In a Tank at Messines Ridge
By Lieutenant Z of the British Army
[Scribner's Magazine, October 1917]
These letters were written by an Englishman, who enlisted as a trooper in the British Army at the outbreak of the war. He sought adventure in different
branches of the service, and was several times promoted for bravery in action:
Since the publication of his "Letters of a Bomb-Thrower" in SCRIBNER'S MAGAZINE (July-August, 1916) his experiences have been as varied as they are interesting.
He was appointed observing officer in July, 1916, and from his little "O. P.," or observation post, in the thick of the fight, he witnessed the glory and horror of the battle of the Somme, which he describes in his first two letters. During last winter's lull he took a course in the Heavy Branch of the Machine-Gun Corps, and spent several months in a "Tank Menagerie." When spring came and he had mastered the antics of his tank "Squash 'em Flat," he led a division of the "Rhinos" into battle at the taking of Messines Ridge, where his steadfast heroism won for him the Military Cross.
IN FRANCE. September 10th, 1916.
Returned last night, at 11 P. M., from one of the big scraps now raving along this particular neck of the woods. I was an "Observer," and, dear me, I saw it all. No gladiator of old was put to such tests of bravery as these fellows of ours. To face flesh and blood, even live lions, is nothing to feeling these monstrous, explosive shells that come buzzing and howling through the air till they end in thunder-claps and earth-spouts and scattered flesh and death itself. My head is humming with impressions and filled with clear-cut sights, but too full, and I do not know how to sort them out.
I was only fifteen hundred yards from our front line, and the place taken was on an upward slope, so all was in full sight. At the given moment, 4:45 P. M. of a lovely summer evening, up they went, "over the top," famous Celtic regiments, all together, a long and gallant line. Bayonets sparkling in the sun, up the slope they go! Behind me our massed batteries are making one great crashing roar till your temples throb and throb, and ahead of our men the very earth is heaving and moving amidst a fog of green and black and yellow and gray smoke. Now, No Man's Land, so long a desert, is full of life and death and joy and misery. White vicious balls of shrapnel puff above, or deadly black and green ones, and below the great spouts and mushroom columns of jet-black smoke spring up like fungoid growths here and there. The shrill rat-tat of machine-guns and the pop-pop-pop of rifles can be heard. On the little figures run and jump, and the bayonets gleam and sparkle, and the first line disappears into the trench ahead, and you are left to imagine what follows. Still, No Man's Land is well populated. Wave after wave is speeding straight ahead. The ground is dotted with immovable dots, and others which can crawl. A bright magnesium star shoots up well ahead, and the batteries lift their fire without checking. The waves all surge forward and out of sight at last, and No Man's Land is left to its misery. Then you see the stretcher-bearers out there among the great grinding "crumps" and the shrapnel, calmly picking up their men, and back they come slowly. You watch one group of five. Four bearers and a mangled something which is alive. A monster spout and cloud springs up near. They swerve and crouch for a few seconds and on they come. Another black death entirely hides them from view, and you wonder. No! Here they come. So slowly and steadily through the cloud, and you say to yourself: "Hurry, hurry; for God's sake run!" But they don't. They walk slowly and carefully with their burden, straight and the shortest way. Some win home and some do not. Other men are carrying others, and some hobble and limp and stagger by themselves. And all the while the big shells burst and the shrapnel sprays the ground.
There goes another brilliant white star ahead, and the batteries lift once more. Suddenly you see a group of thirty or forty come running back across No Man's Land. Is it a retreat? You get your glasses on to them. Not much! They are Huns, prisoners! They run madly, legs and arms flying, and the same crumps and shrap play on them as on our fellows, and some win through, and some do not. Then more come, here and there, in groups, or singly, or in twos, shepherded by one or perhaps two of our men with a sparkling bayonet. Later No Man's Land is again a desert, dotted with dots of death. More bright star flashes go up and the batteries respond, and afar off you see the raging turmoil continuing in a churning swirl of smoke and flashes high up.
