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´╗┐Title: "Over the Top," by an American Soldier Who Went - Together with Tommy's Dictionary of the Trenches
Author: Empey, Arthur Guy, 1883-1963
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book ""Over the Top," by an American Soldier Who Went - Together with Tommy's Dictionary of the Trenches" ***

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Twenty-sixth Impression

{Photo: The Author just before Leaving for Home.}



I have had many good comrades as I have journeyed around the world,
before the mast and in the trenches, but loyal and true as they were,
none have ever done, or could ever do, as much as you have done for
me. So as a little token of my gratitude for your love and sacrifice I
dedicate this book to you.


During sixteen years of "roughing it," knocking around the world, I
have nibbed against the high and low and have had ample opportunity of
studying, at close range, many different peoples, their ideals,
political and otherwise, their hopes and principles. Through this
elbow rubbing, and not from reading, I have become convinced of the
nobility, truth, and justice of the Allies' cause, and know their
fight to be our fight, because it espouses the principles of the
United States of America, democracy, justice, and liberty.

To the average American who has not lived and fought with him, the
Englishman appears to be distant, reserved, a slow thinker, and
lacking in humor, but from my association with the man who inhabits
the British Isles. I find that this opinion is unjust. To me, Tommy
Atkins has proved himself to be the best of mates, a pal, and bubbling
over with a fine sense of humor, a man with a just cause who is
willing to sacrifice everything but honor in the advancement of the

It is my fondest hope that Uncle Sam and John Bull, arms locked, as
mates, good and true, each knowing and appreciating the worth of the
other, will wend their way through the years to come, happy and
contented in each other's company. So if this poor attempt of mine
will, in any way, help to bring Tommy Atkins closer to the doorstep of
Uncle Sam, my ambition will have been realized.

Perhaps to some of my readers it will appear that I have written of a
great and just cause in a somewhat flippant manner, but I assure them
such was not my intention. I have tried to tell my experiences in the
language of Tommy sitting on the fire step of a front-line trench on
the Western Front--just as he would tell his mate next him what was
happening at a different part of the line.

A. G. E.

NEW YORK City, May, 1917.



It was in an office in Jersey City. I was sitting at my desk talking
to a Lieutenant of the Jersey National Guard. On the wall was a big
war map decorated with variously colored little flags showing the
position of the opposing armies on the Western Front in France. In
front of me on the desk lay a New York paper with big flaring


The windows were open and a feeling of spring pervaded the air.
Through the open windows came the strains of a hurdy-gurdy playing in

"Lusitania Sunk! American Lives Lost!"--I DIDN'T RAISE MY BOY TO BE
A SOLDIER. To us these did not seem to jibe.

The Lieutenant in silence opened one of the lower drawers of his desk
and took from it an American flag which he solemnly draped over the
war map on the wall. Then, turning to me with a grim face, said:

"How about it, Sergeant? You had better get out the muster roll of the
Mounted Scouts, as I think they will be needed in the course of a few

We busied ourselves till late in the evening writing out emergency
telegrams for the men to report when the call should come from
Washington. Then we went home.

I crossed over to New York, and as I went up Fulton Street to take the
Subway to Brooklyn, the lights in the tall buildings of New York
seemed to be burning brighter than usual, as if they, too, had read
"Lusitania Sunk! American Lives Lost!" They seemed to be glowing with
anger and righteous indignation, and their rays wigwagged the message,

Months passed, the telegrams lying handy, but covered with dust. Then,
one momentous morning the Lieutenant with a sigh of disgust removed
the flag from the war map and returned to his desk. I immediately
followed this action by throwing the telegrams into the wastebasket.
Then we looked at each other in silence. He was squirming in his chair
and I felt depressed and uneasy.

The telephone rang and I answered it. It was a business call for me
requesting my services for an out-of-town assignment. Business was not
very good, so this was very welcome. After listening to the
proposition, I seemed to be swayed by a peculiarly strong force within
me, and answered, "I am sorry that I cannot accept your offer, but I
am leaving for England next week," and hung up the receiver. The
Lieutenant swung around in his chair, and stared at me in blank
astonishment. A sinking sensation came over me, but I defiantly
answered his look with, "Well, it's so. I'm going." And I went.

The trip across was uneventful. I landed at Tilbury, England, then got
into a string of matchbox cars and proceeded to London, arriving there
about 10 P.M. I took a room in a hotel near St. Pancras Station for
"five and six--fire extra." The room was minus the fire, but the
"extra" seemed to keep me warm. That night there was a Zeppelin raid,
but I didn't see much of it, because the slit in the curtains was too
small and I had no desire to make it larger. Next morning the
telephone bell rang, and someone asked, "Are you there?" I was,
hardly. Anyway, I learned that the Zeps had returned to their
Fatherland, so I went out into the street expecting to see scenes of
awful devastation and a cowering populace, but everything was normal.
People were calmly proceeding to their work. Crossing the street, I
accosted a Bobbie with:

"Can you direct me to the place of damage?"

He asked me, "What damage?"

In surprise, I answered, "Why, the damage caused by the Zeps."

With a wink, he replied:

"There was no damage, we missed them again."

After several fruitless inquiries of the passersby, I decided to go on
my own in search of ruined buildings and scenes of destruction. I
boarded a bus which carried me through Tottenham Court Road.
Recruiting posters were everywhere. The one that impressed me most was
a life-size picture of Lord Kitchener with his anger pointing directly
at me, under the caption of "Your King and Country Need You." No
matter which way I turned, the accusing finger followed me. I was an
American, in mufti, and had a little American flag in the lapel of my
coat. I had no king, and my country had seen fit not to need me, but
still that pointing finger made me feel small and ill at ease. I got
off the bus to try to dissipate this feeling by mixing with the throng
of the sidewalks.

Presently I came to a recruiting office. Inside, sitting at a desk was
a lonely Tommy Atkins. I decided to interview him in regard to joining
the British Army. I opened the door. He looked up and greeted me with
"I s'y, myte, want to tyke on?"

I looked at him and answered, "Well, whatever that is, I'll take a
chance at it."

Without the aid of an interpreter, I found out that Tommy wanted to
know if I cared to join the British Army. He asked me: "Did you ever
hear of the Royal Fusiliers?" Well, in London you know. Yanks are
supposed to know everything, so I was not going to appear ignorant and
answered, "Sure."

After listening for one half-hour to Tommy's tale of their exploits on
the firing line, I decided to join. Tommy took me to the recruiting
headquarters where I met a typical English Captain. He asked my
nationality. I immediately pulled out my American passport and showed
it to him. It was signed by Lansing,--Bryan had lost his job a
little while previously. After looking at the passport, he informed me
that he was sorry but could not enlist me, as it would be a breach of
neutrality. I insisted that I was not neutral, because to me it seemed
that a real American could not be neutral when big things were in
progress, but the Captain would not enlist me.

With disgust in my heart I went out in the street. I had gone about a
block when a recruiting Sergeant who had followed me out of the office
tapped me on the shoulder with his swagger stick and said: "Say, I can
get you in the Army. We have a 'Leftenant' down at the other office
who can do anything. He has just come out of the O. T. C. (Officers'
Training Corps) and does not know what neutrality is." I decided to
take a chance, and accepted his invitation for an introduction to the
Lieutenant. I entered the office and went up to him, opened up my
passport, and said:

"Before going further I wish to state that I am an American, not too
proud to fight, and want to join your army."

He looked at me in a nonchalant manner, and answered, "That's all
right, we take anything over here."

I looked at him kind of hard and replied, "So I notice," but it went
over his head.

He got out an enlistment blank, and placing his finger on a blank line
said, "Sign here."

I answered, "Not on your tintype."

"I beg your pardon?"

Then I explained to him that I would not sign it without first reading
it. I read it over and signed for duration of war. Some of the
recruits were lucky. They signed for seven years only.

Then he asked me my birthplace. I answered, "Ogden, Utah."

He said, "Oh yes, just outside of New York?"

With a smile, I replied, "Well, it's up the State a little."

Then I was taken before the doctor and passed as physically fit, and
was issued a uniform. When I reported back to the Lieutenant, he
suggested that, being an American, I go on recruiting service and try
to shame some of the slackers into joining the Army.

"All you have to do," he said, "is to go out on the street, and when
you see a young fellow in mufti who looks physically fit, just stop
him and give him this kind of a talk: 'Aren't you ashamed of yourself,
a Britisher, physically fit, and in mufti when your King and Country
need you? Don't you know that your country is at war and that the
place for every young Briton is on the firing line? Here I am, an
American, in khaki, who came four thousand miles to fight for your
King and Country, and you, as yet, have not enlisted. Why don't you
join? Now is the time.'

"This argument ought to get many recruits, Empey, so go out and see
what you can do."

He then gave me a small rosette of red, white, and blue ribbon, with
three little streamers hanging down. This was the recruiting insignia
and was to be worn on the left side of the cap.

Armed with a swagger stick and my patriotic rosette I went out into
Tottenham Court Road in quest of cannon fodder.

Two or three poorly dressed civilians passed me, and although they
appeared physically fit, I said to myself, "They don't want to Join
the army; perhaps they have someone dependent on them for support," so
I did not accost them.

Coming down the street I saw a young dandy, top hat and all, with a
fashionably dressed girl walking beside him. I muttered, "You are my
meat," and when he came abreast of me I stepped directly in his path
and stopped him with my Swagger stick, saying:

"You would look fine in khaki, why not change that top hat for a steel
helmet? Aren't you ashamed of yourself, a husky young chap like you in
mufti when men are needed in the trenches? Here I am, an American,
came four thousand miles from Ogden, Utah, just outside of New York,
to fight for your King and Country. Don't be a slacker, buck up and
get into uniform; come over to the recruiting office and I'll have you

He yawned and answered, "I don't care if you came forty thousand
miles, no one asked you to," and he walked on. The girl gave me a
sneering look; I was speechless.

I recruited for three weeks and nearly got one recruit.

This perhaps was not the greatest stunt in the world, but it got back
at the officer who had told me, "Yes, we take anything over here." I
had been spending a good lot of my recruiting time in the saloon bar
of the "Wheat Sheaf" pub (there was a very attractive blonde barmaid,
who helped kill time--I was not as serious in those days as I was a
little later when I reached the front)--well, it was the sixth day
and my recruiting report was blank. I was getting low in the
pocket--barmaids haven't much use for anyone who cannot buy drinks--so I
looked around for recruiting material. You know a man on recruiting
service gets a "bob" or shilling for every recruit he entices into
joining the army, the recruit is supposed to get this, but he would
not be a recruit if he were wise to this fact, would he?

Down at the end of the bar was a young fellow in mufti who was very
patriotic--he had about four "Old Six" ales aboard. He asked me if
he could join, showed me his left hand, two fingers were missing, but
I said that did not matter as "we take anything over here." The left
hand is the rifle hand as the piece is carried at the slope on the
left shoulder. Nearly everything in England is "by the left," even
general traffic keeps to the port side.

I took the applicant over to headquarters where he was hurriedly
examined. Recruiting surgeons were busy in those days and did not have
much time for thorough physical examinations. My recruit was passed as
"fit" by the doctor and turned over to a Corporal to make note of his
scars. I was mystified. Suddenly the Corporal burst out with, "Blime
me, two of his fingers are gone"; turning to me he said, "You
certainly have your nerve with you, not 'alf you ain't, to bring this
beggar in."

The doctor came over and exploded, "What do you mean by bringing in a
man in this condition?"

Looking out of the corner of my eye I noticed that the officer who had
recruited me had Joined the group, and I could not help answering,
"Well, sir, I was told that you took anything over here."

I think they called it "Yankee impudence," anyhow it ended my



The next morning, the Captain sent for me and informed me: "Empey, as
a recruiting Sergeant you are a washout," and sent me to a training

After arriving at this place, I was hustled to the quartermaster
stores and received an awful shock. The Quartermaster Sergeant spread
a waterproof sheet on the ground, and commenced throwing a
miscellaneous assortment of straps, buckles, and other paraphernalia
into it. I thought he would never stop, but when the pile reached to
my knees he paused long enough to say, "Next, No. 5217, 'Arris, 'B'
Company." I gazed in bewilderment at the pile of junk in front of me,
and then my eyes wandered around looking for the wagon which was to
carry it to the barracks. I was rudely brought to earth by the
"Quarter" exclaiming, "'Ere, you, 'op it, tyke it aw'y; blind my eyes,
'e's looking for 'is batman to 'elp 'im carry it."

Struggling under the load, with frequent pauses for rest, I reached
our barracks (large car barns), and my platoon leader came to the
rescue. It was a marvel to me how quickly he assembled the equipment.
After he had completed the task, he showed me how to adjust it on my
person. Pretty soon I stood before him a proper Tommy Atkins in heavy
marching order, feeling like an overloaded camel.

On my feet were heavy-soled boots, studded with hobnails, the toes and
heels of which were reinforced by steel half-moons. My legs were
encased in woolen puttees, olive drab in color, with my trousers
overlapping them at the top. Then a woolen khaki tunic, under which
was a bluish-gray woolen shirt, minus a collar, beneath this shirt a
woolen belly-band about six inches wide, held in place by tie strings
of white tape. On my head was a heavy woolen trench cap, with huge ear
flaps buttoned over the top. Then the equipment: A canvas belt, with
ammunition pockets, and two wide canvas straps like suspenders, called
"D" straps, fastened to the belt in front, passing over each shoulder,
crossing in the middle of my back, and attached by buckles to the rear
of the belt. On the right side of the belt hung a water bottle,
covered with felt; on the left side was my bayonet and scabbard, and
entrenching tool handle, this handle strapped to the bayonet scabbard.
In the rear was my entrenching tool, carried in a canvas case. This
tool was a combination pick and spade. A canvas haversack was strapped
to the left side of the belt, while on my back was the pack, also of
canvas, held in place by two canvas straps over the shoulders;
suspended on the bottom of the pack was my mess tin or canteen in a
neat little canvas case. My waterproof sheet, looking like a jelly
roll, was strapped on top of the pack, with a wooden stick for
cleaning the breach of the rifle projecting from each end. On a
lanyard around my waist hung a huge jackknife with a can-opener
attachment. The pack contained my overcoat, an extra pair of socks,
change of underwear, hold-all (containing knife, fork, spoon, comb,
toothbrush, lather brush, shaving soap, and a razor made of tin, with
"Made in England" stamped on the blade; when trying to shave with this
it made you wish that you were at war with Patagonia, so that you
could have a "hollow ground" stamped "Made in Germany"); then your
housewife, button-cleaning outfit, consisting of a brass button stick,
two stiff brushes, and a box of "Soldiers' Friend" paste; then a shoe
brush and a box of dubbin, a writing pad, indelible pencil, envelopes,
and pay book, and personal belongings, such as a small mirror, a
decent razor, and a sheaf of unanswered letters, and fags. In your
haversack you carry your iron rations, meaning a tin of bully beef,
four biscuits, and a can containing tea, sugar, and Oxo cubes; a
couple of pipes and a package of shag, a tin of rifle oil, and a
pull-through. Tommy generally carries the oil with his rations; it
gives the cheese a sort of sardine taste.

Add to this a first-aid pouch and a long ungainly rifle patterned
after the Daniel Boone period, and you have an idea of a British
soldier in Blighty.

Before leaving for France, this rifle is taken from him and he is
issued with a Lee-Enfield short-trench rifle and a ration bag.

In France he receives two gas helmets, a sheep-skin coat, rubber
mackintosh, steel helmet, two blankets, tear-shell goggles, a
balaclava helmet, gloves, and a tin of anti-frostbite grease which is
excellent for greasing the boots. Add to this the weight of his
rations, and can you blame Tommy for growling at a twenty kilo route

Having served as Sergeant-Major in the United States Cavalry, I tried
to tell the English drill sergeants their business but it did not
work. They immediately put me as batman in their mess. Many a greasy
dish of stew was accidentally spilled over them.

I would sooner fight than be a waiter, so when the order came through
from headquarters calling for a draft of 250 reinforcements for
France, I volunteered.

Then we went before the M. O. (Medical Officer) for another physical
examination. This was very brief. He asked our names and numbers and
said, "Fit," and we went out to fight.

We were put into troop trains and sent to Southampton, where we
detrained, and had our trench rifles issued to us. Then in columns of
twos we went up the gangplank of a little steamer lying alongside the

At the head of the gangplank there was an old Sergeant who directed
that we line ourselves along both rails of the ship. Then he ordered
us to take life belts from the racks overhead and put them on. I have
crossed the ocean several times and knew I was not seasick, but when I
budded on that life belt, I had a sensation of sickness.

After we got out into the stream all I could think of was that there
were a million German submarines with a torpedo on each, across the
warhead of which was inscribed my name and address.

After five hours we came alongside a pier and disembarked. I had
attained another one of my ambitions. I was "somewhere in France." We
slept in the open that night on the side of a road. About six the next
morning we were ordered to entrain. I looked around for the passenger
coaches, but all I could see on the siding were cattle cars. We
climbed into these. On the side of each car was a sign reading "Hommes
40, Cheveux 8." When we got inside of the cars, we thought that
perhaps the sign painter had reversed the order of things. After
forty-eight hours in these trucks we detrained at Rouen. At this place
we went through an intensive training for ten days.

This training consisted of the rudiments of trench warfare. Trenches
had been dug, with barbed-wire entanglements, bombing saps, dug-outs,
observation posts, and machine-gun emplacements. We were given a
smattering of trench cooking, sanitation, bomb throwing,
reconnoitering, listening posts, constructing and repairing barbed
wire, "carrying in" parties, methods used in attack and defense,
wiring parties, mass formation, and the procedure for poison-gas

On the tenth day we again met our friends "Hommes 40, Chevaux 8."
Thirty-six hours more of misery, and we arrived at the town of F--.

After unloading our rations and equipment, we lined up on the road in
columns of fours waiting for the order to march.

A dull rumbling could be heard. The sun was shining. I turned to the
man on my left and asked, '"What's the noise, Bill?" He did not know,
but his face was of a pea-green color. Jim on my right also did not
know, but suggested that I "awsk" the Sergeant.

Coming towards us was an old grizzled Sergeant, properly fed up with
the war, so I "awsked" him.

"Think it's going to rain, Sergeant?"

He looked at me in contempt, and grunted, "'Ow's it a'goin' ter rain
with the bloomin' sun a 'shinin'?" I looked guilty.

"Them's the guns up the line, me lad, and you'll get enough of 'em
before you gets back to Blighty."

My knees seemed to wilt, and I squeaked out a weak "Oh!"

Then we started our march up to the line in ten kilo treks. After the
first day's march we arrived at our rest billets. In France they call
them rest billets, because while in them, Tommy works seven days a
week and on the eighth day of the week he is given twenty-four hours
"on his own."

Our billet was a spacious affair, a large barn on the left side of the
road, which had one hundred entrances, ninety-nine for shells, rats,
wind, and rain, and the hundredth one for Tommy. I was tired out, and
using my shrapnel-proof helmet, (shrapnel proof until a piece of
shrapnel hits it), or tin hat, for a pillow, lay down in the straw,
and was soon fast asleep. I must have slept about two hours, when I
awoke with a prickling sensation all over me. As I thought, the straw
had worked through my uniform. I woke up the fellow lying on my left,
who had been up the line before, and asked him.

"Does the straw bother you, mate? It's worked through my uniform and I
can't sleep."

In a sleepy voice, he answered, "That ain't straw, them's cooties."

From that time on my friends the "cooties" were constantly with me.

"Cooties," or body lice, are the bane of Tommy's existence.

The aristocracy of the trenches very seldom call them "cooties," they
speak of them as fleas.

To an American, flea means a small insect armed with a bayonet, who is
wont to jab it into you and then hop, skip, and jump to the next place
to be attacked. There is an advantage in having fleas on you instead
of "cooties" in that in one of his extended jumps said flea is liable
to land on the fellow next to you; he has the typical energy and push
of the American, while the "cootie" has the bull-dog tenacity of the
Englishman, he holds on and consolidates or digs in until his meal is

There is no way to get rid of them permanently. No matter how often
you bathe, and that is not very often, or how many times you change
your underwear, your friends, the "cooties" are always in evidence.
The billets are infested with them, especially so, if there is straw
on the floor.

I have taken a bath and put on brand-new underwear; in fact, a
complete change of uniform, and then turned in for the night. The next
morning my shirt would be full of them. It is a common sight to see
eight or ten soldiers sitting under a tree with their shirts over
their knees engaging in a "shirt hunt."

At night about half an hour before "lights out," you can see the
Tommies grouped around a candle, trying, in its dim light, to rid
their underwear of the vermin. A popular and very quick method is to
take your shirt and drawers, and run the seams back and forward in the
flame from the candle and burn them out. This practice is dangerous,
because you are liable to burn holes in the garments if you are not

Recruits generally sent to Blighty for a brand of insect powder
advertised as "Good for body lice." The advertisement is quite right;
the powder is good for "cooties," they simply thrive on it.

The older men of our battalion were wiser and made scratchers out of
wood. These were rubbed smooth with a bit of stone or sand to prevent
splinters. They were about eighteen inches long, and Tommy guarantees
that a scratcher of this length will reach any part of the body which
may be attacked. Some of the fellows were lazy and only made their
scratchers twelve inches, but many a night when on guard, looking over
the top from the fire step of the front-line trench, they would have
given a thousand "quid" for the other six inches.

Once while we were in rest billets an Irish Hussar regiment camped in
an open field opposite our billet. After they had picketed and fed
their horses, a general shirt hunt took place. The troopers ignored
the call "Dinner up," and kept on with their search for big game. They
had a curious method of procedure. They hung their shirts over a hedge
and beat them with their entrenching tool handles.

I asked one of them why they didn't pick them off by hand, and he
answered, "We haven't had a bath for nine weeks or a change of
clabber. If I tried to pick the 'cooties' off my shirt, I would be
here for duration of war." After taking a close look at his shirt, I
agreed with him, it was alive.

The greatest shock a recruit gets when he arrives at his battalion in
France is to see the men engaging in a "cootie" hunt. With an air of
contempt and disgust he avoids the company of the older men, until a
couple of days later, in a torment of itching, he also has to resort
to a shirt hunt, or spend many a sleepless night of misery. During
these hunts there are lots of pertinent remarks bandied back and forth
among the explorers, such as, "Say, Bill, I'll swap you two little
ones for a big one," or, "I've got a black one here that looks like
Kaiser Bill."

One sunny day in the front-line trench, I saw three officers sitting
outside of their dugout ("cooties" are no respecters of rank; I have
even noticed a suspicious uneasiness about a certain well-known
general), one of them was a major, two of them were exploring their
shirts, paying no attention to the occasional shells which passed
overhead. The major was writing a letter; every now and then he would
lay aside his writing-pad, search his shirt for a few minutes, get an
inspiration, and then resume writing. At last he finished his letter
and gave it to his "runner." I was curious to see whether he was
writing to an insect firm, so when the runner passed me I engaged him
in conversation and got a glimpse at the address on the envelope. It
was addressed to Miss Alice Somebody, in London. The "runner" informed
me that Miss Somebody was the major's sweetheart and that he wrote to
her every day. Just imagine it, writing a love letter during a
"cootie" hunt; but such is the creed of the trenches.



Upon enlistment we had identity disks issued to us. These were small
disks of red fiber worn around the neck by means of a string. Most of
the Tommies also used a little metal disk which they wore around the
left wrist by means of a chain. They had previously figured it out
that if their heads were blown off, the disk on the left wrist would
identify them. If they lost their left arm the disk around the neck
would serve the purpose, but if their head and left arm were blown
off, no one would care who they were, so it did not matter. On one
side of the disk was inscribed your rank, name, number, and battalion,
while on the other was stamped your religion.

C. of E., meaning Church of England; R. C., Roman Catholic; W.,
Wesleyan; P., Presbyterian; but if you happened to be an atheist they
left it blank, and just handed you a pick and shovel.

{Photo: The Author's Identification Disk.}

On my disk was stamped C. of E. This is how I got it: The Lieutenant
who enlisted me asked my religion. I was not sure of the religion of
the British Army, so I answered, "Oh, any old thing," and he promptly
put down C. of E.

Now, just imagine my hard luck. Out of five religions I was unlucky
enough to pick the only one where church parade was compulsory!

The next morning was Sunday. I was sitting in the billet writing home
to my sister telling her of my wonderful exploits while under fire-all
recruits do this. The Sergeant-Major put his head in the door of the
billet and shouted: "C. of E. outside for church parade!"

I kept on writing. Turning to me, in a loud voice, he asked, "Empey,
aren't you C. of E.?"

I answered, "Yep."

In an angry tone, he commanded, "Don't you 'yep' me. Say, 'Yes,

I did so. Somewhat mollified, he ordered, "Outside for church parade."

I looked up and answered, "I am not going to church this morning."

He said, "Oh, yes, you are!"

I answered. "Oh, no, I'm not!"--But I went.

We lined up outside with rifles and bayonets, 120 rounds of
ammunition, wearing our tin hats, and the march to church began. After
marching about five kilos, we turned off the road into an open field.
At one end of this field the Chaplain was standing in a limber. We
formed a semi-circle around him. Over head there was a black speck
circling round and round in the sky. This was a German Fokker. The
Chaplain had a book in his left hand-left eye on the book-right eye on
the aeroplane. We Tommies were lucky, we had no books, so had both
eyes on the aeroplane.

After church parade we were marched back to our billets, and played
football all afternoon.



The next morning the draft was inspected by our General, and we were
assigned to different companies. The boys in the Brigade had nicknamed
this general Old Pepper, and he certainly earned the sobriquet. I was
assigned to B Company with another American named Stewart.

For the next ten days we "rested," repairing roads for the Frenchies,
drilling, and digging bombing trenches.

One morning we were informed that we were going up the line, and our
march began.

It took us three days to reach reserve billets--each day's march
bringing the sound of the guns nearer and nearer. At night, way off in
the distance we could see their flashes, which lighted up the sky with
a red glare.

Against the horizon we could see numerous observation balloons or
"sausages" as they are called.

On the afternoon of the third day's march I witnessed my first
aeroplane being shelled. A thrill ran through me and I gazed in awe.
The aeroplane was making wide circles in the air, while little puffs
of white smoke were bursting all around it. These puffs appeared like
tiny balls of cotton while after each burst could be heard a dull
"plop." The Sergeant of my platoon informed us that it was a German
aeroplane and I wondered how he could tell from such a distance
because the plane deemed like a little black speck in the sky. I
expressed my doubt as to whether it was English, French, or German.
With a look of contempt he further informed us that the allied
anti-aircraft shells when exploding emitted white smoke while the
German shells gave forth black smoke, and, as he expressed it, "It
must be an Allemand because our pom-poms are shelling, and I know our
batteries are not off their bally nappers and are certainly not
strafeing our own planes, and another piece of advice--don't chuck
your weight about until you've been up the line and learnt something."

I immediately quit "chucking my weight about" from that time on.

Just before reaching reserve billets we were marching along, laughing,
and singing one of Tommy's trench ditties--

  "I want to go home,
  I want to go home,
  I don't want to go to the trenches no more
  Where sausages and whizz-bangs are galore.
  Take me over the sea, where the Allemand can't get at me,
  Oh, my, I don't want to die,
  I want to go home"--

when overhead came a "swish" through the air, rapidly followed by
three others. Then about two hundred yards to our left in a large
field, four columns of black earth and smoke rose into the air, and
the ground trembled from the report,--the explosion of four German
five-nine's, or "coal-boxes." A sharp whistle blast, immediately
followed by two short ones, rang out from the head of our column. This
was to take up "artillery formation." We divided into small squads and
went into the fields on the right and left of the road, and crouched
on the ground. No other shells followed this salvo. It was our first
baptism by shell fire. From the waist up I was all enthusiasm, but
from there down, everything was missing. I thought I should die with

After awhile, we re-formed into columns of fours, and proceeded on our

About five that night, we reached the ruined village of H--, and I got
my first sight of the awful destruction caused by German Kultur.

Marching down the main street we came to the heart of the village, and
took up quarters in shell-proof cellars (shell proof until hit by a
shell). Shells were constantly whistling over the village and bursting
in our rear, searching for our artillery.

These cellars were cold, damp, and smelly, and overrun with large
rats--big black fellows. Most of the Tommies slept with their overcoats
over their faces. I did not. In the middle of the night I woke up in
terror. The cold, clammy feet of a rat had passed over my face. I
immediately smothered myself in my overcoat, but could not sleep for
the rest of that night.

Next evening, we took over our sector of the line. In single file we
wended our way through a zigzag communication trench, six inches deep
with mud. This trench was called "Whiskey Street." On our way up to
the front line an occasional flare of bursting shrapnel would light up
the sky and we could hear the fragments slapping the ground above us
on our right and left. Then a Fritz would traverse back and forth with
his "typewriter" or machine gun.  The bullets made a sharp cracking
noise overhead.

{Illustration: Diagram Showing Typical Front-Line and Communication

The boy in front of me named Prentice crumpled up without a word. A
piece of shell had gone through his shrapnel-proof helmet. I felt sick
and weak.

In about thirty minutes we reached the front Hue. It was dark as
pitch. Every now and then a German star shell would pierce the
blackness out in front with its silvery light. I was trembling all
over, and felt very lonely and afraid. All orders were given in
whispers. The company we relieved filed past us and disappeared into
the blackness of the communication trench leading to the rear. As they
passed us, they whispered, "The best o' luck mates."

I sat on the fire step of the trench with the rest of the men. In each
traverse two of the older men had been put on guard with their heads
sticking over the top, and with their eyes trying to pierce the
blackness in "No Man's Land." In this trench there were only two
dugouts, and these were used by Lewis and Vickers, machine gunners, so
it was the fire step for ours. Pretty soon it started to rain. We put
on our "macks," but they were not much protection. The rain trickled
down our backs, and it was not long before we were wet and cold. How I
passed that night I will never know, but without any unusual
occurrence, dawn arrived.

The word "stand down" was passed along the line, and the sentries got
down off the fire step. Pretty soon the rum issue came along, and it
was a Godsend. It warmed our chilled bodies and put new life into us.
Then from the communication trenches came dixies or iron pots, filled
with steaming tea, which had two wooden stakes through their handles,
and were carried by two men. I filled my canteen and drank the hot tea
without taking it from my lips. It was not long before I was asleep in
the mud on the fire step.

My ambition had been attained! I was in a front-line trench on the
Western Front, and oh, how I wished I were back in Jersey City.



I must have slept for two or three hours, not the refreshing kind that
results from clean sheets and soft pillows, but the sleep that comes
from cold, wet, and sheer exhaustion.

Suddenly, the earth seemed to shake and a thunderclap burst in my
ears. I opened my eyes,--I was splashed all over with sticky mud,
and men were picking themselves up from the bottom of the trench. The
parapet on my left had toppled into the trench, completely blocking it
with a wall of tossed-up earth. The man on my left lay still. I rubbed
the mud from my face, and an awful sight met my gaze--his head was
smashed to a pulp, and his steel helmet was full of brains and blood.
A German "Minnie" (trench mortar) had exploded in the next traverse.
Men were digging into the soft mass of mud in a frenzy of haste.
Stretcher-bearers came up the trench on the double. After a few
minutes of digging, three still, muddy forms on stretchers were
carried down the communication trench to the rear. Soon they would be
resting "somewhere in France," with a little wooden cross over their
heads. They had done their bit for King and Country, had died without
firing a shot, but their services were appreciated, nevertheless.

Later on, I found out their names. They belonged to our draft.

I was dazed and motionless. Suddenly a shovel was pushed into my
hands, and a rough but kindly voice said:

"Here, my lad, lend a hand clearing the trench, but keep your head
down, and look out for snipers. One of the Fritz's is a daisy, and
he'll get you if you're not careful."

Lying on my belly on the bottom of the trench, I filled sandbags with
the sticky mud. They were dragged to my rear by the other men, and the
work of rebuilding the parapet was on. The harder I worked, the better
I felt. Although the weather was cold, I was soaked with sweat.

Occasionally a bullet would crack overhead, and a machine gun would
kick up the mud on the bashed-in parapet. At each crack I would duck
and shield my face with my arm. One of the older men noticed this
action of mine, and whispered:

"Don't duck at the crack of a bullet, Yank; the danger has passed,--you
never hear the one that wings you. Always remember that if you are
going to get it, you'll get it, so never worry."

This made a great impression on me at the time, and from then on, I
adopted his motto, "If you're going to get it, you'll get it."

It helped me wonderfully. I used it so often afterwards that some of
my mates dubbed me, "If you're going to get it, you'll get it."

After an hour's hard work, all my nervousness left me, and I was
laughing and joking with the rest.

At one o'clock, dinner came up in the form of a dixie of hot stew.

I looked for my canteen. It had fallen off the fire step, and was half
buried in the mud. The man on my left noticed this, and told the
Corporal, dishing out the rations, to put my share in his mess tin.
Then he whispered to me, "Always take care of your mess tin, mate."

I had learned another maxim of the trenches.

That stew tasted fine, I was as hungry as a bear. We had "seconds," or
another helping, because three of the men had gone "West," killed by
the explosion of the German trench mortar, and we ate their share, but
still I was hungry, so I filled in with bully beef and biscuits. Then
I drained my water bottle. Later on I learned another maxim of the
front line,--"Go sparingly with your water." The bully beef made me
thirsty, and by tea time I was dying for a drink, but my pride would
not allow me to ask my mates for water. I was fast learning the ethics
of the trenches.

That night I was put on guard with an older man. We stood on the fire
step with our heads over the top, peering out into No Man's Land. It
was nervous work for me, but the other fellow seemed to take it as
part of the night's routine.

Then something shot past my face. My heart stopped beating, and I
ducked my head below the parapet. A soft chuckle from my mate brought
me to my senses, and I feebly asked, "For God's sake, what was that?"

He answered, "Only a rat taking a promenade along the sandbags." I
felt very sheepish.

About every twenty minutes the sentry in the next traverse would fire
a star shell from his flare pistol. The "plop" would give me a start
of fright. I never got used to this noise during my service in the

I would watch the arc described by the star shell, and then stare into
No Man's Land waiting for it to burst. In its lurid light the barbed
wire and stakes would be silhouetted against its light like a latticed
window. Then darkness.

Once, out in front of our wire, I heard a noise and saw dark forms
moving. My rifle was lying across the sandbagged parapet. I reached
for it, and was taking aim to fire, when my mate grasped my arm, and
whispered, "Don't fire." He challenged in a low voice. The reply
came back instantly from the dark forms:

"Shut your blinkin' mouth, you bloomin' idiot; do you want us to click
it from the Boches?"

Later we learned that the word, "No challenging or firing, wiring
party out in front," had been given to the sentry on our right, but he
had failed to pass it down the trench. An officer had overheard our
challenge and the reply, and immediately put the offending sentry
under arrest. The sentry clicked twenty-one days on the wheel, that
is, he received twenty-one days' Field Punishment No. I, or
"crucifixion," as Tommy terms it.

This consists of being spread-eagled on the wheel of a limber two
hours a day for twenty-one days, regardless of the weather. During
this period, your rations consist of bully beef, biscuits, and water.

A few months later I met this sentry and he confided to me that since
being "crucified," he has never failed to pass the word down the
trench when so ordered. In view of the offence, the above punishment
was very light, in that failing to pass the word down a trench may
mean the loss of many lives, and the spoiling of some important
enterprise in No Man's Land.



Our tour in the front-line trench lasted four days, and then we were
relieved by the--Brigade.

Going down the communication trench we were in a merry mood, although
we were cold and wet, and every bone in our bodies ached. It makes a
lot of difference whether you are "going in" or "going out."

At the end of the communication trench, limbers were waiting on the
road for us. I thought we were going to ride back to rest billets, but
soon found out that the only time an infantry man rides is when he is
wounded and is bound for the base or Blighty. These limbers carried
our reserve ammunition and rations. Our march to rest billets was
thoroughly enjoyed by me. It seemed as if I were on furlough, and was
leaving behind everything that was disagreeable and horrible. Every
recruit feels this way after being relieved from the trenches.

We marched eight kilos and then halted in front of a French estaminet.
The Captain gave the order to turn out on each side of the road and
wait his return. Pretty soon he came back and told B Company to occupy
billets 117, 118, and 119. Billet 117 was an old stable which had
previously been occupied by cows. About four feet in front of the
entrance was a huge manure pile, and the odor from it was anything but
pleasant. Using my flashlight I stumbled through the door. Just before
entering I observed a white sign reading: "Sitting 50, lying 20," but,
at the time, its significance did not strike me. Next morning I asked
the Sergeant-Major what it meant. He nonchalantly answered:

"That's some of the work of the R. A. M. C. (Royal Army Medical
Corps). It simply means that in case of an attack, this billet will
accommodate fifty wounded who are able to sit up and take notice, or
twenty stretcher cases."

It was not long after this that I was one of the "20 lying."

I soon hit the hay and was fast asleep, even my friends the "cooties"
failed to disturb me.

The next morning at about six o'clock I was awakened by the
Lance-Corporal of our section, informing me that I had been detailed
as mess orderly, and to report to the cook to give him a hand. I
helped him make the fire, carry water from an old well, and fry the
bacon. Lids of dixies are used to cook the bacon in. After breakfast
was cooked, I carried a dixie of hot tea and the lid full of bacon to
our section, and told the Corporal that breakfast was ready. He looked
at me in contempt, and then shouted, "Breakfast up, come and get it!"
I immediately got wise to the trench parlance, and never again
informed that "Breakfast was served."

It didn't take long for the Tommies to answer this call. Half dressed,
they lined up with their canteens and I dished out the tea. Each Tommy
carried in his hand a thick slice of bread which had been issued with
the rations the night before. Then I had the pleasure of seeing them
dig into the bacon with their dirty fingers. The allowance was one
slice per man. The late ones received very small slices. As each Tommy
got his share, he immediately disappeared into the billet. Pretty soon
about fifteen of them made a rush to the cookhouse, each carrying a
huge slice of bread. These slices they dipped into the bacon grease
which was stewing over the fire. The last man invariably lost out. I
was the last man.

