Infomotions, Inc.The Great War As I Saw It / Scott, Frederick George, 1861-1944



Author: Scott, Frederick George, 1861-1944
Title: The Great War As I Saw It
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Title: The Great War As I Saw It

Author: Frederick George Scott

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[Illustration: Frontispiece]




                         The Great War as I Saw It




[Illustration: Frederick George Scott.]




                          The Great War as I Saw It

                                    by

                 Canon Frederick George Scott, C.M.G., D.S.O.
                             _Late Senior Chaplain_
                        _First Canadian Division, C.E.F._

           Author of "Later Canadian Poems," and "Hymn of the Empire."



                           F. D. GOODCHILD COMPANY
                     Publishers                 Toronto




                           Copyright, Canada, 1922
                          by Frederick George Scott




CONTENTS                                                           (p. 005)

                                                                 PAGE
CHAPTER I.
  How I got into the War--July to September, 1914                 15

CHAPTER II.
  The Voyage to England--September 29th to October 18th, 1914     25

CHAPTER III.
  On Salisbury Plain--October 18th, 1914 to January 1st, 1915     30

CHAPTER IV.
  Off to France--January to March, 1915                           34

CHAPTER V.
  Before the Storm--March and April, 1915                         48

CHAPTER VI.
  The Second Battle of Ypres--April 22nd, 1915                    55

CHAPTER VII.
  Festubert and Givenchy--May and June, 1915                      74

CHAPTER VIII.
  A Lull in Operations--Ploegsteert, July to December, 1915       93

CHAPTER IX.
  Our First Christmas in France                                  118

CHAPTER X.
  Spring, 1916                                                   122

CHAPTER XI.
  The Attack on Mount Sorrel--Summer, 1916                       128

CHAPTER XII.
  The Battle of the Somme--Autumn, 1916                          134

CHAPTER XIII.
  Our Home at Camblain l'Abbe--November, 1916                    149

CHAPTER XIV.
  My Search is Rewarded                                          154

CHAPTER XV.
  A Time of Preparation--Christmas, 1916 to April, 1917          159

CHAPTER XVI.
  The Capture of Vimy Ridge--April 9th, 1917                     167

CHAPTER XVII.
  A Month on the Ridge--April and May, 1917                      173

CHAPTER XVIII.                                                     (p. 006)
  A Well-earned Rest--May and June, 1917                         179

CHAPTER XIX.
  Paris Leave--June, 1917                                        186

CHAPTER XX.
  We take Hill 70--July and August, 1917                         192

CHAPTER XXI.
  Every day Life--August and September, 1917                     203

CHAPTER XXII.
  A Tragedy of War                                               210

CHAPTER XXIII.
  Visits to Rome and Paschendaele--Oct. and Nov., 1917           216

CHAPTER XXIV.
  Our Last War Christmas                                         230

CHAPTER XXV.
  Victory Year Opens--January and February, 1918                 234

CHAPTER XXVI.
  The German Offensive--March, 1918                              240

CHAPTER XXVII.
  In Front of Arras--April, 1918                                 248

CHAPTER XXVIII.
  Sports and Pastimes--May and June, 1918                        254

CHAPTER XXIX.
  The Beginning of the End                                       267

CHAPTER XXX.
  The Battle of Amiens--August 8th to August 16th, 1918          274

CHAPTER XXXI.
  We Return to Arras--August, 1918                               288

CHAPTER XXXII.
  The Smashing of the Drocourt-Queant Line--Sept. 2nd, 1918      292

CHAPTER XXXIII.
  Preparing for the Final Blow--September, 1918                  298

CHAPTER XXXIV.
  The Crossing of the Canal du Nord--September 27th, 1918        307

CHAPTER XXXV.
  VICTORY--November 11th, 1918                                   318

INDEX                                                            321




                              TO                                   (p. 007)
                      THE OFFICERS AND MEN
                            OF THE
                 FIRST CANADIAN DIVISION, C.E.F.




"THE UNBROKEN LINE."

  We who have trod the borderlands of death,
    Where courage high walks hand in hand with fear,
  Shall we not hearken what the Spirit saith,
    "All ye were brothers there, be brothers here?"

  We who have struggled through the baffling night,
    Where men were men and every man divine,
  While round us brave hearts perished for the right
    By chaliced shell-holes stained with life's rich wine.

  Let us not lose the exalted love which came
    From comradeship with danger and the joy
  Of strong souls kindled into living flame
    By one supreme desire, one high employ.

  Let us draw closer in these narrower years,
    Before us still the eternal visions spread;
  We who outmastered death and all its fears
    Are one great army still, living and dead.
                                             F. G. S.




FOREWORD                                                           (p. 009)


It is with great pleasure I accede to the request of Canon Scott to
write a foreword to his book.

I first heard of my friend and comrade after the second battle of
Ypres when he accompanied his beloved Canadians to Bethune after their
glorious stand in that poisonous gap--which in my own mind he
immortalised in verse:--

  O England of our fathers, and England of our sons,
  Above the roar of battling hosts, the thunder of the guns,
  A mother's voice was calling us, we heard it oversea,
  The blood which thou didst give us, is the blood we spill for thee.

Little did I think when I first saw him that he could possibly, at his
time of life, bear the rough and tumble of the heaviest fighting in
history, and come through with buoyancy of spirit younger men envied
and older men recognized as the sign and fruit of self-forgetfulness
and the inspiration and cheering of others.

Always in the thick of the fighting, bearing almost a charmed life,
ignoring any suggestion that he should be posted to a softer job
"further back," he held on to the very end.

The last time I saw him was in a hospital at Etaples badly wounded,
yet cheery as ever--having done his duty nobly.

All the Canadians in France knew him, and his devotion and
fearlessness were known all along the line, and his poems will, I am
bold to prophesy, last longer in the ages to come than most of the
histories of the war.

I feel sure that his book--if anything like himself--will interest and
inspire all who read it.

                              LLEWELLYN H. GWYNNE.
                                          _Bishop of Khartoum,
                                           Deputy Chaplain General
                                           to the C. of E. Chaplains
                                           in France._




PREFACE                                                            (p. 011)


It is with a feeling of great hesitation that I send out this account
of my personal experiences in the Great War. As I read it over, I am
dismayed at finding how feebly it suggests the bitterness and the
greatness of the sacrifice of our men. As the book is written from an
entirely personal point of view, the use of the first personal pronoun
is of course inevitable, but I trust that the narration of my
experience has been used only as a lens through which the great and
glorious deeds of our men may be seen by others. I have refrained, as
far as possible, except where circumstances seemed to demand it, from
mentioning the names of officers or the numbers of battalions.

I cannot let the book go out without thanking, for many acts of
kindness, Lieut.-General Sir Edwin Alderson, K.C.B., Lieut.-General
Sir Arthur Currie, G.C.M.G., K.C.B., and Major-General Sir Archibald
Macdonell, K.C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., who were each in turn Commanders of
the First Canadian Division. In all the efforts the chaplains made for
the welfare of the Division, they always had the backing of these true
Christian Knights. Their kindness and consideration at all times were
unbounded, and the degree of liberty which they allowed me was a
privilege for which I cannot be too thankful, and which I trust I did
not abuse.

If, by these faulty and inadequate reminiscences, dug out of memories
which have blended together in emotions too deep and indefinable to be
expressed in words, I have reproduced something of the atmosphere in
which our glorious men played their part in the deliverance of the
world, I shall consider my task not in vain.

May the ears of Canada never grow deaf to the plea of widows and
orphans and our crippled men for care and support. May the eyes of
Canada never be blind to that glorious light which shines upon our
young national life from the deeds of those "Who counted not their
lives dear unto themselves," and may the lips of Canada never be dumb
to tell to future generations the tales of heroism which will kindle
the imagination and fire the patriotism of children that are yet
unborn.




                         The Great War as I Saw It                 (p. 013)




CHAPTER I.                                                         (p. 015)

HOW I GOT INTO THE WAR.

_July to September, 1914._


It happened on this wise. It was on the evening of the 31st of July,
1914, that I went down to a newspaper office in Quebec to stand amid
the crowd and watch the bulletins which were posted up every now and
then, and to hear the news of the war. One after another the reports
were given, and at last there flashed upon the board the words,
"General Hughes offers a force of twenty thousand men to England in
case war is declared against Germany." I turned to a friend and said,
"That means that I have got to go to the war." Cold shivers went up
and down my spine as I thought of it, and my friend replied, "Of
course it does not mean that you should go. You have a parish and
duties at home." I said, "No. I am a Chaplain of the 8th Royal Rifles.
I must volunteer, and if I am accepted, I will go." It was a queer
sensation, because I had never been to war before and I did not know
how I should be able to stand the shell fire. I had read in books of
people whose minds were keen and brave, but whose hind legs persisted
in running away under the sound of guns. Now I knew that an ordinary
officer on running away under fire would get the sympathy of a large
number of people, who would say, "The poor fellow has got shell
shock," and they would make allowance for him. But if a chaplain ran
away, about six hundred men would say at once, "We have no more use
for religion." So it was with very mingled feelings that I
contemplated an expedition to the battle-fields of France, and I
trusted that the difficulties of Europe would be settled without our
intervention.

However, preparations for war went on. On Sunday, August 2nd, in the
afternoon, I telephoned to Militia Headquarters and gave in my name as
a volunteer for the Great War. When I went to church that evening and
told the wardens that I was off to France, they were much surprised
and disconcerted. When I was preaching at the service and looked down
at the congregation, I had a queer feeling that some mysterious power
was dragging me into a whirlpool, and the ordinary life around me and
the things that were so dear to me had already begun to fade away.

On Tuesday, August the Fourth, war was declared, and the           (p. 016)
Expeditionary Force began to be mobilized in earnest. It is like
recalling a horrible dream when I look back to those days of
apprehension and dread. The world seemed suddenly to have gone mad.
All civilization appeared to be tottering. The Japanese Prime
Minister, on the night war was declared, said, "This is the end of
Europe." In a sense his words were true. Already we see power shifted
from nations in Europe to that great Empire which is in its youth,
whose home is in Europe, but whose dominions are scattered over the
wide world, and also to that new Empire of America, which came in to
the war at the end with such determination and high resolve. The
destinies of mankind are now in the hands of the English-speaking
nations and France.

In those hot August days, a camp at Valcartier was prepared in a
lovely valley surrounded by the old granite hills of the Laurentians,
the oldest range of mountains in the world. The Canadian units began
to collect, and the lines of white tents were laid out. On Saturday,
August 22nd, at seven in the morning, the detachment of volunteers
from Quebec marched off from the drill-shed to entrain for Valcartier.
Our friends came to see us off and the band played "The Girl I Left
Behind Me," in the traditional manner. On our arrival at Valcartier we
marched over to the ground assigned to us, and the men set to work to
put up the tents. I hope I am casting no slur upon the 8th Royal
Rifles of Quebec, when I say that I think we were all pretty green in
the matter of field experience. The South African veterans amongst us,
both officers and men, saved the situation. But I know that the
cooking arrangements rather "fell down", and I think a little bread
and cheese, very late at night, was all we had to eat. We were lucky
to get that. Little did we know then of the field kitchens, with their
pipes smoking and dinners cooking, which later on used to follow up
the battalions as they moved.

The camp at Valcartier was really a wonderful place. Rapidly the roads
were laid out, the tents were run up, and from west and east and north
and south men poured in. There was activity everywhere. Water was laid
on, and the men got the privilege of taking shower-baths, beside the
dusty roads. Bands played; pipers retired to the woods and practised
unearthly music calculated to fire the breast of the Scotsman with a
lust for blood. We had rifle practice on the marvellous ranges. We had
sham battles in which the men engaged so intensely that on one     (p. 017)
occasion, when the enemy met, one over-eager soldier belaboured his
opponent with the butt end of his rifle as though he were a real
German, and the poor victim, who had not been taught to say "Kamarad",
suffered grievous wounds and had to be taken away in an ambulance.
Though many gales and tempests had blown round those ancient
mountains, nothing had ever equalled the latent power in the hearts of
the stalwart young Canadians who had come so swiftly and eagerly at
the call of the Empire. It is astonishing how the war spirit grips
one. In Valcartier began that splendid comradeship which spread out to
all the divisions of the Canadian Corps, and which binds those who
went to the great adventure in a brotherhood stronger than has ever
been known before.

Valcartier was to me a weird experience. The tents were cold. The
ground was very hard. I got it into my mind that a chaplain should
live the same life as the private soldier, and should avoid all
luxuries. So I tried to sleep at night under my blanket, making a
little hole in the ground for my thigh bone to rest in. After lying
awake for some nights under these conditions, I found that the
privates, especially the old soldiers, had learnt the art of making
themselves comfortable and were hunting for straw for beds. I saw the
wisdom of this and got a Wolesley sleeping bag, which I afterwards
lost when my billet was shelled at Ypres. Under this new arrangement I
was able to get a little rest. A kind friend in Quebec provided fifty
oil stoves for the use of the Quebec contingent and so we became quite
comfortable.

The dominating spirit of the camp was General Hughes, who rode about
with his aides-de-camp in great splendour like Napoleon. To me it
seemed that his personality and his despotic rule hung like a dark
shadow over the camp. He was especially interesting and terrible to us
chaplains, because rumour had it that he did not believe in chaplains,
and no one could find out whether he was going to take us or not. The
chaplains in consequence were very polite when inadvertently they
found themselves in his august presence. I was clad in a private's
uniform, which was handed to me out of a box in the drill-shed the
night before the 8th Royal Rifles left Quebec, and I was most
punctilious in the matter of saluting General Hughes whenever we
chanced to meet.

The day after we arrived at the camp was a Sunday. The weather looked
dark and showery, but we were to hold our first church parade,     (p. 018)
and, as I was the senior chaplain in rank, I was ordered to take it
over. We assembled about three thousand strong, on a little rise in
the ground, and here the men were formed in a hollow square. Rain was
threatening, but perhaps might have held off had it not been for the
action of one of the members of my congregation, who in the rear ranks
was overheard by my son to utter the prayer--"O Lord, have mercy in
this hour, and send us now a gentle shower." The prayer of the young
saint was answered immediately, the rain came down in torrents, the
church parade was called off, and I went back to my tent to get dry.

Day after day passed and more men poured in. They were a splendid lot,
full of life, energy and keen delight in the great enterprise.
Visitors from the city thronged the camp in the afternoons and
evenings. A cinema was opened, but was brought to a fiery end by the
men, who said that the old man in charge of it never changed his
films.

One of the most gruesome experiences I had was taking the funeral of a
young fellow who had committed suicide. I shall never forget the
dismal service which was held, for some reason or other, at ten
o'clock at night. Rain was falling, and we marched off into the woods
by the light of two smoky lanterns to the place selected as a military
cemetery. To add to the weirdness of the scene two pipers played a
dirge. In the dim light of the lanterns, with the dropping rain over
head and the dripping trees around us, we laid the poor boy to rest.
The whole scene made a lasting impression on those who were present.

Meanwhile the camp extended and improvements were made, and many
changes occurred in the disposition of the units. At one time the
Quebec men were joined with a Montreal unit, then they were taken and
joined with a New Brunswick detachment and formed into a battalion. Of
course we grew more military, and I had assigned to me a batman whom I
shall call Stephenson. I selected him because of his piety--he was a
theological student from Ontario. I found afterwards that it is unwise
to select batmen for their piety. Stephenson was a failure as a
batman. When some duty had been neglected by him and I was on the
point of giving vent to that spirit of turbulent anger, which I soon
found was one of the natural and necessary equipments of an officer,
he would say, "Would you like me to recite Browning's 'Prospice'?"
What could the enraged Saul do on such occasions but forgive, throw
down the javelin and listen to the music of the harping David?     (p. 019)
Stephenson was with me till I left Salisbury Plain for France. He
nearly exterminated me once by setting a stone water-bottle to heat on
my stove without unscrewing the stopper. I arrived in my tent quite
late and seeing the thing on the stove quickly unscrewed it. The steam
blew out with terrific force and filled the tent. A moment or two more
and the bottle would have burst with disastrous consequences. When I
told Stephenson of the enormity of his offence and that he might have
been the cause of my death, and would have sent me to the grave
covered with dishonour for having been killed by the bursting of a hot
water-bottle--an unworthy end for one about to enter the greatest war
the world has ever known--he only smiled faintly and asked me if I
should like to hear him recite a poem.

News from overseas continued to be bad. Day after day brought us
tidings of the German advance. The martial spirits amongst us were
always afraid to hear that the war would be over before we got to
England. I, but did not tell the people so, was afraid it wouldn't. I
must confess I did not see in those days how a British force composed
of men from farms, factories, offices and universities could get
together in time to meet and overthrow the trained legions of Germany.
It was certainly a period of anxious thought and deep foreboding, but
I felt that I belonged to a race that has never been conquered. Above
all, right and, therefore, God was on our side.

The scenery around Valcartier is very beautiful. It was a joy now and
then to get a horse and ride away from the camp to where the Jacques
Cartier river comes down from the mountains, and to dream of the old
days when the world was at peace and we could enjoy the lovely
prospects of nature, without the anxious care that now gnawed at our
hearts. The place had been a favorite haunt of mine in the days gone
by, when I used to take a book of poems and spend the whole day beside
the river, reading and dozing and listening to the myriad small voices
of the woods.

Still, the centre of interest now was the camp, with its turmoil and
bustle and indefinite longing to be up and doing. The officer
commanding my battalion had brought his own chaplain with him, and it
was plainly evident that I was not wanted. This made it, I must
confess, somewhat embarrassing. My tent, which was at the corner of
the front line, was furnished only with my bed-roll and a box or two,
and was not a particularly cheerful home. I used to feel rather    (p. 020)
lonely at times. Now and then I would go to Quebec for the day. On one
occasion, when I had been feeling particularly seedy, I returned to
camp at eleven o'clock at night. It was cold and rainy. I made my way
from the station to my tent. In doing so I had to pass a Highland
Battalion from Vancouver. When I came to their lines, to my dismay I
was halted by a sentry with a fixed bayonet, who shouted in the
darkness, "Who goes there?" I gave the answer, but instead of being
satisfied with my reply, the wretched youth stood unmoved, with his
bayonet about six inches from my body, causing me a most unpleasant
sensation. He said I should have to come to the guardroom and be
identified. In the meantime, another sentry appeared, also with a
fixed bayonet, and said that I had to be identified. Little did I
think that the whole thing was a game of the young rascals, and that
they were beguiling the tedious moments of the sentry-go by pulling a
chaplain's leg. They confessed it to me months afterwards in France.
However, I was unsuspecting and had come submissive into the great
war. I said that if they would remove their bayonets from propinquity
to my person--because the sight of them was causing me a fresh attack
of the pains that had racked me all day--I would go with them to the
guardroom. At this they said, "Well, Sir, we'll let you pass. We'll
take your word and say no more about it." So off I went to my dripping
canvas home, hoping that the war would be brought to a speedy
termination.

Every night I used to do what I called "parish visiting." I would go
round among the tents, and sitting on the ground have a talk with the
men. Very interesting and charming these talks were. I was much
impressed with the miscellaneous interests and life histories of the
men who had been so quickly drawn together. All were fast being shaken
down into their places, and I think the great lessons of unselfishness
and the duty of pulling together were being stamped upon the lives
that had hitherto been more or less at loose ends. I used to sit in
the tents talking long after lights were out, not wishing to break the
discussion of some interesting life problem. This frequently entailed
upon me great difficulty in finding my way back to my tent, for the
evenings were closing in rapidly and it was hard to thread one's way
among the various ropes and pegs which kept the tents in position. On
one occasion when going down the lines, I tripped over a rope. Up to
that moment the tent had been in perfect silence, but, as though I had
fired a magazine of high explosives, a torrent of profanity burst  (p. 021)
forth from the inhabitants at my misadventure. Of course the men
inside did not know to whom they were talking, but I stood there with
my blood curdling, wondering how far I was personally responsible for
the language poured forth, and terrified lest anyone should look and
find out who had disturbed their slumbers. I stole off into the
darkness as quickly as I could, more than ever longing for a speedy
termination of the great war, and resolving to be more careful in
future about tripping over tent ropes.

We had church parades regularly now on Sundays and early celebrations
of the Holy Communion for the various units. Several weeks had gone by
and as yet we had no definite information from General Hughes as to
which or how many chaplains would be accepted. It was very annoying.
Some of us could not make satisfactory arrangements for our parishes,
until there was a certainty in the matter. The question came to me as
to whether I ought to go, now that the Quebec men had been merged into
a battalion of which I was not to be the chaplain. One evening as I
was going to town, I put the matter before my friend Colonel, now
General, Turner. It was a lovely night. The moon was shining, and
stretching far off into the valley were the rows of white tents with
the dark mountains enclosing them around. We stood outside the
farmhouse used as headquarters, which overlooked the camp. When I
asked the Colonel whether, now that I was separated from my men, I
ought to leave my parish and go, he said to me, "Look at those lines
of tents and think of the men in them. How many of those men will ever
come back? The best expert opinion reckons that this war will last at
least two years. The wastage of human life in war is tremendous. The
battalions have to be filled and refilled again and again. Don't
decide in a hurry, but think over what I have told you." On the next
evening when I returned from Quebec, I went to the Colonel and said,
"I have thought the matter over and I am going."

The time was now drawing near for our departure and at last word was
sent round that General Hughes wished to meet all the chaplains on the
verandah of his bungalow. The time set was the cheerful hour of five
a.m. I lay awake all night with a loud ticking alarm clock beside me,
till about half an hour before the wretched thing was to go off. With
great expedition I rose and shaved and making myself as smart as
possible in the private's uniform, hurried off to the General's camp
home. There the other chaplains were assembled, about twenty-five  (p. 022)
or thirty in all. We all felt very sleepy and very chilly as we waited
with expectancy the utterance which was going to seal our fate. The
General soon appeared in all the magnificence and power of his
position. We rose and saluted. When he metaphorically told us to
"stand easy", we all sat down. I do not know what the feelings of the
others were, but I had an impression that we were rather an awkward
squad, neither fish, flesh, nor fowl. The General gave us a heart to
heart talk. He told us he was going to send us with "the boys." From
his manner I inferred that he looked upon us a kind of auxiliary and
quite dispensable sanitary section. I gathered that he did not want us
to be very exacting as to the performance of religious duties by the
men. Rather we were to go in and out amongst them, make friends of
them and cheer them on their way. Above all we were to remember that
because a man said "Damn", it did not mean necessarily that he was
going to hell. At the conclusion of the address, we were allowed to
ask questions, and one of our number unadvisedly asked if he would be
allowed to carry a revolver. "No," said Sam with great firmness, "take
a bottle of castor oil." We didn't dare to be amused at the incident
in the presence of the Chief, but we had a good laugh over it when we
got back to our tents.

Two Sundays before we left, the most remarkable church parade in the
history of the division was held, at which fully fifteen thousand men
were present. The Senior Chaplain asked me to preach. A large platform
had been erected, on which the chaplains stood, and on the platform
also were two signallers, whose duty it was to signal to the
battalions and bands the numbers of the hymns. On the chairs in front
of the platform were seated the Duke and Duchess of Connaught, the
Princess Patricia, Sir Robert Borden, and other notables. Beyond them
were gathered the men in battalions. At one side were the massed
bands. It was a wonderful sight. The sun was shining. Autumn tints
coloured the maple trees on the sides of the ancient mountains. Here
was Canada quickening into national life and girding on the sword to
take her place among the independent nations of the world. It had been
my privilege, fifteen years before, to preach at the farewell service
in Quebec Cathedral for the Canadian Contingent going to the South
African war. It seemed to me then that never again should I have such
an experience. Yet on that occasion there were only a thousand men
present, and here were fifteen times that number. At that time     (p. 023)
the war was with a small and half-civilized nation in Africa, now the
war was with the foremost nations of Europe. On that occasion I used
the second personal pronoun "you", now I was privileged to use the
first personal pronoun "we". Almost to the last I did not know what
text to choose and trusted to the inspiration of the moment what to
say. My mind was confused with the vastness of the outlook. At last
the words came to me which are the very foundation stone of human
endeavour and human progress, "He that loseth his life for My sake
shall find it." I do not know exactly what I said, and I do not
suppose it mattered much, for it was hard to make oneself heard. I was
content if the words of the text alone were audible. We sang that
great hymn, "O God our help in ages past," which came into such
prominence as an imperial anthem during the war. As we sang the
words--

  "Before the hills in order stood,
  Or earth received her frame"--

I looked at the everlasting mountains around us, where the sound of
our worship died away, and thought how they had watched and waited for
this day to come, and how, in the ages that were to dawn upon Canadian
life and expansion, they would stand as monuments of the consecration
of Canada to the service of mankind.

Things began to move rapidly now. People from town told us that
already a fleet of liners was waiting in the harbour, ready to carry
overseas the thirty-three thousand men of the Canadian contingent.

At last the eventful day of our departure arrived. On September 28th,
with several other units, the 14th Battalion, to which I had been
attached, marched off to the entraining point. I took one last look at
the great camp which had now become a place of such absorbing interest
and I wondered if I should ever see again that huge amphitheatre with
its encompassing mountain witnesses. The men were in high spirits and
good humour prevailed.

We saw the three companies of Engineers moving off, each followed by
those mysterious pontoons which followed them wherever they went and
suggested the bridging of the Rhine and our advance to Berlin. Someone
called out, "What are those boats?" and a voice replied, "That's the
Canadian Navy." We had a pleasant trip in the train to Quebec,
enlivened by jokes and songs. On our arrival at the docks, we were
taken to the custom-house wharf and marched on board the fine      (p. 024)
Cunard liner "Andania", which now rests, her troubles over, at the
bottom of the Irish Sea. On the vessel, besides half of the 14th
Battalion, there was the 16th (Canadian Scottish) Battalion, chiefly
from Vancouver, and the Signal Company. Thus we had a ship full to
overflowing of some of the noblest young fellows to whom the world has
given birth. So ended our war experience in Valcartier Camp.

Nearly five years passed before I saw that sacred spot again. It was
in August 1919. The war was ended, peace had been signed, and the
great force of brother knights had been dispersed. Little crosses by
the highways and byways of France and Belgium now marked the
resting-place of thousands of those whose eager hearts took flame
among these autumn hills. As I motored past the deserted camp after
sunset, my heart thrilled with strange memories and the sense of an
abiding presence of something weird and ghostly. Here were the old
roads, there were the vacant hutments. Here were the worn paths across
the fields where the men had gone. The evening breeze whispered
fitfully across the untrodden grass and one by one the strong
mountains, as though fixing themselves more firmly in iron resolve,
cast off the radiant hues of evening and stood out black and grim
against the starlit sky.




CHAPTER II.                                                        (p. 025)

THE VOYAGE TO ENGLAND.

_September 29th to October 18th, 1914._


The "Andania" moved out to mid-stream and anchored off Cape Diamond.
The harbour was full of liners, crowded with men in khaki. It was a
great sensation to feel oneself at last merged into the great army
life and no longer free to come and go. I looked at the City and saw
the familiar outline of the Terrace and Chateau Frontenac and, over
all, the Citadel, one of my favourite haunts in times past. A great
gulf separated us now from the life we had known. We began to realize
that the individual was submerged in the great flood of corporate
life, and the words of the text came to me, "He that loseth his life
for My sake shall find it."

The evening was spent in settling down to our new quarters in what
was, especially after the camp at Valcartier, a luxurious home. Dinner
at night became the regimental mess, and the saloon with its sumptuous
furnishings made a fine setting for the nightly gathering of officers.
We lay stationary all that night and on the next evening, Sept. the
29th, at six o'clock we weighed anchor and went at slow speed down the
stream. Several other vessels had preceded us, the orders to move
being sent by wireless. We passed the Terrace where cheer after cheer
went up from the black line of spectators crowded against the railing.
Our men climbed up into the rigging and their cheers went forth to the
land that they were leaving. It was a glorious evening. The sun had
set and the great golden light, fast deepening into crimson, burnt
behind the northern hills and lit up the windows of the houses on the
cliffs of Levis opposite. We moved down past the Custom House. We saw
the St. Charles Valley and the Beauport shore, but ever our eyes
turned to the grim outline of Cape Diamond and the city set upon the
hill. Beside me on the upper deck stood a young officer. We were
talking together and wondering if we should ever see that rock again.
He never did. He and his only brother were killed in the war. We
reached the end of the Island of Orleans, and looking back saw a
deeper crimson flood the sky, till the purple mists of evening hid
Quebec from our view.

We had a lovely sail down the St. Lawrence in superb weather and   (p. 026)
three days later entered the great harbour of Gaspe Basin. Here the
green arms of the hills encompassed us, as though Canada were
reluctant to let us go. Gaspe Basin has historical memories for
Canada, for it was there that Wolfe assembled his fleet on his voyage
to the capture of Quebec. We lay at anchor all day, and at night the
moon came up and flooded the great water with light, against which
stood out the black outline of thirty ships, so full of eager and
vigorous life. About midnight I went on deck to contemplate the scene.
The night was calm and still. The vessels lay dark and silent with all
lights screened. The effect was one of lonely grandeur. What was it
going to mean to us? What did fate hold in store? Among those hills,
the outline of which I could now but faintly see, were the lakes and
salmon rivers in the heart of the great forests which make our
Canadian wild life so fascinating. We were being torn from that life
and sent headlong into the seething militarism of a decadent European
feudalism. I was leaning on the rail looking at the track of
moonlight, when a young lad came up to me and said, "Excuse me, Sir,
but may I talk to you for a while? It is such a weird sight that it
has got on my nerves." He was a young boy of seventeen who had come
from Vancouver. Many times afterwards I met him in France and Belgium,
when big things were being done in the war, and we talked together
over that night in Gaspe Basin and the strange thoughts that crowded
upon us then. He was not the only one in that great fleet of
transports who felt the significance of the enterprise.

On Saturday afternoon we resumed our journey and steamed out of the
narrows. Outside the bay the ships formed into a column of three abreast,
making a line nine miles in length. Several cruisers, and later a
battleship and battle cruiser, mounted guard over the expedition. Off
Cape Race, the steamship "Florizel" joined us, bringing the Newfoundland
troops. Our family party was now complete.

It was indeed a family party. On every ship we had friends. It seemed
as if Canada herself were steaming across the ocean. Day after day, in
perfect weather, keeping our relative positions in absolute order, we
sped over the deep. There was none of the usual sense of loneliness
which characterizes the ocean voyage. We looked at the line of vessels
and we felt that one spirit and one determination quickened the whole
fleet into individual life.

On board the "Andania" the spirit of the men was excellent. There  (p. 027)
was physical drill daily to keep them fit. There was the gymnasium for
the officers. We had boxing matches for all, and sword dances also for
the Highlanders. In the early morning at five-thirty, the pipers used
to play reveille down the passages. Not being a Scotsman, the music
always woke me up. At such moments I considered it my duty to try to
understand the music of the pipes. But in the early hours of the
morning I made what I thought were discoveries. First I found out that
all pipe melodies have the same bass. Secondly I found out that all
pipe melodies have the same treble. On one occasion the pipers left
the security of the Highlanders' quarters and invaded the precincts of
the 14th Battalion, who retaliated by turning the hose on them. A
genuine battle between the contending factions was only averted by the
diplomacy of the O.C.

I had made friends with the wireless operators on board the ship, and
every night I used to go up to their cabin on the upper deck and they
would give me reports of the news which had been flashed out to the
leading cruiser. They told me of the continued German successes and of
the fall of Antwerp. The news was not calculated to act as a soothing
nightcap before going to bed. I was sworn to secrecy and so I did not
let the men know what was happening at the front. I used to look round
at the bright faces of the young officers in the saloon and think of
all that those young fellows might have to endure before the world was
saved. It gave everyone on board a special sacredness in my eyes, and
one felt strangely inadequate and unworthy to be with them.

The men lived below decks and some of them were packed in pretty
tightly. Had the weather been rough there would have been a good deal
of suffering. During the voyage our supply of flour gave out, but as
we had a lot of wheat on board, the men were set to grind it in a
coffee mill. More than fifty per cent of the men, I found, were
members of the Church of England, and so I determined to have a
celebration of Holy Communion, for all who cared to attend, at five
o'clock every morning. I always had a certain number present, and very
delightful were these services at that early hour. Outside on deck we
could hear the tramp and orders of those engaged in physical drill,
and inside the saloon where I had arranged the altar there knelt a
small gathering of young fellows from various parts of Canada, who
were pleased to find that the old Church was going with them on    (p. 028)
their strange pilgrimage. The well-known hymn--

  "Eternal Father strong to save,
  Whose arm hath bound the restless wave"

had never appealed to me much in the past, but it took on a new
meaning at our Sunday church parade, for we all felt that we were a
rather vulnerable body in any determined attack that might be made
upon us by the German navy. Now and then vessels would be sighted on
the horizon and there was always much excitement and speculation as to
what they might be. We could see the cruisers making off in the
direction of the strangers and taking a survey of the ocean at long
range.

One day a man on the "Royal George" fell overboard, and a boat was
instantly lowered to pick him up. The whole fleet came to a
standstill and all our glasses were turned towards the scene of
rescue. Often in our battles when we saw the hideous slaughter of
human beings, I have thought of the care for the individual life which
stopped that great fleet in order to save one man.

Our destination, of course, was not known to us. Some thought we might
go directly to France, others that we should land in England. When at
last, skirting the south coast of Ireland, we got into the English
Channel, we felt more than ever the reality of our adventure. I believe
we were destined for Southampton; but rumour had it that a German
submarine was waiting for us in the Channel, so we turned into the
harbour of Plymouth. It was night when we arrived. A low cloud and
mist hung over the dark choppy waves of the Channel. From the forts at
Plymouth and from vessels in the harbour, long searchlights moved like
the fingers of a great ghostly hand that longed to clutch at something.
We saw the small patrol boats darting about in all directions and we
felt with a secret thrill that we had got into that part of the world
which was at war. We arrived at Plymouth on the evening of October
14th, our voyage having lasted more than a fortnight. Surely no
expedition, ancient or modern, save that perhaps which Columbus led
towards the undiscovered continent of his dreams, was ever fraught
with greater significance to the world at large. We are still too
close to the event to be able to measure its true import. Its real
meaning was that the American continent with all its huge resources,
its potential value in the ages to come, had entered upon the sphere
of world politics, and ultimately would hold in its hands the sceptre
of world dominion. Even the British thought that we had come       (p. 029)
merely to assist the Mother Country in her difficulties. Those who
were at the helm in Canada, however, knew that we were not fighting
for the security of the Mother Country only, but for the security of
Canadian nationalism itself. Whatever the ages hold in store for us in
this great and rich Dominion which stretches from sea to sea and from
the river unto the world's end, depended upon our coming out victors
in the great European struggle.




CHAPTER III.                                                       (p. 030)

ON SALISBURY PLAIN.

_October 18th, 1914, to January 1st, 1915._


On Sunday the 18th, our men entrained and travelled to Patney, and
from thence marched to Westdown South, Salisbury Plain. There tents
had been prepared and we settled down to life in our new English home.
At first the situation was very pleasant. Around us on all sides
spread the lines of tents. The weather was delightful. A ride over the
mysterious plain was something never to be forgotten. The little
villages around were lovely and quaint. The old town of Salisbury,
with its wonderful Cathedral and memories of old England, threw the
glamour of romance and chivalry over the new soldiers in the new
crusade. But winter drew on, and such a winter it was. The rains
descended, the floods came and the storms beat upon our tents, and the
tents which were old and thin allowed a fine sprinkling of moisture to
fall upon our faces. The green sward was soon trampled into deep and
clinging mud. There was nothing for the men to do. Ammunition was
short, there was little rifle practice. The weather was so bad that a
route march meant a lot of wet soldiers with nowhere to dry their
clothes upon their return. In some places the mud went over my long
rubber boots. The gales of heaven swept over the plain unimpeded.
Tents were blown down. On one particularly gloomy night, I met a
chaplain friend of mine in the big Y.M.C.A. marquee. I said to him,
"For goodness sake let us do something for the men. Let us have a
sing-song." He agreed, and we stood in the middle of the marquee with
our backs to the pole and began to sing a hymn. I do not know what it
was. I started the air and was going on so beautifully that the men
were beginning to be attracted and were coming around us. Suddenly my
friend struck in with a high tenor note. Hardly had the sound gone
forth when, like the fall of the walls of Jericho at the sound of
Joshua's trumpets, a mighty gale struck the building, and with a
ripping sound the whole thing collapsed. In the rain and darkness we
rushed to the assistance of the attendants and extinguished the lamps,
which had been upset, while the men made their way to the counters and
put the cigarettes and other dainties into their pockets, lest they
should get wet. On another occasion, the Paymaster's tent blew     (p. 031)
away as he was paying off the battalion. Five shilling notes flew
over the plain like white birds over the sea. The men quickly chased
them and gathered them up, and on finding them stained with mud
thought it unnecessary to return them. On another night the huge
marquee where Harrod's ran the mess for a large number of officers,
blew down just as we were going to dinner, and we had to forage in the
various canteens for tinned salmon and packages of biscuits.

Still, in spite of all, the spirits of our men never failed. One night
when a heavy rain had turned every hollow into a lake, and every gully
into a rushing cataract, I went down to some tents on a lower level
than my own. I waded through water nearly a foot deep and came to a
tent from which I saw a faint light emerging. I looked inside and
there with their backs to the pole stood some stalwart young
Canadians. On an island in the tent, was a pile of blankets, on which
burnt a solitary candle. "Hello, boys, how are you getting on?" "Fine,
Sir, fine," was their ready response. "Well, boys, keep that spirit
up," I said, "and we'll win the war."

At first we had no "wet" canteen where beer could be procured. The
inns in the villages around became sources of great attraction to the
men, and the publicans did their best to make what they could out of
the well-paid Canadian troops. The maintenance of discipline under
such circumstances was difficult. We were a civilian army, and our men
had come over to do a gigantic task. Everyone knew that, when the hour
for performance came, they would be ready, but till that hour came
they were intolerant of restraint.

The English people did not understand us, and many of our men
certainly gave them good reason to be doubtful. Rumour had it at one
time that we were going to be taken out of the mud and quartered in
Exeter. Then the rumour was that the Exeter people said, "If the
Canadians are sent here, we'll all leave the town." I did not mind, I
told the men I would make my billet in the Bishop's Palace.

The C.O. of one of the battalions was tempted to do what David did
with such disastrous results, namely number the people. He called the
roll of his battalion and found that four hundred and fifty men were
absent without leave. But as I have said, we all knew that when the
moment for big things came, every man would be at his post and would
do his bit.

Just before Christmas the 3rd Brigade were moved into huts at Lark
Hill. They were certainly an improvement upon the tents, but they  (p. 032)
were draughty and leaky. From my window I could see, on the few
occasions when the weather permitted it, the weird and ancient circles
of Stonehenge.

The calm repose of those huge stones, which had watched unmoved the
passing of human epochs, brought peace to the mind. They called to
memory the lines;--

  "Our little systems have their day,
    They have their day and cease to be:
    They are but broken lights of Thee,
  And Thou, O Lord, art more than they."

In order to give Christmas its religious significance, I asked
permission of the Rector of Amesbury to use his church for a midnight
Eucharist on Christmas Eve. He gladly gave his consent and notice of
the service was sent round to the units of the Brigade. In the thick
fog the men gathered and marched down the road to the village, where
the church windows threw a soft light into the mist that hung over the
ancient burial ground. The church inside was bright and beautiful. The
old arches and pillars and the little side chapels told of days gone
by, when the worship of the holy nuns, who had their convent there,
rose up to God day by day. The altar was vested in white and the
candles shone out bright and fair. The organist had kindly consented
to play the Christmas hymns, in which the men joined heartily. It was
a service never to be forgotten, and as I told the men, in the short
address I gave them, never before perhaps, in the history of that
venerable fane, had it witnessed a more striking assembly. From a
distance of nearly seven thousand miles some of them had come, and
this was to be our last Christmas before we entered the life and death
struggle of the nations. Row after row of men knelt to receive the
Bread of Life, and it was a rare privilege to administer it to them.
The fog was heavier on our return and some of us had great difficulty
in finding our lines.

It seemed sometimes as if we had been forgotten by the War Office, but
this was not the case. We had visits from the King, Lord Roberts and
other high officials. All these were impressed with the physique and
high spirits of our men.

The conditions under which we lived were certainly atrocious, and an
outbreak of meningitis cast a gloom over the camp. It was met bravely
and skilfully by our medical men, of whose self-sacrifice and devotion
no praise is too high. The same is true of their conduct all through
the war.

Our life on the Plain was certainly a puzzle to us. Why were we    (p. 033)
kept there? When were we going to leave? Were we not wanted in France?
These were the questions we asked one another. I met an Imperial
officer one day, who had just returned from the front. I asked him
when we were going to train for the trenches. "Why" he said, "what
better training could you have than you are getting here? If you can
stand the life here, you can stand the life in France." I think he was
right. That strange experience was just what we needed to inure us to
hardship, and it left a stamp of resolution and efficiency on the
First Division which it never lost.




CHAPTER IV.                                                        (p. 034)

OFF TO FRANCE.

_January To March, 1915._


Towards the end of January, rumors became more frequent that our
departure was close at hand, and we could see signs of the coming
movement in many quarters. The disposition of the chaplains was still
a matter of uncertainty. At last we were informed that only five
chaplains were to proceed with the troops to France. This was the
original number which the War Office had told us to bring from Canada.
The news fell like a thunderbolt upon us, and we at once determined to
get the order changed. The Senior Roman Catholic Chaplain and myself,
by permission of the General, made a special journey to the War
Office. The Chaplain-General received us, if not coldly, at least
austerely. We told him that we had come from Canada to be with the men
and did not want to leave them. He replied by saying that the
Canadians had been ordered by Lord Kitchener to bring only five
chaplains with them, and they had brought thirty-one. He said, looking
at me, "That is not military discipline; we must obey orders." I
explained to him that since the Canadian Government was paying the
chaplains the people thought it did not matter how many we had. Even
this did not seem to convince him. "Besides", he said, "they tell me
that of all the troops in England the Canadians are the most
disorderly and undisciplined, and they have got thirty-one chaplains."
"But", I replied, "you ought to see what they would have been like, if
we had brought only five." We succeeded in our mission in so far that
he promised to speak to Lord Kitchener that afternoon and see if the
wild Canadians could not take more chaplains with them to France than
were allotted to British Divisions. The result was that eleven of our
chaplains were to be sent.

Early in February we were told that our Division was to go in a few days.
In spite of the mud and discomfort we had taken root in Salisbury
Plain. I remember looking with affection one night at the Cathedral
bathed in moonlight, and at the quaint streets of the dear old town,
over which hung the shadow of war. Could it be possible that England
was about to be crushed under the heel of a foreign tyrant? If     (p. 035)
such were to be her fate, death on the battlefield would be easy to bear.
What Briton could endure to live under the yoke or by the permission of
a vulgar German autocrat?

On entering the mess one evening I was horrified to read in the orders
that Canon Scott was to report immediately for duty to No. 2 General
Hospital. It was a great blow to be torn from the men of the fighting
forces. I at once began to think out a plan of campaign. I went over
to the G.O.C. of my brigade, and told him that I was to report to No.
2 General Hospital. I said, with perfect truth, that I did not know
where No. 2 General Hospital was, but I had determined to begin the
hunt for it in France. I asked him if he would take me across with the
Headquarters Staff, so that I might begin my search at the front. He
had a twinkle in his eye as he told me that if I could get on board
the transport, he would make no objection. I was delighted with the
prospect of going over with the men.

When the time came to pack up, I was overwhelmed by the number of things
that I had accumulated during the winter. I disposed of a lot of
useless camp furniture, such as folding tables and collapsible chairs,
and my faithful friend the oil stove. With a well-filled Wolseley
kit-bag and a number of haversacks bursting with their contents, I was
ready for the journey. On February 11th, on a lovely afternoon, I
started off with the Headquarters Staff. We arrived at Avonmouth and
made our way to the docks. It was delightful to think that I was going
with the men. I had no batman and no real standing with the unit with
which I was travelling. However, I did not let this worry me. I got a
friend to carry my kit-bag, and then covering myself with haversacks,
till I looked, as the men said, like a Christmas tree, I made my way
to the ship with a broad grin of satisfaction on my face. As I went up
the gangway so attired and looking exceedingly pleased with myself, my
appearance excited the suspicion of the officer in command of the ship,
who was watching the troops come on board. Mistaking the cause of my
good spirits, he called a captain to him and said, "There is an officer
coming on board who is drunk; go and ask him who he is." The captain
accordingly came over and greeting me pleasantly said, "How do you do,
Sir?" "Very well, thank you," I replied, smiling all the more. I was
afraid he had come up to send me back. Having been a teetotaler for
twenty-two years, I knew nothing of the horrible suspicion under   (p. 036)
which I lay at the moment. The captain then said, "Who are you, Sir?"
and I, thinking of my happy escape from army red tape, answered quite
innocently, with a still broader grin, "I'm No. 2, General Hospital."
This, of course confirmed the captain's worst suspicions. He went back
to the O.C. of the ship. "Who does he say he is?" said the Colonel.
"He says he is No. 2 General Hospital," the Captain replied. "Let him
come on board" said the Colonel. He thought I was safer on board the
ship than left behind in that condition on the wharf. With great
delight I found all dangers had been passed and I was actually about
to sail for France.

The boat which took us and the 3rd Artillery Brigade, was a small vessel
called "The City of Chester." We were horribly crowded, so my bed had
to be made on the table in the saloon. A doctor lay on the sofa at the
side and several young officers slept on the floor. We had not been out
many hours before a terrific gale blew up from the West, and we had to
point our bow towards Canada. I told the men there was some satisfaction
in that. We were exceedingly uncomfortable. My bed one night slid off
the table on to the sleeping doctor and nearly crushed him. I squeezed
out some wonderfully religious expressions from him in his state of
partial unconsciousness. I replaced myself on the table, and then slid
off on to the chairs on the other side. I finally found a happy and
safe haven on the floor. On some of the other transports they fared
even worse. My son, with a lot of other privates, was lying on the
floor of the lowest deck in his boat, when a voice shouted down the
gangway, "Lookout boys, there's a horse coming down." They cleared
away just in time for a horse to land safely in the hold, having
performed one of those miraculous feats which horses so often do
without damage to themselves.

On the 15th of February we arrived off the west coast of France and
disembarked at St. Nazaire. Our life now took on fresh interest.
Everything about us was new and strange. As a Quebecer I felt quite at
home in a French town. A good sleep in a comfortable hotel was a great
refreshment after the voyage. In the afternoon of the following day we
entrained for the front. I spread out my Wolesley sleeping bag on the
straw in a box car in which there were several other officers. Our
progress was slow, but it was a great thing to feel that we were   (p. 037)
travelling through France, that country of romance and chivalry. Our
journey took more than two days, and we arrived at Hazebrouck one week
after leaving Salisbury Plain. The town has since been badly wrecked,
but then it was undamaged. The Brigadier lent me a horse and I rode
with his staff over to Caestre where the brigade was to be billeted.
In the same town were the 15th and 16th Battalions and the 3rd Field
Ambulance. I had a room that night in the Chateau, a rather rambling
modern house. The next morning I went out to find a billet for myself.
I called on the Mayor and Mayoress, a nice old couple who not only gave
me a comfortable room in their house, but insisted upon my accepting
it free of charge. They also gave me breakfast in the kitchen downstairs.
I was delighted to be so well housed and was going on my way rejoicing
when I met an officer who told me that the Brigade Major wanted to see
me in a hurry. I went over to his office and was addressed by him in a
very military manner. He wanted to know why I was there and asked what
unit I was attached to. I told him No. 2 General Hospital. He said,
"Where is it?" "I don't know", I replied, "I came over to France to
look for it." He said, "It is at Lavington on Salisbury Plain," and
added, "You will have to report to General Alderson and get some
attachment till the hospital comes over." His manner was so cold and
businesslike that it was quite unnerving and I began to realize more
than ever that I was in the Army. Accordingly that afternoon I walked
over to the General's Headquarters, at Strazeele, some five miles
away, and he attached me to the Brigade until my unit should come to
France. I never knew when it did come to France, for I never asked.
"Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" was my motto. I held on
to my job at the front. But the threat which the Brigadier held over
me, that if I went into the trenches or anywhere out of his immediate
ken I should be sent back to No. 2 General Hospital, was something
which weighed upon my spirits very heavily at times, and caused me to
acquire great adroitness in the art of dodging. In fact, I made up my
mind that three things had to be avoided if I wished to live through
the campaign--sentries, cesspools, and generals. They were all sources
of special danger, as everyone who has been at the front can testify.
Over and over again on my rambles in the dark, nothing has saved me
from being stuck by a sentry but the white gleam of my clerical    (p. 038)
collar, which on this account I had frequently thought of painting
with luminous paint. One night I stepped into a cesspool and had to sit
on a chair while my batman pumped water over me almost as ill-savoured
as the pool itself. On another occasion, when, against orders, I was
going into the trenches in Ploegsteert, I saw the General and his
staff coming down the road. Quick as thought, I cantered my horse into
an orchard behind a farm house, where there was a battery of Imperials.
The men were surprised, not to say alarmed, at the sudden appearance
of a chaplain in their midst. When I told them, however, that I was
dodging a general, they received me with the utmost kindness and
sympathy. They had often done the same themselves, and offered me some
light refreshments.

On the following Sunday we had our first church parade in the war
zone. We were delighted during the service to hear in the distance the
sound of guns and shells. As the war went on we preferred church
parades when we could not hear guns and shells.

After a brief stay in Caestre the whole brigade marched off to
Armentieres. Near Fletre, the Army Commander, General Smith-Dorrien,
stood by the roadside and took the salute as we passed. I went with
the 15th Battalion, and, as I told the men, being a Canon, marched
with the machine gun section. We went by the delightful old town of
Bailleul. The fields were green. The hedges were beginning to show
signs of spring life. The little villages were quaint and picturesque,
but the pave road was rough and tiring. Bailleul made a delightful
break in the journey. The old Spanish town hall, with its tower, the
fine old church and spire and the houses around the Grande Place, will
always live in one's memory. The place is all a ruin now, but then it
formed a pleasant home and meeting place for friends from many parts.
We skirted the borders of Belgium and arrived at Armentieres in the
afternoon. The place had been shelled and was partly deserted, but was
still a populous town. I made my home with the Brigade transport in a
large school. In the courtyard our horses and mules were picketed. I
had never heard mules bray before and I had a good sample next morning
of what they can do, for with the buildings around them the sound had
an added force. The streets of Armentieres were well laid out and some
of the private residences were very fine. It is astonishing how our
camp life at Salisbury had made us love cities. Armentieres has    (p. 039)
since been destroyed and its church ruined. Many of us have pleasant
memories of the town, and the cemetery there is the resting place of
numbers of brave Canadians.

I ran across an imperial Chaplain there, whom I had met in England. He
told me he had a sad duty to perform that night. It was to prepare for
death three men who were to be shot at daybreak. He felt it very
keenly, and I afterwards found from experience how bitter the duty
was.

We were brought to Armentieres in order to be put into the trenches
with some of the British units for instruction. On Wednesday evening,
February the 24th, the men were marched off to the trenches for the
first time and I went with a company of the 15th Battalion, who were
to be attached to the Durham Light Infantry. I was warned to keep
myself in the background as it was said that the chaplains were not
allowed in the front line. The trenches were at Houplines to the east
of Armentieres. We marched down the streets till we came to the edge
of the town and there a guide met us and we went in single file across
the field. We could see the German flare-lights and could hear the
crack of rifles. It was intensely interesting, and the mystery of the
war seemed to clear as we came nearer to the scene of action. The men
went down into the narrow trench and I followed. I was welcomed by a
very nice young captain whom I never heard of again till I saw the
cross that marked his grave in the Salient. The trenches in those days
were not what they afterwards became. Double rows of sandbags built
like a wall were considered an adequate protection. I do not think
there was any real parados. The dugouts were on a level with the
trench and were roofed with pieces of corrugated iron covered with two
layers of sandbags. They were a strange contrast to the dugouts thirty
feet deep, lined with wood, which we afterwards made for our trench
homes.

I was immensely pleased at having at last got into the front line.
Even if I were sent out I had at least seen the trenches. The captain
brought me to his tiny dugout and told me that he and I could squeeze
in there together for the night. He then asked me if I should like to
see the trench, and took me with him on his rounds. By this time it
was dark and rainy and very muddy. As we were going along the trench a
tall officer, followed by another met us and exchanged a word with the
captain. They then came up to me and the first one peered at me in (p. 040)
the darkness and said in abrupt military fashion, "Who are you?"
I thought my last hour had come, or at least I was going to be sent
back. I told him I was a chaplain with the Canadians. "Did you come
over with the men?" "Yes", I said. "Capital", he replied, "Won't you
come and have lunch with me tomorrow?" "Where do you live?" I said.
The other officer came up to my rescue at this moment and said, "The
General's Headquarters are in such and such a place in Armentieres,"
"Good Heavens", I whispered in a low tone to the officer, "Is he a
general?" "Yes" he said. "I hope my deportment was all that it ought
to have been in the presence of a general," I replied. "It was
excellent, Padre," he said, with a laugh. So I arranged to go and have
luncheon with him two days afterwards, for I was to spend forty-eight
hours in the trenches. The first officer turned out to be General
Congreve, V.C., a most gallant man. He told me at luncheon that if he
could press a button and blow the whole German nation into the air he
would do it. I felt a little bit shocked then, because I did not know
the Germans as I afterwards did. I spent nearly four years at the
front hunting for that button.

The captain and I had very little room to move about in his dugout. I
was very much impressed with the unostentatious way in which he said,
"If you want to say your prayers, Padre, you can kneel over in that
corner first, because there is only room for one at a time. I will say
mine afterwards"--and he did. He was a Roman Catholic, and had lived
in India, and was a very fine type of man. When I read the words two
years afterwards on a cross in a cemetery near Poperinghe, "Of your
charity pray for the soul of Major Harter, M.C.," I did it gladly and
devoutly.

I had brought with me in a small pyx, the Blessed Sacrament, and the
next morning I gave Communion to a number of the men. One young
officer, a boy of eighteen, who had just left school to come to the
front, asked me to have the service in his dugout. The men came in
three or four at a time and knelt on the muddy floor. Every now and
then we could hear the crack of a bullet overhead striking the
sandbags. The officer was afterwards killed, and the great promise of
his life was not fulfilled in this world.

There was a great deal of rifle fire in the trenches in those days.
The captain told me the Canadians were adepts in getting rid of    (p. 041)
their ammunition and kept firing all night long. Further down the
line were the "Queen's Own Westminsters." They were a splendid body of
young men and received us very kindly. On my way over to them the next
morning, I found in a lonely part of a trench a man who had taken off
his shirt and was examining the seams of it with interest. I knew he
was hunting for one of those insects which afterwards played no small
part in the general discomfort of the Great War, and I thought it
would be a good opportunity to learn privately what they looked like.
So I took a magnifying glass out of my pocket and said, "Well, my boy,
let me have a look for I too am interested in botany." He pointed to a
seam in his shirt and said, "There, Sir, there is one." I was just
going to examine it under the glass when, crack! a bullet hit the
sandbags near-by, and he told me the trench was enfiladed. I said, "My
dear boy, I think I will postpone this scientific research until we
get to safer quarters, for if I am knocked out, the first question my
congregation will ask will be, "What was our beloved pastor doing when
he was hit?" If they hear that I was hunting in a man's shirt for one
of these insects, they will not think it a worthy ending to my life."
He grinned, put on his shirt, and moved down the trench.

That afternoon a good many shells passed over our heads and of course
the novelty of the thing made it most interesting. After a war
experience of nearly four years, one is almost ashamed to look back
upon those early days which were like war in a nursery. The hideous
thing was then only in its infancy. Poison gas, liquid fire, trench
mortars, hand grenades, machine guns, (except a very few) and tanks
were then unknown. The human mind had not then made, as it afterward
did, the sole object of its energy the destruction of human life. Yet
with a deepening knowledge of the instruments of death has come, I
trust, a more revolting sense of the horrors and futility of war. The
romance and chivalry of the profession of arms has gone forever. Let
us hope that in the years to come the human mind will bend all its
energies to right the wrongs and avert the contentions that result in
bloodshed.

On the following Sunday, we had a church parade in the square in
Armentieres. Two or three men watched the sky with field glasses lest
an enemy plane should come up. We had now finished our instruction in
trench warfare and were going to take over part of the front line. (p. 042)
We were marched off one afternoon to the village of Bac St. Maur,
where we rested for the night. I had dinner with the officers of the
15th Battalion, and went out afterwards to a big factory at the end of
the straggling brick village to see my son, whose battalion was
quartered there. On returning I found the night was very dark, and
every door and window in the long rows of houses was tightly closed.
No lights were allowed in the town. Once more my faculty for losing my
way asserted itself, and I could not tell which was the house where I
had dined. It was to be my billet for the night. The whole place was
silent, and I wandered up and down the long street. I met a few
soldiers and when I asked if they could tell me where I had had dinner
they naturally began to eye me with suspicion. At the same time it was
no laughing matter. I had had a long walk in the afternoon and had the
prospect of another on the following day. I was separated from my
kit-bag and my safety razor, which always, at the front, constituted
my home, and the night was beginning to get cold. Besides it was more
or less damaging to one's character as a chaplain to be found
wandering aimlessly about the streets at night asking where you had
dined. My habits were not as well known to the men then as they were
after a few years of war. In despair I went down the road behind the
village, and there to my joy I saw a friendly light emerging from the
door of a coach house. I went up to it and entered and found to my
relief the guard of the 16th Battalion. They had a big fire in the
chimney-place, and were smoking and making tea. It was then about one
o'clock, and they were both surprised and amused at my plight, but
gave me a very glad welcome and offered me a bed and blankets on the
floor. I was just going to accept them when I asked if the blankets
were "crummy". The men burst out laughing. "You bet your life they
are, Sir," they cried. "Well, boys," I said, "I think that I prefer to
spend the night walking about the village and trying to compose a
poem." Once more I made my way down the dark street, examining closely
every door and window. At last I found a crack of light which came
from one of the houses. I knocked at the door and it was opened by an
officer from Quebec, who had been engaged with some others in a quiet
game of cards. He was amused at my homeless condition and kindly took
me in and gave me a comfortable bed in his own room. On the next   (p. 043)
morning of course I was "ragged" tremendously on my disappearance during
the night.

The next day we marched off to the village of Sailly-sur-Lys, which
was to become our rear headquarters during our occupation of the
trenches. The little place had been damaged by shells, but every
available house was occupied. Our battalion moved up the country road
and was dispersed among the farm houses and barns in the
neighbourhood.

I made my home with some officers in a small and dirty farm house. The
novelty of the situation, however, gave it a certain charm for the
time. We were crowded into two or three little rooms and lay on piles
of straw. We were short of rations, but each officer contributed
something from his private store. I had a few articles of tinned food
with me and they proved to be of use. From that moment I determined
never to be without a tin of bully beef in my haversack, and I formed
the bully beef habit in the trenches which lasted till the end and
always amused the men. The general cesspool and manure heap of the
farm was, as usual, in the midst of the buildings, and was
particularly unsavoury. A cow waded through it and the family hens
fattened on it. Opposite our window in one of the buildings dwelt an
enormous sow with a large litter of young ones. When any of the ladies
of the family went to throw refuse on the manure heap, the old sow,
driven by the pangs of hunger, would stand on her hind legs and poke
her huge face out over the half door of her prison appealing in pig
language for some of the discarded dainties. Often nothing would stop
her squeals but a smart slap on her fat cheeks by the lady's tender
hand. In the hayloft of the barn the men were quartered. Their candles
made the place an exceedingly dangerous abode. There was only one
small hole down which they could escape in case of fire. It is a
wonder we did not have more fires in our billets than we did.

The trenches assigned to our Brigade were to the right of Fleurbaix.
They were poorly constructed, but as the time went on were greatly
improved by the labours of our men. The Brigadier assigned to me for
my personal use a tiny mud-plastered cottage with thatched roof and a
little garden in front. It was in the Rue du Bois, a road which ran
parallel with the trenches about 800 yards behind them. I was very
proud to have a home all to myself, and chalked on the door the word
"Chaplain". In one room two piles of straw not only gave me a bed  (p. 044)
for myself but enabled me to give hospitality to any officer who
needed a billet. Another room I fitted up as a chapel. An old box
covered with the silk Union Jack and white cloth and adorned with two
candles and cross served as an altar. There were no chairs to be had,
but the plain white walls were not unsuited to the purpose to which
the room was dedicated.

In this chapel I held several services. It was a fine sight to see a
group of tall and stalwart young Highlanders present. Their heads
almost reached to the low ceiling, and when they sang, the little
building trembled with the sound.

Every night when there were any men to be buried, I used to receive
notice from the front line, and after dark I would set out preceded by
my batman, Murdoch MacDonald, a proper young Highlander, carrying a
rifle with fixed bayonet on his shoulder. It made one feel very proud
to go off down the dark road so attended. When we got to the place of
burial I would hold a short service over the open graves in which the
bodies were laid to rest. Our casualties were light then, but in those
days we had not become accustomed to the loss of comrades and so we
felt the toll of death very bitterly.

It made a great difference to me to have a house of my own. Previously
I had found it most difficult to get any place in which to lay my
head. On one occasion, I had obtained permission from a kind-hearted
farmer's wife to rent one corner of the kitchen in her two-roomed
house. It was on a Saturday night and when the family had retired to
their room I spread my sleeping bag in the corner and went to bed. I
got up when the family had gone to Mass in the morning. All through
the day the kitchen was crowded, and I saw that if I went to bed that
night I should not have the opportunity of getting up again until the
family went to Mass on the following Sunday. So I paid the woman five
francs for my lodging and started out in pursuit of another. I managed
to find a room in another little farmhouse, somewhat larger and
cleaner. My room was a small one and had an earth floor. The ceiling
was so low that I could touch the beams with my head when I stood on
my toes. But in it were two enormous double beds, a table and a chair.
What more could one want? A large cupboard full of straw furnished a
billet for Murdoch and he was allowed to do my simple cooking on the
family stove.

Small as my billet was, I was able on one occasion to take in and  (p. 045)
house three officers of the Leicesters, who arrived one night in
preparation for the battle of Neuve Chapelle. I also stowed away a
sergeant in the cupboard with Murdoch. My three guests were very
hungry and very tired and enjoyed a good sleep in the ponderous beds.
I saw a photo of one of the lads afterwards in the Roll of Honour page
of the "Graphic," and I remembered the delightful talk I had had with
him during his visit.

At that time we were all very much interested in a large fifteen-inch
howitzer, which had been placed behind a farmhouse, fast crumbling
into ruins. It was distant two fields from my abode. To our simple
minds, it seemed that the war would soon come to an end when the
Germans heard that such weapons were being turned against them. We
were informed too, that three other guns of the same make and calibre
were being brought to France. The gun was the invention of a retired
admiral who lived in a farmhouse nearby and who, when it was loaded,
fired it off by pressing an electric button. The officer in charge of
the gun was very pleasant and several times took me in his car to
interesting places. I went with him to Laventie on the day of the
battle of Neuve Chapelle, and saw for the first time the effects of an
attack and the wounded being brought back in ambulances.

There was one large barn not far off full of beautiful yellow straw
which held several hundred men. I had a service in it one night. The
atmosphere was smoky and mysterious, and the hundreds of little
candles propped up on mess-tins over the straw, looked like a special
illumination. A large heap of straw at the end of the barn served as a
platform, and in lieu of an organ I had a mandolin player to start the
hymns. The service went very well, the men joining in heartily.

The night before the battle of Neuve Chapelle, I went over to see the
captain in charge of the big gun, and he showed me the orders for the
next day, issued by the British General. He told me that at seven
o'clock it would be "Hell let loose", all down the line. Next morning
I woke up before seven, and blocked up my ears so that I should not be
deafened by the noise of artillery. But for some reason or other the
plans had been changed and I was quite disappointed that the Germans
did not get the hammering it was intended to give them. We were on the
left of the British line during the battle of Neuve Chapelle, and
were not really in the fight. The British suffered very heavily    (p. 046)
and did not meet with the success which they had hoped for.

My son was wounded in this engagement and was sent out with the loss
of an eye. On returning from seeing him put into a hospital train at
Merville, I was held up for some hours in the darkness by the British
Cavalry streaming past in a long line. I was delighted to see them for
I thought we had broken through. On the next day to our great
disappointment we saw them going back again.

Near Canadian Headquarters at Sailly there was a large steam laundry
which was used as a bath for our men. It was a godsend to them, for
the scarcity of water made cleanliness difficult. The laundry during
bath hours was a curious spectacle. Scores of large cauldrons of
steaming water covered the floor. In each sat a man with only his head
and shoulders showing, looking as if he were being boiled to death. In
the mists of the heated atmosphere and in the dim light of candles,
one was reminded of Dore's illustrations of Dante's Inferno. In one of
them he represents a certain type of sinner as being tormented forever
in boiling water.

We had now finished our time in this part of the line and the Division
was ordered back for a rest. The General was troubled about my
transportation as I had no horse, but I quoted my favourite text, "The
Lord will provide." It made him quite angry when I quoted the text,
and he told me that we were engaged in a big war and could not take
things so casually. When, however, he had seen me on various occasions
picked up by stray motor cars and lorries and get to our destination
before he did, he began to think there was more in the text than he
had imagined. I was accused of helping Providence unduly by base
subterfuges such as standing in the middle of a road and compelling
the motor to stop until I got in. I considered that my being able to
stop the car was really a part of the providing. In fact I found that,
if one only had courage to stand long enough in the middle of the road
without moving, almost any car, were it that of a private or a general,
would come to a standstill. It was only a natural thing, when the car
had stopped, to go to the occupants and say, "I know the Lord has sent
you for the purpose of giving me a lift." It was quite a natural
consequence of this for me to be taken in. One day at Estaires I tried
to commandeer a fine car standing in the square, but desisted when I
was informed by the driver that it was the private property of the (p. 047)
Prince of Wales. I am sure that if the Prince had been there to hear the
text, he would have driven me anywhere I wanted to go.

On the present occasion, I had not gone far down the road before a car
picked me up and took me on my way--an incident which I narrated to
the General afterwards with intense satisfaction.




CHAPTER V.                                                         (p. 048)

BEFORE THE STORM.

_March to April, 1915._


Our rest-time at Estaires at the end of March was a delightful period
of good fellowship. The beautiful early spring was beginning to assert
its power over nature. The grass was green. The trees and hedgerows
were full of sap and the buds ready to burst into new life. As one
walked down the roads in the bright sunshine, and smelt the fresh
winds bearing the scent of springtime, an exquisite feeling of delight
filled the soul. Birds were singing in the sky, and it was pitiful to
think that any other thoughts but those of rapture at the joy of
living should ever cross the mind.

A sergeant found me a comfortable billet in a house near the Church. A
dear old man and his two venerable daughters were the only occupants.
Like all the French people we met, their little home was to them a
source of endless joy. Everything was bright and clean, and they took
great pleasure in showing off its beauties. There was a large room
with glass roof and sides, like a conservatory. On the wall was the
fresco of a landscape, drawn by some strolling artist, which gave my
hosts infinite delight. There was a river flowing out of some very
green woods, with a brilliant blue sky overhead. We used to sit on
chairs opposite and discuss the woodland scene, and I must say it
brought back memories to me of many a Canadian brook and the charming
home life of Canadian woods, from which, as it seemed then, we were
likely to be cut off forever.

The Bishop of London paid a visit to our men, and addressed them from
the steps of the Town Hall in the Grande Place. The officers and men
were charmed with his personality.

It was a joy to me that we were to spend Easter at such a convenient
place. On Good Friday afternoon we had a voluntary service in front of
the Town Hall. It seemed very fitting that these men who had come in
the spirit of self-sacrifice, should be invited to contemplate, for at
least an hour, the great world sacrifice of Calvary. A table was
brought out from an estaminet nearby and placed in front of the steps.
I mounted on this and so was able to address the crowd which soon  (p. 049)
assembled there. We sang some of the Good Friday hymns, "When I survey
the wondrous Cross", and "Jesu, Lover of my Soul." There must have
been several hundred present. I remember specially the faces of
several who were themselves called upon within a few weeks to make the
supreme sacrifice. Like almost all other religious services at the
front, this one had to struggle with the exigencies of war. A stream
of lorries at the side of the Grande Place and the noisy motor cycles
of despatch riders made an accompaniment to the address which rendered
both speaking and hearing difficult.

Easter Day rose bright and clear. I had a hall situated down a narrow
lane, which had been used as a cinema. There was a platform at one end
and facing it, rows of benches. On the platform I arranged the altar,
with the silk Union Jack as a frontal and with cross and lighted
candles for ornaments. It looked bright and church-like amid the
sordid surroundings. We had several celebrations of the Holy
Communion, the first being at six a.m. A large number of officers and
men came to perform their Easter duties. A strange solemnity
prevailed. It was the first Easter spent away from home; it was the
last Easter that most of those gallant young souls spent on earth. The
other chaplains had equally large attendances. We sang the Easter hymn
at each service, and the music more than anything else carried us back
to the days that were.

But our stay in Estaires was only for a time, and soon orders came
that we were to move. On April 7th, a bright and lovely spring morning,
the whole Division began its fateful journey to Ypres and marched off
to Cassel, about thirty miles behind the Salient. The men were in good
spirits, and by this time were becoming accustomed to the pave roads.
We passed through Caestre, where I saw my old friends, the Mayor and
Mayoress. That afternoon I was taken by two British officers to the
little hotel in Cassel for luncheon. The extensive view over the
country from the windows reminded me of dear old Quebec. After luncheon
my friends motored me to Ypres. The city at that time had not been
heavily shelled, except the Cloth Hall and Cathedral. The shops around
the square were still carrying on their business and people there were
selling post-cards and other small articles. We went into the
Cathedral, which had been badly damaged. The roof was more or less
intact and the altar and pulpit in their places. I saw what an     (p. 050)
impressive place it must have been. The Cloth Hall had been burnt, but
the beautiful stone facade was still undamaged. A fire engine and
horses were quartered under the central tower. There was a quiet air
of light and beauty in the quaint old buildings that suggested the
mediaeval prosperity of the city. Behind the better class of houses
there were the usual gardens, laid out with taste, and often containing
fountains and rustic bridges. The French and the Belgians delighted in
striving to make a landscape garden in the small area at their
command.

I shall always be thankful that I had the opportunity of paying this
visit to Ypres while it still retained vestiges of its former beauty.
Dark and hideous dreams of drives on ambulances in the midnight hours
haunt me now when the name of Ypres is mentioned. I hear the rattle of
lorries and motorcycles and the tramp of horses on the cobblestones.
The grim ruins on either side of the road stand out hard and sombre in
the dim light of the starry sky. There is the passing of innumerable
men and the danger of the traffic-crowded streets. But Ypres, as I saw
it then, was full of beauty touched with the sadness of the coming
ruin.

In the afternoon, I motored back to our brigade on the outskirts of
Cassel. After dinner I started off to find my new billet. As usual I
lost my way. I went off down the country roads. The farms were silent
and dark. There was no one to tell me where my battalion was. I must
have gone a long distance in the many detours I made. The country was
still a place of mystery to me, and "The little owls that hoot and
call" seemed to be the voice of the night itself. The roads were
winding and lonely and the air was full of the pleasant odours of the
spring fields. It was getting very late and I despaired of finding a
roof under which to spend the night. I determined to walk back to the
nearest village. As I had marched with the men that day all the way
from Estaires, a distance of about twenty miles, I was quite
reasonably tired and anxious to get a bed. I got back to the main road
which leads to St. Sylvestre. On approaching the little village I was
halted by a British sentry who was mounting guard over a line of Army
Service Corps lorries. I went on and encountered more sentries till I
stood in the town itself and made my difficulty known to a soldier who
was passing. I asked him if he knew where I could get a lodging    (p. 051)
for the night. He told me that some officers had their headquarters in
the Cure's house, and that if I were to knock at the door, very
probably I could find a room in which to stay. I went to the house
which was pointed out to me and knocked. There was a light in a window
upstairs so I knew that my knocking would be heard. Presently a voice
called out from the hollow passage and asked me to open the door and
come in. I did so, and in the dim light saw at the end of the hall a
white figure which was barely distinguishable and which I took to be
the individual who had spoken to me. Consequently I addressed my
conversation to it. The shadowy form asked me what I wanted and I
explained that I had lost my way and asked where the headquarters of
my battalion were. The being replied that it did not know but invited
me to come in and spend the night. At that moment somebody from the
upstairs region came with an electric torch, and the light lit up the
empty hall. To my surprise I found that I had been addressing my
conversation to the life-sized statue of some saint which was standing
on a pedestal at the foot of the stairs. I rather mystified my host by
saying that I had been talking to the image in the hall. However, in
spite of this, he asked me to come upstairs where he would give me a
bed. By this time several of the British officers who occupied the
upper flat had become interested in the arrival of the midnight
visitor, and were looking over the bannisters. I can remember feeling
that my only chance of receiving hospitality depended on my presenting
a respectable appearance. I was on my best behaviour. It was greatly
to my confusion, therefore, as I walked upstairs under the inspection
of those of the upper flat, that I stumbled on the narrow steps. In
order to reassure my would-be friends, I called out, "Don't be
alarmed, I am a chaplain and a teetotaller". They burst out laughing
and on my arrival at the top greeted me very heartily. I was taken
into a long bedroom where there were five beds in a row, one of which
was assigned to me. Not only was I given a bed, but one of their
servants went and brought me a hot-cross bun and a glass of milk. In
return for such wholehearted and magnificent hospitality, I sat on the
edge of the bed and recited poems to my hosts, who at that hour of the
morning were not averse to anything which might be conducive to sleep.
On the next day I was made an honorary member of their mess. I should
like to bear testimony here to the extraordinary cordiality and    (p. 052)
kind hospitality which was always shown to us by British officers.

Later on in the day, I found the 13th Battalion just a few miles
outside Cassel at a place called Terdeghem. It was a quaint little
village with an interesting church. I got a billet in a farmhouse. It
was a curious building of brick and stood on the road where a little
gate opened into a delightful garden, full of old-fashioned flowers.
My room was reached by a flight of steps from the kitchen and was very
comfortable. I disliked, however, the heavy fluffy bed. Murdoch
MacDonald used to sleep in the kitchen.

There were some charming walks around Terdeghem. One which I liked to
take led to a very old and picturesque chateau, surrounded by a moat.
I was immensely impressed with the rows of high trees on which the
rooks built their noisy cities. Sometimes a double line of these trees,
like an avenue, would stretch across a field. Often, as I have walked
home in the dark after parish visiting, I have stood between the long
rows of trees and listened to the wind sighing through their bare
branches and looked up at the stars that "were tangled in them". Then
the dread mystery of war and fate and destruction would come over me.
It was a relief to think how comfortable and unconcerned the rooks
were in their nests with their children about them in bed. They had
wings too wherewith to fly away and be at rest.

