The First Hundred Thousand by Ian Hay (John Hay Beith)

The First Hundred Thousand by Ian Hay (John Hay Beith)

I am such a success here the Gen. has induced me to stay another night! So I shan’t return till tomorrow; it’s really delightful here, and everyone so pleasant. I hear 14 young officers have joined the 9th since I came here. I view the prospect with dismay! Repington is here. Prince is evidently not very sanguine of an early peace. Two other C.O.s were asked here, but both refused. I believe they are all frightened of the Gen. B. Smith has gone and been succeeded by a man called Marshall, who seems a capital fellow. He was out with Scott [in fact, Shackleton] in the Antarctic. Had a poozy, restful night. A lovely morning, now clouding over. The Act. Asst. Provost Marshal, Tully by name, is in same Bn as Hay—Capt. Beith (10 A. and S. Hrs) [10th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders]. He says Hay has got a billet at home as M.G. Instructor. Mackenzie (old 93rd) was their Col. at Loos. He was not killed, only wounded; (he is Mrs. Lewis White’s brother-in-law). Most of his characters were ‘blends,’ but Bobby Lyttle was taken from life.


John Hay Beith wrote under the nom-de-plume Ian Hay. He was known at the time for his popular account of his experiences in uniform, The First Hundred Thousand, which was published in 1915. He transferred to the Machine Gun Corps and later served in the British Military Mission to the United States. In the early years of the Second World War he served as Director of Public Relations at the War Office. Second Lieutenant Bobby Little, ‘a fresh-faced youth, with an engaging smile’, is one of the books principal characters.

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