Infomotions, Inc.with the Australians / Knyvett, R. Hugh (Reginald Hugh), -1918



Author: Knyvett, R. Hugh (Reginald Hugh), -1918
Title: with the Australians
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Title: "Over There" with the Australians


Author: R. Hugh Knyvett



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"OVER THERE" WITH THE AUSTRALIANS

by

CAPTAIN R. HUGH KNYVETT

ANZAC Scout
Intelligence Officer, Fifteenth Australian Infantry







[Frontispiece: Captain R. Hugh Knyvett.]




New York
Charles Scribner's Sons
1918
Copyright, 1918, by
Charles Scribner's Sons
Published April, 1918





  BILL-JIM'S CHRISTMAS

  (Bill-Jim is Australia's name for her soldier)


  Here where I sit, mucked-up with Flanders mud,
  Wrapped-round with clothes to keep the Winter out,
  Ate-up wi' pests a bloke don't care to name
  To ears polite,
  I'm glad I'm here all right;
  A man must fight for freedom and his blood
  Against this German rout
  An' do his bit,
  An' not go growlin' while he's doin' it:
  The cove as can't stand cowardice or shame
  Must play the game.

  Here's Christmas, though, with cold sleet swirlin' down . . .
  God! gimme Christmas day in Sydney town!
  I long to see the flowers in Martin Place,
  To meet the girl I write to face to face,
  To hold her close and teach
  What in this Hell I'm learning--that a man
  Is only half a man without his girl,
  That sure as grass is green and God's above
  A chap's real happiness,
  If he's no churl,
  Is home and folks and girl,
  And all the comforts that come in with love!

  There is a thrill in war, as all must own,
  The tramplin' onward rush,
  The shriek o' shrapnel and the followin' hush,
  The bosker crunch o' bayonet on bone,
  The warmth of the dim dug-out at the end,
  The talkin' over things, as friend to friend,
  And through it all the blessed certainty
  As this war's working out for you an' me
  As we would have it work.

  Fritz maybe, and the Turk
  Feel that way, too,
  The same as me an' you,
  And dream o' victory at last, although
  The silly cows don't know,
  Because they ain't been born and bred clean-free,
  Like you and me.

  But this is Christmas, and I'm feeling blue,
  An' lonely, too.
  I want to see one little girl's sly pout
  (There's lots of other coves as feels like this)
  That holds you off and still invites a kiss.
  I want to get out from this smash and wreck
  Just for to-day,
  And feel a pair of arms slip round me neck
  In that one girl's own way.
  I want to hear the splendid roar and shout
  O' breakers comin' in on Bondi Beach,
  While she, with her old scrappy costume on,
  Walks by my side, an' looks into my face,
  An' makes creation one big pleasure-place
  Where golden sand basks in that golden weather--
  Yes! her an' me together!
  I do me bit,
  An' make no fuss of it;
  But for to-day I somehow want to be
  At home, just her an' me.


  (From the Sydney "Sunday Times")




CONTENTS


An Introduction Mainly About Scouts


PART I

"THE CALL TO ARMS"

CHAPTER

      I. The Call Reaches Some Far-Out Australians
     II. An All-British Ship
    III. Human Snowballs
     IV. Training-Camp Life
      V. Concentrated for Embarkation
     VI. Many Weeks at Sea


PART II

EGYPT

    VII. The Land of Sand and Sweat
   VIII. Heliopolis
     IX. The Desert
      X. Picketing in Cairo
     XI. "Nipper"


PART III

GALLIPOLI

    XII. The Adventure of Youth
   XIII. The Landing That Could Not Succeed--But Did
    XIV. Holding On and Nibbling
     XV. The Evacuation
    XVI. "Ships That Pass . . ."


PART IV

THE WESTERN FRONT

   XVII. Ferry Post and the Suez Canal Defenses
  XVIII. First Days in France
    XIX. The Battle of Fleurbaix
     XX. Days and Nights of Strafe
    XXI. The Village of Sleep
   XXII. The Somme
  XXIII. The Army's Pair of Eyes
   XXIV. Nights in No Man's Land
    XXV. Spy-Hunting
   XXVI. Bapaume and "a Blighty"


PART V

HOSPITAL LIFE

  XXVII. In France
 XXVIII. In London
   XXIX. The Hospital-Ship
    XXX. In Australia
   XXXI. Using an Irishman's Nerve


PART VI

MEDITATIONS IN THE TRENCHES

  XXXII. The Right Infantry Weapons
 XXXIII. The Forcing-House of Bestiality
  XXXIV. The Psychology of Fear
   XXXV. The Splendor of the Present Opportunity
  XXXVI. Not a Fight for "Race" but for "Right"
 XXXVII. "Keeping Faith with the Dead"

         Poem, "But a Short Time to Live"




ILLUSTRATIONS


R. Hugh Knyvett . . . . . . _Frontispiece_

From inland towns . . . men without the means of
  paying their transportation . . . started out to
  walk the three or four hundred miles . . . to the
  nearest camp

"On Show" Before Leaving Home

Anzac Cove, Gallipoli

An Australian Camel Corps

"Us--Going In"

My Own Comrades Waiting for Buses

Ammunition Going Through a Somme City




AN INTRODUCTION MAINLY ABOUT SCOUTS

I am a scout; nature, inclination, and fate put me into that branch of
army service.  In trying to tell Australia's story I have of necessity
enlarged on the work of the scouts, not because theirs is more
important than other branches of the service, nor they braver than
their comrades of other units.  Nor do I want it to be thought that we
undergo greater danger than machine-gunners, grenadiers, light
trench-mortar men, or other specialists.  But, frankly, I don't know
much about any other man's job but my own, and less than I ought to
about that.  To introduce you to the spirit, action, and ideals of the
Australian army I have to intrude my own personality, and if in the
following pages "what I did" comes out rather strongly, please remember
I am but "one of the boys," and have done not nearly as good work as
ten thousand more.

I rejoice though that I was a scout, and would not exchange my
experiences with any, not even with an adventurer from the pages of B.
O. P. [1]  Romance bathes the very name, the finger-tips tingle as they
write it, and there was not infrequently enough interesting work to
make one even forget to be afraid.  Very happy were those days when I
lived just across the road from Fritz, for we held dominion over No
Man's Land, and I was given complete freedom in planning and executing
my tiny stunts.  The general said: "It is not much use training
specialists if you interfere with them," so as long as we did our job
we were given a free hand.

The deepest lines are graven on my memory from those days, not by the
thrilling experiences--"th' hairbreadth 'scapes"--but by the fellowship
of the men I knew.  An American general said to me recently that scouts
were born, not made.  It may be so, but it is surprising what opposite
types of men became our best scouts.  There were two without equal:
one, city-bred, a college graduate; the other a "bushie," writing his
name with difficulty.

Ray Wilson was a nervous, highly strung sort of fellow, almost a girl
in his sensitiveness.  In fact, at the first there were several who
called him Rachel, but they soon dropped it, for he was a lovable chap,
and disarmed his enemies with his good nature.  He had taken his arts
course, but was studying music when he enlisted, and he must have been
the true artist, for though the boys were prejudiced against the
mandolin as being a _sissy_ instrument, when he played they would sit
around in silence for hours.  What makes real friendship between men?
You may know and like and respect a fellow for years, and that is as
far as it goes, when, suddenly, one day something happens--a curtain is
pulled aside and you go "ben" [2] with him for a second--afterward you
are "friends," before you were merely friendly acquaintances.

Ray and I became friends in this wise.  We were out together scouting
preparatory to a raid, and were seeking a supposed new "listening post"
of the enemy.  There had been a very heavy bombardment of the German
trenches all day, and it was only held up for three-quarters of an hour
to let us do our job.  The new-stale earth turned up by the shells
extended fifty yards in No Man's Land.  (Only earth that has been blown
on by the wind is fresh "over there."  Don't, if you have a weak
stomach, ever turn up any earth; though there may not be rotting flesh,
other gases are imprisoned in the soil.)  This night the wind was
strong, and the smell of warm blood mingled with the phosphorous odor
of high explosive, and there was that other sweet-sticky-sickly smell
that is the strongest scent of a recent battle-field.  It was a vile,
unwholesome job, and we were glad that our time was limited to
three-quarters of an hour, when our artillery would re-open fire.  I
got a fearful start on looking at my companion's face in the light of a
white star-shell; it might have belonged to one of the corpses lying
near, with the lips drawn back, the eyes fixed, and the complexion
ghastly.  He replied to my signal that he was all right, but a nasty
suspicion crept into my mind--his teeth had chattered so much as to
make him unable to answer a question of mine just before we left the
trench, but one took no notice of a thing like that, for stage fright
was common enough to all of us before a job actually started.  But
"could he be depended on?" was the fear that was now haunting me.

Presently some Germans came out of their trench.  We counted eight of
them as they crawled down inside their broken wire.  We cautiously
followed them, expecting that they were going out to the suspected
"listening post," but they went about fifty yards, and then lay down
just in front of their own parapet.  After about twenty minutes they
returned the way they came, and I have no doubt reported that they had
been over to our wire and there were no Australian patrols out.

This had taken up most of our time, and I showed Wilson that we had
only ten minutes left, and that we had better get back so as not to cut
it too fine.  I was rather surprised when he objected, spelling out
Morse on my hand that we had come out to find the "listening post," and
we had not searched up to the right.  The Germans were evidently
getting suspicious of the silence, and to our consternation suddenly
put down a heavy barrage in No Man's Land, not more than thirty yards
behind us.  There was no getting through it, and we grabbed each
other's hand, and only the pressure was needed to signal the one word
"trapped."  When the shelling commenced we had instinctively made for a
drain about four feet deep that ran across No Man's Land, and "sat up"
in about six inches of water.  Had we remained on top the light from
the shells would have revealed us only too plainly, being behind us.  I
was afraid to look at my wristwatch, and when I did pluck up sufficient
courage to do so, I might have saved myself the trouble, as the opening
shell from our batteries at the same moment proclaimed that the time
was up.  As we huddled down, sitting in the icy water, we realized that
the objective of our own guns was less than ten yards from us, and we
could only hope and pray that no more wire-cutting was going to be done
that night.  Once, when we were covered with the returning debris, we
instinctively threw our arms round each other.  When we shook ourselves
free, what was my amazement to find my companion shaking
with--laughter.  There was now no need for silence, a shout could
hardly be heard a few yards away.  He called to me: "Did you ever do
the Blondin act before, because we are walking a razor-edge right now.
We're between the devil and the 'deep sea,' anyway, and I think myself
the 'deep sea' will get us."  As I looked at him something happened,
and I felt light-hearted as though miles from danger--all fear of death
was taken away.  What did it matter if we were killed?--it was a
strange sense of security in a rather tight place.

After a short while our bombardment ceased.  We learned afterward that
word was sent back to the artillery that we were still out.  As the
boche fire also stopped soon afterward, we were able to scurry back and
surprise our friends with our safe appearance.

After this experience Ray Wilson and I were closer than brothers--than
twin brothers.  It was only a common danger shared, such an ordinary
thing in trench life, but there was something that was not on the
surface, and though I was his officer, our friendship knew no barrier.
I went mad for a while when his body was found--mutilated--after he had
been missing three days.  Don't talk of "not hating" to a man whose
friend has been foully murdered!  What if he had been yours?

A very different man was Dan Macarthy, a typical outbacker.  All the
schooling he ever got was from an itinerant teacher who would stay for
a week at the house, correct and set tasks, returning three months
later for another week.  This system was adopted by the government for
the sparsely settled districts not able to support a teacher, as a
means of assisting the parents in teaching their children themselves.
But Dan's parents could neither read nor write, and what healthy
youngster, with "all out-of-doors" around him, would study by himself.
Dan read with difficulty and wrote with greater, but I have met few
better-educated men.  His eyesight was marvellous, and I don't think
that he ever forgot an incident, however slight.  After a route march
our scouts have to write down everything they saw, not omitting the
very smallest detail.  For example, if we pass through a village they
have to give an estimate by examining the stores, how many troops it
could support, and so on.  No other list was ever as large as Dan's.
He saw and remembered everything.  He had received his training as a
child looking for horses in a paddock so large that if you did not know
where to look you might search for a week.  Out there in the country of
the black-tracker powers of observation are abnormally developed--lives
depend on it, as when in a drought the watercourses dry up, and only
the signs written on the ground indicate to him who can read them where
the life-saving fluid may be found.  Dan was a wonderful scout, a true
and loyal friend, but he had absolutely no "sense of ownership."  He
thought that whatever another man possessed he had a right to; but, on
the other hand, any one else had an equal right to appropriate anything
of his (Dan's).  He never put forward any theory about it, but would
just help himself to anything he wanted, not troubling to hide it, and
he never made any fuss if some one picked up something of his that was
not in use.  I never saw such a practical example of communism.  At
first, there were a number of rows about it, but after a while if any
of the boys missed anything they would go and hunt through Dan's kit
for it.  The only time he made a fuss at losing anything was when one
of his mates for a lark took his rosary.  He soon discovered, by shrewd
questioning, who it was, and there was a fight that landed them both in
the guard-tent.  The boys forbore to tease him about his inconsistency
when he said: "It was mother's.  She brought it from Ireland."  Dan was
still scouting when I was sent out well-punctured, and I doubt if there
are any who have accounted for more of the Potsdam swine single-handed.
His score was known to be over a hundred when I left.  If I can get
back again, may I have Dan in my squad!  These two are but types of the
boys I lived with so long, and got to love so well.  Few of my early
comrades are left on the earth; but we are not separated even from
those who have "gone west," and the war has given to me, in time and
eternity, many real friends.

The following pages are not a history of the Australians.  I have no
means of collecting and checking data, but they are an attempt to show
the true nature of the Australian soldier, and sent out with the hope
that they will remind some, in this great American democracy, of the
contribution made by the freemen who live across the ocean of peace
from you to "make the world safe for democracy."

I also have the hope that the stories of personal experience will make
real to you some of the men whose bodies have been for three years part
of that human rampart that has kept your homes from desolation, and
your daughters from violation, and that you will speed in sending them
succor as though the barrier had broken and the bestial Hun were even
now, with lust dominant, smashing at your own door.


[1] _Boys Own Paper_.

[2] "Ben" was the living-room of a Scotch cottage where only intimate
friends were admitted.  Ian Maclaren says of a very good man: "He was
far ben wi God."




PART I

"THE CALL TO ARMS"




CHAPTER I

THE CALL REACHES SOME FAR-OUT AUSTRALIANS

Just where the white man's continent pushes the tip of its horn among
the eastern lands there is a black man's land half as large as Mexico
that is administered by the government of Australia.  New Guinea has
all the romance and lure of unexplored regions.  It is a country of
nature's wonders, a treasure-chest with the lid yet to be raised by
some intrepid discoverer.  There are tree-climbing fish, and pygmy men,
mountains higher and rivers greater than any yet discovered.  To the
north of Australia's slice of this wonderland the Kaiser was squeezing
a hunk of the same island in his mailed fist.

The contrast between the administration of these two portions of the
same land forms the best answer to the question: "What shall be done
with Germany's colonies?"

In German New Guinea there have always been more soldiers than
civilians, cannibalism is rife, and life and property are insecure
outside the immediate limits of the barracks.  In British New Guinea or
Papua there has never been a single soldier and cannibalism is
abolished.  A white woman, Beatrice Grimshaw, travelled through the
greater part of it unprotected and unmolested.

The following story told of Sir William Macgregor, the first
administrator, shows the way of Britishers in governing native races.
He one day marched into a village where five hundred warriors were
assembled for a head-hunting expedition.  Sir William, then Doctor
Macgregor, had with him two white men and twelve native police.  He
strode into the centre of these blood-thirsting savages, grasped the
chief by the scruff of the neck, kicked him around the circle of his
warriors, demanded an immediate apology and the payment of a fine for
the transgression of the Great White Mother's orders for peace--the
bluff worked, as it always does.

Australia has now added the late German colony Hermanlohe, or German
New Guinea, to the southern portion, making an Australian crown colony
of about two hundred and fifty thousand square miles.  This was taken
by a force of Australian troops conveyed in Australian ships.  I was
not fortunate enough to be a member of the expedition, but the
ultimatum issued to the German commandant resulted in the Australian
flag flying over the governor's residence at Rabaul within a few hours
of the appearance of the Australian ships.

It was soon evident to the Australians that this was intended to be a
German naval station and military post of great importance.  Enough
munition, and accommodation for troops were there to show that it was
to be the jumping-off place for an attack on Australia.  Such armament
could never have been meant merely to impel _Kultur_ on the poor,
harmless blacks with their blowpipes and bows and arrows.

Every Australian is determined that these of nature's children shall
not come again within reach of German brutality, but that they shall
know fair play and good government such as the British race everywhere
gives to the "nigger," having a sense of responsibility toward him that
the men of this breed cannot escape.  It would almost seem that the
Almighty has laid the black man's burden on the shoulders of the
Briton, as he was the first to abolish slavery, and no other people
govern colored peoples for the sole benefit of the governed.

In every British colony other nations can trade on equal terms, and
millions of pounds sterling are squeezed from the British public every
year to provide for the well-being of native peoples, worshipping
strange deities and jabbering a gibberish that would sound to an
American like a gramophone-shop gone crazy!  While other nations make
their colonies _pay_ for the protection they give them, the British
people pay very heavily for the privilege (?) of sheltering and
civilizing these far-flung, strange peoples.  No true friend of the
black man can consider the possibility of handing him back to the
cruelty of Teutonic "forced Kultur."

The most heartless of Japanese gardeners could never twist and torture
a plant into freak beauty more surely than the German system of
government would compress the governed into a sham civilization.
Australia would fight again sooner than that a German establishment
should offend our sense of justice and menace our peace near our
northern shores.

The western half of New Guinea (and the least known) belongs to
Holland, and it was in the waters of this coast that the Australians
whose story I am telling were living and working when the tocsin of war
sounded.  These sons of empire were registered under a Dutch name with
their charter to work there from the Dutch Government, yet when they
heard that men were needed for the Australian army, they dropped
everything and hastened south to enlist.  The long-obeyed calls of
large profits and novel experiences, the lure of an adventurous life,
were drowned by the bugle notes of the Australian "call to arms."

These were young men who had left the shores of their native country,
venturing farther out a-sea, ever seeking pearls of great price.  They
had once been engaged in pearl-fishing from the northernmost point of
Australia--Thursday Island--that eastern and cosmopolitan village
squatting on the soil of a continent sacred to the white races.

When the handful of white people holding this newest continent first
flaunted their banner of "No Trespassers" in the face of the
multicolored millions of Asia, they declared their willingness to sweat
and toil even under tropic skies, and develop their country without the
aid of the cheap labor of the rice-eating, mat-sleeping, fast-breeding
spawn of the man-burdened East.  But this policy came well-nigh to
being the death-blow to one little industry of the north, so far from
the ken of the legislators in Sydney and Melbourne as to have almost
escaped their recognizance.

The largest pearling-ground in the world is just to the north of this
lovely Southland.  It would seem as though the aesthetic oyster that
lines its home with the tinting of heaven and has caught the "tears of
angels," petrifying them as permanent souvenirs, loves to make its home
as near to this earthly paradise as the ocean will permit.

When the law decreed that only white labor must be employed on the
fleets a number of the pearlers went north and became Dutch citizens,
for from ports in the Dutch Indies they could work Australian waters up
to the three-mile limit.  But as soon as it was known that Australia
needed _men_, that _we_ were at war, then politics and profits could go
hang: at heart they were all Australians and would not be behind any in
offering their lives.  It took but a few days to pay off the crews,
send the Jap divers where they belonged, beach the schooners, and take
the fastest steamer back HOME--then enlist, and away, with front seats
for the biggest show on earth.




CHAPTER II

AN ALL-BRITISH SHIP

We flew the Dutch flag, we were registered in a Dutch port, but every
timber in that British-built ship creaked out a protest, and there
paced the quarter-deck five registered Dutchmen who could not croak
"Gott-verdammter!" if their lives depended on it, and who guzzled "rice
taffle" in a very un-Dutch manner.  Generally they forgot that they had
sold their birthright.  Ever their eyes turned southward, which was
homeward, and only the mention of the Labor party brought to their
minds the reason for leaving their native land.  Each visit to port
rubbed in the fact that they were now Dutchmen, as there were always
blue papers to be signed and fresh taxes to be paid.

There was George Hym, who was a member of every learned society in
England.  The only letter of the alphabet he did not have after his
name was "I," and that was because he did not happen to have been born
in Indiana.  Had that accident happened to him, even the Indiana
Society would have given him a place at the speaker's table.  He was
the skipper of our fleet, had an extra master's certificate entitling
him to command even the _Mauretania_.  Many yarns were invented to
explain his being with us.  It was as if "John D." should be found
peddling hair-oil.

Some said he had murdered his grandmother-in-law and dare not pass the
time of day with Mr. Murphy in blue.  Others claimed that the crime was
far greater--_the murder of a stately ship_--and that the marine
underwriters would have paid handsomely for the knowledge of his
whereabouts.  At any rate, he never left the ship while in port, and he
seemed to have no relatives.

There were times when the black cloud was upon him and our voices were
hushed to whispers lest the vibration should cause it to break in fury
on our own heads--then he would flog the crew with a wire hawser, and
his language would cause the paint to blister on the deck.  At other
times the memory of his "mother" would steal over his spirit and in a
sweet tenor he would croon the old-time hymns and the old ship would
creak its loving accompaniment, and the unopened shell-fish would waft
the incense heavenward.

We believed most of his ill temper was due to the foreign flag hanging
at our stern that the Sydney-built ship was ever trying to hide beneath
a wave.  He had sailed every sea, with no other flag above him than the
Union Jack, and felt maybe that even his misdeeds deserved not the
covering of less bright colors.  It was like a ringmaster fallen on
hard times having to act the part of "clown."  But needs must where
necessity drives, and as his own country would have none of him, he was
tolerant of the flag that hid him from the "sleuths" of British law.

BUT WAR CAME, and the chance to redeem himself.  What washes so clean
as blood--and many a stained escutcheon has in these times been
cleansed and renewed--bathed in the hot blood poured out freely by the
"sons of the line."  Whether the fleet was laid up or not, George was
going!  He might be over age, but no one could say what age he really
was, and he was tougher than most men half his age.  He left Queensland
for Egypt with the Remount Unit in 1915, and is to-day in Jerusalem,
with the British forces.  Maybe he is treading the Via Dolorosa gazing
at a place called Calvary, hoping that _One_ will remember that he,
too, had offered his life a ransom for past sins, which were many.


  "For ours shall be Jerusalem, the golden city blest,
  The happy home of which we've sung, in every land
      and every tongue,
  When there the pure white cross is hung,
  Great spirits shall have rest." [1]


Prince Dressup was the dandy of the ship, a "swell guy" even at sea.
His singlets were open-work, his moleskins were tailor-made, and his
toe-nails were pedicured.  The others wore only singlets and "pants,"
but had the regulation costume been as in the Garden of Eden, his
fig-leaf would have been the greenest and freshest there!

At one time he had been the best-dressed man in Sydney, giving the glad
and glassy optic to every flapper whose clocked silk stockings caught
his fancy.  Some girl must have jilted him, and this was his revenge on
the fluffy things, the choice of a life where none of them could feast
their eyes on his immaculate masculine eligibility.  Or, maybe, he was
really in love, and some true woman had told him only to return to her
when he had proved himself a man.  If so, he had chosen the best
forcing-school for real manhood that existed prior to the war.  And
there was real stuff in Prince Dressup; for, although there was
distinction and style even in the way he opened shell-fish, he took his
share of the dirty work, and when the time came he would not let
another man take his place in the ranks of the fighters for Australia's
freedom.  He said, when we knew of the war, "that it would be rather
good fun," and when he died on Gallipoli, the bullet that passed
through his lungs had first of all come through the body of a comrade
on his back.

Chum Shrimp's size was the joke of the ship--he must have weighed three
hundred pounds.  He could only pass through a door sideways, and the
"Binghis" (natives of New Guinea), when they saw him, blamed him for a
recent tidal wave, saying that he had fallen overboard.  He was the
most active man I have ever known, and on rough days would board the
schooner by catching the dinghee boom with one hand as it dipped toward
the launch, and swing himself hand over hand inboard.  I never expected
the schooner to complete the opposite roll until Chum was "playing
plum" in the centre.

Chum's parentage was romantic--his father a government official and his
mother an island princess--he himself being one of the whitest men I
have ever been privileged to call friend.  We never thought he would
get into the army, for though he was as strong as any two of us, he
would require the cloth of three men's suits for his uniform, and he
would always have to be the blank file in a column of fours, as four of
his size would spread across the street, and to "cover off" the four
behind them would just march in the rear of their spinal columns,
having a driveway between each of them.

He was determined to enlist, and a wise government solved the problem
by making him quartermaster, thus insuring in the only way possible
that Chum would have a sufficient supply of "grub."  This job was also
right in his hands, because he possessed considerable business
instinct; and you remember Lord Kitchener said of the quartermaster
that he was the only man in the army whose salary he did not know!

The fifth Britisher of our crew will growl himself into your favor,
being a well-bred British bulldog, looking down with pity on the tykes
of mixed blood.  Even before the war he showed his anti-German feelings
by his treatment of a pet pig that we had on the schooner.

As I look back on it, our evening sport was a prophecy of what is
to-day happening on the western front.  "Torres" would stand growling
and snapping at the porker, which would squeal and try to get away, but
his hoofs could not grip the slippery deck, and though his feet were
going so fast as to be blurred he would not be making an inch of
progress.  The Germans have been squealing and wanting to get away from
the British bulldog but they do not know how to retire without collapse.

This pig had a habit of curling up among the anchor chains, and while
we only used one anchor he escaped injury, but one rough day when both
anchors were dropped simultaneously, piggy shot into the air with a
broken back.  The Germans have withstood the Allies so far, but now
that America is with us, the back of the German resistance will soon be
broken.

Of course Torres enlisted!  In the beginning he was with Chum, and
there was danger of his growing fat of body and soft of soul in the
quartermaster's store, but he was rescued in time, and after months of
exciting researches into canine history among the bones of the tombs of
Egypt he earned renown at Armentieres, as his body was found in No
Man's Land with his head in the cold hand of a comrade to whom he had
attached himself, and I believe his spirit has joined the deathless
army of the unburied dead that watch over our patrols and inspire our
sentries with the realization that on an Australian front No Man's Land
has shrunk and our possession reaches right up to the enemy barbed wire.


[1] Mrs. A. H. Spicer, Chicago.




CHAPTER III

HUMAN SNOWBALLS

'Way out back in the Never Never Land of Australia there lives a
patriotic breed of humans who know little of the comforts of civilized
life, whose homes are bare, where coin is rarely seen, but who have as
red blood and as clean minds as any race on earth.

The little town of Muttaburra, for instance, has a population of two
hundred, one-half of whom are eligible for military service.

They live in galvanized-iron humpies with dirt floors,
newspaper-covered walls, sacking stretched across poles for beds,
kerosene-boxes for chairs, and a table made from saplings.  The water
for household uses is delivered to the door by modern Dianas driving a
team of goats at twenty-five cents per kerosene-tin, which is not so
dear when you know that it has to be brought from a "billabong" [1] ten
miles away.

Most of the men in such towns work as "rouseabouts" (handy men) on the
surrounding sheep and cattle stations.  At shearing-time the "gaffers"
(grandfathers) and young boys get employment as "pickers-up" and
"rollers."  Every shearer keeps three men at high speed attending to
him.  One picks up the fleece in such a manner as to spread it out on
the table in one throw; another one pulls off the ends and rolls it so
that the wool-classer can see at a glance the length of the wool and
weight of the fleece; another, called the "sweeper," gathers into a
basket the trimmings and odd pieces.  These casual laborers and
rouseabouts are paid ten dollars a week, while the shearer works on
piece work, receiving six dollars for each hundred sheep shorn, and it
is a slow man who does not average one hundred and fifty per day.  All
the shearing is done by machine, and in Western Queensland good
shearers are in constant employment for ten months of the year.  The
shearers have a separate union from the rouseabouts, and there is a
good deal of ill feeling between the two classes.  When the shearers
want a spell I have known them declare by a majority vote that the
sheep were "wet," though there had not been any rain for months!  There
is a law that says that shearers must not be asked to shear "wet"
sheep, as it is supposed to give them a peculiar disease.  The
rouseabouts do not mind these "slow-down" strikes, as they get paid
anyway, but the shearers are very bitter when these have a dispute with
the boss and strike, for it cuts down their earnings, probably just
when they wanted to finish the shed so as to get a "stand" at the
commencement of shearing near by.

When the war broke out the problem of the government was how to collect
the volunteers from these outback towns for active service.  It would
cost from fifty to one hundred dollars per head in railway fare to
bring them into camp.

The outbacker, however, solved the problem without waiting for the
government to make up its mind.  They just made up their swags and
"humped the bluey" [2] for the coast.  That is how the remarkable
phenomenon of the human snowball marches commenced.

Simultaneously from inland towns in different parts of Australia men
without the means of paying their transportation to Sydney or Melbourne
simply started out to walk the three or four hundred miles from their
homes to the nearest camp.  In the beginning there would just be half a
dozen or so, but as they reached the next township they would tell
where they were bound, and more would join.  Passing by boundary
riders' and prospectors' huts, they would pick up here and there
another red-blood who could not resist the chance of being in a real
ding-dong fight.  Many were grizzled and gray, but as hard as nails,
and no one could _prove_ that they were over the age for enlistment,
for they themselves did not know how old they were!

[Illustration: From inland towns . . . men without the means of paying
their transportation . . . started out to walk the three or four
hundred miles . . . to the nearest camp.]


  "Said the squatter, 'Mike, you're crazy, they have
      soldier-men a-plenty!
  You're as grizzled as a badger, and you're sixty year or so!'
  'But I haven't missed a scrap,' says I, 'since I was
      one-and-twenty,
  And shall I miss the biggest?  You can bet your
      whiskers--No!!'" [3]


Presently the telegraph-wires got busy, and the defense department in
Melbourne rubbed its eyes and sat up.  As usual, the country was bigger
than its rulers, and more men were coming in than could be coped with.
The whole country was a catchment of patriotism--a huge
river-basin--and these marching bands from the far-out country were the
tributaries which fed the huge river of men which flowed from the State
capitals to the concentration camps in Sydney and Melbourne.  The
leading newspapers soon were full of the story of these men from the
bush who could not wait for the government to gather them in, and none
should deny them the right to fight for their liberties.

Strange men these, as they tramped into a bush township, feet tied up
in sacking, old felt hats on their heads, moleskins and shirt, "bluey,"
or blue blanket, and "billy," or quart canister, for boiling tea slung
over their backs, all white from the dust of the road.

Old Tom Coghlan was there.  He had lived in a boundary hut for twenty
years, only seeing another human being once a month, when his rations
were brought from the head station.  His conversation for days, now
that he was with companions, would be limited to two distinctive
grunts, one meaning "yes," the other "no."  But on the station he had
been known to harangue for hours a jam-tin on a post, declaiming on the
iniquities of a capitalist government.  Those who heard him as they hid
behind a gum-tree declared his language then was that of a college man.
Probably he was the scion of some noble house--there are many of them
out there in the land where no one cares about your past.

Here, too, was young Bill Squires, who had reached the age of
twenty-one without having seen a parson, and asked a bush missionary
who inquired if he knew Jesus Christ: "What kind of horse does he ride?"

Not much of an army, this band.  They would not have impressed a
drill-sergeant.  To many even in those towns they were just a number of
sundowners. [4]  They would act the part, arriving as the sun was
setting and, throwing their swags on the veranda of the hotel, lining
up to the bar, eyeing the loungers there to see who would stand treat.
Only the eye of God Almighty could see that beneath the dust and rags
there were hearts beating with love for country, and spirits exulting
in the opportunity offering in the undertaking of a man-size job.
Perhaps a Kitchener would have seen that the slouch was but habit and
the nonchalance merely a cloak for enthusiasm, but even he would hardly
have guessed that these were the men who would win on Gallipoli the
praise of the greatest British generals, who called them "the greatest
fighters in the world."  Soon the news of these bands "on the wallaby"
[4] at the call of country caught the imagination of the whole nation.
Outback was terra incognita to the city-bred Australian, but that these
men who were coming to offer their lives should walk into the city
barefoot could not be thought of.  The government was soon convinced
that the weeks, and, in some cases, months that would be occupied in
this long tramp need not be wasted.  Military training could be given
on the way, and they might arrive in camp finished soldiers.

So the snowball marches were at last recognized and controlled by the
government.  Whenever as many as fifty had been gathered together,
instructors, boots, and uniforms were sent along, and the march partook
of a military character.  No longer were they sundowners; they
_marched_ into town at the end of the day, four abreast, in proper
column of route, with a sergeant swinging his cane at the head,
sometimes keeping step to the tune of mouth-organs.  The uniforms were
merely of blue dungaree with white calico hats, but they were
serviceable, and all being dressed alike made them look somewhat
soldierly.  The sergeants always had an eye open for more recruits, and
every town and station they passed through became a rallying-point for
aspirants to the army.

Their coming was now heralded--local shire councillors gathered to
greet them, streets were beflagged, dinners were given--always, at
every opportunity, appeals were made for more recruits.  Sometimes, to
the embarrassment of many a bushman whose meetings with women had been
few and far between, there were many girls who in their enthusiasm
farewelled them with kisses, though one can hardly imagine even a shy
bushman failing to appreciate these unaccustomed sweets!

The snowballs grew rapidly.  Farmers let down their fences, and they
marched triumphantly through growing crops, each farmer vying with
another to do honor to these men coming from the ends of the earth to
deliver democracy.


  "They're fools, you say?  Maybe you're right.
  They'll have no peace unless they fight.
  They've ceased to think; they only know
  They've got to go--yes, got to go!" [6]


By the time they reached the camp many of these groups had grown to
regiments, and under names such as "Coo-ees," "Kangaroos," "Wallaroos,"
they marched through the streets of Sydney between cheering throngs to
the tune of brass bands.  Such was the intention, at any rate, but
before they reached the railway station their military formation was
broken up, and in their enthusiasm the people of the capital
practically mobbed these "outbackers," loading them, not merely with
cigarettes and candy, but before night came there was many a bushman
who had never seen a city before who carried a load of liquor that made
even his well-seasoned head spin.  The "chain lightning" of the bush
was outclassed with the cinematograph whiskey of the city, that made
its moving throngs and streets pass before his eyes like a
kaleidoscope.  A day or two in camp soon restored their balance.  The
training en route bore fruit; their commandant was so impressed that
some of these regiments were equipped and officered, in a few weeks
embarking for overseas.

Men from these regiments can be picked out to-day in London.  If you
see an Australian in a slouch-hat galloping his horse down Rotten Row,
expecting "Algy" and "Gertrude" to give him a clear course, be sure
it's a "Coo-ee!"

When some Australian sprawls in the Trocadero, inviting himself to
table with the Earl of So-and-so, asking him to pass the butter, it's
likely to be one of the "Kangaroos."

These Australians have had no master in their lives but the pitiless
drought; they respect not Kings, but they love a real man who knows not
fear and is kind to a horse.  Masefield said of them in "Gallipoli":
"They were in the pink of condition and gave a damn for no one!"

There is a certain hospital in London provided by a certain grand lady
for convalescent Australians.  She is very kind, but rather inclined to
treat the patients as "exhibits" and show them off to her "tony"
friends.  The Australians bore this meekly for some time, but one day
it was announced that some high personages would be visitors.  On their
arrival they found every bed was placarded, such as this: "No. 1
Bed--This is a Military Cross Hero.  He bumped into a trench of
Fritzes.  If he hides his face under the bedclothes, it is because he
is sensitive of his looks."  "No. 2 Bed--Here lies a D.S.O. (Dirty
Stop-Out)."


  "'He stopped out of the trenches as long as he could.
  And now the old blighter must stop out for good.'"


The bushman is a real man under all circumstances, having no awe of
authority, no hesitation in speaking his mind, but a great reverence
for women and a real respect for a religion that does not savor of cant.


[1] _Billabong_--a water-hole in a dry river-course.

[2] _Humped the bluey_--tramped across country with blue blanket (or
swag).

[3] Robert W. Service.

[4] _Sundowners_--tramps who arrive at a ranch at sundown expecting to
be put up for the night.

[5] _On the wallaby_--on the tramp.

[6] Robert W. Service.




CHAPTER IV

TRAINING-CAMP LIFE

The town of Bendigo received a great increase of liveliness by having
to accommodate four or five thousand soldiers.

It had known some lively times in the old gold days, but when its
"yellow love" became thin, thousands of people went to other fields and
the former flourishing city became a husk and as dull as only a
declining mining city can become; but, as usually happens in old mining
districts, when the gold gives out, the solid wealth of the soil in
crop-growing capacity is developed, and Bendigo is prospering again
through the labors of the tillers of the soil, if not by the delvings
of its miners.  Still, farmers have not the same habit of "blowing in
their earnings" and are, admittedly, a little dull.  There was a story
that when the town council put a notice at the busy centre--"Walk Round
Corners"--many of the farmers made sure of keeping the law by getting
out of their vehicles and _leading_ their horses round!  The old-time
miner was rather in the habit of smashing the unoffending lamp-post
that barred his straight progress to the "pub." where his favorite
brand of fire-water was on tap.

The Bendigoans will never forgive me for having failed to appreciate
the fact that their Golden City was far ahead even of Melbourne.  They
would never believe that any one could make the mistake in regard to
_their_ city that an American did about an Australian seaport when he
marvelled at our frankness in putting notice at the entrance to the
harbor "_Dead Slow_," and he never learned, after months of residence,
that said notice was really a warning to shipping.

But at any rate the soldiers livened things up.  They were gathered
from many States--their day was just "one damn thing after
another"--sometimes varied a bit with a right turn instead of left, and
sometimes we would salute to the right instead of the left--but when
night came, fun must be had somehow, and Bendigo had to supply it.

We all had some intelligence, so after spending a whole day in
employment that forbade our using the smallest atom, we would seek
during the night a "safety-valve."

The camp was in the show-ground, which naturally divided the young
animals in training into different sorts--the elite had the grand
stand, horse-boxes were grabbed by the N. C. O.'s, prize-cattle stalls
were clean enough, but some line of mental association must have caused
the powers that be to allot the "pig-and-dog" section to the military
police and their prey.

It was fun on the arrival of a fresh contingent who were told "they
could take what accommodation was left in the grand stand, the
remainder having to bunk in the animal stalls," to see them rush the
lower tiers, appropriating their six-foot length by dumping their
"blueys" upon it, but that same night they would be convinced of their
mistake as the old hands, living above them, exhibited their joy at
having dodged the guard, returning in the small hours, by walking on
every one possible on their way up top.  Next morning there would be
more applications for "horse-and-cattle" stalls, but the best ones
would be gone, and they would have to be content to lie, six in a box,
where a flooring-board was missing through which the rats would make
their nightly explorations.  But even this was better than the lower
tiers of the grand stand, as the rats would not always wake you running
across your face, but a husky in military boots stepping on it would
rouse even the deadest in slumber.  As he would step on about twenty
others as well, the mutual recriminations would continue for hours, and
as the real culprit would settle down in the dark into his own place
without a word no one would know who it was.  There would come from up
above: "Shut up, there!"  "What the h---- are you makin' all that row
about?" and the answer: "So would you make a row if a b-- b-- elephant
stepped on your face!"  "Go and bag your head!  Anyway, there are two
hundred men who didn't step on your face trying to go to sleep, and it
will be reveille in an hour or so."

These grand-stand couches were bad places at the best of times.  They
may have been high and dry, but were open to every breeze that blew and
were sheltered only on the side from which the rain never came.  The
Bendigo show committee must have faced them that way so that the sun
and weather would be right in the eyes of the onlookers and prevent
them seeing any "crook riding" or "running dead," etc.

The first item on the day's programme was the "gargling parade."
Meningitis had broken out in the camp and every one had to gargle his
throat first thing in the morning with salt water.  We would be marched
under our sergeant to each receive our half-pannikin of salt water at
the A. M. C. tent.  We would string out along the brick drain and then
began the most horrible conglomeration of sounds that ever offended the
ear.  It was like the tuning up of some infernal orchestra.  I don't
know why it is, but it is surprising how few men can gargle "like a
gentleman."  For days I have not spoken to my best friend, who was most
refined in other respects, but could not desist from spluttering and
spraying the half dozen men nearest to him.  We became friends again,
but although we slept and messed together, I always took care never to
be nearer than number ten from him at "gargling parade."  I never heard
any complaints from the people at Bendigo about this early-morning
discord, but I learn that no frogs have been heard in the neighborhood
since.

Our training at this camp was purely preliminary--we certainly formed
fours seven billion times, and turned to the right fourteen billion,
and saluted a post that represented an officer so often, that the rush
of air caused by the quick movement of hands and heads had worn the
edge off it.

We were so used to the sound of the sergeant-major's voice when he
said, "The company will move to right in fours," that, when a grazing
donkey happened to "hee-haw," the whole company formed fours.  Even
then only about half the company discovered the mistake--there was
mighty little difference in the tones, anyway!

For a man that has never previously had military training, the first
few weeks in camp is the most humiliating and trying experience that
could be inflicted on him.  I am quite sure that were it a prison and a
treadmill he could not hate it the more.

Here was I, never been under orders since I was breeched, and even
before then getting my own way, suddenly finding myself with every
movement I was to make laid down in regulations, with about a score of
men round me all day to see that I carried them out correctly.

How I used to hate that camp band, when it played at reveille, I cursed
it in full BLAST because it would wake me suddenly when I seemed to
have only just lain down, and reviled it when it played softly because
I would not hear it and some of the other boys would wake me only when
they were fully dressed; and the last to fall in at roll-call were
picked for cook's fatigue--peeling spuds and cleaning dixies!  How I
loathed those dixies!  The more grease you got on your hands and
clothes the more appeared to be left in the dixie!  The outside was
sooty, the inside was greasy, and after I had done my best, the
sergeant cook would make remarks about my ancestors which had nothing
to do with the question, and I could not resent them lest I be detailed
for a whole week of infernal dixie-cleaning.  Anyway, all his ancestors
had ever dared to do in the presence of mine was to touch their
forelock.