Cassel was used at that time by the French Army, so we were excluded
from it unless we had a special permit. It was a delightful old town,
and from its commanding position on a rock has been used as a fortress
more or less since the days of Julius Caesar. The Grand Place is
delightful and quaint. From it, through various archways, one looks
down upon the rich verdure of the fields that stretch far off into the
distance.

We had a parade of our four battalions one day, when General
Smith-Dorrien came to inspect us. The place chosen was a green slope
not far from the entrance to the town. The General reviewed the men,
and then gave a talk to the officers. As far as I can recollect, he
was most sanguine about the speedy termination of the war. He told us
that all we had to do was to keep worrying the Germans, and that the
final crushing stroke would be given on the east by the Russians. He
also told us that to us was assigned the place of honour on the extreme
left of the British line next to the French Colonial troops. I     (p. 053)
overheard an irreverent officer near me say, "Damn the place of honour",
and I thought of Sam Hughes and his warning about not objecting to
swearing. The General, whom I had met before, asked me to walk with
him up to his car and then said, "I have had reports about the
Canadian Artillery, and I am delighted at their efficiency. I have
also heard the best accounts of the Infantry, but do you think, in the
event of a sudden onslaught by the Germans, that the Canadians will
hold their ground? They are untried troops." I told him that I was
sure that one thing the Canadians would do would be to hold on. Before
a fortnight had passed, in the awful struggle near Langemarcke, the
Canadians proved their ability to hold their ground.

Shortly after the General's visit we were ordered to move, and by some
oversight on Murdoch MacDonald's part, my kit was not ready in time to
be taken by the Brigade transport. In consequence, to my dismay, I saw
the men march off from Terdeghem to parts unknown, and found myself
seated on my kit by the wayside with no apparent hope of following. I
administered a rebuke to Murdoch as sternly as was consistent with the
position of a chaplain, and then asked him to see if he could find any
sort of vehicle at all to carry my stuff off in the direction towards
which the battalion had marched. I must say I felt very lonely and a
"bit out of it", as I sat by the wayside wondering if I had lost the
Brigade for good. In the meantime, Murdoch scoured the village for a
horse and carriage. Suddenly, to my surprise, a despatch rider on a
motorcycle came down the road and stopped and asked me if I knew where
Canon Scott was. I said, "I'm the man", and he handed me a letter. It
turned out to be one from General Smith-Dorrien, asking me to allow
him to send a poem which I had written, called "On the Rue du Bois" to
"The Times." It was such a kind friendly letter that at once it
dispelled my sense of loneliness, and when Murdoch arrived and told me
that there was not a horse in the place at my disposal, I replied that
I did not mind so much now since I had the British General for a friend.
I left Murdoch to guard my goods and chattels and went off myself down
the road to the old Chateau and farmhouse. There I was lucky enough to
obtain a cart with three wheels. It was an extremely long and heavily
built vehicle and looked as if it dated from the 17th century. The
horse that was put into it looked as if it had been born about the
same period. The old man who held the solitary rein and sat over   (p. 054)
the third wheel under the bow looked to be of almost equal antiquity.
It must have been about thirty feet from the tip of the old horse's
nose to the end of the cart. However I was glad to get any means of
transportation at all, so I followed the thing to the road where my
kit was waiting, Murdoch MacDonald put all my worldly possessions on
the equipage. They seemed to occupy very little room in the huge
structure. Murdoch, shouldering his rifle, followed it, and I, rather
ashamed of the grotesque appearance of my caravan, marched on as
quickly as I could in front, hoping to escape the ridicule which I
knew would be heaped upon me by all ranks of my beloved brigade. A man
we met told us that the battalion had gone to Steenvoorde, so thither
we made our way. On our arrival I was taken to the Chateau and kindly
treated by the laird and his family, who allowed me to spread out my
bed-roll on the dining room floor.

On the following morning an Imperial officer very kindly took me and
my kit to Ypres. There at the end of Yser Canal, I found a pleasant
billet in a large house belonging to a Mr. Vandervyver, who, with his
mother, gave me a kind reception and a most comfortably furnished
room. Later on, the units of our brigade arrived and I marched up with
the 14th Battalion to the village of Wieltje. Over it, though we knew
it not, hung the gloom of impending tragedy. Around it now cluster
memories of the bitter price in blood and anguish which we were soon
called upon to pay for the overthrow of tyranny. It was a lovely
spring evening when we arrived, and the men were able to sit down on
the green grass and have their supper before going into the trenches
by St. Julien. I walked back down that memorable road which two years
later I travelled for the last time on my return from Paschendaele.
The great sunset lit the sky with beautiful colours. The rows of trees
along that fateful way were ready to burst into new life. The air was
fresh and invigorating. To the south, lay the hill which is known to
the world as Hill 60, afterwards the scene of such bitter fighting.
Before me in the distance, soft and mellow in the evening light, rose
the towers and spires of Ypres--Ypres! the very name sends a strange
thrill through the heart. For all time, the word will stand as a
symbol for brutal assaults and ruthless destruction on the one hand
and heroic resolve and dogged resistance on the other. On any grim
monument raised to the Demon of War, the sole word "YPRES" would be a
sufficient and fitting inscription.




CHAPTER VI.                                                        (p. 055)

THE SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES.

_April 22nd, 1915._


Behind my house at Ypres there was an old-fashioned garden which was
attended to very carefully by my landlady. A summerhouse gave a fine
view of the waters of the Yser Canal, which was there quite wide. It
was nice to see again a good-sized body of water, for the little
streams often dignified by the name of rivers did not satisfy the
Canadian ideas as to what rivers should be. A battalion was quartered
in a large brick building several stories high on the east side of the
canal. There was consequently much stir of life at that point, and
from my summerhouse on the wall I could talk to the men passing by. My
billet was filled with a lot of heavy furniture which was prized very
highly by its owners. Madame told me that she had buried twelve
valuable clocks in the garden in case of a German advance. She also
told me that her grandfather had seen from the windows the British
going to the battle of Waterloo. She had both a piano and a harmonium,
and took great pleasure in playing some of the hymns in our Canadian
hymn book. I was so comfortable that I hoped our residence at Ypres
might be of long duration. At night, however, desultory shells fell
into the city. We could hear them ripping along with a sound like a
trolley on a track, and then there would be a fearful crash. One night
when returning from Brigade Headquarters near Wieltje, I saw a
magnificent display of fireworks to the South. I afterwards heard that
it was the night the British attacked Hill 60.

On Sunday, the 18th of April, I had a service for the 15th Battalion
in one of the stories of the brick building beside the canal.
Something told me that big things were going to happen. I had a
feeling that we were resting on the top of a volcano. At the end of
the service I prepared for any sudden call to ministration on the
battlefield by reserving the Blessed Sacrament.

On Monday some men had narrow escapes when a house was shelled and on
the following day I went to the centre of the town with two officers
to see the house which had been hit. They appeared to be in a hurry to
get to the Square, so I went up one of the side streets to look    (p. 056)
at the damaged house. In a cellar near by I found an old woman making
lace. Her hunchback son was sitting beside her. While I was making a
few purchases, we heard the ripping sound of an approaching shell. It
grew louder, till at last a terrific crash told us that the monster
had fallen not far off. At that moment a number of people crowded into
an adjoining cellar, where they fell on their knees and began to say a
litany. I stood at the door looking at them. It was a pitiful sight.
There were one or two old men and some women, and some little children
and a young girl who was in hysterics. They seemed so helpless, so
defenceless against the rain of shells.

I went off down the street towards the Square where the last shell had
fallen, and there on the corner I saw a large house absolutely crushed
in. It had formerly been a club, for there were billiard tables in the
upper room. The front wall had crashed down upon the pavement, and from
the debris some men were digging out the body of an officer who had
been standing there when the shell fell. His was the first terribly
mangled body that I had ever seen. He was laid face downwards on a
stretcher and borne away. At that moment a soldier came up and told me
that one of the officers with whom I had entered the town about half
an hour ago had been killed, and his body had been taken to a British
ambulance in the city. I walked across the Square, and there I saw the
stretcher-bearers carrying off some civilians who had been hit by
splinters of the shell. In the hospital were many dead bodies and
wounded men for there had been over one hundred casualties in the city
that day. We had hardly arrived when once again we heard the ripping
sound which had such a sinister meaning. Then followed a terrific
explosion. The final and dreadful bombardment of Ypres had begun. At
intervals of ten minutes the huge seventeen-inch shells fell, sounding
the death knell of the beautiful old town.

On the next morning, the brother-in-law of the officer who had been
killed called on me and asked me to go and see the Town Major and
secure a piece of ground which might be used for the Canadian Cemetery.
The Town Major gave us permission to mark off a plot in the new
British cemetery. It was in an open field near the jail, known by the
name of the Plain d'Amour, and by it was a branch canal. Our Headquarters
ordered the Engineers to mark off the place, and that night we laid the
body to rest.

The following morning was Thursday, the memorable 22nd of April.   (p. 057)
The day was bright and beautiful. After burying another man in the
Canadian lot, I went off to have lunch and write some letters in my
billet. In the afternoon one of the 16th Battalion came in and asked
me to have a celebration of the Holy Communion on the following morning,
as some of the men would like to attend. I asked him to stay to tea
and amuse himself till I had finished my letters. While I was writing
I heard the ripping sound of an approaching shell, quickly followed by
a tremendous crash. Some building quite close by had evidently been
struck. I put on my cap and went out, when the landlady followed me
and said, "I hope you are not going into the town." "I am just going
to see where the shell has struck", I replied, "and will come back
immediately." I never saw her again. As I went up the street I saw the
shell had hit a large building which had been used as a hospital. The
smoke from the shell was still rolling up into the clear sky. Thinking
my services might be needed in helping to remove the patients, I started
off in the direction of the building. There I was joined by a
stretcher-bearer and we went through the gate into the large garden
where we saw the still smoking hole in the ground which the shell had
made. I remember that, as I looked into it, I had the same sort of
eerie feeling which I had experienced when looking down the crater of
Vesuvius. There was something uncanny about the arrival of shells out
of the clear sky. They seemed to be things supernatural. The holes
made by the seventeen inch shells with which Ypres was assailed were
monstrous in size. The engineers had measured one in a field; it was
no less than thirty-nine feet across and fifteen feet deep. The
stretcher-bearer who was with me said as he looked at this one, "You
could put three ambulances into it." We had not contemplated the scene
very long before once again there was the ripping sound and a huge
explosion, and we found ourselves lying on the ground. Whether we had
thrown ourselves down or had been blown down I could not make out. We
got up and the man went back to his ambulance and I went into the
building to see if I could help in getting out the wounded. The place
I entered was a large chapel and had been used as a ward. There were
rows of neat beds on each side, but not a living soul was to be seen.
It seemed so ghostly and mysterious that I called out, "Is anyone here?"
There was no reply. I went down to the end of the chapel and from  (p. 058)
thence into a courtyard, where a Belgian told me that a number of
people were in a cellar at the other end of a glass passage. I walked
down the passage to go to the cellar, when once again there was the
ominous ripping sound and a shell burst and all the glass was blown
about my ears. An old man in a dazed condition came from the cellar at
the end of the passage and told me that all the people had gone. I was
helping him across the courtyard towards a gateway when a man came in
from the street and took the old fellow on his back and carried him
off. By the gateway was a room used as a guardroom. There I found a
sentry with three or four Imperials. One of the lads had lost his
nerve and was lying under a wooden bench. I tried to cheer them by
telling them it was very unlikely that any more shells would come in
our direction. I remembered reading in one of Marryatt's books that an
officer in the Navy declared he had saved his life by always sticking
his head into the hole in the ship which a cannon ball had made, as it
was a million chances to one against another cannon ball striking that
particular place. Still, at regular intervals, we heard the ripping
sound and the huge explosion of a shell. Later on, two members of the
14th Battalion came in, and a woman and a little boy carrying milk. We
did our best to restore the lady's courage and hoped that the
bombardment would soon cease.

It was about seven p.m., when all of a sudden, we heard the roar of
transports and the shouting of people in the street, and I went out to
see what was the matter. To my horror I saw a battery of artillery
galloping into the town. Civilians were rushing down the pavements on
each side of the road, and had even filled the limbers. I called out
to one of the drivers and asked him what it meant. "It is a general
retreat", he shouted. "The Germans are on our heels." "Where are the
infantry?" I called out. "They have all gone." That was one of the
most awful moments in my life. I said to myself, "Has old England lost
the War after all?" My mouth became suddenly dry as though filled with
ashes. A young fellow on horseback stopped and, dismounting, very
gallantly said, "Here, Sir, take my horse." "No thank you," I said,
but I was grateful to him all the same for his self-sacrifice. I
returned to the guardroom and told the sentries what had happened. The
lady and the young boy disappeared and the men and I debated as to
what we should do. The words, "The Germans are on our heels",      (p. 059)
were still ringing in my ears. I did not quite know what they signified.
Whether they meant in military language that the Germans were ten miles
away or were really round the next corner, I did not know, but I took
the precaution of looking up the street before entering the gateway. On
talking the matter over, the men and I thought it might be the part of
discretion to make our way down past the Railway Station to the
Vlamertinghe road, as none of us wanted to be taken prisoners. We
therefore went down some side streets and crossed the bridge on the
road that leads to Vlamertinghe. There I found an ammunition column
hurrying out of the town, and the man riding one of the horses on a
limber invited me to mount the other, which was saddled. It is so
long, however, since I left the circus ring that I cannot mount a
galloping horse unless I put my foot into the stirrup. So after two or
three ineffectual attempts at a running mount, I climbed up into the
limber and asked the driver if it was a general retreat. "No", he
said, "I don't think so, only the Germans are close at hand and we
were ordered to put the ammunition column further off." "Well", I
said, "If it isn't a general retreat, I must go back to my lines or I
shall be shot for desertion." I got off the limber and out of the
crowd of people, and was making my way back, when I saw a car with a
staff officer in it coming up in the direction of the City. I stopped
the car and asked the officer if he would give me a ride back to
Ypres. When I got in, I said to him quite innocently, "Is this a
general retreat?" His nerves were evidently on edge, and he turned on
me fiercely, saying, "Padre, never use such a word out here. That word
must never be mentioned at the front." I replied, in excuse, that I
had been told it was a retreat by a battery that was coming back from
the front. "Padre," he continued, "that word must never be used." I am
not sure that he did not enforce his commands by some strong
theological terms. "Padre, that word must never be used out here."
"Well," I said, "this is the first war I have ever been at, and if I
can arrange matters it is the last, but I promise you I will never use
it again." Not the least flicker of a smile passed over his face. Of
course, as time went on and I advanced in military knowledge, I came
to know the way in which my question ought to have been phrased.
Instead of saying, "Is this a general retreat?", I ought to have said,
"Are we straightening the line?" or "Are we pinching the Salient?" We
went on till we came to a general who was standing by the road     (p. 060)
waiting to "straighten the line". I got out of the car and asked him
where I should go. He seemed to be in a great hurry and said gruffly,
"You had better go back to your lines." I did not know where they
were, but I determined to go in their direction. The general got into
the car which turned round and made off towards Vlamertinghe, and I,
after a long and envious look in his direction, continued my return to
Ypres.

People were still pouring out of the City. I recrossed the bridge, and
making my way towards the cemetery, met two men of one of our
battalions who were going back. I handed them each a card with my
address on it and asked them, in case of my being taken prisoner, to
write and tell my family that I was in good health and that my kit was
at Mr. Vandervyver's on the Quai. The short cut to my billet led past
the quiet cemetery where our two comrades had been laid to rest. It
seemed so peaceful that I could not help envying them that their race
was won.

It was dark now, but a bright moon was shining and lit up the waters
of the branch canal as I walked along the bank towards my home. The
sound of firing at the front was continuous and showed that a great
battle was raging. I went by the house where the C.O. of the 16th
Battalion had had his headquarters as I passed that afternoon. It was
now quite deserted and the windows in it and in the houses round the
square were all shattered. Not a living thing could I see. I walked
across to my billet and found the shutters of the house closed. On the
table where my letters were, a smoky oil lamp was burning. Not a human
being was there. I never felt so lonely in my life, and those words,
"The Germans are on our heels", still kept ringing in my ears. I took
the lamp and went upstairs to my room. I was determined that the
Germans should not get possession of the photographs of my family. I
put them in my pocket, and over my shoulder the pair of glasses which
the Bishop and clergy of Quebec had given me on my departure. I also
hung round my neck the pyx containing the Blessed Sacrament, then I
went out on the street, not knowing what way to take. To my infinite
delight, some men came marching up in the moonlight from the end of
the canal. I recognized them as the 16th Battalion, Canadian Scottish,
and I called out, "Where are you going, boys?" The reply came glad and
cheerful. "We are going to reinforce the line, Sir, the Germans have
broken through." "That's all right, boys", I said, "play the game. I
will go with you." Never before was I more glad to meet human      (p. 061)
beings. The splendid battalion marched up through the streets towards
St. Jean. The men wore their overcoats and full kits. I passed up and
down the battalion talking to officers and men. As I was marching
beside them, a sergeant called out to me, "Where are we going, Sir?"
"That depends upon the lives you have led." A roar of laughter went up
from the men. If I had known how near the truth my words were, I
probably would not have said them. When we got to St. Jean, a sergeant
told me that the 14th Battalion was holding the line. The news was
received gladly, and the men were eager to go forward and share the
glory of their comrades. Later on, as I was marching in front of the
battalion a man of the 15th met us. He was in a state of great
excitement, and said, "The men are poisoned, Sir, the Germans have
turned on gas and our men are dying." I said to him very sternly,
"Now, my boy, not another word about that here." "But it's true, Sir."
"Well, that may be, but these men have got to go there all the same,
and the gas may have gone before they arrive, so promise me not
another word about the poison." He gave me his promise and when I met
him a month afterwards in Bailleul he told me he had never said a word
about the gas to any of the men that night.

We passed through Weiltje where all was stir and commotion, and the
dressing stations were already full, and then we deployed into the
fields on a rise in the ground near St. Julien. By this time, our men
had become aware of the gas, because, although the German attack had
been made a good many hours before, the poisonous fumes still clung
about the fields and made us cough. Our men were halted along the
field and sat down waiting for orders. The crack of thousands of
rifles and the savage roar of artillery were incessant, and the German
flare-lights round the salient appeared to encircle us. There was a
hurried consultation of officers and then the orders were given to the
different companies. An officer who was killed that night came down
and told us that the Germans were in the wood which we could see
before us at some distance in the moonlight, and that a house from
which we saw gleams of light was held by German machine guns. The men
were told that they had to take the wood at the point of the bayonet
and were not to fire, as the 10th Battalion would be in front of them.
I passed down the line and told them that they had a chance to do a
bigger thing for Canada that night than had ever been done before. (p. 062)
"It's a great day for Canada, boys." I said. The words afterwards
became a watchword, for the men said that whenever I told them that,
it meant that half of them were going to be killed. The battalion rose
and fixed bayonets and stood ready for the command to charge. It was a
thrilling moment, for we were in the midst of one of the decisive
battles of the war. A shrapnel burst just as the men moved off and a
man dropped in the rear rank. I went over to him and found he was
bleeding in the neck. I bound him up and then taking his kit, which he
was loath to lose, was helping him to walk towards the dressing
station when I saw what I thought were sandbags in the moonlight. I
called out, "Is anybody there?" A voice replied, "Yes, Sir, there is a
dying man here." I went over and there I found two stretcher-bearers
beside a young fellow called Duffy, who was unconscious. He had been
struck by a piece of shrapnel in the head and his brain was protruding.
Duffy was a well-known athlete and had won the Marathon race. We tried
to lift him, but with his equipment on he was too heavy, so I sent off
the wounded man to Wieltje with one of the stretcher-bearers who was
to return with a bearer party. The other one and I watched by Duffy.
It was an awful and wonderful time. Our field batteries never slackened
their fire and the wood echoed back the crackling sound of the guns.
The flare lights all round gave a lurid background to the scene. At
the foot of the long slope, down which the brave lads had gone to the
attack, I saw the black outline of the trees. Over all fell the soft
light of the moon. A great storm of emotion swept through me and I
prayed for our men in their awful charge, for I knew that the Angel of
Death was passing down our lines that night. When the bearer party
arrived, we lifted Duffy on to the stretcher, and the men handed me
their rifles and we moved off. I hung the rifles on my shoulder, and I
thought if one of them goes off and blows my brains out, there will be
a little paragraph in the Canadian papers, "Canon Scott accidentally
killed by the discharge of a rifle," and my friends will say, "What a
fool he was to fuss about rifles, why didn't he stick to his own job?"
However, they were Ross rifles and had probably jammed. There were
many wounded being carried or making their way towards Wieltje. The
road was under shell fire all the way. When we got to the dressing
station which was a small red-brick estaminet, we were confronted by a
horrible sight. On the pavement before it were rows and rows of    (p. 063)
stretcher cases, and inside the place, which was dimly lighted by
candles and lamps, I found the doctor and his staff working away like
Trojans. The operating room was a veritable shambles. The doctor had
his shirt sleeves rolled up and his hands and arms were covered with
blood.

The wounded were brought in from outside and laid on the table, where
the doctor attended to them. Some ghastly sights were disclosed when
the stretcher-bearers ripped off the blood-stained clothes and laid
bare the hideous wounds. At the end of the room, an old woman, with a
face like the witch of Endor, apparently quite unmoved by anything
that was happening, was grinding coffee in a mill and making a black
concoction which she sold to the men. It was no doubt a good thing for
them to get a little stimulant. In another room the floor was covered
with wounded waiting to be evacuated. There were many Turcos present.
Some of them were suffering terribly from the effects of the gas.
Fresh cases were being brought down the road every moment, and laid
out on the cold pavement till they could be attended to.

About two in the morning a despatch rider arrived and meeting me at
the door asked if I could speak French. He said, "Tell the Turcos and
every one else who can walk to clear off to Ypres as soon as they can;
the Germans are close at hand." Indeed it sounded so, because the rifle
fire was very close. I went into the room and delivered my message, in
French and English, to the wounded men. Immediately there was a general
stampede of all who could possibly drag themselves towards the city.
It was indeed a piteous procession which passed out of the door.
Turcos with heads bandaged, or arms bound up or one leg limping, and
our own men equally disabled, helped one another down that terrible
road towards the City. Soon all the people who could walk had gone.
But there in the room, and along the pavement outside, lay helpless
men. I went to the M.O. and asked him what we were to do with the
stretcher cases. "Well" he said, "I suppose we shall have to leave
them because all the ambulances have gone." "How can we desert them?"
I said. The Medical Officer was of course bound by orders to go back
with his men but I myself felt quite free in the matter, so I said, "I
will stay and be made prisoner." "Well," he said, "so will I. Possibly
I shall get into trouble for it, but I cannot leave them to the enemy
without any one to look after them." So we made a compact that we would
both stay behind and be made prisoners. I went over to another Field
Ambulance, where a former curate of mine was chaplain. They had    (p. 064)
luckily been able to evacuate their wounded and were all going off. I
told him that I should probably be made a prisoner that night, but
asked him to cable home and tell my family that I was in good health
and that the Germans treated chaplains, when they took them prisoners,
very kindly. Then I made my way back. There was a tremendous noise of
guns now at the front. It was a horrible thought that our men were up
there bearing the brunt of German fury and hatred. Their faces passed
through my mind as individuals were recalled. The men whom I knew so
well, young, strong and full of hope and life, men from whom Canada
had so much to expect, men whose lives were so precious to dear ones
far away, were now up in that poisoned atmosphere and under the
hideous hail of bullets and shells. The thought almost drove a
chaplain to madness. One felt so powerless and longed to be up and
doing. Not once or twice in the Great War, have I longed to be a
combatant officer with enemy scalps to my credit. Our men had been
absolutely guiltless of war ambitions. It was not their fault that
they were over here. That the Kaiser's insatiable, mad lust for power
should be able to launch destruction upon Canadian hearts and homes
was intolerable. I looked down the Ypres road, and there, to my
horror, saw the lovely City lit up with flames. The smoke rolled up
into the moonlit sky, and behind the dull glow of the fires I saw the
Cloth Hall tower stand out in bold defiance. There was nothing for us
to do then and for nearly four years more but keep our heads cool, set
our teeth and deepen our resolve.

The dressing station had received more stretcher cases, and still more
were coming in. The Medical Officer and his staff were working most
heroically. I told him I had given instructions about cabling home
should I be taken prisoner, and then I suddenly remembered that I had
a scathing poem on the Kaiser in my pocket. I had written it in the
quiet beauties of Beaupre, below Quebec, when the war first began.
When I wrote it, I was told that if I were ever taken prisoner in
Germany with that poem in my pocket, I should be shot or hanged. At
that time, the German front line seemed so far off that it was like
saying, "If you get to the moon the man there will eat you up." But
the changes and chances of war had suddenly brought me face to face
with the fact that I had resolved to be taken prisoner, and from what
I heard and saw the event was not unlikely. So I said to the M.O. "I
have just remembered that I have got in my pocket a printed copy   (p. 065)
of a very terrible poem which I wrote about the Kaiser. Of course you
know I don't mind being shot or hanged by the Germans, but, if I am,
who will write the poems of the War?" The M.O. laughed and thinking it
unwise on general principles to wave a red rag in front of a mad bull,
advised me to tear up my verses. I did so with great reluctance, but
the precaution was unnecessary as the Germans never got through after
all.

All along those terrible fields of death the battle raged. Young
Canadians, new to war, but old in the inheritance of the blood of
British freedom, were holding the line. The dressing station was soon
full again, and, later on, a despatch rider came from the 3rd Infantry
Brigade Headquarters in Shell-Trap Farm to tell us that more help was
needed there. One of the M.O.'s assistants and a sergeant started off
and I followed. We went down the road and then turned to the right up
to the moated farmhouse where the Brigade was. As we went forward
towards the battle front, the night air was sharp and bracing.
Gun-flashes lit up the horizon, but above us the moon and stars looked
quietly down. Wonderful deeds of heroism were being done by our men
along those shell-ploughed fields, under that placid sky. What they
endured, no living tongue can tell. Their Maker alone knows what they
suffered and how they died. The eloquent tribute which history will
give to their fame is that, in spite of the enemy's immense superiority
in numbers, and his brutal launching of poisonous gas, he did not get
through.

In a ditch by the wayside, a battalion was waiting to follow up the
charge. Every man among the Canadians was "on the job" that night. We
crossed the field to the farmhouse which we found filled to overflowing.
Ambulances were waiting there to carry the wounded back to Ypres. I
saw many friends carried in, and men were lying on the pavement
outside. Bullets were cracking against the outer brick walls. One
Highlander mounted guard over a wounded German prisoner. He had
captured him and was filled with the hunter's pride in his game. "I
got him myself, Sir, and I was just going to run him through with my
bayonet when he told me he had five children. As I have five children
myself, I could not kill him. So I brought him out here." I looked
down at the big prostrate German who was watching us with interest
largely rooted in fear. "Funf kinder?" (five children) "Ja, ja." I
wasn't going to be beaten by a German, so I told him I had seven   (p. 066)
children and his face fell. I found out afterwards that a great many
Germans, when they were captured, said they had five children. The
Germans I think used to be put through a sort of catechism before they
went into action, in case they should be taken prisoners. For example,
they always told us they were sure we were going to win the war. They
always said they were glad to be taken prisoners. When they were
married men, they said they had five children and so appealed to our
pity. People do not realize even yet how very thorough the Germans
were in everything that they thought was going to bring them the
mastership of the world. When a German soldier saw the game was up, he
surrendered at once and thus was preserved to fight for his country in
the next war.

In the stable of the farm, I found many seriously wounded men lying on
the straw, and I took down messages which they were sending to their
relatives at home. On the other side of the wall, we could hear the
bullets striking. As I had the Blessed Sacrament with me I was able to
give communion to a number of the wounded. By this time the grey of
approaching day began to silver the eastern sky. It was indeed a
comfort to feel that the great clockwork of the universe went on just
as if nothing was happening. Over and over again in the war the
approach of dawn has put new life into one. It was such a tremendous
and glorious thing to think that the world rolled on through space and
turned on its axis, whatever turmoil foolish people were making upon
its surface.

With the dawn came the orders to clear the wounded. The ambulances
were sent off and one of the doctors told me to come with him, as the
General had commanded the place to be cleared of all but the necessary
military staff. It was about four in the morning when we started.
There was a momentary quieting down in the firing as we crossed the
bridge over the moat, but shells were still crashing in the fields,
and through the air we heard every now and then the whistling of
bullets. We kept our heads low and were hurrying on when we encountered
a signaller with two horses, which he had to take back to the main
road. One of these he offered to me. I had not been wanting to mount
higher in the air, but I did not like the fellow to think I had got
"cold feet." So I accepted it graciously, but annoyed him very much by
insisting upon lengthening the stirrups before I mounted. He got
impatient at what he considered an unnecessary delay, but I told him I
would not ride with my knees up to my chin for all the Germans     (p. 067)
in the world. When I was mounted, we started off at a good gallop
across the fields to the Ypres road. It was an exciting ride, and I
must confess, looking back upon it, a thoroughly enjoyable one,
reminding me of old stories of battles and the Indian escapes of my
boyhood's novels. When we arrived at the main road, I had to deliver
up my horse to its owner, and then I decided to walk to Ypres, as by
so doing I could speak to the many Imperial men that were marching up
to reinforce the line. I refused many kind offers of lifts on lorries
and waggons. The British battalions were coming up and I was sorry for
them. The young fellows looked so tired and hungry. They had been in
France, I think, only twenty-four hours. At any rate, they had had a
long march, and, as it turned out, were going up, most of them, to
their death, I took great pleasure in hailing them cheerfully and
telling them that it was all right, as the Canadians had held the
line, and that the Germans were not going to get through. One sergeant
said, "You put a lot of braces in my tunic when you talk like that,
Sir." Nothing is more wonderful than the way in which men under tense
anxiety will respond to the slightest note of cheer. This was the case
all through the war. The slightest word or suggestion would often turn
a man from a feeling of powerless dejection into one of defiant
determination. These young Britishers whom I met that morning were a
splendid type of men. Later on the machine-gun fire over the fields
mowed them down in pitiful and ruthless destruction. As I journeyed
towards Ypres I saw smoke rolling up from various parts of the city
and down the road, in the air, I saw the flashes of bursting shrapnel.
I passed St. Jean and made my way to my house by the canal.

The shutters were still shut and the door was open. I entered and
found in the dining room that the lamp was still burning on the table.
It was now about seven o'clock and Mr. Vandervyver had returned and
was upstairs arranging his toilet. I went out into the garden and
called one of the sentries to tell Murdoch MacDonald to come to me.
While I was talking to the sentry, an officer came by and warned me to
get away from that corner because the Germans were likely to shell it
as it was the only road in the neighbourhood for the passage of troops
to and from the front. When Murdoch arrived, I told him I wanted to
have breakfast, for I had had nothing to eat since luncheon the day
before and had done a lot of walking. He looked surprised and      (p. 068)
said, "Fancy having breakfast when the town is being shelled." "Well,"
I said, "don't you know we always read in the papers, when a man is
hanged, that before he went out to the gallows he ate a hearty
breakfast? There must be some philosophy in it. At any rate, you might
as well die on a full stomach as an empty one." So Murdoch began to
get breakfast ready in the kitchen, where Mr. Vandervyver's maid was
already preparing a meal for her master. I shaved and had a good clean
up and was sitting in the dining room arranging the many letters and
messages which I had received from men who asked me to write to their
relatives. Breakfast had just been set on the table when I heard the
loudest bang I have ever heard in my life. A seventeen inch shell had
fallen in the corner of the garden where the sentry had been standing.
The windows of the house were blown in, the ceiling came down and soot
from the chimneys was scattered over everything. I suddenly found
myself, still in a sitting posture, some feet beyond the chair in
which I had been resting. Mr. Vandervyver ran downstairs and out into
the street with his toilet so disarranged that he looked as if he were
going to take a swim. Murdoch MacDonald disappeared and I did not see
him again for several days. A poor old woman in the street had been
hit in the head and was being taken off by a neighbour and a man was
lying in the road with a broken leg. All my papers were unfortunately
lost in the debris of the ceiling. I went upstairs and got a few more
of my remaining treasures and came back to the dining room. There I
scraped away the dust and found two boiled eggs. I got some biscuits
from the sideboard and went and filled my water-bottle with tea in the
damaged kitchen. I was just starting out of the door when another
shell hit the building on the opposite side of the street. It had been
used as a billet by some of our men. The sentry I had been talking to
had disappeared and all they could find of him were his boots with his
feet in them. In the building opposite, we found a Highlander badly
wounded and I got stretcher-bearers to come and carry him off to the
2nd Field Ambulance in the Square nearby. Their headquarters had been
moved to Vlamertinghe and they were evacuating that morning. The
civilians now had got out of the town. All sorts of carts and
wheelbarrows had been called into requisition. There were still some
wounded men in the dressing station and a sergeant was in charge. I
managed to commandeer a motor ambulance and stow them in it. Shells
were falling fast in that part of the town. It was perfectly       (p. 069)
impossible to linger any longer. A certain old inhabitant, however,
would not leave. He said he would trust to the good God and stay in
the cellar of his house till the war was over. Poor man, if he did not
change his mind, his body must be in the cellar still, for the last
time I saw the place, which henceforth was known as "Hell Fire Corner,"
there was not one stone left upon another. Only a little brick wall
remained to show where the garden and house of my landlord had been. I
collected the men of the Ambulance and started off with them to
Vlamertinghe. On the way we added to our numbers men who had either
lost their units or were being sent back from the line.

As we passed through the Grande Place, which now wore a very much more
dilapidated appearance than it had three days before, we found a
soldier on the pavement completely intoxicated. He was quite unconscious
and could not walk. There was nothing to do but to make him as
comfortable as possible till he should awake next day to the horrors
of the real world. We carried him into a room of a house and laid him
on a heap of straw. I undid the collar of his shirt so that he might
have full scope for extra blood pressure and left him to his fate. I
heard afterwards that the house was struck and that he was wounded and
taken away to a place of safety. When we got down to the bridge on the
Vlamertinghe road, an Imperial Signal Officer met me in great
distress. His men had been putting up telegraph wires on the other
side of the canal and a shell had fallen and killed thirteen of them.
He asked our men to carry the bodies back over the bridge and lay them
side by side in an outhouse. The men did so, and the row of mutilated,
twisted and bleeding forms was pitiful to see. The officer was very
grateful to us, but the bodies were probably never buried because that
part of the city was soon a ruin. We went on down the road towards
Vlamertinghe, past the big asylum, so long known as a dressing
station, with its wonderful and commodious cellars. It had been hit
and the upstairs part was no longer used.

The people along the road were leaving their homes as fast as they
could. One little procession will always stand out in my mind. In
front one small boy of about six years old was pulling a toy cart in
which two younger children were packed. Behind followed the mother
with a large bundle on her back. Then came the father with a still
bigger one. There they were trudging along, leaving their home     (p. 070)
behind with its happy memories, to go forth as penniless refugees,
compelled to live on the charity of others. It was through no fault of
their own, but only through the monstrous greed and ambition of a
despot crazed with feudal dreams of a by-gone age. As I looked at that
little procession, and at many other similar ones, the words of the
Gospel kept ringing in my ears, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one
of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." These
words I felt sounded the doom of the Kaiser. Many and many a time when
the war from our point of view has been going badly, and men would ask
me, "How about the war, Sir?" or, "Are we winning the war, Sir?" I
would reply, "Boys, unless the devil has got into heaven we are going
to win. If he has, the German Emperor will have a good friend there.
But he hasn't, and any nation which tramples on the rights and
liberties of humanity, glories in it, makes it a matter of national
boasting, and casts medals to commemorate the sinking of unprotected
ships--any nation which does that is bound to lose the war, no matter
how badly things may look at the present time." It was nothing but
that unflinching faith in the power of right which kept our men so
steadfast. Right is after all only another name for the will of God.
Men who knew no theology, who professed no creed, who even pretended
to great indifference about the venture of eternity, were unalterably
fixed in their faith in the power of right. It gives one a great
opportunity of building the higher edifice of religion when one
discovers the rock foundation in a man's convictions.

When we reached Vlamertinghe we found that a school house had been
taken over by the 2nd Field Ambulance.

There was a terrible shortage of stretchers and blankets, as most of
the equipment had been lost at Ypres. All that day and night the
furious battle raged, and many fresh British battalions passed up to
reinforce the line. As soon as it was dark, the wounded began to come
in, and by midnight the school-house was filled to overflowing. The
men were lying out in rows on the cold stone floor with nothing under
them. Ambulances were coming and going as hour after hour passed by. I
went among the sufferers, many of whom I knew. The sergeant would come
to me and tell me where the worst cases were. He whispered to me once,
"There is a dying man over here." We trod softly between the prostrate
forms till we came to one poor fellow who looked up with white face
under the candle light. I saw he was dying. He belonged to one of  (p. 071)
the British battalions that I had passed on the road. I asked him if
he would like to receive the Holy Communion. He was pleased when I
told him I could give it to him. He had been a chorister in England,
and he felt so far from the ministrations of his church now. He made
his confession and I pronounced the absolution. Then I gave him the
Blessed Sacrament. Like many severely wounded men, he was not suffering
much, but was dying of shock. We were now compelled to use the church
and it also soon became a scene of suffering. The building to-day is a
ruin, but then it had been untouched by shells and was large and
impressive. We had only a few candles with which to light it. The
wounded were laid out, some on the floor, some on chairs, and some sat
up waiting for the convoys of ambulances that were to take them to the
Base. It was a strange scene. In the distance we heard the roar of the
battle, and here, in the dim light of the hollow-sounding aisles, were
shadowy figures huddled up on chairs or lying on the floor. Once the
silence was broken by a loud voice shouting out with startling
suddenness, "O God! stop it." I went over to the man. He was a British
sergeant. He would not speak, but I think in his terrible suffering he
meant the exclamation as a kind of prayer. I thought it might help the
men to have a talk with them, so I told them what great things were
being done that night and what a noble part they had played in holding
back the German advance and how all the world would honour them in
after times. Then I said, "Boys, let us have a prayer for our comrades
up in that roar of battle at the front. When I say the Lord's Prayer
join in with me, but not too loudly as we don't want to disturb those
who are trying to sleep." I had a short service and they all joined in
the Lord's Prayer. It was most impressive in that large, dim church,
to hear the voices, not loudly, but quite distinctly, repeating the
words from different parts of the building, for some of the men had
gone over to corners where they might be by themselves. After the
Lord's Prayer I pronounced the Benediction, and then I said, "Boys,
the Cure won't mind your smoking in the church tonight, so I am going
to pass round some cigarettes." Luckily I had a box of five hundred
which had been sent to me by post. These I handed round and lit them.
Voices from different parts would say, "May I have one, Sir?" It was
really delightful to feel that a moment's comfort could be given   (p. 072)
to men in their condition. A man arrived that night with both his eyes
gone, and even he asked for a cigarette. I had to put the cigarette
into his mouth and light it for him. "It's so dark, Sir," he said, "I
can't see." I was not going to tell him he would never see again, so I
said, "Your head is all bandaged up. Of course you can't." He was one
of the first to be taken off in the ambulance, and I do not know
whether he is alive or dead. Our Canadians still held on with grim
determination, and they deserved the tribute which Marshal Foch has
paid them of saving the day at Ypres.

When they came out of the line, and I was living once again among
them, going from battalion to battalion, it was most amusing to hear
them tell of all their adventures during the great attack. The English
newspapers reached us and they were loud in their praise of "the
gallant Canadians." The King, General Joffre, and Sir Robert Borden,
sent messages to our troops. One man said, amid the laughter of his
comrades, "All I can remember, Sir, was that I was in a blooming old
funk for about three days and three nights and now I am told I am a
hero. Isn't that fine?" Certainly they deserved all the praise they
got. In a battle there is always the mixture of the serious and the
comic. One Turco, more gallant than his fellows, refused to leave the
line and joined the 16th Battalion. He fought so well that they decided
to reward him by turning him into a Highlander. He consented to don
the kilt, but would not give up his trousers as they concealed his
black legs.

The Second Battle of Ypres was the making of what grew to be the
Canadian Corps. Up to that time, Canadians were looked upon, and
looked upon themselves, merely as troops that might be expected to
hold the line and do useful spade work, but from then onward the men
felt they could rise to any emergency, and the army knew they could be
depended upon. The pace then set was followed by the other divisions
and, at the end, the Corps did not disappoint the expectations of
General Foch. What higher praise could be desired?

My billet in Vlamertinghe was in a neat little cottage owned by an old
maid, who took great pride in making everything shine. The paymaster
of one of our battalions and I had a cheerful home there when the poor
old lady fled. Her home however did not long survive her absence, for,
some days after she left, it was levelled by a shell. The church   (p. 073)
too was struck and ruined. Beside it is the military cemetery within
which lie the mortal remains of many gallant men, amongst them the two
Grenfells, one of whom got the V.C. There I buried poor Duffy and many
more. The other chaplains laid to rest men under their care.

One picture always comes to my mind when I think of Vlamertinghe. In
the road near the church was a Crucifix. The figure was life size and
hung on a cross planted upon a rocky mound. One night when the sun had
set and a great red glow burnt along the horizon, I saw the large black
cross silhouetted against the crimson sky, and before it knelt an aged
woman with grey hair falling from beneath the kerchief that was tied
about her head. It was dangerous at all times to stay at that place,
yet she knelt there silently in prayer. She seemed to be the
embodiment of the old life and quiet contented religious hope which
must have been the spirit of Vlamertinghe in the past. The village was
an absolute ruin a few days later, and even the Sisters had to flee
from their convent. The Crucifix, however, stood for a long time after
the place was destroyed, but I never passed by without thinking of the
poor old woman who knelt at its foot in the evening light and laid her
burden of cares upon the heart of Eternal Pity.




CHAPTER VII.                                                       (p. 074)

FESTUBERT AND GIVENCHY.

_May and June, 1915._


When our men came out of the line, the 2nd Field Ambulance was ordered
back for rest and reorganization to a village called Ouderdom, three
miles to the Southwest, and their O.C. invited me to follow them. It
was late in the evening when I started to walk. The light was fading
and, as I had no map, I was not certain where Ouderdom was. I went down
the road, delighting in the sweet smells of nature. It was with a sense
of unusual freedom that I walked along with all my worldly possessions
in my haversack. I thought how convenient it was to lose one's kit.
Now I could lie down beside any haystack and feel quite at home. The
evening air grew chillier and I thought I had better get some roof
over my head for the night. I asked various men that I met where
Ouderdom was. None of them knew. I was forced once again to take my
solitary journey into the great unknown. It was therefore with much
satisfaction that, when quite dark, I came upon some wooden huts and
saw a number of men round a little fire in a field. I went up to one
of the huts and found in it a very kind and courteous middle-aged
lieutenant, who was in charge of a detachment of Indian troops. When
he heard I was looking for the Field Ambulance and going towards
Ouderdom, he told me it was much too late to continue my journey that
night. "You stay with me in my hut, Padre," he said, "and in the
morning I will give you a horse to take you to your men." He told me
that he had been living by himself and was only too delighted to have
a companion to talk to. He treated me as bounteously as circumstances
would permit, and after a good dinner, he gave me a blanket and straw
bed on the floor of his hut. It was very pleasant to come out of the
darkness and loneliness of the road and find such a kind host, and
such good hospitality. We discussed many things that night, and the
next day I was shown over the camp. Later on, the Lieutenant sent me
on horseback to Ouderdom. There I found the Ambulance encamped in a
pleasant field beside a large pond, which afforded us the luxury of a
bath. I shall never forget those two restful days I spent at Ouderdom.
I blamed the blankets, however, for causing an irritation of the   (p. 075)
skin, which lasted till I was able to have another wash and change.

Pleasant as my life was with the Ambulance, I felt I ought to go back
and join my Brigade. I got a ride to the transport at Brielen, and
there, under a waggon cover, had a very happy home. Near us an
Imperial battery fired almost incessantly all night long. While lying
awake one night thinking of the men that had gone, and wondering what
those ardent spirits were now doing, the lines came to me which were
afterwards published in "The Times":

  "REQUIESCANT"

  In lonely watches night by night,
  Great visions burst upon my sight,
  For down the stretches of the sky
  The hosts of dead go marching by.

  Strange ghostly banners o'er them float,
  Strange bugles sound an awful note,
  And all their faces and their eyes
  Are lit with starlight from the skies.

  The anguish and the pain have passed,
  And peace hath come to them at last.
  But in the stern looks linger still
  The iron purpose and the will.

  Dear Christ, who reign'st above the flood
  Of human tears and human blood,
  A weary road these men have trod,
  O house them in the home of God.

The Quartermaster of the 3rd Brigade furnished me with a change of
underwear, for which I was most grateful. I felt quite proud of having
some extra clothes again. The battalions were moved at last out of the
area and we were ordered off to rest. Our first stop was near
Vlamertinghe. We reached it in the afternoon, and, chilly though it
was, I determined to have a bath. Murdoch MacDonald got a bucket of
water from a green and slimy pond and put it on the other side of a
hedge, and there I retired to have a wash and change. I was just in
the midst of the process when, to my confusion, the Germans began to
shell the adjoining field, and splinters of shell fell in the hedge
behind me. The transport men on the other side called out to me    (p. 076)
to run and take cover with them under the waggons. "I can't, boys",
I replied, "I have got no clothes on." They roared with laughter at my
plight. Though clothes are not at all an impregnable armour, somehow
or other you feel safer when you are dressed. There was nothing for it
but to complete my ablutions, which I did so effectually in the cold
spring air that I got a chill. That night I was racked with pains as I
rode on the horse which the M.O. lent me, on our march to Bailleul.

We arrived in the quaint old town about two in the morning, and I made
my way in the dark to the hotel in the Square. I was refused admission
on the reasonable plea that every bed was already occupied. I was just
turning away, wondering where I could go, for I was hardly able to
stand up, when an officer came out and said I might go up to a room on
the top storey and get into his bed as he would need it no more. It
was quite delightful, not only to find a bed, but one which had been
so nicely and wholesomely warmed. I spent a most uncomfortable night,
and in the morning I wondered if my batman would find out where I was
and come and look after me. About ten o'clock I heard a knock at the
door and called out "Come in." To my astonishment, a very smart staff
officer, with a brass hat and red badges, made his way into my room,
and startled me by saying, "I am the Deputy-Judge-Advocate-General."
"Oh", I said, "I was hoping you were my batman." He laughed at that
and told me his business. There had been a report that one of our
Highlanders had been crucified on the door of a barn. The Roman Catholic
Chaplain of the 3rd Brigade and myself had tried to trace the story to
its origin. We found that the nearest we could get to it was, that
someone had told somebody else about it. One day I managed to discover
a Canadian soldier who said he had seen the crucifixion himself. I at
once took some paper out of my pocket and a New Testament and told
him, "I want you to make that statement on oath and put your signature
to it." He said, "It is not necessary." But he had been talking so
much about the matter to the men around him that he could not escape.
I had kept his sworn testimony in my pocket and it was to obtain this
that the Deputy-Judge-Advocate-General had called upon me. I gave it
to him and told him that in spite of the oath, I thought the man was
not telling the truth. Weeks afterwards I got a letter from the
Deputy-Judge telling me he had found the man, who, when confronted (p. 077)
by a staff officer, weakened, and said he was mistaken in swearing
that he had seen the crucifixion he had only been told about it by
someone else. We have no right to charge the Germans with the crime.
They have done so many things equally bad, that we do not need to
bring charges against them of which we are not quite sure.

The Brigade was quartered in the little village of Steenje. It was a
pretty place, and it was delightful to be back in the peaceful country
again. May was bringing out the spring flowers and the trees wore
fresh green leaves. There was something about the exhilarating life we
were leading which made one extremely sensitive to the beauties of
nature. I have never cared much for flowers, except in a general way.
But now I noticed a great change. A wild flower growing in a ditch by
the wayside seemed to me to be almost a living thing, and spoke in its
mute way of its life of peace and contentment, and mocked, by its very
humility, the world of men which was so full of noise and death.
Colour too made a most powerful appeal to the heart. The gleam of
sunlight on the moss that covered an old thatched roof gave one a
thrill of gladness. The world of nature putting on its fresh spring
dress had its message to hearts that were lonely and anxious, and it
was a message of calm courage and hope. In Julian Grenfell's beautiful
poem "Into Battle," he notes this message of the field and trees.
Everything in nature spoke to the fighting man and gave him its own
word of cheer.

Of course all the men did not show they were conscious of these emotional
suggestions, but I think they felt them nevertheless. The green fields
and shining waters around Steenje had a very soothing effect upon minds
that had passed through the bitterest ordeal in their life's
experience. I remember one morning having a service of Holy Communion
in the open air. Everything was wonderful and beautiful. The golden
sunlight was streaming across the earth in full radiance. The trees
were fresh and green, and hedges marked out the field with walls of
living beauty. The grass in the meadow was soft and velvety, and, just
behind the spot where I had placed the altar, a silver stream wandered
slowly by. When one adds to such a scene, the faces of a group of
earnest, well-made and heroic young men, it is easily understood that
the beauty of the service was complete. When it was over, I reminded
them of the twenty-third Psalm, "He maketh me to lie down in green (p. 078)
pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters." There too was the table
prepared before us in the presence of our enemies.

At Steenje, as no billet had been provided for me, the Engineers took
me in and treated me right royally. Not only did they give me a pile
of straw for a bed in the dormitory upstairs, but they also made me an
honorary member of their mess. Of the work of the "Sappers", in the
Great War, one cannot speak too highly. Brave and efficient, they were
always working and co-operating enthusiastically with the infantry.
Every week now that passed was deepening that sense of comradeship
which bound our force together. The mean people, the men who thought
only of themselves, were either being weeded out or taught that there
was no place for selfishness in the army. One great lesson was
impressed upon me in the war, and that is, how wonderfully the
official repression of wrong thoughts and jealousies tends to their
abolition. A man who lets his wild fancies free, and gives rein to his
anger and selfishness, is going to become the victim of his own mind.
If people at home could only be prevented, as men were in the war,
from saying all the bitter and angry things they feel, and from
criticising the actions of their neighbours, a different temper of
thought would prevail. The comradeship men experienced in the Great
War was due to the fact that everyone knew comradeship was essential
to our happiness and success. It would be well if all over Canada men
realized that the same is true of our happiness and success in times
of peace. What might we not accomplish if our national and industrial
life were full of mutual sympathy and love!

Our rest at Steenje was not of long duration. Further South another
attack was to be made and so one evening, going in the direction
whither our troops were ordered, I was motored to the little village
of Robecq. There I managed to get a comfortable billet for myself in
the house of a carpenter. My bedroom was a tiny compartment which
looked out on the backyard. It was quite delightful to lie in a real
bed again and as I was enjoying the luxury late in the morning I
watched the carpenter making a baby's coffin. Robecq then was a very
charming place. The canal, on which was a hospital barge, gave the men
an opportunity for a swim, and the spring air and the sunshine put
them in high spirits.

It was at Robecq, that I had my first sight of General Haig. I was
standing in the Square one afternoon when I saw the men on the     (p. 079)
opposite side spring suddenly to attention. I felt that something
was going to happen. To my astonishment, I saw a man ride up carrying
a flag on a lance. He was followed by several other mounted men. It
was so like a pageant that I said to myself, "Hello, here comes Joan
of Arc." Then a general appeared with his brilliant staff. The General
advanced and we all saluted, but he, spying my chaplain's collar, rode
over to me and shook hands and asked if I had come over with the
Canadians. I told him I had. Then he said, "I am so glad you have all
come into my Army." I did not know who he was or what army we were in,
or in fact what the phrase meant, but I thought it was wise to say nice
things to a general, so I told him we were all very glad too. He seemed
gratified and rode off in all the pomp and circumstance of war. I heard
afterwards that he was General Haig, who at that time commanded the First
Army. He had from the start, the respect of all in the British
Expeditionary Force.

A sudden call "to stand to", however, reminded us that the war was not
yet won. The Brigadier told me that we had to move the next morning at
five. Then he asked me how I was going and I quoted my favourite text,
"The Lord will provide." My breakfast at 3.30 next morning consisted
of a tin of green peas without bread or other adulterations and a cup
of coffee. At five a.m. I started to walk, but it was not long before I
was overtaken by the car of an artillery officer, and carried, in great
glory, past the General and his staff, whose horses we nearly pushed
into the ditch on the narrow road. The Brigadier waved his hand and
congratulated me upon the way in which Providence was looking after me.
That afternoon our brigade was settled in reserve trenches at
Lacouture. There were a number of Ghurka regiments in the neighbourhood,
as well as some Guards battalions. I had a service for the bomb-throwers
in a little orchard that evening, and I found a billet with the
officers of the unit in a particularly small and dirty house by the
wayside.

Some of us lay on the floor and I made my bed on three chairs--a style
of bed which I said I would patent on my return to Canada. The chairs,
with the middle one facing in the opposite direction to prevent one
rolling off, were placed at certain distances where the body needed
special support, and made a very comfortable resting place, free from
those inhabitants which infested the ordinary places of repose. Of
course we did not sleep much, and somebody, amid roars of laughter (p. 080)
called for breakfast about two-thirty a.m. The cook who was sleeping
in the same room got up and prepared bacon and coffee, and we had
quite an enjoyable meal, which did not prevent our having a later one
about nine a.m., after which, I beguiled the time by reading aloud
Leacock's "Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich." Later in the day,
I marched off with our men who were going into the trenches, for the
battle of Festubert. We passed the place called Indian Village and
went to the trenches just beyond.

We met a bearer-party bringing out a young German prisoner who was
badly wounded. I went over to him and offered him a cigarette. This he
declined, but asked for some water, putting out his dry tongue to show
how parched it was. I called to some of our men to know if they could
spare him a drink. Several gladly ran across and offered their
water-bottles. They were always kind to wounded prisoners. "If thine
enemy thirst give him drink." Just before the men went into the
trenches, I shook hands with one or two and then, as they passed up,
half the battalion shook hands with me. I was glad they did, but at
the same time I felt then that it was not wise for a chaplain to do
anything which looked as if he were taking matters too seriously. It
was the duty of everyone to forget private feelings in the one
absorbing desire to kill off the enemy. I saw the different battalions
going up and was returning towards headquarters when whom should I
meet but the dreaded Brigadier coming up the road with his staff. It
was impossible to dodge him; I could see already that he was making
towards me. When he came up to me, he asked me what I was doing there,
and ordered me back to Headquarters on pain of a speedy return to No.
2 General Hospital. "If you come east of my Headquarters," he said,
"you will be sent back absolutely certainly." That night I took my
revenge by sleeping in his deserted bed, and found it very
comfortable.

Our Brigade Headquarters were at Le Touret in a large farm surrounded
by a moat. We were quite happy, but on the next day, which I spent in
censoring the letters of the 13th Battalion, I was told that the 2nd
Brigade were coming to occupy the billet and that I had to get out and
forage for myself. At half past six in the evening I saw from my window
the giant form of General Currie followed by his staff, riding across
the bridge over the moat. He looked very imposing, but I knew it meant
that the bed I had slept in was no longer mine. I called my friend (p. 081)
Murdoch MacDonald and I got him to pack my haversack. "Murdoch", I
said, "once more we have to face the big, black world alone, but--'the
Lord will provide'". The sun had set, the air was cool and scented
richly with the fermented manure spread upon the land. Many units were
scattered through the fields. We went from one place to another, but
alas there was no billet for us. It was tiring work, and both Murdoch
and I were getting very hungry and also very grumpy. The prospect of
sleeping under the stars in the chilly night was not pleasant. I am
ashamed to say my faith began to waver, and I said to Murdoch MacDonald,
"Murdoch, my friend, the Lord is a long time providing for us
tonight." We made our way back to the main road and there I saw an
Imperial Officer who was acting as a point man and directing traffic.
I told him my difficulty and implored him, as it was now getting on
towards eleven p.m., to tell me where I could get a lodging for the
night. He thought for a while and then said, "I think you may find a
bed for yourself and your man in the prison." The words had an ominous
sound, but I remembered how often people at home found refuge for the
night in the police station. He told me to go down the road to the
third farmhouse, where I should find the quarters of some Highland
officers and men. The farm was called the prison, because it was the
place in which captured Germans were to be held until they were sent
down the line. Followed by Murdoch, I made my way again down the busy
road now crowded with transports, troops and ambulances. It was hard
to dodge them in the mud and dark. I found the farmhouse, passed the
sentry, and was admitted to the presence of two young officers of the
Glasgow Highlanders. I told them who I was and how I had been bidden
by the patrol officer to seek refuge with them. They received me most
cordially and told me they had a spare heap of straw in the room. They
not only said they would arrange for me for the night, but they called
their servant and told him to get me some supper. They said I looked
worn out. A good dish of ham and eggs and a cup of strong tea at that
time were most refreshing and when I had finished eating, seeing a
copy of the Oxford Book of Verse on the table, I began to read it to
them, and finally, and quite naturally, found myself later on, about
one a.m., reciting my own poems. It was most interesting meeting
another set of men. The barn, which was kept as a prison for Germans
was large and commodious. As we took only five or six prisoners    (p. 082)
at that time, it was more than sufficient for the purpose. The officers
told me that the reason why so few prisoners turned up was that the
Canadians got tired of their charges before they arrived at the
prison, and only handed over a few as souvenirs. I really think the
Scotsmen believed it. The Glasgow men moved away and were succeeded by
a company of Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders. The tables were now
turned, for as I had kept on inhabiting the large room with the three
heaps of straw in it, the two officers who came "to take over" asked
my permission to make their billet in the prison.

In the meantime, the fighting in the trenches was very fierce. I spent
my days in parish visiting and my nights at the various dressing
stations. The batteries of artillery were all round us in the fields
and orchards, and there was great concentration of British and
Canadian guns. In spite of the brigadier's orders, I often went east
of Headquarters. One lovely Sunday evening I had a late service for
men of the 16th Battalion in an orchard. They were going off later
into No Man's Land on a working party. The service, which was a
voluntary one, had therefore an underlying pathos in it. Shells were
falling in the fields on both sides of us. The great red sunset glowed
in the west and the trees overhead cast an artistic gray green light
upon the scene. The men were facing the sunset, and I told them as
usual that there lay Canada. The last hymn was "Abide with Me", and
the words, "Hold Thou Thy Cross before my closing eyes", were
peculiarly touching in view of the fact that the working party was to
start as soon as the service was ended. At Festubert our Cavalry
Brigade, now deprived of their horses, joined us, and I remember one
morning seeing Colonel, now General, Macdonell, coming out of the line
at the head of his men. They were few in number and were very tired,
for they had had a hard time and had lost many of their comrades. The
Colonel, however, told them to whistle and keep step to the tune,
which they were doing with a gallantry which showed that, in spite of
the loss of their horses, the spirit of the old squadron was still
undaunted.

Our batteries round Le Touret were very heavily and systematically
shelled, and of course rumour had it that there were spies in the
neighbourhood. The French Police were searching for Germans in British
uniforms, and everyone felt that some of the inhabitants might be
housing emissaries from the German lines. Some said lights were    (p. 083)
seen flashing from farmhouses; others averred that the French peasants
signalled to the enemy by the way they ploughed their fields and by
the colour of the horses used. In Belgium we were told that the
arrangement of the arms of windmills gave away the location of our
troops. At any rate everyone had a bad attack of spy-fever, and I did
not escape it. One night about half past ten I was going down a dark
road to get my letters from the post office, when an officer on a
bicycle came up to me and, dismounting, asked me where a certain
British Artillery Brigade was. I was not concerned with the number of
the brigade, but I was horrified to hear the officer pronounce his
"rs" in the back of his throat. Of course, when we are not at war with
Germany, a man may pronounce his "rs" however he pleases, but when we
are at war with the great guttural hordes of Teutons it is different.
The moment I heard the sepulchral "r" I said, "This man is a German".
He told me he had come from the Indian Army and had a message for the
artillery brigade. I took him by subtlety, thinking all was fair in
war, and I asked him to come with me. I made for the billet of our
signallers and told the sentry that the officer wanted a British
brigade. At the same time I whispered to the man to call out the
guard, because I thought the stranger was a spy.

The sentry went into the house, and in a few seconds eager Canadians
with fixed bayonets came out of the building and surrounded the
unfortunate officer. Canadians were always ready for a bit of sport.
When I saw my man surrounded, I asked him for his pass. He appeared
very much confused and said he had none, but had come from the Indian
Army. What made us all the more suspicious was the fact that he
displayed a squared map as an evidence of his official character. I
told him that anybody could get a squared map. "Do you take me for a
spy?" he said. I replied gently that we did, and that he would have to
come to Headquarters and be identified. He had an ugly looking
revolver in his belt, but he submitted very tamely to his temporary
arrest. I was taking him off to our Headquarters, where strange
officers were often brought for purposes of identification, when a
young Highland Captain of diminutive stature, but unbounded dignity,
appeared on the scene with four patrol men. He told me that as he was
patrolling the roads for the capture of spies, he would take over the
custody of my victim. The Canadians were loath to lose their prey. So
we all followed down the road. After going a short distance, the
signallers had to return to their quarters, much to my regret,     (p. 084)
for it seemed to me that the safety of the whole British Army depended
on our capturing the spy, and I knew I could depend upon the Canadians.
However I made up my mind that I would follow to the bitter end.

The Highlander put the officer between us and, followed by the four
patrol men, we went off down a lonely road. The moon had now risen.
After walking about half a mile we came to a large barn, outside of
which stood a sentry. It was the billet of a battalion of Highlanders.
I told the man privately, that we had arrested the officer under
suspicion of his being a spy, and if the sentry on duty should see him
coming back along the road, he was to detain him and have him
identified. As we walked along, a number of men who had been concealed
in the ditches on each side of the road rose up and followed us. They
were men of the patrol commanded by the young Highlander on the other
side of our prisoner. It was a delightfully weird experience. There
was the long quiet moonlit road and the desolate fields all around us.
While I was talking to one of the men, the patrol officer, unknown to
me, allowed the spy to go off on his wheel, and to my astonishment
when I turned I saw him going off down the road as hard as he could. I
asked the officer why he had let him go. He said he thought it was all
right and the man would be looked after. Saying this, he called his
patrol about him and marched back again. The thing made me very angry.
It seemed to me that the whole war might depend on our capturing the
spy. At least, I owed it to the British Army to do my best to be
certain the man was all right before I let him go. So I continued to
follow him by myself down the road. The next farm I came to was about
a mile off. There I was halted by a sentry, and on telling my business
I was shown into a large barn, where the sergeant-major of a Scottish
battalion got out of the straw and came to talk to me. He told me that
an officer riding a wheel had passed sometime before, asking his way
to a certain artillery brigade. I told the sergeant-major my
suspicions and while we were talking, to our astonishment, the sentry
announced that the officer, accompanied by a Black Watch despatch
rider, had turned up again, having heard that the brigade he wanted
was in the other direction.

The sergeant and I went out and challenged him and said that he had to
come to the colonel and be identified. The colonel was in the back
room of a little cottage on the other side of the road. I made my way
through the garden and entered the house. The colonel, an oldish   (p. 085)
man, was sitting at a table. In front of him was an empty glass and an
empty whisky bottle. It struck me from a superficial glance that the
colonel was the only full thing in the room. He seemed surprised at
having so late a visitor. I told him my suspicions. "Show the man in,
Padre," he said, and I did.

The spy seemed worried and excited and his "rs" were more guttural
than ever. The old Colonel, who had himself been in India, at once put
the suspect through his facings in Hindustani. Then the Colonel came
out to me, and taking me aside said, "It's all right, Padre, he can
talk Hindustani. I never met a German who could do that." Though still
not quite satisfied, I said "Good night," and went out into the garden
to return home. Immediately the young despatch rider came up to me and
said, "Who are you, who are stopping a British officer in the
performance of his duty? I arrest you. You must come in to the Colonel
and be identified." This was a turning of the tables with a vengeance,
and as I had recently laid stress on its being the duty of every
officer to prove his identity whenever called upon, I had nothing to
do but to go back into the presence of the Colonel and be questioned.
I noticed this time that a full bottle of whiskey and another tumbler
had been provided for the entertainment of the Indian Officer. The
despatch rider saluted the Colonel and said, "I have brought in this
officer, Sir, to be identified. He says he is a Canadian chaplain but
I should like to make sure on the point." I stood there feeling rather
disconcerted. The Colonel called to his adjutant who was sleeping in a
bed in the next room. He came out in a not very agreeable frame of
mind and began to ask me who I was. I immediately told my name, showed
my identification disc and engraved silver cigarette case and some
cablegrams that I had just received from home. The Colonel looked up
with bleary eyes and said, "Shall I put him in the guardroom?" but
the adjutant had been convinced by my papers that I was innocent and
he said, "I think we can let him go, Sir." It was a great relief to
me, because guard-rooms were not very clean. I was just making my way
from the garden when out came the young despatch rider. I bore him no
malice for his patriotic zeal. I felt that his heart was in the right
place, so I said to him, "You have taken the part of this unknown
officer, and now that you are sure I am all right, may I ask you what
you know about him?" "I don't know anything", he said, "only that I
met him and he asked me the way to the Brigade, and as I was going (p. 086)
there myself I told him I would act as his guide." "Well", I said, "we
are told that there are spies in the neighbourhood reporting the
location of our batteries to the Germans, so we ought to be very
careful how we give these locations away." "I tell you what, Sir," he
replied, "I'll go and examine his wheel and see what the make is; I
know a good deal about the wheels used in the army." We went over to
the wheel and by the aid of my flashlight he examined it thoroughly
and then said, "This is not an English wheel, I have never seen one
like it before. This wheel was never in use in our army." The despatch
rider now got an attack of spy-fever. It was decided that he should
ride on to the Brigade Headquarters and find out if an Indian officer
was expected there. He promised to come back as soon as possible and
meet me in the road. We trusted that the bottle of whiskey in the
Colonel's billet would cause sufficient delay for this to be
accomplished. The night was cool and beautiful and the sense of an
adventure added charm to the situation. I had not gone far down the
road when to my horror I heard a wheel coming behind me, and turning,
I saw my spy coming towards me as fast as he could. I was not of
course going to let him get past. The added information as to the
character of the wheel gave me even greater determination to see that
everything was done to protect the army from the machinations of a
German spy.

I stood in the road and stopped the wheel. The poor man had to
dismount and walk beside me. I wished to delay him long enough for the
despatch rider to return with his message from the Brigade. Our
conversation was a trifle forced, and I remember thinking that if my
friend was really a British officer he would not have submitted quite
so tamely to the interference of a Padre. Then I looked at the
revolver in his belt, and I thought that, if, on the other hand, he
was a German spy he would probably use his weapon in that lonely road
and get rid of the man who was impeding his movements. We went on till
we came to the sentry whom I had warned at first. At once, we were
challenged, "Halt, who are you?" and the suspected spy replied "Indian
Army." But the sentry was not satisfied, and to my delight he said,
"You will both have to come in and be identified". We were taken into
the guardroom and told that we should have to stay there for the
night. My friend got very restless and said it was too bad to be held
up like this. I looked anxiously down the road to see if there were
any signs of the returning despatch rider. The sentries were       (p. 087)
obdurate and said they wouldn't let us go till we could be identified
in the morning. Then the officer requested that he might be sent to
the Brigade under escort. The sergeant asked me if that would meet
with my approval. I said, "Certainly", and so, turning out three
members of the guard with fixed bayonets, they marched us off towards
the Brigade. The spy had a man with a fixed bayonet on each side of
him: they gave me only one. I felt that this was a slight upon my
manhood, and asked why they did not put a soldier on each side of me
too, as I was as good a man as the other. It was a queer procession in
the moonlight. At last we came to the orchard in which stood the
billet of the General commanding the Artillery Brigade. I was delighted
to find that some Canadian Batteries were there, and told the men what
my mission was. They instantly, as true Canadians, became fired with
interest and spy-fever. When we got to the house I asked to see the
General. He was asleep in a little room off the kitchen. I was shown
in, and he lit a candle and proceeded to get up. I had never seen a
general in bed before, so was much interested in discovering what he
looked like and how he was dressed. I found that a general in war time
goes to bed in his underclothes, like an ordinary private. The General
got up and went outside and put the spy through a series of questions,
but he did so in a very sleepy voice, and with a perfunctory manner
which seemed to me to indicate that he was more concerned about
getting back to bed than he was in saving the army from danger. He
told the officer that it was too late then to carry on the business
for which he had come, but that he would see about it in the morning.
The spy with a guttural voice then said, "I suppose I may go, Sir?"
and the General said, "Certainly." Quickly as possible, fearing a
further arrest, the stranger went out, took his wheel, and sped down
the road. When I went into the garden, I found a number of men from
one of our ambulances. They had turned up with stolen rifles and were
waiting with the keenest delight to join in "Canon Scott's spy hunt."
Imagine therefore, their disappointment when the officer came out a
free man, answered the sentry's challenge on the road, and disappeared
in the distance.

On the following day, the French military police came to my billet and
asked for particulars about the Indian officer. They told Murdoch
MacDonald that they were on the lookout for a German spy who was   (p. 088)
reported to be going about through our lines dressed in a British
uniform. He had been seen at an observation post, and was making
enquiries which aroused suspicions. This of course made me more sorry
than ever that I had allowed the spy to get through my fingers. Like
the man the French police were after, the officer was fair, had a
light moustache and was of good size and heavily built.

My adventures with my friend did not end there. When we had left Festubert
and got to the neighbourhood of Bethune, I took two young privates one
day to have lunch with me in a French hotel near the Square. We were just
beginning our meal when to my astonishment the suspected spy, accompanied
by a French interpreter, sat down at an opposite table. He looked towards
me but made no sign of recognition--a circumstance which I regarded as
being decidedly suspicious. I naturally did not look for any demonstration
of affection from him, but I thought he might have shown, if he were
an honest man, that he remembered one who had caused him so much
inconvenience. Once more the call of duty came to my soul. I felt that
this man had dodged the British authorities and was now giving his
information to a French interpreter to transmit it at the earliest
possible moment to the Germans. I told my young friends to carry on as
if nothing had happened, and excusing myself, said I would come back
in a few minutes. I went out and inquired my way to the Town Major's
office. There, I stated the object of my journey and asked for two
policemen to come back with me and mount guard till I identified a
suspicious looking officer. I then returned and finished my lunch.
When the officer and the interpreter at the conclusion of their meal
went out into the passage, I followed them and asked for their
identification. The officer made no attempt to disguise or check his
temper. He said that there must be an end to this sort of work. But
the arrival of the two policemen in the passage showed that he had to
do what I asked him. This he did, and the interpreter also, and the
police took their names and addresses. Then I let my friends go, and
heard them depart into the street hurling denunciations and threats of
vengeance upon my devoted and loyal head.

It was about a week or ten days afterwards that I was called into our
own Brigadier's office. He held a bundle of letters in his hand stamped
with all sorts of official seals. The gist of it all was that the G.O.C.
of the Indian Division in France had reported to General Alderson the
extraordinary and eccentric conduct of a Canadian Chaplain, who    (p. 089)
persisted in arresting a certain British officer whenever they happened
to meet. He wound up with this cutting comment, "The conduct of this
chaplain seems to fit him rather for a lunatic asylum than for the
theatre of a great war." Of course explanations were sent back. It was
explained to the General that reports had reached us of the presence
in our lines of a German spy in British uniform, who from the description
given, resembled the Indian officer in all particulars.

It is needless to say that every one was immensely amused at "the
Canon's spy story," and I mentally resolved that I would be more
careful in the future about being carried away by my suspicions. I
told people however that I would rather run the risk of being laughed
at over making a mistake than to let one real spy escape.

Festubert made a heavy toll upon our numbers, and we were not sorry
when we were ordered out of the line and found ourselves quartered in
the neighbourhood of Bethune. Bethune at that time was a delightful
place. It was full of people. The shops were well provided with
articles for sale, and a restaurant in the quaint Grande Place, with
its Spanish tower and Spanish houses, was the common meeting ground of
friends. The gardens behind private residences brought back memories
of pre-war days. The church was a beautiful one, built in the 16th
century. The colours of the windows were especially rich. It was
always delightful to enter it and think how it had stood the shock and
turmoil of the centuries.

One day when I was there the organ was being played most beautifully.
Sitting next to me in a pew, was a Canadian Highlander clad in a very
dirty uniform. He told me that a friend of his had been killed beside
him drenching him in blood. The Highlander was the grandson of a
British Prime Minister. We listened to the music till the recital was
over, and then I went up to the gallery and made myself known to the
organist. He was a delicate young fellow, quite blind, and was in a
state of nervous excitement over his recent efforts. I made a bargain
with him to give us a recital on the following evening. At the time
appointed, therefore, I brought some of our men with me. The young
organist met us at the church and I led him over to a monastery in
which a British ambulance was making its headquarters. There, in the
chapel, the blind man poured out his soul in the strains of a most
beautiful instrument. We sat entranced in the evening light. He
transported us into another world. We forgot the shells, the mud,  (p. 090)
the darkness, the wounded men, the lonely graves, and the hideous fact
of war. We wandered free and unanxious down the avenues of thought and
emotion which were opened up before us by the genius of him whose eyes
were shut to this world. It was with deep regret that, when the concert
was over, we heard him close the keyboard. Three years later the
organist was killed by a shell while he was sitting at his post in the
church he loved so well and had never seen.

When we were at Bethune a very important event in my military career
took place. In answer to repeated requests, Headquarters procured me a
horse. I am told that the one sent to me came by mistake and was not
that which they intended me to have. The one I was to have, I heard,
was the traditional padre's horse, heavy, slow, unemotional, and with
knees ready at all times to sink in prayer. The animal sent to me,
however, was a high-spirited chestnut thoroughbred, very pretty, very
lively and neck-reined. It had once belonged to an Indian general, and
was partly Arab. Poor Dandy was my constant companion to the end.
After the Armistice, to prevent his being sold to the Belgian army, he
was mercifully shot, by the orders of our A.D.V.S. Dandy certainly was
a beauty, and his lively disposition made him interesting to ride. I
was able now to do much more parish visiting, and I was rather amused
at the way in which my mount was inspected by the different grooms in
our units. I had to stand the fire of much criticism. Evil and
covetous eyes were set upon Dandy. I was told he was "gone" in the
knees. I was told he had a hump on the back--he had what is known as
the "Jumper's bump." Men tickled his back and, because he wriggled,
told me he was "gone" in the kidneys. I was told he was no proper
horse for a padre, but that a fair exchange was always open to me. I
was offered many an old transport hack for Dandy, and once was even
asked if I would change him for a pair of mules. I took all the
criticisms under consideration, and then when they were repeated I
told the men that really I loved to ride a horse with a hump on its
back. It was so biblical, just like riding a camel. As for bad
kidneys, both Dandy and I were teetotallers and we could arrest
disease by our temperance habits. The weakness of knees too was no
objection in my eyes. In fact, I had so long, as a parson, sat over
weak-kneed congregations that I felt quite at home sitting on a
weak-kneed horse.

