Sunday, November 11, 2012
Monday, March 12, 2012
In his own words - “On September ninth, 1913, having resigned as Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, I sailed for Germany, stopping on the way in London in order to make the acquaintance of Ambassador Page, certain wise people in Washington having expressed the belief that a personal acquaintance of our Ambassadors made it easier for them to work together.
Two cares assail a newly appointed Ambassador. He must first take thought of what he shall wear and where he shall live. All other nations have beautiful Embassies or Legations in Berlin, but I found that my two immediate predecessors had occupied a villa originally built as a two-family house, pleasantly enough situated, but two miles from the centre of Berlin and entirely unsuitable for an Embassy.”
Working for the American Government he paints a realistic picture of conditions for the prisoners of war.
“In the autumn of 1914, the British Government decided on interning a great number of Germans in Great Britain; and the German government immediately, and as a reprisal, interned all the British civilian men who, up to this time, had enjoyed comparative freedom in Berlin and other cities of the Empire. The British civilians were shut up in a race track about five miles from the centre of Berlin, called Ruhleben. This race track in peace times was used for contests of trotting horses and on it were the usual grandstands and brick stable buildings containing box stalls with hay lofts above, where the race horses were kept………….
In Ruhleben the educated prisoners volunteered to teach the ignorant: two hundred and ninety-seven different educational courses were offered to those who desired to improve their minds. A splendid orchestra was organised, a dramatic society which gave plays in French and one which gave plays in English and another one which gave operas. On New Year's day, 1916, I attended at Ruhleben do really wonderful performance of the pantomime of "Cinderella"; and, in January, 1917, a performance of "The Mikado" in a theatre under one of the grand stands. In these productions, of course, the female parts were taken by young men and the scenery, costumes and accessories were all made by the prisoners. There was a camp library of over five thousand volumes sent over by the British Government and a reading and meeting hall, erected by the American Y. M. C. A. There was even a system of postal service with special stamps so that a prisoner in one barrack could write to a friend in another and have a letter delivered by the camp postal authorities. The German authorities had not hired the entire race track from the Race Track Association so that I made a special contract with the race track owners and hired from them the in-field and other portions not taken over by German authorities. Here the prisoners had tennis courts and played hockey, foot-ball and cricket and held athletic games. Expert dentists in the camp took care of the poorer prisoners as did an oculist hired by me with British funds, and glasses were given them from the same funds.
The prisoners who needed a little better nourishment than that afforded by the camp diet and their parcels from England, could obtain cards giving them the right to eat in the Casino or camp official restaurant where they were allowed a certain indicated amount of wine or beer with their meals, and finally arrangements were arrived at by which the German guards left the camp, simply guarding it from the outside; and the policing was taken over by the camp police department, under the charge of the prison camp commander and committee. The worst features, of course, were the food and housing. Human nature seems always to be the same. Establishment of clubs seems inherent to the Anglo-Saxon nature. Ten or more persons would combine together and erect a sort of wooden shed against the brick walls of a barrack, hire some poorer person to put on a white jacket and be addressed as "steward," put in the shed a few deck chairs and a table and enjoy the sensation of exclusiveness and club life thereby given.
Owing to the failure of Germany and Great Britain to come to an agreement for a long time as to the release of captured crews of ships, there were in Ruhleben men as old as seventy-five years and boys as young as fifteen. There were in all between fifty and sixty of these ships' boys. They lived in a barrack by themselves and under the supervision of a ship's officer who volunteered to look after them as sort of a monitor. They were taught navigation by the older prisoners and I imagine were rather benefited by their stay in the camp. I finally made arrangements by which these boys were released from England and Germany. With the exception of the officers and crews of the ships, prisoners were not interned who were over fifty-five.
The British Government was generous in the allowance of money for Ruhleben prisoners. The amount allowed by the German Government to the camp commanders for feeding the prisoners was extremely small, only sixty pfennigs a day. At first many of the camp commanders made contracts with caterers for the feeding of the prisoners and as the caterers' profit had to come out of this very small sum the amount of food which the remainder purchased for the prisoners was small indeed. As the war went on the prisoners' department of the war office tried to induce the camp commanders to abandon the contractors' system and purchase supplies themselves. A sort of convention of camp commanders was held in Berlin which I attended. Lectures were there given on food and its purchase, and methods of disinfecting prisoners, on providing against typhus, and on housing and other subjects. A daily lunch was served, supposed to be composed of the exact rations given at the prison camps.
The schedules of food, etc., made out by the camp commanders and furnished to foreign correspondents were often not followed in practice. I know on one occasion when I was at the camp at Doeberitz, the camp commander gave me his schedule of food for the week. This provided that soup with pieces of meat was to be given on the day of my visit, but on visiting the camp kitchen I found that the contractor was serving fish instead of meat. Some of the camp commanders not only treated their prisoners kindly but introduced manufactures of furniture, etc., to help the prisoners to pass their time. The camps of Krossen and Göttingen deserve special mention. At Giessen, the camp commander had permitted the erection of a barrack in which certain prisoners who were electrical experts gave lessons in electrical fitting, etc., to their fellow prisoners. There was also a studio in this camp where prisoners with artistic talent were furnished with paints and allowed to work. As more and more people were called to the front in Germany, greater use was made of the prisoners, and in the summer of 1916 practically all the prisoners were compelled to work outside of the camps. They were paid a small extra sum for this, a few cents a day, and as a rule were benefited by the change of scene and occupation. The Russians especially became very useful to the Germans as agricultural laborers.
Professor Alonzo E. Taylor of the University of Pennsylvania, a food expert, and Dr. D. J. McCarthy, also of Philadelphia, joined my staff in 1916 and proved most efficient and fearless inspectors of prison camps. Dr. Taylor could use the terms calories, proteins, etc., as readily as German experts and at a greater rate of speed. His report showing that the official diet of the prisoners in Ruhleben was a starvation diet incensed the German authorities to such fury that they forbade him to revisit Ruhleben. Professor Buckhaus, the German expert, agreed with him in some of his findings. I do not know what will happen to the Professor, who seemed willing to do his best for the prisoners. He wrote a booklet on the prison camps which he asked permission to dedicate to me, but the War Office, which published the book, refused to allow him to make this dedication. It was a real pleasure to see the way in which Dr. Taylor carried on his work of food inspection; and his work, as well as that of the other doctors sent from America to join my staff, Drs. Furbush, McCarthy, Roler, Harns, Webster and Luginbuhl, did much to better camp conditions.