After breakfast, our section carried their equipment into a field
adjoining the billet and got busy removing the trench mud therefrom,
because at 8.45 A.M., they had to fall in for inspection and parade,
and woe betide the man who was unshaven, or had mud on his uniform.
Cleanliness is next to Godliness in the British Army, and Old Pepper
must have been personally acquainted with St. Peter.

Our drill consisted of close order formation which lasted until noon.
During this time we had two ten-minute breaks for rest, and no sooner
the word, "Pall out for ten minutes," was given, than each Tommy got
out a fag and lighted it.

Fags are issued every Sunday morning, and you generally get between
twenty and forty. The brand generally issued is the "Woodbine."
Sometimes we are lucky, and get "Goldflakes," "Players," or "Red
Hussars." Occasionally an issue of "Life Rays" comes along. Then the
older Tommies immediately get busy on the recruits, and trade these
for Woodbines or Goldflakes. A recruit only has to be stuck once in
this manner, and then he ceases to be a recruit. There is a reason.
Tommy is a great cigarette smoker. He smokes under all conditions,
except when unconscious or when he is reconnoitering in No Man's Land
at night. Then, for obvious reasons, he does not care to have a
lighted cigarette in his mouth.

Stretcher-bearers carry fags for wounded Tommies. When a
stretcher-bearer arrives alongside of a Tommy who has been hit, the
following conversation usually takes place-Stretcher-bearer, "Want a
fag? Where are you hit?" Tommy looks up and answers, "Yes. In the

After dismissal from parade, we returned to our billets, and I had to
get busy immediately with the dinner issue. Dinner consisted of stew
made from fresh beef, a couple of spuds, bully beef, Maconochie
rations and water,--plenty of water. There is great competition
among the men to spear with their forks the two lonely potatoes.

After dinner I tried to wash out the dixie with cold water and a rag,
and learned another maxim of the trenches--"It can't be done." I
slyly watched one of the older men from another section, and was
horrified to see him throw into his dixie four or five double handfuls
of mud. Then he poured in some water, and with his hands scoured the
dixie inside and out. I thought he was taking an awful risk. Supposing
the cook should have seen him! After half an hour of unsuccessful
efforts, I returned my dixie to the cook shack, being careful to put
on the cover, and returned to the billet. Pretty soon the cook poked
his head in the door and shouted: "Hey, Yank, come out here and clean
your dixie!"

I protested that I had wasted a half-hour on it already, and had used
up my only remaining shirt in the attempt. With a look of disdain, he
exclaimed: "Blow me, your shirt! Why in 'ell didn't you use mud?"

Without a word in reply I got busy with the mud, and soon my dixie was
bright and shining.

Most of the afternoon was spent by the men writing letters home. I
used my spare time to chop wood for the cook, and go with the
Quartermaster to draw coal. I got back just in time to issue our third
meal, which consisted of hot tea, I rinsed out my dixie and returned
it to the cookhouse, and went back to the billet with an exhilarated
feeling that my day's labor was done. I had fallen asleep on the straw
when once again the cook appeared in the door of the billet with:

{Photo: Facsimilie of the "Green" Envelope.}

"Blime me, you Yanks are lazy. Who in 'ell's a'goin' to draw the water
for the mornin' tea? Do you think I'm a'goin' to? Well, I'm not," and
he left. I filled the dixie with water from an old squeaking well, and
once again lay down in the straw.



Just before dozing off, Mr. Lance-Corporal butted in.

In Tommy's eyes, a Lance-Corporal is one degree below a Private. In
the Corporal's eyes, he is one degree above a General.

He ordered me to go with him and help him draw the next day's rations,
also told me to take my waterproof.

Every evening, from each platoon or machine-gun section, a
Lance-Corporal and Private goes to the Quartermaster-Sergeant at the
Company Stores and draws rations for the following day.

The "Quarter," as the Quartermaster-Sergeant is called, receives daily
from the Orderly Room (Captain's Office) a slip showing the number of
men entitled to rations, so there is no chance of putting anything
over on him. Many arguments take place between the "Quarter" and the
platoon Non-Com, but the former always wins out. Tommy says the
"Quarter" got his job because he was a burglar in civil life.

Then I spread the waterproof sheet on the ground, while the
Quartermaster's Batman dumped the rations on it. The Corporal was
smoking a fag. I carried the rations back to the billet. The Corporal
was still smoking a fag. How I envied him. But when the issue
commenced my envy died, and I realized that the first requisite of a
non-commissioned officer on active service is diplomacy. There were
nineteen men in our section, and they soon formed a semi-circle around
us after the Corporal had called out, "Rations up."

The Quartermaster-Sergeant had given a slip to the Corporal on which
was written a list of the rations. Sitting on the floor, using a
wooden box as a table, the issue commenced. On the left of the
Corporal the rations were piled. They consisted of the following:

Six loaves of fresh bread, each loaf of a different size, perhaps one
out of the six being as flat as a pancake, the result of an Army
Service Corps man placing a box of bully beef on it during

Three tins of jam, one apple, and the other two plum.

Seventeen Bermuda onions, all different sizes.

A piece of cheese in the shape of a wedge.

Two one-pound tins of butter.

A handful of raisins.

A tin of biscuits, or as Tommy calls them "Jaw-breakers."

A bottle of mustard pickles.

The "bully beef," spuds, condensed milk, fresh meat, bacon, and
"Maconochie Rations" (a can filled with meat, vegetables, and greasy
water), had been turned over to the Company Cook to make stew for next
day's dinner. He also received the tea, sugar, salt, pepper, and

Scratching his head, the Corporal studied the slip issued to him by
the Quarter. Then in a slow, mystified voice he read out, "No. I
Section, 19 men. Bread, loaves, six." He looked puzzled and
soliloquized in a musing voice:

"Six loaves, nineteen men. Let's see, that's three in a loaf for
fifteen men,--well to make it even, four of you'll have to muck in
on one loaf."

The four that got stuck made a howl, but to no avail. The bread was
dished out. Pretty soon from a far corner of the billet, three
indignant Tommies accosted the Corporal with,

"What do you call this, a loaf of bread? Looks more like a sniping

The Corporal answered:

"Well, don't blame me, I didn't bake it, somebody's got to get it, so
shut up until I dish out these blinkin' rations."

Then the Corporal started on the jam.

"Jam, three tins-apple one, plum two. Nineteen men, three tins. Six in
a tin, makes twelve men for two tins, seven in the remaining tin."

He passed around the jam, and there was another riot. Some didn't like
apple, while others who received plum were partial to apple. After
awhile differences were adjusted, and the issue went on.

"Bermuda onions, seventeen."

The Corporal avoided a row by saying that he did not want an onion,
and I said they make your breath smell, so guessed I would do without
one too. The Corporal looked his gratitude.

"Cheese, pounds two."

The Corporal borrowed a jackknife (corporals are always borrowing),
and sliced the cheese,--each slicing bringing forth a pert remark
from the on-lookers as to the Corporal's eyesight.

"Raisins, ounces, eight."

By this time the Corporal's nerves had gone West, and in despair, he
said that the raisins were to be turned over to the cook for "duff"
(plum pudding). This decision elicited a little "grousing," but quiet
was finally restored.

"Biscuits, tins, one."

With his borrowed jackknife, the Corporal opened the tin of biscuits,
and told everyone to help themselves,--nobody responded to this
invitation. Tommy is "fed up" with biscuits.

"Butter, tins, two."

"Nine in one, ten in the other."

Another rumpus.

"Pickles, mustard, bottles, one."

Nineteen names were put in a steel helmet, the last one out winning
the pickles. On the next issue there were only eighteen names, as the
winner is eliminated until every man in the section has won a bottle.

The raffle is closely watched, because Tommy is suspicious when it
comes to gambling with his rations.

When the issue is finished, the Corporal sits down and writes a letter
home, asking them if they cannot get some M.P. (Member of Parliament)
to have him transferred to the Royal Flying Corps where he won't have
to issue rations.

At the different French estaminets in the village, and at the
canteens, Tommy buys fresh eggs, milk, bread, and pastry. Occasionally
when he is flush, he invests in a tin of pears or apricots. His pay is
only a shilling a day, twenty-four cents, or a cent an hour. Just
imagine, a cent an hour for being under fire,--not much chance of
getting rich out there.

When he goes into the fire trench (front line), Tommy's menu takes a
tumble. He carries in his haversack what the government calls
emergency or iron rations. They are not supposed to be opened until
Tommy dies of starvation. They consist of one tin of bully beef, four
biscuits, a little tin which contains tea, sugar, and Oxo cubes
(concentrated beef tablets). These are only to be used when the enemy
establishes a curtain of shell fire on the communication trenches,
thus preventing the "carrying in" of rations, or when in an attack, a
body of troops has been cut off from its base of supplies.

The rations are brought up, at night, by the Company Transport. This
is a section of the company in charge of the Quartermaster-Sergeant
composed of men, mules, and limbers (two wheeled wagons), which
supplies Tommy's wants while in the front line. They are constantly
under shell fire. The rations are unloaded at the entrance to the
communication trenches and are "carried in" by men detailed for that
purpose. The Quartermaster-Sergeant never goes into the front-line
trench. He doesn't have to, and I have never heard of one volunteering
to do so.

The Company Sergeant-Major sorts the rations, and sends them in.

Tommy's trench rations consist of all the bully beef he can eat,
biscuits, cheese, tinned butter (sometimes seventeen men to a tin),
jam, or marmalade, and occasionally fresh bread (ten to a loaf). When
it is possible, he gets tea and stew.

When things are quiet, and Fritz is behaving like a gentleman, which
seldom happens, Tommy has the opportunity of making dessert. This is
"trench pudding." It is made from broken biscuits, condensed milk,
jam--a little water added, slightly flavored with mud--put into a
canteen and cooked over a little spirit stove known as "Tommy's

(A firm in Blighty widely advertises these cookers as a necessity for
the men in the trenches. Gullible people buy them, ship them to the
Tommies, who, immediately upon receipt of same throw them over the
parapet. Sometimes a Tommy falls for the Ad., and uses the cooker in a
dugout to the disgust and discomfort of the other occupants.)

This mess is stirred up in a tin and allowed to simmer over the flames
from the cooker until Tommy decides that it has reached a sufficient
(glue-like) consistency. He takes his bayonet and by means of the
handle carries the mess up in the front trench to cool. After it has
cooled off he tries to eat it. Generally one or two Tommies in a
section have cast-iron stomachs and the tin is soon emptied. Once I
tasted trench pudding, but only once.

In addition to the regular ration issue Tommy uses another channel to
enlarge his menu.

In the English papers a "Lonely Soldier" column is run. This is for
the soldiers at the front who are supposed to be without friends or
relatives. They write to the papers and their names are published.
Girls and women in England answer them, and send out parcels of
foodstuffs, cigarettes, candy, etc. I have known a "lonely" soldier to
receive as many as five parcels and eleven letters in one week.



After remaining in rest billets for eight days, we received the
unwelcome tidings that the next morning we would "go in" to "take
over." At six in the morning our march started and, after a long march
down the dusty road, we again arrived at reserve billets.

I was No. I in the leading set of 4's. The man on my left was named
"Pete Walling," a cheery sort of fellow. He laughed and joked all the
way on the march, buoyed up my drooping spirits. I could not figure
out anything attractive in again occupying the front line, but Pete
did not seem to mind, said it was all in a lifetime. My left heel was
blistered from the rubbing of my heavy marching boot. Pete noticed
that I was limping and offered to carry my rifle, but by this time I
had learned the ethics of the march in the British Army and
courteously refused his offer.

We had gotten half-way through the communication trench, Pete in my
immediate rear. He had his hand on my shoulder, as men in a
communication trench have to keep in touch with each Other. We had
just climbed over a bashed-in part of the trench when in our rear a
man tripped over a loose signal wire, and let out an oath. As usual,
Pete rushed to his help. To reach the fallen man, he had to cross this
bashed-in part. A bullet cracked in the air and I ducked. Then a moan
from the rear. My heart stood still. I went back and Pete was lying on
the ground; by the aid of my flashlight, I saw that he had his hand
pressed to his right breast. The fingers were covered with blood. I
flashed the light on his face, and in its glow a grayish-blue color
was stealing over his countenance. Pete looked up at me and said:

"Well, Yank, they've done me in. I can feel myself going West." His
voice was getting fainter and I had to kneel down to get the words.
Then he gave me a message to write home to his mother and his
sweetheart, and I, like a great big boob, cried like a baby. I was
losing my first friend of the trenches.

Word was passed to the rear for a stretcher. He died before it
arrived. Two of us put the body on the stretcher and carried it to the
nearest first-aid post, where the doctor took an official record of
Pete's name, number, rank, and regiment from his identity disk, this
to be used in the Casualty Lists and notification to his family.

We left Pete there, but it broke our hearts to do so. The doctor
informed us that we could bury him the next morning. That afternoon,
five of the boys of our section, myself included, went to the little
ruined village in the rear and from the deserted gardens of the French
chateaux gathered grass and flowers. From these we made a wreath.

While the boys were making this wreath, I sat under a shot-scarred
apple tree and carved out the following verses on a little wooden
shield which we nailed on Pete's cross.

  True to Us God; true to Britain,
    Doing his duty to the last,
  Just one more name to be written
    On the Roll of Honor of heroes passed.

  Passed to their God, enshrined in glory,
    Entering life of eternal rest,
  One more chapter in England's story
    Of her sons doing their best.

  Rest, you soldier, mate so true,
    Never forgotten by us below;
  Know that we are thinking of you,
    Ere to our rest we are bidden to go.

Next morning the whole section went over to say good-bye to Pete, and
laid him away to rest.

After each one had a look at the face of the dead, a Corporal of the
R. A. M. C. sewed up the remains in a blanket. Then placing two heavy
ropes across the stretcher (to be used in lowering the body into the
grave), we lifted Pete onto the stretcher, and reverently covered him
with a large Union Jack, the flag he had died for.

The Chaplain led the way, then came the officers of the section,
followed by two of the men carrying a wreath. Immediately after came
poor Pete on the flag-draped stretcher, carried by four soldiers. I
was one of the four. Behind the stretcher, in fours, came the
remainder of the section.

To get to the cemetery, we had to pass through the little
shell-destroyed village, where troops were hurrying to and fro.

As the funeral procession passed, these troops came to the
"attention," and smartly saluted the dead.

Poor Pete was receiving the only salute a Private is entitled to
"somewhere in France."

Now and again a shell from the German lines would go whistling over
the village to burst in our artillery lines in the rear.

When we reached the cemetery, we halted in front of an open grave, and
laid the stretcher beside it. Forming a hollow square around the
opening of the grave, the Chaplain read the burial service.

German machine-gun bullets were "cracking" in the air above us, but
Pete didn't mind, and neither did we.

When the body was lowered into the grave, the flag having been
removed, we clicked our heels together, and came to the salute.

I left before the grave was filled in. I could not bear to see the
dirt thrown on the blanket-covered face of my comrade. On the Western
Front there are no coffins, and you are lucky to get a blanket to
protect you from the wet and the worms. Several of the section stayed
and decorated the grave with white stones.

That night, in the light of a lonely candle in the machine-gunner's
dugout of the front-line trench, I wrote two letters. One to Pete's
mother, the other to his sweetheart. While doing this I cursed the
Prussian war-god with all my heart, and I think that St. Peter noted

The machine gunners in the dugout were laughing and joking. To them,
Pete was unknown. Pretty soon, in the warmth of their merriment, my
blues disappeared. One soon forgets on the Western Front.



I was in my first dugout and looked around curiously. Over the door of
same was a little sign reading, "Suicide Annex." One of the boys told
me that this particular front trench was called "Suicide Ditch." Later
on I learned that machine gunners and bombers are known as the
"Suicide Club."

That dugout was muddy. The men slept in mud, washed in mud, ate mud,
and dreamed mud. I had never before realized that so much discomfort
and misery could be contained in those three little letters, MUD. The
floor of the dugout was an inch deep in water. Outside it was raining
cats and dogs, and thin rivulets were trickling down the steps. From
the airshaft immediately above me came a drip, drip, drip. Suicide
Annex was a hole eight feet wide, ten feet long, and six feet high. It
was about twenty feet below the fire trench; at least there were
twenty steps leading down to it. These steps were cut into the earth,
but at that time were muddy and slippery. A man had to be very careful
or else he would "shoot the chutes." The air was foul, and you could
cut the smoke from Tommy's fags with a knife. It was cold. The walls
and roof were supported with heavy square-cut timbers, while the
entrance was strengthened with sandbags. Nails had been driven into
these timbers. On each nail hung a miscellaneous assortment of
equipment. The lighting arrangements were superb--one candle in a
reflector made from an ammunition tin. My teeth were chattering from
the cold, and the drip from the airshaft did not help matters much.
While I was sitting bemoaning my fate, and wishing for the fireside at
home, the fellow next to me, who was writing a letter, looked up and
innocently asked, "Say, Yank, how do you spell 'conflagration'?"

I looked at him in contempt, and answered that I did not know.

From the darkness in one of the corners came a thin, piping voice
singing one of the popular trench ditties entitled:

"Pack up your Troubles in your Old Kit Bag, and
    Smile, Smile, Smile."

Every now and then the singer would stop to
    Cough, Cough, Cough,

but it was a good illustration of Tommy's cheerfulness under such

A machine-gun officer entered the dugout and gave me a hard look. I
sneaked past him, sliding, and slipping and reached my section of the
front-line trench where I was greeted by the Sergeant, who asked me,
"Where in 'ell 'ave you been?"

I made no answer, but sat on the muddy fire step, shivering with the
cold and with the rain beating in my face. About half an hour later I
teamed up with another fellow and went on guard with my head sticking
over the top. At ten o'clock I was relieved and resumed my sitting
position on the fire step. The rain suddenly stopped and we all
breathed a sigh of relief. We prayed for the morning and the rum



I was fast learning that there is a regular routine about the work of
the trenches, although it is badly upset at times by the Germans.

The real work in the fire trench commences at sundown. Tommy is like a
burglar, he works at night.

Just as it begins to get dark the word "stand to" is passed from
traverse to traverse, and the men get busy. The first relief,
consisting of two men to a traverse, mount the fire step, one man
looking over the top, while the other sits at his feet, ready to carry
messages or to inform the platoon officer of any report made by the
sentry as to his observations in No Man's Land. The sentry is not
allowed to relax his watch for a second. If he is questioned from the
trench or asked his orders, he replies without turning around or
taking his eyes from the expanse of dirt in front of him. The
remainder of the occupants of his traverse either sit on the fire
step, with bayonets fixed, ready for any emergency, or if lucky, and a
dugout happens to be in the near vicinity of the traverse, and if the
night is quiet, they are permitted to go to same and try and snatch a
few winks of sleep. Little sleeping is done; generally the men sit
around, smoking fags and seeing who can tell the biggest lie. Some of
them perhaps, with their feet in water, would write home sympathizing
with the "governor" because he was laid up with a cold, contracted by
getting his feet, wet on his way to work in Woolwich Arsenal. If a man
should manage to doze off, likely as not he would wake with a start as
the clammy, cold feet of a rat passed over his face, or the next
relief stepped on his stomach while stumbling on their way to relieve
the sentries in the trench.

Just try to sleep with a belt full of ammunition around you, your
rifle bolt biting into your ribs, entrenching tool handle sticking
into the small of your back, with a tin hat for a pillow; and feeling
very damp and cold, with "cooties" boring for oil in your arm pits,
the air foul from the stench of grimy human bodies and smoke from a
juicy pipe being whiffed into your nostrils, then you will not wonder
why Tommy occasionally takes a turn in the trench for a rest.

While in a front-line trench, orders forbid Tommy from removing his
boots, puttees, clothing, or equipment. The "cooties" take advantage
of this order and mobilize their forces, and Tommy swears vengeance on
them and mutters to himself, "just wait until I hit rest billets and
am able to get my own back."

Just before daylight the men "turn to" and tumble out of the dugouts,
man the fire step until it gets light, or the welcome order "stand
down" is given. Sometimes before "stand down" is ordered, the command
"five rounds rapid" is passed along the trench. This means that each
man must rest his rifle on the top and fire as rapidly as possible
five shots aimed toward the German trenches, and then duck (with the
emphasis on the "duck"). There is a great rivalry between the opposing
forces to get their rapid fire off first, because the early bird, in
this instance, catches the worm,--sort of gets the jump on the other
fellow, catching him unawares.

We had a Sergeant in our battalion named Warren. He was on duty with
his platoon in the fire trench one afternoon when orders came up from
the rear that he had been granted seven days' leave for Blighty, and
would be relieved at five o'clock to proceed to England.

He was tickled to death at these welcome tidings and regaled his more
or less envious mates beside him on the fire step with the good times
in store for him. He figured it out that in two days' time he would
arrive at Waterloo Station, London, and then--seven days' bliss!

At about five minutes to five he started to fidget with his rifle, and
then suddenly springing up on the fire step with a muttered, "I'll
send over a couple of souvenirs to Fritz, so that he'll miss me when I
leave," he stuck his rifle over the top and fired two shots, when
"crack" went a bullet and he tumbled off the step, fell into the mud
at the bottom of the trench, and lay still in a huddled heap with a
bullet hole in his forehead.

At about the time he expected to arrive at Waterloo Station he was
laid to rest in a little cemetery behind the lines. He had gone to

In the trenches one can never tell,--it is not safe to plan very far

After "stand down" the men sit on the fire step or repair to their
respective dugouts and wait for the "rum issue" to materialize.
Immediately following the rum, comes breakfast, brought up from the
rear. Sleeping is then in order unless some special work turns up.

Around 12.30 dinner shows up. When this is eaten the men try to amuse
themselves until "tea" appears at about four o'clock, then "stand to"
and they carry on as before.

While in rest billets Tommy gets up about six in the morning, washes
up, answers roll call, is inspected by his platoon officer, and has
breakfast. At 8.45 he parades (drills) with his company or goes on
fatigue according to the orders which have been read out by the
Orderly Sergeant the night previous.

Between 11.30 and noon he is dismissed, has his dinner, and is "on his
own" for the remainder of the day, unless he has clicked for a digging
or working party, and so it goes on from day to day, always "looping
the loop" and looking forward to Peace and Blighty.

Sometimes, while engaged in a "cootie" hunt you think. Strange to say,
but it is a fact, while Tommy is searching his shirt, serious thoughts
come to him. Many a time, when performing this operation, I have tried
to figure out the outcome of the war and what will happen to me.

My thoughts generally ran in this channel:

Will I emerge safely from the next attack? If I do, will I skin
through the following one, and so on? While your mind is wandering
into the future it is likely to be rudely brought to earth by a Tommy
interrupting with, "What's good for rheumatism?"

Then you have something else to think of. Will you come out of this
war crippled and tied into knots with rheumatism, caused by the wet
and mud of trenches and dugouts? You give it up as a bad job and
generally saunter over to the nearest estaminet to drown your moody
forebodings in a glass of sickening French beer, or to try your luck
at the always present game of "House." You can hear the sing-song
voice of a Tommy droning out the numbers as he extracts the little
squares of cardboard from the bag between his feet.



In my second trip to the trenches our officer was making his rounds of
inspection, and we received the cheerful news that at four in the
morning we were to go over the top and take the German front-line
trench. My heart turned to lead. Then the officer carried on with his
instructions. To the best of my memory I recall them as follows: "At
eleven a wiring party will go out in front and cut lanes through our
barbed wire for the passage of troops in the morning. At two o'clock
our artillery will open up with an intense bombardment which will last
until four. Upon the lifting of the barrage, the first of the three
waves will go over." Then he left. Some of the Tommies, first getting
permission from the Sergeant, went into the machine-gunners' dugout,
and wrote letters home, saying that in the morning, they were going
over the top, and also that if the letters reached their destination
it would mean that the writer had been killed.

These letters were turned over to the captain with instructions to
mail same in the event of the writer's being killed. Some of the men
made out their wills in their pay book, under the caption, "will and
last testament."

Then the nerve-racking wait commenced. Every now and then I would
glance at the dial of my wrist-watch and was surprised to see how fast
the minutes passed by. About five minutes to two I got nervous waiting
for our guns to open up. I could not take my eyes from my watch. I
crouched against the parapet and strained my muscles in a death-like
grip upon my rifle. As the hands on my watch showed two o'clock, a
blinding red flare lighted up the sky in our rear, then thunder,
intermixed with a sharp, whistling sound in the air over our heads.
The shells from our guns were speeding on their way toward the German
lines. With one accord the men sprang up on the fire step and looked
over the top in the direction of the German trenches. A line of
bursting shells lighted up No Man's Land. The din was terrific and the
ground trembled. Then, high above our heads we could hear a sighing
moan. Our big boys behind the line had opened up and 9.2's and 15-inch
shells commenced dropping into the German lines. The flash of the guns
behind the lines, the scream of the shells through the air, and the
flare of them, bursting, was a spectacle that put Pain's greatest
display into the shade. The constant pup, pup, of German machine guns
and an occasional rattle of rifle firing gave me the impression of a
huge audience applauding the work of the batteries.

Our eighteen-pounders were destroying the German barbed wire, while
the heavier stuff was demolishing their trenches and bashing in
dugouts or funk-holes.

Then Fritz got busy.

Their shells went screaming overhead, aimed in the direction of the
flares from our batteries. Trench mortars started dropping "Minnies"
in our front line. We clicked several casualties. Then they suddenly
ceased. Our artillery had taped or silenced them.

During the bombardment you could almost read a newspaper in our
trench. Sometimes in the flare of a shell-burst a man's body would be
silhouetted against the parados of the trench and it appeared like a
huge monster. You could hardly hear yourself think. When an order was
to be passed down the trench, you had to yell it, using your hands as
a funnel into the ear of the man sitting next to you on the fire step.
In about twenty minutes a generous rum issue was doled out. After
drinking the rum, which tasted like varnish and sent a shudder through
your frame, you wondered why they made you wait until the lifting of
the barrage before going over. At ten minutes to four, word was passed
down, "Ten minutes to go!" Ten minutes to live! We were shivering all
over. My legs felt as if they were asleep. Then word was passed down:
"First wave get on and near the scaling ladders."

These were small wooden ladders which we had placed against the
parapet to enable us to go over the top on the lifting of the barrage.
"Ladders of Death" we called them, and veritably they were.

Before a charge Tommy is the politest of men. There is never any
pushing or crowding to be first up these ladders. We crouched around
the base of the ladders waiting for the word to go over. I was sick
and faint, and was puffing away at an unlighted fag. Then came the
word, "Three minutes to go; upon the lifting of the barrage and on the
blast of the whistles, 'Over the Top with the Best o' Luck and Give
them Hell.'" The famous phrase of the Western Front. The Jonah phrase
of the Western Front. To Tommy it means if you are lucky enough to
come back, you will be minus an arm or a leg. Tommy hates to be wished
the best of luck; so, when peace is declared, if it ever is, and you
meet a Tommy on the street, just wish him the best of luck and duck
the brick that follows.

I glanced again at my wrist-watch. We all wore them and you could
hardly call us "sissies" for doing so. It was a minute to four. I
could see the hand move to the twelve, then a dead silence. It hurt.
Everyone looked up to see what had happened, but not for long. Sharp
whistle blasts rang out along the trench, and with a cheer the men
scrambled up the ladders. The bullets were cracking overhead, and
occasionally a machine gun would rip and tear the top of the sand bag
parapet. How I got up that ladder I will never know. The first ten
feet out in front was agony. Then we passed through the lanes in our
barbed wire. I knew I was running, but could feel no motion below the
waist. Patches on the ground seemed to float to the rear as if I were
on a treadmill and scenery was rushing past me. The Germans had put a
barrage of shrapnel across No Man's Land, and you could hear the
pieces slap the ground about you.

After I had passed our barbed wire and gotten into No Man's Land, a
Tommy about fifteen feet to my right front turned around and looking
in my direction, put his hand to his mouth and yelled something which
I could not make out on account of the noise from the bursting shells.
Then he coughed, stumbled, pitched forward, and lay still. His body
seemed to float to the rear of me. I could hear sharp cracks in the
air about me. These were caused by passing rifle bullets. Frequently,
to my right and left, little spurts of dirt would rise into the air,
and a ricochet bullet would whine on its way. If a Tommy should see
one of these little spurts in front of him, he would tell the nurse
about it later. The crossing of No Man's Land remains a blank to me.

Men on my right and left would stumble and fall. Some would try to get
up, while others remained huddled and motionless. Then smashed-up
barbed wire came into view and seemed carried on a tide to the rear.
Suddenly, in front of me loomed a bashed-in trench about four feet
wide. Queer-looking forms like mud turtles were scrambling up its
wall. One of these forms seemed to slip and then rolled to the bottom
of the trench. I leaped across this intervening space. The man to my
left seemed to pause in mid-air, then pitched head down into the
German trench. I laughed out loud in my delirium. Upon alighting on
the other side of the trench I came to with a sudden jolt. Right in
front of me loomed a giant form with a rifle which looked about ten
feet long, on the end of which seemed seven bayonets. These flashed in
the air in front of me. Then through my mind flashed the admonition of
our bayonet instructor back in Blighty. He had said, "whenever you get
in a charge and run your bayonet up to the hilt into a German, the
Fritz will fall. Perhaps your rifle will be wrenched from your grasp.
Do not waste time, if the bayonet is fouled in his equipment, by
putting your foot on his stomach and tugging at the rifle to extricate
the bayonet. Simply press the trigger and the bullet will free it." In
my present situation this was fine logic, but for the life of me I
could not remember how he had told me to get my bayonet into the
German. To me, this was the paramount issue. I closed my eyes, and
lunged forward. My rifle was torn from my hands. I must have gotten
the German because he had disappeared. About twenty feet to my left
front was a huge Prussian nearly six feet four inches in height, a
fine specimen of physical manhood. The bayonet from his rifle was
missing, but he clutched the barrel in both hands and was swinging the
butt around his head. I could almost hear the swish of the butt
passing through the air. Three little Tommies were engaged with him.
They looked like pigmies alongside of the Prussian. The Tommy on the
left was gradually circling to the rear of his opponent. It was a
funny sight to see them duck the swinging butt and try to jab him at
the same time. The Tommy nearest me received the butt of the German's
rifle in a smashing blow below the right temple. It smashed his head
like an eggshell. He pitched forward on his side and a convulsive
shudder ran through his body. Meanwhile, the other Tommy had gained
the rear of the Prussian. Suddenly about four inches of bayonet
protruded from the throat of the Prussian soldier, who staggered
forward and fell. I will never forget the look of blank astonishment
that came over his face.

Then something hit me in the left shoulder and my left side went numb.
It felt as if a hot poker was being driven through me. I felt no
pain--just a sort of nervous shock. A bayonet had pierced me from the
rear. I fell backward on the ground, but was not unconscious, because
I could see dim objects moving around me. Then a flash of light in
front of my eyes and unconsciousness. Something had hit me on the
head. I have never found out what it was.

I dreamed I was being tossed about in an open boat on a heaving sea
and opened my eyes. The moon was shining. I was on a stretcher being
carried down one of our communication trenches. At the advanced
first-aid post my wounds were dressed, and then I was put into an
ambulance and sent to one of the base hospitals. The wounds in my
shoulder and head were not serious and in six weeks I had rejoined my
company for service in the front line.



The boys in the section welcomed me back, but there were many strange
faces. Several of our men had gone West in that charge, and were lying
"somewhere in France" with a little wooden cross at their heads. We
were in rest billets. The next day, our Captain asked for volunteers
for Bombers' School. I gave my name and was accepted. I had joined the
Suicide Club, and my troubles commenced. Thirty-two men of the
battalion, including myself, were sent to L--, where we went through a
course in bombing. Here we were instructed in the uses, methods of
throwing, and manufacture of various kinds of hand grenades, from the
old "jam tin," now obsolete, to the present Mills bomb, the standard
of the British Army.

It all depends where you are as to what you are called. In France they
call you a "bomber" and give you medals, while in neutral countries
they call you an anarchist and give you "life."

From the very start the Germans were well equipped with effective
bombs and trained bomb-throwers, but the English Army was as little
prepared in this important department of fighting as in many others.
At bombing school an old Sergeant of the Grenadier Guards, whom I had
the good fortune to meet, told me of the discouragements this branch
of the service suffered before they could meet the Germans on an equal
footing. (Pacifists and small army people in the U. S. please read
with care.) The first English Expeditionary Force had no bombs at all
but had clicked a lot of casualties from those thrown by the Boches.
One bright morning someone higher up had an idea and issued an order
detailing two men from each platoon to go to bombing school to learn
the duties of a bomber and how to manufacture bombs. Non-commissioned
officers were generally selected for this course. After about two
weeks at school they returned to their units in rest billets or in the
fire trench as the case might be and got busy teaching their platoons
how to make "jam tins."

Previously an order had been issued for all ranks to save empty jam
tins for the manufacture of bombs. A Professor of Bombing would sit on
the fire step in the front trench with the remainder of his section
crowding around to see him work.

On his left would be a pile of empty and rusty jam tins, while beside
him on the fire step would be a miscellaneous assortment of material
used in the manufacture of the "jam tins."

Tommy would stoop down, get an empty "jam tin," take a handful of
clayey mud from the parapet, and line the inside of the tin with this
substance. Then he would reach over, pick up his detonator and
explosive, and insert them in the tin, the fuse protruding. On the
fire step would be a pile of fragments of shell, shrapnel balls, bits
of iron, nails, etc.-anything that was hard enough to send over to
Fritz; he would scoop up a handful of this junk and put it in the
bomb. Perhaps one of the platoon would ask him what he did this for,
and he would explain that when the bomb exploded these bits would fly
about and kill or wound any German hit by same; the questioner would
immediately pull a button off his tunic and hand it to the bomb-maker
with, "Well, blime me, send this over as a souvenir," or another Tommy
would volunteer an old rusty and broken jackknife; both would be
accepted and inserted.

Then the Professor would take another handful of mud and fin the tin,
after which he would punch a hole in the lid of the tin and put it
over the top of the bomb, the fuse sticking out. Then perhaps he would
tightly wrap wire around the outside of the tin and the bomb was ready
to send over to Fritz with Tommy's compliments.

A piece of wood about four inches long and two inches wide had been
issued. This was to be strapped on the left forearm by means of two
leather straps and was like the side of a match box; it was called a
"striker." There was a tip like the head of a match on the fuse of the
bomb. To ignite the fuse, you had to rub it on the "striker," just the
same as striking a match. The fuse was timed to five seconds or
longer. Some of the fuses issued in those days would burn down in a
second or two, while others would "sizz" for a week before exploding.
Back in Blighty the munition workers weren't quite up to snuff, the
way they are now. If the fuse took a notion to burn too quickly, they
generally buried the bombmaker next day. So making bombs could not be
called a "cushy" or safe job.

After making several bombs, the Professor instructs the platoon in
throwing them. He takes a "jam tin" from the fire step, trembling a
little, because it is nervous work, especially when new at it, lights
the fuse on his striker. The fuse begins to "sizz" and sputter and a
spiral of smoke, like that from a smouldering fag, rises from it. The
platoon splits in two and ducks around the traverse nearest to them.
They don't like the looks and sound of the burning fuse. When that
fuse begins to smoke and "sizz" you want to say good-bye to it as soon
as possible, so Tommy with all his might chucks it over the top and
crouches against the parapet, waiting for the explosion.

Lots of times in bombing, the "Jam tin" would be picked up by the
Germans, before it exploded and thrown back at Tommy with dire

After a lot of men went West in this manner, an order was issued,
reading something like this:

"To all ranks in the British Army--after igniting the fuse and
before throwing the jam tin bomb, count slowly one! two! three!"

This in order to give the fuse time enough to burn down, so that the
bomb would explode before the Germans could throw it back.

Tommy read the order--he reads them all, but after he ignited the
fuse and it began to smoke, orders were forgotten, and away she went
in record time and back she came to the further discomfort of the

Then another order was issued to count, "one hundred! two hundred!
three hundred!" but Tommy didn't care if the order read to count up to
a thousand by quarters he was going to get rid of that "jam tin,"
because from experience he had learned not to trust it.

When the powers that be realized that they could not change Tommy,
they decided to change the type of bomb and did so--substituting the
"hair brush," the "cricket-ball," and later the Mills bomb.

The standard bomb used in the British Army is the "Mills." It is about
the shape and size of a large lemon. Although not actually a lemon,
Fritz insists that it is; perhaps he judges it by the havoc caused by
its explosion. The Mills bomb is made of steel, the outside of which
is corrugated into forty-eight small squares which, upon the explosion
of the bomb, scatter in a wide area, wounding or killing any Fritz who
is unfortunate enough to be hit by one of the flying fragments.

Although a very destructive and efficient bomb, the "Mills" has the
confidence of the thrower, in that he knows it will not explode until
released from his grip.

It is a mechanical device, with a lever, fitted into a slot at the
top, which extends half way around the circumference and is held in
place at the bottom by a fixing pin. In this pin there is a small
metal ring, for the purpose of extracting the pin when ready to throw.

You do not throw a bomb the way a baseball is thrown, because, when in
a narrow trench, your hand is liable to strike against the parados,
traverse, or parapet, and then down goes the bomb, and, in a couple of
seconds or so, up goes Tommy.

In throwing, the bomb and lever are grasped in the right hand, the
left foot is advanced, knee stiff, about once and a half its length to
the front, while the right leg, knee bent, is carried slightly to the
right. The left arm is extended at an angle of 45 degrees, pointing in
the direction the bomb is to be thrown. This position is similar to
that of shot-putting, only that the right arm is extended downward.
Then you hurl the bomb from you with an overhead bowling motion, the
same as in cricket, throwing it fairly high in the air, this in order
to give the fuse a chance to burn down so that when the bomb lands, it
immediately explodes and gives the Germans no time to scamper out of
its range or to return it.