Poor dear old Dandy, many were the rides we had together. Many     (p. 091)
were the jumps we took. Many were the ditches we tumbled into. Many
were the unseen barbed wires and overhanging telephone wires which we
broke, you with your chest and I with my nose and forehead. Many were
the risks we ran in front of batteries in action which neither of us
had observed till we found ourselves deafened with a hideous explosion
and wrapped in flame. I loved you dearly, Dandy, and I wish I could
pull down your soft face towards mine once again, and talk of the
times when you took me down Hill 63 and along Hyde Park corner at
Ploegsteert. Had I not been wounded and sent back to England at the
end of the war, I would have brought you home with me to show to my
family--a friend that not merely uncomplainingly but cheerfully, with
prancing feet and arching neck and well groomed skin, bore me safely
through dangers and darkness, on crowded roads and untracked fields.
What dances we have had together, Dandy, when I have got the bands to
play a waltz and you have gone through the twists and turns of a
performance in which you took an evident delight! I used to tell the
men that Dandy and I always came home together. Sometimes I was on his
back and sometimes he was on mine, but we always came home together.

A few days later my establishment was increased by the purchase of a
well-bred little white fox-terrier. He rejoiced in the name of Philo
and became my inseparable companion. The men called him my curate.
Dandy, Philo and I made a family party which was bound together by very
close ties of affection. Though none of us could speak the language of
the others, yet the sympathy of each enabled us to understand and
appreciate one another's opinions. I always knew what Dandy thought
and what he would do. I always knew too what Philo was thinking about.
Philo had a great horror of shells. I put this down to the fact that
he was born at Beuvry, a place which had been long under shell-fire.
When he heard a shell coming in his direction, Philo used to go to the
door of the dugout and listen for the explosion, and then come back to
me in a state of whining terror. He could not even stand the sound of
our own guns. It made him run round and round barking and howling
furiously.

It was while we were out in rest at Bethune that I was told I could go
on a week's leave to London. I was glad of this, not only for the
change of scene, but for the sake of getting new clothes. I awoke  (p. 092)
in the early morning and listened to the French guns pounding away
wearily near Souchez. At noon I started with a staff officer in a
motor for Boulogne. It was a lovely day, and as we sped down the road
through little white unspoilt villages and saw peaceful fields once
again, it seemed as if I were waking from a hideous dream. That
evening we pulled in to Victoria Station, and heard the Westminster
chimes ringing out half past eight.




CHAPTER VIII.                                                      (p. 093)

PLOEGSTEERT--A LULL IN OPERATIONS.

_July to December, 1915._


Leave in London during the war never appealed to me. I always felt
like a fish out of water. When I went to concerts and theatres, all
the time amid the artistic gaiety of the scene I kept thinking of the
men in the trenches, their lonely vigils, their dangerous working
parties, and the cold rain and mud in which their lives were passed.
And I thought too of the wonderful patrol kept up on the dark seas, by
heroic and suffering men who guarded the life and liberty of Britain.
The gaiety seemed to be a hollow mockery. I was not sorry therefore
when my week's leave was over and I went back to the line. A staff
officer whom I met on the leave boat informed me that the Division had
changed its trenches, and my Brigade had left Bethune. We had a most
wonderful run in the staff car from Boulogne, and in two hours arrived
at the Brigade Headquarters at Steenje, near Bailleul. There, with my
haversacks, I was left by the staff car at midnight and had to find a
lodging place. The only light I saw was in the upper windows of the
Cure's house, the rest of the village was in complete darkness. I
knocked on the door and, after a few minutes, the head and shoulders
of a man in pyjamas looked out from the window and asked me who I was
and what I wanted. On my giving my name and requesting admission, he
very kindly came down and let me in and gave me a bed on the floor. On
a mattress beside me was a young officer of the Alberta Dragoons, only
nineteen years of age. He afterwards joined the Flying Corps and met
his death by jumping out of his machine at an altitude of six thousand
feet, when it was hit and burst into flames. The Alberta Dragoons
later on became the Canadian Light Horse, and were Corps Troops. At
that time, they were part of the 1st Division and were a magnificent
body. The practical elimination of cavalry in modern warfare has taken
all the romance and chivalry out of fighting. It is just as well
however for the world that the old feudal conception of war has passed
away. The army will be looked upon in the future as a class of citizens
who are performing the necessary and unpleasant task of policing the
world, in order that the rational occupations of human life may    (p. 094)
be carried on without interruption.

Brigade Headquarters now moved to a large farm behind the trenches at
Ploegsteert. I bid farewell to my friends of the Alberta Dragoons and
found a billet at La Creche. From thence I moved to Romarin and made
my home in a very dirty little French farmhouse. The Roman Catholic
chaplain and I had each a heap of straw in an outhouse which was a
kind of general workroom. At one end stood a large churn, which was
operated, when necessary, by a trained dog, which was kept at other
times in a cage. The churn was the breeding place of innumerable
blue-bottles, who in spite of its savoury attractions annoyed us very
much by alighting on our food and on our faces. I used to say to my
friend, the chaplain, when at night we had retired to our straw beds
and were reading by the light of candles stuck on bully beef tins,
that the lion and the lamb were lying down together. We could never
agree as to which of the animals each of us represented. At the head
of my heap of straw there was an entrance to the cellar. The ladies of
the family, who were shod in wooden shoes, used to clatter round our
slumbers in the early morning getting provisions from below. Life
under such conditions was peculiarly unpleasant. It was quite impossible
too to have a bath. I announced to the family one day that I was going
to take one. Murdoch MacDonald provided some kind of large tub which
he filled with dishes of steaming water. Instead however of the fact
that I was about to have a bath acting as a deterrent to the visits of
the ladies, the announcement seemed to have the opposite effect. So
great were the activities of the family in the cellar and round the
churn that I had to abandon the idea of bathing altogether. I determined
therefore to get a tent of my own and plant it in the field. I wrote
to England and got a most wonderful little house. It was a small
portable tent. When it was set up it covered a piece of ground six
feet four inches square. The pole, made in two parts like a fishing
rod, was four feet six inches high. The tent itself was brown, and
made like a pyramid. One side had to be buttoned up when I had
retired. It looked very small as a place for human habitation. On one
side of the pole was my Wolseley sleeping bag, on the other a box in
which to put my clothes, and on which stood a lantern. When Philo and
I retired for the night we were really very comfortable, but we were
much annoyed by earwigs and the inquisitiveness of the cows, who   (p. 095)
never could quite satisfy themselves as to what we were. Many is the
time we have been awakened out of sleep in the morning by the sniffings
and sighings of a cow, who poked round my tent until I thought she had
the intention of swallowing us up after the manner in which the cow
disposed of Tom Thumb. At such times I would turn Philo loose upon the
intruder. Philo used to suffer at night from the cold, and would wake
me up by insisting upon burrowing his way down into my tightly laced
valise. There he would sleep till he got so hot that he woke me up
again burrowing his way out. It would not be long before once again
the cold of the tent drove him to seek refuge in my bed. I hardly ever
had a night's complete rest. Once I rolled over on him, and, as he was
a very fiery tempered little dog, he got very displeased and began to
snap and bark in a most unpleasant manner. As the sleeping bag was
tightly laced it was difficult to extract him. Philo waged a kind of
submarine warfare there until grasping his snout, I pulled him out and
refused all his further appeals for readmission.

My little tent gave me great comfort and a sense of independence. I
could go where I pleased and camp in the lines of the battalions when
they came out of the trenches. This enabled me to get into closer
touch with the men. One young western fellow said that my encampment
consisted of a caboose, my tent, a cayouse, which was Dandy, and a
papoose, which was my little dog, friend Philo. Now that I had a
comfortable billet of my own I determined that Romarin was too far
from the men, so I removed my settlement up to the Neuve Eglise road
and planted it near some trees in the field just below the row of huts
called Bulford Camp. At this time, Murdoch MacDonald went to the
transport lines, and his place was taken by my friend Private Ross, of
the 16th Battalion, the Canadian Scottish. He stayed with me to the
end. We were very comfortable in the field. Ross made himself a
bivouac of rubber sheets. Dandy was picketed not far off and, under
the trees, my little brown pyramid tent was erected, with a rude bench
outside for a toilet table, and a large tin pail for a bath-tub. When
the battalions came out of the line and inhabited Bulford Camp and the
huts of Court-o-Pyp, I used to arrange a Communion Service for the men
every morning. At Bulford Camp the early morning services were
specially delightful. Not far off, was the men's washing place, a
large ditch full of muddy water into which the men took headers.   (p. 096)
Beside it were long rows of benches, in front of which the operation
of shaving was carried on. The box I used as an altar was placed under
the green trees, and covered with the dear old flag, which now hangs
in the chancel of my church in Quebec. On top was a white altar cloth,
two candles and a small crucifix. At these services only about ten or
a dozen men attended, but it was inspiring to minister to them. I used
to hear from time to time that so and so had been killed, and I knew
he had made his last Communion at one of such services. It was an
evidence of the changed attitude towards religion that the men in
general did not count it strange that soldiers should thus come to
Holy Communion in public. No one was ever laughed at or teased for
doing so.

Neuve Eglise, at the top of the road, had been badly wrecked by German
shells. I went up there one night with an officer friend of mine, to
see the scene of desolation. We were halted by some of our cyclists
who were patrolling the road. Whenever they stopped me at night and
asked who I was I always said, "German spy", and they would reply,
"Pass, German spy, all's well." My friend and I went down the street
of the broken and deserted village, which, from its position on the
hill, was an easy mark for shell fire. Not a living thing was stirring
except a big black cat which ran across our path. The moonlight made
strange shadows in the roofless houses. Against the west wall of the
church stood a large crucifix still undamaged. The roof had gone, and
the moonlight flooded the ruins through the broken Gothic windows. To
the left, ploughed up with shells, were the tombs of the civilian
cemetery, and the whole place was ghostly and uncanny.

Near the huts, on the hill at Bulford Camp was a hollow in the ground
which made a natural amphitheatre. Here at night concerts were given.
All the audience packed together very closely sat on the ground.
Before us, at the end of the hollow, the performers would appear, and
overhead the calm stars looked down. I always went to these
entertainments well provided with Players' cigarettes. A neat trick
was played upon me one night. I passed my silver cigarette case round
to the men and told them that all I wanted back was the case. In a
little while it was passed back to me. I looked into it to see if a
cigarette had been left for my use, when, to my astonishment, I found
that the case had been filled with De Reszke's, my favourite brand. I
thanked my unknown benefactor for his graceful generosity.

The field behind the huts at Court-o-Pyp was another of my         (p. 097)
favourite camping grounds. It was on the Neuve Eglise side of the
camp, and beyond us was some barbed wire. About two o'clock one night
I was aroused by an excited conversation which was being carried on
between my friend Ross in his bivouac, and a soldier who had been
dining late and had lost his way. The young fellow had got it into his
head that he had wandered into the German lines, and Ross had great
difficulty in convincing him that he was quite safe. He was just going
off with mind appeased when he caught sight of my pyramid tent on a
rise in the ground. "What's that?" he cried in terror, evidently
pointing towards my little house. "That's the Rev. Major Canon Scott's
billet" said Ross with great dignity from under his rubber sheets, and
the man went off in fear of his identity becoming known. He afterwards
became an officer and a very gallant one too, and finally lost a leg
in the service of his country. But many is the time I have chaffed him
about the night he thought he had wandered into the German lines.

One day when I had ridden up to Court-o-Pyp I found that a canteen had
just been opened there, and being urged to make a purchase for good
luck I bought a large bottle of tomato catsup, which I put into my
saddle bag. I noticed that the action was under the observation of the
battalion, which had just returned from the trenches and was about to
be dismissed. I mounted my horse and went over to the C.O. and asked
if I might say a word to the men before he dismissed them. He told me
the men were tired, but I promised not to keep them long. He called
out, "Men, Canon Scott wants to say a word to you before you are
dismissed," and they stood to attention. "All I wanted to say to you,
Boys, was this; that was a bottle of tomato catsup which I put in my
saddle bag, and not, as you thought, a bottle of whiskey." A roar of
laughter went up from all ranks.

It was about this time that our Brigadier was recalled to England to
take over the command of a Division. We were all sincerely sorry to
lose him from the 3rd Brigade. He was ever a good and true friend, and
took a deep interest in his men. But the immediate effect of his
departure, as far as I was concerned, was to remove out of my life the
hideous spectre of No. 2 General Hospital, and to give me absolute
liberty in wandering through the trenches. In fact, as I told him
sometime afterwards, I was beginning a little poem, the first line of
which was "I never knew what freedom meant until he went away."

One day, General Seely invited me to go and stay with him at his   (p. 098)
Headquarters in Westhof Farm where I had a most delightful time.
Not only was the General a most entertaining host, but his staff were
very charming. At dinner, we avoided war topics and shop, and talked
about things political and literary. The mess was in the farm building
and our sleeping quarters were on an island in the moat. My stay here
brought me into contact with the Canadian Cavalry Brigade, and a fine
lot of men they were.

But a change in my fortunes was awaiting me. The Senior Chaplain of
the Division had gone back to England, and General Alderson sent for
me one day to go to Nieppe. There he told me he wished me to be Senior
Chaplain. I was not altogether pleased at the appointment, because it
meant that I should be taken away from my beloved 3rd Brigade. I told
the General so, but he assured me I should not have to stay all the
time at Headquarters, and could go with the 3rd Brigade as much as I
pleased.

This unexpected promotion, after what I had gone through, opened up a
life of almost dazzling splendour. I now had to go and live in the
village of Nieppe on the Bailleul-Armentieres road. Here were our
Headquarters. General Alderson had his house in the Square. Another
building was occupied by our officers, and a theatre was at my
disposal for Church Services and entertainments. The town was also the
Headquarters of a British Division, so we had plenty of men to look
after. I got an upper room in a house owned by an old lady. The front
room downstairs was my office, and I had a man as a clerk. Round my
bedroom window grew a grape vine, and at night when the moon was
shining, I could sit on my window-sill, listen to the sound of shells,
watch the flare lights behind Armentieres and eat the grapes which
hung down in large clusters. Poor Nieppe has shared the fate of Neuve
Eglise and Bailleul and is now a ruin. Everyone was exceedingly kind,
and I soon found that the added liberty which came to me from having a
definite position really increased my chances of getting amongst the
men. By leaving my clerk to do the work of Senior Chaplain, I could go
off and be lost at the front for a day and a night without ever being
missed. I knew that each brigade must now have an equal share of my
interest and I was very careful never to show any preference. A
chaplain had at all times to be very careful to avoid anything that
savoured of favouritism. I was now also formally inducted into the
membership of that august body known as "C" mess, where the heads  (p. 099)
of non-combatant departments met for dining and wining. Somebody
asked me one day what "C" mess was. I told him it was a lot of
withered old boughs on the great tree of the Canadian Expeditionary
Force--a description which was naturally much resented by the other
members. I had no difficulty now in arranging for my billets, as that
was always done for me by our Camp Commandant.

Life in Nieppe was very delightful and the presence of the British
Division gave it an added charm. We had very pleasant services in the
Hall, and every Sunday evening I had a choral Evensong. So many of the
men who attended had been choristers in England or Canada that the
responses were sung in harmony by the entire congregation. On week
days we had smoking concerts and entertainments of various kinds. I
sometimes had to take duty with the British units. On one occasion, I
was invited to hold a service for his men by a very staunch churchman,
a Colonel in the Army Service Corps. He told me, before the service,
that his unit had to move on the following day, and also that he was
accustomed to choose and read the lesson himself. I was delighted to
find a layman so full of zeal. But in the midst of the service I was
rather distressed at his choice of the lesson. It was hard enough to
get the interest of the men as it was, but the Colonel made it more
difficult by choosing a long chapter from Deuteronomy narrating the
wanderings of the children of Israel in the desert. Of course the C.O.
and I knew that the A.S.C. was to move on the following day, but the
congregation was not aware of the fact, and they must have been
puzzled by the application of the chapter to the religious needs of
the men at the front. However the reader was delighted with his choice
of subject, and at tea afterwards told me how singularly appropriate
the lesson was on this particular occasion. I thought it was wiser to
make no comment, but I wondered what spiritual fruit was gathered by
the mind of the ordinary British Tommy from a long account of Israel's
pitching their tents and perpetually moving to places with
extraordinary names.

We had several meetings of chaplains, and I paid a visit to the Deputy
Chaplain General, Bishop Gwynne, at his headquarters in St. Omer. He
was exceedingly kind and full of human interest in the men. The whole
conception of the position of an army chaplain was undergoing a great
and beneficial change. The rules which hitherto had fenced off the
chaplains, as being officers, from easy intercourse with the men   (p. 100)
were being relaxed. Chaplains were being looked upon more as parish
priests to their battalions. They could be visited freely by the men,
and could also have meals with the men when they saw fit. I am
convinced that it is a mistake to lay stress upon the chaplain's
office as a military one. The chaplain is not a soldier, and has no
men, as a doctor has, under his command. His office being a spiritual
one ought to be quite outside military rank. To both officers and men,
he holds a unique position, enabling him to become the friend and
companion of all. Bishop Gwynne upheld the spiritual side of the
chaplain's work, and by establishing conferences and religious
retreats for the chaplains, endeavoured to keep up the sacred
standards which army life tended so much to drag down.

The Cathedral at St. Omer is a very beautiful one, and it was most
restful to sit in it and meditate, looking down the long aisles and
arches that had stood so many centuries the political changes of
Europe. One morning when the sun was flooding the building and casting
the colours of the windows in rich patterns on the floor, I sat under
the gallery at the west end and read Shelley's great elegy. I remember
those wonderful last lines and I thought how, like an unshattered
temple, the great works of literature survive the tempests of national
strife. My mind was carried far away, beyond the anxieties and sorrows
of the present,

  "To where the soul of Adonais like a star
  Beacons from the abode where the Eternal are."

In the square was a large building which had been used originally as
headquarters for the Intelligence Department. Later on, this building
was taken by the Bishop and used as the Chaplains' Rest-Home. There is
an amusing story told of a despatch rider who came to the place with a
message for its original occupants, but when he inquired for the
Intelligence Department the orderly answered, "This is the Chaplains'
Rest Home, there is no Intelligence here." At St. Omer also was the
office of the Principal Chaplain who had under his charge all the
Non-Conformist Chaplains at the front. The very best relations existed
between the various religious bodies, and it was the endeavour of all
the chaplains to see that every man got the religious privileges of
his own faith.

We arrived in the Ploegsteert area at a good time for the digging and
repairing of the trenches. The clay in Belgium in fine weather     (p. 101)
is easily worked; consequently a most elaborate and well made system
of trenches was established in front of Messines. The brown sides of
the trenches became dry and hard in the sun, and the bath-mats along
them made walking easy. The trenches were named, "Currie Avenue,"
"McHarg Avenue," "Seely Avenue," and so forth. The men had their
cookers and primus stoves, and occupied their spare time in the line
by cooking all sorts of dainty dishes. Near the trenches on the other
side of Hill 63 were several ruined farm houses, known as "Le Perdu
Farm," "Ration Farm," and one, around which hovered a peculiarly
unsavoury atmosphere, as "Stinking Farm." Hill 63 was a hill which ran
immediately behind our trench area and was covered at its right end
with a delightful wood. Here were "Grand Moncque Farm," "Petit Moncque
Farm," "Kort Dreuve Farm" and the "Piggeries." All these farms were
used as billets by the battalions who were in reserve. In Ploegsteert
Wood, "Woodcote Farm," and "Red Lodge," were also used for the same
purpose. The wood in those days was a very pleasant place to wander
through. Anything that reminded us of the free life of nature acted as
a tonic to the nerves, and the little paths among the trees which
whispered overhead in the summer breezes made one imagine that one was
wandering through the forests in Canada. In the wood were several
cemeteries kept by different units, very neatly laid out and carefully
fenced in. I met an officer one day who told me he was going up to the
trenches one evening past a cemetery in the wood, when he heard the
sound of someone sobbing. He looked into the place and there saw a
young boy lying beside a newly made grave. He went in and spoke to him
and the boy seemed confused that he had been discovered in his sorrow.
"It's the grave of my brother, Sir," he said, "He was buried here this
afternoon and now I have got to go back to the line without him." The
lad dried his eyes, shouldered his rifle and went through the woodland
path up to the trenches. No one would know again the inner sorrow that
had darkened his life. The farms behind the wood made really very
pleasant homes for awhile. They have all now been levelled to the
ground, but at the time I speak of they were in good condition and had
many large and commodious buildings. At Kort Dreuve there was a very
good private chapel, which the proprietor gave me the use of for my
Communion Services. It was quite nice to have a little Gothic chapel
with fine altar, and the men who attended always enjoyed the       (p. 102)
services there. Round the farm was a large moat full of good sized
gold-fish, which the men used to catch surreptitiously and fry for
their meals. "The Piggeries" was a large building in which the King of
the Belgians had kept a fine breed of pigs. It was very long and
furnished inside with two rows of styes built solidly of concrete.
These were full of straw, and in them the men slept.

I was visiting one of the battalions there one evening, when I heard
that they had been ordered to go back to the trenches before Sunday. I
told some of the men that I thought that, as they would be in the
trenches on Sunday, it would be a good idea if we had a voluntary
service that evening. They seemed pleased, so I collected quite a
large congregation at one end of the Piggeries, and was leading up to
the service by a little overture in the shape of a talk about the war
outlook, when I became aware that there was a fight going on at the
other end of the low building, and that some of the men on the
outskirts of the congregation were beginning to get restive. I knew
that a voluntary service could not stand up against the rivalry of a
fight, so I thought I had better take the bull by the horns. I said,
"Boys, I think there is a fight going on at the ether end of the
Piggeries, and perhaps it would be well to postpone the service and go
and see the fight, and then return and carry on." The men were much
relieved and, amid great laughter, my congregation broke loose and ran
to the other end of the building, followed by myself. The fight was
soon settled by the intervention of a sergeant, and then I said, "Now,
Boys, let us go back to the other end and have the service." I thought
the change of location might have a good effect upon their minds and
souls. So back we went again to the other end of the building and
there had a really enthusiastic and devout service. When it was over,
I told the men that nothing helped so much to make a service bright
and hearty as the inclusion of a fight, and that when I returned to
Canada, if at any time my congregation was listless or sleepy, I would
arrange a fight on the other side of the street to which we could
adjourn and from which we should return with renewed spiritual
fervour. I have met many men at different times who look back upon
that service with pleasure.

We had a feeling that Ploegsteert was to be our home for a good long
time, so we settled down to our life there. We had visits from Sir Sam
Hughes and Sir Robert Borden, and also Lord Kitchener. I was not
present when the latter inspected the men, but I asked one who     (p. 103)
was there what it was like. "Oh Sir," he replied, "we stood to
attention, and Kitchener passed down the lines very quietly and
coldly. He merely looked at us with his steely grey eyes and said to
himself, "I wonder how many of these men will be in hell next week."
General Hughes' inspection of one of the battalions near Ploegsteert
Wood was interrupted by shells and the men were hastily dismissed.

A visit to the trenches was now a delightful expedition. All the way
from Nieppe to Hill 63 one came upon the headquarters of some unit. At
a large farm called "Lampernise Farm" all the transports of the 3rd
Brigade were quartered. I used to have services for them in the open
on a Sunday evening. It was very difficult at first to collect a
congregation, so I adopted the plan of getting two or three men who
could sing, and then going over with them to an open place in the
field, and starting some well known hymn. One by one others would come
up and hymn-books were distributed. By the time the service was
finished, we generally had quite a good congregation, but it took a
certain amount of courage and faith to start the service. One felt
very much like a little band of Salvationists in a city square.

In spite of having a horse to ride, it was sometimes difficult to
cover the ground between the services on Sunday. One afternoon, when I
had been to the Cavalry Brigade at Petit Moncque Farm, I had a great
scramble to get back in time to the transport lines. In a bag hanging
over the front of my saddle, I had five hundred hymn books. Having
taken a wrong turn in the road I lost some time which it was necessary
to make up, and, in my efforts to make haste, the string of the bag
broke and hymn books fluttered out and fell along the road. Dandy took
alarm, misunderstanding the nature of the fluttering white things, and
started to gallop. With two haversacks on my back it was difficult to
hold on to the bag of hymn books and at the same time to prevent their
loss. The more the hymn books fluttered out, the harder Dandy bolted,
and the harder Dandy bolted, the more the hymn books fluttered out. At
last I passed a soldier in the road and asked him to come to my
assistance. I managed to rein in the horse, and the man collected as
many of the hymn books as were not spoilt by the mud. Knowing how hard
it was and how long it took to get hymn books from the Base, it was
with regret that I left any behind. But then I reflected that it might
be really a scattering of the seed by the wayside. Some poor lone  (p. 104)
soldier who had been wandering from the paths of rectitude might pick
up the hymns by chance and be converted. Indulging in such self
consolation I arrived just in time for the service.

Services were never things you could be quite sure of until they came
off. Often I have gone to bed on Saturday night feeling that
everything had been done in the way of arranging for the following
day. Battalions had been notified, adjutants had put the hours of
service in orders, and places for the gatherings had been carefully
located. Then on the following day, to my intense disgust, I would
find that all my plans had been frustrated. Some general had taken it
into his head to order an inspection, or some paymaster had been asked
to come down and pay off the men. The Paymaster's Parade, in the eyes
of the men, took precedence of everything else. A Church Service was
nowhere in comparison. More often than I can recollect, all my
arrangements for services have been upset by a sudden order for the
men to go to a bathing parade. Every time this happened, the Adjutant
would smile and tell me, as if I had never heard it before, that
"cleanliness was next to godliness." A chaplain therefore had his
trials, but in spite of them it was the policy of wisdom not to show
resentment and to hold one's tongue. I used to look at the Adjutant,
and merely remark quietly, in the words of the Psalmist, "I held my
tongue with bit and bridle, while the ungodly was in my sight."

People at Headquarters soon got accustomed to my absence and never
gave me a thought. I used to take comfort in remembering Poo Bah's
song in the Mikado, "He never will be missed, he never will be missed."
Sometimes when I have started off from home in the morning my sergeant
and Ross have asked me when I was going to return. I told them that if
they would go down on their knees and pray for illumination on the
subject, they might find out, but that I had not the slightest idea
myself. A visit to the trenches was most fascinating. I used to take
Philo with me. He found much amusement in hunting for rats, and would
often wander off into No Man's Land and come back covered with the
blood of his victims. One night I had missed him for some time, and
was whistling for him, when a sentry told me that a white dog had been
"captured" by one of the men with the thought that it was a German
police dog, and he had carried it off to company headquarters under
sentence of death. I hurried up the trench and was just in time    (p. 105)
to save poor little Philo from a court martial. There had been a
warning in orders that day against the admission of dogs from the
German lines.

The men were always glad of a visit, and I used to distribute little
bronze crucifixes as I went along. I had them sent to me from London,
and have given away hundreds of them. I told the men that if anyone
asked them why they were at the war, that little cross with the patient
figure of self-sacrifice upon it, would be the answer. The widow of an
officer who was killed at Albert told me the cross which I gave her
husband was taken from his dead body, and she now had it, and would
wear it to her dying day. I was much surprised and touched to see the
value which the men set upon these tokens of their faith. I told them
to try to never think, say or do anything which would make them want
to take off the cross from their necks.

The dugouts in which the officers made their homes were quite
comfortable, and very merry parties we have had in the little earth
houses which were then on the surface of the ground. One night when
some new officers had arrived to take over the line, one of the
companies gave them a dinner, consisting of five or six courses, very
nicely cooked. We were never far however, from the presence of the
dark Angel, and our host on that occasion was killed the next night.
Our casualties at this time were not heavy, although every day there
were some men wounded or killed. The shells occasionally made direct
hits upon the trenches. I came upon a place once which was terribly
messed about, and two men were sitting by roaring with laughter. They
said their dinner was all prepared in their dugout, and they had gone
off to get some wood for the fire, when a shell landed and knocked
their home into ruins. They were preparing to dig for their kit and so
much of their dinner as would still be eatable. As they took the whole
matter as a joke, I joined with them in the laugh. One day as I was
going up the line, a young sapper was carried out on a sitting
stretcher. He was hit through the chest, and all the way along the
bath mats was the trail of the poor boy's blood. He was only nineteen
years of age, and had done splendid work and won the admiration of all
the men in his company. I had a short prayer with him, and then saw
him carried off to the dressing station, where not long after he died.
The sergeant who was with him was exceedingly kind, and looked after
the boy like a father. As the war went on, the men were being      (p. 106)
united more and more closely in the bonds of a common sympathy and a
tender helpfulness. To the enemy, until he was captured, they were
flint and iron; to one another they were friends and brothers.

It always took a long time to pass down the trenches. There were so
many men I knew and I could not pass them without a short
conversation. Time, in the line had really no meaning, except in the
matter of "standing to" or "changing guard". On fine days, the life
was not unpleasant. I remember, however, on one dark rainy night,
being in a trench in front of Wulverghem. The enemy trenches were at
that point only thirty-five yards away. I was squeezed into a little
muddy dugout with an officer, when the corporal came and asked for a
tot of rum for his men. They had been lying out on patrol duty in the
mud and rain in front of our trench for two hours.

Dandy was still the envy of our men in the transport lines, and one
day I nearly lost him. I rode up to Hill 63. Just behind it was an
orchard, and in it there were two batteries of British Artillery,
which were attached to our Division. I was going up to the trenches
that afternoon, so I gave the horse some oats and tied him to a tree
near the officers' billet. I then went up over the hill down to Ration
Farm, and from thence into the line. It was quite late in the
afternoon, but walking through the trenches was easy when it was not
raining. I was returning about 10 o'clock, when the second in command
of the 16th Battalion asked me to wait for him and we would come out
together over the open. It must have been about midnight when I
started with the Major, and another officer. The night was dark and it
was rather a scramble, but the German flare lights would go up now and
then and show us our course. Suddenly a machine gun opened up, and we
had to lie on our faces listening to the swish of the flying bullets
just overhead. I turned to the officer next to me and asked him how
long he had been at the front. He said he had only arrived that
afternoon at four o' clock. I told him it wasn't always like this, and
we laughed over the curious life to which he had been so recently
introduced. We finally made our way to Ration Farm and as I had a long
ride before me, I determined to go back. I was very hungry, as I had
had nothing to eat since luncheon. I went into a cellar at Ration Farm
and there found one of the men reading by the light of a candle
supported on tins of bully-beef. I asked him for one of these and he
gladly gave it to me. As I started up the hill on the long         (p. 107)
straight road with trees on either side, I tried to open the tin with
the key, but as usual it broke and left only a little crack through
which with my penknife I extracted strings of beef. I could not use my
flashlight, as the hill was in sight of the enemy, so I had to content
myself with what nourishment I was able to obtain. Half way up the
hill I noticed a tall figure standing by one of the trees. I thought
he might be a spy but I accosted him and found he was one of the
Strathcona Horse who had a working party in the trenches that night. I
told him my difficulty, and he got his knife and very kindly took off
the top of the tin. By this time a drizzling rain was falling and the
night was decidedly uncomfortable. I went over the hill and down to
the orchard, and made my way to the tree to which poor old Dandy had
been tied so many hours before. There, I found the tree just where I
had left it--it was of no use to me, as, like the barren fig tree, it
had no fruit upon it, but to my horror the horse, which was so
necessary, had disappeared. I scoured the orchard in vain looking for
my faithful friend, and then I went over to the Artillery officers'
house and told them my trouble. We all decided that it was too late to
search any longer, I was provided with a mackintosh, and determined to
make my way over to Petit Moncque Farm where the 3rd Infantry Brigade
Headquarters were. It was a long walk and the roads were sloppy. The
path I took led through a field of Indian corn. This, though not ripe
and not cooked, would remind me of Canada, so with my search-light I
hunted for two or three of the hardest ears, and then, fortified with
these, made my way over towards the farm.

From past experience, I knew that a sentry was stationed somewhere in
the road. The sudden challenge of a sentry in the dark always gave me
a fright, so I determined this time to be on the watch and keep from
getting a surprise. However when I arrived at the place where the man
usually stood, no one challenged me. I thought that perhaps on account
of the night being rainy and uncomfortable he had retired to the guard
room, and I walked along with a free mind. I was just near the large
gateway, however, when a most stentorian voice shouted out, "Halt, who
goes there?" and at the same instant in the darkness I saw the sudden
flash of a bayonet flourished in my direction. Not expecting such an
event, I could not for the moment think of what I ought to say, but I
called out in equally stentorian tones, "For heaven's sake, my boy,
don't make such a row; its only Canon Scott and I have lost my     (p. 108)
horse." A burst of laughter greeted my announcement, and the man
told me that, seeing somebody with a flashlight at that time of the
night wandering through the fields, and searching for something, he
had become convinced that a German spy was at work cutting the
telephone wires that led back to the guns, so he had got near the
guard room where he could obtain assistance, and awaited my approach
in the darkness. It was a great relief to get to headquarters, and the
officer on duty kindly lent me his comfortable sleeping bag. The next
morning I made my way back to Nieppe, and telegraphed to the various
units, searching for Dandy. Later on, in the afternoon, he was brought
in by a man of the Strathcona Horse. His story was that the
intelligent animal had untied himself from the tree and followed the
working party home from the orchard. It is most likely that he had
preceded them. Luckily for me, their quartermaster had recognized him
in the Strathcona lines, and, being an honest man, had sent him back.
The incident taught me a great and useful lesson, and in future I was
very careful to see that my horse was safely guarded whenever I had to
leave him.

Our signallers had been active in setting up a wireless telegraph in a
field near Headquarters and were able to get the various communiques
which were sent out during the night by the different nations. The
information was passed round Headquarters every morning on typewritten
sheets and made most interesting reading. We were able to anticipate
the news detailed to us in the papers. Later on, however, someone in
authority put an end to this and we were deprived of our Daily
Chronicle.

About this time we heard that the 2nd Division was coming to France,
and that the two Divisions, which would be joined by a third, were to
be formed into the Canadian Corps. This meant a very radical change in
the status of the old 1st Division. Up to this time we were "the
Canadians"; now we were only to be one among several divisions.
General Alderson was to take command of the Corps, and the question
which was daily asked among the officers at headquarters was, "Are you
going to the Corps?" It was a sundering of ties amongst our friends,
and we felt sorry that our society would be broken up. One of the
staff officers asked me to write a poem on his departure. I did so. It
began--

  "He left the war
  And went to the Corps,
  Our hearts were sore,                                            (p. 109)
  We could say no more."

My friend was not at all pleased at the implication contained in the
first two lines.

Bailleul was made Corps Headquarters, whither General Alderson moved.
His place at the division was taken by General Currie, who afterwards
commanded the Corps and led it to victory. The old town now became a
great Canadian centre. The General had comfortable quarters in a large
house, which was nicely furnished, and had an air of opulence about
it. The Grande Place was full of activity, and in the streets one met
many friends. The hotel offered an opportunity for afternoon tea and a
tolerable dinner. Besides this, there was the officers' tea room, kept
by some damsels who provided cakes and served tea on little tables,
like a restaurant in London. Here we could be sure of meeting many of
our friends and very pleasant such gatherings were. In a large hall a
concert took place every evening. We had a very special one attended
by several generals with their staffs. The proceeds were given to the
Canadian "Prisoners of War Fund". The concerts were most enjoyable and
the real, artistic ability of some of the performers, both Canadian
and British, was remarkable. It was always pleasant to live in the
neighbourhood of a town, and the moment the men came out of the
trenches they wanted to clean up and go into Bailleul. After a
residence in the muddy and shaky little shacks in and behind the front
lines, to enter a real house and sit on a real chair with a table in
front of you was a great luxury.

There were several well-equipped hospitals in Bailleul. One large
British one had a nice chapel set aside for our use. In it one day we
had a Confirmation service which was very impressive, a number of
candidates being present.

While Headquarters were at Nieppe the British attack upon Loos was to
take place, and it was arranged that the Canadians, in order to keep
the Germans busy in the North, were to make an attack. I happened to
be visiting "the Piggeries" in the afternoon previous. The 1st
Battalion was in the line. I heard the Colonel read out to the
officers the orders for the attack. We were not told that the whole
thing was what our soldiers call "a fake". As he read the orders for
the next morning, they sounded serious, and I was invited to be
present, which of course I gladly consented to. The guns were to open
fire at 4 a.m. I had been away from Headquarters for some time so  (p. 110)
I determined to ride back and return later. At three o'clock a.m. my
servant woke me up and I had a cup of coffee, and started off on Dandy
to go up to "the Piggeries". I took a tin of bully-beef with me, and
so was prepared for any eventuality. It was just before dawn and the
morning air was fresh and delightful. Dandy had had a good feed of
oats and was full of life. He seemed to enjoy the sport as much as I
did. We rode up the well known roads, and round their curious curves
past the small white farm houses, till we came into the neighbourhood
of our batteries. All of a sudden these opened fire. It was a splendid
sound. Of all the music I have ever heard in my life, none comes near
the glorious organ sound of a barrage. I look back with the greatest
pleasure to that early morning ride through the twilight lit up by gun
flashes from batteries scattered along our whole front. One great
dread I always had, and that was the dread of being killed by our own
artillery. On this occasion, I had to ride down roads that looked
perilously near batteries in action. When I got to a corner near "the
Piggeries", I was just stopped in time from what might have been my
finish. There was a concealed battery among the trees by the wayside,
and I, not knowing it was there, was about to ride by unconcernedly,
when a gunner came out from the bushes and stopped me just in time,
telling me that in half a minute the battery was going to open up.
Dandy and I waited till the guns had fired and then went on. Along our
front line there was much stir and commotion. Bundles of lighted straw
making a hideous smoke were poked over the trenches, and the whole
night previous, all the limbers available had been driven up and down
the roads, making as much noise as possible. The Germans were
convinced we were preparing for an attack on a big scale, and that the
yellow smoke which they saw coming towards them was some new form of
frightfulness. Of course they returned our fire, but our men knew by
this time that the whole affair was only a pretence. Far off to the
South, however, there was a real battle raging, and the cemeteries
which we afterwards saw at Loos bore testimony to the bitter struggle
which the British forces endured.

The village of Ploegsteert behind the wood was very much damaged. Like
the other villages at the front, it must at one time have been quite a
prosperous place. The church, before it was ruined, was well built and
capacious. There was a building on the main street which a         (p. 111)
British chaplain had used as a clubhouse, and handed over to me when
his division moved south. It was well stocked with all things necessary
to make the men comfortable. It had a kitchen, reading rooms, and
upstairs a chapel. Two or three shells, however, had made their way
into it, and the holes were covered with canvas. The Mayor's house was
on the other side of the street, and he had a young girl there as a
servant, who kept the keys of the club. The chaplain who moved away
told me that this girl, when the town was being heavily shelled one
day, saved the lives of some men who were lying wounded in the house,
by carrying them on her back over to a place of safety in a farmhouse.
It was a deed that merited recognition, because she had to pass down
the road which was then under heavy shell fire. I brought her case
before the notice of the military authorities, and General Seely was
asked to take the matter up and make an application to the King for a
reward for the girl's bravery. There was a doubt as to what award
could be given to her. We got the sworn testimony of the Mayor and
other eye-witnesses, and the document was finally laid before the
King. It was decided that she should receive the bronze medal of the
Order of St. John of Jerusalem. Later on General Alderson sent for me
and took me to the Mayor's house in Romarin, where we had the ceremony
of conferring the medal. It was quite touching in its simplicity. The
girl, who had a fine open face, was on the verge of giving way to
tears. The Mayor and some other of the chief inhabitants were arrayed
in their best clothes, and a Highland regiment lent us their pipers.
One of the citizens presented the heroine with a large bouquet of
flowers. General Alderson made a nice speech, which was translated to
the townsfolk, and then he presented the medal. We were invited into
the house, and the girl's health was proposed and drunk by the General
in a glass of Romarin Champagne. We heard afterwards that the country
people were much impressed by the way the British Army had recognized
the gallantry of a poor Belgian maidservant.

One day a German aeroplane was brought down behind our lines, near
Ration Farm. Of its two occupants one was killed. On the aeroplane was
found a Colt machine-gun, which had been taken by the Germans from the
14th Battalion several months before, in the Second Battle of Ypres.
It now came back to the brigade which had lost it. I buried the airman
near Ration Farm, in a grave, which the men did up neatly and over
which they erected a cross with his name upon it.

Although our Headquarters were at Nieppe, the village was really   (p. 112)
in the British Area, and so we were informed towards the end of
November that we had been ordered to move to St. Jans Cappel. On
Monday, November 22nd I started off by car via Bailleul to my new
billet. Although I had left Nieppe and its pleasant society with great
regret, I was quite pleased with my new home. It was a small house
belonging to a widow, on the road that led from St. Jans Cappel up to
Mount Kemmel. The house itself was brick and well built. The
landlady's rooms were on one side of the passage, and mine were on the
other. A large garret overhead gave a billet for Ross and my sergeant
clerk. In the yard there was a stable for the horse. So the whole
family was quite comfortably housed, and Ross undertook to do my
cooking. The room which I used as my office in the front of the house
had two large windows in it, and a neat tiled floor. The furniture was
ample. At the back, up some steps, was my bedroom, and the window from
it opened upon the yard. A former occupant of the house, a Major
Murray, of King Edward's Horse, had left a series of maps on the wall,
on which pins were stuck with a bit of red cord passing through them,
to show the position of our front line. These maps deeply impressed
visitors with my military exactness. In that little office I have
received many guests of all ranks. I always said that the chaplain's
house was like a church, and all men met there on equal terms.
Sometimes it was rather difficult however, to convince them that this
was the case. On one occasion two privates and I had just finished
luncheon, and were having a delightful smoke, when a certain general
was announced, and the men seized with panic, fled up the steps to my
bedroom and bolting through my window hurried back to their lines.

The landlady was quite well to do, and was a woman well thought of in
the village. She both paid calls upon her neighbours and received
callers in her rooms. Sometimes I used to be invited in to join these
social gatherings and frequently she would bring me in a nice bowl of
soup for dinner. Philo, too, made himself quite at home, and carefully
inspected all visitors on their admission to the mansion. In front of
the house, there was a pleasant view of the valley through which the
road passed up towards Mont des Cats. Our Headquarters were down in
the village in a large building which was part of the convent. General
Currie and his staff lived in a charming chateau in pleasant grounds,
on the hillside. The chateau, although a modern one, was reputed   (p. 113)
to be haunted, which gave it a more or less romantic interest in the
eyes of our men, though as far as I could hear no apparitions disturbed
the slumbers of the G.S.O. or the A.A. & Q.M.G.

The road past my house, which was a favourite walk of mine, went over
the hill, and at the top a large windmill in a field commanded a fine
view of the country for several miles. My garden was very pleasant,
and in it was a summer house at the end of a moss-grown walk. One
plant which gave me great delight was a large bush of rosemary. The
smell of it always carried my mind back to peaceful times. It was like
the odour of the middle ages, with that elusive suggestion of incense
which reminded me of Gothic fanes and picturesque processions. Many
elm trees fringed the fields, and made a welcome shade along the sides
of the road. A little stream ran through the village and added its
touch of beauty to the landscape. We were only a mile and a half from
Bailleul, so we could easily get up to the town either for a concert
or for dinner at the hotel. The Camp Commandant allotted me the school
house, which I fitted up as a chapel. It was very small, and not
particularly clean, but it served its purpose very well.

My only objection to St. Jans Cappel was that it was situated such a
long way from our men, for we still held the same front line near
Ploegsteert. It was now a ride of twelve miles to Hill 63 whither I
frequently had to go to take burial services, the round trip making a
journey of nearly twenty-four miles. The Bailleul road, which was my
best route, was a pave road, and was hard on a horse. I did not want
poor willing Dandy to suffer from overwork, so I begged the loan of
another mount from Headquarters. It was a young horse, but big and
heavily built, and had no life in it. I was trotting down the road
with him one day when he tumbled down, and I injured my knee, causing
me to be laid up with water on the knee for about six weeks. The men
used to chaff me about falling off my horse, but I told them that I
could sit on a horse as long as he stood up, but I could not sit on
the air when the horse lay down. I was very much afraid that the
A.D.M.S. would send me off to a hospital, but I got private treatment
from a doctor friend, who was acting A.D.C. to General Currie. Luckily
for me, things were pretty quiet at the front at that time, and my
being confined to the house did not really make much difference. I had
a supper in my billet one night for a number of Bishop's College   (p. 114)
men. Of those who attended, the majority have since made the supreme
sacrifice, but it was an evening which brought back many pleasant
memories of our Alma Mater.

The roads round St. Jans Cappel were very pretty, and I had many a
pleasant ride in our staff cars, which I, as Senior Chaplain, was
permitted to use. It was always a great delight to me to pick up men
on the road and give them a ride. I used to pile them in and give them
as good a joy ride as the chauffeur, acting under orders, would allow.
One day, in a heavy snowstorm, I picked up two nuns, whose garments
were blowing about in the blizzard in a hopeless condition. The
sisters were glad of the chance of a ride to Bailleul, whither they
were going on foot through the snow. It was against orders to drive
ladies in our staff cars, but I thought the circumstances of the case
and the evident respectability of my guests would be a sufficient
excuse for a breach of the rule. The sisters chatted in French very
pleasantly, and I took them to their convent headquarters in Bailleul.
I could see, as I passed through the village, how amused our men were
at my use of the car. When I arrived at the convent door at Bailleul,
the good ladies alighted and then asked me to give them my blessing.
How could I refuse, or enter upon a discussion of the validity of
Anglican Orders? The nuns with their hands crossed on their bosoms
leaned forward, and I stood up and blessed them from the car, and
departed leaving them both grateful and gratified.

The village of St. Jans Cappel had been captured by the Germans in
their advance in 1914, and we heard some unpleasant tales of the
rudeness of the German officers who took up their quarters in the
convent and compelled the nuns to wait upon them at the table. In
1918, when the Germans made their big push round Mont Kemmel, St. Jans
Cappel, along with Bailleul and Meteren, was captured once more by the
enemy, and the village is now in ruins and its inhabitants scattered.

I do not look back with much pleasure to the cold rides which I always
used to have on my return from the line. In frosty weather the pave
roads were very slippery, and I had to walk Dandy most of the distance,
while I got colder and colder, and beguiled the time by composing
poems or limericks on places at the front. Arriving at my billet in
the small hours of the morning, I would find my friend Ross not always
in the best of humors at being kept up so late. The ride back from
Wulverghem or Dranoutre, owing to the narrowness of the road and   (p. 115)
the amount of transport and lorries upon it, was rather dangerous. It
was a matter of ten miles to come back from Wulverghem, and the roads
were very dark. One night in particular I had a narrow escape. I had
mounted Dandy at the back of a farmhouse, but for some reason or other
I seemed to have lost control over him and he was unusually lively.
Luckily for me a man offered to lead him out into the road, and just
before he let him go discovered that the bit was not in his mouth.

The Alberta Dragoons had billets in a side road that led to Bailleul.
It was a quiet and peaceful neighbourhood, and they had good barns for
their horses. In the fields they had splendid opportunities for training
and exercise. I often took service for them. One Sunday afternoon I had
been speaking of the necessity of purifying the commercial life of
Canada on our return, and I said something uncomplimentary about land
speculators. I was told afterwards that I had caused much amusement in
all ranks, for every man in the troop from the officers downwards, or
upwards, was a land speculator, and had town lots to sell in the West.
In conversations with privates and non-coms., I often found they had
left good positions in Canada and not infrequently were men of means.
I have given mud-splashed soldiers a ride in the car, and they have
talked about their own cars at home. It was quite pathetic to see how
much men thought of some little courtesy or act of kindness. A young
fellow was brought in on a stretcher to the Red Chateau dressing
station one Sunday afternoon at Courcelette. He was terribly wounded
and gave me his father's address in Canada so that I might write to
him. He was carried away and I heard afterwards he died. Some months
later I had a letter from his father, a Presbyterian minister in
Ontario, thanking me for writing and telling me how pleased his son
had been by my giving him a ride one day in a Headquarters car. I
mention this so that people will realize how much the men had given up
when they considered such a trifling thing worth mentioning.

The position of a chaplain as the war went on became very different
from what it had been at the beginning. The experience through which
the army had passed had showed to the military authorities that there
was something more subtle, more supernatural behind the life of the
men, than one might gather from the King's Regulations. Our chaplains
had done splendid work, and I think I may say that, with one or two
exceptions, they were idolized by their units. I could tell of one (p. 116)
of our chaplains who lived continually at the advanced dressing station
in great hardship and discomfort, sharing the danger and privation of
his men. The curious thing about a chaplain's popularity was that the
men never praised a chaplain whom they knew without adding "It is a
pity that all chaplains are not like him". On one occasion when I was
going through the Division, I was told by the men of one unit that
their chaplain was a prince, and it was a pity that all chaplains were
not like him. I went to another unit, and there again I was told that
their chaplain was a prince, and it was a pity that all chaplains were
not like him. It seems to be a deeply rooted principle in a soldier's
mind to beware of praising religion overmuch. But it amused me in a
general survey to find that ignorance of the work of other chaplains
led to their condemnation. I fancy the same spirit still manifests
itself in the British Army and in Canada. I find officers and men
eager enough to praise those who were their own chaplains but always
adding to it a condemnation of those who were not. An officer said to
me one day that the war had enabled chaplains to get to know men. I
told him that the war also had enabled men to get to know chaplains.
Large numbers of men in ordinary life are very seldom brought into
contact with religion. They have the crude notion of it which they
carried away as unfledged boys from Sunday School, and a sort of
formal bowing acquaintance through the conventions of later life. In
the war, when their minds and affections were put to a severe strain,
it was a revelation to them to find that there were principles and
relationships of divine origin which enabled the ordinary human will
easily to surmount difficulties moral and physical, and which gave a
quiet strength that nothing merely earthly could supply. Certainly the
war gave chaplains a splendid opportunity of bearing witness to the
power of Christ. A great deal has been written about the religion of
the men at the front. Some have spoken of it in terms of exaggerated
optimism, as though by the miracle of the war men had become beings of
angelic outlook and temper. Others have taken a despairing attitude,
and thought that religion has lost its real power over the world. The
truth is, I think, that there was a revelation to most men, in a broad
way, of a mysterious soul life within, and of a huge responsibility to
an infinite and eternal Being above. There was a revelation also, wide
and deep, to many individual men, of the living force and example of
Him who is both God and Brother-man. Where the associations of     (p. 117)
church and home had been clean and helpful, men under the batterings
of war felt consciously the power of religion. In the life at the
front, no doubt there was much evil thinking, evil talking and evil
doing, but there was, underlying all this, the splendid manifestation
in human nature of that image of God in which man was made. As one
looks back upon it, the surface things of that life have drifted away,
and the great things that one remembers are the self-sacrifice, the
living comradeship, and the unquestioning faith in the eternal rightness
of right and duty which characterized those who were striving to the
death for the salvation of the world. This glorious vision of the
nobility of human nature sustained the chaplain through many
discouragements and difficulties. I have often sat on my horse on
rainy nights near Hill 63, and watched the battalions going up to the
line. With wet rubber sheets hanging over their huge packs and with
rifles on their shoulders, the men marched up through the mud and cold
and darkness, to face wounds and death. At such times, the sordid life
has been transfigured before me. The hill was no longer Hill 63, but
it was the hill of Calvary. The burden laid upon the men was no longer
the heavy soldier's pack, but it was the cross of Christ, and, as the
weary tramp of the men splashed in the mud, I said to myself "Each one
has fulfilled the law of life, and has taken up his cross and is
following Christ."

I told the men this one day on church parade; and a corporal sometime
afterwards said that, when next their battalion was moving up into the
line, a young fellow beside him was swearing very hard over the amount
of stuff he had to carry. My friend went over to him and said, "Don't
you know that Canon Scott told us that this really isn't a pack, but
it's the Cross of Christ?" The lad stopped swearing at once, and took
up his burden without a word.




CHAPTER IX.                                                        (p. 118)

OUR FIRST CHRISTMAS IN FRANCE.


The 25th of December 1915, was to be our first Christmas in France,
and as the day approached there was much speculation among our men as
to which Battalions would be in the line. At last orders came out that
the 13th and 16th Battalions would relieve the 14th and 15th on
Christmas Eve. I determined, therefore, to spend my Christmas with the
former two. Our trenches at that time were in front of Ploegsteert.
The 16th was on the right and the 13th on the left. Taking my bag with
communion vessels and as many hymn books as I could carry, and with a
haversack over my shoulder containing requisities for the night, I was
motored over on Christmas Eve to the 3rd Brigade Headquarters at Petit
Moncque Farm. The day was rainy and so was not calculated to improve
the spirits and temper of the men who were going to spend their first
Christmas in the line. At dusk I walked up the road to Hill 63, and
then down on the other side to Le Plus Douve Farm. It was not a cheerful
Christmas Eve. The roads were flooded with water, and the transports
that were waiting for the relief were continually getting tangled up
with one another in the darkness. To make matters worse, I was met by
a Sergeant who told me he had some men to be buried, and a burial
party was waiting on the side of the road. We went into the field
which was used as a cemetery and there we laid the bodies to rest.

The Germans had dammed the river Douve, and it had flooded some of the
fields and old Battalion Headquarters. It was hard to find one's way
in the dark, and I should never have done so without assistance. The
men had acquired the power of seeing in the dark, like cats.

A Battalion was coming out and the men were wet and muddy. I stood by
the bridge watching them pass and, thinking it was the right and
conventional thing to do, wished them all a Merry Christmas. My
intentions were of the best, but I was afterwards told that it sounded
to the men like the voice of one mocking them in their misery.
However, as it turned out, the wish was fulfilled on the next day.

As soon as I could cross the bridge, I made my way to the trenches
which the 16th Battalion were taking over. They were at a higher   (p. 119)
level and were not in a bad condition. Further up the line there was a
barn known as St. Quentin's Farm, which for some reason or other,
although it was in sight of the enemy, had not been demolished and was
used as a billet. I determined therefore to have a service of Holy
Communion at midnight, when the men would all have come into the line
and settled down. About eleven o'clock I got things ready. The officers
and men had been notified of the service and began to assemble. The
barn was a fair size and had dark red brick walls. The roof was low
and supported by big rafters. The floor was covered with yellow straw
about two feet in depth. The men proceeded to search for a box which I
could use as an altar. All they could get were three large empty biscuit
tins. These we covered with my Union Jack and white linen cloth. A row
of candles was stuck against the wall, which I was careful to see were
prevented from setting fire to the straw. The dull red tint of the
brick walls, the clean yellow straw, and the bright radiance of our
glorious Union Jack made a splendid combination of colour. It would
have been a fitting setting for a tableau of the Nativity.

The Highlanders assembled in two rows and I handed out hymn books.
There were many candles in the building so the men were able to read.
It was wonderful to hear in such a place and on such an occasion, the
beautiful old hymns, "While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night,"
"Hark the Herald Angels Sing," and "O Come All Ye Faithful." The men
sang them lustily and many and varied were the memories of past
Christmases that welled up in their thoughts at that time.

I had a comfortable bunk in one of the dugouts that night, and was up
next morning early to spend the day among the men in the line. I was
delighted to find that the weather had changed and a most glorious day
was lighting up the face of nature. The sky overhead was blue and only
a few drifting clouds told of the rain that had gone. The sun was beating
down warm and strong, as if anxious to make up for his past neglect.
The men, of course, were in high spirits, and the glad handshake and
the words "A Merry Christmas" had got back their old-time meaning.

The Colonel had given orders to the men not to fire on the enemy that
day unless they fired on us. The Germans had evidently come to the
same resolution. Early in the morning some of them had come over   (p. 120)
to our wire and left two bottles of beer behind as a peace offering.
The men were allowed to go back to their trenches unmolested, but the
two bottles of beer quite naturally and without any difficulty continued
their journey to our lines. When I got up to the front trench, I found
our boys standing on the parapet and looking over at the enemy. I
climbed up, and there, to my astonishment, I saw the Germans moving
about in their trenches apparently quite indifferent to the fact that
we were gazing at them. One man was sawing wood. Between us and them
lay that mass of wire and iron posts which is known as the mysterious
"No Man's Land." Further down the hill we saw the trenches of the 13th
Battalion, where apparently intermittent "Straffing" was still going
on. Where we were, however, there was nothing to disturb our Christmas
peace and joy. I actually got out into "No Mans Land" and wandered
down it. Many Christmas parcels had arrived and the men were making
merry with their friends, and enjoying the soft spring-like air, and
the warm sunshine. When I got down to the 13th Battalion however, I
found that I had to take cover, as the German snipers and guns were
active. I did not have any service for that Battalion then, as I was
going to them on the following Sunday, but at evening I held another
midnight service for those of the 16th who were on duty the night
before.

The only place available was the billet of the Machine Gun Officer in
the second trench. It was the cellar of a ruined building and the
entrance was down some broken steps. One of the sergeants had cleaned
up the place and a shelf on the wall illuminated by candles was
converted into an altar, and the dear old flag, the symbol of liberty,
equality and fraternity, was once again my altar cloth. The Machine
Gun Officer, owing to our close proximity to the enemy, was a little
doubtful as to the wisdom of our singing hymns, but finally allowed us
to do so. The tiny room and the passage outside were crowded with
stalwart young soldiers, whose voices sang out the old hymns as though
the Germans were miles away. Our quarters were so cramped that the men
had difficulty in squeezing into the room for communion and could not
kneel down. The service was rich and beautiful in the heartfelt
devotion of men to whom, in their great need, religion was a real and
vital thing. Not long after midnight, once again the pounding of the
old war was resumed, and as I went to bed in the dugout that night, I
felt from what a sublime height the world had dropped. We had two  (p. 121)
more war Christmases in France, but I always look back upon that first
one as something unique in its beauty and simplicity.

When I stood on the parapet that day looking over at the Germans in
their trenches, and thought how two great nations were held back for a
time in their fierce struggle for supremacy, by their devotion to a
little Child born in a stable in Bethlehem two thousand years before,
I felt that there was still promise of a regenerated world. The Angels
had not sung in vain their wonderful hymn "Glory to God in the Highest
and on Earth Peace, Good Will towards men."




CHAPTER X.                                                         (p. 122)

SPRING, 1916.


At the end of March our Division was ordered back to the Salient, and
so Headquarters left St. Jans Cappel. It was with great regret that I
bid good-by to the little place which had been such a pleasant home
for several months. The tide of war since then has no doubt swept away
many of the pastoral charms of the scenery, but the green fields and
the hillsides will be reclothed in beauty as time goes on. We stopped
for a few days at Fletre, and while there I made the acquaintance of
the Australians, and visited the battalions which were billeted in the
neighbourhood.

It was always delightful to have the Division out in rest. As long as
the men were in the line one could not be completely happy. But when
they came out and one went amongst them, there was nothing to
overcloud the pleasure of our intercourse. One day I rode over to a
battalion and found a lot of men sitting round the cookhouse. We had a
long talk about the war, and they asked me to recite my war limericks.
I spent the evening with the O.C. of a battery and the night, on my
return, was very dark. One of the battalions had been paid off that
afternoon, and the men, who as usual had been celebrating the event in
an estaminet, were in boisterous spirits. It was so hard to make my
way through the crowd that Dandy got nervous and unmanageable. A young
fellow who recognized me in the dark came up and asked me if I should
like him to lead the horse down the road. I gratefully accepted his
offer. He walked beside me till we came to a bridge, and then he told
me that he had been very much interested in religion since he came to
the war, and was rather troubled over the fact that he had never been
baptised. He said he had listened to my limericks that day, and while
he was listening had determined to speak to me about his baptism. I
arranged to prepare him, and, before the battalion started north, I
baptised him in the C.O.'s. room in a farmhouse. The Adjutant acted as
his godfather. I do not know where the lad is now, or how he fared in
the war, but someday I hope I shall hear from him again. It was often
very difficult, owing to the numbers of men one was meeting, and the
many changes that were continually taking place, to keep track of the
lives of individuals. The revelations of the religious experiences (p. 123)
and the needs of the human soul, which came over and over again from
conversations with men, were always of the greatest help to a chaplain,
and made him feel that, in spite of many discouragements and much
indifference, there was always some soul asking for spiritual help.

The Headquarters of our Division were now at a place called Hooggraaf.
It consisted of a few small houses and a large school kept by nuns.
Huts were run up for the officers and, at a little distance down the
road, a home was built for "C" mess. At one side were some Armstrong
canvas huts, one of which was mine. It was a pleasant place, and being
back from the road was free from dust. Green fields, rich in grain,
spread in all directions. It was at Hooggraaf that the Engineers built
me a church, and a big sign over the door proclaimed it to be "St.
George's Church." It was first used on Easter Day, which in 1916 fell
on the Festival of St. George, and we had very hearty services.

Poperinghe, only two miles away, became our city of refuge. Many of
our units had their headquarters there, and the streets were filled
with our friends. We had many pleasant gatherings there in an estaminet
which became a meeting place for officers. The Guards Division, among
other troops, were stationed in Poperinghe, so there was much variety
of life and interest in the town. "Talbot House," for the men, and the
new Officer's Club, presided over by Neville Talbot, were centres of
interest. The gardens at the back made very pleasant places for an
after-dinner smoke. There were very good entertainments in a theatre
every evening, where "The Follies," a theatrical company of Imperial
soldiers, used to perform. Poperinghe was even at that time damaged by
shells, but since then it has suffered more severely. The graceful
spire, which stood up over the plain with its outline against the sky,
has luckily been preserved. We had some very good rest billets for the
men in the area around Hooggraaf. They consisted of collections of
large wooden huts situated in different places, and called by special
names. "Scottish Lines," "Connaught Lines," and "Patricia Lines," were
probably the most comfortable. In fact, all along the various roads
which ran through our area different units made their homes.

Our military prison was in a barn about a mile from Headquarters. I
used to go there for service every Monday afternoon at six o'clock. By
that time, the men had come back from work. They slept on shelves, (p. 124)
one over another. The barn was poorly lighted, and got dark early in
the afternoon. The first time I took service there, I was particularly
anxious that everything should be done as nicely as possible, so that
the men would not think they had come under the ban of the church.
Most of their offences were military ones. The men therefore were not
criminals in the ordinary sense of the term. I brought my surplice,
scarf and hymn books, and I told the men that I wanted them to sing.
They lay on the shelves with only their heads and shoulders visible. I
told them that I wanted the service to be hearty, and asked them to
choose the first hymn. A voice from one of the shelves said--

  "Here we suffer grief and pain."

A roar of laughter went up from the prisoners, in which I joined
heartily.

At the front, we held Hill 60 and the trenches to the south of it. In
a railway embankment, a series of dugouts furnished the Brigade that
was in the line with comfortable billets. The Brigadier's abode had a
fireplace in it. One of the dugouts was used as a morgue, in which
bodies were kept till they could be buried. A man told me that one
night when he had come down from the line very late, he found a dugout
full of men wrapped in their blankets, every one apparently asleep.
Without more ado, he crawled in amongst them and slept soundly till
morning. When he awoke, he found to his horror that he had slept all
night among the dead men in the morgue. There was a cemetery at
Railway Dugouts, which was carefully laid out. Beyond this there was
another line of sandbag homes on one side of a large pond called
"Zillebeke Lake." They were used by other divisions.

From Railway Dugouts, by paths and then by communication trenches, one
made one's way up to Hill 60 and the other parts of the front line,
where the remains of a railway crossed the hill. Our dugouts were on
the east side of it, and the line itself was called "Lover's Lane".
The brick arch of a bridge which crossed the line was part of our
front.

One day I was asked by a British chaplain, who was ordered south, to
accompany him on a trip he was making to his brother's grave at Hooge.
He wished to mark it by a cross. As the place was in full view of the
Germans, we had to visit it before dawn. I met my friend at 2.30 a.m.
in the large dugout under the Ramparts at Ypres. We started off with
two runners, but one managed most conveniently to lose us and      (p. 125)
returned home. The other accompanied us all the way. It was a weird
expedition. The night was partly cloudy, and faint moonlight struggled
through the mist which shrouded us. The runner went first, and the
Padre, who was a tall man, followed, carrying the cross on his
shoulder. I brought up the rear. In the dim light, my friend looked
like some allegorical figure from "Pilgrim's Progress". Occasionally
we heard the hammering of a machine-gun, and we would lie down till
the danger was past. We skirted the grim borders of Sanctuary Wood,
and made our way to Hooge. There my friend got out his map to find, if
possible, the place where he had buried his brother. He sat down in a
large shell hole, and turned his flashlight upon the paper. It was
difficult to find the location, because the place had recently been
the scene of a hard struggle. The guide and I looked over the ground
and we found a line of graves marked by broken crosses. The night was
fast passing and in the grey of the eastern sky the stars were going
out one by one. At last my friend found the spot he was looking for
and there he set up the cross, and had a short memorial service for
the dead. On our return, we passed once more by Sanctuary Wood, and in
the daylight looked into the place torn and battered by shells and
reeking with the odours of unburied bodies.

We parted at Zillebeke Bund, and I made my way to Railway Dugouts. It
was a lovely morning and the air was so fresh that although I had been
walking all night I did not feel tired. The 3rd Battalion was holding
the line just behind a piece of ground which was called the "Bean and
Pollock." It was supposed that the Germans had mined the place and
that an explosion might be expected at any minute. One company had
built a rustic arbour, which they used as their mess-room. The bright
sun shone through the green boughs overhead. There was intermittent
shelling, but nothing to cause us any worry. I stayed till late in the
afternoon, when I made my way towards the rear of Hill 60. There I
found the 14th Battalion which was in reserve. They told me that the
16th Battalion in the line was going to blow up a mine that night, and
offered to give me a dugout if I would stay for the festivities. I
gladly accepted, and just before midnight made my way to a dugout that
had just been completed. I was told that there was a bed in it with a
wire mattress. When I got into the dugout, I lit a candle, and found
to my astonishment that the place was full of men lying on the     (p. 126)
bed and the floor. They offered to get out but I told them not to
think of it. So we lit another candle, and had a very pleasant time
until the mine went up. We heard a fearful explosion, and the ground
rocked as it does in an earthquake. It was not long before the Germans
retaliated, and we heard the shells falling round us. At daybreak I
went up to the line to see the result of the explosion. A large crater
had been made in No Man's Land, but for some reason or other the side
of our trench had been blown back upon our own men and there were many
casualties.

I stayed in the trenches all afternoon, and on my way back went to an
artillery observation post on a hill which was crowned by the ruins of
an old mill. The place was called Verbranden Molen. Here I found a young
artillery officer on duty. The day was so clear that we were able to
spread out a map before us on the ground and with our glasses look up
every point named on the sheet. We looked far over to the North and saw
the ruins of Wieltje. Ypres lay to the left, and we could see Zillebeke,
Sanctuary Wood, High Wood, Square Wood, and Hooge. The light reflected
from our glasses must have been seen by some German sniper, for suddenly
we heard the crack of bullets in the hedge behind us and we hastily
withdrew to the dugout. As I walked back down the road I came to one of
the posts of the motor-machine-gunners who were there on guard. They were
just having tea outside and kindly invited me to join them. We had a
delightful conversation on poetry and literature, but were prepared to
beat a hasty retreat into the dugout in case the Germans took to
shelling the road, which they did every evening.

Railway Dugouts was always a pleasant place to visit, there were so
many men there. As one passed up and down the wooden walk which ran
the length of the embankment there were many opportunities of meeting
one's friends. On the other side of it, however, which was exposed to
the German shells, the men frequently had a hard time in getting up to
the line.

There were several interesting chateaus in the neighbourhood. That
nearest to the front was called Bedford House, and stood in what must
have been once very beautiful grounds. The upper part of the house was
in ruins, but the cellars were deep and capacious and formed a good
billet for the officers and men. At one side there was a dressing
station and in the garden were some huts protected by piles of sand
bags.

A chateau that was well-known in the Salient lay a little to the   (p. 127)
west of Bedford House. It was called Swan Chateau, from the fact
that a large white swan lived on the artificial lake in the grounds. I
never saw the swan myself, but the men said it had been wounded in the
wing and had lost an eye. It was long an object of interest to many
battalions that at different times were housed in the chateau. One day
the swan disappeared. It was rumoured that a hungry Canadian battalion
had killed it for food. On the other hand, it was said that it had
been taken to some place of safety to prevent its being killed. There
was something very poetical in the idea of this beautiful bird living
on through the scene of desolation, like the spirit of the world that
had passed away. It brought back memories of the life that had gone,
and the splendour of an age which had left Ypres forever.




CHAPTER XI.                                                        (p. 128)

THE ATTACK ON MOUNT SORREL.

_Summer, 1916._


Easter Day, 1916, fell on the 23rd of April, and a great many
interesting facts were connected with it. The 23rd of April is St.
George's Day. It is also the anniversary of Shakespeare's birth and of
his death, and also of the 2nd Battle of Ypres. The day was a glorious
one. The air was sweet and fresh, the grass was the brightest green,
hedgerows and trees were in leaf, and everybody was in high spirits.
After services in St. George's church I rode over to Poperinghe and
attended a memorial service which the 1st Brigade were holding in the
Cinema. General Mercer, who himself was killed not long afterwards,
was one of the speakers. The building was crowded with men, and the
service was very solemn.

Life at this time was very pleasant, except for the fact that we never
knew what might happen when we were in the Salient. We always felt
that it was a death-trap, and that the Germans would never give up
trying to capture Ypres. I was kept busy riding about, visiting the
different units. Round about Hooggraaf the spring roads were very
attractive, and the numerous short cuts through the fields and under
the overhanging trees reminded one of country life at home.

One day Dandy bolted as I was mounting him, and I fell on some bath
mats breaking a bone in my hand and cutting my face in several places.
This necessitated my being sent up to the British C.C.S. at Mont des
Cats. Mont des Cats was a picturesque hill which overlooked the Flanders
Plain, and could be seen from all parts of the Salient. On the top
there was a Trappist monastery. The buildings were modern and covered
a large extent of ground. They were solidly built of brick and stone
and the chapel was a beautiful building with a high vaulted roof. From
the top of the hill, a magnificent view of the country could be
obtained, to the North as far as the sea, and to the East as far as
our trenches, where we could see the shells bursting.

Mont des Cats hospital was a most delightful temporary home. There was
a large ward full of young officers, who were more or less ill     (p. 129)
or damaged. In another part of the building were wards for the men.
From the O.C. downwards everyone in the C.C.S. was the soul of kindness,
and the beautiful buildings with their pleasant grounds gave a peculiar
charm to the life. My room was not far from the chapel, and every
night at two a.m. I could hear the old monks chanting their offices.
Most of the monks had been conscripted and were fighting in the French
army; only a few of the older ones remained. But by day and night at
stated intervals the volume of their prayer and praise rose up above
the noise of war, just as it had risen through the centuries of the
past. There were beautiful gardens which the monks tended carefully,
and also many grape vines on the walls. We used to watch the silent
old men doing their daily work and making signs to one another instead
of speaking. In the evening I would make my way up the spiral staircase
to the west-end gallery, which looked down upon the chapel. The red
altar lamp cast a dim light in the sacred building, and every now and
then in the stillness I could hear, like the roar of a distant sea,
the sound of shells falling at the front. The mysterious silence of
the lofty building, with the far off reverberations of war thrilling
it now and then, was a solace to the soul.

A smaller chapel in the monastery, with a well-appointed altar, was
allotted by the monks to the chaplain for his services. While I was at
Mont des Cats we heard of the death of Lord Kitchener. The news came
to the Army with the force of a stunning blow; but thank God, the
British character is hardened and strengthened by adversity, and while
we all felt his loss keenly and looked forward to the future with
anxiety, the determination to go on to victory was made stronger by
the catastrophe. As the chaplain of the hospital was away at the time,
I held a memorial service in the large refectory. Following upon the
death of Lord Kitchener came another disaster. The Germans in the
beginning of June launched a fierce attack upon the 3rd Division,
causing many casualties and capturing many prisoners. General Mercer
was killed, and a brigadier was wounded and taken prisoner. To make
matters worse, we heard of the battle of Jutland, the first report of
which was certainly disconcerting. We gathered from it that our navy
had suffered a great reverse. The death of Lord Kitchener, the naval
reverse, and the fierce attack on our front, following one another in
such a short space of time, called for great steadiness of nerve and
coolness of head. I felt that the hospital was no place for me     (p. 130)
when Canadians were meeting reverses at the front, especially as the
First Division was ordered to recapture the lost trenches. I telephoned
to my good friend, Colonel Brutenell, the C.O. of the Motor Machine-Gun
Brigade, and asked him to send me a side-car to take me forward. He
had always in the past shown me much kindness in supplying me with
means of locomotion. Colonel Brutenell was an old country Frenchman
with the most courteous manners. When I first discovered that he was
the possessor of side-cars, I used to obtain them by going over to him
and saying, "Colonel, if you will give me a side-car I will recite you
one of my poems." He was too polite at first to decline to enter into
the bargain, but, as time went on, I found that the price I offered
began to lose its value, and sometimes the side-cars were not
forthcoming. It then became necessary to change my plan of campaign,
so I hit upon another device. I used to walk into the orderly room and
say in a raucous voice, "Colonel, if you _don't_ give me a side-car I
will recite one of my poems." I found that in the long run this was
the most effectual method. On the present occasion, therefore, the
side-car was sent to me, and I made my way to Wippenhoek and from
thence up to the dressing station at Vlamertinghe. Here our wounded
were pouring in. Once again Canada was reddening the soil of the
Salient with her best blood. It was indeed an anxious time. That
evening, however, a telegram was received by the O.C. of the Ambulance
saying that the British fleet had sunk twenty or thirty German
vessels, and implying that what we had thought was a naval reverse was
really a magnificent naval victory. I do not know who sent the
telegram, or on what foundation in fact it was based. I think that
somebody in authority considered it would be well to cheer up our men
with a piece of good news. At any rate all who were at the dressing
station believed it, and I determined to carry a copy of the telegram
with me up to the men in the line. I started off on one of the
ambulances for Railway Dugouts. Those ambulance journeys through the
town of Ypres after midnight were things to be remembered. The desolate
ruins of the city stood up black and grim. The road was crowded with men,
lorries, ambulances, transports and motorcycles. Every now and then the
scene of desolation would be lit up by gun flashes. Occasionally the
crash of a shell would shake the already sorely smitten city. I can
never cease to admire the pluck of those ambulance drivers, who night
after night, backwards and forwards, threaded their way in the     (p. 131)
darkness through the ghost-haunted streets. One night when the enemy's
guns were particularly active, I was being driven by a young boy only
eighteen years of age. Sitting beside him on the front seat, I told
him how much I admired his nerve and coolness. He turned to me quite
simply and said that he was not afraid. He just put himself in God's
hands and didn't worry. When he came afterwards to Headquarters and
drove our side-car he never minded where he went or how far towards
the front he took it. I do not know where he is in Canada, but I know
that Canada will be the better for having such a boy as one of her
citizens.

