Skip to main content
then; and if I had, nothing would have been gained
by telling my platoon about it—apart from the grave
breach of discipline involved in such heart-searchings.
Early in the New Year the first gas-masks were
issued. Every morning we practised putting them on,
transforming ourselves into grotesque goggle-faced
creatures as we tucked the grey flannel under our
tunics in flustered haste. Those masks were an omen.
An old wood-cutter in high leather leggings watched
us curiously, for we were doing our gas-drill on the
fringe of the forest, with its dark cypresses among the
leafless oaks and beeches, and a faint golden light
One Sunday in January I got leave to go into
Amiens. (A rambling train took an hour and a half
to do the eighteen-mile journey.) Dick went with
me. After a good lunch we inspected the Cathedral,
which was a contrast to the life we had been leading.
But it was crowded with sight-seeing British soldiers;
the kilted "Jocks" walked up and down the nave as if
they had conquered France, and I remember seeing
a Japanese officer flit in with curious eyes. The long
capes which many of the soldiers wore gave them a
mediaeval aspect, insolent and overbearing. But the
background was solemn and beautiful. White
columns soared into lilies of light, and the stained-
glass windows harmonized with the chanting voices
and the satisfying sounds of the organ. I glanced at
Dick and thought what a young Galahad he looked
(a Galahad who had got his school colours for cricket).
Back in the company mess at Montagne we found
the Quartermaster talking to Barton, who was looking
none too bright, for old Joe seemed to think that we
might be moving back to the Line any day now.
Young Ormand had got his favourite record going