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The Great War as I Saw It

by

Canon Frederick George Scott, C.M.G., D.S.O.

Late Senior Chaplain First Canadian Division, C.E.F.

Author of "Later Canadian Poems," and "Hymn of the Empire."

F. D. GOODCHILD COMPANY Publishers

Toronto

335 pages



CONTENTS

Chapter I. How I got into the War—July to September, 1914

Chapter II. The Voyage to England—September 29th to October 18th, 1914

Chapter III. On Salisbury Plain—October 18th, 1914 to January 1st, 1915

Chapter IV.Off to France—January to March, 1915

Chapter V. Before the Storm—March and April, 1915

Chapter VI. The Second Battle of Ypres—April 22nd, 1915

Chapter VII. Festubert and Givenchy—May and June, 1915

Chapter VIII. A Lull in Operations—Ploegsteert, July to December, 1915

Chapter IX. Our First Christmas in France Chapter X. Spring, 1916

Chapter XI. The Attack on Mount Sorrel—Summer, 1916

Chapter XII. The Battle of the Somme—Autumn, 1916

Chapter XIII. Our Home at Camblain l'Abbé—November, 1916

Chapter XIV. My Search is Rewarded

Chapter XV. A Time of Preparation—Christmas, 1916 to April, 1917

Chapter XVI. The Capture of Vimy Ridge—April 9th, 1917

Chapter XVII. A Month on the Ridge—April and May, 1917

Chapter XVIII. A Well-earned Rest—May and June, 1917

Chapter XIX. Paris Leave—June, 1917

Chapter XX. We take Hill 70—July and August, 1917

Chapter XXI. Every day Life—August and September, 1917

Chapter XXII. A Tragedy of War

Chapter XXIII. Visits to Rome and Paschendaele—Oct. and Nov., 1917

Chapter XXIV. Our Last War Christmas

Chapter XXV. Victory Year Opens—January and February, 1918

Chapter XXVI. The German Offensive—March, 1918

Chapter XXVII. In Front of Arras—April, 1918

Chapter XXVIII. Sports and Pastimes—May and June, 1918

Chapter XXIX. The Beginning of the End

Chapter XXX. The Battle of Amiens—August 8th to August 16th, 1918

Chapter XXXI. We Return to Arras—August, 1918

Chapter XXXII. The Smashing of the Drocourt-Quéant Line—Sept. 2nd, 1918

Chapter XXXIII. Preparing for the Final Blow—September, 1918

Chapter XXXIV. The Crossing of the Canal du Nord—September 27th, 1918

Chapter XXXV. VICTORY—November 11th, 1918

Index



FOREWORD

It is with great pleasure I accede to the request of Canon Scott to write a foreword to his book. I first heard of my friend and comrade after the second battle of Ypres when he accompanied his beloved Canadians to Bethune after their glorious stand in that poisonous gap—which in my own mind he immortalised in verse:— O England of our fathers, and England of our sons, Above the roar of battling hosts, the thunder of the guns, A mother's voice was calling us, we heard it oversea, The blood which thou didst give us, is the blood we spill for thee. Little did I think when I first saw him that he could possibly, at his time of life, bear the rough and tumble of the heaviest fighting in history, and come through with buoyancy of spirit younger men envied and older men recognized as the sign and fruit of self-forgetfulness and the inspiration and cheering of others. Always in the thick of the fighting, bearing almost a charmed life, ignoring any suggestion that he should be posted to a softer job "further back," he held on to the very end. The last time I saw him was in a hospital at Etaples badly wounded, yet cheery as ever—having done his duty nobly. All the Canadians in France knew him, and his devotion and fearlessness were known all along the line, and his poems will, I am bold to prophesy, last longer in the ages to come than most of the histories of the war. I feel sure that his book—if anything like himself—will interest and inspire all who read it.

LLEWELLYN H. GWYNNE. Bishop of Khartoum, Deputy Chaplain General to the C. of E. Chaplains in France.

