Skip to main content

Full text of "TheCompleteMemoirsOfGeorgeSherston"

See other formats

I could not see its fiery colours now, for the room
was almost dark.

But it brought back the past in which I had made
it an emblem of successful endurance, and set up a
mood of reverie about the old Front Line, which
really did feel as if it had been a better place than
this where I now sat in bitter safety surrounded by
the wreckage and defeat of those who had once been

Had I really enjoyed those tours of trenches up in
the Bois Frangais sector? For it was that period, before
the Somme battles began, which now seemed to have
acquired an insidious attractiveness. No; in their
reality I had intensely disliked those times—except,
perhaps, the excitement of my night-patrols. It hadn't
been much fun when we relieved the Manchesters—
sploshing and floundering up "the Old Kent Road"
at midnight; posting the sentries and machine-gun-
ners and that bornbing-post at the end of the sap;
taking over the familiar desolation of soggy fire-steps
and sniped-at parapets and looking out again across
that nothing-on-earth-like region beyond the tangled
thickets of wire. And then diving under the gas-
blanket in the doorway of our dug-out and groping
down the steps to find Barton sitting moodily at the
table with his bottle of whisky, worrying over his
responsibilities while his batman cooked him some
toasted cheese in the smoky recess which served as a
kitchen. Up there we had arrived at the edge of the
world and everything pleasant was far behind us. To
be dozing doggedly on the mud-caked sandbags of
a wire-netting bunk, with bits of chalk falling on one's
face, was something achieved for King and Country,
but it wasn't enjoyable. There was no sense, I thought,
in allowing oneself to sentimentalize the smells of