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pany. "StifFy" had been made battalion Lewis-gun
officer, and the other two were away on "courses".
As I went up to visit the trench-mortar battery on our
left flank, it struck me that I was likely to have a
fairly busy time while A Company was being initiated
into the mysteries of the Western Front.

That didn't worry me, however, for I was, if any-
thing, a bit too much "on my toes", and the Great
War had reduced itself to a little contest between my
company and the Central Powers, with Velmore stand-
ing by to send back situation reports from our five
hundred yard sector. Velmore, of course, was "on his
toes" too, but in a more temperate style than mine.
His methods were unobtrusive but thorough. While
on this subject I must mention Sergeant Wickham,
who was more "on his toes" than any of us, and had
no alternative relaxations, such as ruminating or
reading Flecker's poems. Wickham had been through
the Boer War, and had already won a D.C.M. and a
Military Medal in this one. But he wasn't resting on
his laurels, and having recently returned from a
month's "refresher course" at the army school, he
was a complete embodiment of the offensive spirit.
I think he was one of the most delightful N.C.O.s
I've ever known. Except for being a little over-excit-
able, he had all the qualities of a fine soldier includ-
ing the "women and children first" kind of chivalry,
which made it easy for one to imagine him as the last
to leave the sinking troopship. Always smart and
cheerful—was Sergeant Wickham—and if ever a man
deserved to be shaken hands with by his Sovereign, it
was he. During our first twenty-four hours in the line,
however, his adventurous spirit discovered nothing
sensational except a long-dead German up in an old
knotted willow; and in the evening Velmore sent him