The Great War, I was there - Part 8

VERY* NICE TO LISTEN TO ’This remarkable photograph shows a British 60-pounder gun the instant after it had been fired, while it is at full recoil. Its deep boom would be most welcome to the men of whom the battery is in support, for as Rifleman Aubrey Smith says in this chapter, “It was very nice listening to the British guns.” The 60-pounder was heavier than the guns of the Field Artillery, but sufficiently mobile to be moved up in support of infantry. Imperial War Museum a considerable space before the East Lancs trench begins at the outskirts of Le Gheer. Three hundred yards away is the German trench, which we observe through a periscope. The field itself is amass of wet brown mud, without any­thing growing, but with thousands of cans and empty tins thrown about near the trenches. All we do is to cook meals, read, write and keep guard. We start off with a sip of rum to warm us and then cook bacon as best we may anon improvised barrier deposited on a duck-board path behind our breastwork. Everything is underdone difficulties, as we have to keep very low to avoid being seen, and from morn tonight we are unable to straighten ourselves. The Germans appear to have superiority of fire, as regards musketry, in this part of the line. They have snipers posted and plenty of loopholes and upkeep a constant fire all daylong.“ Ping-ping ”we hear continually as they hit one objector another in the vicinity. It seems to bethe aim of one sniper to reduce a certain house to ruins, ashe keeps chipping off pieces of brick. As for us, we keep silent. As far as 1 can see,the whole British line keeps silent and treats them with contempt. As a matter of fact, it would be difficult to reply if we wanted to, as we haven’t any loopholes and it would be madness to standup and fire over the top. But the sniping doesn’t do any good, except insofar as it forces us to lie low. At nighttime, unfortunately, he may work mischief, as the man 011 sentry-duty has to standup for two hours and peer into the darkness. On being relieved on the night of February 12, we made our way gaily down the Demi Lune Road, where a wagon was waiting to take our packs. Then we tramped along to the billets in Armentieres. ...That night we were awakened at midnight and had to put our kit together ready to move. For­tunately the whole thing was a false alarm. This seems alike big military town in England, and the appearance of a French soldier is, of course, a rarity. The thing that strikes you most is the enormous number of motor lorries driven by the A.S.C. There is along, straight road (from Nieppe) by these billets and sometimes the convoys extend as far as the eye can see and 301 continue to pass for a few minutes. Then you will see a company of very spick and span troops, who are obviously new arrivals, and there will bean almost unending line of horses being taken out for exercise in the other Indirection. the streets you will see Hay’s Wharf wagons, County Council conveyances, etc., and everything seems to be con­nected with the Army. “To the Follies,”“ A CockFight will beheld in this Estaniinet,” etc., meet the eye, and menus are exhibited in more lessor faulty English in some of the estaminets. ... \Y/k are billeted in Ploegsteert [Feb. 22] again now and go in the trenches tonight. I must tell you about a digging fatigue we had on the 16th, when we were in the support farm again. Now that the mud is removed from my coat and trousers I can relate it without bad language. We arrived in the field of mud in which the front-line trench is situated about 8.30 p.m., having carried planks of wood up therefrom the estaniinet. The night w ras dark, but we had to
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