The Great War, I was there - Part 3

tiling. Middle-aged men. both of them looked utterly exhausted. From their appearance they were suffering severely from the sun that alone might account for their not having thought of using the mayor as a collector of country carts. So Bridges sent the remnant of his squadron round St. Quentin to encourage and collect in the square as many as possible of the infantrymen who were willing to join us in making our escape. The shots indifferent parts of the town still continued. Perhaps a few drunken soldiers were still having an imaginary wrestle with lithe Angels of Mons,” or something more repulsive white wine can raise many images. Or did some of Bridges’ squadron shoot a few who too truculently scorned their suggestion that there was still time to run and fight another day? kidD g e s asked tome count the men who were collecting in the square and get them into fours. I counted one hundred and ten fours that is to say, four hundred and forty men. Then he asked tome do something else—1 forget what it was. A few men had whistles and Jews’ harps—perhaps they had them in their haversacks, as soldiers often do—and they formed a sort of band. We persuaded one of the colonels to march in front of his men. My recollection is that he looked very pale, entirely dazed, had no Sam Browne belt and leant heavily on his stick, ap­parently so exhausted with fatigue and the heat that he could scarcely have known what he was doing. Some of his men called to him encouraging words, affectionate and familiar, but not meant insolently, such as: “Buck sir!up, Cheer up, daddy !Now we shan’t belong !We are all going back to Hang- 1 e-Tear ’!”Actually I saw him saluting one of his own corporals, who did not even look surprised. What with fatigue, heat, drink and the demoralization of defeat, many hardly knew what they were doing. 1 was so tired myself that I went to sleep on my horse almost immediately after I remounted and nearly fell off, much to the amusement of some of the infaptry, who supposed I was as drunk with white wine as some of their comrades. By this time it was quite dark. It seemed to have taken hours to collect the men, yet we did not move off. 1 began to feel quite sick with impatience. Over-tired or sheer funk ?What on earth were the German cavalry doing ?At about five that afternoon they had been at Gricourt. We had held there,on keeping them back until about six o’clock, and it was now nearly eleven o’clock, and Gricourt was abut few COBBLES OF ST. Q U EN TIN —ONCE THE BEDS OF BRITISH SOLDIERS Here is the Grand’ Place of St. Quentin as it is today. Its people sleep safely in their’ beds, and at night its cobbles echo only the footsteps of belated citizens. But these stones were the scene of moving events in August 1914. Upon them 4th Division men in retreat from Mons flung themselves down in asleep of utter exhaustion, and were only roused by the heroic energy of Major Tom Bridges, who got them away in the nick of time. Photo, A. J. J»rcll. copyright A.P. Lt<l.
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