Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (The 2/4th Battalion)

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1916, DECEMBER 24th – RELIEVED THE 2/4th ROYAL BERKSHIRE REGIMENT IN THE FRONT LINE ON CHRISTMAS EVE

 Trenches Near Grandcourt November and Dececember 1916

From The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, by Captain G. K. Rose M.C. (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1920)

On Christmas Eve, 1916, the Battalion relieved the front line. Brown and Davenport took their companies to Desire and Regina. Battalion Headquarters had an improved position at Zollern Redoubt, and their old dug-out in Hessian was left to D Company Headquarters. Robinson with C Company was also in Hessian, to the left of D. His headquarters possessed plenty of depth but neither height nor breadth. The dug-out entrance was the size of a large letter-box and nearly level with the trench floor.

After the march up, the remainder of the night was devoted to the trying process of ‘getting touch.’ This meant finding the neighbouring sentry-posts on each flank–an important duty, for the Germans usually knew the date and sometimes the hour of our reliefs and the limits of frontage held by different units (we naturally were similarly informed about the enemy). For reasons of security no relief could be held complete before not only our own men were safely in but our flanks were established by touch with neighbouring posts.

In the course of the very relief I have mentioned, a platoon of one battalion reached the front line but remained lost for more than a day. It could neither get touch with others nor others with it. ‘Getting touch’ seemed easy on a map and was often done in statements over the telephone. Tangible relations were more difficult and efforts to obtain them often involved most exasperating situations, for whole nights could be spent meandering in search of positions, which in reality were only a few hundred yards distant. Total absence of guiding landmarks was freely remarked as the most striking characteristic of this part of the Somme area. I refer only to night movement, for by day there were always distant objects to steer by, and the foreground, seemingly a cratered wilderness of mud, to the trained eye wore a multitude of significant objects.

My last topic introduces the regimental guide. Guides performed some of the hardest and most responsible work of the war. Staff work could at time be botched or boggled without ill-effects; for mistakes by guides some heavy penalty was paid. Whenever a relief took place, men to lead up the incoming unit into the positions it was to occupy were sent back, usually one per platoon, or, in cases of difficult relief and when platoon strengths were different, one per sentry-post. Guides rarely received much credit when reliefs went well, but always the blame when they went ill. The private soldiers, who guided our troops into trench and battle, played a greater part in winning the war than any record has ever confessed.

War Diary of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment

1916-12-24

Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire

Location France, Trenches

Entry Battn relieved by 2/4 OXFORDS – 1 Coy in support MOUQUET FARM, 1 Coy in dug outs at R26.b.5 9 R26a.27 and R32,g.8 and 2 Coys to WELLINGTON HUTS. Capt Bennett (OXFORDS) returned to his Bn. Draft of 76 arrived.

CAPTAIN G. K. ROSE, M.C, DESCRIBES LIFE IN THE TRENCHES DURING THE GREAT WAR, AS A MEMBER OF OXFORDSHIRE AND BUCKINGHAMSHIRE LIGHT INANTRY

A Front Line Post by G. K. Rose

From The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, by Captain G. K. Rose M.C. (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1920)

So far I have said little of the hardships suffered by the Infantry. Indeed, in places I have laughed at them. Those scenes and experiences which marked a soldier’s life in the front line will have been supplied by those who knew them as familiar background to my story. But I grudge leaving them to the imagination of civilian and non-combatant readers. I seriously doubt whether the average man or woman has the least inkling of what really happened ‘out there.’ Talk over-heard or stories listened to may in special instances have revealed a fragment of the truth. For most people the lack of real perception was filled in by a set of catchwords. As the war dragged on, the civilian mind of England passed into a conventional acceptance of phrases habitually read but improperly understood, until the words ‘raids,’ ‘barrages,’ ‘objective,’ ‘craters,’ ‘counter-attack,’ ‘consolidation,’ became tolerated as everyday commonplaces. Take a war-despatch of 1916 or 1917–it is made up of a series of catch words and symbols. Plenty of our famous men, I am sure, who went to the front and perhaps wrote books afterwards, on arrival there made remarks no less foolish (and excusable) than the old lady’s ‘nasty slippery place’ where Nelson fell. The Somme and Ypres battlefields are inconceivable by anyone who has seen nothing but the normal surface of the earth. The destruction of towns, villages and farms is without parallel in history or fiction. To witness some scenes in the Retreat of 1918 was to stake one’s sanity. There are no standards by which civilians and non-combatants can appreciate the true facts of the war. Deliberate reproduction would hardly be believed. Suppose, for instance, this winter I were to dig a large hole in a field, a quarter fill it with liquid mud, and then invite four or five comrades, all arrayed in much warlike impedimenta, but lacking more extra covering than a waterproof sheet each, to the hole to spend two nights and a day in it–I should be credited with lunacy. Yet I should be offering a fair sample of front-line accommodation during the Great War.

