.  To-day has been wet, and mud is even thicker than usual.  I
had my clothes off for the first time last night since leaving
Falkirk.  There is some rumour of baths or tubs of some sort being
available not far away, but we have not yet sought them out.  They
say that we are not far from the trenches, but we shall get reliable
information soon on that point, as our four Company
Commanders,--Captains McKenzie, Brown, Boyd and Murray,--are going
into them to-morrow night without any other officers or men of our
Battalion with them, just to see what things are like.  So far as one
can judge from the sound of the guns, this portion of the line
appears to be comparatively peaceful.  There have been several loud
bangs this afternoon that sounded not far away, but there were not
very many of them altogether.  The roads here are narrow, and the
centre portion of them is paved with square-shaped blocks of stone;
the sides are of mud, thick, deep mud, churned up by passing traffic.


FRIDAY, MARCH 26, 1915.

I sent off my letter to you to-day, and now it is 7 o'clock and we
are ready for our evening meal.  We have moved into new quarters
since morning, but not far away from yesterday's billets.  There are
eight officers at Battalion Headquarters.  They are the Colonel,
Major Shaw, the Adjutant, Dr. London, Lieutenant Hamilton
(Quartermaster), Captain Lawrie (Machine Gun Officer), the
Interpreter and myself.  We sleep on the floors of different rooms of
an empty house and take meals at a round table that just holds eight.
Thus far we are most fortunate, but I suppose we must look for many
changes.  We have candle light only, and our candlesticks are usually
empty bottles.  The water throughout the whole countryside is not
considered safe to drink without boiling, and it is best to filter it
and then boil it.  The troops drink a great deal of tea, and no doubt
this accounts for the absence of illness that would otherwise have
resulted if the water had been drunk unboiled.  The country is
painfully flat, and everywhere along both sides of the roads there
are ditches with stagnant water in them, but I suppose the open air
life of the people counteracts these unwholesome influences ... The
weather has stopped raining, and my transport field is beginning to
dry up.  I had a hot bath to-day--my first bath of any kind since
leaving Falkirk.  It was down in the basement of a disused brewery,
and two big zinc baths had been arranged on a concrete floor, and a
hose pipe led into it from a big boiler above.  The place is now used
as a laundry for washing the clothes of the troops, so I put on a
complete change of raiment and felt much refreshed.


P.S.--_Sabbath Forenoon_.  We have just had a short voluntary Service
in a billet that was a school.  The Colonel read some portions of the
Prayer Book and a Lesson, and we sang the 100th Psalm to Old Hundred,
and 'O God of Bethel' to Salzburg.  There was no instrument of any
kind available, so I had to raise the tunes myself.  We all had our
caps off, and the men sang well.  To-day is dry but very cold.  I
have many people to thank for letters, but hope to do it through
time.  I am very well, and hungry for every meal.


SABBATH, MARCH 28, 1915.

We have now been exactly one week on the other side of the Channel,
and the time has passed so quickly that it seems much shorter than
that....  We are staying in a little village not many miles to the
south-west of a fair-sized town.[1]  The village was at one time
occupied by the Germans, and there is evidence of them in abundance.
Great numbers of the inhabitants have left their homes and gone
elsewhere.  Some of them have taken their belongings with them and
left their houses empty, and others have gone hurriedly and left
everything.  The troops are allowed to billet in these empty houses,
and, in the case of the full ones, notices have been posted up on the
doors forbidding any soldier to enter (except by order of an Officer
during the course of an action) on pain of being charged with
looting....  The Germans dropped a few shells on this village to-day,
and some of them exploded near us, and fragments were picked up with
considerable interest.  Some of our officers have been up to the
trenches to see what things are like.  The trenches are about a mile
away from our billets, and on this portion of the line there happens
to be good cover to screen the approach of troops from the enemy's
observation, so that one can go from here right to the trenches in
the day time.  At other portions of the line this is only possible
after darkness has fallen....  I shall probably go to-morrow to see
what my duties will be when the Battalion takes its tour of duty in
them.  The Battalion goes on duty in the trenches for six days at a
time, but each half Battalion is relieved by the other half after
three days' duty.  Then at the end of the six days I believe we go a
good deal further back and rest for some days.  My transport are all
in a field about a mile further back than this, and I go there in the
early morning before breakfast to see to them, and return here for
meals.


[1] Armentières.


WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31, 1915.

To-day is specially busy, as the Battalion goes to-night to take its
turn in the trenches, but there has not been much firing in our
portion of the line recently....  I have been riding a good deal, and
shall ride more this coming week probably, because my transport is in
a field about three miles from the trenches, and I have got to get
backwards and forwards all the time.


SATURDAY, APRIL 3, 1915.

Did I tell you?--I don't think I did--that I had my first experience
of the trenches on Wednesday night, which was the first night the
Regiment took over its section of the line[2] from an English
Regiment of Territorials who are out beside us.  It was full moon and
a splendid night for seeing,--and being seen!  I went round the
section of the line allotted to our Battalion with the Colonel and
Major Shaw, but I don't think I was in the trenches for more than
perhaps an hour and a half altogether.  It was a weird sight under
the moonlight.  The line is very zig-zag and irregular--more so than
I had expected to find.  It is pretty narrow, and not always easy to
pass along behind the men, but every here and there to the rear are
what are called 'dug-outs'--simply big holes in the clay, with wooden
frames supporting some sort of roof which gives head cover.  Some of
these have a little straw in them, and everyone has a little brazier
for cooking--it is usually just a pail with holes in the sides of
it---and cooking goes on nearly all the time.  The men use their mess
tins to make their tea and fry their bacon and cook their eggs (when
they get them), and make their stew at all times of day and night
when they are not actually standing to arms.  We have loopholes and
periscopes and trench-pumps (for the water).  They are a good deal
drier now than they have been all winter, but even yet there are
places in our section that I measured with a stick to be eighteen
inches deep in water on either side of the board that forms the
platform.  Out in front of our line, between us and the Germans, are
our barbed wire entanglements and what are called our 'listening
posts.'  You get out to these by going flat along a ditch with the
clay thrown up on one side to give some head cover.


[2] This was at 'La Bouttelerie,' near Fleurbaix.


Just now there are three of us living in one room of this farm--the
Quartermaster, the Interpreter, and myself.  We sleep in it, cook in
it, and take our meals in it, and through it the farmer himself has
to pass on his way to and from his bedroom which opens off it.
Fortunately there is a window which can open.  Needless to say, many
a thing wants washing, and your store of soap would be well-nigh
exhausted before things were made right, but we don't mind that much.
We wash at the pump in the farm-yard which is just outside the door.
The pump again is just six feet away from a large square manure and
straw heap which forms the centre of the farm-yard, and round this
square the farm buildings are placed; and these contain the farmer
and his family, the pigs, the hens, the horses, the calves, the
rabbits and the dogs and the rats!  In a field at one side are my
horses, mules and wagons--there they sleep, and from there they go
forth daily to do their work.


There are characteristic touches in some shorter letters a little
later--characteristic of James's mechanical ingenuity on the one
hand, and of his love of music on the other:--


SABBATH NIGHT, APRIL 4, 1915.

Things have been very quiet to-day, possibly because it is Easter
Sunday.  While you were at Church this morning, I was mending a
little bridge over a ditch that forms the entrance to my transport
field, and, later in the day, I had to ride several miles to see the
new billets.


FRIDAY EVENING, APRIL 23, 1915.

There isn't much news this evening to tell you about.  The day has
been filled up so far as it has gone by various duties, none of them
of special importance.  I have been working a good deal of late at
deadening the noise made by my wagons on the road.  A good deal of
improvement has already been effected, both on the wagons themselves
and on the harness, so that they are less likely to be heard at a
distance on quiet nights, as they go up to the trenches.


MONDAY, MAY 3, 1915.

I had a treat this afternoon.  I went to the Church of this town,
which is quite a large building with coloured glass windows.  Many
candles were burning at the Altars and Shrines, the sun was shining
on the coloured lights, and the organ was being played.  Oh, what a
sound it is to hear in the midst of such surroundings after six weeks
of silence!  The louder it swells, the higher it lifts you through
heights that are limitless in the grandeur of their feeling....
To-night I can hear the Church chimes striking 9.30, and what a
strange sound it is to the accompaniment of the crack, crack of the
rifles as they go off, not many miles away, but quite distinct in the
stillness.


It was some weeks before they had their real Baptism of Fire.  The
story of that also must be told in Captain Lusk's own words:--


10.45 p.m., MONDAY NIGHT,

MAY 10, 1915.

I am pretty tired to-night, but I must write a line to let you know
that I am well and safe, and so are John and Erskine and all our
other Officers.  We have all been through a big fight--the others
have been more in the centre of it than I have.  Regiments near us
have suffered heavily, but we have been particularly fortunate.  But
I must tell you about it to-morrow.  I had an experience last night
between 9 and 11 p.m. that you can have no conception of.  Our side
started an attack by the usual Artillery bombardment of the German
lines, followed by an Infantry advance.[3]  This advance was not made
by our Battalion, who remained in the same line of trenches
throughout the fight.


[3] This was near La Cordonnierie.


Fighting continued all day, and got worse when night fell.  It was my
duty as Brigade Transport Officer to get into touch with Brigade
Headquarters and make arrangements regarding the bringing up of
rations or whatever else was required.

I went along a road running parallel to the trench line, and I got
along it and back again alive because God was keeping me.  There is
no other explanation possible, for cover there was none.  Your
prayers had done it.  It was dark, but a farm with its hay-stacks was
blazing on the left of this road, on the right were our own guns
shooting shell after shell over my head.  The German guns were
answering, and round about me right, left, in front, behind their
shells were bursting with terrific noise, and rifle bullets were
coming across, now in front, now behind, now overhead, with that
whistle that we know so well.

Through it all I came untouched, and as I went and came again there
was given me a wonderful feeling of confidence that took away all
fear, and I knew that hands were being held up for me by my own.

It quietened down towards morning, and to-day it has been almost calm
and quiet.  No ground has been gained by us and nothing lost, and we
are back to normal conditions, and very thankful it is over.  I am
perfectly well, and so are the others.


TUESDAY, MAY 11, 1915.

I wrote to you hurriedly last night, and am trying to take more time
to-day to tell you more about things that have been taking place
these last days.  Now that things are over, there does not appear to
be any objection to telling what took place.  We knew more than a
week ago that we were to make an attack on a certain date which would
be given us later, and great preparations were made for it, and had
indeed been going on for many weeks.  Engineers spent weeks and weeks
in widening main roads leading towards the trench line, and nearer
the time more batteries of artillery were brought up, more infantry,
more engineers, more signallers, some cavalry and more field
ambulances.

At last we were told that the attack would commence at an early hour
on Saturday morning, May 8th.  Our Battalion was given its position
in the assembly trenches (in rear of main trench), and given its
orders as to direction of advance and its objective on the other side
of the German trenches.  Every man carried two days' rations on him
and 250 rounds of ammunition, and, besides this, great stores of both
rations and ammunition were heaped behind our main trenches.  One
night some weeks ago my transport took up to one of these stores
500,000 rounds for the use of a certain section of the trench line.

Great-coats and blankets were left behind; and men, and Officers too,
carried a Cardigan jacket and waterproof sheet in addition to other
necessaries such as mess tin, water bottle, entrenching tools and
haversack, till everyone felt just like a Christmas tree.

