Skip to main content

Full text of "TheCompleteMemoirsOfGeorgeSherston"

See other formats

already become uncertain. While we hesitated, some
shells exploded all round us in the undergrowth with
an effect of crashing stupidity. But we laughed, en-
couraging each other with mutual bravado, until we
found a path. Along this path came someone in a
hurry. He bumped into me and I flashed the torch
on his face. He was an officer who had joined us the
week before. He had now lost all control of himself
and I gathered from his incoherent utterances that he
was on his way to Headquarters to tell Kinjack that
his Company hadn't moved yet because they didn't
know which way to go to find the Germans. This
wasn't surprising; but I felt alarmed about his recep-
tion at Headquarters, for Kinjack had already got
an idea that this poor devil was "cold-footed". So,
with an assumption of ferocity, I pulled out my auto-
matic pistol, gripped him by the shoulder, and told
him that if he didn't go straight back to "Asbestos
Bill" I'd shoot him, adding that Kinjack would cer-
tainly shoot him if he rolled up at Headquarters with
such a story and in such a state of "wind-up". This
sobered him and he took my advice, though I doubt
whether he did any damage to the Germans. (Ten
days later he was killed in what I can only call a bona
fde manner.) So far, I thought, my contribution to
this attack is a queer one; I have saved one of our
officers from being court-martialled for cowardice. I
then remarked to Kendle that this seemed to be the
shortest way to Battalion Headquarters and we found
our own way back to Barton without further incident.
I told Barton that "Asbestos Bill" seemed to be mark-
ing time, in spite of his bullet-proof waistcoat.

The men were sitting on the rough-hewn fire-step,
and soon we were all dozing. Barton's bulky figure
nodded beside me, and Kendle fell fast asleep with his