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Full text of "TheCompleteMemoirsOfGeorgeSherston"

who were working a field telephone. With Shirley
(one of our Company officers) I considered myself
lucky to be there, crouching by a brazier, while the
Sergeant-Major regaled us, in omniscient tones, with
rumours about the desperate fighting at Wancourt
and Heninel, names which meant nothing to me. I
dozed through the night without ever being unaware
of the coke fumes from the brazier and the tick-tack
of the telephone.

Daylight discovered us blear-eyed and (to abbre-
viate a contemporary phrase) "fed up and far from
home". We got through the morning somehow and I
issued some of my "emergency Woodbines". Rifle-
cleaning and inspection was the only occupation pos-
sible. Early in the afternoon the Battalion moved on
four miles to St. Martin-Cojeul. The snow had
melted, leaving much mud which rain made worse.
St. Martin was a demolished village about a mile be-
hind the battle-line. As we entered it I noticed an
English soldier lying by the road with a horribly
smashed head; soon such sights would be too frequent
to attract attention, but this first one was perceptibly
unpleasant. At the risk of being thought squeamish
or even unsoldierly, I still maintain that an ordinary
human being has a right to be momentarily horrified
by a mangled body seen on an afternoon walk, al-
though people with sound common sense can always
refute me by saying that life is full of gruesome sights
and violent catastrophes. But I am no believer in wild
denunciations of the War; I am merely describing my
own experiences of it; and in 1917 I was only begin-
ning to learn that life, for the majority of the popu-
lation, is an unlovely struggle against unfair odds,
culminating in a cheap funeral. Anyhow, the man
with his head bashed in had achieved theoretical

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