From Boatsheds to Battlefields 56 Their Future in Their Hands

End of 55th Entry: Twisting and turning like serpents the long procession of heavily laden trains crawled round the cutting powerful engines before and behind holding their burdens of precious freight.

“That’s the place! Hell! Just look at the Smash!” called out the Welshman.

From the windows, thousands of curious eyes gazed at the awful mass of wreckage. Railway carriages smashed to matchwood, telescoped into half their length, capsized to leaning drunkenly on the verge of toppling over.

The mail stopped – a shaky looking Corporal of the Kaffarian Rifles entered Mick’s compartment and asking whether the others minded his coming in dropped on a seat.

“Isn’t it a Hell of a Smash?”  he said, lighting a cigarette with trembling hands.

“I was reading a chap’s palm just as we came round the bend, most fellows were looking out of the windows. I saw my chum’s lifeline ended –  isn’t it damned funny? I was just going to look again – I’m good at that sort of thing, been studying it all my life – then the whole blasted train went over – it was hell – the fellows whose hand I was reading had his head crushed into his body.”

The others gazed at him entranced. Mick’s Celtic blood grew cold as he stared at this man who, still fresh from under the shadow of Death; still with the chill of the ghosts upon him had the power of reading the future.

The Corporal evidently finding that the use of his tongue drew his thoughts from the horrors and scenes he had just left began to speak of palmistry.

Mick gathered that a man’s brain in use left its impressions on his body through the working of nerves, that particular trains of thought, of emotions, caused particular nerves to be used more often than others, whereby a man studied in the art could read from the lines whether Passion, brooding, love or what other emotions were the ruling ones in a man’s life; and that the Future could likewise be read by lines left by subconscious brain action obeying the dictates of Fate.

Offering to read their hands the Corporal began on the Welshman, continued with the ex-captain, and finished with Mick. His reading of each man’s character and past more than fulfilled his boasts – covering all three with confusion and undisguised disquiet.

Then came the future – Taffy’s hand he glanced – Celtic eyes met South African ones –  without a word the Corporal dropped the hand and the Welshman with set hard face looked out into the great grey mountains. Six weeks later Taffy’s torn body lay on the road to Ypres.

To the ex-Captain, he foretold disappointment, love, disgrace and at the end redemption. The Captain married a barmaid, joined a South African Defence Unit, deserted – was arrested and in the end finished high on the staff of the Imperial Army.

To Mick he foretold a breaking of his engagement, a deviation from his course; War – months of physical agony – and then the continuing of his long road, many disappointments, many losses, War again, a long break in his life then blow after blow would all but shatter him, but in the end he would win almost all of his heart desire.

All these things have duly and truly happened.

Bernard Leffler WW2

Bernard Leffler (Mick Osmond) WWII

Late at night, the Mail arrived in Cape Town. Nine days had passed since it had left Salisbury, well over twice it’s usual time, and though the journey from Kimberley to Touws River had been full of excitement and interest the tragedy of the Pass had sobered and saddened everyone.

It was therefore with a feeling of deep satisfaction that Mick and his comrades detrained. All three were destitute, so leaving their kit at the Cloakroom paying away their last shilling in doing so, they set out to tramp the four miles to Mr Osmond’s home at Sea Point.

At two in the morning the three men now ravenously hungry, but otherwise fresh and vigorous swung from the Main Road into a broad street leading to the dark mountain bulk looming through the night. Only one light showed from amongst the houses and Mick localising it said “Jove that’s our place! Hope nothing’s wrong.”

A few more yards brought them into the garden gate and as they climb the verandah steps the door opened and Mr Osmond called

“Come in Dear Son and bring your friends. Mother will be in in a few moments – you must all be ravenous.  Walk in Gentlemen!”

Divesting Taffy and the Captain of hats and overcoats Mr Osmond led the way to a large well-furnished dining room whose long mahogany table was well supplied with cold food, covered and waiting.

Meanwhile Mick had waited behind in the hallway to be received with a warm loving hug from his mother. To his infinite distress, his mother appeared to have aged terribly and to have become very frail and worn looking whilst her manifest emotion brought a lump to his throat and the tears welling to his eyes. A few brief seconds of close embrace then the two went in to join their guests.

Mick eagerly inquiring for news heard that his brother was already on active service with a Defence Force unit and that many of his chums had left for overseas. The Permanent Forces of the Union together with the Defence Force were being poured into German South West Africa, but no new units had up to the present been formed, nor were volunteers being enlisted.

Under the Defence Act, all men between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one were trained and organised whilst in the country districts. The men between the ages of sixteen and sixty were under the Burgher Law, liable to be called out on twenty-four hours notice.

The Union therefore within a few hours of the Proclamation of General Mobilisation had not only a large army of Infantry, Artillery, Naval ratings and Mounted Infantry under arms but could command an immense body of mounted irregulars, the bulk of whom were veterans and sons of veterans of the Boer and Native Wars.

The Union Government had accepted full responsibility for Conquest of German South West Africa and the defence of the Union itself; thus releasing the British Garrison of regular trips who have been rushed off to France.


Mounted units, such as the Witwatersrand Rifles (above),
faced considerable challenges in the desert.
(Photo: By courtesy, SANMMH).

That summed up the situation Mr Osmond telling the three Rhodesians that during the day their best course was to go into town and investigate conditions before attempting to decide on their future policy.

