Witley, February 27, 1917

Tuesday   As D sub were put in [to quarantine] yesterday we started work today as usual the subs of course keeping together

Having some of their members isolated with mumps required that gun crew practice different roles, working always against the clock to shave seconds off their time.

16c Gunners.JPGA fictionalized account of a gun drill gives the sergeant’s explanation for the necessity for unhesitating action. We have already seen him dressing down Number 3, who ventured to defend himself against criticism by saying that he had been “going to” issue an order. The sergeant, nicknamed “Cut-the-Time” by his trainees, “flays” him with the phrase. “Perhaps some day, when a bullet comes along and drills a hole in your thick head, you will want to tell it you ‘was going to’ get out of the way. … And if you ever … smell powder burnt in action, you’ll learn that there’s no such thing as ‘going to’ in your gun drill. If you’re slow at it, if you fumble your fingers, and tie knots in your tongue, and stop to think about your ‘going to,’ you’ll find maybe that ‘going to’ is gone before you make up your mind, and the only thing ‘going to’ will be you and you’re [sic] detachment, and its [sic] Kingdom Come you’ll be ‘going to’ at that.” (1)

(1) Notes on Field Artillery Training compiled by the officers of the 34th Battery, CFA, CEF. 1916. 182

On the back of the photograph from Percy’s large album are the following words: “Witley Camp Nos 1,2,and 3 in action.” You can see Number 3 on his seat to the left of the breech, and Number 2 to the right. Number 1 stands with his hand on the spade of the gun’s trail.  Number 3 looks like Percy.

Copyright 2017. See “More about this project.”
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