FROM THE BATTLEFRONT
GLIMPSES OF TH "WAR, EVERY MAN'AND" GUN NEEDED. In the following loiter I)r A. A. Martin, of Palmerston North, gives to the Manawat.u ' Standard' his experiences in Franco and Flanders. He is still attached | to the 15th Field Ambulance with the Fifth Division of the British Army, and at the latest advices was engaged within reach of the fiorce fighting that is still going on around Ypres. Dr Martin's letter will ho read with interest, affording, as it does, a graphic pen. picture of the conditions under which the great war is being waged : For the first time since coming out here I have seen a New Zealand paper, and have got a glimpse of what New Zealand has been doing. I see that the racecourse at Awapuni has thrown off its holiday mantle and settled down as an Imperial asset —a training ground for" young New Zealand soldiers; about to engage in one of the world's great wars. We shall welcome them over here, and, believe me, every man is needed. Ei-cry gun will be rcqvimd, and every ■rifle will have work, to d<>. —Early Movements.I arrived at Havre just when the first guns began to play from the. British up towards Moris. I was then sent to Harfleur to a depot camp. Here trenches were being made and some, attempt organised to stem the German advance, which was reported to he thrusting its menacing front towards- Havre, the great French port and tho British base. Orders then came to evacuate Havre, and make St. Nar.airc, on the. Bay of Biscay, the | new base. —Ordered to the British Railhead.— So again, in a scene of indescribable confusion and noise and tumult, we took ship for St. Nazaire. At night we travelled without lights, and every little while a British torpedo-boat destroyer or a French gunboat would throw its searchlight gleam upon' us, recognise us, and—darkness again. We reached St. Xaz a irehungry, tired, and glad once again to be off the sea. Directly I had! reported my arrival 1 received, orders to go at once by train to the British railhead. Tin's was Coulommiers, near Paris. —German Filth mess.—
After a very tedious and hot journey in a, dirty cattle truck I reached this town. It had just been evacuated by the Germans, and the Germans left it as usual —in a German mess. The German amy makes its presence known always by the filthy and dirty habits of its soldiery. —Within Sound of the Guns.—
From Coulommiers I got a friendly lift on a motor car as far as Douai, and here joined tho Headquarters of the sth Division. 1 was at once posted for surgical work with the 15th Field Ambulance. We marched at once- in hot, broiling weather and over hot. dusty roads. It was the famous march on the Marne 1 Six hours after joining I was in action with our troops advancing over the Marne, and for the first time heard the German guns and heard tho British artilierv in reply. —A Strenuous Night.— Our troops marched rapidly, and at 8 o'clock that night I crossed the, Marne ■JUver with the 15th Brigade. We camped in. a field on the farther side, and that night I was out with stretchers and stretcher-bearers bringing in our wounded. We. were operating till midnight, on my valise on the grass under an ambulance waggon, and was up again, at 4 a.m., and again on tho march. —The Fair Fields of Fiance. We now tiaverscd a lovely countryside. Lovely from its scenic natural beauties, but unlovely from its immediate surroundings. Dead Germans littered the roadsides and under clumps of tree-?. The presence of retreating Germans everywhere yoen. It wa,s curious to note how a wounded German would crawl from the open to some cover. I helped to pick up one, man of a Jager battalion who was shot through the abdomen. He had crawled from the road to the shelter of a ditch, leaving a bloody trail behind him. There he lay now in the ditch oa his back, eyes open and. staring wonderingly up to the sky. His German face wore, an expression of curious surprise, and his right- hand was grasping a clump of grass at his side. Mayhap his last thoughts were in the Fatherland; ocrhaps ho again saw his wife, a.nd children and his little farm. Who know*? We buried him in. a hole besich' the ditch and laid his rifle, on the giavo. —On the March.—
All this day we marched, stopping at intervals owing to "orgestion of traffic lr/ our heavy columns on the road, but, ever pushing on." At .night we. slept in the field, under haystacks, 'in ditches, anywhere. Our food "consisted of biscuits and bully beef. We ate heartily at all times, for Ave wen- all huugrv. 'We s>pi heavily—tired men sl-eo well. For five days v. e. did not- wash nor take ov.r boots off. Officers and men looked like pirates with stubbly chine and ingrained duet and dirt. But cur spirit, was good, for we had tho Germans on lho run, and we hoped to keep them running. .—The Kntiny at Bay.
