A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 228

Jump to navigation Jump to search
Not Proofread. The contents of this page needs to be proofread. Currently, there are multiple typos / OCR errors that require attention.

they were bound for France, they did not know to what port they were being sent. To such an extent was this secrecy carried that even the captains of these ships did not know pre- cisely where they were bound until they had opened their sealed orders. The British public was not alone in a complete ignorance of these movements. As will appear later, German Intelligence was quite powerless to discover any accurate in- formationconcerningthem. IntheirpassageacrosstheChannel to Boulogne and Havre—the second great port of disembarkation for the British Expeditionary Force—the transports were guarded by a portion of the French fleet. French submarines were on constant patrol duty. At Boulogne it was not possible to conceal the fact that arrangements were being made for the reception of the force. Not a word, however, appeared in any newspaper, English or French. The first sign of* the coming of the troops was the arrival of a number of smart Frenchmen, in uniforms of the cavalry, engineers, artillery and line, who took up their quarters at the Hotel Christol, and showed a surprising acquaintance with theEnglishlanguage. These,itwassoonlearnt,weregtaffinter- pretersdetailedfordutywiththeBritishtroops. Tothemfell the duty of aiding the landing and dispatch of the British troops and afterwards of accompanying in the field. The second notable sign of the coming of the troops was the sudden appear- ance of British staff officers at the same hotel, and a motor car, driven by an English private, which made many hurried visits to the famous old chateau, Tour de L'Ordre, in the Haute Ville of Boulogne, where Colonel Daru, the governor of the town, had hisheadquarters. ThesewerefollowedbymorecarsofFrench ownership, in which staff officers of both armies scoured the country round. The third sign of the coming of the troops was a sudden order given to the merchants of Boulogne to clear their goods from the sheds lining the Bassin Loubet—an order obeyed with alacrity, seeingthatthegoodshadnotpaidduty. Thenthefirsttransport came, bringing vast stores of camp equipment and just a bare handfuloftroops. Onlyahandful,but,tothejoyofthepeople of Boulogne and the British residents, they were men of a splendid Scottish regiment—^the Argyll and Sutherland High- landers. TheBoulonnaiswilllongrememberthem. Theywere thefirsttocomeandthelasttogo. Fortwoweekstheywere

← 227   ·   228   ·   229 →
(page index)