On Friday evening it was raining, but we were all quite cheerful, and
the feeling I had reminded me very much of the feeling one always has
as one sits in an Eight in the middle of the river, stripped, and
waiting for the starting gun to go!

The Battalion was all ready to march off to its assembly trenches in
rear of the main trench, when an order came from the Brigade that
operations were postponed for 24 hours and that all orders held good
for the following day.

I happened to be senior of all the six Transport Officers in the
Brigade, and so I was told that I would perform the duties of Brigade
Transport Officer, and that all orders for movement of the transport
of all six Battalions would be sent to me direct from the 8th
Divisional Headquarters.  There are four Regular Battalions and two
Territorial Battalions in our Brigade.

At two minutes to five o'clock on Sunday morning our Artillery
bombardment started, and continued for two hours, tapering off after
the first hour and a half.  It was my duty to stay back with the
Brigade transports about three miles from the trenches.  Everything
was ready to move at a moment's notice, and I could do nothing but
await orders.

About 7.30 the first motor-ambulance came down the road leading from
the trenches with wounded on it, then they became more frequent, then
groups of men and single men came walking back with slight wounds to
arms and hands, then more ambulances with lying-down cases in them,
and men sitting beside the drivers with bandaged heads.

Then the stream seemed to stop for several hours and only a few came
back at intervals.

You can imagine how we who were kept back watched all this.

Despatch-riders on motor-cycles came tearing along the road in both
directions.  There was no speed limit; they passed like streaks.
Mounted orderlies came back from our Artillery positions at full
gallop, and we knew that it was ammunition that they had been sent
for.  Later on up the road came the teams with their loads, team
after team of six horses, some at the trot but most at the gallop,
with their riders sitting tight with their right arms over the
shoulders of their off horses.  The limbered wagons with their load
of shells rattled behind the horses' hoofs.  Towards the afternoon
things seemed to be a little quieter, and rumours came back about all
sorts of things.  Then, after all that waiting, my turn came at last.
Just before eight o'clock p.m., a Despatch rider on a motor-cycle
brought me a message from the Headquarters of the Division.

It said that the Brigade would be moved to a certain place given by a
map reference, at a time not definitely known, and that I was to get
into touch with the Brigade and arrange for the bringing up of
rations.  It was getting dark by this time.  I sent round a message
to all the Transport Officers to have everything ready to move up
when I gave the order, and I set out to find the Brigade.  I took my
fastest horse and had with me the Transport Officer of the Second
Battalion Scottish Rifles and three mounted Orderlies.  What a relief
to get something to do!  Off we went down the road towards the
trenches at a gallop.  My horse,--bought at Carluke,--was the fastest
of them all and I led the way.  Within about half a mile of the
trenches we dismounted, and, leaving our horses at a farm in charge
of the orderlies, we--that is Stirling (the other Officer's name) and
I--went forward on foot.  The positions of the different roads and
fields were quite familiar to us, as we had been there many times
before under the comparatively peaceful conditions of merely holding
the trench line, and we knew approximately where the Headquarters of
the Brigade might possibly be.

It was by this time 9 o'clock, and the night was dark.  We had to
turn along a road that ran parallel to the trenches, go along it
perhaps a quarter of a mile, then take a track across fields in the
direction of the trenches till we struck a second road, also running
parallel with the trench line.  Then the next thing to be done was to
go along this road, and try to get touch with the Brigade by field
telephones, which are laid between Brigade Headquarters and Artillery
Batteries.

Crossing these fields the fire had been bad enough, but when we
reached this second road there was a perfect inferno round about us.
There were our own guns in every field along its length shooting
across the road just over our heads, and the German shells were
searching for them.  Flash followed flash lighting up the
darkness,---bang followed bang with terrific force, as shells went
from our side and shells burst from their side, and rifle bullets
pinged and whistled through the air.  There were blazing hay-stacks
on one side of the road, that lit up the darkness with a weird light.
Along it we went from battery to battery.  The first one told us that
they had been speaking to our Brigade, but that the plug had now been
taken out.  On we went to the next one: 'Sorry, the wire must be
cut,' they said.  On to the next: 'Can't do it, sir,' they said.
Then on again.  The firing was getting worse, and we doubled to the
next place, where they had their telephone down in a cellar.  This
time they could do it, and I sent a message down to arrange a spot to
which I would bring rations and water for the Brigade.  Then we set
out again on that same road to order up the Transports of the six
Battalions.  When we were about to leave the shelter of this place on
the backward journey, the shells were bursting so near us and in such
rapid succession that I said we must wait till this quietens a
little.  We made certain arrangements between us about the carrying
back of the message, that, if either of us was knocked out, the other
would 'carry on,' and then we started and ran for about
half-a-mile--then lay down flat on our faces to recover breath--then
up and on again, stopped under cover of a farm building to get breath
again, then started down that track across the fields once more, and
here we walked, for there were too many telephone wires about the
height of one's chin across the pathway to make running much good.
By now we had got out of the hottest part of it, and it was only an
occasional shell that came across us and an occasional bullet that
whistled close.

At last we reached our horses, but how we ever returned alive from
our journey on that open road, where cover there was none, God knows.
It must be that He honours the prayers of those at home who care for
us.  I was given a feeling of quiet confidence that we would get
through, and all fear seemed to be taken away.

  'As Thou didst help our fathers.
  Help Thou our host to-day!
    * * * *
  Jehovah of the Thunders,
  Lord God of Battles, hear!


What a Sabbath it was!  The earth seemed full of anger; and as
morning began to dawn, and the thunder of the guns died away, we
thanked God for the lives of those we cared for in the trenches; very
few of our men were hit, and not a single Officer in our Battalion.
Unfortunately it has been otherwise with several of the other
regiments in our Brigade.

I am not at liberty to give you the military result of this fighting
for our portion of the line.  Conditions here are more normal and now
we realize how very different the mere holding of the line is from a
definite battle.  The former means desultory firing only on the part
of artillery, machine-guns, and rifles;--the other is something else.


In the 'Big Fight' of May 9th, the 6th Scottish Rifles had been
singularly favoured in losing none of their Officers.  It was not to
be expected that such immunity would be long continued.  The first to
fall, just a week later, was one for whom Captain Lusk had a
specially warm regard.  The loving care which he bestowed upon the
memorial to mark his resting-place was wholly like him.  His own
account, which follows, is supplemented by one from the Chaplain of
the Battalion:--


MONDAY MORNING, MAY 17, 1915.

The Sabbaths seem to be memorable days with us here.  Sabbath the 9th
of May was the battle day--our first big fight.  Yesterday, in the
comparative quietness of the afternoon, we lost our first Officer.
Captain Lawrie, our Machine Gun Officer, was shot through the head
when going along one of the communication trenches from one of his
guns to the other.[4]  He had stopped to speak to two men, and had
possibly straightened himself up so that his head showed over the
parapet.  I was especially fond of Lawrie....  He had such a nice
face and was just altogether such a nice soul.  Oh, it is so sad that
one should be taken and another left.  It happened yesterday
afternoon.  I went up at about 6 o'clock.  A grave had already been
dug in a little soldiers' cemetery just behind the trench lines,
where men of other regiments had been laid, and this one was for
Allan Lawrie.  Mr. MacGibbon our Chaplain was with us, and we were
glad of that.  He was brought on a stretcher, wrapped in a waterproof
sheet and with his head covered.  We fell in behind,--Colonel, Major,
Doctor, Adjutant, Chaplain and myself.  The stretcher was laid
alongside, and he was lifted from it and laid to rest.  Our heads
were bared, and in the midst of the cracks of the rifle shots the
Chaplain stood at the head of the grave and prayed.  It was 7.30 on
Sabbath Evening, May 16th....  We could have missed many another
better than him.  His horse will miss him too....  God is over all
and His ways must be Best.  And we must 'carry on.'


[4] Near Le Tilleloy.



MONDAY NIGHT, MAY 24, 1915.

One of Lawrie's men has made a wooden plate to go on a cross which we
shall put at his grave, and I am trying to carve an inscription on
this piece of wood.  I have begun to do it myself with what tools I
can get, and I hope I shall have time to finish it properly.  I would
like to do it myself.  It is better and more permanent to cut the
letters on the wood than simply to paint them.


TUESDAY NIGHT, MAY 25, 1915.

I am using any spare time I have in carving an inscription on a piece
of oak wood to put on a Cross on Allan Lawrie's grave.  Did I tell
you this already?  I have got a small chisel and my penknife, but am
getting on wonderfully with it, though it will take several days to
finish.


FRIDAY MORNING, MAY 28, 1915.

I am still busy in spare moments working at the cutting of the
letters on the plate for Lawrie's grave.  It takes time, and, as
Lawrie himself was an artist and drew well, I do not wish anything
unworthily done to mark his resting place.


WEDNESDAY MORNING, JUNE 9, 1915.

Did I tell you that I finished the carving of the plate for Lawrie's
grave last Wednesday, and we got it put up on the very day that we
were ordered to leave that district?  I think I did tell you that I
was sending a rubbing of it to his father and another to his fiancée,
and I am sending now to you the roughest possible impression of it.
One is done partly with saddlers' beeswax, but it was so unsuitable
that I had to stop it and finish with pencil.  The ones I have sent
are both better than these ones I now send to you....  I wrote a
letter to Mr. Lawrie yesterday.  I tried to write it as well as I
could.


[FROM THE REV. J. MACGIBBON, C.F.]

I think the first of our Officers killed was Captain Lawrie...  After
Lawrie was buried behind the trenches, Captain Lusk procured an oak
tablet to be placed on the Cross which marked Lawrie's grave.  The
carving of the inscription was a labour of love.  The proper tools
for carving were not procurable.  He began with a penknife and
latterly procured a chisel.  Day by day he occupied his spare time
cutting out the letters.  Though his tools were primitive the letters
were perfectly formed.  When he had finished the whole inscription,
his fastidious taste found that the surface was unequal.  He
ruthlessly planed this smooth which involved fresh labour in
deepening nearly all the letters; yet he stuck to it working for
hours on end, to make the whole as worthy as possible of the comrade
who had trusted him.  Then he made a rubbing of the tablet to send to
Lawrie's father, trying first one process and then another and
another, until he could get the best reproduction.


Three more letters will bring us down over a month of comparative
quiet to the memorable events of the middle of June:--


FRIDAY NIGHT, JUNE 4, 1915.

They told us on Tuesday afternoon that our Battalion would be
relieved in the trenches that night (which made only five days
instead of six), and further that we were to move the next day,
Wednesday, away from our 23rd Brigade and 8th Division, and join the
154th Brigade of the 51st (Highland) Division.  So we got everything
ready, and the whole Battalion and its Transport started on a ten
mile 'trek' in a South Westerly direction.  After about four hours'
marching, we reached our destination, and while on the march our two
travelling kitchens were working, and water was being boiled for
making tea, so that the whole Battalion got a hot meal served out to
them immediately they reached their billets.  On these 'treks' there
is always a good deal for me to do after the march is over, as kits
and mails and blankets and rations require to be distributed to the
different Company billets, and they are often scattered, so that the
furthest of them might be a mile or so apart.  These I have to find
as best I can, generally in the dark and over unknown roads, so that
on Wednesday I was in the saddle continuously,--with the exception of
a few minutes now and then--from 2 p.m., till midnight.  When
midnight came and the work was done, I lay down on my valise in the
open field beside my horses, pulled off my boots and jacket, and got
between the blankets and slept till 6.30 a.m., when it was time to
get up again to water the horses.  This has to be done at a Canal
half a mile away, as there is no water nearer.

