Volume X Easter 1916 No. 58
The outstanding topic of the term has been the Cadet Company. During the Christmas vacation the Voluntary Training Corps, which had proved so successful was officially recognised as a cadet unit and attached to the 5th Hants. Then came the great question of uniforms. Representatives of a London firm came to measure the Cadets, and then several weeks were spent in wearily waiting and in pestering the lives of the officers with queries as to when the uniforms would arrive. They came at last towards the end of the term so that for the remaining weeks they were sufficiently new as to cause continual talk about the pitfalls of putting on puttees and as to the relative merits of 'Brasso' and 'Panshine' for cleaning buttons, not to mention the pathetic enquiries as to if the weather would be good enough for uniforms to be worn!
The 5th Hants now in India are not particularly happy. They feel that they have missed much of the glory of the War. They were amongst the first to volunteer for foreign service, and they think that they have been done.
When H.M.S. Inflexible returned from the Falkland Islands battle she went to the Dardanelles and took her share of the fighting there. Later she was sent to the North Sea. The captain, so the tale goes, thought fit to call the ship's company together and address them as follows: "Now, my lads, we have had a lot of luck, and the poor fellows up here have had a very hard time. So don't get blowing about what you have done".
An O.E. (a Canadian) speaks very hopefully. He says we keep the Germans on the move all the time. We never let them rest and they are very nervy. He was calling at a farm near the front, and was speaking to the proprietor (a lady, of course; all the men had gone). She pointed to a big oak tree and said: "That's the tree to which the Bosches nailed one of your men last week". He says the feeling amongst the Canadians is very bitter.
Second-Lieunt Colin McCarraher, who is 6ft. 5in. in height, left for the front last month and has been especially selected for duty as an expert bomb-thrower.
Engineer-Lieut. Sharland had a lucky escape when the Majestic was sunk. He is said to have been in the water several hours before he was rescued.
Another O.E. writes: "What stands out most prominently in my memory is the first time we went into the trenches. I found it most nerve-trying. We now heard guns fired and bullets flying close by for the first time. As there had been a lot of rain, the communications trenches were full up, and we had to go over the top. This was done at night, and the path led through a sea of mud. We wore gum boots up to the thighs, so were fairly dry (a year ago I should have called it fearfully wet). At any moment one's foot would go into a shell-hole, and one would lose one's balance. At other times streams would have to be crossed by a narrow plank which was always slippery with mud, and several times I slipped off the plank and finished up in the mud. To add to the discomfort it was raining all the time; also shells were bursting and bullets flying. At the time we thought that the Germans had seen us, but we know now that had that been the case we should all have been wiped out with machine guns. The flares that go up make the place as light as day. When we got back to billets we thought them the finest places one could be in, although the roof leaked and the beds were straw. Sometimes we do not even have straw".
Again: "We are usually billeted in barns of farm-houses and the typical farm-house is something as follows: It consists of an oblong yard; at one end is the dwelling-house, and on each side are the barns and out-houses. A brick path runs round the yard, and in the centre is a large cess-pool filled with the accumulated refuse of years, and when the sun is on it, it is worse than the chemical "lab"! About six feet away from the cess-pool is the pump, from which they obtain their drinking water. We are never allowed to touch this water except for washing".
Many O.E.'s have returned from the Dardanelles suffering from dysentery. One naturally concludes that it is due to bad drinking water, but this is not so. The sand is so fine that it gets into everything, and this is the main cause.
The Australians have the greatest affection for our sailors. At one time they had a shortage of provisions, and as each company is "mothered" by a warship, the sailors used to go on half-rations, and then, at the risk of their lives, take the other half on shore. It is no wonder that one of the Australians said: "If any Jack ever comes to Australia he can get drunk for a month and it won't cost him a ha'penny".
To our great gratification, the School Training Corps was officially recognised as a Cadet unit on December 17th 1915, its title being the Southampton King Edward VI School Cadet Company. There are 126 Cadets in the Company, nearly all of whom have now received their uniforms. During the present term drilling has taken place in the playground, the Company being divided into four platoons.
There seems to be a great probability that we shall soon be losing temporarily some of our attested Masters, who may be called to the colours. We do not know who will replace them if they go, although we have heard rumours of the possible advent of mistresses. In any case, we should like to assure them that they will take with them the best wishes of the School for a speedy, victorious return.