Dr. Caldwell, the sanitary expert, known for his great work in Serbia, now I believe head of the hospital at Pittsburgh, reported in regard to the prison diet: "While of good quality and perhaps sufficient in quantity by weight, it is lacking in the essential elements which contribute to the making of a well-balanced and satisfactory diet. It is lacking particularly in fat and protein content which is especially desirable during the colder months of the year. There is considerable doubt whether this diet alone without being supplemented by the articles of food received by the prisoners from their homes would in any way be sufficient to maintain the prisoners in health and strength."
Dr. Caldwell also visited Wittenberg and found the commander by temperament, and so on, unfitted for such a position.
The Germans, as Dr. Taylor has pointed out, tried to feed prisoners on schedule like horses. There is, however, a nervous discrimination in eating so far as man is concerned; and a diet, scientifically fitted to keep him alive, may fail because of its mere monotony.
Monday, March 05, 2012
Here reflecting on the battle of Messines Ridge in 1917 he recalls an account of a simple Australian boy in the front trench:
"Fritz had a machine gun to nearly every ten yards. I don't know what became of my friends Hugh and Bill. They were just beside me, but when I looked around both were gone. A shell landed just at the side of me, and I think Hugh and Bill were blown to pieces. I got my wound in the chest and the fragment came out through my back. I thought my last day had come. I dropped into a hole, and no sooner had I got in, than Mack got it through the face. He was able to go back, but I was simply helpless, as my legs refused to move. Anyhow, I pulled the shovel off my back and dug a little ridge in the side of the trench. No sooner had I done this than Fritz started to bombard. One shell fell in the hole in which I was, but exploded in the opposite direction. Then another came and landed just above my head, but it failed to go off. Had it gone off I never would have been here now. I had prayed hard to my God to deliver me from my enemies and when those things happened I felt my prayer was heard and that I was going to come through. I was there in that hole all day and the next night before anyone came near me. At last one of the 19th Battalion chaps came along and went for a stretcher for me."
Friday, March 02, 2012
For the volunteer soldier who joined up to do his bit, general inspection was one of the least agreeable trials. Patrick MacGill paints an excellent and vivid picture of the monthly chore.
THE GENERAL INSPECTION
One of our greatest trials is the general inspection, which takes place every month, and once Lord Kitchener inspected the battalion, in company with the division quartered in our town. But that was before I joined. It involves much labour in the way of preparation. On one occasion, midnight the night before, a Friday, found us still busy with our work. My cot-mate was in difficulties with his rifle--the cloth of the pull-through stuck in the barrel, and he could not move
it, although he broke a bamboo cane and bent a poker in the attempt.
"It's a case for the armoury," he remarked gloomily. "What a nuisance that ramrods are done away with! We've been at it since eight o'clock, and getting along A1. Now that beastly pull-through!"
What an evening's work! On the day following the brigadier-general was to inspect us, and we had to appear on parade spick and span, with rifles spotless, and every article of our equipment in good order. Packs were washed and hung over the rim of the table by our billet fire, web-belts were cleaned, and every speck of mud and grease removed. Our packs, when dry, were loaded with overcoat, mess-tin, housewife, razor, towel, etc., and packed tightly and squarely,
showing no crease at side or bulge at corner. Ground-sheets were neatly rolled and fastened on top of pack, no overlapping was allowed; rifles were oiled and polished from muzzle to butt-plate, and swords rubbed with emery paper until not a single speck of rust remained.
Saturday morning found us trim and tidy on the parade ground. An outsider would hardly dream that we were the men who had ploughed through the muddy countryside and sunk to the knees in the furrowed fields daily since the wet week began. Where was the clay that had
caked brown on our khaki, the rust that spoilt the lustre of our swords, and the fringes that the wire fences tore on our tunics? All gone; soap and water, a brush, needle and thread, and a scrap of emery paper had worked the miracle. We stood easy awaiting the arrival of the general; platoons sized from flanks to centres (namely, the tallest men stood at the flanks, and the khaki lines dwindled in stature towards the small men in the middle), and company officers at front and rear. The officers saw that everything was correct, that no lace-ends showed from under the puttees, that no lace-eye lay idle, and that laces were not crossed over the boots. Each man had shaved and got his hair cut, his hat set straight on his head, and the regimental badge in proper position over the idle chin-strap. Pocket-flaps and tunics were buttoned, water-bottles and haversacks hung straight, the tops of the latter in line with the bayonet rings, and entrenching tool handles were scrubbed clean--my mate and I had spent much soap on ours the night before.
One of our officers gave us instructions as to how we had to behave during the inspection, more especially when we were under the direct gaze of the general.
"Not a movement," he told us. "Every eyelash must be still. If the general asks me your name and I make a mistake and say you are Smith instead of Brown, your real name, you're not to say a word. You are Brown for the time being. If he speaks to you, you're to answer: 'Sir,' and 'Sir' only to every question. If you're asked what was your age last birthday, 'Sir' is to be the only answer. Is that clear to every man?"
It was, indeed, clear, surprisingly clear; but we wondered at the command, which was new to us. To answer in this fashion appeared strange to us; we thought (the right to think is not denied to a soldier) it a funny method of satisfying a general's curiosity.
He came, a tall, well-set man, with stern eyebrows and a heavy moustache, curled upwards after the manner of an Emperor whom we heartily dislike, attended by a slim brigade major, who wore a rather large eyeglass, and made several entries in his notebook, as he followed on the heels of the superior inspecting the battalion.
We stood, every unit of us, sphinx-like, immovable, facing our front and resigned to our position. To an onlooker it might seem as if we were frozen there--our fingers glued on to our rifles and our feet firm to the earth at an angle of forty-five degrees. I stood near the rear, and could see the still platoons in front, not a hat moved, not a boot shifted. The general broke the spell when he was passing me.
"Another button. There were forty-seven the last time," he said, and the man with the eyeglass made an entry in the notebook. Through an oversight, I had helped to lower the prestige of the battalion: a pocket flap of my tunic was unbuttoned.
