Page:The War and the Future (Masefield, 1918).djvu/25

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The War and the Future

ties, the enemy, like an armed burglar, was breaking into our neighbours' house, and killing our neighbours' children, taking his goods, abusing his women and burning the house over the victims.

In the first eight days of the war we sent two-thirds of our little army to France (about 120,000 men all told). They marched up to take position, singing, "It's a long, long way to Tipperary." It was not to be a long way to those brave men, for half of them were gone within eight weeks. They were not too well-equipped with guns, nor had they many machine guns, but every man in the army was a very carefully trained rifle-shot. Against them came enemy armies numbering nearly half a million of men.

They came into touch on August 23rd, near Mons, against odds of five or six to one. They were driven back, of course. That little line was turned and almost enveloped. There has been little fighting in this war to equal that first fighting. But one man cannot fight six men: so our army fell back, fighting desperately, in hot weather, for nine days.

Often in that blazing weather, divisions were so footsore that they could go no farther.