We could walk upright further on without our heads showing, which was a comfort, as it is extremely tiring to walk for long in a stooping position. Through an observation hole in the parapet we looked right out across the inundations to where the famous “Ferme Violette,” which had changed hands so often and was at present German, could plainly be seen. Dark objects were pointed out to us sticking up in the water which the sergeant cheerfully observed, holding his nose the meanwhile, were sales Boches! We hurried on to a bigger dug-out and helped the doctor with several blesses injured that afternoon, and later we helped to remove them back to the village and thence to a field hospital. Just then we began bombarding with the 75’s. which we had seen earlier on. The row was deafening—first a terrific bang, then a swizzing through the air with a sound like a sob, and then a plop at the other end where it had exploded—somewhere. At first, as with all newcomers in the firing line, we ducked our heads as the shells went over, to a roar of delight from the men, but in time we gave that up. During this bombardment we went on distributing our woollies all along the line, and I thought my head would split at any moment, the noise was so great. I asked one of the officers, during a pause, why the Germans weren’t replying, and he said we had just got the range of one of their positions by ’phone, and as these guns we were employing had just been brought up, the Boche would not waste any shells until they thought they had our range.
Presently we came to the officer’s dug-out, and, would you believe it, he had small windows with lace curtains! They were the size of pocket handkerchiefs; still the fact remains, they were curtains. He showed us two bits of a shell that had burst above the day before and made the roof collapse, but since then the damage had been remedied by a stout beam. He was a merry little man with twinkling eyes and very proud of his little house.
Our things began to give out at this point and we were not at the end of the line by any means. It was heart breaking to hear one man say, “Une paire de chaussettes, Mees, je vous en prie; il y a trois mois depuis que j’en ai eu.” (A pair of socks, miss, I beseech you, it’s three months since I had any). I gave him my scarf, which was all I had left, and could only turn sorrowfully away. He put it on immediately, cheerfully accepting the substitute.
We were forced to make our adieux at this point, as there was no reason for us to continue along the line. We promised to bring more things the next night and start at the point where we had left off. I thought regretfully it would be some days before my turn came round again.