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
attles, day after day, with terrible losses on both


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.