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World War One


 

A SOLDIER'S SKETCHES UNDER FIRE






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A SOLDIER'S SKETCHES UNDER FIRE

By HAROLD HARVEY

LONDON SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON & CO., LTD.

SLM & Co.

MDCCXCIV

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FORENOTE

A title such as "A Soldier's Sketches Under Fire" indicates at once the nature, scope and limitations of this unpretentious volume of annotated drawings to which it has been given.

Faked pictures of the war are plentiful. Sketches taken on the spot they depict, sometimes by a hand that had momentarily laid down a rifle to take them, and always by a draughtsman who drew in overt or covert peril of his life, gain in verisimilitude what they must lose in elaboration or embellishment; are the richer in their realism by reason of the absence of the imaginary and the meretricious.

All that Mr. Harold Harvey drew he saw; but he saw much that he could not draw. All sorts of exploits of which pictures that brilliantly misrepresent them are easily concoctable were for him impossible subjects for illustration. As he puts it himself, very modestly:

"There were many happenings—repulsions of sudden attacks, temporary retirements, charges, and things of that sort that would have made capital subjects, but of which my notebook holds no 'pictured presentment,' because I was taking part in them."

He also remarks:

"Sketched in circumstances that certainly had their own disadvantages as well as their special advantages, I present these drawings only for what they are."

Just because they are what they are they are of enduring interest and permanent value. They have the vividness of the actual, the convincing touch of the true.

Mr. Harvey was among the very first to obey the call of "King and Country," tarrying only, I believe, to finish his afterwards popular poster of "A Pair of Silk Stockings" for the Criterion production. To join the Colours as a private soldier, he left his colours as an artist, throwing up an established and hardly-won position in the world of his profession, into which—sent home shot and poisoned—he must now fight his way back. His ante-war experiences of sojourn and travel in India, South and East Africa, South America, Egypt and the Mediterranean should again stand him in good stead, for the more an artist has learned the more comprehensive his treasury of impressions and recollections; the more he has seen the more he can show. To Mr. Harvey's studies of Egyptian life, character and customs was undoubtedly attributable the success of his "Market Scene in Cairo," exhibited in the Royal Academy of 1909. Purchased by a French connoisseur, this picture brought its painter several special commissions.

I venture to express the opinion that the simple, direct and soldierly style in which Mr. Harold Harvey has written the notes that accompany his illustrations will be appreciated. His reticence as regards his own doings, the casual nature of his references—where they could not be avoided—to his personal share in great achievements, manifest a spirit of self-effacement that is characteristic of the men of the army in which he fought; men whose like the world has never known.

Robert Overton.

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To

LADY ANGELA FORBES

Whose Work for Soldiers in France and at Home has been as untiring as it has been unostentatious.

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CONTENTS

Forenote

ON THE WAY TO THE FRONT.

Chapter

I.— From Southampton to Malta

II.— From Malta to Marseilles

III.— From Marseilles to Armentières

AT THE FRONT.

Chapter

IV.— Some Sample Excitements of Life in the Trenches

V.— The Lighter Side of Trench Life

VI.— The "Make" of a British Trench

VII.— The Ruse of a German Sniper

VIII.— Three Death Traps

IX.— German Beasts in a French Convent

X.— Another Scene of Boche Brutality

XI.— The Trick that Didn't Trick us

XII.— The Barred Road to Calais

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SKETCHES

Private Harold Harvey Frontispiece

Aboard the Transport

Bivouac at Malta

Casement Gardens, Malta Sergeants' Mess

Ordnance Department, Malta

On the Quayhead at Marseilles

Quayside, Marseilles

Forty Passengers in each Cattle Truck

A Wash and a Wait

"Doomsday Book": a French Lesson in a Cattle Truck

Lady Angela Forbes's Soldiers' Home at Etaples

Road to the Trenches

My Sketch-Book Map: La Bassée-St. Julien

Outskirts of a Village

My First Sniping-Place

Captured German Trench

The Woodcutter's Hut

Typical Figures and Figure-Heads

"Hammersmith Bridge"

"Dirty Dick's"

"Entrenching" the Piano

"Seventy-Five Hotel"

Chicken Farm

A French Comrade-Comedian

A Trench Sniper, Resting A Traverse

The Birth-Place of a Song

Trench Periscope in Use

"The White Farm"

A German Sniper's Nest

"Suicide Bridge"

"Suicide Signal Box"

A Ghastly Promenade

The Hole in the Wall

A Violated Convent Where Germans Raped and Murdered

"The Black Hole"

The Black Tower Where the Trap was Set

"Golgotha"

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PART I.

ON THE WAY TO THE FRONT.

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A SOLDIER'S SKETCHES UNDER FIRE.

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INTRODUCTORY.

ON THE WAY TO THE FRONT.


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CHAPTER I.

From Southampton to Malta.

"On the outbreak of the war I joined the Royal Fusiliers, uninfluenced by the appeal of wall-posters or the blandishments of a recruiting sergeant. My former experience as a trooper in the Hertfordshire Yeomanry being accounted unto me for military righteousness, I sailed with my regiment from Southampton on September 3rd, 1914. We thought we were bound for France direct, and only discovered on the passage that we were to be landed, first, at Malta.

I think I know the reason why the short trip across Channel was avoided, but, as it behoves me to be very careful about what I say on certain points, I don't state it.

I show the fore part of the boat, the bows being visible in the distance. The doorways on the right are those of the horse boxes, specially erected on the deck. In fact, the whole liner, with the most creditable completeness and celerity, had been specially fitted up for the use of the troops, still retaining its crew of Lascars, who did the swabbing down and rough work required.

My sketch shows a crane bringing up bales of fodder for the horses from the hold, with two officers standing by to give orders.

We experienced some exciting incidents on the way out; for instance, in the Bay we ran into a fog, and the order was given for all to stand by. For the next two or three hours all were in doubt as to what might happen—of course there was fear of torpedoes.

We heard in the distance several shots fired, presumably by the battle-cruiser which was our escort. When the fog lifted, we could just see the smoke lifting on the horizon of some enemy craft, which had been chased off by our own warship. We again steamed ahead towards our destination and were soon sailing into smooth and calm waters, the temperature becoming quite genial and warm as we approached the Straits of Gibraltar. As we passed through the Straits the message was signalled that those two notorious vessels, the "Goeben" and the "Breslau," were roaming loose in the Mediterranean..........."

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