... This new Division appears to be entirely Territorial, but,
notwithstanding its name, there are a good many English Regiments
mixed up with Scotch ones in it.


MONDAY MORNING, JUNE 7, 1915.

Yesterday we had a large Communion Service in a field.  Almost the
whole Battalion was present, as we were back six or seven miles from
the firing line.  It was drawn up in the form of three sides of a
square, and the fourth side consisted of the Officers, in the centre
of whom was the Chaplain with a little table covered with a white
cloth.  On the table was a single Communion Cup.  The wine used was
the red wine of the country.  The bread was ration bread cut into
little pieces.  After the first portion of the Service was over, the
Colonel took round the bread to every Officer and man, and the
Chaplain and Major Shaw took the wine.  To every man both were
personally handed.  We sang--'The Lord is my Shepherd,' 'God is our
Refuge and our Strength,' 'Twas on that Night,' and 'O Thou my Soul;'
and 'God save the King.'  I raised the tunes, 'Wiltshire,'
'Stroudwater,' 'Communion;' and then the tune I wanted for 'O Thou my
Soul' was St. Paul, but I forgot how it went, so I just took another
that I didn't know the name of.  I wonder if it would trouble you to
send me my Psalter with the tunes?  I sent it home from Falkirk in my
long uniform box.

That afternoon the Battalion moved off to the trenches--a dusty march
of several hours.  My transport went by a different route.  One gets
plenty of practice in leading troops over unknown country by the map
alone.  Even in daylight one makes mistakes, and it is more difficult
in the darkness.  I got my column to the point indicated in the map
reference, and found the field I was to occupy in possession of
another unit's transport.  This is what is known in the army as 'bad
Staff work.'  So I had an argument with the lad who was answering for
the Staff Captain, and gently pointed out that I was right; and after
gaining my point we got into the field and took the loads off the
weary animals.  But the work was not yet done for the day and it was
already 8.30 p.m.  Coke had to be taken to the trenches, so we set
off at 10 p.m., with 'four mule burdens of coke,' again over several
miles of unknown road, and handed it over to some members of the
Battalion quite near the trenches.  We got back to our field at 2
a.m. this morning, and thus ended our Sabbath.


FRIDAY MORNING, JUNE 11, 1915.

The Battalion is having a rest in billets, but the billets available
in this part are too small and there are not enough of them for all
the troops in the district, so that things are very much crowded.
Did I tell you about this billet of ours?  It is the dirtiest we have
yet been in.  Four of us (including Mr. MacGibbon) occupy one room
and the family occupy the other.  The family consists of a dirty old
woman, and a daughter not much cleaner, and three lads.  We have our
meals in the room that we sleep in, and the family do their cooking
in our room which has the only available stove!  The Interpreter
sleeps on the table and the rest of us on the floor, which is of
stone and very uneven.  There is a 'midden' just outside our windows,
and we try to persuade the lads to do something to improve it, but
the need for improvement does not appeal to them.  Fortunately we
have plenty of chloride of lime, and the eau-de-cologne you sent me
has been very useful as the flies are legion.  The horses and wagons
are in a field behind, and the rain has made it very muddy.



III

FESTUBERT

_Chevalier of the Legion of Honour_

June--November, 1915



III

FESTUBERT

_Chevalier of the Legion of Honour_

June--November, 1915

The dark hour came for the 6th Scottish Rifles on June 15th, and in
it Captain Lusk found his great opportunity for the service which he
was at all times so ready to give.  It was for that service that the
French Government afterwards honoured him, and for it he is
remembered by many in the Regiment and beyond it.

His own account is contained in a letter to Colonel Kay, who was
wounded at an early stage of the engagement:--


THURSDAY, JUNE 24, 1915.

DEAR COLONEL,

You must be wearying for news of the Battalion, and I seem to have
allowed far too long a time to pass without reporting to you what
happened after you left.  Truth to tell there has been little
inclination to write to anyone these last days, and a real shrinking
from having to tell all that must be told.  First of all let me say
how glad I am to hear that you are getting on well.  Colville writes
to me to say that you and Hill and he are at the same hospital.  We
have been anxious about Hill, but later news seems better.  I don't
know what news you have already had about things, so will you forgive
me if I repeat things you already know?

It had been arranged that on the night of the fight Hamilton and I
would bring up water in dixies to the reserve trenches after dark,
and furnish a carrying party for this from the transport men.

I got together thirty men for this, took both watercarts down to the
cross roads in the ruined village of ----[1], filled the dixies
there, and I reached the reserve trenches with the first lot about
10.45 p.m.  How I wished then that we had come earlier, but we had
purposely come about one hour later than the usual time.  I found the
Doctor in his dug-out doing simply splendid work, and it was from him
that I learned the state of affairs--how that so many of the Officers
had been killed and so many more wounded.  The Sergeant-Major was
wrestling with an ammunition party, and they were dropping shells
pretty thickly round us.


[1] Festubert.


I arranged with Hamilton that he would go back with the transport and
its carrying party, and I would go on and see what I could do to
help.  It took some time to reach the fire trench, as the
communication trench was very crowded with stretcher-cases coming
back and wounded being helped back on other men's shoulders, and as
you know well, it is very narrow.

I got up at last and found the 8th Liverpool Regiment holding the
fire trench, with what was left of our men dotted in between them.  I
made my way along, asking for Officers of the 6th, but for a long
time there was not one to be found.  I had passed Stewart on the way
going out wounded, but he didn't seem to be badly hit.  Then at
length I found Ralston and later Campbell and Hay.  They seemed to be
quite certain that there were no other Officers left except Wishart,
who had been badly wounded.  A great many of our wounded men were
being taken out, and it was a difficult business in so narrow a
trench.  In some parts stretchers were of little use, and waterproof
sheets had to be used instead.  We soon came upon Wishart being
carried along on a sheet.  His face was very pale; I gave him a drink
from my water bottle, but I scarcely think he knew me.  About 3 a.m.
I got the reserve trench on the telephone, and tried to get somebody
on the Brigade Staff to speak, but there was no one there except a
Major of the Liverpool Regiment, who told me that the Brigade had
sent a message that the 6th Scottish Rifles and the 'King's Own' were
to reform in the reserve trenches, and were to move out _via_ M 6.

It took some time to get them all collected.  I started down the
communication trench.  Ralston led the way and they went in sections,
and I waited until everyone I could find had gone,--all except two
wounded men whom I left in charge of a Sergeant and two
stretcher-bearers, who brought them out in course of time.

It was about 5 a.m. when I reached the reserve trenches.  There I
found a Brigade message--this time a written one--waiting for me.  It
bore the hour 4.37 a.m.  16/6/15, and was as follows--'As many
Officers and men of your Battalion as can be collected should be
taken back to Le T----,[2] where arrangements are being made for food
and rest A.A.A.  As two Battalions are remaining as trench garrison,
you should not crowd trenches by waiting A.A.A.  As soon as small
parties are collected they should start at once for Le T----.'[2]


[2] Le Touret.


The Doctor was still sitting in his dugout with the blood stains
round about him, in the quiet calmness that has been his strength
these days.  What a night he had had, and what news of the fate of
his friends he had had to: listen to in the midst of the strain of
that night's work!  The shells had not been few, and some had struck
the back of his dug-out, but through it all his devotion to duty was
beyond all praise.

He had a specially good word to say for the two stretcher-bearers
Craig and Hannah, who had brought out Erskine Hill in the afternoon
of the 15th.  It had been specially difficult work.  Sergeant
Hillhouse of 'B' Company died beside the 'aid post,' and we buried
him near by.  By Companies we marched down the road towards
Fes----[3] and the last was clear by 6 a.m.


[3] Festubert.


I went back to the Brigade Headquarters and saw the General and some
of his staff and told him as much as I had by this time been able to
gather of what had happened in the attack.

The Battalion had done superbly!  They did what was required of them;
they took what they were told to take; and tried hard to hold it
alone....  At last an order came to withdraw; it came from the right,
but from whom no one knows.  Then they came back--all that was left
of them.

'A' Company who went over the parapet first have had the heaviest
losses, Murray, Macdonald and Kennedy all killed, McLean's nerves
completely shattered, and every Sergeant gone save Downie.

Of the other Companies, Brown killed, J. H. Keith twice buried in
shell holes and dug out with shattered nerves, and Capes in much the
same condition.  Poor Pat Keith killed, Stewart, Brown and Logan all
wounded.  Young J. B. Wilson killed, Wishart very badly hit, died
later, and Major MacKenzie wounded.

Poor Major Shaw! it is so sad about him, Ralston bound up his first
wound on the chin, and still he cheered on the men, and got well
forward when he was shot dead.  Ralston succeeded in getting one of
his guns planted right in the German lines, when it was put out of
action by shell fire.  His other gun under Sergeant Thompson got into
difficulties at a ditch, and was splendidly led on by J. B. Wilson,
who came across it after being cut off from his own men.  Wilson did
splendidly in taking that gun forward till he was shot dead.
Sergeant Thompson was also killed, and the gun is reported to have
been smashed by bombs.

In a field opposite the Transport lines the men were fed and rested,
and that same morning before noonday the Companies held their
roll-call.  Out of the total number of Officers and men who went into
the trenches on Sunday night, 13/14th June, exactly half answered
their names.

That same afternoon orders came for the Battalion to move back to the
same billets at Le C---- M----[4] as had been occupied before the
fight.  That was Wednesday afternoon.


[4] Le Cornet Malo.


What haunted me most was the thought of those still lying out in
front.  Another attack had been ordered for Wednesday night, and that
made a search party out of the question for that night.  The attack
took place with much the same result as on Tuesday night.  The
Battalion that attacked was cut to pieces like one man.  On Thursday
afternoon I asked permission from the Brigade to take up a party of
volunteers to try to bring in wounded.  Leave was granted and there
was no lack of willing men to go.  We set out in the early evening
and Ralston and Hay came too.  Fifty men had been selected, _i.e._,
ten from each Company and ten from Transport, &c.

On the way we stopped at Brigade Headquarters to ask permission for
Hay to go, and the General said that before going down to the
trenches we must present his compliments to the Brigadier-General of
the Brigade in occupation of the trenches, and get his sanction for
the effort.  On we went and halted at the moated farm and saw the
General.  He said we might try if we liked, but that an attack had
been ordered for 9.30 that night and another for 3 a.m., preceded by
bombardment, and that we must be clear of trenches before the second
one began, and in any case we must see the Commanding Officers of the
Battalions holding the trenches, to be sure that we did not interfere
with any of their arrangements.  So on we went to the reserve
trenches, and there we saw the Commanding Officers of the two
Battalions in the fire trench.  They were not encouraging.  They had
ration parties in the communication trenches and water parties, and a
certain amount of ammunition had to be taken up before the second
attack began.  The first attack was said to be going on at the
moment, and there was certainly a good deal of rifle fire, but they
could get no news of its progress as the wires were cut.  Three
working parties had already been told off by them to go out between
the first and second attack, should the first prove unsuccessful (as
they seemed to think it would), and bridge the ditches, &c.,
preparatory to the second show, and it was expected that these
parties would do all they could to bring in wounded.

