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Our Despatches from the Front (No. 44).

15th July 1915, Page 7
15th July 1915
Page 7
Page 8
Page 9
Page 7, 15th July 1915 — Our Despatches from the Front (No. 44).
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

The Discomforts of a Circus in Use as a Barracks. Rubbish that is Sold to the Troops. A Clean-lorry Competition.

These messages from Our Own Special Correspondents have been submitted to and censored by the Press Bureau, which does not object to their publication but takes no responsibility for the correctness of the statements contained therein.--ED. • "AWAY FROM ENGLAND,"

,5t11 July, 1915.

A.S.C. Privileges.

Many privileges and there was ) corps or regiment more priviged than the A.S.C.) have been ithdrawn owing to the enema-cheat and advantages taken by a w of our predecessors. For the w the many must suffer. This aes not seriously affect the " pasInt " but those connected with the aff and thus tied down feel it lore. But there are certain places here the organization is distinctly eak. As an example take the 1/lines at MEIN Advanced Base. ive for as many hundred men ; bey are not only primitive but ept in a disgraceful condition and uring the last few days have been sat down altogether. Also the leeping accommodation: when one s obliged to lie down on the floor etween the seats of a circus, the readth from bench seat support to se next parallel bench is but 14 is. The carpet cushions are still .4t nailed on and collect quantities I dust to be dispersed every time hey are walked over. On waking a. the morning -a film of dust can e literally felt on one's face, rhereas the free labour of half-alozen carpenters could turn the dace into a comparative palace.

To Cleaning One Car, IS 12s.

It is all very well to argue that

t is war time. We at a Base away rom the nerve-tension and thunler of a battlefield cannot accept his excuse ; besides, neither the .ffieers nor ourselves are rushed or.

;xcited. We have time to eat, leep and think, and at a pinch ve might find time to do some work ristmd of lounging about the quare with lorries, smoking idly, Lnd, as aforesaid, polishing up 'rms. Although it is only fair to .olcl that conditions differ at vanma stations and that sometimes he " fatigues " a-re exceedingly lard and the work not always deirable or necessary. On the other sand I have seen twelve men told iff for the day to wash a car. 312s for cleansing! instead of illing in their time with useful lecnres on things mechanical and otiographkal, or a little drill, or ifle instruction and shooting. Men ire going up to the line never hayng fired a shot, not knowing even /ow to hold a rifle, or the use of a 5ight, or how to load. Revolvers inder such circumstances would be

cheaper, handier and more efficient.

The Slacker's Hiding-places.

It is extraordinary the number of able-bodied men there are hiding in the various offices or behind Y.M.C.A. counters. In the one sergeants and sergeant-majors acting as typists pure and simple, in the other strapping fellows serving tea and cake. We should have thought that females could amply have fulfilled these offices and so liberated the men for sterner undertakings.

A Few Swindles.

By the way it is discreditable how some firms are taking advan tage of the men's position out here and inflicting rubbish on them in the shape of smaller unfilled cigarettes (" soldiers' quality "—usual price). The Government are also being sold what appears to be leather bootlaces, which are only cheap mohair ones dipped in a kind of glue and pressed square. It is further noted that when the enamel of some makes of all-black cycles wears off, the handlebars, cranks; hubs, fittings, etc., are found to have had the usual plating process omitted thus allowing the expoSed parts to rust. We wonder whetherthese makers had the Government's sanction for this?

Again the boots costing 16s. 6d

a pair,' in spite of in:soles, generally give up the ghost in less than two months, wearing out in the centre of the sole in a miraculous. manner.

Inefficiency and Overpay.

illiMMENIMMine One man enlisted as 'au electrician and accordingly received the Is: 6d. extra ,pay, making 7s. 6d. in all ; this he drew until asked to perform some 'simple electrical job, when the fraud Was discovered. The authorities instead of making an example of him merely reduced his pay to 6n and taught him lorry driving. He is now a "mate" and has to he closely. watched by the driver on any little job he does.

'A Driving "Test.'

The writer was, during one after/Mon, subjected to a lorry-driving test (although he was not enliste.ed

as a lorry driver). I will take the reader out on this test with me so thathe may draw his own conclusion. Be it noted that the longer one takes to learn the longer one will be exempt of heavy fatigues. A crowd of 10 men assemble round the test lorry and three proceed to flood the carburetter, the others alternately grinding the engine, whilst the corporal (in -charge) with his hands deep under the bonnet jostlesthe throttle and extra air levers—in the.morning it is never started in this wise, but is towed out of the yard by another lorry and the engine thus put in motion. Our way leads us down a picturesque level lane by the river, where the first pupil takes over tho

wheel. No •explanation is given (pupils always profess to have had some previous experience) and the driver goes through from first to reverse (which has no counterlock) and finally gets into top, where he remains during the remainder of

the ten minutes test. There are no corners and no hills and the gearchange process only has to be repeated when the corporal turns off the ignition or petrol cock with his foot (two very funny jokes), or when he commands a halt to admire and converse with a couple of fair feminine examples of La Belle France. -That is exactly what happenedarbdhow driving skill is tested at that particular Base.