 

The Feet of the Young Men by Rudyard Kipling

Bernard Leffler refers to the Red Gods fascinated I did the Google search:

The Feet Of The Young Men

Now the Four-way Lodge is opened, now the Hunting Winds are loose —
Now the Smokes of Spring go up to clear the brain;
Now the Young Men’s hearts are troubled for the whisper of the Trues,
Now the Red Gods make their medicine again!
Who hath seen the beaver busied? Who hath watched the black-tail mating?
Who hath lain alone to hear the wild-goose cry’
Who hath worked the chosen water where the ouananiche is waiting,
Or the sea-trout’s jumping-crazy for the fly?

He must go — go — go away from here!
On the other side the world he’s overdue.
‘Send your road is clear before you where the old Spring-fret comes o’er you,
And the Red Gods call for you!

So for one the wet sail arching through the rainbow-round the bow,
And for one the creak of snow-shoes on the crust;
And for one the lakeside lilies where the bull-moose waits the cow,
And for one the mule-train coughing in the dust.
Who hath smelt smelt-smoke at twilight? Who hath heard the birch-log burning?
Who is quick to read the noises of the night?
Let him follow with the others for the Young Men’s feet are turning
Too the camps of proved desire and known delight!

Let him go — go — go away from here!
On the other side the world he’s overdue.
‘Send your road is clear before you where the old Spring-fret comes o’er you,
And the Red Gods call for you!

I

Do you know the blackened timber — do you know that racing stream
With the raw, right-angled log-jam at the end;
And the bar of sun-warmed shingle where a man may bask and dream
To the click of shod canoe-poles round the bend’
I is there that we are going with our rods and reels and traces,
To a silent, smoky Indian that we know —
To a couch of new-pulled hemlock, with the starlight on our faces,
For the Red Gods call us out and we must go!

They must go — go — go away from here!
On the other side the world he’s overdue.
‘Send your road is clear before you where the old Spring-fret comes o’er you,
And the Red Gods call for you!

II

Do you know the shallow Baltic where the seas are steep and short,
Where the bluff, lee-boarded fishing-luggers ride?
Do you know the joy of threshing leagues to leeward of your port
On a coast you’ve lost the chart of overside?
It is there that I am going, with an extra hand to bale her —
Just one able ‘long-shore loafer that I know.
He can take his chance of drowning, while I sail and sail and sail her,
For the Red Gods call me out and I must go!

He must go — go — go away from here!
On the other side the world he’s overdue.
‘Send your road is clear before you where the old Spring-fret comes o’er you,
And the Red Gods call for you!

III

Do you know the pile-built village where the sago-dealers trade —
Do you know the reek of fish and wet bamboo?
Do you know the steaming stillness of the orchid-scented glade
When the blazoned, bird-winged butterflies flap through?
It is there that I am going with my camphor, net, and boxes,
To a gentle, yellow pirate that I know —
To my little wailing lemurs, to my palms and flying-foxes,
For the Red Gods call me out and I must go!

He must go — go — go away from here!
On the other side the world he’s overdue.
‘Send your road is clear before you where the old Spring-fret comes o’er you,
And the Red Gods call for you!

IV

Do you know the world’s white roof-tree — do you know that windy rift
Where the baffling mountain-eddies chop and change?
Do you know the long day’s patience, belly-down on frozen drift,
While the head of heads is feeding out of range?
It is there that I am going, where the boulders and the snow lie,
With a trusty, nimble tracker that I know.
I have sworn an oath, to keep it on the Horns of Ovis Poli,
And the Red Gods call me out and I must go!

He must go — go — go away from here!
On the other side the world he’s overdue.
‘Send your road is clear before you where the old Spring-fret comes o’er you,
And the Red Gods call for you!

How the Four-way Lodge is opened — now the Smokes of Council rise —
Pleasant smokes, ere yet ‘twixt trail and trail they choose —
Now the girths and ropes are tested: now they pack their last supplies:
Now our Young Men go to dance before the Trues!
Who shall meet them at those altars — who shall light them to that shrine?
Velvet-footed, who shall guide them to their goal?
Unto each the voice and vision: unto each his spoor and sign —
Lonely mountain in the Northland, misty sweat-bath ‘neath the Line —
And to each a man that knows his naked soul!

White or yellow, black or copper, he is waiting, as a lover,
Smoke of funnel, dust of hooves, or beat of train —
Where the high grass hides the horseman or the glaring flats discover —
Where the steamer hails the landing, or the surf-boat brings the rover —
Where the rails run out in sand-rift . . . Quick! ah, heave the camp-kit over,
For the Red Gods make their medicine again!

And we go — go — go away from here!
On the other side the world we’re overdue!
‘Send the road is clear before you when the old Spring-fret comes o’er you,
And the Red Gods call for you!

From the Rudyard Kipling Society

Notes on the text 

(by Mary Hamer drawing on various sources, in particular
Ralph Durand, “A Handbook to the Poetry of Rudyard Kipling” 1914.)

 

Fourway Lodge

‘They were constituted by adherence to the basic rules of the cosmic system, with sunken hole as receptacle for the hot stones, seating protocols, spirit directions, tobacco thank offerings, prayer flags and special songs to the spirit helpers of the owner. The sweat progressed through four sessions of sweat, appropriately to the spirits of the four directions in the cosmic structure, each of which ended by opening the flaps of the lodge to allow for the spirits to leave and the devotees to cool.’Earle H. Waugh,Dissonant Worlds, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1996 pp 56-7.

