The Great War As I Saw It
It happened on this wise. It was on the evening of the 31st of July, 1914, that I went down to a newspaper office in Quebec to stand amid the crowd and watch the bulletins which were posted up every now and then, and to hear the news of the war. One after another the reports were given, and at last there flashed upon the board the words', General Hughes offers a force of twenty thousand men to England in case war is declared against Germany'. I turned to a friend and said', That means that I have got to go to the war'. Cold shivers went up and down my spine as I thought of it, and my friend replied', Of course it does not mean that you should go. You have a parish and duties at home'. I said', No. I am a Chaplain of the 8th Royal Rifles. I must volunteer, and if I am accepted, I will go'. It was a queer sensation, because I had never been to war before and I did not know how I should be able to stand the shell fire. I had read in books of people whose minds were keen and brave, but whose hind legs persisted in running away under the sound of guns. Now I knew that an ordinary officer on running away under fire would get the sympathy of a large number of people, who would say', The poor fellow has got shell shock', and they would make allowance for him. But if a chaplain ran away, about six hundred men would say at once', We have no more use for religion'. So it was with very mingled feelings that I contemplated an expedition to the battle-fields of France, and I trusted that the difficulties of Europe would be settled without our intervention.