The Great War, I was there - Part 9

Part 10 of THE GREAT WAR: I WAS THERE!On Sale Everywhere Next Tuesday Leaves from the Editor’s Note- (Continued from page ii of this wrapper) articles are written by the men on the spot.” He, in common with two or three other writers, appreciates Captain Gydes chapter on the action near Maroilles, and his letter is of such great interest to all Old Contemptibles that I quote part of it: “The article by Captain Gyde is. in my opinion, a masterpiece of realistic writing. He describes events as they happened so clearly and vividly that everything of those memorable days comes back as clear as if it happened yesterday. The battle of Le Cateau was a rather tough time for my battalion, too. We dug ourselves in, and were nicely holding our own, when the order to retire came along. I well remember the grousing it caused. We, the rank and file, could not understand then why we should have to ‘runaway from those square-headed 111! when we could have held them there forever.’ I quote that remark of a pal of mine. Fortunately we did not know the general situation, only what was happening in our immediate vicinity. We were under the impression then that we were the decoys being used to lure the German Army towards Paris, where the french Army were waiting to annihilate them. Our military tacticians (sic) had great ideas in those days— the ones in the ranks I mean. Any­way. 1 will say that our chaps, or at least those with whom 1 came into contact, were never at anytime dispirited. Tired and weary, yes. but always holding tight to the impression that we had the Germans beaten any old time we wanted. And events proved right— even if it did take four years to do it.” IP ’OLLOWING almost immediately on this letter, I received another one from an ex-sergeant of the Royal Fusiliers, who, while he congratulates me “for a splendid job of work,” raises the question of the authenticity of the very photograph of iMr. Carter as “the young sentry at Mons.” He has dis­cussed it with some other old comrades and asks whether— since the photograph shows the sentry carrying an officer's haversack, and a leather rifle sling, and the absence of a bayonet sheath and entrenching tool handle— it is not a com­posite photograph taken at a later period of the war. So hard, then, is the Editorial lot !Having discovered by a personal visit to the Museum at Mons this remarkable and undoubtedly unique photograph of what was probably the first sentry posted at Mons, taken on August 22,1914— and this date is speci­fically stated underneath the photograph with the precise hour at which it was taken— I am faced with the definite suggestion that the photograph is a fake. I am sure the questions are raised in goodall faith but, on the other hand, it is a little exasperating that in a work of this nature, everywhere word of the text and every photograph is characterized by the spirit and principle“ I was there,” they should be raised at all. JAM sure my readers are quite satisfied that, as I have assured my correspondent with every emphasis that I can contrive, no photograph appears in this new work that is anything but perfectly genuine and unaltered. The illustra­tion of our work is confined, with the rarest possible exceptions, to actual contemporary photographs taken at the time and place of the incidents described beneath them and presented without any of the so-called artistic “improvements.” Possibilities of error in a work of this sort are more than merely numerous. It positively bristles with names of persons and places, times and dates, titles of battalions, brigades and divisions in a four years’ war which, although largely static over its central period of trench warfare, neces­sarily involved multifarious movements of units and indi­viduals. We have so far proceeded abut short distance on our throughway the four years, yet we have already en­countered many thousands of facts and statements which have had to be checked and re-checked with the utmost care. For if there is one thing that the ex-service man does pride himself upon, it is that he knows to what brigade and division his unit belonged, who commanded it, and where it was at various times. He is the man on the spot, whereas editorially we have to depend upon official histories, records, photographs and other documents, and only too often do we find that statements made in them conflict or are sometimes even impossible, so that I am always prepared to accept corrections if they prove to be necessary, much as I may regret that necessity. Mr. A. Dickinson, of Bletchley, Bucks, in along and very interesting letter, corrects the statement made on page 91 that Major-Gen. C.C. Monro commanded the First Division, whereas in fact he was in command of the Second Division. H IR. Dick in son was then a corporal in the Second Division Signal Company, and kept a diary of events with which he was inclose contact. He says :“On many occasions, being on afield telephone exchange or telephones, a great deal of information came my way during this period— for instance.' during the Loos attack, I could hear when our gas was to be liberated, progress made, instructions given from Div. to Bdes. It was interesting tome on seeing the picture of Col. Percival (who I believe commanded the 2nd Div. artillery) ashe once look every mounted man out of my cable section, leaving the wagons on the road­side, to defend abridge about 2 miles west of Soissons crossing the Aisne. ‘This happened at about 4.30 p.m. on Aug 31st, and as the cavalry patrols had been driven in. we were ordered to hold it till 6 p.m .but were relieved by a platoon of K.R.Rs., under the command of Prince Maurice of Battenburgh. “It was amusing to seethe drivers galloping across the field on their draught horses with half sets of harness clanging. It seems an in­credible time ago since those days, but I am still serving as .C.O.N 1/4 Signals in the 393rd (R BY) Field Battery and have also two sons serving in the same unit ”Mr. Dickinson is another ol my correspondents who has taken a special pleasure in Captain Gyde’s brilliant description of the action at Maroilles. JNCIDENTALLY, it has given me very great pleasure to find how many of the readers of my new work treasure its predecessor. One of many, Mr. C.S. Launchbury of Oxford, says :“Having just perused Part 2 of THE Great War: I Was There, may 1 offer you my congratulations in giving us ex-service amen book which I fee! sure must appeal toal! ranks, giving us as it does pen pictures from all ranks of their experiences of those four years. I was a reader of World War: a Pictured History and thought this was the best war book up to date, but I must agree with you that I Was There is your best. "He is indeed one of many, lor I can count by the dozen the letters in the last ten days that make references of a similar nature to the joy of possession of World War. f l “as stop-press ”note I can just include a request by Mr. James Dilley, ex-sergeant of the R.A.S.C., concern­ing the upper photograph in page 101 of Part 3. He recognizes the two A.S.C. men but cannot now remember their names, and if anyone else also knows them he will be, as I shall be myself, very glad if they will write tome. One was in the A.A.G. office, Line of Communications H.Q., and the other in the A.Q.M .G. branch. All Back Numbers Specially Kept Print for New Readers
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