In those first weeks I think I would gladly have murdered every
sergeant.  It was "Number 10, hold your head up!" "Put your heels
together!" or a sarcastic remark as to whether I knew what a button was
for, when I happened to miss doing one up in my flurry to dress in
time, so that I would not be at the bottom of the line and picked for
fatigue.

It is not often realized what a purgatory the educated, independent man
who enlists as a private has to go through before his spirit is tamed
sufficiently to stand bossing, without resentment, by men socially and
educationally inferior.  There was a young officer who called me over
one day and told me to clean his boots.  I answered, "Clean them
yourself!" and got three days C. C.  (confinement to camp).  This same
officer took advantage of his rank on several other occasions and
sought to humiliate me.  He was a poor sort of a sport, and many months
later when I was his equal in rank in France I punched his head,
telling him I had waited eighteen months to do it.  So you see,
everything comes to those who wait.

As a matter of fact, it was only three weeks before I was made an
acting sergeant, but I have great sympathy with the soft-handed rookie,
for in those three weeks it seemed to me that it was an easy thing to
die for one's country, but to train to be a soldier was about the worst
kind of penal servitude a man could undergo.

When acting as sergeant I was boss of five stables, each containing
eight men, who could only squeeze in the floor space by sleeping head
to feet.  These stables were only completely closed in on three sides,
the entrance side being boarded up three feet high, except for the
space of the doorway.  There was no attempt to close up this opening,
except after afternoon parade, when visitors would have arrived before
our changing into reception-clothes was completed, and we would
partially block it with our waterproof sheeting.

I must mention that in the early days we had no real uniforms, but used
to parade in blue dungarees and white cloth hats.  They certainly made
the men look "_uniform_," but "_uniformly hideous_," and none of us
would be seen in them by a pretty girl, for a king's ransom.  As soon
as afternoon parade was dismissed, we would dive for our quarters, and
re-don our "civvies" until next parade.  The "cocky" would be
resplendent again in his soft collar and red tie, and the city clerk in
starched collar and cuffs.

Sometimes, however, there was a variation in time between the watches
of the sergeant-major on the parade-ground and the guard at the gate.
Visitors would be let in too soon, and innocently curious dames would
wonder what these rows of stables were for, and wandering in that
direction, would suddenly beat a blushing retreat at the revelation of
hundreds of young men getting into respectable clothes who had no other
place in which to change.  Even if you did put a blanket or W. P. sheet
over the entrance, there were no tacks, or nails, and it always fell
down at the most awkward moments.  However, the visitors soon got wise,
and in about half an hour the boys who had callers would be proudly
showing their friends, by the name above the feed-box, that the
previous occupant of their quarters was the famous "Highflyer," winner
of scores of cups, etc.

There were a good lot of us there from other states, and _we_ had no
special callers, but there were always girls who came out to see a
Sergeant Martin or some such name not on the rolls.  "Couldn't we find
him for you?"  If we did happen to find a sergeant of that name, he
would not happen to be the one she wanted, then we would offer to do
the honors of the camp, and as she would not like the hamper brought
for her friend to be wasted, an acquaintance was soon struck up.  Some
boys were too shy, but nearly all of us had visitors after we had been
in camp a week or two.

The town had appointed a soldiers' entertainment committee, and they
gave us a concert every night in the Y. M. C. A. tent.  These were
high-class shows, but most of us preferred to go into the town though
we only had leave till six o'clock.

Some of us used to stay in town till midnight, trusting to our
ingenuity in bluffing the guard.  Many were the dodges used to gain
entrance to the camp.  Some townsboys could get passes till midnight
about once a week, and instead of handing these to the guard, as they
hurried past, they would substitute a piece of blank paper.  If they
got past it was good for another occasion, as the date was easily
altered.  If they were pulled up they would apologize profusely and
hand up the right pass.  Sometimes we would wait until there were a
score of us, and while the sentry was examining the first pass the
others would rush the gate.  Rarely could more than one or two be
identified, and the odds were in our favor.

Soon the guard was doubled, and only a small wicket was opened, where
but one man could pass through at a time.  Then we scraped holes under
the galvanized-iron fence that surrounded the show-ground, concealing
them carefully with bushes and watching out for the pickets who
patrolled the outside of the camp.

I think I got my best training in scouting dodging these pickets.  I
have climbed trees, crawled into hollow logs, and played 'possum in
gullies to escape them.  Being caught meant not only several days in
the guard-tent, but the loss of the chance of "stripes."

There was really not much excitement in the town and many of us just
stayed late for the excitement of breaking the law without being
caught.  It was the outbreak of our personality after being mere cogs
in a drill-machine all day.  I never was guilty of returning except
after hours, and I never was caught, even when extraordinary
precautions were taken to get the delinquents.  Sometimes a check-roll
would be called, at some uncertain hour, but it was always a point of
honor for the boys in camp to answer "present" for any absent mates.

Evidently I was destined to be a scout.  From this camp I was drafted
into the intelligence section for specialized training.  That has been
my work all the time overseas, and I never had harder work dodging
Fritz's sentries than those pickets round Bendigo show-ground.




CHAPTER V

CONCENTRATED FOR EMBARKATION

One morning there was great excitement in the Bendigo camp.  An
announcement was made that members of rifle-clubs would be tried out on
the range and all qualifying with ninety per cent of marks would be
sent overseas in the earliest draft.  All who had ever fired a gun, and
some who hadn't, stepped forward for trial, but on the range the
eligibles were found to be only fifty, of whom I was lucky enough to be
one.

The next day we lined up for a final medical inspection.  As we passed
the doctor there were none to congratulate us, but we made allowances,
knowing how sore the others were who had failed to qualify.  We packed
up our kits and marched to the train leaving a camp literally "green
with envy."  We shouted good-bye, amazed at the good fortune that had
chosen us to escape many months of deadly grind in the training-camp,
and it seemed as we passed in single file through the old showground
turnstile as if already we had left Australia behind, and in
imagination our feet felt the roll of the ship that in our fancy was
even now carrying us out on the "Great Adventure"; and our thoughts
wafted farewells to mother or wife, as we bade them never fear but that
we would show that their men were not unworthy of their regard.

Our spirits had not been so elated had we known that more weeks of camp
life in Australia yet awaited us.  Had we not thought that we were
destined for immediate embarkation we might have been better disposed
to appreciate Broadmeadows, but as it was it seemed to us about the
last place made--and not yet finished.

As the days passed, our detestation of the place grew, but we soon
found that our impatience of delay in embarking was shared by several
thousand others who had gathered there from many States and been weeks
trampling out the grass and raising the dust in those accursed fields
till it choked them, when they had long before expected to be inhaling
the ozone from the deck of some good ship that with every knot bore
them nearer to the strife for liberty and a man's chance.

This camp was always seething with discontent, for with the delay was
in every man's heart the haunting fear that the war might be over ere
he got there, and none could think without dread of the possibility
that we might have to endure the lowest depths of humiliation in
returning home without having struck a blow.

On one occasion the impatience that was like a festering sore among the
men of this camp nearly resulted in a show of mutiny.  Oil was added to
the flame of our discontent by the tactlessness of the camp adjutant.
He will always be known to the men of those days as the "Puppy."  His
father was a commanding officer, and though he was only nineteen years
of age and his voice was just breaking, he rode the "high-horse of
authority" over those men as though they were schoolchildren.  When his
lady friends came to visit him he would order a special parade so that
they might see him in command of "_his men_, doncherknow!"  But his
"high horse" nearly threw him one day when he gave the order, "Move to
the right and fours, form fours!" and not a man moved.  Blushing like a
schoolgirl, he called the officers out for consultation and sent for
the commandant.  When, however, real men took command there was no
further trouble, though the boys openly voiced their complaints--"that
their leave was restricted for no reason"--"that they were on parade
after hours," and "Why don't they send us away to fight, anyway?
That's what we enlisted for."  The announcement that we would be
sailing soon brought forth cheers and every one was in good humor
again.  Only let us be sure that we were off to war, and we could stand
even the Puppy's yelping.

But all the same, there were a couple more weeks of the mud and dust to
be endured.  I have been in sand-storms in the interior of Australia
when the sun was blotted out and in Egypt when the Kam-seen said to the
mountain, "Be thou removed!" and it was removed in a single night some
fifty miles away, but neither of these is worse than some of the
dust-storms that blow over Melbourne, and at Broadmeadows we got their
full force.  We would march in from the parade-ground not being able to
see the man in front of us, and in the light of the candles in our
tents our very features were blotted out and nothing but eyes and teeth
were visible, except that, perhaps, in some faces two small holes would
suggest where the nose might be.  It was only after a good deal of
shaking that the place could be discerned where neck emerged from
collar.  There were some serious accidents in these dust-storms through
men trying to bump buildings out of their way, and on one occasion two
poor fellows were nearly killed in failing to give the "right-away" to
a couple of sheets of galvanized iron.  And when it rained, great
snakes!  Where was there ever mud like that!  We certainly did a good
deal in mixing the soil of those paddocks, for we would carry an acre
of it from around the tents onto the drill-ground, where we would
carefully scrape it off, and when we marched back we would bring
another acre on our boots to form a hillock at our tent door.  If there
had been but an inch of rain we would lift up on the soles of our boots
all the wet earth, uncovering a surface of dust to pepper our evening
meal.

Large sums of money have been spent on this camp since those days and
it is now a _nursery_ for the recruits who have volunteered three years
late and need the enticement of feather beds to induce them to leave
mother.  It has been thoroughly drained and terraced, and comfortable
huts have been erected, but _we_ simply rolled in blankets on bare
Mother Earth and sheltered from sun and rain in tents that were
supposed to be water-proof, and generally _were_ unless you happened to
touch them when wet.  If you did accidentally happen to rub against the
sides, there would be a stream of water pouring down on you all night.
There was no escaping this, for there was not an inch of ground inside
the tent that was not covered by man.  In fact, with ten in a tent, one
of us had to lie three-quarters outside, anyway, which was the chief
reason why I was never last in.  Dressing was a problem, for every one
must needs dress at the same time, and from the outside the tent must
have looked something like a camel whose hump was constantly slipping.
Perhaps that is why every one used safety-razors after a while, for
although our faces would frequently look as though they had been mixed
up in barbed wire, there was really not much danger of cutting one's
throat, for even though you received a forty-horse-power jolt at a
critical moment, the razor-guard prevented your life being actually
imperilled.

In this camp we received our uniforms and equipment, but it was only
after a lot of exchanging had been done that our uniforms made us look
soldierly.  Oh, Lord! what caricatures many of us were after the first
issue.  There were practically no out-sizes in tunics, but plenty of
the men were not merely out-size, but odd-sized.  Some little fellows
looked as if they were wearing father's coat, and there were others who
looked as if they were wearing that of baby brother.  Some had to turn
back the cuffs two or three times, while others had at least a foot of
wrist and forearm showing.  But the breeches!  Oh, my Aunt Sarah!  Some
were able to tuck the bottoms into their boots, while others had to
wind puttees above their knees.  There were men who couldn't bend
comfortably, while others had room to carry a couch about with them.
However, the orders were that we were to keep on exchanging until we
got something like a fit, but as there were varieties in the quality of
the cloth, there were those who preferred a misfit to poor material, so
that there were always a number who looked like Charlie Chaplin.

New arrivals in camp were always called "Marmalades," because they were
distinguished by their relish for marmalade jam.  After they had
consumed over a ton of it and forgotten the taste of any other kind of
jam then they looked at a tin of it with loathing, when they would be
considered to have passed the "recruit" stage and be on a fair way to
becoming soldiers.

Long before we got our uniforms we were issued greatcoats, hats, and
boots.  At this time the only other clothes we had were the blue
dungarees and white cloth hats called "fatigue dress."  No
self-respecting man would allow a lady friend to see him in this
rig-out.  Yet one must breathe the free air of liberty some time, and
"confinement to camp" was a punishment for crime.  So we compromised by
strolling the city streets with our military hats and boots, with the
army greatcoats seeking to hide the blue hideousness of our dungarees.
Some of us sought to be unconscious of the foot or two of blue cloth
showing beneath the greatcoat, and these were times when we envied the
little chap enveloped in a greatcoat that hung down as low as his
boots.  We received at this time the nickname "Keystone soldiers," some
genial ass conceiving that we looked as funny as the Keystone police.
These greatcoats were a bit out of place on a day that was over a
hundred in the shade, and they did not look exactly the thing at a
dainty tea-table in a swell cafe, but we clung to those greatcoats as
our only salvation, for they _did_ hide the blue horror beneath.  I
should have explained that our civilian clothes had been taken from us,
and we were forbidden, under severe penalty, to wear any but regulation
dress.  Nevertheless, the lucky dogs who had relatives near by would
take the risk and borrow a cousin's rig-out, but we hated them as mean
dogs, feeling they were taking an unfair advantage; and, if we got a
chance, we would, by innuendo, hint to the lady in the case that these
fellows did so much dixie-cleaning that their dungarees were too stiff
to wear!

Nearing the close of a long, sunny Australian day--the air soft, warm,
and sweet, and the sky suffused with a lovely pink.  It was
visiting-day--Friday.  In the camp, rows of figures in blue dungarees
and white hats were marching round and round the drill-ground, turning
from left to right, forming fours, then back to two deep, and, so on
and so on.  Out across the flat ground between the camp and the
railway-station, coming steadily toward the camp, was a very straggly
line of white figures.  As they came closer, one saw they were women
and girls, fresh and dainty in summer frocks and hats, all carrying big
baskets, suitcases, and all manner of strange and weirdly shaped
parcels.  A few odd males among them, mostly nearing sixty, or under
ten.  Some were portly, puffing a little, some old, their heavy parcels
making their lips quiver and their step slow--and girls, just
multitudes of them, all sizes, ages, and shapes--blondes, brunettes,
in-betweens, and from every rank in the social scale--mostly in groups
of any number from two to twenty--some chaperoned, some not.  Here and
there one saw one alone carrying an extra heavy suitcase, which somehow
you knew contained extra-specially good things to eat, and when you
looked at her face under her big hat a certain something there told you
that on the third finger of the left hand under her glove you would
surely find a diamond half-loop, and even, perhaps, a _very_ plain new
gold band!

From the drill-ground the soldiers could see this crowd of womenfolk
steadily coming toward them, and grew acutely aware of their shapeless,
grubby dungarees, dusty boots, and perspiring faces under tired-looking
white hats.  Agonized glances were turned on the sergeant-major as,
with his face utterly expressionless, ignoring the oncoming feminine
figures, he still right-about-turned and quick-marched them.  The
fluttering white frocks came closer and closer, and as they began to
get near the gate imploring glances were turned in the direction of the
guard, praying they would not let any one in.  Then suddenly, to their
immense relief, they were dismissed; then it was just one mad rush for
tents.  Swearing breathlessly as they bumped into each other or tripped
over tent-pegs and ropes, they ran, putting on an extra spurt every
time they glanced over their shoulders and saw the women advancing upon
them in mass formation.  Changing was soon accomplished, not without a
good deal of confusion, mixing up of garments, and splashing water
around, but when they were finally all dressed and again in khaki
uniforms smiles of satisfaction spread over clean and shiny faces as
they glanced down at neat uniforms and well-polished boots--Smoke-o
that day had seen much activity in the business of brushing and
polishing.

[Illustration: "On Show" Before Leaving Home.]

Down at the gate the picket was having a busy time answering questions:
"Could you tell me where I will find Private McIntosh?" "What tent is
my brother in, d'you know?"  But as many of the eager questioners were,
well, very delightful, none of the boys on picket duty kicked at their
job.  Some of the boys who were quicker dressers than the others now
began to come down to the gate, bustling into the crowd of womenfolk,
looking eagerly for their own particular visitors, and, seeing them,
dashing up, hugging mothers and sisters, shaking bashfully the hand of
"sister's friend," gathering up all their parcels, and, with them all
following close behind, leading the way to "a dandy spot" for supper.
In course of time the sorting-out process was complete, and the camp
was dotted with hundreds of groups, large and small, all laughing and
talking, and busy unpacking those very weighty parcels.  Boys who had
changed into uniform with the others and gone down to the gate, though
not really expecting any one as they were from out back and had no city
friends, but still feeling lonesome, and, perhaps, having a forlorn
hope that there might be some one, had helped rather bewildered girls,
carrying their baskets and finding the man they wanted--these boys now
looked longingly around at these groups, hoping some one would invite
them to join in; and how their faces brightened when one of their
tentmates, looking up from a hunk of frosted cake, would see them and
shout, "Hey, Bill!  Here!" and, after the agony of being presented to
"My mater, my sister, and Miss Stephenson," things were just O. K.

Yet there were a good many lonely ones, boys who hadn't even bothered
to change, still in their ill-shaped blue dungarees, dusty boots, and
cloth hats, some of them walking round, their heads down, and kicking
at every clump of grass or stone that came within reach of their
boots--some of them, too lonely even to look at the fun, hanging over
the fences, occasionally exchanging a few peevish words with each
other, while others gathered round the old man who kept a stall just
inside the gate and bought lemonade, ginger ale, and arrowroot
biscuits, consuming them with much assumed gusto, while others still
sat inside their tents or the Y. M. C. A. hut.

Looking at these boys gave one a deep heartache, but the sob in one's
throat changed suddenly to a laugh as one looked at their hats.
Americans in Australia have always held the prize for originality in
headgear, but that same prize must now be handed over to our soldiers
in camp.  What they can do with one simple, unoffending, white-cloth
cricket-hat passes all belief.  Seldom, as is the case with their
dungarees, did these boys have a hat that really fitted them, those
with big heads had the smallest hats, and those with extra small heads
got the largest size.  They were all shades, from their original pure
white down, or up, to an exact match with Mother Earth.  And the
shapes!  Some wore them turned down all round, some turned up all
round, some turned up in front and down at the back, some vice versa,
some turned up on the left side and down at the right, and some down at
the left and up at the right; some had tucked the front part in,
leaving a large expanse of bare brow, while the back part, turned down,
shaded the nape of their neck.  Some applied this idea reversed,
turning in the back; some turned the brim right in except for a small
peak a la Jockey; some had a peak back and front, made by rolling in
both sides, and some settled the question by turning the whole brim in,
the resultant skull-cap effect being such as to bring tears to the eyes
of all beholders.

These disconsolate, lonely faces, with, in the cases of the younger
boys, tear-filled eyes, surmounted by these absurd, preposterous
hats--it was truly a case of not knowing whether to laugh or to cry; so
by laughing hard, the women who saw them hid their tears.

It soon began to get dark--in Australia our twilight is short--so
suitcases and baskets were repacked, but only this time with plates,
cups, spoons, etc.--and one by one the parties rose and went over to
the Y. M. C. A. tent for the concert.  In the tent tables had all been
moved out and rows of chairs and forms filled it.  In a short time they
were all occupied, the officers sitting in front, some with visitors,
others alone and casting very longing eyes at the lovely girls coming
in with the men.

The concert was given, as they mostly were, by an amateur club, and had
its ups and downs.  But every one enjoyed it--the items that took the
popular fancy were loudly applauded, and the others that weren't so
good--well, no one minded, as every one was happy, and the lights were
very dim!

By the end of the concert it was nine o'clock, the time for all
visitors to be shooed off home.  The bugles blew "The First Post," and
every one, very unwilling, made their way slowly down to the gate.
Here good-byes were said, meetings arranged for the boys' next leave,
promises made to come out next week, with much chattering and laughing,
though here and there, back in the shadows, would be couples, very
quiet, maybe engaged, perhaps just married, hating to separate.

At last the remaining white frocks flutter through the big gate and
join in the stream already straggling across country toward the
railway-station, every one quiet and very tired.

In camp the boys stroll over to their tents, exchanging an occasional
word with pals, but for the most part silent, and turn in, tired also,
and a little thoughtful.  In an hour all the stars shine brightly from
the velvety, blue-black sky, the soft-scented air wafts in through open
tent-flaps, lights are out, and all is quiet in the camp, except for
the periodical changing of pickets and the occasional roar of a passing
train in the distance.




CHAPTER VI

MANY WEEKS AT SEA

A troop-ship has no longer a name, but although the ship we boarded at
Port Melbourne docks was designated by the number A 14, it was not hard
to discover that we were on a well-known ocean-liner, for on life-buoys
and wheelhouse the paint was not so thick that inquisitiveness could
not see the name that in pre-war days the Aberdeen line proudly
advertised as one of their most comfortable passenger-carrying ships.
That meant little to us, for her trimmings of comfort had been stripped
off but for a few cabins left for the officers, and when we were
mustered in our quarters, we wondered where we would sleep, for no
bunks met our eye.

Embarkation is for every one concerned the most tedious, red-tapeyist
incident in a soldier's career.  For fear of spies the exact day had
been kept secret, and although we had expected to leave weeks
previously, and had, at least, twenty times said our tearful farewells,
when the actual day arrived there was no expectation of it and no
farewells.  The night previously men had said to their wives, "See you
to-morrow, dear!"--meetings were arranged with best girls, for the
movies--in fact, not the faintest rumor had spread through the camp
that there was any likelihood of our sailing for weeks, and here in the
early dawn we were lined up on the wharf, being counted off like sheep,
and allotted our quarter cubic foot of ship's space; preparing for our
adventure overseas without the slightest chance of letting any one I
know what had happened to us.  We could sympathize with the feelings of
our folks as they would journey out to camp with the usual good things
to eat only to find we had gone.  By this time we would be well out at
sea, en route for the Great Adventure, but it was hard luck for mothers
and wives suddenly to find us gone without warning, and having to wait
many weeks for the first letter.

It was wet, it was cold, it was dark on that wharf.  If we were counted
once, we were counted fifty times, and for hours we stood in the rain
because there were two men too many.  No, not men, for they were found
to be boys of fifteen who had stolen uniforms and had hidden near the
wharf for days to get away with the troops, but they were discovered,
as every man had his name called and was identified by his officer as
he passed up the gangway.  One of them was not to be kept off, however:
he slipped round the stern and climbed up the mooring cables like a
monkey, and as no one gave him away he was undiscovered until rations
were issued, so, perforce, he was a member of the ship's company and
went with us to Egypt.

It's marvellous what quantities of men a troop-ship can swallow.  There
were a thousand men on our ship and we wondered how we would possibly
move about, for we were marched 'tween decks, and seated on benches
ranged alongside deal tables, and when all were aboard there was not
room for a man more.  It was explained to us that these were our
quarters.  We could understand them as eating quarters, but where were
we to sleep?  It was soon evident; above our heads were rows of black
iron hooks; these were for our hammocks, which, with a blanket apiece,
were in bins at the end of each deck.  Hammock sleeping was not new to
me, so I got a good deal of fun seeing the early-to-bedders climb in
one side of their hammock, only to fall out the other, and very few
could manipulate their blankets.  One could see that nearly every one
was nervous for fear of turning over in his sleep, but there was really
no danger of falling out, for when all the hammocks were up they were
packed so closely that if you did roll over, you would only roll into
the next hammock on top of some fellow who would, no doubt, think the
mast had fallen.  There were a good number of men to whom life would
have been much pleasanter the next few days if they could have stayed
in their hammocks all day, as, no matter how the ship rolls, a hammock,
being swung, always keeps level.  Unfortunately, all hammocks had to be
taken down at 6 A. M. so we could sit at the tables for breakfast, and
to most of the boys that first morning getting out of their hammocks
was like stepping onto a razzle-dazzle.  We were now well at sea and
the general cry was in the words of the song: "Sea, sea, why are you
angry with me?"  Discipline had to be relaxed those first days, for a
seasick man is quite willing to be shot and has no interest in the war,
and doesn't care which horse wins the boat-race.  Seasickness never
gets any sympathy from those who are immune, but sometimes just
retribution comes on the scoffer, and it is some satisfaction to see a
man's face turn green who but a few hours ago had been whistling with a
selfish cheerfulness while you were revealing your own sticky past to
the mermaids.

After about a week parades were announced, and in the early morning we
were lined up for "physical jerks," by which is meant calisthenics, or
setting-up exercises.  We now realized the appropriateness of the
nickname, for the first stretching would cause a number to rush to the
side, where they would attempt to jerk their hearts out, and also,
standing on tiptoe on a rolling ship, one can only bend in jerks.  To
our joy these parades were short affairs, for there was only the
limited space of the boat and saloon decks and each platoon had to take
its turn in occupying this very limited parade-ground--so the greater
part of the time was spent in passing remarks about the slovenly work
of every other squad but one's own.  Of course there were always
fatigue and guard duties.  I'll never forget my first butcher's
fatigue, for when I stooped to pick up a carcass of mutton, I thought
the best way to carry it would be to hang it round my neck like a
feather boa, but no log of wood was stiffer or more unbending than that
frozen woolly, and I asked if we were expected to eat that.  No wonder
so much coal is used on a ship when the food has to be thawed out!  But
this job was very comforting, for I saw the inside of the ship's
storehouse, and never feared, though we were wrecked on a desert
island, there would be any danger of our starving.

We turned out some pretty ragtime guards--sentries were posted at
different parts of the ship, the most important being the guard over
the liquor, and another sentry at the saloon gangway, whose duty it was
to prevent any private or other common person trespassing on the
hallowed ground sacred to the cigarette-ash and footprints of officers.
This last sentry was expected to salute the O. C. troops and commander
of the ship, all other salutes being dispensed with, as on board ship
we saw our officers some five hundred and ninety times a day, and their
arms would have been whirling like windmills had they been compelled to
return our salutes.  I remember one sentry failing to recognize the
Commander-in-chief, and presently the colonel spoke to him thus: "What
are you doing here, my man?"  "I'm supposed to be a ---- sentry."
"Well, do you know that I am supposed to be the ---- colonel?"  "Oh!
Well, I'm supposed to give you a ---- salute!"  And the sentry
forthwith performed his belated duty.

On this ship the officers were all pretty popular, especially one who
was never known by any title or other designation than "Jerry."  Jerry
had more self-confidence than any man I have ever met.  He could not
correctly put a platoon through its formations, but would not hesitate
to take charge of a battalion.  When he had given some orders and had
hopelessly mixed up a company, he would look at the mess with an air of
superiority that proclaimed to all and sundry that he was commanding a
lot of imbeciles, and then he would calmly throw the responsibility of
disentangling themselves upon the men by the order: "As you were!"

It was a puzzle to all as to how he got his commission.  He was tall
and spruce, most scrupulous in the fit of his uniform, but absolutely
too lazy to learn his job.  He was something of a joke as an officer,
yet his men got to like him for his good humor and absolute
indifference to the censure of his superiors.  In instructing a squad
he would quite calmly read aloud out of a drill-book right under the
eyes of the colonel, and his air of calm assurance under rebuke would
so annoy his superiors that he frequently escaped much censure, for few
senior officers are willing to display a loss of temper in front of the
men, as it makes for a loss of dignity.  One day Jerry found a sentry
asleep at his post while he was on "visiting rounds" as officer of the
guard.  All Jerry did was to drawl out: "Next time you go to sleep, my
lad, you'll wake up in hell!"  As a matter of fact, he was too
good-natured to have a man punished, and as the boys realized this,
they would not let any one take advantage of him.  We did not think
there was anything that Jerry could do properly until the first concert.

These concerts were weekly affairs, and we had three artists who were
equal to the best.  Tom Dawson, the Tivoli comedian, who was afterward
killed in France, was one of us and always willing to provide half a
dozen songs, with his india-rubber face stretched to suit each part.
He was a prime favorite.  Then we had an operatic tenor who could sing
a solo from almost any Italian opera, but his talent was not
appreciated--some one would be bound to call "Pretty Joey!" in the
middle of his most impassioned passages.  He got plenty of applause
when he sang about "the end of a perfect day," even though the day had
been as beastly as a severe storm could make it for a thousand-odd men
cooped up so closely that only a third of them could see the sky at one
time.  His efforts to educate our musical taste completely failed, for
the announcement that he was going to sing in Italian always raised
cries of "Steaka-de-oyst!" "Fiji banana!" etc.

Another real artist played the mandolin, and when he appeared with it
first of all he was greeted with cries of "Gertie!"  As he played,
however, he held the boys spellbound and never after failed to get an
encore, though many still held that a mandolin was only a "sissy"
instrument.  But the star performer, to every one's surprise, was
Jerry.  Here was one thing he could do, at any rate!  His recitation of
"Gunga Dhin" brought tears to our eyes, and thereafter no programme was
complete without this item.

Toward the end of the voyage the concerts lost popularity, as there
were only three or four artists; and there was no stock of music on
board, so their two or three songs became as wearisome as a much-played
gramophone record.  The boxing and wrestling matches always held the
crowd, and there was no lack of competition, for the runner-up was
always _sure_ that he would have won but for bad luck and was ever
ready for another try.  These were no "pussy" shows, for we had some
professionals among us: "Sailor Duffy," one of our second lieutenants,
was middleweight champion of Victoria, and one of the ship's crew was
champion wrestler of London.  There were others who required
convincing, at any rate, that they were not as good as the champions,
and anyway there were always plenty of disputes during the day that by
general consent were settled in the ring at night.  This was how we
passed the long weeks to Colombo, our first port of call.

To the white man having to make his home at Colombo it may not be
paradise, but to the sea-weary landlubber who has been weeks without a
sight of land, there never was place more delightful.  The first day we
weren't allowed ashore, but there were other troop-ships lying in the
harbor, and soon pretty well every man who could find a footing on the
rigging was semaphoring like mad: "Who are you?  Where'd you come from?
Where are you going?"  We discovered one boat was full of New
Zealanders and we coo-eed and waved wildly to them, feeling that New
Zealand ought to be part of Australia, anyhow, and they were almost
homelanders.  There were also some Indian troops bound for the Persian
Gulf, and immediately the rumor started that that was where we were
bound, and everybody looked pretty blue.  Pretty soon some
coal-lighters came alongside--that is, we discovered there was coal in
them after they had discharged their living freight, for they were
simply black with niggers.  There did not seem to be an inch of boat
space that was not covered up by nigger.  About half of them started to
work, for the method of coaling in these parts is for the niggers to
carry aboard about a teaspoonful in a wicker basket.  By working in
shifts and maintaining a constant stream of men hurrying from lighters
to ship each with his spoonful of coal, sufficient is taken inboard in
a very long time.  Those who were not coaling, loudly proclaimed that
they would dive for money and thereafter, by day and night, our ears
were assailed by their cries: "Me di'."  "Gib it money."  "You throw."
It was very amusing for the first hour or two, but we soon got heartily
sick of their importunity and their incessant chatter.

The second day we were allowed a couple of hours ashore, and as many
had a three-weeks' thirst, they saw no more of Colombo than the inside
of a hotel bar.  Others of us were amused at being escorted through the
streets by the nigger policemen with whips, who did not hesitate to
belabor very energetically any niggers who approached us too closely;
but while the policeman was chasing one nigger another would seize his
chance and offer for sale native jewelry of exquisite workmanship, at
what would seem to us a ridiculously low price, but we were assured by
every one that whatever price they asked was ten times its value.  Some
of the boys were after souvenirs, and as soon as it was realized that
we had money to spend we were followed about, during our whole stay, by
scores of merchants, some simply loaded down with the entire stock of
their shops.  Our time ashore was too short for us to see what Colombo
really was like, but it was delightful to be able to stretch our legs
ashore again, and the novelty and charm of the streets and the
luxuriant tropical vegetation made us feel that we would be willing to
remain a lifetime amid scenes of such fascination and color.

After Colombo the days were more wearisome than before.  The weather
was scorching and only a few of us could get on deck at a time for a
breath of fresh air.  Long before nightfall the decks would be covered
with men lying on their blankets, for permission was given to as many
as there was room for to sleep on the boat and saloon decks, and as
there was only room for a twentieth of the complement, one had to grab
one's position early.  Some preferred a comfortable night's rest to
their tea, and so would occupy their man's length of deck space while
the others were eating.

Going through the Red Sea was a feast of beauty, for the evening colors
of the sand-hills were gorgeous, and inconceivable to any but an
eye-witness.  We were now on biblical ground, and great were the
religious arguments that waged.  One boy wrote home that one of the
ship's anchors had brought up a wheel from the chariot of Pharaoh, and
his mother had replied that she was glad he was visiting such historic
country, but when he later on told her that "Big Lizzie" was firing
shells twenty-seven miles at the Dardanelles, she wrote him that she
was afraid life in the army was making him exaggerate things and that
he should keep strictly to the truth!

There was fighting going on at Aden when we passed--some Bedouins were
attacking the town from the desert side, but evidently it was not
serious, for, to our disappointment, we were not asked to join in.  We
were merely examined by a British war-ship and told to pass on.

At Suez we disembarked and we were none of us sorry to say good-bye to
the old ship, and there were no fond farewells taken of the crew, for
they were as unpatriotic a set of scoundrels as ever sailed under the
British flag.  They robbed us right and left.  They stole our ration
jam, selling it to us in the form of a drink.  A penny a glass would
buy "pineapple cordial," which was merely a tin of pineapple jam mixed
up in a ship's bucket of iced water.  "Orangeade" was marmalade jam and
water.  Strange to say, there were always enough "boobs" among us
soldiers to fall for it.  On board ship we were not allowed to wear
boots, as the hobnails in our military footwear could cut up the deck,
so those that hadn't shoes went barefoot, but at the end of the voyage
when we began to search for our boots there was the deuce to pay.  Only
half the men could find them at all, and it was only through a search
of the whole ship that many of us did not have to walk in the sands of
Egypt barefooted.  The missing pairs were found among the sailors, of
course, one of them even having six.  It is a wonder those sailors
didn't cut our hair when we were asleep to stuff their pillows--they
certainly skinned us as close as they could.




PART II

EGYPT




CHAPTER VII

THE LAND OF SAND AND SWEAT

How we hated Egypt before we left it!  It may be a land of fascination
to the tourist who drives about in gharris to view its wonders and
stays at a European hotel, but to be there as a soldier, to lie in its
vile sand, to swallow its conglomerated stinks, to rub the filth off
the seats in the third-class train-carriages, to have under your eyes
continually the animated lump of muck that the "Gyppo" is, to have your
ears filled continually with the vile expressions that the Egyptian
conceives as wit, is an experience that makes one so disgusted that few
Australians that were there will ever want to see the rotten country
again.  At first, however, all was novelty, and we were like children
on a picnic as we marched from the wharf into the third-class carriages
of the Egyptian state railways waiting for us just outside the gates.
It was some job getting into those carriages.  Ordinarily white people
travelled first-class, but we were troops, and it was like pushing
against a wall to pass the smell that came from the doors of these
carriages that had been the preserves of the unwashed nigger of varied
age and sex for the Lord knows how many years.

We left the ship with twenty-four hours' provisions, which were all
consumed on that train.  Some of us managed to get a little sleep by
packing all the equipment in the end of the carriage and sitting on the
floor back to back.  Now and again the train would stop at nowhere in
particular, when we would be assailed by anything-but-clean niggers,
who would draw oranges and other fruit from inside their shirts.  We
had been warned against eating anything in Egypt that could not be
skinned, and when we saw the niggers and where they kept their stock in
trade we knew the reason.  So far we had nothing but English money,
and, though we had been given lectures before disembarking on the
values of Egyptian money, we had to pay liberal exchange to these
train-side merchants.  Oranges cost us about two cents apiece, though
later on with Egyptian money we bought them three for a half piastre
(three cents).  The only station I remember on this trip was because of
its curious-sounding name, Zagizig, where we had a stroll along the
platform and met some of our lordly Sikhs from India, who were all
smiles when they discovered we were Australians.  In the early dawn we
disentrained at Koubbeh and after straightening ourselves out from
having been cramped up in those horse-boxes, we started our march of
about ten miles, carrying full pack, to the camp at Zeitoun.  But here
there was no arrangement for our breakfast.  The New Zealanders and
Australians already camped there had only their own day's rations, and
we had consumed ours on the train.  How we cursed the powers that be!
We had humped our eighty-pound packs those weary miles and when we
thought we had arrived--no tucker!  There might have been some trouble;
grumbling might have led to action in a raid on somebody's stores, but
for the Y. M. C. A. hut.  They served out hot tea and in a few moments
grumbling gave place to "chiaching"; criticism that a few moments ago
had been edged was now good-humored.  Give an Australian soldier hot
tea and it will pick him up quicker than any other drink on earth.




CHAPTER VIII

HELIOPOLIS

Our camp was just outside the new city of Heliopolis, which was built
at the cost of about $40,000,000 by a Belgian syndicate to rival Monte
Carlo, but it was a fiasco as a money-making concern.  Nevertheless,
there were some gorgeous buildings, and it was a source of constant
interest to us.  The Palace Hotel was the most magnificent building I
have ever seen; used by us as a hospital.  There was no lack of marble,
and the mosaics were marvellous.  The lamp-stands were of a unique and
exquisite design.  The contract provided that the pattern should be
destroyed after they were made, so they would not be copied.  It was
rather incongruous to see nothing but rows and rows of army cots, and
the white-robed nurses flitting about in rooms that were manifestly
intended for luxurious divans and the evening dress of fashion.  Lying
in those cots, one had but to gaze ceilingward, and forget that one was
in a hospital.  It required little imagination to people the rooms with
the same splendor and fashion that fills Monte Carlo, and maybe, had
the war not come and the gambling license been granted, all this
barbaric splendor would have been perfumed with the scents of "attar of
roses" and "lily-of-the-valley" instead of "iodoform" and "carbolic."

Another hospital was in Luna Park, which had been built to cater to the
amusement of thousands of joy-seekers, but the only joy there now was
in relief from pain.  It was fun to make the round of the wards, for
many beds were on the scenic railway, and you would visit one poor chap
in a high fever, lying amid painted ice and snow, while another nursed
his broken leg alongside a precipice that might well have caused it.  I
walked in to see the sights one day, and passing through a cave almost
fell over a bed whereon was my own brother, whose whereabouts I had
been trying to discover for days.  Such are the coincidences of life.

The streets of this town were spacious and very clean and were bordered
by fine buildings with granite and marble pillars and some fine masonry
lacework.  Unfortunately, poor taste was often shown, with plaster
alongside the marble, and the stone used was too soft and already in
places was crumbling.  In Egypt, where it rarely rains, the climate is
kind to the jerry-builder, and it's only when Jupiter Pluvius wants a
laugh and sends a regular tropical downpour that the buildings that
were a thing of beauty and a joy forever come to earth and are no more.
We ourselves were on one occasion victims of this god's fun.  We were
told that it never rained, and our huts were built just to shelter us
from the sun, but at 2 A. M. the grim old weather-god turned on the
shower, and no doubt it amused him a good deal to hear our curses as we
tried to shelter ourselves and tucker beneath greatcoats and
water-proof sheeting.  There was no chance of "getting in out of the
rain," for there was not a water-proof shelter for miles.  Egypt is not
the only place, though, where the residents know least about their own
climate!

Heliopolis, anyway, is a skeleton of a town, for most of these
buildings were merely occupied in the front, by Greek and Indian
merchants who had anticipated our coming.  In these shops anything
could be bought, from a microbe (which was sometimes given away) to an
elephant (nearly always a white one)!  However, there were silks galore
and filagree-work of beauty, but the biggest trade was done in colored
handkerchiefs, crudely worked on a sewing-machine with a design of the
pyramids and "Advance Australia."  The cuteness of these merchants was
also evidenced in the signs on their stores.  The first Australian to
stroll down those streets was amazed to see, in huge lettering, "The
Melbourne Store," next door to "The Sydney Shop."  They even knew our
slang, for here was "The 'Fair Dinkum' Store," and across the way
"Ribuck Goods."  Prices were pretty much what you liked to pay.  At any
rate I never failed to get an article by paying only a quarter of the
first-named price.

The most persistent of professionals were the bootblacks.  You _had_ to
have your boots cleaned whether you liked it or not!  Stop for a moment
to talk to a friend and there was a nigger on each foot, industriously
brushing away as if his life depended on it.  They would follow you on
to a tram-car, and whether you got a seat or not there would be
somebody working on your boots two seconds after boarding it.  Another
nuisance were the sellers of swagger-sticks, and I have frequently
bought one just for the pleasure of laying it across the back of its
previous owner.  They soon picked up our language and its choicest
words, but one word they never understood was "_No!_"  The first
Egyptian word we learned was "_Imshi!_" literally, "Get!"--but it
generally required the backing of a military boot to make it effective.
The Australianese that the "Gyppos" picked up is not commonly used in
polite society; maybe _they_ thought it correct English, but it was
sometimes very embarrassing when walking down the street with a nurse.
And some polite merchants were sorely puzzled when the effect of their
well-chosen words and bow was an unintentional biting of the dust.

We must pass a vote of thanks, however, to the syndicate for providing
us with some ideal club-rooms.  I guess the Y. M. C. A. never had such
quarters before or since, and must have had to do some squaring of
conscience in calling these "Army _Huts_."  It was a hut, though, all
right, out at the camp, made of grass mats, held together with string,
but it was the usual boon and blessing to men, and I guess there were
few letters left camp that weren't on Red Triangle paper.  I may as
well mention here, too, that the best meals I had since leaving home
were in the Y. M. C. A. building in the Esbekiah Gardens in Cairo, so
here's a thank-you to those ladies and the management.




CHAPTER IX

THE DESERT

I know more about the desert in Egypt than any other part of it, for it
was on the desert we trained.  There were sham fights galore, but it
was mostly squad and company drill, until if some devil had scooped out
our brain-boxes and filled them with sawdust we could have carried out
the orders just as well.  In fact, one fellow must have gone mad with
the monotony of it and perpetrated the rhyme, to the tune of "The Red,
White, and Blue":


  "At the halt, on the left, form platoons,
  At the halt, on the left, form platoons,
  If the odd numbers don't mark time two paces,
  How the hell can the boys form platoons?"