As the bomb leaves your hand, the lever, by means of a spring, is
projected into the air and falls harmlessly to the ground a few feet
in front of the bomber.

When the lever flies off, it releases a strong spring, which forces
the firing pin into a percussion cap. This ignites the fuse, which
burns down and sets off the detonator, charged with fulminate of
mercury, which explodes the main charge of ammonia.

The average British soldier is not an expert at throwing; it is a new
game to him, therefore the Canadians and Americans, who have played
baseball from the kindergarten up, take naturally to bomb throwing and
excel in this act. A six-foot English bomber will stand in awed
silence when he sees a little five-foot-nothing Canadian out-distance
his throw by several yards. I have read a few war stories of bombing,
where baseball pitchers curved their bombs when throwing them, but a
pitcher who can do this would make "Christy" Mathewson look like a
piker, and is losing valuable time playing in the European War Bush
League, when he would be able to set the "Big League" on fire.

We had had a cushy time while at this school. In fact, to us it was a
regular vacation, and we were very sorry when one morning the Adjutant
ordered us to report at headquarters for transportation and rations to
return to our units up the line.

Arriving at our section, the boys once again tendered us the glad
mitt, but looked askance at us out of the corners of their eyes. They
could not conceive, as they expressed it, how a man could be such a
blinking idiot to join the Suicide Club. I was beginning to feel sorry
that I had become a member of said club, and my life to me appeared
doubly precious.

Now that I was a sure enough bomber, I was praying for peace and
hoping that my services as such would not be required.



Right behind our rest billet was a large creek about ten feet deep and
twenty feet across, and it was a habit of the company to avail
themselves of an opportunity to take a swim and at the same time
thoroughly wash themselves and their underwear when on their own. We
were having a spell of hot weather, and these baths to us were a
luxury. The Tommies would splash around in the water and then come out
and sit in the sun and have what they termed a "shirt hunt." At first
we tried to drown the "cooties," but they also seemed to enjoy the

One Sunday morning, the whole section was in the creek and we were
having a gay time, when the Sergeant-Major appeared on the scene. He
came to the edge of the creek and ordered: "Come out of it. Get your
equipment on, 'Drill order,' and fall in for bath parade. Look lively
my hearties. You have only got fifteen minutes." A howl of indignation
from the creek greeted this order, but out we came. Discipline is
discipline. We lined up in front of our billet with rifles and
bayonets (why you need rifles and bayonets to take a bath gets me), a
full quota of ammunition, and our tin hats. Each man had a piece of
soap and a towel. After an eight-kilo march along a dusty road, with
an occasional shell whistling overhead, we arrived at a little squat
frame building upon the bank of a creek. Nailed over the door of this
building was a large sign which read "Divisional Baths." In a wooden
shed in the rear, we could hear a wheezy old engine pumping water.

We lined up in front of the baths, soaked with perspiration, and piled
our rifles into stacks. A Sergeant of the R. A. M. C. with a yellow
band around his left arm on which was "S. P." (Sanitary Police) in
black letters, took charge, ordering us to take off our equipment,
unroll our puttees, and unlace boots. Then, starting from the right of
the line, he divided us into squads of fifteen. I happened to be in
the first squad.

We entered a small room where we were given five minutes to undress,
then filed into the bath room. In here there were fifteen tubs
(barrels sawed in two) half full of water. Each tub contained a piece
of laundry soap. The Sergeant informed us that we had just twelve
minutes in which to take our baths. Soaping ourselves all over, we
took turns in rubbing each other's backs, then by means of a garden
hose, washed the soap off. The water was ice cold, but felt fine.

Pretty soon a bell rang and the water was turned off. Some of the
slower ones were covered with soap, but this made no difference to the
Sergeant, who chased us into another room, where we lined up in front
of a little window, resembling the box office in a theater, and
received dean underwear and towels. From here we went into the room
where we had first undressed. Ten minutes was allowed in which to get
into our "clabber."

My pair of drawers came up to my chin and the shirt barely reached my
diaphragm, but they were clean,--no strangers on them, and so I was

At the expiration of the time allotted we were turned out and finished
our dressing on the grass.

When all of the company had bathed it was a case of march back to
billets. That march was the most uncongenial one imagined, just
cussing and blinding all the way. We were covered with white dust and
felt greasy from sweat. The woolen underwear issued was itching like
the mischief.

After eating our dinner of stew, which had been kept for us,--it was
now four o'clock,--we went into the creek and had another bath.

If "Holy Joe" could have heard our remarks about the Divisional Baths
and army red tape, he would have fainted at our wickedness. But Tommy
is only human after all.

I just mentioned "Holy Joe" or the Chaplain in an irreverent sort of
way but no offense was meant, as there were some very brave men among

There are so many instances of heroic deeds performed under fire in
rescuing the wounded that it would take several books to chronicle
them, but I have to mention one instance performed by a Chaplain,
Captain Hall by name, in the Brigade on our left, because it
particularly appealed to me.

A chaplain is not a fighting man; he is recognized as a non-combatant
and carries no arms. In a charge or trench raid the soldier gets a
feeling of confidence from contact with his rifle, revolver, or bomb
he is carrying. He has something to protect himself with, something
with which he can inflict harm on the enemy,--in other words, he is
able to get his own back.

But the chaplain is empty handed, and is at the mercy of the enemy if
he encounters them, so it is doubly brave for him to go over the top,
under fire, and bring in wounded. Also a chaplain is not required by
the King's Regulations to go over in a charge, but this one did, made
three trips under the hottest kind of fire, each time returning with a
wounded man on his back. On the third trip he received a bullet
through his left arm, but never reported the matter to the doctor
until late that night--just spent his time administering to the
wants of the wounded lying on stretchers waiting to be carried to the
rear by ambulances.

The chaplains in the British Army are a fine, manly set of men, and
are greatly respected by Tommy.



I had not slept long before the sweet voice of the Sergeant informed
that "No. I Section had clicked for another blinking digging party," I
smiled to myself with deep satisfaction. I had been promoted from a
mere digger to a member of the Suicide Club, and was exempt from all
fatigues. Then came an awful shock. The Sergeant looked over in my
direction and said:

"Don't you bomb throwers think that you are wearing top hats out here.
'Cordin' to orders you've been taken up on the strength of this
section, and will have to do your bit with the pick and shovel, same
as the rest of us."

I put up a howl on my way to get my shovel, but the only thing that
resulted was a loss of good humor on my part.

We fell in at eight o'clock, outside of our billets, a sort of
masquerade party. I was disguised as a common laborer, had a pick and
shovel, and about one hundred empty sandbags. The rest, about two
hundred in all, were equipped likewise: picks, shovels, sandbags,
rifles, and ammunition.

The party moved out in column of fours, taking the road leading to the
trenches. Several times we had to string out in the ditch to let long
columns of limbers, artillery, and supplies get past.

The marching, under these conditions, was necessarily slow. Upon
arrival at the entrance to the communication trench, I looked at my
illuminated wrist-watch--it was eleven o'clock.

Before entering this trench, word was passed down the line, "no
talking or smoking, lead off in single file, covering party first."

This covering party consisted of thirty men, armed with rifles,
bayonets, bombs, and two Lewis machine guns. They were to protect us
and guard against a surprise attack, while digging in No Man's Land.

The communication trench was about half a mile long, a zigzagging
ditch, eight feet deep and three feet wide.

Now and again, German shrapnel would whistle overhead and burst in our
vicinity. We would crouch against the earthen walls while the shell
fragments "slapped" the ground above us.

Once Fritz turned loose with a machine gun, the bullets from which
"cracked" through the air and kicked up the dirt on the top,
scattering sand and pebbles, which, hitting our steel helmets, sounded
like hailstones.

Upon arrival in the fire trench an officer of the Royal Engineers gave
us our instructions and acted as guide.

We were to dig an advanced trench two hundred yards from the Germans
(the trenches at this point were six hundred yards apart).

Two winding lanes, five feet wide, had been cut through our barbed
wire, for the passage of the diggers. From these lanes white tape had
been laid on the ground to the point where we were to commence work.
This in order that we would not get lost in the darkness. The proposed
trench was also laid out with tape.

The covering party went out first. After a short wait, two scouts came
back with information that the working party was to follow and "carry
on" with their work.


In extended order, two yards apart, we noiselessly crept across No
Man's Land. It was nervous work; every minute we expected a machine
gun to open fire on us. Stray bullets "cracked" around us, or a
ricochet sang overhead.

Arriving at the taped diagram of the trench, rifles slung around our
shoulders, we lost no time in getting to work. We dug as quietly as
possible, but every now and then, the noise of a pick or shovel
striking a stone, would send the cold shivers down our backs. Under
our breaths we heartily cursed the offending Tommy.

At intervals a star shell would go up from the German lines and we
would remain motionless until the glare of its white light died out.

When the trench had reached a depth of two feet, we felt safer,
because it would afford us cover in case we were discovered and fired

The digging had been in progress about two hours, when suddenly, hell
seemed to break loose in the form of machine gun and rifle fire.

We dropped down on our bellies in the shallow trench, bullets knocking
up the ground and snapping in the air. Then the shrapnel batted in.
The music was hot and Tommy danced.

The covering party was having a rough time of it; they had no cover;
just had to take their medicine.

Word was passed down the line to beat it for our trenches. We needed
no urging; grabbing our tools and stooping low, we legged it across No
Man's Land. The covering party got away to a poor start but beat us
in. They must have had wings because we lowered the record.

Panting and out of breath, we tumbled into our front-line trench. I
tore my hands getting through our wire, but, at the time, didn't
notice it; my journey was too urgent.

When the roll was called we found that we had gotten it in the nose
for sixty-three casualties.

Our artillery put a barrage on Fritz's front-line and communication
trenches and their machine gun and rifle fire suddenly ceased.

Upon the cessation of this fire, stretcher-bearers went out to look
for killed and wounded. Next day we learned that twenty-one of our men
had been killed and thirty-seven wounded. Five men were missing; lost
in the darkness they must have wandered over into the German lines,
where they were either killed or captured.

Speaking of stretcher-bearers and wounded, it is very hard for the
average civilian to comprehend the enormous cost of taking care of
wounded and the war in general. He or she gets so accustomed to seeing
billions of dollars in print that the significance of the amount is
passed over without thought.

From an official statement published in one of the London papers, it
is stated that it costs between six and seven thousand pounds ($30,000
to $35,000) to kill or wound a soldier. This result was attained by
taking the cost of the war to date and dividing it by the killed and

It may sound heartless and inhuman, but it is a fact, nevertheless,
that from a military stand-point it is better for a man to be killed
than wounded.

If a man is killed he is buried, and the responsibility of the
government ceases, excepting for the fact that his people receive a
pension. But if a man is wounded it takes three men from the firing
line, the wounded man and two men to carry him to the rear to the
advanced first-aid post. Here he is attended by a doctor, perhaps
assisted by two R.A.M.C. men. Then he is put into a motor ambulance,
manned by a crew of two or three. At the field hospital, where he
generally goes under an anaesthetic, either to have his wounds cleaned
or to be operated on, he requires the services of about three to five
persons. From this point another ambulance ride impresses more men in
his service, and then at the ambulance train, another corps of
doctors, R.A.M.C. men, Red Cross nurses, and the train's crew. From
the train he enters the base hospital or Casualty Clearing Station,
where a good-sized corps of doctors, nurses, etc., are kept busy.
Another ambulance journey is next in order--this time to the
hospital ship. He crosses the Channel, arrives in Blighty--more
ambulances and perhaps a ride for five hours on an English Red Cross
train with its crew of Red Cross workers, and at last he reaches the
hospital. Generally he stays from two to six months, or longer, in
this hospital. From here he is sent to a convalescent home for six

If by wounds he is unfitted for further service, he is discharged,
given a pension, or committed to a Soldiers' Home for the rest of his
life,--and still the expense piles up. When you realize that all the
ambulances, trains, and ships, not to mention the man-power, used in
transporting a wounded man, could be used for supplies, ammunition,
and reinforcements for the troops at the front, it will not appear
strange that from a strictly military standpoint, a dead man is
sometimes better than a live one (if wounded).

Not long after the first digging party, our General decided, after a
careful tour of inspection of the communication trenches, upon "an
ideal spot," as he termed it, for a machine-gun emplacement. Took his
map, made a dot on it, and as he was wont, wrote "dig here," and the
next night we dug.

There were twenty in the party, myself included. Armed with picks,
shovels, and empty sandbags we arrived at the "ideal spot" and started
digging. The moon was very bright, but we did not care as we were well
out of sight of the German lines.

We had gotten about three feet down, when the fellow next to me, after
a mighty stroke with his pick, let go of the handle, and pinched his
nose with his thumb and forefinger, at the same time letting out the
explosion, "Gott strafe me pink, I'm bloody well gassed, not 'alf I
ain't." I quickly turned in his direction with an inquiring look, at
the same instant reaching for my gas bag. I soon found out what was
ailing him. One whiff was enough and I lost no time in also pinching
my nose. The stench was awful. The rest of the digging party dropped
their picks and shovels and beat it for the weather side of that
solitary pick. The officer came over and inquired why the work had
suddenly ceased, holding our noses, we simply pointed in the direction
of the smelt. He went over to the pick, immediately clapped his hand
over his nose, made an "about turn" and came back. Just then our
Captain came along and investigated, but after about a minute said we
had better carry on with the digging, that he did not see why we
should have stopped as the odor was very faint, but if necessary he
would allow us to use our gas helmets while digging. He would stay and
see the thing through, but he had to report back at Brigade
Headquarters immediately. We wished that we were Captains and also had
a date at Brigade Headquarters. With our gas helmets on we again
attacked that hole and uncovered the decomposed body of a German; the
pick was sticking in his chest. One of the men fainted. I was that
one. Upon this our Lieutenant halted proceedings and sent word back to
headquarters and word came back that after we filled in the hole we
could knock off for the night. This was welcome tidings to us, because--

Next day the General changed the dot on his map and another
emplacement was completed the following night.

The odor from a dug-up, decomposed human body has an effect which is
hard to describe. It first produces a nauseating feeling, which,
especially after eating, causes vomiting. This relieves you
temporarily, but soon a weakening sensation follows, which leaves you
limp as a dish-rag. Your spirits are at their lowest ebb and you feel
a sort of hopeless helplessness and a mad desire to escape it all, to
get to the open fields and the perfume of the flowers in Blighty.
There is a sharp, prickling sensation in the nostrils, which reminds
one of breathing coal gas through a radiator in the floor, and you
want to sneeze, but cannot. This was the effect on me, surmounted by a
vague horror of the awfulness of the thing and an ever-recurring
reflection that, perhaps I, sooner or later, would be in such a state
and be brought to light by the blow of a pick in the hands of some
Tommy on a digging party.

Several times I have experienced this odor, but never could get used
to it; the enervating sensation was always present. It made me hate
war and wonder why such things were countenanced by civilisation, and
all the spice and glory of the conflict would disappear, leaving the
grim reality. But after leaving the spot and filling your lungs with
deep breaths of pure, fresh air, you forget and once again want to be
"up and at them."



It was six in the morning when we arrived at our rest billets, and we
were allowed to sleep until noon; that is, if we wanted to go without
our breakfast. For sixteen days we remained in rest billets, digging
roads, drilling, and other fatigues, and then back into the front-line

Nothing happened that night, but the next afternoon I found out that a
bomber is general utility man in a section.

About five o'clock in the afternoon our Lieutenant came down the
trench and stopping in front of a bunch of us on the fire step, with a
broad grin on his face, asked: "Who is going to volunteer for
listening post to-night? I need two men."

It is needless to say no one volunteered, because it is anything but a
cushy Job. I began to feel uncomfortable as I knew it was getting
around for my turn. Sure enough, with another grin, he said:

"Empey, you and Wheeler are due, so come down into my dugout for
instructions at six o'clock."

Just as he left and was going around a traverse, Fritz turned loose
with a machine gun and the bullets ripped the sandbags right over his
head. It gave me great pleasure to see him duck against the parapet.
He was getting a taste of what we would get later out in front.

Then, of course, it began to rain. I knew it was the forerunner of a
miserable night for us. Every time I had to go out in front, it just
naturally rained. Old Jupiter Pluvius must have had it in for me.

At six we reported for instructions. They were simple and easy. All we
had to do was to crawl out into No Man's Land, lie on our bellies with
our ears to the ground and listen for the tap tap of the German
engineers or sappers who might be tunnelling under No Man's Land to
establish a mine-head beneath our trench.

Of course, in our orders we were told not to be captured by German
patrols or reconnoitering parties. Lots of breath is wasted on the
Western Front giving silly cautions.

As soon as it was dark. Wheeler and I crawled to our post which was
about half-way between the lines. It was raining bucketsful, the
ground was a sea of sticky mud and clung to us like glue.

We took turns in listening with our ears to the ground. I would listen
for twenty minutes while Wheeler would be on the QUI VIVE for German

We each wore a wrist-watch, and believe me, neither one of us did over
twenty minutes. The rain soaked us to the skin and bur ears were full
of mud.

Every few minutes a bullet would crack overhead or a machine gun would
traverse back and forth.

Then all firing suddenly ceased. I whispered to Wheeler, "Keep your
eye skinned, mate, most likely Fritz has a patrol out,--that's why
the Boches have stopped firing."

We were each armed with a rifle and bayonet and three Mills bombs to
be used for defense only.

I had my ear to the ground. All of a sudden I heard faint, dull thuds.
In a very low, but excited voice, I whispered to Wheeler, "I think
they are mining, listen."

He put his ear to the ground and in an unsteady voice spoke into my

"Yank, that's a patrol and it's heading our way. For God's sake keep

I was as still as a mouse and was scared stiff.

Hardly breathing and with eyes trying to pierce the inky blackness, we
waited. I would have given a thousand pounds to have been safely in my

Then we plainly heard footsteps and our hearts stood still.

A dark form suddenly loomed up in front of me, it looked as big as the
Woolworth Building. I could hear the blood rushing through my veins
and it sounded as loud as Niagara Falls.

Forms seemed to emerge from the darkness. There were seven of them in
all. I tried to wish them away. I never wished harder in my life. They
muttered a few words in German and melted into the blackness. I didn't
stop wishing either.

All of a sudden we heard a stumble, a muddy splash, and a muttered,
"Donner und Blitzen". One of the Boches had tumbled into a shell hole.
Neither of us laughed. At that time, it didn't strike us as funny.

About twenty minutes after the Germans had disappeared, something from
the rear grabbed me by the foot. I nearly fainted with fright. Then a
welcome whisper in a cockney accent. "I s'y, myte, we've come to
relieve you." Wheeler and I crawled back to our trench, we looked like
wet hens and felt worse. After a swig of rum we were soon fast asleep
on the fire step in our wet clothes.

The next morning I was as stiff as a poker and every joint ached like
a bad tooth, but I was still alive, so it did not matter.



The day after this I received the glad tidings that I would occupy the
machine-gunners' dugout right near the advanced artillery observation
post. This dugout was a roomy affair, dry as tinder, and real cots in
it. These cots had been made by the R.E.'s who had previously occupied
the dugout. I was the first to enter and promptly made a sign board
with my name and number on it and suspended it from the foot of the
most comfortable cot therein.

In the trenches, it is always "first come, first served," and this is
lived up to by all.

Two R.F.A. men (Royal Field Artillery) from the nearby observation
post were allowed the privilege of stopping in this dugout while off

One of these men, Bombardier Wilson by name, who belonged to Battery D
238, seemed to take a liking to me, and I returned this feeling.

In two days' time we were pretty chummy, and he told me how his
battery in the early days of the war had put over a stunt on Old
Pepper, and had gotten away with it.

I will endeavor to give the story as far as memory will permit in his
own words:

"I came out with the First Expeditionary Force, and like all the rest,
thought we would have the enemy licked in jig time, and be able to eat
Christmas dinner at home. Well, so far, I have eaten two Christmas
dinners in the trenches, and am liable to eat two more, the way things
are pointing. That is, if Fritz don't drop a 'whizz-bang' on me, and
send me to Blighty. Sometimes I wish I would get hit, because it's no
great picnic out here, and twenty-two months of it makes you fed up.

"It's fairly cushy now compared to what it used to be, although I
admit this trench is a trifle rough. Now, we send over five shells to
their one. We are getting our own back, but in the early days it was
different. Then you had to take everything without a reply. In fact,
we would get twenty shells in return for every one we sent over. Fritz
seemed to enjoy it, but we British didn't, we were the sufferers. Just
one casualty after another. Sometimes whole platoons would disappear,
especially when a 'Jack Johnson' plunked into their middle. It got so
bad, that a fellow, when writing home, wouldn't ask for any cigarettes
to be sent out, because he was afraid he wouldn't be there to receive

"After the drive to Paris was turned back, trench warfare started. Our
General grabbed a map, drew a pencil line across it, and said, 'Dig
here,' then he went back to his tea, and Tommy armed himself with a
pick and shovel, and started digging. He's been digging ever since.

"Of course, we dug those trenches at night, but it was hot work what
with the rifle and machinegun fire. The stretcher-bearers worked
harder than the diggers.

"Those trenches, bloomin' ditches, I call them, were a nightmare. They
were only about five feet deep, and you used to get the backache from
bending down. It wasn't exactly safe to stand upright either, because
as soon as your napper showed over the top, a bullet would bounce off
it, or else come so close it would make your hair stand.

"We used to fill sandbags and stick them on top of the parapet to make
it higher, but no use, they would be there about an hour, and then
Fritz would turn loose and blow them to bits. My neck used to be sore
from ducking shells and bullets.

"Where my battery was stationed, a hasty trench had been dug, which
the boys nicknamed 'Suicide Ditch,' and believe me, Yank, this was the
original 'Suicide Ditch'. All the others are imitations.

"When a fellow went into that trench, it was an even gamble that he
would come out on a stretcher. At one time, a Scotch battalion held
it, and when they heard the betting was even money that they'd come
out on stretchers, they grabbed all the bets in sight. Like a lot of
bally idiots several of the battery men fell for their game, and put
up real money. The 'Jocks' suffered a lot of casualties, and the
prospects looked bright for the battery men to collect some easy
money. So when the battalion was relieved, the gamblers lined up.
Several 'Jocks' got their money for emerging safely, but the ones who
clicked it, weren't there to pay. The artillerymen had never thought
it out that way. Those Scotties were bound to be sure winners, no
matter how the wind blew. So take a tip from me, never bet with a
Scottie, 'cause you'll lose money.

"At one part of our trench where a communication trench joined the
front line, a Tommy had stuck up a wooden sign-post with three hands
or arms on it. One of the hands pointing to the German lines read, 'To
Berlin,' the one pointing down the communication trench read, 'To
Blighty,' while the other said, 'Suicide Ditch, Change Here for

"Farther down from this guide post the trench ran through an old
orchard. On the edge of this orchard our battery had constructed an
advanced observation post. The trees screened it from the enemy airmen
and the roof was turfed. It wasn't cushy like ours, no timber or
concrete reinforcements, just walls and roof of sandbags. From it, a
splendid view of the German lines could be obtained. This post wasn't
exactly safe. It was a hot corner, shells plunking all around, and the
bullets cutting leaves off the trees. Many a time when relieving the
signaler at the phone, I had to crawl on my belly like a worm to keep
from being hit.

"It was an observation post sure enough. That's all the use it was.
Just observe all day, but never a message back for our battery to open
up. You see, at this point of the line there were strict orders not to
fire a shell, unless specially ordered to do so from Brigade
Headquarters. Blime me, if anyone disobeyed that command, our
General--yes, it was Old Pepper,--would have courtmartialed the whole
Expeditionary Force. Nobody went out of their way to disobey Old
Pepper in those days, because he couldn't be called a parson; he was
more like a pirate. If at any time the devil should feel lonely, and
sigh for a proper mate, Old Pepper would get the first call. Pacing
the Germans wasn't half bad compared with an interview with that old

"If a company or battalion should give way a few yards against a
superior force of Boches, Old Pepper would send for the commanding
officer. In about half an hour the officer would come back with his
face the color of a brick, and in a few hours, what was left of his
command, would be holding their original position.

"I have seen an officer, who wouldn't say 'damn' for a thousand quid,
spend five minutes with the old boy, and when he returned, the flow of
language from his lips would make a navvy blush for shame.

"What I am going to tell you is how two of us put it over on the old
scamp, and got away with it. It was a risky thing, too, because Old
Pepper wouldn't have been exactly mild with us if he had got next to
the game.

"Me and my mate, a lad named Harry Cassell, a Bombardier in D 238
Battery, or Lance-Corporal, as you call it in the infantry, used to
relieve the telephonists. We would do two hours on and four off. I
would be on duty in the advanced observation post, while he would be
at the other end of the wire in the battery dugout signaling station.
We were supposed to send through orders for the battery to fire when
ordered to do so by the observation officer in the advanced post. But
very few messages were sent. It was only in case of an actual attack
that we would get a chance to earn our 'two and six' a day. You see,
Old Pepper had issued orders not to fire except when the orders came
from him. And with Old Pepper orders is orders, and made to obey.

"The Germans must have known about these orders, for even in the day
their transports and troops used to expose themselves as if they were
on parade. This sure got up our nose, sitting there day after day,
with fine targets in front of us but unable to send over a shell. We
heartily cussed Old Pepper, his orders, the government, the people at
home, and everything in general. But the Boches didn't mind cussing,
and got very careless. Blime me, they were bally insulting. Used to,
when using a certain road, throw their caps into the air as a taunt at
our helplessness.

"Cassell had been a telegrapher in civil life and joined up when war
was declared. As for me, I knew Morse, learned it at the Signaler's
School back in 1910. With an officer in the observation post, we could
not carry on the kind of conversation that's usual between two mates,
so we used the Morse code. To send, one of us would tap the
transmitter with his finger nails, and the one on the other end would
get it through the receiver. Many an hour was whiled away in this
manner passing compliments back and forth.

"In the observation post, the officer used to sit for hours with a
powerful pair of field glasses to his eyes. Through a cleverly
concealed loophole he would scan the ground behind the German
trenches, looking for targets, and finding many. This officer, Captain
A--by name, had a habit of talking out loud to himself. Sometimes he
would vent his opinion, same as a common private does when he's
wrought up. Once upon a time the Captain had been on Old Pepper's
staff, so he could cuss and blind in the most approved style. Got to
be sort of a habit with him.

"About six thousand yards from us, behind the German lines, was a road
in plain view of our post. For the last three days, Fritz had brought
companies of troops down this road in broad daylight. They were never
shelled. Whenever this happened, the Captain would froth at the mouth
and let out a volume of Old Pepper's religion which used to make me
love him.

"Every battery has a range chart on which distinctive landmarks are
noted, with the range for each. These landmarks are called targets,
and are numbered. On our battery's chart, that road was called 'Target
Seventeen, Range 6000, three degrees, thirty minutes left'. D 238
Battery consisted of four '4.5' howitzers, and fired a thirty-five
pound H. E. shell. As you know, H. E. means 'high explosive'. I don't
like bumming up my own battery, but we had a record in the Division
for direct hits, and our boys were just pining away for a chance to
exhibit their skill in the eyes of Fritz.

"On the afternoon of the fourth day of Fritz's contemptuous use of the
road mentioned, the Captain and I were at our posts as usual. Fritz
was strafing us pretty rough, just like he's doing now. The shells
were playing leapfrog all through that orchard.

"I was carrying on a conversation in our 'tap' code with Cassell at
the other end. It ran something like this:

"'Say, Cassell, how would you like to be in the saloon bar of the
King's Arms down Rye Lane with a bottle of Bass in front of you, and
that blonde barmaid waiting to fill 'em up again?'

"Cassell had a fancy for that particular blonde. The answer came back
in the shape of a volley of cusses. I changed the subject.

"After awhile our talk veered round to the way the Boches had been
exposing themselves on the road known on the chart as Target
Seventeen. What we said about those Boches would never have passed the
Reichstag, though I believe it would have gone through our Censor
easily enough.

"The bursting shells were making such a din that I packed up talking
and took to watching the Captain. He was fidgeting around on an old
sandbag with the glass to his eye. Occasionally he would let out a
grunt, and make some remark I couldn't hear on account of the noise,
but I guessed what it was all right. Fritz was getting fresh again on
that road.

"Cassell had been sending in the 'tap code' to me, but I was fed up
and didn't bother with it. Then he sent O. S., and I was all
attention, for this was a call used between us which meant that
something important was on. I was all ears in an instant. Then Cassell
turned loose.

"'You blankety-blank dud, I have been trying to raise you for fifteen
minutes. What's the matter, are you asleep?' (Just as if anyone could
have slept in that infernal racket!) 'Never mind framing a nasty
answer. Just listen.'

"'Are you game for putting something over on the Boches, and Old
Pepper all in one?'

"I answered that I was game enough when it came to putting it over the
Boches, but confessed that I had a weakening of the spine, even at the
mention of Old Pepper's name.

"He came back with, 'It's so absurdly easy and simple that there is no
chance of the old heathen rumbling it. Anyway, if we're caught, I'll
take the blame.'

"Under those conditions I told him to spit out his scheme. It was so
daring and simple that it took my breath away. This is what he

"If the Boches should use that road again, to send by the tap system
the target and range. I had previously told him about our Captain
talking out loud as if he were sending through orders. Well, if this
happened, I was to send the dope to Cassell and he would transmit it
to the Battery Commander as officially coming through the observation
post. Then the battery would open up. Afterwards, during the
investigation, Cassell would swear he received it direct. They would
have to believe him, because it was impossible from his post in the
battery dugout to know that the road was being used at that time by
the Germans. And also it was impossible for him to give the target,
range, and degrees. You know a battery chart is not passed around
among the men like a newspaper from Blighty. From him, the
investigation would go to the observation post, and the observing
officer could truthfully swear that I had not sent the message by
'phone' and that no orders to fire had been issued by him. The
investigators would then be up in the air, we would be safe, the
Boches would receive a good bashing, and we would get our own back on
Old Pepper. It was too good to be true. I gleefully fell in with the
scheme, and told Cassell I was his meat.

"Then I waited with beating heart, and watched the Captain like a

"He was beginning to fidget again and was drumming on the sandbags
with his feet. At last, turning to me, he said:

"'Wilson, this army is a blankety blank washout. What's the use of
having artillery if it is not allowed to fire? The government at home
ought to be hanged with some of their red tape. It's through them that
we have no shells!'

"I answered, 'Yes sir,' and started sending this opinion over the wire
to Cassell, but the Captain interrupted me with:

'Keep those infernal fingers still. What's the matter, getting the
nerves? When I'm talking to you, pay attention.'

"My heart sank. Supposing he had rumbled that tapping, then all would
be up with our plan. I stopped drumming with my fingers, and said:

"'Beg your pardon, sir, just a habit with me.'

"'And a damned silly one, too,' he answered, turning to his glasses
again, and I knew I was safe. He had not tumbled to the meaning of
that tapping.

"All at once, without turning round, he exclaimed:

"'Well, of all the nerve I've ever run across, this takes the cake.
Those ---- Boches are using that road again. Blind my eyes, this time
it is a whole Brigade of them, transports and all. What a pretty
target for our '4.5's.' The beggars know we wont fire. A damned shame
I call it. Oh, just for a chance to turn D 238 loose on them.'

"'I was trembling with excitement. From repeated stolen glances at
the Captain's range chart, that road with its range was burned into my

"Over the wire I tapped, 'D 238 Battery, Target Seventeen, Range 6000,
three degrees, thirty minutes, left, Salvo, Fire.' Cassell O. E.'d my
message, and with the receiver pressed against my ear, I waited and
listened. In a couple of minutes very faintly over the wire came the
voice of our Battery Commander issuing the order:

'D 238 Battery. Salvo! Fire!'

"Then a roar through the receiver as the four guns belched forth, a
screaming and whistling overhead, and the shells were on their way.

"The Captain jumped as if he were shot, and let out a great big
expressive 'Damn,' and eagerly turned his glasses in the direction of
the German road. I also strained my eyes watching that target. Four
black clouds of dust rose up right in the middle of the German column.
Four direct hits-another record for D 238.

"The shells kept on whistling overhead, and I had counted twenty-four
of them when the firing suddenly ceased. When the smoke and dust
clouds lifted, the destruction on that road was awful. Overturned
limbers and guns, wagons smashed up, troops fleeing in all directions.
The road and roadside were spotted all over with little field gray
dots, the toll of our guns.

"The Captain, in his excitement, had slipped off the sandbag, and was
on his knees in the mud, the glass still at his eye. He was muttering
to himself and slapping his thigh with his disengaged hand. At every
slap a big round juicy cuss word would escape from his lips followed

"'Good, Fine, Marvelous, Pretty Work, Direct Hits, All!

"Then he turned to me and shouted:

"'Wilson, what do you think of it? Did you ever see the like of it in
your life? Damn fine work, I call it.'

"Pretty soon a look of wonder stole over his face, and he exclaimed:

"'But who in hell gave them the order to fire. Range and everything
correct, too. I know I didn't. Wilson, did I give you any order for
the Battery to open up? Of course, I didn't, did I?'

"I answered very emphatically, 'No, sir, you gave no command. Nothing
went through this post. I am absolutely certain on that point, sir.'

"'Of course nothing went through!' he replied. Then his face fell, and
he muttered out loud:

"'But, by Jove, wait till Old Pepper gets wind of this. There'll be
fur flying.'

"Just then Bombardier Cassell cut in on the wire:

"'General's compliments to Captain A--. He directs that officer and
signaler report at the double to Brigade Headquarters as soon as
relieved. Relief is now on the way.'

"In an undertone to me, 'Keep a brass front, Wilson, and for God's
sake, stick.' I answered with, 'Rely on me, mate,' but I was trembling
all over.

"I gave the General's message to the Captain, and started packing up.

"The relief arrived, and as we left the post the Captain said:

"'Now for the fireworks, and I know they'll be good and plenty.' They

"When we arrived at the gun pits, the Battery Commander, the
Sergeant-Major, and Cassell were waiting for us. We fell in line and
the funeral march to Brigade Headquarters started.

"Arriving at Headquarters the Battery Commander was the first to be
interviewed. This was behind closed doors. From the roaring and
explosions of Old Pepper it sounded as if raw meat was being thrown to
the lions. Cassell, later, described it as sounding like a bombing
raid. In about two minutes the officer reappeared. The sweat was
pouring from his forehead, and his face was the color of a beet. He
was speechless. As he passed the Captain he jerked his thumb in the
direction of the lion's den and went out. Then the Captain went in,
and the lions were once again fed. The Captain stayed about twenty
minutes and came out. I couldn't see his face, but the droop in his
shoulders was enough. He looked like a wet hen.

"The door of the General's room opened, and Old Pepper stood in the
doorway. With a roar he shouted:

"'Which one of you is Cassell? Damn me, get your heels together when I
speak! Come in here!'

"Cassell started to say, 'Yes, sir.'

"But Old Pepper roared, 'Shut up!'

"Cassell came out in five minutes. He said nothing, but as he passed
me, he put his tongue into his cheek and winked, then turning to the
closed door, he stuck his thumb to his nose and left.

"Then the Sergeant-Major's turn came. He didn't come out our way.
Judging by the roaring, Old Pepper must have eaten him.

"When the door opened, and the General beckoned to me, my knees
started to play Home, Sweet Home against each other.

"My interview was very short.

"Old Pepper glared at me when I entered, and then let loose.

"'Of course you don't know anything about it. You're just like the
rest. Ought to have a nursing bottle around your neck, and a nipple in
your teeth. Soldiers, by gad, you turn my stomach to look at you. Win
this war, when England sends out such samples as I have in my Brigade!
Not likely! Now, sir, tell me what you don't know about this affair.
Speak up, out with it. Don't be gaping at me like a fish. Spit it

"I stammered, 'Sir, I know absolutely nothing.'

"'That's easy to see,' he roared; 'that stupid face tells me that.
Shut up. Get out; but I think you are a damned liar just the same.
Back to your battery.'

"I saluted and made my exit.

"That night the Captain sent for us. With fear and trembling we went
to his dugout. He was alone. After saluting, we stood at attention in
front of him and waited. His say was short.

"'Don't you two ever get it into your heads that Morse is a dead
language. I've known it for years. The two of you had better get rid
of that nervous habit of tapping transmitters; it's dangerous. That's

"We saluted, and were just going out the door of the dugout when the
Captain called us back, and said:

"'Smoke Goldflakes? Yes? Well there are two tins of them on my table.
Go back to the battery, and keep your tongues between your teeth.

"We understood.

"But five weeks afterwards our battery did nothing but extra fatigues.
We were satisfied and so were the men. It was worth it to put one over
on Old Pepper, to say nothing of the injury caused to Fritz's

When Wilson had finished his story I looked up, and the dugout was
jammed. An artillery Captain and two officers had also entered and
stayed for the finish. Wilson spat out an enormous quid of tobacco,
looked up, saw the Captain, and got as red as a carnation. The Captain
smiled and left. Wilson whispered to me:

"Blime me, Yank, I see where I click for crucifixion. That Captain is
the same one that chucked us the Goldflakes in his dugout and here I
have been chucking me weight about in his hearing!"

Wilson never clicked his crucifixion.

