Today I’m sharing a wonderful three-page article by an “Old Sweat” from the First World War. Unfortunately the author is unknown however his reminisces would suggest he was in the Cavalry and chose to put his thoughts on paper some years after the war. It’s possible the piece was written for a magazine, perhaps one published by the Legion although I’ve yet to find any reference to it online.
There are some poignant passages, in particular one on losing his chums:
“One cannot forget the sight of one’s own chum and fellow-mate down with a cold lifeless face – only a second before, perhaps, he was riding along at one’s side laughing in a grim way about Jerry over the next rise or in the wood on the left – but now, just one more empty saddle … and one wonders when one’s own turn will come.”
In addition to remembering the hardships and sacrifices he also devotes an entire page to the lighter side of war. I particularly enjoyed his description of going for breakfast before boarding his ship for some leave back in Blighty:
“…The first would dive a large ladle down into a big tub and fill one’s mess tin with Burgoo (porridge) the next would hand out a thick round of bread with one hand and with the other splash a hard boiled egg into the Burgoo and also a pat of butter. The fourth would fill one’s mug with tea and then one would pass along to try and find a seat. This was not easy with both hands full and about three thousand fellows all doing the same thing…”
His references to the “Vimy Ridge stunt” and “that dark night at Mud Farm” are intriguing and may help identify the unit in which this soldier served (and is worthy of more research).
I never tire of reading first-person accounts of a soldier’s experiences during the First World War. I hope you find it as fascinating as I do.