Skip to main content

Full text of "TheCompleteMemoirsOfGeorgeSherston"

See other formats

of clambering clumsily over the parapet where it was
highest? One by one they disappeared into the jungle
of growing corn. The ensuing silence was accentuated
by various sounds which clearly indicated human
progress on all fours through a weak belt of barbed
wire. Shortly afterwards the inevitable machine-gun
demonstrated awareness of their whereabouts, flares
went up from the other side, and there was a proper
mix-up which ended when they blundered back,
having adueved nothing but a few casualties less than
half-way across. When the confusion had abated, I
continued my instructive investigations for an hour
or two, but the next thing that I clearly remember is
that I was riding home in the early morning.

Quite distinctly I can recover a certain moment
when I was trotting past the shuttered houses of some
unawakened village, with the sun just coming up
beyond the roadside poplars. What I felt was a sort
of personal manifesto of being intensely alive—a sense
of physical adventure and improvident jubilation;
and also, as I looked at the signs of military occupa-
tion around me, a feeling that I was in the middle of
some interesting historical tale. I was glad to be there,
it seemed; and perhaps my thoughts for a moment
revisited Slateford Hospital and were reminded of its
unescapable atmosphere of humiliation. That was
how active service used to hoodwink us. Wonderful
moments in the War, we called them, and told people
at home that after all we wouldn't have missed it for
worlds. But it was only one's youngness, really, and
the fact of being in a foreign country with a fresh
mind^ Not because of the War, but in spite of it, we
felt such zest and fulfilment, and remembered it later
on with nostalgic regret, forgetting the miseries and
grumblings, and how we longed for it to come to an