Quite a contrast to Wilson was another character in our Brigade named
Scott, we called him "Old Scotty" on account of his age. He was
fifty-seven, although looking forty. "Old Scotty" had been born in
the Northwest and had served with the Northwest Mounted Police. He was
a typical cow-puncher and Indian fighter and was a dead shot with the
rifle, and took no pains to disguise this fact from us. He used to
take care of his rifle as if it were a baby. In his spare moments you
could always see him cleaning it or polishing the stock. Woe betide
the man, who by mistake, happened to get hold of this rifle; he soon
found out his error. Scott was as deaf as a mule, and it was amusing
at parade to watch him in the manual of arms, slyly glancing out of
the corner of his eye at the man next to him to see what the order was.
How he passed the doctor was a mystery to us, he must have bluffed his
way through, because he certainly was independent. Beside him the
Fourth of July looked like Good Friday. He wore at the time a large
sombrero, had a Mexican stock saddle over his shoulder, a lariat on
his arm, and a "forty-five" hanging from his hip. Dumping this
paraphernalia on the floor he went up to the recruiting officer and
shouted: "I'm from America, west of the Rockies, and want to join your
damned army. I've got no use for a German and can shoot some. At
Scotland Yard they turned me down; said I was deaf and so I am. I
don't hanker to ship in with a damned mud crunching outfit, but the
cavalry's full, so I guess this regiment's better than none, so trot
out your papers and I'll sign 'em." He told them he was forty and
slipped by. I was on recruiting service at the time he applied for

It was Old Scotty's great ambition to be a sniper or "body snatcher"
as Mr. Atkins calls it. The day that he was detailed as Brigade
Sniper, he celebrated his appointment by blowing the whole platoon to

Being a Yank, Old Scotty took a liking to me and used to spin some
great yams about the plains, and the whole platoon would drink these
in and ask for more. Ananias was a rookie compared with him.

The ex-plainsman and discipline could not agree, but the officers all
liked him, even if he was hard to manage. So when he was detailed as a
sniper, a sigh of relief went up from the officers' mess.

Old Scotty had the freedom of the Brigade. He used to draw two or
three days' rations and disappear with his glass, range finder, and
rifle, and we would see or hear no more of him, until suddenly he
would reappear with a couple of notches added to those already on the
butt of his rifle. Every time he got a German it meant another notch.
He was proud of these notches.

But after a few months Father Rheumatism got him and he was sent to
Blighty; the air in the wake of his stretcher was blue with curses.
Old Scotty surely could swear; some of his outbursts actually burned

No doubt, at this writing he is "somewhere in Blighty" pussy footing
it on a bridge or along the wall of some munition plant with the "G.
R," or Home Defence Corps.



After tea, Lieutenant Stores of our section came into the dugout and
informed me that I was "for" a reconnoitering patrol and would carry
six Mills bombs.

At 11.30 that night twelve men, our Lieutenant, and myself went out in
front on a patrol in No Man's Land.

We cruised around in the dark for about two hours, just knocking about
looking for trouble, on the lookout for Boche working parties to see
what they were doing.

Around two in the morning we were carefully picking our way, about
thirty yards in front of the German barbed wire, when we walked into a
Boche covering party nearly thirty strong. Then the music started, the
fiddler rendered his bill, and we paid.

Fighting in the dark with a bayonet is act very pleasant. The Germans
took it on the run, but our officer was no novice at the game and
didn't follow them. He gave the order "down on the ground, hug it

Just in time, too, because a volley skimmed over our heads. Then in
low tones we were told to separate and crawl back to our trenches,
each man on his own.

We could see the flashes of their rifles in the darkness, but the
bullets were going over our heads.

We lost three men killed and one wounded in the arm. If it hadn't been
for our officers' quick thinking the whole patrol would have probably
been wiped out.

After about twenty minutes' wait we went out again and discovered that
the Germans had a wiring party working on their barbed wire. We
returned to our trenches unobserved with the information and our
machine guns immediately got busy.

The next night four men were sent out to go over and examine the
German barbed wire and see if they had cut lanes through it; if so,
this presaged an early morning attack on our trenches.

Of course, I had to be one of the four selected for the job. It was
just like sending a fellow to the undertakers to order his own coffin.

At ten o'clock we started out, armed with three bombs, a bayonet, and
revolver. After getting into No Man's Land we separated. Crawling four
or five feet at a time, ducking star shells, with strays cracking over
head, I reached their wire. I scouted along this inch by inch,
scarcely breathing. I could hear them talking in their trench, my
heart was pounding against my ribs. One false move or the least noise
from me meant discovery and almost certain death.

After covering my sector I quietly crawled back. I had gotten about
half-way, when I noticed that my revolver was missing. It was pitch
dark. I turned about to see if I could find it; it couldn't be far
away, because about three or four minutes previously I had felt the
butt in the holster. I crawled around in circles and at last found it,
then started on my way back to our trenches, as I thought.

Pretty soon I reached barbed wire, and was just going to give the
password, when something told me not to. I put out my hand and touched
one of the barbed wire stakes. It was iron. The British are of wood,
while the German are iron. My heart stopped beating; by mistake I had
crawled back to the German lines.

I turned slowly about and my tunic caught on the wire and made a loud
ripping noise.

A sharp challenge rang out. I sprang to my feet, ducking low, and ran
madly back toward our lines. The Germans started firing. The bullets
were biting all around me, when bang! I ran smash into our wire, and a
sharp challenge "'Alt, who comes there?" rang out. I gasped out the
password and groping my way through the lane in the wire, tearing my
hands and uniform, I tumbled into our trench and was safe, but I was a
nervous wreck for an hour, until a drink of rum brought me round.



Three days after the incident just related our Company was relieved
from the front line and carried out. We stayed in reserve billets for
about two weeks when we received the welcome news that our division
would go back of the line "to rest billets." We would remain in these
billets for at least two months, this in order to be restored to our
full strength by drafts of recruits from Blighty.

Everyone was happy and contented at these tidings; all you could hear
around the billets was whistling and singing. The day after the
receipt of the order we hiked for five days, making an average of
about twelve kilos per day until we arrived at the small town of 0'--.

It took us about three days to get settled and from then on our cushy
time started. We would parade from 8.45 in the morning until 12 noon.
Then except for an occasional billet or brigade guard we were on our
own. For the first four or five afternoons I spent my time in bringing
up to date my neglected correspondence.

Tommy loves to be amused, and being a Yank, they turned to me for
something new in this line. I taught them how to pitch horseshoes, and
this game made a great hit for about ten days. Then Tommy turned to
America for a new diversion. I was up in the air until a happy thought
came to me. Why not write a sketch and break Tommy in as an actor?

One evening after "Lights out," when you are not supposed to talk, I
imparted my scheme in whispers to the section. They eagerly accepted
the idea of forming a Stock Company and could hardly wait until the
morning for further details.

After parade, the next afternoon I was almost mobbed. Everyone in the
section wanted a part in the proposed sketch. When I informed them
that it would take at least ten days of hard work to write the plot,
they were bitterly disappointed. I immediately got busy, made a desk
out of biscuit tins in the corner of the billet, and put up a sign
"Empey & Wallace Theatrical Co." About twenty of the section, upon
reading this sign, immediately applied for the position of office boy.
I accepted the twenty applicants, and sent them on scouting parties
throughout the deserted French village. These parties were to search
all the attics for discarded civilian clothes, and anything that we
could use in the props of our proposed Company.

About five that night they returned covered with grime and dust, but
loaded down with a miscellaneous assortment of everything under the
sun. They must have thought that I was going to start a department
store, judging from the different things they brought back from their

After eight days' constant writing I completed a two-act farce comedy
which I called The Diamond Palace Saloon. Upon the suggestion of one
of the boys in the section I sent a proof of the program to a printing
house in London. Then I assigned the different parts and started
rehearsing. David Belasco would have thrown up his hands in despair at
the material which I had to use. Just imagine trying to teach a Tommy,
with a strong cockney accent, to impersonate a Bowery Tough or a
Southern Negro.

Adjacent to our billet was an open field. We got busy at one end of it
and constructed a stage. We secured the lumber for the stage by
demolishing an old wooden shack in the rear of our billet.

The first scene was supposed to represent a street on the Bowery in
New York. While the scene of the second act was the interior of the
Diamond Palace Saloon, also on the Bowery.

In the play I took the part of Abe Switch, a farmer, who had come from
Pumpkinville Center, Tennessee, to make his first visit to New York.

In the first scene Abe Switch meets the proprietor of the Diamond
Palace Saloon, a ramshackle affair which to the owner was a financial

The proprietor's name was Tom Twistem, his bartender being named
Fillem Up.

After meeting Abe, Tom and Fillem Up persuaded him to buy the place,
praising it to the skies and telling wondrous tales of the money taken
over the bar.

While they are talking, an old Jew named Ikey Cohenstein comes along,
and Abe engages him for cashier. After engaging Ikey they meet an old
Southern Negro called Sambo, and upon the suggestion of Ikey he is
engaged as porter. Then the three of them, arm in arm, leave to take
possession of this wonderful palace which Abe had just paid $6,000
for. (Curtain.)

{Illustration: Programme}

In the second act the curtain rises on the interior of the Diamond
Palace Saloon, and the audience gets its first shock. The saloon looks
like a pig-pen, two tramps lying drunk on the floor, and the bartender
in a dirty shirt with his sleeves rolled up, asleep with his head on
the bar.

Enter Abe, Sambo, and Ikey, and the fun commences.

One of the characters in the second act was named Broadway Kate, and I
had an awful job to break in one of the Tommies to act and talk like a

Another character was Alkali Ike, an Arizona cow-boy, who just before
the close of the play comes into the saloon and wrecks it with his

We had eleven three-hour rehearsals before I thought it advisable to
present the sketch to the public.

The whole Brigade was crazy to witness the first performance. This
performance was scheduled for Friday night and everyone was full of
anticipation; when bang! orders came through that the Brigade would
move at two that afternoon. Cursing and blinding was the order of
things upon the receipt of this order, but we moved.

That night we reached the little village of S--and again went into
rest billets. We were to be there two weeks. Our Company immediately
got busy and scoured the village for a suitable place in which to
present our production. Then we received another shock.

A rival company was already established in the village. They called
themselves "The Bow Bells," and put on a sketch entitled 'Blighty--What
Hopes?' They were the Divisional Concert Party.

We hoped they all would be soon in Blighty to give us a chance.

This company charged an admission of a franc per head, and that night
our company went en masse to see their performance. It really was

I had a sinking sensation when I thought of running my sketch in
opposition to it.

In one of their scenes they had a soubrette called Flossie. The
soldier that took this part was clever and made a fine appearing and
chic girl. We immediately fell in love with her until two days after,
while we were on a march, we passed Flossie with her sleeves rolled up
and the sweat pouring from her face unloading shells from a motor

As our section passed her I yelled out: "Hello, Flossie, Blighty--What
Hopes?" Her reply made our love die out instantly.

"Ah, go to hell!"

This brought quite a laugh from the marching column directed at me,
and I instantly made up my mind that our sketch should immediately run
in opposition to 'Blighty--What Hopes?'

When we returned to our billet from the march, Curley Wallace, my
theatrical partner, came running over to me and said he had found a
swanky place in which to produce our show.

After taking off my equipment, and followed by the rest of the
section, I went over to the building he had picked out. It was a
monstrous barn with a platform at one end which would make an ideal
stage. The section got right on the job, and before night had that
place rigged out in apple-pie order.

The next day was Sunday and after church parade we put all our time on
a dress rehearsal, and it went fine.

I made four or five large signs announcing that our company would open
up that evening at the King George the Fifth Theatre, on the corner of
Ammo Street and Sandbag Terrace. General admission was one half franc.
First ten rows in orchestra one franc, and boxes two francs. By this
time our printed programs had returned from London, and I further
announced that on the night of the first performance a program would
be given free of charge to men holding tickets costing a franc or

We had an orchestra of seven men and seven different instruments. This
orchestra was excellent, while they were not playing.

The performance was scheduled to start at 6 P.M.

At 5.15 there was a mob in front of our one entrance and it looked
like a big night. We had two boxes each accommodating four people, and
these we immediately sold out. Then a brilliant idea came to Ikey
Cohenstein. Why not use the rafters overhead, call them boxes, and
charge two francs for a seat on them? The only difficulty was how were
the men to reach these boxes, but to Ikey this was a mere detail.

He got long ropes and tied one end around each rafter and then tied a
lot of knots in the ropes. These ropes would take the place of

We figured out that the rafters would seat about forty men and sold
that number of tickets accordingly,

When the ticket-holders for the boxes got a glimpse of the rafters and
were informed that they had to use the rope stairway, there was a howl
of indignation, but we had their money and told them that if they did
not like it they could write to the management later and their money
would be refunded; but under these conditions they would not be
allowed to witness the performance that night.

After a little grousing they accepted the situation with the promise
that if the show was rotten they certainly would let us know about it
during the performance,

Everything went lovely and it was a howling success, until Alkali Ike
appeared on the scene with his revolver loaded with blank cartridges.
Behind the bar on a shelf was a long line of bottles. Alkali Ike was
supposed to start on the left of this line and break six of the
bottles by firing at them with his revolver. Behind these bottles a
piece of painted canvas was supposed to represent the back of the bar,
at each shot from Alkali's pistol a man behind the scenes would hit
one of the bottles with his entrenching tool handle and smash it, to
give the impression that Alkali was a good shot.

Alkali Ike started in and aimed at the right of the line of bottles
instead of the left, and the poor boob behind the scenes started
breaking the bottles on the left, and then the box-holders turned
loose; but outside of this little fiasco the performance was a huge
success, and we decided to run it for a week. New troops were
constantly coming through, and for six performances we had the "S. R.
O." sign suspended outside.



Of course Tommy cannot always be producing plays under fire but while
in rest billets he has numerous other ways of amusing himself. He is a
great gambler, but never plays for large stakes. Generally, in each
Company, you will find a regular Canfield. This man banks nearly all
the games of chance and is an undisputed authority on the rules of
gambling. Whenever there is an argument among the Tommies about some
uncertain point as to whether Houghton is entitled to "Watkins"
sixpence, the matter is taken to the recognized authority and his
decision is final.

The two most popular games are "Crown and Anchor" and "House."

The paraphernalia used in "Crown and Anchor" consists of a piece of
canvas two feet by three feet. This is divided into six equal squares.
In these squares are painted a club, diamond, heart, spade, crown, and
an anchor, one device to a square. There are three dice used, each
dice marked the same as the canvas. The banker sets up his gambling
outfit in the corner of a billet and starts bally-hooing until a crowd
of Tommies gather around; then the game starts.

The Tommies place bets on the squares, the crown or anchor being
played the most. The banker then rolls his three dice and collects or
pays out as the case may be. If you play the crown and one shows up on
the dice, you get even money, if two show up, you receive two to one,
and if three, three to one. If the crown does not appear and you have
bet on it, you lose, and so on. The percentage for the banker is large
if every square is played, but if the crowd is partial to, say, two
squares, he has to trust to luck. The banker generally wins.

The game of "House" is very popular also. It takes two men to run it.
This game consists of numerous squares of cardboard containing three
rows of numbers, five numbers to a row. The numbers run from one to
ninety. Each card has a different combination.

The French estaminets in the villages are open from eleven in the
morning until one in the afternoon in accordance with army orders.

After dinner the Tommies congregate at these places to drink French
beer at a penny a glass and play "House."

As soon as the estaminet is sufficiently crowded the proprietors of
the "House Game" get busy and as they term it "form a school." This
consists of going around and selling cards at a franc each. If they
have ten in the school, the backers of the game deduct two francs for
their trouble and the winner gets eight francs.

Then the game starts. Each buyer places his card before him on the
table, first breaking up matches into fifteen pieces.

One of the backers of the game has a small cloth bag in which are
ninety cardboard squares, each with a number printed thereon, from one
to ninety. He raps on the table and cries out, "Eyes down, my lucky

All noise ceases and everyone is attention.

The croupier places his hand in the bag and draws forth a numbered
square and immediately calls out the number. The man who owns the card
with that particular number on it, covers the square with a match. The
one who covers the fifteen numbers on his card first shouts "House."
The other backer immediately comes over to him and verifies the card,
by calling out the numbers thereon to the man with the bag. As each
number is called he picks it out of the ones picked from the bag and
says, "Right." If the count is right he shouts, "House correct, pay
the lucky gentleman, and sell him a card for the next school." The
"lucky gentleman" generally buys one unless he has a Semitic trace in
his veins.

Then another collection is made, a school formed, and they carry on
with the game.

The caller-out has many nicknames for the numbers such as "Kelly's
Eye" for one, "Leg's Eleven" for eleven, "Clickety-click" for
sixty-six, or "Top of the house" meaning ninety.

The game is honest and quite enjoyable. Sometimes you have fourteen
numbers on your card covered and you are waiting for the fifteenth to
be called. In an imploring voice you call out, "Come on, Watkins,
chum, I'm sweating on 'Kelly's Eye.'"

Watkins generally replies, "Well keep out of a draught, you'll catch

Another game is "Pontoon" played with cards; it is the same as our
"Black Jack," or "Twenty-one."

A card game called "Brag" is also popular. Using a casino deck, the
dealer deals each player three cards. It is similar to our poker,
except for the fact that you only use three cards and cannot draw. The
deck is never shuffled until a man shows three of a kind or a "prile"
as it is called. The value of the hands are, high card, a pair, a run,
a flush or three of a kind or "prile." The limit is generally a penny,
so it is hard to win a fortune.

The next in popularity is a card game called "Nap." It is well named.
Every time I played it I went to sleep.

Whist and Solo Whist are played by the high-brows of the Company.

When the gamblers tire of all other games they try "Banker and

I spent a week trying to teach some of the Tommies how to play poker,
but because I won thirty-five francs they declared that they didn't
"Fawncy" the game.

Tommy plays few card games; the general run never heard of poker,
euchre, seven up, or pinochle. They have a game similar to pinochle
called "Royal Bezique," but few know how to play it.

Generally there are two decks of cards in a section, and in a short
time they are so dog-eared and greasy, you can hardly tell the ace of
spades from the ace of hearts. The owners of these decks sometimes
condescend to lend them after much coaxing.

So you see, Mr. Atkins has his fun mixed in with his hardships, and,
contrary to popular belief, the rank and file of the British Army in
the trenches is one big happy family. Now in Virginia, at school, I
was fed on old McGuffy's primary reader, which gave me an opinion of
an Englishman about equal to a '76 Minute Man's backed up by a Sinn
Feiner's. But I found Tommy to be the best of mates and a gentleman
through and through. He never thinks of knocking his officers. If one
makes a costly mistake and Tommy pays with his blood, there is no
general condemnation of the officer. He is just pitied. It is exactly
the same as it was with the Light Brigade at Balaclava, to say nothing
of Gallipoli, Neuve Chapelle, and Loos. Personally I remember a little
incident where twenty of us were sent on a trench raid, only two of us
returning, but I will tell this story later on.

I said it was a big happy family, and so it is, but as in all happy
families, there are servants, so in the British Army there are also
servants, officers' servants, or "O. S." as they are termed. In the
American Army the common name for them is "dog robbers." From a
controversy in the English papers, Winston Churchill made the
statement, as far as I can remember, that the officers' servants in
the British forces totaled nearly two hundred thousand. He claimed
that this removed two hundred thousand exceptionally good and
well-trained fighters from the actual firing line, claiming that the
officers, when selecting a man for servant's duty, generally picked
the man who had been out the longest and knew the ropes.

{Photo: Right Arm Smashed by Shell (in Plaster Cast); has been Told it
will Have to be Amputated.}

But from my observation I find that a large percentage of the servants
do go over the top, but behind the lines, they very seldom engage in
digging parties, fatigues, parades, or drills. This work is as
necessary as actually engaging in an attack, therefore I think that it
would be safe to say that the all-round work of the two hundred
thousand is about equal to fifty thousand men who are on straight
military duties. In numerous instances, officers' servants hold the
rank of lance-corporals and they assume the same duties and authority
of a butler. The one stripe giving him precedence over the other

There are lots of amusing stories told of "O. S." One day one of our
majors went into the servants' billet and commenced "blinding" at
them, saying that his horse had no straw, and that he personally knew
that straw had been issued for this purpose. He called the
lance-corporal to account. The Corporal answered, "Blime me, sir, the
straw was issued, but there wasn't enough left over from the servants'
beds; in fact, we had to use some of the 'ay to 'elp out, sir."

It is needless to say that the servants dispensed with their soft beds
that particular night.

Nevertheless it is not the fault of the individual officer, it is just
the survival of a quaint old English custom. You know an Englishman
cannot be changed in a day.

But the average English officer is a good sport, he will sit on a fire
step and listen respectfully to Private Jones's theory of the way the
war should be conducted. This war is gradually crumbling the once
unsurmountable wall of caste.

You would be convinced of this if you could seem King George go among
his men on an inspecting tour under fire, or pause before a little
wooden cross in some shell-tossed field with tears in his eyes as he
reads the inscription. And a little later perhaps bend over a wounded
man on a stretcher, patting him on the head.

More than once in a hospital I have seen a titled Red Cross nurse
fetching and carrying for a wounded soldier, perhaps the one who in
civil life delivered the coal at her back door. Today she does not
shrink from lighting his fag or even washing his grimy body.

Tommy admires Albert of Belgium because he is not a pusher of men, he
LEADS them. With him it's not a case of "take that trench"--it is
"come on and we will take it."

It is amusing to notice the different characteristics of the Irish,
Scotch, and English soldiers. The Irish and Scotch are very impetuous,
especially when it comes to bayonet fighting, while the Englishman,
though a trifle slower, thoroughly does his bit; he is more methodical
and has the grip of a bulldog on a captured position. He is slower to
think, that is the reason why he never knows when he is licked.

Twenty minutes before going over the top the English Tommy will sit on
the fire step and thoroughly examine the mechanism of his rifle to see
that it is in working order and will fire properly. After this
examination he is satisfied and ready to meet the Boches.

But the Irishman or Scotchman sits on the fire step, his rifle with
bayonet fixed between his knees, the butt of which perhaps is sinking
into the mud,--the bolt couldn't be opened with a team of horses it
is so rusty,--but he spits on his sleeve and slowly polishes his
bayonet; when this is done he also is ready to argue with Fritz.

It is not necessary to mention the Colonials (the Canadians,
Australians, and New Zealanders), the whole world knows what they have
done for England.

The Australian and New Zealander is termed the "Anzac," taking the
name from the first letters of their official designation, Australian
and New Zealand Army Corps.

Tommy divides the German army into three classes according to their
fighting abilities. They rank as follows, Prussians, Bavarians, and

When up against a Prussian regiment it is a case of keep your napper
below the parapet and duck. A bang-bang all the time and a war is on.
The Bavarians are little better, but the Saxons are fairly good sports
and are willing occasionally to behave as gentlemen and take it easy,
but you cannot trust any of them overlong.

At one point of the line the trenches were about thirty-two yards
apart. This sounds horrible, but in fact it was easy, because neither
side could shell the enemy's front-line trench for fear shells would
drop into their own. This eliminated artillery fire.

In these trenches when up against the Prussians and Bavarians, Tommy
had a hot time of it, but when the Saxons "took over" it was a picnic,
they would yell across that they were Saxons and would not fire. Both
sides would sit on the parapet and carry on a conversation. This
generally consisted of Tommy telling them how much he loved the Kaiser
while the Saxons informed Tommy that King George was a particular
friend of theirs and hoped that he was doing nicely.

When the Saxons were to be relieved by Prussians or Bavarians, they
would yell this information across No Man's Land and Tommy would
immediately tumble into his trench and keep his head down.

If an English regiment was to be relieved by the wild Irish, Tommy
would tell the Saxons, and immediately a volley of "Dormer und
Blitzen's" could be heard, and it was Fritz's turn to get a crick in
his back from stooping, and the people in Berlin would close their

Usually when an Irishman takes over a trench, just before "stand down"
in the morning, he sticks his rifle over the top aimed in the
direction of Berlin and engages in what is known as the "mad minute."
This consists of firing fifteen shots in a minute. He is not aiming at
anything in particular,--just sends over each shot with a prayer,
hoping that one of his strays will get some poor unsuspecting Fritz in
the napper hundreds of yards behind the lines. It generally does;
that's the reason the Boches hate the man from Erin's Isle.

The Saxons, though better than the Prussians and Bavarians, have a
nasty trait of treachery in their make-up.

At one point of the line where the trenches were very close, a stake
was driven into the ground midway between the hostile lines. At night
when it was his turn, Tommy would crawl to this stake and attach some
London papers to it, while at the foot he would place tins of bully
beef, fags, sweets, and other delicacies that he had received from
Blighty in the ever looked-for parcel. Later on Fritz would come out
and get these luxuries.

The next night Tommy would go out to see what Fritz had put into his
stocking. The donation generally consisted of a paper from Berlin,
telling who was winning the war, some tinned sausages, cigars, and
occasionally a little beer, but a funny thing, Tommy never returned
with the beer unless it was inside of him. His platoon got a whiff of
his breath one night and the offending Tommy lost his job.

One night a young English Sergeant crawled to the stake and as he
tried to detach the German paper a bomb exploded and mangled him
horribly. Fritz had set his trap and gained another victim which was
only one more black mark against him in the book of this war. From
that time on diplomatic relations were severed.

Returning to Tommy, I think his spirit is best shown in the questions
he asks. It is never "who is going to win" but always "how long will
it take?"



We were swimming in money, from the receipts of our theatrical
venture, and had forgotten all about the war, when an order came
through that our Brigade would again take over their sector of the

The day that these orders were issued, our Captain assembled the
company and asked for volunteers to go to the Machine Gun School at
St. Omer. I volunteered and was accepted.

Sixteen men from our brigade left for the course in machine gunnery.
This course lasted two weeks and we rejoined our unit and were
assigned to the Brigade Machine Gun Company. It almost broke my heart
to leave my company mates.

The gun we used was the Vickers, Light .303, water cooled.

I was still a member of the Suicide Club, having jumped from the
frying pan into the fire. I was assigned to Section I, Gun No. 2, and
the first time "in" took position in the front-line trench.

During the day our gun would be dismounted on the fire step ready for
instant use. We shared a dugout with the Lewis gunners, at "stand to"
we would mount our gun on the parapet and go on watch beside it until
"stand down" in the morning, then the gun would be dismounted and
again placed in readiness on the fire step.

We did eight days in the front-line trench without anything unusual
happening outside of the ordinary trench routine. On the night that we
were to "carry out," a bombing raid against the German lines was
pulled off. This raiding party consisted of sixty company men, sixteen
bombers, and four Lewis machine guns with their crews.

The raid took the Boches by surprise and was a complete success, the
party bringing back twenty-one prisoners.

The Germans must have been awfully sore, because they turned loose a
barrage of shrapnel, with a few "Minnies" and "whizz bangs"
intermixed. The shells were dropping into our front line like

To get even, we could have left the prisoners in the fire trench, in
charge of the men on guard and let them click Fritz's strafeing but
Tommy does not treat prisoners that way.

Five of them were brought into my dugout and turned over to me so that
they would be safe from the German fire.

In the candlelight, they looked very much shaken, nerves gone and
chalky faces, with the exception of one, a great big fellow. He looked
very much at ease. I liked him from the start.

I got out the rum jar and gave each a nip and passed around some fags,
the old reliable Woodbines. The other prisoners looked their
gratitude, but the big fellow said in English, "Thank you, sir, the
rum is excellent and I appreciate it, also your kindness."

He told me his name was Carl Schmidt, of the 66th Bavarian Light
Infantry; that he had lived six years in New York (knew the city
better than I did), had been to Coney Island and many of our ball
games. He was a regular fan. I couldn't make him believe that Hans
Wagner wasn't the best ball-player in the world.

From New York he had gone to London, where he worked as a waiter in
the Hotel Russell. Just before the war he went home to Germany to see
his parents, the war came and he was conscripted.

{Photo: The Author.}

He told me he was very sorry to hear that London was in ruins from the
Zeppelin raids. I could not convince him otherwise, for hadn't he seen
moving pictures in one of the German cities of St. Paul's Cathedral in

I changed the subject because he was so stubborn in his belief. It was
my intention to try and pump him for information as to the methods of
the German snipers, who had been causing us trouble in the last few

I broached the subject and he shut up like a clam. After a few minutes
he very innocently said:

"German snipers get paid rewards for killing the English."

I eagerly asked, "What are they?"

He answered:

"For killing or wounding an English private, the sniper gets one mark.
For killing or wounding an English officer he gets five marks, but if
he kills a Red Cap or English General, the sniper gets twenty-one days
tied to the wheel of a limber as punishment for his carelessness."

Then he paused, waiting for me to bite, I suppose.

I bit all right and asked him why the sniper was, punished for killing
an English general. With a smile he replied:

"Well, you see, if all the English generals were killed, there would
be no one left to make costly mistakes."

I shut him up, he was getting too fresh for a prisoner. After a while
he winked at me and I winked back, then the escort came to take the
prisoners to the rear. I shook hands and wished him "The best of luck
and a safe journey to Blighty."

I liked that prisoner, he was a fine fellow, had an Iron Cross, too. I
advised him to keep it out of sight, or some Tommy would be sending it
home to his girl in Blighty as a souvenir.

One dark and rainy night while on guard we were looking over the top
from the fire step of our front-line trench, when we heard a noise
immediately in front of our barbed wire. The sentry next to me
challenged, "Halt, Who Comes There?" and brought his rifle to the aim.
His challenge was answered in German. A captain in the next traverse
climbed upon the sandbagged parapet to investigate--a brave but
foolhardly deed--"Crack" went a bullet and he tumbled back into the
trench with a hole through his stomach and died a few minutes later. A
lance-corporal in, the next platoon was so enraged at the Captain's
death that he chucked a Mills bomb in the direction of the noise with
the shouted warning to us: "Duck your nappers' my lucky lads." A sharp
dynamite report, a flare in front of us, and then silence.

We immediately sent up two star shells, and in their light could see
two dark forms lying on the ground dose to our wire. A sergeant and
four Stretcher-bearers went out in front and soon returned, carrying
two limp bodies. Down in the dugout, in the flickering light of three
candles, we saw that they were two German officers, one a captain and
the other an unteroffizier, a rank one grade higher than a
sergeant-major, but below the grade of a lieutenant.

The Captain's face had been almost completely torn away by the bomb's
explosion. The Unteroffizier was alive, breathing with difficulty. In
a few minutes he opened his eyes and blinked in the glare of the

The pair had evidently been drinking heavily, for the alcohol fumes
were sickening and completely pervaded the dugout. I turned away in
disgust, hating to see a man cross the Great Divide full of booze.

One of our officers could speak German and he questioned the dying

In a faint voice, interrupted by frequent hiccoughs, the Unteroffizier
told his story.

There had been a drinking bout among the officers in one of the German
dugouts, the main beverage being champagne. With a drunken leer he
informed us that champagne was plentiful on their side and that it did
not cost them anything either. About seven that night the conversation
had turned to the "contemptible" English, and the Captain had made a
wager that he would hang his cap on the English barbed wire to show
his contempt for the English sentries. The wager was accepted. At
eight o' clock the Captain and he had crept out into No Man's Land to
carry out this wager.

They had gotten about half way across when the drink took effect and
the Captain fell asleep. After about two hours of vain attempts the
Unteroffizier had at last succeeded in waking the Captain, reminded
him of his bet, and warned him that he would be the laughingstock of
the officers' mess if he did not accomplish his object, but the
Captain was trembling all over and insisted on returning to the German
lines. In the darkness they lost their bearings and crawled toward the
English trenches. They reached the barbed wire and were suddenly
challenged by our sentry. Being too drunk to realize that the
challenge was in English, the Captain refused to crawl back. Finally
the Unteroffizier convinced his superior that they were in front of
the English wire. Realizing this too late, the Captain drew his
revolver and with a muttered curse crept blindly toward our trench.
His bullet no doubt killed our Captain.

Then the bomb came over and there he was, dying,--and a good job
too, we thought. The Captain dead? Well, his men wouldn't weep at the

Without giving us any further information the Unteroffizier died.

We searched the bodies for identification disks but they had left
everything behind before starting on their foolhardy errand.

Next afternoon we buried them in our little cemetery apart from the
graves of the Tommies. If you ever go into that cemetery you will see
two little wooden crosses in the corner of the cemetery set away from
the rest.

They read:

Captain German Army Died--1916 Unknown R. I. P.

Unteroffizier German Army Died--1916 Unknown R.I.P.



The next evening we were relieved by the -th Brigade, and once again
returned to rest billets. Upon arriving at these billets we were given
twenty-four hours in which to clean up. I had just finished getting
the mud from my uniform when the Orderly Sergeant informed me that my
name was in orders for leave, and that I was to report to the Orderly
Room in the morning for orders, transportation, and rations.

I nearly had a fit, hustled about, packing up, filling my pack with
souvenirs such as shell heads, dud bombs, nose caps, shrapnel balls,
and a Prussian Guardsman's helmet. In fact, before I turned in that
night, I had everything ready to report at the Orderly Room at nine
the next morning.

I was the envy of the whole section, swanking around, telling of the
good time I was going to have, the places I would visit, and the real,
old English beer I intended to guzzle. Sort of rubbed it into them,
because they all do it, and now that it was my turn, I took pains to
get my own back.

At nine I reported to the Captain, receiving my travel order and pass.
He asked me how much money I wanted to draw. I glibly answered, "Three
hundred francs, sir", he just as glibly handed me one hundred.

Reporting at Brigade Headquarters, with my pack weighing a ton, I
waited, with forty others for the Adjutant to inspect us. After an
hour's wait, he came out; must have been sore because he wasn't going
with us.

The Quartermaster-Sergeant issued us two days' rations, in a little
white canvas ration bag, which we tied to our belts.

Then two motor lorries came along and we piled in, laughing, joking,
and in the best of spirits. We even loved the Germans, we were feeling
so happy. Our journey to seven days' bliss in Blighty had commenced.

The ride in the lorry lasted about two hours; by this time we were
covered with fine, white dust from the road, but didn't mind, even if
we were nearly choking.

{Photo: Field Post Card Issued Once a Week to the Tommies.}

At the railroad station at P--we reported to an officer, who had a
white band around his arm, which read "R.T.O." (Royal Transportation
Officer). To us this officer was Santa Claus.

The Sergeant in charge showed him our orders; he glanced through them
and said, "Make yourselves comfortable on the platform and don't
leave, the train is liable to be along in five minutes--or five

It came in five hours, a string of eleven match boxes on big, high
wheels, drawn by a dinky little engine with the "con." These match
boxes were cattle cars, on the sides of which was painted the old
familiar sign, "Hommes 40, Chevaux 8."

The R.T.O. stuck us all into one car. We didn't care, it was as good
as a Pullman to us.

Two days we spent on that train, bumping, stopping, jerking ahead, and
sometimes sliding back. At three stations we stopped long enough to
make some tea, but were unable to wash, so when we arrived at B--,
where we were to embark for Blighty, we were as black as Turcos and,
with our unshaven faces, we looked like a lot of tramps. Though tired
out, we were happy.

We had packed up, preparatory to detraining, when a R.T.O. held up his
hand for us to stop where we were and came over. This is what he said:

"Boys, I'm sorry, but orders have just been received cancelling all
leave. If you had been three hours earlier you would have gotten away.
Just stay in that train, as it is going back. Rations will be issued
to you for your return journey to your respective stations. Beastly
rotten, I know." Then he left.

A dead silence resulted. Then men started to curse, threw their rifles
on the floor of the car, others said nothing, seemed to be stupefied,
while some had the tears running down their cheeks. It was a bitter
disappointment to all.

How we blinded at the engineer of that train, it was all his fault (so
we reasoned), why hadn't he speeded up a little or been on time, then
we would have gotten off before the order arrived? Now it was no
Blighty for us.

That return journey was misery to us; I just can't describe it.

When we got back to rest billets, we found that our Brigade was in the
trenches (another agreeable surprise), and that an attack was

Seventeen of the forty-one will never get another chance to go on
leave; they were killed in the attack. Just think if that train had
been on time, those seventeen would still be alive.

I hate to tell you how I was kidded by the boys when I got back, but
it was good and plenty.

Our Machine Gun Company took over their part of the line at seven
o'clock, the night after I returned from my near leave.

At 3.30 the following morning three waves went over and captured the
first and second German trenches. The machine gunners went over with
the fourth wave to consolidate the captured line or "dig in" as Tommy
calls it.

Crossing No Man's Land without clicking any casualties, we came to the
German trench and mounted our guns on the parados of same.

I never saw such a mess in my life-bunches of twisted barbed wire
lying about, shell holes everywhere, trench all bashed in, parapets
gone, and dead bodies, why that ditch was full of them, theirs and
ours. It was a regular morgue. Some were mangled horribly from our
shell fire, while others were wholly or partly buried in the mud, the
result of shell explosions caving in the walls of the trench. One dead
German was lying on his back, with a rifle sticking straight up in the
air, the bayonet of which was buried to the hilt in his chest. Across
his feet lay a dead English soldier with a bullet hole in his
forehead. This Tommy must have been killed just as he ran his bayonet
through the German.

Rifles and equipment were scattered about, and occasionally a steel
helmet could be seen sticking out of the mud.

At one point, just in the entrance to a communication trench, was a
stretcher. On this stretcher a German was lying with a white bandage
around his knee, near to him lay one of the stretcher-bearers, the red
cross on his arm covered with mud and his helmet filled with blood and
brains. Close by, sitting up against the wall of the trench, with head
resting on his chest, was the other stretcher-bearer. He seemed to be
alive, the posture was so natural and easy, but when I got closer, I
could see a large, jagged hole in, his temple. The three must have
been killed by the same shell-burst. The dugouts were all smashed in
and knocked about, big square-cut timbers splintered into bits, walls
caved in, and entrances choked.

Tommy, after taking a trench, learns to his sorrow, that the hardest
part of the work is to hold it.

In our case this proved to be so.

The German artillery and machine guns had us taped (ranged) for fair;
it was worth your life to expose yourself an instant.

Don't think for a minute that the Germans were the only sufferers, we
were clicking casualties so fast that you needed an adding machine to
keep track of them.

