I "KITCHENER'S ARMY".
"THE New Army," "Kitchener's Army," we go by many names. The older sergeants---men who have served in regular battalions---sometimes call us "Kitchener's Mob," and swear that to take us to war would be another "Massacre of the Innocents." At other times they affirm that we are a credit to our instructors (themselves); but such affirmations have become rarer since beer went up to threepence a pint.
We are a mixed lot---a triumph of democracy, like the Tubes. Some of us have fifty years to our credit and only own to thirty; others are sixteen and claim to be eighteen. Some of us enlisted for glory, and some for fun, and a few for fear of starvation. Some of us began by being stout, and have lost weight; others were seedy and are filling out. Some of us grumble, and go sick to escape parades; but for the most part we are aggressively cheerful, and were never fitter in our lives. Some miss of us miss their glass of claret, others their fish-and-chips; but as we all sleep on the floor, and have only one suit, which is rapidly becoming very disreputable, you would never tell t'other from which.
We sing as we march. Such songs we sing! All about coons and girls, parodies of hymns, parodies about Kaiser Bill, and sheer unadulterated nonsense. We shall sing
Ain't yer got none?"
"Where's yer girl?
as we march into battle.
Battle! Battle, murder, and sudden death! Maiming, slaughter, blood, extremities of fear and discomfort and pain! How incredibly remote all that seems! We don't believe in it really. It is just a great game we are learning. It is part of the game to make little short rushes in extended order, to lie on our bellies and keep our heads down, snap our rifles and fix our bayonets. Just a game, that's all, and then home to tea.
Some of us think that these young officers take the game a jolly sight too seriously. Twice this week we have been late for dinner, and once they routed us out to play it at night. That was a bit too thick! The canteen was shut when we got back and we missed our pint.
Anyhow we are Kitchener's Army, and we are quite sure it will be all right. just send us to Flanders, and see if it ain't. We're Kitchener's Army, and we don't care if it snows ink!