A Remount Camp was established at Fort Neuillay. It was an interesting fact that the last time the fort had been used was by English troops when that part of the coast was ours. One of the officers there possessed a beagle called “Flanders.” She was one of the survivors of that famous pack taken over in 1914 that so staggered our allies. One glorious “half-day” off duty, riding across some fields we started a beautiful hare. Besides “Flanders” there was a terrier and a French dog of uncertain breed, and in two seconds the “pack” was in full cry after “puss,” who gave us the run of our lives. Unfortunately the hunt did not end there, as some French farmers, not accustomed to the rare sight of half a couple and two mongrels hot after a hare scudding across their fields, lodged a complaint! When the owner of the beagle was called up by the Colonel for an explanation he explained himself in this wise.
“It was like this, Sir, the beagle got away after the hare, and we thought it best to follow up to bring her back. You see, Sir, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do see,” said the Colonel, with a twinkle. “Well, don’t let it happen again, or she must be destroyed.”
A Y.M.C.A. was also established, and Mr. Sitters, the organiser, begged us to get up a concert party and amuse the men. In those days Lena Ashwell’s parties were quite unknown, and the men often had to rely on themselves for entertainment. Our free time was very precious, and we were often so tired it was a great undertaking to organise rehearsals, but this Sergt. Wicks did, and very soon we had quite a good show going.
One day Mr. Sitters obtained passes for us to go far up into the English lines, and for days beforehand rehearsals were held in the oddest places. Up to the last minute we were on duty in the wards, and all those who could gave a helping hand to get us off—seven in all, as more could not be spared. It was pouring with rain, but we did not mind. We had had such a rush to get ready and collect such properties as we needed that, as often happens on these occasions, we were all in the highest spirits and the show was bound to go well.
We sped along in the ambulance, “Uncle” driving, and picking up Mr. Sitters en route. Our only pauses were at the barriers of the town, and on we went again. We had been doing a good 35 and had slowed up to pass some vehicles going over a bridge, when the pin came out of the steering rod. If we had not slowed up I can’t imagine there would have been much of the concert party left to perform!
We pulled up and began to look for it, hoping, as it had just happened, we might see it lying on the road. Luckily for us at that moment an English officer drove up and stopped to see if he could be of any help. He heard where we were bound for, and, as time was getting on, instantly suggested we should borrow his car and driver and he would wait until it came back. Mr. Sitters was only too delighted to accept the offer as it was getting so late.