Did you ever see one of the steam shovels at work on the Panama Canal,
well, it would look like a hen scratching alongside of a Tommy
"digging in" while under fire, you couldn't see daylight through the
clouds of dirt from his shovel.

After losing three out of six men of our crew, we managed to set up
our machine gun. One of the legs of the tripod was resting on the
chest of a half-buried body. When the gun was firing, it gave the
impression that the body was breathing, this was caused by the
excessive vibration.

Three or four feet down the trench, about three feet from the ground,
a foot was protruding from the earth; we knew it was a German by the
black leather boot. One of our crew used that foot to hang extra
bandoliers of ammunition on. This man always was a handy fellow; made
use of little points that the ordinary person would overlook.

The Germans made three counter attacks, which we repulsed, but not
without heavy loss on our side. They also suffered severely from our
shell- and machine-gun fire. The ground was spotted with their dead
and dying.

The next day things were somewhat quieter, but not quiet enough to
bury the dead.

We lived, ate, and slept in that trench with the unburied dead for six
days. It was awful to watch their faces become swollen and discolored.
Towards the last the stench was fierce.

What got on my nerves the most was that foot sticking out of the dirt.
It seemed to me, at night, in the moonlight, to be trying to twist
around. Several times this impression was so strong that I went to it
and grasped it in both hands, to see if I could feel a movement.

I told this to the man who had used it for a hat-rack just before I
lay down for a little nap, as things were quiet and I needed a rest
pretty badly. When I woke up the foot was gone. He had cut it off with
our chain saw out of the spare parts' box, and bad plastered the stump
over with mud.

During the next two or three days, before we were relieved, I missed
that foot dreadfully, seemed as if I had suddenly lost a chum.

I think the worst thing of all was to watch the rats, at night, and
sometimes in the day, run over and play about among the dead.

Near our gun, right across the parapet, could be seen the body of a
German lieutenant, the head and arms of which were hanging into our
trench. The man who had cut off the foot used to sit and carry on a
one-sided conversation with this officer, used to argue and point out
why Germany was in the wrong. During all of this monologue, I never
heard him say anything out of the way, anything that would have hurt
the officer's feelings had he been alive. He was square all right,
wouldn't even take advantage of a dead man in an argument.

To civilians this must seem dreadful, but out here, one gets so used
to awful sights, that it makes no impression. In passing a butcher
shop, you are not shocked by seeing a dead turkey hanging from a hook.
Well, in France, a dead body is looked upon from the same angle.

But, nevertheless, when our six days were up, we were tickled to death
to be relieved.

Our Machine Gun Company lost seventeen killed and thirty-one wounded
in that little local affair of "straightening the line," while the
other companies clicked it worse than we did.

After the attack we went into reserve billets for six days, and on the
seventh once again we were in rest billets.



Soon after my arrival in France, in fact from my enlistment, I had
found that in the British Army discipline is very strict. One has to
be very careful in order to stay on the narrow path of government

There are about seven million ways of breaking the King's Regulations;
to keep one you have to break another.

The worst punishment is death by a firing squad or "up against the
wall" as Tommy calls it.

This is for desertion, cowardice, mutiny, giving information to the
enemy, destroying or willfully wasting ammunition, looting, rape,
robbing the dead, forcing a safeguard, striking a superior, etc.

Then comes the punishment of sixty-four days in the front-line trench
without relief. During this time you have to engage in all raids,
working parties in No Man's Land, and every hazardous undertaking that
comes along. If you live through the sixty-four days you are indeed

This punishment is awarded where there is a doubt as to the willful
guilt of a man who has committed an offence punishable by death.

Then comes the famous Field Punishment No. I. Tommy has nicknamed it
"crucifixion." It means that a man is spread eagled on a limber wheel,
two hours a day for twenty-one days. During this time he only gets
water, bully beef, and biscuits for his chow. You get "crucified" for
repeated minor offences.

Next in order is Field Punishment No. 2.

This is confinement in the "Clink," without blankets, getting water,
bully beef, and biscuits for rations and doing all the dirty work that
can be found. This may be for twenty-four hours or twenty days,
according to the gravity of the offence.

Then comes "Pack Drill" or Defaulters' Parade. This consists of
drilling, mostly at the double, for two hours with full equipment.
Tommy hates this, because it is hard work. Sometimes he fills his pack
with straw to lighten it, and sometimes he gets caught. If he gets
caught, he grouses at everything in general for twenty-one days, from
the vantage point of a limber wheel.

Next comes "C. B." meaning "Confined to Barracks." This consists of
staying in billets or barracks for twenty-four hours to seven days.
You also get an occasional Defaulters' Parade and dirty jobs around
the quarters.

The Sergeant-Major keeps what is known as the Crime Sheet. When a man
commits an offence, he is "Crimed," that is, his name, number, and
offence is entered on the Crime Sheet. Next day at 9 A.M. he goes to
the "Orderly Room" before the Captain, who either punishes him with
"C.B." or sends him before the O. C. (Officer Commanding Battalion).
The Captain of the Company can only award "C. B."

Tommy many a time has thanked the King for making that provision in
his regulations.

To gain the title of a "smart soldier," Tommy has to keep clear of the
Crime Sheet, and you have to be darned smart to do it.

I have been on it a few times, mostly for "Yankee impudence."

During our stay of two weeks in rest billets our Captain put us
through a course of machine-gun drills, trying out new stunts and

After parades were over, our guns' crews got together and also tried
out some theories of their own in reference to handling guns. These
courses had nothing to do with the advancement of the war, consisted
mostly of causing tricky jams in the gun, and then the rest of the
crew would endeavor to locate as quickly as possible the cause of the
stoppage. This amused them for a few days and then things came to a

One of the boys on my gun claimed that he could play a tune while the
gun was actually firing, and demonstrated this fact one day on the
target range. We were very enthusiastic and decided to become

After constant practice I became quite expert in the tune entitled ALL

When I had mastered this tune, our two weeks' rest came to an end, and
once again we went up the line and took over the sector in front of

At this point the German trenches ran around the base of a hill, on
the top of which was a dense wood. This wood was infested with machine
guns, which used to traverse our lines at will, and sweep the streets
of a little village, where we were billeted while in reserve.

There was one gun in particular which used to get our goats, it had
the exact range of our "elephant" dugout entrance, and every evening,
about the time rations were being brought up, its bullets would knock
up the dust on the road; more than one Tommy went West or to Blighty
by running into them.

This gun got our nerves on edge, and Fritz seemed to know it, because
he never gave us an hour's rest. Our reputation as machine gunners was
at stake; we tried various ruses to locate and put this gun out of
action, but each one proved to be a failure, and Fritz became a worse
nuisance than ever. He was getting fresher and more careless every
day, took all kinds of liberties, with us,--thought he was

Then one of our crew got a brilliant idea and we were all enthusiastic
to put it to the test.

Here was his scheme:

When firing my gun, I was to play my tune, and Fritz, no doubt, would
fall for it, try to imitate me as an added insult. This gunner and two
others would try, by the sound, to locate Fritz and his gun. After
having got the location, they would mount two machine guns in trees,
in a little dump of woods, to the left of our cemetery, and while
Fritz was in the middle of his lesson, would open up and trust to
luck. By our calculations, it would take at least a week to pull off
the stunt.

If Fritz refused to swallow our bait, it would be impossible to locate
his special gun, and that's the one we were after, because they all
sound alike, a slow pup-pup-pup.

Our prestige was hanging by a thread. In the battalion we had to
endure all kinds of insults and fresh remarks as to our ability in
silencing Fritz. Even to the battalion that German gun was a sore

Next day, Fritz opened up as usual. I let him fire away for a while
and then butted in with my "pup-pup-pup-pup-pup-pup." I kept this up
quite a while, used two belts of ammunition. Fritz had stopped firing
to listen. Then he started in; sure enough, he had fallen for our
game, his gun was trying to imitate mine, but, at first he made a
horrible mess of that tune. Again I butted in with a few bars and
stopped. Then he tried to copy what I had played. He was a good sport
all right, because his bullets were going away over our heads, must
have been firing into the air. I commenced to feel friendly toward

This duet went on for five days. Fritz was a good pupil and learned
rapidly, in fact, got better than his teacher. I commenced to feel
jealous. When he had completely mastered the tune, he started sweeping
the road again and we clicked it worse than ever. But he signed his
death warrant by doing so, because my friendship turned to hate. Every
time he fired he played that tune and we danced.

The boys in the battalion gave us the "Ha! Ha!" They weren't in on our
little frame-up.

The originator of the ruse and the other two gunners had Fritz's
location taped to the minute; they mounted their two guns, and also
gave me the range. The next afternoon was set for the grand finale.

Our three guns, with different elevations, had their fire so arranged,
that, opening up together, their bullets would suddenly drop on Fritz
like a hailstorm.

About three the next day, Fritz started "pup--pupping" that tune. I
blew a sharp blast on a whistle, it was the signal agreed upon; we
turned loose and Fritz's gun suddenly stopped in the middle of a bar.
We had cooked his goose, and our ruse had worked. After firing two
belts each, to make sure of our job, we hurriedly dismounted our guns
and took cover in the dugout. We knew what to expect soon. We didn't
have to wait long, three salvos of "whizz-bangs" came over from
Fritz's artillery, a further confirmation that we had sent that
musical machine-gunner on his westward bound journey.

That gun never bothered us again. We were the heroes of the battalion,
our Captain congratulated us, said it was a neat piece of work, and,
consequently, we were all puffed up over the stunt.

There are several ways Tommy uses to disguise the location of his
machine gun and get his range. Some of the most commonly used stunts
are as follows:

At night, when he mounts his gun over the top of his trench and wants
to get the range of Fritz's trench he adopts the method of what he
terms "getting the sparks." This consists of firing bursts from his
gun until the bullets hit the German barbed wire. He can tell when
they are cutting the wire, because a bullet when it hits a wire throws
out a blue electric spark. Machine-gun fire is very damaging to wire
and causes many a wiring party to go out at night when it is quiet to
repair the damage.

To disguise the flare of his gun at night when firing. Tommy uses what
is called a flare protector.

This is a stove-pipe arrangement which fits over the barrel casing of
the gun and screens the sparks from the right and left, but not from
the front. So Tommy, always resourceful, adopts this scheme. About
three feet or less in front of the gun he drives two stakes into the
ground, about five feet apart. Across these stakes he stretches a
curtain made out of empty sandbags ripped open. He soaks this curtain
in water and fires through it. The water prevents it catching fire and
effectively screens the flare of the firing gun from the enemy.

Sound is a valuable asset in locating a machine gun, but Tommy
surmounts this obstacle by placing two machine guns about one hundred
to one hundred fifty yards apart. The gun on the right to cover with
its fire the sector of the left gun and the gun on the left to cover
that of the right gun. This makes their fire cross; they are fired

{Illustration: Diagram}

By this method it sounds like one gun firing and gives the Germans the
impression that the gun is firing from a point midway between the guns
which are actually firing, and they accordingly shell that particular
spot. The machine gunners chuckle and say, "Fritz is a brainy boy, not
'alf he ain't."

But the men in our lines at the spot being shelled curse Fritz for his
ignorance and pass a few pert remarks down the line in reference to
the machine gunners being "windy" and afraid to take their medicine.



Three days after we had silenced Fritz, the Germans sent over gas. It
did not catch us unawares, because the wind had been made to order,
that is, it was blowing from the German trenches towards ours at the
rate of about five miles per hour.

Warnings had been passed down the trench to keep a sharp lookout for

We had a new man at the periscope, on this afternoon in question; I
was sitting on the fire step, cleaning my rifle, when he called out to

"There's a sort of greenish, yellow cloud rolling along the ground out
in front, it's coming--"

But I waited for no more, grabbing my bayonet, which was detached from
the rifle, I gave the alarm by banging an empty shell case, which was
hanging near the periscope. At the same instant, gongs started ringing
down the trench, the signal for Tommy to don his respirator, or smoke
helmet, as we call it.

Gas travels quickly, so you must not lose any time; you generally have
about eighteen or twenty seconds in which to adjust your gas helmet.

A gas helmet is made of cloth, treated with chemicals. There are two
windows, or glass eyes, in it, through which you can see. Inside there
is a rubber-covered tube, which goes in the mouth, You breathe through
your nose; the gas, passing through the cloth helmet, is neutralized
by the action of the chemicals. The foul air is exhaled through the
tube in the mouth, this tube being so constructed that it prevents the
inhaling of the outside air or gas. One helmet is good for five hours
of the strongest gas. Each Tommy carries two of them slung around his
shoulder in a waterproof canvas bag. He must wear this bag at all
times, even while sleeping. To change a defective helmet, you take out
the new one, hold your breath, pull the old one off, placing the new
one over your head, tucking in the loose ends under the collar of your

For a minute, pandemonium reigned in our trench,--Tommies adjusting
their helmets, bombers running here and there, and men turning out of
the dugouts with fixed bayonets, to man the fire step.

Reinforcements were pouring out of the communication trenches.

Our gun's crew were busy mounting the machine gun on the parapet and
bringing up extra ammunition from the dugout.

German gas is heavier than air and soon fills the trenches and
dugouts, where it has been known to lurk for two or three days, until
the air is purified by means of large chemical sprayers.

We had to work quickly, as Fritz generally follows the gas with an
infantry attack.

A company man on our right was too slow in getting on his helmet; he
sank to the ground, clutching at his throat, and after a few spasmodic
twisting, went West (died). It was horrible to see him die, but we
were powerless to help him. In the corner of a traverse, a little,
muddy cur dog, one of the company's pets, was lying dead, with his two
paws over his nose.

It's the animals that suffer the most, the horses, mules, cattle,
dogs, cats, and rats, they having no helmets to save them. Tommy does
not sympathize with rats in a gas attack.

At times, gas has been known to travel, with dire results, fifteen
miles behind the lines.

A gas, or smoke helmet, as it is called, at the best is a
vile-smelling thing, and it is not long before one gets a violent
headache from wearing it.

Our eighteen-pounders were bursting in No Man's Land, in an effort, by
the artillery, to disperse the gas clouds.

The fire step was lined with crouching men, bayonets fixed, and bombs
near at hand to repel the expected attack.

Our artillery had put a barrage of curtain fire on the German lines,
to try and break up their attack and keep back reinforcements.

I trained my machine gun on their trench and its bullets were raking
the parapet.

Then over they came, bayonets glistening. In their respirators, which
have a large snout in front, they looked like some horrible nightmare.

All along our trench, rifles and machine guns spoke, our shrapnel was
bursting over their heads. They went down in heaps, but new ones took
the place of the fallen. Nothing could stop that mad rush. The Germans
reached our barbed wire, which had previously been demolished by their
shells, then it was bomb against bomb, and the devil for all.

{Illustration: A Gas Helmet.}

Suddenly, my head seemed to burst from a loud "crack" in my ear. Then
my head began to swim, throat got dry, and a heavy pressure on the
lungs warned me that my helmet was leaking. Turning my gun over to No.
2, I changed helmets.

The trench started to wind like a snake, and sandbags appeared to be
floating in the air. The noise was horrible; I sank onto the fire
step, needles seemed to be pricking my flesh, then blackness.

I was awakened by one of my mates removing my smoke helmet. How
delicious that cool, fresh air felt in my lungs.

A strong wind had arisen and dispersed the gas.

They told me that I had been "out" for three hours; they thought I was

The attack had been repulsed after a hard fight. Twice the Germans had
gained a foothold in our trench, but had been driven out by
counter-attacks. The trench was filled with their dead and ours.
Through a periscope, I counted eighteen dead Germans in our wire; they
were a ghastly sight in their horrible-looking respirators.

I examined my first smoke helmet, a bullet had gone through it on the
left side, just grazing my ear, the gas had penetrated through the
hole made in the cloth.

Out of our crew of six, we lost two killed and two wounded.

That night we buried all of the dead, excepting those in No Man's
Land. In death there is not much distinction, friend and foe are
treated alike.

After the wind had dispersed the gas, the R.A.M.C. got busy with their
chemical sprayers, spraying out the dugouts and low parts of the
trenches to dissipate any fumes of the German gas which may have been
lurking in same.

Two days after the gas attack, I was sent to Division Headquarters, in
answer to an order requesting that captains of units should detail a
man whom they thought capable of passing an examination for the
Divisional Intelligence Department.

Before leaving for this assignment I went along the front-line trench
saying good-bye to my mates and lording it over them, telling them
that I had clicked a cushy job behind the lines, and how sorry I felt
that they had to stay in the front line and argue out the war with
Fritz. They were envious but still good natured, and as I left the
trench to go to the rear they shouted after me:

"Good luck, Yank, old boy, don't forget to send tip a few fags to
your old mates."

I promised to do this and left.

I reported at Headquarters with sixteen others and passed the required
examination. Out of the sixteen applicants four were selected.

I was highly elated because I was, as I thought, in for a cushy job
back at the base.

The next morning the four reported to Division Headquarters for
instructions. Two of the men were sent to large towns in the rear of
the lines with an easy job. When it came our turn, the officer told us
we were good men and had passed a very creditable examination.

My tin hat began to get too small for me, and I noted that the other
man, Atwell, by name, was sticking his chest out more than usual.

The officer continued: "I think I can use you two men to great
advantage in the front line. Here are your orders and instructions,
also the pass which gives you full authority as special M. P. detailed
on intelligence work. Report at the front line according to your
instructions. It is risky work and I wish you both the best of luck."

My heart dropped to zero and Atwell's face was a study. We saluted and

That wishing us the "best of luck" sounded very ominous in our ears;
if he had said "I wish you both a swift and painless death" it would
have been more to the point.

When we had read our instructions we knew we were in for it good and
plenty. What Atwell said is not fit for publication, but I strongly
seconded his opinion of the War, Army, and Divisional Headquarters in

After a bit our spirits rose. We were full-fledged spy-catchers,
because our instructions and orders said so.

We immediately reported to the nearest French estaminet and had
several glasses of muddy water, which they called beer. After drinking
our beer we left the estaminet and hailed an empty ambulance.

After showing the driver our passes we got in. The driver was going to
the part of the line where we had to report.

The ambulance was a Ford and lived up to its reputation.

How the wounded ever survived a ride in it was inexplicable to me. It
was worse than riding on a gun carriage over a rocky road.

The driver of the ambulance was a corporal of the R.A.M.C., and he had
the "wind up," that is, he had an aversion to being under fire.

I was riding on the seat with him while Atwell was sitting in the
ambulance, with his legs hanging out of the back.

As we passed through a shell-destroyed village a mounted military
policeman stopped us and informed the driver to be very careful when
we got out on the open road, as it was very dangerous, because the
Germans lately had acquired the habit of shelling it. The Corporal
asked the trooper if there was any other way around, and was informed
that there was not. Upon this he got very nervous, and wanted to turn
back, but we insisted that he proceed and explained to him that he
would get into serious trouble with his commanding officer if he
returned without orders; we wanted to ride, not walk.

From his conversation we learned that he had recently come from
England with a draft and had never been under fire, hence, his

We convinced him that there was not much danger, and he appeared
greatly relieved.

When we at last turned into the open road, we were not so confident.
On each side there had been a line of trees, but now, all that was
left of them were torn and battered stumps. The fields on each side of
the road were dotted with recent shell holes, and we passed several in
the road itself. We had gone about half a mile when a shell came
whistling through the air, and burst in a field about three hundred
yards to our right. Another soon followed this one, and burst on the
edge of the road about four hundred yards in front of us.

I told the driver to throw in his speed clutch, as we must be in sight
of the Germans. I knew the signs; that battery was ranging for us, and
the quicker we got out of its zone of fire the better. The driver was
trembling like a leaf, and every minute I expected him to pile us up
in the ditch. I preferred the German fire.

In the back, Atwell was holding onto the straps for dear life and was
singing at the top of his voice,

  We beat you at the Mame,
    We beat you at the Aisne,
  We gave you hell at Neuve Chapelle,
    And here we are again.

Just then we hit a small shell hole and nearly capsized. Upon a loud
yell from the rear I looked behind, and there was Atwell sitting in
the middle of the road, shaking his fist at us. His equipment, which
he had taken off upon getting into the ambulance, was strung out on
the ground, and his rifle was in the ditch.

I shouted to the driver to stop, and in his nervousness he put on the
brakes. We nearly pitched out head first. But the applying of those
brakes saved our lives. The next instant there was a blinding flash
and a deafening report. All that I remember is that I was flying
through the air, and wondering if I would land in a soft spot. Then
the lights went out.

When I came to, Atwell was pouring water on my head out of his bottle.
On the other side of the road, the Corporal was sitting, rubbing a
lump on his forehead with his left hand, while his right arm was bound
up in a blood-soaked bandage. He was moaning very loudly. I had an
awful headache, and the skin on the left side of my face was full of
gravel, and the blood was trickling from my nose.

But that ambulance was turned over in the ditch, and was perforated
with holes from fragments of the shell. One of the front wheels was
slowly revolving, so I could not have been "out" for a long period.

If Mr. Ford could have seen that car, his "Peace at Any Price"
conviction would have been materially strengthened, and he would have
immediately fitted out another "peace ship."

The shells were still screaming overhead, but the battery had raised
its fire, and they were bursting in a little wood, about half a mile
from us.

Atwell spoke up, "I wish that officer hadn't wished us the best o'
luck." Then he commenced swearing. I couldn't help laughing, though my
head was nigh to bursting.

Slowly rising to my feet I felt myself all over to make sure that
there were no broken bones. But outside of a few bruises and
scratches, I was all right. The Corporal was still moaning, but more
from shock than pain. A shell splinter had gone through the flesh of
his right forearm. Atwell and I, from our first-aid pouches, put a
tourniquet on his arm to stop the bleeding, and then gathered up our

We realized that we were in a dangerous spot. At any minute a shell
might drop on the road and finish us off. The village we had left was
not very far, so we told the Corporal he had better go back to it and
get his arm dressed, and then report the fact of the destruction of
the ambulance to the military police. He was well able to walk, so he
set off in the direction of the village, while Atwell and I continued
our way on foot.

Without further mishap we arrived at our destination, and reported to
Brigade Headquarters for rations and billets.

That night we slept in the Battalion Sergeant-Major's dugout. The next
morning I went to a first-aid post and had the gravel picked out of my

The instructions we received from Division Headquarters read that we
were out to catch spies, patrol trenches, search German dead,
reconnoiter in No Man's Land, and take part in trench raids, and
prevent the robbing of the dead.

I had a pass which would allow me to go anywhere at any time in the
sector of the line held by our division. It also gave me authority to
stop and search ambulances, motor lorries, wagons, and even officers
and soldiers, whenever my suspicions deemed it necessary. Atwell and I
were allowed to work together or singly,--it was left to our
judgment. We decided to team up.

Atwell was a good companion and very entertaining. He had an utter
contempt for danger but was not foolhardy. At swearing he was a
wonder. A cavalry regiment would have been proud of him. Though born
in England, he had spent several years in New York. He was about six
feet one, and as strong as an ox. I am five feet five in height, so we
looked like "Bud" Fisher's "Mutt and Jeff" when together.

We took up our quarters in a large dugout of the Royal Engineers, and
mapped out our future actions. This dugout was on the edge of a large
cemetery, and several times at night in returning to it, we got many a
fall stumbling over the graves of English, French, and Germans. Atwell
on these occasions never indulged in swearing, though at any other
time, at the least stumble, he would turn the air blue.

A certain section of our trenches was held by the Royal Irish Rifles.
For several days a very strong rumor went the rounds that a German spy
was in our midst. This spy was supposed to be dressed in the uniform
of a British Staff Officer. Several stories had been told about an
officer wearing a red band around his cap, who patrolled the
front-line and communication trenches asking suspicious questions as
to location of batteries, machine-gun emplacements, and trench
mortars. If a shell dropped in a battery, on a machine gun, or even
near a dugout, this spy was blamed.

The rumor gained such strength that an order was issued for all troops
to immediately place under arrest anyone answering to the description
of the spy.

Atwell and I were on the QUI VIVE. We constantly patrolled the
trenches at night, and even in the day, but the spy always eluded us.

One day, while in a communication trench, we were horrified to see our
Brigadier-General, Old Pepper, being brought down it by a big private
of the Royal Irish Rifles. The General was walking in front, and the
private with fixed bayonet was following him in the rear.

We saluted as the General passed us. The Irishman had a broad grin on
his face and we could scarcely believe our eyes--the General was
under arrest. After passing a few feet beyond us, the General turned,
and said in a wrathful voice to Atwell:

"Tell this d--n fool who I am. He's arrested me as a spy."

Atwell was speechless. The sentry butted in with:

"None o' that gassin' out o' you. Back to Headquarters you goes, Mr.
Fritz. Open that face o' yours again, an' I'll dent in your napper
with the butt o' me rifle."

The General's face was a sight to behold. He was fairly boiling over
with rage, but he shut up.

Atwell tried to get in front of the sentry to explain to him that it
really was the General he had under arrest, but the sentry threatened
to run his bayonet through him, and would have done it, too. So Atwell
stepped aside, and remained silent. I was nearly bursting with
suppressed laughter. One word, and I would have exploded. It is not
exactly diplomatic to laugh at your General in such a predicament.

The sentry and his prisoner arrived at Brigade Headquarters with
disastrous results to the sentry.

The joke was that the General had personally issued the order for the
spy's arrest. It was a habit of the General to walk through the
trenches on rounds of inspection, unattended by any of his staff. The
Irishman, being new in the regiment, had never seen the General
before, so when he came across him alone in a communication trench, he
promptly put him under arrest. Brigadier-generals wear a red band
around their caps.

Next day we passed the Irishman tied to the wheel of a limber, the
beginning of his sentence of twenty-one days, Field Punishment No. I.
Never before have I seen such a woebegone expression on a man's face.

For several days, Atwell and I made ourselves scarce around Brigade
Headquarters. We did not want to meet the General.

The spy was never caught.



A few days later I had orders to report back to Divisional
Headquarters, about thirty kilos behind the line. I reported to the A.
P. M. (Assistant Provost Marshal). He told me to report to billet No.
78 for quarters and rations.

It was about eight o'clock at night and I was tired and soon fell
asleep in the straw of the billet. It was a miserable night outside,
cold, and a drizzly rain was falling.

About two in the morning I was awakened by someone shaking me by the
shoulder. Opening my eyes I saw a Regimental Sergeant-Major bending
over me. He had a lighted lantern in his right hand. I started to ask
him what was the matter, when he put his finger to his lips for
silence and whispered:

"Get on your equipment, and, without any noise, come with me."

This greatly mystified me but I obeyed his order.

Outside of the billet, I asked him what was up, but he shut me up

"Don't ask any questions, it's against orders. I don't know myself."

It was raining like the mischief.

We splashed along a muddy road for about fifteen minutes, finally
stopping at the entrance of what must have been an old barn. In the
darkness, I could hear pigs grunting, as if they had just been
disturbed. In front of the door stood an officer in a mack
(mackintosh). The R. S. M. went up to him, whispered something, and
then left. This officer called to me, asked my name, number and
regiment, at the same time, in the light of a lantern he was holding,
making a notation in a little book.

When he had finished writing, he whispered:

"Go into that billet and wait orders, and no talking. Understand?"

I stumbled into the barn and sat on the floor in the darkness. I could
see no one but could hear men breathing and moving; they seemed
nervous and restless. I know I was.

During my wait, three other men entered. Then the officer poked his
head in the door and ordered:

"Fall in, outside the billet, in single rank."

We fell in, standing at ease. Then he commanded.

"Squad-'Shun! Number!"

There were twelve of us.

"Right--Turn! Left--Wheel! Quick--March!" And away we went. The
rain was trickling down my back and I was shivering from the cold.

With the officer leading, we must have marched over an hour, plowing
through the mud and occasionally stumbling into a shell hole in the
road, when suddenly the officer made a left wheel and we found
ourselves in a sort of enclosed courtyard.

The dawn was breaking and the rain had ceased.

In front of us were four stacks of rifles, three to a stack.

The officer brought us to attention and gave the order to unpile arms.
We each took a rifle. Giving us "Stand at ease," in a nervous and
shaky voice, he informed:

"Men, you are here on a very solemn duty. You have been selected as a
firing squad for the execution of a soldier, who, having been found
guilty of a grievous crime against King and Country, has been
regularly and duly tried and sentenced to be shot at 3.28 A.M. this
date. This sentence has been approved by the reviewing authority and
ordered carried out. It is our duty to carry on with the sentence of
the court.

"There are twelve rifles, one of which contains a blank cartridge, the
other eleven containing ball cartridges. Every man is expected to do
his duty and fire to kill. Take your orders from me. Squad-'Shun!"

We came to attention. Then he left. My heart was of lead and my knees

After standing at "Attention" for what seemed a week, though in
reality it could not have been over five minutes, we heard a low
whispering in our rear and footsteps on the stone nagging of the

Our officer reappeared and in a low, but firm voice, ordered;


We turned about. In the gray light of dawn, a few yards in front of
me, I could make out a brick wall. Against this wall was a dark form
with a white square pinned on its breast. We were supposed to aim at
this square. To the right of the form I noticed a white spot on the
wall. This would be my target.

"Ready! Aim! Fire!"

The dark form sank into a huddled heap. My bullet sped on its way, and
hit the whitish spot on the wall; I could see the splinters fly.
Someone else had received the rifle containing the blank cartridge,
but my mind was at ease, there was no blood of a Tommy on my hands.

"Order-Arms! About-Turn! Pile-Anns! Stand-Clear."

The stacks were re-formed.

"Quick-March! Right-Wheel'" and we left the scene of execution behind

It was now daylight. After marching about five minutes, we were
dismissed with the following instructions from the officer in command:

"Return, alone, to your respective companies, and remember, no talking
about this affair, or else it will go hard with the guilty ones."

We needed no urging to get away. I did not recognize any of the men on
the firing squad, even the officer was a stranger to me.

The victim's relations and friends in Blighty will never know that he
was executed; they will be under the impression that he died doing his
bit for King and Country.

In the public casualty lists his name will appear under the caption
"Accidentally Killed," or "Died."

The day after the execution I received orders to report back to the
line, and to keep a still tongue in my head.

Executions are a part of the day's work but the part we hated most of
all, I think certainly the saddest. The British War Department is
thought by many people to be composed of rigid regulations all wound
around with red tape. But it has a heart, and one of the evidences of
this is the considerate way in which an execution is concealed and
reported to the relative of the unfortunate man. They never know the
truth. He is listed in the bulletins as among the "accidentally

In the last ten years I have several times read stories in magazines
of cowards changing, in a charge, to heroes. I used to laugh at it. It
seemed easy for story-writers but I said, "Men aren't made that way."
But over in France I learned once that the streak of yellow can turn
all white. I picked up the story, bit by bit, from the Captain of the
Company, the sentries who guarded the poor fellow, as well as from my
own observations. At first I did not realize the whole of his story,
but after a week of investigation it stood out as clear in my mind as
the mountains of my native West in the spring sunshine. It impressed
me so much that I wrote it all down in rest billets on odd scraps of
paper. The incidents are, as I say, every bit true; the feelings of
the man are true,--I know from all I underwent in the fighting over
in France.

We will call him Albert Lloyd. That wasn't his name, but it will do;
Albert Lloyd was what the world terms a coward.

In London they called him a slacker

His country had been at war nearly eighteen months, and still he was
not in khaki.

He had no good reason for not enlisting, being alone in the world,
having been educated in an Orphan Asylum, and there being no one
dependent upon him for support. He had no good position to lose, and
there was no sweetheart to tell him with her lips to go, while her
eyes pleaded for him to stay.

Every time he saw a recruiting sergeant, he'd slink around the corner
out of sight, with a terrible fear gnawing at his heart. When passing
the big recruiting posters, and on his way to business and back he
passed many, he would pull down his cap and look the other way, to get
away from that awful finger pointing at him, under the caption, "Your
King and Country Need You"; or the boring eyes of Kitchener, which
burned into his very soul, causing him to shudder.

Then the Zeppelin raids--during them, he used to crouch in a corner
of his boarding-house cellar, whimpering like a whipped puppy and
calling upon the Lord to protect him.

Even his landlady despised him, although she had to admit that he was
"good pay."

He very seldom read the papers, but one momentous morning, the
landlady put the morning paper at his place before he came down to
breakfast. Taking his seat, he read the flaring headline,
"Conscription Bill Passed," and nearly fainted. Excusing himself, he
stumbled upstairs to his bedroom, with the horror of it gnawing into
his vitals.

Having saved up a few pounds, he decided not to leave the house, and
to sham sickness, so he stayed in his room and had the landlady serve
his meals there.

Everytime there was a knock at the door, he trembled all over,
imagining it was a policeman who had come to take him away to the

One morning his fears were realized. Sure enough there stood a
policeman with the fatal paper. Taking it in his trembling hand, he
read that he, Albert Lloyd, was ordered to report himself to the
nearest recruiting station for physical examination. He reported
immediately, because he was afraid to disobey.

The doctor looked with approval upon Lloyd's six feet of physical
perfection, and thought what a fine guardsman he would make, but
examined his heart twice before he passed him as "physically fit"; it
was beating so fast.

From the recruiting depot Lloyd was taken, with many others, in charge
of a sergeant, to the training depot at Aldershot, where he was given
an outfit of khaki, and drew his other equipment. He made a
fine-looking soldier, except for the slight shrinking in his
shoulders, and the hunted look in his eyes.

At the training depot it does not take long to find out a man's
character, and Lloyd was promptly dubbed "Windy." In the English Army,
"windy" means cowardly.

The smallest recruit in the barracks looked on him with contempt, and
was not slow to show it in many ways.

Lloyd was a good soldier, learned quickly, obeyed every order
promptly, never groused at the hardest fatigues. He was afraid to. He
lived in deadly fear of the officers and "Non-Coms" over him. They
also despised him.

One morning about three months after his enlistment, Lloyd's company
was paraded, and the names picked for the next draft to France were
read. When his name was called, he did not step out smartly, two paces
to the front, and answer cheerfully, "Here, sir," as the others did.
He just fainted in ranks, and was carried to barracks amid the sneers
of the rest.

That night was an agony of misery to him. He could not sleep. Just
cried and whimpered in his bunk, because on the morrow the draft was
to sail for France, where he would see death on all sides, and perhaps
be killed himself. On the steamer, crossing the Channel, he would have
jumped overboard to escape, but was afraid of drowning.

Arriving in France, he and the rest were huddled into cattle cars. On
the side of each appeared in white letters, "Chevaux 8, Hommes 40."
After hours of bumping over the uneven French road beds they arrived
at the training base of Rouen.

At this place they were put through a week's rigid training in trench
warfare. On the morning of the eighth day, they paraded at ten
o'clock, and were inspected and passed by General H--, then were
marched to the Quartermaster's, to draw their gas helmets and trench

At four in the afternoon, they were again hustled into cattle cars.
This time, the Journey lasted two days. They disembarked at the town
of Prevent, and could hear a distant dull booming. With knees shaking,
Lloyd asked the Sergeant what the noise was, and nearly dropped when
the Sergeant replied in a somewhat bored tone:

"Oh, them's the guns up the line. We'll be up there in a couple o'
days or so. Don't worry, my laddie, you'll see more of 'em than you
want before you get 'ome to Blighty again, that is, if you're lucky
enough to get back. Now lend a hand there unloadin' them cars, and
quit that everlastin' shakin'. I believe yer scared." The last with a
contemptuous sneer.

They marched ten kilos, full pack, to a little dilapidated village,
and the sound of the guns grew louder, constantly louder.

The village was full of soldiers who turned out to inspect the new
draft, the men who were shortly to be their mates in the trenches, for
they were going "up the line" on the morrow, to "take over" their
certain sector of trenches.

The draft was paraded in front of Battalion Headquarters, and the men
were assigned to companies.

Lloyd was the only man assigned to "D" Company. Perhaps the officer in
charge of the draft had something to do with it, for he called Lloyd
aside, and said:

"Lloyd, you are going to a new company. No one knows you. Your bed
will be as you make it, so for God's sake, brace up and be a man. I
think you have the stuff in you, my boy, so good-bye, and the best of
luck to you."

The next day the battalion took over their part of the trenches. It
happened to be a very quiet day. The artillery behind the lines was
still, except for an occasional shell sent over to let the Germans
know the gunners were not asleep.

In the darkness, in single file, the Company slowly wended their way
down the communication trench to the front line. No one noticed
Lloyd's white and drawn face.

After they had relieved the Company in the trenches, Lloyd, with two
of the old company men, was put on guard in one of the traverses. Not
a shot was fired from the German lines, and no one paid any attention
to him crouched on the firing step.

On the first time in, a new recruit is not required to stand with his
head "over the top." He only "sits it out," while the older men keep

At about ten o'clock, all of a sudden, he thought hell had broken
loose, and crouched and shivered up against the parapet. Shells
started bursting, as he imagined, right in their trench, when in fact
they were landing about a hundred yards in rear of them, in the second

One of the older men on guard, turning to his mate, said:

"There goes Fritz with those damned trench mortars again. It's about
time our artillery 'taped' them, and sent over a few. Well, I'll be
damned, where's that blighter of a draft man gone to? There's his
rifle leaning against the parapet. He must have legged it. Just keep
your eye peeled, Dick, while I report it to the Sergeant. I wonder if
the fool knows he can be shot for such tricks as leavin' his post."

Lloyd had gone. When the trench mortars opened up, a maddening terror
seized him and he wanted to run, to get away from that horrible din,
anywhere to safety. So quietly sneaking around the traverse, he came
to the entrance of a communication trench, and ran madly and blindly
down it, running into traverses, stumbling into muddy holes, and
falling full length over trench grids.

Groping blindly, with his arms stretched out in front of him, he at
last came out of the trench into the village, or what used to be a
village, before the German artillery razed it.

Mixed with his fear, he had a peculiar sort of cunning, which
whispered to him to avoid all sentries, because if they saw him he
would be sent back to that awful destruction in the front line, and
perhaps be killed or maimed. The thought made him shudder, the cold
sweat coming out in beads on his face.