Kit inspection was a business apart; the general picked out several soldiers haphazard and ordered their packs to be opened for an examination of the contents--spoons, shirts, socks, and the various necessaries which dismounted men in full marching order must carry on their persons were inspected carefully. A full pack is judged best by its contents, and nearly all packs passed muster. One man was unlucky: his mate was chosen for kit inspection, but this hapless individual came out minus a toothbrush and comb, and the friend in need took his place in the freshly-formed ranks. Here, the helper found that his own kit was inefficient, he had forgotten to put in a pair of socks. That afternoon he had to do two hours' extra drill.
Perhaps an even greater trial than Divisional Inspection was that of waiting orders when we were the victims of camp rumours. But this was as nothing to the false alarms. There is some doggerel known to the men which runs:
"We're off to the front," said the colonel,
as he placed us in the train,
"And we went at dawn from the station,
and at night came back again."
For months we had drilled and drilled, all earnest in our labours and filled with enthusiasm for our new profession, and daily we await the order to leave for foreign parts. Where are we going to when we leave England? France, Egypt, or India? Rumour had it yesterday that we
would go to Egypt; to-day my mate, the blue-eyed Jersey youth, heard from a friend, who heard it from a colour-sergeant, that we are going out to India, where we will be kept as guardians of the King's Empire for a matter of four years. Ever since I joined the Army it has been the same: reports name a new destination for my battalion daily.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
During the war he gained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the service of the Royal Army Medical Corps (Special Reserve).
Collecting the wounded at night
R.A.M.C . At work under shell-fire.
Dr. Arthur Habgood (son of Dr. Henry Habgood Stafford House, Upperton, Eastbourne) Captain in the R.A.M.C., Special Reserve and attached to No. 9 Field Ambulance, 3rd Division, has been on service with the British Expeditionary Force since August 18.
Writing home recently from the field of battle, Captain Habgood says: -
“My dear Father – This is a great hurry, as a Red Cross car is waiting to take it into Paris.
We are at present in billets and are very busy day and night, evacuating wounded and sick - about 1,500 in three days – so you will see we are very busy. Am quite well, but have had a pretty rough time.
A big battle is starting, and we have had a little lull in the fighting. For the past four days we have had to collect the wounded at night, in a town across a river, and have had to cross on a temporary pontoon by night, under shell fire all the time.
Have had some narrow escapes – Shrapnel shrieking by at night is very unpleasant.
This town is in ruins and dead horses etc. lying all about the roads, makes it very disagreeable.
Many thanks to you all for the letters and parcels, which I was glad to get. What we are hard up for is cigarettes. Have had none for three weeks. A pipe would also be a blessing. I am at present smoking an old cast-off one belonging to my major. Papers and magazines would be interesting, also letters. The letters coming from home are not opened. We all long for England. The officers say that South Africa was a picnic to this war. Which is day and night without intermission.
I am much thinner, but a good dinner will soon alter that. We only had two posts since I left England. There is no harm in telling you now that we sailed to Rouen. No Typhoid yet!
Good-bye for the present.
Your affectionate son,
(Lt.-Col. Arthur Henry Habgood is the son of Dr. Henry Habgood.2 He married Vera Chetwynd-Stapylton, daughter of Edward Chetwynd-Stapylton and Beatrice Mary Cowie, on 27 September 1924.
He was registered as a Licentiate, Royal College of Physicians, London (L.R.C.P.). He graduated with a Diploma of Public Health (D.P.H.). He was registered as a Member, Royal College of Surgeons (M.R.C.S.). He graduated with a Master of Arts (M.A.). He graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine (M.B.). He was decorated with the award of Companion, Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O.). He gained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the service of the Royal Army Medical Corps (Special Reserve). He graduated with a Bachelor of Surgery (B.Ch.). He lived in 1976 at Mellstock, Skippetts Lane, Basingstoke, Hampshire, England.)
Monday, February 20, 2012
Innes Logan was Chaplin to the Forces from September 1914 to May 1916.
Here he reflects the words of a famous hymn as it drifts on a gentle wind that carried with it the noise of a heavy gun firing a round.
“One November evening I was picking my way cautiously through the mud camp near Reninghelst, and hearing the tune of a famous hymn, drew near to listen, for Jock sometimes sings to hymn tunes words that certainly never appeared in any hymn-book, and I wanted to make sure that it was the greatest hymn in the English language which was being sung. It was a quiet night. Now and again a heavy gun fired a round, and infrequently, on a gentle wind blowing from the trenches, was borne the rattle of a machine-gun. From all the camp arose the subdued confused noise of an army settling to rest for the night. Some tents were in darkness, in others a candle burned, and here and there braziers still glowed redly.
It was from one of the lighted tents that the singing came, each part being taken, and a sweet clear tenor voice leading. The tune was old 'Communion,' and they had just come to this verse:
'Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ, my God:
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.'
How often have we sung that, perhaps thoughtlessly, in comfort at home, but these lads had in truth sacrificed the 'vain things.' With a lump in my throat I waited for the last verse:
'Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my life, my soul, my all.'
Friday, February 10, 2012
This excellent article was first published in The War Illustrated and is on the brilliant site A Great War in a Different Light.
Published in December 1918 it lays out for all to read the territorial ambitions of the Kaiser.
If Germany Had Won
I saw a leaflet the other day which the German Bolshevists, known as the Spartacus group, had issued. (Spartacus was the leader of a revolt of slaves against the oppression of their Roman masters.) This leaflet sketched the conditions which would be created for Germany by a German victory. The firmer fixing of the Junker yoke upon the people's neck, the intensifying of the "Imperial madness," the triumph of reaction in every form, militarism all-powerful, Germany an armed camp, "holding down conquered Europe by blood and iron," bankrupt in purse, too exhausted by military effort for industry of the wholesome kind, with no shipping, no trade — these were the consequences foretold if Germany should win. Foretold by Germans who had the sense to see through the lies with which the ruling class deluded the people. No one who has studied Pan- Germanism can doubt that the prophecy was well founded.
But while the interest of the Spartacus group was in the German conditions which would follow a victory for the Old Gang, we are more interested in the terms of peace which they would have imposed upon us and our Allies. Field-Marshal Hindenburg calls the armistice conditions "hard." The "women of the new Fatherland" have sent out an appeal to the women of all lands, urging that "the innocent victims of an infamous system" ought not to be punished. Prince Lichnowsky has protested against a "peace of violence." Have they all forgotten ?
