An autobiography is a peculiar thing. As I sit here quietly reviewing the kaleidoscopic cinema of my past—a short 30 years—I wonder if it is possible to gather the true prospective of my deeds.

Mine has been a life peculiar to the times—a restless chip in the turbulent sea of the factional disputes of Europe. Long before I was twenty-one I had gazed into the glassy upturned eyes of broken soldiers; trodden a field wet with blood and still shuddering from the blows of a world conflict.

Even before the down on my cheeks had surrendered itself to the bristles of a man's beard, I had grown to know that the blot of war can only be wiped away in the brief days between each onslaught, by a sodden attempt to fill the mind with the glistening baubles of dissipation.

Is it possible then to bring into mortal words the autobiographical impressions of a life which has only begun and yet which, as I review the events in passing, seems to be so jumbled that there is hardly a beginning and as yet there is no end?

I was born in the City of Dublin about noon on the 6th of January, 1898. My father, Michael Fitzmaurice, the son of a Limerick farmer, was a civil service official, and my mother—formerly Mary O'Riordan—was the daughter of a County Limerick farmer.

According to family history the first three years of my life were spent in the City of Dublin, at the end of which time we moved to Queens County and resided in the town of Maryborough.

Here I lived and received what little education I can boast of, at the Christian Brothers School until I reached the age of 16 years. Peaceful days, wide cool green expanses of grass in the schoolyard. Woods where we went bird-nesting, and friendly taskmasters who exhorted us to study hard, are but fragments of memories of my boyhood days. Breaking out of bounds to visit the forbidden sweetshop, and practicing many other pranks of boyhood mischief brought the inevitable school punishment. But these whippings were only passing summer storms that failed to divert my path from that of the average schoolboy of those days. I must admit that I was not a very outstanding figure at that time.

As far as I can remember, I was always the last boy in the last desk of each class I passed through, and just managed to scramble through the various examinations. The end of each term, with the inevitable report on conduct, always filled me with foreboding.

My parents did not seem to believe that I had sufficient personal pride to feel hurt at the marks that I received, but added to my sense of ignominy with a stern lecture.

Somewhere early in 1913 I was sent to the City of Waterford to undergo a general course of business training. The idea of business life was abhorrent to me at the time, and in this establishment I was perpetually in trouble of one sort or another. The climax came at the end of about a year, when I was sent home to my people as an incorrigible in disgrace.

The routine of this business training followed very much on the lines of my earlier academic training. I slept in a large dormitory with a number of other boys about my own age, and at nine o'clock every night we received a signal for lights out. During the day we usually hatched some diabolical plot for mischief, and immediately the signal for lights out was given we would proceed to execute our plan.

The particularly devastating scheme which foreshortened my career in business studies was a plan to attack a neighboring dory Napoleonic prowess for strategy members of my dormitory under my or the attack, which was to take place.

One mistake however was made Overlooked the fact that the dear old slept in a room directly underneath the dormitory which we were attacking. As the 'zero hour’ arrived we crept silently down the tall. The ghostly moonlight, shining window, was reflected from the shimmering nightshirts of the more timorous members of our raiding party. Stealthily we opened the d for attack, and launched ourselves upon the beds of our unsuspecting victims. The battle was at its height when our scouts observed use authorities were coming up the stair to investigate the situation. Word was passed along, and a general scramble started for out room. Strategic as had been our advance, I must admit that our retreat was rather poorly planned.

Smothered in a tangle of bedclothes and rolling grotesquely about the floor, I learned that my lads had given place to superior forces when I catapulted directly into the stomach of one of the portly house authorities. The following very severe manager informed me ling had fallen upon the housekeeper who was asleep in bed at the time and had nearly scared her out of her wits. He also informed me that my continued presence in the house was not conducive to the maintenance of the best possible standard of discipline among the other students. A railway ticket was handed to me, my traps were packed, and I commenced the most miserable railway journey of my whole life.

My arrival at home coincided with the receipt by my parents of a long letter from the school giving the details of my disgraceful conduct. A very serious lecture was delivered, and after negotiations between my parents and the officials of the business school—which lasted for several days—I was finally allowed to return to continue my studies.

