THE YPRES TIMES 23 Loos the March push found them there, and the Sappers' business was to prepare the demolition of bridges in case of a retreat, a precaution that was not required. In June, 1918, the 6th Field Company was expanded into a battalion by joining with a Pioneer Battalion and a Tunnelling Company. This was an experiment that was not imitated elsewhere, though Pioneers in the Imperial Forces often expressed a wish for Engineers' pay Ultimately the 2nd Canadian Division was selected to proceed to Germany, and was stationed at Bonn for a month or so, and then by the usual stages dispersed. Eighty officers and 513 other ranks of the Engineers were finally demobilized at Ottawa, in May 1919. Such is the story that Major Weatherbe has to tell, and he had the advantage of serving with distinction with the unit throughout the war. His method is his own he describes his book as a week by week narrative of the war looked at from one participating unit's standpoint." The result is a great mass of details of work done, trenches, dug-outs, roads and railways. The reader finds the wood rather hidden by the trees. Perhaps the history of a Sapper unit is best told so, for their varied work is always going on, and there are not the same excitements of attack and defence alternating with quiet periods in the trenches and rest out of them, which were the lot of an infantry battalion. Further, this method of narration gives the author an opportunity for adding interesting and valuable remarks. Two months in the mud in billets moves him to write of the advantages of sabots, they can be cleaned in two minutes under a pump and dried with a cloth. The village shoemaker at Dranoutre always has a cord or two of seasoned willow on hand with which he keeps the whole country side more or less diyshod." In November, 1916, he finds that rifles are out of use, except for such specialized jobs as sniping. Men lug them about covered with breech-cloth and muzzle stopper, concerned chiefly with the business of keeping lock and barrel clean enough to pass muster at the next inspection." December 22nd, 1917. A fire in the officers' quarters nearby destroyed a lot of correspondence. Its loss is unlikely to affect the war's duration July 6th, 1918. Australians captured Vaire Wood and Hamel. U.S.A. troops marched up the Champs Elysées." The book is very well supplied with maps and photographs. The Maps are not beautiful, but serviceable, the photographs are good and well-placed to illustrate the text. There is a nominal roll of all ranks with notes of honours and casualties. W. H. B. S. Undertones of War. By Edmund Blunden. (R. Cobden-Sanderson. 10s. 6d.) THERE was a poet whose friends used to worry him to write a book for us. Tell us tales of war, Blunden! Here is the book. It is what we might have expected from a poeta yarn we could not have predicted. There is no anger in it, not even indignation, rarely a faint hint of reproach; no pride, no exultation, no patriotism. He did not hate the enemyhe rarely saw him, except to regret his carcase in a mudhole; he chuckles over the official attempt to give him and his brother officers an offensive spirit that they might establish superiority over the foe. As though merely across a quick-set hedge to a neighbour in similar hard luck on a wet day, he salutes his enemy with ironic jollity. He greets the accurate dismissal of a comrade, as though at cricket, with Out. There can be no doubt about it. He is, or was, an inhuman soldier. He is not true to the Christian type, and that is not fair' to us, for it leaves us unjustified in the sacrifice we demanded of heroes. It is true that among other defiances of fate once he walked through heavy barrages four times in the course of a fancied duty, and turned up again, alive but scared, to the astonishment of his mess, with news he had learned in Jerry's own territory. But what of it? He is still unmanly, if we measure by the popular standard for cadets, which we got from the rigmaroles of brigadiers; or by the Tennysonian code of chivalry. Yet uneasily we guess that Blunden would greet that code with


The Ypres Times (1921-1936) | 1930 | | pagina 25