When I arrived at Railway Dugouts, I found that there was great activity
on all sides, but my message about our naval victory had a most
stimulating effect and I had the courage to wake up no less than three
generals to tell them the good news. They said they didn't care how
often they were awakened for news like that. I then got a runner, and
was making my way up to the men in the front line when the Germans put
on an attack. The trench that I was in became very hot, and, as I had
my arm in a sling and could not walk very comfortably or do much in
the way of dodging, the runner and I thought it would be wiser to
return, especially as we could not expect the men, then so fully
occupied, to listen to our message of cheer. We made our way back as
best we could to Railway Dugouts, and telephoned the news to the
various battalion headquarters. The telegram was never confirmed, and
I was accused of having made it up myself. It certainly had a
wholesome effect upon our men at a critical and anxious moment.

We had a hard time in retaking the lost ground. Gallant were the charges
which were made in broad daylight in the face of heavy machine-gun
fire. In preparation for the attack, our men had to lie under the
cover of broken hedges for twenty-four hours, living only on the iron
rations which they carried with them. I went up one morning when one
of our battalions had just come out after a hard fight. The men were
in a shallow trench, ankle deep in mud and water. As they had lost
very heavily, the Colonel put me in charge of a burial party. We
buried a number of bodies but were stopped at last at the entrance of
Armagh Wood, which the Germans were at the time heavily shelling, and
we had to postpone the performance of our sad duty till things were
quieter.

Still in spite of reverses, the spirits of our men never declined. (p. 132)
They were full of rebound, and quickly recovered themselves. As one
looks back to that period of our experience, all sorts of pictures,
bright and sombre, crowd the mind--the Square at Poperinghe in the
evening, the Guards' fife and drum bands playing tattoo in the old
town while hundreds of men looked on; the dark station of Poperinghe
in the evening, and the battalions being sent up to the front in
railway trucks; the old mill at Vlamertinghe with the reception room
for the wounded, and the white tables on which the bleeding forms were
laid; the dark streets of Ypres, rank with the poisonous odours of
shell gas; the rickety horse-ambulances bearing their living freight
over the shell broken roads from Bedford House and Railway Dugouts;
the walking wounded, with bandaged arms and heads, making their way
slowly and painfully down the dangerous foot-paths; all these pictures
flash before the mind's eye, each with its own appeal, as one looks
back upon those awful days. The end was not in sight then. The war, we
were told, was going to be a war of attrition. It was to be a case of
"dogged does it." Under the wheels of the car of the great Juggernaut
our men had to throw themselves, till the progress of the car was
stayed. How peaceful were the little cemeteries where lay those
warriors who had entered into rest. But how stern was the voice from
the sleeping dead to carry on undismayed.

The Canadian Corps seemed to have taken root in the Salient, and,
after the severe fighting had ended, things went on as if we were to
have a long residence round Ypres. In looking over the notes in my
diary for June and July, I see a great many records of visits to
different units. How well one remembers the keen active life which
made that region a second Canada. There was the small town of Abeele,
where our Corps Headquarters were, and where our new commander,
General Byng, had his house. Not far away, up the road, was the
grenade school where the troops were instructed in the gentle art of
bomb-throwing. We had our divisional rest-camp in a pleasant spot,
where our men were sent to recuperate. The following is a typical
Sunday's work at this time:--Celebration of Holy Communion at St.
George's Church at eight a.m., Parade Service for the Division at nine
fifteen a.m., followed by a second Celebration of Holy Communion at
ten a.m., Parade Service followed by Holy Communion for a Battalion at
Connaught lines at eleven a.m., service for the divisional rest-camp
at three p.m., service at the Grenade School at four p.m., service (p. 133)
outside St. George's Church for the Divisional Train six-thirty p.m.,
service for the 3rd Field Ambulance and convalescent camp at
eight-forty-five p.m. On week-days too, we had to arrange many
services for units which had come out of the line. It was really a
life full of activity and interest. It filled one with a thrill of
delight to be able to get round among the men in the trenches, where
the familiar scenery of Sanctuary Wood, Armagh Wood, Maple Copse and
the Ravine will always remain impressed upon one's memory. Often when
I have returned to my hut at night, I have stood outside in the
darkness, looking over the fields towards the front, and as I saw the
German flares going up, I said to myself, "Those are the foot-lights
of the stage on which the world's greatest drama is being enacted."
One seemed to be taking part, however humbly, in the making of human
history. But it was a grievous thing to think of the toll of life that
the war forced upon us and the suffering that it involved. The brave
patient hearts of those at home were continually in our thoughts, and
we always felt that the hardest burden was laid upon them. They had no
excitement; they knew not the comradeship and the exaltation of
feeling which came to those who were in the thick of things at the
front. They had to go on day by day bearing their burden of anxiety,
quietly and patiently in faith and courage. To them our men were
always ready to give the palm of the victors.




CHAPTER XII.                                                       (p. 134)

THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME.

_Autumn, 1916._


It always happened that just when we were beginning to feel settled in
a place, orders came for us to move. At the end of July we heard of
the attack at the Somme. Rumours began to circulate that we were to go
South, and signs of the approaching pilgrimage began to manifest
themselves. On August 10th all my superfluous baggage was sent back to
England, and on the following day I bid good-bye to my comfortable
little hut at Hooggraaf and started to ride to our new Divisional
Headquarters which were to be for the time near St. Omer. After an
early breakfast with my friend General Thacker, I started off on Dandy
for the long ride. I passed through Abeele and Steenvoorde, where I
paid my respects at the Chateau, overtaking many of our units, either
on the march or in the fields by the wayside, and that night I arrived
at Cassel and put up at the hotel. The town never looked more
beautiful than at sunset on that lovely summer evening. It had about
it the spell of the old world, and the quiet life which had gone on
through the centuries in a kind of dream. One did hope that the attack
to the South would be the beginning of the end and that peace would be
restored to the shattered world. On that day, the King had arrived on
a flying visit to the front, and some of his staff were billeted at
the hotel. The following day I visited the Second Army Headquarters in
the Casino Building, and met some of our old friends who had gone
there from the Canadian Corps. In the afternoon I rode off to St.
Omer, little Philo running beside me full of life and spirits. It was
a hot and dusty ride. I put up at the Hotel du Commerce, where I met
several Canadian officers and many airmen. The next day was Sunday so
I attended the service in the military church. After it was over, I
went with a young flying officer into the old cathedral.

The service had ended and we were alone in the building, but the
sunlight flooded it and brought out the richness of contrast in light
and shadow, and the air was still fragrant with the smell of incense.
My friend and I were talking, as we sat there, about the effect the
war had had upon religion. Turning to me he said, "The great thing (p. 135)
I find when I am in a tight place in the air is to pray to Jesus
Christ. Many and many a time when I have been in difficulties and
thought that I really must be brought down, I have prayed to Him and
He has preserved me." I looked at the boy as he spoke. He was very
young, but had a keen, earnest face, and I thought how often I had
seen fights in the air and how little I had imagined that the human
hearts in those little craft, which looked like tiny flies among the
clouds, were praying to God for help and protection. I told him how
glad I was to hear his testimony to the power of Christ. When we got
back to the hotel, one of the airmen came up to him and said,
"Congratulations, old chap, here's your telegram." The telegram was an
order for him to join a squadron which held what the airmen considered
to be, from it's exceeding danger, the post of honour at the Somme
front. I often wonder if the boy came through the fierce ordeal alive.

It was pleasant to meet Bishop Gwynne and his staff once again. There
was always something spiritually bracing in visiting the Headquarters
of our Chaplain Service at St. Omer. On the Monday I rode off to our
Divisional Headquarters, which were in a fine old chateau at Tilques.
I had a pleasant billet in a comfortable house at the entrance to the
town, and the different units of the Division were encamped in the
quaint villages round about. After their experience in the Salient,
the men were glad to have a little peace and rest; although they knew
they were on their journey to bigger and harder things. The country
around St. Omer was so fresh and beautiful that the change of scene
did everyone good. The people too were exceedingly kind and wherever
we went we found that the Canadians were extremely popular. There were
many interesting old places near by which brought back memories of
French history. However, the day came when we had to move. From
various points the battalions entrained for the South. On Monday,
August 28th, I travelled by train with the 3rd Field Company of
Engineers and finally found myself in a billet at Canaples. After two
or three days we settled at a place called Rubempre. Here I had a
clean billet beside a very malodorous pond which the village cows used
as their drinking place. The country round us was quite different in
character from what it had been further north. Wide stretches of open
ground and rolling hills, with here and there patches of green woods,
made up a very pleasant landscape. I rode one day to Amiens and
visited the glorious cathedral which I had not seen since I came   (p. 136)
there as a boy thirty-three years before. I attended the service of
Benediction that evening at six o'clock. The sunlight was streaming
through the glorious windows, and the whole place was filled with a
beauty that seemed to be not of earth. There was a large congregation
present and it was made up of a varied lot of people. There were women
in deep mourning, Sisters of Charity and young children. There were
soldiers and old men. But they were all one in their spirit of humble
adoration and intercession. The organ pealed out its noble strains
until the whole place was vibrant with devotion. I shall never forget
the impression that service made upon me. The next time I saw the
cathedral, Amiens was deserted of its inhabitants, four shells had
pierced the sacred fane itself, and the long aisles, covered with bits
of broken glass, were desolate and silent.

From Rubempre we moved to Albert, where we were billeted in a small
house on a back street. Our Battle Headquarters were in the Bapaume
road in trenches and dugouts, on a rise in the ground which was called
Tara Hill. By the side of the road was a little cemetery which had
been laid out by the British, and was henceforth to be the last
resting place of many Canadians. Our battalions were billeted in
different places in the damaged town, and in the brick-fields near by.
Our chief dressing station was in an old school-house not far from the
Cathedral. Albert must have been a pleasant town in pre-war days, but
now the people had deserted it and every building had either been
shattered or damaged by shells. From the spire of the Cathedral hung
at right angles the beautiful bronze image of the Blessed Virgin,
holding up her child above her head for the adoration of the world. It
seemed to me as if there was something appropriate in the strange
position the statue now occupied, for, as the battalions marched past
the church, it looked as if they were receiving a parting benediction
from the Infant Saviour.

The character of the war had now completely changed. For months and
months, we seemed to have reached a deadlock. Now we had broken
through and were to push on and on into the enemy's territory. As we
passed over the ground which had already been won from the Germans, we
were amazed at the wonderful dugouts which they had built, and the
huge craters made by the explosion of our mines. The dugouts were deep
in the ground, lined with wood and lighted by electric light. Bits of
handsome furniture, too, had found their way there from the        (p. 137)
captured villages, which showed that the Germans must have lived in
great comfort. We were certainly glad of the homes they had made for
us, for our division was in the line three times during the battle of
the Somme, going back to Rubempre and Canaples when we came out for
the necessary rest between the attacks.

Looking back to those terrible days of fierce fighting, the mind is so
crowded with memories and pictures that it is hard to disentangle
them. How well one remembers the trips up the Bapaume road to La
Boisselle and Pozieres. The country rolled off into the distance in
vast billows, and bore marks of the fierce fighting which had occurred
here when the British made their great advance. When one rode out from
our rear headquarters at the end of the town one passed some brick
houses more or less damaged and went on to Tara Hill. There by the
wayside was a dressing station. On the hill itself there was the waste
of pale yellow mud, and the piles of white chalk which marked the side
of the trench in which were deep dugouts. There were many wooden huts,
too, which were used as offices. The road went on down the slope on
the other side of the hill to La Boisselle, where it forked into
two--one going to Contalmaison, the other on the left to Pozieres and
finally to Bapaume. La Boisselle stood, or rather used to stand, on
the point of ground where the roads parted. When we saw it, it was
simply a mass of broken ground, which showed the ironwork round the
former church, some broken tombstones, and the red dust and bricks of
what had been houses. There were still some cellars left in which men
found shelter. A well there was used by the men for some time, until
cases of illness provoked an investigation and a dead German was
discovered at the bottom. The whole district was at all times the
scene of great activity. Men were marching to or from the line;
lorries, limbers, motorcycles, ambulances and staff cars were passing
or following one another on the muddy and broken way. Along the road
at various points batteries were concealed, and frequently, by a
sudden burst of fire, gave one an unpleasant surprise. If one took the
turn to the right, which led to Contalmaison, one passed up a gradual
rise in the ground and saw the long, dreary waste of landscape which
told the story, by shell-ploughed roads and blackened woods, of the
deadly presence of war. One of the depressions among the hills was
called Sausage Valley. In it were many batteries and some          (p. 138)
cemeteries, and trenches where our brigade headquarters were. At the
corner of a branch road, just above the ruins of Contalmaison, our
engineers put up a little shack, and this was used by our Chaplains'
Service as a distributing place for coffee and biscuits. Some men were
kept there night and day boiling huge tins of water over a smoky fire
in the corner. A hundred and twenty-five gallons of coffee were given
away every twenty-four hours. Good strong coffee it was too, most
bracing in effect. The cups used were cigarette tins, and the troops
going up to the trenches or coming back from them, used to stop and
have some coffee and some biscuits to cheer them on their way. The
place in the road was called Casualty Corner, and was not supposed to
be a very "healthy" resting place, but we did not lose any men in
front of the little canteen. The work had been started by the Senior
Chaplain of the Australian Division which we had relieved, and he
handed it over to us.

Under our Chaplains' Service the canteen became a most helpful
institution; not only was coffee given away, but many other things,
including cigarettes. Many a man has told me that that drink of coffee
saved his life when he was quite used up.

In Contalmaison itself, there had once been a very fine chateau. It,
like the rest of the village, survived only as a heap of bricks and
rubbish, but the cellars, which the Germans had used as a dressing
station, were very large and from them branched off deep dugouts lined
with planed boards and lit by electric light.

The road which turned to the left led down to a waste of weary ground
in a wide valley where many different units were stationed in dugouts
and holes in the ground. Towards the Pozieres road there was a famous
chalk pit. In the hillside were large dugouts, used by battalions when
out of the line. There was also a light railway, and many huts and
shacks of various kinds. Pozieres looked very much like La Boisselle.
Some heaps or rubbish and earth reddened by bricks and brick-dust
alone showed where the village had been. At Pozieres the Y.M.C.A. had
another coffee-stall, where coffee was given away free. These
coffee-stalls were a great institution, and in addition to the bracing
effect of the drink provided, the rude shack with its cheery fire
always made a pleasant place for rest and conversation.

After Courcelette was taken by the 2nd Division, our front line lay
beyond it past Death Valley on the slope leading down to Regina
Trench, and onward to the villages of Pys and Miraumont. Over all  (p. 139)
this stretch of country, waste and dreary as it got to be towards
the end of September, our various fighting units were scattered, and
along that front line, as we pushed the enemy back, our men made the
bitter sacrifice of life and limb. It was a time of iron resolve and
hard work. There was no opportunity now for amusement and social
gatherings. When one spoke to staff officers, they answered in
monosyllables. When one rode in their cars, one had very fixed and
definite times at which to start and to return. The army had set its
teeth and was out to battle in grim earnest. It was a time, however,
of hope and encouragement. When, as we advanced, we saw what the
German defences had been, we were filled with admiration for the
splendid British attack in July which had forced the enemy to retreat.
If that had been done once it could be done again, and so we pressed
on. But the price we had to pay for victory was indeed costly and
one's heart ached for the poor men in their awful struggle in that
region of gloom and death. This was war indeed, and one wondered how
long it was to last. Gradually the sad consciousness came that our
advance was checked, but still the sacrifice was not in vain, for our
gallant men were using up the forces of the enemy.

Ghastly were the stories which we heard from time to time. One man
told me that he had counted three hundred bodies hanging on the wire
which we had failed to cut in preparation for the attack. An officer
met me one day and told me how his company had had to hold on in a
trench, hour after hour, under terrific bombardment. He was sitting in
his dugout, expecting every moment to be blown up, when a young lad
came in and asked if he might stay with him. The boy was only eighteen
years of age and his nerve had utterly gone. He came into the dugout,
and, like a child clinging to his mother clasped the officer with his
arms. The latter could not be angry with the lad. There was nothing to
do at that point but to hold on and wait, so, as he said to me, "I
looked at the boy and thought of his mother, and just leaned down and
gave him a kiss. Not long afterwards a shell struck the dugout and the
boy was killed, and when we retired I had to leave his body there."
Wonderful deeds were done; some were known and received well merited
rewards, others were noted only by the Recording Angel. A piper won
the V.C. for his gallantry in marching up and down in front of the
wire playing his pipes while the men were struggling through it    (p. 140)
in their attack upon Regina Trench. He was killed going back to
hunt for his pipes which he had left in helping a wounded man to a
place of safety. One cannot write of that awful time unmoved, for
there come up before the mind faces of friends that one will see no
more, faces of men who were strong, brave and even joyous in the midst
of that burning fiery furnace, from which their lives passed, we trust
into regions where there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor
crying, and where the sound of war is hushed forever.

One new feature which was introduced into the war at this time was the
"Tank." A large family of these curious and newly developed
instruments of battle was congregated in a wood on the outskirts of
the town, and awoke great interest on all sides. At that time we were
doubtful how far they would be able to fulfill the hopes that were
entertained of them. Some of them had already been knocked out near
Courcelette. One lay partly in the ditch by the road. It had been hit
by a shell, and the petrol had burst into flames burning up the crew
within, whose charred bones were taken out when an opportunity
offered, and were reverently buried. The tank was often visited by our
men, and for that reason the Germans made it a mark for their
shell-fire. It was wise to give it a wide berth.

Our chaplains were working manfully and took their duties at the
different dressing-stations night and day in relays. The main
dressing-station was the school-house in Albert which I have already
described. It was a good sized building and there were several large
rooms in it. Many is the night that I have passed there, and I see it
now distinctly in my mind. In the largest room, there were the tables
neatly prepared, white and clean, for the hours of active work which
began towards midnight when the ambulances brought back the wounded
from the front. The orderlies would be lying about taking a rest until
their services were needed, and the doctors with their white aprons on
would be sitting in the room or in their mess near by. The windows
were entirely darkened, but in the building was the bright light and
the persistent smell of acetylene gas. Innumerable bandages and
various instruments were piled neatly on the white covered tables; and
in the outer room, which was used as the office, were the record books
and tags with which the wounded were labelled as they were sent off to
the Base. Far off we could hear the noise of the shells, and
occasionally one would fall in the town. When the ambulances       (p. 141)
arrived everyone would be on the alert. I used to go out and stand in
the darkness, and see the stretchers carried in gently and tenderly by
the bearers, who laid them on the floor of the outer room. Torn and
broken forms, racked with suffering, cold and wet with rain and mud,
hidden under muddy blankets, lay there in rows upon the brick floor.
Sometimes the heads were entirely covered; sometimes the eyes were
bandaged; sometimes the pale faces, crowned with matted, muddy hair,
turned restlessly from side to side, and parched lips asked for a sip
of water. Then one by one the stretchers with their human burden would
be carried to the tables in the dressing room. Long before these cases
could be disposed of, other ambulances had arrived, and the floor of
the outer room once more became covered with stretchers. Now and then
the sufferers could not repress their groans. One night a man was
brought in who looked very pale and asked me piteously to get him some
water. I told him I could not do so until the doctor had seen his
wound. I got him taken into the dressing room, and turned away for a
moment to look after some fresh arrivals. Then I went back towards the
table whereon the poor fellow was lying. They had uncovered him and,
from the look on the faces of the attendants round about, I saw that
some specially ghastly wound was disclosed. I went over to the table,
and there I saw a sight too horrible to be described. A shell had
burst at his feet, and his body from the waist down was shattered.
Beyond this awful sight I saw the white face turning from side to
side, and the parched lips asking for water. The man, thank God, did
not suffer very acutely, as the shock had been so great, but he was
perfectly conscious. The case was hopeless, so they kindly and
tenderly covered him up, and he was carried out into the room set
apart for the dying. When he was left alone, I knelt down beside him
and talked to him. He was a French Canadian and a Roman Catholic, and,
as there happened to be no Roman Catholic Chaplain present at the
moment, I got him to repeat the "Lord's Prayer" and the "Hail Mary,"
and gave him the benediction. He died about half an hour afterwards.
When the sergeant came in to have the body removed to the morgue, he
drew the man's paybook from his pocket, and there we found that for
some offence he had been given a long period of field punishment, and
his pay was cut down to seventy cents a day. For seventy cents a day
he had come as a voluntary soldier to fight in the great war, and for
seventy cents a day he had died this horrible death. I told the    (p. 142)
sergeant that I felt like dipping that page of the man's paybook
in his blood to blot out the memory of the past. The doctor who
attended the case told me that that was the worst sight he had ever
seen.

One night a young German was brought in. He was perfectly conscious,
but was reported to be seriously wounded. He was laid out on one of
the tables and when his torn uniform was ripped off, we found he had
been hit by shrapnel and had ten or twelve wounds in his body and
limbs. I never saw anyone more brave. He was a beautifully developed
man, with very white skin, and on the grey blanket looked like a
marble statue, marked here and there by red, bleeding wounds. He never
gave a sign by sound or movement of what he was suffering; but his
white face showed the approach of death. He was tended carefully, and
then carried over to a quiet corner in the room. I went over to him,
and pointing to my collar said, "Pasteur." I knelt beside him and
started the Lord's Prayer in German, which he finished adding some
other prayer. I gave him the benediction and made the sign of the
cross on his forehead, for the sign of the cross belongs to the
universal language of men. Then the dying, friendless enemy, who had
made expiation in his blood for the sins of his guilty nation, drew
his hand from under the blanket and taking mine said, "Thank you."
They carried him off to an ambulance, but I was told he would probably
die long before he got to his destination.

On the 26th of September I spent the night in a dressing station in
the sunken road near Courcelette. I had walked from Pozieres down to
the railway track, where in the dark I met a company of the Canadian
Cyclist Corps, who were being used as stretcher bearers. We went in
single file along the railway and then across the fields which were
being shelled. At last we came to the dressing station. Beside the
entrance, was a little shelter covered with corrugated iron, and there
were laid a number of wounded, while some were lying on stretchers in
the open road. Among these were several German prisoners and the
bodies of dead men. The dressing station had once been the dugout of
an enemy battery and its openings, therefore, were on the side of the
road facing the Germans, who knew its location exactly. When I went
down into it I found it crowded with men who were being tended by the
doctor and his staff. It had three openings to the road. One of them
had had a direct hit that night, and mid the debris which blocked it
were the fragments of a human body. The Germans gave the place no  (p. 143)
rest, and all along the road shells were falling, and bits would
clatter upon the corrugated iron which roofed the shelter by the
wayside. There was no room in the dugout for any but those who were
being actually treated by the doctor, so the wounded had to wait up
above till they could be borne off by the bearer parties. It was a
trying experience for them, and it was hard to make them forget the
danger they were in. I found a young officer lying in the road, who
was badly hit in the leg. I had prayers with him and at his request I
gave him the Holy Communion. On the stretcher next to him, lay the
body of a dead man wrapped in a blanket. After I had finished the
service, the officer asked for some water. I went down and got him a
mouthful very strongly flavoured with petrol from the tin in which it
was carried. He took it gladly, but, just as I had finished giving him
the drink, a shell burst and there was a loud crack by his side. "Oh,"
he cried, "they have got my other leg." I took my electric torch, and,
allowing only a small streak of light to shine through my fingers, I
made an examination of the stretcher, and there I found against it a
shattered rum jar which had just been hit by a large piece of shell.
The thing had saved him from another wound, and I told him that he
owed his salvation to a rum jar. He was quite relieved to find that
his good leg had not been hit. I got the bearer party to take him off
as soon as possible down the long path across the fields which led to
the light railway, where he could be put on a truck. Once while I was
talking to the men in the shelter, a shell burst by the side of the
road and ignited a pile of German ammunition. At once there were
explosions, a weird red light lit up the whole place, and volumes of
red smoke rolled off into the starlit sky. To my surprise, from a
ditch on the other side of the road, a company of Highlanders emerged
and ran further away from the danger of the exploding shells. It was
one of the most theatrical sights I have ever seen. With the lurid
light and the broken road in the foreground, and the hurrying figures
carrying their rifles, it was just like a scene on the stage.

The stars were always a great comfort to me. Above the gun-flashes or
the bursting of shells and shrapnel, they would stand out calm and
clear, twinkling just as merrily as I have seen them do on many a
pleasant sleigh-drive in Canada. I had seen Orion for the first time
that year, rising over the broken Cathedral at Albert. I always    (p. 144)
felt when he arrived for his winter visit to the sky, that he came as
an old friend, and was waiting like us for the wretched war to end. On
that September night, when the hours were beginning to draw towards
dawn, it gave me great pleasure to see him hanging in the East, while
Sirius with undiminished courage merrily twinkled above the smoke-fringed
horizon and told us of the eternal quietness of space.

With dawn the enemy's artillery became less active and we sent off the
wounded. Those who could walk were compelled to follow the bearer
parties. One man, who was not badly hit, had lost his nerve and
refused to leave. The doctor had to tell him sharply that he need not
expect to be carried, as there were too many serious cases to be
attended to. I went over to him and offered him my arm. At first he
refused to come, and then I explained to him that he was in great
danger and the thing to do was to get back as quickly as possible, if
he did not wish to be wounded again. At last I got him going at a slow
pace, and I was afraid I should have to drag him along. Suddenly a
shell landed near us, and his movements were filled with alacrity. It
was a great relief to me. After a little while he found he could walk
quite well and whenever a whiz-bang came near us his limbs seemed to
get additional strength. I took him down to a place were a battalion
was camped, and there I had to stop and bury some men in a shell hole.
While I was taking the service however, my companion persuaded some
men to carry him, and I suppose finally reached a place of safety.

There was a large dressing station in the cellars of the Red Chateau
in Courcelette, whither I made my way on a Sunday morning in
September. The fighting at the time was very heavy and I met many
ambulances bringing out the wounded. I passed Pozieres and turned down
the sunken road towards Courcelette.

Beside the road was a dugout and shelter, where the wounded, who were
carried in on stretchers from Courcelette, were kept until they could
be shipped off in the ambulances. A doctor and some men were in charge
of the post. The bearers, many of whom were German prisoners, were
bringing out the wounded over the fields and laying them by the
roadside. I went with some of the bearers past "Dead Man's Trench,"
where were many German bodies. Every now and then we came upon a
trench where men were in reserve, and we saw also many machine gun
emplacements, for the rise in the ground gave the gun a fine sweep for
its activity. The whole neighbourhood, however, was decidedly      (p. 145)
unhealthy, and it was risky work for the men to go over the open. When
we got to the ruins of Courcelette, we turned down a path which skirted
the old cemetery and what remained of the church. Several shells fell
near us, and one of the men got a bit nervous, so I repeated to him the
verse of the psalm:

  "A thousand shall fall beside thee, and ten thousand at
  thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee."

We had hardly arrived at the heaps of rubbish which surrounded the
entrance to the dressing station, beside which lay the blackened body
of a dead man, when a shell burst, and one of the bits broke the leg
of the young fellow I was talking to. "What's the matter with your
text now, Canon?" he said. "The text is all right, old man, you have
only got a good Blighty and are lucky to get it," I replied. The
cellars below had been used as a dressing station by the enemy before
Courcelette was taken and consisted of several large rooms, which were
now being used by our two divisions in the line. Beyond the room used
for operations, there was one dark cellar fitted up with two long
shelves, whereon lay scores of stretcher bearers and cyclists, and at
the end of that, down some steps, there was another, in which more
bearers awaited their call. Only two candles lit up the darkness. As
there must have been between three and four hundred men in the Red
Chateau, the air was not particularly fresh. Our choice lay, however,
between foul air within and enemy shells without, for the Germans were
making direct hits upon the debris overhead. Naturally we preferred
the foul air. It showed how one had grown accustomed to the gruesome
sights of war, that I was able to eat my meals in a place where rags
saturated in human blood were lying on the floor in front of me. Two
years before it would have been impossible. The stretcher bearers were
doing noble work. When each case had been attended to, they were
called out of the back cellar and entrusted with their burden, which
they had to carry for more than a mile over those dangerous fields to
the ambulances waiting in the sunken road. Again and again a bearer
would be brought back on a stretcher himself, having been wounded
while on the errand of mercy. Once a party, on their return, told me
that one of their number had disappeared, blown to atoms by a shell.

About four o'clock, though time had little meaning to us, because the
only light we had was from the candles and acetylene lamps, I went (p. 146)
into the cellar where the bearers lay, and, reminding them that it was
Sunday, asked if they would not like to have a service. One of them
handed me a candle, so we had prayers and a reading, and sang "Nearer
My God to Thee," and some other hymns. When the service was over, I
asked those who would like to make their Communion to come to the
lower cellar at the end, where there was more room. We appropriated
one of the corners and there I had seven or eight communicants. More
than a year afterwards, in London, I met a young soldier in the
Underground Railway, and he told me that he had made his communion on
that day, and that when he was lying on the ground wounded at midnight,
the shells falling round him, he thought what a comfort it was to know
that he had received the Sacrament. I did not leave the Red Chateau
till late the following afternoon, when I went back with a ration-party.

The most unpleasant things at Albert were the air raids, which occurred
every fine night. One moonlight night I lay on my bed, which was in
the top storey of our house, and listened to some German planes
dropping bombs upon the town. The machines were flying low and trying
to get the roads. Crash would follow crash with great regularity. They
came nearer and nearer, and I was just waiting for the house to be
struck when, to my great relief, the planes went off in another
direction. Next day a sentry told me that he had heard a hundred bombs
burst, and, as far as he knew, not one of them had done any damage,
all having fallen among the ruined houses and gardens of the town.

I had been asked to look up the grave of a young officer of a Scottish
battalion, who had been killed in the July advance. I rode over to
Mametz and saw all that historic fighting ground. The village was a
heap of ruins, but from out of a cellar came a smartly-dressed lieutenant,
who told me that he had the great privilege and honour of being the
Town Major of Mametz. We laughed as we surveyed his very smelly and
unattractive little kingdom. I found the grave, and near it were
several crosses over the last resting places of some of our Canadian
Dragoons, who had been in the great advance. All that region was one
of waste and lonely country-side, blown bare by the tempest of war.

It was during our last visit to Albert that the 4th Division arrived
to take over the line from us. I had the great joy, therefore, of
having my second son near me for six days. His battalion, the      (p. 147)
87th, was camped on a piece of high ground to the right of "Tara Hill,"
and from my window I could see the officers and men walking about in
their lines. It was a great privilege to have his battalion so near
me, for I had many friends among all ranks.

The Sunday before I left I had service for them and a celebration of
the Holy Communion, after which one of the sergeants came and was
baptized. Our Divisional Headquarters left Albert for good on October
17th. We made our way to our abode at Canaples. We only stayed there
two days and then went on to Bernaville and Frohen Le Grand, spending
a night in each place, and on Sunday arrived at the Chateau of Le
Cauroy, which we were afterwards to make our headquarters in the last
year of the war. I was billetted in a filthy little room in a sort of
farm building and passed one of the most dreary days I have ever
known. It was rainy and cold, and every one was tired and ill-humoured.
I had a strange feeling of gloom about me which I could not shake off,
so I went over to the Cure's house at the end of the avenue and asked
him if I might come in and sit beside the fire in his kitchen. He was
very kind, and it was quite nice to have someone to talk to who was
not in the war. We were able to understand each other pretty well, and
he gave me an insight into the feelings of the French. On the next
morning, the weather had cleared and the A.D.M.S. motored me to our
new halting place at Roellencourt, where I was given a billet in the
Cure's house. He was a dear old man and received me very kindly, and
gave me a comfortable room overlooking his garden. Downstairs his aged
and invalid mother sat in her chair, tended kindly by her son and
daughter. Roellencourt was a pleasant place on the St. Pol Road, and
quite a number of our men were billeted there. I went to St. Pol to
lunch at the hotel and spent the day buying some souvenirs. On my
return in the afternoon I made my way to the Cure's house, where I
found my room neatly arranged for me. Suddenly I heard a knock at the
door, and there stood the old man with a letter in his hand. I thought
he looked somewhat strange. He handed me the letter, and then taking
my hand, he said to me in French, "My brother, have courage, it is
very sad." At once the truth flashed upon me and I said, "My son is
dead." He shook my hand, and said again, "Have courage, my brother." I
went downstairs later on and found his old mother sitting in her chair
with the tears streaming down her cheeks. I shall never cease to be
grateful to those kind, simple people for their sympathy at that   (p. 148)
time. The next morning the General sent me in his car to Albert, and
Colonel Ironside took me up to the chalk-pit where the 87th were
resting. They had suffered very heavy losses, and I heard the account
of my son's death. On the morning of October 21st, he was leading his
company and another to the attack on Regina Trench. They had advanced,
as the barrage lifted, and he was kneeling in a shell hole looking at
his watch waiting for the moment to charge again, when a machine gun
opened fire and he was hit in the head and killed instantly. As he
still kept kneeling looking at his watch, no one knew that anything
had happened. The barrage lifted again behind the German trench; still
he gave no sign. The Germans stood up and turned their machine-guns on
our men. Then the officer next in command went over to see what had
happened, and, finding my son dead, gave the order to advance.
Suffering heavy casualties, the men charged with determination and
took the trench, completely routing the enemy. When the battalion was
relieved the dead had to be left unburied, but several men volunteered
to go and get my son's body. This I would not hear of, for the
fighting was still severe, and I did not believe in living men risking
their lives to bring out the dead. I looked far over into the murky
distance, where I saw long ridges of brown land, now wet with a
drizzling rain, and thought how gloriously consecrated was that soil,
and how worthy to be the last resting place of those who had died for
their country. Resolving to come back later on when things were
quieter, and make my final search, I bid good-bye to the officers and
men of the battalion and was motored back to my Headquarters.

In the little church of Roellencourt hangs a crucifix which I gave the
Cure in memory of my son. It is near the chancel-arch in the place
which the old man chose for it. Some day I hope I may re-visit my kind
friends at the Presbytere and talk over the sad events of the past in
the light of the peace that has come through victory.




CHAPTER XIII.                                                      (p. 149)

OUR HOME AT CAMBLAIN L'ABBE.

_November and December, 1916._


From Roellencourt we moved up to our new headquarters in the Chateau
at Camblain l'Abbe, which, after we left it in December, was long the
home of the Canadian Corps. I had an Armstrong hut under the trees in
the garden, and after it was lined with green canvas, and divided into
two by green canvas curtains, it was quite artistic and very
comfortable. Opposite the Chateau we had a large French hut which was
arranged as a cinema. The band of the 3rd Battalion was stationed in
town and gave us a concert every evening, also playing at our services
on Sundays. After the concert was over I used to announce a "rum
issue" at half-past nine in the building. The men knew what it meant,
and a good number would stay behind. Then I would give them a talk on
temperance, astronomy, literature or any subject about which I thought
my audience knew less than I. We generally finished up by singing some
well-known evening hymn. Very pleasant were the entertainments we had
in that old cinema. One night, before a battalion was going up to the
line, I proposed we should have a dance. The band furnished the music,
and the men had one of the most enjoyable evenings they had ever had.
Camblain l'Abbe was not a large place, so we were cramped for room,
and a Nissen hut had to be built for "C" mess.

My little friend Philo had been stolen on our march, so his place was
taken now by a brindle bull terrier which had been born in Albert. I
called her "Alberta" and as time went on she became a well-known
figure in the First Division. She often accompanied me on my walks to
the trenches, and one day was out in No Man's Land when a minnenwerfer
burst. Alberta did not wait for the bits to come down, but made one
dive into the trench, to the amusement of the men, who said she knew
the use of the trenches. She was my constant companion till her
untimely end in 1918.

The country round about Camblain l'Abbe was very peaceful and pretty,
and the road to the left from the Chateau gave one a fine view of the
towers of Mont St. Eloi, which were not then damaged by shells. The
two towers and the front wall of the old abbey were a striking     (p. 150)
object against the horizon, and could be seen for miles around. They
made a beautiful picture in the distance when seen at sunset from the
trenches beyond Arras. Those two towers must stand out in the foreground
of all the memories which Canadians have of that region which was so
long their war-home. As far as I could learn, Mont St. Eloi had been
the site of an old monastery which had been destroyed in the French
Revolution, the towers and the walls of the church alone surviving.
The farms of the monastery had passed to secular ownership, but were
rich and well cultivated. A spiral stone staircase led up to an
observation post at the top of one of the towers. The place was visible
from the German lines, and till we had taken Vimy Ridge no one was
allowed to climb the tower unless on duty.

Our trenches now were extremely quiet, and were a pleasant contrast to
those we had left on the Somme. The whole Corps had only a few
casualties each day. The spirits of the men, who had been under a
heavy strain, were now completely restored. Our Corps Headquarters at
this time were at the beautiful Chateau of Ranchicourt, where they
were very comfortably settled, the country round about being hilly,
richly wooded and well watered. We had church parades in the cinema,
and I often wished that the people at home could have heard the
singing of the men when we had some favourite hymn which the band
accompanied. Every morning I had a celebration of the Holy Communion
there, and sometimes had a good congregation. One night I was talking
to some men in a cookhouse on the opposite side of the village and I
announced the service. When I was leaving, one of the men followed me
and asked me if I would speak to his officer for him and get him sent
back to some quiet job. He told me that he had once had an attack of
nervous prostration, caused by the shock of his father's sudden death,
and that he could not stand life in the trenches. He seemed very much
upset, and I felt that perhaps it would be wise to get him out of the
line, but I could not avoid a sense of disappointment in the midst of
my pity. He told me that he had been confirmed, but had never made his
Communion and was coming to my service the next morning. I promised I
would speak to his officer and went off.

The next morning, the man was at the service, and after the others
left, waited to speak to me. I thought he wanted to remind me of my
promise. But, instead of that, he came up and said to me, "I don't (p. 151)
want you to speak to my officer, Sir, God has given me strength to
carry on. I have determined to do so and go over the top with the
others." I was delighted to see the change in him. It meant everything
to him and was one of the turning points in his life. Whatever the
future had in store, it was the man's victory over himself, and I gave
him a glad handshake and told him how proud I was of him. Months
afterwards, after the taking of Vimy Ridge, I was passing down the
lines of his battalion, which was in tents near the La Targette road,
when the young fellow came running up to me, his face radiant with
smiles, and told me he had been through all the fighting and had gone
over the top with the boys, and that it wasn't half so bad as he had
thought. In the spring of 1919, I was going into the Beaver Hut in the
Strand one day, when a young fellow came up to me and thanked me for
what I had done for him in the war. I did not recognize him and asked
him what I had done for him, and he told me he was the man who had
been at that service in Camblain l'Abbe and had been through all the
fighting ever since and had come out without a scratch. I met similar
instances in which the human will, by the help of God, was able to
master itself and come out victorious. Once at Bracquemont a man came
to my billet and asked me to get him taken out of his battalion, and
sent to some work behind the lines. He told me his mother and sisters
knew his nerves were weak and had always taken special care of him. He
said that up to this time God had been very good to him in answering
his prayer that he might not have to go over the parapet. I asked him
what right he had to pray such a prayer. He was really asking God to
make another man do what he would not do himself. The prayer was
selfish and wrong, and he could not expect God to answer it. The right
prayer to pray was that, if he was called to go over the parapet God
would give him strength to do his duty. He seemed quite surprised at
the new light which was thus thrown upon the performance of what he
considered his religious duties. Then I told him that he had the
chance of his life to make himself a man. If in the past he had been
more or less a weakling, he could now, by the help of God, rise up in
the strength of his manhood and become a hero. His mother and sisters
no doubt had loved him and taken care of him in the past, but they
would love him far more if he did his duty now, "For", I said, "All
women love a brave man." I told him to take as his text, "I can do all
things through Christ which strengtheneth me," and I made him      (p. 152)
repeat it after me several times. I saw that the young fellow was
pulling himself together, and he shook hands with me and told me he
would go up to the line and take his chance with the rest--and he did.
Later on, he was invalided to the Base with some organic disease. I do
not know where he is now, but he conquered; and like many another
soldier in the great crusade will be the better for all eternity for
his self-mastery.

On the road which led to Ranchicourt there was an interesting old
chateau at a place called Ohlain, which is mentioned by Dumas in "The
Three Musketeers." The chateau is surrounded by a large moat, and was
built in medieval times. It has a very fine tower, and some other old
buildings surrounding a little courtyard with a garden. The place is
entered by a drawbridge which in olden days used to be raised up
against the massive gateway by chains. One night I had service in the
courtyard at sunset, with the 16th Battalion. One could hardly imagine
a more picturesque setting for a war service in dear old France. At
one point, however, we were disturbed by the arrival of three men who
had been dining in an estaminet in the village, and coming
unexpectedly upon a church service were a little too hearty in their
religious fervour. They had to be guided to some quiet spot where they
might work it off in solitude. Incidents of that kind during voluntary
services were always a little embarrassing, for officers and men felt,
as well as myself, that under the softening influences of religion we
could not be over-hard on the transgressions of frail mortality.
Nothing but the direst necessity would compel us at such times to
resort to the process of military discipline.

Near Camblain l'Abbe, our ambulances were set up on an elevation of
the ground where two roads crossed. The place rejoiced in the name of
"The Four Winds", and anyone who has resided there for any length of
time feels that the title is an appropriate one. At times the wind
would sweep over the place, and, when rain was mingled with the gale,
it was rather an unpleasant corner. But the ambulances were
comfortable, and the patients were well looked after. Near by is the
little cemetery, where the bodies of many Canadians lie in peace.

Our life at Camblain l'Abbe, after the hard fighting at the Somme, was
really very pleasant, and the battalions were filled up with new
drafts from the Base. We felt that as the winter was approaching   (p. 153)
there would probably be no hard fighting for some months. Special
pains were taken to provide concert parties in the different
battalions, so that the men might have amusement in the evening. It
was wonderful what talent was discovered in the various units. As I
look back upon some of those entertainments at the front I think I
never enjoyed anything more. Not only were the performers clever and
resourceful, but the audience was one that it was thrilling to sit
amongst. In the cinema the stage was well appointed and lighted with
electric lights; the costumes of the men, especially those who took
the part of ladies, were good and well made. The music, vocal and
instrumental, was all that could be desired. But the audience,
composed of hundreds of strong, keen, young men who had endured hard
things, and perhaps, in a few hours after the show, would be once
again facing death in the front trenches, was a sight never to be
forgotten. Could any performer ask for a more sympathetic hearing? Not
a joke was lost upon the men, not a gesture was unobserved; and when
some song with a well-known chorus was started, through the murky
atmosphere of cigarette smoke would rise a volume of harmony which
would fairly shake the building. I have often stood at the back and
listened to a splendid burst of song, which to me had an added charm
from the deep unconscious pathos of it all. Some of those men that
were joining in the rollicking ragtime tune were dying men. Some of
the eyes kindling with laughter at the broad farce of the play, within
a few hours would be gazing upon the mysteries behind the screen of
mortal life. The pathetic chorus of "A Long, Long Trail" always moved
me, and I wondered how many of those brave young hearts in the crowded
hall, now on "the long, long trail," would ever see again the land of
their dreams. I took good care not to let the men know that I was ever
moved by such sentimentalism. We were out to fight the Germans, and on
that one object we had to concentrate all our thoughts to the
obliteration of private emotions.




CHAPTER XIV.                                                       (p. 154)

MY SEARCH IS REWARDED.


We had now reached the middle of November, and the 4th Division was
expected to come north very soon. My only chance of finding my son's
body lay in my making a journey to Albert before his battalion moved
away. I woke up one morning and determined that I would start that
day. I told Ross to get my trench clothes and long boots ready, for I
was going to Albert. At luncheon my friends asked me how I proposed to
travel, for Albert was nearly fifty miles away. I told them that the
Lord would provide, and sallied off down the road with my knapsack,
thoroughly confident that I should be able to achieve my purpose. An
ambulance picked me up and took me to the Four Winds cross-roads, and
then a lorry carried me to Aubigny. I went to the field canteen to get
some cigarettes, and while there I met a Canadian Engineer officer
whom I knew. We talked about many things, and as we were leaving I
told him that I was going forth in faith as I hoped to get to Albert
that evening. I said, "You know my motto is 'The Lord will provide'."
As we walked along we came to a turn in the road, where we saw at a
little distance a side-car with a driver all ready. I said to my
friend, "It is just the thing I want. I think I will go to the owner
of that car and say to him that the Lord has provided it for me." He
burst out laughing and said, "I am the owner of that car, and you may
have it." I thanked him and started off. It was a long ride, and at
the end a very wet and muddy one, but I got to Tara Hill that evening
and had dinner at General Thacker's Headquarters. I told the officers
there of the purpose of my visit, that I was going up to the front
line the next morning, and asked if they would telephone to one of the
batteries and tell the O.C. that I should arrive some time in the
middle of the night. The Brigade Major of course tried to dissuade me,
but I told him that I was going in any case, that he was not
responsible for my actions, but that if he liked to make thing easier
for me he could. He quite understood the point, and telephoned to the
11th Battery. I then went back to the reserve headquarters of the 4th
Division in the town, and prepared myself for the journey. When I had
to make an early start in the morning, I always shaved the night   (p. 155)
before, because I thought that, of all the officers, the chaplain
should look the freshest and cleanest. I was in the middle of the
process of shaving, and some staff officers were making chocolate for
our supper, when a German plane came over and dropped a huge bomb in
the garden. It was about one a.m., and we could not help laughing at
the surprise the Germans would have felt if they could have seen our
occupation going on quite undisturbed by their attempt to murder us.

About half-past one, I started up the street which led to the Bapaume
road. The moon was shining, and I could see every object distinctly.
Near our old Headquarters I got a lift in a lorry, which took me
almost to Pozieres. There I got out and proceeded on my way alone. I
entered the Y.M.C.A. hut and had a good strong cup of coffee, and
started off afresh. That lonely region in the moonlight with the
ruined village to one side and the fields stretching far away on
either hand gave me an eerie feeling. I came upon four dead horses
which had been killed that evening. To add to the strangeness of the
situation, there was a strong scent of tear-gas in the air, which made
my eyes water. Not a living soul could I see in the long white road.

Suddenly I heard behind me the sound of a troop of horses. I turned
and saw coming towards me one of the strangest sights I have ever
seen, and one which fitted in well with the ghostly character of the
surroundings. It was a troop of mounted men carrying ammunition. They
wore their gas masks, and as they came nearer, and I could see them
more distinctly in the moonlight, the long masks with their two big
glass eye-pieces gave the men a horse-like appearance. They looked
like horses upon horses, and did not seem to be like human beings at
all. I was quite glad when they had passed. I walked on till I came to
what was known as Centre Way. It was a path, sometimes with bath-mats
on it, which led across the fields down to the battery positions in
the valley. Huge shell holes, half filled with water, pitted the
fields in every direction, and on the slippery wood I had great
difficulty to keep from sliding into those which were skirted by the
path. Far off beyond Courcellette I saw the German flare-lights and
the bursting of shells. It was a scene of vast desolation, weird
beyond description. I had some difficulty when I got into the trench
at the end of Centre Way, in finding the 11th Battery. The ground had
been ploughed by shells and the trenches were heavy with soft and
clinging mud. At last I met a sentry who told me where the O.C.'s  (p. 156)
dugout was. It was then about half-past three in the morning, but I
went down the steps, and there, having been kindly welcomed, was given
a blanket on the floor. I started at 6 a.m. with a young sergeant for
Death Valley, where I was to get a runner to take me to Regina Trench.
The sergeant was a splendid young fellow from Montreal who had won the
D.C.M., and was most highly thought of in the battery. He was
afterwards killed on Vimy Ridge, where I buried him in the cemetery
near Thelus. I had been warned that we were going to make a
bombardment of the enemy's lines that morning, and that I ought to be
out of the way before that began. I left the sergeant near
Courcellette and made my way over to the Brigade Headquarters which
were in a dugout in Death Valley. There with the permission of his
O.C., a runner volunteered to come with me. He brought a spade, and we
started down the trench to the front line. When I got into Regina
Trench, I found that it was impossible to pass along it, as one sank
down so deeply into the heavy mud. I had brought a little sketch with
me of the trenches, which showed the shell hole where it was supposed
that the body had been buried. The previous night a cross had been
placed there by a corporal of the battalion before it left the front
line. No one I spoke to, however, could tell me the exact map location
of the place where it stood. I looked over the trenches, and on all
sides spread a waste of brown mud, made more desolate by the morning
mist which clung over everything. I was determined, however, not to be
baffled in my search, and told the runner who was with me that, if I
stayed there six months, I was not going to leave till I had found
that grave. We walked back along the communication trench and turned
into one on the right, peering over the top every now and then to see
if we could recognize anything corresponding to the marks on our map.
Suddenly the runner, who was looking over the top, pointed far away to
a lonely white cross that stood at a point where the ground sloped
down through the mist towards Regina Trench. At once we climbed out of
the trench and made our way over the slippery ground and past the deep
shell holes to where the white cross stood out in the solitude. We
passed many bodies which were still unburied, and here and there were
bits of accoutrement which had been lost during the advance. When we
came up to the cross I read my son's name upon it, and knew that I had
reached the object I had in view. As the corporal who had placed   (p. 157)
the cross there had not been quite sure that it was actually on the
place of burial, I got the runner to dig the ground in front of it. He
did so, but we discovered nothing but a large piece of a shell. Then I
got him to try in another place, and still we could find nothing. I
tried once again, and after he had dug a little while he came upon
something white. It was my son's left hand, with his signet ring upon
it. They had removed his identification disc, revolver and
pocket-book, so the signet ring was the only thing which could have
led to his identification. It was really quite miraculous that we
should have made the discovery. The mist was lifting now, and the sun
to the East was beginning to light up the ground. We heard the crack
of bullets, for the Germans were sniping us. I made the runner go down
into a shell hole, while I read the burial service, and then took off
the ring. I looked over the ground where the charge had been made.
There lay Regina Trench, and far beyond it, standing out against the
morning light, I saw the villages of Pys and Miraumont which were our
objective. It was a strange scene of desolation, for the November
rains had made the battle fields a dreary, sodden waste. How many of
our brave men had laid down their lives as the purchase price of that
consecrated soil! Through the centuries to come it must always remain
sacred to the hearts of Canadians. We made a small mound where the
body lay, and then by quick dashes from shell hole to shell hole we
got back at last to the communication trench, and I was indeed
thankful to feel that my mission had been successful. I have received
letters since I returned to Canada from the kind young fellow, who
accompanied me on the journey, and I shall never cease to be grateful
to him. I left him at his headquarters in Death Valley, and made my
way past Courcellette towards the road. As the trench was very muddy,
I got out of it, and was walking along the top when I came across
something red on the ground. It was a piece of a man's lung with the
windpipe attached. I suppose some poor lad had had a direct hit from a
shell and his body had been blown to pieces. The Germans were shelling
the road, so with some men I met we made a detour through the fields
and joined it further on, and finally got to the chalk-pit where the
87th Battalion was waiting to go in again to the final attack. I was
delighted to see my friends once more, and they were thankful that I
had been able to find the grave. Not many days afterwards, some of
those whom I then met were called themselves to make the supreme   (p. 158)
sacrifice. I spent that night at the Rear Headquarters of the 4th
Division, and they kindly sent me back the next day to Camblain l'Abbe
in one of their cars.

On November 24th I received a telegram saying that a working party of
one of the battalions of the 4th Division had brought my son's body
back, and so on the following day I motored once again to Albert and
laid my dear boy to rest in the little cemetery on Tara Hill, which he
and I had seen when he was encamped near it, and in which now were the
bodies of some of his friends whom I had met on my last visit. I was
thankful to have been able to have him buried in a place which is
known and can be visited, but I would say to the many parents whose
sons lie now in unknown graves, that, after all, the grave seems to be
a small and minor thing in view of the glorious victory and triumphant
life which is all that really matters. If I had not been successful in
my quest, I should not have vexed my soul with anxious thought as to
what had become of that which is merely the earthly house of the
immortal spirit which goes forth into the eternal. Let those whose
dear ones lie in unrecorded graves remember that the strong, glad
spirits--like Valiant for Truth in "Pilgrim's Progress"--have passed
through the turbulent waters of the river of death, and "all the
trumpets have sounded for them on the other side."

In June of the following year, when the Germans had retired after our
victory at Vimy Ridge, I paid one more visit to Regina Trench. The
early summer had clothed the waste land in fresh and living green.
Larks were singing gaily in the sunny sky. No sound of shell or gun
disturbed the whisper of the breeze as it passed over the
sweet-smelling fields. Even the trenches were filling up and Mother
Nature was trying to hide the cruel wounds which the war had made upon
her loving breast. One could hardly recall the visions of gloom and
darkness which had once shrouded that scene of battle. In the healing
process of time all mortal agonies, thank God, will be finally
obliterated.




CHAPTER XV.                                                        (p. 159)

A TIME OF PREPARATION.

_Christmas, 1916, to April, 1917._


It was certain now that all serious fighting was at an end till next
spring, so everyone settled down to his work with a sense of relief
and tried to make the best of things. A few days after my return from
Albert I went to England.

On my return to France, I heard with some regret that our Divisional
Headquarters were going to move, and that the Corps would make
Camblain l'Abbe their headquarters. On December 20th we moved back to
the town of Bruay, where we were to stay till after the New Year.
Bruay in comparison with Camblain l'Abbe is a large and thriving town,
all the inhabitants being more or less connected with the mines in the
neighbourhood. Our Headquarters were in the administration building of
the Mining Company, in a square, and I had a billet in a street near
by. There was a good theatre in the place, which our 1st Divisional
Concert party took over, and where I had services on Sunday. In and
around the town were several of the battalions; the rest of the
division were in the villages near by. Bruay had not been shelled, and
the mines were being worked as in pre-war days. It was a comfort to
have the men out of the line once again, and the roads round about
were very pleasant, the country being hilly and unspoilt. Bethune was
within easy reach, and a visit to the quaint town made a pleasant
afternoon's ride.

Rumours were abroad that with the opening of Spring we were to begin
an offensive, and it was generally believed that towards the close of
the next year we might hope for the end of hostilities. Our men were
being trained, when weather permitted, in open warfare, and the time
of so-called rest was really a period of constant activity. The chief
hotel in the place became an officers' club, and very pleasant were
the reunions we had there. I was glad we were going to spend Christmas
out of the line, and determined to take advantage of the theatre as a
place for Christmas services. The 8th and 14th Battalions were
quartered in the town, besides some smaller units, so we had a good
many men to draw upon for a congregation. On Christmas Eve, at
half-past eleven, I had a celebration of the Holy Communion. We    (p. 160)
had a splendid band to play the Christmas hymns, and a large number
of men attended. The stage was made to look as much as possible like a
chancel, and the service was very hearty. Many made their communion. I
also had a watch-night service on New Year's Eve. The theatre was
almost filled with men--there were rows of them even in the gallery.
It was an inspiring sight, and we all felt we were beginning a year
that was to decide the destinies of the Empire. I told the men that
somewhere in the pages of the book which we were opening that night
lay hidden the tremendous secret of our success or failure. At ten
minutes to twelve we sat in silence, while the band played Chopin's
Funeral March. It was almost too moving, for once again the vision
came before us of the terrible battle-fields of the Somme and the
faces that had gone. Then we all rose, and there was a brief moment
for silent prayer. At midnight the buglers of the 14th Battalion
sounded the Last Post, and at the close the band struck up the hymn "O
God our help in ages past." A mighty chorus of voices joined in the
well-known strains. After the Benediction, I went down to the door and
shook hands with as many of the men as I could and wished them a happy
New Year. No one who was at that service will ever forget it. As we
found out, the trail before us was longer than we had expected, and
the next New Year's Eve found many of us, though, alas, not all, in
that theatre once more, still awaiting the issue of the conflict.

In January, I paid a flying visit to the Canadian Cavalry Headquarters
at Tully near Abbeville, and saw many old friends. On my return, I had
a curious experience which throws a light upon railway travelling at
the Front. A friend had motored me to Abbeville that afternoon, just
in time to catch a leave-train full of men returning from England. I
only wanted to go as far as St. Pol, about thirty miles off, where I
hoped to get a car for Bruay. I got into a carriage with four
officers, one of whom was a chaplain who had just been decorated with
the D.S.O. I had crossed the Channel with him once before, so was glad
to renew our acquaintance. The train left Abbeville about four
o'clock. We found ourselves in a second-class compartment. The windows
were broken, the floor was dirty, and there was no lamp to lighten our
darkness. By pulling down the curtains we tried to keep out the cold
wind, but the draught was very unpleasant, and we had to trust to the
accumulated warmth of our bodies to keep from freezing.

Instead of going directly to St. Pol, for some reason or other,    (p. 161)
the train started off to the South. We travelled on and on at a
snail's pace, and had frequent and lengthy stops. When the light died
away, we should have been in complete darkness if one of the officers
had not brought a candle with him. Hour after hour passed by and we
began to get hungry. Somebody had some sandwiches and a piece of cake,
and this was shared by all the company. It served to stimulate rather
than soothe the appetite. About midnight to our astonishment we found
we had got to Canaples, where I had stayed when we were going to the
Somme. Someone said there had been a railway accident and we had to
travel by branch lines. In spite of the cold, we tried to sleep. I sat
between my parson friend, who was inclined to be stout, and another
officer who was remarkably angular. When I leaned upon my corpulent
friend, his frequent fits of coughing made my head bounce as though it
were resting on an air-cushion. When I got tired of this and leaned
against my angular friend on the other side, the jolting of the
carriage scraped my ear against his ribs. I spent the night by leaning
first on one companion, and then on the other. The morning found us
still travelling, and finally at half-past ten the train drew up once
more at our starting point in Abbeville station. Having been eighteen
hours without food or drink or the opportunity of a shave, I thought
it was about time to retire, and told my companions that life was too
short to spend it in railway journeys of that description. So, with a
feeling of superiority and independence which made the others green
with envy, I bid them good-bye. I never heard any more of my friends,
but, although the war has long since ended, I have a sort of dim
impression in my mind that they are still travelling round and round
and coming back to Abbeville again. I went over to the officers' club
and had a good wash and luncheon, and there meeting a very nice
engineer officer, I asked him if he could tell me where I could find
any lorries going North. I told him my railway experience, and it so
moved him that he very kindly sent me off in his own car to St. Pol,
where I was picked up by one of our staff cars and taken home in time
for dinner. Railway journeys in France were not things to remember
with pleasure, and if they were bad for the officers, what must they
have been for the poor men in the crowded third-class carriages?

At the end of January, our pleasant life at Bruay came to an end, and
we moved off to Barlin which was to be our headquarters for a      (p. 162)
month and a half. It was while we were there that I had an attack of
trench-fever, which, like being "crummy," is really part of a complete
war experience. Barlin was not a bad place of residence. There were
many men within easy reach, and I had an upper room in the Town Hall
for use as a chapel. The presence of a well equipped British hospital
also gave one opportunities of seeing our wounded men. We had come to
know by this time that the first task which lay before us in the
opening of spring was the taking of Vimy Ridge, and our life became
filled with fresh zest and interest in view of the coming attack.

On the 15th of March our Division moved up to a place called Ecoivres,
where we were billeted in the old Chateau. The Count who owned the
Chateau kept some rooms downstairs for himself, but we occupied all
the rest of the building. In the hall upstairs we had a large model of
Vimy Ridge, which all the officers and men of the battalions visited
in turn, in order to study the character of the land over which they
had to charge. In the garden were numerous huts, and in a large
building in a street to the right of the Chateau was a billet which
held a great number of men. It was almost entirely filled up with
tiers upon tiers of wooden shelves, on which the men made their beds.
They were reached by wooden stairs. Nearly fifteen hundred men were
crowded into the building. On the ground floor beside the door, there
was a high platform which commanded a view of the whole interior. On
this, one of the bands lived and gave us music in the evening. Every
night after dinner, I used to go to the cinema, as we called the
place, and have either a service or a talk with the men on general
subjects. At such times outsiders would crowd in, and we have had very
hearty singing when the band struck up a hymn. I always tried to have
some piece of good news to announce, and would get the latest reports
from the signallers to read aloud. The men were in splendid spirits,
and we were all buoyed up with the hope that we were going to end the
war. I used to speak about the war outlook, and would tell the men
that there were only two issues before us: Victory or Slavery. When I
asked them one night "Which shall it be, Boys?" a loud shout of
"Victory!" went up.

News was not always plentiful, and it was a little hard at times to
find anything particularly interesting to say, and so, one night I
determined to make a variation. I told the men that on the next
evening, if they would bring in questions to me on any subject which
had been troubling them, I should be very glad to try to give an   (p. 163)
answer. I thought that an entertainment of that kind might be both
attractive and helpful. On the next evening, therefore, I ascended the
platform as usual and found the place crowded with men. I had my
acetylene lamp with me to furnish light for reading any questions that
might be sent up. I called the meeting to order, and then asked if any
men had any questions to ask. To my great delight, someone at the back
held an envelope above the crowd, and it was passed up to me. I tore
it open, and, holding my lamp in one hand, without first looking over
the letter, I read it aloud to the men, who were hushed in the silence
of anticipation. I give it just as it was written:--

                                                  "Somewhere in France,
                                                                3/4/17.
    Dear Sir:--

    I am going to ask you a question which has been a load to my
    little bit of mental capacity for a period of months. Often have I
    woke up in the old dugout, my hair standing straight up and one
    eye looking straight into the eyeball of the other, trying to
    obtain an answer to this burning question. I have kept my weary
    vigil over the parapet at night, with my rifle in one hand and a
    couple of bombs in the other, and two or three in each pocket, and
    still I am pondering over this burning question. I will now ask
    you the question. When do you think this God dam war will be over,
    eh?"

I never was so completely taken aback in all my life. A roar of
laughter burst from the men, in which I joined heartily. From the
tiers of bunks and every part of the building, cheers went up, and we
had one of the pleasantest evenings in that old cinema that we had
ever experienced. I do not know who the man was who sent the letter,
or whether he is alive now. If he is, I wish he would write to me. I
want to thank him for giving us all a good, hearty laugh at that time
of preparation and anxiety. I keep the letter among my most treasured
war souvenirs.

The winter rains had not improved the roads, but still day and night,
through mud and water, a constant stream of vehicles of all descriptions
passed up towards the front carrying ammunition. Ammunition was
everywhere. At certain places it was stacked along the roads. The
strain upon the horses was very great, and numbers of them died,   (p. 164)
and their bodies lay by the wayside for many days, no one having time to
bury them.

It was perfectly impossible to get any place in which to hold
Communion services, so, with the permission of the family who owned
it, I made use of a little Gothic shrine near the church, which stood
over a family vault. It was a miniature chapel, and had an altar in
it. The glass in the coloured windows had been broken, but we replaced
it by canvas. I hung upon the wall outside the board which I used as a
sign, with the words "St. George's Church" upon it. In this little
building every morning at eight o'clock I had a celebration of Holy
Communion, and I always had some men attending.

Our trenches were tolerably quiet, and lay beyond the Arras-Bethune
Road. At a place called Maison Blanche there was a large cavern which
was used as a billet for one of the battalions in reserve. Some
strange stories were told about the fighting that had taken place in
it between the French and the Germans at the beginning of the war. I
went down into it one evening when the 16th Battalion was there. It
was a most picturesque place. The walls and roof were white chalk and
the place was cut up by passages and openings which led into other
caves. The atmosphere was smoky, and a multitude of candles lit up the
strange abode. The men were cooking in their mess tins, some were
playing cards, and some were examining the seams of their shirts. I
told them I was going to have a service at one end of the cavern and I
proceeded thither with a good number following. Some of the card
players seemed too interested in their game to care to attend, and so
I called out to the men in a loud voice not to make too much noise,
lest they should disturb the gamblers. One of the men who was playing
cards responded "If you will wait till we have finished this hand,
Sir, we will all come too." I made the announcement therefor that we
would not begin till the players were ready. The result of this was
that in a very little while all the men came and joined in the
service.

The possession of the Ridge gave the Germans a great advantage, because
it commanded a view of a very large piece of country and several main
roads. Further up the road from Maison Blanche there was a place
called Arriane Dump, where the Engineers had stored material in
preparation for our attack. A long plank road connected it with the
Anzin-St. Eloi road. On a dark and rainy night that wooden track   (p. 165)
was an unpleasant place for a walk. Lorries, wagons, limbers, transports,
horses and men crowded it, and the traffic every now and then would
get blocked. No flashlights could be used, and it was hard to escape
being run over. Yet to step off the boards meant to sink almost to
your knees in mud. The language that one heard at such times in the
darkness was not quite fit for ears polite. It is well that the horses
were not able to understand the uncomplimentary speeches that were
addressed to them.

There was a tremendous concentration of artillery in the back area.
The town of Anzin, on the bank of the river Scarpe, was filled with
heavy batteries. To ride through it was to run the risk of many
unpleasant surprises from the sudden firing of big guns by the
wayside. Once, I was approaching an apparently harmless hole in a
brick wall, when all of a sudden Dandy and I found ourselves enveloped
in flame and almost stunned by a huge report. As we bounded past the
hole, I saw a large gun moving up and down under the force of its
recoil, and with smoke still curling out of its mouth.

The siege battery in which my third son was a gunner had now arrived
and taken up its position in a field behind Anzin, where a 15-inch
howitzer sent forth its deadly missives to the Germans every fifteen
minutes and in return drew their fire. One day a shell burst in a hut
used by some Railway Troops. A large number of them were wounded and
eleven killed, whom I buried in a row on the hillside.

On the 4th of April, we received news that America had declared war upon
Germany. I thanked God in my heart that at last the English-speaking
world had been drawn together, and I knew that the effect upon the
Germans would be disastrous. I rode out that afternoon to give the
good news to our men. I met a British Battalion coming out of the
line, looking very tired and hungry. They were resting by the
roadside, and I passed along and cheered them by telling them that the
United States had now come in definitely as one of our Allies, and
that I thought the effect would be the shortening of the war.
America's decision could not have come at a better time. The year was
opening out before us, and the initiative was coming into our hands
The prospect was bright and our men were keen for the encounter.

April 6th was Good Friday. It was impossible to have service at    (p. 166)
Ecoivres, as everyone was so busy, so I rode over to Anzin and had
service for the 7th Siege Battery in an empty Nissen hut. Most of the
men of the battery were present, and I had forty communicants. The
place was lit by candles which every now and then were extinguished by
the firing of the fifteen-inch gun nearby. Easter Day was originally
intended to be the day for our attack, but it had been postponed till
Monday. We could not do much in the way of observing the great feast.
Every room and shed in the town was filled, and men were lying out
under rubber sheets in the fields. I had two celebrations of the Holy
Communion in the Y.M.C.A. hut, the floor of which was covered with
sleeping men. I managed to clear a little space on the stage for the
altar. Of course, not many attended, but at one of the services was an
officer who had won the V.C. and the D.S.O. and had a foreign
Decoration as well. In the afternoon I visited and gave an address to
one of the battalions moving up the line. I also had a service in the
cinema that evening.

It was a time of mingled anxiety and exhilaration. What did the next
twenty-four hours hold in store for us? Was it to be a true Easter for
the world, and a resurrection to a new and better life? If death
awaited us, what nobler passage could there be to Eternity than such a
death in such a cause? Never was the spirit of comradeship higher in
the Canadian Corps. Never was there a greater sense of unity. The task
laid upon us was a tremendous one, but in the heart of each man, from
private to general, was the determination that it should be performed.
On that Easter night, the battalions took their places in the line.
The men at the guns, which had hitherto been concealed and kept
silent, were ready to open fire at zero hour, and all along that front
the eager heart of Canada waited impatiently for the dawn.




CHAPTER XVI.                                                       (p. 167)

THE CAPTURE OF VIMY RIDGE.

_April 9th, 1917._


My alarm clock went off at four a.m. on the great day of April 9th,
which will always shine brightly in the annals of the war. I got up
and ate the breakfast which I had prepared the night before, and
taking with me my tin of bully-beef, I started off to see the opening
barrage. It was quite dark when I emerged from the door of the Chateau
and passed the sentry at the gate. I went through the village of
Ecoivres, past the Crucifix by the cemetery, and then turning to the
right went on to a path which led up to Bray Hill on the St. Eloi
road. I found some men of one of our battalions bent on the same
enterprise. We got into the field and climbed the hill, and there on
the top of it waited for the attack to begin. The sky was overcast,
but towards the east the grey light of approaching dawn was beginning
to appear. It was a thrilling moment. Human lives were at stake. The
honour of our country was at stake. The fate of civilization was at
stake.

Far over the dark fields, I looked towards the German lines, and, now
and then, in the distance I saw a flare-light appear for a moment and
then die away. Now and again, along our nine-mile front, I saw the
flash of a gun and heard the distant report of a shell. It looked as
if the war had gone to sleep, but we knew that all along the line our
trenches were bristling with energy and filled with men animated with
one resolve, with one fierce determination. It is no wonder that to
those who have been in the war and passed through such moments,
ordinary life and literature seem very tame. The thrill of such a
moment is worth years of peace-time existence. To the watcher of a
spectacle so awful and sublime, even human companionship struck a
jarring note. I went over to a place by myself where I could not hear
the other men talking, and there I waited. I watched the luminous
hands of my watch get nearer and nearer to the fateful moment, for the
barrage was to open at five-thirty. At five-fifteen the sky was
getting lighter and already one could make out objects distinctly in
the fields below. The long hand of my watch was at five-twenty-five.
The fields, the roads, and the hedges were beginning to show the
difference of colour in the early light. Five-twenty-seven! In     (p. 168)
three minutes the rain of death was to begin. In the awful silence
around it seemed as if Nature were holding her breath in expectation
of the staggering moment. Five-twenty-nine! God help our men!
Five-thirty! With crisp sharp reports the iron throats of a battery
nearby crashed forth their message of death to the Germans, and from
three thousand guns at that moment the tempest of death swept through
the air. It was a wonderful sound. The flashes of guns in all
directions made lightnings in the dawn. The swish of shells through
the air was continuous, and far over on the German trenches I saw the
bursts of flame and smoke in a long continuous line, and, above the
smoke, the white, red and green lights, which were the S.O.S. signals
from the terrified enemy. In an instant his artillery replied, and
against the morning clouds the bursting shrapnel flashed. Now and then
our shells would hit a German ammunition dump, and, for a moment, a
dull red light behind the clouds of smoke, added to the grandeur of
the scene. I knelt on the ground and prayed to the God of Battles to
guard our noble men in that awful line of death and destruction, and
to give them victory, and I am not ashamed to confess that it was with
the greatest difficulty I kept back my tears. There was so much human
suffering and sorrow, there were such tremendous issues involved in
that fierce attack, there was such splendour of human character being
manifested now in that "far flung line," where smoke and flame mocked
the calm of the morning sky, that the watcher felt he was gazing upon
eternal things.

When it got thoroughly light I determined to go on up the road to the
3rd Artillery Brigade which was to press on after the infantry. I
found both officers and men very keen and preparing to advance. For
weeks at night, they had been making bridges over the trenches, so
that the guns could be moved forward rapidly on the day of the attack.
I had breakfast with the O.C. of one of the batteries, a young fellow
only twenty-three years of age who had left McGill to enter the war.
He was afterwards killed in front of Arras. After breakfast I went on
up the line till I came to the 3rd Artillery Brigade Headquarters, and
there asked for the latest reports of progress. They were feeling
anxious because the advancing battalions had given no signal for some
time, and it was thought that they might have been held up. Someone,
however looked at his watch and then at the schedule time of attack,
and found that at that particular moment the men were to rest for  (p. 169)
ten minutes before pressing on. The instant the time for advance came,
rockets were sent up to show that our men were still going ahead. I
went up the road to Neuville St. Vaast, where there was an aid post,
and there I saw the wounded coming in, some walking, with bandaged
arms and heads, and some being brought in on stretchers. They were all
in high spirits and said that the attack had been a great success. Of
course, the walking wounded were the first to appear, the more serious
cases came afterwards, but still there was the note of triumph in all
the accounts of the fighting which I heard. I moved on to a track near
Maison Blanche, and then followed up the men. The ridge by this time
was secured and our front line was still pressing forward on the heels
of the retreating Germans. It was a glorious moment. The attack which
we had looked forward to and prepared for so long had been successful.
The Germans had been taken by surprise and the important strategic
point which guarded the rich coal fields of Northern France was in our
possession.

The sight of the German trenches was something never to be forgotten.
They had been strongly held and had been fortified with an immense
maze of wire. But now they were ploughed and shattered by enormous
shell holes. The wire was twisted and torn and the whole of that
region looked as if a volcanic upheaval had broken the crust of the
earth. Hundreds of men were now walking over the open in all
directions. German prisoners were being hurried back in scores.
Wounded men, stretcher-bearers and men following up the advance were
seen on all sides, and on the ground lay the bodies of friends and
foes who had passed to the Great Beyond. I met a British staff officer
coming back from the front, who told me he belonged to Army
Headquarters. He asked me if I was a Canadian, and when I replied that
I was, he said, "I congratulate you upon it." I reminded him that
British artillery were also engaged in the attack and should share in
the glory. "That may be", he said, "but, never since the world began
have men made a charge with finer spirit. It was a magnificent
achievement."

Our burial parties were hard at work collecting the bodies of those
who had fallen, and the chaplains were with them. I met some of the
battalions, who, having done their part in the fighting, were coming
back. Many of them had suffered heavily and the mingled feelings   (p. 170)
of loss and gain chastened their exaltation and tempered their sorrow.
I made my way over to the ruins of the village of Thelus on our left,
and there I had my lunch in a shell hole with some men, who were
laughing over an incident of the attack. So sudden had been our
advance that a German artillery officer who had a comfortable dugout
in Thelus, had to run away before he was dressed. Two of our men had
gone down into the dugout and there they found the water in the
wash-basin still warm and many things scattered about in confusion.
They took possession of everything that might be of use including some
German war maps, and were just trying to get a very fine telephone
when two other of our men hearing voices in the dugout and thinking
the enemy might still be there, threw down a smoke bomb which set fire
to the place. The invaders had to relinquish their pursuit of the
telephone and beat a hasty retreat. Smoke was still rising from the
dugout when I saw it and continued to do so for a day or two.

