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Tommy Atkins at War As Told in His Own Letters   By:

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Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive Canadian Libraries. See http://www.archive.org/details/tommyatkinswar00kilpuoft

TOMMY ATKINS AT WAR

"The English soldier is the best trained soldier in the world. The English soldier's fire is ten thousand times worse than hell. If we could only beat the English it would be well for us, but I am afraid we shall never be able to beat these English devils."

From a letter found on a German officer.

TOMMY ATKINS AT WAR

As Told in His Own Letters

by

JAMES A. KILPATRICK

New York McBride, Nast & Company

1914

NOTE

This little book is the soldier's story of the war, with all his vivid and intimate impressions of life on the great battlefields of Europe. It is illustrated by passages from his letters, in which he describes not only the grim realities, but the chivalry, humanity and exaltation of battle. For the use of these passages the author is indebted to the courtesy and generosity of the editors of all the leading London and provincial newspapers, to whom he gratefully acknowledges his obligations.

J.A.K.

CONTENTS

I OFF TO THE FRONT 9

II SENSATIONS UNDER FIRE 18

III HUMOR IN THE TRENCHES 30

IV THE MAN WITH THE BAYONET 39

V CAVALRY EXPLOITS 46

VI WITH THE HIGHLANDERS 55

VII THE INTREPID IRISH 64

VIII "A FIRST CLASS FIGHTING MAN" 73

IX OFFICERS AND GENTLEMEN 82

X BROTHERS IN ARMS 91

XI ATKINS AND THE ENEMY 100

XII THE WAR IN THE AIR 112

XIII TOMMY AND HIS RATIONS 121

TOMMY ATKINS AT WAR

I

OFF TO THE FRONT

"It is my Royal and Imperial Command that you concentrate your energies, for the immediate present upon one single purpose, and that is that you address all your skill and all the valor of my soldiers to exterminate first the treacherous English and walk over General French's contemptible little army."[A]

While this Imperial Command of the Kaiser was being written, Atkins, innocent of the fate decreed for him, was well on his way to the front, full of exuberant spirits, and singing as he went, "It's a long way to Tipperary." In his pocket was the message from Lord Kitchener which Atkins believes to be the whole duty of a soldier: "Be brave, be kind, courteous (but nothing more than courteous) to women, and look upon looting as a disgraceful act."

Troopship after troopship had crossed the Channel carrying Sir John French's little army to the Continent, while the boasted German fleet, impotent to menace the safety of our transports, lay helpless bottled up, to quote Mr. Asquith's phrase, "in the inglorious seclusion of their own ports."

Never before had a British Expeditionary Force been organized, equipped and despatched so swiftly for service in the field. The energies of the War Office had long been applied to the creation of a small but highly efficient striking force ready for instant action. And now the time for action had come. The force was ready. From the harbors the troopships steamed away, their decks crowded with cheery soldiers, their flags waving a proud challenge to any disputant of Britain's command of the sea.

The expedition was carried out as if by magic. For a few brief days the nation endured with patience its self imposed silence. In the newspapers were no brave columns of farewell scenes, no exultant send off greetings, no stirring pictures of troopships passing out into the night. All was silence, the silence of a nation preparing for the "iron sacrifice," as Kipling calls it, of a devastating war. Then suddenly the silence was broken, and across the Channel was flashed the news that the troops had been safely landed, and were only waiting orders to throw themselves upon the German brigands who had broken the sacred peace of Europe... Continue reading book >>




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