2] On September 27, 1915, the 2nd Guards brigade of the British army took Chalk Pit Wood near Loos, in north-west France, during a campaign sometimes termed the Big Push that saw the first action by the 21st guards division in the XI Corps. The 21st suffered 3,800 casualties on September 26 alone. The battle of Loos occurred from September 25 to October 19 and occasioned over 60,000 British casualties. See Chris Baker's "The Long, Long Trail."
12] Hun: German soldiery.
19] Hill 70 was hard-fought and exchanged hands several times. Baker describes the first assault on September 25: "Emerging from the village, men of many units advanced unopposed - but without clear landmarks and with few officers, they headed for the summit of Hill 70 rather than to the left which was the original plan. On the extreme right, the 1/9 Black Watch, finding that the expected flank defences of the 1/19 Londons absent, halted. The mass of infantry now on Hill 70, seeing Germans retreating in some disarray, began to advance down the far-side slope. This advance was caught by German crossfire from the 2nd line, and it was brought to a standstill by 10.30am, with men doing their best to take cover on completely open ground on the downward slope North of Cite St Laurent. Calls for artillery support were answered with a bombardment falling away to the left, on Cite St Auguste, the original objective of the Division. 200 men on the hill, now reinforced by the 7/RSF, dug in a trench behind the crest line."
25] Boche: what the French called the Germans.
60] Blighty: military slang for "England."
Online text copyright © 2005, Ian Lancashire for the Department
of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.
Original text: The Poems of Arthur Conan Doyle (1922; John Murray, 1928): 173-75. 21473.35.1 Widener Library Harvard University
Publication date note: The Guards Came Through, and Other Poems (London: John Murray, 1919). See Harold Locke, A Bibliographical Catalogue of the Writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Tunbridge Wells: D. Webster, 1928): 69.
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2005
Recent editing: 1:2005/3/10*1:2005/3/10
Other poems by Arthur Conan Doyle