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Diary Of A Wind Disturber - Some Army Stunts
By H.R.Heselwood, “One Of The New Army” ‘Wind Disturber’ Author
This book is dedicated to those of the New Army who during the war made the Supreme Sacrifice for King and Country
This book is written by “One Of The New Army”.
In which is set forth in an unvarnished form the true experience of the writer, which overtook him whilst taking part in the Greatest War known in History. Just Past.
The author thus trusts that any person sparing the necessary time in the perusal of this book will find it very interesting, and at the same time worth reading.
H.R.Heselwood. Late “Corporal Of Horse”
“Royal Horse Guards (Blues)” and also of “The Nigeria Regt” “West African Frontier Force”
The dawn of AUGUST 4TH 1914 witnessed the commencement of what transpired to be (up to this period) the Greatest War in the History of the World.
The countries involved in this Great Upheaval being ENGLAND, FRANCE, RUSSIA, BELGIUM and SERBIA. These nations were termed the Allies, and had in opposition GERMANY and AUSTRIA.
For quite a long time past EUROPE had been in a very unsettled condition. In political language “A world war was in the making” and an ominous cloud was appearing on the Continental Horizon. Friendships existing between FRANCE and GERMANY had become very strained. The German Emperor and his Ministers were out for war and on the assassination of the Crown Prince of Austria the “dogs of war” were unleashed, By Austria declaring war on the Serbs. No doubt the Kaiser using his influence caused Austria to make this decision. He, the “Great War Lord” (the Kaiser) saw what he thought a golden opportunity to commence a war by which he could conquer the whole world.
This had been his cherished ambition for years, but the fates decreed otherwise. For as time went on this cherished scheme was doomed to falure.
The next news we received in England was to the effect that Germany had marched through into Belgium, and was also at war with the French. Had put away treaties like so much waste paper. Laying waste the countryside. By killing, plundering etc as they went along. All civilised powers stood aghast at this unseemly behaviour. England as a community was in a fever of excitement and boiling with rage. On August 14th 1914 the English newspaper informed the public that England had declared war on Germany. All reservists received their calling up notices, and the navy was already mobilised. King George having been present the previous week at a Naval Review held near Spithead. What excitement there was to be sure. Horse drawn conveyances were stopped in the streets at any time or place. If the animals were considered suitable for the army they were immediately taken out of their trappings and sent to a military centre. The owners receiving the price at which they were valued at, and had to get their vehicles away the best way they could. Quite a common occurrence to see numbers of conveyances standing horseless in the different streets of towns and cities. The horses having been claimed by the Military Authorities. Then there were soldiers billeted in schools, houses, hotels etc. In fact troops were everywhere in all kinds of nooks and corners. Consequently some had much better quarters than the more unfortunate ones.
All young fellows worth their salt began to get very uneasy and wanted to be off to meet “Jerry” (GERMAN).
I myself was smitten with the war fever very badly. I tried to enlist in various regiments, but everything appeared to be in such confusion. About this time Lord Kitchener sent forth an appeal for 100,000 men. The enlistment period was for Duration Of War or Three Years. This number was got without any difficulty.
First attempt I tried to join the Yorkshire Hussars, but was put down as I had not much experience of horse riding. Then nothing daunted I attempted the Scots Greys who were at that time stationed at the Cavalry Barracks in the old historical city of York. Was there informed I was too heavy (This was I think only an excuse to be rid of me). In desperation I went up to try and join the Army Service Corps, but was informed they did not require any more men at present. Naturally by this time I was getting much fed up with this Enlisting Business. The next evening I met an “Old Soldier” (a personal friend of our family). Entering into conversation I told him how unsuccessful my efforts had been rewarded to join up. He told me I ought to try & enlist in the Royal Horse Guards (Blues) otherwise called the Household Cavalry. So early the following morning I made tracks towards the Depot at Fulford Barracks, York. Having fully made up my mind this would be my last voluntary attempt to join His Majesty’s Forces, I filled up my attestation papers. Where were you born? Are you married etc? were the kind of questions asked & which had to be truthfully answered. Afterwards having to swear an oath to serve His Majesty faithfully etc. After this “palaver” we were taken to the Military Hospital to undergo a strict medical inspection by the Medical Officer. This took place on the lawn of the hospital and it was some stunt too. We had to take all our clothes off which as it was a nice cold morning in October the fellows were feeling more like jellies than “Army Enthusiasts”. At this period doctors made very strict examinations, but later on were not so conscientious. I past this inspection satisfactory and had handed to me a “free” warrant (Railway) which I was to travel to London by.
So away for the station I went feeling quite jubilant and looking forward to an adventurous future. (Which I certainly got. Really more than enough.) I was fully intending to join the army for twelve years. Eight years with the colours, and four years on the reserve. (More about this “joining” later on.)I left York 12 noon, and about 5.30 pm I arrived in London. I travelled down with some very nice ladies, who gave me all kinds of good things, grapes, cakes etc and all the time past very quickly.