Reliefs

Reliefs took place at night. Alike through snow or rain, or in a biting wind, the Infantry marched up from huts or ruined barns (its rest billets) to reach the line–a distance normally of seven miles. First by road, next by a slippery track, finally through a communication trench deep in mud, our soldiers had to carry each his rifle and 120 round of ammunition, a share of rations, gumboots, a leather jerkin and several extras–a load whose weight was fully 50 pounds. Many staggered and fell. All finished the journey smothered in dirt. Boots, puttees and even trousers were sometimes stripped from the men by the mere suction of the mud, in which it was not unusual to remain stuck for several hours. Men, though not of our Battalion, were even drowned. [Footnote 7: This fact, which will hardly be credited by future generations, is related from the actual knowledge of the writer.]

Parties were often shelled on the way up, or else were lost and wandered far. From Headquarters, reached about midnight, of the Company being relieved guides would take two platoons into the front line ‘posts,’ the other two to the positions in support.

The Front Line

In the front line itself there was often no better shelter than an old tarpaulin or sheet of corrugated iron stretched across the trench. At some ‘posts’ there was nothing better to sit on than the muddy ‘fire-step’ or at best half a duckboard or an old bomb box. Despite continuous efforts to keep one dry place to stand, the floor was several inches deep in water and mud.

Movement in any direction, save for a few yards to the flanks if the mud had been cleared away or dammed up, in daylight was impossible. No visitors came by day. Stretcher bearers were not always near. A fire could not, or if it could, might not be lighted. Therefore no hot meal, except perhaps a little tea made over a ‘Tommy’s Cooker,’ was procurable by day.

The post would be shelled or trench-mortared at intervals. In earlier days it might be totally blown up by a mine, or in later times bombed or machine-gunned from the air. For 30 to 40 high explosive shells to fall all round a post was quite common. Sometimes a ‘dud’ would fall inside it, or a huge ‘Minnie,’ which burst in the wire, cover the occupants with earth and splinters. The crash of these huge trench-mortar bombs was satanic; and there was always a next one to be waited for. Sometimes whole posts were wiped out. If there were wounded they could expect no doctor’s help before night. Often by day, owing to mud and German snipers, it was impossible to lift a wounded man from where he had fallen.

Night, longer than day, was also worse. Pitch darkness, accompanied maybe by snow or mist, increased the strain. With luck the great compensation of hot food–tea and stew–would be brought up by the ration parties. But sometimes they were hit and were often lost and arrived several hours late. The sandbags containing a platoon’s rations for a day were liable to be dropped, and bread arrived soaked through or broken and mud-stained. Moreover, the darkness which permitted parties from behind to reach the post also decreed that the post should get about its work. Had the wire a weak place, the Germans knew of it, and directly the wiring party set about mending it lights were sent up, which fell in the wire close to our men, and machine-gun bullets banged through the air. Besides the wire the parapet required constant attention. At one place, where a member of the post had been killed by a sniper, it would want building up; at another, a shell perhaps had dropped only a yard short of the trench during the evening ‘strafe,’ the passage would be blocked and the post’s bomb-store buried. All this had to be put right before dawn. During the night a patrol would be ordered to go out. Men who were sentries by day or were the covering party for the wiring might be detailed for this. After that was over the same men took turns as sentries.

