Remembrance - 6th Royal West Kent Regiment 1914-18. By Sidney T Kemp

jieDt riding up asking the Commanding Officer to halt a few minuses so that the rear Company could get to the front of the column and let the Company at the front go back to the rear for this is what always happened when we marched each Company moved back and forward so that the strain of being last was borne by everyone. I heard the Commanding Officer tell the doctor, my orders are not to stop until we reach our destination which I think was about ten miles. At last the doctor rode up and told the Commanding Officer, Sir I am the doctor of this Battalion and in the name of humanity I order you to halt this column if only for five minutes. Veil the Commanding Officer halted us and thereabout thirty yards or so in front of U3 out rode the Brigadier of 37th Brigade of which we wore part and swore and carried onto the Commanding Officer. He and his aide decamp had been kind of hiding behind some trees in a little cul de sac. The doctor who was liked and respected by everyone rods upon his pony to the old Brigadier saluted and said to him Sir I it was who halted this column not the Commanding Officer. The Brigadier muttered and said don't waste too much time. Now this all happened a few feet from where we signallers were resting beside the road and I know it happened as everything else that I have written happened to my knowledge and was never hearsay. Well we reached our objective which was Vermelles and then we Immediately went into reserve to the 1st Division who were attacking the Germans. Ve were told later that we should have been thereto take part in the attack on the first day September 25th but for the holdup caused by the absence of the Canadians to arrive in time at Armentiers. We also were told that the 24th Division of which the 8th Battalion Royal Vest Kents were part were marching up from base where they had recently landed and when we didn't arrive were thrown into battle in our place, chaps who up to now had never been in the trenches or seen what things were like up in front. V/e also heard and a chap named Harmsworth from Borough Green who we knew confirmed this he was badly wounded he said their losses were terrible including the Commanding Officer who was killed. Why didn't those in command learn to play chess or even the game of draughts. Veil we were billeted in shell wrecked huse3e at Vermelles sleeping in the downstairs rooms as the upstairs had been blown off by the shelling. I was detailed togo with Lieutenant Harris who was at that time Intelligence Officer to see what positions our Battalion were to uptake the next day but instead we were moved back to a village to rest. Now let me go aback bit. While we were in the Armentiers sector ve were issued with our first gas mask. This consisted of a bit of gauze covered by a kind of cotton material with two strings so that it could be tied over our mouth and nose and tied behind our ears. I doubt if this could be worn for many minutes at a time as it restricted your breathing. This is the prelude to what will soon be told. We stayed in reserve at .Vermelles till October 3rd my brother's birthday: he was twenty-one years of age now and marched back to' a small town called Magingarbe. This was the Guards Headquarters and when we the Royal West Kents arrived the place was full of troops. While we the Headquarters staff under the command of the Regimental Sergeant Major were waiting on the street togo into our billets the Regimental Sergeant Major suddenly called us to attention and saluted a young officer who was walking alone down the street. When the officer had passed the Regimental Sergeant Major told us that was His Royal Highness the Prince of Vales who at that time was an officer in one of the Grenadier Guards battalions. He may have passed four to five minutes when the Germans dropped a huge shell called a coal box because of the dense smoke produced on explosion right in the street.
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