A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 230

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THE CAMPS AT BOULOGNE


Every man was of the best lighting age, from 25 to 35. Many of them were reservists, and a fair sprinkling of them had South African ribbons. The younger men were those who had enlistedforsevenyears'service. Whatevermistakesthehigher commands of the British army may have had to confess to, how- ever better trained the German staff may have been to meet the strategical exigencies of a great continental war, there can be no question that the British rank and file were a magnificently trained body of men fitted to meet, at terms of advantage, any army in the field. Every witness bears testimony to their dis- ciplined steadiness and to their fine marksmanship. Indeed, the Germans were the first in their admiration of the superiority of their enemy in this particular, and at their first experience of British rapid fire their officers reported that they had hosts of machine guns against them. For ten days the camps or the hills fulfilled their purpose in giving The troops a good night’s rest under canvas and a hot meal before they started for the front. The infantry stream slackened and a tide of artillery set in. Those of the gunners who were given a day’s rest in Boulogne spent it at the St. LeonardcampontheroadtoPontdeBriques. Totheartillery succeeded other branches of the service—the cavalry, represented by dragoons, lancers and hussars, whose stay in Boulogne was shprter than that of any branch—the Army Service Corps, who came and went every day, the Royal Army Medical Corps, who on some days outnumbered all others and came with end- less ambulance wagons and a large number of men, the Royal Engineers, and, lastly, the Royal Flying Corps, who possessed, perhaps, the most incongruous transport of all, ranging from motor wagon$ impressed hastily into the service, some of them bearing the names of well-known furnishing houses of London, to a London omnibus, a taxi-cab, or the roughly equipped chassis of a car intended to beat records at Brooklands. So much Boulogne saw of the Flying Corps on land. It had seen a more impressive spectacle in the air some days before when 36 service aeroplanes flew the English Channel. When they were assembled at their headquarters at Maubeuge, the Royal Flying Corps numbered four squadrons with 105 officers, 735 otherranks,and63aeroplanes. Thisforce,makingitsappear- ance for the first time on active service, ajso established an air- craft park at Amiens,

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