At this time the Irish Home Rule Bill was receiving serious consideration in the British Houses of Parliament and the Irish Nationalist Party under the able leadership of the late Mr. John Redmond was beginning to see the materialization of the dream of centuries—a free Ireland. The Unionist Party in the north under the equally able leadership of the then Sir Edward, now Lord Carson, was becoming uneasy, and foolishly decided upon a policy of armed resistance. Volunteer military forces were formed in the north with the object of preventing the passing of the Home Rule Bill. The gauntlet

was thrown down. Redmond, acting on a policy of self-preservation, issued an appeal to the youth of Ireland to arm, drill and prepare to fight if necessary for the liberty of the people of our country.

The call to arms appealed to me and I was one of the first to enroll in the City of Waterford battalion of the Irish National Volunteers. Endeavors were now made by the British military authorities to suppress this organization. The more they tried to suppress it the more enthusiastic and keen we became. Parades, instruction, drill and policy were all held, delivered and discussed in secret. My association with this volunteer military organization wrote the word "finis" to my business studies.

Almost every modern boy at some time or another in his life has longed to play a part in secret service for his country. Think then how it fired my boyhood imagination to attend these secret meetings where we fervently hoped that we would "do or die" for Ireland. In the midst of my embryonic ambitions to be a great soldier came the outbreak of the European War in August, 1914, followed almost immediately by the formation of the great Lord Kitchener's Army. An appeal was made for volunteer troops, and the late John Redmond, ever anxious to render assistance to those in trouble,—even to those who opposed him—called upon the youth of Ireland to come forward for foreign service with the Armies of England.

Now came a chance to throw myself into the tempest of modern warfare; the angry clouds of conflict were rapidly gathering on the Western Frontier. Wild stories of the rapid advance of the relentless German Armies fired my imaginative ambitions, and in the early days of the War I found myself enrolling in the Cadet Company of the 7th Leinster Regiment. My period of service with this famous regiment was of very short duration. My parents called upon the Commanding Officer, produced my birth certificate, and I was taken out of the regiment owing to the fact that I was considerably under age for military service.

Three months later however the desire to see service in the Great War again reached a fever height, and I slipped away quietly and enlisted as a Trooper in the 17th Lancers, then known as the "Death or Glory Boys," one of the finest regiments of British Cavalry. My parents now seemed to become reconciled to my desire for a military career. They therefore decided to leave me in the regiment, but sent my birth certificate to the Commanding Officer explaining that I was not to be sent on active service until I had reached 19 years of age—which is the minimum age for foreign service. They kept hoping against hope that the War would finish before I reached that age, while I on the other hand was ever fearful that it would end before I managed to get into active fighting.

The enthusiasm of youth coupled with a natural liking. For the life of a soldier carried me quickly through my recruit period of training. Horsemanship, one of my hobbies right from the cradle, presented little difficulty and I soon became the leading file of my ride in the equitation school. Many difficult and laborious hours were however spent on the barrack square and in the riding school in an endeavor to master the art of handling the lance, sword and rifle. My efforts were not wasted because shortly after passing as a trained soldier the notification of my promotion to the dizzy altitude of "acting unpaid lance corporal" appeared in Regimental Daily Routine Orders. I was indeed proud and happy. That single stripe on my tunic sleeve seemed to exude all the concentrated rays of the sun's light. My period of probation in this rank lasted three months. At the end of this period I was apparently considered satisfactory and duly confirmed in my rank. This was most important for the reason that my rate of pay to date merely amounted to one shilling and two pence per day—truly a great wage for a hard day's work. The confirmation of my rank meant an increase in pay of three pence per day.

Shortly after this I sustained rather a serious accident whilst employed in breaking and training young troop horses in the remount depot. Upon coming out of the hospital a period of light duty was ordered by the medical officer and I found myself posted as non-commissioned officer in charge of the waiters in the Sergeants' mess. In other words I was the headwaiter. This form of employment was very distasteful to me but orders were orders and it had to be done. Very soon however I was again passed fit for duty and although still less than 18 years of age I found my name on the next oversea's list for service in France. This was obviously due to some error in the Orderly Room but it was far from me to be the one to correct it. In due course the draft marched out of camp en route for France to the strain of "Come Back to Erin."