The Kaiser's Boast
Up to a few-months ago the German leaders were boasting about the peace they would make. "Not an easy one," crowed the Kaiser in March last. "No peace until we have impressed our will upon the Entente Powers !" was Hindenburg's reply when he was asked by a correspondent at the end of 1916, "Are you willing to make peace ?"
What would "impressing their will" upon us have meant ? We have ample means of judging. The leaders of German opinion have on various occasions during the war announced what they considered to be the least that Germany could expect in the way of "compensation" and "guarantees for the future." In a statement circulated in large quantities by the " Committee for a German Peace," and sanctioned by General von Stein, War Minister, these demands were set forth :
"Belgium must remain dependent upon Germany in a military, economic, and political sense.
"We must have the French mineral districts of Briey and Longwy, and improve our frontiers, especially in the Vosges.
"We must possess the old German Baltic Provinces, rich soil for German peasant colonisation.
"Our enemies must pay the cost of the war in raw materials, ships, money, and territory,"
That was the programme of the Fatherland Party. It was against this that, in a fit of depression during the summer of 1917, the Reichstag passed its "No annexations, no indemnities" resolution. But that mood did not survive the March offensive. "War aims," the Vice-President of the Prussian Ministry avowed, "are bound to change with the political and military situations. We are the victors, and we feel ourselves the victors." So down came the "No annexations, no indemnities" placard. Up went the demands for vast sums of money, large and valuable increases of territory.
Do not imagine that the demands were advanced only by the wild men of the Fatherland Party. In January, I917, Mr. Gerard had a talk with the Imperial Chancellor, Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg, who told him frankly: "We must have Liege and Namur, and other Belgian forts and garrison towns. We must have railroad lines, ports, and other means of communications in Belgium. We must keep a large army there. And we must control the commerce of Belgium."
Exactly the Fatherland Party's programme — military, economic, and political domination. Yet this was the same Bethmann-Hollweg who confessed at the beginning of the war that Germany had done wrong to Belgium, and who promised that the wrong should be repaired. No thought of repair was in his mind in 1917.
He proposed that the wrong should be made permanent for Germany's benefit.
Further, he claimed annexations from France, Russia, and Italy, with indemnities from all Germany's opponents, and "all ships back." Thus the Imperial Chancellor accepted the claims formulated a few months after war began by the six leading German associations. In March, 1915, they sounded the key-note to which from that time all German voices were pitched. "Victims of an infamous system," the German people now call themselves. How was it not a voice was raised among the German people against their "infamous system" and greedy and domineering aims ?
The six societies, representing all classes, were : the Landlords' Union ; the Central Association of German Manufacturers ; the Middle Classes' Association (consisting chiefly of Government officials); the- German Peasants' Society; and the League of Christian Peasants. Their memorandum to the Government declared that: "As the indispensable condition of German sea-power, Belgium must be subjected to German Imperial law, in both military and in tariff matters, while the industrial undertakings and landed property in Belgium must be transferred to German hands."
Belgium, then, if the German will had been impressed upon the Entente Powers, would have ceased to exist as an independent State. That is as clear as day.
Next, the six associations explained what they would do with. France. The coastal districts must be in German possession as far as the Somme. Look at the map to see what this meant. The mines of Briey and Longwy must be taken from France, with the fortresses of Verdun and Belfort, and in this neighbourhood all "industrial establishments" of any importance must remain in German hands.
The anxiety to secure the Briey and Longwy districts was caused by the existence of very valuable iron-ore deposits, discovered since the annexation of 1871, and for at least seven years past coveted by the German iron-masters. The Germans had no possible claim to them, beyond the claim of the burglar to the silver forks and spoons which, he. steals. No more shameless admission of the objects to be attained by successful war has ever been made public. And this was not the admission of the men at the head of "the infamous system" by which Germany was governed, but that of the representatives of the German people.
They added that, as industrial Germany would thus be extended in the west, so agricultural Germany should be given the chance to extend eastward. This meant the annexation of "at least part" of the Baltic Provinces and of Poland.
German Popular Approval
These remained Germany's war-aims until the summer of this year. The German people, as a whole, approved of them until it became clear that the world would never allow them to be realised.
What would it have meant if they had been realised ? We should have had a German coast-line opposite to our coast-line, not only on the east, but on the south-east as well, as far as Hastings. Belgium would have been added to Germany. Down through Central Europe there would have been a wide belt of German territory, for what belonged to Germany's allies would soon have belonged to Germany. This would have stretched across the Dardanelles. into Asia, and thence German domination would have continued as far as the Persian Gulf.
Two well-known writers on Colonial subjects brought out a book as recently as June last in which they advocated the forming of a German Mohammedan block in Africa and Asia, and the forcible annexation of the western half of Morocco and Senegambia, the French Sudan, Dahomey, the Ivory Coast, the Portuguese Colonies, and Nigeria. And until Britain evacuated Nigeria, said the authors, "Germany will hold the Suez Canal as an armistice hostage."
Can it be said that there is anything in the allied-intentions as to peace terms which will even approach the harshness of the sacrifices which Germany would have exacted from us all if she had won ? A German peace would have left Europe bleeding and bitterly resentful, would have made another war certain. The allied peace shall, we intend, heal all. wounds and smooth away all anger, and leave the world with a League of Nations to guarantee it against further outbreaks of madness of the Imperialist type.
How Great Britain Would Have Fared
There will be no such country as Great Britain in existence at the end of the war. In its place we shall have Little Britain, a narrow strip of island territory, peopled by loutish football kickers, living on the crumbs that Germany will deign to throw to them. Certain it is that the laughable and childish military system of Britain will shortly fall to pieces. Then the once-mighty Empire, with her naval strength represented by the few old tubs which Germany will have left her, will become the laughing-stock of the nations, the scarecrow at which children will point their fingers in disdainful glee.
"Cologne Gazette," Sept., 1914.
Thursday, February 09, 2012
Thursday, November 10, 2011
A Grateful Heart
To the combat soldier
Who has seen his time in Hell,
Thank you for your sacrifice
And for coming home to tell
That no glory is found in war,
Nor honourable thing residing there
Which should light a candle in the eyes
Of our children so innocent and fair.
Thank you for your prayers
That we cast aside our hate,
To put on the armour of love
And no more wars create.