I don't know whether the author was ever found, but I know plenty that
were laid out for singing it.  We began to have a sinking feeling that
we would not be in the real scrap at all, for a good part of our time
was taken up in forming "_hollow square_," a formation that is famous
in the British army as having been only once broken, but is only of
value against savages, and "furphies" (unfounded rumors) spread that we
were going into Darkest Africa or the Soudan.  However, we also
practised echelon for artillery formation, that is, breaking a company
into chunks and throwing it about at unequal distances, so that a shell
falling on one chunk would not wipe any of the others off the map.
Then there was more gloom, for that looked as if the war was real, and
there must be something in what the papers were saying after all.
About this time some of the boys' letters began to contain more war
news even than the papers, for the padre, who was regimental censor,
informed us that if he let our mail go home unpencilled there would be
many mothers weeping at the danger their boys were in, as they
described fierce battles in the desert.  Even as it was, letters were
published in home papers that showed our regiment to have been four
times annihilated while we were in training!  The only shots these
fellows heard all day were the popping of the corks in the wet canteen!
(No charge to the "drys" for this story!)

And then, of course, we route-marched--in the desert, please remember;
a very different thing, Mr. Rookie, to the same thing on made roads!
For one thing, we were not supposed to do more than fifteen miles a
day, but on the desert there were no milestones, and the distance was
"estimated" by the officer in command.  Some of these officers must
have been city treasurers in private life, for their estimate of
distance was like estimated annual expenditure, generally much under
the mark.  Mostly they would know when we had gone far enough, which
for us was too far, and then we would get lost coming back.
Fortunately, there was a lot of men camped in that desert, and as it is
customary for a man lost to travel in a circle, we would generally run
into some camp or other, otherwise I'm afraid we would now be a
petrified army, "somewhere in Sahara."  Ten miles with an eighty-pound
pack on your back, through heavy sand, is as much as a man can endure;
after that he doesn't endure, he just carries on, and on, and on, and
on.  At that time your company are all feet and are walking on your
brain.  Anyway, the man behind you does actually walk on your ----
heels every second step.

In the desert, also, did we dig trenches.  No, not the same thing as
digging trenches anywhere!  For it is really nearly as easy to dig
trenches in the ocean.  For every spadeful you throw out two fall in,
and if, by the use of much cunning, you _do_ manage to get a hole dug,
then you must not leave it for a single instant, for it is only waiting
until your back is turned to disappear.  There is one thing--those
trenches were good cover, for we would no sooner occupy them than we
would be covered up entirely.  I would defy an aeroplane with the best
"made in Germany" spectacles to discover whether we were men or mummies.

But we had one very exciting trench-digging expedition.  We dug, if you
please, into an old city, and broke into tombs umpteen thousand years
old.  There were scarabs and ancient jewels there that the Field Museum
would give their eye-teeth for.  We were ordered to deliver our finds
to the authorities, but I am afraid many of the boys had "sticky"
fingers.  It was all jolly interesting, but there is a fly in every box
of ointment, and the supposed age of these relics brought home to us
the fact that this soil had been lived on for thousands of years by
people much like our present neighbors, without any sanitary ideas; and
one of our fellows with a scientific mind pictured to us every grain of
sand as being a globe inhabited by germs.  This was comforting, for we
each of us swallowed a few billion of these "universes" every day!
They got in our eyes, in our ears, in our nose and mouth, but if they
got into a cut by any chance, then we were subjects for the doctor.
"Oh Egypt, thou land of teeming life, how healthy wouldst thou be if
you weren't so overcrowded!"

Yet there was beauty in the desert.  We would frequently pick up
agates, sapphires, and turquoise matrix.  But its beauty was chiefly
suggestive.  There were gorgeous sunsets--poetry there, but more poetry
still in the wonderful mirages.  Why, here, hung above the earth, were
scenes from every age: Cleopatra's galleys, Alexander's legions, the
pomp of the Mamelukes, Ptolemy and Pompey, Napoleon and Gordon--their
times and deeds were all pictured here.  Perhaps the spirit world has
its "movies," and only here in the desert mirage is the "screen" of
stuff that can be seen with mortal eyes.

But beauty is not for soldiers--the desert was our "schoolmaster."  It
was the right-hand man of Kitchener, and well did it perform its task
of putting iron into our spirits and turning our muscles into steel,
and making us fit for whatever job the Maker of Armies had for us.  He
knew the place to train us--where the weaklings would fall and only the
very fit survive.  Any soldier who passed through his grades in the
"academy of the desert" might not shine in a _guard of honor to a
princess_; his skin would be blistered, his clothes would be stained,
but he'd be the equal in strength of any man on earth, and would have
fought the attacks of every known disease.  It was Egypt and the desert
that made Gallipoli possible, and the Australian army owes much to the
astuteness of Kitchener, who knew the ideal training-ground for the
daredevil freeman from "down under."




CHAPTER X

PICKETING IN CAIRO

No man in the British Empire knew Egypt better than Lord Kitchener, and
he had very good reasons, apart from training, in sending us there.
There can be no doubt whatever that the majority of the Egyptians were
pro-Turkish if not pro-German.  The educated Egyptian, like the Babu in
Bengal, is specially fitted by nature for intrigue, and if he sees a
chance to oppose whatever government is in power and keep his own skin,
it is his idea of living well.  Egypt was immediately put under martial
law, but there was plenty of scope for a while for the midnight
assassin and the poisoner.  Here and there soldiers would disappear and
street riots would be started by the wind.  Who would not turn round on
seeing an R. S. V. P. eye in a face whose veil enhanced the beauty it
did not hide?  But there would always be some sedition-monger to
immediately fill the street with a thousand yelling maniacs who would
scream that their religion had been insulted by the accursed infidels.
_Religion_ they knew nothing about, but to make trouble was their meat
and drink.  There was a good deal of Irish blood among us, and many men
who would rather fight than go to the opera, so there were some good
old ding-dong scraps.  Of course the "Gyppo" is no fighter, but he can
stand behind and throw stones and can't resist plunging the knife into
an inviting back, so sometimes our boys would get laid out.  A street
row is always a dangerous thing, for those in front cry "Back!" and
those behind cry "Forward!" and there is likely to be a jam in which
the innocent, if there are any, get hurt.  I saw a pretty ugly-looking
crowd dispersed with a characteristic Australian weapon.  Firing over
their heads had no effect, nor threats of a bayonet charge, but when
two Australian bushmen began plying stockwhips, those niggers made
themselves scarcer than mice on the smell of a cat.  As a good
manipulator of the stockwhip can pull the cork from a bottle, maybe
these plotters were afraid of having their guilty secrets picked from
them.  At any rate, there were some who lost flesh in a part that would
insure them having a smaller following thereafter.

There was a battle fought in Cairo for which there will be no medals
distributed and to which stay-at-home Australians think there is no
honor attached, but I doubt if any one who took part in the battle of
the Wasir, except maybe the military police, are ashamed of what they
did.  Any one who knows Cairo knows that there is a part of it that is
not mentionable at dinner-table.  It is the sink of the world.  Every
large city has its sore, but Cairo has an ulcer.  This vile spot made
the clean lads from the wind-swept plains and scented bush of Australia
absolutely sick.  The Australian is a practical idealist, and for him
to see dirt is to want to remove it.  Besides which, this place was a
nest of spies and enemies.  There were several of our boys who
disappeared, and, though it may be said they had no right there, the
sign "No Admittance" is one that the average Australian has never been
able to read.  It was one of those scraps that no one starts but that
breaks out of itself, because it has been brewing so long.  There were
a few thousand of the boys in Cairo that night, and when the news
spread it did not take long for more to come in from Mena and other
camps.  They did not wait for the motorman to start his car, but in
many cases commandeered it for the time being.  Things moved quite
warmly for an hour or two: ladies of low degree scuttled like rats and
panders dashed for safety, while "owners" in princely motorcars turned
almost as white as their livers as they saw their "warehouses of
virtue" going up in flame.  Two incidents are very vivid--the sight of
a grand piano tumbling out of a five-story window and one of the
aforesaid "owners" trying to remonstrate with the avengers, and having
his car run into the fire.  The military police tried to interfere
early in the game, but only made matters worse, as they were pretty
well hated by the boys as being mostly slackers.  The attitude of many
of the officers may be judged from Jerry.  He was looking on smoking a
pipe when an English major dashed up to him, very apoplectic.  "Are you
an Australian officer?"  "Ye--es!" drawled Jerry.  "Well, why don't you
take your men in hand?"  "Can't see they are doing any harm!" said
Jerry.  In the end strong-armed guards were brought in from the camps,
and as the boys were just about tired anyway of their self-appointed
policemanship, things soon quieted down.  There were rumors that it
cost the Australian Government a tidy sum of money, but the burning of
those pest-houses must have risen like incense to heaven, and one very
good effect it had, about which there will be no dispute--it put the
fear of God into the Gyppo, and Australian soldiers after that even
singly and in small groups received nothing worse than black looks.

After this Cairo was very thoroughly picketed--the streets were
patrolled all night by parties of ten or a dozen under an N. C. O.  I
was in charge of one of these parties for a couple of months and had a
good deal of fun playing "policeman" among the cosmopolitan crowds that
infest Cairo.  We were only armed with the handles of our intrenching
tools, which were sticks of hardwood about twelve inches long with an
iron band at the upper end, but they made very effective batons.  I
remember once we had to settle a dispute at a wedding-feast.  I suppose
there must have been a lack of room in the house, for the meal was
spread in the street--long tables with a couple of hundred guests
seated at them right in the way of the traffic.  We strolled past a
couple of times, but as we had no instructions to prevent folk using
the public street for their domestic affairs, we saw no call to
interfere, but our mouths watered at the sight of the good things to
eat, and we thought it rather a tempting of Providence to spread this
abundance of food in the open street of a city where there are always
about a million of people who had not enough to eat at any time.  We
had only gone a couple of blocks away when some wildly excited niggers
rushed after us and informed us: "Plenty men kill 'um back there!"  We
went back at the double and there was as ugly a riot as ever Irishman
longed for.  There seemed to be a couple of thousand yelling maniacs
packing both sides of the street.  Our instructions were to prevent the
gathering of crowds.  There were only ten of us and we had but our
improvised batons, but I told the boys to get into the crowd and tell
them once to "imshi" (get) and then hit.  "Be sure and never speak
twice."  We soon dispersed the crowd.  There was something about our
"Nulla-nullas" [1] that looked very businesslike, and none stopped to
argue the point.

Sometimes the boys were pretty thirsty in those long tramps through the
streets, and the open cafes were very inviting.  But we had an
experience that warned me against allowing any of them to go in and get
a drink.  One of them had certainly not been gone more than a couple of
minutes, and he swears he only had one drink; nevertheless, he had to
be put in a cab and sent back to the barracks.  We had pretty dull
times in those barracks--the Kasr-el-nile just alongside the bridge of
the same name.  The chief amusement was to feed the hawks that all day
hovered in the courtyard.  We would drop pieces of meat and bread from
the balcony, but so quick were the birds that I never knew a piece to
reach the ground.

Jerry was one of the officers of the picket, and we had to report to
him at midnight at a shelter in a part of the city with an evil
reputation.  From here we would issue in force to close for the night
the various dens of iniquity.  Jerry would generally stroll ahead with
his cane and walk into the resort of the worst ruffians on earth with
all the assurance of a general at the head of a brigade.  He would
announce to these, the most lawless men and women in the world, that it
was time to close up, and there was something in his bearing that
commanded prompt obedience.

In fact, nothing ever ruffled Jerry.  One night a senior officer
attached to the commandant came down in a tearing rage, and began to
dress Jerry down for having presumed to close up a certain gambling
resort without consulting the authorities.  After about twenty minutes'
harangue in which he threatened Jerry with all manner of punishment, he
collapsed at the drawled retort: "And then you'll wake up!"

Jerry was still on the picket when I left to go down to the Suez Canal
defenses, and I did not hear any more about him until I met him in
Melbourne a few weeks ago, when I asked him if he had been over to
France, and his reply was: "No.  I--I came back."  No explanation as to
whether he was invalided or wounded.  Jerry was quite equal to telling
a field-marshal to go to a place even warmer than Egypt.  Maybe his
extraordinary self-assurance got on the nerves of some general so much
that to protect himself from those critical eyes he had to send Jerry
home.

The two principal hotels in Cairo, Shepheard's and the Continental,
were out of bounds to all but officers.  Some of our boys resented this
discrimination while not on parade, for many of the privates were, in
social life, in higher standing than the majority of the officers.
There was one of our colonels who took his brother in to dine with him
at Shepheard's.  A snobbish English officer came up to this man who
happened to be only a private, and said: "What are you doing in here,
my man?"  But he got rather a setback when the Australian colonel said
to him: "Captain, let me introduce my brother."  There was another
Australian private whom an English officer objected to have sitting at
the same table with him at the Trocadero in London.  Next day this
private reserved every seat in this swell restaurant and provided
dinner for several hundred of his chums, putting a notice on the door:
"No Officers Admitted."  Another illustration of snobbishness, this
time in Australia, was when some officers at a race-meeting instructed
the committee to refuse admittance to the saddling paddock and grand
stand to all privates and N. C. O.'s, but they looked pretty small when
informed that the owner of the race-course was a private and could
hardly be debarred from his own property.  Few Australian officers are
of this type, however, and in the trenches our officers and men are a
happy family.  When the men realize that an officer knows his job and
has plenty of pluck, they will follow him through hell.

A favorite rendezvous in Cairo was the Ezbekiah Gardens of a Sunday
afternoon.  There were beauties there from many nations, dressed in the
"dernier cri" of fashion, who were tickled to death to be escorted by
the bronzed giants from "down-under," and though one failed sometimes
to find words that were understood, yet sufficient was said in glance
and shrug to make a very interesting conversation.  And the Sultan's
band was always there to fill in pauses and, in fact, played so well as
to be an encouragement to flirtations that were delightful in spite of
differences of nationality.

There was always plenty to see around Cairo, and the education of the
Australian bushman has been widened considerably through those months
in Egypt, though I am afraid some of us swallowed the yarns of the
guides and garnered a vast store of misinformation.  These guides were
a set of blackmailers, but once you had engaged one he looked on you as
his personal property, and would let no one rob you but himself.  I
would like, even now, to have within reach of my boot the old scoundrel
who took me inside the Great Pyramid.  After following him in and by
the light of a candle climbing very carefully in stockinged feet the
granite passage (polished by millions of toes until it was as slippery
as glass), the old ruffian led me into the Queen's chamber, and then
announced that he had lost his candle but would show me the height of
the chamber by burning magnesian wire for the price of one piastre
(five cents) per second.  After I had a good flash-light view of the
inside of this room, and marvelled sufficiently at the enormous size of
the blocks of marble in the walls and out of which the sarcophagus was
made, the old son of a thief told me it would be at the same rate that
he would light my way to the outside air again.  I only had stockinged
feet, and made the foolish mistake of striking out in the dark.  The
old boy howled, but I verily believe that I very nearly displaced one
of the eighty-ton blocks of marble.  We arrived at the opening at the
same moment and I got a "full-Nelson" on the greasy blackguard.  He
handed over the magnesian wire, also the candle, and was quite willing
to give me as many of his wives as I required before I released him.  I
have never been in any place as hot as the inside of the Great Pyramid,
and no longer wonder that a mummy is so dried up.  For in five minutes
pretty nearly every drop of moisture in my own body came out through
the pores of my skin.

I also was barmy enough to climb to the top of the Great Pyramid; each
separate block of stone to be surmounted was like the wall of a house,
but the view from the top was worth while, and might have been enjoyed
but for the thought of getting down again; especially as old Job (my
new guide) persisted in telling me about several people who had been
killed, bouncing all the way to the bottom.  I did pretty well all the
tourist stunts in Egypt.  I rode a donkey when my feet touched the
ground on either side, also mounted a camel that lifted me to a dizzy
height.  I gazed into the imperturbable face of the Sphinx and wandered
among the numerous pyramids of Sakkara.  I visited the tombs of the
Mamelukes and feasted on the beauty of the mosques (having my feet shod
with the provided sandals so that my infidel dust might not defame the
hallowed floor).  I also viewed the citadel; but the place of most
charm was the streets of old Cairo.  I was never tired of elbowing my
way through the bazaars and it was worth it to buy something you didn't
want for the sake of being waited on by "Abraham in the flesh."  Here
was the Arabian Nights in very reality, and all the romance and lure of
a thousand dreams.  The smell was a bit overpowering, but bearable if
you surrounded yourself with the smell of your favorite tobacco.


[1] Australian native weapon.




CHAPTER XI

"NIPPER"

On the sheep and cattle station of Wyaga in southwestern Queensland
there is a shepherd's hut about fifty miles from the homestead.

One night my father was camping in this hut, and before lying down had
piled a lot of dry dung on the fire outside so that the smoke would
drive away the mosquitoes.  Somewhere about midnight he woke with the
sense of some human being near him.  Then he was startled to see the
fire scattered before his eyes, but never found sight nor sound of
anything living.

Many months later he again visited the hut.  This time it was occupied
by old Mullins, the shepherd.  Again about midnight he was roused, this
time by the whining of the sheep-dog "Nipper."  Every hair on the dog
was bristling, but he made no attempt to attack whatever it was he saw.
Suddenly the fire was again scattered.  The old shepherd said that this
happened about once a month, and that on one occasion he had seen a
woman kick the fire apart and then disappear.

To the railway-station at Goondiwindi came Mullins one day in December,
1914, and bought tickets to Brisbane for himself and Nipper.  The
regulations of the Queensland government railways will not allow dogs
to travel in passengers' carriages.  As Nipper had to travel in a
dog-box at the end of the guard's van, old Mullins insisted on
occupying a seat in the van, and at every station would get his friend
a drink.

When the train stopped for meals at midday and evening Mullins would
seize the plate served to him and make for the door.  The manager of
the refreshment-room made him pay for the plate before taking it
outside, not trusting his looks, but the old shepherd only wanted to
have Nipper's hunger satisfied before his own.  At the end of the
journey there were several china plates in the box that were of no
further use to either of them.

The recruiting-officer in Brisbane was not surprised to see a
weather-beaten old "bushie" walk into the depot, for there were many
such seeking to join the young lads in "this ding-dong scrap."  It was
only too evident that he was well over the age limit, but when they
told him he was too old, he offered to fight them singly or
collectively, or take on the best fighter their blank-blank army could
produce.  They managed to get him outside the door, but not before both
he and Nipper had left behind them proof of their quality in lost skin
and torn clothes.

Some days later old Mullins appeared again, leading Nipper on a chain.
Almost every one entrenched himself behind a table, but the old man had
no fight in him, declaring in a choking voice that Nipper had come to
enlist alone.  "He is not too old, anyway, and will deal with more of
the blank-blank swine than a hundred of your sissy, white-faced,
unweaned kids!"  One of the doctors had a heart in the right place and
wrote a letter to the commandant of a regiment soon going overseas,
asking him if he could not take the dog as a regimental pet.  He gave
the old man the letter and told him to take his dog out to the camp.

The colonel was not without understanding, and that is how Nipper
"joined up" to fight for democracy.

There were some who started out to teach Nipper tricks, but it was soon
discovered that he knew a good deal more than most of us.  He had a
keen sense of humor, and after some one would spend hours trying to
teach him to sit up, all of which time he would pretend he could not
understand what he was wanted to do, with a sly look he would suddenly
go through a whole repertoire of tricks, not merely sitting up, but
tumbling over backward, generally ending the performance by
"heeling-up" (nipping in the heel) all and sundry.  He never really bit
any one, but a lot of the new boys were nervous during this heeling-up
process.

Nipper was certainly the most intelligent of the whole canine race.  He
was continually trying out new tricks for our amusement and was in
ecstasy if they brought applause.  On a shot being fired he would
stretch out and pretend he was killed, but if you said, "White Flag!
Treachery!" he would come to life again as savage as a wolf.  If any
one scolded him he would lie down and wipe his eyes with his paw, which
was irresistible and turned the scolding voice into laughter.

There was one senior officer that Nipper suspected was a German, and
every chance he got he would sneak up and, without preliminary warning,
take a good hold of the seat of his trousers.  This major returned
Nipper's dislike with interest, and had it not been for the protection
of the colonel Nipper's career might have been cut short before we left
Australia.

Nipper never seemed to entertain much respect for the Army Service
Corps, and sometimes he would attack one of their wagons with such fury
as to clear the men off it and start the horses bolting.

These were his dislikes, but his one and only hate was a military
policeman.  Perhaps he had a guilty conscience; but the very sight of a
red-cap would make him foam at the mouth, and they sent in several
requests that they might be allowed to shoot him for their own
protection.  The boys in camp had no special love for the M. P.'s
either, and there was very nearly a pitched battle when Nipper appeared
one day with two raw welts across his back, suspicion being immediately
laid at their door.

Nipper always appeared on parade, and considered his position to be the
right flank when in line and right ahead of everybody when in column of
route.  If motor-car or horse vehicle was slow in giving way to us,
Nipper informed them who we were, which was one of the few occasions on
which he was heard to bark.  At first he had some narrow escapes, but
soon discovered that "heeling-up" a horse or the rear wheel of a moving
automobile was more risky than nipping at the heels of sheep or cow.

Once our adjutant had an argument with the owner of an automobile for
breaking through our column.  Nipper objected to a certain remark of
the slacker in the car, and without joining in the conversation leaped
into the car and dragged out his overcoat into the mud, not
relinquishing it until it was well soaked.

On board the troop-ship Nipper pined for the smell of the gum leaves,
and it was the only time when we lost patience with him, for every
night he would stand in the bow and howl.

The smells of Egypt disgusted Nipper, remembering the scents of the
Australian bush.  Only once did he make the mistake of heeling-up a
Gyppo, after which he made a great pretense of being very sick.  On
other occasions when he wanted them to keep their distance, he found
mere growling to have the desired effect.

The atmosphere of Egypt had a bad effect on Nipper's morals, and he
would sometimes disappear for days.  After a while the old reprobate
acquired the disgusting habit of eating sand, which not only showed how
far he had fallen from grace, but also had a serious effect on his
health.  On several occasions he had to be taken to the army medical
tent, and only the most drastic remedies saved his life.

One day the colonel read a letter he had received from old Mullins
inquiring if Nipper was still alive and reminding us that his meat had
always been cooked for him.  It almost made one believe in
reincarnation, for it was really uncanny, as no human being could more
contritely express remorse than did Nipper as he listened with tail
between his legs, whining most piteously.

He accompanied me on some scouting expeditions in the desert, but his
powers were failing, and I never trusted him after one occasion on
which he made a fool of me.  He showed all the symptoms of danger being
near; and sure enough on looking through my glasses I saw what appeared
to be a man with a rifle crouched behind a bush.  I took three men with
me and we made a long detour to approach from behind, but after all our
precautions and alarm we found nothing but a long stick leaning against
the bush and the shadow of a rock that looked something like a man.

In the end Nipper committed suicide, and this was the manner of his
going.  He was in the habit of swimming across the canal every morning
while we were at Ferry Post.  This morning, however, one of the boys
noticed him go under, and diving in after him was able, after some
difficulty, to get his body ashore.  He was quite stiff and we all of
us believed that he swam out a certain distance and gave up.

His bearing for days indicated that something was preying on his mind,
and as we did not know what cloud overshadowed his canine soul we
forbore to judge him.

His memory will remain for long in the hearts of those who knew him,
and we buried him in the burning sand of Arabia with the simple
inscription on a pine board:


  HERE LIES
  "NIPPER"

  DIED ON ACTIVE SERVICE,
  A TRUE COMRADE,----
  SACRIFICED TO "ON," [1]
  NO. 0000----REGIMENTAL PET----
  ----TH BRIGADE----HEATHEN.


and his identification disk was sent home to old Mullins and maybe
hangs in the old hut where, perhaps, the ghost walks no more and the
ashes of the fire smoulder undisturbed.


[1] The Egyptian sun-god.




PART III

GALLIPOLI




CHAPTER XII

THE ADVENTURE OF YOUTH

Fate has decided that Gallipoli shall always be associated with the
story of the Anzacs.  This name (which is formed from the initial
letters of the _A_ustralian _N_ew _Z_ealand _A_rmy _C_orps) does not
describe more than half the troops that were engaged in that fated
campaign, but it has so caught the popular fancy, that in spite of all
historians may do, injustice will be done in the thought of the public
to the English, Scotch, and Irish regiments and the gallant French
Colonial troops who played an equally heroic part.  There were
certainly no finer troops on the Peninsula--probably in the whole war
no unit has shown greater courage than did the glorious Twenty-ninth
British Division in the landing at Cape Helles.

No writer who accurately pictured these memorable months of our
"treading on the corns of the Turkish Empire" could leave out even the
loyal dark-skinned Britishers from the Hindustani hills and from the
Ganges.  There both Gourkas and Sikhs added to their reputation as
fighters.

Australia and New Zealand's part does not, in actual accomplishment or
in personal daring and endurance, outclass the doings of these others,
the larger half of the army.  But there is a romance and a glow about
the "Anzac" exploits that (rail at the injustice of it as you may)
makes a human-interest story that will elbow out of the mind of the
"man in the street" what other troops did.  In fact, every second man
one meets has the idea that the Australians and New Zealanders were the
only men there.

I don't intend to try and write the story of Gallipoli--I haven't the
equipment or the experience--John Masefield has written the only book
that need be read, and only a man who was in that outstanding
achievement of the landing on the 25th of April has a right to the
honor of associating his name in a chronicle of "_What I did!_"  What I
am going to attempt to do is just to picture it as a "winning of the
spurs" by the youngest democracy on earth.

There was something peculiarly fitting in the fate that ordained that
this adolescent nation of the South Seas should prove its fitness for
manhood in an adventure upon which were focussed the eyes of all
nations.  The gods love romance, else why was the youngest nation of
earth tried out on the oldest battlefield of history?  How those young
men from the continent whose soil had never been stained with blood
thrilled to hear their padres tell them as they gathered on the decks
of the troop-ships in the harbor of Lemnos, that to-morrow they would
set foot almost on the site of the ancient battlefield of Troy, where
the early Greeks shed their blood, as sung in the oldest battle-song in
the world.

These young Australians were eager to prove their country's worth as a
breeder of men.  Australians have been very sensitive to the criticism
of Old World visitors--that we were a pleasure-loving people, who only
thought of sport--that in our country no one took life seriously, and
even the making of money was secondary to football, and that we would
all rather win a hundred pounds on a horse-race than make a thousand by
personal exertion.  Practically every book written on Australia by an
Englishman or an American has said the same thing, that we were a
lovable, easy-going race, but did not work very hard, and in a serious
crisis would be found wanting.

The whole nation brooded over these young men, guardians of Australia's
honor, and waited anxiously for them to wipe out this slur.  That
explains Australia's pride in "Anzac."  It meant for us not merely our
baptism in blood--it was more even than a victory--for there, with the
fierce search-light of every nation turned upon it, our representative
manhood showed no faltering--but proved it was of the true British
breed, having nevertheless a bearing in battle that was uniquely its
own.  In this age of bravest men the Australian has an abandon in fight
which on every battlefield marks him as different from any other
soldier.

There is an insidious German propaganda suggesting that the Australians
are very sore at the failure on Gallipoli and that we blame the British
Government and staff for having sent us to perish in an impossible
task.  I want to say, that while in the Australian army, as private, N.
C. O. and officer, I never heard a single criticism of the government
for the Gallipoli business.  There is no man who was on the Peninsula
who does not admire General Sir Ian Hamilton, and most of the officers
believe that Britain has never produced a more brilliant general.  That
the expedition failed was not the fault of the commander-in-chief nor
of the troops.  And, anyway, we Australians are good enough sports to
realize that there must be blunders here and there, and we're quite
ready to bear our share of the occasional inevitable disaster.

But Gallipoli was not the failure many people think.  Some people seem
to have the idea that a hundred thousand troops were intended to beat a
couple of million, and take one of the strongest cities in the world.
There never was a time when the Turks did not outnumber us five to one,
when they did not have an enormous reserve, in men, equipment, and
munitions, immediately at their back, while our base was five hundred
miles away in Egypt.  The Turks had a Krupp factory at Constantinople
within a few hours of them, turning out more ammunition per day than
they were using, while ours had to come thousands of miles from
England.  Of course, we were never intended to take Constantinople.
The expedition was a purely naval one, and we were a small military
force, auxiliary to the navy, that was to seize the Narrows and enable
the ships to get within range of Constantinople, and so compel its
surrender.  We failed, in this final objective, but we accomplished a
great deal, nevertheless.  We held back probably a million Turks from
the Russians, and we left, in actual counted dead Turkish bodies, more
than double our own casualties (killed, wounded, and missing).  But,
above all, we definitely impressed the German mind with the fact that
Great Britain did not only mean the British Isles but the equally loyal
and brave fighters from Britain overseas.

Here is no history of Gallipoli, but let me try to sketch four pictures
that will show you the type of men that there joked with death and made
curses sound to angel ears sweeter than the hymns of the soft-souled
churchgoer.




CHAPTER XIII

THE LANDING THAT COULD NOT SUCCEED--BUT DID

Picture yourself on a ship that was more crowded with men than ever
ship had been before, in a harbor more crowded with ships than ever
harbor had been crowded before, with more fears in your mind than had
ever crowded into it before, knowing that in a few hours you would see
battle for the first time.  Having comrades crowding round, bidding you
good-bye and informing you that as _your_ regimental number added up to
thirteen, you would be the first to die, remembering that you hadn't
said your prayers for years, and then comforting yourself with the
realization that what is going to happen will happen, and that an
appeal to the general will not stop the battle, anyway, and you may as
well die like a man, and you will feel as did many of those young lads,
on the eve of the 25th of April, 1915.  There was some premonition of
death in those congregations of khaki-clad men who gathered round the
padres on each ship and sang "God be with you till we meet again."  You
could see in men's faces that they knew they were "going west" on the
morrow--but it was a swan-song that could not paralyze the arm or daunt
the heart of these young Greathearts, who intended that on this morrow
they would do deeds that would make their mothers proud of them.


  "For if you 'as to die,
  As it sometimes 'appens, why,
  Far better die a 'ero than a skunk;
  A' doin' of yer bit." [1]


As soon as church-parade was dismissed, another song was on the boards,
no hymn, maybe not fine poetry, but the song that will be always
associated with the story of Australia's doings in the great war,
Australia's battle-song--"Australia Will Be There"--immortalized on the
_Southland_ and _Ballarat_, as it was sung by the soldiers thereon,
when they stood in the sea-water that was covering the decks of those
torpedoed troop-ships.  It was now sung by every Australian voice, and
as those crowded troop-ships moved out from Lemnos they truly carried
"Australia," eager, untried Australia--where?

The next day showed to the world that "Australia would always be
_there_!" where the fight raged thickest.  Her sons might sometimes
penetrate the enemy's territory too far, but hereafter, and till the
war's end, they would always be in the front line, storming with the
foremost for freedom and democracy.

The landing could not possibly be a surprise to the Turks; the British
and French warships had advertised our coming by a preliminary
bombardment weeks previously--the Greeks knew all about our
concentration in their waters--and wasn't the Queen of Greece sister to
the Kaiser?

There were only about two places where we could possibly land, and the
Turks were not merely warned of our intentions, but they were warned in
plenty of time for them to prepare for us a warm reception.  The
schooling and method of the Germans had united with the ingenuity of
the Turks to make those beaches the unhealthiest spots on the globe.
The Germans plainly believed that a landing was impossible.

Think of those beaches, with land and sea mines, densely strewn with
barbed wire (even into deep water), with machine-guns arranged so that
every yard of sand and water would be swept, by direct, indirect, and
cross fire, with a hose-like stream of bullets; think of thousands of
field-pieces and howitzers ready, ranged, and set, so that they would
spray the sand and whip the sea, merely by the pulling of triggers.
Think of a force larger than the intended landing-party entrenched,
with their rifles loaded and their range known, behind all manner of
overhead cover and wire entanglements, and then remember that you are
one of a party that has to step ashore there from an open boat, and
kill, or drive far enough inland, these enemy soldiers to enable your
stores to be landed so that when you have defeated him, you may not
perish of starvation.  Far more than at Balaclava did these young men
from "down under" walk "right into the jaws of death, into the mouth of
hell!"  And the Turks waited till they were _well_ within the jaws
before they opened fire.  No one in the landing force knew where the
Turks were, and the Turks did not fire on us until we got to the zone
which they had so prepared that all might perish that entered there.
They could see us clearly, the crowded open boats were targets of naked
flesh that could not be missed.  Was there ever a more favorable
setting for a massacre?  The Turks in burning Armenian villages with
their women and children had not easier tasks than that entrenched
army.  Our men in the boats were too crowded to use their rifles, and
the boats were too close in for the supporting war-ships to keep down
the fire from those trenches.  How was any one left alive?  By
calculation of the odds not one man should have set foot on that shore.
Make a successful landing, enabling us to occupy a portion of that
soil!  What an impossible task!

[Illustration: Anzac Cove, Gallipoli.]

To the men in those boats and the men watching from the ships, it
appeared as if not merely the expedition had failed, but that not a man
of the landing force would survive.  Boats were riddled with bullets
and sunk--other boats drifted helplessly as there were not enough alive
to row them--men jumped into the bullet-formed spray to swim ashore but
were caught in the barbed wire and drowned.  Who could expect success,
but it nevertheless happened!  The Turks were sure that we could not
land, yet _we did_.  Not only did those boys set foot on those beaches,
but the remnant of that landing-party drove the Turks out of their
entrenchments up cliffs five hundred feet high, and entrenched
themselves on the summit.  How did they do it?  No one knows; the men
who were there don't know themselves.  Did heaven intervene?  Perhaps
spiritual forces may sometimes paralyze material.  It must be that
right has _physical_ might, else why didn't the Kaiser get to Paris?
Mathematics and preparedness were on his side; by all reasoning Germany
ought to have overwhelmed the world in a few months, with the
superiority of her armament, but she didn't.  The Turks ought to have
kept us off the Peninsula, by all laws of logic and arithmetic, _and
they didn't_.  I really think the landing succeeded because those boys
thought they had failed.

They must have believed themselves doomed--they could see that there
were too few to accomplish what was even doubtful when the force was
intact.  When they were on the shore they must have felt that it was
impossible that they could be taken off again.  All the time more were
falling, and soon it seemed that every last man must be massacred.
They made up their minds that, at any rate, they would get a few of the
swine before they went.  Every man believed that in the end he must be
killed, but determined to sell his life as dearly as possible, and that
made them the supermen that could not be "held back."  A whole platoon
would be cut down, but somehow one or two would manage to get into the
trench, where, of necessity, it was hand-to-hand work, and with
laughing disregard of the odds would lay out a score of the enemy and
send the others fleeing before them, who would yell out that they were
fighting demons from hell.  After the confusion in the boats, and from
the fact that in most cases companies were entirely without officers,
there was no forming up for charges--indeed, there were no orders at
all, but every man knew that he could not but be doing the right thing
every time he killed a Turk, so they just took their rifle and bayonet
in their naked hands and went to it.  There was no line of battle, it
was just here, there, and everywhere, khaki-clad, laughing demons,
seeking Turks to kill.

Never was there fighting like this.  All that day it went on.  On the
beach, up the cliff, in the gullies, miles inland were men fighting.
It was not a battle; it would have made a master of tactics weep and
tear his hair, but these man-to-man fights kept on.  Many were shot
from behind, many were wounded and fell in places where no one would
find them--some, fighting on, went in a circle and found themselves
back on the beach again.  However, at nightfall some had begun to dig a
shallow line of trenches, well inland across the cliff.  Single men and
small groups of them, not finding any more Turks where they were, fell
back into this ditch and helped deepen it.

Fresh Turks were massing for counter-attack, and soon came on with
fury, but we were something like an army now, and although the line had
to be shortened it never broke.  The landing had been made good, the
impossible had been achieved.  But there were many who died strange
deaths, many left way in, helpless, who could not be succored--many
whom the fighting lust led so far that when they thought of seeking
their comrades they found the barrier of a Turkish army now
intervening.  Strange, unknown duels and combats were fought that day.
Unknown are the "Bill-Jims" who killed scores with naked hand--there
were many such.  Though we beat the Turk with the odds in his favor,
yet this day and afterward he earned our respect as a fighting man.


  "East is East and West is West, and never
      the twain shall meet
  Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's
      great Judgment Seat.
  But there is neither East nor West, Border,
      nor Breed, nor Birth,
  When two strong men stand face to face, tho'
      they come from the ends of the Earth."


The Australian had proved himself the fiercest fighter of the
world. . .  As one naval officer remarked, they fought not as men but
devils.  Many have said that much of the loss of life was needless,
that had the Australians kept together and waited for orders not so
many would have been cut off in the bush.  It was true that the
impetuosity of many took them too far to return, but it was that very
quality that won the day.  They did not return, but they drove the Turk
before them and enabled others to dig in before he could re-form.  You
would have to go back to mediaeval times to parallel this fighting.
There were impetuosity, dash, initiative, berserker rage, fierce
hand-to-hand fighting, every man his own general.

These were not the only qualities of the Australian fighting men, but
these alone could have succeeded on that day.  When the time came for
evacuation of those hardly won and held trenches, these same troops
gave evidence of the possession of the opposite attributes of coolness,
silence, patience, co-ordination; every man acting as part of a single
unit, under control of a single will--which is discipline!


[1] Robert W. Service.




CHAPTER XIV

HOLDING ON AND NIBBLING

There are people who think that the Australian dash petered out with
that one supreme effort of landing.  We had achieved the impossible in
landing--why did we not in the many months we were there, do the
comparatively easy thing and advance?  Surely, now that we had stores
and equipment and artillery, we could more easily drive the Turks out
of their trenches.  So many seem to think that so much was done on that
first day, and so little thereafter.

But the Peninsula is not a story of mere impetuosity and dash, it is a
story of endurance as well.  As a matter of fact, those eight months of
holding on were as great a miracle as the landing.  There is a limit to
the physical powers even of supermen.  These men were not content with
the small strip of ground that they held, and they did attack and
defeat the Turks opposing them again and again, but as soon as a
Turkish army was beaten there was ever another fresh one to take its
place.  The Turks could not attack us at one time with an army
outnumbering us by ten to one, not because they had not the troops, but
because there was not room enough.  As a matter of fact, that little
army (only reinforced enough to fill up the gaps) defeated five Turkish
armies, each one larger than its own.  Remember, too, that the Turks
were always better equipped and supplied--it was so easy with their
chief city of Constantinople just within "coo-ee."  Our little army had
to be supplied with every single thing over thousands of miles of
water.  General Hamilton said the navy was father and mother to us, and
when it is remembered that every cartridge, every ounce of food, every
drop of water, every splinter of firewood had to be brought by the
ships, it will be seen that we could not have existed a single day
without their aid.  The Turks said often enough that they would push us
into the sea--they continually called on Allah to aid them--we were
only a handful after all; we only held a few hundred acres of their
filthy soil, but onto that we clung, sometimes by the skin of our
teeth.  And it was the weather, not the Turks, that made us leave in
the end.

Ever and anon we alarmed the Turk by nibbling a piece nearer to his
sacred city.  Never did men live under worse conditions than in those
eight months of hell, yet never was an army so cheerful.  "Bill-Jim,"
which is Australia's name for her soldier-boy, always makes the best of
things, and soon made himself at home on that inhospitable shore.

The first thing he decided needed alteration was his uniform.  Breeches
and puttees were not only too hot but they closed in the leg and
afforded cover to the lively little fellow who lives indiscriminately
on the soldiers of both sides.  As each soldier began to trim his
uniform to his own idea of comfort, it was soon, in very reality, a
"ragtime" army.  Some felt that puttees were a nuisance--everybody
realized that the breeches were too long, but differed on the point as
to how much too long.  Some would clip off six inches from the end,
others a foot, and others would have been as well covered without the
article at all.  Almost everybody decided that a tunic was useless, but
some extremists threw away shirt and singlet as well.  A Turkish army
order was captured which stated that the Australians were running short
of supplies, as they made one pair of trousers do for three men.
Evidently Johnny Turk could not understand the Australian disregard for
conventionality and his taking to nakedness when it meant comfort and
there were no women within hundreds of miles to make him conscious of
indecency.  Clothes that couldn't be washed wouldn't keep one's body
clean and became the home of an army that had no interest in the fight
for democracy.  The Australian showed his practical common sense in
discarding as much as possible--but, say, those boys would have caused
some amusement if drawn up for review!

Water was certainly the most precious thing.  There never was enough to
drink, but even then there are always men who would rather wash than
drink, and to see these men having their bath in a jam-tin just showed
how habit is, in many of us, stronger than common sense, for there was
never water enough to more than spread out the dirt or liquefy it so
that it would fill up the pores.  Others who must bathe adopted a more
effective but more dangerous proceeding.  Of course, the sea was
there--surely plenty of water for washing!  Just so, but this bath was
pretty unhealthy, for it was practically always whipped by shrapnel and
you went in at the risk of your life.  Some of the best swimmers used
to say it was all right so long as you dived whenever you heard the
screech of a shell--that the shrapnel pellets did not penetrate the
water more than a few inches.  Most men did without either of this
choice of baths, and used a scraper.  It was evidenced on the Peninsula
that one of the greatest of civilizers is a razor.  By necessity few
could shave, and you soon could not recognize the face of your best
chum as it hid itself beneath a growth of some reddish fungus.  Really
handsome features were quite blotted out, and it is now evident to me
why, in civilized life, we all so gladly go through the conventional
daily torture of face-scraping.

_Thirst_ is not a thing to joke about, however, and there were times
when the allowance of water was not enough to wash down a half-dozen
bites, and the food would stick in one's throat.

