J 36 THE YPRES TIMES discipline must be constantly occurring. Not that there is anything new in such a situation. Long before Armageddon the Mikado of Japan had to deal with a similar crisis, at least according to the late Sir W. S. Gilbert: "The Mikado is struck by the fact that no executions have taken place in Titipu for a whole year, and hereby decrees that unless a victim is found within the next twenty-four hours the town will be reduced to the rank of a village and the post of Lord High Executioner abolished." To fit this into the present argument it is only necessary to make a few changes in the wording: "The Commanding Officer is struck by the fact that no crimes have been reported from D Platoon for a whole month, and desires it to be known that unless some delinquent is found within the next twenty-four hours he will have the whole platoon up before him and the senior sergeant reduced to the rank of private." Drunkenness was a serious crime, but even that could at times have its humorous side. One day, while engaged repairing a road in Belgium, a few of our men had gone "scrounging" for souvenirs. Picture their faces when, in a disused dug-out, they came upon a jar half filled with rum. It seems a convivial bout ensued, and when, some time later, they, with unsteady gait, rejoined the others, the will to work had gone from them, and one by one they had to be hid away until such time as the effects of their libations had worn offif that were possible. One of them, however, insisted on resuming his duties, and I can still see him walking along the edge of a ditch that was being dug, a shovel over his shoulders at the "rest," and his legs wriggling violently. Obviously it was only a matter of a very brief time before the ditch would receive him, and when he did disappear from view, shovel and all, our wartime gravity was completely split. To make a sad story short, the stretchers that day bore back to camp three or four casualties" of a very unusual nature. A crime strange and undreamed of, except by its perpetrator, now falls to lie recorded. It had to do with the censoring of letters. Our battalion, on its arrival at the French port, where it was destined to remain for some months, was informed on parade one morning that letters for home would be collected on certain days of the week and handed in to the orderly-room to be censoredor "censured" as some of the illiterates named it. Doubtless in the bulk of letters delivered up there was nothing of such a private nature that the writer would not wish the officer to see. However, there was one man a little more sensitive than the others, who felt a secret resentment that any eyes other than those for whom his letters were intended should see them. So this chap had a brain wave. Why should he not carry his more private communications into Havre or Dieppe or Calais (it was one of these cities), purchase stamps at the post office, drop them into the pillar-box there and so have them transmitted home by the ordinary mail. In such letters, of course, he was especially careful to avoid all reference to his battalion's doings, movements, etc. Witness, then, this perfectly loyal but daring soldier applying for stamps at the counter of a French G.P.O. and getting them, too! And that not once or twice, but oftener. The marvel is that the dispenser of stamps had no orders to refuse all dealings with men in King George's uniform. At any rate our friend's nefarious practice soon came to an end, though how he was found out was never known to him, nor need it matter now. Fortunately for him, he was in the hands of officers and gentlemen who felt his motives to be perfectly sincere, if ill-advised, and that there was no intention on his part to get behind the censors: so he was let off. Even so, the mere irregularity might, conceivably, before any other tribunal have cost him dear.


The Ypres Times (1921-1936) | 1929 | | pagina 10