 

The Red Gods

‘The Trues in the verses are – well, the Trues – the old original four or five head-deities of the Red Man’s mind –the old Beast Gods I think they were – Buffalo –Beaver – Elk/Coyote – or something of that nature. At any rate they are the Red Gods of the hunting grounds – earth spirits waking man up in the spring.’

THE RED GOD AND HIS ANCIENT INSPIRATIONS.

THE RED GOD AND HIS ANCIENT INSPIRATIONS.

Many authors draw on real world inspiration for aspects of their fantasy world. George R.R. Martin, the author of A Song of Ice and Fire, is known for doing this.  Many of the religions he has created draws on aspects from the religions of our world.  Some of them have multiple inspirations all combined together. The faith of the Red God is one such religion; combining aspects of Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism.

The faith of the Red God emerged 5,000 years before the beginning of A Song of Ice and Fire in a city called Asshai.  Assai is at the end of the known world in Essos. It is shrouded in mystery because of its distance and its inhabitants use magic, discouraging people to visit. [1]  From there, the religion spread through many of the trading cities such as Volanatis, Lys and Braavos where the great temples are located. There are few temples in Westeros, like in Oldtown but are mainly for the sailors from Essos.LordOfLightProtectUs_JZee

The followers of the Red God believe that there are two gods: The Lord of Light, The Red God or R’hllor and the Great Other, whose true name is forbidden to say. R’hllor is the god of life and heat, opposite to him, the Great Other is the god of death and cold.  The two are locked in an eternal battle that will determine what happens to the world.[2]  A priest of the red god, Melisandre, comments on the Great Other with, “These little wars are no more than a little scuffle of children before what is to come. The one whose name must not be spoken is marshalling his power, Davos Seaworth, a power fell and evil and strong beyond measure. Soon comes the cold, and the night that never ends.” [3]     Throughout the books there is a fear that because of the long summer there will also be a long winter. Winters are always harsh and now there is the threat of the White Walkers moving north of the Wall.  Until recently they were thought to be mythical, but the member of the Night’s Watch and the wildlings know better. The White Walkers are thought to be agents of the Great Other. [4]

Within the sacred texts, there is a tale of a great hero that will fight against the Great Other.  Azor Ahai was the chosen hero of the Lord of Light during the Long Night.  He along with others defeated a great host of White Walkers and banished the darkness. [5]He had a sword named Lightbringer that was forged over one hundred days and quenched in his wife’s blood. When he drew it, it was aflame and became a beacon of hope. The followers of the Lord of Light believe he will return and save them from a great darkness.[6]

The use of fire is very important to the faith of the Red God.  It is involved in many of their rituals and is used to see visions. The rituals are used to pray to R’hllor to bring back the dawn every night in fear that the Great Other will take over.  The visions are thought to be R’hllor showing priests the future and what they should do. The temples have large fires that never go out and are a centre for their rituals. Some priests are gifted with the power to raise the dead, conjure fire and understand the visions from the flames. [7]

The two major characters following this religion are Thoros of Myr and Melisandre of Asshai. Both were sent to Westeros to convert kings and gain support for the fight to come.  They have both demonstrated their powers through the visions they have and Thoros raises one of his friend from the dead seven times. Melisandre forcibly converts the inhabitants of Dragonstone when she burns the idols of the Seven and burns people who will not convert or are planning to undermine her. [8]

[9]The religion of the Lord of Light draws inspiration from Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism.  Zoroastrianism originated with the prophet Zoroaster around 1,500 BCE.   Through him, the god Ahura Mazda wrote seventeen hymns called the GathasThe Gathas were gathered with other texts that outlined rituals into the text called the Avesta.[10] The Avesta was written before the sixth century BCE. Before it being written, the rituals were known in oral culture reaching back to the time of Zoroaster. The spread of Zoroastrianism was helped by the three Persian Empires of Achaemenid ( 550-380 BCE), Parthian ( 250 BCE- 224 CE) and Sasanian ( 224-651 CE) where it was the state religion.  These empires spread across the Middle East with its heart in Iran.[11]

Those who follow Zoroastrianism believe there is one god called Ahura Mazda, who created the universe and is linked with light.  He is described as the “Lord of Light”, “Creator of the World”, and “the Ones who Knows”. [12] Working with Ahura Mazda are the Yazatas, also known as the divine sparks. There are six of them that represent different features of the world like the sun, moon, earth, fire, water and wind.[13]Opposite all this are the aspects of destruction and evil. The Daevas are described as false gods and the source of evil. They hold power over people through their actions and are the cause of things such as greed, gluttony, lust, wrath, envy, envy and sloth.

The reason for having aspects of evil in the world is to show that people have a choice. If everything was good, then people would have no choice in their actions.   Evil is created by people when they make decisions that are harmful and are extensions of Deavas and Angra Mainyu.

