A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 239

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A PERSONAL REMINISCENCE


A corporal of the ist Royal West Kent Regiment tells anotlier thrilling story^ We were among the first lot to march up to Mons from Valenciennes, but our opening round with the Germans camb the day before we reached there. outblowforawholepatrolof28Hussars. Wewereforming up in the main street at Wasmes to go to the relief of A Company, which was ahead, when some ‘'civvies (civilians) brought word that the Germans were coming. Up to that timewchadn'tseenany. Someofuslayonthegroundand others took available cover. Presently the Germans came along in fours, at walking pace, without a notipn of danger, talking,smoking,andpattingtheirhorses. Wesuddenlygaye them a volley of “Kentish Fire,” and as^we peppered them theyshrivelledup. Iaimedatthreeandsawthemalldrop. Every German was killed, and as there was not a single casucilty on our side wc thought it a great start. It was different the next day,* for, after a night in an orchard—in an unsuccessful attempt to reach A Company—wc found ourselves defending the Mons canal. Five of my company officers were then lulled and the other was wounded, and 17 ii^n of the company were left dead on the field. Fol- lowing this, in our rearguard fighting, day and night, wc had a coiitiiiual quelling ; but we sold every foot of ground only at a long price in the lives and blood of our enemies. Our brigade was coyoring the retirement of the main body, and we reached the little village of Crepy, near Compi^gne,‘ on August31. Thenextday,whenpartridgeshootingwasbegin- ning at home, sure enough I was “winged ” among the turnips. Overnight my company was sjplit up into outposts, spread out about tNvo miles, covering all roads and places from which suq^rise attacks might come. I was sent back to headquarters, alx)ut tlircc miles away, for keeping communication. to return with some maps and a message for the company. When I got to where the outposts had been left they were missing.. They liad apparently retired to some other position. It was just getting lights and happening to look back as- returned I saw an officer and eight men extended over the ground where our men had been left. I took them to be English. Puttingdownmygun,Iwhistledandbegansema- phoring with my arms, “Are you B Company?" They dropped down at once and fired on me. It was a complete knock-Before daybreak I Wets ordered As Oie bullets came along, you can bet your boots I wasn’t long in dropping, toe, to make them tliiiik I l^ad been hit. This idea succeeded, for tliey ceased firing. Then I slowly wriggled on my stomach across the road into a turnip field. A general engagement was beginuing,andImusthaveDecnbetweenBietwosides. Crawl-

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