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Old 4 Weeks Ago
Capt. Howdy Capt. Howdy is offline
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We ourselves had seen a ship go down. We saw the Triumph torpedoed. We saw her shiver from stem to stern—and then go down in the sea. She was a triumph of man's handiwork, and man's handiwork had destroyed her. The sea was very calm, but submarines and mines lurk in still waters as well as rough—and out of the calm sea came the thing of death. From the moment she was struck till she turned turtle but fourteen minutes elapsed. A dozen launches and torpedo boats rushed to rescue the crew, and all were saved except about forty. And we who saw it all from the trenches looked on at it stupefied. With a mighty lurch—as it were a giant in the agonies of death—the Triumph heeled over and was gone.
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  #22  
Old 4 Weeks Ago
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CHAPTER IX
STORIES THAT WILL NEVER DIE


"CANARIES"—THE SAVING GRACE—THE LOST HORSE BRIGADE—A FORGOTTEN COUNTER-SIGN—"LET'S AT 'EM"—POLITE TURK AND SULKY GERMAN—MURPHY'S MULES—MURPHY AT THE GATE

Life in the trenches became quite bearable—after a time. But it took time. At first when a bullet skimmed the parapet and went whistling overhead we ducked instinctively. But the experienced infantry laughed, and said, "They're only 'canaries'." Again, when the shrapnel came hurtling aloft and burst with an ugly roar, we crouched and waited for death; but the old hands explained that if we could hear it burst we were pretty safe. It was the shells we couldn't hear that we ought to dodge. We understood that epigrammatic utterance better later on.

But one thing is absolutely essential for a philosophic enjoyment of trench life—and that is a sense of humour. Failing that, most of the soldiers would in the end go stark, staring mad. It is this saving grace which makes our Australians such a wonderful fighting force. They go laughing into the firing-line. They come laughing out again. They laugh as they load and fire. Nearly every wounded man I've seen laughs. A staff officer said the other day: "It's only when they're killed that these Australians cease laughing."

Our three Australian Light Horse brigades have now been in the trenches for some time. "We came to Egypt as horsemen," said a Hunter River man; "then we did foot-slogging at Cairo and Alexandria, and now we're living in caves and tunnels, like rabbits or troglodytes."

Since the days of Darwin quite a lot has been written about evolution. But we never thought of evolution in connexion with our Light Horse Brigade. We soon found that we couldn't escape the process any more than the rest of the universe.
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  #23  
Old 4 Weeks Ago
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One would have thought that as new and awful weapons of destruction were evolved, battles would become short, sharp, and decisive. Instead of that, they are toilsome, long-drawn-out, and indecisive. I cannot say why. The elucidation of the problem I leave to the "experts." All I am concerned with is the story of how the 2nd Light Horse Brigade became the Lost Horse Brigade. Australia sent four Light Horse brigades to uphold the honour of the Commonwealth; first, Colonel Chauvel; second, Colonel Ryrie; third, Colonel Hughes; fourth, Colonel Brown. At first we thought we were going to be armed with swords as well as rifles. When first mounted, despite our sombre khaki, we felt as proud as Life Guardsmen. And we saw visions and dreamed dreams, and pictured the Australian Light Horse on the left wing of the Empire army driving the Huns in confusion over the Rhine and back to Berlin.

Hope on, hope ever. All we have done so far is, by process of devolution, to change from prospective cavalry to mounted infantry, to foot-sloggers, to pick and shovel artists, and finally to troglodytes. The pen is mightier than the sword—but so is the spade.
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