The Great War, I was there - Part 21

A TANK FOUNDERS BUT THE 4 P.B.I/ GOES ON Before men of the Fourth Army went over the .op in the Battle of Morval on September 25,1916, a number of tanks were detailed to work with them in their assault on the German lines. Here is a photograph taken on that memorable day near Ginchy. It provides a good example of the unspectacular nature of the modern attack. The tank seen was one of those which became ditched early in the action, to become, as told in this page, a target for the enemy’s guns. Imperial I Car Museum occupying any trench or shelter that presented itself, eventually to find our­selves in a trench very near to the bottom of the valley. There we stayed and waited orders. The German fire, which up to now had been fairly hot 011 us, began to slacken. This was a good sign w r e knew they were taking their guns farther back. C till the prisoners were incoming in batches, the unwounded carrying the wounded on stretchers. They were not a bad-looking lot of fellows on the whole. With the ceasing of the German artillery we began to breathe more freely. Some of our men coining back wounded told us that all the positions aimed at had been taken and that our men were digging in twosome hundred yards over the ridge and that our casualties were comparatively small. We were still to have a warm five minutes. A tank upcoming in the rear got stuck in the mud wand r as unable to move. It was spotted by a German observation balloon, w rho passed the information onto a German heavy battery, w rho made us feel very un­comfortable for a time, dropping heavy shells inclose proximity but it did not last long. They also had to withdraw. We inlay the trench all night. Everything satisfactory farther forward. Early this morning one of our fellows bypassed wounded and drunk. He had been having a rummage around dug-out. Said he had found bottles of beer and by his description enough to keep the Army going. When he said he had had the lot before coming back we understood. He sold me a trench dagger and a pair of excellent field glasses for 11 francs. He seemed very satisfied and so was 1. He had about half a dozen pairs slung round him. Ass u k e d that we were not moving for some little time I went and had a scrounge round, but most particularly to seethe trench we had dug the night before the attack, and from which 1 afterwards heard the Surreys sprang and captured about fifty Germans. thereFrom I went onto the strong point. It was in an awful mess, blown to pieces and many Germans with it. I fail to understand why they did not wipe us out the night we dug the trench. We were right 011 the top of them, they must have heard us, probably they had had the windup too badly. thereFrom I went onto some machine-gun dug-outs, magnificently constructed in the side of a bank. In the entrance I found one fellow 820 wounded. He looked fairly scared when he saw Heme. was atypical German with hair upstanding like barbed wire. He motioned the Cross and I gathered he was wounded, but I could not find out where. I felt him allover, and coming to the con­clusion he was more shell-shocked than anything, I gave him a drink of water, propped him up outside the dug-out and left him for our ambulances to deal with as they scoured the district, and made my way inside the dug-out. It was lined on each side with wire bunks, and nearly each bunk was occupied by a German, dead, each wearing a gas mask. How they came there I could not find out. The unoccupied ones I found had bed­ding of sorts, and sorting this over I discovered an automatic revolver, which I collared. Having seen enough to make any ordinary man sick I made my way back to our fellows. I found them having breakfast of biscuits and bully and joined in. The wounded are still being brought in and a few Germans rounded up from dug-outs in the village. Occasionally the Germans send a few shells over, and a fewr have dropped close, making 11s get down to the bottom of the trench but they appear to have been fired at random. It’s a gorgeous hot day. We are being relieved tonight and leave the Somme district for good, and jolly glad to getaway. In this very successful attack the Division took 1,500 prisoners, including a General and his stall', at very fewr casualties to ourselves.
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