Forgot your password?  

Resources for students & teachers

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 172 pages of information about Adventures of a Despatch Rider.

Our life on the Aisne, except for little exciting episodes, was restful enough.  We averaged, I should think, a couple of day messages and one each night, though there were intermittent periods of high pressure.  We began to long for the strenuous first days, and the Skipper, finding that we were becoming unsettled, put us to drill in our spare time and gave some of us riding lessons.  Then came rumours of a move to a rest-camp, probably back at Compiegne.  The 6th Division arrived to take over from us, or so we were told, and Rich and Cuffe came over with despatches.  We had not seen them since Chatham.  They regarded us as veterans, and we told them the tale.

One afternoon some artillery of this division came through the valley.  They were fine and fresh, but not a single one of us believed they equalled ours.  There was a line of men to watch them pass, and everybody discovered a friend until practically at every stirrup there was a man inquiring after a pal, answering questions, and asking what they thought in England, and how recruiting was going.  The air rang with crude, great-hearted jokes.  We motor-cyclists stood aside just criticising the guns and men and horses.  We felt again that shyness we had felt at Chatham in front of the professional soldier.  Then we remembered that we had been through the Retreat and the Advance, and went back to tea content.

FOOTNOTES: 

[13] I do not pretend for a moment that all these details are meticulously accurate.  They are what I knew or thought I knew at the time this was written.

[14] Curiously enough, months after this was written the author was wounded by shrapnel.

CHAPTER VIII.

THE MOVE TO THE NORTH.

We left Serches at dusk with little regret and pushed on over the hill past Ferme d’Epitaphe of gluttonous memory, past the Headquarter clerks, who were jogging peacefully along on bicycles, down the other side of the hill, and on to the village of Maast.

Headquarters were in a curious farm.  One side of its court was formed by a hill in which there were caves—­good shelter for the men.  There was just one run that night to Corps H.Q. in a chateau three miles farther on.

The morning was clear and sunny.  A good, lazy breakfast preluded a great wash.  Then we chatted discreetly with a Paris midinette at the gate of the farm.  Though not in Flanders, she was of the Flemish type,—­bright colouring, high cheek-bones, dark eyes.  On these little social occasions—­they came all too rarely; that is why I always mention them—­there was much advantage in being only a corporal.  Officers, even Staff Officers, as they passed threw at us a look of admiration and envy.  A salute was cheap at the price.

In the afternoon there was a run, and when I returned I found that the rest-camp rumour had been replaced by two others—­either we were going into action immediately a little farther along the line beyond Soissons, or we were about to make a dash to Ostend for the purpose of outflanking the Germans.

Follow Us on Facebook