Our signallers were following up the infantry and laying wires over
the open. Everyone was in high spirits. By this time the retreating
Germans had got well beyond the crest of the Ridge and across the
valley. It was about six o'clock in the evening when I reached our
final objective, which was just below the edge of the hill. There our
men were digging themselves in. It was no pleasant task, because the
wind was cold and it was beginning to snow. The prospect of spending a
night there was not an attractive one, and every man was anxious to
make the best home for himself he could in the ground. It was
wonderful to look over the valley. I saw the villages of Willerval,
Arleux and Bailleul-sur-Berthouit. They looked so peaceful in the
green plain which had not been disturbed as yet by shells. The church
spires stood up undamaged like those of some quiet hamlet in England.
I thought, "If we could only follow up our advance and keep the
Germans on the move," but the day was at an end and the snow was
getting heavier. I saw far off in the valley, numbers of little grey
figures who seemed to be gradually gathering together, and I heard an
officer say he thought the Germans were preparing for a counter-attack.
Our men, however, paid little attention to them. The pressing question
of the moment was how to get a comfortable and advantageous position
for the night. Canadians never showed up better than at such times.
They were so quiet and determined and bore their hardships with a
spirit of good nature which rested on something sounder and more   (p. 171)
fundamental than even pleasure in achieving victory. About half-past
six, when I started back, I met our Intelligence Officer, V.C.,
D.S.O., coming up to look over the line. He was a man who did much but
said little and generally looked very solemn. I went up to him and
said, "Major, far be it from me, as a man of peace and a man of God,
to say anything suggestive of slaughter, but, if I were a combatant
officer, I would drop some shrapnel in that valley in front of our
lines." Just the faint flicker of a smile passed over his countenance
and he replied, "We are shelling the valley." "No," I said, "Our
shells are going over the valley into the villages beyond, and the
Germans in the plain are getting ready for a counter-attack. I could
see them with my naked eyes." "Well." he replied, "I will go and
look."

Later on when I was down in a German dugout which had been turned into
the headquarters of our advanced artillery brigade, and was eating the
half tin of cold baked beans which my friend, the C.O. had failed to
consume, I had the satisfaction of hearing the message come through on
the wires, that our artillery had to concentrate its fire on the
valley, as the Germans were preparing for a counter-attack. When I
left the warm comfortable dugout, I found that it was quite dark and
still snowing. My flashlight was of little use for it only lit up the
snowflakes immediately in front of me, and threw no light upon my
path. I did not know how I should be able to get back in the darkness
through the maze of shell holes and broken wire. Luckily a signaller
came up to me and seeing my plight led me over to a light railway
track which had just been laid, and told me that if I kept on it I
should ultimately get back to the Arras-Bethune road. It was a hard
scramble, for the track was narrow and very slippery, and had to be
felt with the feet rather than seen with the eyes. I was terribly
tired, for I had had a long walk and the excitement of the day and
talking to such numbers of men had been very fatiguing. To add to my
difficulties, our batteries lay between me and the road and were now
in full action. My old dread of being killed by our own guns seemed to
be justified on the present occasion. Gun flashes came every few
seconds with a blinding effect, and I thought I should never get
behind those confounded batteries. I had several tumbles in the
snow-covered mud, but there was nothing to be done except to struggle
on and trust to good luck to get through. When at last I reached   (p. 172)
the road I was devoutly thankful to be there and I made my way to the
dugout of the signallers, where I was most kindly received and hospitably
entertained, in spite of the fact that I kept dropping asleep in the
midst of the conversation. One of our signal officers, in the morning,
had gone over with some men in the first wave of the attack. He made
directly for the German signallers' dugout and went down with his
followers, and, finding about forty men there, told them they were his
prisoners. They were astonished at his appearance, but he took
possession of the switch-board and told them that the Canadians had
captured the Ridge. One of the Germans was sent up to find out, and
returned with the report that the Canadians held the ground. Our men
at once took possession of all the telegraph instruments and prevented
information being sent back to the enemy in the rear lines. Having
done this, our gallant Canadians ordered the prisoners out of the
dugout and then sat down and ate the breakfast which they had just
prepared. This was only one of many deeds of cool daring done that
day. On one occasion the Germans were running so fast in front of one
of our battalions that our men could not resist following them. They
were actually rushing into the zone of our own fire in order to get at
them. A gallant young lieutenant, who afterwards won the V.C., seeing
the danger, with great pluck, ran in front of the men and halted them
with the words, "Stop, Boys, give the barrage a chance."

In spite of the numbers of wounded and dying men which I had seen, the
victory was such a complete and splendid one that April 9th, 1917, was
one of the happiest days in my life, and when I started out from the
signallers dugout on my way back to Ecoivres, and passed the hill
where I had seen the opening of the great drama in the early morning,
my heart was full of thankfulness to Almighty God for his blessing on
our arms. I arrived at my room in the Chateau at about half past two
a.m., very tired and very happy. I made myself a large cup of strong
coffee, on my primus stove, ate a whole tin of cold baked beans, and
then turned in to a sound slumber, filled with dreams of victory and
glory, and awoke well and fit in the morning, more than ever proud of
the grand old First Division which, as General Horne told us later, had
made a new record in British war annals by taking every objective on
the scheduled dot of the clock.




CHAPTER XVII.                                                      (p. 173)

A MONTH ON THE RIDGE.

_April to May, 1917._


The great drawback to a victory in a war of movement, which we were
told we were now engaged in, is that, after an advance, one has to
follow up the line, and consequently, comfortable billets have to be
exchanged for broken down shacks in the forward area. Not many days
after our men had taken Vimy Ridge, Divisional Headquarters had to
move up to the Arras-Bethune road and occupy a chalk cave which was
known as the Labyrinth. It had once been the scene of fierce fighting
between the French and the Germans. Deep down, in passages scooped out
of the chalk were the various offices of the division and the billets
for the staff. The place was very much crowded, and I quickly
perceived that the last person whose society was wanted there was the
Senior Chaplain. Having taken the situation in at a glance, I made my
way to my friend the Staff Captain of the Artillery, and he very
kindly invited me to share with him and another officer, the little
dugout he had chosen for himself. It was entered by a narrow passage
cut through the chalk in the side of the trench, and the roof
consisted of a large semi-circular piece of iron under the ground. We
had three beds and a table, and so were comfortable. When one stood on
the earth which covered our roof, it was impossible to see any
suggestion of a home underneath. Nothing was in sight but the wide
expanse of rolling country cut up on all sides by trenches and shell
holes, and wearing a sort of khaki uniform of light brown mud. To the
east of us, lay the road bordered with leafless and battered trees,
past which went an interminable line of lorries, guns and limbers. We
were very comfortable, and at night when the winds were blowing and
the rain was coming down in sheets, it was not half bad after dinner
to read aloud Tennyson's "Ulysses" or other of my favourite poems. I
am not sure that I did not at times, relying upon the inclemency of
the weather overhead, recite some of my own. I know that one morning,
when I had awakened at about four o'clock, I turned on the light of a
storage battery which I had found in a German dugout, and sitting up
wrote the verses which I called "The Silent Toast" and which my    (p. 174)
artillery friends approved of when I recited them at breakfast.

The aftermath of victory is of course very sad. Many were the gallant
men whose bodies were laid to rest in the little cemetery at Ecoivres.
The cemetery is well kept and very prettily situated. The relatives of
those who are buried there will be pleased to find the graves so
carefully preserved. The large crucifix which stands on a mound near
the gate is most picturesquely surrounded by trees. In the mound some
soldier, probably a Frenchman, had once made a dugout. The site was
evidently chosen with the idea that crucifixes were untouched by
shells, and therefore places of refuge from danger. I often thought,
as I looked at the crucifix with the human shelter beneath it, that it
might stand as a symbol of the hymn:--

  "Rock of Ages cleft for me
  Let me hide myself in Thee."

The engineers had had a dump for their material near the Bethune-Arras
road, and when they moved it forward to a place called the "Nine
Elms," the engineer officer gave me his dugout, which was partly
beside the road and partly under it. It consisted of several rooms,
one of which contained a bed, and had steps going down to a deep
chamber whither one could retire in case of shelling. It was good to
have such a large and comfortable establishment, and when Alberta was
chained up in her corner and I had strapped myself into my kit bag at
night, we both felt very snug. The only trouble was that visitors kept
coming at all hours to ask for engineering materials, not knowing that
the character of the abode had changed. Early one morning, an officer
came in a great hurry, and waking me up, asked if there were any
winches there,--he pronounced the word like wenches. I sat up in bed
and looked at him sternly, and said, "Young man, this is a religious
establishment, I am the Senior Chaplain, and there are no wenches
here." He did not know quite what to make of the situation. "I mean
wooden ones," he said. I replied, "Young man, there are no wenches
here, either wooden or any other kind; the engineers have gone
forward." He apologized and left. On another occasion, in the darkness
of middle night, an Imperial soldier who had lost his way came down
the steps and put his head into my door and began to stammer and hiss
in such an extraordinary way that Alberta was roused and barked    (p. 175)
furiously. I woke up with a start and asked what the matter was, but all
I could get from the poor man was a series of noises and hisses. I
turned on my flashlight, and a very muddy face covered with a shock of
red hair looked in at the door of my little room, and with many
contortions and winkings, emitted a series of incomprehensible noises.
What with the stammering man and the barking dog, I was at my wits end
to find out the trouble. At last by a process of synthesis, I pieced
the various sounds together and found that the man wanted the location
of a certain British battery. I gave him the best information I could.

Not far from me, at Arriane Dump, the Chaplain's Service established a
coffee stall, and there men who were going up to or coming from the
line could get coffee, biscuits and cigarettes at all hours. The
neighbourhood had now become so safe that little huts were being run
up in various places. I asked our C.R.E. to build me a church, and, to
my great joy, an officer and some men were detailed to put up a little
structure of corrugated iron. At one end, over the entrance door,
there was a belfry in which was hung a good sized German gas bell
found in the trenches on our advance. Surmounting the belfry, was a
cross painted with luminous paint. Inside the church, I had an altar
with crucifix and candlesticks, and the Union Jack for a frontal. I
also had a lectern and portable organ. The oiled linen in the windows
let in a sufficient quantity of light, and the whole place was
thoroughly church-like. I shall never forget the first service we held
in it when the building was completed. It was in the evening and the
sun was just setting. The air was balmy and spring-like and there was
no shelling in the front line. The bell was rung and the congregation
began to collect. I went over to the church and there I found, lying
wrapped in a blanket on a stretcher beside the building, the body of a
poor lad of the 2nd Division. It could not be buried until word had
been received from his battalion. I got some of the men to carry the
stretcher in and lay it in the aisle. I put on my cassock and
surplice, lit the candles, and we had choral evensong, my organist
playing the responses. The little church was filled, and there, in the
midst of us, was one who had entered into his rest. It seemed to me
that the most suitable hymn was:--

  "Let saints on earth in concert sing
    With those whose work is done,
  For all the servants of our King                                 (p. 176)
    In heaven and earth are one.

  One army of the living God
    To His command we bow;
  Part of the host have crossed the flood,
    And part are crossing now."

All present sang the hymn most heartily, and we felt its
appropriateness. I never hear it now without thinking of that evening
service in St. George's Church at Arriane Dump. To those at home, I
suppose, it will appear strange that an incident of that kind would
not be almost too moving. At the front, however, death did not seem to
be such a terrible thing--it was part of our life and something to be
expected and met uncomplainingly. Every morning, until we moved, I had
a Celebration of the Holy Communion in the church at eight o'clock,
and every evening I had Evensong at six. I was told long afterwards
that when General Horne paid his first visit to our Battle
Headquarters, he pointed to the little iron structure with its belfry
and white cross, and asked what it was. When they told him it was a
church, he said, "A church! Now I know why the Canadians won Vimy
Ridge." Unfortunately, the point of the observation was lost by the
fact that the church was built, not before, but after we had taken the
Ridge.

When we left Arriane Dump, I handed over the church to the Senior
Chaplain of the British division which took our place, and he had the
building taken down, put in lorries, and re-erected in the village of
Roclincourt, where he adorned it with a painted window of St. George
and the Dragon.

Along the Arras-Bethune road are various cemeteries where the men of
the different battalions are buried. The greatest care was taken in
collecting the dead and making their last resting place as neat and
comely as possible. A plank road was constructed to connect the
Bethune-Arras road with the Lens-Arras road further forward. It lay in
a straight line over the broken ground cut up by trenches and huge
craters, and brought one to the headquarters of the siege battery in
which my son was a gunner. On all sides stretched the plain which our
men had won. Far off, on clear days, one could see in the distance the
little hamlets behind the German lines.

We had taken the Ridge, but there were villages in the plain which
were not yet in our hands. I heard there was to be an attack one   (p. 177)
morning early. So the night before, I left my dugout at one a.m.
It was a strange, weird walk along the plank road and then down the
railway track to Farbus wood. The barrage was to open at four-thirty,
and at four-ten a.m. I walked into the dugout where the Headquarters
of the 3rd Artillery Brigade were. We waited till four twenty-five,
and then I went up to see the barrage. Before us lay the plain, and
all round us on the hillside, except in the space before us, were
trees of Farbus Wood. At four-thirty the barrage opened, and we had a
fine view of the line of bursting shells along the enemy's front. For
a time our fire was very intense, and when it eased off I started down
the hill to the town of Willerval, where in a dugout I found the
officers of one of our battalions regaling themselves with the bottles
of wine and mineral water which the Germans had left behind them in
their well-stocked cellars. Willerval was badly smashed, but enough
was left to show what a charming place it must have been in the days
before the war. In the shell-ploughed gardens, spring flowers were
putting up inquiring faces, and asking for the smiles and admiration
of the flower-lovers who would tread those broken paths no more. I sat
in a quiet place by a ruined brick wall and tried to disentangle the
curious sensations which passed through the mind, as I felt the breeze
lightly fanning my face, smelt the scent of flowers, heard the
skylarks singing, saw the broken houses and conservatories, and
listened to the shells which every now and then fell on the road to
the east of the village. That super-sensitiveness to the charms of
nature, which I have mentioned before, thrilled me with delight. The
warm spring sun beat down from a cloudless sky, and the glorious
romance of being out in the war-zone added to the charm.

One of our ambulances had a dressing station in the cellars of the
Chateau, and there were a number of German prisoners there who were
waiting their turn as stretcher bearers. From Willerval I went to the
dressing station in the sunken road, where one of our chaplains was
hard at work rendering assistance to the wounded. We had taken Arleux,
but of course had to pay the price, and over the fields in different
directions one could see stretchers being carried, bearing their loads
of broken and suffering bodies. Our grand old Division never failed in
taking its objective, and later on, we advanced from Arleux to Fresnoy,
which completed for us our campaign on Vimy Ridge. The Divisions   (p. 178)
on each side of us were held up, but when we left the Ridge we handed
over Fresnoy to our successors in the line. Later, they were obliged
to relinquish it.

There is something splendid in the esprit-de-corps of a Division, and
none could be greater than that which animated all the units of the
1st Canadian Division, or as we were called, "the boys of the old red
patch," from the red patch which we wore as a distinguishing mark upon
our arms.

On May 4th, orders came to us that we had to move, and at night I
walked over the old plank road to say good-bye to my son--for their
battery was to retain its position--and on the next day, followed by
little Alberta, I rode from Arriane Dump to my old billet in Bruay,
breaking the journey by a visit to the 87th Battalion at Chateau de la
Haie. We had returned to our old quarters covered with glory, and, on
all sides, the French people were sincere in their admiration for what
the Canadian Corps had done. It was certainly delightful to get back
to clean billets, and to be able to enjoy the charming spring weather
on roads that were not shelled and in fields that were rich in the
promise of summer. Our Headquarters once again made their home in the
Administration Building in the square, and the usual round of
entertaining went on. During the daytime, battalions practised the
noble art of open warfare. The sense of "Something accomplished,
something done," inspired our men with the ardour of military life,
and bound us all even closer together in the spirit of valiant
comradeship.




CHAPTER XVIII.                                                     (p. 179)

A WELL-EARNED REST.

_May and June, 1917._


Three days after we had settled at Bruay I was invited by one of our
staff officers and the Colonel of one of our battalions to accompany
them on a visit to our old trenches on the Somme. We left in the
morning and went south, over the roads and past the little villages
which we knew so well, till we came to Albert. We went up the Bapaume
road, now deserted and lonely. Our front line was some miles to the
east, and so all that waste of country over which we had fought was
now without inhabitants. We left the motor near Courcellette and
walked over the fields to the old trenches where the First Brigade had
made their attack. It was a dreary day. Low clouds hung over the sky
and a cold wind blew from the east. Spring had made very little
advance in those wide fields of death, and the grass was hardly green,
where there was any grass. We walked over the well-known tracks
reviewing incidents of the great battle. We crossed Death Valley and
saw our old lines. The place was so solemn that by mutual agreement we
did not talk, but each went off by himself. I found a number of
Canadian and German bodies still unburied, and all over the fields
were rifles and mess tins, spades and bits of accoutrement. One could
hardly imagine a scene more desolate and forlorn. Every inch of that
ground had been fought over and bought with the price of human blood.
The moan of the wind over the fields seemed like the great lament of
Nature for her sons who had gone. It was impossible to identify the
bodies we found, but we knew that burial parties would soon set to
work to collect them. Over each poor brown and muddy form I held a
short service and used the form of committal from the burial office in
our prayer-book.

It was with a sense of relief that we walked back up the road, past
the ruins of Courcelette, and rejoined the motor. The scene was too
painful, and made too great a pull upon the heart-strings. In the
great army of the slain that lay beneath that waste of mud were many
whom we had known and loved with that peculiar love which binds
comrades in the fighting line to one another--

  "God rest you valiant Gentlemen                                  (p. 180)
  Who sleep beneath that ground."

Once more, at the end of the month, I paid another visit to Regina
Trench, when I was on my way to place a cross over my son's grave in
the cemetery at Tara Hill. By this time, the grass was green, the
trenches were filling up and in the cloudless blue sky larks were
singing. The impression of dreariness was passing away, and the wounds
on the breast of nature were being healed.

Our life at Bruay as usual was exceedingly pleasant, and the men
thoroughly enjoyed the beauty and the freshness of the country. Games
and sports were indulged in and the nightly entertainments in the
theatre given by our concert party were most enjoyable.

I shall never forget the happy rides on Dandy down the roads and
across the fields to the various battalions and artillery brigades. At
every turn I would meet men whom I knew, and to shake hands with those
glorious lads who had done such great things for the world was an
honour and a privilege. In looking back to that time faces and places
come before me, and I feel once again the warm spring winds over the
fields of France, and see the quaint old villages of Houdain, Ruitz
and Hallicourt where our various battalions were billetted. Sometimes,
at exalted moments, I had meals with generals in their comfortable
quarters; sometimes with company officers; sometimes with the non-coms,
but I think the most enjoyable were those that I took with the men in
dirty cook-houses. With a dish-cloth they would wipe off some old box
for a chair, another for a table; then, getting contributions of
cutlery, they would cook me a special dinner and provide me with a
mess-tin of strong hot tea. When the meal was over and cigarettes had
been lighted, general conversation was indulged in, and there would be
talks of home, of war experiences, and many discussions of religion
and politics. One question which was asked me again and again in
trenches and dugouts and billets was--"Are we winning the war?" It may
be hard for people at home to realize how little our men knew of what
was happening. The majority of them never saw the newspapers, and of
course the monotony of our life and the apparent hopelessness of
making any great advance was a puzzle to them. I never failed to take
the question seriously and give them, as far as I was able, a general
idea of the aspect of the war on the various fronts. In order to be
able to do this I read "The Times" daily with great care. It was   (p. 181)
really the only paper that one could depend on, and its marvellous
influence on the conduct of the campaign completely justified its
claim to be still the exponent of British policy, and its inherited
right to the title of "The Thunderer."

Our artillery were still in the line along the Ridge, but our infantry
brigades were all at rest. It was proposed that we should have a
thanksgiving service for victory with each brigade. The Senior Chaplain
of the Corps took the matter in hand with the Senior Chaplain of the
Army. A form of service was printed on slips of paper, and on Sunday,
May 13th, we had services for the three infantry brigades. It was a
lovely warm day, and the services were held at the most convenient
points. The 2nd Brigade were assembled at Ruitz. It was a splendid
sight. The 5th, 7th, 8th and 10th Battalions were drawn up in a great
square, generals and staff officers were present; a band played the
hymns and the army chaplain gave us a most stirring address. The next
service was with the 1st Brigade in a field near Coupigny, where the
1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Battalions were drawn up, making a magnificent
show of young, ardent and stalwart manhood. The moment it was over the
general and staff were motored over to the 3rd Brigade at
Chateau-de-la-Haie. Here were assembled the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th
Battalions. General Horne attended this Service, and, after the
religious ceremony was over, gave an address. His admiration for the
achievement of our men was evidently sincere, and he always showed the
deepest interest in everything connected with the welfare of the
Canadians.

Near Bruay on the way to Houdain were some large aerodromes and the
headquarters of the squadron. I had met their chaplain before at
Armentieres when he was attached to the infantry. He very kindly
invited me up to his quarters, and several times I dined with him at
the officers' mess. He was the chaplain of several squadrons, and had
to fly from one to another to take services on Sundays after the manner
of a true "sky pilot." He told me some splendid tales of the gallantry
of the young men to whom he had to minister. On one occasion the order
was given that six German observation balloons along the front line
had to be brought down, for we were about to make an advance. Six men
were therefore, told off for this important but dangerous duty. The
chaplain told me that at once the question arose as to how they    (p. 182)
were to dress for the encounter. Should they wear old clothes or should
they be arrayed in their best? They decided that if they were brought
down they would like, by their appearance, to do most credit to their
squadron, and so it was determined that they should wear their newest
uniforms. He told me that to him, who knew the dangers underlying the
enterprise, it was most pathetic to see the young fellows in the highest
spirits getting themselves polished up as if they were going to an
investiture at Buckingham Palace. He had thought of having a service
of Holy Communion for them, but there was no time, so he saw them
start off on their voyage telling them that he would follow them with
his prayers. The danger of such an undertaking was very great, as the
planes had to fly low over the German trenches and then rise up and
attack the balloons. That night six young airmen came to dinner in the
mess as usual, but there were six observation balloons less in the
German lines.

One night when I went to dinner with the officers of the squadron I
was placed at the right hand of the O.C. He was late in arriving, and
I wondered what sort of man would come to fill the vacant chair. To my
surprise, when we were half way through dinner, a young officer, not
much more than a boy came and took the seat and welcomed me to the
mess. I asked him if he were the Major. He said he was, and on his
left breast were several decorations. I was just going to make some
remark about his youthful appearance when he said, "Now don't say it,
Padre, don't say I look young, I really can't help it." I had a long
and interesting talk with him about his work. He was full of enthusiasm,
and his knowledge of men impressed me deeply. There was a large number
of officers at the table all under his command. I thought it was
wonderful that a man so young should have such a knowledge of human
character. This war has certainly shown that mellowed age is not such
a necessary qualification for right judgment as we thought it was. Old
age has had its day, and the young world, that has just been born in
the anguish and travail of the old, must be "run" by young men who
unite in themselves the qualities of judgment and the love of adventure.
The hut used as a mess-room was most artistically decorated, and made
a fine setting for the noble young fellows, who sat round the table
chaffing one another and laughing as if they never had to face death
in the blinding mists of morning or the blazing sun of noon, with the
rain of shells and machine gun fire falling round them, as they    (p. 183)
climbed higher and higher like skylarks into the wide vault of heaven.

On the first of June, we were ordered back to the line, and our
Divisional Headquarters was to be divided. The General and staff were
to be at the advanced position in the huts and dugouts on the La
Targette road, and the non-combatant officers were to be billetted
near Villers au Bois in Chateau d'Acq, a comfortable modern house with
a large garden on one side and a pleasant tree-covered hill at the
back. Here, to my surprise and delight, I found myself in possession
of a large front room with furniture in it that appeared almost
gorgeous. I had one comfortable night's sleep in it, but alas only
one. On the next evening, when the full moon was shining with that
fateful power which she has of turning night into day and of guiding
the flight of hostile bombers, we were sitting smoking our cigars
after dinner at the artillery headquarters in the La Targette road,
when suddenly we heard the pulsating buzzing of a German plane. At
once someone called out, "A Boche plane, put out the lights." In an
instant the lights were out, but the fatal moonlight shone with clear
and cruel lustre. There was a huge crash, then another, then another,
then another, and someone said, "It has discharged its load." For a
few moments we waited in silence, then we heard the sound of voices
and men calling for help. I went across the open to the huts where the
staff officers and the clerks lived. The German plane kept buzzing
round and round at a low altitude, the observer evidently trying to
find out what mischief he had done. To my dismay, I found that sixteen
persons including the A.D.M.S. and the Assistant to the A.P.M., had
been wounded, two of them fatally. We could not use the lights in
attending to the wounded for the German airman was on the watch, and
it was not until he went away that we could get ambulances to carry
them off.

The General did not think it was worth while to risk a second attack
by remaining at the place, so, in the middle of the night, with great
dispatch the headquarters was moved back to the Chateau, and instead
of my occupying the mahogany bed in the front room, I found myself on
the floor of one of the huts in the garden. The General quite rightly
and naturally taking to himself the bed which I had left.

Chateau d'Acq was for many weeks and at different times our comfortable
and delightful home. There were many Nissen huts round the Chateau (p. 184)
and under the beautiful trees on the hillside. Here the different
branches of the service had their offices, and the engineers built for
me a little house of tar paper lined with green canvas, over the door
of which was painted the sign "St. George's Rectory." The C.R.E. also
built me a new St. George's Church on the other side of the road. It
was to be the chef d'oeuvre of his architectural skill, and to be made
as complete and perfect as possible. A compass was brought and the
true east and west found. The material of which the church was to be
built was tar paper and scantling. The roof was to be covered with
corrugated iron. The belfry was to be hung this time with two German
gas bells, which were dignified with the title of a chime of bells.
The windows, filled with oiled linen, were to be pointed after the
manner of Gothic architecture. The church was to be cruciform, with a
vestry on one side balanced by an organ chamber on the other. We had a
nice altar, with the legal ornaments, and an altar rail. We had a
lectern, and the proper number of benches for the congregation. We
even had a font, which was carved out of chalk by the C.R.E.'s batman
and given as an offering to the church. The C.R.E., a most devout and
staunch Presbyterian, was proud of his architectural achievement and
told me that now he had handed over to me a complete church he wished
every service which the Church of England could hold to be celebrated
in it. He said, "In addition to your usual services, I want men to be
baptised, to be married, and to be ordained in that church." When I
protested that possibly no men could be found desiring these offices,
he replied, "The matter is perfectly simple. Like the centurion in the
Bible, I am a man under authority. All I have to do is to call up ten
men and say 'Go and be baptised tomorrow morning in Canon Scott's
Church', and they will go. If they don't, they will be put in the
guard room. Then I will call up ten more men and say, 'Go and be
married in Canon Scott's church.' If they don't, I will put them in
the guardroom. Then I will call up ten more men and say, 'Go and be
ordained in Canon Scott's church'. If they don't, I will put them in
the guard room." All this was said with perfect solemnity. As a matter
of fact, when another division was occupying Chateau d'Acq, a man
really was baptised in the little church. It was used daily for a time
by the Roman Catholic Chaplain.

A photograph of the building is preserved in the Canadian War Records
Office. The first morning I rang the chime of bells for the early  (p. 185)
service, our A.D.M.S. avowed that he, mistaking the character of the
sound, and supposing that it was a warning of a gas attack, sat up in
his bed in the sweltering heat and put on his gas helmet.

From Chateau d'Acq I used to go and take services for the siege
artillery on the Lens-Arras road, and also at the charmingly situated
rest camp at Fresnicourt. We knew however that a bombing raid might
occur at Chateau d'Acq on any clear night. Whenever we heard German
planes in the air we always felt how unprotected we were, and it gave
us a sense of relief when the buzzing sound grew fainter and fainter
and died off in the distance.

The cool green shade of the trees made a pleasant roof over our heads
on the hot days of early summer, and at dawn in the woods opposite we
could hear the nightingales. Later on, the owner of the Chateau sold
some of the bigger trees, and we found on our return to it in the
following year that the beauty of the place had been destroyed, and
the hillside looked like the scene of a Canadian lumber camp. However,
the rose-trees in the garden with their breath of sweetest odour were
a continual joy and delight to the soul.




CHAPTER XIX.                                                       (p. 186)

PARIS LEAVE.

_June 1917._


My time for leave was due again, and as we were allowed to spend it in
France without interfering with the number of those who desired to see
their friends in England, I determined to go to Chamounix. I thought
that the sight of a great natural wonder like Mont Blanc would have an
uplifting effect upon the mind, at a time when everything human seemed
to be going to rack and ruin. The white peaks of the Alps in their
changeless purity against the blue of the infinite sky seemed to me a
vision which the soul needed. So I started off one lovely morning on
my way to Paris. I went by side-car to Amiens, where I took the train.
It was a delightful expedition, and I left with a good conscience,
because our men were not expected to attack, and were in a quiet
sector of the line. The driver of the car, with the prospect of a good
meal at Amiens and a good tip, was in the best of humours. The air was
sweet and fresh and the grass wore its brightest green. The sunshine
beat down from a cloudless sky, and when we paused for repairs, as we
had to do from time to time, birds' songs furnished us with a most
enjoyable concert. An expedition of this kind was made doubly charming
by having in it a touch of adventure. When we came to a village, at
once the map had to be studied and the turns in the road noted. A
conversation with some of the villagers as we journeyed, always broke
the sense of loneliness, and gave us an insight into the feelings of
the people. However, on this particular occasion, I was not able to
complete the journey to Amiens in the side-car. Either the car broke
down, or the driver preferred to go on by himself, for the thing came
to a dead stop just as a car from the Corps was about to pass us. The
occupants kindly invited me to go on to Amiens with them. It was a
swifter way of continuing the journey and much more comfortable, so I
said good-bye to my original driver and started off with my new
friends.

Amiens was a bustling place then and very unlike the Amiens I saw a
little over a year later. I started by train at six-thirty p.m., and
at eight-thirty, after a pleasant journey, arrived at Paris, where I
went to the Hotel Westminster. On the next evening, I started off  (p. 187)
with some friends for Evians-les-Bains. The train was very full, and
there were no berths in the wagon-lit, so we had to stay up all night
in a crowded first-class carriage. There was an old French Cure at one
end of the compartment, who, quite early in the evening, drew out a
silk handkerchief and covered his head and face therewith, leading us
to suppose that he had sunk into oblivion. We therefore carried on a
very pleasant and vivacious conversation, as the night was warm and we
were not inclined to sleep. Suddenly the old Cure pulled off the
handkerchief and said in a gruff voice, "It is the time for sleeps and
not for talks." and, having uttered this stinging rebuke, re-covered
his head and left us in penitent silence. We arrived at Evians-les-Bains
in good time, and went to a very charming hotel with a lovely view of
the Lake of Geneva in front. Unfortunately, I had hurt my foot some
time before and it looked as if it had got infected. Not wishing to be
laid up so far from medical assistance, I decided to return the same
evening, which I did, and once more found myself at the Hotel
Westminster. I now determined to spend my leave in Paris. There were
many of our men in the city at that time. They were all in a very
impecunious condition, for there was some difficulty in getting their
pay and, in Paris, money did not last long. I did my best to try and
help them, and later our system of payment was improved. It was
perhaps just as well for some of them that their money was short.

Poor old Paris looked very shabby to one who remembered her in former
days with her clean streets and many-fountained parks. She wore the
air of shabby gentility. The streets were not clean; the people were
not well-dressed, the fountains no longer played. France had been hard
hit by the war, and the ruin and desolation of her eastern borders
were reflected in the metropolis. I spent most of my time in Paris
trying to keep men straight, with more or less success. I can imagine
nothing worse for a lonely young fellow, who had taken his leave after
weary months in the front line, than to find himself in the midst of
the heartless gaiety of the French capital. On all sides the minions
of vice, diseased in mind and body, lay in waiting for their prey. To
one who loved Canada and longed for the uplifting of the pure life of
Canadian homes, it was a spectacle which filled the heart with anxiety.
Before I left Paris, I wrote a letter to the Continental Daily Mail
advocating the taking over of some hotels which could be turned into
hostels or clubs for soldiers while on leave. This, I am happy to  (p. 188)
say was afterwards done.

I met many of our men at the soldiers' tea-rooms called "A corner of
Blighty" in the Place Vendome, and I organized several dinner and
theatre parties which went off very pleasantly. When the men had
companionship, they did not feel the lure of vice which came to them
in moments of loneliness. I met some interesting people in Paris, and
at a Sunday luncheon in the charming house of the Duchess de la M---- I
met Madame ----, the writer of a series of novels of rather lurid
reputation. The authoress was a large person with rich orange-coloured
hair, powdered cheeks, and darkened eyelashes. She wore a large black
hat, enormous solitaire pearl ear-rings, and, as a symbol of her
personal purity, was arrayed in white. She lamented the fact that
women writers were not allowed to visit the front. When I told her
that Mrs. Humphrey Ward had been there, she said, "Oh yes, they
allowed her to go because they said she could write good English, but
she cannot get the ear of the American people in the way _I_ can."

There were two or three French officers present, one of whom was an
attache at the Embassy in Madrid. I was much impressed by their quiet
dignified bearing, so typical of the chivalrous heroism of France, and
so unlike anything which we could look for in the officers of the
German Army. I could not help observing that the French were much
depressed and filled with anxiety as to the issue of the war. A French
lady said to me "How can we go on much longer; our man-power is nearly
exhausted?" It is a supreme delight to me to think that that wonderful
nation, which suffered and bled so deeply and bore its wrongs so
nobly, has now been avenged on the ruthless enemy, and that the
tricolour once more floats over Alsace and Lorraine. Profoundly
patriotic though we of the British Empire are, there is something in
the patriotism of the French which goes down into the deepest roots of
the human soul. I remember once in the private burying place of a
noble family who owned a chateau not far from our front line, seeing a
little child's grave. The child had died in Canada at the age of two
years, and its body had been brought back to its ancestral resting
place. On the tombstone, under the inscription were the words:--

  "Petit ange
  Priez pour
  la France."

I was very much struck by the prayer. That the sorrow for a        (p. 189)
child's death should be coupled with the love of country seemed most
strange and pathetic. I venture to say that it would be impossible to
find a parallel instance of such a blending of emotions in any English
churchyard. The present owner of the Chateau, which was at least two
or three hundred years old, was away fighting for his country, and
long grass and weeds filled the uncared for corner by the side of the
old church. In past history, we have fought with the French again and
again, but we always felt that we were fighting with gentlemen, and
were sure that every courteous deed done by us would meet with an
equally courteous response. One of the saddest things in the war was
that, while we often admired the military efficiency of the Germans,
we had absolutely no respect for their officers or men, nor could we
regard them as anything but well-trained brutes. The ties which bind
us to France now are very intimate and personal, and it is a matter of
thankfulness to all who love human idealism and true culture, that the
reproach of the defeat of 1870 has been washed away in blood, and that
France will emerge from her fiery trial a purer and a loftier nation.

I was not sorry when my Paris leave was over and I returned to my
Headquarters at Chateau d'Acq. It was always delightful to get back to
my war home and settle down again in the midst of those on whose
shoulders the fate of civilization rested. I arrived back on June
29th, just in time to prepare for the special services which were to
be held throughout the Corps on Sunday, July 1st, it being the jubilee
of the Dominion. I made arrangements with the band of the Royal
Canadian Regiment, as our Divisional band was away, to march over from
Villers au Bois and play for us at the service. We had special hymns
and prayers neatly printed on cards, which the men were to retain as
souvenirs. The parade was held just outside St. George's Church, our
new Divisional Commander, General Macdonell, and his staff attending.
The occasion was particularly interesting to me, because I was the
only man in the whole Canadian Corps at the front who could remember
the first Dominion Day. I could remember as a child being taken by my
father on the 1st of July, 1867, to hear the guns firing a salute on
the grounds of McGill College, Montreal. Canada had travelled a long
distance on the path of nationhood since that far-off time, and now,
after fifty years, I had the satisfaction of being with the great  (p. 190)
Canadian Army Corps on European soil, engaged in the biggest war of
history. Such an experience is not often the privilege of a human
life, and the splendid body of men before me gave promise of Canada's
progress and national glory in the future. Everyone felt the peculiar
significance of the celebration.

Owing to the fact that my foot was still troubling me, I was sent down
to the rest-camp at Fresnicourt, where I met many of the officers and
men in that delightful old Chateau. The country round about was very
pretty, and the views from the hills were charming. Every night I used
to have either a service, or a talk with the men, on the grass beside
a little stream. They were all enjoying the rest and refreshment that
came from being able to live in pleasant surroundings and away from
shells and work in the trenches. On July 18th, I went by side-car to
St. Omer where the Senior Chaplains of the Army were summoned to a
conference. We were billeted in the large building used as the Chaplains'
Rest Home, and there enjoyed the great privilege, not only of meeting
one another, but of listening to some splendid addresses and lectures
by those in charge. It was pleasant to re-visit St. Omer. The quaint
old French town, with its rambling streets and polite inhabitants,
took one away from the thoughts of war and gave one almost a feeling
of home. In the smoking-room at night, we had the opportunity of
discussing with one another the various moral and religious problems
with which the chaplain had to contend, and many were the interesting
experiences of those chaplains. On the last day of our meetings, at
the early Eucharist, we had an address from the Archbishop of York,
who had just come over to France. Later on, he gave an address at a
general meeting of the chaplains at Bethune.

While at St. Omer I paid a visit to the Second Army School in their
magnificent buildings in Wisques, where I saw the room that my son had
occupied, and met some of the people who remembered him. The place was
used as a training school for officers and was most wonderfully equipped.
The building was a modern convent, and the large unfinished chapel, with
its high vaulted roof, was used as a dining-room. It was inspiring at
dinner to see the hundreds of young officers, all so keen and cheery,
sitting round the tables, while a good band played during the meal. It
was hard to realize that they were only having a momentary respite
from the war, and, in a week or two, would be once more up in the line
facing wounds and death. The Commandant took great pride in the    (p. 191)
institution, and told me of the splendid records of the men who had
passed through his hands.

Our Divisional Headquarters now moved to a place called Bracquemont,
near Noeux les Mines. Here I had a very fine room in the house of the
manager of one of the Mines, the offices of which were on the other
side of the road. The house was well built, and had a most charming
garden at the back. It was large and commodious, and I always feared
that my billet would attract the covetous desires of some high staff
officer and that I should be thrown out to make way for him. My room
was on the ground floor with two large windows opening on the street,
enabling me to get the Daily Mail from the newsboy in the morning. The
ceiling was high and the furniture most sumptuous. A large mirror
stood upon the marble mantel-piece. I had linen sheets on the bed and
an electric light at my side. It did not seem at all like war, but the
end of the mahogany bed and some of the chairs, also one corner of the
ceiling, had been perforated by bits of shrapnel. So in the midst of
luxury, there was the constant reminder that the war was still going
on--a death's head at the feast.




CHAPTER XX.                                                        (p. 192)

WE TAKE HILL 70.

_July and August, 1917._


Bracquemont was a very charming home. There were many men about us,
the artillery horse lines were there as well as two battalions in
rest, and various other units. Behind the British C.C.S. there was a
large hall with a stage at one end. Here our concert party gave a
performance every night. Between us and the front line, were the
villages of Maroc, Le Brebis, Mazingarbe, and Bully-Grenay, which were
our billeting area while we occupied the trenches in advance of Loos.
I was thus in easy reach of all the units in the Division and could do
a great deal of parish visiting.

In the country behind us, there were many Chinese Labour Companies and
one of Zulus. When not at work, they were encamped in large compounds
surrounded by barbed wire. Our band used to play occasionally for the
entertainment of the Chinese, who very much enjoyed both the music and
the compliment that was paid to them by its being provided. On one
occasion, I went with General Thacker to visit one of the Chinese
Labour Companies. The officer in charge wished us to see some of their
sports, and so we sat on chairs at the top of the field and the
Chinamen came up and gave us an exhibition of their skill in something
that looked like fencing. They used sticks for foils. We could not
quite see who won in the encounter, or what constituted the finishing
stroke, but, as soon as each pair of performers retired they turned
and bowed solemnly to the General and made way for two other
combatants. They were great powerful men, very different from the type
of Chinese one sees in this country. One of the performers we were
told by the O.C., could carry a weight of five hundred pounds on his
shoulders. After the gymnastic performance, we had a concert, and a
man sang, or rather made a hideous nasal sound, to the accompaniment
of something that looked like a three stringed fiddle. The song, which
greatly delighted the Chinese listeners, consisted of an interminable
number of verses; in fact we never heard the end of it, for the O.C.
stopped it and told the musicians that the officers had to leave. He
told us that the men were well behaved, and that only once had he had
occasion to hold a court-martial.

The Zulus were encamped near Ranchicourt. They too were a stalwart (p. 193)
lot of men, but felt the cold of the winter very much. I was riding
past them in the road one day and spoke to the British sergeant in
charge of them. He pointed out one young man who, he said, was the son
of a chief, and, in his own country, was entitled to a body-guard of
fifteen men. In recognition, therefore, of his aristocratic birth, he
was allowed to wear three stripes. While we were talking, the boy
looked round and saw that we were speaking about him. The sergeant
called out something to him in Zulu language, and the boy smiled and
nodded to me. I asked the sergeant what he had said to him. He
replied: "I told him that you thought you had met him before, and it
pleased him." This accounted for the boy's smiling at me and the nod
of recognition. I suppose he thought that on some occasion in my
rambles through Africa we had met in the jungle. At any rate, I
admired the sergeant's tact and savoir faire. There was a great
mixture of races among the allied forces in France, and I always felt
sorry for the poor heathen that they should be dragged into the war of
the Christian nations.

Our front trenches were not comfortable places. To reach them one had
to pass through Maroc and along a road on the outskirts of Loos.
Beside the road, in the cellars of a broken building, called Fort
Glatz, was a dressing station. The neighbourhood was frequently
shelled, for the road from Maroc to Loos was under observation from
the two mysterious iron towers in Wingles. Beyond Fort Glatz, the
engineers had a store of trench materials. The place was called
"Crucifix Dump," on account of the large crucifix which stood there on
a mound of earth. The figure on the crucifix was made of metal and it
had been struck by shrapnel. It looked so pathetic standing there amid
the ruin and desolation around, mutely saying to those who had ears to
hear, "Is it nothing to you, all ye who pass by; behold and see if
there was ever sorrow like unto my sorrow?" From a shrapnel hole near
the heart of the figure, birds could be seen flying in and out,
getting food for their young. At the foot, there was the grave of a
German officer who had been killed when the Germans occupied Loos.

I often used to go to Bully-Grenay to visit some of the siege batteries.
They had comfortable billets but the Germans soon found out their
location and sent over some very big shells. One large shell had a curious
experience. It fell in the road to the south of Bully-Grenay,      (p. 194)
burrowing under the ground without exploding. Then it rose and went
through the side of a brick house, and finally reposed on the floor of
an upper room. We all went to see it lying there, like some gigantic
sea monster dead and stranded on the shore. The potential force of the
huge shell was enormous, but it lay there perfectly harmless after its
strange pilgrimage.

I was passing one of the siege batteries one day, when I saw a number
of men working round a damaged gun-pit. I went over to it and found
that a shell had landed there that morning, just as they were changing
shifts on the guns. It had killed and buried a number of the men, at
the same time setting fire to our ammunition. The bodies of those who
were buried were burnt almost to ashes by the terrific heat, and only
charred bits of them were recovered.

South of Loos there was the famous Double Crassier. It was a large
slag heap on which once ran a line of railway. The top, of course, was
in sight of the Germans, but down in the hollow on our side of it we
had a great number of battery positions. That little corner where our
guns were concentrated was an easy target for the German artillery,
and many were the high explosives and gas-shells which they dropped.
In the town of Maroc itself there was a large fosse or mine-head. The
buildings round it were capacious, and well made. They were of course
now much damaged, but the cellars were extraordinarily commodious and
extensive. They were lined with white tiles, and the largest one was
fitted up as a place of rest and amusement with a canteen where the
men could get coffee, cakes and cigarettes. I stationed one of our
chaplains there to look after the work and hold services in one of the
cellars which was fitted up as a chapel. In the large room there were
benches, and a stage afforded a good floor for boxing. I determined to
start boxing there as a sport for the artillerymen, who had few
opportunities of enjoying the entertainments which were given behind
the line. I had a great friend in one of the Highland battalions, who
had been wounded three times in the war, and was heavy-weight champion
of the 1st Division. I got his O.C. to attach him to me, and I placed
him in the cellar at Maroc where he began to instruct the men in the
noble art of self defence. People used to wonder why I had a
prize-fighter attached to me, and I told them that if the Junior
Chaplains were insubordinate, I wanted to be able to call in some one
in an emergency to administer discipline. I always said, with      (p. 195)
perfect truth, that since my prize-fighter was attached to me I had
had no trouble with any of the chaplains. It is wonderful what things
one can do in the Army which are not according to the King's Regulations.
By right, as Senior Chaplain of a Division, I was entitled only to one
man who was to act in the dual capacity of batman and groom, but later
on I managed to get a man to act as secretary, who was given sergeant's
stripes and looked after the office when I went on my wanderings
through the Division. Then I got a man who knew something about music
to be appointed as my organist. He used to travel with me in the staff
car with my portable organ when I went to take church parades on
Sunday. He was afterwards gassed and I lost him, but he did useful
work while he was with me in helping the singing. The prize-fighter
made another addition to what I called the Senior Chaplain's battalion.
Then, as time went on, I was able to get a man to take over the duties
of a batman, and I finally obtained a chauffeur to run my side-car.
This large army of assistants was a sore puzzle to our Camp Commandant,
who had to arrange for their rations and discipline. I was always being
asked how many men I had on my staff. However, to use a soldier's
expression "I got away with it."

The road through Maroc was not a pleasant one to travel. It was liable
to be shelled at any moment. On one side of the street was a large
brick wall which had been perforated by a shell and the place was
called "The Hole in the Wall." The Germans knew that we had many
batteries concealed in the ruined town, so they never left it alone
for very long. I was going up to the front one day, when I met in the
street an artillery officer coming back. We had not seen each other
for some time, and he gave me such a warm greeting that I at once
determined to reward him by reciting to him one of my poems. I got
about half way through when the enemy, not knowing, of course, what
was going on, began to shell the place, and some bits of mud and brick
fell in the road not far off. In spite of the beauty of the poem, my
friend began to get restless, and I was faced with the problem of
either hurrying the recitation and thereby spoiling the effect of the
rhythm, or of trusting to his artistic temperament and going on as if
nothing was happening. I did the latter, and went on unmoved by the
exploding shells. I thought the Major would see that the climax of the
poem had not yet been reached and was worth waiting for. I was
mistaken. He became more and more restless, till at last he said,  (p. 196)
"Excuse me, Canon, but I think I must be hurrying on." He left me
standing in the road with the last part of the poem and its magnificent
climax still in my throat. I looked after him for a moment or two,
then turned sorrowfully, lamenting the depravity of human nature, and
pursued my journey. I had not gone far in the street before I came to
a large pool of blood, where a man had just been killed. There was
some excuse, therefore, for my friend's conduct, for he must have
passed that pool of blood before he met me, and his nerves were
probably not in their normal condition. He went back to his battery
and told his friends there that I had actually buttonholed him in
Maroc and insisted upon his listening to a miserable poem of mine
while shells were falling in the place.

In order to avoid the danger of passing through the town, we generally
used a path across the fields. I was returning from the trenches with
some men one night along this path, when we saw from Maroc flashes of
a light which was apparently being used as a signal. At once we were
seized with an attack of spy-fever, and I said to the men, "There is
someone signalling to the Germans." The night was so dark that
signalling could have been seen at a considerable distance.
Immediately we started off towards the light, which went out when we
approached, but we discovered an officer in a mackintosh, and I at
once asked him who he was. Tired as our men were, for they were coming
out after being several days in the trenches, they followed me and
were so keen on the adventure that one of them had drawn his revolver.
The officer became very rude and he used some blasphemous words
towards me in the dark, which naturally provoked a stern rebuke. I
told him I was a Lieut.-Colonel, and that I should report him to his
commanding officer. Then we asked him to give proof of his identity. I
could see by his manner that he was becoming exceedingly uncomfortable,
so I insisted upon his leading us to his headquarters. He did, and we
stumbled on over telephone wires and piles of bricks till he brought
us into the yard of a broken down house, in the cellars of which we
found the officers of his battery. The O.C. was very polite and, when
I pointed out to him the danger of flashing a light in the neighbourhood
of the track which was used by our infantry battalions at night when
going to or coming from the trenches, he said his unit would be more
careful in the future. After a little conversation we left. A day  (p. 197)
or two afterwards I met one of the officers of the battery, and we
had a good laugh over the incident, but he told me that it was even
more amusing than I had thought, for the young officer had a dugout in
the field and was making his way thither with nothing on but his
pyjamas and his mackintosh. When we asked him for some proofs of his
identity, he was terrified lest we should search him and find him in
this peculiarly unmilitary costume, which might have made us still
more suspicious.

Ever since our moving to Bracquemont, we had been preparing to complete
the work of our advance towards Lens by an attack on Hill 70, the high
ground to the north-west of that city. Compared with the taking of
Vimy Ridge, the exploit was of course a minor one, but, for many
reasons, it was felt to be an exceedingly dangerous task and one which
would cost us dearly. The Germans had had time to concentrate their
forces in front of us, and they knew the value of the commanding
position which they held. Everyone felt anxious as to the result of
the enterprise, and we had learnt from recent experiences on the Ridge
and at Fresnoy how powerful the enemy was. Although, of course, I did
not let the men see it, I was always worried when we had an attack in
view. When I held services for them on parade, or addressed them at
their entertainments, or met them by the roadside, I used to look into
their eyes and wonder if those eyes would soon be viewing the eternal
mysteries "in the land that is very far off." I tried to make it a
point never to pass anyone without a handshake or a word of cheer and
encouragement. How their faces used to brighten up at some trifling
kindness or some funny story!

I was fond of visiting the men who acted as the road control on the
east side of Maroc. One of their number was of course on guard day and
night, so I was always sure of meeting a friend whenever I passed. I
never went down to their cellar without being offered a cup of tea and
other dainties. They used to sleep on shelves, and often invited me to
rest my weary limbs there. I would thank them for their kindness, but
thought it prudent, for reasons of personal cleanliness, not to accept
it. It always gave me great pleasure to come upon friends in out of
the way places. I remember meeting an officer late one night near the
front at Loos. It was very dark, and, as soon as he recognized me, he
exclaimed, "Here's old Canon Scott, I'll be d--d!" "My friend," I said
solemnly, "I hope you will not allow that sad truth to get abroad. (p. 198)
The Canadian Government is paying me a large salary to try and keep
you from that awful fate, and if they hear that your meeting me has
had such a result, I shall lose my job." He apologized for the expression,
and said it was only meant as an exclamation of surprise.

By the beginning of August, everything was ready for the attack, and
on the 14th, carrying my rations with me, I made my way to the 7th
Siege Battery; for I had arranged to go to their observation post and
watch the barrage from there. I started off in the evening, with one
of the gunners. We skirted Maroc and reached the O.P., which was called
St. Pat's. It was a long walk over the open and through the trenches
before we got into the place. From it we looked down the slope towards
our front line, and beyond this we saw the rise in the ground called
Hill 70, held by the Germans. The barrage was to begin at four
twenty-five in the morning; so the gunner and I went down into a
dugout and tried to get a little rest. Before we got to sleep,
however, we became aware of the smell of gas, and, hearing the
tramping of feet in the trench at the top of the stairs, I went up and
found the men of the 14th Battalion with their helmets on going
forward in preparation for the advance. They recognized me because I
did not put on my mask, and as they passed they shook hands with me
and I wished them "good luck in the name of the Lord." Such cheery
souls they were, going forth in their stifling helmets to the unknown
dangers which awaited them.

I found that sleep was impossible, so I went up to the O.P. and waited
for the barrage. It was a lovely night; the stars were shining
beautifully, and the constellation of Orion hung on the horizon in the
eastern sky, with the pale moon above. A great silence, stirred only
by the morning breeze, brooded over the wide expanse of darkness.
Then, at four-twenty-five, the guns burst forth in all their fury, and
all along the German line I saw not only exploding shells, but the
bursting oil drums with their pillars of liquid fire, whose smoke rose
high in the air with a peculiar turn at the top which looked like the
neck of a huge giraffe. At once the Germans sent up rockets of various
colours, signalling for aid from their guns, and the artillery duel of
the two great armies waxed loud and furious. I stood on the hill with
some of our men, and watched the magnificent scene. Nothing but the
thought of what it meant to human beings took away from our        (p. 199)
enjoyment of the mighty spectacle. When day dawned, we could see,
silhouetted against the morning sky, men walking over the hilltop, and
now and then jumping down into the captured trenches. Once again our
Division had got its objective. At various points difficulties had
been encountered, and in a place called the "Chalk Pit", which afterwards
became our front line, the Germans had made a determined stand. They
had a wonderful dugout there, like a rabbit-warren, with many passages
and entrances, from which they were bombed out with great difficulty.
One of our western battalions suffered heavily in taking the
stronghold.

I went on to Fort Glatz and to some of the other advanced aid-posts.
We had many casualties, but we felt that the worst was not yet over,
for we knew that, although we had taken the hill, the Germans would
make a desperate fight to get it back again. All day long our artillery
pounded away and our infantry consolidated the line. Our Pioneer
Battalion did splendid work in digging trenches under heavy fire, in
order to connect our advanced positions. When the sun set and the
night once more cast its shade over the earth, there was no cessation
in the sound of battle.

The next morning I visited the wounded in the C.C.S., and in the
afternoon went by car once more to the 7th Siege Battery and thence
made my way through Maroc to the front, as I had heard from the General
that the artillery were having a hard time. Their guns had been firing
incessantly since the barrage started. I met many men on the journey
who gave me accounts of their experiences during the battle, and, by
the time I reached the Y.M.C.A. coffee-stall in a ruined building on
the Maroc-Loos road it was quite late. Here in a cellar I found some
men making coffee for the walking wounded, who were coming back very
tired and glad of a shelter and a hot drink. I went on down the road
to the well concealed trenches which led to the 1st and 2nd Artillery
Brigade Headquarters. In the deep dugout, I found the O.C.s of the two
brigades and their staffs hard at work. It was an anxious time, because
ammunition was short, and every available man was employed in carrying
it up to the guns. The Senior Colonel asked me if I would go round to
some of the gun pits and talk to the men. They were tired out, he
said, with the constant firing, and there was still no prospect of a
rest. I told him that if he would give me a runner to act as guide, I
would visit all the gun-pits of the two Brigades. Accordingly a    (p. 200)
runner was sent for, and he and I started off at midnight. It was very
dark, and when we emerged from the trench and turned to the right on
the Lens-Bethune road we met parties of wounded men coming back, and
the batteries in the fields beside us were firing over our heads. We
visited first the cellar of a building by the way, where there was an
aid post. Here were many men being attended to by the doctors. They
were all worn out, and did not look forward with much pleasure to
their journey back to Maroc along the dark and dangerous road.

From the dressing station, my guide and I went into a trench and along
this to the gun positions. As we came to each, we visited the officers
and men. We got a glad welcome from the faithful, true-hearted fellows
who were working with might and main to save the lives of their comrades
in the front line. Some of the guns were fearfully heated and were
hard to handle. Yet the S.O.S. signals from the front trenches would
go up every now and then, telling our gunners that the Germans were
making another counter-attack, and asking for artillery support to
save the situation. We made our way through the trench towards the
batteries at the foot of the Loos Crassier. In doing so, we had to
pass under the road. I was going on ahead, and when I stooped down to
pass under the bridge, to my surprise I could dimly descry in the
darkness a row of silent men sitting on each side of the passage
facing one another. I said, "Good-night, boys," but there was no
answer. The figures in the darkness remained motionless and still. I
could not quite make out what the matter was, for our men always
responded to my greeting. Suddenly, an enemy flare-light went up in
the distance, and I saw, to my horror, that the two rows of men
sitting so silently were Germans. I was wondering if I had run my neck
into a noose, when a voice from the other end of the passage called
out, "They are prisoners, Sir. I am taking them back with me and
giving them a few minutes rest." I must say that I was greatly
relieved. I went on to the gun-pits just in front of the crassier, and
here the men were working hard. It was splendid to see their absolute
disregard of everything but their duty. I felt myself to be such a
slacker beside them, but I told them how gloriously they were carrying
on, and how their work was appreciated by the infantry. The night
began to wear away, and when I reached the gun-pits that were further
back it was broad daylight. In fact, I visited the last one at six
a.m. Some of the batteries had by this time ceased firing, and the (p. 201)
men had fallen asleep in all sorts of curious positions, ready to be
roused in an instant. Altogether, my guide and I visited forty-eight
gun-pits that night, and it was about seven o'clock when we returned
to Brigade Headquarters.

The next night the Germans sent over a rain of gas-shells on the
batteries, and the men at the guns found it impossible to see the
sights through the eye-pieces of their gas-helmets, and so chose to
face the poison unprotected rather than run the risk of injuring our
infantry by bad firing. There were of course heavy casualties among
the gunners as a result of this. Some died and many were badly gassed,
but the line was held.

As I was returning after spending the night at the gun-pits, I felt
terribly tired. The morning sun rose higher and higher, and beat down
with summer heat on my steel helmet as I made my way along the path
which skirted the town of Maroc. I sat down by the side of a trench to
have some breakfast, and opened a tin of milk and my tin of bully beef
and was just preparing to have a meal, when I must have fallen asleep
instantaneously. How long I slumbered I do not know, but when I woke
up I found, standing in front of me, three amused and puzzled Australian
tunnellers. When I fell asleep, I must have upset my breakfast, which
was lying at my feet, and the tunnellers were evidently enjoying what
they considered to be the discovery of a padre a little the worse for
wear. They were somewhat surprised, not to say disappointed, when I
woke up, and they said, "You seem to be very tired, Sir." I told them
that I had had very little sleep for several nights, and had been
walking all night long, winding up my story (for the honour of the
cloth) with the statement that I was a teetotaller. Whether they
believed it or not I do not know, but we had a long talk together and
they told me of the work they were doing in digging a tunnel from Loos
to the front line.

The next day I went to the advanced dressing station and saw the men
that were gassed being brought in. So strongly were their clothes
saturated with the poison that, as they were being cut off, in order
that the bodies of the men might be washed with the liquid used for
counteracting the burning effects of the gas, our eyes and throats
smarted from the fumes. There was nothing more horrible than to see
men dying from gas. Nothing could be done to relieve their suffering.
The body, as well as the throat and lungs, was burned and blistered by
the poison.

The German counter-attack had now spent itself, and Hill 70 was    (p. 202)
ours. One more splendid deed had been achieved by the Canadian Corps,
and we now held in our hands the commanding position which threatened
the town of Lens.




CHAPTER XXI.                                                       (p. 203)

EVERY DAY LIFE.

_August to October 1917._


Hill 70 being now in our grip the Division came out of the line on
August 21st, and moved back to our old billets in Bruay.

Every night, as usual, our concert party gave a performance in the
theatre. We were very proud of them. The men's costumes were well made
and very tasteful. "Babs," our leading lady, was most charming and
engaging, in spite of the fact that her hands looked decidedly masculine.
The townspeople enjoyed the entertainments as much as we did, and the
battalions were given their own special nights. Occasionally, some of
the jokes appeared to me a trifle too broad. At such times I would pay
a visit to the Green-room, as Senior Chaplain, and mildly suggest
their withdrawal. I must say that the men took my interference in good
part and kept their exuberance of spirits well in check. Our Divisional
band was up to high-water mark, and their rendering of the hymns and
chants on Sundays made our services in the theatre extraordinarily
hearty.

One afternoon I motored over to Quatre Vents to take a funeral service
in the cemetery there. Instead of returning, I went down to Cambligneul
to see the men of the 7th Battalion. They were enjoying a rest in the
quaint old town. In the evening, I went down to the Y.M.C.A. hut which
was in charge of the British. Here I found our men crowded into the
building, not knowing what to do with themselves. The officer in charge
of the hut was a quiet man, who was doing his best in superintending
the work at the counter. It struck me, however, that he felt a little
embarrassed by the situation, and did not know how to provide amusement
for the wild Canadians. I asked him if he would object to our having a
stag-dance. He said, "Certainly not, you may do anything you like." At
once we got several dozen candles and illuminated the place. Then we
sent out for a pianist and some violinists, and got up a scratch
orchestra. We then cleared away the tables and benches and turned the
place into a dance-hall. The orchestra struck up a lively two-step,
and great burly chaps chose their equally burly partners, and      (p. 204)
started off in the dance with such gusto that the place was filled
with the sounds of dissipation. This attracted more men from outside,
and finally we had the liveliest scene imaginable. I actually found
myself joining in the mazes of the waltz, and amid roars of laughter
the dancing went on fast and furious. So delighted was the Y.M.C.A.
officer, that he mounted the platform at the end of a dance, and in
spite of my protest, called for three cheers for the man who had
suggested the entertainment. At the close of the evening, we had cups
of hot coffee and biscuits, and parted in the best of humours. I was
then confronted by a problem that had not presented itself to me
before, and that was, how I was to get back to my home in Bruay, which
was about ten miles off. Once more my favourite text came to my mind,
"The Lord will provide." So I bid good-bye to my friends in the hut
and went off, trusting that a car or lorry would pick me up on the
road. This time I found that the Lord did not provide, so I started at
about half-past ten on my homeward journey on foot. As I passed
through the sleeping village of Estree-Cauchie, I came upon some men
of another Division who had been imbibing very freely in an estaminet,
and who were about to wind up a heated argument with a free fight. It
was very dark, and it was hard for me to convince them that I was a
chaplain with the rank of Lieut.-Colonel, until I turned my flashlight
upon my white collar. Happily, my efforts as peacemaker were not in
vain. I poured oil on the troubled waters till I saw them subside, and
the men went off to their billets. One young fellow, however, was
experiencing that interest in spiritual problems, which was sometimes
aroused in the most unexpected quarters by free libations of spirituous
liquors. He caught hold of my arm and implored me to enlighten him on
the theological differences which separated Anglicans and Presbyterians.
I forget which he was himself, but at the time the problem was a
matter of extraordinary interest to him. While I always considered it
my duty to impart enlightenment to darkened souls whenever I could,
the recollection that I had about seven miles to walk to my home that
night rather tempered my missionary zeal, and by a promise to discuss
the whole matter on our next meeting I managed to tear myself away and
proceed on my journey.

It was a long tramp down the silent road in the darkness. The houses
in the little villages through which I passed were tightly shut. Not a
light could be seen, and Providence supplied no car or lorry       (p. 205)
for my conveyance. On a hill in the distance, I saw the revolving
light which acted as a signal to the aeroplanes. It would shine out
for a few seconds and then die away. The air was fresh and cool, and I
had time to meditate on the curious events of the intense life which I
lived. It was still day in Canada, and the sun was shining over our
cities, the great lakes, the prairies, and the jagged peaks in the
mountain province on the Pacific coast. When was this life going to
end? Were we really making any progress? Overhead, my beloved friends
the stars, kept up their silent twinkling, which gave them an appearance
of life. In the valley lay the old medieval Chateau of Ohlain. I
thought of the historical figures from the pages of French history who
had walked along that road centuries before, filled with the anxieties
and problems of their own age. Now and then, some bird of the night
would break the silence with its cry or twitter, and still I plodded
on. At last, long after midnight, I reached the outskirts of Bruay,
and entering the High Street, made my way to my billet, where Alberta
was waiting to give me a warm welcome.

It was the privilege of the British Army to have as its commanders,
good and devout men. One always felt that, in any appeal, the cause of
religion would be upheld. General Horne, who commanded the First Army,
of which we formed a part, was a man of sincere religious life, and
never failed to show his appreciation of the chaplains and their work.
One day he invited all the Chaplains of the First Army to have tea
with him at his headquarters in the beautiful Chateau of Ranchicourt.
It was a lovely afternoon, and we motored over to the meeting in
busses. Tables were set for tea and refreshments on the lawn, and the
Count and his charming daughter were there, giving a touch of home
life to the gathering. All the chaplains who could be off duty were
present. After tea, while we sat on the grass, the General gave us a
very helpful talk on religious work among the men from a soldier's
point of view. The old Chateau, with its beautiful gardens in front of
the huge elms gave a fine setting to the scene.

On August 31st I was driven over to a field at the back of Villers-Chatel,
where the 2nd Brigade was to hold a memorial service for those who had
been killed at the taking of Hill 70. I had been asked to give the
address. The place chosen was a wide and green field which sloped
gradually towards the line of rich forest trees. On the highest part
of the ground facing the woods, a small platform had been erected  (p. 206)
and was decorated with flags. On this the chaplains stood, the Corps
Commander and the Brigadier and staff being at one side. Before us,
forming three sides of a square, were the four battalions of the
Brigade. The scene when viewed from the platform was magnificent. The
sky was blue, the sun was shining, and the glorious trees guarded the
green mysteries of the forest behind. The troops were in splendid
form, and the bright red patches on their arms gave a touch of colour
which set off the khaki uniforms. Every one of the men had been
through the battle and was a hero. The service went well, and the
hymns, to the accompaniment of the band, were sung heartily. At the
close, the Corps Commander and staff went round to each battalion, and
those who had won honours came forward to receive them. As the
officers and men stood in turn before the General, the A.D.C. read out
a short account of what each had done to win the decoration. It was
deeply moving to hear the acts of gallantry that had been performed.
Fixed and motionless each man would stand, while we were told how his
courage had saved his company or platoon at some critical moment. I
remember particularly hearing how one sergeant who got the D.C.M., had
carried his Lewis gun, after all the other members of the crew had
been wounded or killed, and, placing it at a point of vantage, had, by
his steady fire, covered the advance of a company going forward to
attack. Little do people at home know by what supreme self-sacrifice
and dauntless courage those strips of bright-coloured ribbon on the
breasts of soldiers have been won. After the decorations had been
presented, the men fell back to their battalions. The band struck up
the strains of "D'ye ken John Peel?", and the whole Brigade marched
past the General, the masses of men moving with machine-like
precision. Even the rain which had begun to fall did not mar the fine
effect.

Our stay at Bruay was not to be of long duration. In the early hours
of September 5th a bomb dropped in the garden behind the administration
building where our Headquarters were, waking us from sleep with a
sudden start. It did no harm, but on the next day we were informed
that we were all to move back to our old quarters in Barlin. I always
said that I regarded a bomb dropped on Headquarters as a portent sent
from heaven, telling us we were going to move. Accordingly on
September 6th we all made our way to Barlin, where I was given a
billet in an upper room in an estaminet. The propriety of housing  (p. 207)
a Senior Chaplain in an estaminet might be questioned, but this
particular one was called the estaminet of St. Joseph. An estaminet
with such a title, and carried on under such high patronage, was one
in which I could make myself at home. So on the door was hung my sign,
"Canon Scott, Senior Chaplain," which provoked many smiles and much
comment from the men of the battalions as they passed by. I was
looking out of my window in the upper storey one day when the 2nd
Battalion was marching past, and, to the breach of all good discipline,
I called out to the men and asked them if they did not envy me my
billet. A roar of laughter went up, and they asked me how I got there
and if I could take them in as well. I told them that it was the
reward of virtue, and only those who could be trusted were allowed to
be housed in estaminets.

Near me, at Barlin, the motor machine-gun brigade was encamped. It had
been there for some time, and I was glad to meet old friends and renew
acquaintance with the unit that had such a distinguished career at the
front. I had not seen them much since the old days at Poperinghe, but
wherever they went they covered themselves with glory. To spend an
evening in the hut used as the sergeants' mess was a delight. The
rollicking good humour that prevailed was most contagious, and I shall
always treasure the memory of it which has now been made sacred
through the death of so many whom I met there. I used to visit the
tents, too, and sitting on a box in their midst have a smoke and talk
with the men. Heavy indeed has been the toll of casualties which that
noble brigade has suffered since those happy days.

Word was sent to the Division one day by the British troops holding
our trenches on Hill 70, that some bodies of our men were lying
unburied in No Man's Land. One of our battalions was ordered to
provide a burial party and I decided to accompany them. I was to meet
the men at a certain place near Loos on the Lens-Arras road in the
evening, and go with them. The burial officer turned up on time, but
the party did not. At last the men arrived and we went through the
well-known trenches till we came to the front line. Here I had to go
down and see some officers of the British battalions, and try to find
out where the bodies were. Apparently the officers could give us
little information, so we decided to divide up into small parties and
go into No Man's Land and search for the dead ourselves. As we were in
sight of the enemy, we could not use our electric torches, and     (p. 208)
only by the assistance of German flare-lights were we able to pick
our steps over the broken ground. We found a few bodies which had not
been buried, but it was impossible to do more than cover them with
earth, for the position was an exposed one. We did the best we could
under the circumstances, and were glad to find that the number of
unburied had been greatly exaggerated. On another occasion I took a
burial party out one night, and found that the officers and men sent
were a new draft that had never been in the line before. They were
much interested in the novel and somewhat hazardous nature of the
expedition. On this occasion when we returned to Bully-Grenay, the
morning sun was shining brightly overhead, and it began to get quite
warm. The men were very tired with their night's work, and when we
halted they lay down on the pavement by the road and went to sleep.
One poor fellow actually collapsed, and we had to send off to a
dressing station for a stretcher on which he was taken away for
medical treatment. A burial party, from the nature of the case, was
not a pleasant expedition, and Canada ought to be grateful for the way
in which our Corps burial officers and the men under them carried out
their gruesome and often dangerous duty. One of our burial officers, a
fine young fellow, told me how much he disliked the work. He said,
"There is no glory in it, and people think that we have an easy time,
but two of my predecessors have been killed and I expect to get
knocked out myself some day." A year later he was killed near Cambrai,
after he had faithfully done his duty in caring for the bodies of the
slain.

Our front trenches were now to the right of Hill 70, in advance of
Lieven, and it seemed as if we were going to be stationed in the
neighbourhood for some time, for the rumour was that the Canadians had
to complete their work at Vimy by the capture of Lens. Barlin,
therefore, and the area around it was a great centre of Canadian life
and activity. We had our large Canadian tent-hospitals, our brigade
schools, and various Y.M.C.A. places of entertainment, besides our
officers' clubs.

In an open field near my billet were stationed the horse lines of our
Divisional Train, and it used to give me great pleasure to pass the
long rows of wagons which by the constant labour of the men were kept
in prime condition. The paint was always fresh, and all the chains
were polished as if they were merely for show. It would be hard    (p. 209)
for people at home to realize that the wagons which had been used
for years under such rough conditions always looked as if they had
just come out of the shop, but that was the case. The constant
attention to detail in the army, the smartness of the men, and the
good turn-out of the horses and limbers, have a great moral effect
upon every department of the service. The men were always grumbling
about polishing buttons and chains, but I told them that the
impression of efficiency it gave one made it quite worth while. A
Division that could turn out such a fine looking Train as we had could
always be depended upon to do its duty.




CHAPTER XXII.                                                      (p. 210)

A TRAGEDY OF WAR.


There is nothing which brings home to the heart with such force the
iron discipline of war as the execution of men who desert from the
front line. It was my painful duty on one occasion to have to witness
the carrying out of the death sentence. One evening I was informed by
the A.P.M. that a man in one of our brigades was to be shot the next
morning, and I was asked to go and see him and prepare him for death.
The sentence had already been read to him at six o'clock, and the
brigade chaplain was present, but the A.P.M., wished me to take the
case in hand. We motored over to the village where the prisoner was
and stopped at a brick building which was entered through a courtyard.
There were men on guard in the outer room and also in a second room
from which a door led into a large brick chamber used as the condemned
cell. Here I found the man who was to pay the penalty of his
cowardice. He had a table before him and on it a glass of brandy and
water and writing materials. He was sitting back in his chair and his
face wore a dazed expression. The guards kindly left us alone. He rose
and shook hands with me, and we began to talk about his sentence. He
was evidently steeling himself and trying to fortify his mind by the
sense of great injustice done to him. I allowed him to talk freely and
say just what he pleased. Gradually, I succeeded in getting at the
heart of the true man which I knew was hidden under the hard exterior,
and the poor fellow began to tell me about his life. From the age of
eleven, when he became an orphan, he had to get his own living and
make his way in a world that is often cold and cruel to those who have
no friends. Then by degrees he began to talk about religion and his
whole manner changed. All the time I kept feeling that every moment
the dreaded event was coming nearer and nearer and that no time was to
be lost. He had never been baptised, but wished now to try and make up
for the past and begin to prepare in a real way to meet his God.

I had brought my bag with the communion vessels in it, and so he and I
arranged the table together, taking away the glass of brandy and water
and the books and papers, and putting in their place the white     (p. 211)
linen altar cloth. When everything was prepared, he knelt down
and I baptised him and gave him his first communion. The man's mind
was completely changed. The hard, steely indifference and the sense of
wrong and injustice had passed away, and he was perfectly natural. I
was so much impressed by it that while I was talking to him, I kept
wondering if I could not even then, at that late hour, do something to
avert the carrying out of the sentence. Making some excuse and saying
I would be back in a little while, I left him, and the guard went into
the room accompanied by one of the officers of the man's company. When
I got outside, I told the brigade chaplain that I was going to walk
over to Army Headquarters and ask the Army Commander to have the death
sentence commuted to imprisonment.

It was then about one a.m. and I started off in the rain down the dark
road. The Chateau in which the General lived was two miles off, and
when I came to it, I found it wrapped in darkness. I went to the
sentry on guard, and told him that I wished to see the General on
important business. Turning my flashlight upon my face, I showed who I
was. He told me that the General's room was in the second storey at
the head of a flight of stairs in a tower at the end of the building.
I went over there, and finding the door unlocked, I mounted the wooden
steps, my flashlight lighting up the place. I knocked at a door on the
right and a voice asked me who I was. When I told my name, I was
invited to enter, and an electric light was turned on and I found I
was in the room of the A.D.C., who was sitting up in bed. Luckily, I
had met him before and he was most sympathetic. I apologized for
disturbing him but told him my mission and asked if I might see the
General. He got up and went into the General's room. In a few moments
he returned, and told me that the General would see me. Instead of
being angry at my extraordinary intrusion, he discussed the matter
with me. Before a death sentence could be passed on any man, his case
had to come up first in his Battalion orderly room, and, if he was
found guilty there, it would be sent to the Brigade. From the Brigade
it was sent to the Division, from the Division to Corps, from Corps to
Army, and from Army to General Headquarters. If each of these courts
confirmed the sentence, and the British Commander-in-Chief signed the
warrant, there was no appeal, unless some new facts came to light. Of
all the men found guilty of desertion from the front trenches, only a
small percentage were executed. It was considered absolutely       (p. 212)
necessary for the safety of the Army that the death sentence should
not be entirely abolished. The failure of one man to do his duty might
spoil the morale of his platoon, and spread the contagion of fear from
the platoon to the company and from the company to the battalion,
endangering the fate of the whole line. The General told me, however,
that if any new facts came to light, suggesting mental weakness or
insanity in the prisoner, it might be possible for the execution to be
stayed, and a new trial instituted. This seemed to give hope that
something might yet be done, so I thanked the General for his kindness
and left.

