The date is August 1914. The British Expeditionary Force is in France and You're in the Royal Field Artillery. You're riding alongside one of the battery's gun limbers on its way to the assigned position on the east side of Mons, Belgium. This begins your journey into the Hell they called World War One. To purchase this historical memoir go to https://createspace.com/3649268
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Train Ride to The Frontier
As indicated by my August 20 entry, we boarded a train that would transport us to an unknown destination. I was gazing out the train’s window as it passed through Amiens and other towns along the way. I noticed that whenever the train stopped at a station, the grateful inhabitants of the town would be waiting to display appreciation for our arrival. Every station seemed to be crowded with people who showered flowers, chocolate, smokes, and drinks of all kinds on the troops and many Tommies got their first kiss from a French lady.
Everywhere the French people gave the troops a hearty welcome,
and then it occurred to me that just perhaps the people
may have realized more than us what events were impending.
While halted outside Maubeuge, the French caught a woman
with two pigeons concealed in her basket; one she had already
dispatched without ceremony. The French shot her in a
field just on our left.
While the train rambled on, George Bramwell, Pudgie Taylor, Bobby Glue and I were absorbing the impact of watching the execution, making us aware of the realities of war. Our conversation turned to the possibility of fighting the Germans in the near future. Each of us wondered what it would be like to be in a battle where shells were exploding and the sounds of bullets whistling through the air. During a somber moment, we each voiced our concerns about death. Our concerns were focused on our loved ones back home and how they would take the news.
Pudgie said that the army sent the family a telegram offering their condolences. We all agreed that this method lacked the personal touch a family would require upon hearing of a loved one's death. It was at this moment that George said that the four of us should make a promise. Commit to each other, that should any of us survive the war, the survivor(s) would call on the families of the fallen and tell them of their death. Bobby, Pudgie and I looked at George and thought of the merit of his idea. In a show of solidarity we shook hands thus sealing our commitment. I didn't know then that this would haunt me the rest of my life.