Twilight is near, and still the batteries are blazing for dear life; the prisoners and wounded now form a steady, irregular procession past us. Blackened faces, sweat soaked and exhausted, uniforms caked in chalk and clay and blood, reddened bandages, some men limping, some tacking to and fro, some staggering and stubbing their toes from exhaustion, and running, and wild excitement. Prisoners, their faces green with lyddite fumes, unshaved and dirty, hangdog and furtive and still afraid, shamble by in charge of some delighted Irishman, who has brought them through the crumps and the hell-fire, and is as proud of them as a cat with her kittens, and woe betide any one who bothers his kittens; they are his kittens, and to be treated with respect. "Has any one got any fags and a drink of water for these poor divils of mine?" Thus he announces that they are verily his kittens. I spoke to two such, and they had one wounded Hun between them. They were half carrying him along. He was shot in the leg and arm but he had reached the stage where his fear was gone, and he had perfect confidence in his two wild Irishmen. Through his pains he was much amused by them, "We got him in the second lines of trenches," one Irishman said, and he hinted broadly, with such a world of a smile, that possibly he himself had been the source of his wounds. But they had nursed him along through it all as if he was a ewe kitten. Proud! they were as proud of him as could be, and they will leave him at the corps cage with deep regret, which will be mutual. No Hun prisoner is jeered at or insulted even in the slightest degree by our chaps. Every one takes an intense and abiding interest in them. You have no animosity with the Polar bear in the Zoo.
Walking back to camp, about seven miles back, past woods with historic names, now blackened and poisoned and deadened tangles of stumps and tree-tops, and through villages, now to be immemorial, mere heaps of rubble and skeleton ribs and rafters, where gangs of labour battalions, gray-haired men in khaki, work incessantly keeping the one main road to the front in repair in spite of gaping shell-holes, you pass the traffic of war when it is red. Remnants of broken regiments, wounded, prisoners, Red Cross ambulances going fast to the front, and very slowly when full of broken men; lorries going up full of shells, and back loaded with cheerful more or less slightly wounded, the cigarettes gleam in the dark, and a happy gabble of "blighty," unending lines of double, six and eight horse limbers going up at a fast and forced walk loaded with ammunition for the batteries, and back, empty, at a sharp trot, rattling and jingling by in dust and dark, intent on loading up again, orderlies mounted and clattering, motor bikes, all busy and with their purpose set, and lastly, the regiments swinging by in column of fours for the front itself. As it happened, the next regiments going forward for the next attack, perhaps to be to-morrow, were the classic division of the army, hurrying to relieve the wild Irishmen ahead, and to carry on the grim work through all the horrors of life and-death. All the way to camp the batteries roared on each side. The farther from the front the bigger the guns and the bigger the roar. It is a far cry from 16-pounder-pip-squeak, two thousand yards behind the line, to the 6-inch howitzers, four thousand yards behind, and still farther to the 9.2's and the 12's and the awesome 15-inch howitzers. But they all have a common enemy and all work together. All through the attack, four or five, six or twelve of our aeroplanes circled back and forth over the fight. Low down they fly, quite low, dodging and turning to confuse the Hun gunners, dropping smoke balls, and telling the batteries by wireless all that they want to know. These are the "workers." Up above them and very high, mere specks, are the fighters. Very fast, 130-mile-an-hour hawks, they guard the workers from any and all interference, and never a single Hun machine appeared during this show, not one. Early in the afternoon one came before the fight, but our batteries (Archies) so strafed him, and the sight of two or three of our machines heading for him made up his mind for him, for he went back whence he came, and was gone for good.
I and another chap "Observer" were in a communication trench, and a hundred yards from us was————, the well-known war correspondent, busy with glasses and a telescope, which I coveted. The tiers of massed batteries began about 150 yards behind us, and back unendingly and fifteen hundred yards ahead of us was the fighting arena. Before the fight the Hun batteries were having a duel with ours; over our heads biff and bang it was; a Hun crump boomed into the ground just behind us, nearly setting alight a lot of the ammunition of the battery nearest to us. Bang, bing, it went, and the men scooted for their dugouts. Before the exploding ammunition had stopped exploding, the right-hand gun of the battery roared its defiance, even when the wounded of its own battery were being hauled under cover, and in a few minutes the whole battery of six, belching out a cloud of green and yellow vapor, was at them again, hammer and tongs, and the Hun only sent one more harmless crump, and then stopped absolutely. The "contemptible little British army" can beat the Hun at any part of the game of war to-day.
To our right, on the sky-line, behind the lines and in the dusk the wounded straggled by, Huns carrying their wounded and ours, and our men carrying Huns—all sorts and conditions of wounded—and past them marched the platoons for the never-ending fight itself. One stream one way and one the other. To-day one way, to-morrow the other. Behind the lines the country is one vast camp, for miles back it is a camp. The bulldog has fastened his teeth, and his jaws are set. It remains to be seen whether it is a throat grip or not, but in any case it will make a crippling wound.
