The habits of a sedentary life were usefully broken by the duties of an active profession: in the healthful exercise of the field I hunted with a battalion, instead of a pack; and at that time I was ready, at any hour of the day or night, to fly from quarters to London, from London to quarters, on the slightest call of private or regimental business.
The maltery, where W and X Companies were billeted, was one of the best billets they had been in for some time. The great feature of this month's training was the sports. After winning the Brigade Football and Cross Country Cups, the battalion won a great triumph by obtaining the Divisional Cross Country Shield.
On relief the Battalion marched back to Oblinghem once more, where it stayed a week or two, and later in the month took over a portion of the line at Richebourg St. Vaast where it was subjected to a very heavy artillery bombardment on the 1st May.
True enough; there was one signature, So-and-So, and beneath, "Chief of Administration of the Third Class and Knight of Charles III"; another, Somebody Else, and beneath was written "Commander of the Battalion of Isabella the Catholic, with the Cross of Maria Cristina." Regoyos read them and burst out laughing. "What an idea!" exclaimed the director of the Museum, as he closed the volume.
Other enemies, like the smaller weeds, he could overcome, but injustice, that quitch grass of life, was what stung him to fury. Little did Simon Squabbles, the tight old skin-flint, realise that the lone man working in his potato field was doing the work of two men that morning, and at the same time slaying a whole battalion of bitter enemies. The contest was continued during the afternoon.
Twenty-five per cent of the British officers were invalided to England or India, and only six escaped a stay in hospital. The experiences of the battalion holding Tokar Fort were even worse than those of the troops in Suakin. At length the longed-for time of departure arrived. With feelings of relief and delight the Indian contingent shook the dust of Suakin off their feet and returned to India.
Lieutenant Governor Ross, and the Staff of the marine battalion, also removed from the Sirius into the Scarborough transport, one of the ships of the first division, in order to afford every assistance which the public service might receive, by their being early on the spot on which our future operations were to be conducted.
This was then in the possession of the Germans, who were within a few hundred yards of Epéhy, and if this latter place had fallen the Battalion would have been in great danger of being surrounded. The men dug in under shell fire, and in full view of the enemy, while a large squadron of enemy aeroplanes circled overhead, and turned their machine guns on the men as they were digging.
Then, because the war was yet to be won, they "carried on," the battalion marching away to a merry tune. Beside Barry's grave there still lingered three men, the divisional commander, Major Bayne, and Captain Neil. "I am thinking of that little girl in London," said the divisional commander, and for the first time his voice broke. The others waited, looking at him.
A quarter of the battalion had already fallen, and lay strewn on the shingle. The rapidity of their advance had exhausted the Soudanese, and Lewis ordered Nason to halt under cover of the sandhills for a few minutes, so that the soldiers might get their breath before the final effort.
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