When I got back to the prison, I made my way to the cell, not of
course, letting the condemned man know anything that had happened. By
degrees, in our conversation, I found that on both sides of his family
there were cases of mental weakness. When I had all the information
that was possible, I went out and accompanied by the brigade chaplain,
made my way once again to Army Headquarters. The chances of averting
the doom seemed to be faint, but still a human life was at stake, and
we could not rest till every effort had been made. I went to the room
of the A.D.C., and was again admitted to the presence of the Army
Commander. He told me now that the only person who could stop the
execution was the Divisional Commander, if he thought it right to do
so. At the same time, he held out very little hope that anything could
be done to commute the sentence. Once more I thanked him and went off.
The brigade chaplain was waiting for me outside and we talked the
matter over, and decided that, although the case seemed very hopeless
and it was now half-past three, one last effort should be made. We
walked back through the rain to the village, and there awoke the
A.P.M. and the Colonel of the battalion. Each of them was most
sympathetic and most anxious, if possible, that the man's life should
be spared. The A.P.M. warned me that if we had to go to Divisional
Headquarters, some seven miles away, and return, we had no time to
lose, because the hour fixed for the execution was in the early dawn.

The question now was to find a car. The only person in the place who
had one was the Town Major. So the Colonel and I started off to find
him, which we did with a great deal of difficulty, as no one knew
where he lived. He too, was most anxious to help us. Then we had to
find the chauffeur. We managed to get him roused up, and told him  (p. 213)
that he had to go to Divisional Headquarters on a matter of life and
death. It was not long before we were in the car and speeding down the
dark, muddy roads at a tremendous rate, whirling round corners in a
way that seemed likely to end in disaster. We got to the Divisional
Commander's Headquarters and then made our way to his room and laid
the matter before him. He talked over the question very kindly, but
told us that the courts had gone into the case so carefully that he
considered it quite impossible to alter the final decision. If the
action of the prisoner had given any indication of his desertion being
the result of insanity, something might be done, but there was nothing
to suggest such was the case. To delay the execution for twenty-four
hours and then to have to carry it out would mean subjecting a human
being to unspeakable torture. He felt he could not take it upon
himself to run the chance of inflicting such misery upon the man. The
Colonel and I saw at once that the case was utterly hopeless and that
we could do no more. The question then was to get back in time for the
carrying out of the sentence. Once more the car dashed along the
roads. The night was passing away, and through the drizzling rain the
gray dawn was struggling.

By the time we arrived at the prison, we could see objects quite
distinctly. I went in to the prisoner, who was walking up and down in
his cell. He stopped and turned to me and said, "I know what you have
been trying to do for me, Sir, is there any hope?" I said, "No, I am
afraid there is not. Everyone is longing just as much as I am to save
you, but the matter has been gone into so carefully and has gone so
far, and so much depends upon every man doing his duty to the
uttermost, that the sentence must be carried out." He took the matter
very quietly, and I told him to try to look beyond the present to the
great hope which lay before us in another life. I pointed out that he
had just one chance left to prove his courage and set himself right
before the world. I urged him to go out and meet death bravely with
senses unclouded, and advised him not to take any brandy. He shook
hands with me and said, "I will do it." Then he called the guard and
asked him to bring me a cup of tea. While I was drinking it, he looked
at his watch, which was lying on the table and asked me if I knew what
time "IT" was to take place. I told him I did not. He said, "I think
my watch is a little bit fast." The big hand was pointing to ten
minutes to six. A few moments later the guards entered and put a   (p. 214)
gas helmet over his head with the two eye-pieces behind so that he was
completely blindfolded. Then they handcuffed him behind his back, and
we started off in an ambulance to a crossroad which went up the side
of a hill. There we got out, and the prisoner was led over to a box
behind which a post had been driven into the ground. Beyond this a
piece of canvas was stretched as a screen. The firing party stood at a
little distance in front with their backs towards us. It was just
daylight. A drizzling rain was falling and the country looked chilly
and drear. The prisoner was seated on the box and his hands were
handcuffed behind the post. He asked the A.P.M. if the helmet could be
taken off, but this was mercifully refused him. A round piece of white
paper was pinned over his heart by the doctor as a guide for the men's
aim. I went over and pronounced the Benediction. He added, "And may
God have mercy upon my soul." The doctor and I then went into the road
on the other side of the hedge and blocked up our ears, but of course
we heard the shots fired. It was sickening. We went back to the
prisoner who was leaning forward and the doctor felt his pulse and
pronounced him dead. The spirit had left the dreary hillside and, I
trust, had entered the ranks of his heroic comrades in Paradise.

The effect of the scene was something quite unutterable. The firing
party marched off and drew up in the courtyard of the prison. I told
them how deeply all ranks felt the occasion, and that nothing but the
dire necessity of guarding the lives of the men in the front line from
the panic and rout that might result, through the failure of one
individual, compelled the taking of such measures of punishment. A
young lad in the firing party utterly broke down, but, as one rifle on
such occasions is always loaded with a blank cartridge, no man can be
absolutely sure that he has had a part in the shooting. The body was
then placed in a coffin and taken in the ambulance to the military
cemetery, where I held the service. The usual cross was erected with
no mention upon it of the manner of the death. That was now forgotten.
The man had mastered himself and had died bravely.

I have seen many ghastly sights in the war, and hideous forms of
death. I have heard heart-rending tales of what men have suffered, but
nothing ever brought home to me so deeply, and with such cutting
force, the hideous nature of war and the iron hand of discipline, as
did that lonely death on the misty hillside in the early morning.  (p. 215)
Even now, as I write this brief account of it, a dark nightmare
seems to rise out of the past and almost makes me shrink from facing
once again memories that were so painful. It is well, however, that
people should know what our men had to endure. Before them were the
German shells, the machine-guns and the floods of gas. Behind them, if
their courage failed, was the court-martial, always administered with
great compassion and strict justice, but still bound by inexorable
laws of war to put into execution, when duty compelled, a grim and
hideous sentence of death.

If this book should fall into the hands of any man who, from
cowardice, shirked his duty in the war, and stayed at home, let him
reflect that, but for the frustration of justice, he ought to have
been sitting that morning, blindfolded and handcuffed, beside the
prisoner on the box. HE was one of the originals and a volunteer.




CHAPTER XXIII.                                                     (p. 216)

VISITS TO ROME AND PASCHENDAELE.

_October and November, 1917._


It was a good thing, after the bitter experience which I had just
passed through, that permission was granted me at this time to take
some men on a leave trip to Rome. My visit to Paris had convinced me
that it was no proper place for men to spend their leave in, so when
my next leave was nearly due I wrote to Division and asked permission
to take a party to Italy in order that some of our men might have the
benefit of seeing the great monuments of European history and art.
Weeks passed away and I heard nothing about the matter, until at last
a telegram came through granting my request. I had only asked
permission to take twelve men with me whose names had to be sent in
beforehand. But the telegram which granted permission was couched in
such vague terms, merely referring to a certain file-number, that I,
knowing that nobody would take the trouble to turn up the original
document, said nothing about it, and by a stroke of good luck
succeeded in taking with me forty-six men, including two chaplains,
two young officers and one of the staff of the Y.M.C.A. Two of the
men, alas, became casualties in the Paris barrage on the first night,
and were reported "missing, believed dead," but were found two days
afterwards by the police and sent back. The rest of us had a glorious
time and travelled to Rome via Marseilles, Nice--which included a
visit to Monte Carlo--Genoa and Pisa. I shall never forget the
delightful trip across France by daylight, and the moonlight night at
Marseilles, where we put up at the Hotel Regina. The men were in fine
form and presented a splendid soldierlike appearance. Their new
uniforms were set off by the bright red patch upon their sleeves, and
their buttons were kept well polished. I told them, before we started,
that I did not wish to be either a detective or a nursery-maid, but I
asked them to play the game and they did. We were going into the
country of an ally and I knew that such a large party would be under
very critical observation wherever we went. I had really no authority
over the men beyond that which they were willing that I should
exercise. The individuals of the party were not specially selected,
but I felt perfect confidence that we should have no trouble,
although I was naturally very much teased by members of "C" mess   (p. 217)
who prophesied that I should lose some men in Paris, some in
Marseilles and some in Rome, and my friends even went so far as to
declare that they doubted whether I should ever come back myself. We
were favoured with glorious weather, and travelled by daylight the
whole length of the Riviera. The utmost good humour prevailed, and the
glorious view of the blue Mediterranean on one side, with that of the
romantic mountains on the other, drove from our minds all
uncomfortable memories of the war. In fact we seemed to get into
another world.

The train arrived at Pisa at about nine o'clock p.m. and was to wait
there for three hours, so we all got out and had some supper and
started off to see the famous leaning tower by moonlight. The sudden
appearance of British troops in the quaint old town caused quite a
sensation, and the people came out of the cafes to see us and a mob
followed us wherever we went. We were of course pounced upon by the
vendors of souvenirs, and a number of the men came back to the station
carrying alabaster leaning towers under their arms. I warned the party
about the danger of loading themselves with such heavy and brittle
mementos, for we had still a long journey before us. The wisdom of my
warning was apparent later on, for on leaving Rome the alabaster
towers had begun to lean so much that they could no longer stand up. A
shelf full of leaning towers propped up one against another, looking
as if they had just partaken of an issue of rum, was left in the
hotel. We journeyed all night, some of the men sleeping on the seats,
some on the floor, and some in the hatracks overhead, and in the
morning amid intense excitement we arrived at the station in Rome. I
had been able to get a shave and clean up in the train, so on arrival
was ready to go and hunt for a hotel. I told the men, however, to find
their way to the Leave Club and make themselves presentable and that I
would return for them as soon as possible. After securing billets in
the Hotel Bristol, I went back for the party. Although I knew the men
would want to go about the city by themselves, I felt it would be a
good thing for our esprit-de-corps, that we should march to the hotel
in a body. So, not knowing how to give military orders myself, and
remembering what real colonels always did in similar predicaments, I
turned to the senior sergeant and said, "Sergeant, make the men fall
in, and when they are ready I will take over the parade." When the
sergeant came up to me and saluting said the parade was ready,     (p. 218)
I found to my dismay that the men were facing the wrong way and if I
said "Quick march", they would walk into the brick wall opposite. I
went up close to the sergeant and whispered to him, "Turn the men
round." This he did, and placing myself at their head I shouted,
"Quick March." I think that moment, as I started off to march through
Rome at the head of that fine body of men who followed two abreast,
was the proudest of my life. I had always been interested in history,
and have read Gibbon from cover to cover, so the thought suddenly
flashed upon me, "Julius Caesar once led his forces through Rome.
Later on, Augustus Caesar led his forces through Rome. In the middle
ages, Rienzi led his forces through Rome, and now, (here my head began
to swell till it grew too big for my cap) Canon Scott is leading his
forces through Rome." We marched through the streets at "attention"
and looked not to the right nor to the left, in spite of the fact that
we passed many groups of admiring onlookers. When we arrived at the
hotel, I called out, "Halt", in proper military tones and the men
halted, but I did not know the usual formula for telling them to
disperse, and I did not want such a proper beginning to have a
miserable end. I thought of saying, "Now I will dismiss the
congregation," but that sounded too religious. I knew that if I said,
"Now we will take up the collection," my army would fly off quickly
enough. However, while I was debating with myself, the men took the
law into their own hands and, breaking off, went into the hotel.

We happened to arrive in Rome just at the time of the great Italian
disaster in the North, and we found the populace plunged into great
anxiety. English and French newspapers were banned by the censor, so
it was difficult to find out what was happening, but I was told
privately that matters were very critical, and there might be a
revolution in Rome at any moment. I was also advised to see that our
men behaved with great circumspection, for German agents were secretly
trying to make trouble between the British and Italians. I told our
men to remember we had to help on the cause of the Allies and to be
very careful about details, such as saluting every Italian officer. I
think they saluted every Italian private as well. I also told them, in
case they were questioned on the subject, to say they were quite
pleased with the war, in fact that they rather enjoyed it and were not
a bit afraid of the Germans, and were determined to fight until a
decisive victory gave us a chance of lasting peace.

Wherever we went on the journey, we stayed at the best hotels, for (p. 219)
I had told each man to bring with him a thousand francs. It was a
great puzzle to the Italians that Canadian soldiers were able to stay
at the most select hotel in Rome, and also that the officers and men
were able to mix together in real comradeship. The Highlanders in our
party of course attracted the greatest attention, and were frequently
followed by an admiring crowd as they passed through the streets.
Colonel Lamb, the military attache at the Embassy, was very kind to us
and secured us many privileges, not the least acceptable of which was
free transportation. We split up into small parties, and visited the
sights of the Eternal City as we pleased. On the first night after
dinner, we paid a visit to the Coliseum by moonlight, which is
something to remember. Wherever we went we met with the kindest
treatment. The ladies of the Leave Club gave us an entertainment one
evening, which was attended by the military and naval attaches at the
British and American Embassies, and by some of the English residents.
I was proud of the appearance of the men. Before we left the hotel at
Nice, an English lady, the wife of a British General at the front,
came up and congratulated me upon the men, and said they were the most
gentlemanly young fellows she had ever seen. I think it was a help to
them to feel that their appearance in Rome at that critical time was
something which gave our party a kind of political significance, and
the phrase, "to help on the cause of the Allies," became a watchword
among us.

One night an Italian Colonel asked some of our men to dine with him at
his hotel and took them to the theatre afterwards. On another occasion,
five of our men were sitting in the front row of one of the theatres
when an actor gave an impersonation of the different sovereigns of
Europe. When he appeared as King George, the orchestra struck up our
National Anthem, and at once our men rose up and stood to attention.
One of them told me afterwards that he felt cold shivers going down
his back as he did so, because he was in full view of everybody. For a
moment there was a pause, then the audience, understanding what the
action meant, rose en masse and stood till the music was over and then
clapped their hands and shouted "Viva l'Inghilterra!"

Many of our men were very anxious to see the Pope, and so it was
arranged that we should have an audience. Colonel Lamb informed the
1st Italian Division that we would march in a body through         (p. 220)
their district. We started off in the morning, our young Highland
officer being in command. As we passed through the streets, the people
greeted us very cordially. Many of them raised their hats. The traffic,
too, would stop to let us pass. We went over the bridge of Hadrian and
arrived at the entrance of the Vatican beside St. Peter's in good
time. There we were met by an Irish priest, who remembered me from my
previous visit. I asked him if the men should break ranks but he told
me to let them come in formation. So, two by two, we mounted the
glorious Royal Staircase, the splendid surroundings being a good
setting for the fine looking soldiers. At the various landings, the
Swiss Guards in their picturesque uniforms presented arms, and we
found ourselves at last in a wonderful hall with richly frescoed walls
and ceiling. Here the men were halted and passed in single file into
the audience chamber. We had to wait for quite a long time, and at
last the Pope entered, clothed in white and looking much older and
more worn than when I had seen him only a year and a half before. He
was very guarded in what he said to us, because we were the first
soldiers whom he had received in a body, and any expression he might
make with reference to the war would be liable to various
interpretations. He spoke to some of our men in French and then wished
us health and protection and a safe return to Canada. Then, giving his
blessing he left us, and we made our way to the outer room where we
reformed and marched off as we had come.

That afternoon we were photographed in the Coliseum, and I visited the
interesting old church of St. Clement afterwards. Every evening, after
a day spent in rambling among antiquities, we used to attend the opera
in the Grand Opera House. It acted as a sort of relaxation after the
serious business of sight-seeing. Rumours now reached us of the attack
that our Division was making up in the Salient, and one night when I
was having tea in the Grand Hotel I went over and asked a young
British staff officer whom I saw there, if he had any news. He said to
me that the Canadian Corps were making an attack at Passchendaele
under the most appalling conditions of mud and rain and had covered
themselves with glory. I asked him if it were true that Sir William
Robertson had come to Rome. "Yes," he said, "I am his son. He has
brought me with him and we are all very proud of the Canadians." At
another table I saw M. Venezelos. It was understood now that       (p. 221)
Britain and France were to come to the assistance of Italy, but still
Venice was in imminent peril, and the Italians were heart-broken at
the way the 3rd Italian Army had behaved. Refugees from the North
began to pour into Rome and affairs were very serious. I told our men
of the gravity of the situation and the increased importance of
helping on the cause of the Allies in every possible way.

It is the custom at Rome on All Soul's day, November 2nd, to place
flowers and wreaths on the marble steps in front of the equestrian
statue of Victor Emmanuel. This year, I was told, the people were
going to make a special demonstration. It occurred to me that it might
not be a bad idea if we, too, placed a wreath to the memory of our
comrades. I put the matter before Colonel Lamb and he said it was a
very good idea indeed, but asked us to put on the card which would be
attached to our wreath, the words, "To the brave Italian dead, from
their comrades in the British Empire," rather than, "To the brave
Italian dead from their Canadian comrades." He said he was anxious to
emphasize the connection between the British and the Italians. An
Italian major made the arrangements with me for carrying out the
project. Poor man, he was so moved at the thought of the disgraceful
surrender of the 3rd Italian Army that his eyes filled with tears as
he talked about it, and he said, "What will our Allies think of Italy
when her men behave like that?" I told him it was only a small part of
their army that had failed and that the rest had behaved very
gallantly. That afternoon, preceded by two of our sergeants carrying a
large wreath of laurel tied with purple ribbon, to which we attached
two cards with the inscription, one in English and one in Italian, we
marched through the crowds of onlookers, who took off their hats as we
passed, until we reached the great marble steps which lead up to the
gilded statue of the late King. Here there was a magnificent display
of flowers made up in all sorts of designs. The crowd gave away before
us, and one of the officials, who had been directed by the Italian
major, took the wreath from us and gave it a place of honour in front
of the statue. We stood in a long line on the marble steps and saluted
and then turned and left. The people clapped their hands and shouted,
"Viva l'Inghilterra!" We were pleased at the impression the simple act
of courtesy made, and felt that it was helping on the cause of the
Allies.

Our men were always very much amused by the moving picture shows,  (p. 222)
the characters of these entertainments being so different from that of
similar exhibitions at the front. They were so tragic and so sentimental
that they did not appeal strongly to the wholesome minds of Canadian
soldiers. It was always very interesting to hear their criticisms of
the customs and outlook of the people with whom we were sojourning.
There is no doubt that the army mind is the sanest and most wholesome
in the whole community. It may not express itself in the most artistic
terms or the most religious language, but its judgments are absolutely
sound and worthy of the most careful consideration. I am sure that
Canadian political life, unless other influences nullify it, will be
immeasurably bettered by the soldiers' vote.

I had the great privilege of a visit to Cardinal Gasquet in the home
of the Dominicans not far from St. Peter's. The interview had been
arranged for me by an English priest whom I met at the hospital of the
Blue Nuns, where I had taken two of our men who were ill with
pneumonia. The Cardinal is engaged in the stupendous task of revising
the text of the Latin Vulgate. He showed me photographs of the ancient
manuscripts with the various readings noted. It will be years before
the great task is completed, but when it is, it will remain untouched
for centuries to come. He told me that news had just been received of
the consecration of the first Roman Catholic Bishop in Russia. This
had been made possible by the overthrow of the reigning dynasty. He
was most kind, and told me many interesting things about life in Rome
during the war, and before I left asked me to write my name in his
visitor's book, pointing out to me on the upper part of the page the
recent signature of the Cardinal Archbishop of Cologne.

Altogether we had been absent by this time for nearly two weeks, and
had still a long return journey ahead of us. I thought, however, that
the valuable service our men were rendering the great cause justified
our over-staying our leave. In fact, when I went to say good-bye to
Colonel Lamb, he and his staff told me that the presence of our men in
the City at that time had been worth any amount of printed propaganda.
I hinted that some statement of that kind to General Currie might be a
good thing. To my great delight, soon after we had returned, General
Currie received the following letter, which has an official stamp
which I never expected:--

                              BRITISH EMBASSY,                     (p. 223)
                                   ROME.
                                          9th November, 1917.
    "Dear General,

    "With reference to the recent visit to Rome of a party of Canadian
    officers and soldiers, I am requested by H. E. Sir Rennel Rodd to
    inform you of the excellent impression produced among the
    inhabitants of this city, by the soldierlike turnout, and
    excellent and courteous behaviour of all ranks belonging to the
    party.

    "Their visit has helped to inspire Italians with a feeling of
    confidence in their allies at a time of great anxiety and trial.
                                   "Believe me,
                                        Yours very truly,
                                        (Sgd.) CHARLES A. LAMB,
                                               Colonel,
                                         Military Attache.
                                                     Rome."

We left for Florence on Saturday November 3rd. The ladies of the Leave
Club came to see us off, and after a delightful trip in brilliant
sunshine, we arrived at our destination at seven in the evening. On
our journey we passed many trains filled with refugees, who were
crowded together in third-class carriages. As the Austrian and German
armies advanced in the North the people in the villages were given a
quarter of an hour in which to decide whether they would stay or go.
They were warned, however, that if they stayed and the Italians ever
tried to retake the towns they would all be put to death. I was told
by some officers of a British hospital in Turin, who had had to leave
the Italian front in a hurry, that it was a sad sight to see the
inhabitants of the towns fleeing down the roads from the advancing
enemy. Old and infirm people dragged themselves along. Parents lost
their children and children lost their parents in the crowd, and the
people took with them only the things which they could carry on their
persons. Florence was crowded with these unfortunates, who were lying
out at night in the squares and being tended by the citizens. There
was a great crowd at the station when we arrived, and a number of
Italian soldiers who spoke English gathered round our party and told
us that the war was over and that the soldiers would not fight any
more. Our men, however, were equal to the occasion, and told them  (p. 224)
that _we_ were going to keep on fighting no matter what the Italians did,
and that there could be no peace until we had a decisive victory. The
whole city was astir, and many Italian regiments were quartered there.
I told the men before we sought for accommodation in the crowded town,
how important it was that we should show a determined face at this
time.

On the following afternoon, which was Sunday, I had a curious
experience. The Y.M.C.A. officer and I were going off to see the great
church of Santa Croce, which is the Italian Westminster Abbey, many
great Italians having been buried there. As we passed down the street
my friend went into a shop to buy some chocolates. While I was
waiting, I heard the stirring notes of the Marseillaise, and looking
round saw a band coming up the street followed by three Italian flags,
a number of soldiers, and a rabble of men, women and children. I
called to my companion to come out quickly and salute the Italian
colours. As they passed, we stood on the curb and saluted with strict
military precision. In fact we saluted so well that the delighted
members of the procession grabbed us by the hand and finally dragged
us into their midst, others clapping their hands and shouting "Viva
l'Inghilterra!" I was separated from my companion in the rabble and
called over to him and asked him what it was. He said, "I think it is
a Socialist demonstration." This rather dismayed me, but I turned to
one of the people by my side and asked him in French what the crowd
was. He told me it was the society for finishing the war, so I called
out to my friend, "It's all right Captain, it is the society for
finishing the war. I have wanted to join that society for some time."
I saw at once that the procession was an attempt to pull the Italians
together and rouse them to a supreme effort to resist the enemy and
save Italy. The crowd was so enthusiastic about the presence of
representatives of the British Army, that they finally caught us by
our legs and carried us on their shoulders through the streets. It was
a most amusing incident. I could not help thinking that the crowd were
the descendants of the men who had burnt Savonarola at the stake. My
friend, whose sense of humour had failed him, shouted over to me, "I
hate being made a fool of like this." I told him not to be rude as we
were helping on the cause of the Allies. Finally, overcome by our
struggles, the men let us down, and we were pushed along in the crowd
to the square in front of the Hotel Minerva. Here the leaders of the
procession invited us into the hotel and we were taken upstairs to (p. 225)
the front room, out of which opened a balcony overlooking the square.
A young Italian officer, who had been a lawyer before the war and had
lost both his eyes, went on to the balcony and made a most impassioned
appeal to his countrymen. The crowd in the square was now very dense,
and received his speech with great enthusiasm. When it was over, one
of the officers of "The society for finishing the war," came and urged
me to address the crowd. I was so pleased to find that my French was
better understood in Italy than in any place except England, that I
asked my friend if I should speak to them in French. He looked at me
very sourly, for he had not quite got back his equanimity, and said
curtly, "You had better not." Then I said, "I will talk to them in
Italian." I shall never forget the look of dismay which passed over
his countenance, but I told him it was helping on the cause of the
Allies. I went out on the balcony, and the people seeing the British
uniform and probably mistaking me for a general, at once began to
cheer. I took off my cap, waved it in the air and shouted at the top
of my voice "Viva l'Italia." It was the only speech they wanted. It
was neither too long nor too short. The crowd repeated the words, and
then shouted, "Viva l'Inghilterra!" and the band actually struck up
"God save the King" and followed it by "Rule Britannia, Britannia
rules the waves" (I wished at the time she had ruled under the waves
as well.) I went back to the room and the Italians were so delighted
with my short and pithy speech, that they invited me to dine with them
that night and bring two officers with me. When we got down to the
square, the mob crowded round us and shook hands with us, and I was
afraid that some of the ladies were going to embrace us. I think
people thought we were part of the advance guard that had been sent
from France to the assistance of Italy.

That night three of us attended the dinner given by the officers of
"The society for finishing the war," in a very fine restaurant. The
Deputy for Florence, who had been one of the members of the government
which had declared war on Austria, was present and I sat by the side
of an alderman of the city. Opposite to me was an English lady who
acted as an interpreter. At the close of the dinner the Deputy rose
and made a very eloquent speech, welcoming us to Italy and saying how
much Italians appreciated the fact that England was one of her Allies.
I replied in English, which was translated by our fair interpreter,
and told them how glad we were to be with them and that we had come,
some of our men seven thousand miles, as a voluntary army to fight (p. 226)
not only for the British Empire, but for something even bigger than
that, for our common civilization, and that the war had made the
Allies one family. I said that our men were determined to fight to the
bitter end, for we could have no true peace until we had a decisive
victory. Then I added that, if our Division were sent to Italy, we
should all come with great pleasure, knowing that the Italians were
our comrades and warm friends. I thought too, during my speech, that a
dugout in Florence would be worth two in Bully-Grenay. The party
seemed very pleased with my remarks and we all exchanged visiting
cards and separated good friends. The whole affair was very amusing,
and when the Italians pushed back the enemy in 1918, I used to tell
the men, amid roars of laughter, that nothing but my modesty prevented
my saying who it was that had saved Italy, that no one would ever hear
from my lips the name of the man who, when Italy was lying prostrate
at the feet of the advancing foe, shouted into her dying ear the
startling words "Viva l'Italia" and set her on her feet.

Two days afterwards, accompanied to the station by an admiring crowd
and three ladies carrying Italian flags, we bade farewell to Florence
and started on our return journey. We spent the afternoon in Pisa,
and, after a night's journey, arrived at Turin in the morning. Our men
got out of the train and were making their way to the station when
they were met by the British R.T.O. a very large officer who wore an
eyeglass. He brought them quickly to attention by calling out, "Who
are you?" They told him they were Canadians on leave, and I, fearing
bloodshed, went up to the officer and explained who they were and why
they had come. He told me that there had been a mutiny in Turin that
summer and relations between the British and Italians were very much
strained, owing to the action of German agents. He said he had been
living on the top of a volcano for the past three months, and was
afraid to allow any large body of troops to go about the town lest
there might be trouble. I assured him that our men would behave with
great circumspection. He then told me that they would have to be back
in rest-billets, near the station, not later than ten o'clock. I asked
if he could not make it eleven, because I knew that the men wanted to
go to the theatre. He agreed to this and asked me to tell them that
roll would be called in the rest-billets at eleven o'clock. I halted
the men and said, "Boys, roll will be called in the rest-billets
tonight at eleven o'clock sharp." Whether it was or not we never   (p. 227)
knew, for none of us was there to hear. The men went to the theatres
and to the various hotels afterwards. No trouble ensued, and when we
left on the following afternoon the R.T.O. was most friendly and gave
us a hearty send-off, no doubt feeling too relieved at our departure
to make any inquiries.

Although we had had a most delightful trip I was really thankful we
were at last setting our faces towards the North. We arrived in Paris
the next morning, and before we left the station I told the men that
every one of them had to be at the train that evening. I had taken it
upon myself to extend their leave, as I thought their presence in
Italy was beneficial to the cause, but I asked them to show their
gratitude by not failing to return all together. That night, to my
intense satisfaction, they all turned up at the station at seven
o'clock, and we started for Calais. We arrived there the next morning,
and in the afternoon left for the front.

We arrived at Poperinghe that night at six o'clock. It was dark, a
drizzling rain was falling, and the mud was thick. We could hear the
big guns firing, and the men were coming and going in all directions.
We took a hasty farewell of one another and then parted. No one we met
cared whether we had come from Italy or were going to Jericho. The men
did not know where their headquarters were, and I was particularly
anxious not to find mine. I went over to the Officer's Club and
secured a shake-down in the garret, but, as I heard that our Division
had made an attack that day, I determined to go up to the line. I
started off after dinner in an ambulance to the old mill at
Vlamertinghe, where there was a repetition of the sights and sounds
which I had experienced there on two previous occasions. Later on, I
went forward in another ambulance through Ypres to an advanced
dressing station. Then I started to walk up the terrible, muddy roads
till I came to the different German pill-boxes which had been
converted into headquarters for the battalions. Finally, after wading
through water and mud nearly up to my knees, I found myself the next
afternoon wandering through the mud and by the shell holes and
miserable trenches near Goudberg Copse, with a clear view of the ruins
of Paschendaele, which was held by another division on our right. The
whole region was unspeakably horrible. Rain was falling, the dreary
waste of shell-ploughed mud, yellow and clinging, stretched off into
the distance as far as the eye could see. Bearer parties, tired    (p. 228)
and pale, were carrying out the wounded on stretchers, making a
journey of several miles in doing so. The bodies of dead men lay here
and there where they had fallen in the advance. I came across one poor
boy who had been killed that morning. His body was covered with a
shiny coating of yellow mud, and looked like a statue made of bronze.
He had a beautiful face, with finely shaped head covered with close
curling hair, and looked more like some work of art than a human
being. The huge shell holes were half full of water often reddened
with human blood and many of the wounded had rolled down into the
pools and been drowned. As I went on, some one I met told me that
there was a wounded man in the trenches ahead of me. I made my way in
the direction indicated and shouted out asking if anybody was there.
Suddenly I heard a faint voice replying, and I hurried to the place
from which the sound came. There I found sitting up in the mud of the
trench, his legs almost covered with water, a lad who told me that he
had been there for many hours. I never saw anything like the wonderful
expression on his face. He was smiling most cheerfully, and made no
complaint about what he had suffered. I told him I would get a
stretcher, so I went to some trenches not far away and got a bearer
party and a stretcher and went over to rescue him. The men jumped down
into the trench and moved him very gently, but his legs were so numb
that although they were hit he felt no pain. One of the men asked him
if he was only hit in the legs. He said, "Yes," but the man looked up
at me and pulling up the boy's tunic showed me a hideous wound in his
back. They carried him off happy and cheerful. Whether he ever
recovered or not I do not know. If he did and ever sees this book, I
wish he would write and tell me how he is.

That was our last attack at Paschendaele. Our Division had taken its
final objective. The next morning, the infantry were to come out of
the line, so in the late afternoon I returned with some stretcher
bearers. Several times shells came near enough to splatter us with
mud, and here and there I turned aside to bury those for whom graves
had just been prepared.

At the front that day, a runner and I had joined in a brief burial
service over the body of a gallant young officer lying where he fell
on the side of a large shell-hole. As I uttered the words--"I am the
Resurrection and the Life, saith the Lord," it seemed to me that the
lonely wind bore them over that region of gloom and death as       (p. 229)
if it longed to carry the message of hope far away to the many sad
hearts in Canada whose loved ones will lie, until the end, in unknown
graves at Paschendaele.




CHAPTER XXIV.                                                      (p. 230)

OUR LAST WAR CHRISTMAS.


Our Division moved back to Barlin and I was once more established in
my old billet. As our artillery were still at Ypres, I determined to
go back on the following day to the Salient. I started in a car the
next morning at six, and arrived at Talbot House, Poperinghe, in time
to have breakfast with Padre Clayton, who was in charge of that
splendid institution. Then I made my way to Ypres and found my son at
his battery headquarters under the Cloth Hall Tower. It was a most
romantic billet, for the debris of the ruins made a splendid
protection from shells, and the stone-vaulted chambers were airy and
commodious, much better than the underground cellars in which most of
the men were quartered. The guns of the battery were forward in a very
"unhealthy" neighbourhood. The officers and men used to take turns in
going on duty there for twenty-four hours at a time. They found that
quite long enough, as the forward area was continually exposed to
shells and aeroplane attacks. I went on to visit our own field
batteries, and found them distributed in a most desolate region. The
mud was so deep that to step off the bath-mats meant sinking almost to
the knees. In order to move the guns, planks had to be laid in front
of them for a track, and the guns were roped and dragged along by the
men. It was hard physical labour but they bore it, as they did other
difficulties and dangers, with the utmost good humour. It was tiring
enough merely to walk out to see them, without having anything else to
do. What those men went through at that time no one can imagine. Just
to watch them laying the planks and hauling on the ropes which drew
the heavy mud-covered guns made me weary. When I meet some of my
gunner friends in Montreal and Toronto looking so clean and happy, I
think of what they did behind Passchendaele Ridge, and I take off my
hat to them.

I spent three days at Ypres, and then, by jumping lorries, made my way
back to St. Venant and Robecq, where I spent the night. The next
morning I left for Bethune, and thence by the assistance of lorries
and a car continued my journey to our new Divisional Headquarters,
which had found a home at Chateau de la Haie. Here I had a billet  (p. 231)
in an upstairs room over what had been part of a stable. The room was
neither beautiful nor clean, but served as an abode for me and Alberta
and her newly-arrived family. The Chateau was a large house of no
distinction, but it stood in delightful grounds, and at the back of it
was a pond whose clear waters reflected the tall, leafless trees which
bordered it. One fact made the Chateau popular and that was, that, up
to that time, no shell or bomb had fallen in the neighbourhood. It was
said that the location of the Chateau was not to be found on the
enemy's maps. Round about were huts with accommodation sufficient to
house a whole brigade. The charm of the place was completed by our 4th
Division having erected there a large and most artistic theatre, which
would seat on benches nearly one thousand men. It had a good stage and
a pit for the orchestra in front. This theatre, when our concert party
was in full swing, was a source of infinite delight to us all. It was
built on the slope of a hill, the stage being at the lower end and a
good view of the play therefore, could be had from all parts. The
scenery was beautifully painted and the electric lights and
foot-lights well arranged.

Near us was the village of Gouy-Servins, where many men were billeted,
and in huts at Souchez and other places along the valley the various
units found their homes. The year's campaign was now over and we could
look forward to a quiet time during the winter. "C" mess had a very
comfortable hut, with an open fireplace. We were supposed to have the
liveliest entertainments of any mess at Headquarters, and had
therefore many visitors. I shall never forget the jolly face of our
president, the D.A.D.M.S., nor the irrepressible spirit of our A.P.M.,
son of a distinguished father who commanded an Army, nor the dry
common-sense humour of our Field Cashier. What delight they took in
ragging the Senior Chaplain, whose automatic ears, as he averred,
prevented his hearing the things he should not. Nor must we forget the
Camp Commandant, often perplexed like Martha with much serving. It was
a goodly company and one much addicted to bridge and other diversions.
I shall not forget the continual appeals of a gallant staff officer
with two or three ribbons, who asked me penitently every morning for a
moral uplift, which I noticed completely evaporated before evening.
There was a freedom about our gatherings that was quite unique and has
left pleasant memories in the mind, in spite of the fact that I told
my fellow members they were the most godless crowd in Christendom.
One day when we were at Ecoivres, a shell fell by the house, while (p. 232)
we were having dinner. Someone asked me afterwards if it had "put my
wind up?" "Not a bit", I replied, "I knew that the Devil was not going
to destroy one of his favourite machine-gun emplacements."

There was much excitement at this time over the question of
conscription. The soldiers were to have votes and much depended upon
their being given in the right way. It was a critical time, as our
man-power was being exhausted. Recruiting under the voluntary system
had become inadequate to meet our needs. Beyond this, however, one
felt that the moral effect of Canada's refusing conscription would be
very harmful. The Germans would at once see in it an indication that
Canada was growing weary of fighting and they would consequently take
heart. It was most essential then that our men should cast a solid
vote for the coalition government. I felt it my duty therefore to do
as much electioneering work as I could. At night I used to address the
men in the theatre between the acts of the play, and tell them that if
we threw out the conscription bill, it would go a long way to undo the
good of all they had done and destroy the value of the sacrifice our
dead comrades had made. Once I was invited to speak to a battalion of
the 4th Division during an entertainment which they were holding. When
I closed my address I told them that the last thing I wanted to do was
to influence their vote. All I asked of them when they went to the
polls was to make a cross in front of Borden's name. From the laughter
and cheers with which this statement was received, I think they
probably did. A few of the men told me that the thing which made them
hesitate about voting for conscription was that they could not bring
themselves to do anything which would force others to come and endure
the hellish life at the front. The great unionist victory at the polls
in Canada, which we heard of on December 18th, showed us that the
heart of the young country was sound, and this no doubt was noted by
the Germans.

One more, (and this was the last,) St. George's church was built for
me near the Chateau. Thus I was enabled to have a daily celebration of
the Holy Communion.

The arrival of one of the battalions of the 4th Division gave us the
first indication that we were to move. On December 20th we left once
more for Bruay. Here I found that my old billet was no longer
available, but I managed to find a home in a clean little cottage  (p. 233)
in the same street, where I had a room downstairs for an office,
cheered by an open fire, and a large bare room upstairs in which I put
my bed. On the garden-gate I hung out my sign "St. George's Rectory."
Once again I found myself in the familiar neighbourhood with all the
beloved battalions round us as before. The theatre was filled night
after night, and there were the old gatherings of officers in the
hotel. We regarded it as a great stroke of luck that once more we were
going to spend Christmas out of the line.

On Christmas Eve, when I was preparing to go up to the midnight
Communion Service in the theatre, a new C. of E. Chaplain arrived and
came with me to assist. On the stage the altar was set as before, and
the dear old flag which now for three long years had been devoted to
the sacred purpose shone out as the frontal. The band played the
Christmas hymns and a large number of men attended. Some of them, but
not many, had been there the year before. It was very beautiful and
solemn. At midnight on New Year's Eve we repeated the service. Again
there was a large congregation, and to me as I looked back to the
gathering held in that place just one year ago it was quite
overpowering. How many of those who had been with us at the dawn of
1917 had passed away? The seats where they had sat were filled with
other men. The hymns they had joined in were sung by other lips. In my
heart went up the cry, "How long, O Lord, how long?" Once more the
hands of the weary world clock had passed over the weeks and months of
another year, and still the end was not in sight. As we stood in
silence, while the buglers sounded the Last Post for the dying year, a
wild and strange vision swept before me: I saw again the weary waste
of mud and the shell ploughed ridge at Vimy; the fierce attacks at
Arleux and Fresnoy; the grim assault on Hill 70 and the hellish agony
of Paschendaele. Surely the ceaseless chiselling of pain and death had
graven deeply into the inmost heart of Canada, the figures 1917.




CHAPTER XXV.                                                       (p. 234)

VICTORY YEAR OPENS.

_January and February, 1918._


Victory Year, though we did not know it by that name then, opened with
fine bracing weather, and there was the usual round of dinners and
entertainments with which we always greeted the birth of a new
twelve-month. We had several Canadian-like snow storms. In the midst
of one, I met a forlorn despatch rider coming up the main street on
his wheel with the blinding snow in his face. I stopped him and asked
him if he wouldn't like to have some dinner, and I took him into the
hotel. He had been to Bethune to buy some V.C. ribbon for one of the
men of his battalion who was going to be presented with it on the
following day, and was so proud of his mission that he made no
complaint about the long and tiring journey through the snowstorm. The
country behind Bruay is broken up into pleasant valleys, and there are
plenty of trees on the hills, so the winter aspect of the district
made us feel quite at home. I used to give many talks to the men on
what I called "The war outlook", I thought it helped to encourage
them, and I was perfectly sincere in my belief, which grew stronger as
time went on, in spite of notable set-backs, that we should have
victory before the end of the year.

We had a visit at this time from Bishop du Pencier, who came to hold a
confirmation for us at Divion. There were forty candidates, nearly all
of them being presented by chaplains of the 1st Brigade. It was a
solemn service and made a deep impression upon the men. The hymns were
sung very heartily, and the Bishop gave a most helpful address. I
remember specially one young fellow called Vaughan Groves, who came to
me for the preparation. He was a small, rather delicate young lad
about nineteen years of age, and was a runner for the 2nd Brigade. He
had a fine open face and had the distinction of having won the M.M.
and bar. To have won these honours as a Brigade runner was a mark of
rare courage. I felt the deepest admiration for the boy, who was the
only son of a widowed mother in Canada. He never touched liquor and
had lived a perfectly straight life, and his was just the type of
character which found scope for great deeds in the war. After the  (p. 235)
confirmation I lost sight of him, until some months afterwards when,
as I was going through Arras one night, I looked into a cellar near
the 2nd Brigade Headquarters, and seeing a number of men in there,
went down to have a talk. I found they were the Brigade runners, and
so I at once asked for my young friend. They told me that he had been
wounded in the arm and when he came to the dressing station, finding
there a man who was dying from loss of blood, had at once offered his
own blood for transfusion into the veins of the sufferer. So much had
to be taken from him that the boy got very weak and had to be sent
back to England to recuperate. The men added that it was just the
thing that little Vaughan would do. He was the finest, cleanest little
chap, they said, that they had ever met. It was always delightful to
hear such testimony from men to the innate power of human goodness. I
have never seen or heard of Vaughan Groves since, but I hope that some
one may read this book who will be able to tell me how and where he
is.

I was not sorry when our rest was over. There was more time to get
home-sick when we were out of the line. If we had to be in the war at
all, the happiest place was at the front. So when on January 23rd I
left Bruay for Bracquemont, I did so with little regret. My billet at
Bracquemont was the same which I had occupied in the previous
September, and it seemed quite like home. Once more our men held the
trenches on Hill 70 and the battalions in the back area were billeted
in Mazingarbe, Le Brebris, and Sains-en-Gohelle.

The day after I arrived, I determined to do some parish visiting in
the slums--as I called the front line. I started off in my old trench
uniform and long habitant boots, carrying with me a supply of bully-beef,
tinned milk and hardtack. I went through Bully-Grenay and then out
through Maroc to Loos. Here once again the dressing station at Fort
Glatz was occupied by a doctor and staff from one of our ambulances. I
spent a little while there and then continued my journey up the road
past Crucifix Corner to the trenches. The 7th and 8th Battalions were
in the line. The day was fine and the warm sunshine was hardening the
mud, so things did not look too unpleasant. I went to the 7th Battalion
first and found the gallant men carrying on in the usual way. Hugo
Trench was very quiet, and from it one could obtain a good view of the
German lines and of Lens beyond. It was great fun to go into the saps
and surprise the two or three men who were on guard in them. The   (p. 236)
dugouts were curious places. The entrance steps were steep, and
protected by blankets to keep out gas. At the bottom would be a long
timber-lined passage, dark and smelly, out of which two or three
little rooms would open. The men off duty would be lying about on the
floor sound asleep, and it was often hard to make one's way among the
prostrate bodies. The officers' mess would have a table in it and
boxes for seats. On a shelf were generally some old newspapers or
magazines and a pack of cards. In the passage, making it narrower than
ever, were a few shelves used as bunks. At the end of the passage
would be the kitchen, supplied with a rude stove which sent its smoke
up a narrow pipe through a small opening. In the trenches the cooks
were always busy, and how they served up the meals they did was a
mystery to me. Water was brought in tins from a tap in one of the
trenches to the rear, and therefore was not very abundant. I have
occasionally, and against my will, seen the process of dish-washing in
the trenches. I could never make out from the appearance of the water
whether the cook and his assistant were washing the plates or making
the soup, the liquid in the tin dish was so thick with grease.
However, it was part of the war, and the men were doing their best
under most unpropitious circumstances.

I had come prepared to spend a night in the trenches, and had decided
to do so in the large German-made dugout in the chalk-pit which was
held by "D" Company of the 8th Battalion. The officer on duty with the
7th Battalion kindly acted as my guide. The day had worn away, and the
bright moon was lighting up the maze of yellow trenches. We passed
along, exchanging many greetings at different places, until we came to
the outpost of the 8th Battalion at the top of the path which leads
down to the chalk-pit. Here four men were sitting keeping guard. They
gave me a warm greeting, and I told them that if I were not in a hurry
to let my guide go back to his lines, I would stop and recite some of
my poems in the moonlight. It struck me that they seemed more amused
than disappointed. So wishing them good-luck, we started onward down
the slippery path which led into the pit, where many shells had torn
up the ground and where were remains not only of uniforms and mess-tins
and rifles but also of German bodies. We had hardly reached the
entrance to the dugout when two or three of those shells which the men
called "pineapples" arrived in quick succession. They sounded so   (p. 237)
close that we dived into the place of refuge. We found the O.C. of the
company inside, and he kindly arranged to give me a large bed all to
myself in one of the chambers of the dugout. Suddenly a runner
appeared and told us that the pineapples had hit the outpost, killing
not only some of the men to whom I had just been talking but also the
Adjutant of the battalion. I at once got up and went back to the
place. The line was quiet now, and the whole scene was brightly
lighted by the moon and looked so peaceful that one could hardly
imagine that we were in the midst of war, but, lying in the deep
shadow at the bottom of the trench, with its face downwards, was the
body of the Adjutant. He had been killed instantly. In the outpost
beside the trench, were the bodies of the men who had been on duty
when I passed a few minutes before.

I stayed with the sentry guarding the bodies until a stretcher party
arrived and carried them away. Then I went back to the dugout and
visited the men who were crowded into its most extraordinary labyrinth
of passages and recesses. In the very centre of the place, which must
have been deep underground, there was a kitchen, and the cooks were
preparing a hot meal for the men to eat before "stand to" at dawn. The
men of course were excessively crowded and many were heating their own
food in mess-tins over smoking wicks steeped in melted candle grease.
All were bright and cheerful as ever, in spite of the stifling
atmosphere, which must have been breathed by human lungs over and over
again. It was quite late when I stretched myself on my wire mattress
with my steel helmet for a pillow. Only a piece of canvas separated me
from the room where a lot of men were supposed to be sleeping. They
were not only not asleep but kept me awake by the roars of laughter
which greeted the stories they were telling. However, I managed to
doze off in time, and was rudely wakened early in the morning by the
metallic thud of pineapples on the ground overhead. I was wondering
what it meant when a man came down to the O.C.'s room, next to mine,
and aroused him with the somewhat exciting news, "Major, the Germans
are making an attack." It was not long before the Major was hurrying
up the steps to the passage above, and it was not long before I
followed, because I always had a horror of being bombed in a dugout.
In the passage upstairs all the men were "standing to" with fixed
bayonets, and plenty of Mills bombs in their pockets. They were a most
cheerful crowd, and really I think that we all felt quite pleased at
the excitement. A man came up to me and asked me what weapon I     (p. 238)
had. I told him I had a fixed bayonet on the end of my walking stick.
This did not seem to satisfy him, so he went over to a cupboard and
brought me two bombs. I told him to take them away because they might
be prematures. He laughed at this and said, "How will you protect
yourself, Sir, if the enemy should get into the trench?" I told him I
would recite one of my poems. They always put my friends to flight and
would probably have the same effect upon my foes.

By this time the rain of pineapples overhead was very heavy, and I
went to the door of the dugout where the Major was looking out. It was
a curious scene. Day had just dawned, and we could see the heaps of
broken rubbish and ripped up ground in front of us, while directly
opposite at the top of the chalk-pit was our front line. Pacing up and
down this was a corporal, his form silhouetted against the gray
morning sky. He had his rifle with fixed bayonet on his shoulder, and
as he walked to and fro he sang at the top of his voice the old song,
"Oh my, I don't want to die, I want to go home." The accompaniment to
the song was the "swish" of the shells overhead and the bursting of
them in the trenches behind. I told the Major that if we could only
get a moving picture of the corporal and a gramophone record of his
song with its accompaniment we could make thousands of dollars by an
exhibition of it in Canada.

The next night I stayed at Cite St. Pierre. Who will ever forget the
road up to it, and the corner near the ruined fosse, which was always
liable to be shelled unexpectedly? In cellars beneath the unwholesome
and dilapidated town our men found billets. They were really quite
comfortable, but at night when the place was as black as pitch, and
one had to grope one's way in the darkness along debris-covered
streets, shaken every now and then by the German missiles from the
sky, one longed for Canada and the well-lighted pavements of Montreal
and Toronto.

On February 14th, at the officers' club at Corps Headquarters in
Camblain l'Abbe, we had a great gathering of all the officers who had
landed in France three years before. The one hundred and fifty who sat
down to dinner were only a small part of the original number, and,
before the anniversary came round again, many of those present were
called to join the unseen host to whose memory that night we drank in
silence. It was strange to look back over three years and think that
the war, which in February 1915 we thought was going to be a       (p. 239)
matter of months, had now been protracted for three years and was
still going on. What experiences each of those present had had! What a
strange unnatural life we had been called upon to live, and how
extraordinarily efficient in the great war game had each become! It
was a most interesting gathering of strong and resolute men filled
with sublime ideals of duty and patriotism, who nevertheless were
absolutely free from all posing and self-consciousness. They had
learnt how to play the game; they had learnt both how to command and
how to obey; they had learnt how to sink selfish interests and aims,
and to work only and unitedly for the great cause.

On February 19th I held the dedication service at the unveiling of the
artillery monument at Les Tilleuls. Owing to its exposed position no
concourse of men was allowed, but there was a large gathering of the
Staff, including the Army Commander, and of course a number of
officers from the artillery. The lines of the monument are very
severe. A plain white cross surmounts a large mass of solid masonry on
which is the tablet, which General Currie unveiled. It stands in a
commanding position on Vimy Ridge, and can be seen for miles around.
Many generations of Canadians in future ages will visit that lonely
tribute to the heroism of those, who, leaving home and loved ones,
voluntarily came and laid down their lives in order that our country
might be free.




CHAPTER XXVI.                                                      (p. 240)

THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE.

_March, 1918._


Over four months had passed away since my return from Rome, so leave
was again due. Immediately after the unveiling of the Artillery
monument I started off in a car for Boulogne, and the next afternoon
arrived in London. Conditions there were worse than they had been the
year before. The streets were darker and food was scarcer. I went as
far north as Edinburgh, but when I arrived at that city I found it
cold and wintry and wrapped in mists. There were many naval men there,
and I paid an interesting visit to a damaged submarine which was being
repaired in the dry-dock. It was of course nice to meet friends again,
but, beyond that, my last leave was not a pleasant one. It was a time
of great anxiety. The Americans had come into the war, but they were
not yet ready. Another campaign was before us, and the issue of it
none could foresee. I was haunted perpetually by the dread of meeting
with some accident, and so being sent back from the front. Several
times I had a vivid dream, that I had got back to Canada and found
that the war was still going on and I could not return to it. I shall
never forget the joy of waking on such occasions and looking with
dawning consciousness upon my surroundings and feeling that I was
still at the front. It was a happy day for me, therefore, when on
March 8th I arrived once more at Bracquemont, in the midst of my
beloved war-family, and able to re-visit Lievin, Loos, and Hill 70.

My favorite home in the trenches was the dugout in the chalk-pit,
which I have just described, and I often wish I could be suddenly
transported there and revive old memories. We were planning at this
time to make a big gas-attack along the Canadian Corps front. Three
thousand gas-cylinders were to be fired by electricity upon the enemy.
As I wanted to see this, I made my way to the chalk-pit. The time
fixed for the event was five minutes to eleven at night. If the attack
was to come off, the word "Japan" was to come through on the wires;
if, owing to the wind being in the wrong direction, the attack had to
be postponed, the word "Russia" would be sent. At 10.45 I climbed up
the steps to the observation post at the back of the chalk-pit     (p. 241)
and waited. From this point I had a good view of the line towards
Lens. I watched the luminous hands of my watch, and they passed the
hour of eleven without anything occurring, as the breeze came from the
East. I knew the word "Russia," the name of the country that failed
us, must have been sent over the wires. It was a queer sensation to
sit up there in the dark with no sound but the soft murmur of the
night wind in our ears, and the crash of an occasional shell. In those
long dark stretches of waste land around me, thousands of human beings
on both sides of the line were awake and active, either burrowing like
ants in the ground or bringing up rations and war material along the
communication trenches.

I spent four nights that week in the chalk-pit waiting for the attack,
and on March 21st, the night of the day on which the Germans launched
their fierce attack against our Fifth Army, my patience was rewarded
and the wind was propitious. I mounted the observation post and once
more peered over the black stretches of country under the starlit sky.
Suddenly, at five minutes to eleven, there was a burst of artillery
fire, and over our heads with the usual swishing sound the
gas-cylinders sped forth. The German lines were lit with bursting
shells. Up went their rockets calling to their artillery for
retaliation. I could hear their gas bells ringing to warn their men of
the poison that was being poured upon them. It must have been a
drenching rain of death. I heard gruesome tales afterwards of desolate
enemy trenches and batteries denuded of men. The display of fireworks
was magnificent, and the German artillery in the rear were not slow in
replying. A great artillery duel like that in the darkness of the
night over a waste of ground on which no human habitation could be
seen had a very weird effect, and was wonderful to behold. I climbed
down into the dugout and made my way through it to the chalk-pit, and
then up to an outpost beyond. Here were four men, and I found that
three of them had just come up from the base and that this was their
first night in the line. They did not seem to be enjoying it as much
as I thought they should, so I remarked that it was a beautiful night
and pointed out to them the extraordinary romance of being actually
out in the front line during such a bombardment. They seemed to get
more enthusiastic later on, but the next morning I was wakened in my
room by the laughter of men on the other side of the canvas wall, and
I heard one old soldier telling, to the amusement of his fellows,  (p. 242)
of my visit on the previous evening. He said "We were out there with
the shells falling round us, and who should come up but the Canon, and
the first thing the old beggar said was, 'Boys, what a lovely night it
is.'" The men roared at the idea. It was always illuminating to get a
chance of seeing yourself as others saw you.

That day, before I had gone to the chalk-pit, I heard from a staff
officer at Corps of the German attack in the South, and I gathered
from his manner that things were not going well. On March 29th we
suddenly shifted our headquarters to Chateau de la Haie. Here we were
told that we had to be ready to move again at a moment's notice. Very
bad news had come from the South, for the Germans were advancing, and
our Fifth Army had been pushed back. The enemy had now got the
initiative into his hands, and things were exceedingly serious. The
Americans would not be ready for some time, and the question was how
to stay the onrush of the fresh divisions which the Germans were
hurling against us. An order from General Currie, couched in beautiful
language, told us that there was to be no retreat for Canadians, and
that, if need be, we should fall where we stood. There was no panic,
only firmer resolve and greater activity in every department. Though I
made it a point of never questioning our staff about war secrets, I
soon became aware that our Division was to be sent South to try and
stem the oncoming tide.

Every night the 4th Divisional concert party gave an entertainment in
the theatre, which was crowded with men. A stranger could not have
told from the roars of laughter that shook the audience from time to
time that we were about to face the fiercest ordeal of the war. The
2nd Brigade was quartered round us first, and one night in the theatre
an officer appeared in front of the stage between the acts and ordered
all the officers and men of the 5th Battalion, who were present, to
report at once to their headquarters. Instantly the men got up and
left, the rows of vacant seats looking quite tragic. The play went on.
Again, another battalion, and another, was called off. The audience
dwindled. It reminded one of the description in the "Tale of Two
Cities" of the condemned men in prison waiting for the call of the
executioner. Before the close of the performance the theatre was
almost empty. The 2nd Brigade moved away that night and the 3rd took
their places the next day. I knew that they, too, would have to move
suddenly, so I arranged that at night we should have a service     (p. 243)
followed by a Celebration of the Holy Communion in the theatre after
the play was over. Once again the building was crowded with an
enthusiastic audience, and, after the play was ended, I announced the
service. To my astonishment, most of the men stayed and others crowded
in, so we must have had nearly a thousand men present. The concert
party had received orders to pack up their scenery immediately and
move off. While I was on the stage getting the altar ready the scene
shifters were hard at work behind me. In spite of this disturbance, we
had a wonderful service. I gave them a short address, and spoke about
the high call which had come to Canadians to do big things, and how
the eyes of the world were upon us. We were the champions of right,
and I asked them to go forth in the power of God and do their duty.
Then I began the Communion Service. The colours of the flag which hung
over the altar glowed like an inspiration. The two altar lights shone
like stars above it. At the back of the stage (but we heeded them not)
were the busy men packing up the scenery. We sang the hymn "O God our
help in ages past," and at the time of communion about two hundred
officers and men mounted the stage in turn and knelt in rows to
receive the Bread of Life. It was a thrilling moment, and it showed
how, underlying the superficial thoughtlessness of the soldier's life,
there was the deep and abiding sense of the reality and need of God.
The service ended about eleven p.m.

After shaking hands with some of the men I went back to my billet and
there found that we had to start that night for parts unknown. All our
surplus baggage had been sent off and only what was absolutely
necessary was retained. The members of "C" mess were sitting round the
table having a little liquid refreshment and waiting for the bus which
was to take them off. Our A.D.M.S., who was starting at once, kindly
offered to take me with him in an ambulance. Alberta and I, with two
or three men, got into the vehicle, and I bid farewell for the last
time to Chateau de la Haie. It was a bright moonlight night and the
air was cold, but the roads were dry and dusty. The A.D.M.S., who was
the only person who knew our destination, sat in front with the driver
and told him the various turns to take. Clouds of dust blew back into
the ambulance as we sped onward. It was a curious expedition. The war
seemed to be more real than ever. One felt that a new page in its
history was being turned. I wondered what was in store for us and
what our experiences were going to be. I was also surprised that   (p. 244)
one was able to go forth without any emotion upon an adventure of such
magnitude. On and on we rattled down the moonlit roads, past sleeping
villages, and round sharp curves which jolted us in the car, until at
last, at half-past two, we pulled up suddenly in front of some large
iron gates which gave entrance to the grounds of a chateau standing
back some distance from the road. The A.D.M.S. and his staff got out
and hunted for a cottage which they could use as an office.

I thought I had better go off and find a place where I could spend the
rest of the night. With my haversack over my shoulder and followed by
Alberta, I entered the gate, and made my way up the avenue till I came
to the Chateau. It was a large and picturesque building, and stood out
nobly against the outline of the trees in the park. The moon lit up
the gray stone front, which was made all the richer by the variegated
light and shade. The mansion, however, showed no inclination to be
hospitable. All the windows were tightly closed with shutters, and
there was no appearance of life anywhere. I knew we were not far from
the advancing Germans, and I supposed that the inhabitants had all
fled. I was so cold and tired that I determined to force an entrance
and spend the night inside. I walked round to the back, where I saw a
great park richly wooded. A large door in the centre of the building,
reached by a broad flight of stone steps, seemed to offer me a chance
of getting inside. I went up and tried the handle, when, to my surprise,
the door opened and I found myself in a beautiful hall richly
furnished and lighted by a lamp. Antlers hung on the wall, and the
place had the appearance of an English country-house. After my long
ride, and at that hour of the night, I felt as if I were in a dream. I
saw a door to the right, and opening it was admitted to a modern
drawing-room luxuriously furnished. A grate fire was burning on the
hearth, and on a centre-table stood silver candelabra with lighted
candles. There were also plates of bread and butter, some very nice
cups and saucers, and a silver coffee-pot. At once I said to myself,
"I am evidently expected." It was like a story from the Arabian
Nights. I looked about the place and not a soul appeared, Alberta
tucked herself up on a rug and was soon fast asleep. I was just
preparing to partake of the refreshments which, it seemed, some fairy
godmother had provided, when in came one of our A.D.Cs. He was as much
surprised to see me as I was to see him. He told me that our       (p. 245)
Divisional Commander had arrived there about an hour or two before and
had gone to bed, and that we were in the home of a certain count whose
servants had all fled. He also told me that there was a bedroom that I
could have upstairs, and which would not be occupied by our staff
until the next evening. I had a cup of coffee, and then, calling
Alberta and taking a candle, I climbed a very rambling staircase till
I reached the top storey, where I found an empty room with a very
dirty bed in it. However, I was glad to get a place in which to rest,
and so, with my rain-coat for a covering, I went to sleep. The next
morning, having foraged for some water in which I had a good wash, I
went off to the village to get some food. I met many of our units
coming up in busses. Some were halted by the wayside, and nobody knew
what we were going to do or why we were there. The Imperial transport
officer in charge had either acted under wrong orders or else the
drivers did not know the roads. Some of our battalions had lost their
way, one even entered a village at the other end of which were the
Germans, and two of our Engineer Companies disappeared completely for
two days.

The country people were hurrying off in carts, taking their household
goods with them. I found a primitive farmhouse where I was able to buy
some eggs and bread, and I invited a number of stragglers in to have
something to eat. By noon, however, we got orders from the Army to
move back to a place called Fosseaux. There we occupied an empty
chateau which before the war must have been a very fine place. A wide
grassy road nearly a mile in length, bordered on each side by fine old
trees, stretched off into the distance in front of the central door.
The entrance to the road was guarded by an exquisitely wrought iron
gate, flanked on each side by stone pillars surmounted by carved
heraldic figures. It was now cold and rainy, and our two Artillery
Brigades were halted in a field opposite and were awaiting orders.
Before nightfall they had left, and the forward section of our
Division made their headquarters in a hut at Warlus; the members of
"C" mess remaining at Fosseaux.

March the 29th was Good Friday, and a strange one it was. There was
much stir and commotion everywhere, and we were so unsettled, that all
I could do was to have a service in the cinema in the evening, and on
Easter Day two Celebrations of Holy Communion at which I had only
twenty-eight communicants. Our men had gone in to the line to the  (p. 246)
southeast of Arras, round Telegraph Hill, where an attack by the
Germans was expected, as their advance to the south had been checked.
I made my way to Arras, and spent the night in one of the mysterious
caves which lie under that city. It was called St. Sauveur Cave, and
was entered from a street behind the station. The 1st Brigade was
quartered there. In the morning I walked down the long dark passage
till I came to an opening which led me to some high ground where there
had evidently been a good deal of fighting. From there I made my way
over to the front line, where the 1st Battalion was entrenched. I
passed numbers of wooden huts broken by shells. Many men must have
been quartered there at one time. It was sad to go into them and see
the waste and desolation, and the lost war material scattered in all
directions. On my way I came to a deep trench which some Imperial
machine-gunners were holding. They had had an anxious time, and were
glad to have a visitor. Several of them regretted that they had not
been able to attend any Easter service. I told them we would have one
there and then, as I was carrying the Blessed Sacrament with me. So we
cleaned a corner of the trench, and there I had a short service and
gave the men communion.

Our trenches were not satisfactory, as we did not know accurately
where those of the Germans were. That night, instead of going back to
the 1st Brigade I made my way to the huge Rouville Caves under Arras,
where the whole of the 3rd Brigade were quartered. It was a most
curious abode. No one knows when the caves were dug. They were
probably extended from time to time as the chalk was quarried for the
purpose of building the town. Long passages stretched in different
directions, and from them opened out huge vaulted chambers where the
battalions were billeted. I spent the night with the 14th Battalion,
and the next day held services in turn for each of the four units of
the Brigade. The 16th Battalion occupied a huge cavern with others
branching off from it. I could hardly imagine more picturesque
surroundings for a military service. The candle flames twinkled like
stars in all directions in the murky atmosphere, and the singing of
the men resounded through the cave. Overhead was the town which the
enemy was shelling. In one of the caves we found the foundation of
what had been an old prison, with a date upon it of the 18th century.
It was very pleasant wandering down the passages, with a candle    (p. 247)
stuck on the top of my steel helmet, and meeting everywhere old
friends who were glad of the temporary rest. Life there, however, was
very strange. One could not tell whether outside it was day or night.
I made my way back that afternoon by a passage which led out to one of
the Arras sewers, by the side of which there was a stone pavement
enabling one with a good flashlight to walk safely. The exit from the
sewer, which now consisted of a shallow stream of perfectly clear
water, led me up to a house in one of the streets, and thence by a car
I made my way to Warlus, and home to Fosseaux.

A few days afterwards our headquarters were moved up to Etrun, and
there we found ourselves crowded into the quaint little town. The
Chateau was our headquarters, and a tar-paper house which the
Engineers built for me under a spreading hawthorn tree became my home.
Etrun was a most interesting place historically. It had been the site
of a Roman camp where Valentinian had his headquarters in the 4th
century. The large mound, or vallum, which the Romans had thrown up to
protect themselves from the attacks of the German tribes, is now a
thickly wooded hill, pierced by the road which connects the village
with the Arras highway. The grounds of the Chateau were most
delightful, and before the French Revolution the house had been a
convent. In the garden was the recumbent stone effigy, overgrown with
moss, of one of the sisters. The most beautiful thing about the place
is the clear stream, wide and deep, which comes from underground and
flows over sparkling white pebbles through the green meadows to the
river Scarpe. This stream was evidently the source of attraction to
the Romans, who always made their camps where there was a plentiful
supply of running water. The garden on one side was built up in stone
terraces along which were gravel walks, where, no doubt, the nuns of
old enjoyed their holy meditations. In the stream, as it wandered
through the meadows, there was a plentiful supply of water-cress,
which looked exquisitely green against the pebbles at the bottom. How
one did long for the war to end, so that we might be able to lie down
in the grass, free from anxiety, and enjoy the drenching sunlight and
the spring song of the birds.




CHAPTER XXVII.                                                     (p. 248)

IN FRONT OF ARRAS.

_April, 1918._


Etrun was a convenient place for a headquarters. My hut was
comfortable, and the tree that grew beside it stretched its
thickly-leaved boughs over it, as though wishing to protect it from
the sight of enemy planes. Visitors were always welcome. In the garden
were many other huts, and a path led to the churchyard in which stood
the old church. It was strongly built, but very crudely furnished, and
spoke of many generations of humble worshippers to whom it was the
gate of heaven. On one side of the garden was a stream, which turned a
quaint mill-wheel, and an island in the stream, connected with the
banks by a bridge, made a pleasant resort. A little nest of beauty,
such as Etrun was, in the midst of the war, most restful to the soul,
especially after a visit to the line. Of course, we had to be careful
about screening all lights, for a shell landed one night in a hut
opposite mine. Luckily the shell was a "dud". Had it not been, my
sergeant, groom, and batman would have been no more, for it burrowed
its way into the ground under the floor of their abode, as they were
having supper.

On one occasion about one in the morning, we were awakened from sleep
by three terrific explosions. They sounded close, so I thought that
some of our men might have been hit. I got up and went off to see
where the shells had landed. The quaint old hamlet lay silent in the
moonlight, and not a soul was stirring. I went down one of the narrow
streets, and met a tall figure in black coming towards me. It was the
Cure, who was bent on a similar mission, fearing that some of his
people had been wounded. We went round the place together until we met
a man coming up the road, who told us that a bomb had struck the
railway bridge and exploded two mines which we had in readiness in
case the Germans were to make an advance. The bridge had been
completely shattered, but luckily our sentries there had escaped. The
Cure and I then parted and went back to our beds.

It was a great treat for our men who were billeted in villages in  (p. 249)
the Scarpe Valley to have plenty of water, and in the various
mill-ponds they found swimming-places. Our front line at this time
extended for quite a long distance north and south of the Scarpe. In
fact the river acted for a short distance as No Man's Land. On the
north of the Scarpe were the ruins of the village of Fampoux, and on
the south those of Feuchy. How well our men will remember the towns of
Maroeil, Anzin, St. Nicholas and St. Aubin. I used to go off across
the meadow lands, now bright and fresh with spring verdure, till I got
to the St. Eloi road, and then by jumping lorries would make my way to
St. Nicholas and on to Cam Valley. On the east side of the valley were
quaint dugouts which were occupied by the battalion in reserve. A path
up the valley led to the communication trench, and finally down
Pudding Lane to Pudding Trench. The ground was elevated, so that from
one of the trenches which led down towards Fampoux I was able to see
with my glasses the country behind the German lines. I saw quite
distinctly one day the spires of Douai, and in another direction on a
hillside I could make out a railway train which must have been
carrying German troops. I had many interesting walks through the
trenches, and slept there several times. On one occasion I took
Alberta with me, but she would persist in going off into No Man's Land
hunting for rats. The arrival of a minnenwerfer, however, gave her a
great fright and made her jump back into the trench with alacrity,
much to the amusement of the men, who said that she knew the use of
trenches.

One day I went down the trench which led into Fampoux. Whizzbangs were
falling every now and then, so the men were keeping low. At one place
there was a good view of the German lines. An officer and a sergeant
stood there looking through their glasses and pointed out to me a spot
in the hillside opposite where we could see a number of the enemy.
They came out of one trench, crossed the road, and went down into
another. The officer told me that he had counted over a hundred that
day. I asked him why he did not telephone to Battalion Headquarters to
inform the artillery. He told me he had no telephone. Then I said,
"Why don't you send a runner?" He explained that Fampoux was occupied
as an outpost, and that no runners were allowed to be sent from there
during the daytime; orders to this effect being very strict. "I am not
a runner," I said, "and I am not in your Battalion. If you will give
me the map-location of the place where you think the Germans are   (p. 250)
congregating, I will take it back with me to the liaison officer at
Battalion Headquarters." He was very pleased with my offer, because at
this time we were daily expecting a big attack upon our lines. To get
back we had to crawl down a steep place in the trench, which was in
view of the Germans, until at last we reached the cellar of a ruined
house which the O.C. of the company used as a billet. He got out his
maps and gave me the exact location of the road and trenches where the
Germans had been seen to pass, and where apparently they were massing.
I got him to write down the map-location carefully on a piece of
paper, and then, armed with this and feeling very important, I started
back, this time avoiding the trench and going up the Fampoux road on
the side of which there was some torn and broken camouflage. I came
across a steel helmet by the wayside with part of a man's head in it,
and the road had been pretty well battered by shells, but I felt
exceedingly proud at being able to do something which might possibly
avert an attack upon our men. I went on till at last I saw in the
hillside the beginning of a trench, and made my way up this to Pudding
lane and found Battalion Headquarters. The Artillery officer had been
having a quiet time and was delighted at the prospect of ordering a
"shoot." At once he telephoned back to the brigade, and not long
after, when the quiet sun was setting in the West, a most terrific
bombardment of artillery, both field and heavy, smashed the German
trenches on the hill opposite. The headquarters men and I looked over
the valley and saw the line of bursting shells. Much to their
amusement, I told them that this was my music, that I had ordered the
shoot. I felt like the fly on the axle of a cart, who said to his
companion fly, "Look at the dust we are making."

On another occasion, I was filled with almost equal pride, when,
meeting on the roadside a company of men who were going into the
trenches for the first time and were waiting for a guide, I offered my
services and actually led the company of young heroes into the
trenches myself. The humour of the situation was so palpable that the
men felt as if they were going to a picnic.

The trenches on the Feuchy side of the Scarpe were well made, and led
up to the higher ground to the east of Arras, where they joined the
lines of a Scots Division. At one point we saw in No Man's Land a
lonely tent, which I was told had been occupied by a British chaplain
before we had been driven back. I paid a most enjoyable visit to   (p. 251)
the engineers in Arras and stayed at Battalion Headquarters. They were
in a large and comfortable house in the Place St. Croix. In the dining
room we had a grate fire, a rug on the floor, and several easy chairs.
A most sumptuous dinner was served, and one could scarcely believe
that we were in a war.

The men of the battalion were billeted in the deep cellars under a row
of houses at the end of the Grande Place. Some of these houses dated
back to the time of the Spanish occupation, so the cellars must have
been very ancient. They were vaulted in stone and were connected
together by passages, so they were not only quite safe from shells but
were exceedingly interesting and picturesque. We had several services
for the men and one for a field ambulance which made its home in the
Deaf and Dumb Asylum. In a large room in the Asylum there was a good
piano, so it enabled us to use the place at one time as a church and
at another as a ballroom. There was a strange charm about dear old
Arras which is quite indescribable. In spite of the ruined buildings
and the damaged grass-grown streets, there was the haunting beauty of
a quiet medievalism about the city. The narrow streets, the pleasant
gardens hidden behind the houses, spoke of an age that had passed.
Arras has been the centre of interest in many wars, and Julius Caesar
made his headquarters there in B.C. 65. The river Scarpe has carried
to the sea many memories of hostile hosts that have fought along its
banks. To walk back from the dressing station in the small hours of
the morning, when the moon was shining on the silent and half-ruined
streets and squares, was a weird experience. Surely, if ghosts ever
haunt the scenes of their earthly life, I must have had many unseen
companions with me on such occasions. There were still two or three
shops in the place where souvenirs and other small articles were sold
to the men, and there were hoards of champagne and other wines in some
of the cellars, but only a few of the inhabitants remained and they
lived hidden lives in the underground retreats.

Our Division, however, was soon moved from Etrun to Chateau d'Acq,
where I arrived at four one morning after a visit to the trenches. I
found my billet in an Armstrong hut. The people who had occupied the
Chateau since we were there must have experienced an air raid, because
extraordinary precautions had been taken to guard against bombs. I lit
my lamp and found that the bed was surrounded on all sides by a    (p. 252)
wall composed of two thicknesses of sandbags. When I got down Into it
I felt as if I were in a grave. In the morning I got my batman to
remove the fortification, as I thought there was no occasion to
anticipate the sensations of being buried. However, at night I often
heard German aeroplanes overhead, and it was a relief when their
intermittent buzzing died off into the distance.

We were now a long way from the front line, but by jumping lorries I
was still able to go forward and visit the slums. On returning from
such a visit one afternoon I suffered a great loss. The order had gone
out some time before that all stray dogs were to be shot, and many
poor little four-footed souls were sent into whatever happy land is
reserved for the race which has been the earliest and best friend of
man. I had kept a sharp lookout on Alberta, but I never dreamt that
anyone would shoot her. However, that evening while I was getting
ready to go off to Ecoivres, and Alberta was playing in front of my
hut, the sergeant of the police, carried her off, unknown to me, and
ordered a man to shoot her. When I came out from my hut, and whistled
for my faithful friend, I was told that she had been condemned to
death. I could hardly believe it; but to my dismay I found that it was
only too true, and the poor little dog, who was known all over the
Division and had paid many visits to the trenches, was not only shot
but buried. Filled with righteous anger, I had the body disinterred
and a proper grave dug for it in front of a high tree which stands on
a hill at the back of the grounds. There, surrounded by stones, is the
turf-covered mound, and on the tree is nailed a white board with this
epitaph neatly painted in black:--

      HERE LIES ALBERTA
         of Albert
    Shot April 24th, 1918.

