Monday, August 04, 2014

Baxter (7) Beaten

Baxter was beaten up by officers for his conscientious objection.

He ordered me again and I refused. "You -!" he shouted, and struck me in the face, knocking me down. I got up and he ordered me again. I refused. He kicked me and struck me another blow, knocking me down. This time I did not rise quickly, and shouting, "Come on, none of that!" he dragged me to my feet, knocked me down again and kicked me several times about the body. His anger increased by the murmurs of the men with him, he gave me a final kick, the effects of which I felt for a long time after, and ordered the men to bring me out.

"I'll kill the bastard yet!" he shouted.

They carried me out and laid me down gently on the duckwalk. "Lift him up as high as you can," he ordered, "and drop him on his back on the boards." They lifted me high on their arms and lowered me to the ground ever so gently, keeping hold of me all the time. Three times, cursing, he ordered them, and three times they lowered me in the same way to the ground.

It was a brave act on their part for though, technically, they had obeyed the order, they were incurring the wrath of the captain and there were many ways in which he could make it unpleasant for them afterwards.

Then, at his orders, they carried me out into the parade ground and set me on my feet. But my legs wouldn't support me. I fell and lay against my pack. I felt completely dazed and had little idea of what was happening.
The Ypres campaign was eventually broken up and Baxter was sent back towards the Somme. For the first part, they travelled by train, but Baxter was not attached to a platoon, so he was not given any food.

After several days they left the train and marched through the countryside. After about a week on the road, he collapsed from exhaustion and was left behind. He was lying a hole half-conscious, when a couple of English soldiers found him and took him the an English dressing station. After being given some food, he was put on a train and sent to a field hospital.

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