Action Front eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 245 pages of information about Action Front.
all their fury of motion always remain in the same place.  So it was with the German line—­it was pressing furiously forward, but always appeared to remain stationary or to advance so slowly that it gave no impression of advancing, but merely of growing bigger.  Once, or perhaps twice, the advancing line disappeared altogether, melted away behind the drifting smoke, leaving only the mass of dark blotches sprawled on the grass.  At these times the fire died away along a part of our front, and the men paused to gulp a drink from a water-bottle, to look round and tilt their caps back and wipe the sweat from their brows, to gasp joyful remarks to one another about “gettin’ a bit of our own back,” and “this pays for the ninth o’ May,” and then listen to the full, deep roar of rifle-fire that rolled out from further down the line, and try to peer through the shifting smoke to see how “the lot next door” was faring.  But these respites were short.  A call and a crackle of fire at their elbows brought them back to business, to the grim business of purposeful and methodical killing, of wiping out that moving wall that was coming steadily at them again through the smoke and flame of the bursting shells.  The great bulk of the line came no nearer than a hundred yards from our line; part pressed in another twenty or thirty yards, and odd bunches of the dead were found still closer.  But none came to grips—­none, indeed, were found within forty yards of our rifles’ wall of fire.  A scattered remnant of the attackers ran back, some whole and some hurt, thousands crawled away wounded, to reach the safe shelter of their support trenches, some to be struck down by the shells that still kept pounding down upon the death-swept field.  The counter-attack was smashed—­hopelessly and horribly smashed.


At some points our lines have been slightly advanced and their position improved.”—­EXTRACT FROM DESPATCH

It has to be admitted by all who know him that the average British soldier has a deep-rooted and emphatic objection to “fatigues,” all trench-digging and pick-and-shovel work being included under that title.  This applies to the New Armies as well as the Old, and when one remembers the safety conferred by a good deep trench and the fact that few men are anxious to be killed sooner than is strictly necessary, the objection is regrettable and very surprising.  Still there it is, and any officer will tell you that his men look on trench-digging with distaste, have to be constantly persuaded and chivvied into doing anything like their best at it, and on the whole would apparently much rather take their chance in a shallow or poorly-constructed trench than be at the labor of making it deep and safe.

But one piece of trench-digging performed by the Tearaway Rifles must come pretty near a record for speed.

When the Rifles moved in for their regular spell in the forward line, their O.C. was instructed that his battalion had to construct a section of new trench in ground in front of the forward trench.

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Action Front from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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