Action Front eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 245 pages of information about Action Front.
Bunthrop found himself half buried in a landslide of crumbling trench, struggled desperately clear, gasping and choking in the black cloud of smoke and fumes, saw presently, as the smoke thinned and dissolved, a chaos of broken earth and sandbags where the machine-guns had stood; saw one man and an officer dragging their gun from the debris, setting it up again on the broken edge of the trench.  Another man staggered up the crumbling earth bank to help, and presently amongst them they got the gun into action again.  The officer left it and ran to where he saw the other gun half buried in loose earth.  He dragged it clear, found it undamaged, looked round, shouted at Bunthrop crouching flat against the trench wall; shouted again, came down the earth bank to him with a rush.  “Come and help!” he yelled, grabbing at Bunthrop’s arm.  Bunthrop mumbled stupidly in reply.  “What?” shouted the officer.  “Come and help, will you?  Never mind if you are hurt,” as he noticed a smear of blood on the private’s face.  “You’ll be hurt worse if they get into this trench with the bayonet.  Come on and help!” Bunthrop, hardly understanding, obeyed the stronger will and followed him back to the gun.  “Can you load?” demanded the officer.  “Can you fill the cartridges into these drums while I shoot?” Bunthrop had had in a remote period of his training some machine-gun instruction.  He nodded and mumbled again.  “God!” said the officer.  “Look at ’em!  There’s enough to eat us if they get to bayonet distance!  We must stop ’em with the bullet.  Hurry up, man; hurry, if you don’t want to be skewered like a stuck pig!” He rattled off burst after burst of fire, clamoring at Bunthrop to hurry, hurry, hurry.  A wounded machine-gunner joined them, and then some others, and the gun began to spit a steady string of bullets again.  By this time the full meaning of the officer’s words—­the meaning, too, of remarks between the wounded helpers—­had soaked into Bunthrop’s brain.  Their only hope, his only hope of life, lay in stopping the attack before it reached the trench; and the machine-guns were a main factor in the stopping.  He lost interest in everything except cramming the cartridges into their place.  When the officer was hit and rolled backwards and lay groaning and swearing, Bunthrop’s chief and agonizing thought was that they—­he—­had lost the assistance and protection of the gun.  When one of the wounded gunners took the officer’s place and reopened fire, Bunthrop’s only concern again was to keep pace with the loading.  The thoughts were repeated exactly when that gunner was hit and collapsed and his place was taken by another man.  And by now the urgent need of keeping the gun going was so impressed on Bunthrop that when the next gunner was struck down and the gun stood idle and deserted it was Bunthrop who turned wildly urging the other loaders to get up and keep the gun going; babbled excitedly about the only hope being to stop the Germans before they “got in” with the
Project Gutenberg
Action Front from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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