Sleep

Sleep was confined to what those not on duty could snatch, wrapped only in the extra covering of a waterproof sheet, in a sitting posture on the fire-step. At dawn, when the men at last could have slept heavily, came morning stand-to. This meant standing and shivering for an hour whilst it grew light and attempting to clean a mud-clogged rifle. Those Englishmen in England (and in France) who have slept warm in their beds throughout the war should remind themselves of those thousands of our soldiers who wet through, sleepless, fed on food which, served as it finally was up in the trenches, would hardly have tempted a dog, have stood watching rain-sodden darkness of night yield to dismal shell-bringing dawn, and have witnessed the monotonous routine of war till sun, earth, sky and all the elements of nature seemed pledged in one conspiracy of hardship.

In Support

What of the two platoons in ‘support’?

Their lot was preferable. They were placed about 400 yards behind the actual front and lived (if such existed) in deep mined dug-outs. Until the later stages of the war deep dug-outs, which were subterranean chambers about 25 feet below the level of the ground and nearly shell-proof, were made only by the Germans, whose industry in this respect was remarkable. Found and inhabited by us in captured territory, these dug-outs had the defect that their entrances ‘faced the wrong way,’ _i.e._, towards the German howitzers. Sometimes a shell, whose angle of descent coincided with the slope of the stairs, burst at the bottom of a dug-out, and then, of course, its occupants were killed. If no deep dug-outs were available, the support platoons lived in niches cut into the side of the trench and roofed over with corrugated iron, timber and sandbags. Such shelters afforded little protection against shelling.

In event of attack by the enemy it was the normal duty of support platoons to garrison a line of defence known as the ‘line of resistance.’ They might be ordered to make a counter-attack. When no fighting was taking place their work was likely to consist in carrying up rations and R.E. materials (wooden pickets, sandbags, coils of barbed wire, etc.) to the front line. This work had to be done at night, because in winter ‘communication trenches’ (which alone made daylight movement possible from place to place in the forward zone) were so choked with mud as to be impassable. The day was spent in ‘mud-slinging,’ _i.e._, digging out falls of earth from the trench, rebuilding dug-outs or laying fresh duckboards (wooden slats to walk on in the trenches). When the evening’s ‘carrying parties’ were finished, the men had some sleep, but support troops were often used as night patrols in No-Man’s-Land or as wiring parties.

Rotation of Platoons From Support, To the Front Line, To Being Relieved

After a day or longer in support they were sent up to relieve, _i.e._, exchange positions with, their comrades in the front line posts. Four days was the usual ‘tour’ for a company. During it each platoon did two spells of 24 hours in the posts and the same back in support. When the four days were over, a fresh company relieved that whose tour was finished. The one relieved moved back to better conditions, but would still be in trenches and dug-outs until the whole Battalion was relieved.

The English infantryman stands for all ages as the ensample of heroic patience, which words or cartoon fail utterly to convey.

The Experience of Front Line Officers

How did the Company Commander and his officers fare in the trenches?

The Platoon Officer shared every hardship with his 25 men. If there was a roofed-in hole with a box for a table he had it, for his messages were many. To the Company Commander a rough table was quite indispensable, and so were light and some protection from the rain. Without these essentials he could never have received nor sent his written instructions, consulted his maps nor spoken by telephone, on which he relied to get help from the artillery. The Company Sergeant-Major, a few signallers and some runners were his familiars, and he lived with and among these faithful men. Quite often the Company Commander’s dug-out was appreciably the best in the company area. Sometimes it was little better than the worst. In the spring of 1918 it was often only a hole.

Every good Company Commander made a point of visiting each night all his front line posts and spending some time with each, not only to give orders, direct the work and test the vigilance of the sentries, but in order to keep up the Company’s morale. The worse the weather or the shelling the higher that duty was. Likewise the Battalion Commander used to visit Company Headquarters once a day and every front line post at least once during a tour. The journey to the front line, possible only in darkness, was very dangerous. Shells were bound to fall at some point on the way, the enemy’s machine guns or ‘fixed rifles’ were trained on every probable approach, and the Captain in ordinary trench warfare was as liable to be killed as any Private. Responsibility, however, made these nightly walks not only necessary but almost desirable.

