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Full text of "TheCompleteMemoirsOfGeorgeSherston"

about my first night in mess, and the next morning I
began to acquire the alphabet of infantry training,
Mansfield picked it up twice as quick as I did. For
he was a competent man, in spite of his New Army
style of dress. And his "word of command" had fire
and ferocity; whereas mine was much as might have
been expected (in spite of my having acquired a
passable "view holloa" during my fox-hunting life),
Learning how to be a second-lieutenant was a relief
to my mind. It made the War seem further away.
I hadn't time to think about it, and by the end of
each day I was too healthily tired to worry about
anything.

Life in the officers' mess was outwardly light-
hearted. Only when news came from our two bat-
talions in France were we vividly reminded of the
future. Then for a brief while the War came quite
close; mitigated by our inexperience of what it was
like, it laid a wiry finger on the heart. There was the
battle of Festubert in the middle of May. That made
us think a bit. The first battalion had been in it and
had lost many officers. Those who were due for the
next draft were slightly more cheerful than was
natural. The next thing I knew about them was that
they had gone—half a dozen of them. I went on
afternoon parade, and when I returned to the hut
my fellow occupant had vanished with all his tackle.
But my turn was months away yet. . ..

The following day was a Sunday, and I was detailed
to take a party to church. They were Baptists and
there were seven of them. I marched them to the
Baptist Chapel in Bootle, wondering what on earth
to do when I got them to the door. Ought I to say
"Up the aisle; quick march?" As far as I can remem-
ber we reverted to civilian methods and shuffled into

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