IN THE BIG STRAFE. Sept. 22d, 1916.
I wrote to O. a long account of my "observing" the storming of a village on the crest of the ridge by wild Irishmen. That was the battle of September 9th. On September 15th I saw the further storming advance from there onward a long way, and the taking of three more towns. This I saw from the mound of ruins of the church in the village stormed, on the 9th, and it was a most unhealthy spot. Ours is the crack corps of the whole army, containing the regiments which are the flower and pride of the Anglo-Saxon race, and I saw them put to the full test. The pride which you feel is drowned in despair at their losses, and their hopeless bravery. The British officer of a crack regiment strolls to his death unconcernedly, and his men follow, paying no heed to earth-spouts of fire and flame and screaming metal. Battalion after battalion goes forward from reserves, through a wall almost solid of bristling shells and shrapnel. Those that fall, just fall, the rest keep going. Theft the doctors and the R. A. M. C. enter that wall of spitting death and do their work.
The attack was staged to begin about 6 A. M., so I was up soon after 3 A. M. and on my way. This was the first time in history that the "tanks" or "land-crabs," or a dozen other names, were to roll and mash and squash their way to the Hun trenches and machine-gun emplacements, and in the mist and light of the dawn of a beautiful day I saw the prehistoric monsters silently barge their way over everything straight as a bee for the Hun lines. At 6.20 A. M. our batteries, massed and extended, like a pack nearing the killing, opened up their unspeakable racket. With glasses we watched the tanks lumber up over a ridge and waddle solemnly out of sight. Tommy loves the tanks, worships them! The coming fight just behind the tanks was going to be, for him, a huge joke. To be allowed the privilege of following a tank, and of watching its solemn antics, was too good to miss. The men marched by, reserves, all in a broad and greatly amused grin.
When the light grew strong enough to see, we moved up quite a bit, near the village stormed on the 9th, and appropriated a piece of damaged trench, in which we installed our telephone to Corps Headquarters, and gave the pigeons some water and feed. Then the tanks (four or five of them) waddled by, and others showed their blunted noses at us coming up. The ground here is a network of shell-holes, touching and overlapping, and the tanks wallowed in them just like barges in a heavy sea. Up and down, roll and waddle, lurch and hump! Ridiculous beasts, slow and straight and full of venom and cunning. Looking so harmless but miniature forts, impregnable to anything but a direct hit from a shell. The only place really to see from was in the village just ahead, the "crown of the ridge," and the Hun knew that, and hurled shells and shrapnel at it steadily, but, in lulls, H——— and I went in and gained the mound of rubble which was the church, took a good look, and shuffled out again with flesh like geese and all kinds of uneasy sensations. This went on all day, and very unpleasant, too. Our phone in the trench was not much use, because shells behind us kept, breaking our cable, and we used up all our pigeons sending back the good news. Many wounded and ghastly prisoners passed us, and we got news through in this way. A Hun just captured bears a hideous face, sullen, angry, brutal, venomous, but so horribly scared, and it is a messy mixture. Our spot was particularly interesting because just to our right-front and on ahead a bit the Hun had carefully prepared a most elaborate and fortified trap. Our advance was held up here, and the reserves were badly enfiladed when they came up, and about 2.30 P. M. we saw lines of our reserves streaming back across the open to a trench just ahead of me. Running, they were, under a storm of shrapnel, and dodging the huge columns of earth and smoke and blast.
At times they disappeared from view in the smoke, and many fell, and many crawled about on hands and knees, and the rest gained the trench. This lasted half an hour and was dreadful to see. Any minute we thought that the Huns might appear, but that they did not do. Then the stretcher-bearers and doctors calmly went out there, slap into that zone of awful destruction, and went about their work, never looking up but always down. It is worse to watch these men than the bayonet-carriers! Later these reserves edged up to the right close to a famous wood, and then dashed across again to another trench, and the shells and shrapnel followed them, and the same happened again. Then some French regiments came, from the wood and dashed across, too, arid when it was over and that stretch of open was still, I could see the splashes and spots of sky— blue on the ground where the French had fallen, singly and in groups. That piece of ground, first dotted with Huns, then British, then French, all now side by side, and at peace, together. All young, strong, hearty, and brave men.