There was generally enough food but mighty little variety except just
before the evacuation when stores had to be eaten to save them being
taken away or destroyed.  It is all very well to say a man will eat
anything when he is hungry, but you can get so tired of bully-beef and
biscuits and marmalade-jam that your stomach simply will not digest it.
Machonochie's, which was a sort of canned Irish stew, wasn't bad, but
there wasn't always more than enough of that to supply the
quartermasters.  Still there were some great chefs on the Peninsula,
men who had got their training as cooks in shearers' camps, where
anything badly cooked would be thrown at their heads.  It was
marvellous how some of them could disguise a bully-beef stew, and I
have been told of men coming to blows over the merits of their
respective "company cooks."

There were more flies on the Peninsula than there was sand on the
shore, and they fought us persistently for every atom of food.  Getting
a meal was a hard day's work, for all the time you had to fight away
the swarms, and no matter how quick you were with your fork, you rarely
got a mouthful that hadn't been well walked over, and it didn't do to
think where those flies might have been walking just previously.  No
army ever had a better directed sanitary department, but, no matter how
clean we kept our trenches, the Turks just "loved" dirt and
"worshipped" flies, and their trenches were only ten yards away in one
place, and in no place were they far enough to make it a
record-breaking aerial flight for a fly.  Perhaps it was because they
were all Turkish-bred that the flies did us so much harm, for they
certainly accounted for more deaths than the shells or bullets.
Dysentery was rife all the time and there were times when not one man
was well.  If the doctors had known enough they would have put a
barrage of disinfectant in front of our trenches.  We put up sandbags
to stop the bullets, but no one had devised a method to stop those
winged emissaries of death.  Those who died from lead-poisoning were
but a score to the hundreds who died of fly-poisoning.

This is but a little of what holding on meant to that little force.
The Turk was not only a brave, but a "wily" fighter--snipers were
always giving trouble, and one never knew from which direction the next
shot was coming.  Men with "nerves" declared that our line must be full
of spies--sometimes a shot would come through the door of a dugout
facing out to sea.  These snipers were certainly brave fellows--some
were found covered with leaves--one was found in a cleft in the rock
where he must have been lowered by his comrades and he could not get
out without their help.  In the early days some of the Turkish officers
who could talk English even took the extreme risk of mixing among the
troops and passing false orders.  One of these spies was only
discovered through misuse of a well-known Australian slang-word.  No
one in the Australian army but knows the meaning of "dinkum."  Its
meaning is something the same as the American "on the level!" and is
probably the commonest word in the Australian soldier's vocabulary.  He
will ask: "Is that dinkum news?"  State that, "He's a dinkum fellow!"
and so on.  Well, one day a man in an Australian officer's uniform
spoke to some officers in a certain sector of trench, and said he
brought a message from headquarters.  He was getting a lot of
information and seemed to know several officers' names, but he bungled
over one of them, and on the officer he was speaking to inquiring, "Is
that dinkum?" he answered: "Yes, _that's_ his name!"  There was no
further investigation, he was shot dead on the spot.  The officer who
did it may have been hasty, but there can be no doubt that justice was
done, for he must have been either a Turk or a German and had already
found out too much.




CHAPTER XV

THE EVACUATION

Without warning, winter came down upon us.  No one guessed he was so
near.  We were still in our summer lack of clothing, and were not
prepared for cold weather, when like a wolf on the fold the blizzard
came down upon us.  This was the worst enemy those battered troops had
yet encountered.  Hardly any of those boys had ever seen snow and now
they were naked in the bitterest cold.  There were more cases of
frost-bite than there were of wounds in the whole campaign.  More had
their toes and fingers eaten off by Jack Frost than shells had
amputated.  In those open, unprotected trenches, in misery such as they
had never dreamed could be, the lads from sunny Australia stood to
their posts.  When the snow melted the trenches fell in and Turk and
Anzac stood exposed to each other's fire, but both were fighting a
common enemy and so hard went this battle with them as to compel a
truce in the fight of man against man.

Soon it was evident that our final objective of capturing the Narrows
could not be accomplished with the forces we had.  Directly the winter
gales would arrive and on those exposed beaches no stores could be
landed.  We had to leave and leave quickly, or starve to death.  So the
evacuation was planned.

No achievement in military history was better conceived or more
faithfully carried out.  Here was scope for inventive genius and many
were the devices used to bluff the Turk.  We schooled him in getting
used to long periods of silence.  At first he was pretty jumpy and
could not understand the change, when the men who had always given him
two for one now received his fire without retaliating.  After a while
he decided that as we were quite mad there was no accounting for our
behavior.  Then we scared him some more by appearing to land fresh
troops.  As a matter of fact, a thousand or so would leave the beach at
night and a few hundred return in the daylight under the eyes of the
Turkish aeroplanes, causing them to report concentration of more
troops.  Stores were taken out to the ships by night, and the empty
boxes brought back and stacked on the beaches during the day.  It must
have appeared as if we were laying in for the winter.

There were many inventive brains of high quality working at great
pressure during all the days of holding on, but one of the cleverest
ideas put into operation was the arrangement devised by an engineer
whereby rifles were firing automatically in the front-line trenches
after every man had left.  There is no doubt the Turks were completely
bluffed.  When the remaining stores were fired after being well soaked
with gasolene, the Turkish artillery evidently thought they had made a
lucky hit and they poured shells into the flames and completed for us
the work of destruction.  I doubt if they even found the name of a
Chicago packing-house on a bully-beef case, when next day they wandered
curiously through the abandoned settlement that for many months had
been peopled by the bronzed giants from farthest south.

The last men to leave the actual trenches were the remnant of the
heroic band that were the first to land.  They requested the honor of
this post of danger _and it could not be refused them_.  They must have
expected that their small company would be still further thinned; but
this place of miracles still had another in store, as the evacuation
was accomplished from Anzac itself without a casualty.

The last party to leave the beach was a hospital unit--chaplain,
doctors, and orderlies.  It was intended that they should remain to
care for the wounded, though they would necessarily fall into the hands
of the Turks.  It was not feared that they would be ill-treated, for
all the reports we had of prisoners in the hands of the Turks went to
show that they were well cared for.  In this as in other respects the
Turk showed himself to be much more civilized than the German.  It was
a pleasant surprise to be able to greet again these comrades, who but a
few minutes before we had commiserated on their hard luck; for they
came off in the last boats, there being no wounded to require their
services.  The padre, who was a Roman Catholic priest, said that he
missed the chance of a lifetime and would now probably never know what
the inside of a harem was like!

They were sad hearts that looked back to those fading shores.  It
almost seemed as if we were giving up a bit of Australia to the enemy.
Those acres had been taken possession of by Australian courage,
baptized with the best of the country's blood, and now held the sacred
dust of the greatest of our citizens, whose title to suffrage had been
purchased by the last supreme sacrifice.  Never were men asked to do a
harder thing than this--to leave the bones of their comrades to fall
into alien hands.  These were men white of face and with clenched fists
that filed past those wooden crosses and few who did not feel shame at
the desertion.  Some there were who whispered to the spirits hovering
near an appeal for understanding and forgiveness.  They wondered how
the worshippers of the Crescent would treat the dead resting beneath
the symbols that to them represented an accursed infidel faith.  There
are cravens in Australia who suggest that she has done more than her
share in this struggle, but while one foot of soil that has been
hallowed by Australian blood remains in the hands of the enemy the man
who would withhold one man or one shilling is not only no true
Australian but no true man--a dastard and a traitor.

When peace shall dawn and the Turk shall heed the voice of United
Democracy as it proclaims with force, "Thou shall not oppress, nor
shalt thou close the gates of these straits again!" then shall visitors
from many lands wander through these trenches and marvel what kind of
men were they that held them for so long against such odds, and gaze at
the honeycombed cliff where twentieth-century men lived like
cave-dwellers, and sang and joked more than the abiders in halls of
luxury.

To-day the name Anzac is the envy of all other soldiers, and while none
would want to live that life again, every man who was there rejoices in
the memory of the association and comradeship of those days.  Read the
"Anzac Book" and you will see that there was much talent and many a
spark of genius in that army.  But only those who were there know of
the many busy brains that worked overtime devising improvements in the
weapons that were available, and ever seeking to invent contrivances
that added to comfort.  Many of the inventions are forgotten, but some
are in use in France to-day, notably the "periscope rifle" or
"sniperscope" and the "thumb periscope" which is no thicker than a
man's finger.  It was found that our box-periscopes were always being
smashed by the Turkish snipers; so one ingenious brain collared an
officer's cane and scooped, out the centre.  With tiny mirrors top and
bottom, it was a very effective periscope, and soon most officers were
minus their canes.  Some very good bombs were made from jam-tins with a
wad of guncotton, and filled up with all manner of missiles.  These
improvised bombs were risky to handle, and some men lost their lives
through carelessness, though probably there were nearly as many
accidents through overcaution.  They would generally be provided with a
five-second fuse, and you were supposed to swing three times before
throwing.  Some men who had not much faith in the time-fuse threw the
bombs as soon as the spark struck, which gave the Turks time to return
them.  Both sides played this game of catch, but I think we were the
better at it.  The way of lighting the fuse was to hold the head of a
match on the powder stream, drawing the friction-paper across it.  This
generally caught immediately, but after a while some one introduced the
idea of having burning sticks in the trench, and a "torchman" would
pass down the trench lighting each fuse.  One man was not sure that the
spark had caught and began blowing on it and was surprised when it blew
his hand off.  We would drop on top of the Turks' bombs a coat or
sand-bag, and it was surprising how little damage was done.  If you put
a sheet of iron on top of one, or a sand-bag full of earth, it would
make the explosion very much worse, but loose cloth would spread out
and make a spring-cushion by compression of the air above.

There was another use made of empty jam-tins: they were tied to our
barbed wire so that if any Turk tried to get through he would make a
noise like the cowbells at milking-time.  Talking about barbed wire,
Johnny Turk played a huge joke on us on one occasion.  As the staking
down of wire was too risky, we prepared some "knife-rests" (hedges of
wire shaped like a knife rest) and rolled them over our parapet, but
opened our eyes in amazement to find in the morning that they had only
stopped a few feet from the Turkish trenches.  The Turks had sneaked
out and tied ropes to them and hauled them over to protect themselves.
Thereafter we took care to let Abdul do his own wiring.




CHAPTER XVI

"SHIPS THAT PASS . . ."

Although we did not capture the Narrows (that narrow stream of water
through which a current runs so swiftly that floating mines are carried
down into it faster than the mine-sweepers could gather them up), this
did not prevent at least one representative of the navy from passing
that barrier.  This was the Australian submarine, A2.  It may not be
generally known that Australia had two submarines at the outbreak of
war.  These would appear antediluvian alongside the latest underwater
monster, but, nevertheless, one of these accomplished a feat such as no
German submarine has ever approached.  The first of our submarines met
an unknown fate as it disappeared somewhere near New Guinea.  There has
been much speculation as to what happened to it, but its size can be
guessed at when I mention that a naval officer told me he thought it
probable that a shark had eaten it.  As was the same type, but it
achieved lasting fame in that it passed under the mine-field, through
the Narrows, across the Sea of Marmora, and into the port of
Constantinople.  Right between the teeth of the Turkish forts and fleet
it sank seven Turkish troop-ships and returned safely.  A certain town
in Australia that was called "Germanton" has been rechristened
"Holbrook" in honor of the commander of this gallant little craft.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Every one has heard the story of the destruction of the _Emden_ by the
Australian cruiser _Sydney_, but it is worth bringing to notice that
the captain of the _Emden_ was of a different type from the pirates who
have made the German sailor the most loathed creature that breathes.
It is hard to believe that he was a German, for it seems incredible
that a German sailor would refrain from sinking a ship because there
was a woman on board.  One can imagine that he would be ostracized by
his brother officers of the wardroom, for he actually had accompanying
him a spare ship on which to put the crews of the ships he sank.  One
can hardly imagine him sitting at mess with the much-decorated murderer
of the women and children on the _Lusitania_, and it is the latter who
is the popular hero in Germany.  There are none more ready than the
Australian soldiers to show chivalry to an honorable foe, and when the
_Sydney_ brought Captain Mueller and the crew of the _Emden_ among the
troop-ships these prisoners were cheered again and again.  They could
not understand their reception, but the lads from Australia admired
these brave men for their plucky fight and clever exploits.  Would
they, had they not been captured early in the war, have changed and
become like the vile, cowardly sharks that infest the seas in U-boats?

      *      *      *      *      *      *

The Great War is writing history on such a large scale that the old
classic stories of heroism and devotion to duty will be forgotten by
the next generation.  The story of the _Birkenhead_ has always been
considered the highest illustration of discipline and steadiness in the
face of death evinced by any troops, but the citizen-soldiers from the
young Australian democracy have in this war given on two occasions
proof that they possessed the same qualities.  The _Southland_ has been
written in letters of gold on the pages of Australia's history.  When
the sneaking U-boat delivered its deadly blow in the entrails of this
crowded troop-ship, there was no more excitement than if the
alarm-bugles had summoned them to an ordinary parade.  Some of the boys
fell in on deck without their life-belts, but were sent below to get
them.  They had to go, many of them, to the fourth deck, but they
scorned to show anxiety by proceeding at any other pace than a walk.
It was soon evident that there were not enough boats left to take all
off and so none would enter them and leave their comrades to go down
with the ship.  They began to sing "Australia Will Be There"--


  "Rally round the banner of your country,
  Take the field with brothers o'er the foam,
  On land or sea, wherever you be,
  Keep your eye on Germany.
  For England home and beauty
  Have no cause to fear--
  Should old acquaintance be forgot--
  No--no--no, no, no--
  Australia will be the-re-re-re!
  Australia _will_ be there!"


Some one called out, "Where?" and the answer came from many
throats--"In hell, in five minutes!" and it looked like it.  But
nothing in a future life could hold any terrors for the man who had
campaigned during a summer in Egypt.  In the end volunteers were taken
into the stokehole and the _Southland_ was beached.  The colonel was
drowned and there were a few other casualties, but most escaped without
a wetting, so what looked like an adventure turned out to be a pretty
tame affair after all.  But Australia will ever remember how those boys
stood fast with the dark waters of death washing their feet and, like
Stoics, waited calmly for whatever Fate would send them.  This epic of
Australian fortitude was written in September, 1915, and is part of the
Dardanelles story.

But the latest troops from Australia are of the same heroic stuff as
those who wrote the name "Anzac" with their blood on the Gallipoli
beach.  For the _Southland_ incident was duplicated in almost every
particular on the _Ballarat_ in April, 1917.  This story was enacted in
the waters of the English Channel, and there were no casualties, for
the work of rescue by torpedo-boats was made easy as each man calmly
waited his turn and enlivened the monotony meanwhile with ragtime, and
again and again did the strains of "Australia Will Be There!" ring out
over the waters.  As they sang "So Long, Letty," many substituted other
Christian names, and it looked as if it might be "so long" in reality.
But they knew that to an Australian girl there would be no "sadness of
farewell" when she realized that her lover had been carried heavenward
by the guardian angel that waits to bear upward the soul of a hero.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

"Big Lizzie" (the _Queen Elizabeth_) was for many months queen of the
waters round Gallipoli.  Her tongue boomed louder than any other, and
it was always known when she spoke.  She was the latest thing in
dreadnoughts then, just commissioned, and the largest ship afloat.
Though since that time the British navy has added several giants that
dwarf even her immense proportions.  The boys in the trenches and on
the beach at Anzac never failed to thrill with pride as they heard her
baying forth her iron hate against the oppressor.  We knew that
wherever her ton-weight shells fell there would be much weeping and
gnashing of teeth among the enemy.  We readily believed all the stories
told of her prowess, no matter how impossible they seemed.  No one
doubted even when we heard that she had sunk a boat in the Sea of
Marmora twenty-seven miles away, firing right over a mountain.  She was
there before our eyes an epitome of the might and power of the British
navy that had policed the seas of the world, sweeping them clear of the
surface pirate and also confining the depredations of the underwater
assassin, so that all nations except the robber ones, might trade in
safety.  How true it is that the British navy has been the guarantor of
the freedom of the seas, so that even in British ports over the whole
wide world all nations should have equality of trade!  Never has this
power been used selfishly: take for instance, the British dominions of
the South Seas, where American goods can be sold cheaper than those of
Britain, for the shorter distance more than compensates for the small
preference in tariff.  The almost unprotected coast of the American
continent has been kept free of invaders; its large helpless cities are
unshelled, because "out there" in the North Sea the British navy
maintains an eternal vigilance.


After some valuable battleships were sent to the bottom by the German
submarines it was realized that "Big Lizzie" was too vulnerable and
valuable to be kept in these waters; so in the later months her place
was taken by some weird craft that excited great curiosity among the
sailormen.  These were the "monitors" which were just floating
platforms for big guns.  They were built originally for the rivers of
South America, but it was discovered that their shallow draft made them
impervious to torpedo attack; and as they were able to get close in
shore, their big guns made havoc of the Turkish defenses.  They do not
travel at high speed and appear to waddle a good deal, but they have
been most invaluable right along, and were of great assistance lately
to the Italians in holding up the German drive.  They have been used
also around Ostend and are of prime importance wherever the flank of an
army rests on the sea.  I have picked up portions of their shells and
seen the shrapnel lying like hail on sand-hills in Arabia (more than
twenty miles from the Suez Canal, which was the nearest waterway).


We also passed some other amazing-looking craft which were being towed
down the Red Sea.  They looked like armored houseboats, and were for
use up the Tigris.  I should not like to have been boxed up in one, for
it looked as if they would have to use a can-opener to get you out, and
it did not appear to me as though the sides were bullet-proof.  But
trust the Admiralty to know what they are doing!  Pages could be filled
with the mere cataloguing of the various kinds of ships used by the
navy in this war, and I am told that these river "tanks" were the prime
factor in the advance in Mesopotamia.


A marine court would decide that the _River Clyde_ was not a ship at
all but a fortress.  There was a naval engagement in this war when two
ships were refused their share of the prize money for the capture of
German ships because they were anchored, the sea lawyers decreeing that
they were forts.

But the old, sea-beaten collier _River Clyde_ deserves to be remembered
as a ship that has passed, for before she grounded on the beach she
carried in her womb as brave a company of heroes as have ever
emblazoned their deeds on a nation's roll of honor.  The wooden horse
that carried Ulysses and the heroic Greeks into the heart of ancient
Troy did not enclose a braver band than were these modern youths shut
within the ironsides of the old tramp steamer which bore them into the
camp of their enemies somewhere near the supposed site of the Homeric
city.

Doors had been cut in the sides of the old steamer, and lighters were
moored alongside with launches.  When she ran aground these lighters
were towed round so as to form a gangway to the shore, and the troops
poured down onto them.  The Turks were as prepared in this case to
repel an attack as at Anzac, and held their fire until the ship was
hard and fast.  They then had a huge target at pointblank range on
which to concentrate leaden hail from machine-guns and rifles aided by
the shells from the Asiatic forts.  Few lived in that eager first
rush--some jumped into the sea to wade or swim, but were shot in the
water or drowned under weight of their equipment.  Again and again the
lighters broke from their moorings, and many brave swimmers defied
death to secure them.  One boy won the Victoria Cross for repeatedly
attempting to carry a rope in his teeth to the shore.  But the crosses
earned that day if they were awarded would give to the glorious
Twenty-Ninth Division a distinction that none would begrudge them.  The
regiments of the Hampshires, Dublin, and Munster Fusiliers added in a
few hours more glory to their colors than past achievements had given
even such proud historic names as theirs.

The landing at Cape Helles and the wooden horse are beacons of the
Gallipoli campaign that shine undimmed alongside the Australian-New
Zealand landing at Anzac which, as a rising sun, proclaimed the dawn of
the day of their nationhood.


Another "ship that passed" and in its passing wrought havoc on the
enemy was one too small to support a man.  It was a tiny raft, and it
was propelled by one-man power, who swam ashore from a destroyer,
towing this craft which was to bluff the Turks into believing that a
whole army was descending upon them.  The man was Lieutenant Freyberg,
and on the raft he carried the armament that was to keep a large
Turkish force standing to arms at Bulair (the northern-most neck of the
Peninsula) when they might have been preventing the landing on the
other beaches.  The weapons this gallant young officer used were merely
some flares which he lit at intervals along the beach, and then went
naked inland to overlook the army he was attacking.  Leaving them to
endure for the rest of that night the continual strain of a momentarily
expected attack, he then swam out to sea, for five miles, searching
anxiously for the destroyer that was to pick him up.  After several
more hours of floating he was sighted by the rescuing ship and taken on
board, exhausted and half dead.  The Turkish papers stated that "the
strong attack at Bulair was repulsed with heavy losses by our brave
defenders."

This hero, who is a New Zealander, and now Brigadier-General Freyberg,
V.C., is well-known in California and was at Leland-Stanford University.




PART IV

THE WESTERN FRONT




CHAPTER XVII

FERRY POST AND THE SUEZ CANAL DEFENSES

The first attack on the Suez Canal caused the authorities to realize
the need of protecting the canal by having a line of defense in Arabia
far enough east to prevent the enemy reaching the waterway itself.  For
if the Turks should again appear on the banks of the canal, they might
easily put enough explosives in it to blow it up.  So vital is this
artery of the British Empire that a German general stated that if they
struck a blow there they would sever the empire's neck.  The Turkish
attempt to cross the canal was easily frustrated, and of the Anzacs
only a few New Zealanders had a part in the scrap; but the iron boats
that they carried across the desert are in the museum in Cairo and will
be for generations "souvenirs" of this enterprise.

After the evacuation of Gallipoli there were constant rumors of another
attack being contemplated, and for several months the Australians and
New Zealanders were kept in Egypt for the defense of the canal.  Before
we dug the trenches in Arabia (which were about ten miles east of the
canal) passengers on steamers passing through it had some lively
experiences, as the Bedouins of the desert would sometimes amuse
themselves by sniping at those on board, and the wheel-house and bridge
had to be protected by sand-bags.

We were camped first at Tel-el-Kebir and then at Ferry Post, near
Ismailia (where the canal enters the Bitter Lake).  Those who took part
in the march from Tel-el-Kebir will not forget it in a hurry.  The
camels bolted with our water and we only had our water-bottles in a
hundred miles across the desert.  By the time we reached the Sweet
Water Canal we were panting like dogs, our tongues swollen and hanging
out, our lips cracked and bleeding.  There were many poor fellows just
crazed for need of a drink, under that awful sun that was like the open
furnace-door of hell, with the sand filling every orifice in our faces
and parching our throats till they were inflamed.  We were warned that
the Sweet (or fresh) Water Canal was full of germs and that to drink it
might possibly mean death, but most of us were too far gone in the
agony of thirst to care whether the drink were our last, and we threw
ourselves down at the water's edge and lapped it up like dogs.
Fortunately, there were few ill effects, and the medical staff was not
overworked because of it.  There might have been many casualties,
though, if it had not been for the New Zealanders, who, hearing of our
plight, came out with water-carts and ambulances and picked up those
who had fallen by the way.

At Ferry Post there was a reorganization of the Australian battalions
and we lost many of our old pals--alas! never to meet again this side
of eternity.

This was the concentration camp whence brigades were despatched for a
spell of trench-digging and guard duty at the outpost line.  There was
a good deal of rivalry between us and another brigade known as "The
Chocolate Soldiers."  They received this nickname because they were the
most completely equipped unit that ever left Australia.  They were
commanded by a well-known public man, and the womenfolk had seen that
they lacked nothing in sweaters or bed-socks.  They had a band for
every battalion, while we had to tramp along without the aid of music
to enliven our lagging steps.  Maybe we were a bit jealous, because
they on several occasions went by train when we had to hoof it.  When
we went to relieve them in the trenches we met on a narrow concrete
roadway where there was only room for one set of fours.  The proper way
to pass would have been for each to form two deep, but our boys
spontaneously called out, "Give the gentlemen the road!" and we stepped
aside into the sand.  It took us about half an hour to pass, and all
the time there was a running fire of comment.  To no one in particular
our fellows would remark, "Why, look?  Some of them even shave!"  "What
a nice _figure_ that captain has!"  "They let them have real guns,
too!" and as the transport passed piled high with officers' kits, there
was a shout of "There go their feather beds!"

We had a sports meeting in the desert, and everybody in our brigade
from the brigadier down to the cook's off-sider was delirious with joy
when we carried off the "championship cup," beating the "Chocolates" by
two or three points.  We might not have been so elated had not the
"Chocs." been such "nuts" on themselves, for they had been offering ten
to one on their chances.

The part of the trenches that we occupied was known as "Hog's Back."
On our left was "Duntroon" (named after the Australian West Point).  In
front of us was a peculiarly shaped hill called "Whale Back."  We did
not live in the trenches themselves, as they were continually falling
in and had to be cleaned out again practically every day.  Our supplies
were brought within about three miles on a light tramway.  Sometimes we
went short, as this train had a habit of turning over when rounding a
corner and emptying our much-needed tucker in the bottom of the gully.

From the rail-head, which was also the end of the pipe-line, food and
water were loaded onto camels; and as I had seen something of camel
transport in western Queensland, I was for a few weeks put in charge of
the camel-loading.  Camels are curious beasts and know to an ounce the
weight they carried yesterday, and if you attempt to put on them one
jam-tin more they will curse you long and loud, end up with some very
sarcastic and personal remarks, and then submit to the injustice under
protest.  They are very revengeful and will harbor a grudge for days,
waiting their chance to bite your arm off when they can catch you
unawares.  A camel's load has to be equal weight on each side, and it
was some problem making a ham and a side of beef balance a case of
canned goods.  These camels were a mongrel breed, anyway, and poor
weight-carriers.  We usually put an eight-hundred-pound load on a camel
in Queensland--I have seen one carrying two pianos--but these beasts
would not carry more than two hundred pounds.  A camel has never really
been tamed and they protest against everything they are asked to do.
They growl and swear when made to kneel, and make as much fuss again
when urged to get up.  Their skin never heals from a cut or sore, but
they can have no feeling in it, for the Arabs simply stitch a piece of
leather over the place.  An old camel is all shreds and patches.  They
have to be provided with separate drinking-places from the horses, for
they put germs in the water that give the horses some kind of disease.
They are unsociable brutes and ought to be segregated, anyway.  No
wonder every high-bred horse is terrified at the smell of a camel; the
first time you meet one it is like a blow in the face and remains a
weight on your mind until the camel is a long way to leeward.  They had
a special objection to carrying fresh water, and nearly always bolted
when they discovered it was "Adam's ale" that was swishing about on the
outside of their hump.  Perhaps it reminded them of their last week's
drink.  The result for us was that when the transport arrived there
would be no water, and Mr. Ishmail and his camel would have to beat a
hasty retreat from the rage of the boys, for water was our chief need,
and it seems to me that there never was a time in those trenches that I
wasn't thirsty.

[Illustration: An Australian Camel Corps.]

I had some fun scouting in the desert, but on several occasions was
very nearly lost when there were no stars, and hills had been altered
in shape by the wind since I last passed them.  We were expecting an
attack by the Turks, and some camel patrols we sent out reported signs
of camps but no sight of the enemy.  As a consequence of these rumors
our sentries were very nervous, and we scouts ran considerable risk
returning to our lines before daylight.  I was very nearly shot on
several occasions, and once was within an ace of firing on one of my
best pals.  I saw a figure in the dark and, sneaking up to it, called
out: "Put up your hands!"  He did so, but then foolishly dropped them
again.  If he had not called out, "Who the hell are you?" at the same
moment, he would have been a dead man.

A squadron of our Light Horse discovered a Turkish well-boring party in
the desert.  They were under command of an Austrian engineer, but soon
surrendered when they saw that they were surrounded.  This made us sure
that the Turkish army could not be far away, but our aeroplanes
reported no signs of it.  A few weeks later an attack was made by about
twenty thousand Turks on the Scottish regiment holding the line to the
north of us and we had a bit of a skirmish with their flank guard.
They surprised us completely; the fight was fought mostly in pyjamas on
our part, but we had little difficulty in driving them off.  This raid
was some achievement and I take off my hat to the man who planned it.
They came across those many miles of desert without being seen,
bringing with them even six-inch guns.  They bluffed our aeroplanes by
only travelling at night and hiding under sand-colored canvas in the
daytime.  Their heavy transport was moved by laying a track in front of
it, taking it up behind as it passed on and putting it down in front
again.

We captured a lone Turk soldier nursing his blistered feet in the
desert and he was delighted to join us.  We also brought in at the same
time a Bedouin who evidently thought we were some species of game, for
although he fired on us he had no love for his Turkish companion and
could not be persuaded to keep him company.  The only request I heard
this Turk make was for one of our uniforms.  He kept pointing out the
filth of his own clothes, so I had some water given to him to wash
them, but this did not satisfy him at all.  It was not the cleanliness
of our uniforms he admired, but the cut and material.  Perhaps this was
policy, for generally the Turkish prisoners would remark: "Englisher
very good--German damn bad!"

After this we returned to Ferry Post again and it was almost like going
home for we had daily swims in the canal and plenty of liquid
refreshment, the wet canteen doing a roaring trade.  We were also able
to buy luxuries, such as biscuits and canned puddings; and even relieve
the monotony of marmalade jam with "bullocky's joy."  This last is
merely molasses or "golden syrup" called "bullocky's joy," sometimes
"cocky's delight" because it is the chief covering for slices of bread
with the bullock-driver or cocky farmer in Australia.

When a steamer was passing through the canal during our bathing-parades
we had to get in up to the neck as we were warmly clad with merely a
tin identity-disk hung round our necks on a piece of dirty string.
Some of the passengers would throw into the water tins of tobacco and
cigarettes; and there were some sprints for these made in record time,
I tell you.  Sometimes we would receive messages from home and it was
surprising how often the man whose name was called out would chance to
be present.  There were occasions, however, when some one would call
out from the ships: "D'you know Private Brown of the Yorkshires?" and
we would have to explain that we were Australians.  I suppose we could
not expect them to recognize us dressed as we were, though our language
should have given them a hint.  On our part we would inquire if the war
was still on, and tell them to give our regards to King George.

One morning the camp was all agog and the air thick with "furphies."
We were ordered to get ready for embarkation, and speculation was rife
as to our destination.  Some said we were going to Mesopotamia.  Others
had it from a reliable source that we were bound for Salonika.  _Some
one said, that some one told them, that they had heard_, that a sentry
outside the general's tent had overheard the general talking in his
sleep and _we were to make another attack on the Dardanelles_!  There
were few who guessed we were going to France, such being too good to be
true, and only the bold ones dared to whisper "that it might be so,"
but they were immediately told to "Shut up!  Don't be an ass!  Hasn't
our luck been out ever since we left Australia?"  I really think we
were afraid to voice our hopes aloud lest Fate should overhear us, and
if the word "France" was mentioned by accident we all immediately
touched wood, a handy pal's head serving the purpose.

When we took train for Alexandria our hearts beat almost to suffocation
and it was only when the troop-ship cleared the harbor, and eager eyes
watching the compass saw her course was set N.W., that we gave a cheer,
feeling that at last we might have a chance to show our mettle with the
Canadians and Tommies, where the biggest fight was raging.

Before we left the wharf our kits were inspected and cut down to
absolutely the minimum weight.  Transport space was limited, but it
broke many of our hearts to part with the sweater "Phyllis" made.  We
could only keep two pairs of socks; some boys had at least fifty.  In
one boy's pack there was a red pair and he was thereafter always known
as "Coldfeet."  No one wept at leaving Egypt, and France held all the
fruit of our dreams.




CHAPTER XVIII

FIRST DAYS IN FRANCE . . .

We had some excitement crossing from Alexandria to Marseilles, and the
troop-ship ahead of us was torpedoed, though no lives were lost.  But
it was great to see our watch-dog of a destroyer chase after the
submarine.  The transport I was on was going over twenty-two knots, but
the destroyer passed us as though we were standing still.  The captain
of our ship said she was doing forty-seven knots.  At any rate, she
rammed the submarine and must have appeared, through their periscope,
just as a huge wave.

How excited those French people were over us Australians!  They pelted
us with flowers and sweets, and, while no one objected to the embraces
of the girls, we thought it a bit too much when the men as well threw
their arms around us and kissed us on both cheeks.  French customs were
new to us, and some of the boys thought the men were crazy.

We weren't allowed much time to enjoy the gayeties of this lovely
French seaport, but were marched off to the train and sent north to the
big show.  We thought we had never seen such lovely scenery as the
south of France.  I am not going to say that we have not just as good
in Australia, but the wonderful greenness and the trees were such a
change to us after Egypt that the boys just hung from the
carriage-windows, and as there was a good number that could not get
these vantage-points, they scrambled onto the roofs of the carriages,
so as not to miss any of that wonderful panorama of ever-changing
beauty.

We did not leave that train until we were well within sound of the
guns, and then disentrained at a small village named Morbecque.  We
went into tents in a farmyard, and the very first evening began to make
acquaintances among the villagers.

The Huns had only been there a day or two in their march on Paris, and
during that time the inhabitants had made themselves scarce.  But
enough damage had been done in the houses during those two days to make
every man, woman, and child speak with disgust of the filthy "boche."

Everybody was very willing to make friends with us Australians, but the
difficulties of language prevented a very rapid growth in knowledge of
each other.  All were on the hunt for souvenirs, and on the second day
hardly a man had a button left on his coat.  Orders were issued that
the buttons be replaced before the next parade, and it was amusing to
hear the boys trying to explain to the village shop-mistress what they
wanted.  It ended in their ransacking the stock themselves, but I do
not think any one found many buttons of the same kind, and our uniforms
did not look as smart as usual, as somehow blouse-buttons do not seem
to go well with a uniform.

These people were simple and religious, as I found most of the French
people to be, at least the country-folk.  I received no less than six
crucifixes that I was assured by the charming donors would protect me
from all danger, as they had been blessed by certain archbishops, the
favorite being the archbishop of Amiens.  I was mean enough to remark
to one of them that it was a wonder any of the Frenchmen ever were
killed.  After I had been in the trenches I met again the daughter of
the mayor, who had given me one of these crucifixes to wear around my
neck.  I informed her how a bullet had passed between my eye and the
telescope I was using, laying open my cheek.  She was quite sure that
the bullet was going through my temple but had been diverted by the
power of the charm, and fourteen "aves" she said for me every day.

While at this village I saw both a wedding and a funeral, but the
funeral was by far the most spectacular of the two.  The whole of the
outside of the house was covered with black cloth--it must have taken a
hundred yards--and processions of boys and girls went back and forth
from church to house for several days, singing the most doleful music.
Every one in the village attended the burial, and I really think
enjoyed the show.

For six days we lay snug in this village, every day going for
route-marches of fifteen to twenty miles to harden us up again after
the soft days on the transport.  We knew we were on the lip of the
caldron of war, for day and night we heard the rumbling of the guns.

Then on the seventh day I was chosen as one of a party to go up to the
trenches and find out the positions we were to take over.  We went by
train a few miles nearer the line, and the guns grew ever louder.
Then, after a ten-mile walk, we came suddenly to a barrier across the
road, and a notice telling us that from this point parties of not more
than six must proceed in single file, walking at the side of the road.
Our flesh began to creep a little as we thought on the sinister need
for these precautions.

After about five miles of this, on stepping through a hedge we suddenly
found ourselves in a communication-trench.  This trench was not very
deep, and a tall man's head would project over the top.  It was
surprising how many of us thought we were six-footers and acquired a
stoop, lest the tops of our hats show.

You are always nervous the first time in a new trench, as you do not
know the danger-spots and are not even quite sure in which direction
the enemy lies, for the communication-trench zigzags so.  However, you
generally acquire a bravado which you do not feel, for you see the old
residents walking unconcernedly about, and you dare not let them see
your nervousness.  I remember on this morning we stepped right into
hell.  The "boche" evidently caught sight of one of our parties, and
may have thought that a "change over" was taking place, for we had
hardly got to the front line when he started to pour shells upon it.
Gaps were torn in the communication-trench behind us, and shells were
falling so thick when we turned into the trench that we soon saw we had
not chosen a favorable time to "talk dispositions" with the battalion
in the line.  When they realized, however, that we would most likely
relieve them in a day or two, they almost fell on our necks with joy,
for they had been five weeks in these trenches, and thought that they
were there for good.  There was little rejoicing among us, however,
for, of our party of sixteen, seven were killed and four wounded in
that visit of a few hours.  Two sergeants (who had just been chosen for
commissions) were blown to pieces as I was talking to them.  As I
turned to reply to a question addressed to me by one of them the shell
came, and in a second there was not enough left of either for
identification.  I picked myself up unhurt.  Shells seem to have a way
with them--one man being taken, and the other left.  And it is not
always the man nearest the shell that is taken.

They told me to go back to the support-trenches for tea; about three
hundred yards, and the communication-trench that I had to travel down
was as unhealthy as any place I have ever been in.  I was told the
reason the enemy had its range so accurately was that it was of their
own building.  The support-trenches seemed to be getting more shells,
even than the front line, and it looked as if I was walking out of the
frying-pan into the fire.

Tea was the last thing I was wanting, but, as others were eating, I had
to put up a bluff, though I felt it would be a sinful waste if I were
to be killed immediately afterward.

That first day, however, took away most of my fears, and thereafter I
got to fancy I possessed a charmed life and the bullet or shell was not
made that would harm me.

The most surprising thing of the life over there is the narrow escapes
one has.  There are scores of men who have been in almost every battle
from the beginning, and are still there, and that day it seemed truly
as if I walked in a zone of safety, as shells would fall in front of me
and behind, and even pushed in the parapet against which I was leaning,
and I did not even get shell-shock.

I sat with my "dixie" of stew and lid of tea in the open doorway of a
dugout, and the whiz-bangs passed within twenty yards of me and pelted
me with pieces of dirt, but nothing hard enough to break the skin
struck me.  We did not learn much about those trenches on this visit,
and were a sad little party that went back to our companions with the
news of what had befallen our comrades and the perils awaiting them.
The two remaining days spent in that little village were full of
foreboding.  Those who had "gone west" were well loved, and but
yesterday so full of the joy of life.

Nearly every one wrote home those nights, as it might be for the last
time.

Under fire men are affected in different ways, but as for myself, I
must admit that after that first day I felt I was not to die on the
battlefield, and this gave me a confidence that many of my comrades
thought was due to lack of fear.  Strange to say, this feeling of
security left me only on the night I was wounded, many months later.
But of that in its proper place.

When we left Morbecque, the whole of the inhabitants turned out to bid
us farewell.  Many of the women wept, and though we had only been there
a week, we felt we were leaving old friends.

We knew something of what these French people had already paid in
defending that in which we were as much concerned.  There was not a
young man in the whole neighborhood, and it was the old grandfathers
and grandmothers that worked the farms.

Our hearts had warmed to France, before we knew the lovable French
people themselves, because she had borne the brunt in the first years
of the war, and her soil had been ravaged, and her women so unspeakably
maltreated.  And it seemed that the French people took especial
interest in us Australians who had come twelve thousand miles to join
in this fight in defense of the world's liberty.

This war has done more to make known to each other the people of the
world than any other event in history.  Many of the French people had
hardly heard of Australia, but hereafter they will never forget the
name of the land whence came those stalwart boys who marched singing
through their country; who went to war with laughter, and when out of
the trenches were ever ready to give a hand with the crops.

To their poverty it seemed as if we Australians were all millionaires,
and our ready cash was a godsend wherever we went.  Although we did not
receive on the field our full six shillings a day, we always had more
money to spend than the "Tommies."  In fact, frequently within a few
hours after our arrival in a village we would buy out all of its
stores.  The temptation must have been great, yet I never knew a French
farmer or storekeeper attempt to overcharge us.  All we had, we spent,
and though we grumbled enough that we were not able to draw our full
pay, the French people thought that we were simply rolling in money.

The brigade did not go by train any of the distance, but marched the
whole way to the trenches, taking two days.  This part of the country
was just on the edge of the Hun advance and, being only visited by some
scouting-parties of Uhlans, had escaped most of war's ravages.  We
marched through beautiful woods, passed peaceful villages, and over
sleepy canals that we saw not again in France in many long months--most
of us, alas, never.

I do not know whether they wanted to show what Australians could do,
but we did a forced march that day of eighteen miles with full packs
up--eight of them without a "breather."  This may not sound much, but
our boys were as nearly physically perfect as it was possible for men
to be, and yet when we arrived at camp we left a third of them on the
road.

We went into billets at Sailly, within five miles of the firing-line,
where we found the civilian population going about their avocations as
though war were a thousand miles away.  There were plenty of ruins and
even great holes in the streets that showed the Hun had not only the
power, but the will, to send these death-dealing missiles among the
women and children still living there.  I thought the boys were too
tired from their march to want to look 'round the town, but after "hot
tea" had been served out, they were like new men, and went out to
explore the place, as though they merely had had a morning stroll.  Hot
tea is to the Australian what whiskey is to the Scotchman, his best
"pick me up."




CHAPTER XIX

THE BATTLE OF FLEURBAIX . . .

Next morning it was "going in" with a vengeance.  We did not enter the
same trenches where I had been a few days previously, but about a mile
farther south.  These trenches were our "home" for over three months,
so let me try and describe how they were built and looked to us on that
day of entry.  In this part of the line, near the borders of Belgium,
you cannot dig down, the soil is so marshy, so the trenches are what is
known as _breastwork_.  They are built _up_ about six feet from the
level of the ground, a solid wall of sand-bags, ten to twenty feet
thick.  This will stand the hit of all but the heaviest shells, but is
an unmistakable target if the enemy artillery have observation at all.
The support and front line trenches were divided every two hundred
yards, by communication-trenches, built in the same way, except that
the communication-trench had _two_ sides.  These communication-trenches
were distinguished by such names as "Pinney's Ave.," "V. C. Ave.,"
which latter was supposed to be built on the spot where Michael O'Leary
won the first Victoria Cross of the war.  Others were called "Bond
Street," "Brompton Ave.," and "Mine Ave."