1917, FEBRUARY 22nd – RECONNOITRING THE NEW FRONT LINE AT ABLAINCOURT

Ablaincourt Sector

From The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, by Captain G. K. Rose KC (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1920)

It is morning of February 22, 1917. Colonel Bellamy and his four company commanders are setting out to reconnoitre the new front line. Guides are to meet us at Deniécourt Château, a heap of chalk slabs and old bricks, beneath which are Brigade Headquarters. To reach this rendez-vous_ we pass through Foucaucourt and then along a corduroy road through Deniécourt Wood to the village of that name. The wood has been fought through and but few branches remain on the trees, whose trunks, like so many untidy telegraph poles, rise to various heights from the upheaval of shell-holes and undergrowth. Dismal surroundings on a dismal morning, for the frost has relented for several days and already sides of trenches are collapsing (flop go the chunks into the water!) and on top the ground is loading one’s boots at every step.

We change into gumboots in an old cellar and our journey commences. See the Colonel, Cuthbert, Marcon, Brown, Stockton, Robinson and myself lead off down a communication trench behind a guide, pledged to take us to the Berks Headquarters. The going is desperate–water up to our knees; however, each hundred yards brings our goal nearer, and it can hardly be like this all the way. We come to a trench junction, and our guide turns left-handed; presently another–the guide knows the way and again turns to the left. Confound the mud! If we do not get there soon we shall never be home for lunch … but we do not get there soon. The guide, always protesting that he knows the way, has led us in a circle and here we are whence we started an hour ago!

After such well-meaning mockery of our efforts, a route ‘over the top’ is tried. Soon we are outside Battalion Headquarters of the Berks. Whilst we are there, German gas shelling starts–a few rounds of phosgene–and helmets require to be adjusted. It is not everybody’s helmet that fits, this being the first real occasion on which some officers have worn them. There is some laughing to see the strictest censor of a gas helmet (or its absence) in difficulties with his own, when the moment for its adjustment has arrived.

The company commanders duly separate to go up to their own sections of the front. They see the ‘posts,’ or any of them that can be visited in daylight, make notes of local details affecting the relief, and so home independently.

Billets never seemed so comfortable or attractive as on the night preceding a relief. Perhaps they would have seemed more so had the Battalion known, what luckily it could not, that an unpleasant tour was in store, and that afterwards, with the enemy in retreat, there would be no more billets until the summer.

From the War Diary of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment

1917-02-22
Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire
Location France, Trenches Deniecourt
Entry Greater artillery activity. 1 OR wounded (gas).

Christmas on the Somme, 1916

From G. K. Rose, The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

“On December 2nd 1916 , the Battalion moved from Martinsart to Hedauville, on its way passing through Englebelmer, the home of one of our 15-inch howitzers, but no longer of its civilian inhabitants….”

The pictures below were taken in Englebelmer Wood in September 1916. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BL_15_inch_Howitzer

The march was regulated by Pym, the new Brigade Major, who had replaced Gepp a few days before. The latter had proved himself a most efficient staff officer, and his departure to take up a higher appointment was regretted by everybody.

Hedauville was an indifferent village, but our billets were not bad. Brigade Headquarters were at the château. One heard much about the habitual occupation of the French châteaus by our staffs during the war. On this particular occasion the Brigade had only two or three rooms at its disposal, and on many others would be licencees of only a small portion of such buildings. The 184th Infantry Brigade Staff was always most solicitous about the comfort of battalions, and its efforts secured deserved appreciation from all ranks.

During the winter Harling retired from the office of Staff Captain, and after a brief interregnum Bicknell, a Gloucester officer, who already had been attached to the Brigade for some rime, received the appointment. For the ensuing three years Bicknell proved himself both an excellent staff officer and a consistent friend to the Infantry.

After scraping off the remains of the mud it had carried from the trenches, the Battalion settled down at Hedauville to a normal programme for ten days. The weather was bad, and a good deal of sickness now occurred among the troops, until so many officers were sick that leave for the others was stopped. Of general interest little occurred to mark this first fortnight of December. At its close the Battalion marched back to Martinsart and reoccupied its former huts. Battalion and Brigade were now in support, and out energies were daily devoted to working parties in the forward area. As these were some of the most arduous ever experienced by the Battalion I will describe an example.