To all the fallen roses
Who answered freedom’s call,
Please know that you are more
Than names upon a wall.
Without you there on foreign land
Staring down death face-to-face,
Our lives would be on shifting sand
Our freedoms torn from our embrace.
Our saviour bravely died for us
Upon the cross at
So we could have eternal life;
That, through His act, we might be___
He was called, as were you
To meet His bitter end.
No greater love has any man
Than to lay down his life for a friend.
For this, a grateful heart swells,
For soldiers who gave their all
For fighting the good fight
And rising to the call.
May you find peace in God’s arms,
As the sheep in the shepherd’s care.
May love be found there waiting
At the end of your thousand-yard stare.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
I wonder what the famous Belgian airs were that the audience stood and sang ‘heartily’ with?
Miss Buckman was indeed a very famous opera singer and would have been a treat for any audience.
“Patriotic Music and Pictures
At Devonshire Park
Shown in the afternoon in conjunction with the vaudeville entertainment in the Pavilion and in the evening in the second part of the programme in the Floral Hall, the pictures of the French Fleet are arousing considerable interest this week. This film is a remarkably fine one and the evening is exhibited with full orchestral accompaniment.
Last Saturday evening there was a crowded audience in the Floral Hall when the great British Army and Navy film “For The King” was shown. During the evening the orchestra played the national airs of Belgium, Russia, France and England. The audience standing and singing heartily. The “Franco-British” march and the fantasias “Life on board the Dreadnought” were included in the programme. Miss Rosina Buckman (the New Zealand soprano) concluded a very successful week’s engagement, receiving double encores after each of her songs.”
Rosina Buckman (March 16, 1881-December 30, 1948) was a New Zealand soprano, and a professor of singing at the Royal Academy of Music. She was born in Blenheim, and studied in England at the Birmingham School of Music. She then returned to New Zealand, toured Australia and debut in London with La boheme at Covent Garden. She continued performing into the 1920s, and recorded prolifically.
For more info on miss Buckman:
Friday, May 27, 2011
'Watering the Regiment' in the Middle East.
Across the open desert a small column of mules is flinging a brisk trail of dust up to the brassy sky. They are in strings of three, and a native drabie is hanging on to the lead rope of . each string. Each mule has a squat tin tank hooked on either side of his pack Caddie. Two of these pakhals, as these rope-netted tanks are called, will fill the water-bottles of a platoon.
At intervals along the column a British soldier strides along, bare-armed and bare-kneed, his shirt open over his brown chest, one sun-blackened arm through the sling of his loaded rifle. A big curved cover of green-lined khaki hangs from the back of his pith helmet, and a broad quilted band of the same material drapes his spine from neck to waist in protection from the blazing sun that swings directly overhead. He carries no pack, but his entrenching tool and water-bottle hang from his equipment, and two hundred rounds of ammunition fill his pouches. He wears a stocked haversack, too, for one must always be ready for emergencies in the desert, and slung from his bayonet scabbard flaps a grey canvas bag, shaped something like the hot-water bag of civilisation.
Trudging along the hot earth with the mules and their escort arc a number of native camp followers, bearers and syces chattering in cheery monotones, and tarrying canvas buckets, water-bottles, chargals — the grey canvas bags. These are voluntary members of the party who wouldn't walk a yard in the ordinary course of life if they could help it.
Back to Camp
A mounted sergeant completes the party. His saddle has four chargals suspended from it, and a water-bottle is slung across his shoulders. From beneath his dust-laden brows his eyes stare keenly ahead as the column smokes along. There is nothing visible in the dead flat levels from horizon to horizon to tell you whence the column has come or whither it is heading.
Presently the sergeant's horse whinnies loudly, and the mule strings begin to crowd and jostle forward. In the distance the shimmering haze falls away and discloses a long line of tents, the divisional watering-place, and the river. When its bank is reached, it needs all the strength of drabie and Atkins to keep the mules out of the water at the place where the pakhals are unloaded. But the unloading is completed, and then the mules are led down-stream to drink. In the meantime, pakhals and chargals and water-bottles are filled ready for reloading. Half an hour later the regimental watering-party fades away again into the desert spaces where twelve miles away from the watering-place the regiment is dug into the left flank of the army that is pushing the Turk back into his own country.
This from my diary:
We have just pushed the Turk out of the------position. It is about 5 p.m., and the thermometer is somewhere near 120 in the shade. We have been on the move since 3 a.m., and are now bivouacked in a nullah near the river. Through unavoidable causes connected with the surprise nature of the operation, our water-bottles were only half full when we commenced, and our pakhals were practically empty. Upon the track of our advance field hospitals are being erected to deal with the big casualties of the march.
It has been a hot-weather day; the ground too hot to lay the bare hand upon ; a rifle barrel untouchable. The sky is a lid of burning brass, and the sun a low-hung blast furnace. All the day we have been the target for hundreds of "dust devils” pirouetting from one rim of the lid to the other, silting our eyes and ears and nostrils with finely-powdered earth that stings and scorches as though it had come from a red-hot crucible.
Scarcely a shot was fired by the Turk in his evacuation, but the rigours of the blazing, waterless march have more than decimated the hardest of units. More than half my regiment have been knocked out, and the survivors just managed to reach the objective. Water must be got immediately. A water-party has just come in, dead beat, to say there is a section of Turks on the opposite bank with a Maxim, and there's no chance of getting water before nightfall. They have just managed to fill two pakhals.
We divide one of these between a party of picked men and a few drabies, rinse the mouths of half a dozen mules, and set out for another try. The nullah runs down to the river edge. Up-stream of the nullah I spotted a belt of reeds on the river bank, and observed that they could be approached most of the way by a fold in the ground.
We unhooked all the pakhals in the nullah, as near as we could get to the water without being observed. Leaving most of the watering-party behind under a sergeant, the mules and the rest of us began another trek back along the nullah to where it crossed the fold of ground. Along this the party proceeded towards the reed bed. We had almost got into the reeds before the Turk spotted our water mules, and got his machine-gun aligned on the new target. He opened fire for about fifty rounds. The result being unsatisfactory, he ceased fire, and shifted the position of his gun. We could track his course by the movement of the reeds in the belt on the opposite bank where lie was concealed.
