The Amateur Army

The Amateur Army

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The Amateur Army by Patrick MacGill

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1915

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The Amateur Army

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I am one of the million or more male residents of the United Kingdom, who a year ago had no special yearning towards military life, but whojoined the army after war was declared. At Chelsea I found myself a unit of the 2nd London Irish Battalion, afterwards I was drilled intoshape at the White City and training was concluded at St. Albans,where I was drafted into the 1st Battalion. In my spare time I wroteseveral articles dealing with the life of the soldier from the stageof raw "rooky" to that of finished fighter. These I now publish inbook form, and trust that they may interest men who have joined thecolours or who intend to take up the profession of arms and becomemembers of the great brotherhood of fighters.

Book Excerpt

and never less. But a few days ago, when weighing sugar and tea, a blast of wind upset the scales, and a second allowance met with a similar fate. Sugar and tea littered the pavement, and finally the woman supplied her soldiers from the household stores. She now leaves the work of distribution in the hands of the ration party, and takes what is given to her without grumbling.

The soldiers' last meal is generally served out about five o'clock in the afternoon, sometimes earlier; and a stretch of fourteen hours intervenes between then and breakfast. About nine o'clock in the evening those who cannot afford to pay for extras feel their waist-belts slacken, and go supperless to bed. And tea is not a very substantial meal; the rations served out for the day have decreased in bulk, bread has wasted to microscopic proportions, and the cheese has diminished sadly in size. A regimental song, pent with soldierly woes, bitterly bemoans the drawbacks of Tommy's tea:

"Bread and cheese for breakfast, For din

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