All this was most unsatisfactory.  Everything seemed against us.
Ralston and Hay and I went up the communication trench a short way,
and we then very reluctantly decided that we must abandon the
attempt.  It was hard to have to give up.  Our hope of being able to
bring in any of our own men had never been very strong, as we knew
only too well that the same front as the Battalion had attacked over
had yet again been swept with fire in the attack that had followed
ours on the next night.  But faint though the hope was, no stone must
be left unturned to try to realize it, and now even that last hope
was taken away.  They lie where they fell.

And yet in the midst of the bitterness and the sadness one cannot
keep back the feeling of pride that it should be so with our comrades.

We carried the packs of the Battalion back to the transport that we
had brought with us, and after a long march reached our billets again
about 5 a.m.  Our mission had been unfulfilled but we had tried.  I
thanked the men on your behalf, Sir, for coming.

Next day General Hibbert came to see us, and got a description of
what had happened--chiefly from Ralston, Hay and Campbell.

By this time Graham had returned from hospital and had taken command.
He has done splendidly since, and has made every effort to pull what
was left of the Battalion together, and to keep them from thinking
that all further need for effort was over for them.

General Hibbert inspected the Battalion on Saturday, 19th, and
Major-General Sir R. Bannatine-Allason on Monday, 21st.  They both
thanked the Regiment for the good work they had done.  They deeply
regretted the very heavy losses, and said that although the attack by
the Battalion had not been in the end entirely successful, yet it had
had an important influence on the operations at other portions of the
Allies' lines.

But the work was not yet finished, there can be no stopping, and we
must refit and 'carry on.'

I am trying to carry out the duties of acting Adjutant.  J. C. Wilson
has reported for duty with the Battalion till further instructions
from the Royal Flying Corps, and we are glad of his help.

On Tuesday, 22nd, we moved forward again to what the Division called
an 'intermediate position,' and on Monday a working party of 200 men
with full proportion of Officers was called for.

We just managed to furnish this with the equipment available and sent
all four Officers with it.  It returned at about 4.30 a.m. in safety.

To-day, Thursday, 20th, a message has come that the Brigade is to be
prepared to move to a new area about 8 p.m.


_Tuesday night, 29th_.--I shall carry on the tale from where I left
off.


It was the greatest possible satisfaction to the Battalion to learn
that the new area was very close indeed to the district it last
served in under its old Division.  Nothing could be more grateful to
all of us, than to leave the places that had been associated with so
much unhappiness and misfortune, and return to places that had
brighter memories for us.

We moved by night march to a large town and billeted in a factory
near a river, as we had done once before.  Next day we moved again,
this time to a deserted village with a much battered church.  We knew
the village well by name, but had never before been billetted in its
streets.  Here we stayed till Sunday morning, when a message came
that C.O. and Adjutant were to report to Headquarters 23rd Infantry
Brigade along with Brigade Major of 154th Brigade, to make
arrangements for taking over a section of trenches that night.
Strange that eventful days should almost always be Sundays!  Our
strength for the firing line is a C.O.; Acting Adjutant; 5 Subalterns
and 330 other ranks.  We took over the section from a Regular
Battalion on Sunday night, and carried out the relief (including
three posts) in less than an hour.

The trenches are good ones and the front is quiet.  We shall probably
do six days and perhaps nine days.  They can tell us very little
about it, but we are getting on famously.  Two new Vickers Machine
Guns were issued to us, and they are very light and a great
improvement on the older pattern.

We hold a section to the right of the one we occupied when Lawrie was
killed.  Trench headquarters is in a house that has had all the roof
tiles knocked off, and, in spite of some well meaning tarpaulins
spread on the rafters, it leaks when it rains.  Hamilton is doing the
work of Transport Officer as well as his own work, and comes up to
trenches cheerily every night as of old.  I have been trying to write
up the Adjutant's War Diary, but know that I cannot do justice to the
tale of that attack.

The Battalion has been re-organized as far as was considered
necessary, and a good many promotions among N.C.O's have been given
effect to.  Just now it is doing duty in the trenches as two
Companies under Campbell and Hay, with Ralston as Machine Gun Officer.

It is rumoured that a draft of Officers is on the way out to us, but
of this we have no official intimation.

The men are quite cheerful, and seem to be rapidly getting over the
ill effects of their experiences of the 15th.

We know that you have crossed the Channel, and so I shall send this
to your own home.  I do hope the shoulder is not giving you much
pain.  Best wishes for a good recovery.

I am,
  Your obedient Servant,
      J. LUSK.


A few extracts from letters to his Mother will reveal in a more
intimate way what he experienced on the night of the 15th, and during
the strenuous days which followed it.  The first of them illustrates
his readiness for the post of greatest danger, and the chivalry of
his devotion to his friends:--


TUESDAY MORNING, JUNE 15, 1915.

When I was up in the trenches last night, I asked the Colonel if he
would let me take John's place in 'A' Company, as the Quartermaster
had said he would be quite willing to do his own work and the work of
the Transport Section if required....  But the Colonel would not let
me do it, and the Adjutant was of the same opinion, so I had to come
back again.


THURSDAY EVENING, JUNE 17, 1915.

My news is not so good to-night.  The Battalion attacked the enemy on
Tuesday night and did splendidly, but our losses have been very heavy
indeed....  A party is going up to-night to try to get some of our
wounded back.  I am very well, but these days have been trying ones.
God has helped me wonderfully at every turn of the way, and will
still lead on.


FRIDAY AFTERNOON, JUNE 18, 1915.

I am quite well though tired.  I was out all night with a party at
the trenches, but we all got back safely.

What is left of the Battalion is being re-organized.  Captain Graham
is in command meantime, and I come next, and so shall act as Adjutant.


SATURDAY, JUNE 19, 1915.

Will you please excuse only short hurried notes just now?  There is a
tremendous lot of work to be done in connection with the recent
fight.  Reports of all sorts are being called for and are all wanted
at once.  I am acting Adjutant and must do all I can.  I don't know
when I shall be able to give you any description of what took place
on Tuesday night, but I shall do so as soon as I can.

They have taken us back a bit to rest and re-fit, and will likely
re-inforce us from the 2nd/6th Battalion at home.  We shall need a
good many Officers and men, and we don't know whether they may still
require us,--short though we are of both.  I had a good sleep last
night and am quite well though rather tired out.  The weather is very
good, and we have much to be thankful for.  I haven't even written to
the Colonel yet to tell him what happened to his Battalion after he
left it, but I must try to do so to-day if I can....  I am being
greatly helped.


SABBATH, JUNE 20, 1915.

The events of the last week are upper-most in our minds, and seem to
overshadow everything else.  By this morning probably, the friends of
those whose lives have been lost will get the letters telling them of
it, and it will be sad news for them....  I cannot feel thankful
enough that John got his slight hit before that fateful charge on
Tuesday evening.


MONDAY, JUNE 21, 1915.

We are getting on as well as we can, and the men are resting.  Our
Divisional General inspected us this morning, and thanked what was
left of the Regiment for what they had done.


TUESDAY, JUNE 22, 1915.

I haven't got a minute to spare to-day to write to you properly.  We
are moving to new billets in the afternoon, and I have to make all
billeting arrangements as well as do the Adjutant's work, but I am
getting through it.  Fortunately the weather is still good.


WEDNESDAY, JUNE 23, 1915.

We are carrying on very short indeed of Officers, and are trying to
make the best of it....  It is only too true that young Jack Wilson
has been killed.  He did splendidly in the attack, and his father and
sister have every reason to be proud of him.  I shall write to Mr.
Wilson when I can get a spell to do it properly.  I must be off to
attend a Court Martial several miles away.


THURSDAY, JUNE 24, 1915.

They are moving us again by night march to-night to a new area, and
we don't know what they are going to do with us.  There is a good
deal of work involved in re-organizing a Battalion that has lost so
heavily, and we can only do it up to the capacity of the personnel we
have got left.  They do not appear to consider it necessary to take
us really far back to do this, as we had four Officers (all we could
spare) and 200 men out working near the trenches last night.


SABBATH EVENING, JUNE 27, 1915.

I am sorry I missed our Church Parade this morning.  We got a message
early that we were to go to a place to make arrangements for taking
over a section of trenches to-night, so Captain Graham and I went and
made the necessary arrangements.

We feel so glad that they have taken us away from the section of
trenches that has such unhappy associations.  Graham and I went into
the trenches this morning to see the section that we are taking over
to-night.  They are well made, and are quite close to the section we
held many weeks ago under our last Division that we liked so well.
Things are quite quiet, and there is no suggestion of anything more
than just the holding of the line.  This we are very thankful for.


In the Colonel's letter to Captain Lusk in reply to the long letter
given above, the following sentence occurs:--'I want to thank you, my
dear fellow, for the absolutely splendid way in which you took hold
of things under very, very trying circumstances.  The Regiment will
never forget it.'


The mother of one of the fallen Officers wrote to Mrs. Lusk on June
20th:--


'Your dear son is still spared to be a comfort and help to others,
and he so bravely led the party who tried to find our dead and
wounded, but alas! they had fallen, I fear, within the German lines.
It would have brought comfort to know that our dear son was buried by
loving hands, and that they knew his grave, and I'm sure they _nobly_
tried to reach the place.  I read yesterday a letter from one of the
men (spared, though his brother is "missing"); he said "Our Captain
wept, I think, when the General told him it would be certain death to
venture."  I felt sure this was your dear son.  God bless him.'


The official statement of the matter is found in the Divisional
Orders which mention the award as being 'for gallantry displayed at
Rue d'Ouvert on 15th June, 1915; when a large number of Officers had
been killed he voluntarily proceeded to the firing line, took command
of what was left of the Battalion and successfully brought the troops
out of action.'

Captain Lusk was gazetted Adjutant of the Battalion shortly after the
Battle of Festubert, and continued to act in that capacity to the
end.  During Major Graham's absence on leave, he acted as Commanding
Officer as well.

The Battalion was moved south to the neighbourhood of Albert and the
Somme[5] about the end of July:--


[5] They occupied lines near Aveluy and Authuille.


FRIDAY AFTERNOON, JULY 23, 1915.

I missed sending you a letter yesterday.  I had to go off on my horse
a distance of some six miles or so to find new billets for the
Battalion.  This work is usually done by the Senior Major and the
Interpreter, but as the Interpreter is on leave and the Major is
killed, I did it.

We are being relieved in our Posts to-night by an English Regular
Regiment and are going back six or seven miles by route march.  We
expect to set out from here at about 10 p.m. and should reach our new
Billets in about two hours or so by night march.

The method of allotting billets to a Battalion is as follows.  The
Brigade gives each Battalion under it a certain area on the map, and
the Battalion Billeting Officers go to that area in advance as I did
yesterday, and select the most suitable farms or houses or other
buildings, and chalk the name of the Regiment on the doors, and tell
the inhabitants that troops will occupy their premises on a certain
day.  When the Battalion leaves these billets the owners are given a
certificate with the number of Officers and men accommodated, signed
by the Commanding Officer; this is counter-signed by the Mayor of the
district, and later on the owner receives payment at a fixed rate for
Officer or man.

I left here at about 2 p.m. and returned at about 7 p.m. pretty tired.

This move of ours to-night is a part of a greater move.  Our whole
Division is being taken by a train journey sometime next week to a
part of the line a great many miles further South.  This will
probably mean helping the French with a portion of their line.

So that the next week or so should be a change of surroundings for us
all.  A train journey after a spell of four months without ever
seeing one will be rather strange.


FRIDAY MORNING, JULY 30, 1915.

