“The Busy Bantams.”

Third Gwents’ Progress.

INTO the deeps of sleep there fell - a splash in the pools of silence - the sounds of bugles calling the camp to commence the work of the new day.

The sleeper threw back the grey blankets, raised his head from the green pillow and awoke to the memory that he lay down at midnight in a military hut.

Thankful that there still remained an hour or so for sleep, he snuggled down in a low camp of unaccustomed narrowness, and sank once more into the under-world.

Through his dream there came the “tramp, tramp, tramp, tramp” of military boots on boarded floors. It was a familiar sound with a new meaning.

Artifice had become reality. Often enough in the theatre - at exciting moments of the play, with destinies in the scale-there had come to arouse the sense of excited anticipation that tramp of marching feet outside a barred door.

Now, with the destinies of nations in the midst of preparations for real warfare, there came the oft-heard sounds.

This was not make-believe - “play-acting.” It was the tramp of soldier’s feet. But it had no tragic significance: it was simply the rhythmic tread of officers’ orderlies moving on the bare boards, and nothing approached more deadly than a cup of tea.

Outside the sun was shining brilliantly on the red-brown and moss-green trunks of the firs: on the brown boards of a neighbour hut the shadows of waving branches were dancing; a robin was singing. It was a morning for which to give thanks, a fitting day to see the Bantams at work.

Links which bind

MONMOUTHSHIRE people remember with pride and pleasure that “The Bantams”- the 3rd Gwents, officially the 12th South Wales Borderers - had their birth at Newport.

They were raised at the old town on the Usk; the first recruits were Newport and Monmouthshire men; their early training was carried out at Newport; and while the people of county borough remember them with affection “the Bantams” officers and men, look to Newport as their birthplace, and think we pleasure of their association - in many cases there are links of blood - to bind the Bantams to the commercial capital of Gwent; the feeling of kinship is strong on the side of the people of the Uskside town, and they will be glad to know that the battalion are doing much to justify the pride felt in them.

As soldiers and sportsmen the men of few inches are proving worthy of the military traditions of Gwent and of the famous regimental of which they form a part.

Earlier movements

BUT before record is made of their recent doings, let us recall some of the facts of their earlier history.

The battalion was forced in February 1915. Major-General Sir Ivor Herbert, C.B, M.P., Lord Lieutenant of Monmouthshire, obtained the authority of the War Office to raise the unit, and recruiting was commended on February 8, with second Lieutenant C. D Philips who had acted as honorary secretary of the National Defence Committee at Newport, the first officer.

The need for such a battalion was manifest.

Little men have always been great fighters and it was felt - they felt themselves - that it was a waste of good material to refuse men from 5ft. to 5ft. 3in. The battalion soon proved popular and bantams came not only from Monmouthshire but from all parts of the kingdom.