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THE CAVE, Issue 15704, 19 January 1915
(By Arthur Hewlett, in the ' Manchoster ] Guardian.') BELGIUM. November. Many centuries ago, before gunpowder was invented, before Alfred had burnt the cakes and founded our navy, the. inhabitants of this part of the Continent had learnfc to adapt to their needs certain geological peculiarities which are in evidence to-day- The. country is limestone very beautiful to the eye as it swells and falls in low, round-edged pla.te.nus interspersed with groves of trees, and interest ing to the mind which can .speculate on what lies beneath this skin of verdure — old hones and fossils which were alive when it was all beneath the waves of the North Sea. Like other districts of this formation, the place abounds with eaves. and it was in them that 15 centuries ago, as my friend the Cure tells me. men and women came to dwell. They squared the corners and levelled the floors, hewed out niches and receptacles, and even tunnelled skylights and windows. No one dreamed of the use to which these dwellings would one day be put by an alien horde engaged in the fiercest struggle in the world's history, luit there must be hundreds of men already in England who hnve learned to bless the enven. I myself enjoyed in one. under circumstances sufficiently dreadful, the first sound and secure sleep of a fortnight, and what that means only those, who have, fared with me through these month.--, of war can dream. When a man Is wounded one of his first desires is fu>peace and rpiiet, and in all this vast theatre of war there was no other spot that could afford such sanctuarv; Theie reaches this great hole in the earth onlv a muffled roar ; and the comfort of knowing tint between the explosions of these horrid engines and oneself there must interpose many feet of solid vock U ivw»vpressible. ft is not till one reaches such a haven and experiences this relief tli-it one reali-cs the tension of the open. At the beginning of this great battle in which we are stili engaged, we had crossed t Titriver on a narrow- aqueduct (which led the canal across it) under a plunging fire, of enormous shells. Each one seemed U, pitch nearer and nearer the canal on whose edge we were marching, and it became a question of time whether our long line could clear it before the shells began sti iking it. With impassive stf ..dine;,;; our battalions held on and reached the road under cover of a lung hog's-back hill. I learnt that my' regiment had gnuinto a line of trenches along the hilltop, having me to make my own arrangements for the ambulance party under mv charge in case of an attack,'and 1 was not "a little anxious. It was imperative to find some cover for my cart and two horses before it grew much lighter, as the road was certain to be shelled as soon as daylight was established. There was a village we had come through, but. it would !'•■ too far distant from our lines to be any use for wounded. But as it grew lighter I at last made out a wet slate roof shining from some trees about ;■ quarter of a mile awn v. At the same thee 1 saw above ,t on ilie near side of the crest a bivouac fire flare up for a little, which could only nave been one of our own. A -small side ,-ad Jed thitherward, and 1 at once made up my mind that this was tlio station J'oi im. "A proper deathtrap. 1 he-aid my enrtman n marking lo another. -|f we on c gel in we'll never gel out." lint ii wae 'that, or the open road, and I gave the v, ord p, g,. j',,,. jt. It was only a' hamlet with two .-Haggling Mreels, j sp,„'ie ir. a man. I-Ting 'him T wanted a house M -'„eie 1 onrld have mv woumlcd liroir. hi down i'rnni the hill above, and he ;a : .l: "Why no! take onof the i-nvo.