We arrived at the station of de-training about 5 p.m. on Wednesday,
after a railway journey that we all enjoyed.  It was a great change
for all of us, and the country was looking at its best.  From the
station we had to march for about six miles to a billeting area where
we are now.  The headquarters is in a very nice old French Château,
owned by an old lady, but ruled by her manservant.  The house has not
been properly cared for and is falling to pieces, but there is a
beautiful garden and beautiful trees round it.  The orchards in this
country abound in fruits--apples, pears, plums and peaches--but
chiefly apples and pears.  Of course nothing is ripe yet.  There is a
pond literally covered with water-lilies and green stuff, and alive
with green frogs with black spots on them.  If you run your stick
along the edge of the pond a dozen of them will jump into the water.
We have had the luxury of beds with sheets on them these last two
nights.  I have not experienced that all the time we have been in
this country, and that is over four months now.  We leave this place
this evening immediately after an inspection by our Army Commander,
and that takes place at 4 p.m. to-day.  We go to a forward area, and
spend the night in Billets there (it is about six miles away from
here), and then on Saturday night we take over our portion of the
trench line from the French Army.  Our Battalion is just immediately
behind the front line in support of other Battalions.  We shall be in
'dug-outs' probably for a week or ten days, I expect, and just a few
hundred yards behind the front line.  Since Graham left I command the
Battalion, and this taking over from the French Army is a little more
difficult to arrange than usual, and of course the country is new to
all of us.  It is much more pleasant country to look at than the
country we have left.  It is more hilly and much more closely wooded.
The harvest is getting ripe, and in some parts is cut already.  Old
men and boys do the reaping of it, and in some cases, where even
these are not available, soldiers are set to do it.


SABBATH EVENING, AUGUST 1, 1915.

On Wednesday night we moved away from our nice Château at 10.30 p.m.,
and at 1.30 a.m. reached the village where we were to stay the night.
The moon was good, and the march was a good one of about seven miles
or so.  At 2.15 that morning I lay down on the top of a bed with just
my boots and jacket off, and slept till 6 a.m.  Then I got up and
shaved, and drank a cup of cocoa that my servant made, and was in the
saddle again by 7 a.m., and rode about five miles to the headquarters
of a French General in a Château.  Officers Commanding Battalions
were ordered to go there at 8 a.m., and we were provided with French
guides who could speak English, and went over the trenches that our
Battalions were to take over on Saturday night.  This we did, and
were much pleased with the construction of them and the general
conditions of everything; so last night we marched off from our
Billets in the village to the trenches, and we are here now.  Our
Battalion is not actually in the front line just now, but is in
'dug-outs' just behind the first line.  It is in a wood, and is so
picturesque in places that one would never connect it with war, were
it not for occasional shells that come over our heads.


MONDAY, AUGUST 2, 1915.

I am well, and busy all day with many varied things.  I am acting
just now both as Commanding Officer and Adjutant, but we are getting
on nicely.  We are a few hundreds of yards behind the front line just
now, and, beyond a little shelling now and again, we are very quiet.

We are living in a wood with high trees and undulating ground, and
the French Army, who have just vacated the place have constructed
most elaborate shelters from shell-fire.  They are much more palatial
places than any 'dug-outs' we have seen or made elsewhere.  They go
so deep down into the ground, or are built up with such thick sides
and roofs, that they are considered quite safe things to be in, even
if they do get a direct hit upon them with a big shell.  We are going
to make application for leave for other two Officers....  Then
perhaps it will be my turn to come.  Yes, I am waiting till all the
others have had leave, as I would rather be the last to go.


SABBATH NIGHT, SEPT. 19, 1915.

To-day has been my birthday and I am getting very old, but I don't
feel it, so it doesn't matter, and the best thought is that we grow
old all together.  And I have more to be thankful for than most.  Our
mails have been delayed one day, and that has had this result, that
to-day's mail brought me no fewer than eight letters, and six of
these were partly written for my birthday, and if the mails had not
been delayed I would likely have had all these birthday letters one
day too soon!  So that I am quite content to see a purpose in all
that concerns me, and I am especially rich in real friends.


SAME DATE.

I am thirty-seven to-day....  but I don't feel old, and pray that I
may be given more strength to give more and do more, and to keep
nothing back that should be _given_.

There is an inspiration in giving, and in being spent for the
greatest things, that knows no limits and never knows what it is to
give too much.


He was disappointed several times of the leave which he was looking
forward to, but he never grumbled.  When it came at last in October
it was spent chiefly in seeing his many friends and especially the
relatives of his comrades in the Battalion.  One friend has seen in
this a new instance of the fact that he 'always thought first of
others.'

It was in November that the unlooked for honour came to Captain
Lusk:--


SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 1915.

I have got a little piece of news for you to-night that will cheer
you.  Intimation came to us this morning that a French decoration was
to be given to your first-born son.  It is called 'Chevalier, 5th
Class, Legion of Honour.'  I don't know what it is for, but
someone--I don't know who--has been so kind as to recommend me for
it, and it is to be given to-morrow, Sabbath, by the Commander of the
Third Army at a little village behind the lines.

I don't know what there has been in the work of each day that has
seemed to those in authority to be worthy of some mark of
approval....  It has come as a complete surprise to us all, and I try
to say that it is an honour more to the Battalion than to me....  It
is exactly one year to-day since I took up my duties as Staff Captain
of the Scottish Rifle Brigade at Falkirk.


NOVEMBER 9, 1915.

Saturday night was a busy one; I think I only got a few hours' sleep
altogether.  We were to be relieved in trenches on Sabbath morning.
It was a day sooner than we had expected, and there were many
arrangements to make, besides the ordinary routine-work of messages
and telephones and counter-messages.  I got up before 6 to lead a
working party up to the front trench, and when I had done that I lay
down again for less than an hour; then got up and washed and shaved,
for this was a great day for my Mother and my Sister, and through
them for me!  The orders for the relief reached us at 8 a.m., and I
had much arranging to do in the hour that followed before I had to be
off on my errand.  I got something to eat, put on a pair of cleaner
boots, and tried to take at least some of the mud from my clothes.
My grey mare was waiting for me in the wood, and I rode about three
miles back to Hamilton's billet in his little village.  I met him in
the middle of the street.  He had just heard about it the night
before, and was _very_ kind about it and extremely pleased.  He is
_such_ a keen soldier.  I took off my web equipment, and borrowed his
leather cross-belts, which he always keeps polished to the last
degree, and dug out my new glengarry from my valise that was in his
keeping what time we were in the trenches.

A motor-bus had been arranged for the rest of the journey; it was one
of the old London Omnibus Company's ones, painted khaki and with its
side windows boarded up.  There are lots of them used here for taking
troops about hurriedly.  This took me back another five or six miles,
and by 11 a.m. we had reached a little village where there was a
charming old French Château, that was being used as the Headquarters
of a certain 'Division'--a _Regular_ Division.  In front of the
Château was a beautiful park with trees covered with autumn leaves.
It was a perfect winter day.  The sun shone, and opposite the centre
of the Château at the other side of the park stood a great gateway
with high pillars and a great gate.  A parade ground was marked off
in this park, and a certain Regiment of Regulars was drawn up to form
three sides of a square.  When every one was in his place the order
was given 'Fix Bayonets,' and like one man they flashed in the
sun-light.  There was a little table at the fourth side of the square
with a coloured rug laid over it.  In the centre of the square nine
Officers and about thirty Non-Commissioned Officers and men stood to
attention in line.

General Sir E. H. H. Allenby, K.C.B., Commanding the Third Army,
accompanied by his Staff and several French Officers in blue and
gold, came to the little table.  The Commander of the Troops gave the
command 'GENERAL SALUTE, PRESENT ARMS,' and they did it _well_, while
the Army Commander stood at the salute.  One by one names were called
by the Chief of his Staff, and each one in the centre row came
forward and saluted.  No word was spoken save this,--'Legion
d'Honneur, Chevalier,--I congratulate you.'  Each again saluted in
silence and withdrew to the centre line, with something in his hand.
Then to the other ranks was handed either 'Medaille Militaire' or
'Croix de Guerre.'  Again the band in rear of the troops played 'The
Marseillaise,' while all stood at the salute.  That was all.  The
troops marched off the ground, the centre row fell out, and it was
over.  No speech.  The Army is not given to making speeches; and in
the circumstances that made the setting, it seemed entirely fitting
that it should be so, for we could still hear the guns in the
distance.  I went back to the trenches, but why I was one of those
nine I do not know or understand.


[Illustration: Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur]



SAME DATE.

Everyone here has been so kind about my French decoration.  I feel
quite ashamed that such a thing should have come to me, when so many
others round me have done so well.  I don't understand it.

The star is of white and green enamel and the ribbon is scarlet silk.

It is exactly seven years yesterday since I joined this Battalion.


In two letters to friends, written some weeks later, the following
passages occur:--


There are many in the Battalion who have deserved marks of approval
for service much more than I, and in particular those who have made
the supreme sacrifice.  But their Honour is greater than anything
that man can give.


I went back to the trenches, and the Château with its park, its
gates, its trees with autumn leaves, its well-dressed regiment with
fixed and shining bayonets, its Generals in red and blue and gold,
disappeared like a happy dream, and it was back to mud and duty.

But there is a deep down satisfaction in being in the front line that
a man would not give up for much that the world holds dear.

I am proud of that Cross, and proud to wear its scarlet ribbon on my
jacket, but there are honours greater far than that, and to these I
have not attained.  I have not made the great sacrifice, nor have I
even suffered wounds in this fight, and these need no marks of man's
approval.


Colonel Kay wrote to Mrs. Lusk under date November 6th as follows:--

'I am asking James to enclose this with his to-day's letter to you
just to say how charmed and delighted we all are that he has been
selected to have the _Légion d'Honneur_ conferred upon him.  The
award brings great honour on him and on the Regiment, and the fact
that he has been chosen as, I believe, the only Officer in the
Brigade[6] to receive the Cross, shows that those in high places know
and recognize what splendid service he has done not only at
Festubert, but before and since.  In his own good modest way he
insists that it is a recognition to the Regiment, but I want
specially to say that that is nonsense.  It is an absolutely personal
award for gallant and strenuous service....  I can never thank him
sufficiently for all he has done and is doing, and my earnest prayer
is that God may restore him to you and all who love him in due time,
and that he may be long spared to enjoy the honours he is so worthily
earning.'


[6] In Routine Order No. 375 by G.O.C. 51st (Highland) Division,
dated Thursday, 11th November, 1915, under 'Honours and Rewards,' the
name of Captain Lusk appears as the only officer in the Division
decorated then.



IV

THE LAST WEEKS

November & December, 1915



IV

THE LAST WEEKS

November and December, 1915


One of the last weeks of Captain Lusk's life was a specially busy
one.  He was summoned to take the place of the Brigade Major, while
the latter was absent on leave.  Before the letters which describe
this work there are two or three others which are of special
interest:--


SABBATH NIGHT, NOV. 14, 1915.

We had Service to-day in a sort of Hall in one of the wings of the
Château of this village.  Mr. Coutts officiated and did very well
indeed, and we all like him.

Fortunately a piano was available and I played it.  We sang 'God is
our Refuge' to Stroudwater, 'The Lord is my Shepherd' to Wiltshire,
and 'Fight the good Fight' to the tune that is not in the Hymnary.

In the evening again we had another more informal Service, at which I
again played; everyone enjoyed both Services.  Two biscuit boxes
served as a piano stool!


SAME DATE (_to his Sister_).