Reducing risk as far. as possible, we made great play with the mules and our reeds and ourselves, and successfully counterfeited the movements of a watering-party. We carried on for about a quarter of an hour, and at intervals replied to his fire with bursts of "rapid" from our rifles.
We had just lost a mule when a volley of musketry broke from the nullah where we had left the real watering-party. This was the signal that our simple strategem had succeeded, and that the pakhals had been filled under cover of our demonstration. The diversion caused by this new fire attack upon the concealed machine-gun enabled the "camouflage" party to withdraw without further casualties. The mules were taken back to the pakhals.
The water was being consumed by the exhausted survivors and sick of the battalion before night fell.
Victory in the Water-Bottle
We are occupying one Turkish position while we prepare to eject the enemy from the line upon which he has retired. It is the middle of the hot weather — and the middle of the desert — and every man and beast is getting as much water as is required. I have a bath each evening. In the centre of our perimeter a big wide pit has been dug and lined with tarpaulin. Every morning and evening this is retired from three wells, which are shared by the brigade. In addition, when the wells fall dry, our water-party goes to the divisional storage tanks, and can draw enough daily from this source for the cooking and drinking needs of the whole regiment.
The divisional tanks are walls of sand-bags supporting tarpaulins, which rest on the ground. The water is carried up from the river about fourteen miles away. It comes by convoy, and is carried in ordinary A.T. carts, lined with-tarpaulin, and in pakhals stacked inside big motor-lorries.
That is how we safeguard our water requirements when we "sit down" for a while.
Here, in Mesopotamia, water is life. It is more. It is a thing for which the straightest man in the regiment would cheerfully break all the Commandments. When a soldier's body is watered he can march and fight and win. But when lie is without water the sap of life is from him. He is like the perished tree, the branch of which breaks in the hand. He is Nothing. His rifle is lumber. His big guns are Mockery. A well-filled water-bottle is a won battle. So water is the first article of war, and as we water the regiment do we sweep the Euphrates-Tigris plains and push the Turk towards Aleppo.
Monday, May 16, 2011
In order to keep the health of the troops good it was necessary to be exceedingly careful in the matter of sanitation. Lieutenant-Colonel Millard was the Sanitary Officer for our Division, and Lieutenant-Colonel Stokes for the 1st Australian Division.
The garbage at first was collected in casks, placed in a barge and conveyed out into the bay; it was found, however, that a lot of it drifted back. It reminded one so much of Newcastle and Stockton. The same complaints were made by the men on the right as are put forth by Stockton residents regarding the Newcastle garbage. We, of course, occupied the position of the Newcastle Council, and were just as vehement in our denial of what was a most obvious fact. The situation was exactly the same—only that, instead of dead horses, there were dead mules. Three incinerators were started, enclosures built up with stone, and a fire lighted. This was effective, but gave rise to a very unpleasant smell along the beach. The only time I was shot was from an incinerator; a cartridge had been included in the rubbish and exploded just as I was passing. The bullet gave me a nasty knock on the shin.
It was a fairly common practice among men just arrived to put a cartridge in their fire just to hear the noise. Of course down on the beach it was not usual to hear a rifle fired at close range, and the sound would make everybody look up to "see where the —— that came from." The discovery of the culprit would bring out a chorus from the working parties: "Give him a popgun, give him a popgun!" "Popgun" was preceded by the usual Australian expletive.
The water found on the Peninsula was always subjected to careful examination, and, before the troops were allowed to use it notices were placed on each well stating whether the water was to be boiled or if only to be used for washing
Thursday, May 05, 2011
by Lance-Corporal Harry Rayner
Told by the Rank and File
I shall never forget the roar of laughter that went up from all the boys when we first saw the armoured-motors which have eventually come to be called "tanks." We were distinctly scornful of what they would do, and expected to see them crunched up in no time by the German artillery. The names that were attached to them in the first place would fill a book, and most of them have appeared in various papers. But there are one or two more that aren't quite common property yet. For instance, the Canadians call the machines "The Land Navy" ; while the north-country regiments refer to them as "The New Infantry." "The Caterpillars," and ,"Kelly's Eye" are others, the last coming from a game called "House," where number one is always called out in this way.
My Leave Stopped
I have been out in France for twenty-two months, and through the whole of the Somme offensive. This latter started just as it was about my turn to return to "Blighty" for a few days' leave, and I can tell you that when we first started the "big push" I strafed more than a bit at my bad luck in missing my run home. But I'm glad I didn't go then—I should have missed two glorious sights if I had: the "tanks" and the charge of the Guards.' These were worth stopping out here another year for.
I never saw the lads in the trenches so eager to go over the top as they were on that day when the "tanks" first appeared. We all wanted to see Fritz in a real fright, and I think we all got what we were wanting.
Fun in a Crater
One of the "tanks" came and stationed itself in front of my platoon, and we were told to advance astern of it, and to take advantage of all possible cover as we went. We could hardly advance for laughing at its antics. The ground was soft and slushy, and in one place the "tank" went walking down the side of an enormous crater made by three or four "Jack Johnsons" which exploded pretty well together. As it went down it was squirming all over the shop, and the wheels would slip round and round in the soft ground, throwing big chunks of it out astern on top of us lads. Then it tried to back pedal, and slithered still farther down, and at the bottom it side-slipped three yards, and nearly collared me. I had to jump quick or the wheels would have grabbed me and rubbed my nose in the mud.
But it was when it started to climb the other side that the fun started in real earnest. It was like the old tale of the snail who climbed up the side of a wall three feet and then slipped back two feet. That was exactly what was happening, and every time "Black Bertha" made a big dash and climbed partly up the crater side, only to slip back as soon as her stroke was exhausted, we nearly convulsed with laughter. We lay in that shell- hole holding our sides; we actually couldn't stand for laughing.
At last, with a supreme effort, "Bertha" reached the rim of the crater, and with a final cough dragged herself out on to comparatively level ground. Then the German machine- guns started taking aim at her, but the bullets only slithered harmlessly off her thick hide with little blue flames.
Getting Behind "Bertha"
Where "Bertha" was there the fire was hottest; she seemed to draw machine-gun bullets like a magnet. Most of the troops gave the "tanks" as wide a berth as possible, but my platoon satisfied themselves with getting behind Bertha as she trudged on, and thus we dodged all the bullets that came our way.