By 9 A. M. big batches of prisoners were coming in, and all day they came, in ones and twos and upward, and I never saw or heard a single prisoner given any reason whereby his feelings might have been hurt. A Hun R. A. M. C. corporal carried one of our wounded four miles after dressing his troubles under fire, and he has been especially mentioned by our corps for it for his own Iron Cross. I saw another of the Hun sausage balloons come down in licking flames ahead of us while the marauding machine of ours circled above most attentive. The Hun never had more than two sausages up, and these bobbed up and down in a state of pitiable nervousness. Behind us were twenty-five to thirty of ours, always up high and defiant. Then I saw one of our beautiful machines come crashing to earth, headlong, just like a shot bird; but we have fifteen machines up to the Huns's one. During a big fight you rarely see a Hun in the air. It is wonderful to watch one of our machines swoop down over a Hun trench, very low, and, going like the wind, blaze and volley from its machine-guns, and shoot up again to its legitimate work. When you consider that our aeroplanes see everything and send the news by wireless steadily, only going back to brigade or division headquarters near by to drop maps or sketches, you can see what a most important advantage we have now in this war.
There is a big racing, two-propellered, two-engined French aeroplane handled by one of the famous Hun-killing Frenchmen, on which the Hun has set a price, which we often see; and to show his disdain, this pilot has painted the tips of his wings a bright red so that the Hun cannot mistake him when he is aloft and on the war-path. I saw, also, several of our batteries move up to nearer position, just behind us, under steady shell-fire. They came slowly, they had to (you cannot pull a heavy gun over shell-holes fast), and so indifferently, as if it was a bit of practice—big six-horse limbers, guns, and piles of ammunition; and they formed up in line, unlimbered guns and unloaded shells and then, after dawdling round, maddening to me, they coolly picked up their wounded, propped them up on their unloaded limbers, and jogged back, leaving their dead horses slumbering behind. In a few minutes these batteries were howling at the Huns in salvos. Another amazing sight was that of the two-horsed ambulances going right into the shelled area for the wounded, straight from the fighting line, and coming back very, very slowly, so as not to jolt the wounded too much.
These ambulances went back about a mile and unloaded into motor ambulances, which, in turn, travel very slowly, four miles an hour, to the main casualty clearing stations, great tented towns, where the ambulance-trains lie, and then the jaded candidate for "blighty" begins to feel sure that he is elected.
Everything is now organized and every one knows what to do, and does it as a matter of course. The main roads leading to the front are, as it seems, congested, but there is no confusion. Mounted men are at every crossroads and "traffic control" is in charge. Every road has its orders, cast iron—certain roads for motor traffic, others for horse, roads where traffic goes only one way, and in the manner of London policemen, the mounted Tommies run this terrific traffic, night and day, smoothly and efficiently. I saw one or two symptoms of cavalry. About ten in the morning I saw a mounted man, evidently wounded, wobbling in his saddle, followed by a riderless officer's horse twenty or so yards behind, come riding over the ridge from the front lines, and on they came, trying to trot and canter among the shell-holes all along the length of a famous wood. Big shells were upheaving tilings in the wood, and any moment I expected to see them go down, but, reeling and lurching in his saddle, the rider reached safety behind, and the riderless horse followed contentedly.
I saw other signs up there of cavalry which I must not mention except vaguely. Given the slightest chance, whole divisions, not brigades, will put the charge of the Light Brigade into the shade and give, people other thrills to put into immortal poetry.
At the prison cages we now and then find an officer who speaks English well, and ply him with questions. One such, quite a decent chap who had been in India, laughed and said that Germans knew now that they were beaten, but he added, with a grin, when the war was over we would be able to take our British army back to England in a rowboat. Another officer humorously complained that when he was captured in the front line, his Scotch captor took the gold wrist-watch from his wrist and solemnly pressed two francs into his hand.
IN FRANCE. December 28th 1916.
I have had my leave and am back again in the mud and trouble. Christmas has gone and 1917 will soon be here. In a few days I expect to be transferred to the Heavy Section Machine-Gun Corps, or, in other words, "tanks." I am practically promised a captaincy in three months if I join them, and I am joining with my wings flapping and tail-feathers streaming. I hope to go to some tank menagerie training-school on this side of the Channel by end of March, and at the start of the next Hun-killing season, I shall be in command of a Car of Juggernaut, and go slap into the business and profession of slaughtering Huns.
The guns are as busy as ever, and the rain and mud, if anything, worse. It rains incessantly.