There is a phrase of John Kelman's about this war that I specially
like to think of.  It speaks of one who strives to 'carry a sword
across the barriers of death clean and bright.'  Many and many a one
has done it and done it to the uttermost in this fight, and the rest
of us, halting and stumbling, try to follow in their train.

And what helps me most is just your love.  It keeps _high_ the ideals
of service and sacrifice, and makes the counting of all cost as a
forgotten thing.


SATURDAY NIGHT, NOV. 20, 1915.

You say the ground is white with snow.  We have had snow too.  The
night we marched off from billets to trenches (about 7½ miles), the
snow was thick on the ground, and a mist came down, and it was very
cold.  Did I tell you that I thought it would have made a good
picture for an artist to paint?  At a bend in the road you could see
a long column of troops--only half its former length--trudging slowly
along, every man laden like a pack animal, with fur coat, waterproof
sheet, blanket, pack, equipment, &c., and of course his rifle and
bayonet and 120 rounds of ammunition.  The Colonel and I rode at the
head of the column, and Major Graham and the Medical Officer at the
rear.


SATURDAY MORNING, DEC. 4, 1915.

They called for me this afternoon to come to Brigade Headquarters to
take the place of the Brigade Major, who has gone on leave for a
week--and so I find myself once more in a Brigade Office with plenty
of work to do.  But it is responsible work, and the Brigade takes
over trenches on Sabbath, so I have to make all arrangements for the
move of the different Battalions.


SAME DATE.

I am in a post of much increased responsibility just now for about a
week, and I need great help, but I am _getting_ this help.  I feel it
in no uncertain way.


WEDNESDAY MORNING, DEC. 8, 1915.

To-day has not been quite such a hustle as yesterday was, but it has
been very full since 8 a.m. this morning--or rather yesterday
morning!  I am very well and getting through it wonderfully; the
Brigade Major will probably return on Thursday or Friday.  A Brigade
Headquarters is a busy place on Service, and fifty different things
seem to call for attention at once sometimes.  There are telephones
to the different Battalions in the trenches, and a telephone to the
Divisional Headquarters and to Artillery Batteries and Royal
Engineers.  Then besides that, Officers come in to ask for
instructions for this, that and the other thing.  But I have been
wonderfully helped from day to day.  The trenches are pretty bad with
mud and water, and to-day and to-night it has been raining, and they
will be worse to-morrow.


SABBATH NIGHT, DEC. 12, 1915.

I am once more at the Headquarters billet of the 6th Scottish Rifles
after a most strenuous ten days as Acting Brigade Major.  It has been
a busy time.  Each day has been as full as days can be from 8 a.m.
till after midnight--then six hours sleep and at it again; but I am
perfectly well, and with a good sleep I shall be all right again.  I
am so glad I have been able to do it, though it has been a good
handful for me.  Still the General seemed pleased with the manner in
which the work had been done, and I was thankful for that....  I now
feel as if I would have an easier time.  One of the best ways to find
how light a burden is--is to carry a heavier one for some time!


Captain Lusk's impression that 'the General seemed pleased' with his
work is confirmed by a letter, written after his death to his Mother,
by Brigadier-General G. L. G. Edwards, 154th Infantry Brigade:--

'I am writing a few lines to tell you how deeply I condole with you
and your family in the irreparable loss you have sustained.  A short
time ago when the Brigade Major was on leave, your son took over his
duties, and I was then able to personally appreciate his many good
qualities and devotion to duty.  He is a very great loss to his
Regiment and to the Service, and his sad end is deeply felt by all in
the Brigade who knew him.'


An Illuminated Address of congratulation upon his honour was drawn up
by the Directors, Members of the Staff and representative Foremen at
the Dalzell Iron and Steel Works, and sent to his Mother for safe
keeping.  Previously one of his colleagues there had written to Mrs.
Lusk,--'It would do your heart good to hear the remarks made by
everyone at the Works, and everyone seems anxious that you should
know how glad they are.'  The Address pleased Captain Lusk very much,
as the following letter will show:--


SABBATH NIGHT, DEC. 19, 1915.

Thank you very much for your letter to-day telling me of this
magnificent Illuminated Address that has come to you from the Works.
It is just exceedingly kind of them, and is a great deal more than I
deserve.  You have described it most fully even to the measurements
of the frame both inside and outside, as well as all that is
inscribed upon it.  It is a great work of art, and I think I can
guess the name of the man who did the drawing part of it.  He is on
the Staff of the Drawing Office and draws very well indeed, and so
when I write to the Works about it I must write a special note to
him.  It is just exceedingly kind of everyone there to think of the
idea, and I do greatly appreciate their kindness.  It shows a great
feeling of friendliness that I am very proud of.  The signatures will
be most interesting.  I wonder whose idea it was to do it? ...

Christmas will soon be here.  We go into trenches again on Tuesday,
so shall likely be there on that day.

We had Service to-day.  Our own Chaplain is on leave, and the Service
was taken for us by a Church of England Chaplain, who took our Form
of Service very well indeed.  It was good of him to do it.  We sang
'Lord, bless and pity us,' and 'I'm not ashamed,' and 'Fight the good
Fight.'


There is not a little pathos about the letters of the last days of
all:--

(_To the Rev. James MacGibbon, C.F._)

I fear your thoughts of me must be hard ones, and there is ample
reason.  I have been waiting, and still waiting, for a quiet hour in
which to answer your letter to me.  It has not been by any means a
question of forgetting--for I could not forget that--but merely a
question of putting off the time of writing, till I could find a time
of comparative quiet to answer you as your letter demands to be
answered.

I thank you for it very warmly indeed--more warmly than I can say on
paper....

The Honour that has come to me was wholly unexpected, and I take it
as being meant for the Battalion, more than for me personally.  The
mere accident of seniority among those who were left at the end of
the fight, does not in itself carry any claim to notice.  My poor
part in that night's happenings was a very small one.  I have not
made the great sacrifice, nor have I even suffered wounds in this
great cause.  To those who have given all there was to give--even
life itself--belongs that Honour.  Theirs is the Honour that no man
can give.  It is alone in its greatness, and of man's approval it
needs no mark or sign.  God marks their resting place, for He alone
can.

Our thoughts go out towards those at home whose patience and
self-sacrifice is past telling in its greatness.  They have given of
their dearest and their best, and to that Legion of those whom we
Honour do they most assuredly belong.

God knows how little I deserve of this.

I have a book wrapped in my haversack that I never tire of reading,
though I have but seldom opened it here--to my loss.  It is F. W. H.
Myers' _St. Paul_.  No doubt you know it.  It has given strength many
a time.


  'Nay but Thou knowest us, Lord Christ, Thou knowest,
    Well Thou rememberest our feeble frame,
  Thou canst conceive our highest and our lowest,
    Pulses of nobleness and aches of shame.

  'Therefore have pity!--not that we accuse Thee,
    Curse Thee and die, and charge Thee with our woe:
  Not through Thy fault, O Holy One, we lose Thee,
    Nay, but our own,--yet hast Thou made us so!

  'Then, though our foul and limitless transgression
    Grows with our growing, with our breath began,
  Raise Thou the arms of endless intercession,
    Jesus, divinest when Thou most art man!'

... I have always looked forward to the days when you would be able
to take our services for us, and missed them when they were
impossible.  The passion of self-sacrifice, the passion of St. Paul
as of his Christ, makes strong appeal, and I always found that note
in your words to us, and I loved it.  It has no limits; it counts no
cost.

I miss you now--we all do.  God grant we may meet again.

One wonders how long it still must last.  There is something written
by George Dawson that I like for these days.  It is this:--

'Grant unto us, Almighty God, that when our vision fails and our
understanding is darkened, when the ways of life seem hard and the
brightness of life is gone--to us grant the wisdom that deepens faith
when the sight is dim, and enlarges trust when the understanding is
not clear.  And whensoever Thy ways in nature or in the soul are hard
to be understood, then may our quiet confidence, our patient trust,
our loving faith in Thee be great; and as children, knowing that we
are loved, cared for, guarded, kept, may we with a quiet mind at all
times put our trust in the unseen God.  So may we face _life without
fear and death without fainting_.'

You will, I hope, forgive this much quotation.  They are taken out of
my treasures, and I like to share them with those I care for.

We have been out of the trenches for four days and are going in again
to-morrow, so that it appears as if Christmas Day may find us there.

'Peace on earth, Goodwill among men' seems far away.  But no doubt
the strife of to-day will make the peace of to-morrow more lasting
when it comes, as come it will.


TUESDAY NIGHT, DEC. 21, 1915.

I must send you a Christmas message of love to-night, as this may
reach you on Christmas Day, or even later.

We came into trenches to-day, and shall likely be in for Christmas.
Everyone is very cheerful.  Friends at home have been specially kind
in sending parcels out.  The men seem to have loads of good things to
eat, and are really very well provided for in that respect.  Of
course the mud and water that is everywhere does not form the most
pleasant surroundings for enjoying these good things, but against all
that there is the deep satisfaction in knowing that they are in the
place where they can best do their duty, and that makes up for a
great deal of discomfort.


SAME DATE.

We are all very cheerful, and Christmas Day will find us in the same
frame of mind, I hope.  Perhaps by next Christmas-time there will be
lasting Peace and Goodwill.  But that time is not yet.


SAME DATE.

We took over trenches again this evening--a day sooner than we
expected.  It has rained most of the day.  The Colonel and Boyd and
our Medical Officer and I, all rode over here from our rest billets
this afternoon.  It rained and the roads are very muddy.
Headquarters are occupying the same cottage as we had last time--the
one that had its chimney carried away one day by a shell.  But it
will be safer this time!  I suppose we shall be in for Christmas Day,
but we are quite cheerful about it, and hope that the next Christmas
will be spent under different circumstances, where Peace and Goodwill
will be more in evidence than they are to-day.  Peace will be more
lasting when it comes, because of all the strife that has gone before
it.  I must send you Christmas messages by this letter, for the day
will have come and perhaps gone when it reaches you.  They are just
the same old messages, but they go very deep down indeed....  And
after Christmas and New Year's Day are over, and a few more weeks are
past, I shall hope to come home again and actually _see_ you.


CHRISTMAS EVE, 1915.

It is Christmas Eve once more, and we are still fighting mud and
water and Germans.  I hope that by next Christmas we shall be doing
so no longer.  We hope to come out of the front line on Tuesday next,
and have four days in Brigade Reserve, and then go back a good long
way for a rest.  So about New Year's Day we shall probably be on the
move somewhere, and we hope that our long-looked-for rest of several
weeks' duration may actually come to pass at last.  But we shall see.
I have just been wading through the mud and water of the trenches,
and they are pretty bad, but we are all very cheerful, and try to
make the best of our Christmas-time.


CHRISTMAS EVE (_to his Sister_).

It is Christmas Eve once more, and I have just come back from wading
through the mud and water of front line trenches.  I am tired and wet
and dirty, and would that the men of strife would cease their noise
and hear the Angels sing.  But we must keep up our hearts.  One gets
sick to death sometimes of it all, but still it goes on and on, and
we somehow live or dream through it.  The night is clear with a
bright moon, and it is dry at the moment.  Pumps and mud and water
and sandbags and chalk and bullets and more mud and bayonets and
gum-boots and shells and signal messages and artillery retaliation,
seem sometimes to be all jumbled up, and dance before your eyes, and
haunt you night and day.  But at other times things are not so bad,
and everybody is really very cheerful....  I've got nothing to give
you this Christmas except my LOVE, from the midst of all the dancing
muddle of mud and rain and other things.



