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The Charge Of The Black Watch And The Scots Greys






Sometimes a retreat is in reality a great victory. It has been said
that it requires a greater general to direct successfully a great
retreat than it does to direct a great attack.

Some marvelous retreats have occurred in the World War, the greatest
coming at its very beginning, when the English and French fell back to
save Paris and to defeat the Germans at the Marne. This retreat was
really a series of battles, day after day, with terrible losses on both
sides.

An English private in the Black Watch, named Walter Morton, only
nineteen years of age, described for the Scotsmen one of these
battles in which his regiment and the Scots Greys made a magnificent
charge. His story was as follows:

We went straight from Boulogne to Mons, being one of the first
British regiments to reach that place. Neither army seemed to
have a very good position there, but the numbers of the Germans
were far too great to give us any chance of success. We were
hard at it all day on Monday; and on Tuesday, as the French
reinforcements which we had been expecting did not arrive, the
order was given to retire.

In our retreat we marched close upon eighty miles. We passed
through Cambrai, and a halt was called at St. Quentin. The
Germans, in their mad rush to get to Paris, had seldom been far
behind us, and when we came to St. Quentin the word went through
the ranks that we were going into action. The men were quite
jubilant at the prospect. They had not been at all pleased at
their continued retirement before the enemy, and they at once
started to get things ready. The engagement opened briskly, both
our artillery and the Germans going at it for all they were
worth. We were in good skirmishing order, and under the cover of
our guns we were all the time getting nearer and nearer the
enemy. When we had come to within 100 yards of the German lines,
the commands were issued for a charge, and the Black Watch made
the charge along with the Scots Greys. Not far from us the 9th
Lancers and the Cameronians joined in the attack.

It was the finest thing I ever saw. The Scots Greys galloped
forward with us hanging on to their stirrups, and it was a sight
never to be forgotten. We were simply being dragged by the
horses as they flew forward through a perfect cloud of bullets
from the enemy's maxims. All other sounds were drowned by the
thunder of the horses' hoofs as they careered wildly on, some of
them nearly driven mad by the bullets which struck them. It was
no time for much thinking. Saddles were being emptied quickly,
as we closed on the German lines and tore past their maxims,
which were in the front ranks.

We were on the German gunners before they knew where they were,
and many of them went down, scarcely realizing that we were
amongst them. Then the fray commenced in deadly earnest. The
Black Watch and the Scots Greys went into it like men
possessed. They fought like demons. It was our bayonets against
the Germans' swords. You could see nothing but the glint of
steel, and soon even that was wanting as our boys got well into
the midst of the enemy. The swords of the Germans were no use
against our bayonets. They went down in hundreds.

Then the enemy began to waver, and soon broke and fled before
the bayonets, like rabbits before the shot of a gun.

There were about 1900 of us in that charge against 20,000
Germans, and the charge itself lasted about four hours. We took
close upon 4000 prisoners, and captured a lot of their guns. In
the course of the fighting I got a cut from a German sword--they
are very much like saws--and fell into a pool of water, where I
lay unconscious for twenty-three hours. I was picked up by one
of the 9th Lancers.





Next: The Battles Of The Marne

Previous: Let Us Save The Kiddies



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