Atashgah_fire_temple_2010

Zoroastrians believe that fire is a representative of Ahura Mazda in both a physical and metaphorical sense. With this, Ahura Mazda is present in the fire. [14] They built temples to hold sacred fires that are used in rituals.  The highest out of the three orders of fire is called the victory fire or Atash Bahram. It consists of sixteen different fires from varying origins like fire from a goldsmith, fire from a potter, and fire from lightning. Once each fire is collected, they are consecrated separately and then eventually combined. It is then enthroned in the temple and is never allowed to go out.[15]

Many religions have saviour figures that will save humanity at the end of the world.  The events that happen is called eschatology.  For Zoroastrianism,  Zoroaster’s third son, Shah Behram Varzavand,  is the saviour.  Him and his brothers are conceived after their father’s death through the use of his seed in the Lake Kansaoya. When woman baths in it she becomes pregnant. Shah Behram Varzavand will be born with signs like stars falling and others to let the world know. He will perform a ritual for Ahura Mazda and begin the rising of the dead. With this, he begins the healing of the world.[16]

[17]The faith of the Red God is not a direct parallel to Zoroastrianism but instead draws influence from it. There are similarities in the dualism with the forces of good and evil, the use of fire, and aspects of the eschatology.   The main connection with Zoroastrianism is the use of fire which is sacred, being an extension of Ahura Mazda. The followers of the Red God never actually state why they put such importance on fire other than it keeps the shadows away.  Melisandre has a constant fire going in her room and maybe a parallel to that belief and that relating to fire temples. [18]   Being a priest of the Lord of Light, they have the ability to see things in the fire.  Some say this could be the voice of R’hllor guiding them from the flames and that he is part of the fire. [19] Azor Ahai is meant to directly fight against the agents of the Great Other while Shah Behram Varzavand is meant to heal the world.  One is the leader of a great battle while the other will directly help humanity.   Both have nothing to say on the discussion of matter and spirit being evil or good.  There are some religions that believe the material world is inherently evil and that the spiritual word is good.  Zoroastrians believe what makes up good and evil is up to the individual and their choices.

The other inspiration is Manichaeism. It has more parallels with respect to the dualism.  Manichaeism was founded during the Sasanian Empire ( 224-651 AD) in Iran. The Prophet Mani was born in 216 AD. He composed seven writing and even presented one to the king at the time.  The religion spread quickly thought the empire as the kings were religiously tolerant.  Mani used many teaching from before found in Buddhism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity. He thought that many of these teachings were unfinished and elaborated on them through his works.[20]

Mani saw the spiritual world of light as good while the material world of darkness representative of evil. The light that was originally used to create the world is slowing being leached out and returning to where it came from. Eventually, all material things will die.  The forces involved in the dualism are The Father of Greatness, who is a not omnipotent good power and The King of Darkness who is the evil power that is semi-eternal.  Building on this, Mani addresses the origin of evil.  A person is both influenced by good and evil powers and they battle inside everyone. No person is intrinsically evil simply because they have a physical form. The Cathars in the Middle Ages may have drawn some of their beliefs from this.[21]

[22]There is more of an overarching parallel with Manichaeism than with Zoroastrianism.   The dualism between the Red God and the Great Other is similar to that of The Father of Greatness and The King of Darkness in Manichaeism.  Both sets are equals who are in constant battle for the fate of the world.  There is nothing about the importance of fire and the eschatology is simply the world dying with the souls of the dead returning to The Father of Greatness.

George R.R. Martin drew aspects of the Faith of the Red God from Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism. From Zoroastrianism, he used the importance of fire and some of the eschatology.   From Manichaeism, he used the dualism between good and evil to create  R’llor and the Great Other. All of this combined created the Faith of the Red God.

[1] George R.R. Martin, Ellio M. Garcia, Jr., and Linda Antonsson.  The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and The Game of Thrones. (New York: Bantam, 2014): 308.

[2] R’hllor. A Wiki of Ice and Fire. Last modified December 14, 2014.

http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/R%27hllor

[3]George .R.R Martin.  A Storm of Swords. (New York: Bantam, 2000): 500.

[4] The Great Other. A Wiki of Ice and Fire.  Last Modified March 8, 2015.

http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Great_Other

[5] Martin, Garcia, Jr., and Antonsson.  The World of Ice and Fire, 11.

[6] Azor Ahai or clash of Kings 118

[7]  R’hllor. A Wiki of Ice and Fire.

[8] G.R.R.  Martin, Clash of Kings. (New York: Bantam, 1999): 111.

[9]  Vengrence.” Game of Thrones Lore Extra – the Lord of Light.”  Youtube video. 3:39 February 17, 2014.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXtUTNqKOjw

[10] Jenny Rose, Zoroastrianism: A Guide for the Perplexed. (New York: Continuum International Publishing Group,

2011): 71-74.

[11] Rose, Zoroastrianism, 77.

[12] Rose, Zoroastrianism, 23-25.

[13] Rose, Zoroastrianism, 33.

[14] Rose, Zoroastrianism, 29.

[15] Rose, Zoroastrianism, 131-133.

[16] Rose, Zoroastrianism, 55.

[17] TwoBinc. “The Zoroastrian Journey”. Youtube video. 9:19. April 30,2009.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K83F4URTS9I

[18] George R. R. Martin. A Dance with Dragons. (New York: Bantam, 2011): 448

[19] R’hllor. A Wiki of Ice and Fire. Last modified 14 December 2014. http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/R%27hllor

[20] “Manichaeism”. Wikipedia. Modified April 15, 2015. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manichaeism

[21] “Manichaeism”. Wikipedia. Modified April 15, 2015. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manichaeism

[22]  Hyperrealpda. Manichaeism. Youtube video. 9: 44. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otYwkIa_qIM

Works cited

Azor Ahai.  A Wiki of Ice and Fire. Last modified December 14, 2014.

http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Azor_Ahai

Hyperrealpda. Manichaeism. Youtube video. 9: 44. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otYwkIa_qIM

Martin, George R.R.  A Clash of Kings. New York: Bantam, 1999.