EPILOGUE



EPILOGUE

We are grateful to those who were beside James during his last days,
for telling us about them, as well as for the loving care which they
bestowed upon him, and the kind words of appreciation which they
wrote.


Captain Campbell was one of the last to be with him.  He writes:--

'Poor Lusk was hit shortly after noon on Christmas Day.  He had come
up to the trenches[1] for his usual morning tour along with Major
Graham.  He had looked into Keith's and my 'dug-out,' and then gone
along into 'A' Company's lines himself, the C.O. (Major Graham)
having preceded him by a few minutes, when the trench-mortar came
that laid him out.


[1] This was near Thiepval.


'He apparently did not hear or see the mortar coming.  It was one of
these infernal 'oil cans' (a cylindrical shaped object about two feet
long and nine inches in diameter, filled with explosive); it landed
on the parapet, and blew him against the corner of a communication
trench which he was just passing.  His ear was badly lacerated, and
he was buried up to the shoulders in the falling debris (sand-bags,
mud, &c.).  It was only a matter of seconds before there was somebody
there digging him out, which was done in five or ten minutes.  The
M.O., who was in the trenches at the time, bandaged him up, and he
was carried out.  I believe he was more or less conscious all the
time, though he didn't appear to hear properly.  Either the shock of
the explosion, or his fall against the trench, broke the vertebrae of
his neck.  He passed away in Hospital at Amiens on the evening of the
28th December.

'Major Graham, the Padre and our M.O., myself and twenty men were
present at his funeral which took place at 3.30 p.m. on the 30th.  He
is buried a mile and a half or so out of Amiens.

'I can appreciate how great must be the loss to you all.  He was out
here for one thing, and that was to give his best for the job he was
on, and he gave it all the time.  He seemed to be everything the
average fellow would like to be, but never is.  He was the best of
all.'


The Rev. Alfred Coutts, the Chaplain of the Battalion, wrote on the
evening of Christmas Day:--

'Colonel Kay is home on leave this week, or I feel sure he would have
wished to write to you himself, and express the profound sorrow of
every Officer and man in the Battalion, that your son Captain Lusk
was unfortunately wounded in the trenches this morning.  He had not
been long there before a German trench-mortar fired the 'oil can' as
the soldiers call it, which exploded near the trench along which he
was passing at the time.  Happily the Medical Officer, Dr. Rawlins,
was visiting the trenches, and was at your son's side within two
minutes.  He was very quickly got down to headquarters in the
village, where he was further attended to, and the Doctor afterwards
went to the Field Ambulance with him.  There it was decided to send
the patient to the Hospital at Amiens without delay.  He is wounded
in the head--about the left ear--but he spoke to the Medical Officer
quite calmly and rationally, and asked about the nature of his wound.
As you can readily understand, he is suffering considerably from
shock, but the Regimental Doctor and the Doctors of the Field
Ambulance were unable to say more.  A further medical examination
would take place at Amiens, where they have X-ray apparatus.  He bore
the journey by motor to the Field Ambulance well, and we are all
hoping to hear good news about him in a day or two.  It has been a
sad Christmas for his comrades here, for Captain Lusk was the
honoured and beloved friend and brother of us all.  Absolutely
fearless at all times, he has greatly impressed us by his goodness.
I shall miss very much his kindly presence--for he has been most
helpful to me in my work.'


Captain Lusk's orderly, Private Isaac Devon, has told us that when he
was hit, he was in the act of distributing cigarettes to the men in
the trenches, and wishing them a Happy Christmas.  The following is
from a letter which Private Devon wrote to his wife on the night of
Christmas Day:--

'It is with a very sore heart I write to you to-night.  My dear
Captain was wounded to-day very seriously, and I can't tell how much
yet.  I am in Hospital just now with him; the doctors are operating
on him with X-rays....  He is very done.  I am so sorry for his poor
Mother.  This has been a bad Christmas for us.  Oh, my poor Captain
... he knew me, and knows I am near him.  His wounds are mostly about
the head.  It was a trench mortar.  He was buried and we had to dig
him out.  But I hope he pulls through; the doctor that dressed him at
the trenches told me the shock is the worst; but I am afraid he is
disfigured for life.  I am waiting to hear how the operation goes on.
I can't tell you any more to-night, but I will be with him till he is
sent to England if he is spared.  I will give you full news
to-morrow.... you know how I am upset about him.'


Kind letters came also from the Chaplains, the Doctor and the Sister
in the South Midland Casualty Clearing Station at Amiens; and he was
at the last laid to rest by the Chaplain and some of his comrades in
the Battalion which he had loved so well:--


'JANUARY 10, 1916.

'I shall never forget Christmas Day here, and your brother will
always be linked in my memory with it.  Sorrow and joy were
intermingled during that day in a strange and wonderful way.  I
dressed as Father Christmas, and went round all the Wards with a
present for each man...  Then at the close of the day came the
summons to see your brother.  He had been put to bed and everything
possible had been done to restore his circulation.  He was very glad
I had come.  He was too weak to bear much, but I sat by his side for
about three-quarters of an hour.  The lights had been turned low, but
I prayed quietly by his bedside, as is my custom when quietness is an
absolute necessity.  It was a sad close to Christmas Day, seated by
the bedside of one who had been so badly hurt.

'Next morning he had brightened up considerably, and was very
grateful that I had seen him the previous night.  He gave me his
Mother's address, and was most anxious that I should not say too much
about his injuries.  There seemed a possibility of his recovery; my
judgment was in suspense about that, but I was not without hope.
Next day I brought a pot of white primulas.  He wanted them put where
he could see them.  So I arranged them high enough where his eyes
could always rest upon their white beauty.  "These mean that Spring
is coming," I said to him, but I did not know then how near Eternal
Spring was to him....

'He was most gracious and gentle in his ways, and so thankful for all
that was done.'

EDWARD SKILTON, C.F.


'DECEMBER 29, 1915.

'I grieve very much to tell you that your son, Captain Lusk, took a
turn for the worse last night.  Captain Skilton, the Presbyterian
Chaplain who has written to you informing you of the serious wounds
your brave son received, would naturally have written to you now, but
he is away at the present time.  However, he asked me to write and
keep you informed about your son's condition in his absence.  The
turn for the worse which came last night was somewhat unexpected, in
spite of the fact that we knew the serious nature of your son's
condition.

'We hoped, however, that, please God, his life might be spared.  But
I grieve to have to tell you that He has ordered otherwise.  After
your son's collapse the end came very rapidly last night and he
passed away....

'If it is of the slightest comfort to you to know it, I should like
you to feel that your son, after what he has undergone for his
country's sake, spent his last days among friends, for his doctor and
his nurse, Miss Bulman, quickly formed a great regard for him.  Miss
Bulman, I know, is writing to you herself, and I know how she has
nursed your son with the greatest tenderness and care.'

BASIL ASTON
  (_Chaplain_).


'DECEMBER 29, 1915.

'My heart is very sad as I sit down to write to you again.  You will
have heard ere this that Captain Lusk passed away last evening,--so
quietly he went, it was hard to realize that he had really left us,
and there had been such great hopes of his recovery.  After his first
night with us the improvement seemed to be so steady, and yesterday
he spoke so brightly and seemed so much more himself in every way.
Several times he spoke of you, and his keen desire that you should
not be told that he was seriously injured.  He asked not to be moved
from here till he was stronger, and remarked how he enjoyed the
sounds of the children's voices playing in the Convent garden.  Our
Hospital is the other half of the Convent.  He also asked to see his
tunic, which I had brought up, and in examining it we admired the
little "piece of ribbon."  Then in his gallant way he remarked "Yes,
they were very good to give me that; we had a rough time, but they
certainly have been good to me."  I could only feel how very much
more we would do if we could, to save the lives of men like that.'

  K. BULMAN
    (_Sister-in-Charge_).


'JANUARY 5, 1916.

'He was quite conscious until breathing ceased.  He never complained
of any pain and I believe his suffering at the end was of very short
duration....

'In the short time I looked after him I appreciated his noble
character, his patience and bravery, and was particularly struck by
the gratitude he showed both to myself and the Sisters who looked
after him.  I attended his funeral and realized what a loss his
brother Officers had sustained by his death.'

  C. B. BAXTER
    (_Captain R.A.M.C.T._)


'DECEMBER 30, 1915.

'I have just returned from Amiens (which is about fourteen miles from
here), where I had the sad duty of committing to its resting place
the body of your departed son, our highly honoured and greatly loved
Adjutant.  From enquiries which I made, I learned that he passed away
on the evening of the 28th inst. at 8.30.  He is interred in the
Cimetière de St. Pierre, Amiens, and his grave is No. 4, Officers'
Section.  A burial party went down from the trenches with Major
Graham, Captain Campbell, Dr. Rawlins and Monsieur Viel, the Brigade
Interpreter.  The scene was very pathetic, and everyone present was
deeply moved.  The Medical Officer who had your son under his special
care at Amiens attended the funeral.  He told me that Captain Lusk
seemed at first to be doing quite as well as could be expected, and
conversed freely with the doctors and nurses.  The wound in the head
though serious was not considered specially dangerous.  There was
some injury to the spine, however, which, I understand, caused
paralysis.  He suffered no pain all the doctors assured me, and was
perfectly conscious and very bright to the last.  All who nursed him
in Hospital were much impressed by the personal charm and
attractiveness of your son, and they were greatly touched by his
constant gratitude for the smallest services rendered to him.  His
was a rare and beautiful character, and we all feel enriched by the
gracious memories he has left behind him.  His Christian life was a
testimony to the Master Whom he served, that none could fail to
understand, and the men--one and all--felt that in Captain Lusk they
knew a man who was a Christian "in deed and in truth."

'On the evening of the 28th December there was a sudden failure of
strength.  His breathing was affected.  It all lasted but a few
moments.  "Quickly, Quickly" were the words he uttered, before he
passed away.'

  ALFRED COUTTS,
    (_Chaplain, 6th Cameronians_).

* * * * * *

In a special supplement to the _London Gazette_, issued on February
24, 1916, the official announcement appeared that the President of
the French Republic, with the approval of His Majesty the King, had
bestowed the _Croix de Chevalier_ of the Legion of Honour on Captain
Lusk.  He was also mentioned in Despatches by the British
Commander-in-Chief.

* * * * * *

The tributes with which we conclude are all from Officers of the 6th
Cameronians, except the first three which are from the widow of one
Officer, and the bereaved parents of two others:--

'I feel I have lost a true dear friend, one who brought comfort to
_my_ wounded heart, and whose precious letter and friendship I shall
always cherish.'

R. K.


'It was only on Christmas Morning that I received a beautiful letter
from your son which greatly cheered my loneliness; this I know was
characteristic of his ever mindful nature, and I feel proud to have
had the honour of even being in his thoughts.

'How vividly that last Sunday at Falkirk rises before me to-night,
and his masterful touch on the organ that day I shall never forget.'

H. B. S.


'You don't know how he has endeared himself to me, first as Allan's
friend--then in the way he has looked after and helped my younger son
since he went to France.

'I have only seen Captain Lusk once, the evening you were all here,
but I was never allowed to forget him, as few letters from both Allan
and Vernon did not contain some reference to Captain Lusk.  He seems
to have been everybody's friend.  In a very sad letter which I
received from Vernon to-night--written before Captain Lusk's
death--he says "I don't know anyone who is so universally loved as
Lusk is."'

