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Account sourced from the war diary of the 7th (s) bn. The Royal Mudshire Rifles. Various dates September 1917.

Battalion was notified of transfer to the Somme sector. Transport and support units were prepared for embussing with the rifle platoons and associated units to follow.

Recently arrived drafts were given an introduction to the firing line in relays during the final days before departure.

A 12 hour pass was granted to A, B and C coys. on 5th September which was appreciated by all. ‘D’ company had been permitted a similar local leave the previous day.

Officers were permitted to ride out and the men enjoyed football and fishing. The arrival of parcels from home was welcomed by all.

Transfer to France began on September 6.

"Do I look like a bleedin’ greyhound?" shouted an exasperated Rfn. Shaymen as yet another ball sailed harmlessly over the by-line.

Dai Macallister, not for the first time, answered sheepishly: "Sorry chum."

Shaymen took his sport seriously. Cricket was his first love but, in his time, he’d been a bit of a wing wizard. He’d even had his football boots sent out to him so he could shine in the regular games played behind the lines.

"Just play it to me feet Taff. Pass it along the ground and I’ll do the rest," he told the Welshman.

"Not my game see," said Macallister. "Rugby’s the game where I come from."

The company was enjoying a 12-hour rest period and in typical British Army fashion, it had not taken long to arrange a ‘wee game’.

The challenge had come from the Irish Rifles who were also awaiting transfer to the Somme front.

Willie McCallion had spotted Billy Swinton amongst the Ulster Division boys almost immediately. Now they stood at the edge of the improvised pitch watching the more energetic of their comrades play for the honour of their cap badges.

Billy Swinton pointed at Shaymen: "Your man’s not bad with the ball … when he gets it!"

McCallion nodded and yelled encouragement at the frustrated Shaymen: "Keep your chin up Achilles! Taff’ll get it right one of these times."

From the pitch, Shaymen shot McCallion a dirty look.

Billy Swinton broke into laughter: "Achilles … bloody ACHILLES! The poor ******, imagine being landed with a name like that!"

McCallion joined in the laughter: "We only found out when the parcel with his football boots arrived. He’s taken some stick since, poor bloke."

At half-time, the two men wandered off by themselves as the others recovered from their exertions with a much needed smoke. Lonnie Lonergan tried in vain to get both teams on their feet for a picture.

"Aw c'mon lads. One for the family album - this bleedin' camera cost me a packet! Give us a chance to use it!" he implored.

There were no takers for his offer.

It did not take long for McCallion to bring Billy Swinton up to date. The big Ulsterman whistled through his teeth when he heard of McCallion’s suspicions about Hartley.

He looked hard into Willie McCallion’s eyes: "Tell you what I’d do. First time I got a chance, I’d plug the ******* .. no nonsense. I’d put him out of time."

Willie shook his head: "Too good for him mate. There’s a few blokes in our mob who know what he’s been up to. They were good mates of Bert and I’ve had to talk them out of that sort of thing.

"All I need is for Hartley to drop his guard one more time and for me to be in the right place at the right time. Then I’ll hang him out to dry where his bleedin’ gentleman chums can see him for what he really is."

A breathless Lonnie Lonergan appeared beside him, he eyed Swinton with suspicion.

"He’s on the level Lonnie, what’s up?" said McCallion.

Lonnie pointed at a horseman trotting away from the tented camp on a brown mare.

"It’s Hartley mate, he’s on the move."

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Achilles? ACHILLES?? Bloomin' 'eck, Shaymen, yer can't let 'im get away with that!

Great stuff as usual, Des. Suspense? Got it in bucketloads....

Jim

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Achilles?  ACHILLES?? Bloomin' 'eck, Shaymen, yer can't let 'im get away with that!

Great stuff as usual, Des.  Suspense?  Got it in bucketloads....

Jim

Actually Jim - not too bad

He was the mightiest of the Greeks who fought in the Trojan War. laugh.gif

Glyn

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Actually Jim - not too bad

He was the mightiest of the Greeks who fought in the Trojan War. laugh.gif

Glyn

Fair enough, Glyn biggrin.gif

Jim

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