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Erskine Childers, the famed author of the classic novel of sailing and spying The Riddle of the Sands served with London’s finest-The City Imperial Volunteers within its artillery arm-associated with the Honourable Artillery Company. Childers-together with his enthusiastic colleagues from the professions of the city were keen to fight the Boers of South Africa and he has written an engaging and detailed account of his time with the regiment during the war. It is written in an easy informal style-of the kind that has ensured that his better known writing has endured for over a century-as he takes the reader through training to experiences on the battlefield itself.With some who left for the War it was “roses, roses, all the way.” For us, the scene was the square of St. John’s Wood Barracks at 2 A.M. on the 3rd of February, a stormy winter’s morning, with three inches of snow on the ground, and driving gusts of melting flakes lashing our faces. In utter silence the long lines of horses and cloaked riders filed out through the dimly–lit gateway and into the empty streets, and we were off at last on this long, strange journey to distant Africa. Six crowded weeks were behind us since the disastrous one of Colenso, and with it the news of the formation of the C.I.V., and the incorporation in that regiment of a battery to be supplied by the Honourable Artillery Company, with four quick–firing Vickers–Maxim guns.
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