The Great War, I was there - Part 20

the Quarry and covered up with a few feet of earth. It was nearly impossible for a shell to make a direct hit upon it, though lots of shells burst at the door. Hansen was expecting me, and he took me up to the top of the Quarry to view the enemy position. After the three of us had seen the place we went off back to our men in Tom’s Cut. During our conversation Captain V. remarked that we’d better not bring back any prisoners. They were not very popular with the heads, he said, because they ate a hole in our rations. When on our way back to our men, Smith said to Myers :“What do you think about taking prisoners, Jack ?”Myers replied :“The heads can togo hell. I ’m not going to shoot men down in cold blood.”“ That’s what I think, too,” replied Smith. w K jo definite plan of attack had been given, but merely details of the barrage and the supports. The majority favoured attacking from Post 1. But to make a frontal attack on Post 54 and those dug-outs did not appeal tome by any means, and my idea was to attack from the trench at A undercover of a bank bordering the road on our left, which was pretty steep. In the end I had my way, and so it was settled. One part of the plan was that at 3 p.m. the artillery would give the place a good stir up, using heavy howitzers. Promptly at three we all ingot the trench to view the bombardment. The hour arrived, and with it came one shell a little while after, another one and soon, until about six had over—come and not a blessed one hit the post. We went down into the dug-out disgusted. /^ne Stokes mortar and one sixty- pound plum-duff mortar (a medium trench-mortar firing a powerful sixty- pound bomb, shaped alike plum- pudding) were to put up a five minutes’ barrage for us at five minutes to twelve, and at twelve midnight they were to lengthen their range, throwing their bombs behind the German post, and we were to rush it. At the same moment Lieut. Dean with the other two sections of bombers was to rush the post near the farm. The sixty-pound mortar ranged on the place with a couple of duffs and then shut up. It was firing from the bottom of the Quarry. When the time came for it to perform, the crew said the thing had gone wrong, and so we had only the Stokes to depend on. The barrage meant everything to us, and I’ve never been satisfied as to the reason why, if the mortar failed, they did not go back and get another one. During the afternoon, parties came up a a i B a THEY HAD GONE TO EARTH In the neighbourhood of Mouquet Farm, seen in page 773, was this quarry, possibly the very one mentioned in this chapter. The photograph was taken in May 1917, when the German Army had been pushed back far beyond this point. Such a' land formation as this, whether the work of manor nature, could be turned to good account, and, as seen here, the troops have done some quarrying of their own, having scooped out in the side of the quarry dug-outs with sandbagged entrances that form a more lessor shell-proof shelter. Imperial War Museum with loads of bombs. The Hun could see them coming along part of the track down the hillside to the Quarry, and it was just as good as telling him what was coming off. It was therefore certainly no surprise tome when about 4 p.m. he shelled the Quarry unmercifully for about two hours with great big “coal- boxes.” How on earth he killed and wounded so few was a marvel to all of us ...The men were all perched half-way up the side of the Quarry on a little ledge, and the cliff gave them good cover. A little while after this Lieut. Dean and his two sections came up, and what with these and the supporting platoons the place was alike beehive. The arrangements were rotten— the battalion staff-work could not have been worse, and it was more goodby luck than good management that any of us came out of the show. At 6 p.m. some of us were up having a look around when suddenly our artillery opened with a crash. It was impossible to pick out any particular gun there was just a prolonged roar. A little over on our left we could see clouds of smoke and dust rising from the bursting shells, and the boys out in the posts watched English troops advance to the attack. They told us afterwards 779 that they reached the Hun line, but had to clear out faster than they came. Not a word of warning of all this had reached us, though we were so close to the show. Before dusk all men were given their bombs, and the supporting infantry were given picks and shovels also. At dusk the German artillery got to work onus again, and pelted us as hard as it could. This constant shejling put the windup the lot of us, and was beginning to tell on the men’s nerves and to make matters worse, Bill Cox came in from Post 1 and reported Huns going into Point 54 by the drove. When it became dark, flares were being upshot from in front of the German dug-outs at Point 54 right in our line of attack, and I knew we would most likely have to fight to get near the post. The shelling never letup at all, and I began to feel that the sooner it was allover the better, for I never expected to seethe rise of the sun. I stayed up in the trench for along while watching the German post and noting where the flares were all coming from, until I felt sick of the whole thing and did not care If a shell blew tome pieces. 1 went down into the dug-out and reported to Hansen what I had seen, remarking that it was an impossible job for so few men. His reply was :“It has got to goon.” u ¦
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