By Casualty, Arnold Gyde
A Soldier with the British Expeditionary Forces recounts his tale of the horror of conflict.
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Extra resources for Contemptible: A Soldier's Tale of the Great War
It was the first time during the campaign that he had seen the Corps Commander and the Chief of the General Staff on horseback. It must have been about five o'clock when he received a message to concentrate on the main road. On the way he was accosted by a woman perfectly distraught with grief, who explained that two days ago her little son had disappeared into "ce bois là" never to come out again. "Si votre fils vive encore, il reviendra, bien sûr, Madame. " Terrible to relate, the sight of such grief annoyed rather than saddened him.
The poor fellow broke into a tirade in which his desire to cut German throats, his peculiarly unfortunate circumstances, and his wish to get away literally tripped over each other. " Followed a flood of words apparently about the village. A third time. " At last: "Ah, M'sieur, Villiers," with an air of surprise, as if he thought the Subaltern had known all the time, and had asked merely to start a polite conversation. He let the man go, and turned his attention to the village street, which presented a terrible spectacle of panic.
All superfluous articles of weight had long since been thrown away, and consequently he had nothing except matches with which to read his map in the dark and windy night. The difficulty was increased by the fact that the way lay across small tracks which were almost impossible to distinguish, but eventually, more by luck than judgment, he brought his men into a village. Was it Villiers? It took him some time to find out. There were plenty of people in the village street, but the Subaltern could not get coherent speech out of any one of them.