They had been marching for over 10 hours now. The freezing rain and howling wind showed no signs of abating
“Where are we going Sarge?” shouted one of the weary and very wet soldiers.
“What do you mean, ‘Where are we going? up this bloody hill of course. Where do you think we’re headed, bloody Butlins!”
“But why are we marching up this hill Sarge?” cried another weary soldier.
“Because we’ve been told to,” bellowed the Sergeant, “The army must have a good reason for sending us here, and, believe it or not Private Timkins, the old Duke don’t need to consult with you before he makes his decisions, so stop whining and keep marching.”
And keep marching they did, all ten thousand of them. Through freezing rain that turned to a swirling blizzard, through the dark of the night, they continued marching until they reached the top of the hill. Then, and only then, did the command come down the line for them to rest.
The soldiers looked around them but couldn’t see a thing. The gale force wind was blowing the snow straight at them. They huddled closer together for some warmth and protection from the unrelenting elements. Here at the summit there was absolutely no shelter or protection at all.
Then, just audible above the growing noise of the storm, they heard their Sergeant shout,
“Right men, grab your kit, pick up your rifles, turn around and start marching.”
“Where are we going Sarge,” shouted one of the soldiers.
“What do you mean, ‘Where are we going? down this bloody hill of course. Where do you think we’re headed, sunny Blackpool!”
“But why are we marching down this hill Sarge?” shouted Private Timkins.
“Because we’ve been told to,” bellowed the Sergeant, “but don’t you worry lads, the army knows what it’s doing.”
So they marched another 12 hours through the unrelenting weather, all ten thousand of them. They did this because the army told them to. The grand old Duke might have known why, but he wasn’t telling them.