readers who have been unable to shoulder the gun are very proud - and
envious - of those who have gone. We have su¬ered losses, but the sacrifice
has been in a righteous cause.
Such was the rhetoric of the day, although J. Forgan-Potts,
who had just returned from France, was not so patriotic:
Wars, ever since time was, when compared, are much the same. One
group of politicians annoys another group; then each convinces the
populace that a war is completely justified: bells are rung; there is much
show of cheap and ostentatious patriotism; then troops depart and khaki
becomes the fashion. Presently many comparatively harmless people get
killed - more people get killed on one side than the other.
By the autumn of 1914 a large number of Imperial students
had already enlisted. As the War O~ce decreed that each man
should enlist at the depot nearest to his home, many found
themselves in the same regiment as their friends, as most
students considered that 'home' was London even if their
parental abode was elsewhere. As the war progressed young,
homesick and bewildered students wrote to The Phoenix of their
experiences. Royal Engineer G. S. M. Taylor was one:
I have been fairly in the thick of it since I came out here - in the trenches
every night and also every other day; so I never seem to be out of them.
It did not take me long to get used to the bullets. Sometimes they come
unpleasantly close, and one touched my coat the other night. Both of the
men I was with thought I was a 'goner', but I am a lucky sort of a chap.
My baptism of shell fire came the first whole day I was in a trench.
We had 160 high-explosive howitzer shells right at our trench in three
hours. I don't think anyone expected to come out alive, and a good many
would have sooner died than have to sit and wait. Sitting huddled up in
the trench, as low down as possible, you hear the report of the gun (about
four to five miles away) and immediately hear the shell screaming towards
you. The noise gets louder and louder; you don't know where it is until
you hear the bang and roar, and then earth, sandbags or whatever it hits,
go shooting up in the air. When this job was all over, some of our chaps
were nearly mad.
I had quite an exciting experience this afternoon. I was coming down