Every time we saw a German we would yell out, in unison, "Kelly's Eye!" and the "tank" would turn her machine-guns on and strafe him. "Bertha" accounted for a great many Germans that day. And at last we got into the village of Flers, and what we had laughed at before was child's play to what happened there. "Bertha" swung into her stride, and made down the main street, with us close under her lee out of the way, and her guns. walloping into the Germans at the rate of several hundred bullets per minute.
At last we cleared the street, and .got to the far end again, where fallen masonry blocked our way. The Germans sniped at us from the upper windows as we went on, and we thought we should have had to turn back and run the gauntlet again, on our way out of the town. But we hadn't reckoned on "Bertha."
We made for the German trenches next, and the shells started falling all round "Bertha." Evidently somebody was keeping a watch on her movements, for we found it unhealthy to stick too close to her. So we dropped back about two hundred yards, ready to take a hand in the fighting if we were wanted.
Futile Bavarian Charge
She got to the trench, where about four companies of Saxons and Bavarians were massed ready for a counterattack. They charged at her, but they couldn't stop her. She turned on all her guns and strafed them as they came. But they were evidently annoyed, for in spite of the carnage she was doing, they raced up to her, while all the time their machine-guns were firing over their heads. And the bullets glanced off and went among their own troops, while the others went down before "Bertha's" advance like ripe corn.
And then, suddenly, there came a big shell over the town, and dropped clean in front of "Bertha," hiding her from sight with smoke and dirt and stones. We thought the dear old lady had been done in, but when the rough stuff cleared away she was perched across the German trench, talking to them quite loudly and trying to get her own back for the insult they had put on her.
She wasn't moving, and the Germans thought she was a capture, and with loud yells of "Hoch!" they started to scramble all over her put-side. This was where we came in, for we lay in a friendly shell-hole, and did a good bit of sniping on our own.
And then the machine-guns inside "Bertha" stopped firing, and we thought the old lady was done for.
"Come on, lads!" I yelled. "We can't let them take her prisoner like that! Charge!"
We started out across that two hundred yards of ground, but before we had gone fifty "Bertha" started to move, and, though she was running all over the place and steering very wildly, she was certainly moving towards the other German lines.
Shaking Off the Hun
The Germans on her back went slipping and sprawling all over the show, and fell off as she went on. Then her guns spoke again, and they raced for cover like rabbits. We followed her up again, and when we reached the fifth German line we thought we should have had a scrap of our own, but the Germans had received enough. They surrendered to us, and we sent them over the top under charge of two wounded lads.
"Bertha" was still going ahead, and large batches of Germans with their hands in the air doing the "Kamerad" trick were coming down. Suddenly she stopped again, and a man got out of her. He approached a wounded British soldier on the ground, and we thought that, after all, the Germans had captured her. We thought that he was going to kill the wounded chap off.
Mistaken for Fritz
"Hi, there!" I yelled. "Come out of that! Put your hands up!"
I had him covered with my rifle, and walked up to him, making him keep his arms up all the time.
"What's up with you?" he asked. "Gone loopy, or what?”
He spoke broad Lancashire, and I stared hard at him. "Well, I'm damned!" I said. "I thought you were a Fritz, and that they had captured the old waggon there."
And there were a couple of lads in my platoon who even then wouldn't believe that he was one of our own Tommies, until at last he fished his pay-book out of his breast pocket and showed us his name, fully convincing us by comparing it with his identity disc.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
By one o'clock on the morning of Sunday, April 25, 1915, the allied expeditionary force had arrived within five miles of the Gallipoli shore. Under cover of darkness the final dispositions were made and the ships maneuvered so that the timing of the several landings would be accurately synchronized. Shortly after one o'clock the landing boats were lowered from the transports.
Strung in lines of four and five the boats were slowly towed toward shore by steam pinnaces. Not a sound was heard but the panting of the engines of the little boats. The speed was accurately calculated to bring the parties close in shore with the first break of the dawn.
Accompanying the Australian and New Zealand troops, were a number of destroyers. Just as they reached the shallow water in front of the cliffs of Gaba Tepe, a Turkish lookout spied them in the hazy light of the morning. Instantly he gave the alarm and a flaring searchlight flashed its rays on the little flotilla.
The need for silence had disappeared. With a cheer the British troops leaped from their boats into the shoal water and splashed their way ashore. While many of them were still in their boats, however, the Turks opened fired. The whole ground had been carefully prepared and from every cover on the shore and the cliffs beyond a deadly fire was poured upon the Colonial troops.
Without faltering, however, the Australian and New Zealand troops, supported by a squadron of battleships and destroyers, came on straight at the strongly intrenched Turks. The first of the Australians to reach the shore were the Third Brigade under Colonel Sinclair Maglagan. With a rush they charged the first Turkish lines, bayoneted the defenders, and scrambled up the steep cliffs that rise a hundred feet in the air.
Fortunately for the British troops, as these and subsequent events proved, there had been a slight miscalculation in the landing, and the men had actually gone ashore a mile and a half northeast of Gaba Tepe, instead of at that point. Gaba Tepe is so rugged and uninviting that it was believed that the Turks would not trouble to intrench it. Actually the Turks appeared to have intrenched and prepared every inch of the coast. But at Sari Bair, where the Australian and New Zealand troops actually landed, the character of the ground, although not so advantageous at first, afforded much more protection once the men were ashore. Sir Ian Hamilton, in his graphic account of the operations, subsequently said:
"Owing to the tows having failed to maintain their exact direction, the actual point of disembarkation was rather more than a mile north of that which I had selected, and was more closely overhung by steeper cliffs. Although this accident increased the initial difficulty of driving the enemy off the heights inland, it has since proved itself to have been a blessing in disguise, inasmuch as the actual base of the force of occupation had been much better defiladed from shell fire.
"The beach on which the landing was actually effected is a very narrow strip of sand about 1,000 yards in length, bounded on the north and the south by two small promontories. At its (p. 442) southern extremity, a deep ravine with exceedingly deep, scrub-clad sides, runs inland in a northeasterly direction. Near the northern end of the beach a small but steep gully runs up into the hills at right angles to the shore. Between the ravine and the gully the whole of the beach is baked by the seaward face of the spur which forms the northwestern side of the ravine. From the top of the spur the ground falls almost sheer, except near the southern limit of the beach where gentler slopes give access to the mouth of the ravine behind. Farther inland lie in a tangled knot the under-features of Sari Bair separated by deep ravines which take a most confusing diversity of direction. Sharp spurs, covered with dense scrub and falling away in many places in precipitous sandy cliffs, radiate from the principal mass of the mountain, from which they run northwest, west, southwest and south to the coast."