Martin, George R.R.  A Dance with Dragons. New York: Bantam, 2011.

Martin, George R.R.   A Storm of Swords. New York: Bantam, 2000.

Martin, George R.R., Ellio M. Garcia, Jr., and Linda Antonsson.  The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold

              History of Westeros and The Game of Thrones. New York, Bantam, 2014.

Melisandre. A Wiki of Ice and Fire. Last Modified March 30, 2015.

http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Melisandre

“Manichaeism”. Wikipedia. Modified April 15, 2015. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manichaeism

R’hllor. A Wiki of Ice and Fire. Last modified December 14, 2014.

http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/R%27hllor

Rose, Jenny. Zoroastrianism: A Guide for the Perplexed. New York: Continuum International Publishing

Group, 2011.

The Great Other. A Wiki of Ice and Fire.  Last Modified March 8, 2015.

http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Great_Other

TwoBinc. “The Zoroastrian Journey”. Youtube video. 9:19.  April 30,2009.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K83F4URTS9I

Vengrence.” Game of Thrones Lore Extra – the Lord of Light.”  Youtube video. 3:39 February 17, 2014.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXtUTNqKOjw

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From Boatsheds to Battlefields 55 Heading off to War on the Mail Train

End of 54th Entry: The War would be over long before he got there while in any case, it was a war of regular armies, not one for untrained men or Irregular forces.

Returning to the estate Mick received a visit from his friend the Ranch Manager who took a different view. The war would last, Britain required every man and the sooner one joined up the better for his honour – he himself was half crippled so stood no earthly chance of being accepted, but as his initial share he would pay Mick’s fare to Cape Town.

Mick’s duty lay beyond the seas – plenty of men unfit for service could take over the carrying on of the Country’s usual business. He would send over a horse for Mick that afternoon and he could catch the mail train South two days after.

Mick filled with joy accepted immediately – the cattleman galloped off leaving Mick to write a letter to his employers explaining the circumstances, to arrange with the natives about carrying on until the new manager arrived to dispose of his kit.

Mick went up deciding where he sold his rifle – returning he gathered his staff together held an auction sale of his belongings and with a blood horse between his knees dashed off towards the fourteen-mile distant ranch.

Next day Mick spent in a last happy day amongst the big game. Waterbuck, Zebra and Sable were very plentiful but with a mind aflame on the coming days Mick’s shooting was vile, eventually after missing numerous easy shots he secured a fine Sable Antelope cow – his pleasure vanished when the baby calf came bawling round its dead mother, remaining next to the body to later follow the waggon back to camp. Attempts to catch it proved fruitless.

Next day the Ranch Manager rode with Mick to the siding, unforeseen circumstances delayed their departure from the ranch so that when nearing the station they saw the fast approaching smoke of the train. A wild race ended in Mick flinging himself from the saddle to dash at an already moving train.

Helped by friendly hands he scrambled aboard amidst a thunder of cheers from a densely packed trainload and a knot of district folk at the siding. (Sixteen years later a lady then present laughing over the incident mentioned that throughout the war the incident had often been remembered and held as the way a man should respond to the Call of the Flag.)

Mick found the train crowded to suffocation point with Rhodesians, 90% of them on their way to the Colours – every class, every type was represented. There were men who had not seen civilization four years, family Black Sheep, younger sons – men who made good; men who had not.

Some came from lonely prospecting camps, others from the cattle ranches. Many were home born, many Colonial Old Pioneers, ex-Royal North-West Mounted, men who had been sailors. Men who had held commissioned rank in the Regulars. Paying his fair to Bulawayo and being told by the guard to get a ticket to Cape Town at Bulawayo Mick was shoved into a Second Class compartment with already five occupants.

One turned out to be a young Welshman mining down the Mazoe, another an ex-captain of the Royal Field Artillery and Indian Army, now a mining man, the other three being nondescripts.

The bulk of the men travelling on the train had converted all easy negotiable securities into ready cash and filled with excitement, unaccustomed companionship and the herd-feeling spent their money like water. The result was that soon a large percentage were in anything but a sober condition – few were drunk, but at the same time hardly any preserved any semblance of caution in dealing with chance companions.

Mick and the Welshman returning from the dining salon saloon found the ex-artillery Captain half dazed trying to explain to a sceptical conductor and a crowd of amused onlookers that he’d been drawn into a card game, drugged and robbed by the other three inmates of the compartment. As it happened a couple of passengers, men of standing, recognised two of the accused as being well-known Crooks and the Artilleryman proved that he was a man of substance well known in mining circles. The crooks all three of them were promptly subjected to severe hustling and the train stopping at a Bechuanaland siding were put overboard into the dark and lonely night.

As far as Kimberly the journey was uneventful but when the Rhodesian mail steamed in, it was to find station packed with troop trains –  The Natal Field Artillery, Kaffarian Rifles and a dozen other units. From then on the mail crept slowly along continually being sidetracked to allow troop trains to pass. Every minute was a delight to the Rhodesians – batteries of artillery, trainloads of soldiers, truckloads of horses – bugles and trumpets sounding, with everywhere the sharp bark of army commands.

