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November 11, 2012

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Maureen Lang

A close friend, Dave Williams, tells me that the best way to celebrate Veterans Day 2010 is to call up a vet you know & just tell them one thing- THANKS.

To all the vets reading here, may I relay the same- a heartfelt Thank You.

Robert Murray

And thank you for posting this Maureen.

Patrick Lang

All

"The knights are dust. Their good swords rust. Their souls are with the saints we trust." pl

Pirate Laddie

.As You Were
Posted in History by Greg Ross on August 12th, 2012

A successful concert with mouth-organs, combs, and tissue-paper and penny whistles was given by the [British] Guards in the front-line trenches near Loos. They played old English melodies, harmonized with great emotion and technical skill. It attracted an unexpected audience. The Germans crowded into their front line -- not far away -- and applauded each number. Presently, in good English, a German voice shouted across:

'Play "Annie Laurie" and I will sing it.'

The Guards played 'Annie Laurie,' and a German officer stood up on the parapet -- the evening sun was red behind him -- and sang the old song admirably, with great tenderness. There was applause on both sides.

-- Philip Gibbs, Now It Can Be Told, 1920

David Habakkuk

Recollections by Lt.-Col. Alan Hanbury-Sparrow of the Royal Berkshire Regiment, from November 1917. The battalion he commanded had been relieved in the front line trenches at Passchendaele. But the valley they were sheltering in was being continually subjected to gas shells, with the gas being trapped in the valley.

‘About midnight a whizz-bang crashed and burst against the forward face of the pill box. Instantly a screaming yell of terror arose. Four men sheltering in the forward trench had been wounded. The stretcher-bearers had left with the earlier cases. There were none to get these men away. We sent runner after runner to the aid post. Either they wouldn't or they couldn't go through the gas-filled valley with its geysers of shells, or the stretcher-bearers wouldn't or couldn't face it. Probably couldn't, for, on the whole, stretcher-bearers did their duty well.

‘"Stretcher-bearers! Stretcher-bearers!" "Won't some-one go for stretcher-bearers?" Continually through the dragging hours the cry came from the agonised men round whom the devils of fear, released by the wounds, were dancing. It tore the unwilling listeners to pieces. It was indescribably harrowing. Only were they quiet when gas compelled us to clap masks on their faces. Then indeed you were thankful. You hated these men for tearing so remorselessly at your own fragile guard. The gas masks stopped their cries.

‘Otherwise there was no escape from their suffering. Apart alto¬gether from your own funks and fears, the front had so livened up that you decided you would not in any case be justified in going round the companies - -and there was nowhere else to go. Indeed, you were beginning to wonder if the Boche were not going to have a go at Passchendaele within the next few hours, and that was why they were filling the valley with gas to stop reinforce¬ments getting through. It was just sheer un-adulterated strain.

‘At last the second-in-command, reliable Allardyce, suggested going himself to the aid post. He got through and got back with stretcher-bearers, but by this time the men were dead. They had died like Falstaff, getting colder and colder from the feet up¬wards, and though their mates had given them all their blankets in answer to their plaints, yet it was all no good. One by one they died peacefully.

‘By dawn we were all gassed. I had to send the rest of the H.Q. officers down, and face another night of it alone. As a result, I was rather bad. Passchendaele broke me. When I got out again in April, I only lasted three months, as I simply couldn't stand it any longer.’

Lt.-Col. Sparrow had gone out to France in August 1914, and had been seriously wounded twice before.

DH

These men, and those who opposed them
And those whom they opposed
Accept the constitution of silence
And are folded in a single party.


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