Later on my brigade held the length of trench that included all these,
from Mine Ave. to Bond Street, over one thousand yards; but for the
battle and the first ten days we only held about three hundred yards,
using the three communication-trenches--Pinney's, Brompton, and V. C.

I had a good deal of apprehension as the brigade marched in,
remembering the reception our reconnoitring party had received.  If
"Fritz" had spotted a score of us he could not well avoid noticing a
thousand, though we were broken into little parties of six, that moved
along the gutter in single file.  But he must have been asleep this
day, for the "change over" was completed with little attention from him
in the way of shells.

Leading up to "Pinney's Ave.," there was a short length of
communication-trench very appropriately called "Impertinence Sap," for
it was merely a ditch, three feet deep, floored with "duck boards."  I
could never get the reason why this trench was built.  It only afforded
protection for one's legs, which is the part of the body one would
rather be hit in if one must be hit at all.  The goose-flesh always
crept around my head when I walked along this sap, for, strange to say,
my head seemed to be the most valuable part of me, and at night the
machine-gun bullets used to whistle through the low hedge that ran
alongside it and frequently struck sparks from the flints on the old
road just a yard or two away.  I suppose I used that sap two hundred
times, always with misgivings, for I have seen more than a score of men
punctured along its length.

[Illustration: "Us--Going In".]

All these parts were unhealthy.  The _Rue de Bois_, the street that ran
parallel to the firing-trench, about a thousand yards behind the front
line, was always under indirect machine-gun fire, yet was,
nevertheless, used regularly every night by our transports.  It was
surprising how few mules were killed.  Many times have I skipped, as
the bullets struck sparks around my feet.

After a while we got to know that "Fritz" had a regular cut-and-dried
system in the shelling of these trenches.  He always took Mine Ave.,
Brompton Ave., and Pinney's Ave. alternately, and we later on saved a
number of lives by having a sentry at the entrance to these
communication-trenches to give warning to use the other trench while
this one was being shelled.  Weeks later I worked out the enemy's
bombardment system more thoroughly, and had such notices as this
posted: "Pinney's Ave. dangerous on Mondays, 2 to 6 P. M.," "V. C.
unhealthy Tuesday afternoons," and so on.  I know I saved my own life
several times by watching "Fritz's" _times and seasons_.  I am quite
sure that each battery "over yonder" had a book that laid down a
certain number of rounds to be fired at a certain range on Mondays, and
so on for every day in the week.  And every relieving battery would
take over this "book of instructions."  Of course there were times when
"Fritz" "got the wind up" (lost his nerve), and then he would shell
anything indiscriminately.  The god of the German is _Method_, and his
goddess _System_, and it hurt his gunners sorely when we tried
something new, and made him depart from some long-predevised plan.

However, these were discoveries of a later date than the battle which
wiped out about 70 per cent of our strength.

We had not been two days in the trenches before we knew that we were
destined for an attack on the trenches opposite, and we had not had
time even to know the way about our own lines.  Few of us had even had
a glimpse of No Man's Land, or sight of the fellow across the street
whom we were to fight.

Our guns immediately began to get busy.  In fact, too busy for our
liking, for they had not yet got the correct range.  This was before
the days of total aeroplane supremacy, and the battery commander in
those days had not an observer flying above where his shells were
falling, informing him of the slightest error.

At any rate, we soon began to discover that the shells that were
bursting among us were many of them coming from behind.  This made us
very uncomfortable, for we were not protected against our own
artillery-fire; and accidents will sometimes happen, do what you can to
avoid them.  Our first message over the 'phone was very polite.  "We
preferred to be killed by the Germans, thank you," was all we said to
the battery commander.  But as his remarks continued to come to us
through the air, accompanied by a charge of explosive, and two of our
officers being killed, our next message was worded very differently,
and we told him that "if he fired again we would turn the machine-guns
on to them."  I was sent back to make sure that he got the message.  I
took the precaution to take back with me one of his "duds" (unexploded
shells) as evidence.  At first he told me I was crazy--that we were
getting German cross-fire, and that his shells were falling two hundred
yards in front of us.  I brought out my souvenir, and asked him if he
had ever seen that before.  He said: "For God's sake, bury it," but I
told him it was going to divisional headquarters, and that his little
mistake had already cost several lives.  This battery did not belong to
our division.

Our company commanders gathered us in small groups and carefully
explained the plan of attack.  We were to take the three lines of
German trenches that were clearly discernible on the aeroplane
photograph which was shown us; the first wave was to take the first
trench, the second jumping over their heads and attacking the second
German line, the third wave going on to the third German line.  When
all the Germans had been killed in the first trench, those left of the
first wave were to follow to the third line.  Unfortunately this
photograph misled us, as one of the supposed trenches proved to be a
ditch, and a great number of men were lost by going too far into enemy
territory, seeking the supposed third line.

I have seen an actual photograph taken by an aeroplane during this
battle, that shows a fight going on five miles behind the German lines.
Many of the boys had sworn not to be taken prisoners, and though they
knew they were cut off, they fought on until every last one of them was
killed.

The Germans were thoroughly aware of our intentions to attack.  Bad
weather made a postponement for a couple of days advisable, and there
had been so much artillery preparation that the enemy had time to get
ready for us.

Considering the short time that our own artillery had been in their
positions, and that they did not know a few days previously the range
of the enemy's positions, their work was very thoroughly done.  In most
cases the wire had been well cut, and the enemy's front-line trenches
were badly smashed about.

The Germans must have had some spies behind our lines, for they knew
the actual moment of attack, and our _feints_ failed to deceive them.
Before the real attack the bombardment would cease for a moment or two,
whistles being blown, orders shouted, and bayonets shown above the top
of the parapet.  The _idea_ was that the Germans would then man their
parapet to meet our attack, the artillery again opening fire on the
trench.  They failed to appear, however, until we actually went over
the top, then the machine-guns and rifles swept a hail of bullets in
our faces, like a veritable blizzard.

Nothing could exceed the bravery of those boys.  The first wave went
down like "wheat before the reaper."  When the time came for the second
wave to go over there was not a man standing of the first wave, yet not
a lad faltered.  Each gazed at his watch and on the arranged tick of
the clock leaped over.  In many cases they did not get any farther than
the first wave.  The last wave, though they knew each had to do the
work of three, were in their places and started on their forlorn hope
at the appointed moment.

This battle was a disaster.  We failed to take the German trenches, but
it was like two other failures, the defense of Belgium and the attack
of the Dardanelles--a failure so glorious as to fill a man with pride
that he was enabled to play a part in it.  In this battle we so smashed
five divisions of Bavarian guards that it was months before they got
back into the trenches.  Had they gone to Verdun at that time it might
have meant its fall, as they were the flower of the German army.

In places both first and second German lines were taken, but in others
we did not get across No Man's Land.

It was not that certain companies fought better than others, but here
and there were unexpected obstacles.  In one place No Man's Land was
only fifty yards across, while elsewhere it was three hundred yards.
There was a creek running diagonally across in one section, too wide to
leap, too deep to ford, and the only place where it was bridged was so
_marked_ by the German machine-guns that the dead were piled in heaps
about it.

Those who actually reached the German trenches were too few to
consolidate, and the German artillery soon began to take a heavy toll
of them, knowing the range of their own trenches to a yard.  So these
had to come back again, and when night fell we were back in our old
trenches--rather a few of us were; most of our division lay out in No
Man's Land.

All were not dead, but we had no men to help the wounded.  We had no
stretchers, and those that were alive, unwounded, were so fatigued as
to be hardly able to stand upright.  But we could not stand the thought
of the fellows out there without help, and we crawled among them,
taking the biscuits and water from the dead and giving them to the
wounded.  We could only reach a few of them, and we crawled back at
daylight, cursing our impotence, and fearing what the day might bring
to these our comrades, lying helpless in full view of the brutal enemy.

The sight of our trenches that next morning is burned into my brain.
Here and there a man could stand upright, but in most places if you did
not wish to be exposed to a sniper's bullet you had to progress on your
hands and knees.  In places the parapet was repaired with
bodies--bodies that but yesterday had housed the personality of a
friend by whom we had warmed ourselves.  If you had gathered the stock
of a thousand butcher-shops, cut it into small pieces and strewn it
about, it would give you a faint conception of the shambles those
trenches were.

One did not ask the whereabouts of brother or chum.  If we did not see
him, then it were best to hope that he were of the dead.

It were folly to look over the parapet, for nearly every shell-hole
contained a wounded man, and, poor fellow, he would wave to show his
whereabouts; and though we could not help him, it would attract the
attention of the Huns, who still had shells to spare--so that the
wounded might not fight again.

I have found the Bavarian even worse than the Prussian, and this day,
and the next, and again, did they sweep No Man's Land with machine-guns
and shrapnel, so as to kill the wounded.

When darkness came the second night, we had organized parties of
rescue, but we still had practically no stretchers, and the most of the
men had to be carried in on our backs.

I went out to the bridge, and in between machine-gun bursts began to
pull down that heap of dead.  Not all were dead, for in some of the
bodies that formed that pyramid life was breathing.  Some were
conscious but too weak to struggle from out that weight of flesh.
Machine-guns were still playing on this spot, and after we had lost
half of our rescuing party, we were forbidden to go here again, as live
men were too scarce.

But the work of rescue did not cease.  Two hundred men were carried in
from a space less in area than an acre.

One lad, who looked about fifteen, called to me: "Don't leave me, sir."
I said, "I will come back for you, sonny," as I had a man on my back at
the time.  In that waste of dead one wounded man was like a gem in
sawdust--just as hard to find.  Four trips I made before I found him,
then it was as if I had found my own young brother.  Both his legs were
broken, and he was only a schoolboy, one of those overgrown lads who
had added a couple of years in declaring his age to get into the army.
But the circumstances brought out his youth, and he clung to me as
though I were his father.  Nothing I have ever done has given me the
joy that the rescuing of that lad did, and I do not even know his name.
He was the only one who did not say: "Take the other fellow first."

There were men who were forty-eight hours without food or drink,
without having their wounds dressed, knowing that the best they had to
hope for was a bullet.  That the chances were they would die of
starvation or exposure, and yet again and again would they refuse to be
taken until we should look to see if there was not some one alive in a
neighboring shell-hole.  They would tell us to "look in the drain, or
among those bushes over there."  During the day they had heard a groan.
A groan, mind you, and there were men there with legs off, and arms
hanging by a skin, and men sightless, with half their face gone, with
bowels exposed, and every kind of unmentionable wounds, yet some one
had groaned.  Why, some had gritted teeth on bayonets, others had
stuffed their tunics in their mouths, lest they should groan.  Some one
had written of the Australian soldier in the early part of the war,
"_that they never groan_," and these men who had read that would rather
die than not live up to the reputation that some newspaper
correspondent had given them.

I lay for half an hour with my arms around the neck of a boy within a
few yards of a German "listening post," while the man who was with me
went back to try and find a stretcher.  He told me he had neither
mother nor friend, was brought up in an orphanage, and that no one
cared whether he lived or died.  But our hearts _rubbed_ as we lay
there, and we vowed lifelong friendship.  It does not take long to make
a friend under those circumstances, but he died in my arms and I do not
know _his_ name.

There was another man who was anxious about his money-belt; perhaps it
contained something more valuable than money.  I went back for it,
stuffing it in my pocket, and then forgot all about it.  When I thought
of it again the belt was gone, and the owner had gone off to hospital.
I do not know who he was, and maybe he thinks I have his belt still.

One of the most self-forgetful actions ever performed was by Sergeant
Ross.  We found a man on the German barbed wire, who was so badly
wounded that when we tried to pick him up, one by the shoulders and the
other by the feet, it almost seemed that we would pull him apart.  The
blood was gushing from his mouth, where he had bitten through lips and
tongue, so that he might not jeopardize, by groaning, the chances of
some other man who was less badly wounded than he.  He begged us to put
him out of his misery, but we were determined we would get him his
chance, though we did not expect him to live.  But the sergeant threw
himself down on the ground and made of his body a _human sledge_.  Some
others joined us, and we put the wounded man on his back and dragged
them thus across two hundred yards of No Man's Land, through the broken
barbed wire and shell-torn ground, where every few inches there was a
piece of jagged shell, and in and out of the shell-holes.  So anxious
were we to get to safety that we did not notice the condition of the
man underneath until we got into our trenches; then it was hard to see
which was the worst wounded of the two.  The sergeant had his hands,
face, and body torn to ribbons, and we had never guessed it, for never
once did he ask us to "go slow" or "wait a bit."  Such is the stuff
that men are made of.

It sounds incredible, but we got a wounded man, still alive, eight days
after the attack.  It was reported to me that some one was heard
calling from No Man's Land for a stretcher-bearer, but I suspected a
German trap, for I did not think it possible that any man could be out
there alive when it was more than a week after the battle and there had
been no men missing since.  However, we had to make sure, and I took a
man out with me named Private Mahoney; also a ball of string.  We still
heard the call, and as it came from nearer the German trenches than
ours we knew they must hear as well.  When we got near the shell-hole
from which the sound came I told Mahoney to wait, while I crawled round
to approach it from the German side.  I took the end of the ball of
string in my hand, so as to be able to signal back, and from a
shell-hole just a few yards away I asked the man who he was and to tell
me the names of some of his officers.  As he seemed to know the names
of all the officers I crawled into the hole alongside him, though I was
still suspicious, and signalled back to my companion to go and get a
stretcher.

As soon as I had a good look at the poor fellow I knew he was one of
ours.  His hands and face were as black as a negro's, and all of him
from the waist down was beneath the mud.  He had not strength to move
his hands, but his "_voice was a good deal too strong_," for he started
to talk to me in a shout: "It's so good, matey, to see a real live man
again.  I've been talking to dead men for days.  There was two men came
up to speak to me who carried their heads under their arms!"

I whispered to him to _shut up_, but he would only be quiet for a
second or two, and soon the Germans knew that we were trying to rescue
him, for the machine-gun bullets chipped the edge of the hole and
showered us with dirt.  In about half an hour Mahoney returned with the
stretcher, but we had to dig the poor fellow's limbs out, and only just
managed to get into the next hole during a pause in the machine-gun
bursts.  To cap all, our passenger broke into song, and we just dropped
in time as the bullets pinged over us.  These did not worry our friend
on the stretcher, nor did the bump hurt him, for he cheerfully shouted
"Down go my horses!"  We _gagged_ him after that and got him safely in,
but the poor fellow only lived a couple of days, for blood-poisoning
had got too strong a hold of his frail body for medical skill to avail.
His name I have forgotten, and the hospital records would only state:
"Private So-and-so received [a certain date]; died [such a date].
Cause of death--tetanus."




CHAPTER XX

DAYS AND NIGHTS OF STRAFE

We had only been a few days in the trenches in France when I was sent
for by the General.  I went in fear and trembling, wondering what
offense I had committed; but I soon did not know whether I was standing
on my heels or my head, for he said to me: "I have recommended you for
a commission, and you are immediately to take over the duties of
intelligence or scouting officer."  This was a big step up, as I was
only a corporal, though I had been acting in charge of a position over
the heads of many who were my seniors in rank.

Now began for me many adventurous and happy days, for my job afforded
me a great deal of independence and scope for initiative, and I was
able to plan and execute many little stunts that must have irritated
Fritz a good deal.  When I was returning at dawn from my night's
peregrinations, I would generally meet the brigadier on his round of
inspection, and no matter in what mood he was in I always had some
story of strafe to tell him that would crease his face in smiles, and I
saved many another officer from the bullying that was coming his way.

Our brigadier was very popular because of his personal bravery.  One
morning I was showing him the remains of some Germans I had blown up,
and in his eagerness he stuck his head and shoulders, red tabs and all,
over the trenches, when--ping!--a sniper's bullet struck the bag within
an inch of his head and covered him with dirt.  "Pompey" roared with
laughter and was in good humor for the rest of the day.  On one
occasion in Egypt this same General issued orders that no men were to
wear caps.  He said he didn't care where we got hats from, but that we
were all old enough soldiers to obtain one somehow.  He would punish
any soldier who appeared on parade next day without a hat, and the only
one whose head was minus a hat next morning was the brigadier himself!
He laughed and said that the man who pinched his hat had better not get
caught, that's all!

My chief business as intelligence officer was to keep an eye on Fritz
and find out what he was up to.  I had a squad of trained observers who
were posted in certain vantage-points called O. Pips (O.
P.--Observation Post).  These O. Pips were mostly on top of tall trees
or the top of some old ruined farmhouse.  From these "pozzies"
(positions) a good deal of the country behind the enemy lines could be
seen, and the observers, who were given frequent reliefs so that they
would not become stale, had their eyes glued to it through a telescope.
Every single thing that happened was written down, including the
velocity and direction of the wind; the information from all these and
other sources being summarized by myself into a daily report for G. H.
Q.

There was one O. Pip on top of a crazy ruin that was used for many
months without the Germans suspecting.  It really hardly looked as if
it would support the weight of a sparrow.  I used to wonder oftentimes
how I was going to get up there, and then by force of habit would find
myself lying alongside the observer sheltering behind two or three
bricks.  From this pozzie one of my boys saw a German Staff car pass
Crucifix Corner.  This was a stretch of a hundred yards of road which
we could plainly see where a crucifix was standing, though the church
that once covered it had been entirely destroyed.  The car was judged
to contain some officers of very high rank, both from the style of the
car and the colors of the uniforms.  When I got this information I
prepared to make that road unhealthy in case they should return.  I
called up our sniping battery, and got them to range a shell to be sure
they would not miss.  At five o'clock in the afternoon my waiting was
rewarded, and just by the pressing of a button eight shells landed on
that car, and sent its occupants "down to the fatherland."  We received
news about that time that one of the Kaiser's sons was killed, and
though it was denied later, in my dreams I often fancy that he might
have been in that car.

There was a landmark behind the German lines in this sector known as
"the hole in the wall."  It was marked on all our maps used by the
artillery for ranging, and was the object on which we set our zero
lines to get bearings of other objects.  One day "the hole in the wall"
disappeared, and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Did the
Germans destroy it or was it the rats that undermined its foundations?
I fancy it was like the celebrated "One Horse Shay"--every brick in the
wall that surrounded the hole had been wearing away for years, and at
the stroke of Fate all crumbled into dust.  We were able to do without
our old friend, as Fritz very kindly built up in the churchyard at
Fromelles a large red earthwork that could be seen for miles, and which
our big guns sought unsuccessfully to destroy but made the entrance to
it very unhealthy.

We had some crack sharpshooters or snipers in trees and also on top of
ruins, but took care never to have them near our observation posts lest
they should draw fire.  I had one man who was a King's prize-winner,
and he must have accounted for well over a hundred of the enemy, some
of whom may have thought themselves quite secure when they exposed but
a portion of their body eight hundred or a thousand yards from our
trenches.  Through the wasting of skilled men in unsuitable work which
is prevalent in all our armies, this man was sent forward in a bayonet
charge and killed.  In his own job he was worth a battalion but in a
charge of no more value than any other man.  The snipers and observers
make effective use of camouflage, and have uniforms and rifle-covers to
blend with their background--spotted for work among trees with foliage,
_a la_ Mr. Leopard--striped when in long grass or crops like Stripes of
the jungle.  We have suits resembling the bark of a tree, and some
earth-colored for ploughed ground, also one made from sand-bags for the
top of the parapet.

I could fill a volume with the happenings during our many months in
these trenches.

We had great sport through the use of a dummy trench.  This was a ditch
which we dug about seventy-five yards behind our front line running
parallel to it.  We would light fires in this about meal-times, and now
and again during the day send a file of men along it who would
occasionally expose their bayonets to view above the top.  This ditch
would appear to the German aeroplanes exactly like a trench, and as
they used their second line for a supervision and living trench they
probably thought we did the same.  Our boys laughed to see most of the
German shells exploding on the dummy trench.

There were one or two occasions in which Fritz broke the unwritten law
that there should be an armistice during meal-times.  We soon cured him
of this, however, as we systematically for a week put out his cook's
fires with rifle-grenades.  Thereafter both sides were able to have
their meals in peace though we took care to change our hour from one to
two instead of twelve to one.

Fritz's system now and again got on our nerves.  It was deadly
monotonous, always knowing when his severest shelling would start and I
have known the boys run races with the shells, driven to take foolish
risks by sheer ennui.  We always expected some shells on "V. C. House"
at 4 P. M., and were rarely disappointed.  The men off duty would
assemble in front of the old house and at the sound of the first shell
race for the shelter of a dugout about a hundred yards away.  Generally
they would all tumble in together and in their excitement could not
decide who won the race, and so would have it all over again.  The
officers were ordered to stop these "races with death" for there were
some killed, but they would break out now and again when the last man
who was killed had been forgotten.

The bombing officer had a good deal of sport with his rifle-grenades,
and as I was hand in glove with him I enjoyed some of his fun.  A
favorite place for the firing of our rifle-grenades was at Devon
Avenue, for most of Fritz's retaliation came to the Tommies whose flank
joined ours at this point.  One day their major came along to us in a
great rage, and wanted to know why we were always stirring up
trouble--couldn't we let well enough alone?  He complained in the end
to our brigadier, but the answer he got was: "What are you there for?
What's your business?"  After this, whenever we had our strafe on this
flank, they would squeeze up to their centre leaving fifty yards
unmanned between us.  These men were brave enough, and in a raid the
same major held the trench with great bravery under a severe
bombardment and attack by a strong force.

We also had an armored train that we were very proud of.  At least,
that is what we called it, but it was only a little truck with six
rifles fastened on it for firing grenades.  We ran this along rails
down the trench, and would fire a salvo from one place and then move to
another by the time Fritz had waked up and was replying with
"pine-apples and flying-fish," as his rifle-grenades were dubbed.

One day I was ordered to locate the enemy's "minenwerfer" positions, as
his "minnies" were getting on our nerves.  These huge shells, although
they very seldom caused casualties, for they are very inaccurate, would
nevertheless make the ground tremble for miles as they buried
themselves sometimes fifty feet deep in the soft ground before they
exploded.  When these were about our boys would watch for them as they
could plainly be seen in the air.  We would watch their ascent,
sometimes partly through a cloud, and, as the shell wabbled a good
deal, we could not be exactly sure where it was going to land until it
was on the downward curve, then we would scatter like sheep, and as it
would generally be two or three seconds before it went off, we had time
to reach a safe distance.  The real trouble was that no one could sleep
when they were coming over, as each of them had all the force of an
earthquake.  I have picked up pieces of the shell two feet long by a
foot wide, jagged like a piece of galvanized iron that had been cut off
with an axe.

Well, I had to locate the position of these mine-throwers, and the
easiest way to do it was to make them fire and have observers at
different points to get bearings on the exact position from which the
shells were thrown.  They were easy to see, as they were accompanied
for the first fifty yards with showers of sparks like sky-rockets.  But
Fritz can be very obstinate on occasions, and all our teasing with
rifle-grenades failed to make him retaliate with anything larger than
"pineapples" (light trench-mortars).  In desperation, I sent to the
brigade bombing officer for some smoke and gas-bombs.  Even these
failed to rouse his anger sufficiently when--Eureka!--we discovered
some "lachrymose" or "tear" bombs.  These did the trick and over came a
"rum-jar" as the "minnie" shells are generally called.  I had eight
batteries on the wire, and we gave that "minnie" position a pretty warm
time.  By the same methods I located nine of these German
trench-mortars on that front.  Later on we captured one of them and I
was surprised to see what a primitive affair it was.  It consisted of a
huge pipe made of wooden staves bound round and round with wire.  The
charge is in a can like an oil-drum and dropped in the pipe, and then
the shell dropped in on top of it.  A fuse is attached, burning several
seconds so as to allow the crew to get well out of the way, as their
risk is as great as those they fire it at.  When I had seen the gun, I
was not surprised that rarely did they know within a hundred yards of
where the shell was going to land, only expecting to get it somewhere
behind our lines.

While I am talking of trench-mortars, I must tell you about the "blind
pig."  This was a huge shell with which we frequently got on Fritz's
nerves.  When it was first used there was some doubt about its accuracy
and the infantry were cleared out of the trenches in its immediate
front before it was fired.  The first shot landed on our support
trenches, the next in No Man's Land, and the third on Fritz's front
line.  Each time it seemed as if a double-powered Vesuvius were in
eruption, and when the artillery got to know its pranks there was no
need for us to get out from under.  The aeroplanes reported that when
the "blind pigs" went over, some Fritzes could be seen running half an
hour afterward.  Fritz does not like anything new; for example, they
appealed to the world against our brutality in using "tanks."
Christmas Day, 1916, one of our aviators, with total disregard of the
rules of war, dropped a football on which was painted "A Merry Xmas"
into a French town infested by Germans.  As it struck the street and
bounced up higher than the roofs they could be seen scuttling like
rats, and maybe, to-day, _that_ airman is haunted by the ghosts of
those who died of heart-failure as a result of his fiendishness.

This airman is a well-known character among the troops in Flanders,
known to all as "the mad major."  His evening recreation consists in
flying but a few hundred feet above the enemy's trenches, and raking
them with his machine-gun to show his absolute contempt for their
marksmanship.  I have seen them in impotent fury fire at him every
missile they had, including "pine-apples" and "minnies"; but he bears a
charmed life, for, though he returned and repeated his performance four
times for our benefit, he did not receive a scratch.  I went over the
German lines with him for instruction in aerial observation.  He said
to me: "Do you see that battery down there?"  I replied "No!"  His next
remark was, "I'll take you down," and he shot down about five hundred
feet nearer.  We were getting pasted by "archies" much more than was
pleasant, so when he next shut off his engine, to speak to me, I did
not wait for his question but assured him that I could see the German
battery quite plainly.  I hope the recording angel will take into
account the extenuating circumstances of that lie.

We had a "spring gun" or "catapult" that came very near preventing this
book ever being written.  On one occasion we placed a bomb in the cup,
but instead of taking the spring and lever out, which was the correct
way, we tried a new experiment of holding the lever down with two nails
which would release the spring as soon as it was let off.
Unfortunately, the bomb rolled off at our feet, and we had four seconds
to get to a safe distance.  Some of us got bad bruises on our foreheads
as we dived for an open dugout as though we ourselves had been thrown
from a catapult.  On another occasion we used Mills grenades with a
grooved base plug.  To our alarm, the first one exploded with a
beautiful shrapnel effect just above our heads.  I am sure a piece
passed through my hair but I could not wear a gold braid for a wound
because, not even with a candle, could the doctor find a mark.

Our tunnellers were always mining and we would see them by day and
night disappearing into mysterious holes in the ground, and it was only
when Messines Ridge disappeared in fine dust that we understood that
their groping in underground passages was not in vain.  They would
sometimes tell us exciting tales of fights in the dark with picks
against enemy miners; and now and again we would be roused by
explosions when one side blew in on the other and formed a new crater
in No Man's Land.  With their instruments our miners discovered that
the head of one of the enemy galleries was under the headquarters
dugout of the English regiment on our right.  I went along to inform
them.  With excitement in my voice I said to the officer in charge: "Do
you know that there is a mine under here?"  "Bai Jove, how jolly
interesting!  Come and have a drink."  I said: "Not in here, thank
you."  "Why?  It won't go off to-day," he said.  "Anyway, we are being
relieved to-morrow, so it won't worry us, but we'll be sure and leave
word for the other blighters."

There was a dugout in our own sector in which were heard mysterious
tappings, but though we had an experienced miner sleep in it he
reported that the sounds were not those of mining operations.  Maybe it
was the rats, but we gave that dugout a wide berth, as some one
suggested that it was haunted, and even in the trenches, better the
devil you know than the devil you don't know!

We managed to have a good deal of comfort in these trenches, all things
considered.  We even rigged up hot baths in our second line.  The men
were able every second day to have a hot bath, get clean underclothing,
and have a red-hot iron passed over their uniforms, which was the only
effective method I have known of keeping us reasonably free from
body-vermin.  These baths turned us out like new men, as the Australian
craves his daily shower.  I doubt if there are any troops in the world
who take such pains for cleanliness.  Wherever we camp we rig up our
shower-baths as a first essential, and in some of the French villages
the natives would gather round these Hessian enclosed booths staring at
the bare legs showing beneath and jabbering excitedly about the madness
of these people who were so dirty that they needed a bath every day.

Although this sector of trench was during eight months known as "a
quiet front," as no actual offensive took place, yet there was never a
day or night free from peril, and all the time our strength in numbers
was being sapped--men left us "going west" or said good-bye as they
went to hospital, and sometimes would disappear in No Man's Land--gone,
none knew where.  We received reinforcements that did not keep pace
with our losses and during all the time were never once up to half
strength.  Always we were on the watch to worst our enemy, and he was
by no means napping.  Gas was often used and sentries were posted with
gas alarm-signals not only in the trenches but in the streets of the
villages behind the lines.  If by night or day the whitish vapor was
seen ascending from the trenches opposite, then such a hullabaloo of
noises would pass along the trenches and through the streets of the
towns as to make the spirits of the bravest quail, and woe betide even
the little child who at that signal did not instantly cover his face
with the hideous gas-mask.  These noises were made chiefly with klaxon
horns, though an empty shell-case struck by iron was found to give out
a ringing sound that could plainly be heard above even the screech and
crump of the shells.

Our gas-masks are quite efficient protection, and I have been a whole
day under gas without injury, by keeping the cloth in my mask damp all
the time.  Men sometimes lose their lives through lack of confidence in
their masks.  The chemical causes an irritation of the mucous membrane,
and they fancy they are being gassed, and in desperation tear them off.
It is the duty of an officer to decide when the danger has passed and
test the air.  I remember on one occasion I warned some men who were
opening their coats that the danger had not passed, but when I returned
I found they had removed their masks and three of them were very
severely gassed.  We are always on the lookout for gas, and when the
wind is dangerous a "gas-alert" signal is given, when every man wears
his mask in a ready position so that it can be donned without a
second's delay.

I was really sorry to leave those trenches.  So many months was I there
that they were something like a home to me, and who knew what was
awaiting one in another and an unknown section?  I knew every
shell-hole in No Man's Land, and constant observation of the enemy
methods enabled me to anticipate his moves.  I felt that nowhere else
would I be so successful.  I even parted with a rat that I had tamed in
my dugout with a feeling of regret, though on all his kin I waged a
bitter war, spending many hours when I ought to have been sleeping in
shooting them with my automatic as they came into the light of the
dugout doorway.  It was there, too, that I experimented with the enemy
grenades, and I remember once nearly scaring an Australian nigger
white.  He was the only colored man in our brigade, and was just
passing in front of the dugout as I threw a detonator on to the hard
metal of an old road a few yards away.  Evidently he was surprised at
being bombed when he thought he was among friends!  He, however,
received nothing worse than the fright.




CHAPTER XXI

THE VILLAGE OF SLEEP

There was little element of surprise about the "Somme" offensive.
Although there must have been some uncertainty in the mind of the
German Staff as to just where the blow would be struck, for our papers
were filled with rumors of a drive in the north, and troops and big
guns were moved north every day and withdrawn at night, yet the
intensity of the artillery bombardment around Albert, which day by day
waxed ever greater, proclaimed in a shout that here was the point on
which our punch would strike.

The selection of this place for an offensive was an indication that it
was not the policy of the Allies to attempt to drive the German army
out of France, but that their evident intention was to defeat the enemy
practically in the present trenches.  The German line in France and
Belgium is shaped like the letter L, and the Somme battle was waged at
the angle of the letter just where the line was farthest from Germany.
Of course it would be madness to attempt to finish the war on German
soil, if to do it we should have to devastate one-eighth of France and
its fairest and richest province.

These smashes are rapidly destroying the morale of the enemy, as well
as killing many of them, and will lead to the collapse of the army
pretty much where they are now.  If they attempt an offensive on the
western front, where our armament is now so strong, it will hasten the
end.  The British artillery had at the end of 1917 a reserve of fifty
million of shells, and pity help the German army if they bump into
them.  The British offensive of 1916 was hastened somewhat by the need
of relieving the pressure on Verdun, and though the first blow was not
as powerful as it would have been if delayed a few months, it
accomplished much more than was expected.

Up the British line there crept news of big doings down south.  There
was a new sound in the air--a distant continued thunder that was
different from any previous sound--the big drums of the devil's
orchestra were booming an accompaniment that was the motif of hell's
cantata.  Up the line ran the rumor of a battle intenser than any yet
fought--more guns being massed in a few miles than the world had ever
seen before.  Into every heart crept the dread of what might await us
down there, and to every mind came the question: "When are we going?"

Close behind rumor came marching orders, and as we left our old
trenches south of Armentieres we said good-bye to scenes that had
become homelike, and turned our faces south to make that "rendezvous
with death" in the dread unknown to which duty called us.

But there were weeks of peaceful scenes that seemed to us like a
forgotten melody of love and home and peace, and the train that bore us
out of the war zone seemed to carry us into another world, but though
the feast to our eyes was pleasant and like "far-off forgotten things
and pleasures long ago," we were not borne thither on downy couches.
Never were there seats more uncomfortable than the floors of those
French trucks, and we occupied them for days.  When now and again the
train stopped and we could unbend ourselves for a short stroll, it was
like the interval in a dull play.  We had taken our cookers with us on
the train, but the French railway authorities would not allow us to
have a fire burning while the train was moving, so we would have to
draw onto a siding that our meals might be cooked.  Now and again at
these stops there would be canteens run by English and American women,
and the home-cooking and delicacies they smilingly gave us were a
reminder of the barracking of the womenfolk that makes courage and
endurance of men possible.  These are the untiring heroines that uphold
our hands till victory shall come, and so the women fight on.  There
were French women, too, who brought us fruit and gingerbread, and with
eyes and strange tongue unburdened hearts full of gratitude and prayer.

How glad we were to gaze on the earth, smiling through fields of waving
corn and laughing with peaceful homes, with the church-spires still
pointing heavenward, after so many months of associating with the scars
of blackened fields and the running sores festering on earth's bosom,
once so fair, where churches had swooned and in lost hope laid their
finger in the dust.

But all journeys end in time, and one night instead of eating we loaded
ourselves like the donkeys in Egypt and tramped off to the village of
our sojourning.  The billeting officer and guide were several days
ahead of us and they met us at the train and told us it was only three
miles to the village, but after we had tramped five we lost all faith
in their knowledge of distance.  It was "tramp, tramp, tramp, the boys
are marching," for three miles more, and when we had given up all hope
of eating or resting again we saw, at the bottom of a hill, silhouetted
against the violet sky the spire of a church, but we did not breathe
our hopes lest it might vanish like a dream.  Soon we came to a house,
and instinctively the column halted, but it was "On, on, ye brave!" yet
a little longer, then suddenly a company was snatched up by the
darkness.  Lucky dogs!  They had found some corner in which to curl up
and sleep, which was all we longed for, as we were now too tired to
even care about eating.  Chunk after chunk was broken off the column
and almost all were swallowed by stables and barns, or houses that were
not much superior, when there loomed ahead some iron gates, and like
the promise of a legacy came the news that this was the headquarters
billet; and never did the sight of four walls offer to weary man such a
fortune of rest and shelter.

In the morning we discovered we were in the village of
Ailly-sous-Ailly, the sleepiest place on earth.  It nestled at the
bottom of a cup and was hidden by trees; no passer in the skies would
glimpse roof or street.  No vehicle entered it from outside and the war
was only hearsay.  I think the hum of its labor can only be heard by
the bees, and its drowsy evening prayers are barely audible to the
angels.  Its atmosphere crept over our spirits like ether and we did
little else but sleep for the week that we were there.  Parades would
be ordered, but after a short time of drilling in the only field of the
village, we would realize the sacrilege of our exertion, and the parade
would be dismissed.  Thereafter the only preparation for the day ahead
that was persisted in consisted of lectures, when the droning voice of
the officer would frequently be accompanied by snores from his men.  My
duties were to give instruction in scouting, but I seemed to be
sounding a motor-horn in slumberland when I counselled my boys to
"always keep their eyes skinned" as the genie of the village was
weighting their eyelids with lead.  I spoke in the language of
different worlds when I said: "A scout's body should never be seen to
move" (and the village hummed its applause), "but his eyes should be
never still--" (and there was almost a hiss that came through the
trees).

For the first day or two we did not see the inhabitants of the village
at all.  Much puzzled at this we questioned the maire, and he told us
that they were very much afraid because we were Australians--that there
had been much alarm when they heard we were coming.  Perhaps they
thought we were black, and into their dulled ears had crept a whisper
of the fierceness in battle of these giants called "Anzac."  It was not
long, however, before curiosity drew them from their hiding-places and
our laughing good nature won their confidence.  It was not surprising
that our lavish spending of money should have roused their cupidity,
for never had they seen so much wealth before, and never had we seen
such poverty.  Any of our privates was able to buy out the stock of a
whole store, which was not worth more than a pound or two.  One of
them, to satisfy his hunger, on the first night walked into one of
these stores, but when he saw the stock his face was a picture of blank
disappointment.  "I want something to eat," he said, "and I think I'll
take all you've got.  It may make a fruit salad or something."  There
were only one or two that could converse with us in anything but a
language of signs, but the old maire spoke English of the kind that
Queen Elizabeth used, and he acted as interpreter for the whole village.

When they understood that we were willing to pay for any damage done,
the bills came in in sheaves.  Some boys, in ignorance, cut up for
firewood an old cedar log that was an heirloom.  You would have thought
it was made of gold from the value put upon it by its owner.  Fifteen
francs was asked for a bundle of straw that some boys made a bed of,
and some of our Australian horses did not know any better than to eat
the thatch off one old lady's bedroom, which not only cost us the price
of the thatch when it was new but also damages for fright.  There was a
gap in the hedge that I had noticed when we entered the town, but it
cost us ten francs all the same.  These people were not unpatriotic,
but to them it looked like the chance of a lifetime to acquire wealth,
and I have no doubt we pensioned several of them for life.

The war was to them like a catastrophe in another world, and
Australians did not travel farther to fight than in their imagination
did the sons of this village when they went to the trenches less than a
hundred miles away.  I discovered one day how deep the knife of war had
cut when I spoke to a grandmother and daughter working a large farm, as
with dumb, uncomprehending pain in their eyes they showed me the
picture of son-in-law and husband who would never return.  Rights of
peoples and the things for which nations strive had no meaning to these
two, but from out the dark had come a hand and dragged from them the
fulness of life, leaving only its empty shell.

Our headquarters billet was in the vacated house of the village squire.
He was a major in the French army, and had taken with him the young men
of the village committed to his charge.  His wife had gone to nurse in
a hospital and they had put their children in a convent.  He then left
the key in his door, saying that his house and its contents were at the
service of the officers of any British regiment that should come that
way.  This house was a baronial castle, but in its furnishing knew as
little of modern conveniences as Hampden Court of William IV.  We did
not smile, however, at the antimacassars, wax flowers, and samplers,
nor the scattered toys of the nursery, for we were guests of a kindly
host who, though absent himself, had intrusted to our care his
household gods and was a comrade in arms.

Houses, especially old houses, absorbed the personality of the dwellers
therein, and I fancy that our host is not unknown to me.  Were I to
meet him I would recognize him at once, for his spirit dwelt with us in
his home, and my prayer is that when he returns he will not find that
temple tainted by the spirit of any alien who occupied it in his
absence.

The village church slumbered in the centre of the village, and was its
sluggish heart.  No discord or schism of sect or creed ever disturbed
its atmosphere.  Unquestioned was its hold on the faith of men, women,
and children.  Not more quietly did the dead rest beneath the stones of
the churchyard than did the worshippers who knelt before the carved
wooden images of the saints, trusting in their protection and receiving
from their placid immobility a benediction of peace.  The cure from a
neighboring town only visited the village once a quarter, and the old
lady who kept the key was very reluctant to let us in; but when the
maire knew of our desire, he brought us the key that we might view it
at our leisure.  Its pews were thick with dust, the images were chipped
and broken, some saints were minus nose or arm, the vestments in the
open cupboard were moth-eaten and tawdry, dried flowers lay on tombs of
the village great; but its atmosphere was one of peace, and it was not
difficult to realize that many had carried therein their burden of
grief and unrest and left it behind them, soothed on the bosom of
Mother Church, like a fretting child.

But it is not the business of soldiers to sleep, and suddenly came the
awakening with the sound of the hundreds of motor-buses that were to
carry us into the noise and devastation of hell!  We marched up to the
rim of the village, and amid the smell of gasolene, the tooting of the
horns, and the roar of the engines we boarded these, thirty to a bus,
and rumbled on toward the greatest noise and flame and fire that has
ever torn the atmosphere asunder, outdoing any earthquake,
thunderstorm, or tornado that nature has ever visited upon humanity.

On this journey we saw more of the tremendous organization needed to
equip and feed an army than we had been able to visualize before.  For
thirty miles we were a part of a stream of motor vehicles flowing in
one direction passing a never-ending stream going the other way.
Through the city of Amiens we went without stopping.  With longing eyes
we gazed from the buses which hours of bumping and rolling on poor
roads had made to us torture-chambers.  How gladly would we have
strolled through its streets gazing on the pretty girls and gaping at
the novelty of its quaint buildings and the unusual ware in its
shop-windows.

[Illustration: My Own Comrades Waiting For Buses.]

Later on I was a week in the hospital here with a sprained ankle, and I
had a chance to explore this lovely city of Picardy.  Its cathedral was
a never-ending source of interest, and not a day passed during my stay
that I did not hobble on crutches through its dim aisles and worship
the beauty of its statues.  There is one statue called "The Weeping
Angel" which is world-famous, and I have gazed at it for hours, feeling
its beauty steal over me like a psalm.  There was always music stealing
gently through the air, but like a blow in the face were the walls of
sandbags protecting the carving on the choir-stalls and the thousands
of statues on the huge doors.  The grotesque hideousness of the
gargoyles gave a touch of humor that was not incongruous to religion,
but these sand-bags were such an eye-sore against the beauty of the
carved poems that suggested what an intrusion into God's fair world is
the horror of war.