PREFACE

It is with a feeling of great hesitation that I send out this account of my personal experiences in the Great War. As I read it over, I am dismayed at finding how feebly it suggests the bitterness and the greatness of the sacrifice of our men. As the book is written from an entirely personal point of view, the use of the first personal pronoun is of course inevitable, but I trust that the narration of my experience has been used only as a lens through which the great and glorious deeds of our men may be seen by others. I have refrained, as far as possible, except where circumstances seemed to demand it, from mentioning the names of officers or the numbers of battalions. I cannot let the book go out without thanking, for many acts of kindness, Lieut.-General Sir Edwin Alderson, K.C.B., Lieut.-General Sir Arthur Currie, G.C.M.G., K.C.B., and Major-General Sir Archibald Macdonell, K.C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., who were each in turn Commanders of the First Canadian Division. In all the efforts the chaplains made for the welfare of the Division, they always had the backing of these true Christian Knights. Their kindness and consideration at all times were unbounded, and the degree of liberty which they allowed me was a privilege for which I cannot be too thankful, and which I trust I did not abuse. If, by these faulty and inadequate reminiscences, dug out of memories which have blended together in emotions too deep and indefinable to be expressed in words, I have reproduced something of the atmosphere in which our glorious men played their part in the deliverance of the world, I shall consider my task not in vain. May the ears of Canada never grow deaf to the plea of widows and orphans and our crippled men for care and support. May the eyes of Canada never be blind to that glorious light which shines upon our young national life from the deeds of those "Who counted not their lives dear unto themselves," and may the lips of Canada never be dumb to tell to future generations the tales of heroism which will kindle the imagination and fire the patriotism of children that are yet unborn.

Extract

"It was a lovely afternoon and a most wonderful panorama spread below us. The great plain beneath us was marked off like a chessboard in squares of various shades of yellow and green, dotted here and there with little villages surrounded by the billowy crests of trees. We saw straight white roads going off in all directions, and beyond, towards the east, low murky clouds behind the German lines. We flew on and on till we reached the war zone and here the fields were marked by horse-tracks and the villages had been hit with shells. Before us in the distance I saw the line of our observation balloons and thought, if anything happened to the machine, I would get out into one of them, but when we passed over them they looked like specks on the ground below. I could see the blue ribbon of the Scarpe winding off into the great mists to the east, and then beneath us lay the old city of Arras. I could see the ruined Cathedral, the mass of crooked streets and the tiny, dusty roads. Further on was the railway triangle, where one night later on I got a good dose of gas, and then I saw the trenches at Fampoux and Feuchy. Still onward we sailed, till at last Johnny Johnson shouted back, at the same time pointing downwards, "The German trenches." I saw the enemy lines beneath us, and then Johnny shouted, "Now I am going to dip." It was not the thing I specially wanted to do at that particular moment, but I supposed it was all right. The plane took a dive, and then Johnny leaned over and fired off some rounds of the machine gun into the German lines. We turned to come back and rose in the air, when, in the roar of the wind I heard a bang behind me, and looking round saw, hanging in the air, a ball of thick black smoke. Then there was another beneath us and some more at one side. In all, the Germans followed us with six shells. Johnny turned round and shouted, asking me how I felt. "Splendid", I said, for I really did enjoy the novelty of the experience. Many times have I looked up into the clouds and seen a machine followed by "Archies" and wondered what it felt like to be up there, and now I knew. One phrase however, which I had often read in the newspapers kept ringing in my ears—"Struck the petrol tank and the machine came down in flames." And the last verse of "Nearer my God to Thee," also ran through my head, "Or if on joyful wing upwards I fly." We turned now to the right and flew over Vimy Ridge, and then made two or three turns round Liévin where, above his battery, I dropped the letter for my son. It was delivered to him two weeks afterwards in a hospital in London. We flew out over Lens and crossed the German lines again, skirting the district which the Germans had flooded and then turned our faces homewards. Above the Château at Villers Chatel, I dropped the red smoke bomb. We circled round in the air at a great height while I wrote on a piece of paper, "Canon Scott drops his blessing from the clouds on 1st Canadian Divisional Headquarters," and put it in the little pocket of leaded streamers. Alas, it was lost in a wheat field and so did not do them any more good than the other blessings I have dropped upon them. We then turned to Berles where I could see beneath me the old house and the tiny beings in white playing tennis on the court. We reached the aerodrome at Izel-les-Hameaux and landed safely after being in the air for fifty-five minutes. It was a most delightful experience for a non-combatant. The next day the engine of the machine gave out and Johnny Johnson was compelled to make a forced landing. "



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