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I enlisted the bister;; of Mercy as nurses. The Reverend Mother was a. trained ,iniesthetm, aod she administered for me all the chloroform. Here for two davs and one long night I was ©p-srotins without a stop. The Reverend. Mother and the «>inters fortified me all 'this time bv civine me hut- coffee; pu<\ brandy to drink. The people of the town Imrnedly came io our help -and made straw mattresses and pillow capfl?. provided blankets, hot soups, and warmth for our muti-
latod and men. Tho ■work of th« Mother Superior and of the nurses ••wag beyond all compare, Tluy were angels to our men, and worked night and day with the most uncomplaining spirit and devotion to the cause of duly—the great, oa-ro of the wounded. —Thousands of Wounded.—
In about 14 days over 5,000 wounded were passed through the various temporary hospitals, aiid from the fighting round La Bassee alone about 7,000 wounded men wem sent hack I am not counting the dead. My work dealt only with those requiring prompt surgical operations, and here my hands were full night and day. One need only watch a military surgeon trying to (repair tho ravages of shell and. bullet to scoff at the pomp and magnificence of war. Yet Bernhaxdi, in his book ' 'Die Great War,' says that wars are necessary, and that battles are for a country's good. At Bethune we had beside our own wounded British a great number of wounded Germans. Need I say that they got exactly the same treatment as our own men. We made no distinction, and did all we could to the wounded and crippled foe. —Dreaded Gangrene.— At Bethune one. met for the first tlnia cases of gangrene. This gangrene is duo to the soil of the trendies containing a dangerous bacilh'6 or organism which gets into the wounds. This bacillus sets up a form of gangrene which speedily kills the, patient. The only resort in many cases was a speedy amputation, and it, was unfortunately necessary in a large number of cases to amputate arms and legs for this dreaded infection. —On Belgian Soil,— Our brigade, next moved up to Belgium, and I am writing this from Belgian soil. The fighting around Ypres is of too recent date to require any description. It has been of a singularly pitiless and bloody type. The attacks of the Prussian Guard and of the Bavarians on on? front at/ Ypres led to their bains repulsed ard annihilated. The attack was made by these famous troops in enormous masses. They rolled on like a wave toward* our front and were mowed down in swathes. —The Mo : L Hated Foe.— Prince Kupprecht, of Bavaria, issued an army order to his troops the day before the charge exhorting them to crush '" the mo>t hated foe." The most hated fo* met them with a hail of lead and a cliff front of bayonets, and before these the Bavarians, splendid and gallant soldiers though they were, had to recoil, waver, and retreat. This victory was not achieved by -us without severe' losses, and the crowded dressing stations, ambulance, and hospitals bor:' witness to this sanguinary encounter. —Dr Angus M'Nab's Fate.— Dr Angus M'Nab (brother of Dr llobert M'Nab. of New Zealand) met his end recently. He came out as surgeon to the London Scottish. The Londoners took a village at tho bayonet point and occupied it. At dawn next morning the Prussians turned them out, also with the bayonet. Poor Dr M'Nab, while attending to tho wounded at his regimental dressing station, wa- bayoneted in five places and died. He was a very old friend of mine, and was to-day one of the recognised authorities in his specialty—diseases <.\ tho eyes. —Bitter Weather.— The weather i-. now bitterly co'd. In, snow, and frozen sleety wind tax the en* durance of our troops in the trenches. But be the war waged by the elements and by man. he it waged by lev.- or by m.uiv. we must make, victory sine. Already signs are setting in indicating that the great German army has delivered its hardest blow. Our hardest blow has nob yet been given. -Fate; The Ueferce.— Like a clever boxer, the Allies bavs side-stepped and parried the German thrusts, dangerous and men icing though | they were. They waif till the first sign of exhaustion shows itself on the face 'of the adversary and lr'<- blows become less noavv. Then our defensive, changes to an offensive, and the German must then rehire tojiis corner oi< fall while the releree, Fate, counts the ominous numbers. —The Wonderful .Airmen.— Yesterday we were very cheered. A German Taube surveyed our position from a great height, then rapidly planed towards us and dropped a bomb. One of our biplanes pursued the Taube, which tried to escape. The observer nn our plane had a machine gun, and by some. beautiful firing brought down the Ta:ibe. 'iiie German machine was smashed, and the German aviator made a wonderful escape—got off with a broken arm. The work of the French, British, and German [ aviators is wonderful. The flying men daily carry out reconnaissances with the utmost coolness and intrepidity. A few dnys since, I watched one of oiir heavy batteries take up a position in an orchard. The m<?n rapidly dug (,he pits for the six gum* and carefully concealed the guns from observation by cutting down fruit trees and hedges and planting these round the guns Then a British aviator mounted into the sky and dropped a signal—a. white smoke bomb—to indicate to the commander of the battery that ha was ready to observe. The battery commander isenf a the]] towards the enemy's lines, and the aviator watched where it burnt. Signal came down, another colored smoke, bomb, that it fell short. The second shot got on in the German position. All our guns were trained to this spot, and then a tempest of shot and shell hurst from our heavi,'.s on to this place. We learned that evening that- a German batter.- had been destroyed by this fire. —The Plucky Motor Cyclists. ~-
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FROM THE BATTLEFRONT, Evening Star, Issue 15706, 21 January 1915
FROM THE BATTLEFRONT Evening Star, Issue 15706, 21 January 1915
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