Several times while I was in Amiens the German aeroplanes came over and
bombed the city.  Opposite the hospital a three-story house collapsed
like a pack of cards, burying seventeen people in its ruins.  I saw a
French airman bring down one boche by a clever feat.  He evidently
could not aim upward to his satisfaction, so he turned upside down, and
while flying thus, brought down his opponent.

Through Amiens the buses carried us within a few miles of Albert, which
was within range of the German artillery.  It is in Albert that the
remarkable "hanging Virgin" is to be seen.  The cathedral and tower
have been almost practically destroyed, but still on top of the tower
remains uninjured the figure of the Virgin and Child.  A shell has
struck its base, and over the town at right angles to the tower leans
the Virgin imploringly holding the babe outstretched as though she were
supplicating its protection.  The French people say that the statue
will fall when the war ends, but some materialistic British engineers,
fearing the danger to life in its fall, have shored and braced it up.

This is similar to the miracles of the crucifixes that are found
standing unharmed amid scenes of desolation.  I have seen several of
them without a bullet mark upon them when every building in the
vicinity has been laid in ruins.  I know two cases in which there is
not one stone remaining of the church, yet the crucifix that was inside
stands in untouched security.  There are always those who see in these
things a supernatural agency as some saw "angels at Mons," and as for
me I do not seek to explain them, knowing that there are more things in
heaven and earth than are dreamed of in our philosophy.

I am reluctant to leave this chapter with its peaceful memories, for it
is the antechamber of hell.  There is little here that hints of the
brimstone and fire just through the door.  But our path lies that way
and we must pass on.




CHAPTER XXII

THE SOMME

The battle of the Somme lasted eight months, and never since the days
of chaos and darkness has a portion of the earth been under the sway of
such forces of destruction.  Not even the Flood itself so completely
destroyed the habitations of man.  Flourishing towns were powdered into
brick-dust, thousands of acres of forest were reduced to a few
blackened stumps, and every foot of ground was blasted and churned and
battered again, while every yard was sown thick with bullets more
malignant than the seeds planted by Jason.  To-day nature is busy
trying to hide the evidence of the hate of man, and long grass and
poppies cover the blackened soil and grow in the shell-holes, until
only in the memory of the men who strove nakedly in its desolation and
death will the knowledge of that area as it was for those eight long
months remain.  If he visits it again the poppies and the grass will
fade, and it will appear to him once more as the ploughed land of
demons, and grinning at him in every yard will be the skulls of the
countless unburied that there lie.  The other birds will shun it, for
there are no trees, but the lark will still sing on, as this
brave-hearted bird continues to do even when the guns are booming.

Australian blood has sanctified much of that soil, and Australian
bravery has monopolized some of its names.  As surely as Gallipoli will
Pozieres and Thiepval and Bapaume be associated with the name and
achievement of Australians in the minds of readers of the history of
the great war.  These are places that will ever be names of honor and
glory in the thought of the Australian people as will be Flers to New
Zealand and Delville Wood to South Africa.

At Pozieres the First and Second Divisions demonstrated that the
abandon and tenacity against odds that secured a footing on the
Gallipoli Peninsula was still the special prerogative of the care-free
lads from these South Sea nations.  Our own artillery was unable
effectively to silence the fire of the German batteries, and wave after
wave melted like snow in the sun, yet the unconquerable spirit drove
the remainder on until the positions were taken and held.  There were
wounded men who dragged themselves, not back to their own lines for
attention, but forward toward the enemy so that they might be able to
strike at least one blow ere they died.  There were others that had
their wounds dressed and then returned to the fighting.  No one left
the line that day who could help it, or his name would have been
remembered as an outstanding exception among the many who, wounded
again and again, and faint from loss of blood, still fought on.  This
engagement carved a line in my own heart, for therein died three
comrades who enlisted with me, and our souls were grappled together by
many common dangers shared and mutual sacrifices cheerfully made.
There is no life in the world that tries out friendship like a
soldier's in active service, and when it has endured that, it is
stronger than the love of twin for twin, like the love of David and
Jonathan, of Damon and Pythias, a love that passeth knowledge.

The Germans had one ally on the Somme that wrought us more havoc than
all his armament.  How we cursed that mud!  We cursed it sleeping, we
cursed it waking, we cursed it riding, we cursed it walking.  We ate it
and cursed; we drank it and cursed; we swallowed it and spat it; we
snuffed it and wept it; it filled our nails and our ears; it caked and
lined our clothing; we wallowed in it, we waded through it, we swam in
it, and splashed it about--it stuck our helmets to our hair, it
plastered our wounds, and there were men drowned in it.  Oh, mud, thou
daughter of the devil, thou offspring of evil, back to your infernal
regions, and invade the lowest circle of the inferno that you may make
a fit abiding-place for the slacker and pacifist!  I take back all I
said about the sand of Egypt.  It was a mere irritant compared with
this mud.  I am sorry for the times I have been out of temper with the
mud back in Australia, when it clung to my boots in tons, when I have
been bogged in a sulky in the "black soil" country.  Australia, you
have no mud, just a little surface stickiness that I will never growl
at again as long as I live:


  "It isn't the foe that we fear;
  It isn't the bullets that whine;
  It isn't the business career
  Of a shell, or the bust of a mine;
  It isn't the snipers who seek
  To nip our young hopes in the bud;
  No, it isn't the guns,
  And it isn't the Huns--
  It's the MUD,
                MUD,
                     MUD." [1]


Official reports of the later battles in 1918 tell us that the
shell-fire on the Somme was a mere popgun show to these battles, but it
is difficult for the imagination to grasp this fact, as it did not seem
then that the air had any room for more shells.  In fact, I have seen
shells meet in the air, both exploding together.  It seemed to us at
times as if there was not a foot of air that did not have a shell in
it.  In one battle there were four thousand guns firing over a five
hundred yards front, the heavies being seventeen and a half miles
behind the lines, and the field-guns massed wheel to wheel a hundred
and fifty to the five hundred yards, and row after row like infantry
drawn up for review.  Shells not merely whistled and screamed overhead,
they leaped from the ground beneath one's feet with a flame that
burned, a roar that deafened, and a displacement of air that swept one
away.  At artillery practice in peace times there is great excitement
if one lone man happens to be in front of the gun, but on the Somme we
walked about among them, over them, and round them, and we were never
warned even when they fired but a couple of yards away.  One day a
red-hot shell from a gun about fifty yards away landed at my feet, but,
fortunately, did not explode.  For four months our artillery expended
an average of half a million shells a day.  The increase in artillery
last year may be judged from the fact that in the last six months of
1917 one million tons of shells were used by the British on the western
front.  By day the drum-fire of the guns beat on one's ears like a
devil's tattoo until one felt that in another week reason would be
unseated.  But at night was added the horror of flame that drove away
the darkness with a ruddy glare.  It seemed as if thousands of Bessemer
furnaces were refining metal for the paving of hell.  Into this caldron
of man's making that outdid the fury of the elements young lads from
farms and shops walked uprightly.  Like ants impotent in their strife
they swarmed, and to a watcher from another world they must have
appeared like insects in the crater of Vesuvius in eruption.  Yet the
mind of man, so much greater than his body, had organized and planned
this monstrous scene, and from his method it deviated not a hair's
breadth.

[Illustration: Ammunition Going Through a Somme City.]

We were encouraged and supported by the knowledge that the German was
having a far worse time than we were, that the hell of flame and fire
and smoke was for our protection and his annihilation.  His shells came
over blindly in most cases, and though we were so thick that they could
not but get some of us, yet we knew that our shells were being directed
by thousands of aeroplanes on top of the earth beneath which he
huddled, with the sweat of fear pouring from him.  There were many
indications of the terror our shell-fire wrought and days when the
prisoners could be counted in thousands, on one occasion sixteen men
bringing back as many as four hundred.  These men were imbeciles,
crazed by the sound of the shells, and obsessed by one idea, the
necessity of getting away.  When we took their trenches we found that
in most cases they were completely obliterated, and in some cases the
entrances to the deep dugouts were blown in, smothering the men
sheltering in them.

The wastage of man-power on the Somme was not a little due to the
nervous strain.  I think everybody's nerves were more or less on edge,
and now and again a hurricane of fire would sweep the trenches because
some man's nerve got past breaking-point.  He would see an imaginary
enemy bearing down upon his sentry-post and fire wildly, giving alarm
to the whole line.  A German sentry would reply to him, more of our men
would fire back, more Germans join in, star-shells make the night as
bright as day; then Fritz would "get the wind up" thoroughly and call
for artillery support--our guns would blaze into reply and there would
be many casualties just because one man lost his nerve and "saw things."

Nerves are queer things, for frequently the man of a nervous, highly
strung temperament is the coolest in action.  Some men, too, get
shell-shock a hundred yards from a bursting shell, while others are
knocked down and buried and never even tremble.  Men have the power of
speech taken from them for months and as suddenly have it restored.  I
know of one case in which a boy did not speak a word for twelve months,
and when viewing the play "Under Fire" in Sydney suddenly found his
speech return at the sound of a shot.  Another man had just been
pronounced by the medical officer as cured when the back-fire of a
motor-car heard in the streets of Melbourne brought back all the
symptoms of shell-shock again.  Once a man has had shell-shock he is
never of any use under shell-fire again, although he might be quite
brave under any other fire and suffer no ill effects in civil life.
Where there is so much shell-fire the observation of the German
sentries is very poor and surprise raids are easily carried out.  Fritz
is very reluctant to put his head up and periscopes are always being
smashed.

There was only one place in the Somme where drinking-water could be
obtained, and this was in the ruins of the town of Piers.  The Germans
had been driven out of this place too quickly to give them time to
poison the water, but they made it very difficult for us to get at it
by shelling continually.  They had the exact range, and it was only in
the hour before dawn that one could get near the wells without meeting
with certain death.  It was amusing to see the scamper of the
water-carriers out of the ruins as the first shell announced that the
relief of Fritz's batteries had been completed and the "hate" had
recommenced.  They were severely handicapped running with a fifty-six
pound can of water, but it was a point of honor not to leave this
behind.  Of course, there was plenty of other water filling every hole
around, but this was not only thick with mud but had the germs of
gas-gangrene, and one knows not how many other diseases besides.

When the line had advanced a few miles "going in" was as tiring a day's
journey as though one had walked twenty miles.  I will never forget
having to chase after my brigade to Becordel-Becourt.  I left Albert
just at dark and had to trust to my instinct for direction in finding
the place, for no one could tell me the way, and the old road on the
map was non-existent.  It was only about three miles, but seemed like
thirty as I wound in and out of the traffic that jammed the new road,
defying the passage of even a dog.  When I arrived at the place where
the town of Becordel had once been I found there were about five
hundred thousand troops camped about the area, and in the dark to find
the whereabout of my own unit of five thousand was about as hopeless a
task as I have ever attempted.  I inquired of more than a score, but no
one had seen anything of the Australians.  I wandered about for hours
and was hungry and thirsty and half dead when I stumbled on a Y. M. C.
A. hut.  They could not guide me in the right way, but they gave me a
cup of hot tea, and no nectar of the gods could be as welcome.  The Y.
M. C. A. is welcome to all the boosting I can give, for they were my
salvation that night, and at other times were a comfort and
resting-place.  When I found our camp at two o'clock in the morning I
found the men in a worse plight than I was, for their transport had not
arrived, and none had had anything to eat or drink.

In this huge camp which was within range of the German guns there were
tens of thousands of camp-fires blazing in the open in utter contempt
of Fritz and his works.  We took the road again that same morning for
our position in reserve at Montauban.  I said we took the road--well,
we were on it sometimes, whenever we could shove the horses toward the
centre to enable us to squeeze past--otherwise we had to plough along
above our knees in the soft mud.  Even on the road the slush was up to
our ankles, but it was metalled underneath.  We discovered our
transport in the jam of the traffic--they had taken twenty-four hours
to go the four miles but our tongues blistered with the names we called
them, and we threatened them with eternal damnation if they were not at
the next camp with a hot meal when we arrived.

Where Montauban had once been we went into camp.  We had no tents, but
made ourselves comfortable in shell-holes, with a bitter-cold rain
falling, by stretching tarpaulins over them.  The engineers were
putting up Nissen huts at the rate of twenty a day, but as soon as the
last bolt was screwed home, forty shelterless men crowded each one to
capacity.  It was some days before our turn came and we waited lying
half-covered with mud and slush.  When we did get a hut allotted to us
it was as if we had been transferred to a palace.  These huts look like
half of a round galvanized-iron tank, and were floored and lined.  They
were carried in numbered sections and could be put together in a few
minutes.  They were very comfortable.  You could stand up in the
centre, and there was plenty of room to sleep along the sides.  I
believe the inventor, Mr. Nissen, is an American and here's my hand to
him as an ally who maybe saved me from rheumatism, and I am sure
thousands of boys from the other side of the world bless his name
continually.

The whole brigade was practically bogged when we came to move forward.
The weight of our equipment sank us into the soft mud and the only way
we got onto the road again was by hanging to the stirrups of the horses
as they ploughed a way through.  We also passed ropes back for the men
to grasp and harnessed them to mules, and thus dragged them to firm
ground.  The road did not carry us far, and we soon had to struggle
across the open toward the support trenches.  This was not as bad as
round the camp, not being churned up by the tramping about of men and
horses.  We could not use the communication-trenches as they were
rivers of liquid mud, but had to wait till dark and go over the top in
relieving the front line.  On this occasion we took over from the
Grenadier Guards, which numbers among its officers many of the English
nobility.  We "bushies" and "outbackers" from the Land of the Kangaroo
stepped down into the mud-holes just vacated by an earl, several lords,
and as noble and proud a regiment as ever won glory on a battle-field.
The Prince of Wales was a staff-captain in the army of the Somme doing
his bit in the mud and misery like the rest of us.  There is no "sacred
privilege that doth hedge about a king" in the British Empire, and King
George is respected among us for his manliness, and we cheered him
sincerely when he twice visited us in the trenches, for we do not
believe to-day in the divine right of kings, neither do we believe in
the divine right of majorities.

In another chapter that tells of my wounding I have pictured our days
and weeks as lived in these trenches, so I will bring this chapter to a
close by summarizing some of the things that the great push on the
Somme accomplished.

(1) It relieved the pressure on Verdun.

(2) It accounted for several hundred thousand German casualties.

(3) It demonstrated our ability to break through.

(4) It led to the perfecting of barrage-fire where-by casualties were
reduced in our infantry to an astonishing degree.

(5) It gave confidence to our troops by enabling them to get to
hand-grips with the German, and discover that he was individually no
fighter.

(6) It weakened the morale of the German army enormously, and convinced
the German soldier that his cause was lost.

(7) It gave to us possession of the high ground.

(8) It definitely established our supremacy of the air, and was the
turning-point of the whole war.


[1] Robt. W. Service.




CHAPTER XXIII

THE ARMY'S PAIR OF EYES

The aeroplane has become so much a necessity to the army that it is
difficult to imagine how wars were ever fought without them.  I
remember reading a statement by a military observer with the Japanese
army that, if the Russians had had a single aeroplane, they could have
annihilated the Japs more than once.  Of the army's pair of eyes the
airman is the sharper, but the old-time scout is not by any means
superseded, though his methods have changed.  Just as there is much
behind the enemy lines that only the aeroplanes can see, there are some
things that cannot be discovered except from the level of the ground
along which the scout crawls.  The airman makes the enemy's plans an
open book, for he observes him as soon as he moves, but the airman
travels on a different plane from the infantry soldier, and it is the
infantry man who fights out the final phase of the battle.  The ground
has an altogether different aspect from the air, and aeroplane
photographs sometimes mislead.  The scout, however, goes ahead on the
same ground that the infantry have to travel, and he can bring back
news of exactly what is there.  The airmen do not help us much in
determining the condition of the enemy's barbed wire, and nothing is so
fatal for an attack as being held up on the wire.  "Streamer" wire
cannot be seen a few yards away, and only by sending out advance
scouting-parties can a commander know whether the wire has been
sufficiently destroyed to allow an easy passage for his troops.  As an
attack is always planned to take two or three of the enemy's lines,
these scouts have to find out the condition of the wire in front of the
second or third line trenches as well.

Crawling in No Man's Land and behind the German lines is not as
dangerous as it sounds.  The greatest cause of casualties is shell-fire
and the scout is safe from this, for, naturally, no enemy shells fall
near him in enemy territory, and he has previously arranged with his
own artillery to withhold fire from the sector in which he is working.
He runs little risk even from machine-guns or rifles, for the ground is
so honeycombed with shell-holes that he is nearly all the time in good
cover.  The only danger that he runs is that of discovery, and for a
properly trained scout such is inexcusable.

The general idea the stay-at-home has of the trenches is that every
yard contains a man who is watching out for signs of the enemy.  But a
trench is serrated with bays containing half a dozen men who are cut
off from sight of their neighbors.  Of these half-dozen men one or, at
most, two are on the lookout while the others are sleeping, and a
well-placed hand-grenade will put the whole six of them out of action.
Experience has shown that where there has been much shell-fire the
sentry's observation is very lax, as men will not stick their heads
above the trenches any more than they can help and at night periscopes
are not much use.  I have repeatedly come back into our own trenches
from a night's excursion without being seen by our own sentries, and on
two occasions, in the daytime.  There are some sectors that are only
held by battle outposts with gaps of fifty and a hundred yards without
them.  Of course, it is an easy matter to get past in these places.

We have sometimes to get the artillery to make a way for us.  We will
have them bombard a hundred yards of German trench very heavily for
about ten minutes while we lie within fifty yards waiting for the
prearranged second when we will scuttle across; the enemy having been
compelled to vacate that sector during the bombardment, it is some
minutes before they realize that the shelling has ceased and return.

Once behind the German front trench, the work is easy, for they never
look behind or imagine that any of their enemies could be in their
rear, and there is no observation from the second or third line
trenches.  On other occasions we do without the help of the artillery,
bombing a gap for ourselves.  We arrange to have rifle-grenades fired
along three hundred yards of trench except for fifty yards where is our
gateway.  Here we sneak up and carefully roll hand-grenades into two or
three bays.  The Germans on either side do not take any notice of these
explosions as the same thing is happening all along the line, and the
Germans _in the bays_ are not in condition to take much notice either.
We may have to administer the "coup-de-grace" with our hand-bayonets.

Getting back is fairly easy, for the sentry's back is toward us, and a
scout should never have to strike twice.  He may leave a Mills grenade
with the pin out as a gift to the sleeping men in the bay.  He only has
a two or four-foot-wide trench to cross, and even if the alarm be given
he is back among the million and two shell-holes of No Man's Land
before any action can be taken: even though they bomb their front
thoroughly the chances are in the scout's favor; though they make No
Man's Land bright as day with star-shells and flares there are plenty
of shell-holes deep enough to completely hide him from view.

There is other important information that only the scout can obtain as
when we once found a dummy trench filled with barbed wire and
controlled by machine-guns.  Had our men gone forward in the attack
without the knowledge of this they would have jumped down into it to be
massacred like rats in a trap.  Machine-gun positions are also
generally indistinguishable to the airman's glass or camera.  I used an
instrument of my own construction which would give me the map reference
of any object that I observed in relation to any other two objects the
position of which I knew on the map.  At night I would have the two
known positions marked by distinguishing lights or have colored flares
sent up from them at regular intervals.

The training of our scouts is very severe.  For in this work men have
to have complete confidence in their own superiority to the German
soldier, and must be able to depend entirely on their own resources as
they generally have to work singly or in pairs.  It is necessary that
they be picked men with unusual keenness of observation.  They are
trained for work in the dark by being made to go through the ordinary
soldier's exercises blindfolded.  In this way they get the extra sense
that a blind man has.  A blind man will not put his weight onto his
foot until he has felt if it is on firm ground; and by habit he does
this without hesitating.  Our scouts are able after a while to walk
along using their eyes for observation all the time not needing to
watch where they are stepping.  We also train them to have complete
control over their muscles and among the final tests for first-class
scouts are to remain an hour without showing any movement whatsoever
and to take half an hour in getting from the prone or lying position to
standing upright on their feet.  These two last ideas were borrowed
from the Zulu who has no equal in the world in escaping observation.
They are also taught many methods for finding directions as a compass
is unreliable where there is so much unidentified iron lying about.

We have abundantly demonstrated in several sectors on the western front
that it is always possible for properly trained men to surprise the
enemy.  As a matter of fact the Germans have carried out surprise raids
on us, and I am quite satisfied that it is never possible completely to
guard against surprise.  In one sector I had trip wires in No Man's
Land connected with buzzers in our own trench so arranged that I would
know if there were any one out there and to within fifty yards of where
they were.  But this was only possible on a quiet front where there was
no actual offensive taking place, and not many shells falling in No
Man's Land.  I even placed buttons in the German wire so as to be sure
that our patrols did not just go outside our own trench and lie in a
shell-hole until it was time to return, for they had to signal by
pressing these buttons at intervals.  They had to repair any of these
wires they found severed, and this somewhat elaborate scheme was the
means of our capturing some German patrols and gave us entire control
of No Man's Land.

We also took advantage of every possible means to make Fritz's sentries
jumpy.  We would have our snipers on certain days smash all their
periscopes.  I myself have shot down sixty in an afternoon when the sun
was shining on them.  This made them afraid that they would not have
any left for emergencies and gave them a wholesome respect for our
shooting so that they were very shy of exposing themselves.  We would
also set a rifle to fire exactly into a loophole so that when it opened
we had only to pull the trigger to send a bullet through the brain of
the man using it.  There were other dodges that it is not wise to speak
of just yet.

This may be a good place to describe the two kinds of raids.  In a raid
with artillery support the artillery cut out a sector of the enemy
trench with a "box barrage" which means that they fire on three lines
of a square leaving the open side for our troops to enter.  They also
put a barrage on this side until the prearranged moment when the
attackers go forward.  This leaves the raiders to deal with the troops
within that box preventing any others coming in to support them.  The
weakness of this method is that it lets the whole German line know what
we are doing, and the raiding-party frequently gets cut up badly by the
enemy's artillery when they are returning across No Man's Land.

The most successful raid is always the silent one if you have
dependable troops.  The chief obstacle is the enemy wire, but
beforehand the artillery can cut this in many places, and machine-guns
can be ranged on these gaps to prevent their being repaired.  The enemy
does not know, even if he suspects a raid, exactly where it will come.
It is even a good idea if you only have a small party to enter one of
these gaps, crawl down fifty yards inside the wire before attacking,
and, when finished, come out through another gap lower down, but every
man of the party needs to scout over the ground beforehand so there
will be no confusion during the attack.  We have carried out successful
raids in this manner when none but the Germans who were attacked knew
anything of what was going on until we were back in our own trenches,
and rarely were there any of these who could give evidence except by
means of their dead bodies.  I remember that one of our men, who was
champion wood-chopper of Australia before the war, drove his bayonet
through a German and six inches into a hardwood beam, and as he could
not withdraw it had to unship it, leaving the German stuck up there as
a souvenir of his visit.  Probably not another man in the army could
have done it, but it no doubt added to the reputation of the
Australians, as these Fritzes must have thought us a race of Samsons.

There is a strong bond between us and the airmen, and the army's pair
of eyes are focussed together, for the information from both sources is
co-ordinated.  Our trench maps are constructed chiefly from aeroplane
photographs, and it was only occasionally that some object would be
seen in the photograph that could not be identified; when we scouts
would have to crawl over to it and find out its family-tree.

All our intelligence officers are given schooling in aerial
observation, and I have been several times over the German lines with a
pilot, and have a very high admiration for these birdmen who are not
merely the bravest of the brave but princes of good fellows.  I had
some wonderful aeroplane photographs of some of our attacks wherein I
could recognize the stages of our progress, and so expert has this work
become that a German soldier can hardly even brush away a fly without a
permanent record of it being obtained.  Probably the greater number of
our aeroplanes on the battle-front are engaged in ranging for the
artillery, and in actual offensive warfare, but their greatest value is
in reconnoissance, and so it will always be.

"Airman" and "scout"--one flies, the other crawls, yet both seek
information from the enemy, and are the twin eyes of the army.  There
is a romance about the work of both that attracts adventurous youth,
and neither is as dangerous as it appears to a layman.  In the element
of the airman he is a difficult target to hit, and it is estimated that
it takes thirty thousand anti-aircraft shells to bring him down.  And
his machine is now so perfect that peace flying will be much safer than
motoring.

In No Man's Land, the hunting-ground of the scout, shells only fall by
accident, and he is camouflaged to defy detection.  A black crawling
suit is used at night, with hood and mask, but the most important thing
is to break the outline of the head, so the hood has several peaks and
corners.  A human head on the sky-line cannot be mistaken for anything
else, except maybe a pumpkin or melon, but in these hoods it appears
like a large lump of dirt, and should the scout chance to move suddenly
while in such a position, the likelihood is he would be dirt in a
second or so.


  "All day long when the shells sail over
  I stand at the sand-bags and take my chance;
  But at night, at night I'm a reckless rover,
  And over the parapet gleams Romance." [1]



[1] Robert W. Service.




CHAPTER XXIV

NIGHTS IN NO MAN'S LAND

  "How little I thought that my time was coming
  Sudden and splendid, supreme and soon;
  And here I am with the bullets humming
  As I crawl and I curse the light of the moon.
  Out alone, for adventure thirsting,
  Out in mysterious No Man's Land;
  Prone with the dead when a star-shell, bursting,
  Flares on the horrors on every hand.

  Yet oh, it's great to be here with danger,
  Here in the weird, death-pregnant dark,
  In the devil's pasture a stealthy ranger,
  When the moon is decently hiding.  Hark!
  What was that?  Was it just the shiver
  Of an eerie wind or a clammy hand?
  The rustle of grass, or the passing quiver
  Of one of the ghosts of No Man's Land?" [1]


The first night "out there."  The memory of it still quickens the pulse
and makes the cheek grow pale.  How my teeth chattered, my heart beat
almost to suffocation, every splash of a rat was an enemy scout, and
every blade of grass magnified itself into a post for their barbed
wire.  I had but gone a few yards when I expected the next instant to
bump into the enemy trenches.

There are strange sounds in No Man's Land; not human sounds, for such
carry far--the beat of a hammer on a post, the sharp twang of unrolling
barbed wire as it catches, and then springs away--voices even come as
through a megaphone in the eerie silence--but these are long-drawn
sighs that penetrate the inner consciousness and hushed murmurs that
fall on the ear of the soul.  I have felt a touch on the shoulder as
though one would speak to me when there has been no one by.

It is the grave of ten thousand unburied dead, but the grinning skulls
and quivering jelly or the few rags that flutter in the wind are not
the comrades that we knew.  I think their spirits hover near, for they
cannot go to their abiding-place till victory has been won.  They are
ever seeking to pierce the veil of sense so that they may add their
strength to our arms, and these make for us of No Man's Land "no
strange place," and give to our sentries encouragement until the land
of No Man vanishes and our possession reaches to the barrier of the
enemy barbed wire.  My nights in No Man's Land if added together would
total many months, and I grew to feel that it was one of the safest
places on the whole front.

There was one night when I got a huge fright.  I was crawling alongside
a ridge--it had been an old irrigation farm, and this was a low levee
running across--I heard on the other side a splash which I thought was
made by one of the innumerable rats, but I put up my head and looked
over--so did Fritz, not a yard away!  We both stared blankly in each
other's face for a long second and then both of us turned and bolted.
This was excusable for a German, but I have no defense.  When I went
back to look for him, after a court martial by my own conscience, he
was nowhere to be seen.

There was another night when Fritz got the better of me.  In my
explorations I came across a path through his barbed wire which was
evidently the place where his patrols came out.  I thought I would
provide a surprise-party for him, so I planted some percussion bombs
and put a small Union Jack in the centre.  In the morning the Union
Jack was gone and a German flag in its place.  Everybody from the
brigadier down rubbed it in that Fritz was too smart for me.

But after this the tide turned and came in in a flood of ill luck for
Fritz.  It was a pitch-black night and the occasional star-shells only
served to make the black more intense when they faded.  As we crawled
out one behind the other each had to keep a hand on the foot ahead so
as not to get separated.  We made several ineffectual attempts to find
the opening in our barbed wire and then cut a new one.  Was this like
the darkness after Calvary?  The red signal-rockets ascending from the
enemy's trenches gave no light, but only burnt for a second or two as a
ruddy star.  And the green lights turned the vaporous fog a sickly
yellowish green as though it were some new poison-gas of the devils
over there.  I led the way straight across.  It was too dark to pick a
path and we committed no sacrilege as we trod on the bodies of
forgotten comrades.  It was impossible to repress a shudder as the hand
met the clammy flesh, and the spilt light from a rocket exposed the
marble eyeballs and whitened flesh of the cheek with the bared teeth
gleaming yet more white.  Our mission was to wait for a German patrol
at the gap in their wire I had previously discovered.  We were seeking
identification of the regiments opposing us, and we desired to take at
least one of them alive.

We waited drawn-out minutes while the dark smothered us and our
thoughts haunted us.  Minute piled on minute while we suffered the
torture of the heretic who was fastened so that the falling drops of
ice-water would follow each on the selfsame spot.  Home and "Love of
Life" sought to drag us back to the shelter of our trenches, but Duty
like an iron stake pinned us there.  But the stake was fast loosening
in the soil of our resolution, when we heard the guttural gruntings
that announced the approach of our quarry.  We let them pass us and get
well away from their trenches, then silently, like hunters stalking
wild beasts, we followed them.  When we were close enough to be almost
overpowered by the smell of sauerkraut and sausage mingling with stale
sweat, my voice rapped out, though muffled by the thick air: "Hands
up!"  There was no hesitation in obeying, although there were eight of
them and only six of us.  We pointed out the direction for them to go,
and reminded them with our boots that there was no time to waste.  We
had only crossed a couple of shell-holes, however, when we came to a
full stop.  Presently I understood that they had discovered we were
Australians and were terrified.  Probably they had been fed up with
tales about our savagery, that we tortured our prisoners.  Anyway, they
would not budge, and we could not carry eight hulking Germans and had
no means of tying them together.  Presently, the disturbance attracted
notice from both trenches and there was only one thing to do.  My
sergeant called out: "Look out, sir!  We'll be seen in a minute.  What
will we do?"  The contest was short and sharp; they outnumbered us, but
we went to it with a will.  It was sheer butchery, but I had rather
send a thousand of the swine down to the fatherland than lose one of my
boys.  And perhaps it was charity to some wife and daughter who would
now be free from the brutality of her Teutonic lord and master.

There is nothing so easy as to be lost in No Man's Land.  A compass is
useless, for you may be lying on a fifteen-inch shell just covered with
a few inches of earth, and the stars refuse to look down on its pain,
and the sky is always thickly veiled.  Turn round three times, and you
don't know which trench to return to.  It is an awkward predicament,
and many a time I went blindly forward praying that it was in the right
direction.  The German's horn-rimmed glasses but bewilder him the more,
and we have had several of them walk into our arms without intention,
though they soon found that thereby they had bettered themselves.
There was one young Bavarian officer who made this miscalculation.  I
saw him moving near our wire in the early dawn.  I called to some men
to draw a bead on him but he came toward us and at the last with a run
jumped down into our trench.  "Good morning!" I said to him, looking
down my automatic, and you never saw such a crestfallen countenance in
your life.  It must have been some shock, expecting to join his own
people and suddenly finding himself in the camp of his enemies.  I
found out afterward that he was a young cadet qualifying for his
commission, and this was his first night in the trenches.  He evidently
was seeking an iron cross very early in his career.  I spat question
after question at him: "What's your regiment?" "How long have you been
in the trenches?" etc., but in English he replied: "I won't tell you
anything.  You can't make me!"  "All right, old chap, don't get
excited!  Come along with me."  I took him to the dugout which I shared
with the medical officer in the support-trenches and sent Pat, my
batman, to get together the best meal he could.  Pat was a genius as a
provider.  None of the other officers liked him, for they suspected he
was the medium for the loss of some of their luxuries, and I always had
a blind eye.  On this occasion Pat got together a real slap-up
feed--some tinned sausages, mashed potatoes, strawberry jam, preserved
pears and cream, not forgetting a bottle of champagne.  I sent for the
doctor and we fell to with gusto, and never offered his nibs a bite,
though the eyes were popping out of his head, and his mouth watering
with hunger.  Toward the end of the meal I said to him: "I can't compel
you to tell me anything, but I am not compelled to feed you.  But you
know how to earn something to eat."  He began to tell me something I
knew was all rubbish and I swung at him with "You swine!  If you tell
me those lies I'll strip your badges off you and send you in as a
private."  I was surprised at the effect this threat had on him, though
I knew that was the one thing that never failed in bringing a German
officer to book.  He trembled and paled and gave me a lot of
information that I afterward proved to be correct.

Here's a good story of Pat, my old batman, who had been a shearer's
cook in Australia, and looked after me like a father.  He was really
too old for the trenches, but this job just suited him.  I was very
surprised one day to see him with a German prisoner.  He was never in a
charge, and had no business having this man.  Probably he had borrowed
him from some other chap.  I said to him; "Pat, what on earth are you
doing with Fritz?"  "To tell yer the truth, sorr-r, Oi haven't yet made
up my moind!"  "Let us have no humbug, take him back to the cage!"
"Very well, sorr-r!"  About ten minutes later I saw Pat without his
prisoner.  "Here, Pat, what on earth did you do with Fritz?"  "Well,
sorr-r, he kept beggin' and beggin' to be let go, so Oi just put a
Mills in his pocket with the pin out, and tould him to run for his
loife!"  He would not get fifty yards before it went off!

The trained scout moves very cautiously in No Man's Land, with all his
senses at high tension.  After moving from one shell-hole to the next
he lies and listens for a full minute.  If there are any human beings
near they will likely betray themselves by loud breathing, a muffled
sneeze, or some rattle of equipment.  If satisfied that the way is
clear, he moves forward into another hole.  Should he suddenly come
into sight of the enemy, he is taught to freeze instantly, and the
chances are he will not be noticed.

There was one night when I was making a way through the German wire,
and had my hand up cutting a strand, when a sentry poked his head over
the top and looked straight at me not three yards away.  I froze
instantly in that attitude but he fired a shot at me which, of course,
went wide, being aimed in the dark.  He then sent up a flare, but the
firing of this dazzles a man for several seconds, and then so many
shadows are thrown that I was no more distinct than previously.  He
went away, returning a minute or two later to have another look.  By
this time I was feeling quite stiff, but he was quite satisfied that no
live man could be there.  Had I jumped into a shell-hole, as fear
prompted me to do, he would have roused the whole line, and a bomb
would likely have got me.  However, I thought this would be a good
opportunity to take a look into the trench, for I reasoned that this
sentry must be alone or some one else would have put up the flare while
he fired the shot.  Probably the rest of his regiment were on a working
fatigue not far away.  It was a breastwork trench and I climbed up the
sand-bags, but tripped over a wire at the top and came down with a
clatter.  A red flare went up and I heard the feet of many soldiers
running along the duck-boards.  I only had time to roll into the ditch
at the foot of the back of the parapet, where I was quite safe from
observation, when they manned their trench to repel the "raid."  After
several minutes when about a hundred rifles, several machine-guns, and
a trench-mortar were pouring their fire into No Man's Land, I began to
recover my nerve and saw that it would be a good opportunity to mark
the position of one of these machine-guns which was firing just above
my head.  In fact, I could, with ease, have had my hand drilled just by
holding it up.  I tore a page out of my note-book and placed it in a
crevice between the sand-bags, just under the gun.  Hours afterward
when all was quiet I returned to our own trenches and fastened another
piece of white paper to a bush half-way across No Man's Land that I
noticed was in line with a dead tree close to our "sally-port," and my
first piece of paper.  In the morning the artillery observation officer
could see these two pieces of paper quite plainly with his glasses, and
that trench was levelled for fifty yards.

No Man's Land is a place of surprises where death plucks its victims
without warning.  There have been some strange deaths there when bodies
lay with unbroken skin, having neither mark of bullet nor shell.  Times
when the spirit laid the body down, fair and unmarred human flesh, but
other times when the flesh was rent to ribbons and the bones smashed to
splinters by the force imprisoned in a shell.

Such was the death meted out by justice to six Germans in a listening
post fifty yards in advance of their trench.  This party was in the way
of our raid.  We could not enter their trench by surprise without first
removing it, and the job fell on me.  I prepared a mine of my own.  I
took two Stokes shells, changed the time-fuse for instantaneous, took
out the safety-pins holding the lever down by means of an iron ring.  I
crept out with these shells just a little before dark so as to arrive
at the position before the Germans.  I then put the shells, one on
either side, and connected them with a fine trip-wire tied to each
ring.  I hurried from the spot as though the pestilence were after me,
and got back safely--to the surprise of my brother officers who very
consolingly said that they all expected I would blow myself up.  At
half past eight, however, there was music in our ears of a loud
explosion in the direction of my mine.  Next morning, through the
telescope, could be seen what remained of several Hun carcasses.  Pat,
my batman, who was always a Job's comforter, informed me that the
Germans would lie in wait for me to revenge this outrage; but if I had
taken any notice of him, I would never have been able to do my job.  He
would come to me some mornings and beg me not to go out in No Man's
Land that night as he had dreamed that I was "kilt," when I generally
consigned him to a place where the English cease from troubling, and
the Irish are at rest.

The enemy did his share in surprises.  There was one occasion when I
received word from the Tommies on our right that a large German patrol
had been out on their front all night.  As they did not attack I was
considerably worried as to what they were up to, knowing they would not
be there for the benefit of their health.  I was responsible that our
portion of the line should be guarded from surprise, and fear of some
unknown calamity that might spring upon us from the dark made me so
concerned that I lay pretty nearly all day on top of the parapet
covered with sand-bags searching every inch of No Man's Land for a sign
of the cause of their nocturnal activity.  The setting sun revealed
something shining that looked like the barrel of a Lewis gun.  I
determined to go out and get it after dark.  When I went out I found I
could not get near the place, for a machine-gun was playing round it to
discourage curiosity, which it very effectively did.  I reported next
morning that the only chance of seeing what it was was to go out in the
daytime; and it was suspicious enough to justify the risk.  I donned a
green suit and with a snail's progress crawled through the long grass
and discovered that the Germans had laid a five-inch pipe from their
trenches to within fifty yards of an indentation in our own.  They
would be able to enfilade us with gas before we could don our masks.
We looked on our dangerous wind being one that blew across No Man's
Land, but with this pipe we would be gassed when the wind blew down the
line from the Tommies to us.  The engineer officer wanted to blow up
the pipe, but I thought if we blocked it up the enemy might not
discover it, and put through gas which would come back on himself.
Some concrete dugouts were being constructed at this time, and I took
out a bucket of concrete and dumped it over the end of the pipe in
broad daylight without having a shot fired at me or being seen.
Afterward I found crawling in the daylight in No Man's Land to be less
dangerous than at night.  On a quiet front there is very little rifle
or machine-gun fire by day for fear of betraying machine-gun and sniper
positions.  Never once in two or three daylight excursions into No
Man's Land was I seen by the enemy or our own sentries.

Darkness always holds fear for the human heart, and it is the unknown
danger that makes the bravest quail, and not so many are cowards in the
daylight.  But who can tell which holds the more peril for the soldier?
He faces the terror that cometh by night, the destruction that walketh
by day, and the pestilence that wasteth at noonday.  But night is often
kindly--it brings the balm of sleep to our tired bodies and covers
coarseness and filth with a softening veil.  No Man's Land at night is
more beautiful than by day, for we need not know of the horror we do
not see, and it shuts us off from sight of our enemies, and lets us
feel that the wall is thick and strong that stands between our homes
and women kin, and the savagery and bestiality of the monster who
ravaged the homes and raped the women of Belgium and France.


  "But if there's horror, there's beauty, wonder;
  The trench lights gleam and the rockets play.
  That flood of magnificent orange yonder
  Is a battery blazing miles away." [2]



[1] Robert W. Service.

[2] Robert W. Service.




CHAPTER XXV

SPY-HUNTING

Man is by instinct and tradition a hunter, and there is no sport so
thrilling as man-hunting, especially if the hunted be a menace to
society, and more especially if he be a spy that threatens the safety
of yourself and comrades.  There is also in this branch of intelligence
service an appeal to the clash of wits that holds fascination for the
keen mind.  The German spy system is not more clever than our own, but
has been more carefully organized and much longer in operation.  He
spies also on friend and neutral, while we only use this back-door
method of gleaning information from an enemy.  The word, too, has
associations that are ugly, and I fancy that our spies do not boast of
their service, but spy-hunting is a service that has no taint, and
there is much satisfaction both to the conscience and intellect in
routing out the underground worker who, for "filthy lucre," would sell
the blood of his fellow man.  The traitor and the spy have in all ages
been rightly considered as foul beings who poison the air and whose
touch contaminates.  In Germany alone is the spy given honor which is
fitting in a country which has substituted _Expediency_ for _Honor_ and
_Plausibility_ for _Truth_, on whose throne is a maniac, and where
_Conscience_ has been unseated by _Pride_, and _Reason_ displaced by
_Method_.

Germany's espionage of her neighbors has been in existence so long, and
so much time and money have been expended on it that we must prepare
for its reassertion after the war even in countries where it has been
for a time suppressed.  Its hands have been cut off, but the plotting
brain and the murderous heart of the system still persist and will be
used after the war to rehabilitate the trade of Germany under many
disguises, and will also seek, through appeal to our pity for a fallen
nation, to lull us into slumber, until the claws and fangs of
militarism have grown again.

We are so new in the game that our methods in spy-hunting are clumsy,
and we frequently give warning to the brains of the system to seek
cover when we strike at its puppets.  By arresting the agents of the
German master spy we cut off his activity for a time but allow him to
spread his ramifications in other directions, and the first knowledge
we have that he has sprung to life again is by the destruction of
property and loss of life that ensue.  It would sometimes pay us to
give these agents more and more rope, keeping them under observation
until we can strike at the centre and heart of all this plotting.  When
we have enough evidence against one of these agents for a death penalty
we should allow him to purchase his life by betraying his master, and
as these agents only serve for hire and know not what loyalty is, they
are always ready to turn king's evidence if the price offered be high
enough.  Of course, they should not be given their liberty again, but
segregated like the carrier of a contagious disease.

