Upon arrival in France we were very disappointed to discover that the war had settled down to a serious checkmate business, known as trench warfare. There was no use for cavalry so we were transferred to infantry regiments. About forty of us were posted to the 7th Service Battalion of the Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment, a unit of the 55th Brigade of the 18th Division, one of the most famous battalions of the best fighting division which passed through the Great War.

It is impossible to describe my feelings when we first came under shell-fire.

It is sufficient for me to say that my enthusiasm and eagerness to get right into the war were considerably dampened. Our first job was the transport of rations and engineering supplies from the back area to the forward positions. The ground we passed over had been the scene of a terrific battle a few days before. It was simply pockmarked with huge shell holes. Dead German, British and French soldiers lay about in every conceivable position and condition—here and there a dead horse, a broken field gun. I had never seen a dead man before. My whole soul was filled with an indescribable feeling of horror. I felt sick right down in the pit of my stomach. I tried to visualize the position. I looked again at those dead soldiers—I looked at the poor dumb beasts —dead with their poor glassy eyes turned to the heavens. It was impossible to think. I decided that a very serious job had to be done, that I had better stop thinking and get along with my own particular portion of this big job—C'est la guerre.

It has been said that one can get used to almost anything. Such was not my experience during those awful days in the trenches. Having the misfortune to be gifted with an extraordinary imagination my feelings under shell fire were simply indescribable. I was always very frightened and decided that my mind must be kept fully occupied if I was not to lose my sanity and desert the line. Night time was always the worst and it was difficult to find suitable employment during those long dreary hours. The solution of the problem however appeared in the shape of an order to participate in a patrol in No Man's Land." I had specialized in grenade work and decided this was the job for me. Therefore each evening before dusk I was always to be found hanging about the company headquarters dugout seeking permission to carry out a patrol or a bombing raid. I got quite a good reputation for this particular form of work and was even regarded by some as a brave young fellow. I never had the courage to admit that I took on this particularly nerve-racking j ob because I was too frightened to stand in the lines.

At the time of the German retreat on the Somme in January, 1917, I was eighteen years old and more or less a seasoned old veteran carrying the acting rank of Sergeant and commanding Platoon No. 13 of D Company of my battalion. We were at this time holding a line of shell holes in front of Grandcourt ready to carry out a big offensive when it was discovered that the Germans had evacuated their positions leaving only a small party behind to cover the retreat by fighting a rear guard action. Whilst here it suddenly dawned upon me that it was my 19th birthday, and I smiled at the thought of my birth certificate, lying in the safe in the Orderly Room of Ponsomby Barracks at the Curragh Camp, England. I could visualize my parents' instructions still attached requesting the Government not to send me overseas until I had reached the age for such service.

More serious thoughts however soon replaced these. The Germans were retreating, we were advancing, word had gone round that the war had finished. After many weary days marching contact was again made with the retreating German troops and a line was established in front of the villages of Irles, Pis and Serres. Here I had the narrowest squeak of being either killed or captured. My platoon was detailed as portion of a force to advance on the village of Irles for the purpose of discovering whether it was occupied. We had to advance across the open in broad daylight with not even a kindly shell hole into which to throw ourselves in case fire was opened on us. We were simply human targets —"a draw fire party." Everything went well until we reached the outskirts of the village when hostile troops, who had been watching our every movement from the time we started, appeared in great numbers from nowhere firing from the hip as they rushed upon us.

The order to open rapid fire was given. It was however useless, we were hopelessly outnumbered so the order to retire was next shouted. My comrades were all either killed or taken prisoner. Three of us managed to rush back about 100 yards with a hail of lead buzzing about our ears. Z-Z-Zing, the steel-jacketed messengers of death buried themselves into the ground about us, casting little puffs of dust into the air. It was a hail of death! How we ever reached the shelter of the large disused watertank which lay in the middle of the field is a matter of conjecture. My eyes were blurred by the fury of a pounding heart. It was like a nightmare. Our feet seemed to be glued to the ground and at any moment I expected to feel a sudden burning flash as a bullet tore its way through my flesh. In an instant we were burrowing into the ground like madmen, tearing and clawing at the earth

with broken nails and bleeding fingers. The noise about us was deafening. I watched with fascinated eyes the little curling bits of steel that suddenly protruded from the tank, and I knew that another bullet had hurled itself through the metal and out over our heads.

Until nightfall we remained behind the shelter of the watertank, and under cover of darkness we slithered and crawled from one tiny sheltering objective to another until we reached our own lines. Literally hundreds of holes had filled the watertank behind which we had been hiding, and my last reflection of our haven of refuge was that it looked like a giant upturned sieve as it disappeared behind us into the darkness.

There is little time in modern warfare for reverie. With daylight we again threw ourselves on to the German lines. Shortly after this I received a bullet wound in the right leg, and was taken to No. 1 Australian Casualty Clearing Station near Albert, the town in which was situated the cathedral famous after its destruction for the leaning statue of the Virgin Mary. In addition to this trouble I was also suffering from a very severe attack of trench fever. For days I lay on a stretcher bed in a delirious condition.

Once on the mend, however, I soon got well again and found myself on the road searching for my battalion which was on the move to a new sector of the line with the remainder of the division. After travelling for a week all over France in cattle trucks, motor lorries, etc., I located the battalion in a small village near Bethune. In due course we reached Bethune and were billeted in the workhouse buildings, ready to move into the line at six hours notice. We were to act as reinforcement should the occasion arise, of a new division which was enjoying its baptism of fire.

This did not last long. After about a week we were rushed post haste to Arras, entered the line between Cherisey and Fontaine les Croixelles at 12 midnight on the 2nd of May, 1917, and attacked the German lines at 3 :45 A.M. on the following morning. This was the most awful engagement in which I was involved throughout the war, principally owing to the fact that the whole attack was a colossal failure—chaos reigned supreme and terrific casualties were sustained. Battalions of 700 strong in the morning barely mustered 20 to 30 in all ranks in the evening. I was one of those who was fortunate enough to get away with a whole skin. For my work during this engagement I was recommended with other members of my battalion for the award of the Military Medal. This decoration was never received, presumably for the reason that my company commander, who was responsible for putting my name forward for the award, was killed in action shortly afterwards.

Soon after this I was recommended on the field for commissioned rank, interviewed by the Brigadier Commander and received orders to return to England for a course of instruction at the Cadet School. In due course I arrived in England and reported to the 20th Officers Training Battalion at Church Crookham, near Aldershot, where I underwent a four months course of instruction to fit me for my new responsibility. At the end of this term I sat for and passed the British War Office examinations and was eventually gazetted as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 8th Irish King's (Liverpool) Regiment. It was rather a disappointment not being gazetted to a completely Irish Regiment but before I severed my connection with the 8th Irish Kings I was quite pleased because I found it to be one of the finest fighting regiments with which one could have had the honor to serve.