The Great War, I was there - Part 6

We were lying down when the order came, and as we lay we got round at our bayonets, drew them and fixed them, and 1 could hear the rattle of the fixing all along the line, just as I had heard it many times on parade or at manoeuvres—the same sound, but with what a different purpose! A few of the fellows did not fix their bayonets as we lay, but they man­aged to do it as we ran, when we had jumped up and started to rush along to put the finish to the fight. There was no bugle sound, we just got thew 7 ord to charge, an order which was given to the whole of the Seventh Division. When this last part of the advance arrived we started halloaing and shout­ing, and the division simply hurled itself against the Prussian Guard. By the time we were up with the enemy we were mad. I can’t tell you much of what actually happened—and I don’t think any man who took part in it could do so—but I do know that we rushed helter-skelter, and that when we got up to the famous Guards there were only two of my own section holding together—Lance-Corporal Perry and myself, and even we were parted immediately afterwards. The next thing I clearly knew was that we were actually on the Prussians, and that there was some very fierce work on.going There was some terrific and deadly scrimmaging, and whatever the Prussian Guard did in the way of handling the steel, the Seventh Division did better. It was everyman for himself. I had rushed up with the rest, and the first thing I clearly knew was that a tremendous Prussian was making mat withe his villainous bayonet. I made a lunge at him as hard and swift as I could, and he did the same tome. I thought I had him ,but I just missed, and as I did so I saw his own long, ugly blade driven out at the end of his rifle. Before I could do anything to parry the thrust, the tip of the bayonet had ripped across m y right thig h,and I honestly thought that it was all up with me. Then, when I reckoned that my account w r as paid, when I sup­posed that the huge Prussian had it all his own way, one of our chaps—I don’t know who, I don’t suppose I ever shall but I bless him—rushed up, drove his bayonet into the Prussian and settled him. I am sure that if this had not been done I should have been killed by the Prussian as it was, I was able to getaway without much inconvenience at the end of the bayonet fight. This struggle lasted about half an hour, and fierce, hard work it was all 219 f 1 the time. In the end we drove the Guards away and sent them flying —all except those who had fallen the trench was full of the latter, and we took no prisoners. Then soon wc were forced to retire ourselves, for the quite sufficient reason that we were not strong enough to hold the position that we had taken at such a heavy cost. The enemy did not know it then, though perhaps they found out later, that we had nicely deceived them in making them believe that we had reinforcements. But we had nothing of the sort yet we had stormed and taken the position and driven its defenders away. GROUND LIT T E RED WITH D EA D\Y/e were far too weak to hold the position, and so we retired over the ground that we had won, getting aback great deal faster than we had advanced. We had spent the best part of the day in advancing and reaching the enemy’s position and it seemed as if we must have covered a great tract of country, but as a matter of fact we had advanced less than a mile. It had taken us many hours to cover that short distance, but along the whole of the long line of the advance the ground was littered with the fallen—the officers and men w rho had gone down under such a storm of shells and bullets as had not been known since the war began. DRTIring, we took up a position behind a wood, and were thinking that we should get a bit of a rest, when a German aeroplane came overflying us, gave our hiding-place away, and brought upon us afire that drove us out and sent backus to three lines of trenches which we had been occupying. We made the best of things during the evening and the night in the trenches. The next day things were reversed, for the Germans came on against us but we kept up a furious fight, and simply mowed them down as they threw themselves upon us. We used to say :“Here comes another bunch of ’em !”and then we gave them the “mad minute.” We had TINNED GIFTS FOR THE ENEMY When munitions were short, British Tommies proved themselves men of resource, and they improvised hand grenades from empty tobacco tins, which were just the rightsize and made avery effective missile. Jam tins were also used. The tins were filled with a high explosive such as ammonal, and nails or any scrap metal that was available. Here a fuse is being fitted to a home-made grenade. L.N.A
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