It should always be remembered that a man who in war-time talks
sedition and disloyalty in public is not a spy.  He is too big a fool
to be ever employed in a service that requires, above all things,
secrecy and the ability to avert suspicion.  The first thing a spy
seeks to do is to find a suitable cloak to cover his designs, and also
to place himself in a position where he will gain information.  Among
the first things he would do would be to seek to join the Red Cross,
and he would be almost certain to enlist.  In these days the man to be
suspicious of is the one who is always protesting his loyalty and
showing what _he_ is doing "to help the cause."  The true patriot knows
that he has no need to proclaim his loyalty, and is shy of boasting of
service that is really a "privilege and a duty."

Among the most useful equipments for a secret-service agent is
lip-reading, and if he can signal with his eyelids in Morse so much the
better.  Dark goggles, one glass of which is a small mirror, are also
very useful, as one can sit with one's back to a party in a cafe or
train, and read what they are saying.  Women are the most dangerous
spies, and trade on the instinctive chivalry that men cannot help but
extend to them.  There are many officers whose deaths at the front have
been suicides because they were betrayed by some woman who had sucked
valuable information from them, and their chivalry would not let them
deliver her over to justice.  Men in high place in England and in
France have betrayed the public trust through faith in a woman who was
false and who sold their confidence to the enemy for a price that was
so strong to their hearts as to be irresistible, more than love, honor,
or country.

Even in the army there are mysterious happenings--shots from behind and
strange disappearances.  There was one Australian general whose death
created many rumors, and other officers who were supposed to have been
shot from within our lines.

Of course, in the war zone among a strange peasantry there are many spy
scares, and maybe some of the things we were suspicious of were quite
innocent; but it was strange that whenever a gray horse appeared near a
battery that battery was shelled, and when they painted all the gray
horses green their positions were not so frequently spotted.  Sometimes
the old Flemish farmers would certainly plough their fields in a
strange fashion but, perhaps, zigzags and swastikas are common patterns
in French fields.  It may have been our alarmed ears that fancied the
paper boy played a different tune on his horn every day, but pigeons
did certainly rise from the middle of paddocks contrary to the habits
of these birds.

One of the hardest things I ever did was to arrest a young Belgian girl
nineteen years of age who undoubtedly was the means of the death of
thousands of our boys.  It was in this wise.  One night I observed a
light a good way behind our trenches go out then come again.  I watched
it very carefully, and found it was signalling by the Morse code with
dashes ten seconds long and the dots five.  If you were not watching it
very carefully you would never have dreamt it was anything but a
flicker of light.  The letters I read were--NRUDTVEAUAOILN, which, when
decoded, gave important information regarding the movement of troops.
I took a line through some trees of the direction from which the light
came and walked toward it.  Just off an old drain I found an overturned
wagon with a loophole cut through the backboard.  There were footprints
in the drain, and the grass was pressed down where a body had been
lying.  For five nights I lay in wait, my hopes keyed up to the highest
point of expectation.  At last to me was to fall the good fortune of
capturing a spy--perhaps to end the leakage of information of our plans
that we knew the Germans were getting.  But on these five nights
nothing happened.  The day afterward, some boys of a battery whom I
asked to watch this drain caught an old farmer in it.  This farmer,
however, who lived next door to our brigade headquarters had been
carefully watched, and the information had come from outside the zone
which he never left.  Some one must have brought the information to
him.  Everybody using those roads had to have a passport issued by the
French intelligence service, and countersigned by the intelligence
officer of the area.  Elimination narrowed suspicion to a paper girl
who, it was found, sold out her papers round the batteries and billets
at ten o'clock, and did not return until after three.  The excuse she
gave was that she was visiting her brother's grave, but on looking up
her records we found that she had never had a brother.  One day I kept
her in sight on the road while I rode across the fields.  After she
entered the house where she was living at Estaires I followed and
opened the door.  As soon as she saw me she fainted.  I blew my
whistle, and on arrival of the picket we searched the house and found
the German code with some maps and other incriminating documents.  I
never did a harder task in my life than hand that girl over to the
French authorities for possible execution.  She was a very pretty,
happy little girl, red-haired and blue-eyed, and, although one could
show no pity because the safety and life of thousands were at stake,
yet it wrung the heart to think of the wastage of the young, bright
life, the victim of German gold, and the treachery that is the
handmaiden of war, and preys on the weakness of the moral nature.

There was another occasion when I unearthed a spy's burrow.  One night
a man in D Company stopped me on the road, and pointing out a lonely
farmhouse, told me he had seen some blue sparks flashing from the
chimney.  We walked across and, entering the flagged kitchen, asked for
"cafe au lait."  Sitting at the white table worn with much scrubbing,
and slowly sipping the coffee, we engaged the old man and woman in
conversation.  They were very bitter in their denunciation of "les
boches," and spoke of their sacrifices as nothing.  "Why, monsieur, it
is for France!  It is not for us to complain if she ask much from us."
My companion spoke French very fluently (his name was Davies), and he
acted as interpreter.  I noticed that they seemed anxious to get rid of
us, but we stayed for several hours getting the old lady to cook us
eggs and chipped potatoes, and talking on almost every topic but the
war.  One suspicious circumstance that had caught my eye as soon as we
entered the kitchen was the fact that the flue of the stove did not
lead up the chimney, but out through a hole in the wall.

At last, when we rose to go the old man in an excess of hospitality
accompanied us fifty yards on our way.  We promised to bring some
companions on another day.  "But no, monsieur, that will not do--we
cannot get more eggs, and my wife she is a little afraid of the soldat
from Australie."

After he left us and returned to the farm we doubled back, and round to
the other side.  Soon we heard the crackle of wireless.  Expecting that
the door would be fast bolted, we smashed-in a window, almost knocking
over the old woman as she barred our way.  Looking up the chimney, I
found there as neat a small set of wireless as was ever "made in
Germany."  The motor was in the cellar and well-muffled.  The old chap
hesitated to come down, but a shot that brought down some plaster
hurried his decision.  In spite of the old woman's pretended fear of
Australians, she evidently did not think we were adamant to pity.  On
her knees with much weeping she begged us to let them go away, and
shifted rapidly from one ground of appeal to another.  She said her
husband was crazy and his wires and things did no harm; he was trying
to talk to "le President," but no answer ever came.  She would have him
locked up.  "You would not harm an old mother of France!"  I told her
she wasn't French, but German, of which I had had suspicions all along.
She then spat at us and told us to do our worst, but the old man merely
stood there and scowled, and as he stood upright, with folded arms, we
judged he was not as old by twenty years as he appeared, though his
make-up was perfect.  We marched them through the village under the
curious eyes of many of our own comrades, but the eager gesticulations
of the French people, and the fierce blaze of rage in the eyes of the
women showed us that they had no friends among the neighbors, and
revealed to us the smouldering fires of hate that the French people
have for the brutal invader.  I fancy the dastardly pair were glad of
our protection for all their looks of defiance.  They knew that a spy
would meet short shrift at the hands of these French women whose
untamed spirit was the same as that of the Margots of the Parisian
gutters in the Reign of Terror.




CHAPTER XXVI

BAPAUME AND "A BLIGHTY"

How many weeks I lay under the shadow of the church-tower of Bapaume I
know not.  But every morning as the mist lifted the church-tower would
reappear through the trees, and now and again the flash of a glass
would show that it was an observation-post of the enemy, and frequently
well-placed shells on our trenches and dumps would show to what
devilish uses our enemies were putting the house of God as they
directed their shell-fire from a seat just under the cross on the tower.

This is a very old, historic town of France, and the sentiment of the
French people would not have it shelled.  So we lay these weeks within
cooee of a nest of our enemies, who were permitted the safety and
comfort of a peaceful home almost within our lines.  There are other
places along the line where we are under the same disadvantage.  There
is the city of Lille with its million or more of French inhabitants
lying within five miles of our lines (such easy range), for over three
years, and not a shell fired into it.  How the Germans smile as their
bases of operation lie in such security, for, of course, sentiment has
been erased from the German character forever.

The French made the mistake again in regard to Bapaume of crediting the
Germans with human feelings--they vainly hoped that the Germans would
respect historic monuments when they gained no military advantage by
destroying them.  But every day that the war is prolonged is but adding
to the evidence already so colossal that the German is a beast who
wantonly destroys and takes sheer joy in slaying, burning, and
smashing, destroying for destruction's sake, and killing for the sight
of blood.  When we drove the Germans from Bapaume they left it in ruins
as utter as though we had bombarded it, but so much more systematic was
their destruction!  In the market square there is a hole large enough
to hold a cathedral, made by the mine they exploded as they left, which
was so senseless as almost to make it seem that, like children, they
wanted to hear how big a bang they could make.  But their devilish lack
of humor is more plainly shown in the system with which they destroyed
the orchards in the country further back.  Every tree was cut at
exactly the same height from the ground, and carefully laid in the
selfsame way.  Not one of them deviated a hair's breadth in its
position on the ground from the angle made by its neighbor.  They must
have spent hours in obtaining such hellish regularity.  Wed System to
Lust, and you have an alliance of Satan with the hag Sycorax, and their
offspring is the German Empire, the Caliban of nations.

The highest point of the church-tower, however, before the days of our
advance, was its cross, and in our misery we could always see this
symbol of hope and salvation; but it was a reminder too of pain and
suffering endured that man's spirit might be free, and as we also were
suffering and enduring in freedom's cause, we knew that our strife was
religion and our accomplishment would be salvation.

And what we endured in that bitter cold has scarred our memories and
added to our bodies the aging of years.  In the chronic agony of cold
the pain of wounds was an alleviation, and I have seen men who had just
had their arms blown off wave the jagged stump and laugh as they called
out--"Got a 'blighty' at last, sir!"  We were standing up to our waists
in liquid mud by day, into which we would freeze at night.  I have gone
along the trench and kicked and punched my boys into sensibility, and
said: "Is there anything I can do for you, boys?  Can't I get you
anything?"  "Oh, no sir.  We're all right, but don't we envy old Nick
and his imps to-night!"  Who is there that is not abashed in the
presence of a spirit like that?  And had you been there and these your
men, wouldn't you love them as I do?  Never did the spirit of man rise
more glorious to the demand of hard occasion, than when those boys of
Australia laughed and joked in the tortures of hell.  Eighty per cent
of them had never known a temperature lower than thirty above zero, and
here was a cold more biting than they had ever dreamed of and they were
without protection, living in a filthy ditch, never dry, their clothing
unable to keep out wet or cold.  Back in camp every man had a
complaint, where it is the province of the soldier to grumble.  In
those days the orderly officer would go round with his question of "Any
complaints?"  "Yes, look here, sir.  What do you think of that?"  "Why,
dear me, man, it seems very good soup!"  "Yes, sir, but it is supposed
to be stew!"  Why, if the Australian soldier did not complain, you
might well suspect a mutiny brewing!  Too much marmalade, and not
enough plum! etc.  I never thought there was as much marmalade in the
world as I myself have consumed on active service!  Those days when we
were well off, and did not know it, with dry beds and a clean tent,
with good warm food, and plenty to eat and drink, the boys were always
"kicking" about something or other, but now when things were hellish
bad under conditions when wounds were a luxury and death a release you
never heard a complaint.  There were days too when an enemy barrage cut
off our supplies and prevented relief, and we were compelled to live on
dry biscuits and cold water, taking our water from the shell-holes
where the dead were rotting.  I remember when I was wounded and being
carried out of the trench my brother officers saying to me: "Oh,
Knyvett, you lucky dog!"  And I was lucky, and knew it, though I had
twenty wounds and trench feet.  Why, when I arrived at the hospital and
lay in a real bed, with real sheets, and warm blankets, with a roof
over my head that didn't leak, and a fire in the room, with the nurse
now and again to come along and smile on me, I tell you heaven had no
extra attractions to offer me.  The man who got wounded in those days
was a lucky dog, all right; in fact, he mostly is at all times, and
about the silliest thing the War Office ever did was to issue an honor
stripe for wounds.  The man deserving of the greatest credit is not the
man who gets wounded, but the man who stays on in the trenches week
after week, and month after month enduring the nervous strain and
unnatural conditions, living like a rat in a hole in the ground.  There
are none who have been there for any length of time who do not welcome
the sharp pain of a wound as a relief.

The Germans opposite us in their trenches at Bapaume were, of course,
in as bad a plight as we were.  When I scouted down their trenches at
night I found equipment and stores lying on top of the parapet.
Evidently, the mud in the bottom of their trenches was as bad as in
ours, and anything dropped had to be fished for.  Perhaps there were no
deep dugouts just there.  We would not allow our men to use these deep
dugouts as nothing so conduces to bad morale.  Once men get deep down
out of range of the shells they are very, very reluctant to leave their
"funk-holes."  A man has to be hardened to shell-fire before he is of
any value as a fighter, and these deep dugouts take men out of reach of
most of the shells, and when they come in the open again they have to
be hardened anew.

It is not generally a wise plan to occupy the old German trench, as he
has the range of it very accurately, and anyway it is in most cases so
badly battered about after our artillery has done with it as not to be
at all superior as a residence to the shell-holes in front of it, and
it is mostly full of dead Germans which are unearthed by the shells as
often as we bury them.  God knows the smell of a live German is not a
pleasant thing to live near, but as for dead ones! . . .  Our method
was to construct a new trench about fifty yards in advance by linking
up a chain of shell-holes, and we felt the labor to be worth while when
we saw the shells falling behind us, and it was not much harder than if
we had had to clean out the old German trench.

On our right flank there was a gap of a hundred yards that we patrolled
two or three times a night, and in our net we sometimes caught some
Germans who were lost.  On one occasion a German with a string of
water-bottles round his neck, and a "grunt" that may have been a
password, stepped down into our trench.  He had evidently been out to
get water for himself and comrades from their nearest supply, and taken
the wrong turning!  He made an attempt at a grin when he found where he
was, and evidently thought the change could not be for the worse.  He
was so thick in the head, however--I have known cows with more
intelligence--that I wonder any other German being fool enough to trust
him with such a valuable article as a water-bottle.

We were planning to take a portion of the trench opposite to straighten
our line, and I had scouted down a hundred yards of it from behind, and
got a good idea of the strength with which it was held, taking bearings
of its position.  The next night, as the attack was to take place at
daybreak, I thought I had better go over and make sure that I had made
no mistakes.  I crossed over the first trench without any difficulty.
There did not seem to be any one on guard.  I then went toward their
support lines where there seemed to be more men, mostly working
parties.  I passed these and with unpardonable carelessness stood up to
have a look round, thinking that it was too dark for me to be seen.
But I got a shock to find there was a sentry almost beside me--though
he was, if anything, more scared than myself.  He pulled the trigger
without taking aim and naturally missed me, but if he had been
wide-awake he could with ease have punctured me with his bayonet.  I
did not stop to pass the time of day with him, for the place seemed
suddenly alive with Huns as he called "Heinz, Heinz!"--probably the
name of his corporal--but I dived into a shell-hole and flattened
myself as much as possible.  As I was lost to sight and to memory too
dear to be allowed to escape they began to cover the ground with bombs.
These all went well beyond me, and had it not been for "Butter-fingers"
I might have escaped.  But a bomb slipped from his hand, rolling into
the hole in front of him.  He jumped back into the safety of the
trench, and did not know that the bomb had fallen on me as it exploded.
But _I_ knew it--my left leg was broken in three places, twelve wounds
in my right, and others on my back, twenty that afterward had to be
dressed, not counting some other scratches.  Then they came out to look
for me, my "friend" almost stepping on me, but after half an hour's
fruitless search they gave up.  About two hours later I started home on
my long, painful crawl.  It took me about twenty minutes to pass the
sentry near where I was lying, but after that there was no danger of
discovery--the front line still appearing almost unoccupied; but I was
getting dizzy and not sure of my direction.  I knew, however, where
there was a derelict aeroplane in No Man's Land, and made toward it.
When I sighted this I was overcome with relief, and laid my face in the
mud for a while to recover.  I had now crawled about six hundred yards
dragging my useless legs.  And my elbows were skinned through, being
used as grapples that I dug in the ground ahead, in that way dragging
myself a few inches at a time.  I knew our trenches were still about
two hundred yards away, and the sweat of fear broke out on me as I
remembered the two machine-guns in front of me that would fire on
anything seen moving out there, no one expecting me to return that way.
So I crawled higher up the line, where it was safer to enter, and a few
yards from our trenches gave our scouting call.  Several of my boys
came running out and tenderly picked me up.  I was all in and could not
move a muscle.  My own boys would not allow the stretcher-bearers to
touch me, but six of them put me on a stretcher and carried me over the
top just as day was breaking.  They would not go down into the
communication-trench or shell-holes because they thought it would be
too rough on me, and so carried me over the exposed ground; and when
they got me to the dressing-station they said: "You will come back to
us, sir, won't you?"  I said: "Yes, boys, you bet I will!"  And you may
bet that I shall, as soon as ever I am passed as fit again.

The pain of my wounds was soon altogether forgotten, for each medical
officer that examined me finished up with the liquid melody of the
phrase: "Blighty for you!"  My leave was long past due, and the very
next day I was to report for transfer to the Australian wing of the
Royal Flying Corps, which would have meant several weeks' training in
England, but "the best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft
a-gley!"--and there's a science shapes our ends, rough-hack them though
Huns may!




PART V

HOSPITAL LIFE




CHAPTER XXVII

IN FRANCE

My hospital experiences in France were a procession of five nights with
intermissions of days spent in travel.  From the advance
dressing-station I was slid over the mud for three miles in a sledge
drawn by the Methuselah of horses borrowed from some French farmhouse.
His antiquarian gait suited me, and this was the smoothest of the many
torturous forms of travel I endured before I was able once again to
move up-rightly on my feet as a man should.

At Trones Wood I was swung into a horse ambulance and thereafter swung
and swayed for a couple of hours until, closing my eyes, I could fancy
I was once again at sea.  This was rougher than the sledge, but
endurable and certainly the most comfortable of all the wheeled
vehicles in which I travelled.  I bless the inventor of the springs
that kept it swaying gently on a road all ruts and holes.


I was deposited on the table of the operating-theatre in the
field-ambulance, while a surgeon overhauled me to see if there was any
injury necessitating an immediate operation.  Satisfied that I was
merely broken and punctured, I was transferred to a cot and so began my
_first hospital night_.  I was known personally to all the doctors in
our field-ambulance.  I had on several occasions messed with them, and
they were always very keenly interested in my yarns of No Man's Land,
so when the news spread that I had been brought in wounded I soon had a
group round my bed, some of them in pyjamas being roused from their
sleep to hear the news.  One of them very gleefully said: "Hullo,
Knyvett, old man--I've just won five pounds on you.  We had a bet that
you would not last out another month.  You know you've had a pretty
good innings and mighty lucky only to get wounded."  But at that moment
I was not in the mood to appreciate this form of humor, until one of
them, seeing I was pretty uncomfortable, gave me an injection of
morphia.  But I was very glad to be resting there and felt I could
hardly have endured a longer journey without a spell.  I was given here
the first good hot meal I had had for weeks, though I had been given a
drink of steaming-hot coffee in the ambulance.  There was not much
sleep to be got, as a constant stream of men were being brought in and
taken away, and now and again shells would fall quite close, but the
ground thereabouts was very soft, and I counted fifteen shells that
fell close by with a wouf and a squelch, but did not explode.  This
hospital was all under canvas, just three or four big marquees and a
score or so of tents for the medical officers and orderlies, and any
inclination that I had to complain was taken away by the sight of
"walking cases" strolling in with an arm gone, or a hole in the cheek,
or their jaw smashed, many far worse than I was, who would sit there
waiting their turn to be examined, and then walk out again to the
ambulance that carried them on to the next hospital.


Next morning I was carried out to a motor-ambulance and started on the
most painful trip of my life.  The driver took reasonable care, but
could not go too slow, for another load was waiting for him as soon as
he could return, but I am sure that I felt every stone in that road.  I
got the attendant to wedge me in with pillows, but only by holding
myself off from the wall with both my hands could I ease the bump, and
then I would wait with dread for the next one.  I don't know if the
other three fellows lying in the ambulance with me were as sore as I
was, but I picture to-day the hours that those ambulances travel with
wounded men as being added together and totalling a century of pain.
Perhaps after the war is ended, when it is too late, some one may
invent a motor ambulance on easy springs that will not multiply
unnecessarily the pain of torn flesh and the grating edges of bones.

Now comes the night in the casualty clearing-station at Heilly.
Straight on to another operating-table, but one in a sea of many--ten
operations going on at once.  Then began the probing for pieces of
metal in my wounds.  "Good God!" remarked the surgeon, "the best thing
we can do is to run a magnet over you.  We'll never find them all
otherwise."  Nor did they, for I carry some of them still in my body as
permanent souvenirs of the few words I had with Fritz.  There was a
nurse in the theatre with smiling face, laughing blue eyes, and tumbled
curls falling beneath her cap, and a brief acquaintance of one day was
formed on the spot.  She was attending another case, and a wink and a
smile served for introduction.  She came and visited me in the ward
that night and we chatted a brief hour, then she was gone, and I know
not even her name.  So ships meet, dip their flag, and pass into the
night.

In the bed opposite me in this hospital there was a German officer and
he bellowed like a bull all night.  We got pretty sick of his noise and
told the medical officer in charge of the ward when he came on his
rounds in the morning that if he did not chloroform or do something to
silence the hound, we would.  I suggested that he go and tell him that
if he did not shut up he would be sent into the ward with his own
privates.  He did so and there was not another squeak from him.

After breakfast warm sweaters, helmets, scarfs, and mitts were issued
to each of us and we were wrapped in warm blankets and carried out to a
hospital-train near by.  Before I left, however, I wrote out the report
of my reconnoissance of the German trenches and despatched it by
orderly to G. H. Q.  All my possessions I carried in my hand in a small
bag not nearly as big as a lady's knitting-bag.  My kit was "somewhere
in France" and my uniform had been cut off me and was probably
ascending as incense from some incinerator, in a ritual that was an
appropriate end after much service.  Everything was supposed to be
taken out of my pockets (which I have no doubt happened) and sent to me
(which certainly did not happen).  I have no sympathy with the old
sanitary sergeant who superintended the last rites in the passing of my
much-lived-in clothes when he was slightly wounded by a bullet from a
cartridge that somehow or other dropped into the fire at the same time.
These incinerators frequently very nearly caused shell-shock to the
sanitary squad, and they might just as well have been in the actual
trenches, for in the gathering up of rubbish around the camp cartridges
would frequently be thrown with it into the fire and explosions would
ensue like the firing of a machine-gun, and bullets would whizz in all
directions.  Once a mule got shot, but it's a wonder that other flesh
less valuable was not occasionally punctured, for these incinerators
were just on the edge of the camp and generally had a group round them
of those who preferred being fire-tenders to ramrod-shovers.


The hospital-train bore us with many interruptions and frequent
side-trackings toward the Channel and "Blighty."  In England
hospital-trains take precedence over all other traffic, but here in
France there were many other things more important for the winning of
the war than wounded men, so hospital-trains had to step aside and give
the right of way to the shells, guns, cartridges, and food for the men
still facing the foe.  So my third night was spent on the rails lying
snugly in a car wrapped in many blankets, and only disturbed by having
to "smoke" a thermometer every two or three hours, and by the nurse
rousing me at six "ack emma" (A. M.) to have my face and hands washed,
which is a mania that afflicts all nurses.  A nurse has only one fear,
that of displeasing the doctor, and though all should perish,
everything must be spotless when he makes his rounds.  A doctor is the
only man who can awe a woman and obtain perfect obedience.  Of course I
am referring to them professionally, and not in their domestic
relations.  I knew a nurse in a military hospital who woke up a
patient, who was enjoying his first sound sleep for weeks, to
administer a sleeping-draft.  When she was remonstrated with she said
"the doctor ordered it."  In France there has been since the war much
"coal-saving," and had it not been that I had been careful to have with
me emergency rations of blankets, I would have perished with the cold.
I was told that the engine-drivers were given a commission on what coal
they saved, so all the steam we got through the warming-pipes hardly
took the frost off them.  Only the men in the bottom cots were able to
see the scenery we passed through, and we up-stairs could have murdered
them with pleasure as they kept calling out: "By George!  You should
see this!"  "That's the funniest sight I've seen in my life!"  "Isn't
that a lovely sight!" etc.  But journeys, even on French railways, come
to an end eventually, though it only be second-class traffic, and with
much joy did we welcome the news that we were running into Rouen.


In the small hours of the morning with the mist still trailing through
the streets we were driven to the Infirmary for Aged Women (which they
had vacated), and where was housed Number Eight General Hospital.
After our labels had been examined and checked with our wounds, and it
was quite evident that we were "les hommes blesses" and not baggage, we
were carried upstairs and allotted to our wards according to the part
of the body in which we were wounded.  They had some difficulty in my
case, and as I feared that they might be carrying me from ward to ward
all day and night I asked them to look on the other side of my tag to
see if it was not marked in red: "Fragile, With Care."  There was in
the ward where I eventually anchored a V. A. D. (Voluntary Aid
Detachment) nurse who will ever live in my memory as the gentlest and
most attentive of all that I have known.  You could not raise your hand
or turn in your sleep without her gliding noiselessly to your bedside
to see if you wanted anything.  A hundred times would she straighten
the pillows, if you fancied you would get extra comfort another way,
and she ever had ready a hot glass of milk to make you sleep the
better.  She was a Canadian, and if there are many more like her among
the Canadian women, then the men of Canada are thrice blessed.  Thus
passed my fourth night in French hospitals.

In the morning I saw through an open door in another ward a friend of
mine whom I had parted with on landing in Egypt.  I called an orderly
to carry me through to an empty bed alongside him so that we might
renew our friendship.  He was badly wounded in the arm and face, but it
was pleasant to meet again after many months.  That was many months ago
and the other day I met him again in New York.  We have only been a
short time together on each occasion, yet have continued our
acquaintance on four continents, many months intervening between each
meeting.  There was a great hullabaloo in my ward when the matron came
in and found my bed empty.  When she discovered where I was, she said:
"Who gave you permission to come in here?" I replied: "No one said I
was not to!"  And anyway the pleasure was worth the commission of the
crime!  That morning I was again picked up as a bundle and carried I
knew not whither, leaving my friend behind.


I was carried on board a British hospital-ship and lowered about three
decks down.  As placards glared in one's eyes on every side about what
to do in case of submarine attack, I did not like very much the idea of
going down so far, for I always like to be able to depend upon myself
in an emergency, and I was now as helpless as a log.  They put me in a
swinging cot, which was a great idea to prevent seasickness.  We went
slowly out the harbor to sea with our prow pointing toward "Blighty,"
the El Dorado of the wounded Tommy.  'Twas little I saw of river,
harbor, or sea from my berth in the nethermost depths of that vessel's
hold.  I was told we went across with all lights out.  The days had
passed when, in our folly, we painted our hospital-ships white with a
green band and marked them with a red cross, or at night circled them
with a row of green lights illuminating a huge red cross near the
funnel, for we had found that we were only making them conspicuous as
targets for the "human shark of the sea."  There have been more
hospital-ships sunk than troop-ships, for the troop-ship is armed and
convoyed, but the hospital-ship is an easy victim.  The English port we
entered was shrouded in fog, and wharf buildings never at any time look
inviting, but we could nevertheless understand the excitement of our
English companions, for it was Home to them, and to us "dear old
England," the brave heart of the freest empire this earth has seen, and
after all where is the Britisher who does not thrill with pride at
landing on the soil of those little islands which have produced a race
so great, and foot for foot of soil there is no land on the earth that
has produced so much wealth.  We could smile with appreciation and not
much surprise at the Tommy who remarked; "Say, Bill, don't the
gas-works smell lovely!"




CHAPTER XXVIII

IN LONDON

By hospital-train, the most comfortable ever devised, did we run into
Waterloo Station--doors were opened, and men in gorgeous uniforms--much
gold braid and silver buttons--came aboard.  We thought that they were
admirals and field-marshals at the very least, but it turned out they
were only members of the Volunteer Ambulance Corps, men unfit for
military service, who had provided their own cars and received not a
penny of pay.  With the tenderness of women they put us on stretchers
and carried us out to their luxurious ambulances.  With each four men
went a lady to attend to all their wants.  Like a mother she hovered
over us and you could see her heart was bursting with love for us
far-out sons of empire.  Through cheering crowds we drove and our
Australian hearts leaped as we heard many cooees, which made us feel
that we were not far from Home, for twelve thousand miles were bridged
in thought by these homelike sounds and the knowledge that we were in
the land from which our parents came and where we had many kinsfolk.  I
was assigned to the Third London General Hospital and out to Wandsworth
Common was I taken, where alongside Queen Victoria's school for
officers' orphans had been built rows of comfortable huts linked up
with seven miles of corridors, while the old orphanage itself contained
the administrative headquarters.  I was allotted to G ward, but did not
know for days what a distinction that was, for the sister in charge was
none other than the late Queen of Portugal, and among the V. A. D.'s
were several ladies and honorables.  They were camouflaged, however,
under the titles of "sister" and "nurse," and we had become too
intimate to need ceremony before we discovered who they were in social
life.  In dressing our wounds, washing us, cleaning and scrubbing the
floors they were as adept as if to the manner born, but you could not
fail to see that they sprung from generations of refinement.  On one
side of me was an Australian who had been hit on the side of the head
by a shell, having therefrom a stiff neck.  On the other side was an
Irish padre, chaplain to an Australian battalion, and, of course, the
life of the ward, and he had a greater fund of good stories than any
other man, not excepting other priests, I have known.  In an opposite
bed was a Welshman with one leg who of necessity answered to the name
of "Taffy," while next to him was a Londoner who had a leg that he
would have been better without, for it had borne fourteen operations.
In London we had the world's specialists for every bodily ill, and some
of us who had complications were in the hands of ten doctors at the one
time.  There were skin specialists and bone specialists, nerve
specialists and brain specialists, separate authorities on the eye,
ear, nose, and throat, and it is a pity that a man is tied up in one
bag, otherwise they might all have operated at the selfsame moment in
separate rooms on the same man.

There was one sister whom we all loved--I don't think; but she was only
in our ward occasionally.  Her real name was unknown to most of us, but
she will be remembered for long as "Gentle Annie."  She was so gentle
that I have known only a few mules rougher, and never, after the first
occasion, would I allow her to touch the dressings on my wounds.  With
so many to be done it was a painful performance even under kindly,
sympathetic hands.  We expressed our feelings toward her by giving her
left-right every time she came into the ward and she would get mad at
the second step.  One day she called the matron, so we left-righted her
as well.  Then the doctor was brought in and we left-righted him, but
he enjoyed the joke, perhaps realizing his helplessness, for you can't
very well punish wounded men lying in bed except by depriving them of
food, and we were most of us on diets anyway!  The fact that we were
Australians was held to be accountable for our misbehavior.

There was a little nurse, mostly on night duty, who was dubbed "Choom,"
for she came from Yorkshire and had a rich brogue.  But her heart was
big enough for one twice her size, and she would always tuck us in and
attempt to supply all our wants, however unreasonable.

After an operation which I tell about in another chapter I was able to
sit up and propel myself in a wheel-chair, and soon was having races
with the champion chair-speeders of the other wards.  There was a long
inclined plane that was the cause of many accidents, for there was a
sharp turn at the bottom and our chariots would get out of control.  I
have more than once turned a double somersault and it is a wonder I did
not break my head, and several candid friends said it was cracked
anyway.  We had concerts in the hall every night, and as it was a
couple of miles from our ward, we cripples who brought our own chairs
with us would wait in the corridor for one of the blind to propel us
along while we would do the guiding ourselves, giving directions to our
steeds in nautical terms, such as: "Starboard a little!" "Steady,
steady, you idiot!" "Hard aport!" "Quick!" "Now, you darned fool, you
jolly nearly smashed that window!"  When we got to the door of the
hall, we would be piloted into the area reserved for carriages, and so
tightly were we jammed that it took about twenty minutes to empty the
hall, or twice as long if we tried to get out by ourselves.  However,
the concerts were worth while, and when Clara Butt or some other
world-famed artist came along, we did not mind being late for dinner,
the dishes of which were never a surprise if you remembered the day of
the week.

In our ward there were mostly leg injuries, and in the one next door
arm cases, and hot and fast flew the arguments as to which it were
worse to lose.  We demonstrated our superiority one night by raiding
them for their milk, all the attackers being on crutches, and they were
unable to recover it; so we decided to our own satisfaction that we
were the most useful members of society, though had we not drunk it so
fast they might have got it.

We had some very high talent in the hospital and our monthly gazette
was a very creditable production.  We had as one of the orderlies a
_Punch_ artist and he was always caricaturing some of us.  The patients
contributed drawings, poems, and articles, and I imagine that in years
to come these little papers will be of some value, containing the works
of renowned artists and authors from many parts of the world.

A good number from our ward were able to take taxi-rides into the city
and would return at late hours, sometimes the merrier for the
excursion.  I have in my memory as I write, recollections of waking
suddenly out of slumber to behold Taffy and a mad Australian waltzing
to the strains of a gramophone, each with only one leg, and then old
Piddington would persist in rousing the ward that we might sing as a
roundelay:


  "And when I die,
  Don't bury me at all--
  Just pickle my bones
  In alcohol.
  Put a bottle of RUM--  (_much emphasis here_)
  At my head and feet,
  And then I know
  My bones will keep!"


My brothers are in different regiments.  We enlisted from different
states--one is in an English regiment--yet we all met on Good Friday in
this hospital ward.  They had seen in the paper my name among the
casualties and, inquiring, had found out where I was and there we met,
not having seen each other for many years.

One day, like a bolt from the blue, came the intimation that I was to
be sent back to Australia in two days as being unfit for further
service.  I argued the point, went before the Medical Board, and gave
each one separately a testimonial that would be no advertisement, but
it was of no avail, and I realized that like a worn-out horse I was to
be sent out of the fun.  But to add injury to insult, I had had no
opportunity to see London.  What!  Go home to Australia and tell them I
had been in London and not seen St. Paul's, or the Abbey, or anything?
So when I realized appeal was useless I got dressed and called a
taxicab and went to see the sights of London.  Never was a tourist trip
conducted more systematically.  On crutches I hobbled round St. Paul's
and through the Abbey.  I saw the Tower, the Albert Memorial, and all
the sights that I could remember or the taxi-driver think of sufficient
importance to need a visit.  I even went down Petticoat Lane.  But most
of all I did the theatres, four in one day, returning to the hospital
at 1.30 A. M.  Next day I repeated and enlarged the dose, returning a
little later, but the following morning I was summoned before the O. C.
He said: "It is reported to me that you have been returning after
hours.  Why?"  I said: "So would you, sir, if you were returning to
Australia in two days and had not viewed London!"  He said: "Well, it
won't occur again, I hope."  To which I replied: "Only to-night, sir!"
But the boat was delayed, and I had two more days of strenuous
existence in the metropolis of the world.

Once again I entered a hospital-train, but this time I would have no
mussing round me as if I were a helpless child, but went upright, as a
man should, though on crutches.

When we journeyed to the port there was one of our good old Australian
coasters waiting to bear us back again--Home.  The old A. U. S. N.
steamer that I had so often travelled on from Brisbane to Sydney was
now under command of the Australian navy and had the proud designation
of "His Majesty's Australian Hospital-Ship."




CHAPTER XXIX

THE HOSPITAL-SHIP

Some people think that they have made a sea journey when they cross the
English Channel, and Dover to Calais holds for many the memory of an
age of misery.  I don't suppose the provisions on these Channel
steamers have very great inroads made upon them by the passengers.  The
soldiers have a song that well expresses experiences on this narrow
stretch of water.


  "Sea, sea, why are you angry with me?
  Ever since I left Dover,
  I thought the ship would go over ----" (etc.)


But on the longer journey across the Atlantic from England to America
there is more time to get one's sea-legs, and on the last day or two
passengers begin to enjoy the sea journey.  But this is quite enough of
the sea for any one but an amphibian.  The three weeks journey from
America to Australia gets decidedly monotonous, and long before
sighting Sydney Heads and entering the world's "pearl of ports" every
one has had his fill of the sea.  But lengthen that journey by three
and you have had enough sea travel for a lifetime.

Well, we left England and for an eternity sailed south, seeing land
only on one day and smelling it for a week.  Then we clung to the end
of Africa for seven days and then sailed east for a decade till
Australia got in our way, and as it could not be passed without a long
detour, we were deposited on its soil.  In nine weeks we only called at
two ports, Freetown on the west coast of Africa, and Durban on the east
coast.  Freetown has the usual strong combination smell of nigger,
cinnamon, and decaying vegetation, in an atmosphere of heavy steam,
that characterizes all tropical towns inhabited by our "black brother."
We were told that this place had but a few years ago the pleasant
subtitle of "The White Man's Grave."  If you served one year here in
the government service you were entitled to retire for life on a
pension, but the likelihood was that long before your term was up you
would retire to a six-foot-by-two allotment near the beach, in the
company of countless predecessors.  But science had been at work here,
as at Panama, and wire gauze and the kerosene spray had captured the
first trenches of yellow fever and malaria, and against these weapons
of the medico all counter-attacks have been unavailing.  Some strong
hand was ruling in this town, for the streets were spotless and the
dogs lean.  And, oh, how the nigger does hate cleanliness!  Evidently
this town was free in a real sense because well disciplined.  We were
told that all the white people lived up on the hill that backed the
town and many kind invitations of hospitality were sent to us; so those
whose wills were stronger than the enervating hand of the
weather-master boarded the toy train and were carried up and up toward
the summit of the hills above the steam heat, where the air seemed to
be fanned from the very cooling-house of God.  I had the pleasure of
being entertained by a French priest who had been on the western front
in the early days of the war, and he added to our knowledge more
first-hand stories of the bestial Huns' ravaging of convents and raping
of nuns.  The bishop of this protectorate could not do enough for us,
and although we were not of his faith, he looked on us as children who
were very dear to the heart of God because of our sacrifices of blood
and flesh for the right.

We loaded ourselves down with curios, buying tiger-rugs, mats,
bead-necklaces, tom-toms, and assegais.  We strung these chiefly round
our necks, as we had to have hands free to manipulate our crutches, and
some of us looked more like the "ol' clo' man" than smart army
officers.  Of course "Bertie Gloom" had to suggest that we would have
to pay more duty on the "old junk" when we got it to Australia even
than the price that the dealers had already robbed us of.

At Durban the first thing we saw was a girl in white semaphoring like
mad from the rocks.  As we spelled out that she was trying to tell us
that she was an Australian, we gave her three times three.  Our
difficulty in reading her message was not through her bad signalling
but because of her speed.  Doubt if we had a signaller on board so
quick!  This was not the last of our indebtedness to her, for when we
got into the wharf she had a regiment of Kaffirs with sugar-bags full
of apples and oranges, and while we were still fifty yards from the
wharf she began throwing them through the port-holes and into the hands
of the men on deck.  Not a half of one per cent fell short.  She would
have made a dandy bomber, and was a dandy all round.

In fact, the people of Durban were the most hospitable and patriotic of
any people we had met.  A delegation of citizens and ladies came down
to the boat to inform us that we were the guests of the city and that
everything was free to us.  And later on we found them not to have
exaggerated in the slightest.  No one would accept money from us,
though I don't think any of us tried to get diamond rings on these
terms, but conductors on tram-cars and trains and motor-drivers and
ticket-collectors at theatres one and all told us that our money was no
good and gave to us their best seats.

This did not apply to the rickshaws, for they were run by Zulus and
charged by the hour.  You would climb in, the shafts would go up in the
air, until you thought you were going to be tipped out at the back, and
a herculean Zulu, decorated with horns and red and white stripes so
that he might look like the devil, whom he, in reality, outdevilled,
would rest himself on the body of the rick and trot along at a rate of
six or seven miles an hour, quite able to keep up the pace all day.  As
a matter of fact, they never wanted to know where you were going, and
even if you told them to take you to the post-office they would go
round and round the block, never stopping to let you out unless you
gave them a good poke in the ribs with your stick.  Somewhere in their
brains was an infernal taximeter adding up the dimes, and like their
first cousins with the leather caps, they were determined to squeeze
from you your last cent.

Apart from the ordinary entertainments we found that fetes and feasts
had been arranged for our delectation at the Y. M. C. A. and soldiers'
clubs, so that every minute of our stay was crowded enjoyment.  Even
those of us who preferred quieter pleasures were not without
companions, and I know of no more delightful journey in the whole world
than a trip by tram-car to the Zoo or out along the Berea.  Durban has
certainly one of the most picturesque situations of any city in the
world, and the art of man has been used with taste to reinforce nature:
there are no homes in more delightful surroundings with lovelier
shrubbery and gardens than here.  The people of Durban have not only an
eye for beauty but they are very up to date and have a coaling
apparatus that holds the world's record for speed in the coaling of
ships.

Besides these two ports we made two other stops on the journey, but
these were where there was no land.  The first one was wholly
involuntary, and not much to our liking, for through a breakdown in our
engines we drifted helplessly for two days in the very centre of the
danger zone of submarines.

Our next stop had also some connection with these sharks, for we
sighted floating in mid-ocean two life-boats and we went close to them
but there was no one on board--only oars and water-casks.  That's
all--just another mystery of the sea--no name, no clew.  Another day we
sighted a steamer hull down, evidently water-logged, and we were going
to her assistance when a cruiser came along and told us to go about our
business and get out of harm's way as quickly as we could.  This
cruiser was just a little whiff of "scented gum"; and Australian air to
us, for she was one of the best known of the Australian squadron.

