The next part of my Father’s memoirs were added later on when they suddenly came to mind

By the way the RHA were allowed to wear ball Button.

I have just remembered another little incident.

A few weeks before Armistice we were still advancing almost every other day. At eight o’clock pm I was detailed as a mounted messenger to the Infantry, so in charge of an Officer we went ahead. We had to go through a shelled village, not very comfortable, as the telephone wires had been shot down.  However we arrived at the outskirts of the village and put our horses (the Officer had his groom with him) under cover. The Officer then left us and went a little ahead to talk to the Infantry.  Shortly after he came back and said “Have you got a good heart?”  He gave me a message asking our guns to shell a bridge across which the enemy was retreating.  I delivered the message to the CO and he sent another man back with me.              

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As I galloped back with the message my horse got entangled with the telephone wire.  Seeing as the enemy was shelling the village and it was dark I got a bit panicky.  On our passage back I lost my way and I tried to bypass the village and eventually found myself where I had started, so we had to go through the village.  We never saw our Officer again.  Apparently he found a German gun and was firing it when they had a premature-that is the shell burst as it was leaving the gun.  He was wounded; of course we didn’t know that.   Eventually when daylight came his groom went out to find the Battery or the Officer.  Eventually he found the Battery and rejoined it.

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Here is another little item.

Late 1917 the authorities decreed that any soldiers (such as instructors etc) should go over seas.  We got three, two sergeants and a signaller.  I have a feeling that the 2 sergeants did not match up with the requirements. One started to tell gunners what they had to do under shellfire, some of those gunners had been under fire since 1914 –He went! We got our signalling Instructor from Woolwich, he wasn’t a bad sort of fellow, we didn’t worry much about him. We carried on as usual between ourselves, more or less ignoring him, he didn’t mind so away he went. Then there was Wally, he had been a Signalling Instructor, he was one of those old/young men, his age might be 25-28.  He was the only son of a widow mother; he never seemed to relax as we did when it was quiet. I learnt later that he knew he was going to be killed and when Armistice was declared he tried to cut his throat – the authorities said he was malingering but we knew he wasn’t, he was very conscientious.  We had 6 or 7 lines going, so if one went down we could always get through to one or the other.  If it went down we would wait until daylight not our Wally, if he was on watch out he’d go.  We cursed him – that meant one man had to get out and go with him and another take over the Watch. He was with me at Cambray when the Germans broke through and Wally and I were sent back with a message to the Battery. Jerry was shelling heavily on the road ahead.  I was so afraid of being killed or taken prisoner that I plodded on regardless of shellfire.  Good job I did for Jerry was coming up fast behind us – but it didn’t do poor Wally’s nerves any good.  If I hadn’t gone on we would certainly have been killed or wounded.  First wave advancing troops can’t be bothered with prisoners. We never heard anything of Wally as we marched on Germany almost immediately.

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I’ve just remembered another little episode at Passendale. Periodically the infantry would raid the enemy trenches to bring back a few prisoners.  In this case we had Signallers in the front line and two in the support lines that meant our lamp was facing the enemy. As soon as we started morsing our front line signaller and we answered Jerry threw everything at us.  The Officer in charge pulled us out We then tried using a wire to work the lamp but that wasn’t enough for safety, so we had to abandon the lamp attempt or we would certainly be blown to pieces.  

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Both Montgomery and another General in the last war said they would not tolerate the senseless slaughter under Haig. Up at Passendale our cry was” You never see any Red Tapes up here “ (that’s headquarters staff).  The general mentioned above told this yarn years after --- Years after the battle a red tab came and had a look at things, he is quoted as saying “Did we send men over the top in all this”. The Infantry Officer with him said “ You’ve all seen the easy part wait till you’ve seen the worst” and the Red Tab sat down and cried.  An exaggeration no doubt but nobody saw anyone from Headquarters Staff in the muddy area.

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PS. As far as being killed all I said to myself “Shall I be alive in 6 months time “stupid but very reassuring for the time being.

 

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