On his left, in the darkness, he could make out the shadowy forms of
trees; crawling on his hands and knees, stopping and crouching with
fear at each shell-burst, he finally reached an old orchard, and
cowered at the base of a shot-scarred apple-tree.

He remained there all night, listening to the sound of the guns and
ever praying, praying that his useless life would be spared.

As dawn began to break, he could discern little dark objects
protruding from the ground all about him. Curiosity mastered his fear
and he crawled to one of the objects, and there, in the uncertain
light, he read on a little wooden cross:

"Pte. H. S. Wheaton, No. 1670, 1st London Regt. R. F. Killed in
action, April 25, 1916. R. I. P." (Rest in Peace).

When it dawned on him that he had been hiding all night in a cemetery,
his reason seemed to leave him, and a mad desire to be free from it
all made him rush madly away, falling over little wooden crosses,
smashing some and trampling others under his feet.

In his flight, he came to an old French dugout, half caved in, and
partially filled with slimy and filthy water.

Like a fox being chased by the hounds, he ducked into this hole, and
threw himself on a pile of old empty sandbags, wet and mildewed.

On the next day, he came to; far distant voices sounded in his ears.
Opening his eyes, in the entrance of the dugout he saw a Corporal and
two men with fixed bayonets.

The Corporal was addressing him:

"Get up, you white-livered blighter! Curse you and the day you ever
joined 'D' Company, spoiling their fine record! It'll be you up
against the wall, and a good job too. Get a hold of him, men, and if
he makes a break, give him the bayonet, and send it home, the cowardly
sneak. Come on, you, move, we've been looking for you long enough."

Lloyd, trembling and weakened by his long fast, tottered out, assisted
by a soldier on each side of him.

They took him before the Captain, but could get nothing out of him

"For God's sake, sir, don't have me shot, don't have me shot!"

The Captain, utterly disgusted with him, sent him under escort to
Division Headquarters for trial by court-martial, charged with
desertion under fire.

They shoot deserters in France.

During his trial, Lloyd sat as one dazed, and could put nothing
forward in his defence, only an occasional "Don't have me shot!"

His sentence was passed: "To be shot at 3:38 o'clock on the morning of
May 18, 1916." This meant that he had only one more day to live.

He did not realize the awfulness of his sentence, his brain seemed
paralyzed. He knew nothing of his trip, under guard, in a motor lorry
to the sand-bagged guardroom in the village, where he was dumped on
the floor and left, while a sentry with a fixed bayonet paced up and
down in front of the entrance.

Bully beef, water, and biscuits were left beside him for his supper.

The sentry, seeing that he ate nothing, came inside and shook him by
the shoulder, saying in a kind voice:

"Cheero, laddie, better eat something. You'll feel better. Don't give
up hope. You'll be pardoned before morning. I know the way they run
these things. They're only trying to scare you, that's all. Come now,
that's a good lad, eat something. It'll make the world look different
to you."

The good-hearted sentry knew he was lying about the pardon. He knew
nothing short of a miracle could save the poor lad.

Lloyd listened eagerly to his sentry's words, and believed them. A
look of hope came into his eyes, and he ravenously ate the meal beside

In about an hour's time, the Chaplain came to see him, but Lloyd would
have none of him. He wanted no parson; he was to be pardoned.

The artillery behind the lines suddenly opened up with everything they
had. An intense bombardment of the enemy's lines had commenced. The
roar of the guns was deafening. Lloyd's fears came back with a rush,
and he cowered on the earthen floor with his hands over his face.

The sentry, seeing his position, came in and tried to cheer him by
talking to him:

"Never mind them guns, boy, they won't hurt you. They are ours. We are
giving the Boches a dose of their own medicine. Our boys are going
over the top at dawn of the morning to take their trenches. We'll give
'em a taste of cold steel with their sausages and beer. You just sit
tight now until they relieve you. I'll have to go now, lad, as it's
nearly time for my relief, and I don't want them to see me a-talkin'
with you. So long, laddie, cheero."

With this, the sentry resumed the pacing of his post. In about ten
minutes' time he was relieved, and a "D" Company man took his place.

Looking into the guardhouse, the sentry noticed the cowering attitude
of Lloyd, and, with a sneer, said to him:

"Instead of whimpering in that corner, you ought to be saying your
prayers. It's bally conscripts like you what's spoilin' our record.
We've been out here nigh onto eighteen months, and you're the first
man to desert his post. The whole Battalion is laughin' and pokin' fun
at 'D' Company, bad luck to you I but you won't get another chance to
disgrace us. They'll put your lights out in the mornin'."

After listening to this tirade, Lloyd, in a faltering voice, asked:
"They are not going to shoot me, are they? Why, the other sentry said
they'd pardon me. For God's sake--don't tell me I'm to be shot!" and
his voice died away in a sob.

"Of course, they're going to shoot you. The other sentry was jest
a-kiddin' you. Jest like old Smith. Always a-tryin' to cheer some one.
You ain't got no more chance o' bein' pardoned than I have of gettin'
to be Colonel of my 'Batt.'"

When the fact that all hope was gone finally entered Lloyd's brain, a
calm seemed to settle over him, and rising to his knees, with his arms
stretched out to heaven, he prayed, and all of his soul entered into
the prayer:

"Oh, good and merciful God, give me strength to die like a man!
Deliver me from this coward's death. Give me a chance to die like my
mates in the fighting line, to die fighting for my country. I ask this
of thee."

A peace, hitherto unknown, came to him, and he crouched and cowered no
more, but calmly waited the dawn, ready to go to his death. The shells
were bursting all around the guardroom, but he hardly noticed them.

While waiting there, the voice of the sentry, singing in a low tone,
came to him. He was singing the chorus of the popular trench ditty:

  "I want to go home, I want to go home.
  I don't want to go to the trenches no more.
  Where the 'whizzbangs' and 'sausages' roar galore.
  Take me over the sea, where the Allemand can't get at me.
  Oh my, I don't want to die! I want to go home."

Lloyd listened to the words with a strange interest, and wondered what
kind of a home he would go to across the Great Divide. It would be the
only home he had ever known.

Suddenly there came a great rushing through the air, a blinding flash,
a deafening report, and the sandbag walls of the guardroom toppled
over, and then--blackness.

When Lloyd recovered consciousness, he was lying on his right side,
facing what used to be the entrance of the guardroom. Now, it was only
a jumble of rent and torn sandbags. His head seemed bursting. He
slowly rose on his elbow, and there in the east the dawn was breaking.
But what was that mangled shape lying over there among the sandbags?
Slowly dragging himself to it, he saw the body of the sentry. One look
was enough to know that he was dead. The soldier's head was missing.
The sentry had had his wish gratified. He had "gone home." He was safe
at last from the "whizzbangs" and the Allemand.

Like a flash it came to Lloyd that he was free. Free to go "over the
top" with his Company. Free to die like a true Briton fighting for his
King and Country. A great gladness and warmth came over him. Carefully
stepping over the body of the sentry, he started on a mad race down
the ruined street of the village, amid the bursting shells, minding
them not, dodging through or around hurrying platoons on their way to
also go "over the top." Coming to a communication trench he could not
get through. It was blocked with laughing, cheering, and cursing
soldiers. Climbing out of the trench, he ran wildly along the top,
never heeding the rain of machine-gun bullets and shells, not even
hearing the shouts of the officers, telling him to get back into the
trench. He was going to join his Company who were in the front line.
He was going to fight with them. He, the despised coward, had come
into his own.

While he was racing along, jumping over trenches crowded with
soldiers, a ringing cheer broke out all along the front line, and his
heart sank. He knew he was too late. His Company had gone over. But
still he ran madly. He would catch them. He would die with them.

Meanwhile his Company had gone "over." They, with the other companies
had taken the first and second German trenches, and had pushed
steadily on to the third line. "D" Company, led by their Captain, the
one who had sent Lloyd to Division Headquarters for trial, charged
with desertion, had pushed steadily forward until they found
themselves far in advance of the rest of the attacking force. "Bombing
out" trench after trench, and using their bayonets, they came to a
German communication trench, which ended in a blindsap, and then the
Captain, and what was left of his men, knew they were in a trap. They
would not retire. "D" Company never retired, and they were "D"
Company. Right in front of them they could see hundreds of Germans
preparing to rush them with bomb and bayonet. They would have some
chance if ammunition and bombs could reach them from the rear. Their
supply was exhausted, and the men realized it would be a case of dying
as bravely as possible, or making a run for it. But "D" Company would
not run. It was against their traditions and principles.

The Germans would have to advance across an open space of three to
four hundred yards before they could get within bombing distance of
the trench, and then it would be all their own way. Turning to his
Company, the Captain said:

"Men, it's a case of going West for us. We are out of ammunition and
bombs, and the 'Boches' have us in a trap. They will bomb us out. Our
bayonets are useless here. We will have to go over and meet them, and
it's a case of thirty to one, so send every thrust home, and die like
the men of 'D' Company should. When I give the word, follow me, and up
and at them. Give them hell! God, if we only had a machine gun, we
could wipe them out! Here they come, get ready, men."

Just as he finished speaking, the welcome "pup-pup" of a machine gun
in their rear rang out, and the front line of the onrushing German
seemed to melt away. They wavered, but once again came rushing onward.
Down went their second line. The machine gun was taking an awful toll
of lives. Then again they tried to advance, but the machine gun mowed
them down. Dropping their rifles and bombs, they broke and fled in a
wild rush back to their trench, amid the cheers of "D" Company. They
were forming again for another attempt, when in the rear of "D"
Company came a mighty cheer. The ammunition had arrived and with it a
battalion of Scotch to reinforce them. They were saved. The unknown
machine gunner had come to the rescue in the nick of time.

With the reinforcements, it was an easy task to take the third German

After the attack was over, the Captain and three of his
non-commissioned officers, wended their way back to the position where
the machine gun had done its deadly work. He wanted to thank the
gunner in the name of "D" Company for his magnificent deed. They
arrived at the gun, and an awful sight met their eyes.

Lloyd had reached the front line trench, after his Company had left
it. A strange company was nimbly crawling up the trench ladders. They
were reinforcements going over. They were Scotties, and they made a
magnificent sight in their brightly colored kilts and bare knees.

Jumping over the trench, Lloyd raced across "No Man's Land," unheeding
the rain of bullets, leaping over dark forms on the ground, some of
which lay still, while others called out to him as he speeded past.

He came to the German front line, but it was deserted, except for
heaps of dead and wounded--a grim tribute to the work of his
Company, good old "D" Company. Leaping trenches, and gasping for
breath, Lloyd could see right ahead of him his Company in a dead-ended
sap of a communication trench, and across the open, away in front of
them, a mass of Germans preparing for a charge. Why didn't "D" Company
fire on them? Why were they so strangely silent? What were they
waiting for? Then he knew--their ammunition was exhausted.

But what was that on his right? A machine gun. Why didn't it open fire
and save them? He would make that gun's crew do their duty. Rushing
over to the gun, he saw why it had not opened fire. Scattered around
its base lay six still forms. They had brought their gun to
consolidate the captured position, but a German machine gun had
decreed they would never fire again.

Lloyd rushed to the gun, and grasping the traversing handles, trained
it, on the Germans. He pressed the thumb piece, but only a sharp click
was the result. The gun was unloaded. Then he realized his
helplessness. He did not know how to load the gun. Oh, why hadn't he
attended the machine-gun course in England? He'd been offered the
chance, but with a blush of shame he remembered that he had been
afraid. The nickname of the machine gunners had frightened him. They
were called the "Suicide Club." Now, because of this fear, his Company
would be destroyed, the men of "D" Company would have to die, because
he, Albert Lloyd, had been afraid of a name. In his shame he cried
like a baby. Anyway he could die with them, and, rising to his feet,
he stumbled over the body, one of the gunners, who emitted a faint
moan. A gleam of hope flashed through him. Perhaps this man could tell
him how to load the gun. Stooping over the body, he gently shook it,
and the soldier opened his eyes. Seeing Lloyd, he closed them again,
and in a faint voice said:

"Get away, you blighter, leave me alone. I don't want any coward
around me."

The words cut Lloyd like a knife, but he was desperate. Taking the
revolver out of the holster of the dyings man, he pressed the cold
muzzle to the soldier's head, and replied:

"Yes, it is Lloyd, the coward of Company 'D,' but so help me God, if
you don't tell me how to load that gun, I'll put a bullet through your

A sunny smile came over the countenance of the dying man, and he said
in a faint whisper:

"Good old boy! I knew you wouldn't disgrace our Company--"

Lloyd interposed, "For God's sake, if you want to save that Company
you are so proud of, tell me how to load that damned gun!"

As if reciting a lesson in school, the soldier replied in a weak,
singsong voice: "Insert tag end of belt in feed block, with left hand
pull belt left front. Pull crank handle back on roller, let go, and
repeat motion. Gun is now loaded. To fire, raise automatic safety
latch, and press thumb piece. Gun is now firing. If gun stops,
ascertain position of crank handle--"

But Lloyd waited for no more. With wild joy at his heart, he took a
belt from one of the ammunition boxes lying beside the gun, and
followed the dying man's instructions. Then he pressed the thumb
piece, and a burst of fire rewarded his efforts. The gun was working.

Training it on the Germans, he shouted for joy as their front rank
went down.

Traversing the gun back and forth along the mass of Germans, he saw
them break and run back to the cover of their trench, leaving their
dead and wounded behind. He had saved his Company, he, Lloyd, the
coward, had "done his bit." Releasing the thumb piece, he looked at
the watch on his wrist. He was still alive, and the hands pointed to
"3:38," the time set for his death by the court.

"Ping!"--a bullet sang through the air, and Lloyd fell forward
across the gun. A thin trickle of blood ran down his face from a
little, black round hole in his forehead.

The sentence of the court had been "duly carried out."

The Captain slowly raised the limp form drooping over the gun, and,
wiping the blood from the white face, recognized it as Lloyd, the
coward of "B" Company. Reverently covering the face with his
handkerchief, he turned to his "non-coms," and in a voice husky with
emotion, addressed them:

"Boys, it's Lloyd the deserter. He has redeemed himself, died the
death of a hero. Died that his mates might live."

That afternoon, a solemn procession wended its way toward the cemetery.
In the front a stretcher was carried by two Sergeants. Across the
stretcher the Union Jack was carefully spread. Behind the stretcher
came a Captain and forty-three men, all that were left of "D" Company.

Arriving at the cemetery, they halted in front of an open grave. All
about them, wooden crosses were broken and trampled into the ground.

A grizzled old Sergeant, noting this destruction, muttered under his
breath: "Curse the cowardly blighter who wrecked those crosses! If I
could only get these two hands around his neck, his trip West would be
a short one."

The corpse on the stretcher seemed to move, or it might have been the
wind blowing the folds of the Union Jack.



Dejoining Atwell after the execution I had a hard time trying to keep
my secret from him. I think I must have lost at least ten pounds
worrying over the affair.

Beginning at seven in the evening it was our duty to patrol all
communication and front-line trenches, making note of unusual
occurrences, and arresting anyone who should, to us, appear to be
acting in a suspicious manner. We slept during the day.

Behind the lines there was great activity, supplies and ammunition
pouring in, and long columns of troops constantly passing. We were
preparing for the big offensive, the forerunner of the Battle of the
Somme or "Big Push."

The never-ending stream of men, supplies, ammunition, and guns pouring
into the British lines made a mighty spectacle, one that cannot be
described. It has to be witnessed with your own eyes to appreciate its

At our part of the line the influx of supplies never ended. It looked
like a huge snake slowly crawling forward, never a hitch or break, a
wonderful tribute to the system and efficiency of Great Britain's
"contemptible little army" of five millions of men.

Huge fifteen-inch guns snaked along, foot by foot, by powerful steam
tractors. Then a long line of "four point five" batteries, each gun
drawn by six horses, then a couple of "nine point two" howitzers
pulled by immense caterpillar engines.

When one of these caterpillars would pass me with its mighty monster
in tow, a flush of pride would mount to my face, because I could
plainly read on the name plate, "Made in U.S.A.," and I would remember
that if I wore a name plate it would also read, "Made in U.S.A." Then
I would stop to think how thin and straggly that mighty stream would
be if all the "Made in U. S. A." parts of it were withdrawn.

Then would come hundreds of limbers and "G. S." wagons drawn by sleek,
well-fed mules, ridden by sleek, well-fed men, ever smiling. Although
grimy with sweat and covered with the fine, white dust of the
marvellously well-made French roads.

What a discouraging report the German air men must have taken back to
their Division Commanders, and this stream is slowly but surely
getting bigger and bigger every day, and the pace is always the same.
No slower, no faster, but ever onward, ever forward.

Three weeks before the Big Push of July 1st--as the Battle of the
Somme has been called--started, exact duplicates of the German
trenches were dug about thirty kilos behind our lines. The layout of
the trenches were taken from aeroplane photographs submitted by the
Royal Flying Corps. The trenches were correct to the foot; they showed
dugouts, saps, barbed wire defences, and danger spots.

Battalions that were to go over in the first waves were sent back for
three days to study these trenches, engage in practice attacks, and
have night maneuvers. Each man was required to make a map of the
trenches and familiarize himself with the names and location of the
parts his battalion was to attack.

In the American army non-commissioned officers are put through a
course of map making or road sketching, and during my six years'
service in the United States Cavalry, I had plenty of practice in this
work, therefore mapping these trenches was a comparatively easy task
for me. Each man had to submit his map to the Company Commander to be
passed upon, and I was lucky enough to have mine selected as being
sufficiently authentic to use in the attack.

No photographs or maps are allowed to leave France, but in this case
it appealed to me as a valuable souvenir of the Great War and I
managed to smuggle it through. At this time it carries no military
importance as the British lines, I am happy to say, have since been
advanced beyond this point, so it has been reproduced in this book
without breaking any regulation or cautions of the British Army.

The whole attack was rehearsed and rehearsed until we heartily cursed
the one who had conceived the idea.

The trenches were named according to a system which made it very
simple for Tommy to find, even in the dark, any point in the German

These imitation trenches, or trench models, were well guarded from
observation by numerous allied planes which constantly circled above
them. No German aeroplane could approach within observing distance. A
restricted area was maintained and no civilian was allowed within
three miles, so we felt sure that we had a great surprise in store for

When we took over the front line we received an awful shock. The
Germans displayed signboards over the top of their trench showing the
names that we had called their trenches. The signs read "Fair,"
"Fact," "Fate," and "Fancy" and so on, according to the code names on
our map. Then to rub it in, they hoisted some more signs which read,
"When are you coming over?" or "Come on, we are ready, stupid

It is still a mystery to me how they obtained this knowledge. There
had been no raids or prisoners taken, so it must have been the work of
spies in our own lines.

Three or four days before the Big Push we tried to shatter Fritz's
nerves by feint attacks, and partially succeeded as the official
reports of July 1st show.

Although we were constantly bombarding their lines day and night,
still we fooled the Germans several times. This was accomplished by
throwing an intense barrage into his lines,--then using smoke shells
we would put a curtain of white smoke across No Man's Land, completely
obstructing his view of our trenches, and would raise our curtain of
fire as if in an actual attack. All down our trenches the men would
shout and cheer, and Fritz would turn loose with machine-gun, rifle,
and shrapnel fire, thinking we were coming over.

{Photo: Map of German Trenches. Hebuterne, France, 1916. Before the
"Big Push."}

After three or four of these dummy attacks his nerves must have been
near the breaking point.

On June 24, 1916, at 9:40 in the morning our guns opened up, and hell
was let loose. The din was terrific, a constant boom-boom-boom in your

At night the sky was a red glare. Our bombardment had lasted about two
hours when Fritz started replying. Although we were sending over ten
shells to his one, our casualties were heavy. There was a constant
stream of stretchers coming out of the communication trenches and
burial parties were a common sight.

In the dugouts the noise of the guns almost hurt. You had the same
sensation as when riding on the Subway you enter the tube under the
river going to Brooklyn--a sort of pressure on the ear drums, and
the ground constantly trembling.

The roads behind the trenches were very dangerous because Boche
shrapnel was constantly bursting over them. We avoided these dangerous
spots by crossing through open fields.

The destruction in the German lines was awful and I really felt sorry
for them because I realized how they must be clicking it.

From our front-line trench, every now and again, we could hear sharp
whistle blasts in the German trenches. These blasts were the signals
for stretcher bearers, and meant the wounding or killing of some
German in the service of his Fatherland.

Atwell and I had a tough time of it, patrolling the different trenches
at night, but after awhile got used to it.

My old outfit, the Machine Gun Company, was stationed in huge elephant
dugouts about four hundred yards behind the front-line trench-they
were in reserve. Occasionally I would stop in their dugout and have a
confab with my former mates. Although we tried to be jolly, still,
there was a lurking feeling of impending disaster. Each man was
wondering, if, after the slogan, "Over the top with the best of luck,"
had been sounded, would he still be alive or would he be lying
"somewhere in France." In an old dilapidated house, the walls of which
were scarred with machine-gun bullets, No. 3 section of the Machine
Gun Company had its quarters. The Company's cooks prepared the meals
in this billet. On the fifth evening of the bombardment a German
eight-inch shell registered a direct hit on the billet and wiped out
ten men who were asleep in the supposedly bomb-proof cellar. They were
buried the next day and I attended the funeral.



At Brigade Headquarters I happened to overhear a conversation between
our G.O.C. (General Officer Commanding) and the Divisional Commander.
From this conversation I learned that we were to bombard the German
lines for eight days, and on the first of July the "Big Push" was to

In a few days orders were issued to that effect, and it was common
property all along the line.

On the afternoon of the eighth day of our strafeing, Atwell and I were
sitting in the frontline trench smoking fags and making out our
reports of the previous night's tour of the trenches, which we had to
turn in to headquarters the following day, when an order was passed
down the trench that Old Pepper requested twenty volunteers to go over
on a trench raid that night to try and get a few German prisoners for
information purposes. I immediately volunteered for this job, and
shook hands with Atwell, and went to the rear to give my name to the
officers in charge of the raiding party.

I was accepted, worse luck.

At 9:40 that night we reported to the Brigade Headquarters dugout to
receive instructions from Old Pepper.

After reaching this dugout we lined up in a semicircle around him, and
he addressed us as follows:

"All I want you boys to do is to go over to the German lines to-night,
surprise them, secure a couple of prisoners, and return immediately.
Our artillery has bombarded that section of the line for two days and
personally I believe that that part of the German trench is
unoccupied, so just get a couple of prisoners and return as quickly as

The Sergeant on my right, in an undertone, whispered to me:

"Say, Yank, how are we going to get a couple of prisoners if the old
fool thinks 'personally that that part of the trench is
unoccupied,'--sounds kind of fishy, doesn't it mate?"

I had a funny sinking sensation in my stomach, and my tin hat felt as
if it weighed about a ton and my enthusiasm was melting away. Old
Pepper must have heard the Sergeant speak because he turned in his
direction and in a thundering voice asked:

"What did you say?"

The Sergeant with a scared look on his face and his knees trembling,
smartly saluted and answered:

"Nothing, sir."

Old Pepper said:

"Well, don't say it so loudly the next time."

Then Old Pepper continued:

"In this section of the German trenches there are two or three machine
guns which our artillery, in the last two or three days, has been
unable to tape. These guns command the sector where two of our
communication trenches join the front line, and as the brigade is to
go over the top tomorrow morning I want to capture two or three men
from these guns' crews, and from them I may be able to obtain valuable
information as to the exact location of the guns, and our artillery
will therefore be able to demolish them before the attack, and thus
prevent our losing a lot of men while using these communication
trenches to bring up reinforcements."

These were the instructions he gave us:

"Take off your identification disks, strip your uniforms of all
numerals, insignia, etc., leave your papers with your captains,
because I don't want the Boches to know what regiments are against
them as this would be valuable information to them in our attack
to-morrow and I don't want any of you to be taken alive. What I want
is two prisoners and if I get them I have a way which will make them
divulge all necessary information as to their guns. You have your
choice of two weapons--you may carry your 'persuaders' or your
knuckle knives, and each man will arm himself with four Mills bombs,
these to be used only in case of emergency."

A persuader is Tommy's nickname for a club carried by the bombers. It
is about two feet long, thin at one end and very thick at the other.
The thick end is studded with sharp steel spikes, while through the
center of the club there is a nine-inch lead bar, to give it weight
and balance. When you get a prisoner all you have to do is just stick
this club up in front of him, and believe me, the prisoner's
patriotism for Deutschland Uber Alles fades away and he very willingly
obeys the orders of his captor. If, however, the prisoner gets
high-toned and refuses to follow you, simply "persuade" him by first
removing his tin hat, and then--well, the use of the lead weight in
the persuader is demonstrated, and Tommy looks for another prisoner.

The knuckle knife is a dagger affair, the blade of which is about
eight inches long with a heavy steel guard over the grip. This guard
is studded with steel projections. At night in a trench, which is only
about three to four feet wide, it makes a very handy weapon. One punch
in the face generally shatters a man's jaw and you can get him with
the knife as he goes down.

Then we had what we called our "come-alongs." These are strands of
barbed wire about three feet long, made into a noose at one end; at
the other end, the barbs are cut off and Tommy slips his wrist through
a loop to get a good grip on the wire. If the prisoner wants to argue
the point, why just place the large loop around his neck and no matter
if Tommy wishes to return to his trenches at the walk, trot, or
gallop, Fritz is perfectly agreeable to maintain Tommy's rate of

We were ordered to black our faces and hands. For this reason: at
night, the English and Germans use what they call star shells, a sort
of rocket affair. These are fired from a large pistol about twenty
inches long, which is held over the sandbag parapet of the trench, and
discharged into the air. These star shells attain a height of about
sixty feet, and a range of from fifty to seventy-five yards. When they
hit the ground they explode, throwing out a strong calcium light which
lights up the ground in a circle of a radius of between ten to fifteen
yards. They also have a parachute star shell which, after reaching a
height of about sixty feet, explodes. A parachute unfolds and slowly
floats to the ground, lighting up a large circle in No Man's Land. The
official name of the star shell is a "Very-light." Very-lights are
used to prevent night surprise attacks on the trenches. If a star
shell falls in front of you, or between you and the German lines, you
are safe from detection, as the enemy cannot see you through the
bright curtain of light. But if it falls behind you and, as Tommy
says, "you get into the star shell zone," then the fun begins.

You have to lie flat on your stomach and remain absolutely motionless
until the light of the shell dies out. This takes anywhere from forty
to seventy seconds. If you haven't time to fall to the ground you must
remain absolutely still in whatever position you were in when the
light exploded; it is advisable not to breathe, as Fritz has an eye
like an eagle when he thinks you are knocking at his door. When a star
shell is burning in Tommy's rear he can hold his breath for a week.

You blacken your face and hands so that the light from the star shells
will not reflect on your pale face. In a trench raid there is quite
sufficient reason for your face to be pale. If you don't believe me,
try it just once.

Then another reason for blacking your face and hands is that, after
you have entered the German trench at night, "white face" means
Germans, "black face" English. Coming around a traverse you see a
white face in front of you. With a prayer and wishing Fritz "the best
o' luck," you introduce him to your "persuader" or knuckle knife.

A little later we arrived at the communication trench named Whiskey
Street, which led to the fire trench at the point we were to go over
the top and out in front.

In our rear were four stretcher bearers and a Corporal of the R.A.M.C.
carrying a pouch containing medicines and first-aid appliances. Kind
of a grim reminder to us that our expedition was not going to be
exactly a picnic. The order of things was reversed. In civilian life
the doctors generally come first, with the undertakers tagging in the
rear and then the insurance man, but in our case, the undertakers were
leading, with the doctors trailing behind, minus the insurance

The presence of the R.A.M.C. men did not seem to disturb the raiders,
because many a joke, made in an undertone, was passed along the
winding column, as to who would be first to take a ride on one of the
stretchers. This was generally followed by a wish that, if you were to
be the one, the wound would be a "cushy Blighty one."

The stretcher bearers, no doubt, were hoping that, if they did have to
carry anyone to the rear, he would be small and light. Perhaps they
looked at me when wishing, because I could feel an uncomfortable,
boring sensation between my shoulder blades. They got their wish all

Going up this trench, about every sixty yards or so we would pass a
lonely sentry, who in a whisper would wish us "the best o' luck,
mates." We would blind at him under our breaths; that Jonah phrase to
us sounded very ominous.

Without any casualties the minstrel troop arrived in Suicide Ditch,
the front-line trench. Previously, a wiring party of the Royal
Engineers had cut a lane through our barbed wire to enable us to get
out into No Man's Land.

Crawling through this lane, our party of twenty took up an
extended-order formation about one yard apart. We had a tap code
arranged for our movements while in No Man's Land, because for various
reasons it is not safe to carry on a heated conversation a few yards
in front of Fritz's lines. The officer was on the right of the line,
while I was on the extreme left. Two taps from the right would be
passed down the line until I received them, then I would send back one
tap. The officer, in receiving this one tap, would know that his order
had gone down the whole line, had been understood, and that the party
was ready to obey the two-tap signal. Two taps meant that we were to
crawl forward slowly--and believe me, very slowly--for five yards,
and then halt to await further instructions. Three taps meant, when
you arrived within striking distance of the German trench, rush it and
inflict as many casualties as possible, secure a couple of prisoners,
and then back to your own lines with the speed clutch open. Four taps
meant, "I have gotten you into a position from which it is impossible
for me to extricate you, so you are on your own."

After getting Tommy into a mess on the western front he is generally
told that he is "on his own." This means, "Save your skin in any way
possible." Tommy loves to be "on his own" behind the lines, but not
during a trench raid.

The star shells from the German lines were falling in front of us,
therefore we were safe. After about twenty minutes we entered the star
shell zone. A star shell from the German lines fell about five yards
in the rear and to the right of me; we hugged the ground and held our
breath until it burned out. The smoke from the star shell travelled
along the ground and crossed over the middle of our line. Some Tommy
sneezed. The smoke had gotten up his nose. We crouched on the ground,
cursing the offender under our breath, and waited the volley that
generally ensues when the Germans have heard a noise in No Man's Land.
Nothing happened. We received two taps and crawled forward slowly for
five yards; no doubt the officer believed what Old Pepper had said,
"Personally I believe that that part of the German trench is
unoccupied." By being careful and remaining motionless when the star
shells fell behind us, we reached the German barbed wire without
mishap. Then the fun began. I was scared stiff as it is ticklish work
cutting your way through wire when about thirty feet in front of you
there is a line of Boches looking out into No Man's Land with their
rifles lying across the parapet, straining every sense to see or hear
what is going on in No Man's Land; because at night, Fritz never knows
when a bomb with his name and number on it will come hurtling through
the air aimed in the direction of Berlin. The man on the right, one
man in the center, and myself on the extreme left were equipped with
wire cutters. These are insulated with soft rubber, not because the
German wires are charged with electricity, but to prevent the cutters
rubbing against the barbed wire stakes, which are of iron, and making
a noise which may warn the inmates of the trench that someone is
getting fresh in their front yard. There is only one way to cut a
barbed wire without noise and through costly experience Tommy has
become an expert in doing this.

You must grasp the wire about two inches from the stake in your right
hand and cut between the stake and your hand.

If you cut a wire improperly, a loud twang will ring out on the night
air like the snapping of a banjo string. Perhaps this noise can be
heard only for fifty or seventy-five yards, but in Tommy's mind it
makes a loud noise in Berlin.

We had cut a lane about halfway through the wire when, down the center
of our line, twang! went an improperly cut wire. We crouched down,
cursing under our breath, trembling all over, our knees lacerated from
the strands of the cut barbed wire on the ground, waiting for a
challenge and the inevitable volley of rifle fire. Nothing happened. I
suppose the fellow who cut the barbed wire improperly was the one who
had sneezed about half an hour previously. What we wished him would
never make his new year a happy one.

The officer, in my opinion, at the noise of the wire should have given
the four-tap signal, which meant, "On your own, get back to your
trenches as quickly as possible," but again he must have relied on the
spiel that Old Pepper had given us in the dugout, "Personally I
believe that that part of the German trench is unoccupied." Anyway, we
got careless, but not so careless that we sang patriotic songs or made
any unnecessary noise.

During the intervals of falling star shells we carried on with our
wire cutting until at last we succeeded in getting through the German
barbed wire. At this point we were only ten feet from the German
trenches. If we were discovered, we were like rats in a trap. Our way
was cut off unless we ran along the wire to the narrow lane we had cut
through. With our hearts in our mouths we waited for the three-tap
signal to rush the German trench. Three taps had gotten about halfway
down the line when suddenly about ten to twenty German star shells
were fired all along the trench and landed in the barbed wire in rear
of us, turning night into day and silhouetting us against the wall of
light made by the flares. In the glaring light we were confronted by
the following unpleasant scene.

All along the German trench, at about three-foot intervals, stood a
big Prussian guardsman with his rifle at the aim, and then we found
out why we had not been challenged when the man sneezed and the barbed
wire had been improperly cut. About three feet in front of the trench
they had constructed a single fence of barbed wire and we knew our
chances were one thousand to one of returning alive. We could not rush
their trench on account of this second defense. Then in front of me
the challenge, "Halt," given in English rang out, and one of the
finest things I have ever heard on the western front took place.

From the middle of our line some. Tommy answered the challenge with,
"Aw, go to hell." It must have been the man who had sneezed or who had
improperly cut the barbed wire; he wanted o show Fritz that he could
die game. Then came the volley. Machine guns were turned loose and
several bombs were thrown in our rear. The Boche in front of me was
looking down his sight. This fellow might have, under ordinary
circumstances, been handsome, but when I viewed him from the front of
his rifle he had the goblins of childhood imagination relegated to the

Then came a flash in front of me, the flare of his rifle-and my head
seemed to burst. A bullet had hit me on the left side of my face about
half an inch from my eye, smashing the cheek bones. I put my hand to
my face and fell forward, biting the ground and kicking my feet. I
thought I was dying, but do you know, my past life did not unfold
before me the way it does in novels.

The blood was streaming down my tunic, and the pain was awful. When I
came to I said to myself, "Temp, old boy, you belong in Jersey City
and you'd better get back there as quickly as possible."

The bullets were cracking overhead. I crawled a few feet back to the
German barbed wire, and in a stooping position, guiding myself by the
wire, I went down the line looking for the lane we had cut through.
Before reaching this lane I came to a limp form which seemed like a
bag of oats hanging over the wire. In the dim light I could see that
its hands were blackened, and knew it was the body of one of my mates.
I put my hand on his head, the top of which had been blown off by a
bomb. My fingers sank into the hole. I pulled my hand back full of
blood and brains, then I went crazy with fear and horror and rushed
along the wire until I came to our lane. I had just turned down this
lane when something inside of me seemed to say, "Look around." I did
so; a bullet caught me on the left shoulder. It did not hurt much,
just felt as if someone had punched me in the back, and then my left
side went numb. My arm was dangling like a rag. I fell forward in a
sitting position. But all fear had left me and I was consumed with
rage and cursed the German trenches. With my right hand I felt in my
tunic for my first-aid or shell dressing. In feeling over my tunic my
hand came in contact with one of the bombs which I carried. Gripping
it, I pulled the pin out with my teeth and blindly threw it towards
the German trench. I must have been out of my head because I was only
ten feet from the trench and took a chance of being mangled. If the
bomb had failed to go into the trench I would have been blown to bits
by the explosion of my own bomb.

By the flare of the explosion of the bomb, which luckily landed in
their trench, I saw one big Boche throw up his arms and fall
backwards, white his rifle flew into the air. Another one wilted and
fell forward across the sandbags--then blackness.

Realizing what a foolhardy and risky thing I had done, I was again
seized with a horrible fear. I dragged myself to my feet and ran madly
down the lane through the barbed wire, stumbling over cut wires,
tearing my uniform, and lacerating my hands and legs. Just as I was
about to reach No Man's Land again, that same voice seemed to say,
"Turn around." I did so, when, "crack," another bullet caught me, this
time in the left shoulder about one half inch away from the other
wound. Then it was taps for me. The lights went out.

When I came to I was crouching in a hole in No Man's Land. This shell
hole was about three feet deep, so that it brought my head a few
inches below the level of the ground. How I reached this hole I will
never know. German "type-writers" were traversing back and forth in No
Man's Land, the bullets biting the edge of my shell hole and throwing
dirt all over me.

Overhead, shrapnel was bursting. I could hear the fragments slap the
ground. Then I went out once more. When I came to, everything was
silence and darkness in No Man's Land. I was soaked with blood and a
big flap from the wound in my cheek was hanging over my mouth. The
blood running from this flap choked me. Out of the corner of my mouth I
would try and blow it back but it would not move. I reached for my
shell dressing and tried, with one hand, to bandage my face to prevent
the flow. I had an awful horror of bleeding to death and was getting
very faint. You would have laughed if you had seen my ludicrous
attempts at bandaging with one hand. The pains in my wounded shoulder
were awful and I was getting sick at the stomach. I gave up the
bandaging stunt as a bad job, and then fainted.

When I came to, hell was let loose. An intense bombardment was on, and
on the whole my position was decidedly unpleasant. Then, suddenly, our
barrage ceased. The silence almost hurt, but not for long, because
Fritz turned loose with shrapnel, machine guns, and rifle fire. Then
all along our line came a cheer and our boys came over the top in a
charge. The first wave was composed of "Jocks." They were a
magnificent sight, kilts flapping in the wind, bare knees showing, and
their bayonets glistening. In the first wave that passed my shell
hole, one of the "Jocks," an immense fellow, about six feet two inches
in height, jumped right over me. On the right and left of me several
soldiers in colored kilts were huddled on the ground, then over came
the second wave, also "Jocks." One young Scottie, when he came abreast
of my shell hole, leaped into the air, his rifle shooting out of his
hands, landing about six feet in front of him, bayonet first, and
stuck in the ground, the butt trembling. This impressed me greatly.

