Adventures of a Despatch Rider eBook

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

At first we thought that no one at home cared about the war—­then we realised it was impossible for anybody to care about the war who had not seen war.  People might be intensely interested in the course of operations.  They might burn for their country’s success, and flame out against those who threatened her.  They might suffer torments of anxiety for a brother in danger, or the tortures of grief for a brother who had died.  The FACT of war, the terror and the shame, the bestiality and the awful horror, the pity and the disgust—­they could never know war.  So we thought them careless....

Again, though we had been told very many had enlisted, the streets seemed ludicrously full of men.  In the streets of Flanders there are women and children and old men and others.  These others would give all that they had to put on uniform and march gravely or gaily to the trenches.  In Flanders a man who is fit and wears no uniform is instantly suspected of espionage.  I am grinding no axe.  I am advocating nothing or attacking nothing.  I am merely stating as a fact that, suspicious and contemptuous as we had been in Flanders of every able-bodied man who was not helping to defend his country, it seemed grotesque to us to find so many civilian men in the streets of the country to which we had returned.

Of the heavenly quietness and decency of life, of late breakfasts and later dinners, there is no need to tell, but even before the week was up unrest troubled us.  The Division might go violently into action.  The Germans might break through.  The “old Div.” would be wanting us, and we who felt towards the Division as others feel towards their Regiments were eager to get back....

On the boat I met Gibson.  At Boulogne we clambered into the same bus and passed the time in sipping old rum, eating chocolate biscuits, reading the second volume of ‘Sinister Street,’ and sleeping.  At St Omer our craving for an omelette nearly lost us the bus.  Then we slept.  All that I can remember of the rest of the journey is that we stopped near Bailleul.  An anxious corporal popped his head in.

“Mr Brown here?”

“Ye—­e—­s,” sleepily, “what the devil do you want?”

“Our battery’s in action, sir, a few miles from here.  I’ve got your horses ready waiting, sir.”

Mr Brown was thoroughly awake in a moment.  He disturbed everybody collecting his kit.  Then he vanished.

We were late at Bailleul, and there was no one to meet us.  The Cyclists as usual came to our help.  Their gig was waiting, and climbing into it we drove furiously to St Jans Cappel.  Making some sort of beds for ourselves, we fell asleep.  When we woke up in the morning our leave was a dream.

FOOTNOTES: 

[22] Here are kindly people.

[23] French, Flemish, and German slang expression.  Done for!

[24] An abbreviation for the general in command of the Divisional Artillery.

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Adventures of a Despatch Rider from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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