Then they fought their way inland across streams and through hedgerows and farmyards. I can hardly say I enjoyed that day. Once I went down to my thighs in icy mud. Once I was covered with muck from a nearby grenade-burst. When the troops wanted to go through a ten-foot hawthorn hedge they did not hunt for gaps, they walked straight through the thorns. All day until dusk they were at it without food, without rest. They ran and shot and climbed walls with their full equipment until they were tired into speechlessness.
From the moment a recruit arrived at the Caterham barrack gate and was marched off by a picquet sentry to join his squad, feet moving so fast that he seemed to be flying, there was not a moment to relax: through the first haircut (a shaven head)to the first and subsequent drill parades; through the sound of reveille blown by bugle at six o’clock, with all recruits tumbled out and standing at attention by beds one minute later; through the occasions when it was decided (on principle) that we had been ‘idle’ and needed sharpening up – HALT! Stand at ease! ‘GAS’! (old-style respirators on – most uncomfortable from a respiratory point of view) – Squad shun! Squad will fix bayonets – FIX! (this was the old, long sword- bayonet, with a tricky fitment to the rifle for the inexperienced or maladroit) – BAYONETS! Slope Arms! Quick March! Left – right – (what seemed thirty miles an hour) – Break into double time, Double MARCH! Mark TIME! Lift Knees, Up, Up, Up!