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It brought the first taste of war to the eager nostrils of the men from the Rhodesian bush going to war in defence of life, liberty, hearth and home. The wolfhounds of a warrior nation hungering, thirsting for the wild clamour of battle, the pomp and panolpy of war – Children of the Red Gods hastening to harvest. Throughout the wide wide world, others of their kin were rushing homewards from the ice floes of Labrador, the Savage Klondyke, the scorching Australian deserts, the fever jungle of New Guinea.

“God! but this is good”, remarked a grizzled old veteran to an eager strapping youth “These Union lads are young but excellent material. Keen as mustard and fine physique”

“You don’t think Dad you’ll have any difficulty in getting into a regiment?” asked the other.

“Regimental age, thirty-six me lad – a wee touch of hair dye, thank God my teeth are sound, thirty years of soldering all over the world – Dammit if the army is troublesome I’ll join the French.”

Food gave out on the train, drink came to an end, Mick and many others finished their last penny – the train was already a couple of days late but at station bars and stores, from the boyish troops of the Union Defence Force – lads eighteen to twenty-one came help and hospitality.

Then came a whisper through the long train – the German spies or Dutch rebels had blown up two troop trains on the Hex River Pass. Hundreds of lads were killed, the trains halted and the rumours increased – there was a possibility of attack at any moment – most of the inhabitants of the surrounding country were red hot rebels and what a glorious chance to wipe out old Boer War grudges, thousands of sons of English and loyal Dutch without ammunition penned like sheep in the many troop trains.

The more authentic news came – an accident had happened, one troop train had left the rails resulting in a heavy casualty list, but luckily in a portion of the Pass where a brow had stopped the train from landing in the Hex River a thousand feet below.

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The trains steamed on into Touws River where already poor mangled bodies were being carried from railway carriages. The few white women of the neighbourhood – young girls, matrons, old women, all kindly Dutch, laboured like trained nurses, freely putting their cottages and houses at the disposal of the Commanding Officers.

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“By God, the lads are proper cubs of the Old Lion,” said a Rhodesian whose life had been passed leading men in Frontier Wars. “Only schoolboys and they’ve the discipline of veterans – none rushing to look at the casualties, everyone cool, calm and collected, the poultice wallahs working like R.A.M.C. men – they’ve passed their preliminary test with honours – rotten thing thousands of children straight from their homes, all singing and happy to suddenly be flung into a mass of Death and mangled bodies – good training though as for casualties – killed and wounded on active service – counts just the same as actual battle casualties.

Late the next afternoon the line cleared the trains moved on,  through the tunnel and out of the vast lonely Karoo into a glorious world of mountain peaks, smiling valley and brawling hill burns. Twisting and turning like serpents the long procession of heavily laden trains crawled round the cutting powerful engines before and behind holding their burdens of precious freight.

From Boatsheds to Battlefields 54 War Time Raiders

End of 53rd Entry: Now and again a pile of newspapers reached him all full of the Wars between Montenegro, Greece, Serbia, and Turkey.

Then one day Mick woke with a rotten headache which increased as the day wore on – his body got hot and cold by turns shivering fits set in with violent spasms of vomiting. Mick fought against it but malaria needs quinine to stop its progress and the camp was bare of the vital ally.

A couple of evenings later a native passing a farmhouse near the siding casually told the owner that the new white man down the river was dying. A B.S.A. trooper happened to be at the farm. He and the owner did the nine miles in record time driving a couple of natives before them. At Mick’s camp, the hut was deserted though round a campfire Mick’s boys were singing happily. 

On being questioned they reported that their master had been very sick for a couple of days. “No! Nobody had gone in to see how he was – he hadn’t called anybody and the cook was away on a holiday.”

The trooper sent them scuttling round to hunt for signs of their master and soon a shout from the river announced that he was found. Evidently maddened for want of water, poor Mick had crawled down for a drink. He was in a mighty bad way so wasting no time the white men had a couple of poles, a blanket fastened between and four boys sent trotting off to the siding with the patient.

Fortunately, as they arrived a train came in on it’s way to Salisbury and a few hours later Mick was safely in the hospital.

Mick was pretty tough so within a few days unlimited quinine, careful nursing, warmth and cheerful pretty nurses had him on his feet again.

On his return, Mick promptly forsook his old camp transferring with bag and baggage to his new half-completed home. This he soon completed and settled down once more healthy, content and happy.

An adjoining farm was taken up giving Mick pleasant neighbours. The manager of a large ranch rode over – turned out to be a near relation of his old Constantia employer, and began to regularly send his horse for Mick to ride over to the ranch for weekends.

One day Mick feeling off-colour sent a boy over to Tom Godfrey asking for quinine – the boy returned with quinine, a newspaper and a note.

Dear Mick,
Herewith the quinine and half a bottle of brandy, all I can spare.  Also the pup. I suppose you’ve heard that the British Army has arrived in Belgium. We should hear tomorrow how it shapes against the Germans. The Belgians seem to have more guts than one would have thought. Everybody around here is clamouring for the formation of a Rhodesian force and the South Africans have already had a scrap or two in German West.
Yours,
Tom

Mick dazed, read and re-read the note, opened the papers and saw the staring headlines.

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For a while, he thought he was mad. What was the war about? It was three weeks since he had seen either a newspaper or white man and there wasn’t a war cloud insight. Now apparently Britain, France and Belgium were scrapping with Germany.

Wasting no time Mick ran the nine miles to the siding. Here he found the place in a ferment.  Dozens of hard frontiersman seemed to have come out of the wilds.