Unjustifiable Slackness. •

Another instance which further illustrates the inattention to detail is the following. ' At MI= Base there is a boulevard where lorries are lined up on arrival, for inspec tion and tests. Now this boule vard, which is bounded by two rows of trees, and parallel to the main

road, is entered from same by a. right-angled corner, up a slight mount and over -a kerb taken again at right angles.. This kerb is composed of granite blocks 4:1ins. by 51 ins. by 7 ins. to 8 ins:, and owing to the nature of the approach it cannot be taken slowly. There was nothing simpler, when the Base settled down in early. September last, than to have removed half-adozen of these stone blocks and so done away with a completely unnecessary obstacle. -Ma's rxi.on I on l'avait laisse, tout simplernent And there it still remains. Some several thousands of lorry wheels have banged and bumped themselves over this kerb. It is not argued that any particular damage has been incurred, but whk wil fully submit both rubber and axles to such rough treatment'?

"Camp. Comfs." Please Note!

It would be well to Mention that the men are most appreciative of the excellent Campaign , C0131forts " gifts; and we Only hope that thinner underwear will receive due attention as well as ,a species of soluble lemon Squash tablet to quench thirst and -take the taste out of bad water, during these hot months that are upon us; more especially with reference to our lads in the Near East.

-A Suggestion for Carburetter Makers.

French petrol, although sold by numerous firms _ under different names is, as a rule, heavier than ours, and in view of the fact that American "gas" is occasionally run short of on the road, especially by despatch ..riders, then French petrol must be resorted to. Carburetter makers would . do well to issue small metal washers of the required weight in ebrrect the level in let, marked "For French Petrol" on one side, and on the reverse :. "Place on Float."


lit July, 1915. ; The Cleanliness of War.

Now that things are a bit quiet again most of the ammunition columns are " resting " and so once again cleanliness has become a mania with most of they column 0.0.s. The men are encouraged by having competitiona between every section and being offered small prizes, and, so keen are the majority of drivers and mates in doing the job thoroughly, that it is only with the greatest difficulty the judges are able to decide on the cleanest lorry.

A Clean-lorry Competition.

An ammunition park I was at-. tached to had a competition for the cleanest lorry in each section and a final prize was offered for the cleanest lorry in the whole park. The men had about a week to do the job, but they had still the same parades to do, drills and route marches, etc., yet the time occupied in parades only had the effect of making them work all the harder when they did get back at their lorries. Everything was against them, for they had no cleaning kit whatever, paraffin was given out in very small quantities and water in this particular place was very hard to get, but notwithstanding all these difficulties our column overcame by various ingenious methods obstacles that at first seemed impossible.

Scraping Back Axles with Table Knives. ). • Cleanliness was always observed in our column to a oitaiii;extent, but if they wished to-Come out Winners or runners-up in the comPetition such things as baelx" axles, gearboxes, and pan i Wald have to be scraped and sci, tindaultted; they set about their task" with ts:his knives, cold chisels, or, anything likely to be of sefVice.

The Mud of a Lifetime.

Everyone worked .like niggers. section officers.'': were •constantly amongst their. Men dressed in blue overalls enconraging "aiid

and some of the men slyly bought tins of metal `Polish,. and. ,secretly polished the brass .parts about the engine. Hampered with the antiquated cleaning tools the work was long and arduous. One man lay.on his back and twisted himself, into the most painful positions.for two days cleaning a backaxle that had a lifetime's mud on it; gut, despite all theag clifficalties, the Work was doneand done well.

Beit the C. M.B.A. Parade..

The-morning of the inspection the men were-up early giving the final touches? and at 10 o'clock every driver and anate :stpad at the head of their reSpectiveIorries when the judging commenced: •Every man was Washed andshaved, latittons polished and boots cleaned, the space round the lorry swept up and

tidy and the bonnets of the engines raised up for inspection, showing perfectly clean engines and in almost every case beautifullypolished brasawork. The judging was slow and almost as difficult as the cleaning had been to the men, and by tea-time there were so many lorries faultlessly clean that it was decided to continue the examina

tion the next day.

Ten Lorries in the Final.

Ten lorries it seemed were in the final, and next morning saw two officers at each lorry examining every part minutely and jotting down the result of their inspection in a notebook. They got underneath and examined back axle casings that had the original paint on them only just brought to light—paint that was smiling with the help of a little paraffin at a sunny day and a puzzled officer. Pans were shining and free from oil or grease, lamps a, marvel of luminosity.

Polishing the Silencer.

Exhaust pipes and silencers were polished with paraffin or lubricating oil, and wheels delighted the drivers by showing they were dressed in red paint and not the dull War Office colour. 'Dinner time came and the amount of perfect lorries was reduced to six, and by three o'clock two out of that siX were put out of the running by haying some dirt on the bottom of the carriage springs. All this time the task of picking the cleanest lorry was becoming more difficult and plugs were taken out and examined and finally, after a multitude of trouble, when drivers had begun to make small bets on their lorries winning, the decision was eventually reached.

Would Please the Makers.

How the judges came about the decision I am unable to say. I presume they put lots in a hat and picked for the winner. Anyhow, never again, say the officers, will they offer a prize for a clean lorry because, as they said, everyone deserved a prize for the brilliant way the work was done. However, they set the ball rolling and accomplished what they set out to do. If it was possible for the manufacturers of the lorries to walk up the lines and see for themselves the lorries that have been through the whole of the campaign and the perfect way in which they are kept it would do their hearts good. The lorries never were cleaner—no, not even when they left the works, and they are a. credit to the men in charge of them.


Organisations: War Office, Press Bureau
Locations: Beit

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