-V Tneiv's room for SCO in th-'-'m : but ih.■•<--:• of them arc full up a!ready." lie pointed up t'n.- lace, and [ went up to expioi >. The incut lis of the great cave* vawn-d opei: like the eyehws socketc in a skull. ')ii the vault of the : lull, as i( i, e'.e. were the trenches. 1 win into one ,-, IV e m which 1 heard founds of snoijng In th* gloom 1 could male-- out many recumbent forms, and o::v or two men were groanm.quietly. The -daylight, which -wen yet was. watery and .-light, hardly 'pene; rated beyond :> loo! or two of ti,r'ent ranee. i went on to a cave further up the lane, winch I found empty I found it a sort of double cave. Allelic; chamber opened at the back of the front on,- through a riule arch. I','ie main rave was, noie-idv
I rilcular in foun. will) ;: love] flour and a I dome-fdiapo-d roof, (dreat crack..: 111 tho j ;.' : ''".v limestone fissured if in cvry diiec- ! tiun. ;ifi(( in 'he corner-- h'.ui.; <norir.'ns | a l-iwi-i,,:. l,i c .'iioiiL'h fot ha'de::' lum. i Diuc!;.v. Si, n:m Ii 1 coiild mako ~:.i. in jh > I u'r.-<«-in<: Unlit. 'l'hr p!.-.r-o l l; ,d i v -<- n idled ; with wounded tho dav lu-f.ii:-. l.o:.-- hav j and straw, on which thov had lun: laid. I was to, sod about ill,, floor. 1 ivi.in har-k to my squad and bjoucdrt thorn m>. Kav- : hji L ' iho hoi-.-.--., and rait in n pert of qvatrv , ai tho corner of the In no. whoro 1 hop-d ! tl.ov w.,n!d es.-apo tii:- shrill My mm | went out *ui collect hav and straw, whdc | two of t:r r, !M in:i<l-c' a fiiv near ilv mouth of tlie: eavu to prer.are liot water. A- vet all iv;i'i sil-ii f . Fioiii the nmiiih of 1 !ir> cave T looked down mlo a -.- r- ;l t val" 111-100 ii)) if n;'-'-,ic!o\vs and woodland. The skv was on il in lone;, pearly rift? ! of' ]h-hi. 'T mho'it have been on., of tho I ae.-iont trouWlydv. out on a ilinvii '■ Hint hud ! fur the bio brown hoi-.-, loin on; of Hi-. \ mil hv the Hindis thorp no rijn of j war. T was. vei-v tire! and coll, and did i nut w.iii iltoio I.i-il;. Y-'c iiad ;- mito'o" ; tea all round, and 1 then llm-vr rnycclf | .ai a' bundh> -if hav in a. dark corner of j th" .-avo and *dopt a- 1 had not, f >»t tot a month. My men. of) of iln-ni. snf in the ; '-'IV.. mouth Vonversiut; in low tonn,. 1 | had onviorj thorn in lh" n : ;<ht o.irh ilree i I trot, iin thev had all huddled i .-. l: -t hrr i m th"n' sli-,r,v lil;;. sardines, and h;id • sl>rt iiko dot niieo. I l'"i'ine; he-Jan later in the morning, and ■ ! was .T-.vn!<onp(l to find ,-> woiirided man |on a shot.-IIPV :i'ready brought down. Tbo ; net of ilio da. - T wn? in and out the .-rivo ! and up and do.vn the hill, and tlior. was i no nunc peace till onco nctain clced ■ down on us. and th- hideous turmoil : ceased. Tdo not think you would find a ; more 'mpressivo r-ci \)c or moment for a | ph-luto of wrn- Mian in this urea! grotto after uiohtfall. A lantern with n oandlo i in if v,vs placed on a stone ledffo. and it, | feeble erh-ani hardly riispoi.-td tho dark I i-.pf~. hut it wji jest ]H..-sibie to make out th" forms of tho men Iving th-no on j the stiaw. Tine, with his face tied up. | lav pioppcd no a-a;n-t the wall: otiin-s j i,,'o! ;•;':!».-.-< under tha bl'serd inHiK-n.-e of | niii.piiia : two pfill, n -vor to mow aeaam. | dhe'oi-dorlv on duty sat by ilio l ; uht try- ! jri•; to' read a naper from home, d'hrnnph i the nioiiiii of tho e,v.-c t.he ja- a cnnl-iilr.ek |at.h. At loin; hiterraif lh" -ileneo. l-rokon oi lv bv the breatldn- ! of tho num. war- shaft-ivd bv the boom | of a trim and then the thud of tho ox-nlod- | in* >hell
THE CAVE, Issue 15704, 19 January 1915
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