Magnificent Britain is a novel in three parts which spans the twentieth century. You can read the beginning of Part One in the Amazon Kindle Store but this excerpt is from the start of Part Three.
The news from the front was that things were going badly and many officers and men had been killed and injured.
Trenches, which initially had been temporary, were being extended and fortified.
A protracted campaign was anticipated.
Two weeks before Christmas I learned, to my horror, that my application for a commission in the North Wolds Light Infantry had been successful. This was a dreadful shock. Having been examined by the regiment’s Medical Officer I had been convinced that I would be rejected on the grounds of my questionable health.
I was ordered to attend an induction course for officer cadets at a training camp near Luffield. The course lasted just six weeks, after which we were given 48 hours leave before embarkation for the Western Front.
I travelled in the company of other junior officers who, like me, had been assigned to the 1st Battalion, North Wolds Light Infantry, as replacements for those killed or wounded at the front.
We disembarked at Dieppe and entrained to the small town of Bethune which was some miles behind the front line.
The battalion was billeted here.
In those days Bethune was virtually intact, the only damage being that which had been caused by the occasional long range shell. The town had not yet undergone the intense bombardment which was to reduce it to rubble at a later stage of the war.
The following day
we rookie officers were driven to Brigade Headquarters at Le Rutoire Farm.
This was much closer to the front and now we could hear the distant but unmistakable sounds of exploding shells and rifle fire.
At Le Rutoire we were assigned to our front line battalions.
Lt. Venables and I were to go into the 2nd Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps. He to ‘A’ Company, I to ‘B’. A sergeant took us along the Vermelles Road in the direction of La Haie.
Then we descended into a series of communication trenches which eventually brought us to our companies which were in a reserve trench about a thousand yards from the front line.