ATTACKS BY RUSSIAN INFANTRY
“Yesterday, my first day at Wirballen, I saw the third attempt of the Russians to carry the German center by storm. Twice on Wednesday their infantry had advanced under cover of their artillery, only to be repulsed. Their third effort proved no more successful.
“The preliminaries were well under way, without my appreciating their significance, until one of my officer escorts explained.
“At a number of points along their line, observable to us, but screened from the observation of the German trenches in the center, the Russian infantry came tumbling out, and, rushing forward, took up advanced positions, awaiting the formation of the new and irregular battle line. Dozens of light rapid-firers were dragged along by hand. Other troops—the reserves—took up semi-advanced positions. All the while the Russian shrapnel was raining over the German trenches.
“Finally came the Russian order to advance. At the word hundreds of yards of the Russian fighting line leaped, forward, deployed in open order, and came on. Some of them came into range of the German trench fire almost at once. These lines began to wilt and thin out.
MEN PAUSE ONLY TO FIRE
“But on they came, all along the line, protected and unprotected alike, rushing forward with a yell, pausing, firing, and advancing again.
“From the outset of the advance the German artillery, ignoring for the moment the Russian artillery action, began shelling the onrushing mass with wonderfully timed shrapnel, which burst low over the advancing lines and tore sickening gaps.
“But the Russian line never stopped. For the third time in two days they came tearing on, with no indication of having been affected by the terrible consequences of the two previous charges. As a spectacle the whole thing was maddening.
“On came the Slav swarm, into the range of the German trenches, with wild yells and never a waver. Russian battle flags—the first I had seen—appeared in the front of the charging ranks. The advance line thinned and the second line moved up.
“Nearer and nearer they swept toward the German positions. And then came a new sight. A few seconds later came a new sound. First I saw a sudden, almost grotesque melting of the advancing line. It was different from anything that had taken place before. The men literally went down like dominoes in a row. Those who kept their feet were hurled back as though by a terrible gust of wind. Almost in the second that I pondered, puzzled, the staccato rattle of machine guns reached us. My ear answered the query of my eye.