Prospectors, traders, farmers, hunters, miners and transport riders – some were Reservists waiting for the train, others ex-Army officers of regular and irregular forces – many like himself had only just heard that there was a war on and were clamouring for details – everybody seemed mad to get to the war before it finished.

Men clamoured for volunteers to look after their mining prospects, farms, and trading stores. Partners tossed as to whom should go and whom should stay.

A meeting was held at which nearly every man put down his name as willing to serve overseas, in Africa or for Home Defence and an urgent application wired to the Administrator calling upon him to immediately form a Rhodesian regiment to be placed at the disposal of the British War office.

Mick volunteered for overseas, then set off back to the farm.  Arrived there he arranged the work for the next few days and left for Salisbury. In the town he found a restless angry population swollen by the addition of men from outside all clamouring for the Government to act.

The authorities, however, seemed as much in the dark as the man in the street. The Union down South had mobilised and was pouring troops into German West Africa, but apparently, the British War office had forgotten Rhodesia’s existence. The Mounted Police left to seize the narrow strip of German territory next to the Victoria Falls.

Rumours came that in the North the Germans were sweeping all before them in Nyasaland and British East Africa. Stories came of black armies invading the Congo, of the Germans having promised their black troops all the white women captured.

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A man with an evil reputation began quietly enlisting picked men from the Bush into a regiment to dash over the Portuguese border looting the country. It was argued that it didn’t matter which side Portugal joined, and if forced onto the enemy’s her colonies and African Seaports would form most valuable acquisitions to Rhodesia and the Union.

It was rumoured that a well-known Jewish speculator was backing the enterprise, that truckloads of horses for the Raiders had already left the Free State. Each man possessed his own rifle so all that remained to do once the horses arrived was to cross the Border.

Mick’s gold-digging Uncle driven from the Alluvial Fields over a threat of prosecution in connection with the distillation of rice spirit in a home-made still with a rifle barrel as worm, had gone prospecting and elephant poaching in North Eastern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. 

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He had returned destitute but cheerful, and for a week stayed with Mick. Now he was one of the leading spirits amongst the Raiders and through his influence, Mick was enlisted in one of the troops of a squadron.

However, some of the filibusters waxed eloquent over their whiskey which resulted in a stern threat from the Administration that any unauthorised raids would be treated as piratical and immediate steps were taken to prevent any possibility of this organised one from materializing.

Mick interviewed his employers begging to be released from his duty and advanced money to take him to England but was told not to be a fool. The War would be over long before he got there while in any case, it was a war of regular armies, not one for untrained men or Irregular forces.

A question arising from the text:

What does “with a rifle barrel as worm” mean?

From Boatsheds to Battlefields 53 Taming the Wilderness

On returning from a long holiday in Cape Town;

An ox wagon deposited Mick,  four natives, their worldly goods and an assortment of agricultural implements on the banks of a broad river flowing between high banks. Having brought the new manager and his assistants the waggon departed leaving its former passengers to their work of taming the wilderness.

Mick’s first work was to put one man onto collecting wood, making a fire and getting a kettle of water on. Meanwhile, the other three were sent to chop saplings, strip away pliable tough inner bark for tying purposes, cut grass for thatching and to generally busy themselves in preparing for the erection of the Estate Manager’s residence.

Having got the staff at work the Manager armed with his Martini set off along the river to survey his domain. Some months previously two spans of oxen each with a four furrow disc plough had been sent down to break up as much as they could of the rich alluvial riverbank.

The estate had nine miles of river frontage which gave them almost that length of twenty-foot deep chocolate soil varying in width from three or four yards to a couple of hundred. This was the actual bank – beyond lay swamps of heavy black soil of inexhaustible fertility which years after bore enormous crops of wheat. From the swamps, the ground rose in a gentle slope to a heavily timbered ridge beyond which lay the broad watershed of forest country.

Walking down the river bank Mick was gratified to find large acreages of rich soil broken up and amazed at the plentiful signs of big game. Soon he paused in wonder at some enormous footprints a thrill running through him as he remembered that the river was full of hippopotami. A little further on he came to a sight which made him realise that a farm alive with game was not an unmixed blessing.

Quite a fair acreage had been rushed into maize which had grown splendidly. Its growth had surprised and pleased Godfrey but his pleasure and appreciation was nothing to that of a family of hippo.

Cursing at the destruction before him Mick walked through a large field of what had seemingly been a ten bag to the acre crop. Hippo paths ran everywhere – waterbuck, Kudu, sable, wild pig and small buck appeared to have been as attracted as the hippo and Mick groaned as he wondered how on earth he was going to grow crops for markets instead of feed for a teeming game reserve.

Coming through the further end of the field he reached the ploughs – congratulating the natives on the work they had done, he spoke of the quantity of game he had seen. The natives instantly began to explain that this was indeed a Paradise for big game and proposed accompanying him to begin the work of destruction at once. “It was a long time since they had had meat,” remarked the spokesmen

Taking one of the boys Mick pushed on but though signs were plentiful game itself was not and eventually, he returned empty-handed to his camp

The next few weeks gave him little leisure – cattle and more boys arrived, his hut was built. What the game that left of the maize crop was reaped, shelled and dragged on the rough sledge to a siding nine miles away. Cattle kraals – rough log and bush enclosures were made – a strip of land broken up for tobacco seed beads, lands selected for tobacco and all the time hard ploughing of the rich maize lands went on with four four furrow disc ploughs.