There is a lonely island in the mid-Indian Ocean which is the only land
for thousands of miles, and it is an unwritten law of the sea that
every ship going that way should steam round it and watch carefully for
signal-fires or signs of human occupation, for it is the place that
shipwrecked sailors make for, and therefore there have been placed on
the island several casks of fresh water and a supply of flour, and
goats have been turned loose until they now overrun it.  If a ship
should find any one marooned thereon they are bound to replace all the
water and flour that has been used.  At one time there was a large
fresh-water lake in the extinct crater of a volcano, but the sea has
now broken through and made it salt.  We steamed very close in, blew
the siren, and had there been a pygmy there he would not have been
overlooked as hundreds of trained eyes searched the rocks with glasses.
We also got some fine photographs of this romantic isle in its waste of
waters.

The officers' ward was on the upper deck and our nurse had a twin
sister in another ward and there was not a particle of difference
between them.  If I was lying on the deck and should call out to our
nurse as she passed to get me something, she would generally say, "I'll
ask my sister," for, of course, it was the wrong one.  There was
endless confusion, for when we had a little tiff with our nurse, her
sister would be sent to Coventry as well, and in a deck golf tournament
there was great dispute over who won the ladies' prize, for both
sisters claimed it.  This matter could not be settled, as the umpire
was not sure if he had credited the scores to the right one.  The prize
was a set of brushes and we told them it would have to do for both,
which was all right, as we were sure they wore each other's clothes
anyway.  They told us they had made a vow when they married not to live
in the same town for the husbands' sake!

The routine of the days was deadly monotonous with a break of a concert
on Saturday and church on Sunday.  Unfortunately, we had on board only
two who could sing and one who thought he could recite.  And even of
those whose performance exceeded their own opinion we got tired before
the journey ended.  There were others who attempted to entertain us who
afflicted us so much that after three performances we gave them the
choice of suicide or having their tonsils cut, so the concerts petered
out and the audience at the last one did not pay for the moving of the
piano.

The shipping company who had transferred the ship to the Admiralty for
the duration of the war still kept on the catering, and retained the
same bill of fare as on their passenger trade.  There was a good deal
of variety and we always were able to get enjoyment with wondering what
we would have for the next meal.  They even helped us out a bit by
calling the same dish by different names on different days and the same
curry tasted differently under the names of "Madras," "Bengal,"
"Simla," "Ceylon," "Indian," and "Budgeree," and the cooking would even
have satisfied Americans.  The nurses were seated at one long table in
the saloon and formed an island completely surrounded by officers.  The
twins were on opposite sides of the table, and of course we always
found after dinner that we had been signalling to the wrong one.  We
observed a good deal of ceremony and always stood to attention until
the nurses were seated, but the nurse who came in late and made us
interrupt an interesting conversation with a tender chicken got plenty
of black looks.  When the matron rose we stood to attention again while
they filed out and then "carried on" with the meal.

One morning there was great excitement.  Up from the lower decks the
electric current of expectancy ran until every one's steps quickened
and those of us who were on wooden legs beat a constant tattoo on the
decks.  What means this eager, anxious thrill?  To-morrow we would
sight Australia!  Only 43,200 seconds--720 minutes--or 12 hours, and
once again we would view the fairest continent planted by God in the
seas.  Mind you, the first sight of Australia (going that way) is not
very attractive.  Rottenest Island, outside Fremantle, is sandy and
barren and really not much to boast about, yet had you spread before us
a scene from the Garden of Eden it had not charmed us half so much.
For this was part of Australia, the land that we all called home.  Back
of that, for three thousand miles, stretched the country that held our
ain folk and love and joy and home and what a man fights for and
worships.

Every man had to be up on deck to see this sight.  There were men there
paralyzed, who had never moved during the whole long journey, but the
saddest sight was to see the blind turning their sightless eyes in its
direction and smiling with ecstasy, and maybe it looked more fair to
these than to us who could see.  How those boys cheered and cheered
again!  What a new spirit pervaded the ship!  All day laughter and
singing rang out, for there are no more patriotic troops in the world
than the Australian soldiers, and, East, West, Hame's best.  Like the
old King of Ithaca we had wandered for years in many lands, but at last
had returned home, and soon would have Penelope in our arms.

But only the Westralians were really home, and some of these had two or
three hundred miles to go; for the rest of us there was still a
fortnight more in the old ship as we sailed across the base of
Australia to the eastern States.




CHAPTER XXX

IN AUSTRALIA

When the ship drew in at the Melbourne wharf I made up my mind to escape
the fuss and hero-worship, as I was a Queenslander and knew that none of
my folks were among the crowd waiting at the gates.  I went to the
military landing-officer and asked him if I could not go out another way
and dodge the procession.  He said the orders were that every officer and
man was to be driven in special cars to the hospital.  I then went down
onto the wharf and approached one of the ladies who looked as if she
would play the game and I said to her: "If I ride in your car, will you
promise to do me a favor?"  She said: "I would do anything for you."  I
then said: "Well, let me out as soon as we get outside the gate."  She
demurred a good deal but I reminded her that no Australian girl I knew
ever broke a promise.  When we got outside I boarded a tram-car, which
had not gone far before it had to stop to let the procession pass.  Of
course, every one would see that I was a returned soldier, but there was
nothing to show that I was _just_ returned.  I stood up in the tram-car
with the rest of the passengers and cheered and threw cigarettes and
remarked loudly to all and sundry: "Some more boys come back, eh?"  But
my well-laid plans were entirely spoiled as my friends in the automobile
called put, "Here, Knyvett, you dog, come out of that!  Here's your
place!" and I disgracefully subsided with many blushes, and had to endure
all the way up to Melbourne the whispers and concentrated gaze of the
whole tramful.  I also "fell in" in another way, for when I rang up my
uncle I found that he and his daughter were looking for me down at the
wharf gates.

Two years ago the site of Caulfield Hospital was a wilderness of weeds
and sand.  Now it is an area of trim lawns and blazing gardens,
bowling-greens, croquet-lawns, and tennis-courts, with comfortable huts,
the gift of the people of Melbourne to their wounded soldiers, costing
several hundred thousand dollars.  As I had served with Victorian troops
I was assigned to this hospital, although my home was over a thousand
miles away in the northern state of Queensland.  All who were fit to
travel were given fourteen days "disembarkation leave" to visit their
homes, but twelve of these days I had to spend in travel and only had two
days at home after such long absence.

My wounds had healed but I was still paralyzed in my left leg, and the
only attention I required was daily massage for an hour, and then another
hour in the torture-chamber with an electric current grilling me.  After
this was over, I would go into the city, do the block, have afternoon
tea, give an address at the Town Hall recruiting-depot, go to a theatre,
and then as there seemed nothing else to be done, would return to the
hospital.  Such was my programme for ninety days.  Sometimes I varied it
by visiting the Zoo to commiserate with the wild animals on being caged.

There were many red-letter days when I was entertained by friends; but I
am afraid I only squeaked when they expected roars--to be lionized was
too unusual not to have stage fright a little.

The women in Australia are well organized and see to it that if a boy has
a dull time it's his own fault.  All the automobiles of the city were
registered with the Volunteer Motor Corps, and each day certain of them
were allotted to take wounded soldiers for picnics.  We would generally
be driven to some pretty suburb and there would be spread before us a
feast of good things.  At the end of the meal some of us felt like the
little boy who said to his mother after the party: "I'm so tired, mummie,
carry me up-stairs to bed, but don't bend me!"

There were concerts every night for the stay-at-home, but I only managed
to get to one, given by the pupils of Madam Melba, which was a feast of
harmony.  After the programme refreshments were brought round by V. A.
D.'s, whom the boys called, "Very Artful Dodgers," but it was not the
"Thank you for the cakes and tea!" that they dodged!  We had a
cricket-match, one-armers versus one-leggers, and we one-leggers were
allowed to catch the ball in our hats; but the one-leggers lost as we
were nearly all run out.  Some of us being half-way down the pitch as the
ball was thrown in, would throw one crutch at the wickets, knocking off
the bails, when the umpire, who had no legs at all, would give his
decision that we were "stumped."

A huge Red Cross carnival was held near the hospital which netted about
fifty thousand dollars.  We were guests of honor, and on this occasion in
the enormous crowds found "Long John" (one of the doctors, who was seven
feet tall) very useful.  He wondered why he was being followed about by
several girls whom he did not know.  We explained to him afterward that a
good number of us who had "meets" had thought out the ingenious scheme of
telling the girl to meet us at "Long John," who would be the tallest
object on the grounds.  We told him that he didn't play the game properly
by moving about so much, as our friends complained that they were just
worn out following him round.

The carnival was one enormous fair--there were row on row of stalls,
decorated in the colors of all the Allied flags, with the girls serving
at them dressed in peasant costumes.  The goods on the needlework-stalls
represented the work of weeks--there were flower-stalls, sweet-stalls,
produce-stalls, book-stalls, and in and out of the crowds girls went
selling raffle-tickets for everything under the sun--from tray-cloths to
automobiles and trips to Sydney.  Ballyhoo-men stood at tent-doors,
calling the crowd to come and see the performing kangaroo, the wild man
from Borneo, or, "Every time you hit him you get a good cigar!"  "Him"
was a grinning black face stuck obligingly through a hole in a sheet.
There were groups of tables and chairs under bright-colored umbrellas,
every here and there, where good things to eat were served all day.  The
fun lasted well into the night, when there were concerts, and dancing,
and even the one-legged men tried to dance.

I don't think I had any other meals at the hospital than breakfast which
I always had in bed.  There was an orderly officer who was very unpopular
as he had been months round the hospital and missed many chances of going
to the front.  One day the men played a trick on him.  When he came into
the dining-room to ask if there were any complaints one of them picked up
a dish which was steaming hot and said: "Look here, sir!  What do you
think of this?"  He picked up a spoon and tasted it.  "Why, my man,
that's very good soup!  You're lucky to get such good food."  "But, sir,
it's not soup, it's dish-water!" (Curtain.)

At last the Medical Board sat on my case and their decision left me
gasping for breath, for they recommended that I be discharged as
permanently unfit for further military service.  But nature sometimes
plays sorry pranks with medical decisions.  Not more than a week after
this, movement suddenly returned to my leg and I threw away my crutches
and was able to walk almost as well as ever.  About ten days after
leaving hospital I had sailed back for France via America, but have not
at the time of writing been able to get across the Atlantic.




CHAPTER XXXI

USING AN IRISHMAN'S NERVE

I have been saving this for a separate chapter; for besides a natural
hesitation in admitting that I am not "all there," I want to have
sufficient space in which to express my gratitude to the doctor who
performed the operation and to the "unknown" who had his leg amputated,
so providing me with a portion of his anatomy that I was in sore need
of.  Of course, in these days when surgical miracles are happening
continually there is nothing outstanding about this operation, and
surgeons have wonderful opportunities in a military hospital, where
there are so many spare human parts lying about to patch up a man with.
I quite believe that from three smashed men they could make a whole
one, which, after all, would not be such a marvel when one remembers
that they are continually grafting bones and nerves, and I for one
would not like to say that in the next war they may not be able to cure
a man who has lost his head entirely, and as a matter of fact, one of
the San Francisco papers informed its readers (and as in this country
the impossible of yesterday happens to-day, no doubt they believed it
to be true) that I had had another man's leg grafted onto me.  After
such a statement it is an anti-climax to have to inform the public that
it was only a portion of nerve that was grafted.

I had been lying in hospital several weeks before I got worried about
the fact that I could not move my leg.  Then when the great-hearted,
plain-faced doctor who was attending to me said, "How's the man of many
wounds this morning?"  I asked: "Why is it my leg is dead?"  He said:
"We're only waiting for the wounds to heal until we test it."  And sure
enough a day or two later I was put in the electric chair for
"reactions."  When the current was put onto my right leg I howled and
twisted, but with twice the current on my left leg nothing happened, as
I felt nothing.  Some days later a great nerve specialist operated on
me and when I came back to this workaday world from the land of fancy,
whither the ether had borne me, I was informed that a portion of nerve
had been grafted in my leg and that in about three months I might be
able to use it.

At this time I had no idea from whom the portion of nerve came.  I did
not like to inquire, for I was afraid that if I met its previous owner
I might be prejudiced against it.  Every portion of one's body is so
closely related to the rest that I was afraid if his face did not suit
my fancy I might subconsciously come to resemble him.  But whenever I
met one-legged men in the corridors or concert-hall I would try to pick
out the one I would most like to receive such an intimate gift from.
Some of these had a refined, delicate appearance, and I immediately
feared that I would grow tenderfooted, while others looked like
pugilists and I immediately imagined my foot was becoming calloused and
might become longer than the other.

So purposely I remained in ignorance of the religion and nationality of
my new nerve.  Once for a whole day I sweat blood lest it might be a
German, and then I plucked up courage to ask if there were any Germans
in the hospital, and when I learned that there were not I slept like a
child for many hours.  On Saturdays I felt it might be a Jew or a
Seventh-Day Adventist, but then it did not work on other days either,
so I thought it must be I. W. W., "I Won't Work" as they are called in
Australia.  Then one day I was sure it was from one of the same
religion as myself, for that leg was perspiring alone, and in the
outback country in Australia, where the temperature reaches one hundred
and twenty degrees in the shade, the Presbyterian Church is sometimes
called "Perspiration."  At any rate, I read in a paper that in one town
the three churches were Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Perspiration.  As
to nationality it might be Scotch, as I had to be "_verra cautious_" in
moving it, or English, being so "_sensitive_" to the touch.  It was
only after movement returned that I was quite sure it was Irish!  For
ever since then the Home Rule controversy has been going on in my body,
for when I want to place my foot in a certain position, it's bound to
try and go some other way.  You can see from all this that I don't know
much about nerves, and I even wonder sometimes whether, if they put in
my leg a nerve from an arm, I might not try to shake hands with it like
the armless man in the circus, or, if it happened to belong to the
opposite leg, whether or not I would be pigeon-toed.

I sometimes wonder if the donor of this piece of nerve still "feels it"
in his own leg, for, months after a man has lost his leg, he still
feels it there.  There was one man in the hospital who had lost both
legs and screamed with pain every night because his toes were twisted,
and it was only when they had dug up his feet and straightened out his
toes that he got rest.

There are nerves and _nerves_, and I am sure that the grafting in me of
this piece from the _nerves_ of an Irishman has given to me more
_nerve_ than I ever had in my life before, else how could I have
written this book?




PART VI

MEDITATIONS IN THE TRENCHES




CHAPTER XXXII

THE RIGHT INFANTRY WEAPONS

I know scores of men who have been months in the trenches and over the
top in several attacks who have never fired a shot out of their rifles.
In fact, it is very, very rarely that the man in the trenches gets a
chance to aim at an enemy at a greater range than a hundred yards.
There are thousands of men whom I know who believe that the long-range
rifles used in our army to-day are useless weapons.  A much more
serviceable gun to repel a counter-attack would be one firing buckshot
like a pump-gun.  The bullets from our high-velocity rifles frequently
pass through the body of a man at a close range and he is not even
conscious of having been hit and continues to come on with as great
fury as before.  The pellets scattering from a shotgun at a range of a
hundred yards or less would do him more damage and be far more certain
to stop him.  In an actual charge our present rifle is more than
useless--it is an encumbrance, and when at grips with the enemy in his
own trenches it is often a fatal handicap.  With a bayonet at the end
it is far too long, and in a trench two to four feet wide it cannot be
used with much effect.  I have known our men repeatedly to unship the
bayonet and take it in their hands, throwing the rifle away.  Another
danger is that men will fire their rifles down an enemy trench and
these high-velocity bullets will pass right through the bodies of the
one or two of the enemy in front of him and frequently kill his own
comrade beyond.  Remember, in a fight in a trench friend and foe are
mixed up together and many of our men have been unconsciously shot by
their fellows.  In every regiment a small squad of picked marksmen only
should have these long-range rifles, with the addition of telescopic
sights.  The average man does not take exact aim before firing, and
nearly all the shots go high.  If it were not for bombs and
machine-guns the enemy could always succeed in getting to our trenches
with very little loss.  It should be remembered, too, how closely, in
an attack, we follow our own barrage--it is impossible to see to fire
through it.

The system of barrage fighting that we now use has made warfare as much
a hand-to-hand business as it was in olden times and we must go back a
good deal to old-fashioned weapons, as we have to a great extent to
old-fashioned armor.  The picked snipers or sharpshooters could be
placed in points of vantage to pick off any of the enemy who exposed
themselves and a score of them in each company would get very few shots
in a day.

Another weapon that infantry should be armed with is a hand-bayonet as
there is no advantage whatever in the long reach that our present rifle
and bayonet gives.  As a matter of fact, many of our men have been
killed through driving their bayonet too far into the body of their
opponent, not being able to draw it out, thus being helpless when
attacked by another of the enemy.  It is no use telling men not to
drive their bayonet in more than three or four inches, for in the speed
and fury of a charge they will always drive it in right up to the hilt,
and while we retain this out-of-date weapon we should certainly put a
guard on it not further than six inches from the point.  I have used a
hand-bayonet which sticks out from the fist like a knuckle-duster and
is about six inches long.  The shock of the blow is taken on the
forearm which also has an iron plate running down it on which to
receive the thrust of one's opponent.  This is the natural weapon for
the Anglo-Saxon, as the fist and arm is used exactly as in boxing.  If
an enemy comes at you with a bayonet it is the natural and easy thing
to throw up your arm and ward it off.  The iron plate saves your arm
being cut; you are in under his guard; seize his rifle with your left
hand and punch with your right, driving the knife home the six inches,
which is all that is necessary.  I have been in and seen a number of
bayonet charges and I am quite satisfied that the parries and thrusts
that we teach the infantryman are only of value to get him used to
handling his rifle.  After that it would be a good thing for him to
forget them.

There are only two things that it is essential to remember when you go
into a bayonet charge.  The first is that _the most determined man will
win_.  I have known champion men-at-arms killed by a bayonet in their
first charge and other little fellows who were no good in the practice
combats kill their man every time.  If you go into a bayonet charge
with the idea of disarming your opponent and taking him prisoner you
will most certainly be killed.  But if you are quite sure in your own
mind that you are going to kill every man who comes against you, you
will do it.  Your determination impresses itself upon the man you
attack and he will be beaten before you reach him.  The other thing
that it is wise to remember is to make your opponent attack you on your
left side.  If he attacks you on the right you have to parry him and
then thrust, but for an attack on the left side the action of parrying
will bring the toe of your butt into his jaw or ribs, disabling him,
and it is a good thing to use your knee at the same time.

The general-staff officers who decide how an army should be weaponed
never do the actual fighting and few junior officers or men feel
competent to offer their advice.  I am quite confident that a majority
of the fighters would agree with the foregoing opinions, and I would
like the chance of taking a company armed as I have suggested into
action, and would be quite satisfied of their superiority to any troops
on the front.




CHAPTER XXXIII

THE FORCING-HOUSE OF BESTIALITY

The Germans have given to us an illustration, though such was not
needed by thinking men to convince them of its truth, of the fact that
the beast in humanity only requires encouragement to make us more
bestial than any wild thing of the jungle or even the filthy cur of the
streets.  If any man takes as his guiding principle the devilish
doctrine that the "end justified the means" he will soon become a
menace to his fellows and any good impulses that he may originally have
will pass away.  The German Government made savagery, brutality, and
bestiality a deliberate policy, and now it is their unconscious
impulse.  Germany is paying a terrible penalty in the degradation and
demoralization of her whole people for having given the direction of
the country into the hands of the Devil in exchange for power, and the
German army is to-day a forcing-house for bestiality and there is no
atmosphere in the whole world that so conduces to evil.  In the
beginning of the war letters and statements of prisoners showed that
there were then many decent Germans who were horrified at the
abominations they had seen and committed at the command of their
government.  But latterly, you cannot find any trace of this feeling.
Now they gloat over it.

There is no one in the world to-day except those who are of like mind
who do not know that the story of the German atrocities is true, for
Germany has _admitted_ enough crimes to convince any sane man that she
would stick at nothing.  No action could be too cruel, no deed too
beastly, no torture too diabolical, no insult too keen, no impulse too
filthy, no disfigurement too hideous, no vandalism too shocking, no
destruction too complete, no stooping too low that Germany would
hesitate to do where she has opportunity.  When Germany boasted of the
murder by drowning of women and babes on the high seas she proclaimed
to the world that she was a criminal, and we do not need to have any
other crimes proven to convince us that, while there is such a thing as
justice, she must not go unpunished.

Criminals have been forgiven, but not before they are repentant;
_Safety_, as well as _Justice_, demands that the murderer, the
assassin, the raper shall not go free.  Germany has not only committed
all these crimes, but her theologians and professors have condoned
them.  The man who counsels forgiveness to Germany adds hypocrisy to
the will to commit the same crimes.  To forgive, we are told, is
divine, but the Divine does not forgive without repentance.  Has
Germany shown signs of repentance yet?  Well, then, the man who talks
of forgiveness to Germany before she is on her knees begging for
forgiveness is an enemy of peace and a condoner of crime.

It is so easy for those who have not suffered to tell the victims "to
forgive."  _We_ do not go in nightly dread lest in the morning we
should have to rake among the ruins of our homes for the mangled body
of our baby!  We do not have to work in daily fear lest we should have
to return to an empty house whence wife or daughter have been dragged
by brutal hands!  _For three years_ the people of London and Paris and
thousands of other cities have never known but that at any moment their
house might be brought down in ruins about their ears, entombing all
that they hold dear!  _For three years_ the men of northern France and
Belgium have never known but that while they were working, under
compulsion, against the life of their own blood and country in a German
munition factory, some soldiers might not be calling at their homes to
take the woman that they love God alone knows where!  These very things
have happened to tens of thousands.  Week after week the human hawks
come over London, and ever the toll of civilians and women and babies
done to death grows larger!  One hundred thousand young girls were
taken from Lille and other cities away from knowledge or protection of
their kin, and until recently we had no news of any of them, but some
have been thrown into Switzerland, of no further use to Germany; used
up like sucked lemons, they are cast aside for the Swiss to feed.
Germany has in her maw to-day more than ten millions of slaves.

In America or Australia there are no hospitals where lie thousands of
girls too young to become mothers who have been raped.  We have not
hundreds of boys who will never become men.  A young girl said to me:
"There is a baby coming; it is a boche; when it is born I will cut its
throat!"  A woman showed me on an estaminet floor the blood-stains of
her own baby butchered before her eyes.  These were French women, not
ours.  But what if they had been?  Your sister!  Your mother!  Your
wife!  And they might have been but for the accident of geography.
Would you then have felt as bitter as these people?  Or would you still
have kindly feelings to Germany and not want to "humiliate her."  There
may be beings who could see daughter violated or brother mutilated
without taking personal vengeance, but such should not be permitted to
breathe the air with MEN.

The only people who have a right to say what punishment shall be meted
out to Germany for her misdeeds, are the women of France, of Belgium,
of Poland, of Serbia, of Rumania, of Italy, who have suffered these
things; and if any one, King or President, Parliament or Pope, dares
stand between these people and their just wrath they deserve to be
pilloried in the minds of men as condoners of crime, as accessories
after the fact.

The only chance for permanent peace, and guarantee that these
abominable crimes shall not be committed again, is that we should so
punish Germany that she shall realize "that war does not _pay_," and
that the whole earth may know that no nation can commit these
atrocities and go unpunished.




CHAPTER XXXIV

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF FEAR

The observation of men in many circumstances of peril has quite
convinced me that it is those who are most afraid that do the bravest
deeds.  I do not mean that the fact that they are afraid increases the
difficulty of the doing, because it lessens it.  It is fear that drives
men to heroism!  And many a man attempts the superhuman feat of courage
not to show to others that he is no coward, but as evidence in the
court of his own judgment, to disprove the accusations of conscience,
which asserts he is craven.  The old illustration of one soldier who
accused another of having no bravery because he had no fear, by saying,
"If you were as much afraid as I am you would have run away long ago,"
is not true to life, for it is the man of dulled feelings that is the
first to run, and the "man who is afraid of being afraid" who stays at
his post to the last.  I have ever found that the best scouts, men who
must generally work alone in the dark, are those of highly strung
nervous temperaments.  I have noticed, too, that our best airmen were
of the same type, for if you go into any mess of pilots on the front
you will see them always fidgeting, their hands never still, betraying
nervousness.  I have gone down the trench before a charge and seen the
men with teeth chattering and blanched faces, but at the appointed
second these men go over the top, none hesitating, every man performing
prodigies of valor; not one but was a hero, yet not one that was not
afraid.

There must be something wrong with the make-up of a man who under
modern artillery-fire is not afraid.  There are no nerves that do not
break down eventually under the strain, but the man who shrinks from a
shadow, and shudders at the touch of cold mud does his job with care
and walks unhesitatingly into the mouth of hell.  I have seen our
signallers mending the telephone-wire under fire; each time it would
break they would curse and tremble, but immediately go out and repair
it accurately, slowly, no skimped work, repeating the performance again
and again.  There is in our spirit some reserve force which on occasion
the will uses to stiffen resolution--the second wind of determination.

Fear is the "purgative of the soul"!  There is nothing so wholesome for
a man as to be "scared to death"!  Nothing that so drives out the
littlenesses that poison his life and set up the toxaemia of
selfishness.  Many a man that before the war made the acquiring of
wealth or the gaining of the plaudits of his friends his chief aim, now
finds that these things have no appeal for him.  For he has been to the
edge of life and looked into the abyss, and fear has stripped from him
the rags of self-adornment; and standing naked between the worlds his
soul has found that it needs no beautifying but the cleansing of
self-forgetfulness.

This war is one of the greatest blessings this world has ever known,
for it has brought to us fear of selfish force, fear of the engines of
our own construction, fear of isolation in world politics, fear of
secret diplomacy, fear of an unguarded peace, fear of an unprepared
future, fear of an undisciplined people, fear of an irresponsible
government, and, above all THE FEAR OF FORGETTING!

But there is another reason why a man in battle, though afraid, does
not fail.  The fact is that men in a regiment or an army are not under
the domination of their own will at all, but of the collective will of
the whole.  That is why some regiments are so anxious to keep alive
their traditions, and emblazon their battles on their colors.  That is
why we devote so much time in the training of young recruits to the
knowledge of the esprit de corps of the regiment.  That is why the
regulars are always the best fighters.  It is not their longer
training, for that is a handicap with new methods of warfare.  It is
not because of their superior discipline, for the territorials have not
lacked perfect discipline.  But there is an atmosphere in the regular
regiments that makes one brother that goes into the regulars a better
soldier than the other that enlists in militia.  This atmosphere is
compounded of pride in past achievements and confidence that the colors
that have never been lowered, though shot down on many a field, cannot
be shamed to-day.  The victors of many engagements have an enormous
advantage in battle.  No one expected anything but the most heroic
courage from the British regulars who had never failed when called
upon, but every one was not a little anxious how "Kitchener's" would
stand their first ordeal of fire.

Every mass of men has, besides the will and mind of each one of them, a
collective will and mind.  Every town has this--who has not felt, on
entering a town and viewing its shops and people, a certain pushing
toward behavior--some towns tend to make one frivolous, others grave.
I know a city which, every time I enter, makes me think when last I was
in church, while there is another in which I always want to dance or
view the Follies.  Have you not seen countrymen in town, whose clothes
proclaim that they have never been out later than nine o'clock in a
lifetime, trying to be the gay Lothario, drinking wine in a cabaret?
Every house has its personality made up of the collective minds of the
people who inhabit it.  Take your child to one strange house and he
will fidget uncomfortably on the edge of his chair; but take him to
another, just as strange, and he will romp about without hesitation.
Children are like the canaries we use to detect the presence of
poisonous gases, most sensitive to atmosphere.

In the same way an army has ONE WILL, and that is why in battle you
will not see one man fail, or there will be panic and all will fail.
In every army there are individual men weak in resolution who, left to
themselves, would run away; but as the MIND of the army as a whole is
courageous, so they are swept along in spite of themselves.  The German
army has ONE MIND for bestiality, and the Allied army has ONE MIND for
victory.




CHAPTER XXXV

THE SPLENDOR OF THE PRESENT OPPORTUNITY

To those who are thrilled by the old-time tales of adventurous chivalry
or moved by the narrative of high endeavor and heroic achievement for
some noble ideal, I bring a conception of the marvellous glory of these
present days.  We have been wont to sing of the times when thousands
left home and comfort on a Holy Crusade, but the Crusaders of these
days are numbered in millions.

Never were there such stirring times as these, never since the first
tick of time have the hours been so crowded!  Never before did so many
men live nobly or die bravely.  The young knights from many lands are
seeking the Holy Grail, and finding it in forgetfulness of self and in
sacrifice for their fellows.  You and I are living to-day among the
deeds of men that make the deeds of the heroes of past times pale into
insignificance.  Never were there bred men of such large and heroic
mould as the men of to-day.

Here's a trench--on which a shell falls--and where one shell falls
another always follows in the same place;--the shell blows in a dugout
and there is little chance that the men sheltering therein shall be
alive, yet those on either side, knowing that another shell will fall
in a second or so, in utter forgetfulness of self leap in and with
their bare fingers scrape away the dirt lest haply there should be some
life yet remaining in this quivering, mangled human flesh.

Oh!  What chances the men of earth have to-day to be as God!  The
highest conception any religion has given us of God is that he is one
that would sacrifice himself--"Greater love hath no man than this that
he lay down his life for his friends"--and to-day they're doing it by
the million.  Every moment is adding names to the honor-roll of heaven
of men who follow in His steps.

Have you conceived that the uniting together of the nations that love
peace in this struggle will do more to guarantee peace in the future
than anything else that has ever happened in world politics,--that it
will join France, Britain, and America into a trinity of free peoples
who will prevent war, at least for many generations?  We are being
bound together by the strongest tie that ever tied nation to nation,
that ever bound one people to another, not by political treaties that
may be torn up, but by the great tie of common blood shed in a common
cause on a common soil.  That narrow lane that stretches from
Switzerland to the sea is the great international cemetery, and for
many generations it will be the Mecca of pilgrimages from all our
countries.  The wreaths of America will mingle with the immortelles of
France and the flowers from Britain and the pilgrims shall there get to
know, understand, and love each other as they engage in the holy task
of paying a common tribute to their common dead.  Shall not the
mingling blood of Frenchmen, Britons, and Americans make the flowers of
peace to grow?  They never had such soil before.

There is being created, also, in all our countries a new
aristocracy--the aristocracy of courage.  We never had a chance up till
now to prove who were our real, our best people, and we have been
accustomed to measure our citizens by the false and small standards of
wealth, birth, and intellect.  Well!  There has been given to us to-day
a new standard whereby we can measure ourselves, the standard of
courage, sacrifice, and service.  Nobody in England cares to-day
whether you are descended from William the Conqueror or not!  No one
will care in America whether your ancestor came over in the Mayflower,
or whether he signed the Declaration of Independence!  Every American
has a chance to-day of signing a far greater declaration than that
great one of '76--the declaration of personal willingness to sacrifice
all on the altar of liberty.  In England, in America, in Australia, in
all the countries of the world in the days that are to be, men and
women will make their boast in this one thing, or have no cause for
boasting at all, of the part that they had in this fight, the greatest
fight that has ever been waged for liberty, for righteousness, and for
the virtue of womanhood.

What a splendid opportunity it is for us to be able to personally pay
the price of liberty.  How easy to forget that freedom has either to be
earned by ourselves or enjoyed because some one else has paid the price
for us.  Had we not forgotten in our countries that the democracy that
we boast of is no credit to us because it was won by the blood of other
men?  Men died that we might be able to govern ourselves!  Women
carried heart-ache and loneliness to the grave that we might make our
own laws!

Liberty!  Such an easy word to mouth, but how precious in the sight of
God!  Liberty is one of the treasures of heaven and only committed to
men at great cost, lest they should undervalue it.

In these great and wonderful times there has been given to us the
glorious opportunity to earn our own liberty, to prove our own personal
right to citizenship in a free country.

You may not be able to pay in good, red blood, you may not be able to
pay much in the coin of the republic, but if each of us does not pay in
whatsoever coin we have, there will come soon to us the days in which
we shall realize that we are thieves and robbers, enjoying that to
which we have no right, won so hardly with the deaths and wounds of men
and the salt tears of women.  In the New World that shall be born after
the birth-pangs of the present days, we shall realize that we have no
place, our souls shall shrink and shrivel as we gaze on the honor scars
of those who have paid, and we shall be elbowed to the outskirts of the
crowd, as the people bow before the men whom the President and people
delight to honor--the men sightless, the men limbless, the memory of
the men lifeless.




CHAPTER XXXVI

NOT A FIGHT FOR "RACE" BUT FOR "RIGHT"

I have no patience with the waterish sentiment that suggests that the
lines of the Germans in America and Australia have fallen in hard
places because they are called upon to take up arms against their own
blood.  For this is not a war of race, but of right!  It is not a war
of Britons, Americans, and French against Germans and Austrians!  It is
a war of men in all nations against beasts!

There is something in all of us that is stronger than kinship, higher
than citizenship--manhood--and every one who is a man, though he be of
German blood will join us in this struggle against the monster that has
devoured women and children and many fair lands.

We have in the Australian army one general of German blood, another of
Austrian, and hundreds of men of both, but they have been fighting
loyally with us, because they were men and could not be held back from
striking at tyranny and wrong.  Remember, in the Australian army all
are volunteers.

Every one now knows what Germany stands for and the menace she is to
the future of the world if her power is not destroyed, and every one
who does not help to defeat her is an ally of the Kaiser and helping
him to win the war.

The Judge is to-day separating the sheep from the goats, not according
to nationality, but according to how they stand in this strife for
right, for never was there a cause so divinely right as the cause of
the Allies, and never a cause so devilishly wrong as that of the
Germans.

The great mass of the German people have shown themselves to be on the
side of evil, but every German in our own countries is given a chance
in the present days to prove himself a man who hates brutality and
cruelty and wrong, or by standing aloof from helping us show that he
has the will to do these things as his kinsman in France.  These should
be given the same medicine as the Kaiser's millions "over there."  We
should also root out the Kaiser's secret allies in our midst, some of
them not of German blood, who for pay do his dirty work, never
forgetting also that the neutral and the lukewarm at this present
juncture are also our enemies and have their hands stained with the
blood of our kin who die for this cause.

Washington when he called on the English colonists in this country to
resist the German mercenaries of the German King of England did not
bewail the fate that compelled them to fight against their own country
and where their kin dwelt.  No!  For his cause was just and just-minded
men must support it though a sword pierced their own hearts.

Lincoln when he called on the people of the Northern States to free the
slaves did not exempt those who had friends or kin down South, but he
called on every one who was free to strike a blow for the freedom of
other men, though in so doing they should be cutting off their own
right arms.

In this war we are not only fighting to free millions who are held in a
far worse slavery than ever the negro was in, but we are fighting for
our own liberty and that of our children, which has been directly
attacked.  Not all Germans are bestial and cruel, with no regard for
honor, but just how many of them are not remains for the American and
Australian citizens of German descent to prove.

Not all Britishers and Americans and Frenchmen are willing to sacrifice
themselves in our righteous cause--there are traitors even here, and
these I would rather shoot than the enemy in France.

There never was a more damnable doctrine promulgated on the face of the
earth than that of "My country, right or wrong."  Free men could never
subscribe to such a doctrine.  We have no right to call upon people to
take up arms because the government has declared war, but because the
government was _right_ in declaring war.  Those who oppose the
government in this are not traitors to a party or a majority, but
traitors to the country and to right.

The two great camps in which the world is divided to-day will be known
in history as those who loved liberty more than life and those who
loved dominion more than right.  Maybe the names of the races will be
forgotten but the memory of the opposing principles will abide.




CHAPTER XXXVII

"KEEPING FAITH WITH THE DEAD"

While here and there politicians grow faint-hearted, the army fights on
with cheerfulness.  It would be a cure for pessimism of the deepest
black to go to the trenches for a while.  There all is cheery optimism,
no doubt at all about the final outcome, and no talk of peace.  I have
never heard one man in the army talk or hint of peace or dream of it,
for they know that it cannot be yet.  The only people who shall declare
peace will be the army--no politicians, no parliament, or
government--for the army to-day is a citizen army and large enough to
change any government that is weak-kneed, and they shall allow
parliament to grant peace only when they are ready, and that shall not
be until we have gained a certain victory.

Prime Minister Lloyd George gave us three words over a year ago that
are still the beacon-lights of the army, and we shall not reach port
unless they are our guiding lights.  They were _reparation_,
_restoration_, and _guarantees_, and anything less would be a betrayal
of France and Belgium and an insult to the wounded and a defaming of
the dead.

The army and people of the allied countries have already paid too much
not to have the goods delivered.

Do you think, for example, that we Australian boys are going back to
our country without having gained that for which we came these twelve
thousand miles and have fought so long, and lost so much?

Do you think that I am going back to Australia well and sound to face
the mothers of my scouts, and when they come and ask me how their boys
died, I will have to say; "Well!  Here I am, well and strong, still
able to put up a fight, and your son lies over there, his bones rotting
on a foreign soil, and all in vain.  The blood of him who to you was
more precious than any prince or king that ever lived has been poured
out like water and uselessly"?

Listen!  Here is something of what Australia has paid.  There has never
been a day for three years that hundreds of Australian wives have not
been made widows.  There has not been a single week that there has not
been more than a full page of casualties in our daily papers.  Every
woman in Australia if she has not seen there the name of her near kin
has seen the name of some one that she knows.  I know a father and five
sons that have all been killed.  Within fifty miles of one town that I
know there is not a man under fifty years of age.  There are ranches
and farms that will go back to the primeval wilderness, the fences will
rot and fall down, and the rabbits and kangaroos will overrun them
again, because the men who were developing them are gone and there are
none to take their places.  Never was there a country so starved for
men, and sixty thousand are gone forever or maimed for life.  Tell me,
where are we going to replace these men?  No country in the world could
so ill afford to lose its young men, the future fathers of the race,
for we have still our pioneering to do, a continent larger than the
United States, with about the population of New York.

Outside our Australian cities there are some large cemeteries, as we
mostly have only one for each city, but the largest of our cemeteries
does not lie on Australian soil.  There are more Australian dead buried
in Egypt than in any cemetery in our own country.  On Gallipoli, in
enemy hands, are the graves of thousands of our sacred dead.  There are
more of our unburied dead whitening in No Man's Land in France than
have ever been laid to rest by reverent hands in a God's acre at home.
Think of all that we have paid in blood and tears and heartache.  But,
perhaps, more than this has been paid in pain and sweat.  Many have
been in those trenches more than three years.  Consider their
sufferings!  The unnatural life, like rats in a hole, the nerve-strain,
the insufficient food, the scanty clothing.  What we have paid, Canada
has paid, South Africa has paid, but Britain and France, how much more!
And Belgium, and Serbia, and Poland, and Rumania, and Italy.  What a
price to pay for an insecure peace, an enemy still with power to harm.

We might erect to our fallen dead the most magnificent monument that
this world has ever seen, we might built it in marble, and stud it with
gems, and have the greatest poets and artists decorate it, but it would
be a mockery and a sham.

The only monument that we dare erect to our fallen dead, the only
monument that would not be a dishonor to them and a shame and eternal
disgrace to us is THE MONUMENT OF VICTORY.

And the army will never quit until we have sure victory, for we dare
not break faith with our dead.

These lines of a Canadian soldier, Colonel McCrae, who has made the
last sacrifice are an epitome of the army's spirit:


  "In Flanders' fields the poppies grow
  Between the crosses, row on row,
  That mark our place,
  While in the sky the larks,
  Still bravely singing,
  Fly unheard amid the guns.
  We are the Dead--
  Short days ago we lived, felt dawn, saw sunsets glow,
  Loved and were loved--and now we lie
  In Flanders' fields----

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





  BUT A SHORT TIME TO LIVE

  _By Leslie Coulson, killed in action_

  Our little hour--how swift it flies
    When poppies flare and lilies smile;
  How soon the fleeting minute dies,
    Leaving us but a little while
  To dream our dream, to sing our song
    To pick the fruit, to pluck the flower,
  The Gods--they do not give us long--
    One little hour.

  Our little hour--how short it is
    When Love with dew-eyed loveliness
  Raises her lips for ours to kiss
    And dies within our first caress.
  Youth flickers out like windblown flame,
    Sweets of to-day to-morrow sour,
  For Time and Death, relentless, claim
    One little hour.

  Our little hour,--how short a time
    To wage our wars, to fan our fates,
  To take our fill of armored crime,
    To troop our banner, storm the gates.
  Blood on the sword, our eyes blood-red,
    Blind in our puny reign of power,
  Do we forget how soon is sped
    One little hour?

  Our little hour--how soon it dies;
    How short a time to tell our beads,
  To chant our feeble Litanies,
    To think sweet thoughts, to do good deeds,
  The altar lights grow pale and dim,
    The bells hang silent in the tower,
  So passes with the dying hymn,
    Our little hour.






  BUT A SHORT TIME TO LIVE

  _By Leslie Coulson, killed in action_


  Our little hour--how swift it flies
    When poppies flare and lilies smile;
  How soon the fleeting minute dies,
    Leaving us but a little while
  To dream our dream, to sing our song
    To pick the fruit, to pluck the flower,
  The Gods--they do not give us long--
    One little hour.

  Our little hour--how short it is
    When Love with dew-eyed loveliness
  Raises her lips for ours to kiss
    And dies within our first caress.
  Youth flickers out like windblown flame,
    Sweets of to-day to-morrow sour,
  For Time and Death, relentless, claim
    One little hour.

  Our little hour,--how short a time
    To wage our wars, to fan our fates,
  To take our fill of armored crime,
    To troop our banner, storm the gates.
  Blood on the sword, our eyes blood-red,
    Blind in our puny reign of power,
  Do we forget how soon is sped
    One little hour?

  Our little hour--how soon it dies;
    How short a time to tell our beads,
  To chant our feeble Litanies,
    To think sweet thoughts, to do good deeds,
  The altar lights grow pale and dim,
    The bells hang silent in the tower,
  So passes with the dying hymn,
    Our little hour.



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