  The dog that by a cruel end
    Now sleeps beneath this tree,
  Was just the little dog and friend
    God wanted her to be.

Alberta, much respected in life, was honoured in death, for nearly all
the men at Headquarters were present when she was buried, and one of
them told me that at a word from me they would lay out the police. (p. 253)
I should have liked to have given the word, but I told them that we
had a war on with the Germans, and that we had better not start
another till it was finished. On the following day the board with the
epitaph was placed in position in the presence of a Brigadier-General
and our kind-hearted and sympathetic C.R.E. I was so filled with
indignation at the loss of my companion, who, wherever I tied up
Dandy, would always mount guard over him and allow no one to approach
him, that I determined to seek a billet away from Headquarters, and
near the front. However, this intention was frustrated a day or two
later by an order which came through for our Division to go into rest
at a place called Le Cauroy, not far from the town of Frevent, and
about 15 kilometres to the southwest of Chateau d'Acq.




CHAPTER XXVIII.                                                    (p. 254)

SPORTS AND PASTIMES.

_May and June, 1918._


It was late in the evening when I reached the Chateau at Le Cauroy,
and I found that I was to be billeted in the house of the Cure, on one
side of the fine avenue of lime trees. Ross was waiting for me and
took the horse, and I went inside to my room. A curious sensation came
over me of having seen the place before. It seemed as if I had been
there in one of my dreams, but the mystery was cleared up on the
following day by my finding out from the Vicaire that this was the
place where I had spent such a gloomy Sunday on the 22nd of October,
1916, during our return from the Somme. The count who owned the
Chateau was naval attache to the French Embassy in London, but his
wife and children, with the servants, occupied apartments on the right
wing of the building. The presence of a lady gave a special charm to
the place, and tennis on a good court under the trees in the park was
most enjoyable. On several occasions some of our Canadian Sisters from
the C.C.S. at Frevent honoured us with their presence at dinner, which
was followed by a dance. Under the trees in the avenue, a most
picturesque open theatre was erected by the engineers, and here our
concert party gave us nightly performances of their new play, which
was called "The Marriage Market." Hundreds of men from the battalions
around would sit on the soft grass under the overhanging trees through
which we could see the stars, and on the brightly lighted stage, with
the orchestra in front, we had an exhibition of real talent. The
weather was delightful and the men enjoyed a holiday in the country.
At a little distance behind the Chateau there was a clear stream
blocked by an ancient mill-dam. Here we could get a swim and bask in
the sun in the long cool grass. Altogether we were very happy at Le
Cauroy.

A great change had come over the war at this time, for Foch had
assumed the supreme command. While we had had excellent leaders all
through the campaign, one always felt that there was a need for some
electrifying personality at the head of things. In a mysterious    (p. 255)
way the knowledge that Foch had taken the conduct of the war in hand
gave us just that touch of magnetism which we needed. As matters
stood, the German attacks had been successful up to a certain point,
but we were still waiting for their main offensive. When or where this
was to begin we did not know, but we were convinced that it would be,
for us, a life or death struggle. The fact that Foch was in command
and that he was keeping his head gave us confidence. He seemed like a
surgeon who shows his greatness by the very coolness with which he
performs some critical operation. The men were always asking if we
were losing the war, and I always told them that it was like this--the
Germans were advancing and losing and we were retreating and winning.
We practised daily the art of open warfare for which the country round
us offered splendid opportunities. We knew that we had been taken out
of the line in order to prepare to become "shock troops", and the
knowledge of this gave our life a great inspiration.

It was the right policy, in view of what was before us, to give the
men all the amusement possible, so football and baseball were indulged
in freely by officers and men. We were too well trained now to worry
much about the future. In fact, although I had often preached on the
text, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof," I never fully
acted upon the principle until I had been in the war for three years.
It is certainly the true secret of happiness and I hope that the
softer life of peace time will not rob one of it. When Mrs. Carlyle
was asked what caused her most suffering in life, she replied, "The
things which never happened," It would have surprised the people at
home if they could have seen the cheeriness and lightheartedness of
men who were being trained day by day to deliver the hammer strokes
which were to smash the huge war machine of Imperial Germany.

The 2nd Brigade one day gave us a most successful circus in a large
field near our Headquarters. The arrangements and weather were
perfect, and the spectators were delighted with a performance that
surpassed Buffalo Bill's Wild West show. Afternoon tea and dancing
followed at a chateau, and aeroplanes gave us a fine exhibition of the
skill of the new branch of the service by flying low and dropping
messages and red smoke bombs. I met one of the young airmen, and in a
fit of enthusiasm asked him if he would take me up with him some day.
He was quite keen about it, and asked me to let him know when to   (p. 256)
send for me. Our plans, however, were upset a day or two afterwards by
the Headquarters of the Division moving off to the beautiful Chateau
at Villers Chatel. They left in the morning, and as usual I followed
leisurely on Dandy. I went through some pretty villages. No soldiers
were to be seen, and the quiet ordinary life of the people was
undisturbed by the war. The world was bathed in sunshine and the
fields were brilliant with new crops. Every little hamlet was
embowered in trees, and the small white houses with their red tiled
roofs spoke of peace. In the solemn light of evening I came to the
entrance gate of my new home.

The Chateau of Villers Chatel was a fine modern building with an old
round tower at one end. This tower is all that remains of the original
structure, but it was kept in good condition and the interior was most
artistically arranged. My room was in the garret and was approached by
a spiral staircase, very narrow and steep. The Chateau was enlivened
by the presence of two Countesses; both very pleasant ladies who had
their own apartments and who kindly entertained us at night in their
cheery drawing-room. On the wide lawn in front of the Chateau a huge
chestnut tree stood, rich in leaves, with low boughs branching in all
directions and covering a wide radius, and with their tips almost
touching the grass. The tree furnished a green shelter for a large
number of persons. The sun could not penetrate the foliage, and the
giant trunk was covered with rugged bark beautifully coloured. Here,
on Sunday mornings, I placed my flag-covered altar, and Church Parade
was held under the tree. The men, over a hundred in number, stood in a
semi-circle in front of me, and the bright sunlight beyond the rim of
overhanging boughs lit up the green grass around. It was one of the
most beautiful places imaginable for a church service, and the
branches made a vaulted roof overhead. On one side of the garden was a
large and elaborate cement grotto, and a statue of the Blessed Virgin
stood in a niche at the back. Seats for worshippers were placed in
front. The Countesses were moved by piety to keep a number of candles
blazing in the grotto all night, invoking thereby the protection of
Our Lady. Our staff, who walked not by faith but by sight, were much
worried by the strong light which could easily be seen from a German
aeroplane. However, no one could muster up courage enough to interfere
with the devotion of our hostesses, and as a matter of fact we never
had any bombing raids at Villers Chatel. It was a question among   (p. 257)
the officers as to whether our immunity should be attributed to the
power of prayer or to extraordinary good-luck.

At the end of the lawn facing the Chateau was a forest of magnificent
trees. It was in the fields at the back of this wood that we had held
the memorial service for the 2nd Brigade, which I have already
described. One of the forest paths was in the form of a pergola. The
trees had been trimmed so that the boughs overhead were interlaced and
it went for about half a mile into the forest, like the vaulted aisle
of a church. The sunlight through the green leaves overhead cast on
the pathway a mysterious light suggestive of fairyland.

Our battalions were once more in their old billets in the
neighbourhood, and as we were still at rest I had many opportunities
of visiting them. How well I remember going about and delivering my
lecture on our leave trip to Rome. As I look back upon my
war-memories, I think that those talks were the most delightful
experiences I have ever had. I really had nothing to say, but I knew
that anything which could occupy and amuse the minds of those brave
lads, who were daily preparing to hurl themselves against the enemy,
was worth while. I would go to the C.O. of a battalion and say,
"Colonel, I would like to come and give your men a talk on our leave
trip to Rome." He would always take the matter very seriously,
thinking I had some learned discourse on architecture, or some other
absolutely futile subject to give the men. But being too polite to
tell me to go to Jericho, or somewhere else, he would say, "Yes, I am
sure it would be very interesting. How long will the lecture last?" On
my replying, "About two hours and a half," his countenance would fall.
He was struggling between his fear of offending me and his fear of
doing something which would bore the men. Sometimes colonels would
say, "That's a long lecture." But I urged them to take my word for it
and to let the thing go ahead, and if I saw I was boring the men I
would stop. So the lecture would be announced. I suppose I must have
given it to something like twenty thousand men. I would arrive at the
battalion headquarters in the afternoon, have dinner with the C.O. and
Adjutant in their billet, and then walk over to some pleasant field on
which a thousand men were drawn up in line, presenting a most proper
military appearance. The sun would be setting behind the trees which
skirted the parade ground, and, after telling the Colonel and      (p. 258)
other officers to keep in the background, I would go over in front
of the battalion and tell them that the Colonel had handed the parade
over to me, and that they were to break ranks and sit on the ground as
close as possible. At once military stiffness was dispelled, and amid
much laughter the men would crowd around and squat on the ground
tightly packed together. Imagine what a picture that was. Splendid
stalwart young men they were, hundreds and hundreds of them, with
healthy merry faces, and behind them in the distance the green trees
and the sunset. Of course smoking was allowed, and I generally had
some boxes of cigarettes to pass round. Then I would tell them of our
trip to Rome and of my following out the injunction of making the most
of a fortnight's leave by turning it into three weeks; of my puzzling
the R.T.O. in Paris by asking for transportation to Rome via
Marseilles, as we had abandoned the idea of travelling via Calcutta on
account of the submarine menace; of my being unable to enter the
Casino at Monte Carlo because officers were not admitted in uniform,
and the only mufti I had brought with me was my pyjamas which I had
left at the hotel; of the two casualties in the Paris barrage; of the
time I gave C.B. to "Yorky" when I saw he had partaken too freely of
coffee, and of the delightful memories of Italy which we had brought
back with us. The talk was not all humorous. I managed to get in many
little sermons between the lines, or as I put it, "the lecture was
impregnated with the poison of morality." Men assimilated that poison
more readily when handed out to them in such doses. Then the sun would
set and the evening shadows lengthen, and finally the stars would come
out over the scene and the mass of men before me would merge into one
great blur, which sent up, nevertheless, roars of merry laughter. What
appealed to them most was the way a padre and forty-four wild
Canadians, in the biggest war the world has ever known, were able to
break through the Hindenburg line of army red tape.

Our machine gun battalion was quartered south of the St. Pol road at a
place called Averdoignt. It was a lovely little village, very quiet
and well away from the line, with pretty orchards and a stream at the
back. When it was only possible to have a voluntary service in the
evening, I would get a group of men as a body-guard and start off down
the village to the quaint old church, halting at every farmyard on the
way and calling out to those billeted there, "Come on, you heathen,
come to the voluntary church parade." In the most good-natured     (p. 259)
way, dragging their reluctant pals with them, men would come out and
swell our ranks until, by the time we reached the church, there was a
good congregation. There against the wall of the building I would
plant a table borrowed from the Cure's house, make it into an altar,
distribute hymn books, and start the service, while the evening lights
in the sky tinged the scene with a soft beauty.

When we were in the line the machine-gunners were always split up into
small sections over the front, their guns of course being very
carefully concealed. In consequence, just when I thought I had reached
an area which was quite uninhabited, I would stumble on some queer
little hole, and, on calling down it to see if there were any men
there, the answer would be, "The machine-gun battalion," and I would
find myself among friends. At Averdoignt they had one of the best rest
billets they ever had, and they enjoyed it thoroughly.

Owing to the great distance which I had to cover in doing my parish
visiting among the battalions, the difficulty of transportation, which
had been serious from the beginning, became even more pressing, and
some good friend suggested to me on the quiet that I should try to get
a Clino, (that is a machine-gun side-car) from the Motor Machine-Gun
Brigade. With great trepidation, I made an excursion one day to their
headquarters at Verdrel. The O.C. was most kind and sympathetic. I
shall never cease to invoke blessings upon his head. He took me over
to the machine-shop and there presented to me, for my use until it
should be recalled, a new Clino which had just come up from the base.
The officer in charge uttered a protest by saying that they only had
six Clinos for the Brigade, but the major remarked dryly, "And after
Canon Scott has got his we shall only have five." Surely once again
the Lord had provided for me. I was driven back to the Chateau in the
new machine, but then had to find a driver. One was provided by the
signallers. He was a graduate in science of McGill, so I used to lay
stress upon my personal greatness from the fact that I had a university
graduate for my chauffeur. Many and varied were the drives which Lyons
and I had together, and many and varied were our adventures. Had the
Clino not been both exceedingly strong and very new it would have come
to grief long before it did. To go rattling down the St. Pol road at
forty-five kilometres an hour was a frequent occurrence. All I had to
sit upon was a seat without arms, while my foot rested on a bar in (p. 260)
front. People asked me how it was I did not tumble off. I told them
that I tied myself to the back of the seat with my spinal cord. I got
the sappers to make me a large box which fitted on the back of the
vehicle and had a padlock. In it I used to carry my bag of a thousand
hymn books and other necessaries for church parades, and on the top of
the box, as a protection to my car, I had the words "Canon Scott"
painted in large white letters. The dust as we threaded our way
through the streams of lorries almost choked us, but we could cover
the ground in a short space of time which was a great thing. Lyons
never managed the lights very successfully, and one rainy night after
midnight, when I was returning from saying good-bye to the artillery
who were moving South, in a lonely part of the road he ran the machine
into some bushes on a bank by the wayside, and we found ourselves
sitting in the mud without our hats. We did not know where we were and
the rain was heavy, but we managed to disentangle the car and finally
got home, resolving that further night excursions were out of the
question. About a fortnight afterwards I received an order to return
the Clino, but before I did so I journeyed to Corps Headquarters and
made a passionate appeal to General Currie for its retention. As a
result I received a private intimation to keep the car and say nothing
about it. Of course I was the envy of everyone, and when they asked me
how I got the Clino I said I did not exactly know. Whether it was sent
to me from heaven with the assistance of General Currie, or whether it
was sent to me from General Currie with the assistance of heaven, was
a theological question which I had no time to go into during the war.
When our Division was marching into Germany, after I was knocked out
of the campaign, the dear old signallers used to patch up the Clino,
even making new parts for it, in order that Canon Scott's car might
get into Germany. Alas! the poor thing, like the one-horse shay, went
to pieces finally one day and had to be left at Mons. During those
last busy months, I do not know how I could have got on without it.

As I was a bit under the weather at this time my friend, General
Thacker, invited me to go and stay with him at his headquarters in the
Chateau at Berles, where I was given a charming room looking out on
the garden. I found myself in the midst of the artillery brigades who
were now at rest, and very pleasant it was to see them away from the
unwholesome gun-pits where they were usually to be found. I could  (p. 261)
lie on the grass in the garden, read one of Trollope's novels and
listen to the birds overhead. A walk through the wood led to a huge
field of scarlet poppies, which, when the sun shone upon it, made a
blaze of colour which I have never seen equalled. As one approached
it, one could see the red glow light up the stems of the trees as
though they were aflame.

We had many boxing and baseball contests, which roused great excitement,
but the crowning glory of the time was the Divisional sports which
were held in a large field at a place called Tincques on the St. Pol
road. A grandstand and many marquees had been erected, and the various
events gave great delight to the thousands of spectators. In the
evening our concert party gave a performance on the stage in the open
air, which was witnessed by a large and enthusiastic audience. After
it was all over, I unexpectedly met my airman friend, Johnny Johnson,
who told me that he had been waiting a long time to take me up in his
machine. I explained to him that, owing to our headquarters having
moved away to Le Cauroy, I thought it was too far off to get in touch
with him. In my secret heart, I had looked upon my removal as a
special intervention of Providence on my behalf, but Johnny was not
disposed, however, to allow any difficulty to stand in the way, so it
was arranged that he should send for me at Berles the following day
and take me to the headquarters of the 13th Squadron at
Izel-les-Hameaux. There was nothing for it but to jump with alacrity
at such a noble offer, so on the following morning I started off in
the Squadron's car for their headquarters.

My pilot had gone off to bring up the new machine which was to take me
on my first aerial voyage. The Squadron had most comfortable billets
in huts, and were a most charming lot of young men. A Canadian amongst
them, taking pity upon a fellow-countryman, gave me a kind introduction
to his fellow officers. Johnny Johnson returned in the afternoon, and
during tea I heard him explaining to the other men that he had had his
choice of two machines, an old machine with a new engine and the other
a new machine with an old engine. Although I was engaged in conversation
at the other end of the table, I listened with great interest to this
discussion, and felt much relieved when I heard that Johnny's choice
of an old machine with a new engine was approved of by his hearers. He
told me that the air was very bumpy and that he would not take me up
until the sun was lower in the sky. Having arrived at that happy   (p. 262)
state of inward peace which a man experiences when he goes off to the
dentist to have a tooth pulled, I did not mind when I was to be taken
up. At six o'clock, however, Johnny said we must get ready, so I was
provided with a fur-lined leather coat, leather helmet, goggles and a
large pair of fur gauntlets. We went over to the aerodrome where our
fiery steed was champing its bit as though longing to spring into the
"vast inane." Two or three attendants were getting it ready. It was an
R.E.8 plane and a machine gun was fixed on one side. Johnny climbed
into his position and I took a seat behind him. An attendant came up
and asked my name and address. It sounded as if I were making my last
will and testament. I had a letter with me addressed to my son which I
was to drop over his battery lines in Lievin, and also a red smoke
bomb but declined an invitation to take any more formidable weapon.
Then I told my pilot not to be anxious about me whatever happened. I
always expected to be killed at the front so never worried how or when
the event was to occur. The engine was then started. For a time the
machine meandered about the field without showing any disposition to
mount into the air and I was beginning to think, like the Irishman who
was taken for a ride one day in a sedan chair that had no bottom in
it, that, "If it were not for the honour and glory of the thing I
might as lief walk," when, all of a sudden, we began to plunge, left
the ground, and, mid a fearful buzzing, mounted higher and higher. We
rose over the huts and above the village trees and then by a corkscrew
motion which necessitated the machine going almost on its edge, we
made our way heavenwards. I did not feel the least bit seasick but it
was a curious sensation to look down and see absolutely nothing
between me and the church of Izel-les-Hameaux crowned by its sharp
pointed spire with no cork on it. I looked at my young friend in front
of me, who was busy with the handles and cranks of his machine. He was
only a boy of nineteen and my fate was literally in his hands, but his
head was well set on his shoulders and he seemed completely
self-possessed and confident. After we had mounted to six thousand
feet, we struck out in the direction of the front.

It was a lovely afternoon and a most wonderful panorama spread below
us. The great plain beneath us was marked off like a chessboard in
squares of various shades of yellow and green, dotted here and there
with little villages surrounded by the billowy crests of trees. We saw
straight white roads going off in all directions, and beyond,      (p. 263)
towards the east, low murky clouds behind the German lines. We flew on
and on till we reached the war zone and here the fields were marked by
horse-tracks and the villages had been hit with shells. Before us in
the distance I saw the line of our observation balloons and thought,
if anything happened to the machine, I would get out into one of them,
but when we passed over them they looked like specks on the ground
below. I could see the blue ribbon of the Scarpe winding off into the
great mists to the east, and then beneath us lay the old city of
Arras. I could see the ruined Cathedral, the mass of crooked streets
and the tiny, dusty roads. Further on was the railway triangle, where
one night later on I got a good dose of gas, and then I saw the
trenches at Fampoux and Feuchy. Still onward we sailed, till at last
Johnny Johnson shouted back, at the same time pointing downwards, "The
German trenches." I saw the enemy lines beneath us, and then Johnny
shouted, "Now I am going to dip." It was not the thing I specially
wanted to do at that particular moment, but I supposed it was all
right. The plane took a dive, and then Johnny leaned over and fired
off some rounds of the machine gun into the German lines. We turned to
come back and rose in the air, when, in the roar of the wind I heard a
bang behind me, and looking round saw, hanging in the air, a ball of
thick black smoke. Then there was another beneath us and some more at
one side. In all, the Germans followed us with six shells. Johnny
turned round and shouted, asking me how I felt. "Splendid", I said,
for I really did enjoy the novelty of the experience. Many times have
I looked up into the clouds and seen a machine followed by "Archies"
and wondered what it felt like to be up there, and now I knew. One
phrase however, which I had often read in the newspapers kept ringing
in my ears--"Struck the petrol tank and the machine came down in
flames." And the last verse of "Nearer my God to Thee," also ran
through my head, "Or if on joyful wing upwards I fly." We turned now
to the right and flew over Vimy Ridge, and then made two or three
turns round Lievin where, above his battery, I dropped the letter for
my son. It was delivered to him two weeks afterwards in a hospital in
London. We flew out over Lens and crossed the German lines again,
skirting the district which the Germans had flooded and then turned
our faces homewards. Above the Chateau at Villers Chatel, I dropped
the red smoke bomb. We circled round in the air at a great height
while I wrote on a piece of paper, "Canon Scott drops his blessing
from the clouds on 1st Canadian Divisional Headquarters," and put  (p. 264)
it in the little pocket of leaded streamers. Alas, it was lost in a
wheat field and so did not do them any more good than the other blessings
I have dropped upon them. We then turned to Berles where I could see
beneath me the old house and the tiny beings in white playing tennis
on the court. We reached the aerodrome at Izel-les-Hameaux and landed
safely after being in the air for fifty-five minutes. It was a most
delightful experience for a non-combatant. The next day the engine of
the machine gave out and Johnny Johnson was compelled to make a forced
landing. Luckily it was behind our lines. I went several times again
to try to have another flight, but from the excuses made I inferred
that joy-rides of this description had been banned. The following year
in London I heard by accident that poor Johnny Johnson had been killed
a few weeks after our trip. He was a splendid young fellow and
absolutely without fear. May his brave soul rest in peace.

Nearly two months had passed since we had been in the line, and the
Germans had made no attack. We wondered what had happened to them. I
thought that perhaps influenza had laid them low. At any rate we were
not anxious to end the happy time we were having. The climax of our
glory was reached on the 1st of July when we celebrated the birthday
of the Dominion by Corps sports on the field at Tincques. It was a
most wonderful occasion.

Dominion Day fell on a Monday, and on the previous afternoon, knowing
that large bodies of men, including the contestants, were congregated
at Tincques, I determined to go over and pay them a visit. I found the
village full of troops and all very keen about the next day's show. In
a little lane, were some 1st Division men, and they were enjoying the
excitement of a game which was very popular at the front, called
"Crown and Anchor." It is played with special dice on a board or
square of green canvas. On the canvas were painted an anchor and crown
and I think a heart and spade. The game was banned by the army on
account of its unfairness. The banker had, I think, sixty-four chances
to one in his favour. The consequence of this was that very soon he
became possessed of all the money which green youths, unsuspecting
their disadvantage, chose to lay on the board. This game, in the hands
of a sharper, was often the means of robbing a battalion of very large
sums of money; sometimes forty thousand francs were made by the banker.
The police had orders to arrest anyone playing it and I used to    (p. 265)
do my best to stamp it out. Though I do not play for money myself,
I never could see any great harm in those poor boys out there getting
a little relaxation from their terrible nervous strain by a game of
bridge or poker for a few francs. But a game which was founded wholly
on dishonesty was something which I felt was unworthy of our men.
Whenever I saw them crowding round a little spot on the grass I knew
there was a game of crown and anchor going on, and I would shout,
"Look out, boys, I am going to put the horse on the old mud hook"--a
phrase I had heard the men use--and then canter Dandy into their midst
scattering them in all directions. Over and over again I have gone
into a ring of men and given the banker five minutes to decide whether
he would hand over his board and dice to me or have his name reported
to the police. He never failed to do the former, although sometimes he
looked rather surly at losing a very fruitful source of revenue. I
have brought home with me enough crown and anchor dice to make the
mouth of an old soldier water. On this occasion I became possessed of
the crown and anchor board and the dice in the usual way. But, as the
men said they wanted to have some amusement, I went to an officer's
billet and got a pack of cards for them, and they settled down to a
game of poker.

Some pious souls proposed that I should have a service that evening in
the field where the sports were to be held. I thought that it would be
a good idea, but was not sure how large a congregation I should have.
I got together a little body-guard in the village and we went off
collecting stragglers by the way. When we came to the corner of the
field where I proposed to hold my service, we found to my dismay that
it was full of masses of men crowding around what I knew were crown
and anchor boards on the ground. I did not mind doing police work in
my own Division, where I was known by the men, but I did not feel
called upon to act as A.P.M. for the Corps, so I had to start another
line of campaign. I marched on at the head of my congregation straight
into the midst of the gamblers. The men on the outskirts saw me coming
and I could see them warning the players. Those sitting on the ground
stood up and wondered what was going to happen. Looking very serious,
I went right through the crowd, without saying anything, to a distance
on the other side, and then the curiosity of the men was aroused and
they all followed. When I stood still I found myself surrounded by
hundreds of men who were waiting to see what I was going to do.    (p. 266)
Without a smile, I pulled out the crown and anchor board from my pocket
and, to the astonishment of all, laid it on the ground and called out,
in the gamblers' language, "Who is for the old sergeant-major?" Never
before have I seen such an expression of surprise on people's faces.
Among the crowd were some Imperial soldiers and they could not make
out what sort of padre I was. For a moment, in spite of the grinning
countenances of the 1st Division men, there was a pause of silent
horror. Then they all burst into a roar of laughter, and I told them I
had come out there that evening, as it was Sunday, to hold a service
and did not know what text to take for a sermon. Now they had given me
one. I held up the crown and anchor board and said I was going to
preach about that, and I delivered a discourse on honesty. When it was
over, they asked me to give my lecture on our leave trip to Rome. I
thought it might be a good diversion for the time. My side-car was
brought up, and sitting on it, in the midst of the men, who crowded
about me on the ground, I gave them a long talk which lasted until it
was too dark for any more crown and anchor.

The next day brought us glorious weather, and from early in the
morning battalions were pouring into Tincques. The grounds were
splendidly laid out and bordered with many stands and marquees. There
must have been nearly forty-thousand spectators present. The Duke of
Connaught, Sir Robert Borden, and all sorts of great people attended,
and the playing of "O Canada" by the massed bands was something which,
as a British General told me, made a big lump come in one's throat. It
was the last Dominion Day we were to spend in France. We were on the
eve of tremendous events, and it was a splendid manifestation of
Canada's glory at the front. There was such a gathering of old friends
who had not met for years, that one really could not attend to the
various events and sports that were taking place. We met for a moment,
and the old days would be talked over, and then we parted, some, alas,
never to meet again in this world. That vast crowd which fringed the
huge expanse of ground was quite the most thrilling spectacle that
Canadians had ever seen. Tincques must be a quiet place now, and
perhaps only a few marks in the great field still remain to show where
the sports were held. But there were gathered there that day the vast
host of noble gentlemen who saved the honour and freedom of our young
country.




CHAPTER XXIX.                                                      (p. 267)

THE BEGINNING OF THE END.

_July to August 7th, 1918._


The possession of a side-car gave me the opportunity of getting much
further afield in my visits. Our 1st Divisional wing, where the new
drafts were received and trained for the front line, was at this time
back in a place called Loison, in the quiet and beautiful country
between St. Pol and General Headquarters. I had done a great deal of
parish visiting among our battalions in rest and given the story of my
leave trip to Rome many times, so I thought I would make an excursion
to the Base. We had a delightful trip down the St. Pol road through
little villages and towns which looked as they did in pre-war days.
The country where the Divisional wing was stationed was very charming.
It was well watered by many pretty rivers, and hills covered with
trees gave diversity to the landscape. I told the men they were living
in a land flowing with milk and honey. I stayed at the headquarters of
the wing in a delightful old house on a hill surrounded with fine
trees. Each Brigade had its own reserve, so there were many men in the
village, and an old mill pond enabled me to have two or three good
swims. In a Y.M.C.A. tent, courses of lectures in connection with the
Khaki University were being given on various subjects. One evening,
naturally I gave them a talk on our leave trip to Rome. On another, in
a corner of the field, I gave them an informal lecture on English
literature. Having got so far from home, I determined to go a little
further, and so we made a trip to Boulogne, where my son who had been
gassed was still in a C.C.S., and that afternoon on our return we went
to Montreuil to see what G.H.Q. looked like. I was told that Montreuil
was a very picturesque old walled city, but that we should not be
allowed to enter. However, I had been able to do so many forbidden
things in the war that I thought it would be worth trying, so the old
Clino sped over the hard macadamized roads from Boulogne till we came
to the valley on the opposite side of which the town is situated. We
saw many cars coming and going, and many troops by the way, and
finally we sped up the hill which leads to the entrance gate. A sentry
was standing there, who saluted most properly, and we passed into  (p. 268)
the sacred city without molestation. It was a delightful old French
town, full of historical interest. The narrow streets and quaint old
buildings carried one back in thought to the days of chivalry and
battles waged by knights in shining armour. We saw some of the
churches, and then went to the officers' club for tea. The waitresses
at the club were English girls who had taken the place of the men
needed at the front. I got them to provide for my friend Lyons in
their sitting-room, and I went in to have tea with the officers. A
great many were there sitting at small tables. It was interesting to
see the badges of so many different regiments. Most of the officers
had a good supply of ribbons, and a few of them had lost an eye or a
limb, or bore other marks of wounds. I think that almost all of them
were staff officers and that some of them were generals. It struck me
that the atmosphere to a stranger was rather chilly. The demeanour of
the people was much less free than that which we had been accustomed
to at the front. Of course Montreuil held the brains of the army, and
it was quite right that the directing intelligences there should feel
the loftiness of their position. I made up two lines as I was having
tea, which I thought hit off the mental attitude of some of the
officers present, when they saw a stranger and looked him up and down
through their monocles,

  "I'm on the staff of the G.H.Q.,
  And I'd like to know who the devil are you?"

There had been such a democratic upsetting of traditions and customs
in the Service, owing to the obliteration of the original British
Army, that it was quite refreshing to find that a remnant of Israel
had been saved.

I paid two visits to the Divisional wing within a few days of each
other, and on one occasion, on a baking July day, addressed a
battalion of draftees who were about to be sent up to the front. They
were a fine looking lot of men and knew their drill. Poor boys, they
little knew what was in store for them in those last hundred days of
the war.

Rumours were current now that the time for our great attack had come,
so there were no more joy-rides for me to the pleasant fields and
society of Loison. On my return on July 14th I found our Headquarters
once again at Etrun, and our Division were holding their old       (p. 269)
trenches to the north and south of the Scarpe. Once more I had the
pleasure of sleeping in Pudding trench and doing what I called
"consolidating the line." I did a good deal of parish visiting in the
trenches at this time. I felt that big changes might occur at any
moment, and I wanted to be with the men in any ordeal through which
they might have to pass. Very strange scenes come before me as I look
back upon those days before our great attack. One night I stayed with
the gallant Colonel of the Canadian Scottish at Tilloy. His
headquarters were in No Man's Land, and the front trench ran in a
semi-circle to the rear. The Colonel, having found a good German
dugout in the cellars of the ruined chateau, preferred to make his
headquarters there. We did not know where the enemy's front line was,
and our men were doing outpost duty in shell-holes further forward.
They had to be visited every two hours when it was dark, to see that
all was well. That night I asked the Colonel if I might go out with
the patrol. He demurred at first, and then gave his consent only on
condition that I should take off my white collar, and promise not to
make any jokes with the men on duty for fear they should laugh and
give away our position. I made my promise and started with the patrol
officer and his runner. It was a curious sensation wandering off in
the darkness as silently as possible, tripping now and then on bits of
wire and almost slipping into the trenches. We came to the different
shell-holes and whispered conversations were held. The sentries seemed
surprised when I spoke to them, as they could not recognize me in the
darkness. I whispered that I had promised the Colonel not to tell any
funny stories for fear they should laugh, so I merely gave them the
benediction, in return for which spiritual function I got a very warm
handshake. To do outpost duty in a place like that must have been more
interesting than pleasant, for at all times the sentries had to keep
straining their eyes in the darkness to see if a patrol of the enemy
was coming to surprise them. On our return we saw some shells falling
to the right in the shadowy desolation of what was called Bully-beef
Wood.

On another occasion, I was coming out near Feuchy along the railway
triangle when the Germans dropped some gas shells in the cutting. Two
of the men and I were talking together, and we had just time to dive
into Battalion Headquarters and pull down the gas blankets. We put on
our helmets, but not before we had got a dose of the poison. As I sat
there with my throat burning, I was filled with alarm lest I       (p. 270)
should lose my voice and be unable in the future to recite my poems.
It was hard enough, as it was, to keep my friends long enough to hear
my verses, but I thought that if I had to spell them out in deaf-and-dumb
language no one would ever have patience to wait till the end.
However, after a few days my throat got better, and my friends were
once again forced to lend me their ears.

The railway triangle was a well-known place, and any men who may have
lived in some of the dugouts along the banks are not likely to forget
it. In the valley there was a large artificial lake in which I had
some of the most pleasant swims I have ever enjoyed, although the
waters were sometimes stirred up by the advent of a shell.

It was part of our strategy to let our men get the impression that we
were going to stay in the trenches before Arras for a long time. We
had several raiding parties with a view to finding out the position
and strength of the enemy, and our C.C.S.'s were well equipped and
looked as if they were going to remain there forever. Our Corps
Headquarters, too, were not far from Etrun, and the concentration of
Canadians in the neighbourhood gave us the impression that we had
found a more than temporary resting place. An American Chaplain was
sent up to stay with me for a visit in order to see what conditions
were like at the front. He was a Lutheran, although not of German
extraction. I took him up to Arras one night, where we had dinner with
the engineers, and afterwards saw the 10th Battalion start off for the
trenches. He was much impressed with the spirit and appearance of the
men. It was late when we got back to my quarters, and to my surprise
on the next morning an order came through that the American Chaplain
had to return immediately. Neither he nor I could understand it. I
began to think he must have got into some scrape, as no explanation
was given. The real reason came out afterwards.

On August 1st our Division suddenly packed up and started once more
for Le Cauroy. We knew now that big things were in store for us and
that the Canadian Corps were going to attack. We heard rumours of the
preparations the French and Americans had made in the South, and we
felt that at last the Allies were going to get the initiative into
their hands. Whither we were going, however, we did not know, but we
all devoutly hoped that it would not be the Salient. The secret of our
destination was kept most profoundly. We were told that everything (p. 271)
depended upon our holding our tongues and exciting as little curiosity
as possible among the inhabitants. Once again, as before Vimy, but to
even a greater extent, we felt the electric thrill which kindles the
imagination of an army going into battle. The rapid move which the
Canadian Corps now made was the most sporting thing we ever did, and
it appealed strongly to the hearts of young men who were keen on games
and had been inured to a hardy life in Canada. Swiftly and secretly
the battalions entrained at various points and left for parts unknown.
I went in my side-car to the machine-gun headquarters at Liencourt,
and on the next day to the Cure's house at Le Cauroy. I found out from
Headquarters that our Division was going south within a day or so, but
that I was not to tell the men. The brigades were billeted in the
neighbouring villages, but were soon to move. I was only one day at Le
Cauroy, and on the 3rd of August, after a rainy morning, started off
in my side-car for Hornoy, a little village not far from Amiens. We
left Le Cauroy in the afternoon, and soon the sun came out making the
freshly washed country more beautiful than ever. It was very interesting
finding our way by the map, and as we neared our destination I met
many friends in the other divisions who were stationed in the villages
through which we passed. By the time we reached Hornoy, the sun had
set. My billet was to be with the Cure. I went over to the neat white
Presbytere which was approached by a large gate leading into the
garden. The old man came to meet me at the door of his house, and put
me through a lot of questions in what I thought was a needlessly gruff
manner. I found out afterwards that he was very kind, and that his
gruffness was only assumed. He gave me a room upstairs comfortably
furnished, and invited me to come into his office whenever I pleased.
The church, which could be entered from the garden, was in good order,
and parts of it were very old. The day after we arrived at Hornoy was
Sunday, August 4th. It was the fourth anniversary of our declaration
of war, and I had hoped to hold a big service for the men. Unfortunately,
we were all scattered and, as our hymn books did not turn up, having
been confiscated as a reprisal by some of the crown and anchor men, my
plans were frustrated. In the afternoon I went by side-car to Amiens
and found the city looking very different from its appearance on my
last visit. The streets were absolutely deserted. Many of the houses
had been damaged by shells. The Cathedral roof itself had been     (p. 272)
pierced in some places and the noble interior looked very dreary, the
floor of the nave being covered with bits of broken stone and glass.
It was sad to think that it might share the fate of Rheims. Some
Canadians were wandering about the streets rather disconsolately. The
empty city gave one a terrible sense of loneliness. On the following
evening about midnight the 16th Battalion and the 3rd Battalion of
Engineers passed through Hornoy in trains, going forward.

Our own orders to move came two days later, on August 7th, and I left
for St. Feuchien. I went off in my side-car to the quaint old village.
It is situated on the top of a low hill, and consists of a few streets
and some large buildings standing in their own grounds. One of these
was the country home of the Archbishop of Amiens, and this was to be
our billet. I entered the grounds by a broken-down gate and drew up in
front of a large brick building, one wing of which was a chapel and
kept locked up. In front of the building was a well full of empty tins
and other refuse. The interior of the place had once been quite fine,
but was now absolutely filthy, having been used as billets. The
billiard tables, however, could still be used. The room assigned to me
was on the ground floor at the back. The dirt on the floor was thick,
and a sofa and two red plush chairs were covered with dust. A bed in
the corner did not look inviting, and through the broken windows
innumerable swarms of blue-bottle flies came from the rubbish heaps in
the yard. The weather was very hot and there was apparently no water
for washing. I made an inspection of the building upstairs, but all
the rooms had been assigned to different officers. The Archbishop's
room was very large with a huge bed in it, but wore an air of soiled
magnificence.

Everybody was in a great rush and, although I did not know when our
attack was to take place, I felt that it might happen at any moment;
and so, not worrying about my billet, I started off in my side-car to
see General Thacker at Chateau Longeau. I found, as I passed through
Boves and other villages, that the whole Canadian Corps was
concentrated in the neighbourhood. The dusty roads were crowded with
lorries, tanks, whippets and limbers, besides numbers of men. When I
got to Chateau Longeau I found, to my surprise, that the General had
gone to Battle Headquarters in Gentelles Wood, and an officer whom I
met on the road told me that zero hour was on the following morning. I
determined therefore not to return to the archiepiscopal palace    (p. 273)
at St. Feuchien, but to go off to the attack. I returned to Boves,
where, having washed and shaved, I had dinner in a damaged house with
some officers of a light trench mortar battery, and after dinner
started on my way to Gentelles Wood. It was a time of intense
excitement. Less than a week ago we had been in the line at Arras, and
now we were about to make our great attack at Amiens. The warm summer
evening was well-advanced when I reached our Battle Headquarters
behind the wood. All the staff officers were so busy that to ask one a
question was like putting a spark to a powder magazine, so I kept out
of their way and journeyed up the road to the barrier beyond which no
vehicle was allowed to pass. I said good-bye to Lyons and then started
off to find the trenches from which the 16th Battalion was going to
lead the charge.




CHAPTER XXX.                                                       (p. 274)

THE BATTLE OF AMIENS.

_August 8th to 16th, 1918._


It was strange and exhilarating to go off on an expedition of that
kind in the cool air and fading light of the evening. Something told
us that at last the hour of victory was drawing near. The moving of
the Corps had been so splendidly conducted and the preparation had
been so secret that success seemed assured. This was an achievement
which was completely different from all our past experience. The only
question was, had we taken the Germans by surprise, or were they
waiting with massed forces to resist our attack? As I left the outskirts
of the wood behind me, and made my way over the green plain, now
fading into the twilight, I passed a battalion of the 3rd Division
manning a line of trenches. I had a talk with some of the men and told
them that I had heard from a tank officer that nearly one thousand
tanks were to be engaged in the attack on the following morning. Far
over to the left, on a rise in the ground I saw the remains of a
village, and was told that a mud road across the fields would lead me
in the direction of the 1st Division front. I met as usual many men
whom I knew, and finally some officers of the 15th Battalion in a
dugout. The light began to fade and I had difficulty in seeing far
ahead of me, but the track at last brought me to a sunken road which
turned to the right. Here on the hillside more men were waiting in
dugouts, and I was directed to a quarry, on the top of which I was to
take a path that would lead me to a group of trees, where I should
find the Headquarters of the 16th Battalion. When I got to the quarry
I found many roads there, and whether it was that the information I
had received was incorrect, or that I was more than usually stupid, I
do not know. I wandered up and down for a long time, tripping over
bits of wire and slipping into holes, before I was able to get to the
top of the hill and look over in the direction of the German lines. At
last I found a track which had evidently been used by men going up to
the front. I went along it for a considerable distance and found
myself on what appeared to be a plateau, but as far as I could see, no
object stood out against the starry sky-line. Shells were falling in
the fields to the left, and at different points on the eastern     (p. 275)
horizon the bright light of a German flare would tell us the position
of the enemy's lines. I went on for some distance, straining my eyes
in the darkness to see if I could discover any trees. I thought I had
lost my way again. Suddenly the dim figure of a man approached, and
when he came up to me, I found he belonged to one of the Imperial
Battalions from whom we were taking over the line. He asked me the way
to the quarry, and I was able to tell him. Then he gave me the
direction I had to take to reach my destination. I resumed my walk
along the narrow path and at last, to my great delight, I saw a black
object in the distance. When I came up to it I found it was the group
of trees for which I had been looking. The trees were growing out of a
curious round hole in the ground. Here, a signaller of the 16th
Battalion happened to turn up and acted as my guide. He led me down a
path to the bottom of the hole where were several dugouts. In one of
these I found more men of the Battalion. They were intensely keen over
the prospect of a great victory on the morrow. I was told that the
battalion and the companies which were going over in the first wave
were in advanced trenches to the left. So, after bidding the men
good-bye and good luck, I started off. At last I reached the trench,
and getting down into it found the Headquarters of the Battalion had
arrived there not long before. On asking where the Colonel was, I was
taken to a place where a piece of canvas hung down the side of the
trench. When this was lifted, I looked down into a little hole in the
ground and there saw the C.O., the Adjutant and another officer
studying a map by the light of a candle. The place was so tiny that I
had to crawl in backwards, and finding that there was no room for a
visitor, I soon took my departure. The Colonel ordered me to stay in
the trench, but I had made up my mind to go forward and see the
companies which were going over in the first wave. They lay along the
side of a road some distance down the slope in front of us. In making
my way there I passed a trench where the 5th Battalion was waiting to
follow up the advance. A German machine-gun was playing freely upon
the spot, but no one got hit. When I came to the advanced companies of
the 16th Battalion, I passed along their line and gave them my
blessing. It was splendid to meet and shake hands with those gallant
lads, so soon to make the attack. They were in high spirits in spite
of the seriousness of their enterprise.

The barrage was to start at 4.20, so I left them about 4.10 to go  (p. 276)
back to Battalion Headquarters in the trench, as I intended to follow
up the advance with the stretcher-bearers. On my way back I met the
Colonel, his orderly, and his piper, who a few minutes later was
killed in the attack. I shook hands with them, and the Colonel said,
"Now, Canon, if anything happens to me don't make any fuss over me;
just say a few words over me in a shell-hole." I said, "You will come
out all right, Colonel, there will be no shell-hole for you." Then, as
my senior officer, he ordered me back to the trench. I told him I
would go over the top with him if he wanted me to do so, but he would
not hear of it. When I got to the trenches only a few minutes remained
till the barrage was to start. I climbed up on the parapet and waited,
looking off into the darkness. It was a wonderful moment. When the
German flare-lights went up we could see that there was a wood on the
other side of the valley in front of us, and its outline began to grow
more distinct against the grey of the morning sky. I could see to
right and left a great stretch of country sloping gradually into the
darkness. Shells still fell behind our lines at intervals. Our own
guns were perfectly silent. What did the enemy's quietness portend?
Were the Germans aware of our contemplated assault? Were they lying in
full strength like a crouching lion ready to burst upon us in fury at
the first warning of our approach? Had all our precautions been in
vain? Or were we on the eve of a victory which was going to shatter
the iron dominion of the feudal monster? This was one of those
magnificent moments in the war which filled the soul with a strange
and wild delight. For months we had been preparing for this event, and
now it was upon us. The sky was growing lighter, and the constellation
of the Pleiades was beginning to fade in the sky above the outline of
the distant trees. I looked at my watch. Nearer and nearer the hands
crept to zero hour, but they move slowly at such times. Then at 4.20
the long barrage burst in all its fury. The hissing rain of shells
through the air on a twenty mile front made a continuous accompaniment
to the savage roar of the thousands of guns along the line. Those guns
sent their wild music round the globe, and sounded that note of
victory which only ceased when the bells of the churches in all the
civilized world rang out their joyful peals at the signing of the
Armistice.

Up went the German rockets and coloured lights calling for help,   (p. 277)
and ever and anon a red glow in the sky told us that we had blown up
an ammunition dump. The noise was earth-shaking, and was even more
exhilarating than that of the barrage at Vimy. I was so carried away
by my feelings that I could not help shouting out, "Glory be to God
for this barrage!" The German reply came, but, to our delight, it was
feeble, and we knew we had taken them by surprise and the day was
ours.

A strange sound behind us made us look around, and we saw the advancing
tanks creeping down the slope like huge grey beetles. Our men were
just in time to divert the course of one which threatened to cut our
telephone wires. Then the 5th Battalion got out of their trenches, and
the stretcher-bearers and I went off with them down the slope. The
wood through which the German lines ran was called Hangard Wood and
lay on the opposite side of the valley. Here and there lying in the
ripe grain which covered the fields were bodies of the wounded and
dead of the 13th and 16th Battalions. The stretcher-bearers set to
work to carry off those who had been hit. A sergeant followed me and
we skirted the wood looking for wounded, while he was able to become
possessor of a machine-gun and several German revolvers. The wheat had
been trampled down by the men in their charge, but was still high
enough in places to conceal a prostrate form. By this time the attack
had passed through the wood and the enemy were running before it. The
German artillery now concentrated their fire on the valley, which
soon, in the still morning air, became thick with smoke. It was
impossible to see more than a few yards in front of one. We heard the
crash of shells around us, but could not see where they burst. The sun
had not risen and we soon lost our way in the mist. We could not tell
from the direction of the sound which was the German barrage and which
was ours.

I was going on ahead when I came to a large shell-hole that had been
made in some previous battle. At the bottom of it lay three apparently
dead Huns. I was looking down at them wondering how they had been
killed, as they were not messed about. I thought that they must have
died of shell-shock, until one of them moved his hand. At once I
shouted, "Kamarad", and to my intense amusement the three men lying on
their backs put up their hands and said, "Kamarad! mercy! mercy!" It
was most humorous to think that three human beings should appeal to me
to spare their lives. I told them in my best French to get up and
follow me, and I called out to the sergeant, "Sergeant, I have got (p. 278)
three prisoners." My desire to take a prisoner had been a standing
joke among our men. Whenever they were going into action I used to
offer them $25.00 to bring out a little German whom I might capture
all by myself. I used to tell them not to bring out a big one, as it
might look boastful for a chaplain. Here were three ready to hand for
which I had to pay nothing. We moved on through the smoke, a most
comical procession. The sergeant went ahead and I brought up the rear.
Between us went the three terror-stricken prisoners, crouching every
now and then when shells fell near us. At last we stumbled on a
company of the 2nd Battalion coming forward, and I called out to them,
"Boys, I got seventy-five dollars worth of Huns in one shell-hole."
Our gallant Canadians at once took the three unfortunate men, who
looked as if they expected to have their throats cut, and having
relieved them of the contents of their pockets and removed their
buttons and shoulder-straps, gave me one of the latter as a souvenir.

When the prisoners were disposed of and sent back with others under
escort, I started forward again and seeing a tank coming down the hill
got on it and so went back into the battle. We passed quite easily
over some wide trenches, then when the machine came to a stop I got
off and made my way to the end of the valley and climbed to the higher
ground beyond. There I found myself in a wide expanse of country
covered by yellow grain and rolling off in hills to the distance. Here
and there I met wounded men walking back, and many German prisoners.
In the fields in different directions I could see rifles stuck,
bayonet downwards, in the ground, which showed that there lay wounded
men. I found that these were chiefly Germans, and all of them had
received hideous wounds and were clamouring for water. Poor men, I was
sorry for them, for I knew it would be long before they could be
carried out or receive medical attention, owing to the rapidity of our
advance. I made my way to each in turn and gave him a drink from some
of the water bottles which I carried round my belt. I think all the
Germans I saw that morning were dying, having been wounded in the
stomach. After attending, as far as it was possible, to their bodily
needs, I endeavoured to minister to their spiritual. As they happened
to be Roman Catholics, I took off the crucifix which I wore round my
neck and gave it to them. They would put up their trembling hands and
clasp it lovingly, and kiss it, while I began the Lord's Prayer    (p. 279)
in German. This happened many times that day. One man who had a
hideous wound in the abdomen was most grateful, and when he handed me
back the crucifix he took my hand and kissed it. It was strange to
think that an hour before, had we met, we should have been deadly
enemies. At a crossroad further on the Germans must have concentrated
their fire when our men advanced, for many dead and wounded were lying
about.

The sun was now high in the heavens and it became very hot, but the
autumn fields looked beautiful, and, as there were no hedges or
fences, the low rolling hills gave one the sense of great expanse, and
were an ideal ground for a battle on a large scale. While I was
looking after the wounded I heard the cheering of the 16th Battalion
who had reached their objective and were settling down to rest and to
have some food. I made my way to them and found the Colonel in high
glee over what his men had done. It had been a splendid routing of the
enemy. The Battalions of the 1st and 2nd Brigades followed up the
attack and were now moving forward, so I followed after them. It was a
delightful feeling to be walking through the golden harvest fields
with the blue sky overhead, and to know that we were advancing into
the enemy's land. It seemed as if by our own labours we had suddenly
become possessed of a vast property and that everything we found was
lawfully ours. It is no doubt that feeling which fills men with the
desire to loot in a conquered country.

I had a magnificent view from the hill of the British Cavalry going into
action. Thousands of little horses in the distance on the vast plain
were galloping in a long line across the yellow fields, which reminded
one of the great battles of old, when mounted men, and not machine-guns
and gas-shells, were the determining factor. The store of water that I
had brought with me was now exhausted, but I was able to get a fresh
supply from the water-bottle of a dead man. The road that leads from
Gentelles to Caix winds through the valley to the right of the line of
our attack and follows a little stream. It is very narrow, and on that
day was so crowded with cavalry, ambulances and artillery moving
forward that every now and then it would become blocked. In a mill,
which the Germans had used partly as artillery headquarters and partly
as a depot for military stores, our men found a quantity of blankets,
coats and other useful articles. Our doctors established an aid-post
in the out-buildings, and made use of the materials which the enemy
had left behind in his flight. A section of our machine-gunners    (p. 280)
was resting there, and it was a great refreshment to stop for a while
and have a good clean-up and a shave with a borrowed razor. We were so
parched with thirst that we drank out of the stream, in spite of the
fact that many shells had fallen into it. Our final objective was
still some miles away, so I started up the road, following after the
1st Brigade.

The Germans, finding the game was up, had left many guns behind them
and blown up a large quantity of ammunition. One great heap of it lay
beside the river. Very pretty hamlets lay along the valley; we passed
one called Ignacourt, where there was a damaged church. We afterwards
established an ambulance there. I was very tired with my long walk,
not having had any sleep the night before, so was glad to get a lift
on an ambulance and go forward in the afternoon to the village of
Caix, which was the final objective of the 2nd Brigade. One of our
ambulances had taken over a building in the Square, but was shelled
out of it that night. The 10th Battalion had gone forward and taken
possession of trenches beyond the village. I went out to them and
there found the men in high spirits over the way the battle had gone.
The old red patch Division had advanced 14,000 yards, and so had
beaten the record of any division, British or enemy, during the War.
It was now late in the afternoon and no further attack that day was
contemplated. Before us on a slight rise in the ground lay the village
of Rosieres, through which the road ran parallel to the trenches which
we held. Between us and the village was a slight dip in the ground,
and with glasses we could see lorries full of fresh German troops,
amid clouds of dust, making their way to a point in the village. There
they would stop and the men would get out and hurry down the fields
into the trenches. It looked as if they were going to make a
counter-attack. The situation was very disquieting. I was told by one
of the sergeants in our front line that we were in need of fresh
ammunition, and he asked me if I would let the Colonel know. I passed
through the trenches on my return and told the men how glorious it was
to think that we had pushed the Germans back and were now so many
miles from where we had started. I went back to Battalion Headquarters
and found that they were in a cottage on the eastern extremity of the
village. Across the road was a cavalry observation-post, where some
officers were watching Rosieres and the arrival of German troops.  (p. 281)
Luckily for us the Germans had no guns to turn upon us, although the
village of Caix was shelled constantly all night. Later on, some
batteries of the Royal Horse Artillery and our field guns, which had
come up, sealed the fate of the Germans and prevented a counter-attack.
A glorious sunset over the newly conquered territory made a fitting
close to a day of great deeds and high significance. When darkness
fell and the stars looked out of the quiet sky, I said good-night to
my cavalry friends, whose billets were down in a hollow to the right,
and started off to find some place to sleep.

The cellars of the cottage occupied by the Colonel were crowded, so I
went to the village and seeing some men entering a gateway followed
them. It was the courtyard of a large building, presumably a brewery.
The runners of the battalion had found a deep cellar where they had
taken up their abode. I asked if I might sleep with them for the
night. The cellar was not particularly inviting, but it was well below
the ground and vaulted in brick. The floor was simply earth and very
damp. Two candles were burning in a box where a corporal was making
out the ration-list for the men. I got two empty sandbags to put on
the floor to keep me from getting rheumatism, and lying on them and
using my steel helmet as a pillow I prepared to sleep. The runners,
except those on duty, did the same. Our feet met in the centre of the
room and our bodies branched off like the spokes of a wheel. When
anyone turned and put his feet on one side we all had to turn and put
our feet in the same direction. We heard a good many shells bursting
in the Square that night, but we were safe and comparatively comfortable.
Before I got to sleep, I watched with great admiration the two young
non-coms who were sitting at the table arranging and discussing in a
low tone the duties of the various men for the following day. The two
lads could not have been more than twenty years of age, but their
sense of responsibility and justice was well-developed. I thought what
a fine thing it was that men were being trained like that to become
useful citizens of Canada. We were up early in the morning and I made
my way to Battalion Headquarters, where I heard that there was to be
another attack in the forenoon.

We were now to change places with the 2nd Division. They were to shift
from our right flank to our left and take over the attack on       (p. 282)
Rosieres while we advanced towards Warvillers. From the cavalry
observation-post, I could see with a glass the 5th Battalion going up
to the front in single file along a hedge. I had breakfast with the
7th Battalion officers in their dugout by the roadside near the
cavalry billets, and then started off to join the 8th Battalion which
was going to attack that morning. Machine-guns from Rosieres were
playing on the road near the end of the wood. I determined therefore
not to go round the wood but through it and so reached the other side
in safety. I was sitting on a fallen tree eating some lunch and
wondering whether I should be able to get up in time for the attack,
when, to my great joy, over the hill to my right, I saw some troops
approaching in extended order. Hardly had they appeared on the crest
when the Germans at Rosieres opened fire upon them and shells fell on
the hill. The men kept very steady and nobody, as far as I could see,
was hit. When they got down to the wood I went forward and spoke to
them and found they were the 22nd Battalion, and I met several
Quebecers whom I knew.

I saw the Battalion go off in the direction of Rosieres and I renewed
my journey to our own line. I passed the 24th Battalion who were going
up on the left of the 22nd, and they told me that the 2nd Brigade were
on their right. There were many trenches along the way which the
Germans had abandoned on the previous day. I passed a poor horse which
was badly wounded and still alive. It was attached to a broken German
cart. I got one of our men to shoot the animal, and went on till I
came to a railway in the hollow and followed it. There were many
wooden buildings here and there which had been built by the Germans.
These structures had been badly knocked about by shrapnel, and the
litter of articles within showed how rapid the German flight had been.
At a little distance on the east side of the track, there was a green
wood, which was called, as I afterwards found out, Beaufort or Hatchet
Wood. Every now and then as I walked, little puffs of dust would rise
from the road in front of me, showing that machine-gun bullets were
falling about. A cavalry patrol of three men, returning down the track
from the direction of the wood, came towards me, and, taking me for a
combatant officer, the corporal saluted and said, "That wood is very
heavily held by machine-guns, Sir, we have just made a reconnaissance."
"That's all right," I said, "I do not intend to take it just yet." I
was going up the track, wondering where I had got to, when I saw   (p. 283)
a young officer of the 8th Battalion, followed by his men, coming
towards me. I went to him and told him that I had heard the wood was
very heavily held by machine-guns. He said he knew it and was going to
attack from the side, so I went with them and, as they lay on the
ground and got their Lewis guns in position, I pronounced the
benediction over them and then continued my journey up the railroad.
On the west side of the track at the top of the bank was a hedge. Here
I found the 14th Battalion waiting to follow up the 8th. A young
officer of the latter battalion was lying on the ground dying. He
dictated a farewell letter to his wife, which I afterwards gave to the
Adjutant. On the slope of ground down which the 8th had charged
towards the railway I saw many bodies of dead and wounded men, so I
went up to them to see what I could do. Several were dying, and I
found one poor fellow who had never been baptised; so I took some
water from my bottle and baptised him as he lay there. They would be
carried off when the stretcher-bearers could begin their work.

While I was attending to the wounded, I looked towards the wood at the
other side of the track. I was on a higher level, and so had a view of
the open country beyond, and there, to my astonishment, I saw the
Germans leaving their ambush and running away. I hurried down the hill
to the hedge and shouted out to the 14th Battalion that the Germans
were running away, and an officer came up to make sure. Then orders
were given to the men to charge and they crossed the track and took
possession of the wood. As soon as I had seen the wounded carried off
I followed after the troops, and there once more had the joy of
advancing over newly-won territory.

At a farmhouse a number of our men were gathered for a temporary rest,
and there I learned that the colonel of the 8th Battalion and a large
number of officers and men had been killed that morning. The battalion
had to charge down the hill in the face of heavy machine-gun fire.
Some tanks were standing by the farm and one of the officers offered
to take me with him in the machine, but as it was to go into the 2nd
Divisional area I had to decline the invitation and follow up our men
on foot. I passed a number of German wounded. One of them, a young
lad, was terribly alarmed when he saw me approaching, thinking I was
going to murder him. He held up his hands and shouted, "Kamarad!" I
think the Germans had heard wild stories of the ferocity of        (p. 284)
Canadians. The boy then began to implore me to send him to an ambulance.
He was wounded in the leg, and had bound up his wounds very neatly and
skilfully. I tried to make him understand that the stretcher-bearers
would come up in time, and I stuck his rifle in the ground with his
helmet on the top of it, as a signal to the bearer party.

Before me at the end of the road, I saw amid trees the village of
Warvillers. Many men were going towards it from all directions; and I
saw our artillery brigades taking up battery positions to the left. I
met two men of the 5th Battalion and we started off to the village
together. The place was now in our hands, as the Germans had evacuated
it some hours before. The houses were quite intact and offered
prospects of pleasant billets. My companions and I, finding it was
quite late in the afternoon, determined to go and have our meal in a
garden near the Chateau. We sat down on the grass and opened our
bully-beef tins, and seeing onions growing in the garden thought it
would be a good thing to have that savoury vegetable as a relish. It
added to the enjoyment of our simple meal to think that we were eating
something which the Germans had intended for themselves. We managed to
get some fresh water too from a well nearby, which looked quite clean.
On the other side of a wall we could see the roof of the Chateau. One
of the men thought he would like to go and explore and find out who
was there. He came back a few minutes afterwards and said it was full
of Germans. So, taking their rifles, the two men went off to attack
it, thinking they had found a stronghold of the enemy. I was just
having a smoke after my meal when the lads came back and said that the
Germans whom they had seen were our prisoners and that the Chateau had
been taken over by us as a dressing station. We made our way to it and
found that it was a very beautiful place situated in lovely grounds. A
card on a door upstairs bore the inscription, "His Excellency General,"
and then followed a German name. The place had been the headquarters
of some enemy corps or division on the previous day. At the back of
the Chateau was a very strong concrete dugout divided off into rooms,
which were soon filled by our officers and men. All that night the
wounded were being brought to the Chateau, and German prisoners also
found their way there. Nobody was paying much attention to the latter,
and, thinking it was unwise to let them wander about, and perhaps go
back to their lines with information about our location, with      (p. 285)
the permission of the C.O. of the ambulance, who was up to his eyes in
work, I had them all put into one large room over which I placed a
guard. They were sent back to the corps cage in the morning. The
Germans evidently expected that we would use the Chateau because they
dropped some heavy shells in the garden during the night, and we had
to get the wounded down in to the cellars in quick time.

I had about three hours sleep that night, and in the morning I
determined to follow up our men of the 1st Brigade who had now
established themselves at a village ahead of us called Rouvroy. As I
was starting off, a signaller came up to me and told me he had
captured a stray horse with a saddle on it and that he would lend it
to me to take me to my destination. I mounted the animal and went down
the avenue in great pride and comfort, but after I got into the road a
man came up and stopped me and told me, to my horror, that I was
riding his horse which he had lost the night before. It requires great
strength of mind and self-mastery to give up a mount to a pedestrian
when you are once in the saddle. But the war had not entirely
extinguished the light of conscience in my soul, so, tired as I was, I
dismounted and gave up the steed. But as I saw the man ride back to
the Chateau I began to wonder within myself whether he was the real
owner or not. One thief does not like to be out-witted by another.
However, there was nothing to do now but to go straight ahead. The
road before me led directly to Rouvroy. Some German planes were
hovering overhead, and in the fields to my left our artillery were
going into action. As shells were dropping on the road I took a short
cut over the fields. Here I found some of our machine-gunners, and the
body of a poor fellow who had just been killed. I got to the village
of Rouvroy about noon and made my way to a dugout under the main
road, where the colonel and some of the officers of the 3rd Battalion
were having lunch. They gave me a cup of tea, but I told them I had
taken my food on the journey, so did not want anything to eat. They
looked much relieved at this, because rations were short. Their
chaplain was there and gave me a warm reception. I was feeling rather
used up, so lay down on a wire mattress and had an hour's sleep. When
lunch was over the chaplain and I went to see the sights of the town.
The ruined church was being used for a dressing station and it seemed
to me it was rather a dangerous place, as the Germans would be     (p. 286)
likely to shell it. We found an old bookshop which was filled with
German literature and writing paper, some of which proved very useful.

We had a good rest in a dugout, but I felt so seedy that I told him,
if he heard that I had gone out of the line, not to think it was
because I was suffering from "cold feet". We went back to the village,
and there we found shells dropping in the main street not far from the
church. In fact, one came so close that we had to dive into a cellar
and wait till the "straffing" was over. Then I bid my companion
good-bye and started off over the fields back to Warvillers. By this
time I felt so unwell that it was hard to resist the temptation to
crawl into some little hole in which I might die quietly. However,
with my usual luck, I found a motor car waiting near the road for an
air-officer who had gone off on a tour of inspection and was expected
to return soon. The driver said I could get in and rest. When the
officer came back he kindly consented to give me a ride to my
Divisional Headquarters. We did not know where they were and I landed
in the wrong place, but finally with the assistance of another car I
made my way to Beaufort. There I found our Division had established
themselves in huts and dugouts at the back of an ancient chateau. With
great difficulty I made my way over to General Thacker's mess and
asked for some dinner.

During the meal, the General sent off his A.D.C. on a message, and he
soon returned with no less a person than the A.D.M.S., who, to my
dismay, proceeded to feel my pulse and put a clinical thermometer in
my mouth. My temperature being 103-1/2, he ordered me at once to go
off to a rest camp, under threat of all sorts of penalties if I did
not. I lay on the floor of his office till three in the morning, when
an ambulance arrived and took me off to some place in a field, where
they were collecting casualties. From thence I was despatched to the
large asylum at Amiens which was operated by an Imperial C.C.S. The
major who examined me ordered me to go to the Base by the next train,
as they had no time to attend to cases of influenza. For a while I was
left on the stretcher in a ward among wounded heroes. I felt myself
out of place, but could do nothing to mend matters. Two sisters came
over to me, and apparently took great interest in me till one of them
looked at the tag which was pinned on my shoulder. With a look of
disgust she turned and said to her companion, "He isn't wounded at
all, he has only got the 'flu'". At once they lost all interest    (p. 287)
in me, and went off leaving me to my fate. Stung by this humiliation,
I called two orderlies and asked them to carry me out into the garden
and hide me under the bushes. This they did, and there I found many
friends who had been wounded lying about the place. My batman had come
with me and had brought my kit, so a box of good cigars which I handed
round was most acceptable to the poor chaps who were waiting to be
sent off. By a stroke of good luck, an accident on the railway
prevented my being evacuated that evening. I knew that if they once
got me down to the Base my war days would be over.

On the following morning, feeling better, I got up, shaved, put on my
best tunic, and, with a cigar in my mouth, wandered into the reception
room, where I found the major who had ordered me off on the previous
day. Puffing the smoke in front of my face to conceal my paleness, I
asked him when he was going to send me down to the Base. He looked a
little surprised at finding me recovered, and then said, "Well, Padre,
I think I will let you go back to your lines after all." It was a
great relief to me. The chaplain of the hospital very kindly took me
in charge and allowed me to spend the night in his room. The next day
I got a ride in a Canadian ambulance and made my way back to Beaufort.
There, to my horror, I found that the Division, thinking they had got
rid of me for good, had appointed another padre in my place. Through
the glass door of my room, I could see him giving instructions to the
chaplain of the artillery. I felt like Enoch Arden, but I had not
Enoch's unselfishness so, throwing the door wide open, I strode into
the room, and to the ill-concealed consternation of both my friends
who had looked upon me in a military sense as dead, informed them that
I had come back to take over my duties. Of course, everyone said they
were glad to see me, except General Thacker, who remarked dryly that
my return had upset all the cherished plans of well-ordered minds. The
A.D.M.S. had told them that he had thought I was in for an attack of
pneumonia. It was really a very amusing situation, but I was
determined to avoid the Base, especially now that we felt the great
and glorious end of our long campaign was coming nearer every day.




CHAPTER XXXI.                                                      (p. 288)

WE RETURN TO ARRAS.

_August, 1918._


On Friday the 16th of August our Division left Beaufort and moved back
to billets at Le Quesnel. Here there was a good sized chateau which
was at once used for office purposes. The General and his staff made
their billets in a deep cave which was entered from the road. It was
of considerable extent, lit by electric light, and rooms opened out on
both sides of the central passage. I had one assigned to me, but as I
did not feel well enough to stand the dampness I gave it to the clerks
of the A.D.M.S., and made my home with the veterinary officer in the
cellar of the school-house which stood beside the church. The latter,
which had been used by the Germans as a C.C.S., was a modern building
and of good proportions. The spire had been used as an observation-post.
One or two shells had hit the building and the interior, though still
intact, was in great disorder. The altar ornaments, vestments, and
prayer books were thrown about in confusion. The school-house where I
was lodged must have been also the Cure's residence. A good-sized room
downstairs served as a chapel for my Sunday services. The cellar,
where the A.D.V.S. and I slept was quite comfortable, though by no
means shell-proof. As the only alternative abode was the cave, he and
I, deciding we would rather die of a shell than of rheumatism, chose
the cellar. The Corps ambulances were all together in a valley not far
away, and in trenches to the east, near the cemetery where the 8th
Battalion officers and men had been buried, there were some reserves
of the 3rd Brigade.

Things were quiet now in the front line, so I determined to make a
trip to Albert to see my son's grave. It was a long and dusty journey
and the roads were rough. We passed back through the district over
which we had advanced, and saw everywhere gruesome traces of the
fighting. When we came to Albert, however, we found it was still in
the possession of the enemy. The Americans were holding the line, and
an American sentry stopped us at a barrier in the road and said that
no motorcycles were allowed to go any further in that direction.   (p. 289)
It was strange to hear the American accent again, and I told the lad
that we were Canadians. "Well", he said, with a drawl, "that's good
enough for me." We shook hands and had a short talk about the peaceful
continent that lay across the ocean. There was nothing for us to do
then but to return.

On the following Sunday, the Germans having evacuated Albert a day and
a half before, I once more paid a visit to the old town. I left my
side-car on the outskirts of the place and was taken by Mr. Bean, the
Australian War Correspondent, into his car. He was going up to take
some photographs. The day was intensely hot, and the dust of the now
ruined town was literally ankle-deep and so finely powdered that it
splattered when one walked as though it had been water. I saw the
ruins of the school-house which our ambulances had used, and noticed
that the image of the Virgin had been knocked down from the tower of
the Cathedral. I passed the house where our Headquarters had been. The
building was still standing but the front wall had gone, leaving the
interior exposed. I made my way up the Bapaume road to Tara Hill, and
there to my great delight I found the little cemetery still intact.
Shells had fallen in it and some of the crosses had been broken, but
the place had been wonderfully preserved. A battery on one side of it
had just ceased firing and was to advance on the following day. While
I was putting up some of the crosses that had fallen, Mr. Bean came up
in his car and kindly took a photograph of my son's grave. He also
took a photograph of the large Australian cross which stands at one
corner of the cemetery. Tara Hill had been for six months between the
German front and reserve lines, and I never expected that any trace of
the cemetery would have been found. I shall probably never see the
place again, but it stands out in my memory now as clear and distinct
as though once more I stood above the dusty road and saw before me the
rows of little crosses, and behind them the waste land battered by war
and burnt beneath the hot August sun. Over that very ground my son and
I had ridden together, and within a stone's throw from it two years
before we had said good-bye to one another for the last time.

Our Division had now come out of the line and were hurrying north. On
August 26th Lyons and I started off in the car, and after a tedious
and dusty journey, enlivened by several break-downs, arrived       (p. 290)
in Arras very late at night and found a billet with the Engineers in
the Place de la Croix. Once more our men were scattered about the old
city and its environs as if we had never left it. Our Battle Headquarters
were in the forward area and rear Headquarters in a large house in Rue
du Pasteur. It was a picturesque abode. The building itself was modern,
but it was erected on what had been an old Augustinian Monastery of
the 11th century. Underneath the house there was a large vaulted hall
with pillars in it which reminded one of the cloisters of Westminster
Abbey. It was below the level of the ground and was lit by narrow
windows opening on the street. It was a most interesting place and had
been decorated with heraldic designs painted on canvas shields by a
British Division that had once made its headquarters there. We used
the hall as our mess and from it passages led to several vault-like
chambers and to cellars at the back, one of which was my bedroom. A
flight of steps led down to stone chambers below these and then down a
long sloping passage to a broken wall which barred the entrance into
the mysterious caves beneath the city. The exhalations which came up
to my bedroom from these subterranean passages were not as fresh or
wholesome as one could have wished, but, as it was a choice between
foul air and running the chance of being shelled, I naturally chose
the former.

We moved into this billet in the evening, and early the following
morning I was lying awake, thinking of all the strange places I had
lived in during the war, when close by I heard a fearful crash. I
waited for a moment, and then, hearing the sound of voices calling for
help, I rushed up in my pyjamas and found that a huge shell had struck
a house three doors away, crushing it in and killing and wounding some
of our Headquarters staff. Though Arras was then continually being
shelled, some of the inhabitants remained. Opposite our house was a
convent, and in cellars below the ground several nuns lived all
through the war. They absolutely refused to leave their home in spite
of the fact that the upper part of the building had been ruined by
shells. Our nearness to the railway station, which was a favourite
target for the German guns, made our home always a precarious one.

One day the Paymaster was going into our Headquarters, when a shell
burst in the Square and some fragments landed in our street taking off
the fingers of his right hand. I was away at the time, but when I
returned in the evening the signallers showed me a lonely          (p. 291)
forefinger resting on a window sill. They had reverently preserved it,
as it was the finger which used to count out five-franc notes to them
when they were going on leave.

Our Corps dressing-station was in the big Asylum in Arras. The nuns
still occupied part of the building. The Mother Superior was a fine
old lady, intensely loyal to France and very kind to all of us. When
the Germans occupied Arras in the beginning of the war, the Crown
Prince paid an official visit to the Asylum, and, when leaving,
congratulated the Mother Superior on her management of the institution.
She took his praises with becoming dignity, but when he held out his
hand to her she excused herself from taking it and put hers behind her
back.

The dressing-station was excellently run and the system carried out
was perfect. The wounded were brought in, attended to, and sent off to
the C.C.S. with the least possible delay. The dead were buried in the
large military cemetery near the Dainville road where rest the bodies
of many noble comrades, both British and Canadian. A ward was set
apart for wounded Germans and it was looked after by their own doctors
and orderlies.

Meanwhile our Division was preparing for the great attack upon the
Drocourt-Queant line. The 2nd Division were in the trenches and had
taken Monchy. We were to relieve them and push on to the Canal du Nord
and, if possible, beyond it. Movements were now very rapid. All the
staff were kept intensely busy. The old days of St. Jans Cappel and
Ploegsteert, with their quiet country life, seemed very far away. This
was real war, and we were advancing daily. We heard too of the victories
of the French and Americans to the South. It was glorious to think
that after the bitter experience of the previous March the tables had
been turned, and we had got the initiative once more. Our Battle
Headquarters, where the General and his staff were, lay beyond
Neuville Vitasse. They were in a deep, wide trench, on each side of
which were dugouts and little huts well sandbagged. Over the top was
spread a quantity of camouflage netting, so that the place was
invisible to German aeroplanes. The country round about was cut up by
trenches, and in many of these our battalions were stationed. All the
villages in the neighbourhood were hopeless ruins. I tried to get a
billet in the forward area, as Arras was so far back, but every
available place was crowded and it was so difficult to get up rations
that nobody was anxious to have me.




CHAPTER XXXII.                                                     (p. 292)

THE SMASHING OF THE DROCOURT-QUEANT LINE.