I take December I6th a Saturday. My company was warned for working party last night, so at 6 a.m. we get up, dress, and, after a hurried breakfast, parade in semi-darkness. As the outing is not a popular one and reduction in numbers is resented by the R.E., the roll is called by Sergeant- Major Brooks (recently back from leave and in the best of early morning tempers) amid much coughing and scuffling about in the ranks. At 7 a.m. we start our journey towards the scene of labour, some 80 strong (passing for 100). We go first along a broad-gauge railway line (forbidden to be used for foot traffic) and afterwards through Aveluy and past Crucifix Corner to near Mouquet Farm.”

Aveluy

Picture of Crucifix Corner taken in 1929

After a trivial delay of perhaps 40 minutes, the D.C.L.I. (Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry) or 479 have observed our arrival and tools are counted out and issued, the homeIy pick and shovel. The task is pleasantly situated about 150 yards in front of several batteries of out field guns (which open fire directly we are in position) and consists in relaying duckboards, excavating the submerged sleepers of a light railway or digging the trench for a buried cable.

Perhaps the work only requires 50, not 100 (nor, even 80) men. Very well! It is a pity those others came, but here are a thousand sandbags to fill, and there a pile of logs dumped in the wrong place last night, so let them get on with it! For six hours we remain steadily winning the war in this manner and mildly wondering at the sense of things and whether the Germans will shell the batteries just behind our work–until, without hooter or whistle, the rime to break off has arrived. Bv 3 p.m the party is threading its way back, and as darkness falls once more reaches the camp. Cries of ‘ Dinner up’ and ‘Tea up’ resound through the huts, and all is eating and shouting.

By December 20 it was once more the Brigade’s turn to relieve the front line. Berks and Gloucesters again took first innings in the trenches, while the Bucks and ourselves stayed in support. Battalion Headquarters with A and B Companies were in Wellington Huts, near Ovillers;

Trench Map around Ovillers.

Trenches around Ovillers

C and D went two miles further forward to some scattered dugouts between Thiepval and Mouquet Farm. My own headquarters were at the farm, to whose site a ruined cellar and a crumbling heap of bricks served to testify.

Aerial picture of Mouquet Farm June 1916

Aerial picture of Mouquet Farm September 1916

Mouquet Farm Cellar

Mouquet farm, Pozières

The Germans had left a system of elaborate dug-outs, some of which now housed Brigade Headquarters, but others, owing to shelling and rain, had collapsed or were flooded. On each of the four nights spent at Mouquet Farm my company supplied parties to carry wire and stakes up to the front line.

These journeys were made through heavy shelling, and we were always thankful to return safely. My policy was never to allow the pace to become that of the slowest man, for there was no limit to such slowness I myself set a pace, which I knew to be reasonable, and men who straggled interviewed me next day. By this policy the evening’s work was completed in two-thirds of the time it would otherwise have taken, and my disregard of proverbial maxims probably saved the Battalion many casualties.

Since our last tour in the line real winter conditions had set in. Shell-holes and trenches everywhere filled with water till choice of movement was confined to a few duckboard tracks. Those in our area led past Tullock’s Corner and from the Gravel Pit to Mouquet Farm, and thence to the head of Field Trench, with a branch sideways to Zollern Redoubt.

Field Trench, an old German switch, led over the Pozières ridge, whose crest was well “taped ‘ by the German guns. The British advance having reached a standstill, the enemy’s artillery was now firing from more forward positions and paid much attention to places like Mouquet Farm, Fullock’s Corner, Zollern Redoubt and Field Trench. Parties of D.C.L.I. were daily at work upon the latter, duck boarding and revetting, and completed a fine pioneers’ job right up to Hessian. Field Trench ranked among the best performances of the Cornwalls, whose work altogether at this time deserved high praise.

On Christmas eve, 1916, the Battalion relieved the front line. Brown and Davenport took their companies to Desire and Regina. Battalion Headquarters had an improved position at Zollern Redoubt, and their old dug-out in Hessian was left to D Company Headquarters. Robinson with C Company was also in Hessian, to the left of D. His headquarters possessed plenty of depth but neither height nor breadth. The dug-out entrance was the size of a large letter-box and nearly level with the trench floor. After the march up, the remainder of the night was devoted to the trying process of ‘ gettin K touch.’ This meant finding the neighbouring sentry-posts on each flank–an important duty, for the Germans
usually knew the date and sometimes the hour of out reliefs and the limits of frontage held by different units (we naturally were similarly informed about the enemy}. For reasons of security no relief could be held complete before not only our own men were safely in but out flanks were established by touch with neighbouring posts.

