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In the Russian Ranks, a Soldier's Account of the Fighting in Poland von Morse, John (eBook)

  • Verlag: Charles River Editors
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In the Russian Ranks, a Soldier's Account of the Fighting in Poland

In the Russian Ranks, a Soldier's Account of the Fighting in Poland are the experiences of an Englishman fighting with Russia during World War I. The original illustrations and a table of contents are included.


    Format: ePUB
    Kopierschutz: AdobeDRM
    Seitenzahl: 359
    Sprache: Englisch
    ISBN: 9781508018131
    Verlag: Charles River Editors
    Größe: 835 kBytes
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In the Russian Ranks, a Soldier's Account of the Fighting in Poland


HAD I NOT BEEN under military escort I could not possibly have got along any of the roads in the neighbourhood of Ostrovo-all were crowded by Prussian infantry. I did not see any other branches of the service, but I understood that the engineers were mining the railway-line, and about half an hour after we started my friends declared that it would be hopeless to try to reach Kalisz from the German side. They said they must leave me, as it was imperative that they should rejoin their regiments before the hour of parade. A road was pointed out to me as one that led straight to the frontier, and that frontier I was recommended to endeavour to cross. The horse was taken away, and, after shaking hands with the officers and receiving their wishes of good-luck, I proceeded across the fields on foot.

Pickets of cavalry and infantry were moving about the country, but I avoided them, and after a two-hours' walk reached the low bank which I knew marked the frontier-line. It was then after three o'clock, and daylight was beginning to break. As far as I could see, nobody was about. Some cows were in the field, and they followed me a short distance-a worry at the time, as I feared they would attract attention to my movements.

I jumped over the boundary, and walked in the direction of Kalisz, the dome and spire and taller buildings of which were now visible some miles to the northward. The country is very flat here-typical Polish ground, without trees or bushes or hedges, the fields being generally separated by ditches. It is a wild and lonely district, and very thinly peopled. And I do not think there were any Russian troops in the town. If there were, it must have been a very slender detachment, which fell back at once; for if any firing had occurred, I must have seen and heard it. Not a sound of this description reached my ears, but when I reached Kalisz at 5.30 a.m. it was full of German soldiers, infantry and Uhlans-the first definite information I had that war was actually declared between the two countries, and the first intimation I received of how this war was likely to be conducted, for many of the Germans were mad drunk, and many more acting like wild beasts.

I passed through crowds of soldiers without being interfered with-a wonderful circumstance. None of the shops were opened at that early hour, but the Germans had smashed into some of them, and were helping themselves to eatables and other things. I saw one unter-officer cramming watches, rings, and other jewellery into his pockets. He was quickly joined by other wretches, who cleared the shop in a very few minutes.

Hardly knowing what to do, but realizing the danger of lurking about without an apparent object in view, I continued to walk through the streets in search of the railway-station, or a place where I could rest. A provost and a party of military policemen were closing the public-houses by nailing up the doors, and I saw a man only partly dressed, the proprietor of one of these houses, I supposed, murdered. He made an excited protest, and a soldier drove his bayonet into the poor man's chest. He uttered a terrible scream, and was instantly transfixed by a dozen bayonets. A woman, attracted by the fearful cry, came rushing out of the house screaming and crying. She had nothing on except a chemise, and the soldiers treated her with brutal indecency. I was impelled to interfere for her protection. At that moment an officer came up, and restored some order amongst the men, striking and pricking several of them with his sword. He said something to me which I did not understand, and, receiving no reply, struck me with his fist, and then arrogantly waved his hand for me to be gone. I had no alternative. I suppressed my wrath and moved away, but the horrible sight of the bleeding man and the weeping woman haunted me until I became used to such sig

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