As fresh British troops came ashore they cast aside their heavy packs and followed their comrades across the forty feet of open beach and into the scrub that covered the side of the cliffs. Halfway up the Turks had prepared a second position. Attacking it in open formation the Third Brigade succeeded in clearing it within fifteen minutes of the time they came ashore, despite the desperate and brave defense of the Turks.
Meanwhile some of the landing boats, subjected to the terrible fire of the Turkish guns, were having a bad time. The towing ropes of three of them were cut by the fire and the boats drifted helplessly about under the withering rain of bullets that rapidly wiped out their cargoes of men. But despite these mishaps the First and Second Brigades were hurried ashore to support the Third. Soon, in the face of terrible difficulties including the narrowness of the beach, there were between 3,000 and 4,000 allied troops ashore.
By this time the Turks, by means of the mobile carriages prepared for them by the Germans, had maneuvered some heavy artillery into position on the heights inland. Also some of their warships, moored in the Narrows, began throwing heavy shells across the peninsula into the allied fleet standing close inshore. So dangerous and accurate became this fire that the transports (had to be ordered out to sea and this delayed the operations seriously.
At Gaba Tepe and on the heights to the north of the beach the Turks posted guns and enfiladed the Narrows beach. Thus the troops, as they landed, had to make their way through a rain of shrapnel, machine gun and rifle fire that wiped out hundreds. Despite the success of the Australian Brigades in clearing the beach and the face of the cliff, the Turkish fire never seemed to slacken.
Because of the nature of the country there could be no central control over the advance fighting and no continued communications between the several forces making their way to the top of the cliffs. The battle resolved itself into a series of fights between small parties, or even individual soldiers, whose one object was to kill as many of the enemy as possible and make their way as far inland as possible in the first rush.
By two o'clock about twelve British regiments had been landed and the ground gained consolidated and prepared against counterattack. Thousands of Turkish troops were by this time pouring along the road from Maidos and by the middle of the afternoon it was calculated that there were fully 20,000 of them before the Australian and New Zealand troops. The latter, in the meantime, had been further reenforced by two batteries of Indian Mountain Artillery. The pressure of the constantly increasing Turkish force compelled General Birdwood, who came ashore about this time, to contract his lines and to reach a decision that, at that time at least and until the arrival of more troops, no further advance could be made. The Gaba Tepe landing had not been the surprise that was expected and the Turks had proved to be in unexpected strength.
About three o'clock the Turkish counterattacks began. Absolutely regardless of human life, they threw themselves in dense masses against the Second and Third Brigades. The British battleships, the Queen, the London, the Prince of Wales, the Triumph and the Majestic, posted close inshore, poured a devastating fire on the advancing Turkish troops as they came into the open.
About five o'clock the Turks, after repeated assaults upon the British lines, massed for a final attempt to drive the invaders into the sea. On and on they came, concentrating on the hard-pressed Third Brigade as the weak spot in the British defense. Fighting gamely against heavy odds, this Australian Brigade which had borne the brunt of the landing attack and which had been almost continually counterattacked all afternoon, gave way slowly, selling every inch of ground dearly. Hundreds of the brave Turkish troops were mown down by the machine guns which the Australians had by this time brought ashore. At nightfall, however, General Birdwood, as a consequence of the persistence of the enemy, had to contract his lines further.
As night settled on the battle field on the ridge above Gaba Tepe and Sari Bair, and the two forces rested from sheer exhaustion, the British troops, who once were well inland toward Maidos, their objective, were barely hanging onto the ridge overlooking the shore of the Gulf of Saros. All their water and food and munitions and reenforcements had to be brought ashore across the exposed beach, while the landing of the necessary artillery in the face of the Turkish fire was a feat to appal the bravest. But though their hold on their position was precarious it was tenacious and, in the end, effective. If they had not won all they expected to win they had at least won a foothold in the face of terrific difficulties.
While the Australians and New Zealanders were fighting desperately beyond Gaba Tepe, the other forces of the allied army were accomplishing similar deeds of heroism at the tip of the peninsula.
Coming down the coast of the peninsula from Gaba Tepe, about three miles from the extreme southwestern tip, was what was known as Beach Y. It was almost due west of the important town of Krithia, and the landing was intended primarily to protect the left flank of the British landing forces from attack by the considerable forces believed to be concentrated there.
The actual landing seems to have been somewhat of a surprise to the Turks. Indeed, subsequent events showed that they were correct in their estimate that a landing at the so-called Beach Y would be a mistake. A narrow strip of sandy beach led to the cliffs, two hundred feet high, that were believed to be almost unscalable. It is easy to be wise after the event, but military writers subsequently declared that if the Turks had been prepared to defend the position, the force that landed at Beach Y would have been wiped out in the preliminary attempt to establish a footing.
The force assigned to this point of attack consisted of the First King's Own Scottish Borderers, and the Plymouth Battalion of the Royal Naval Division, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Koe. The latter was under orders, if the landing proved successful, to work his way south to effect a junction with the force landing at Beach X, some two miles away.
About five o'clock, Koe's force appeared off Beach Y, on the transports Braemar Castle and Southland, and escorted by the battleship Goliath, and the cruisers Amethyst and Sapphire. The Turks had posted a large force at Beach Y 2, between Beach Y and Beach X, but half of the Scottish Borderers were ashore before the Turkish command had realized what was happening. As a result Colonel Koe's force was partly established on the cliffs before the Turks had begun to arrive.
But if the initial stages were unexpectedly easy for this force, difficulties soon developed. Once on the heights, Colonel Koe ordered an advance to link up with the force at Beach X. The British troops had not gone far when they ran into the Turkish troops from Beach Y. So large was this force and so determined an opposition did it offer to the British troops that Colonel Koe soon decided it would be impossible, with the two battalions at his disposal, to accomplish the task assigned him.
Early in the afternoon the little British force was dismayed by the approach on its left flank of a large force of Turks from Krithia, which threatened to cut it off from the landing beach. Reluctantly Colonel Koe, just before he received a fatal wound, gave the order to intrench