IN FRANCE. January 24th, 1917.
The weather is arctic. I have never been so cold. We sleep on the floor in canvas huts, and this morning it was nearly zero. All day is, spent outside, or in attending lectures or demonstrations in the open, or in half-open large tents innocent of heating, and, if the work were not interesting, and so novel and exciting, I should have long since congealed. When warm and decent weather comes, we shall be trained and go forth to the most weird experiences.
It is impossible to tell you any details about tanks. The dear things are the pride of the army, and no man will divulge their secrets. I have been in them though and thoroughly explored them, and have seen them in action, and laughed at them until it became painful.
Did I tell you that my saddle and bridle got in the way of a Hun aeroplane the other night? I was in the blankets and never did wake, and I have patched them up and am still using them. Rotten trick to sneak over at night and try to ruin my saddlery.
IN FRANCE. February 17th, 1917.
We are going fast ahead and completing organization, and I am detailed to No. –––. As No. ––– is the best section of ––– Battalion it is a compliment on paper and in every way, because No. ––– will not be left out of any gnashings and flashings of teeth in the enemy's first, second, or third lines this summer. My section C. 0. is a long stock-broker, and a very fine man, two or three years my senior, and he has four subalterns under him, including myself. Two of these are old hands at the game, and the third is a young spark who enlisted in 1914, and found himself at the front in November of the same year. He has been here since, as Tommy and officer, periodically "going over the top" and going home to get his wounds licked aseptically. He is only about twenty-two years old now, and is quite unmoved by all his adventures. Some of these boys are really amazing. The men, too, are a fine lot, and as keen as they can be. My training (special) has given me a great confidence, and you may rest assured that old Squash 'em Flat is named for a purpose.
The cold weather has passed and signs of spring are apparent. Rooks fly about with bits of straw in their beaks, and moles are getting very active under one's bed. I went through it well enough, but it has left me with an abnormal throat, so that I can hardly speak yet, and when I do, all the rooks in the country stop in obvious surprise.
IN FRANCE. May 11th, 1917.
To-morrow we go up there to where all those big gun things are making such a noise, to overlook our scene of action and learn the lay of the country; and about the end of this month we shall, amble forth among the Unspeakable and deal them the destruction they have been asking for. Given good and dry weather we should do most exceedingly well. Everybody in the highest spirits and full of fun. The steady sunshine and warmth and the new spring and quiet winds have all helped to make the outlook a pleasure, and no one is thinking of the shadier side. But I do so hate the other side, the terrible sights, especially.
IN FRANCE. May 19th, 1917.
Just a line after a week of strenuosity. We have just come back from a dress rehearsal of the job we will be sent to do next week. This took place over a recently captured trench (with all the horrors decently buried) from which the Disgusting Ones had recently been kicked out, and it was truly cross-country work and truly exciting. There were a lot of us out, and every one was keen to do better than any one else. Talk about racing. Most amusing too at times. I only hope I shall be able to tell you all about it some day. Next week we go up to tackle the real thing, and a very special bit of work is being assigned to us. This means that any one who comes through it will be simply playing in great luck, so about the time you get this you may pray as hard as you can for me and my men. And you will please remember that I am going into this thing with a great content, and I would not change places with any man on earth. A crack at close quarters with the Disgusting Ones is a privilege.
Our morale is superb and the troops we are with are magnificent colonials. The finest body of men I ever saw. Not only in size and shape but in face. Determined, thoughtful, brooding, dignified faces. Truly a wonderful race! They are also so true to one type of face. Hundreds of them you see might be brothers and dozens of them might be twins. Such riders, too!
How I wish you could see all the marvellous sights in the air and on the ground, and under the ground, processions of them, never ending. And then, the bands and the pipes skirling. The towns near behind us are a moving mass of men all full of fun. There is never a drunken man to be seen, never a brawl, and the French and others are treated as good friends and reciprocate. Wish us all luck of the best, and fold your hands in content, just as we do.
IN FRANCE. June 1st, 1917.
... My chief distress in life; is to find my tin hat which I leave everywhere and have to go back and find. The Hun is using much more gas-shells than before, and we have to wear our gas-helmets on our chests, always at the "alert" position. This is a fearful grievance with me, and I intend that it shall be repaid them with interest. It is a most undignified thing to wear on your chest, like the thing that Japanese girls in pictures wear on their backs.
IN FRANCE. June 6th, 1917.
