|Newspaper Title||The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929)|
|Trove Title||Christmas with Our Soldiers: or, Plucked in Spelling|
Chri-lmas was s|n-iit iu ihe «,iv that i~ lisim Church. Tlie Chaplnin g:ivc an :iiH-]ojjv of ;i s*irinon. ftflinjr tlmi t'wrv wor.1 «» lKvrudged to him. ilinugli the letumiug ti. barracks the jireal Jnaer fniift ion coiiiiiiciiit'J. Kljnt* was *-iiriu'i^Hl at the well-fumished tables. Till re wile lable:-.lhs which be leanud v.eve never
used in barrack, except on Christmas Day. On these vrere joints ot heel, geese, turkeys. several bottles of pickles, and plum pud iiinjr=. They were all cold because there »M so much to be cooked that the cook houses had to begin operations a day or two lefore. .Our recruit was informed Ihat the allowance of beer for Hie Christ mas dinner is supposed not to exceed one fTjIIon per man, but lie found that it did in some cases, and that, men got into a state in which they poured beer over ;roose for gravy. Dinner over. t!ie room in -which Elgie lived was prepared for A .lance, tl-.e band for which consisted of a mingle bugle played in after dinner fash On Boxing Day Hgie was not less in terested than were the other men in a football match which was played by the married sergeants against the single. His sympathies were with the former, for he li.id domestic tastes. Then there was a tea-fight, a conjuring performance, and a magic lantern Jot the children, and Elgie, who assisted with the last, was pleased to tind that his regiment constituted a sort of family life, or at least seemed to do so during the season of good will. Certainly he did hear in the evening some Tommies ~ groucing ~ about the route-march that had been ordered for the nest day with the laudable object no doubt of correcting Christmas indigestion. There were, too. a feu- men who had nuairelled in their cups or rather mugs of Iteer, and wlio Trave ?ilid received joliy blark eyes, but these were exceptional oases. Elgie found people in the army generally letter pleased with Christmas than an- civilians, who have lulls to meet and other disagreeable things l.i do at this thin-. After Cliristmi'.s Elgie set to work in ??amrst to lram lii- recniil's drill, and to lim-ome a duty soldier. Not long after wards he was olTVred a lani-e corporal's -lvi;e. Thos-- who -iiu!d not get it thonl -??Ives trird to di^iiade him from taking I'linrt-mnrtial. Elgin's father, however. sare letter adiii-,-. - T):-- lance. .Jack.' lie work, but the l.ill. t is tin- lirst ste|- to a ? ?'minis-ion, and Ilierefon- you should take it and make ihc mint of it.' hi ahout ten month* another stripe fjllne. ;l])d Klgie felt almost as great A s.,Wi.T us the - mil.- .-..ritural ~ Napoleon 1 Then tlic ISocr Wnr l.nike out. and our hero was delighted to find that his regi nii-nt was to go in t li-* Amiy Corns. 1 Xov,.' lie said to himself, ~ Mr. Kmgpr knocked out of mess. I may fjet a «'om Wliyii tLc sergeant-major sought for an explanation of Elsie's enlisting, he asked, *' \YTio is sbe V and tberc was a she in
the matter. Jack greatly admired Mary SomcrviJle, the daughter of the clergyman uf the parish in which be lived, but the young lady gave no encouragement. ** A man,' she thought, ** who cannot spell him self into the army has no business with a wife.' Jack was going to show her that Jike the great Duke of Marl borough, be could fight better than he couJd spell. When the transport upon which Jack sailed to the Cape began to reel to and fro like a drunken man* he thought of a prayer that was offered up for So-and-so 'crossing the Atlantic, and other sick IJersons/* He was indeed a sick person, but after three days he had sufficiently reco vered to smoke a cigarette and otherwise enjoy himself. A roc rait one? said that the only com plaint he had against the army was that * they keeps on making you keep on.'' and certainly the troops after disembarking were kept well on the go until they got to the front. They were put into trains which travelled day and night, until tUey were within a few miles of the fighting line. Elgie was struck with the magnifi and with the wide veldt, but he missed the garden-like beauty of England, and the greenness of her toy fields. One of the Tommies said to him.. ' This is a khaki
war and no mistake: our clothes are khaki, the guns are painted khaki, the water is khaki, and so are even the butterflies r' — locusts ! As he looked at everything burned up by the fierce son of a South. African summer, ETgie thought that it was an apt remark. It seemed strange, in the midst of heat, glare, and dust, to get Christmas Cards from England with the conventional snow and ice upon them, but Christmas brought more than cards. Presents of all kinds were sent to the soldiers. They were not always suitable, as for instance cardigan jackets, when the heat was 102 degrees in the shade, but they showed that the people at borne, if they bad not knowledge, bad at least zeal and Christmas good wishes for their soldiers. Elgie was with Buller's force on the Tugela River. The reverses, or, at least, want of success which they had at first seemed to exclude the possibility of a Happy Christmas, but British soldiers are not easily cast down, and they had a Christmas which Tommy pronounced to be up to sample. Tons of plum pudding and other Christmas cheer which bad been sent from home were distributed amongst the troojis. Sports were organised, and effigies of President Kruger were drawn through the camp-on a gun carriage to
the accompaniment of popular airs. Though, Hgie's regiment was near Ladysmith, they only learned from the English newspapers how the Boers had been polite there in a warlike way, how they fired two plugged shells into tbe town, with ** the compli ments of the season ^ printed on them, and with a piece of plum pudding in one of them. , Elgie wrote a long Christmas letter home to his parents, not without hope that a certain young lady would bear some of its con tents. In it he said : ~ vTe Tommies do not understand why we cross and reeross the Tugela, and fight our way up Spion Kop just to see the view, and come down again, but we have confidence in &uHer. Still, the Boers seem to. be beating us in 'slimness,'' which makes it hard to he merry this Christmas. Modern warfare means finding the enemy, and then biding from them. The Boers do this, and we do not. We walk into the spider's little parlour with si smile of contented ignor ance on oar faces. The Boers send their Mauser bullets to prove that they know where we are, but as for giving us a re turn shot, the only aim we can take is to fire at a mountain in which tbe beggars may be somewhere. Do get a photograph of a Boer and send it out for a New Tear's card, to let us see what the creature is like, for though I have been in two or three engagements. I have never seen a Boer, and the other chaps say the same.1* It was not long before Elgie felt the truth of his words, not only in his mind, but in his skin. His regiment bad been, firing some time at a kopje which might or might not contain Boers, when he felt a blow upon the shoulder, and at short intervals four others in different parts of his body. They did not hurt much, and lie determined to ' stick it ' to the end, but before long there came a settler — a particularly heavy blow, blood coming through his khaki jacket, and he knew no
THE CYANIDE WORKS, THE HECTOR MIKE, ROCKHAMPTOK.
THE GRACE MERE.