FROM THE FRONT
is from a letter written by a British Officer in France.
A wet afternoon
and a miserable day, so I settle myself on
my pallet, cover my boots
with sandbags, throw over a greatcoat, and
sit up to write to you. The
guns are going furiously all day and
night on our right and left; glad
I am not in the German trenches
to take "the iron rations."
done the Germans a lot of damage this time. My
bombs have knocked about
30 into "kingdon come". We pitched them
into their trenches
with deadly accuracy, rarely missing. We saw a
party shovelling chalk
the other day - one never sees their heads
- two bombs appear to have
stopped work there permanently. In front
there is a trench along which
they bring rations. I am carefully
timing things and in a day or two
I shall bag a dozen or so. We
knocked out a couple of fires on successive
days in their front line
a machine gun emplacement three times, and dropped a
bomb behind it:
its chatter ceased. Their snipers got out of hand
so we dropped a couple
of bombs into that section - they have hardly
fired a shot for three
days. They got very angry with us, for they
gave us 50 "whizz-bangs"
in two doses, and opened on us with a
couple of howitzers, which fired
22 high explosives into us. They
found nothing - still it was unpleasant.
My bombs cost under a
sovereign in all: the "strafe" in return
cost £600 at least in
shells, and we lost very little. I've got
much more for them. If
they reply with all these shells we must be killing
a good many men.
They cannot afford to throw away any more than we can.
they send is one less for use[sic] at a vital point.
derived considerable pleasure and profit from my
visit to the trenches;
my men are getting well trained with their
machines. My guns are wonderfully
accurate, and can knock a stick
over at 200 yards in two minutes. One
thing is certain; they are
quite powerless against our bombs and grenades.
The Colonel is
rather pleased with our work, and yesterday asked if
"-- were up
to more devilry." Two of my Battalion bomb-thrower
out; one got two Huns, as they were coming over the parapet,
range of about 20 yards. They give us shells at our stretcher-
quite exciting yesterday. The German gunners scored
five direct hits
on my dug-out, and it now as good as ever. It has
earned the name of
"Whizz-bang Villa." My tea was adjourned five
dug-out holds the battalion record for direct hits. I
wish we could
find the nosecaps of those shells for souvenirs.
know what patrolling is like? I have done a good deal.
is getting over the parapet, going out and coming
back; there is always
a chance you'll stop a chance one. I wriggle
and squirm over, and roll
over so as to expose myself as little as
possible - of course, it is
all done at night. Then there is is your own
barbed wire, at varying
distances from the parapet. Before tackling
that I wait to see if I
have drawn fire. Lying flat you are safe
except for the flukiest shot.
I've yet to find the wire a man cannot
get through is he is patient.
A pair of wire cutters is useful. I
never take out more than three men
together, and we spread out when
outside our own wire, but keep in touch.
Our bombs are absolutely
ready. With revolver in one hand and grenade
in the other we crawl
along very, very slowly. We stop every few yards
to listen -
absolutely still for a few minutes - and then go on. If
appears over a trench, a quiet signal passes and each gives
him a bomb;
then there is silence; we lie low; then return with equal
One generally gets half a dozen shots when close by our own
and runs a sporting chance of a few rounds from a forgetful
who does not remember that a patrol is out. One comes back cold
wet to the skin, for one is on the ground the whole time. I teach
methods of patrolling to all the grenadiers I train now.