Right now I can see the butt of that gun trembling. The Scottie made a
complete turn in the air, hit the ground, rolling over twice, each
time clawing at the earth, and then remained still, about four feet
from me, in a sort of sitting position. I called to him, "Are you hurt
badly, Jock?" but no answer. He was dead. A dark, red smudge was
coming through his tunic right under the heart. The blood ran down his
bare knees, making a horrible sight. On his right side he carried his
water bottle. I was crazy for a drink and tried to reach this, but for
the life of me could not negotiate that four feet. Then I became
unconscious. When I woke up I was in an advanced first-aid post. I
asked the doctor if we had taken the trench. "We took the trench and
the wood beyond, all right," he said, "and you fellows did your bit;
but, my lad, that was thirty-six hours ago. You were lying in No Man's
Land in that bally hole for a day and a half. It's a wonder you are
alive." He also told me that out of the twenty that were in the
raiding party, seventeen were killed. The officer died of wounds in
crawling back to our trench and I was severely wounded, but one fellow
returned without a scratch without any prisoners. No doubt this chap
was the one who bad sneezed and improperly cut the barbed wire.

In the official communique our trench raid was described as follows:

"All quiet on the Western front, excepting in the neighborhood of
Gommecourt Wood, where one of our raiding parties penetrated into the
German lines."

It is needless to say that we had no use for our persuaders or
come-alongs, as we brought back no prisoners, and until I die Old
Pepper's words, "Personally I don't believe that that part of the
German trench is occupied," will always come to me when I hear some
fellow trying to get away with a fishy statement. I will judge it



From this first-aid post, after inoculating me with anti-tetanus serum
to prevent lockjaw, I was put into an ambulance and sent to temporary
hospital behind the lines. To reach this hospital we had to go along a
road about five miles in length. This road was under shell fire, for
now and then a flare would light up the sky,--a tremendous
explosion,--and then the road seemed to tremble. We did not mind,
though no doubt some of us wished that a shell would hit us and end
our misery. Personally, I was not particular. It was nothing but bump,
jolt, rattle, and bang.

Several times the driver would turn around and give us a "Cheero,
mates, we'll soon be there--" fine fellows, those ambulance drivers,
a lot of them go West too.

We gradually drew out of the fire zone and pulled up in front of an
immense dugout. Stretcher-bearers carried me down a number of steps
and placed me on a white table in a brightly lighted room.

A Sergeant of the Royal Army Medical Corps removed my bandages and cut
off my tunic. Then the doctor, with his sleeves rolled up, took
charge. He winked at me and I winked back, and then he asked, "How do
you feel, smashed up a bit?"

I answered: "I'm all right, but I'd give a quid for a drink of Bass."

He nodded to the Sergeant who disappeared, and I'll be darned if he
didn't return with a glass of ale. I could only open my mouth about a
quarter of an inch, but I got away with every drop of that ale. It
tasted just like Blighty, and that is heaven to Tommy.

The doctor said something to an orderly, the only word I could catch
was "chloroform," then they put some kind of an arrangement over my
nose and mouth and it was me for dreamland.

When I opened my eyes I was lying on a stretcher, in a low wooden
building. Everywhere I looked I saw rows of Tommies on stretchers,
some dead to the world, and the rest with fags in their mouths.

The main topic of their conversation was Blighty. Nearly all had a
grin on their faces, except those who didn't have enough face left to
grin with. I grinned with my right eye, the other was band-aged.

Stretcher-bearers came in and began to carry the Tommies outside. You
could hear the chug of the engines in the waiting ambulances.

I was put into a Ford with three others and away we went for an
eighteen-mile ride. Keep out of a Ford when you are wounded; insist on
walking, it'll pay you.

I was on a bottom stretcher. The lad right across from me was smashed
up something horrible.

Right above me was a man from the Royal Irish Rifles, while across
from him was a Scotchman.

We had gone about three miles when I heard the death-rattle in the
throat of the man opposite. He had gone to rest across the Great
Divide. I think at the time I envied him.

The man of the Royal Irish Rifles had had his left foot blown off, the
jolting of the ambulance over the rough road had loosened up the
bandages on his foot, and had started it bleeding again.

His blood ran down the side of the stretcher and started dripping. I
was lying on my back, too weak to move, and the dripping of this blood
got me in my unbandaged right eye. I closed my eye and pretty soon
could not open the lid; the blood had congealed and closed it, as if
it were glued down.

An English girl dressed in khaki was driving the ambulance, while
beside her on the seat was a Corporal of the R.A.M.C. They kept up a
running conversation about Blighty which almost wrecked my nerves;
pretty soon from the stretcher above me, the Irishman became aware of
the fact that the bandage from his foot had become loose; it must have
pained him horribly, because he yelled in a loud voice:

"If you don't stop this bloody death wagon and fix this damned bandage
on my foot, I will get out and walk."

The girl on the seat turned around and in a sympathetic voice asked,
"Poor fellow, are you very badly wounded?"

The Irishman, at this question, let out a howl of indignation and
answered, "Am I very badly wounded, what bloody cheek; no, I'm not
wounded, I've only been kicked by a canary bird."

The ambulance immediately stopped, and the Corporal came to the rear
and fixed him up, and also washed out my right eye. I was too weak to
thank him, but it was a great relief. Then I must have become
unconscious, because when I regained my senses, the ambulance was at a
standstill, and my stretcher was being removed from it.

It was night, lanterns were flashing here and there, and I could see
stretcher-bearers hurrying to and fro. Then I was carried into a
hospital train.

The inside of this train looked like heaven to me, just pure white,
and we met our first Red Cross nurses; we thought they were angels.
And they were.

Nice little soft bunks and clean, white sheets.

A Red Cross nurse sat beside me during the whole ride which lasted
three hours. She was holding my wrist; I thought. I had made a hit,
and tried to tell her how I got wounded, but she would put her finger
to her lips and say, "Yes, I know, but you mustn't talk now, try to go
to sleep, it'll do you good, doctor's orders." Later on I learned that
she was taking my pulse every few minutes, as I was very weak from the
loss of blood and they expected me to snuff it, but I didn't.

{Photo: Cards Used by Red Cross Nurses to Notify Families of Wounded.}

From the train we went into ambulances for a short ride to the
hospital ship Panama. Another palace and more angels. I don't remember
the trip across the channel.

I opened my eyes; I was being carried on a stretcher through lanes of
people, some cheering, some waving flags, and others crying. The flags
were Union Jacks, I was in Southampton. Blighty at last. My stretcher
was strewn with flowers, cigarettes, and chocolates. Tears started to
run down my cheek from my good eye. I like a booby was crying, can you
beat it?

Then into another hospital train, a five-hour ride to Paignton,
another ambulance ride, and then I was carried into Munsey Ward of the
American Women's War Hospital and put into a real bed.

This real bed was too much for my unstrung nerves and I fainted.

When I came to, a pretty Red Cross nurse was bending over me, bathing
my forehead with cold water, then she left and the ward orderly placed
a screen around my bed, and gave me a much-needed bath and clean
pajamas. Then the screen was removed and a bowl of steaming soup was
given me. It tasted delicious.

Before finishing my soup the nurse came back to ask me my name and
number. She put this information down in a little book and then asked:

"Where do you come from?" I answered:

"From the big town behind the Statue of Liberty"; upon hearing this
she started jumping up and down, clapping her hands, and calling out
to three nurses across the ward:

"Come here, girls--at last we have got a real live Yankee with us."

They came over and besieged me with questions, until the doctor
arrived. Upon learning that I was an American he almost crushed my
hand in his grip of welcome. They also were Americans, and were glad
to see me.

The doctor very tenderly removed my bandages and told me, after
viewing my wounds, that he would have to take me to the operating
theater immediately. Personally I didn't care what was done with me.

In a few minutes, four orderlies who looked like undertakers dressed
in white, brought a stretcher to my bed and placing me on it carried
me out of the ward, across a courtyard to the operating room or
"pictures," as Tommy calls it.

I don't remember having the anesthetic applied.

{Photo: After the Trench Raid.}

When I came to I was again lying in a bed in Munsey Ward. One of the
nurses had draped a large American flag over the head of the bed, and
clasped in my hand was a smaller flag, and it made me feel good all
over to again see the "Stars and Stripes."

At that time I wondered when the boys in the trenches would see the
emblem of the "land of the free and the home of the brave" beside
them, doing its bit in this great war of civilization.

My wounds were very painful, and several times at night I would dream
that myriads of khaki clothed figures would pass my bed and each would
stop, bend over me, and whisper, "The best of luck, mate."

Soaked with perspiration I would awake with a cry, and the night nurse
would come over and hold my hand. This awakening got to be a habit
with me, until that particular nurse was transferred to another ward.

In three weeks' time, owing to the careful treatment received, I was
able to sit up and get my bearings. Our ward contained seventy-five
patients, ninety per cent of which were surgical cases. At the head of
each bed hung a temperature chart and diagnosis sheet. Across this
sheet would be written "G.S.W." or "S.W." the former meaning Gun Shot
Wound and the latter Shell Wound. The "S.W." predominated, especially
among the Royal Field Artillery and Royal Engineers.

About forty different regiments were represented and many arguments
ensued as to the respective fighting ability of each regiment. The
rivalry was wonderful. A Jock arguing with an Irishman, then a strong
Cockney accent would butt in in favor of a London Regiment. Before
long a Welshman, followed by a member of a Yorkshire regiment, and,
perhaps, a Canadian intrude themselves and the argument waxes loud and
furious. The patients in the beds start howling for them to settle
their dispute outside and the ward is in an uproar. The head sister
comes along and with a wave of the hand completely routs the doughty
warriors and again silence reigns supreme.

Wednesday and Sunday of each week were visiting days and were looked
forward to by the men, because they meant parcels containing fruit,
sweets, or fags. When a patient had a regular visitor, he was
generally kept well supplied with these delicacies. Great jealousy is
shown among the men as to their visitors and many word wars ensue
after the visitors leave.

When a man is sent to a convalescent home, he generally turns over his
steady visitor to the man in the next bed.

Most visitors have autograph albums and bore Tommy to death by asking
him to write the particulars of his wounding in same. Several Tommies
try to duck this unpleasant job by telling the visitor that he cannot
write, but this never phases the owner of the album; he or she,
generally she, offers to write it for him and Tommy is stung into
telling his experiences.

The questions asked Tommy by visitors would make a clever joke book to
a military man.

Some kindly looking old lady will stop at your bed and in a
sympathetic voice address you; "You poor boy, wounded by those
terrible Germans. You must be suffering frightful pain. A bullet did
you say? Well, tell me, I have always wanted to know, did it hurt
worse going in or coming out?"

Tommy generally replies that he did not stop to figure it out when he
was hit.

One very nice-looking, over-enthusiastic young thing, stopped at my
bed and asked, "What wounded you in the face?"

In a polite but bored tone I answered, "A rifle bullet."

With a look of disdain she passed to the next bed, first ejaculating,
"Oh! only a bullet? I thought it was a shell." Why she should think a
shell wound was more of a distinction beats me. I don't see a whole
tot of difference myself.

The American Women's War Hospital was a heaven for wounded men. They
were allowed every privilege possible conducive with the rules and
military discipline. The only fault was that the men's passes were
restricted. To get a pass required an act of Parliament. Tommy tried
many tricks to get out, but the Commandant, an old Boer War officer,
was wise to them all, and it took a new and clever ruse to make him
affix his signature to the coveted slip of paper.

As soon as it would get dark many a patient climbed over the wall and
went "on his own," regardless of many signs staring him in the face,
"Out of bounds for patients." Generally the nurses were looking the
other way when one of these night raids started. I hope this
information will get none of them into trouble, but I cannot resist
the temptation to let the Commandant know that occasionally we put it
over on him.

{Photo: A "Downhearted" Bunch from Munsey Ward, American Women's War

One afternoon I received a note, through our underground channel, from
my female visitor, asking me to attend a party at her house that
night. I answered that she could expect me and to meet me at a certain
place on the road well known by all patients, and some visitors, as
"Over the wall." I told her I would be on hand at seven-thirty.

About seven-fifteen I sneaked my overcoat and cap out of the ward and
hid it in the bushes. Then I told the nurse, a particular friend of
mine, that I was going for a walk in the rose garden. She winked and I
knew that everything was all right on her end.

Going out of the ward, I slipped into the bushes and made for the
wall. It was dark as pitch and I was groping through the underbrush,
when suddenly I stepped into space and felt myself rushing downward, a
horrible bump, and blackness. When I came to, my wounded shoulder was
hurting horribly. I was lying against a circular wall of bricks,
dripping with moisture, and far away I could hear the trickling of
water. I had in the darkness fallen into an old disused well. But why
wasn't I wet? According to all rules I should have been drowned.
Perhaps I was and didn't know it.

As the shock of my sudden stop gradually wore off, it came to me that
I was lying on a ledge and that the least movement on my part would
precipitate me to the bottom of the well.

I struck a match. In its faint glare I saw that I was lying in a
circular hole about twelve feet deep,-the well had been filled in! The
dripping I had heard came from a water pipe over on my right.

With my wounded shoulder it was impossible to shinny up the pipe. I
could not yell for help, because the rescuer would want to know how
the accident happened, and I would be haled before the Commandant on
charges. I just had to grin and bear it with the forlorn hope that one
of the returning night raiders would pass and I could give him our
usual signal of "siss-s-s-s" which would bring him to the rescue.

Every half-hour I could hear the clock in the village strike, each
stroke bringing forth a muffled volley of curses on the man who had
dug the well.

After two hours, I heard two men talking in low voices. I recognized
Corporal Cook, an ardent "night raider." He heard my "siss-s-s-s" and
came to the edge of the hole. I explained my predicament and amid a
lot of impertinent remarks, which at the time I did not resent, I was
soon fished out.

Taking off our boots we sneaked into the ward. I was sitting on my bed
in the dark, just starting to undress, when the man next to me,
"Ginger" Phillips, whispered. "'Op it, Yank, 'ere comes the matron."

I immediately got under the covers and feigned sleep. The matron stood
talking in low tones to the night nurse and I fell asleep.

When I awoke in the morning the night sister, an American, was bending
over me. An awful sight met my eyes. The coverlet on the bed and the
sheets were a mass of mud and green slime. She was a good sport all
right and hustled to get clean clothes and sheets so that no one would
get wise, but "on her own" she gave me a good tongue lashing but did
not report me. One of the Canadians in the ward described her as being
"A Jake of a good fellow."

Next visiting day I had an awful time explaining to my visitor why I
had not met her at the appointed time and place.

And for a week every time I passed a patient he would call, "Well,
well, here's the Yank. Hope you are feeling well, old top."

The surgeon in our ward was an American, a Harvard Unit man, named
Frost. We nicknamed him "Jack Frost." He was loved by all. If a Tommy
was to be cut up he had no objection to undergoing the operation if
"Jack Frost" was to wield the knife. Their confidence in him was
pathetic. He was the best sport I have ever met.

One Saturday morning the Commandant and some "high up" officers were
inspecting the ward, when one of the patients who had been wounded in
the head by a bit of shrapnel, fell on the floor in a fit. They
brought him round, and then looked for the ward orderly to carry the
patient back to his bed at the other end of the ward. The orderly was
nowhere to be found--like our policemen, they never are when needed.
The officers were at a loss how to get Palmer into his bed. Dr. Frost
was fidgeting around in a nervous manner, when suddenly with a muffled
"damn" and a few other qualifying adjectives, he stooped down, and
took the man in his arms like a baby,--he was no feather either,--and
staggered down the ward with him, put him in bed, and undressed
him. A low murmur of approval came from the patients. Dr. Frost got
very red and as soon as he had finished undressing Palmer, hurriedly
left the ward.

The wound in my face had almost healed and I was a horrible-looking
sight--the left cheek twisted into a knot, the eye pulled down, and
my mouth pointing in a north by northwest direction. I was very
down-hearted and could imagine myself during the rest of my life being
shunned by all on account of the repulsive scar.

Dr. Frost arranged for me to go to the Cambridge Military Hospital at
Aldershot for a special operation to try and make the scar

I arrived at the hospital and got an awful shock. The food was poor
and the discipline abnormally strict. No patient was allowed to sit on
his bed, and smoking was permitted only at certain designated hours.
The face specialist did nothing for me except to look at the wound. I
made application for a transfer back to Paignton, offering to pay my
transportation. This offer was accepted, and after two weeks' absence,
once again I arrived in Munsey Ward, all hope gone.

The next day after my return, Dr. Frost stopped at my bed and said:
"Well, Empey, if you want me to try and see what I can do with that
scar, I'll do it, but you are taking an awful chance."

I answered: "Well, Doctor, Steve Brodie took a chance; he hails from
New York and so do I."

Two days after the undertaker squad carried me to the operating room
or "pictures," as we called them because of the funny films we see
under ether, and the operation was performed. It was a wonderful piece
of surgery, and a marvelous success. From now on that doctor can have
my shirt.

More than once some poor soldier has been brought into the ward in a
dying condition, resulting from loss of blood and exhaustion caused by
his long journey from the trenches. After an examination the doctor
announces that the only thing that will save him is a transfusion of
blood. Where is the blood to come from? He does not have to wait long
for an answer,--several Tommies immediately volunteer their blood
for their mate. Three or four are accepted; a blood test is made, and
next day the transfusion takes place and there is another pale face in
the ward.

Whenever bone is needed for some special operation, there are always
men willing to give some,--a leg if necessary to save some mangled
mate from being crippled for life. More than one man will go through
life with another man's blood running through his veins, or a piece of
his rib or his shinbone in his own anatomy. Sometimes he never even
knows the name of his benefactor.

The spirit of sacrifice is wonderful.

For all the suffering caused this war is a blessing to England--it
has made new men of her sons; has welded all classes into one glorious

And I can't help saying that the doctors, sisters, and nurses in the
English hospitals, are angels on earth. I love them all and can never
repay the care and kindness shown to me. For the rest of my life the
Red Cross will be to me the symbol of Faith, Hope, and Charity.

After four months in the hospital, I went before an examining board
and was discharged from the service of his Britannic Majesty as
"physically unfit for further war service."

After my discharge I engaged passage on the American liner, New York,
and after a stormy trip across the Atlantic, one momentous day, in the
haze of early dawn I saw the Statue of Liberty looming over the port
rail, and I wondered if ever again I would go "over the top with the
best of luck and give them hell."

And even then, though it may seem strange, I was really sorry not to
be back in the trenches with my mates. War is not a pink tea but in a
worthwhile cause like ours, mud, rats, cooties, shells, wounds, or
death itself, are far outweighed by the deep sense of satisfaction
felt by the man who does his bit.

There is one thing which my experience taught me that might help the
boy who may have to go. It is this anticipation is far worse than
realization. In civil life a man stands in awe of the man above him,
wonders how he could ever fill his Job. When the time comes he rises
to the occasion, is up and at it, and is surprised to find how much
more easily than he anticipated he fills his responsibilities. It is
really so "out there."

He has nerve for the hardships; the interest of the work grips him; he
finds relief in the fun and comradeship of the trenches and wins that
best sort of happiness that comes with duty done.


In this so-called dictionary I have tried to list most of the pet
terms and slangy definitions, which Tommy Atkins uses a thousand times
a day as he is serving in France. I have gathered them as I lived with
him in the trenches and rest billets, and later in the hospitals in
England where I met men from all parts of the line.

The definitions are not official, of course. Tommy is not a
sentimental sort of animal so some of his definitions are not exactly
complimentary, but he is not cynical and does not mean to offend
anyone higher up. It is just a sort of "ragging" or "kidding," as the
American would say, that helps him pass the time away.



"About turn." A military command similar to "About face" or "To the
rear, march." Tommy's nickname for Hebuterne, a point on the British

Adjutant. The name given to an officer who helps the Colonel do
nothing. He rides a horse and you see him at guard mounting and
battalion parade.

A.D.M.S. Assistant Director of Medical Service. Have never seen him
but he is supposed to help the D. M. S. and pass on cases where Tommy
is posted as "unfit for trench service."

Aerial Torpedo. A kind of trench mortar shell, guaranteed by the
makers to break up Fritz's supper of sausages and beer, even though
said supper is in a dugout thirty feet down. Sometimes it lives up to
its reputation.

Alarm. A signal given in the trenches that the enemy is about to
attack, frequently false. It is mainly used to break up Tommy's dreams
of home.

"All around traverse." A machine gun so placed that its fire can be
turned in any direction.

Allemand. A French term meaning "German." Tommy uses it because he
thinks it is a swear word.

Allotment. A certain sum Tommy allows to his family.

Allumettes. French term for what they sell to Tommy as matches, the
sulphurous fumes from which have been known to "gas" a whole platoon.

"Ammo." Rifle ammunition. Used to add weight to Tommy's belt. He
carries 120 rounds, at all times, except when he buries it under the
straw in his billet before going on a route march. In the trenches he
expends it in the direction of Berlin.

Ammo Depot. A place where ammunition is stored. It is especially
useful in making enemy airmen waste bombs trying to hit it.

Ammonal. A high explosive used in the Mills bomb. The Germans are more
able than Tommy to discourse on its effects.

"Any complaints." A useless question asked by an inspecting officer
when he makes the rounds of billets or Tommy's meals. A complaining
Tommy generally lands on the crime sheet. It is only recruits who
complain; the old men just sigh with disgust.

A.O.C. Army Ordnance Corps. A department which deals out supplies to
the troops. Its chief asset is the returning of requisitions because a
comma is misplaced.

A.P.M. Assistant Provost Marshal. An officer at the head of the
Military Police. His headquarters are generally out of reach of the
enemy's guns. His chief duties are to ride around in a motor car and
wear a red band around his cap.

"Apres la Guerre." "After the war." Tommy's definition of Heaven.

A.S.C. Army Service Corps, or Army Safety Corps as Tommy calls it. The
members of which bring up supplies to the rear of the line.


"Back 'o the line." Any place behind the firing line out of range of
enemy guns.

Baler. A scoop affair for baling out water from the trenches and
dugouts. As the trenches generally drain the surrounding landscape,
the sun has to be appealed to before the job is completed.

Bantams. Men under the standard army height of 5 ft. 3 in. They are in
a separate organization called "The Bantam Battalion," and although
undersized have the opinion that they can lick the whole German Army.

Barbed Wire. A lot of prickly wire entwined around stakes driven in
front of the trenches. This obstruction is supposed to prevent the
Germans from taking lodgings in your dugouts. It also affords the
enemy artillery rare sport trying to blow it up.

"Barndook." Tommy's nickname for his rifle. He uses it because it is
harder to say and spell than "rifle."

Barrage. Concentrated shell-fire on a sector of the German line. In
the early days of the war, when ammunition was defective, it often
landed on Tommy himself.

Barricade. An obstruction of sandbags to impede the enemy's traffic
into your trench. You build it up and he promptly knocks it down, so
what's the use.

"Bashed in." Smashed by a shell. Generally applied to a trench or

Batman. A man who volunteers to clean a non-commissioned officer's
buttons but who never volunteers for a trench raid. He ranks nest to a

Bayonet. A sort of knife-like contrivance which fits on the end of
your rifle. The Government issues it to stab Germans with. Tommy uses
it to toast bread.

"Big Boys." Large guns, generally eight inch or above.

"Big Push." "The Battle of the Somme." He often calls it "The First of
July," the date on which it started.

"Big Stuff." Large shells, eight inch or over.

"Big Willie." Tommy's term for his personal friend, the Kaiser.

Billet. Sometimes a regular house but generally a stable where Tommy
sleeps while behind the lines. It is generally located near a large
manure pile. Most billets have numerous entrances-one for Tommy and
the rest for rain, rats, wind, and shells.

Billet Guard. Three men and a corporal who are posted to guard the
billets of soldiers. They do this until the orderly officer has made
his rounds at night, then they go to sleep.

Biscuit. A concoction of flour and water, baked until very hard. Its
original use was for building purposes, but Tommy is supposed to eat
it. Tommy is no coward but he balks at this. Biscuits make excellent
fuel, and give no smoke.

Bivouac. A term given by Tommy to a sort of tent made out of
waterproof sheets.

Blastine. A high explosive which promotes Kultur in the German lines,

Blighty. An East Indian term meaning "over the seas." Tommy has
adopted it as a synonym for home. He tries numerous ways of reaching
Blighty, but the "powers that be" are wise to all of his attempts, so
he generally fails.

"Blighty One." A wound serious enough to send Tommy to England.

B.M.G.C. Brigade Machine Gun Company, composed of Vickers machine
gunners. They always put their packs on a limber or small wagon while
route marching, which fact greatly arouses the Jealousy of Tommy.

"Body Snatcher." Tommy's term for a sniper.

Bomb. An infernal device filled with high explosive which you throw at
the Germans. Its chief delight is to explode before it leaves your

Bomb Store. A place where bombs are kept, built so the enemy cannot
locate them with his fire. For that matter, Tommy can't either when he
needs them.

Bombing Post. A sort of trench or sap running from your front line to
within a few yards of the enemy's trench. It is occupied by bomb
throwers who would like to sign an agreement with the Germans for
neither side to throw bombs.

Brag. A card game similar to poker at which every player quits a loser
and no one wins, that is, according to the statements of the several

Brazier. A sheet iron pot punched full of holes in which a fire is
built. It is used to keep Tommy warm in his dugout until he becomes
unconscious from its smoke and fumes. He calls it a "fire bucket."

Brigade Guard. Several men who are detailed to guard Brigade
Headquarters. They don't go to sleep.

B.S.M. Battalion Sergeant-Major. The highest ranking non-commissioned
officer in the battalion. A constant dread to Tommy when he has
forgotten to polish his buttons or dubbin his boots.

Bully Beef. A kind of corned beef with tin round it. The unopened cans
make excellent walls for dugouts.

Burm. A narrow ledge cut along the walls of a trench to prevent earth
from caving in. "Burm" to Tommy is a cuss word, because he has to "go
over the top" at night to construct it.

"Busted." Term applied when a non-commissioned officer is reduced by

Button Stick. A contrivance made of brass ten inches long which slides
over the buttons and protects the tunic in cleaning.


"Called to the colors." A man on reserve who has been ordered to
report for service.

"Camel Corps." Tommy's nickname for the Infantry because they look
like overloaded camels, and probably because they also go eight days,
and longer, without a drink, that is, of the real stuff.

Candle. A piece of wick surrounded by wax or tallow used for lighting
purposes. One candle among six men is the general issue.

Canister. A German trench mortar shell filled with scraps of iron and
nails. Tommy really has a great contempt for this little token of
German affection and he uses the nails to hang his equipment on in the

Canteen. A mess tin issued to Tommy, who, after dinner, generally
forgets to wash it, and pinches his mates for tea in the evening.

"Carry on." Resume. Keep on with what you are doing. Go ahead.

"Carrying in." Machine gunners' term for taking guns, ammunition,
etc., into front-line trench.

Caterpillar. Is not a bug, but the name given to a powerful engine
used to haul the big guns over rough roads.

C.C.S. Casualty Clearing Station. A place where the doctors draw lots
to see if Tommy is badly wounded enough to be sent to Blighty.

Chalk Pit. A white spot on a painted landscape used at the Machine
Gunners' School to train would-be gunners in picking out distinctive
objects in landscapes and guessing ranges.

Challenge. A question, "Who goes there?" thrown at an unknown moving
object by a sentry in the darkness, who hopes that said moving object
will answer, "Friend."

Char. A black poisonous brew which Tommy calls tea.

"Chevaux-de-frise." Barbed-wire defenses against cavalry.

"Chucking his weight about." Self-important. Generally applied to a
newly promoted non-commissioned officer or a recruit airing his

Chum. An endearing word used by Tommy to his mate when he wants to
borrow something or have a favor done.

"Clicked it." Got killed; up against it; wounded.

"Clock." "Trench" for the face.

"Coal Box." The nickname for a high explosive German shell fired from
a 5.9 howitzer which emits a heavy black smoke and makes Tommy's hair
stand on end.

Coal Fatigue. A detail on which Tommy has to ride in a limber and fill
two sacks with coal. It takes him exactly four hours to do this. He
always misses morning parade, but manages to get back in time for

"Cole." Tommy's nickname for a penny. It buys one glass of French

"Coming it." Trying to "put something over."

"Coming the add." Boasting; lying about something.

Communication Trench. A zigzag ditch leading from the rear to the
front-line trench, through which reinforcements, reliefs, ammunition,
and rations are brought up. Its real use is to teach Tommy how to
swear and how to wade through mud up to his knees.

Communique. An official report which is published daily by the
different warring governments for the purpose of kidding the public.
They don't kid Tommy.

Company Stores. The Quartermaster-Sergeant's headquarters where stores
are kept. A general hang-out for batmen, officers' servants, and

"Compray." Tommy's French for "Do you understand?" Universally used in
the trenches.

Conscript. A man who tried to wait until the war was over before
volunteering for the army, but was balked by the Government.

"Consolidate captured line." Digging in or preparing a captured
position for defence against a counter-attack.

Convalescence. Six weeks' rest allotted to a wounded Tommy. During
this time the Government is planning where they will send Tommy to be
wounded a second time.

C. of E. Church of England. This is stamped on Tommy's identification
disk. He has to attend church parade whether or not he wants to go to

Cook. A soldier detailed to spoil Tommy's rations. He is generally
picked because he was a blacksmith in civil life.

Cooties. Unwelcome inhabitants of Tommy's shirt.

Counter Attack. A disagreeable habit of the enemy which makes Tommy
realize that after capturing a position the hardest work is to hold

Covering Party. A number of men detailed to lie down in front of a
working party while "out in front" to prevent surprise and capture by
German patrols. Tommy loves this job, I don't think!

Crater. A large circular hole in the ground made by the explosion of a
mine. According to Official Communiques, Tommy always occupies a
crater with great credit to himself. But sometimes the Germans get
there first.

"Cricket ball." The name given to a bomb the shape and size of a
cricket ball. Tommy does not use it to play cricket with.

Crime Sheet. A useless piece of paper on which is kept a record of
Tommy's misdemeanors.

"Crump." A name given by Tommy to a high explosive German shell which
when it bursts makes a "Crump" sort of noise.

C.S.M. Company Sergeant-Major, the head non-commissioned officer of a
company, whose chief duty is to wear a crown on his arm, a couple of
Boer War ribbons on his chest, and to put Tommy's name and number on
the crime sheet.

"Curtain fire." A term-applied by the artillery to a wall of shell
fire on the enemy communication trenches, to prevent the bringing up
of men and supplies, and also to keep our own front lines from
wavering. But somehow or other men and supplies manage to leak through

"Cushy." Easy; comfortable; "pretty soft."


D.A.C. Divisional Ammunition Column. A collection of men, horses, and
limbers, which supplies ammunition for the line and keeps Tommy awake,
while in billets, with their infernal noise. They are like owls-always
working at night.

D.C.M. Distinguished Conduct Medal. A piece of bronze which a soldier
gets for being foolish.

D.C.P. Divisional Concert Party. An aggregation of would-be actors who
inflict their talents on Tommy at half a franc per head.

Defaulter. Not an absconding cashier, but a Tommy who has been
sentenced to extra pack drill for breathing while on parade or doing
some other little thing like that.

"Dekko." To look; a look at something.

Detonator. A contrivance in a bomb containing fulminate of mercury,
which, ignited by a fuse, explodes the charge.

"Deruffs." "Deuxosufs." Tommy's French for "two eggs."

"Dial." Another term of Tommy's for his map, or face.

"Digging in." Digging trenches and dugouts in a captured position.

Digging Party. A detail of men told off to dig trenches, graves, or
dugouts. Tommy is not particular as to what he has to dig; it's the
actual digging he objects to.

"Dinner up." Dinner is ready.

Divisional Band. Another devilish aggregation which wastes moat of its
time in practicing and polishing its instruments.

Dixie. An iron pot with two handles on it in which Tommy's meals are
cooked. Its real efficiency lies in the fact that when carrying it,
your puttees absorb all the black grease on its sides.

"Doing them in." Killing them. Cutting up a body of German troops.

Donkey. An army mule. An animal for which Tommy has the greatest
respect. He never pets or in any way becomes familiar with said mule.

Draft. A contingent of new men sent as reinforcements for the
trenches. Tommy takes special delight in scaring these men with tales
of his own experiences which he never had.

Draftman. A member of a draft who listens to and believes Tommy's
weird tales of trench warfare.

Dressing Station. A medical post where Tommy gets his wounds attended
to, if he is lucky enough to get wounded. He is "lucky," because a
wound means Blighty.

"Drill order." Rifle, belt, bayonet, and respirator.

Dry Canteen. An army store where Tommy may buy cigarettes, chocolate,
and tinned fruit, that is, if he has any money.

D.S.O. Distinguished Service Order. Another piece of metal issued to
officers for being brave. Tommy says it is mostly won in dugouts and
calls it a "Dugout Service Order."

Dubbin. A grease for boots.

Dud. A German shell or bomb which has not exploded on account of a
defective fuse. Tommy is a great souvenir collector so he gathers
these "duds." Sometimes when he tries to unscrew the nose-cap it
sticks. Then in his hurry to confiscate it before an officer appears
he doesn't hammer it just right-and the printer of the casualty list
has to use a little more type.

Dugout. A deep hole in the trenches dug by the Royal Engineer Corps;
supposed to be shell proof. It is, until a shell hits it. Rat and
Tommy find it an excellent habitation in which to contract rheumatism.

Dump. An uncovered spot where trench tools and supplies are placed. It
is uncovered so that these will become rusty and worthless from the
elements. This so that the contractors at home won't starve.

"Du pan." Tommy's French for bread.


Efficiency Pay. Extra pay allowed by the Government for long service.
Tommy is very efficient if he manages to get it from the Government.

Eighteen-Pounder. One of our guns which fires an eighteen pound shell,
used for destroying German barbed wire previous to an attack. If it
does its duty you bet Tommy is grateful to the eighteen-pounders.

Elephant Dugout. A large, safe, and roomy dugout, braced by heavy
steel ribs or girders.

Emplacement. A position made of earth or sandbags from which a machine
gun is fired. It is supposed to be invisible to the enemy. They
generally blow it up in the course of a couple of days, just by luck,
of course.

Entrenching Tool. A spade-like tool for digging hasty entrenchments.
It takes about a week to dig a decent hole with it, so "hasty" must
have another meaning.

"Equipment on." Put on equipment for drill or parade.

Escort. A guard of soldiers who conduct prisoners to different points.
Tommy is just as liable to be a prisoner as an escort.

"Estaminet." A French public house, or saloon, where muddy water is
sold for beer.


Fag. Cigarette. Something Tommy is always touching you for, "Fag
issue." Army issue of cigarettes, generally on Sunday.

Fatigue. Various kinds of work done by Tommy while he is "resting."

"Fed up." Disgusted; got enough of it--as the rich Mr. Hoggenheimer
used to say, "Sufficiency."

Field Dressing. Bandages issued to soldiers for first aid when
wounded. They use them for handkerchiefs and to clean their rifles.

Field Post Card. A card on which Tommy is allowed to tell his family
and friends that he is alive; if he is dead the War Office sends a
card, sometimes.

Field Punishment No. I. Official name for spread-eagling a man on a
limber wheel, two hours a day for twenty-one days. His rations consist
of bully beef, water, and biscuits. Tommy calls this punishment
"Crucifixion," especially if he has undergone it.

"Fifteen-pounder." Still another of ours; shell weighs fifteen pounds.
Used for killing rats on the German parapets.

"Finding the range." Ascertaining by instrument or by trial shots the
distance from an enemy objective.

"Fireworks." A night bombardment.

Fire Sector. A certain space of ground which a machine gun is supposed
to sweep with its fire. If the gun refuses to work, all of the enemy
who cross this space are technically dead, according to the General's

Firing Squad. Twelve men picked to shoot a soldier who has been
sentenced to death by court-martial. Tommy has no comment to make on

Firing Step. A ledge in the front trench which enables Tommy to fire
"over the top." In rainy weather you have to be an acrobat to even
stand on it on account of the slippery mud.

Fire Trench. The front-line trench. Another name is for Hell.

"Five rounds rapid." Generally, just before daylight in the trenches,
the order "Five rounds rapid" is given. Each man puts his rifle and
head over the parapet and fires five shots as rapidly as possible in
the direction of the German trenches and then ducks. A sort of "Good
morning, have you used Fears Soap?"

"Five nine." A German shell 5.9 inches in diameter. It is their
standard shell. Tommy has no special love for this brand, but they are
like olives, all right when you get used to them.

"Flags." Tommy's nickname for a Signaler.

Flare. A rocket fired from a pistol which, at night, lights up the
ground in front of your trench.

Flare Pistol. A large pistol, which looks like a sawed-off shotgun,
from which flares are fired. When you need this pistol badly it has
generally been left in your dugout.

Flying Column. A flying column of troops that waits from one point of
the line to another. In case of need they usually arrive at the wrong

Fokker. A type of German aeroplane which the Boche claims to be the
fastest in the world. Tommy believes this, because our airmen seldom
catch them.

"For It." On the crime sheet; up against a reprimand; on trial, in

"Four by two." A piece of flannel four Inches by two issued by the Q.
M. Sergeant with which to "pull through."

"Four point five." Another of ours. The Germans don't like this one.

"Four point seven." One of our shells 4.7 inches in diameter. Tommy
likes this kind.

"Fritz." Tommy's name for a German. He loves a German like poison.

Front Line. The nearest trench to the enemy. No place for a
conscientious objector.

Frostbite. A quick road to Blighty, which Tommy used very often until
frostbite became a court-martial offence. Now he keeps his feet warm.

"Full pack." A soldier carrying all of his equipment.

Full Corporal. A N.C.O. who sports two stripes on his arm and has more
to say than the Colonel.

