if they could. On the occasions when we have
had calls for overseas volunteers, the response has
always exceeded the demand. The people who, looking
at a party of hospital orderlies, remark—it
sounds incredible, but there are
make the remark—“These fellows should
be out at the front,” may further be reminded
that “these fellows” now have no say in
the choice of their own whereabouts. Not a soldier
in the land can decide where or how he shall serve.
That small matter is not for him, but for the authorities.
He may be thirsting for the gore of Brother Boche,
and an inexorable fate condemns him to scrub the gore
of Brother Briton off the tiles of the operating theatre.
He may (but I never met one who did) elect to sit
snugly on a stool at a desk filling-in army forms or
conducting a card index; and lo, at a whisper from
some unseen Nabob in the War Office, he finds himself
hooked willy-nilly off his stool and dumped into the
Rifle Brigade. This is what it means to be in
khaki, and it is hardly the place of persons not in
khaki to bandy sneers about the comfortableness of
the Linseed Lancers whose initials, when not standing
for Rob All My Comrades, can be interpreted to mean
Run Away, Matron’s Coming. The squad of
orderlies unloading that procession of ambulances
at the hospital door may not envy the wounded sufferers
whom they transmit to their wards; but the observer
is mistaken if he assumes that the orderlies have,
by some questionable manoeuvre, dodged the fiery ordeal
of which this string of slow-moving stretchers is the
THE RECREATION ROOMS
We rather pride ourselves, at the 3rd London, on the
fame of our hospital not merely as a place in which
the wounded get well, but as a place in which they
also “have a good time.” The two things,
truth to tell, are interlinked—a truism
which might seem to need no labouring, were it not
for the evidence brought from more rigid and red-tape-ridden
establishments. A couple of our most valued departments
are the “Old Rec.” and the “New
Rec.”—the old and new recreation rooms.
The new recreation room, a spacious and well-built
“hut,” contains three billiard tables,
a library, and current newspapers, British and Colonial.
This room is the scene of whist-drives, billiard and
pool tournaments, and other sociable ongoings.
Sometimes there is an exhibition match on the best
billiard table: the local champion of Wandsworth
shows us his skill—and a very pretty touch
he has: once the lady billiard champion of England
came, and defeated the best opponent we could enlist
against her—an event which provoked tremendous
applause from a packed congregation of boys in blue.