The End of the Battle

The End of the Battle

The End of the Battle

The End of the Battle

Excerpt

In all the hosts of effigies that throng the aisles of Westminster Abbey one man only, and he a sailor, strikes a martial attitude. The men of the Middle Ages have sheathed their swords and composed their hands in prayer; the men of the Age of Reason have donned the toga. A Captain Montagu alone, in Flaxman's posthumous status, firmly grips his hilt; and, because they had so many greater treasures to protect, the chapter left him to stand there throughout the war unencumbered by sand-bags, gazing across the lower nave as he had gazed at the ships of revolutionary France in the waters off Ushant on the day of victory and death.

His name is not well remembered and his portrait, larger than life and portly for his years, has seldom attracted the notice of sightseers. It was not his sword but another which on Friday, 29th October 1943, drew the column of fours which slowly shuffled forward from Milbank, up Great College Street, under a scarred brick wall on which during the hours of darkness in the preceding spring a zealous, arthritic Communist had emblazoned the words SECOND FRONT NOW , until they reached the door under the blasted and bombed west window. The people of England were long habitated to queues; some had joined the procession ignorant of its end -- hoping perhaps for . . .

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