Realising that his hut had been built in a death trap – a great swamp on two sides, the river a few yards in front – Mick pushed on the construction of a Robinson Crusoe building at the edge of the forest. From here he commanded to truly wonderful view hills, river scenery, bush country and the Umvukwe Mountains.

Though with little leisure on his hands quite a lot of game fell to the old Martini. Apparently, no hunting had taken place for years resulting in the game being quite unafraid of man. Elephants passed through on their way from Hartley to Lomagundi reports came of lions – once a herd of magnificent sable antelope black bodied, white-bellied under a forest of curved horns trotted curiously up to the very building he was erecting – hardly a day passed without a seeing game and the camp was seldom without meat sometimes shot from the door or window of Mick’s hut.

The river yielded quite good fish and gave some exciting sport shooting at crocodiles or watching a family of monstrous hippo at play.

So Mick shot sable, kudu, waterbuck, tsessebe and reedbuck, went to look at elephant, watched hippo, found alluvial gold in small quantities and spent Sundays panning the river bars or fishing. He was never lonely, but always full of content.

Now and again a pile of newspapers reached him all full of the Wars between Montenegro, Greece, Serbia, and Turkey.

From Boatsheds to Battlefields 52 Taking a Holiday

End of 51st Entry: Filled with delight Mick went into Salisbury, cashed a handsome cheque booked his passage to South Africa and went up to the old Commercial Hotel for a drink.

At the hotel, two pleasant spoken men got into a conversation with him. Both were from Cape Town, appeared to know his father well and one was the son of a Volunteer Colonel.

Mick unaccustomed to spirits had a couple of whiskies and became instantly interested in their talk of Insurance. His ideas were very hazy on the subject but apparently paying in £50 a year for twenty years he would draw a lump sum of nearly £2000. If he died his heirs would get over £1000 even if he died just after taking out the Endowment Policy – Mick fell.

What he liked about it was these fellows didn’t want cash – “sign a three months bill old chap – your dad would reckon it a darn good investment – £4 a month only.” So Master Michael interviewed a doctor put his name to some papers and stood a couple more drinks.

There were various people Mick knew in Salisbury and Salisbury was not a Y.M.C.A. abode in 1912. Mick too owed a debt of gratitude to a little girl once a waitress now a pretty barmaid. Who got Mick to the train was a mystery to him forever but someone did in a wheelbarrow.

Next morning Mick on awakening found his head feeling like a balloon filled with red-hot irons – he was fully dressed moreover and felt it. A wash and shave freshened him up a little but he felt an intense longing for cold winds so proceeded to the balcony between two carriages.

Here a rather prepossessing damsel smiled winningly at him. Entering into conversation with her Mick was accused of having all but bumped her overboard the previous evening. Deep apologies were made by a bashful blushing young farmer and accepted by the lady who thereupon suggested that after the night before a hair of the dog that had bitten him would undoubtedly help Michael to view life through more pleasant spectacles.

Mick agreed, a steward was hailed and in the girl’s coupè the two settled comfortably down to enjoy the Rhodesian eye-opener of milk and whiskey. During the long four day journey, the acquaintanceship progressed rapidly. The lady was a hospital nurse not very young but slim and charming and of vast experience in dealing with the sterner sex.

She was going to Cape Town for a serious operation and Mick’s ready sympathy glorified the woman into something divine, she was a good sort and made the trip pleasant and entertaining.

On arrival home, Mick found a wonderful reception awaiting him but for the first two days and evenings he spent his whole time with his Rhodesian lady friend – she went into the hospital the third day to be operated on immediately.

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Calling around in the afternoon Mick heard most awful moans proceeding from a tiny private ward opening from the hallway. A pretty nurse being asked if he could see his friend gaily nodded at the closed door – “You can hear her anyway” she remarked “She’s just coming round. Call around tomorrow afternoon perhaps you’ll be allowed to see her then.”

Sick at heart Mick left. He called the next day, saw his friend and though love vanished friendship remained. Mick called daily but gradually became aware that a rather jolly looking probationer nurse was attracting his fancy.

Mick’s friend recovered but found Mick’s youth and unsophistication bored her, his passion, on the other hand, was dead so Mick once again sought his old friends the St Julien’s, the chums of his boyhood and the sea and the mountain.

A lot of time, however, was devoted to the hospital so that when at last Michael Osmond turned his face Northward he was an engaged man with youth behind him and manhood before him.

Months passed – the insurance agents called to be received by a wrathful sulky young man who dared them to do their worst. the one adopted a bullying tone and attitude – Mick’s Irish temper flared. It happened that their visit took place as he was about to go on a hunting trip and the offensive man immediately found a rifle butt raised ominously in the air whilst a young savage dark with passion threatened to smash his ……. head if he delayed immediate departure – he did not.

Shortly after Mick’s return Godfrey was persuaded to take as a pupil a young Englishman, the heir to a considerable fortune and with very important connections.

The pupil duly arrived his luggage filling the large Government waggons. He turned out to be a rather prepossessing youth with any amount of self-assurance. Invited into his room Mick wide-eyed gazed upon a large gallery of autographed photographs of picture postcard beauties – upon a varied assortment of saddlery, polo sticks and a simply marvellous collection of pipes.

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As a worked the new addition was not a success, as a companion he was delightful and for the first time since leaving school, Mick found himself with a mate of his own age.

Then an old mountain and fishing chum wrote him from Gatooma. He was anxious to start farming.