Fumigator. An infernal device at a hospital which cooks Tommy's
uniform and returns it to him two sizes too small.

"Funk Hole." Tommy's term for a dugout. A favorite spot for those of a
nervous disposition.

Fuse. A part of shell or bomb which burns in a set time and ignites
the detonator.


Gas. Poisonous fumes which the Germans send over to our trenches. When
the wind is favorable this gas is discharged into the air from huge
cylinders. The wind carries it over toward our lines. It appears like
a huge yellowish-green cloud rolling along the ground. The alarm is
sounded and Tommy promptly puts on his gas helmet and laughs at the

Gas Gong. An empty shell case hung up in the trenches and in billets.
A sentry is posted near it, so that in case German poison gas comes
over, he can give the alarm by striking this gong with an iron bar. If
the sentry happens to be asleep we get "gassed."

"Gassed." A soldier who has been overcome from the fumes of German
poison gas, or the hot air of a comrade.

"Gassing." A term Tommy applies to "shooting the bull."

"Getting a sub." Touching an officer for money. To be taken out of
soldier's pay on the next pay-day.

"Getting the sparks." Bullets from a machine gun cutting enemy barbed
wire at night; when a bullet strikes wire it generally throws off a
bluish spark. Machine gunners use this method at night to "set" their
gun so that its fire will command the enemy's trench.

"Ginger." Nickname of a red-beaded soldier; courage; pep.

"Gippo." Bacon grease; soup.

G.M.P. Garrison Military Police. Soldiers detailed to patrol the roads
and regulate traffic behind the lines. Tommy's pet aversion.

G.O.C. General Officer Commanding. Tommy never sees him in the act of
"commanding," but has the opportunity of reading many an order signed

Goggles. An apparatus made of canvas and mica which is worn over the
eyes for protection from the gases of German "tear shells." The only
time Tommy cries is when he forgets his goggles or misses the mm

"Going in." Taking over trenches.

"Going out." Relieved from the trenches.

"Gone West." Killed; died.

"Gooseberries." A wooden frame in the shape of a cask wrapped round
with barbed wire. These gooseberries are thrown into the barbed-wire
entanglements to help make them impassable.

"Got the Crown." Promoted to Sergeant-Major.

Green Envelope. An envelope of a green color issued to Tommy once a
week. The contents will not be censored regimentally, but are liable
to censor at the base. On the outside of envelope appears the
following certificate, which Tommy must sign: "I certify on my honor
that the contents of this envelope refer to nothing but private and
family matters." After signing this certificate Tommy immediately
writes about everything but family and private matters.

Groom. A soldier who looks after an officer's horse and who robs said
horse of its hay. He makes his own bed comfortable with this hay.

Grousing. A scientific grumbling in which Tommy cusses everything in
general and offends no one.

G.S.W. Gunshot wound. When Tommy is wounded he does not care whether
it is a G.S.W. or a kick from a mule, just so he gets back to Blighty.

G.S. Wagon. A four-wheeled wagon driven by an A.S.C. driver. It
carries supplies, such as food, ammunition, trench tools, and timber
tor dugouts. When Tommy gets sore feet he is allowed to ride on this
wagon and fills the ears of the driver with tales of his wonderful
exploits. Occasionally one of these drivers believes him.

Gum Boots. Rubber boots issued to Tommy for wet trenches. They are
used to keep his feet dry; they do, when he is lucky enough to get a

"Gumming the game." Spoiling anything, interfering.


"Hair brush." Name of a bomb used in the earlier stages of the war. It
is shaped like a hair brush and is thrown by the handle. Tommy used to
throw them over to the Germans for their morning toilette.

"Hand grenade." A general term for a bomb which is thrown by hand.
Tommy looks upon all bombs with grave suspicion; from long experience
he has learned not to trust them, even if the detonator has been

"Hard tails." Mules.

Haversack. A canvas bag forming part of Tommy's equipment, carried on
the left side. Its original use was intended for the carrying of
emergency rations and small kit. It is generally filled with a
miscellaneous assortment of tobacco, pipes, bread crumbs, letters, and
a lot of useless souvenirs.

"Having a doss." Having a sleep.

"Hold-all." A small canvas roll in which you are supposed to carry
your razor, comb, knife, fork, spoon, mirror, soap, tooth brush, etc.
Tommy takes great care of the above, because it means extra pack drill
to come on parade unshaven.

"Holy Joe." Tommy's familiar but not necessarily irreverent same for
the Chaplain. He really has a great admiration for this officer, who
although not a fighting man, so often risks his life to save a wounded

"Housewife." A neat little package of needles, thread, extra
shoelaces, and buttons. When a button comes off Tommy's trousers,
instead of going to his housewife he looks around for a nail.

Hun. Another term for a German, mostly used by war correspondents.

"Hun pinching." Raiding German trenches for prisoners.


Identification Disk. A little fiber disk which is worn around the neck
by means of a string. On one side is stamped your name, rank,
regimental number, and regiment, while on the other side is stamped
your religion. If at any time Tommy is doubtful of his identity he
looks at his disk to reassure himself.

"I'm sorry." Tommy's apology. If he pokes your eye out with his
bayonet he says, "I'm sorry," and the matter is ended so far as he is

"In front." Over the top; in front of the front-line trench, in No
Man's Land.

"In reserve." Troops occupying positions, billets, or dugouts,
immediately in rear of the front line, who in case of an attack will
support the firing line.

Intelligence Department. Secret service men who are supposed to catch
spies or be spies as the occasion demands.

Interpreter. A fat job with a "return ticket," held by a soldier who
thinks he can speak a couple of languages. He questions prisoners as
to the color of their grandmothers' eyes and why they joined the army.
Just imagine asking a German "why" he joined the army.

"Invalided." Sent to England on account of sickness.

Iron Rations. A tin of bully beef, two biscuits, and a tin containing
tea, sugar, and Oxo cubes. These are not supposed to be eaten until
you die of starvation.

Isolated Post. An advanced part of a trench or position where one or
two sentries are posted to guard against a surprise attack. While in
this post Tommy is constantly wondering what the Germans will do with
his body.

"It's good we have a Navy." One of Tommy's expressions when he is
disgusted with the army and its work.


"Jack Johnson." A seventeen-inch German shell. Probably called "Jack
Johnson" because the Germans thought that with it they could lick the

Jackknife. A knife, issued to Tommy, which weighs a stone and won't
cut. Its only virtue is the fact that it has a tin-opener attachment
which won't open tins.

Jam. A horrible mess of fruit and sugar which Tommy spreads on his
bread. It all tastes the same no matter whether labelled "Strawberry"
or "Green Gage."

"Jam Tin." A crude sort of hand grenade which, in the early stages of
the war. Tommy used to manufacture out of jam tins, ammonal, and mud.
The manufacturer generally would receive a little wooden cross in
recognition of the fact that he died for King and Country.

Jock. Universal name for a Scotchman.


"Kicked the bucket." Died.

Kilo. Five eighths of a mile. Ten "kilos" generally means a trek of
fifteen miles.

"King's Shilling." Tommy's rate of pay per day, perhaps.

"Taking the King's Shilling" means enlisting.

"Kip." Tommy's term for "sleep." He also calls his bed his "kip." It
is on guard that Tommy most desires to kip.

Kit Bag. A part of Tommy's equipment in which he is supposed to pack
up his troubles and smile, according to the words of a popular song
(the composer was never in a trench).

Kitchener's Army. The volunteer army raised by Lord Kitchener, the
members of which signed for duration of war. They are commonly called
the "New Army" or "Kitchener's Mob." At first the Regulars and
Territorials looked down on them, but now accept them as welcome


Labor Battalion. An organization which is "too proud to fight." They
would sooner use a pick and shovel.

Lance-corporal. A N.C.O. one grade above a private who wears a
shoestring stripe on his arm and thinks the war should be run
according to his ideas.

"Lead." The leading pair of horses or mules on a limber. Their only
fault is that they won't lead (if they happen to be mules).

Leave Train. The train which takes Tommy to one of the seaports on the
Channel en route to Blighty when granted leave. The worst part of
going on leave is coming back.

Lee Enfield. Name of the rifle used by the British Army. Its caliber
is .303 and the magazine holds ten rounds. When dirty it has a tasty
habit of getting Tommy's name on the crime sheet.

"Legging it." Running away.

Lewis Gun. A rifle-like machine gun, air cooled, which only carries 47
rounds in its "pie-plate" magazine. Under fire when this magazine is
emptied you shout for "ammo" but perhaps No. 2, the ammo carrier, is
lying in the rear with a bullet through his napper. Then it's
"napoo-fini" (Tommy's French) for Mr. Lewis.

"Light Duty." What the doctor marks on the sick report opposite a
Tommy's name when he has doubts as to whether said Tommy is putting
one over on him. Usually Tommy is.

Light Railway. Two thin iron tracks on which small flat cars full of
ammunition and supplies are pushed. These railways afford Tommy great
sport in the loading, pushing, and unloading of cars.

Limber. A match box on two wheels which gives the Army mule a job. It
also carries officer's packs.

Liquid Fire. Another striking example of German "Kultur." According to
the Germans it is supposed to annihilate whole brigades, but Tommy
refuses to be annihilated.

Listening Post. Two or three men detailed to go out "in front" at
night, to lie on the ground and listen for any undue activity in the
German lines. They also listen for the digging of mines. It is nervous
work and when Tommy returns he generally writes for a bos of
"Phosperine Tablets," a widely advertised nerve tonic.

"Little Willie." Tommy's nickname for the German Crown. Prince. They
are not on speaking terms.

"Lloyd George's Pets." Munition workers in England.

"Lonely Soldier." A soldier who advertises himself as "lonely"
through the medium of some English newspaper. If he is clever and
diplomatic by this method he generally receives two or three parcels a
week, but he must be careful not to write to two girls living on the
same block or his parcel post mail will diminish.

"Lonely Stab." A girl who writes and sends parcels to Tommy. She got
his name from the "Lonely Soldier Column" of some newspaper.

Loophole. A disguised aperture in a trench through which to "snipe" at

Lyddite. A high explosive used in shells. Has a habit of scattering
bits of anatomy over the landscape.


M.G.C. Machine Gun Corps. A collection of machine gunners who think
they are the deciding factor of the war, and that artillery is

M.G. Machine Gunner. A man who, like an American policeman, is never
there when he is badly wanted.

Maconochie. A ration of meat, vegetables, and soapy water, contained
in a tin. Mr. Maconochie, the chemist who compounded this mess,
intends to commit "hari kari" before the boys return from the front.
He is wise.

"Mad Minute." Firing fifteen rounds from your rifle in sixty seconds.
A man is mad to attempt it, especially with a stiff bolt.

Mail Bag. A canvas bag which is used to bring the other fellow's mail

Major. An officer in a Battalion who wears a crown on his uniform, is
in command of two companies, and corrects said companies in the second
position of "present arms." He also resides in a dugout.

Maneuvers. Useless evolutions of troops conceived by someone higher up
to show Tommy how brave his officers are and how battles should be
fought. The enemy never attend these maneuvers to prove they're right.

Mass Formation. A dose order formation in which the Germans attack. It
gives them a sort of "Come on, I'm with you" feeling. They would "hold
hands" only for the fact that they have to carry their rifles. Tommy
takes great delight in "busting up" these gatherings.

Mate. A soldier with whom Tommy is especially "chummy." Generally
picked because this soldier receives a parcel from home every week.

Maxim. Type of machine gun which has been supplanted by the Vickers in
order to make Tommy unlearn what he has been taught about the Maxim.

M.T. Mechanical Transport. The members of which are ex-taxi drivers.
No wonder Tommy's rations melt away when the M. T. carries them.

M.O. Medical Officer. A doctor specially detailed to tell Tommy that
he is not sick.

"M. and D." What the doctor marks on the "sicker" or side report when
he thinks Tommy is faking sickness. It means medicine and duty.

Mentioned in Despatches. Recommended for bravery. Tommy would sooner
be recommended for leave.

"Mercy Kamerad." What Fritz says when he has had a bellyful of
fighting and wants to surrender. Of late this has been quite a popular
phrase with him, replacing the Hymn of Hate.

Mess Orderly. A soldier detailed daily to carry Tommy's meals to and
from the cook-house.

Mess Tin. An article of equipment used as a tea-kettle and dinner-set.

"Mike and George." K. C. M. G. (Knight Commander of the Order of St.
Michael and St. George). An award for bravery in the field.

Military Cross. A badge of honor dished out to officers for bravery.
Tommy insists they throw dice to see which is the bravest. The winner
gets the medal.

Military Medal. A piece of Junk issued to Tommy who has done something
that is not exactly brave but still is not cowardly. When it is
presented he takes it and goes back wondering why the Army picks on

M. P. Military Police. Soldiers with whom it is unsafe to argue.

"Mills." Name of a bomb invented by Mills. The only bomb in which
Tommy has full confidence,--and he mistrusts even that.

Mine. An underground tunnel dug by sappers of the Royal Engineer
Corps. This tunnel leads from your trench to that of the enemy's. At
the end or head of the tunnel a great quantity of explosives are
stored which at a given time are exploded. It is Tommy's job to then
go "over the top" and occupy the crater caused by the explosion.

Mine Shaft. A shaft leading down to the "gallery" or tunnel of a mine.
Sometimes Tommy, as a reward, is given the Job of helping the R. E.'s
dig this shaft.

Minnenwerfer. A high-power trench mortar shell of the Germans, which
makes no noise coming through the air. It was invented by Professor
Kultur. Tommy does not know what is near until it bites him; after
that nothing worries him. Tommy nicknames them "Minnies."

Mouth Organ. An instrument with which a vindictive Tommy causes misery
to the rest of his platoon. Some authorities define it as a "musical

Mud. A brownish, sticky substance found in the trenches after the
frequent rains. A true friend to Tommy, which sticks to him like glue,
even though at times Tommy resents this affection and roundly curses
said mud.

Mufti. The term Tommy gives to civilian clothes. Mufti looks good to
him now.


Nap. A card game of Tommy's in which the one who stays awake the
longest grabs the pot. If all the players fall asleep, the pot goes to
the "Wounded Soldiers' Fund."

"Napoo-Fini." Tommy's French for gone, through with, finished,

"Napper." Tommy's term for bead.

Neutral. Tommy says it means "afraid to fight."

Next of Kin. Nearest relative. A young and ambitious platoon officer
bothers his men two or three times a month taking a record of their
"next of kin," because he thinks that Tommy's grandmother may have
changed to his uncle.

"Night ops." Slang for night operations or maneuvers.

Nine-point-two. A howitzer which fires a shell 9.2 inches in diameter,
and knocks the tiles off the roof of Tommy's billet through the force
of its concussion.

No Man's Land. The space between the hostile trenches called "No Man's
Land" because no one owns it and no one wants to. In France you could
not give it away.

N.C.C. Non-Combatant Corps. Men who joined the Army under the
stipulation that the only thing they would fight for would be their
meals. They have no "King and Country."

N.C.O. Non-commissioned officer. A person hated more than the Germans.
Tommy says his stripes are issued out with the rations, and he ought
to know.

"No. 9." A pill the doctor gives you if you are suffering with corns
or barber's itch or any disease at all. If none are in stock, he gives
you a No. 6 and No. 3, or a No. 5 and No. 4, anything to make nine.

Nosecap. That part of a shell which unscrews and contains the device
and scale for setting the time fuse. Some Tommies are ardent souvenir
hunters. As soon as a shell bursts in the ground you will see them out
with picks and shovels digging in the shell hole for the nose cap. If
the shell bursts too near them they don't dig.


Observation Balloon. A captive balloon behind the lines which observes
the enemy. The enemy doesn't mind being observed, so takes no notice
of it. It gives someone a job hauling it down at night, so it has one
good point.

Observation Post. A position in the front line where an artillery
officer observes the fire of our guns. He keeps on observing until a
German shell observes him. After this there is generally a new officer
and a new observation post.

O. C. Officer commanding.

Officers' Mess. Where the officers eat the mess that the O. S. have

O. S. Officers' servants. The lowest ranking private in the Army, who
feeds better than the officers he waits on.

"Oil Cans." Tommy's term for a German trench mortar shell which is an
old tin filled with explosive and junk that the Boches have no further
use for.

"One up." Tommy's term for a lance-corporal who wears one stripe. The
private always wonders why he was overlooked when promotions were in

"On the mat." When Tommy is haled before his commanding officer to
explain why he has broken one of the seven million King's regulations
for the government of the Army. His "explanation" never gets him
anywhere unless it is on the wheel of a Umber.

"On your own." Another famous or infamous phrase which means Tommy is
allowed to do as he pleases. An officer generally puts Tommy "on his
own" when he gets Tommy into a dangerous position and sees no way to
extricate him.

Orderly-Corporal. A non-commissioned officer who takes the names of
the sick every morning and who keeps his own candle burning after he
has ordered "Lights out" at night.

Orderly-Officer. An officer who, for a week, goes around and asks if
there are "any complaints" and gives the name of the complaining
soldier to the Orderly-Sergeant for extra pack drill.

Orderly Room. The Captain's office where everything is disorderly.

Orderly-Sergeant. A sergeant who, for a week, is supposed to do the
work of the Orderly-Officer.

"Out of bounds." The official Army term meaning that Tommy is not
allowed to trespass where this sign is displayed. He never wished to
until the sign made its appearance.

"Out there." A term used in Blighty which means "in France."
Conscientious objectors object to going "out there."

"Over the Top." A famous phrase of the trenches. It is generally the
order for the men to charge the German lines. Nearly always it is
accompanied by the Jonah wish, "With the best o' luck and give them

Oxo. Concentrated beef cubes that a fond mother sends out to Tommy
because they are advertised as "British to the Backbone."


Packing. Asbestos wrapping around the barrel of a machine gun to keep
the water from leaking out of the barrel casing. Also slang for

Pack Drill. Punishment for a misdemeanor. Sometimes Tommy gets caught
when he fills his pack with straw to lighten it for this drill.

Parados. The rear wall of a trench which the Germans continually fill
with bits of shell and rifle bullets. Tommy doesn't mind how many they
put in the parados.

Parapet, The top part of a front trench which Tommy constantly builds
up and the Germans just as constantly knock down.

Patrol. A few soldiers detailed to go out in "No Man's Land," at night
and return without any information. Usually these patrols are

Pay Book. A little book in which is entered the amount of pay Tommy
draws. In the back of same there is also a space for his "will and
last testament"; this to remind Tommy that he is liable to be killed.
(As if he needed any reminder.)

Pay Parade. A formation at which Tommy lines up for pay. When his turn
comes the paying-officer asks, "How much?" and Tommy answers, "Fifteen
francs, sir." He gets five.

Periscope. A thing in the trenches which you look through. After
looking through it, you look over the top to really see something.

"Physical torture." The nickname for physical training. It is torture,
especially to a recruit.

Pick. A tool shaped like an anchor which is being constantly handed to
Tommy with the terse command, "get busy."

Pioneer. A soldier detailed in each company to keep the space around
the billets clean. He sleeps all day and only gets busy when an
officer comes round. He also sleeps at night.

"Pip squeak." Tommy's term for a small German shell which makes a
"pip" and then a "squeak," when it comes over.

Poilu. French term for their private soldier. Tommy would use it and
sometimes does, but each time he pronounces it differently, so no one
knows what he is talking about.

Pontoon. A card game, in America known as "Black Jack" or "Twenty
One." The banker is the only winner.

Provost-Sergeant. A sergeant detailed to oversee prisoners, their
work, etc. Each prisoner solemnly swears that when he gets out of
"dink" he is going to shoot this sergeant and when he does get out he
buys him a drink.

Pull Through. A stout cord with a weight on one end, and a loop on the
other for an oily rag. The weighted end is dropped through the bore of
the rifle and the rag on the other end is "pulled through."

Pump. A useless contrivance for emptying the trenches of water.
"Useless" because the trenches refuse to be emptied.

"Pushing up the Daisies." Tommy's term for a soldier who has been
killed and buried in France.


"Queer." Tommy's term for being sick. The doctor immediately informs
him that there is nothing queer about him, and Tommy doesn't know
whether to feel insulted or complimented.

Quid. Tommy's term for a pound or twenty shillings (about $4.80). He
is not on very good terms with this amount as you never see the two

Q. M.-Sergeant. Quartermaster-Sergeant, or "Quarter" as he is called.
A non-commissioned officer in a company who wears three stripes and a
crown, and takes charge of the company stores, with the emphasis on
the "takes." In civil life he was a politician or burglar.


Range Finder. An instrument for ascertaining the distance between two
objects, using the instrument as one object. It is very accurate only
you get a different result each time you use it, says Tommy.

Rapid Fire. Means to stick year head "over the top" at night, aim at
the moon, and empty your magazine. It there is no moon, aim at the
spot where it should be.

Ration Bag. A small, very small bag for carrying rations. Sometimes it
is really useful for lugging souvenirs.

Rations. Various kinds of tasteless food issued by the Government to
Tommy, to kid him into thinking that he is living in luxury, while the
Germans are starving.

Ration Party. Men detailed to carry rations to the front line; pick
out a black, cold, and rainy night; put a fifty-pound box on your
shoulder; sling your rifle and carry one hundred twenty rounds of
ammunition. Then go through a communication trench, with the mud up to
your knees, down this trench for a half-mile, and then find your mates
swearing in seven different languages; duck a few shells and bullets,
and then ask Tommy for his definition of a "ration party." You will be
surprised to learn that it is the same as yours.

Rats. The main inhabitants of the trenches and dugouts. Very useful
for chewing up leather equipment and running over your face when
asleep. A British rat resembles a bull-dog, while a German one,
through a course of Kultur, resembles a dachshund.

"Red Cap." Tommy's nickname for a Staff Officer because he wears a
red band around his cap.

Red Tape. A useless sort of procedure. The main object of this is to
prolong the war and give a lot of fat jobs to Army politicians.

Regimental Number. Each soldier has a number whether or not he was a
convict in civil life. Tommy never forgets his number when he sees it
on "orders for leave."

R.P. Regimental Police. Men detailed in a Battalion to annoy Tommy and
to prevent him from doing what he most desires.

Reinforcements. A lot of new men sent out from England who think that
the war will be over a week after they enter the trenches.

Relaying. A term used by the artillery. After a gun is fired it is
"relayed" or aimed at something out of sight.

Respirator. A cloth helmet, chemically treated, with glass eye-holes,
which Tommy puts over his head as a protection against, poison gas.
This helmet never leaves Tommy's person, he even sleeps with it.

Rest. A period of time for rest allotted to Tommy upon being relieved
from the trenches. He uses this "rest" to mend roads, dig trenches,
and make himself generally useful while behind the lines.

Rest Billets. Shell shattered houses, generally barns, in which Tommy
"rests," when relieved from the firing line.

"Ricco." Term for a ricochet bullet. It makes a whining noise and
Tommy always ducks when a "ricco" passes him.

Rifle. A part of Tommy's armament. Its main use is to be cleaned.
Sometimes it is fired, when you are not using a pick or shovel. You
also "present arms by numbers" with it. This is a very fascinating
exercise to Tommy. Ask him.

Rifle Grenade. A bomb on the end of a rod. This rod is inserted into
the barrel of a specially designed rifle.

"R.I.P." In monk's highbrow, "Requiscat in pace," put on little
wooden crosses over soldier's graves. It means "Rest in peace," but
Tommy says like as not it means "Rest in pieces," especially if the
man under the cross has been sent West by a bomb or shell explosion.

"Road Dangerous, Use Trench." A familiar sign on roads immediately in
rear of the firing line. It is to warn soldiers that it is within
sight of Fritz. Tommy never believes these signs and swanks up the
road. Later on he tells the Red Cross nurse that the sign told the

"Roll of Honor." The name given to the published casualty lists of
the war. Tommy has no ambition for his name to appear on the "Roll of
Honor" unless it comes under the heading "Slightly Wounded."

R. C. Roman Catholic. One of the advantages of being a R.C. is that
"Church Parade" is not compulsory.

"Rooty." Tommy's nickname for bread.

Route March. A useless expenditure of leather and energy. These
marches teach Tommy to be kind to overloaded beasts of burden.

R.A.M.C. Royal Army Medical Corps. Tommy says it means "Rob All My

R.E.'s. Royal Engineers.

R.F.A.'s. Royal Field Artillery men.

R.F.C.'s. Royal Plying Corps.

Rum. A nectar of the gods issued in the early morning to Tommy.

Rum issue. A daily formation at which Tommy receives a spoonful of
rum; that is if any is left over from the Sergeant's Mess.

Runner. A soldier who is detailed or picked as an orderly for an
officer while in the trenches. His real job is to take messages under
fire, asking how many tins of jam are required for 1917.


S.A.A. Small Arms Ammunition. Small steel pellets which have a bad
habit of drilling holes in the anatomy of Tommy and Fritz.

Salvo. Battery firing four guns simultaneously.

Sandbag. A jute bag which is constantly being filled with earth. Its
main uses are to provide Tommy with material for a comfortable kip and
to strengthen parapets.

Sap. A small ditch, or trench, dug from the front line and leading out
into "No Man's Land" in the direction of the German trenches.

Sapper. A man who saps or digs mines. He thinks he is thirty-three
degrees above an ordinary soldier, while in fact he is generally
beneath him.

Sausage Balloon. See observation balloon.

S.B. Stretcher Bearer. The motive power of a stretcher. He is
generally looking the other way when a fourteen-stone Tommy gets hit.

Scaling ladder. Small wooden ladders used by Tommy for climbing out of
the front trench when he goes "over the top." When Tommy sees these
ladders being brought into the trench, he sits down and writes his
will in his little pay-book.

Sentry Go. Time on guard. It means "sentry come."

Sergeant's Mess. Where the sergeants eat. Nearly all of the rum has a
habit of disappearing into the Sergeant's Mess.

Seventy-fives. A very efficient field-gun of the French, which can
fire thirty shells per minute. The gun needs no relaying due to the
recoil which throws the him back to its original position. The gun
that knocked out "Jack Johnson," therefore called "Jess Willard."

"Sewed in a blanket." Term for a soldier who has been buried. His
remains are generally sewn in a blanket and the piece of blanket is
generally deducted from his pay that is due.

Shag. Cigarette tobacco which an American can never learn to use. Even
the mules object to the smell of it.

Shell. A device of the artillery which sometimes makes Tommy wish he
had been born in a neutral country.

Shell Hole. A hole in the ground caused by the explosion of a shell.
Tommy's favorite resting-place while under fire.

Shovel. A tool closely related to the pick family. In France the
"shovel" is mightier than the sword.

Shrapnel. A shell which bursts in the air and scatters small pieces of
metal over a large area. It is used to test the resisting power of
steel helmets.

"Sicker." Nickname for the sick report book. It is Tommy's ambition to
get on this "sicker" without feeling sick.

Side Parade. A formation at which the doctor informs sick, or would-be
sick Tommies that they are not sick.

Sixty-pounder. One of our shells which weighs sixty pounds
(officially). When Tommy handles them, their unofficial weight is
three hundred weight.

Slacker. An insect in England who is afraid to join the Army. There
are three things in this world that Tommy hates: a slacker, a German;
and a trench-rat; it's hard to tell which he hates worst.

"Slag Heap." A pile of rubbish, tin cans, etc.

Smoke Bomb. A shell which, in exploding, emits a dense white smoke,
hiding the operations of troops. When Tommy, in attacking a trench,
gets into this smoke, he imagines himself a magnet and thinks all the
machine guns and rifles are firing at him alone.

Smoke Helmet. See respirator.

Sniper. A good shot whose main occupation is picking off unwary
individuals of the enemy. In the long run a sniper usually gets

Snipe Hole. A hole in a steel plate through which snipers "snipe." It
is not fair for the enemy to shoot at these holes, but they do, and
often hit them, or at least the man behind them.

"Soldiers' Friend." Metal polish costing three ha' pence which Tommy
uses to polish his buttons. Tommy wonders why it is called "Soldiers'

"Somewhere in France." A certain spot in France where Tommy has to
live in mud, hunt for "cooties," and duck shells and bullets. Tommy's
official address.

Souvenir. A begging word used by the French kiddies. When it is
addressed to Tommy it generally means, a penny, biscuits, bully beef,
or a tin of jam.

Spy. A suspicious person whom no one suspects until he is caught. Then
all say they knew he was a spy but had no chance to report it to the
proper authorities.

"Spud." Tommy's name for the solitary potato which gets into the stew.
It's a great mystery how that lonely little spud got into such bad

Stand To. Order to mount the fire step. Given just as it begins to
grow dark.

Stand Down. Order given in the trenches at break of dawn to let the
men know their night watch is ended. It has a pleasant sound in
Tommy's ears.

Star Shell. See Flare.

Steel Helmet. A round hat made out of steel which is supposed to be
shrapnel proof. It is until a piece of shell goes through it, then
Tommy loses interest as to whether it is shrapnel proof or not. He
calls it a "tin hat."

Stew. A concoction of the cook's which contains bully beef, Maconochie
rations, water, a few lumps of fresh meat, and a potato. Occasionally
a little salt falls into it by mistake. Tommy is supposed to eat this
mess--he does--worse luck!

"Strafeing." Tommy's chief sport--shelling the Germans. Taken from
Fritz's own dictionary.

Stretcher. A contrivance on which dead and wounded are carried. The
only time Tommy gets a free ride in the trenches is while on a
stretcher. As a rule he does not appreciate this means of

"Suicide Club." Nickname for bombers and machine gunners. (No

Supper. Tommy's fourth meal, generally eaten just before "lights out."
It is composed of the remains of the day's rations. There are a lot of
Tommies who never eat supper. There is a reason.

S.W. Shell wound. What the doctor marks on your hospital chart when a
shell has removed your leg.

Swamping. Putting on airs; showing off. Generally accredited to

"Swinging the lead." Throwing the bull.

"Sweating on leave." Impatiently waiting for your name to appear in
orders for leave. If Tommy sweats very long he generally catches cold
and when leave comes he is too sick to go.


"Taking over." Going into a trench. Tommy "takes over," is "taken out"
and sometimes is "put under."

Taube. A type of German aeroplane whose special ambition is beating
the altitude record. It occasionally loses its way and flies over the
British lines and then stops flying.

Tea. A dark brown drug, which Tommy has to have at certain periods of
the day. Battles have been known to have been stopped to enable Tommy
to get his tea, or "char" as it is commonly called.

"Tear Shell." Trench name for the German lachrymose chemical shell
which makes the eyes smart. The only time Tommy is outwardly

Telephone. A little instrument with a wire attached to it. An
artillery observer whispers something into this instrument and
immediately one of your batteries behind the line opens up and drops a
few shells into your front trench. This keeps up until the observer
whispers, "Your range is too short." Then the shells drop nearer the
German lines.

"Terrier." Tommy's nickname for a Territorial or "Saturday-night
soldier." A regular despises a Territorial while a Territorial looks
down on "Kitchener's Mob." Kitchener's Mob has the utmost contempt for
both of them.

Territorial. A peace-time soldier with the same status as the American
militiaman. Before the war they were called "Saturday-Night Soldiers,"
but they soon proved themselves "every-night soldiers."

"The Old Man." Captain of a company. He is called "the old man,"
because generally his age is about twenty-eight.

"The Best o' Luck." The Jonah phrase of the trenches. Every time Tommy
goes over the top or on a trench raid his mates wish him the best o'
luck. It means that if you are lucky enough to come back, you
generally have an arm or leg missing.

"Thumbs up." Tommy's expression which means "everything is fine with
me." Very seldom used during an intense bombardment.

"Time ex." Expiration of term of enlistment. The only time Tommy is a
civilian in the trenches; but about ten minutes after he is a soldier
for duration of war.

"Tin Hat." Tommy's name for his steel helmet which is made out of a
metal about as hard as mush. The only advantage is that it is heavy
and greatly adds to the weight of Tommy's equipment. Its most popular
use is for carrying eggs.

T.N.T. A high explosive which the Army Ordnance Corps prescribes for
Fritz. Fritz prefers a No. 9 pill.

"Tommy Atkins." The name England gives to an English soldier, even if
his name is Willie Jones.

Tommy's Cooker. A spirit stove widely advertised as "A suitable gift
to the men in the trenches." Many are sent out to Tommy and most of
them are thrown away.

Tonite. The explosive contained in a rifle grenade. It looks like a
harmless reel of cotton before it explodes,--after it explodes the
spectator is missing.

"Toots Sweet." Tommy's Preach for "hurry up," "look smart." Generally
used in a French estaminet when Tommy only has a couple of minutes in
which to drink his beer.

"Top Hats at Home," Tommy's name for Parliament when his application
for leave has been turned down or when no strawberry jam arrives with
the rations.

Town Major. An officer stationed in a. French town or village who is
supposed to look after billets, upkeep of roads, and act as

Transport. An aggregation of mules, limbers, and rough riders, whose
duty is to keep the men in the trenches supplied with rations and
supplies. Sometimes a shell drops within two miles of them and Tommy
doesn't get his rations, etc.

Traverse. Sandbags piled in a trench so that the trench cannot be
traversed by Tommy. Sometimes it prevents enfilading fire by the

Trench. A ditch full of water, rats, and soldiers. During his visit to
France, Tommy uses these ditches as residences. Now and again he
sticks his head "over the top" to take a look at the surrounding
scenery. If he is lucky he lives to tell his mates what he saw.

Trench Feet. A disease of the feet contracted in the trenches from
exposure to extreme cold and wet. Tommy's greatest ambition is to
contract this disease because it means "Blighty" for him.

Trench Fever. A malady contracted in the trenches; the symptoms are
high temperature, bodily pains, and homesickness. Mostly homesickness.
A bad case lands Tommy in "Blighty," a slight case lands him back in
the trenches, where he tries to get it worse than ever.

"Trenchitis." A combination of "fedupness" and homesickness,
experienced by Tommy in the trenches, especially when he receives a
letter from a friend in Blighty who is making a fortune working in a
munition plant.

Trench Mortar. A gun like a stove pipe which throws shells at the
German trenches. Tommy detests these mortars because when they take
positions near to him in the trenches, he knows that it is only a
matter of minutes before a German Shell with his name and number on it
will be knocking at his door.

Trench Pudding. A delectable mess of broken biscuits, condensed milk,
jam, and mud. Slightly flavored with smoke. Tommy prepares, cooks, and
eats this. Next day he has "trench fever."

Trench Raid. Several men detailed to go over the top at night and
shake hands with the Germans, and, if possible, persuade some of them
to be prisoners. At times the raiders would themselves get raided
because Fritz refused to shake and adopted nasty methods.

Turpenite. A deadly chemical shell invented by an enthusiastic war
correspondent suffering from brain storm. Companies and batteries were
supposed to die standing up from its effects, but they refused to do

"Twelve in one." Means that twelve men are to share one loaf of bread.
When the slicing takes place the war in the dugout makes the European
argument look like thirty cents.


"Up against the wall." Tommy's term for a man who is to be shot by a
firing squad.

"Up the line." Term generally used in rest billets when Tommy talks
about the fire trench or fighting line. When orders are issued to go
"up the line" Tommy immediately goes "up in the air."


V.C. Victoria Cross, or "Very careless" as Tommy calls it. It is a
bronze medal won by Tommy for being very careless with his life.

Very-Lights. A star shell invented by Mr. Very. See Flare.

Vickers Gun. A machine gun improved on by a fellow named Vickers. His
intentions were good but his improvements, according to Tommy, were

Via Blanc. French white wine made from vinegar. They forgot the red

Vin Rouge. French red wine made from vinegar and red ink. Tommy pays
good money for it.


Waders. Rubber hip boots, used when the water in the trenches is up to
Tommy's neck.

Waiting Man. The cleanest man at guard mounting. He does not have to
walk post; is supposed to wait on the guard.

Washout. Tommy's idea of something that is worth nothing.

Water Bottle. A metal bottle for carrying water (when not used for
rum, beer, or wine).

Waterproof. A rubber sheet issued to Tommy to keep him dry. It does
when the sun is out.

Wave. A line of troops which goes "over the top" in a charge. The
waves are numbered according to their turn in going over, viz., "First
Wave," "Second Wave," etc. Tommy would sooner go over with the "Tenth

Wet Canteen. A military saloon or pub where Tommy can get a "wet,"
Most campaigns and battles are planned and fought in these places.

"Whizz Bang." A small German shell which whizzes through the air and
explodes with a "bang." Their bark is worse than their bite.

"Wind up." Term generally applied to the Germans when they send up
several star shells at once because they are nervous and expect an
attack or night raid on their trenches.

"Windy." Tommy's name for a nervous soldier, coward.

"Wipers." Tommy's name for Ypres, sometimes he calls it "Yeeps." A
place up the line which Tommy likes to duck. It is even "hot" in the
winter time at "Wipers."

Wire. See barbed wire, but don't go "over the top" to look at it. It
isn't safe.

Wire Cutters. An instrument for cutting barbed wire, but mostly used
for driving nails.

Wiring Party. Another social affair for which Tommy receives
invitations. It consists of going "over the top" at night and
stretching barbed wire between stakes. A German machine gun generally
takes the place of an orchestra.

Woodbine. A cigarette made of paper and old hay. Tommy swears by a

Wooden Cross. Two pieces of wood in the form of a cross placed at the
head of a Tommy's grave. Inscribed on it are his rank, name, number,
and regiment. Also date of death and last but not least, the letters
R. I. P.

Working Party. A sort of compulsory invitation affair for which Tommy
often is honored with an invitation. It consists of digging, filling
sandbags, and ducking shells and bullets.


"Zeppelin" A bag full of gas invented by a count full of gas. It is a
dirigible airship used by the Germans for killing babies and dropping
bombs in open fields. You never see them over the trenches, it is
safer to bombard civilians in cities. They use Iron Crosses for

{Advertisement: FIRST CALL by Arthur Guy Empey.}

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