_September 2nd, 1918._


On Saturday, August 31st, I paid a visit to our Battle Headquarters,
and the General asked me to have a Celebration of the Holy Communion
there the next morning at eight. I knew that the attack was almost
due, so I prepared for it and took my iron rations with me. We had the
Communion Service in a tent at the General's Headquarters. There were
only three present, but the General was one of them. I had breakfast
in a quaint little hut in the side of the trench, and then started off
to the forward area. The great stretch of country was burnt dry by the
summer heat and the roads were broken up and dusty. I was taken by car
to the Headquarters of the 2nd Brigade which were in a trench, and
from thence I started on foot to Cherisy. Here the 8th Battalion were
quartered, the 5th being in the line. Zero hour, I was told, was early
the next morning. The 2nd and 3rd Brigades were to make the attack.
The 5th Battalion was to have advanced that day and taken possession
of a certain trench which was to be the jumping off line on the
following morning. I heard that they had had a hard time. They had
driven out the Germans, but had been seriously counter-attacked and
had lost a large number of men. I determined therefore to go out and
take them some cigarettes and biscuits which the Y.M.C.A. generously
provided. I started off in the afternoon to go to the front line,
wherever it might be. I went down the road from Cherisy past the
chalk-pit, where we had a little cemetery, and then turning into the
fields on the left walked in the direction in which I was told the 5th
Battalion lay. It was a long, hot journey, and as I had not quite
recovered from my attack of influenza I found it very fatiguing. On
all sides I saw gruesome traces of the recent fighting. I came across
the body of a young artillery officer of the 2nd Division, but, as all
his papers had been taken away, I could not discover his name. My way
passed through the remains of what had been an enemy camp. There were
a number of well-built huts there, containing much German war-material,
but they had been damaged by our shells. The Germans had           (p. 293)
evidently been obliged to get out of the place as quickly as possible.
I was just leaving the camp when I met several of our men bringing up
a number of prisoners. While we were talking, some shells fell, and we
all had to dive into two trenches. The Huns took one; we Canadians
took the other. We had no desire, in case a shell landed in our midst
to have our bits mingled with those of the Germans. When the
"straffing" was over, the others went back, and I continued my way to
the front. It must have been about six or seven o'clock when I arrived
at the 5th Battalion Headquarters, which were in a deep German dugout.
The Colonel was absent at a conference, so the Adjutant was in
command. I told him that I had come provided with cigarettes and other
comforts for the men, and asked him to give me a runner to take me to
the front line. He absolutely refused to do anything of the kind, as
he told me he did not know where it was himself. The situation was
most obscure. Our men had attacked and had been driven back and then
they had attacked again, but he thought they were now in shell holes
and would be hard to find. In fact, he was most anxious about the
condition of affairs and was hoping the Colonel would soon return. I
asked him if he would like me to spend the night there. He said he
would, so I determined to settle down and wait for an opportunity of
getting up to the men.

I went over to a trench a little way off, passing two dead Germans as
I did so, and saw the little white flag with the red cross on it which
showed that a dugout there was used as the regimental aid post. I went
down into the place, which had two openings, and found the M.O. and
his staff and a number of machine-gunners. Being Sunday, I told them
that I would have service for them. We all sat on the floor of the
long dugout. Two or three candles gave us all the light we had, and
the cigarettes which I had brought with me were soon turned into
smoke. In the meantime a young stretcher-bearer, unknown to me, made a
cup of tea and brought that and some buttered toast for my supper.
When I had finished and we were just going to begin the service, a
voice suddenly shouted down the steps in excited tones. "We've all got
to retreat; the Germans are coming." At once a corporal shouted up to
him, "Shut up, none of that talk out here." Of course, I had not said
a word to any of the men about the condition of our front line, but
remembering what the Adjutant had told me about it, I thought now that
there might be some reason for the alarm. As I have said on a former
occasion, I had a great objection to being bombed in a dugout, so  (p. 294)
I said to the men, "Well, boys, perhaps we had better take it seriously
and go up and see what the matter is." We climbed up to the trench,
and there on looking over the parapet we saw an exciting scene. It was
not yet dark, and in the twilight we could see objects at a certain
distance, but it was just light enough and dark enough to confuse
one's vision. Along the line to the right of our front trenches,
rockets and S.O.S. signals were going up, showing that the Germans
were attacking. Our reserve battalions were far back at Cherisy, and
our artillery had not yet come up. At any rate, somewhere in the
glimmering darkness in front of us the Germans were advancing. They
actually did get between us and our front line. The machine-gunners at
once went to their posts, and the M.O. wanted orders as to what he and
his staff were to do. I went back down the trenches past the dead
Germans to Battalion Headquarters, and asked the Adjutant what orders
he had for the M.O. He said we were all to congregate at Headquarters;
so I went back and gave the message. I remember looking over the waste
of ground and wondering if I could see the Germans. For a time it was
really very exciting, especially for me, because I did not know
exactly what I should do if the Germans came. I could not fight, nor
could I run away, and to fold one's arms and be taken captive seemed
too idiotic. All the time I kept saying to myself, "I am an old fool
to be out here." Still, we got as much fun out of the situation as we
could, and, to our intense relief, the arrival of some of our shells
and the sudden appearance of a Highland Battalion of the 4th Division
on our left, frightened the Germans and they retired, leaving us to
settle down once more in our trench home.

On the return of the Colonel, we learned that, on account of the heavy
losses which the 5th Battalion had suffered that day, the 7th Battalion
would attack on the following morning. Later on in the evening, I saw
some machine-gunners coming up, who told us that they had left some
wounded and a dead man in a trench near the road. I determined to go
back and see them. The trench was very crowded, and as it was dark it
was hard to find one's way. I nearly stepped on a man who appeared to
be sleeping, leaning against the parapet. I said to one of the men,
"Is this a sleeping hero?" "No, Sir," he replied, "It's a Hun stiff."
When I got down to the road, I met two men and we hunted for the place
where the wounded had been left, but found they had been carried   (p. 295)
off to Cherisy. So I started back again for Battalion Headquarters,
and as numbers of men were going forward I had no difficulty in
finding it.

The dugout was now absolutely crowded. Every available space,
including the steps down from the opening, was filled with men. I
managed to secure a little shelf in the small hours of the morning,
and had two or three hours sleep. The atmosphere was so thick that I
think we were all overcome by it and sank into profound slumber. At
last, one of the men suddenly woke up and said to me, "It's ten
minutes to five, Sir." The barrage was going to start at five. As far
as I could see, everyone in the dugout but ourselves, was sound
asleep. I climbed up the steps, waking the men on them and telling
them that the barrage would start in ten minutes. The sentries in the
trench said that the 7th Battalion had gone forward during the night
with a number of 4th Division men. The morning air was sweet and fresh
after that of the dugout, but was rather chilly. A beautiful dawn was
beginning, and only a few of the larger stars were visible. The
constellation of Orion could be seen distinctly against the grey-blue
of the sky. At five o'clock the barrage started, and there was the
usual glorious roar of the opening attack. Very quickly the Germans
replied, and shells fell so unpleasantly near, that once again we
crowded into the dugout. After a hasty breakfast of bacon and tea the
battalions moved off, and I made my way to the front. I saw an officer
of the 7th Battalion being carried to the M.O.'s dugout. He was not
badly hit, and told me he was just back from leave and had been
married only a fortnight ago. I shook hands with him and congratulated
him on being able to get back to Blighty and have a wife to look after
him. He was being carried by some Germans and had two of our bearers
with him. I went down into a communication trench and the next instant
a shell burst. I did not know then that anybody had been hit by it,
but I learned afterwards that the officer, the stretcher-bearers and
the Germans had all been killed.

I made my way to a mud road, where to my infinite delight I saw large
numbers of German prisoners being marched back. By the corner of a
wood the 8th Battalion were waiting their turn to advance. To the left
was the hill called The Crow's Nest, which our 3rd Brigade had taken
that day. I crossed the Hendecourt-Dury road, which had trees on   (p. 296)
both sides of it, and then meeting the 2nd Battalion went forward with
them. There were some deep trenches and dugouts on the way, which our
units at once appropriated and which became the headquarters of two of
our Brigades. Our artillery had also come up and their chaplain was with
them. The C.O. of the 7th Battalion was having breakfast in the corner of
a field, and feeling very happy over the result of the morning's work.
Far off we could see the wood of Cagnicourt, and beyond that in the
distance we could see other woods. I went off in the direction of
Cagnicourt and came to some German huts, where there was a collection
of military supplies. Among them was a large anti-tank rifle. As it
had begun to rain, I was very glad to find some German water proof
sheets which I put over my shoulders as I was eating my bully-beef.
Cagnicourt lay in a valley to the right and, when I got there, I found
a battery of artillery had just arrived and were taking up their
positions by a road which led on to Villers-Cagnicourt. We were all in
high spirits over our fresh achievement. In some dugouts on the way, I
found the headquarters of the 13th and 14th Battalions, and learned of
the very gallant deed of the Rev. E. E. Graham, the Methodist chaplain
attached to the 13th Battalion. He had carried out, under the barrage,
five wounded men of the 2nd Division, who had been left in No Man's
Land. He was recommended for the Victoria Cross, but unfortunately,
for some reason or other, only got the D.S.O. In a trench near
Villers-Cagnicourt I found the 4th Battalion, who told me that they
thought our advance was checked. I sat talking to them for some time,
but was so tired that I absolutely could not keep awake. The men were
much amused to see me falling asleep in the midst of a conversation. I
managed, however, to pull myself together, and went over to the main
Cherisy road, on the side of which one of our ambulances had taken up
its position and was being attended by one of our military chaplains.
I was feeling so seedy by this time that I got a seat by the side of
the driver on a horse ambulance, and made my way back to Cherisy. The
road was narrow and crowded with traffic, and had been broken in
places by shells. Quite a number of bodies were lying by the wayside.
I arrived back at my billet in Arras in the evening feeling very
tired. At the Corps dressing station that night I saw large numbers of
our men brought in, among them the C.O. of the 2nd Battalion, who had
especially distinguished himself that day, but was very badly
wounded.

In spite of the fact that we had not been able to go as far as we  (p. 297)
had intended, another glorious victory was to our credit, and we had
broken the far-famed Drocourt-Queant line with its wire entanglements
which the Germans had thought to be impregnable. Two days afterwards,
on September 4th, our Division was taken out of the line and sent back
for rest and reorganization.




CHAPTER XXXIII.                                                    (p. 298)

PREPARING FOR THE FINAL BLOW.

_September, 1918._


Our Divisional Headquarters were now established in the delightful old
chateau at Warlus. In Nissen huts near-by, were the machine-gun
battalion and the signallers, and, as I had one end of a Nissen hut
all to myself, I was very comfortable. The three infantry brigades
were quartered in the villages round about. The engineers and
artillery were still at the front. As usual our men soon cleaned
themselves up and settled down to ordinary life, as if they had never
been through a battle in their lives. The weather was very pleasant,
and we were all glad at the prospect of a little quiet after the
strenuous month through which we had passed. Our concert party at once
opened up one of the large huts as a theatre, and night after night
their performances were witnessed by crowded and enthusiastic
audiences. Just across a field towards Bernaville the 15th Battalion
was quartered in a long line of huts and in the village itself were
the 14th and 16th Battalions. I was therefore quite near the men of my
old 3rd Brigade. The 16th Battalion concert party gave a fine
performance there one evening, which was attended by some Canadian
Sisters who came up from one of our C.C.S's. The play was called, "A
Little Bit of Shamrock," and was composed by members of the concert
party. It was exceedingly pretty and very clever, and evoked thunders
of applause. The Colonel was called upon for a speech, and, although
his words were few, the rousing cheers he got from his men told him
what they thought of their commanding officer, who soon afterwards was
to be awarded the Victoria Cross. As one sat there in the midst of the
men and thought of what they had gone through, and how the flames in
the fiery furnace of war had left their cheery souls unscathed, one's
heart was filled with an admiration for them which will never die.

On looking over my diary during those delightful days while we were
waiting to make the great attack, I see records of many journeys to
our various battalions and artillery brigades. Wanquetin, Wailly,
Dainville, Bernaville, Hautes Avesnes--what memories these names   (p. 299)
recall! I would rattle over the dusty roads in my side-car and pull up
at Battalion Headquarters and get an invitation to dinner. On such
occasions I used to visit the cooks first and ask them if they had
enough food on hand for me in case the officers invited me to dine
with them, and in case they didn't, if they (the cooks) would feed me
later on in the kitchen. When the invitation had been given, I used to
go back to the cooks and say, "It's all right, boys, you won't be
bothered with my society, the officers have asked me to dinner." In
the evening, before I rode off, I used to go round to the men's
billets, or to the Y.M.C.A. tent, if there was one, and have a talk
with the men on the war outlook or any other topic that was perplexing
them at the time. Often I was followed to my car by some man who had
deeper matters to discuss, or perhaps some worry about things at home,
and who wanted to unburden himself to a chaplain. On the way back,
when darkness had fallen and my feeble headlight warned us against
speeding, I would meet or overtake men and have a talk, or tell them
to mount up on the box at the back of the car and I would give them a
ride. The rows of tall trees along the road would stand out black
against the starlit sky, and in the evening air the sweet smells of
nature would fill us with delight. We felt too, that nearer and nearer
the hour of the great victory was approaching. Who amongst us would be
spared to see it? How would it be brought about? What great and fierce
battle would lay the Germans low? The supreme idea in the mind was
consecration to a sublime sacrifice, which dwarfed into insignificance
all previous events in life. We had our fun, we had our jokes, we met
our friends, we saw battalions go on a route march, we watched men
play their games in the fields; but to me it seemed that a new and
mysterious light that was born of heaven hid behind the sunshine, and
cast a glory upon men and even nature. To dine at the rude board table
with the young officers of one of the companies of a battalion,
perhaps in a bare hut, on the floor of which lay the lads' beds, was
something sacred and sacramental. Their apologies for the plainness of
the repast were to me extremely pathetic. Was there a table in the
whole world at which it was a greater honour to sit? Where could one
find a nobler, knightlier body of young men?

In the garden round the Chateau at Warlus were many winding paths,
where old trees gave a delightful shade. Here at odd moments one   (p. 300)
could get away for a time into the leafy solitude and think quietly
and wonder. Although we were in rest there was of course no remission
of warlike activity and preparation. We knew that the next thing that
lay before us was the crossing of the Canal du Nord and the push to
Cambrai. That was a deed which would not only tax our strength and
courage, but depended for its success upon the care and diligence of
our preparation.

On the two Sundays that we were at Warlus I had splendid church
parades with the Machine-Gun Battalion. Part of their billets were in
huts beside the road to Dainville. In one of them one night I found
some Imperial officers who were in charge of the wireless telegraph
station. They told me some interesting facts about their work. The
night was divided into different periods when the communiques of the
various countries would be sent out. These, of course, were for all
the world to read. The most wonderful thing they told me, however, was
that they could pick up the code messages sent from the German
Admiralty Headquarters at Kiel to their submarines under the sea. Of
course not knowing the code, our officers could not translate these
despatches.

I received a great blow at this time, for my friend Lyons, who acted
as the chauffeur of my side-car, was sent off to the 3rd Division to
replace one of the despatch riders whom they had lost in the attack.
Our own signallers could not give me another man. As I could not run
the car myself, a sudden move might compel me to leave it behind.
Someone, too, might appropriate it, for the honesty of the army was,
as I knew from experience, a grace on which one could not place much
reliance. The only person to whom I could apply was my good and kind
friend, the builder of my churches and huts, Colonel Macphail, our
C.R.E. He was always my refuge in distress. He looked upon the
building of churches at the front as an act of such piety that it
would guarantee to him at any time the certain admission into heaven.
He attributed his piety to the claim which his clan made to be the
descendants of St. Paul. Apparently in Gaelic, Macphail means "the son
of Paul." The Colonel was always fond of insisting upon his high
lineage. He came to see me once when I was ill at Bruay, and after
stating the historical claims of his ancestors, asked me if I had not
observed some traits in his character which were like those of St.
Paul. I told him that the only resemblance to the Apostle which I had
discovered in him was that his bodily presence was weak and his    (p. 301)
speech contemptible. In spite of those unkind thrusts, however, the
colonel manifested the Apostle's quality of forgiveness, and was
always ready to try and make me comfortable. I wrote to him now and
asked if he could send me a driver for my car. He did not fail me. A
few days afterwards, a young sapper appeared, saluted most properly,
and told me that he had been ordered by the C.R.E. to report to me for
duty as chauffeur. I was so delighted that I at once despatched the
following letter to my friend:--

  "Dear Colonel Macphail,
  If I had but a tail
    I would wag it this morning with joy,
  At your having provided
  My car that's one-sided
    With a good and intelligent boy.

  May your blessings from heaven
    Abound in this war,
  And be seven times seven
    More than ever before."

The possession of a new driver for my car enabled me to pay a last
visit to Le Cauroy, where I had left some of my possessions on our
trip to Amiens. I found the Cure in high good humor over the way the
war was going. The outlook was very different now from what it had
been when I was there before. I also visited Arras and the forward
area, where I dined one night in a tent with Major Price, who was then
in command of my original battalion, the 14th. The men were billeted
in trenches and as usual were making the best of things. It was
strange to look back to the early days of the war and talk about old
times. As I returned in the twilight and gazed far away over the waste
land towards the bank of low clouds in the eastern sky, my heart grew
sick at the thought of all which those fine young men might have to
endure before the crowning victory came. The thought of the near
presence of the Angel of Death was always coming up in the mind,
changing and transfiguring into something nobler and better our
earthly converse.

In the war, the Bible statement, "We have here no continuing city,"
was certainly true. Our happy life in Warlus and its neighbourhood
came to an end. On Friday, September 20th, the Division moved to   (p. 302)
Achicourt near Arras. I took the opportunity to visit some friends in
the 3rd Division who were taking our places. Among them was "Charlie"
Stewart, of the P.P.C.L.I. I had taught him as a boy at school when I
was curate of St. John's, Montreal. We talked over old times, and the
great changes that had taken place in Canada and the world since we
were young. He was killed not long afterwards before Cambrai. I went
on through Dainville, where I met the 42nd Battalion, and reached
Achicourt in the evening. My billet was in a very dirty room over a
little shop. One corner of the house had been hit by a shell, and a
great store of possessions belonging to the people was piled up on one
side of my room. We knew we were not going to be there long, so we did
not worry about making ourselves comfortable. I had a view out of my
window of green fields and a peaceful country, but the town itself had
been badly knocked about.

On Sunday morning, I got the use of a small Protestant church which
stood by a stream in the middle of the town. It was a quaint place,
and, instead of an altar, against the east wall there was a high
pulpit entered by steps on both sides. When I stood up in it I felt
like a jack-in-the-box. I had a queer feeling that I was getting to
the end of things, and a note in my prayer-book, with the place and
date, gives evidence of this. We had not many communicants, but that
was the last Celebration of Holy Communion that I held in France. On
the following Sunday I was to leave the war for good. I remember
walking away from the church that day with my sergeant and talking
over the different places where we had held services. Now we were on
the eve of great events, and the old war days had gone forever. After
the service, I started off in my side-car on a missionary journey to
the battalions that had now gone forward. I went off up the road to
the ruined town of Beaurains. Here I found the Headquarters of the
16th Battalion in the cellar of a broken house. The officers' mess was
a little shack by the roadside, and among those present was the
second-in-command, Major Bell-Irving, who had crossed with me on the
"Andania." Alas, this was the last time I was to see him. He was
killed in the battle of Cambrai.

After lunch I continued up the long pave road which leads to Croisilles.
On the way I saw the 8th Battalion in an open field. Near them were a
number of Imperial officers and men of the British Division which  (p. 303)
was on our right. We made our way through Bullecourt to Hendecourt,
near which in trenches were the battalions of the 1st Brigade, and
there too Colonel Macphail had his headquarters. There was a great
concentration of men in this area, and the roads were crowded with
lorries and limbers as well as troops. I stayed that night with the
engineers, as the weather looked threatening. The sky grew black and
rain began to fall. When one stood in the open and looked all round at
the inky darkness everywhere, with the rain pelting down, and knew
that our men had to carry on as usual, one realized the bitterness of
the cup which they had to drink to the very dregs. Rain and darkness
all round them, hardly a moment's respite from some irksome task, the
ache in the heart for home and the loved ones there, the iron
discipline of the war-machine of which they formed a part, the chance
of wounds and that mysterious crisis called death--these were the
elements which made up the blurred vision in their souls.

The next morning the weather had cleared, and I went on towards Cagnicourt.
On the journey I was delayed by a lorry which had gone into the ditch
and completely blocked the road. Here in a field the 1st Field Ambulance
had established themselves. Later on I managed to get to Cagnicourt
and found my son's battery in the cellars of the Chateau. They were
getting their guns forward by night in preparation for the attack.
They gave me a very pressing invitation to sleep there and I accepted
it. We had a pleasant evening, listening to some remarkably good
violin records on the gramophone. Good music at such times had a
special charm about it. It reminded one of the old days of concerts
and entertainments, but, at the same time, as in the background of a
dream, one seemed to hear beneath the melodies the tramp of mighty
battalions marching forward into battle, and the struggles of strong
men in the fierce contests of war.

On the following day I went on to the quarry which was to be our
Battle Headquarters near Inchy Station, from which the 2nd Division
were moving. I had a view of the smiling country over which we were to
charge. Between us and that promised land lay the Canal, the crossing
of which was necessarily a matter of great anxiety. It was late at
night before I got back to my home at Achicourt, where I had my last
war dinner with my friend General Thacker, who, with his staff, was up
to his eyes in work. The next day was taken up with arranging for  (p. 304)
the disposition of our chaplains during the engagement, and about six
o'clock I told Ross to saddle Dandy, and on the dear old horse, who
was fresh and lively as ever, I galloped off into the fields. The sun
had set and the fresh air of the evening was like a draught of
champagne. Dandy seemed to enjoy the ride as much as I did, and
cleared some trenches in good style. For nearly three years and a half
we had been companions. He had always been full of life and very
willing, the envy of those who knew a good horse when they saw him.
When I returned in the twilight and gave him back to Ross, I said,
"You know, Ross, I am going into this battle and may lose my leg in
it, and so I wanted to have my last ride on dear old Dandy." It was my
last ride on him, and he was never ridden by anyone again. After I was
wounded, he was kept at Headquarters until, in order to avoid his
being sold with other horses to the Belgians, our kind A.D.V.S.
ordered him to be shot. He was one of the best friends I had in the
war, and I am glad he entered the horses' heaven as a soldier, without
the humiliation of a purgatory in some civilian drudgery.

That night some bombs were dropped near the station at Arras on units
of the 3rd Division, which passed through Achicourt in the afternoon,
causing many casualties, and we felt that the Germans knew another
attack was at hand. It was the last night I had a billet in France. On
the next morning we moved forward to some trenches on the way to
Inchy, and I parted from Headquarters there. This was really the most
primitive home that the Division had ever had. We had in fact no home
at all. We found our stuff dumped out in a field, and had to hunt for
our possessions in the general pile. A few tents were pitched and the
clerks got to work. In a wide trench little shacks were being run up,
and I was to be quartered in the same hut as the field cashier, which
was thus to be a kind of union temple for the service of God and the
service of Mammon. I looked down into the clay pit and saw the men
working at my home, but I knew that I should probably not occupy it. I
determined to go forward to our Battle Headquarters, prepared for a
missionary journey, and find out when the attack was going to be made.
I put into my pack some bully-beef, hardtack, tinned milk and other
forms of nourishment, as well as a razor, a towel and various toilet
necessaries. On the other side of the road, the signallers had their
horse-lines, and our transports were near-by. I got my side-car    (p. 305)
and, bidding good-bye to my friends, left for Inchy. We passed down
the road to Queant, where we saw the wounded in the field ambulance,
and from there started off through Pronville to Inchy Station. The
roads as usual were crowded, and the dust from passing lorries was
very unpleasant. We were going through the valley by Inchy Copse when
we suddenly heard a loud crash behind us which made my driver stop. I
asked him what he was about, and said, "That was one of our guns,
there is nothing to be alarmed at." "Guns!" he said, "I know the sound
of a shell when I hear it. You may like shells but I don't. I'm going
back." I said, "You go ahead, if I had a revolver with me, I would
shoot you for desertion from the front line. That was only one of our
guns." He looked round and said, "You call that a gun? Look there." I
turned and sure enough, about a hundred feet away in the middle of the
road was the smoke of an exploded shell. "Well," I said, "you had
better go on or there will be another one pretty soon, and it may get
us." With extraordinary speed we hurried to our destination, where I
left the car, taking my pack with me. I told the driver, much to his
relief, that he could go home, and that when I wanted the car again I
would send for it.

The quarry was, as I have said, our Battle Headquarters, and here in
the deep dugouts which I had visited previously I found our staff hard
at work. They told me that this was "Y" day, and that zero hour when
the barrage would start was at 5.20 the next morning. At that hour we
were to cross the Canal and then press on into the country beyond. We
had a two battalion front. The 4th and 14th Battalions were to make
the attack, and be followed up by the other battalions in the 1st and
3rd Brigades. When these had reached their objective the 2nd Brigade
was to "leap frog" them and push on to Haynecourt and beyond. I was
glad that I had come provided for the expedition, and bidding good-bye
to General Thacker, whose parting injunction was not to do anything
foolish, I got out of the quarry and made my way down the hill towards
Inchy. A railway bridge which crossed the road near me was a constant
mark for German shells, and it was well to avoid it. An officer met me
and asked where I was going. I said, "I don't know, but I think the
Spirit is leading me to the old 14th Battalion in Buissy Switch Trench."
He told me the direction to take, which was to cross the road and
follow the line of railway. The tins of milk and bully-beef cut    (p. 306)
into my back so I stopped by a culvert and taking off my pack and
tunic, sat on the ground and cooled off. There was no sign of Buissy
Switch anywhere, but I got up and went on. The evening was closing in
by this time, and, as I am never good at seeing in the dark, it began
to be difficult to keep from tripping over things. At last the road
brought me to a trench in which I found the 14th Battalion. They were
getting ready to move off at midnight and wait in the wood by the edge
of the Canal until the barrage opened. It made one proud to be with
those young men that evening and think what they were called upon to
do. What difficulties they would encounter in the Canal they did not
know. They said they might have to swim. We hoped, however, that there
was not much water, as the canal was still unfinished.

I said good-bye to them and wished them all good-luck. Crossing the
road I entered another trench, where I found the 13th Battalion, and
beyond them came to the 1st Battalion. By this time, it was dark and
rainy, and the ground was very slippery. I had to feel my way along
the trench. A company of the 4th Battalion who were to be in the first
wave of the attack, passed on their way forward to take up their
position for the following morning. Probably never in the war had we
experienced a moment of deeper anxiety. The men would have to climb
down one side of the canal, rush across it, and climb up the other. It
seemed inevitable that the slaughter would be frightful. At home in
the cities of Canada things were going on as usual. Profiteers were
heaping up their piles of gold. Politicians were carrying on the
government, or working in opposition, in the interests of their
parties, while here, in mud and rain, weary and drenched to the skin,
young Canadians were waiting to go through the valley of the shadow of
death in order that Canada might live.




CHAPTER XXXIV.                                                     (p. 307)

THE CROSSING OF THE CANAL DU NORD.

_September 27th, 1918._


When I got to the sunken road above Inchy I found that No. 1 Company
of the Machine-Gun Battalion had a little sandbag house there, and
were waiting for the attack. I went in and the young officers and men
made me at home at once. I divested myself of my pack, coat and steel
helmet, and determined to settle down for the night. Suddenly a shell
burst in the road, and I went out to see if anyone was hit. Two or
three men were wounded but not severely. We got them in and the young
O.C. of the company bound up their wounds and sent them off. There was
a row of these sandbag-huts against the bank, and at one end of them
was the entrance to a dugout in which the 1st Battalion and the
General of the 1st Brigade had made their headquarters. I went down
the steep steps into a long dark passage, lit here and there by the
light which came from the rooms on either side. The whole place was
crowded with men and the atmosphere was more than usually thick. I
made my way down to the end where there was a pump which had been put
there by the Germans. Here the men were filling their water-bottles,
and I got a fresh supply for mine. Not far from the pump a few steps
led down into a room where I found the C.O. and a number of the
officers of the 1st Battalion. It was about two a.m., and they were
having a breakfast of tea and bacon and invited me to join them. After
the meal was finished, the Colonel, who was lying on a rough bed, said
to me, "Sit down, Canon, and give us some of your nature poems to take
our minds off this beastly business." It was very seldom that I was
invited to recite my own poems, so such an opportunity could not be
lost. I sat down on the steps and repeated a poem which I wrote among
the Laurentian mountains, in the happy days before we ever thought of
war. It is called, "The Unnamed Lake."

  "It sleeps among the thousand hills
    Where no man ever trod,
  And only nature's music fills
    The silences of God.

  Great mountains tower above its shore,                           (p. 308)
    Green rushes fringe its brim,
  And o'er its breast for evermore
    The wanton breezes skim.

  Dark clouds that intercept the sun
    Go there in Spring to weep,
  And there, when Autumn days are done,
    White mists lie down to sleep.

  Sunrise and sunset crown with gold
    The peaks of ageless stone,
  Where winds have thundered from of old
    And storms have set their throne.

  No echoes of the world afar
    Disturb it night or day,
  But sun and shadow, moon and star
    Pass and repass for aye.

  'Twas in the grey of early dawn,
    When first the lake we spied,
  And fragments of a cloud were drawn
    Half down the mountain side.

  Along the shore a heron flew,
    And from a speck on high,
  That hovered in the deepening blue,
    We heard the fish-hawk's cry.

  Among the cloud-capt solitudes,
    No sound the silence broke,
  Save when, in whispers down the woods,
    The guardian mountains spoke.

  Through tangled brush and dewy brake,
    Returning whence we came,
  We passed in silence, and the lake
    We left without a name."

There is not much in the poem, but, like a gramophone record, it
carried our minds away into another world. For myself, who remembered
the scenery that surrounded me when I wrote it and who now, in that
filthy hole, looked at the faces of young men who in two or three
hours were to brave death in one of the biggest tasks that had been
laid upon us, the words stirred up all sorts of conflicting emotions.
The recitation seemed to be so well received that I ventured on
another--in fact several more--and then I noticed a curious thing. It
was the preternatural silence of my audience. Generally speaking, when
I recited my poems, one of the officers would suddenly remember he had
to dictate a letter, or a despatch rider would come in with orders.
Now, no one stirred. I paused in the middle of a poem and looked round
to see what was the matter, and there to my astonishment, I found  (p. 309)
that everyone, except the young Intelligence Officer, was sound asleep.
It was the best thing that could have happened and I secretly consoled
myself with the reflection that the one who was unable to sleep was
the officer who specialized in intelligence. We both laughed quietly,
and then I whispered to him, "We had better go and find some place
where we, too, can get a little rest." He climbed over the prostrate
forms and followed me down the passage to a little excavation where
the Germans had started to make a new passage. We lay down side by
side on the wooden floor, and I was just beginning to succumb to the
soothing influences of my own poetry, when I thought I felt little
things crawling over my face. It was too much for me. I got up and
said, "I think I am getting crummy, so I'm going off." I looked in on
the General and the Brigade Major, and then climbed up the steps and
went to the machine-gun hut.

The night was now well advanced so it was time to shave and get ready
for zero hour. A little after five we had some breakfast, and about a
quarter past I went up to the top of the bank above the road and
waited for the barrage. At 5.20 the savage roar burst forth. It was a
stupendous attack. Field guns, heavy guns, and siege batteries sent
forth their fury, and machine-guns poured millions of rounds into the
country beyond the Canal. So many things were flying about and landing
near us, that we went back under cover till the first burst of the
storm should subside. At that moment I knew our men were crossing the
huge ditch, and I prayed that God would give them victory. When the
barrage had lifted I started down towards the Canal, passing through a
field on my way where I found, lying about, dead and wounded men. Four
or five were in a straight line, one behind another, where a German
machine-gun must have caught them as they advanced. A young officer of
the 2nd Battalion was dying from wounds. Two or three decorations on
his breast told his past record in the war. While I was attending to
the sufferers, a sergeant came up to me from the direction of the
Canal and asked the way to the dressing station. He had a frightful
wound in his face. A bit of a shell had dug into his cheek, carrying
off his nose. He did not know at the time how badly he had been hit. I
asked him if he wanted me to walk back with him, but he said he was
all right as the dressing station was not far off. I often wondered
what became of him, and I never heard till the following year when a
man came up to me in the military hospital at St. Anne's, with a   (p. 310)
new nose growing comfortably on his face and his cheek marked with a
scar that was not unsightly. "The last time I met you, Sir," he said,
"was near the Canal du Nord when you showed me the way to the dressing
station." I was indeed glad to find him alive and well, and to see
what surgical science had done to restore his beauty.

I went on to the Canal, and found that at that point it was quite dry.
I climbed down to the bottom of it in which men were walking and the
sappers were at work. Some ladders enabled me to get up on the other
side and I had the joy of feeling that the Canadians had crossed the
great Canal du Nord. Our battalions were now moving up and I joined
them, avoiding a part of a field which the men told me was under the
fire of a machine-gun from the mill in Marquion. The country was open
and green. The day was fine, and once more we experienced the
satisfaction of taking possession of the enemy's territory. Before us
the ground rose in a gradual slope, and we did not know what might
meet us when we arrived at the top, but it was delightful to go with
the men feeling that every step was a gain. When we got to the top of
the rise, we had a splendid view of the country beyond. Before us, in
the distance running from right to left, lay the straight Arras-Cambrai
road with its rows of tall trees. Where we stood, there were a number
of deserted German trenches. Here the M.O. of the 3rd Battalion opened
up an aid post, and the chaplain went about looking for the wounded.
Our men went on down into the valley and got into some forward
trenches. I stayed on the hill looking at the wonderful scene through
my German glasses. On the left in a quarry beside the village of
Marquion, I saw two Germans manning a machine-gun. Our 3rd Brigade had
taken the place, and some Highlanders were walking on the edge of the
quarry just above the Huns, of whose presence they were unaware. I saw
the enemy suddenly hide themselves, having noticed the approach of the
Highlanders, but when the latter had passed the two Boches reappeared
and went on firing as before. It was not long before the German
artillery turned their guns on our hill and I told some men of the 2nd
Brigade, who were now coming forward, to take cover in the trench or
go in extended order. I had hardly uttered the words when a shell
burst, killing one man and wounding in the thigh the one to whom I was
talking. I went over to him and found that no artery had been cut, and
the chaplain of the 3rd Battalion got him carried off. Down in the (p. 311)
valley our advance had evidently been checked for a time. While I was
trying to see what the trouble was, a young officer, called Cope, of
the 8th Battalion came up to me. He was a splendid young fellow, and
looked so fresh and clean. He had lost a brother in the Battalion in
the early part of the war. I said, "How old are you, Cope?" He replied,
"I am twenty." I said, "What a glorious thing it is to be out here at
twenty." "Yes," he said, looking towards the valley, "it is a glorious
thing to be out here at twenty, but I should like to know what is
holding them up." He had hardly spoken when there was a sharp crack of
a machine-gun bullet and he dropped at my side. The bullet had pierced
his steel helmet and entered his brain. He never recovered
consciousness, and died on the way to the aid post.

The 2nd Brigade was now moving forward, so I went down the hill past a
dugout which had been used as a German dressing station. There I
secured a bottle of morphine tablets, and spoke to our wounded waiting
to be carried off. Just before I reached the Arras-Cambrai road, I
came to the trench where the C.O. of the 3rd Battalion had established
himself. The chaplain and I were talking when an officer of the 2nd
Battalion came back with a bad wound in the throat. He could not
speak, but made signs that he wanted to write a message. We got him
some paper and he wrote, "The situation on our right is very bad." The
4th Division were on our right, and they had been tied up in Bourlon
Wood. So now our advancing 2nd Brigade had their right flank in the
air. As a matter of fact their left flank was also exposed, because
the British Division there had also been checked in their advance. I
crossed the road into the field, where I found the 5th and 10th
Battalions resting for a moment before going on to their objective. In
front of us, looking very peaceful among its trees, was the village of
Haynecourt which the 5th Battalion had to take. The 10th Battalion was
to pass it on the left and go still further forward. We all started
off, and as we were nearing the village I looked over to the fields on
the right, and there, to my dismay, I saw in the distance numbers of
little figures in grey which I knew must be Germans. I pointed them
out to a sergeant, but he said he thought they were French troops who
were in the line with us. The 5th Battalion went through Haynecourt
and found the village absolutely deserted and the houses stripped of
everything that might be of any value. Their C.O. made his headquarters
in a trench to the north of the village, and the 10th disappeared  (p. 312)
going forward to the Douai-Cambrai road.

It was now quite late in the afternoon. The sun was setting, and I feared
that if I did not go back in time I might find myself stuck out there for
the night without any food or cover. I thought it was wise therefore
to go to Deligny's Mill, where I understood the machine-gunners were
established. In the road at the entrance of Haynecourt, I found a
young German wounded in the foot and very sorry for himself. I think
he was asking me to carry him, but I saw he could walk and so showed
him the direction in which to make his way back to our aid posts. I
was just going back over the fields when I met a company of our light
trench mortar batteries. The men halted for a rest and sat down by the
road, and an officer came and said to me, "Come and cheer up the men,
Canon, they have dragged two guns eight kilometres in the dust and
heat and they are all fed up." I went over to them, and, luckily
having a tin of fifty cigarettes in my pocket, managed to make them go
round. I asked the O.C. if he would like me to spend the night with
them. He said he would, so I determined not to go back. Some of the
men asked me if I knew where they could get water. I told them they
might get some in the village, so off we started. It makes a curious
feeling go through one to enter a place which has just been evacuated
by the enemy. In the evening light, the little brick village looked
quite ghostly with its silent streets and empty houses. We turned into
a large farmyard, at the end of which we saw a well with a pump. One
of the men went down into the cellar of the house hunting for
souvenirs, and soon returned with a German who had been hiding there.
We were just about to fill our water-bottles, when I suggested that
perhaps the well had been poisoned. I asked the German, "Gutt wasser?"
"Ja, ja," Then I said, "Gutt drinken?" "Nein, nein," he replied,
shaking his head. "Well, Sir," the men said, "we are going to drink it
anyway." "But if the well is poisoned," I replied, "it won't do you
much good." "How can you find out?" they said. A brilliant idea
flashed upon me. "I tell you what, boys," I said, "we will make the
German drink it himself and see the effect." The men roared with
laughter, and we filled a bottle with the suspected liquid and made
the unfortunate prisoner drink every drop of it. When he had finished,
we waited for a few minutes (like the people who watched St. Paul on
the Island of Melita after he had shaken off the viper into the    (p. 313)
fire) to see if he would swell up or die, but as nothing of that kind
happened we all began to fill our water-bottles. Just as the last man
was about to fill his, a big shell landed in the garden next to us,
and he, catching up his empty bottle, ran off saying, "I'm not thirsty
any longer, I don't want any water."

After their rest and refreshment, the company went over to a sunken
road on the east side of the village. It was now getting very chilly
and the daylight was dying rapidly. From the ground above the road one
could see in the distance the spires of Cambrai, and in some fields to
the southeast of us, with my glasses I could distinctly see numbers of
little grey figures going into trenches, apparently with the idea of
getting round to the south of our village on our exposed flank. I met
a young officer of the machine-gun battalion, and lending him my
glasses pointed out where the Germans were massing. He got the men of
his section and took up a forward position along a ditch which ran at
right angles to the sunken road. Here too were some of the companies
of the 5th Battalion. They had hardly got into position when the
Germans shelled the road we had been on, most unmercifully. I took
refuge with a number of the men of the 5th Battalion in a garden,
beside a brick building which had been used by the German troops as a
wash-house and which was particularly malodorous. Two or three shells
dropped in the orchard, breaking the trees, and we had to keep down on
the ground while the shelling lasted. I could not help thinking of the
warning the 2nd Battalion officer had given us about the situation on
our right. It did seem pretty bad, because, until the arrival of the
7th and 8th Battalions, our right flank was exposed, and the enemy
might have gone round to the southeast of the village and attacked us
in the rear. When things settled down, I went back up the sunken road,
and, as I did so, thought I saw some men going into a gateway in the
main street of the village. I made my way to the open trenches where
the Colonel of the 5th Battalion had his headquarters, and I determined
to spend the night there, so they kindly provided me with a German
overcoat. I was just settling down to sleep when a runner came up and
reported that some men were wounded and were asking the way to the
dressing station. Someone said they thought the M.O. had made his
headquarters in the village. Then I remembered having seen some men
enter a gateway in the street as I passed, so two of us started off
to find out if this was the regimental aid post. The night was     (p. 314)
absolutely black, and my companion and I had to feel our way along
the street not knowing who or what we might bump into, and expecting
every moment that the Germans would begin to shell the place as soon
as they thought we had had time to find billets there. At last to our
great relief, we came to a large gateway in a brick wall and found
some of our men, who told us that the M.O. had made his dressing
station in the cellar of a building to the right. We went down into it
and came upon a place well lighted with candles, where the devoted
M.O. and his staff were looking after a number of men on stretchers.

The Germans were determined that we should not have a quiet night and
very soon, as we had expected, they began to shell the village. The
dressing station was in a building which they themselves had used for
the same purpose, so they knew its location, and shells began to fall
in the yard. We got all the men we could down to the cellar; but still
there were some stretcher cases which had to be left in the rooms
upstairs. It was hard to convince them that there was no danger.
However the "straffing" stopped in time, and I went down to the end of
the cellar and slept in a big cane-seated chair which the Germans had
left behind them. In the morning I went back again to our men in the
line. The 10th Battalion had established themselves partly in a ditch
along the Cambrai road not far from Epinoy, and partly in outposts
behind the German wire. The country was undulating, and in places
afforded an extensive view of the forward area. German machine-gun
emplacements were in all directions, and our men suffered very
severely. I was in an outpost with one of the companies when I saw in
the distance one of our men crawling on his hands and knees up to a
German machine-gun emplacement. The helmets of the enemy could be
distinctly seen above the parapet. It was very exciting watching the
plucky fellow approach the place of danger with the intention of
bombing it. Unfortunately just as he had reached the side of the
trench the Germans must have become aware of his presence, for they
opened fire, and he had to crawl back again as fast as he could.

Though many wounded were brought in, we knew that some were still
lying out on the other side of the wire in full view of the enemy. As
soon as it was dark enough, a bearer party, which I accompanied,
started off to try and collect these men. With my cane I managed to
lead the party through a gap in the wire. I came to a poor fellow  (p. 315)
who had been lying there since the previous night with a smashed arm
and leg. He was in great pain, but the men got him in safely, and the
next time I saw him was in a Toronto hospital where he was walking
about with a wooden leg, and his arm in a sling. I went down to an
outpost where I saw some men. We could only talk in whispers, as we
knew the Germans were close at hand. They told me they were one of the
companies of the 10th Battalion. I asked, "Where are your officers?"
They said, "They are all gone." "Who is in command?" They replied, "A
Lance-Corporal." I rejoined the bearers and we had great difficulty in
getting back, as we could not find the gap in the wire, which seemed
to go in all directions.

The 10th Battalion was relieved that night by the 8th, the C.O. of
which made his headquarters with the C.O. of the 5th Battalion in a
large dugout by the sunken road. There, late at night, I shared a
bunk with a young machine-gun officer and had a few hours of somewhat
disturbed sleep. The next morning, Sunday, September the 29th, the
fourth anniversary of our sailing from Quebec, our men were having a
hard time. The German defence at Cambrai was most determined, and they
had a large quantity of artillery in the neighbourhood. I went back to
the road and into the trench beyond the wire and found a lot of men
there. The parapet was so low that the men had dug what they called,
"Funk holes" in the clay, where they put as much of their bodies as
they could. Sitting in a bend of the trench where I got a good view of
the men, I had a service for them, and, as it was that festival, I
read out the epistle for St. Michael and All Angel's Day, and spoke of
the guardianship of men which God had committed to the Heavenly Hosts.
Going down the trench later on, I came to a place from which I could
see, with my glasses, a German machine-gun emplacement and its crew. I
went back and asked for a sniper. A man who said he was one came up to
me and I showed him the enemy and then directed his fire. I could see
from little puffs of dust where his bullets were landing. He was a
good shot and I think must have done some damage, for all of a sudden
the machine-gun opened fire on us and we had to dive into the trench
pretty quickly. I told him that I thought we had better give up the
game as they had the advantage over us. To snipe at the enemy seemed
to be a curious way to spend a Sunday afternoon, but it was a temptation
too hard to resist. I crawled back through the trench to the road, and
there finding a man who had just lost his hand, directed him to    (p. 316)
the aid post near Battalion Headquarters. I accompanied him part of
the way and had reached the edge of the sunken road, when a major of
the Engineers came up to me and said, "I have got a better pair of
German glasses than you have." It was an interesting challenge, so we
stood there on a little rise looking at the spires of Cambrai and
comparing the strength of the lenses. Very distinctly we saw the town,
looking peaceful and attractive. Suddenly there was a tremendous crash
in front of us, a lot of earth was blown into our faces, and we both
fell down. My eyes were full of dirt but I managed to get up again. I
had been wounded in both legs, and from one I saw blood streaming down
through my puttees. My right foot had been hit and the artery in the
calf of my leg was cut. I fell down again with a feeling of exasperation
that I had been knocked out of the war. The poor major was lying on
the ground with one leg smashed. The same shell had wounded in the
chest the young machine-gun officer who had shared his bunk with me
the night before. I believe an Imperial officer also was hit in the
abdomen and that he died. The chaplain of the 10th Battalion who
happened to be standing in the sunken road, got some men together
quickly and came to our help. I found myself being carried off in a
German sheet by four prisoners. They had forgotten to give me my
glasses, and were very much amused when I called for them, but I got
them and have them now. The major not only lost his leg but lost his
glasses as well. The enemy had evidently been watching us from some
observation post in Cambrai, for they followed us up with another
shell on the other side of the road, which caused the bearers to drop
me quickly. The chaplain walked beside me till we came to the aid post
where there were some stretchers. I was placed on one and carried into
the dressing station at Haynecourt. They had been having a hard time
that day, for the village was heavily shelled. One of their men had
been killed and several wounded. I felt a great pain in my heart which
made it hard to breathe, so when I was brought into the dressing
station I said, "Boys, I am going to call for my first and last tot of
rum." I was immensely teased about this later on by my friends, who
knew I was a teetotaller. They said I had drunk up all the men's rum
issue. A General wrote to me later on to say he had been terribly
shocked to hear I was wounded, but that it was nothing in comparison
with the shock he felt when he heard that I had taken to drinking rum.
Everyone in the dressing station was as usual most kind. The       (p. 317)
bitter thought to me was that I was going to be separated from the old
1st Division. The nightmare that had haunted me for so long had at
last come true, and I was going to leave the men before the war was
over. For four years they had been my beloved companions and my
constant care. I had been led by the example of their noble courage
and their unhesitating performance of the most arduous duties, in the
face of danger and death, to a grander conception of manhood, and a
longing to follow them, if God would give me grace to do so, in their
path of utter self-sacrifice. I had been with them continuously in
their joys and sorrows, and it did not seem to be possible that I
could now go and desert them in that bitter fight. When the doctors
had finished binding up my wounds, I was carried off immediately to an
ambulance in the road, and placed in it with four others, one of whom
was dying. It was a long journey of four hours and a half to No. 1
C.C.S. at Agnez-les-Duisans, and we had to stop at Queant on the way.
Our journey lay through the area over which we had just made the great
advance. Strange thoughts and memories ran through my mind. Faces of
men that had gone and incidents that I had forgotten came back to me
with great vividness. Should I ever again see the splendid battalions
and the glad and eager lives pressing on continuously to Victory?
Partly from shell holes, and partly from the wear of heavy traffic,
the road was very bumpy. The man above me was in terrible agony, and
every fresh jolt made him groan. The light of the autumn afternoon was
wearing away rapidly. Through the open door at the end of the
ambulance, as we sped onward, I could see the brown colourless stretch
of country fade in the twilight, and then vanish into complete
darkness, and I knew that the great adventure of my life among the
most glorious men that the world has ever produced was over.




CHAPTER XXXV.                                                      (p. 318)

VICTORY.

_November 11th, 1918._


They took me to the X-ray room and then to the operating-tent that
night, and sent me off on the following afternoon to the Base with a
parting injunction that I should be well advised to have my foot taken
off; which, thank God, was not found necessary. From the C.C.S. at
Camiers, two days later I was sent to London to the Endsleigh Palace
Hospital near Euston Station, where I arrived with another wounded
officer at 2.30 a.m. I was put in a little room on the seventh storey,
and there through long nights I thought of our men still at the front
and wondered how the war was going. The horror of great darkness fell
upon me. The hideous sights and sounds of war, the heart-rending
sorrows, the burden of agony, the pale dead faces and blood-stained
bodies lying on muddy wastes, all these came before me as I lay awake
counting the slow hours and listening to the hoarse tooting of lorries
rattling through the dark streets below. That concourse of ghosts from
the sub-conscious mind was too hideous to contemplate and yet one
could not escape them. The days went by and intimations at last
reached us that the German power was crumbling. Swiftly and surely the
Divine Judge was wreaking vengeance upon the nation that, by its
over-weaning ambition, had drenched the world in blood.

On November 11th at eleven in the morning the bells of London rang out
their joyous peals, for the armistice had been signed and the war was
over. There was wild rejoicing in the city and the crowds went crazy
with delight. But it seemed to me that behind the ringing of those
peals of joy there was the tolling of spectral bells for those who
would return no more. The monstrous futility of war as a test of
national greatness, the wound in the world's heart, the empty homes,
those were the thoughts which in me overmastered all feelings of
rejoicing.

On Sunday morning, the 4th of May, 1919, on the Empress of Britain,
after an absence of four years and seven months, I returned to Quebec.
On board were the 16th Battalion with whom I had sailed away in 1914,
the 8th Battalion, the Machine Gun Battalion, the 3rd Field        (p. 319)
Ambulance and some of the Engineers. Like those awaking from a dream,
we saw once more the old rock city standing out in the great river.
There was the landing and the greeting of loving friends on the wharf
within a stone's throw from the place whence we had sailed away. While
I was shaking hands with my friends, an officer told me I had to
inspect the Guard of Honour which the kind O.C. of the vessel had
furnished. I did not know how to do this properly but I walked through
the rows of stalwart, bronzed men and looked into their faces which
were fixed and immovable. Each man was an original, and every unit in
the old 1st Division was represented. For four years and seven months,
they had been away from home, fighting for liberty and civilization.
Many of them wore decorations; many had been wounded. No General
returning victor from a war could have had a finer Guard of Honour.

The troops had to wait on board the ship till the train was ready. All
along the decks of the great vessel, crowded against the railings in
long lines of khaki, were two thousand seven hundred men. Their bright
faces were ruddy in the keen morning air. On their young shoulders the
burden of Empire had rested. By their willing sacrifice Canada had
been saved. It made a great lump come in my throat to look at them and
think of what they had gone through.

I went back to the gangway for a last farewell. In one way I knew it
must be a last farewell, for though some of us will meet again as
individuals it will be under altered conditions. Never again but in
dreams will one see the great battalions marching on the
battle-ploughed roads of France and Flanders. Never again will one see
them pouring single file into the muddy front trenches. All that is
over. Along the coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific, among our cities,
by the shores of lakes and rivers and in the vast expanse of prairies
and mountain passes the warrior hosts have melted away. But there on
the vessel that day the fighting men had come home in all their
strength and comradeship. I stood on the gangway full of conflicting
emotions.

The men called out "Speech," "Speech," as they used often to do, half
in jest and half in earnest, when we met in concert tents and
estaminets in France.

I told them what they had done for Canada and what Canada owed them
and how proud I was to have been with them. I asked them to continue
to play the game out here as they had played it in France. Then,   (p. 320)
telling them to remove their caps, as this was our last church parade,
I pronounced the Benediction, said, "Good-bye, boys", and turned
homewards.




INDEX                                                              (p. 321)


A

Abbeville, 160, 161.

Abeele, 132, 134.

Achicourt, 302, 303, 304.

Aeroplane, first ride in, 261, 264.

Agnez-les-Duisans, 317.

Albert, 136, 140, 146, 147, 148, 154, 158, 179, 288, 289.

"Alberta," 149, 174, 178, 205, 231, 243, 244, 245, 249, 252.

Alberta Dragoons, 93, 115.

Alderson, Gen. 89, 98, 108, 109, 111.

Ambulance drivers, 130.

Americans, 240, 242, 288.

American declaration of war, 165.

Amesbury, 32.

Amiens, 135, 186, 271, 273.

"Andania," 24, 25, 27, 302.

Anzin, 165, 166, 249.

Anzin-St. Eloi. rd., 164.

Archbishop of York, 190.

Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders, 82.

Arleux, 170, 177, 253.

Armagh Wood, 131, 133.

Armentieres, 38, 41, 98, 181.

Armistice, 318.

Army, 1st, 205.
  "   5th, 242.
  "   Hqrs., 211.
  "     "  2nd, 134.
  "   Service Corps, 50, 99.
  "   Mind, the, 222.

Arras, 150, 235, 246, 247, 251, 270, 290, 296, 301, 304.

Arras-Bethune rd., 164, 171, 173, 174, 176.

Arras-Cambrai, 310, 311.

Arriane Dump, 164, 175, 176, 178.

Artillery, Canadian, 285.
  "        Monument, 239.

Attention to detail, effect of, 209.

Aubigny, 154.

August 4th, 271.

Australians, 122.

Australian Tunnellers, 201.

Averdoignt, 258, 259.

Avonmouth, 35.


B

Bac St. Maur, 42.

Bailleul, 38, 76, 98, 109, 112, 113, 114.

Bailleul-sur-Berthouit, 170.

Bailly-sur-Lys, 43, 46.

Bapaume, 136, 137.

Baptism at the Front, a, 122.

Barlin, 161, 162, 206, 207, 230.

Barrage, 168, 172, 198, 276, 309.

Base, 267.

Battalion, British, 165.
  "        Guards, 79.
  "        Headqrs., 249, 250, 251, 252, 269, 276, 280, 281, 294, 295.
  "        Machine Gun, 258, 298, 300, 307, 313, 318.
  "        of Engineers, 3rd, 272.
  "        Pioneer, 199.
  "        1st, 109, 181, 246, 306, 307.
  "        2nd, 181, 207, 278, 296, 309, 311.
  "        3rd., 125, 149, 181, 285, 311.
  "        4th., 181, 296, 305, 306.
  "        5th., 181, 242, 275, 277, 282, 284, 292, 294, 311, 313.
  "        5th., Headqrs., 293.
  "        7th., 181, 203, 235, 236, 282, 294, 295, 296, 313.
  "        8th., 159, 181, 235, 236, 282, 283, 288, 292, 295, 302, 311,
                 313, 314, 318.
  "        10th., 61, 181, 270, 280, 311, 312, 314, 315, 316.
  "        13th., 52, 80, 118, 120, 181, 277, 296, 306.
  "        14th., 23, 24, 27, 54, 58, 61, 111, 118, 125, 159, 160, 181,
                  246, 282, 295, 298, 301, 305, 306.
  "        15th., 37, 38, 39, 42, 55, 118, 181, 274, 298.
  "        16th., 37, 42, 57, 60, 72, 82, 106, 118, 119, 120, 125, 152,
                  164, 181, 246, 272, 273, 274, 275, 277, 279, 298, 302,
                  318.
  "        22nd., 282.
  "        24th., 282.
  "        42nd., 302.
  "        87th., 147, 148, 157, 178.

Battery, my son's, 303.
  "      Siege, 193.
  "        "    7th., 166, 198, 199.
  "        "    11th., 154, 155.

Battle Headqrs., 136, 176, 272, 273, 290, 291, 292, 303, 304, 305.

Bean, C. W. E. Mr., 289.

Beaufort, 282, 286, 288.

Beaurains, 303.

Bedford House, 126, 132.

Bed of Chairs, 79.

Bell-Irving, Major, 302.

Berles, 260, 261, 264.

Bernaville, 147, 298.

Bethune, 88, 89, 90, 159, 190, 230, 234.

Bishop du Pencier, 234.
  "    of London, 48.

Bishop's College men, 114.

Blind Organist, 89.

Borden, Sir Robert, 22, 72, 102, 266.

Boulogne, 240, 267.

Bourlon Wood, 311.

Boves, 272, 273.

Bracquemont, 151, 191, 192, 197, 235, 240.

Bray Hill, 167.

Brielen, 75.

Brigade, 206.
  "      Artillery, 171, 245, 260.
  "         "       1st., Hqrs., 199.
  "         "       2nd.,   " 199.
  "         "       3rd.,   " 177.
  "         "       3rd., 36, 53, 75, 76, 77, 87, 97, 103, 168, 181.
  "      Cavalry, 82, 98, 103.
  "      Headqrs., 93, 156, 201.
  "      Infantry, 65, 98.
  "         "      3rd., Headqrs., 107, 118.
  "      Machine Gun, 207.
  "      Motor Machine Gun, 130.
  "      Schools, 208.
  "      1st, 128, 179, 234, 246, 279, 280, 285, 303, 305, 307.
  "      2nd., 80, 181, 205, 234, 242, 255, 257, 279, 280, 282, 292,
               305, 310, 311.
  "      2nd., Hqrs., 235.
  "      3rd., 31, 43, 75, 76, 77, 93, 97, 98, 242, 246, 292, 295, 298,
               305, 310.

British Artillery, 106.
  "     Cavalry, 46.
  "     Tribute, 169.

Bruay, 159, 161, 178, 179, 180, 181, 203, 204, 205, 206, 232, 234, 235,
       300.

Brutenell, Col., 130.

Buissy Switch Trench, 305.

Bulford Camp, 95, 96.

Bullecourt, 303.

Bully-Beef Wood, 269.

Bully-Grenay, 192, 193, 194, 208.

Byng, Gen., 132.


C

"C" Mess, 99, 149, 217, 231, 243, 245.

C.C.S., 267, 270, 286, 291, 317, 318.
  "     British, 128, 129.

Caestre, 38, 49.

Cagnicourt, 296, 303.

Caix, 279, 280, 281.

Calais, 227.

Camblain l'Abbe, 149, 151, 152, 158, 159, 238.

Cambligneul, 203.

Cambrai, 302, 315.

Camiers, 318.

Cam Valley, 249.

Canadian Cavalry, Hqrs., 160.
  "      Corps, 72, 108, 132, 149, 150, 178, 189, 190, 220, 240, 265,
                270, 271, 272, 274.
  "      Corps Headqrs., 109, 132, 150, 238, 260, 270.
  "      Cyclist Corps, 142.
  "      Light Horse, 93.
  "      Prisoners of War Fund, 109.
  "      Sisters, 254.
  "      War Records Office, 184.

Canal du Nord, 291, 305.

Canaples, 135, 137, 147, 161.

Canteen, 138.

Cassel, 49, 50, 52, 134.

Caves, 246.

Cemetery, 152, 158, 176, 180, 291.
  Canadian, 56, 136, 138.
  at Ecoivres, 174.
  Military, 214.
  near Thelus, 156.

Centre Way, 155.

Chalk Pit, 199.

Chamounix, 186.

Chaplain, American, 270.
  "       British, 111.
  "       General, 34.
  "       Junior, 194.
  "       Praise of, 116.
  "       Rest Home, 190.
  "       Roman Catholic, 184.
  "       Senior, 98, 173, 181, 190, 203, 207, 231.
  "       Senior of Australian Div., 138.
  "       Senior Roman Catholic, 34, 76.
  "       1st. Army, 205.
  "       Service Headqrs., 135.

Chateau d'Acq., 183, 184, 185, 189, 251.
  "     de la Haie, 178, 181, 230, 242, 243.
  "     Longeau, 272.
  "     of Le Cauroy, 147.
  "     of Ranchicourt, 150.

Cheerfulness of Men, 255.

Cheery word, effect of, 67.

Cherisy, 292, 294, 295, 296.

Chinese Labour Companies, 192.

Christmas, 32, 118, 159, 233.

Church Parade, 18, 21, 22, 38, 320.
  "    Service, 315.
  "    under Chestnut Tree, 256.

Cite St. Pierre, 238.

"City of Chester," 36.

Clayton, 230.

Clino, 259, 260, 267.

Comradeship, effect of, 78.

Concert Party, 180, 192, 203, 231, 242, 243, 254, 261, 298.
  "       "    1st Divisional, 159.

Concerts, 153.

Confirmation Service, 109.

Congreve, General, 40.

Connaught, Duke & Duchess, 22, 266.

Consecration, the Supreme Idea, 299.

Contalmaison, 137.

Cope, 311.

Convalescent Camp, 133.

Coupigny, 181.

Courcelette, 115, 138, 140, 142, 144, 145, 155, 157, 179.

Court-o-Pyp, 96, 97.

Croisilles, 302.

"Crown & Anchor," 264.

Crow's Nest, The, 295.

Crucifix Corner, 235.
  Dump, 193.

Crucifixes, 105.

Crucifixion of Canadian Soldier, 76.

Currie, Gen., 80, 109, 112, 222, 239, 242, 260.


D

Dainville, 291, 298, 300, 302.

"Daily Mail," 187, 191.

"Dandy," 90, 91, 95, 103, 107, 108, 110, 113, 122, 128, 134, 165, 180,
         253, 256, 265, 304.

Day of Young Men, the, 182.

Death Valley, 138, 156, 157, 179.

Deligny's Mill, 312.

Desertion, procedure for death penalty, 211.
  "        death penalty inflicted, 214.

Dish washing in the trenches, 236.

Divion, 234.

Division, 106, 122, 132, 162, 177, 192, 199, 203, 207, 209, 216, 220,
          226, 227, 228, 242, 251, 253, 260, 265, 268, 280, 287, 288,
          289, 291.
  "       1st., 33, 46, 93, 108, 130, 149, 172, 178, 194, 264, 266, 274,
          317, 319.
  "       2nd., 108, 138, 175, 281, 291, 296, 303.
  "       3rd., 129, 274, 300, 302, 304.
  "       4th., 146, 154, 158, 231, 232, 242, 294, 295, 311.
  "       Guards, 123, 132.
  "       Scots, 250.

Divisional Area, 2nd., 282.
  "        1st. Wing, 267, 268.
  "        Headqrs., 123, 134, 135, 147, 159, 173, 183, 191, 213, 230,
                     256, 271.
  "           "      1st. Can., 264, 286.
  "        Rest Camp, 132.
  "        Sports, 261.
  "        Train, 133, 208, 209.

Dominion Day, 189.
  "       "   Sports, 266.

Douai, 249.

Douai-Cambrai, 312.

Double-Crassier, 194.

Douve, 118.

Dregs of the Cup, 303.

Dressing Station, 140, 142, 144, 177, 200, 201, 227, 235, 284, 285, 291,
                  296, 309, 314, 316.

Drocourt-Queant Line, 291, 297.

Duffy, 62, 73.

Durham Light Infantry, 39.

Duty as a guide, 250.
  "  "  " runner, 250.


E

Easter Day, 48, 123, 245.
  "     "   1916, 128.

Ecoivres, 162, 166, 167, 172, 232, 252.

Edinburgh, 240.

"Empress of Britain," 318.

Endsleigh Palace Hospital, 318.

Engineer Companies, 245.

English Channel, 28.

Epinoy, 314.

Estaires, 46, 48, 49.

Etrun, 247, 248, 251, 268, 270.

Estree-Cauchie, 204.

Evians-les-Bains, 187.


F

Fampoux, 249, 250, 263.

Farbus, 177.

Festubert, 80, 82, 89.

Feuchy, 249, 250, 263, 269.

Field Ambulance, 1st., 303.
  "      "       2nd., 68, 69, 70, 74.
  "      "       3rd., 37, 133, 319.
  "   Co. Engineers, 3rd., 135.

Fight in a Church Service, 102.

Fletre, 38, 122.

Fleurbaix, 43.

Florence, 223, 226.

"Florizel," 26.

Foch, Marshal, 254, 255.

"Follies, The," 123.

Fort Glatz, 193, 199, 235.

Fosseaux, 245, 247.

"Four Winds, The," 152, 154.

France, Patriotism of, 188.

Fresnicourt, 185, 190.

Fresnoy, 177, 178, 233.

Frevent, 253, 254.

Frohen Le Grand, 147.


G

Gas Attack, 240, 241.

Gas Poisoning, 201.

Gas Shells, 269.

Gaspe Basin, 26.

Gasquet, Cardinal, 222.

General Hospital, No. 2, 35, 36, 37, 80, 97.

Gentelles Wood, 272, 273, 279.

German Aeroplane, 111.
  "    Dugouts, 136.
  "    Prisoners, 65, 80, 82, 142, 144, 200, 278, 283, 284, 295, 312, 316.
  "    Spy, 83, 89, 96, 108.
  "    Thoroughness, 66.

Ghurkas, 79.

Glasgow Highlanders, 81.

Good Friday, 48, 165, 245.

Gouldberg Copse, 227.

Gouy-Servins, 231.

Graham, Rev. E. E., 296.

Graves, Unrecorded, 158.

Great Memories of the War, 117.

Grenade School, 132, 133.

Grenay, 235.

Groves, Vaughan, 234, 235.

Gwynne, Bishop, 99, 100, 135.


H

Haig, Gen., 78, 79.

Hallicourt, 180.

Hangard Wood, 277.

Harter, Major, M.C., 40.

Hatchet Wood, 282.

Hautes Avesnes, 298.

Haynecourt, 305, 311, 312, 316.

Headquarters, 112, 122, 178, 206, 211, 267, 268.

Hell Fire Corner, 69.

Hendecourt, 303.

Hendecourt Dury, 295.

Hill 60-54, 55, 124.

Hill 63-91, 101, 106, 113, 117, 118.

Hill 70-197, 198, 202, 203, 205, 207, 208, 233, 235, 240.

"Hole in the Wall, The," 195.

Holy Communion, 21, 27, 32, 40, 49, 66, 71, 77, 95, 96, 101, 119, 120,
                132, 143, 146, 147, 150, 160, 163, 164, 166, 176, 190,
                211, 232, 243, 245, 246, 292, 302.

Honor to a Belgian Maid, 111.

Hooge, 124.

Hooggraaf, 123, 128, 134.

Horne, Gen., 172, 176, 181, 205.

Hornoy, 271, 272.

Houdain, 180, 181.

Houplines, 39.

Hughes, Gen., 15, 17, 21, 22, 53, 102, 103.

Hugo Trench, 235.


I

Ignacourt, 280.

Inchy Station, 303, 304, 305.

Indian Troops, 74.
  "    Village, 80.

Ironside, Col., 148.

Italian, 1st. Div., 218.
  "      3rd Army, 221.

Izel-les-Hameaux, 261, 262, 264.


J

Joffre, Gen., 72.

Johnson, Johnny, 261, 264.

Jutland, 129, 130.


K

Khaki University, 267.

King, The, 32, 72, 134.

"King Edward's Horse," 112.

Kitchener, Earl, 102, 103, 129.

Kort Dreuve, 101.


L

La Boisselle, 137.

Labyrinth, 173.

Lacouture, 79.

La Creche, 94.

Lake of Geneva, 187.

Lamb, Col., 219, 221, 223.

Lark Hill, 31.

La Targette Rd., 183.

Laventie, 45.

Le Brebis, 192, 235.

Le Cauroy, 253, 254, 261, 270, 271, 301.

Lectures on Leave Trip to Rome, 257, 258.

Leicesters, 45.

Lens, 197, 202, 235, 241, 263.

Lens-Arras, 176, 185, 207.

Lens-Bethune Rd., 200.

Les Tilleuls, 239.

Le Touret, 80, 82.

Liencourt, 271.

Lieven, 208, 240, 262, 263.

Loison, 267, 268.

London, 91, 93, 240, 318.

Loos, 109, 110, 192, 193, 197, 201, 207, 235, 240.

Loos Crassier, 200.

Lord's Prayer, 71, 142.

Lyons, 259, 260, 273, 289, 300.


M

MacDonald, Murdoch, 44, 52, 53, 54, 67, 68, 75, 81, 87, 94, 95.

Macdonell, Gen., 82, 189.

Macphail, Col., 300, 303.

Maison Blanche, 164, 169.

Mametz, 146.

Maple Copse, 133.

Maroc, 192, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 200, 201, 235.

Maroeil, 249.

Marquion, 310.

Marseilles, 216.

Mazingarbe, 192, 235.

Memorial Service for Hill 70 Attack, 206.

Memories of the War, 132.

Mercer, Gen., 128, 129.

Merville, 46.

Messines, 101.

Military Prison, 123.

Ministering to German Prisoners, 278.

Miraumont, 139, 157.

Moment Before Attack, 276.

Mons, 260.

Mont des Cats, 112, 128, 129.

Montreuil, 267.

Mont St. Eloi, 149, 150.

Morgue, 124.

Mount Kemmel, 112.

Murray, Major, 112.


N

Nazebrouck, 37.

Neuve Chapelle, 45.

Neuve Eglise Rd., 95, 96.

Neuville St. Vaast, 169.

Neuville Vitasse, 291.

New Year, 160, 233.

Nieppe, 98, 99, 108, 109, 112.

"Nine Elms," 174.

Noeux les Mines, 191.

"No Man's Land," 120, 126, 149, 207, 249, 269.


O

Observation Balloons, 181, 182.
  "         Post, 280.

Ohlain, 152, 205.

Ouderdom, 74.


P

Paris, 186, 187, 227.

Parish Visiting, 20, 192, 235, 267, 269.

Passchendale 220, 227, 228, 229, 230, 233.

Patricia, Princess, 22.

Petit Moncque Farm, 103, 107, 118.

"Philo," 91, 94, 95, 104, 134, 149.

"Pineapples," 236, 237, 238.

Pisa, 217, 226.

Place St. Croix, 251.

Ploegsteert, 38, 91, 94, 100, 102, 103, 110, 113, 118.

Plymouth, 28.

Poems: "The Unnamed Lake," 307.
       "Requiescant," 75.

Pope, The, 220.

Poperinghe, 123, 128, 132, 207, 227, 230.

Poppies, 261.

Pozieres, 137, 138, 142, 144, 155.

Price, Major, 301.

Pronville, 305.

Pudding Lane, 249.
  "     Trench, 249, 269.

Puzzling Question, A, 163.

Pys., 139, 157.


Q

Quatre Vents, 203.

Queant, 305, 317.

Quebec, 318.

Queen's Own Westminsters, 41.

Quesnel, 288.


R

Railway Dugouts, 124, 126, 130, 131, 132.
  "     Triangle, 270.

Ranchicourt, 152, 193.

Ravine, 133.

Recitation of Poem Under Difficulties, 195.

Record Attack, A, 172.

Record-beating Advance, 280.

Refugees, 69.

Regina Trench, 138, 148, 156, 157, 158, 180.

Religion of Men at Front, 116, 134.

Rest Camp, 185, 190.

Riviera, 217.

Robecq, 78, 230.

Roberts, Lord, 32.

Robertson, Sir Wm., 220.

Roclincourt, 176.

Roellencourt, 147, 148, 149.

Romarin, 94, 111.

Rome, 216, 217.

Rome, March Through the Streets, 218.

Rosieres, 280, 282.

Ross, Pte., 95, 104, 112, 114, 154, 254, 304.

Rouville, 246.

Rouvroy, 285.

Royal Canadian Regiment, 189.

Royal Horse Artillery, 281.

Royal Rifles, 8th, 15, 16.

Rubempre, 135, 136, 137.

Ruitz, 180, 181.


S

Sad stories, 139, 141.

Sains-en-Gohelle, 235.

Salient, 122, 128, 130, 132, 230, 270.

Salisbury Plain, 30, 34.

Sanctuary Wood, 125, 133.

Sappers, 78.

Sausage Valley, 137.

Scarpe, 165, 247, 250, 251, 269.

Scarpe Valley, 249.

Second Army School, 190.

Seely, Gen., 98, 111.

Shells, 17 inch, 57.

Shell Trap Farm, 65.

"Shock Troops," 255.

"Silent Toast, The," 174.

"Sky Pilot," 181.

Smith-Dorrien, Gen., 38, 52, 53.

Somme, 134, 137, 179.

Sons, My, 46, 146, 147, 148, 165, 176, 178, 190, 230, 262, 267, 289.

Son's Grave, 157, 158, 180, 288.

Souchez, 231.

Spy Fever, 196.

Squadron, 13th, 261.

St. Aubin, 249.

St. Eloi Rd., 167, 249.

St. Feuchien, 272, 273.

St. George's Church, 123, 175, 176, 189.
 "    "        "     No. 2, 184.
 "    "        "     No. 3, 232.
 "    "      Rectory, 184, 233.

St. Jans Cappel, 112, 113, 114, 122.

St. Jean, 61, 67.

St. Julien, 54, 61.

St. Lawrence, 26.

St. Nazaire, 36.

St. Nicholas, 249.

St. Omer, 99, 100, 134, 135, 190.

St. Pol Rd., 147, 160, 161, 258, 259, 261, 267.

St. Sauveur Cave, 246.

St. Sylvestre, 50.

St. Venant, 230.

Steenje, 77, 78, 93.

Steenvoorde, 54, 134.

Stewart, Charles, 302.

Stonehenge, 32.

Strand, 151.

Strathcona Horse, 107.

Strazeele, 37.

Stretcher Bearers, 145.

Sunday Program, 132.

Swan Chateau, 127.


T

Talbot House, 123, 230.

Talbot, Neville, 123.

"Tanks," 140, 274, 277, 282.

Tara Hill, 136, 137, 147, 154, 158, 180, 289.

Telegraph Hill, 246.

Tent Hospitals, Canadian, 208.

Terdeghem, 52, 53.

Thacker, Gen., 134, 192, 260, 272, 287, 303, 305.

Thelus, 170.

"The Times," 180.

Tilloy, 269.

Tilques, 135.

Tincques, 264, 266.

Training for Final Attack, 255.

Tully, 160.

Turcos, 63, 72.

Turin, 226.


U

"Unbroken Line, The," 7.


V

Valcartier, 16, 17, 19, 24.
  "         Departure, 23.

Vandervyver, M., 54, 60, 67, 68.

Venezelos, M., 221.

Verbranden Molen, 126.

Verdrel, 259.

Victory Year, 234.

Villers au Bois, 183, 189.

Villers-Cagnicourt, 296.

Villers-Chatel, 205, 256, 257, 263.

Vimy Ridge, 150, 151, 162, 164, 167, 169, 178, 181, 233, 239, 263.

Vlamertinghe, 59, 68, 69, 70, 72, 73, 130, 132, 227.


W

Wailly, 298.

Wanquetin, 298.

Warlus, 245, 247, 299, 300, 301.

Warvilliers, 282, 284, 286.

Westhof Farm, 98.

Wieltje, 54, 55, 61, 62.

Willerval, 170, 177.

Wingles, 193.

Wippenhock, 130.

Wisques, 190.

Wounded, 316.

Wreath on Victor Emmanuel Statue, 221.

Wulverghem, 106, 115.


Y

Y.M.C.A., 30, 138, 155, 166, 203, 204, 208, 267, 292, 298.

Ypres, 49, 50, 54, 55, 124, 128, 130, 132, 227, 230.

Yser Canal, 54, 55.


Z

Zillebeke Bund, 125.

Zulus, 192, 193.


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