When you get this, I shall have been through the mill and either all right, in hospital, or blotted out, so don't worry. As soon as I can I will write and let you know the news; if I can't, some one else will. We hope to make a page of history, and go into it with light hearts and great confidence. This place is Bedlam, the lions about to be fed, the parrot-house at the Zoo, and a few other noisy places combined. I went through gas last night near dawn, and had no respirator (forgot it). Held my breath till I nearly burst and blew up, and made record time. Beyond a harmless whiff picked up when I exploded for air, which has made smoking less of a pleasure, no harm done.
Good-by. I have had a long run out here, and I must not complain, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it and would repeat it, every bit of it, if it were necessary.
IN BELGIUM. June 10th, 1917.
Your letter found me in hospital and was most delightful company. My trouble is not much, just a bullet through fleshy part of right forearm and a graze in the side, and I am up and about and going back to my lot in a day or two. We were an active part in the great drama of the 7th, and what with the bursting mine-earthquakes and the tempestuous bombardment, one was lucky to be left with one's senses. I, personally, was very successful, reaching all my objectives and getting slap into the blue-gray devils, Bavarians, and blazing away like a dreadnought. Oh! The sights which were seen! Luck, good and bad, was with me, for my bus caught on fire in action just where the thing was thickest, and I ordered the whole crew out, with fire-extinguishers, to put it out. Out we went and got busy. I left my crew on the sheltered side (more or less), but my corporal, without orders, got on top, while I went to the exposed side, vociferously ordering the corporal down, and we got the blaze out between us.
Meantime one-of my crew was bowled over. We got him back inside and later he came to and is recovering. Where I was the bullets were spattering around me and hitting old "Squash 'em Flat" and splashing me with fine sprays of broken metal, and there it was I got my trifling wound and scratches, but it was only bad Bavarian shooting that kept me and my corporal (who was untouched) from being turned into human sieves. After that, we carried on, and as I had finished my job to the last letter, we came on home, and I brought the old thing back safely. When home I had the arm dressed at the most advanced place and the bits of bullet casing in there pulled out and, as it seemed so trifling, I put on my coat and carried on as before. The next morning my brigadier came to my sleeping palace, in person, and indignantly asked me if I were going about with a bullet in my arm, and I as indignantly denied it, but he ordered me to the hospital to be inoculated for anti-tetanine, patted my back, shook my sore arm, and said that we had done the best show of our lot the whole day. This display of indiscreet joy made me at once put in the names of my corporal and another of my crew for "immediate rewards for merit," and he agreed cheerfully, so I feel sure they will be decorated with something or other. Our game sounds comfortable and protected, but that is a myth. It is a mystery how ever any of us got there or got back. You feel very important because you are heralded, followed and encircled by miniature geysers of earth, smoke, and biff-bang! Your own infantry flees from you as if you bore the plague. A good many of our lot got into serious trouble, and quite a few faces of chums are missing to-day. The day for the British Army was a veritable howling success, and the Bosch fought here with no spirit at all. They bolted like rabbits, throwing away rifles and equipment, some back to Berlin and some to us, hands up, and Kamerading. Our casualties were very light, indeed, owing to the absolutely artistic work of the artillery; and with our airmen the combination is unbeatable. These wonderful airmen! Like meteors in the sky, they swoop and fly, entirely regardless of everything but the job on hand. And the observers miss nothing.
Our men fight so cheerfully and whimsically and sarcastically. There is no vestige of hate toward the Bosch, only an abiding disgust and hearty contempt— a feeling as toward a mongrel who has fairly gone and got hydrophobia and must be killed to save valuable-human life. We are really most jubilant aver the past three days' work, and every one is smiling and happy and cracking jokes. Gramaphones are whirling at top speed, bands are playing in the camps, pipes are skirling and moaning, and quickening the pulse, and the Hun is licking his wounds in silence over there to the east, in silence and afraid.
COPY OF TELEGRAM FROM BRITISH WAR OFFICE
LONDON. July 12th, 1917.
To ––––– :
Beg to inform you that Lieutenant Z., Heavy Branch Machine-Gun Corps, was wounded June 7th, but remained at duty.
SECRETARY, WAR OFFICE.
On June 20th the Military Cross was awarded to Lieutenant Z.
© J. Fred MacDonald, 2013
If you appreciate the articles, read the e-novel informed by them —
THE HEADLONG FURY
A Novel of World War One
By J. Fred MacDonald