Burstal's narrative of demobilisation events, 1919 / John Acheson Burstal - Page 11

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[Page 11]

Quota "X" departs from Codford by two troop trains at something like four in the morning. This hour is usual, on account of the less congested traffic on the main lines. The transport sails from Keyham Docks, Devonport and the first train is due to leave at four fifteen. The R.T.O. and his two assistants are endeavouring to keep the number in a compartment at eight and to count the total strength of train at the same time. Groups of eight struggle along under the weight of their kits as they are allowed to pass through the station yard. Some are still somewhat influenced by the previous evening's debauch, their last in Blighty and they have evidently made it worth while. Along the banks of the road leading to the temporary troop platform, the last fifty or so of the first draft can be distinguished by the glow of their cigarettes and mutterings as now and again they pick up their kits and move towards the gate through which no more than eight at a time are allowed to pass.

Across the breeze is wafted the strains of "Mademoiselle from Armentiers". That is the second train load passing through the village about a mile or so away. Upon the platform under the glare of the arc lamps, two Y.M.C.A. ladies and the Group Padre pass from carriage to carriage with the buckshee ration and the cigarettes.
Now they are all aboard. The conducting N.C.O. collects his warrants from the R.T.O., dumps his parcel of documents (brought down from Group by Staff car) into a vacant first reserved for the purpose, makes final arrangements with the Conducting Officer and reports his whereabouts to the O.C. train.
He wakes up somewhere near Exeter and comes to the conclusion

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