F. L.


'It was with the greatest sorrow that I heard of your son's death.
He was a great friend of mine, and I always looked upon him as a man
above other men.  His high principles, up to which he acted to the
letter, always made me describe him as "God's good man."  I looked
upon him as a type of ideal manhood far above those with whom he came
in contact, and as a rich example of self-denial and uprightness
which had a lasting influence upon his brother Officers.'

J. D.


'I liked your son immensely.  He and I were always the best of
friends, and I feel his loss very much indeed.  He had done so well
as Adjutant of the Battalion, and I know that no one will ever forget
the part he played on the night of the 15th of June, when he took
command of the Battalion at a critical moment and brought them out of
action, and for which he was most justly rewarded.

'It seems too sad to think that now he has gone, but it may be some
slight consolation to you in your sorrow to know that your son died
like a gallant Scottish gentleman, fighting for his country in what
is surely a righteous cause.'

F. G. W. D.


'As an old comrade of your very gallant son, I write to express my
heartfelt sympathy with you in the loss of your dear boy, and our
devoted Adjutant.

'Nothing happens but by the permission of our Heavenly Father, so all
is well with him gone Home....  It is given to few men even in this
dreadful war to accomplish so much, and to perform their appointed
tasks so worthily as has Captain Lusk, and it will surely help you to
know how bravely and nobly he has kept his word, and in passing
carried his sword pure and spotless beyond the Veil.

'To us of the 6th S.R. he has given a grand example of devotion to
duty, and his influence has permeated the whole Corps.  We could ill
spare him, and probably from a regimental standpoint no greater loss
could have befallen us.  I had a letter from my son, who is with the
Battalion, saying that Captain Lusk had passed him but a few minutes
before he was hit.  The grief in the regiment is deep, but his
example will live and inspire all.'

W. D. L.


'You probably know already what a tremendous lot James meant to the
6th--both officers and men--especially in the difficult times, and
how unflinchingly courageous he was in facing their trials.  He once
showed written on a piece of paper the words, "I will never leave
thee nor forsake thee"; and very truly He was with him always....

'I shall never forget his calm fearlessness and his constant
cheerfulness at the Front.'

A. G. E. H.


'It came as a blow to me when I saw him lying wounded in the trench,
and I can hardly realize that he has left us; and we all feel here
that in addition to having lost an Officer whose place can never be
filled, we have lost a friend, who had endeared himself to all ranks
by the high Christian principles which he lived up to, and his
constant unselfishness and kindness to everyone.  His influence has
always been for good in the Battalion.

'I regret that my duties prevent me from being present at the funeral
to-morrow.'

J. B.


'I have known Captain Lusk since the time he joined the 6th
Battalion, and I would find it difficult to express with what love
and admiration we all regarded him.  He was a gentleman amongst
gentlemen, and the fine, noble, generous and selfless qualities which
ever dominated him, made it a pleasure and a privilege to have known
and associated with him.  One can never forget the great
self-sacrifice and devotion to duty which he displayed after our
attack at Festubert, in going over that bullet-swept area and safely
withdrawing our men, and thereafter gallantly seeking to attempt the
rescue of our brave wounded on the field.  Well did he deserve the
Decoration bestowed on him by the French Government, and his noble
and gallant conduct will ever be proudly remembered by the Battalion.'

J. C. McL.


'We of the 6th, The Cameronians, are under a cloud, a very dark and
heavy cloud.  We have lost a few good fellows since coming out here,
but never one who was so universally loved and respected and whose
loss will be so keenly felt.  James Lusk was indeed a true Christian
gentleman.  We of inferior clay stood aghast and marvelled at his
unfailing good-humour, his inexhaustible patience, his unshaken
integrity and his continued self-effacement.  He gave way to
everybody, even the most junior of Subalterns, and yet there was not
one of us but knew that he stood head and shoulders above us as a
man.  If ever a man followed hard in the Footsteps of Jesus Christ,
that man was James Lusk.  I am proud to have been counted one of his
friends.

'By his death, the 6th have sustained an irreparable loss.  We have
lost a great friend with a great heart, and we have lost a soldier
who was the backbone of the regiment and who added to its reputation.

'May I tell you, that everywhere, not only in the Battalion but in
the Brigade and Division, the news of his death was the cause of
universal sorrow.'

D. L. G.


'I had the honour to know your son in the regiment for a long time,
but since mobilization he and I had been brought close together by
our work, and I can say with pride that never did I meet a finer man.
He was universally loved by us all, and by all he came in contact
with.  His death is a very heavy loss to you, but may I assure you
that no death could have been nobler--he died, as he lived, a true
hero.  His memory will ever be cherished and honoured by the regiment
he served so faithfully--his loss will leave a blank in the lives of
his fellow Officers for many a long day.'

J. C. E. H.


'Believe me, we share in your great sorrow, and the regiment he loved
so well will miss him greatly, for everyone loved and respected
him--not alone for his great talents as a soldier, or for his
bravery, but for his lovableness, and great striving after the Right.
I personally feel as if I had lost a brother that can never be
replaced, but it is some consolation to you and all of us, to know
that he died, as he had lived--a very perfect Knight--for his Country
and in the cause of Righteousness and Truth.'

J. H.


'The greatest privilege of my Chaplaincy, and one of the greatest
privileges of my life, has been to live with your gallant son.  His
influence on the Battalion is incalculable....  I have never met any
one who so consistently submerged all thought of self in the pursuit
of duty and the consideration of others.  One dare not even speak of
his death in the ordinary terms as an unspeakable loss, for such
lives cannot be lost, and seem to gain even greater power when they
have passed "to where beyond these voices there is peace."'

* * * *

'Many instances of his quiet resolute devotion and of his invariable
chivalry have come to my recollection during the past weeks....

'Nothing was a trouble to Captain Lusk if it lay in the way of what
he considered duty, and I need not tell you that his ideal was very
high.

'What and when he ate, and where he should sleep--very important
items to most soldiers--were matters of least importance to him.  We
used to beseech him to have more regard for himself, and he only
responded with a smile.

Yet when the comfort of others was concerned he would make a resolute
fight.  After a long march we arrived at our appointed billet, a
small farm, to find that the Officers of another regiment had usurped
our farmhouse.  The Brigade Officer came upon the scene.  Captain
Lusk tackled him, and would not let him go, until he had turned out
the intruders and given us our right.

'None was more touched than he by the death of any of our men.  He
made a point of being present at the burial, and on such occasions I
have noticed the unconsciously upward glance of his eyes.

'To myself your brother's consideration and courtesy was unsurpassed.
He must have seen my faults, yet he was always most forbearing.  I
used to say to him, "You are the real Padre of the regiment," as
indeed he was.  Still he always honoured me as the Chaplain and gave
me every opportunity in my work.

'I visited the Battalion recently.  Our talk was chiefly about your
dear brother.  Major Graham and Quartermaster Hamilton, who were more
closely associated with him than I was, agreed with me that our
fellowship with Captain Lusk was a privilege never to be forgotten.
None of us can hope to meet with a more truly Christian gentleman.'

* * * *

'Among the many casualties which have befallen the 6th Scottish
Rifles, none can be more deeply or widely felt by Officers and men
than the death of Captain Lusk.  We learned that he had been wounded
on Christmas Day, but the message did not say that the wound was
dangerous.  We did not expect to hear that on the fourth day after
the injury he succumbed.

'We have reason to be proud of the Battalion.  Major A. J. Graham,
Captain J. Lusk, Captain D. L. Gray, Captain J. C. E. Hay, Private J.
R. Brown, Private J. Craig, Private W. Hannah and Private J.
Williamson have been mentioned in Despatches.  Of those eight, seven
will admit that there was none worthier of the distinction than he
who is taken from them, nor any who better deserved the additional
recognition given to him only among them, the Chevalier of the Legion
of Honour.

'To those who did not know him, any attempt to estimate the worth of
Captain James Lusk, must seem exaggeration.  His were not mere
surface qualities.  Indeed, a stranger on first meeting him might not
discover any brilliancy.  Those who lived with him learned what he
was.  He was a man of many accomplishments.  A graduate of Cambridge,
he had the culture of a great University.  He was a highly skilled
engineer and showed a rare capacity for business.  He had also
acquired the art of managing men.  He was a splendid horseman; it was
good to observe his firm seat and to watch his determined mastery of
a refractory steed.  He was an accomplished musician who could charm
with the music he drew from the piano or the pipe organ.  He was a
soldier of the finest type, master of the details of military duty,
scrupulously careful and exact, faithful and fearless to a degree.
One could not find a more unselfish man than he was.  Anything good
which he happened to have was generously at the disposal of others.
If there was any hardship or privation, Lusk would take the worst
place.

'When the billet of one of our companies was shelled and burned and
the Officers lost all their kit, the rest of us contributed such
articles as we could spare for their supply.  It was not much to give
a razor or a shirt, or a pair of socks, but Lusk gave up his Wolseley
valise--a fact which was revealed only by seeing his things lying in
a heap in the corner of the room.  He would sleep without murmur on
the hard earth of an unsavoury field because he considered it his
duty to be with the transport.  When he had secured a fairly
comfortable billet for four of us in which there were three beds, we
knew that Lusk would certainly choose to be the man who should lie on
the floor, unless we found a fourth bed in some adjoining house.  If
the way to and from Headquarters of the trenches lay, as it generally
did, through an "unhealthy" field or wood, Lusk would certainly
accompany one who disliked solitude in such places, deaf to any
protest, or the consideration that he himself would have to return
alone.  His quiet strength and indomitable courage banished every
sign of fear.

'In the memorable charge of Festubert, which the Battalion
accomplished at such awful cost, Captain Lusk was disappointed that
he could not be one of the leaders in the attack.  As Transport
Officer his duties kept him in the rear, but he brought his supplies
to the scene of action, and even lingered there quietly writing a
letter in a "dug-out," though shells were bursting about him.  It was
he who gathered together what was left of the Battalion when the
attack was over, and brought them out of danger; he also who inspired
a band of volunteers to make a long night march back to the place of
slaughter, in the hope of recovering the wounded or burying the dead.

'It seemed to one afterwards as though Lusk could hardly forgive
himself for being among the survivors of that night when so many were
wounded and killed.  And now when he has met his death, not in the
glory and excitement of an advance, but in the routine of holding the
trenches, one might dare to say that he had attained his wish.  He
not only "bore without abuse the grand old name of gentleman"; on his
shield of faith was blazoned the noblest and simplest device--the
Cross--with the motto "To me to live is Christ and to die is gain."
I may not write for print the name by which he passed among some of
the men in the ranks; it would look irreverent; yet it showed a keen
unscornful appreciation of their Officer's character and of his
loyalty to the Master Whom he served.  Yet his piety was never a
parade or an intrusion.

  "He never found fault with you, never implied
  Your wrong by his right, only men by his side
  Grew purer."


'In the privilege of these months' experience among the bravest and
best of men who are fighting and have fought the good fight, I know
nothing which has made more grateful and lasting impression than my
intercourse with Captain Lusk.  Because I know that my appreciation
is not singular, but must be universally shared by all who knew him,
because I am sure they wish our acknowledgement of the debt we owe to
him to be not only admitted but proclaimed, I have ventured to pay
this tribute to the Galahad among the Knights of the Cameronians.'

J. MAC G.



  PRINTED AT
  THE HOLYWELL PRESS
  OXFORD





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