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Full text of "TheCompleteMemoirsOfGeorgeSherston"

back to Mother'—kept falling down and getting up—
Johnson always helping. Got to Battalion Head-
quarters; R.S.M. outside; he took me very gently by
the left hand and led me along, looking terribly con-
cerned. Out in the open again at the back of the hill I
knew I was safe. Fell down and couldn't get up any
more. Johnson disappeared. I felt it was all over with
me till I heard his voice saying, 'Here he is/ and the
stretcher-bearers picked me up. ... When I was at
the dressing-station they took a scrap of paper out of
my pocket and read it to me. CI saved your life under
heavy fire'; signed and dated. The stretcher-bearers
do that sometimes, I'm told!"

He laughed huskily, his face lighting up with a
gleam of his old humour. . . .

I asked whether the attack had been considered
successful. He thought not. The Manchesters had
failed, and Ginchy wasn't properly taken till about a
week later. "When I was in hospital in London/' he
went on, "I talked to a son of a gun from the Brigade
Staff; he'd been slightly gassed. He told me we'd
done all that was expected of us; it was only a holding
attack in our sector, so as to stop the Boches from
firing down the hill into the backs of our men who
were attacking Guillemont. They knew we hadn't a
hope of getting Ale Alley."

He had told it in a simple unemphatic way, illus-
trating the story with unconscious gestures—taking
aim with a rifle, and so on. But the nightmare of
smoke and sunlight had been in his eyes, with a sense
of confusion and calamity of which I could only guess
at the reality. He was the shattered survivor of a
broken battalion which had "done all that was ex-
pected of it".

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