In the course of the very relief I have mentioned, a platoon of one battalion reached the front line but remained lost for more than a da. It could neither get touch with others nor others with it. ‘ Getting touch’ seemed easy on a map and was often done in statements over the telephone. Tangible relations were more difficult and efforts to obtain them often involved most exasperating situations, for whole nights could be spent meandering in search of positions, which in reality were only a few hundred yards distant. Total absence of guiding landmarks was freely remarked as the most striking characteristic of this part of the Somme area. I refer only to night movement, for by day there were always distant objects to steer by, and the foreground, seemingly a cratered wilderness of mud, to the trained eye wore a multitude of significant objects.

My last topic introduces the regimental guide. Guides performed some of the hardest and most responsible work of the war. Staff work could at time be botched or boggled without ill-effects; for mistakes by guides some heavy penalty was paid. Whenever a relief took place, men to lead up the incoming unit into the positions it was to occupy were sent back, usually one per platoon, or, in cases of difficult relief and when platoon strengths were different, one per sentry-post. Guides rarely received much credit when reliefs went well, but always the blame when they went ill. The private soldiers, who guided our troops into trench and battle, played a greater part in winning the war than any record has ever confessed.

I have already spoken of patrols, their difficulties and dangers. Than General White no man in the Brigade was better acquainted with its front or a more punctual visitor to the most forward positions. What ‘Bobbie’ could not himself see bv day he was resolved to have discovered for him by night, and thus a high measure of activity by our patrols was required. About Christmas the question whether the eastern portion of a trench, known as Grandcourt Trench, was held by the enemy, was set to the Battalion to answer. Vowed to accomplish this task or die, a picked patrol started one dark night. Striking in a bee line from out trenches, the patrol passed several strands of wire and presently discovered fragments of unoccupied trench. On further procedure, sounds were heard and, after the necessary stalking and listening, proof was obtained that a large hostile wiring party, talking and laughing together, was only a few yards distant. With this information the patrol veered to a flank, again passing through wire and crossing several trenches which bore signs of occupation.

A line for home was then taken, but much groping and long search failed to reveal the faithful landmarks of our front line. At length, as dawn was breaking, the situation became clear. The patrol was outside D Company Headquarters in Hessian, more than 800 yards behind the front line. The report of German wiring parties laughing and talking did not gratify, and on reconstruction of its movements it was round that the patrol had spent the entire night reconnoitring not the German but our own defensive system. The wire so easily passed through, the noise and laughter, and the final
deXXXXXX! at Hessian allowed for no other conclusion. A few nights later Brown, with a small party and on a clear frosty night, solved the riddle bv boldly walking up to Grandcourt Trench and finding the Germans not at home. I mention the story of this first patrol for the benefit, perhaps, of some who took part in it and who will now, I feel sure, enjoy the humour of its recollection. I mention it more to show of what unrequited labour Infantry was capable. The most wholehearted efforts were not alwavs successful.

One had this confidence on patrol, that one’s mistakes only affected a handful. It was otherwise for artillery commanders who arranged a barrage, commanders of Field Companies who guaranteed destruction of a bridgehead, or of Special Companies undertaking a gas projection. Such was the meaning of responsibility.

The Battalion spent December 25, 1916, in the trenches under some of the worst conditions that even a war Christmas could bring. Christmas dinners were promised and afterwards held when we were in test.

As in previous years, our army circulars had forbidden any fraternisation with the enemy. Though laughed at, these were resented by the Infantry in the line, who at this stage lacked either wish or intention to join hands with the German or lapse into a truce with him. On the other hand, a day’s holiday from the interminable sounds of shelling would have been appreciated, and casualties on Christmas Day struck a note of tragedy. This want of sagacity on the part of our higher staff, as if out soldiers could not be trusted to fight or keep their end up as well on Christmas as any other day, was a reminder of those differences on which it is no object of this history to touch.”

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