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The Black Watch A Record in Action   By:

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THE BLACK WATCH

[Illustration: SCOUT JOE CASSELLS OF THE BLACK WATCH]

THE BLACK WATCH

A RECORD IN ACTION

BY SCOUT JOE CASSELLS

One of the few survivors of that "contemptible little army"

Frontispiece

GARDEN CITY NEW YORK DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 1918

Copyright, 1918, by DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY

All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign languages, including the Scandinavian

FOREWORD

From Mons to the Marne lies the bloodiest trail of sacrifice in history. In all the records of war, there stands forth no more magnificent and no more melancholy achievement than that of the British regular army, which bled its heroic way in ever diminishing numbers from the challenge to the check of the initial German sweep upon Paris. It could not hope for decisive victory; it could only clog the wheels of the Juggernaut with lives and lives and lives, sold bravely and dearly. Before a countless superiority of numbers and an incalculable advantage in enemy preparedness, it could only stand, and fall and stand again, and fall until the end; when the cause of the Allies was saved for the hour, and of French's hundred thousand there remained barely a little leaven of trained men for the British forces then assembling to learn the trade of warfare.

The ablest pens writing of the Great War have paid tribute to this splendid deed which changed the course of its beginning. French's retreat from Mons has been a topic to inspire the highest eloquence of the patriotic historian and the most profound admiration of the militarist. Everything, from the point of the onlooker, has been said of it. And everything that has been said retires into the perspective of the academic, when one reads, in this volume, the words of a trained British soldier who experienced and survived it. For stark and simple strength, for realism of detail, for a complete picturization of the desperate and heroic resistance of the sacrificial army, this soldier's tale is, and will remain, unequalled and unique. This prefatory emphasis is not vain or extravagant. It need not fear the fact that there is but the turning of a page between promise and performance. Here is a writing which is of the war, and therefore differs from all writings which can only be about the war. It conveys to the reader an almost paralyzing sense of wonder at the steadfastness of Britain's military traditions, put to an unexampled test. It shows how marvellously well a soldier may learn his business in advance when his business is to die. Concerning one of the most noteworthy accomplishments of the arms of Britain, there will survive in print no more compelling and convincing narrative than this, the utterance of one whose trade was fighting and not writing.

THE BLACK WATCH

THE BLACK WATCH

CHAPTER ONE

For more than two years now, I have been trying to forget those first months of the war. The months when the Black Watch and other regiments of the immortal "contemptible little army" marched into the unknown against the fiercest, most efficient military power the world, up to that time, had known; the months when hidden enemies struck swiftly mystifying blows with strange weapons, the more terrible because we did not understand them and had never imagined their power and numbers.

For more than two years I have habitually sought to keep my mind upon other subjects, yet I can recall those days now in the minutest detail. I can hear the sudden thrum of the masked machine guns like giant partridges drumming; can hear the singing roar of the Prussian airplanes to which, in those days, because of the scarcity of British planes, there could be practically no answer; and I can live again the frightful nights when we made our stand upon the Marne, and, sneaking into German outpost trenches, slew the guards with jack knives, thrusting gags into their mouths and cutting their throats to prevent outcry... Continue reading book >>




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