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War Bugs


by Charles MacArthur

Chapter II.

In February, 1918, it was against the law to leave for the front at a Christian hour, so reveille sounded at two-thirty in the morning. It was no hardship this time, because none of us had gone to bed. Roll call and a last breakfast.

The little Greek was released from quarters, to which he had been confined for swapping two sacks of army potatoes for a lady’s favour. In a burst of repentance he cooked doughnuts.

Harness and hitch was accomplished in record time, in spite of officers. There was an epidemic of them that morning; all of them with a rush of orders to the mouth. Down the long hill to Guer, and horses and guns were loaded before you could say boo. A bitter snowball fight followed. Quite accidentally some of the new officers -- the loudest -- were casualties.

Hostilities ceased with the discovery of a straw stack, which was removed to the box cars for bedding over several Frogs’ beautiful white bodies. Twenty six men piled into each box car; Y.M.C.A. officials put out coffee and sandwiches free (believe it or not); the trick engine giggled and let out a small squeal; and we were off for death and glory, God and country. Berlin or bust.

The first one hundred miles were the hardest. Some mighty close harmony was going on, and it was pretty terrible. Matters were adjusted by moving the glee clubs into separate box cars, which made the rest available for some quiet gambling.

When a crap shooter cleaned the boys in his car he moved back to the next, until a first-class gambling hell was going on in the caboose, with a gentleman from Chicago big winner. He claimed to own a news stand, but nobody ever learned to roll the bones that way selling papers.

Rush Dyer and a couple of other Romeos spent the daylight hours making odd and amorous proposals to such red-hot mammas as appeared along the track, and considerable sight-seeing went on until night fell, when we stuck candles in our tin hats and warmed up issue beans and corn willie.

Some honest drinking went on, Jamaica rum chiefly. We acquired several gallons of cognac at the first ravitaillement, one of the coffee and cognac stations operated by the French government. The poilu in charge would sell a gallon for ten francs. He’d sell his eyes for twenty.

Three days of this nonsense, with the train sneaking up on Paris and all the big cities late at night, so that our heads wouldn’t be turned by strange sights. Now and then we heard the rumble of guns far away, and conversation would turn to war.

But the most important issues touched on how long the Bull Durham would hold out, why they called it Sunny France, and where in hell did those dizzy new shavetails come from. Every Frenchman along the long, long trail got three rousing cheers, and when that form of fun wore out we took to shying beer bottles at cows, Savon Cadum signs, and stray gendarmes -- thereby creating another bond between the rooster and the eagle.

When spirits drooped through sheer cramp and confinement Danny Elwell felt moved to slice adjacent eardrums with, “Are we happy?” at the top of his leather lungs. Supposedly the answer was a concerted “Yes!” but the boys (even the university contingent) were getting pretty sick of the rah-rah stuff, and we began to throw things.

Elwell took all the sounds and songs of his alma mater a bit seriously. At the drop of a hat he would start up the Illinois Loyalty Song, demanding that the noncollegiate section of the battery likewise stand and uncover. As first sergeant he got away with this sort of hooey at first, but not now. The first note of Loyalty became the signal for a bitter razz.

Three days out the train shuddered and stopped, and we were rolled out with the announcement that we had hit the war zone. A constant rumble formerly attributed to the flat wheels of the train now became a roar, and from the doors of the box cars we could see an airplane high above, peppered with white puffs.

Signs of death and glory littered the landscape. A shattered French plane stood on its ear near the roadbed. Shell craters, old and new, stared rudely. Hundreds of graves, eloquently grouped in threes and tens and twenties. Evidently the Germans weren’t kidding.

We lay on a siding, forty miles from Luneville, our destination. All the unpleasant manifestations of dirty work revived our officers’ happy hunches that (a) we would detrain under shellfire; (b) we would detrain in a cloud of poison gas; and (c) we wouldn’t detrain at all, as the Germans would see us first and send us sky high with a few well directed 42’s. It was all very discouraging.

Nothing happened for hours, during which we loafed up and down the tracks and attempted conversation with a bunch of Italian soldiers who were guzzling garlic, salami sausage, and odds and ends of horse boiled over a bonfire. They had run on the Piave and were doing manual labor for punishment. Our battery Garibaldis spoke to them and reported some bitterness. They implied that war wasn’t any good and advised us to pick up our marbles and go home.

At last the train crawled forward. Late in the afternoon we reached Luneville, where we unloaded horses, wagons, and guns and sneaked up a side street to the Chateau Stanislas, an enormous castle in the centre of town, built by King Stanislaus after he had been shagged out of Poland some time before.

The fact that Stan settled his court in Luneville establishes him as a maniac, but there was plenty of other evidence to the same effect in and around the chateau. It was a regular Katzenjammer castle. We were assigned to the attic, six stories up, where there wasn’t a board that wouldn’t tip at a touch, revealing a nice long drop of 150 feet.

It made disposition of bottles, corpses, and so forth, rather convenient; but little feet had to be careful where they led us after a quart of grapejuice and six or eight bieres terribles. The latter consisted of large goldfish globes, mounted on glass legs and filled with the old suds. (A customer had to dive inside for the last quart.) They were discovered eight minutes after the first passes were issued.

By the same strange process which made Meurcy Ferme “Murphy’s Farm,” the Ourcq River “O’Rourke,” and the Rhine the “Ryan” later on in the war, Luneville became “Looneyville” ten minutes after our arrival.

It was a dull town by day but grand at night, with many interesting social centres that we could visit provided we wore French uniforms. Consequently, impoverished poilus did a thriving business in the rental of blue helmets and overcoats. Fee, two francs an hour; three francs for two hours; and ten for the evening. Our own coats and helmets were kept for security.

The most popular reception was beer drinking in the cafes. These were identified by weird blue letters in the pitch-black streets and bulged with heroes who gloried and drank deep. Topics of conversation were the same for a week:

1. That the Rainbow Division was without parallel anywhere.

2. That the Heinies were duck soup for freeborn Americans.

3. That the Frogs were nuts to allow such an elegant sector as the Lorraine front to go to seed.

This last complaint was derived from the box score of the battle which greeted our arrival, as published in the Paris edition of the Chicago Tribune. With all that noise and iron flying around, a mere handful of men had been knocked off. It certainly looked as if somebody had been lying down on the job. One French battery had lost only two men. At that rate a man might live forever.

It was depressing, too, how lightly the inhabitants of Luneville took the war. On Sundays they walked in the park and threw bread to the swans, quite oblivious to airplane duels overhead; and three times a week the rubes come in from the country with vegetables and souvenirs to sell, as if nothing was going on. That meant we had to scrub stables and park the horses in the courtyard until marketing was over.

We did most of the marketing ourselves, loading up on Swiss cheese, Basque berets, bum jack-knives, et cetera, like halfwits. Items of female apparel got the best play, being suitable for souvenirs. Many a nice girl in the States received pale purple bloomers embroidered with the crossed flags of the Allies; chemises with beautiful sentiments stitched into violent pink folds; and other intimate odds and ends rather difficult to identify or explain.

Meanwhile the war waited and we began to get restless. In this period of marking time, Porch Climber MacMillan discovered two hundred feather beds in the chapel of the chateau -- more than enough to go around. It took all that night to remove them to the attic.

Early the next morning there was a terrible hullabaloo in the courtyard. The French officers of the area, who had imported the mattresses from Paris, now discovered their loss. They went through the chateau like bloodhounds, following the trail of feathers until they reached our humble sixth floor quarters. One look at their property and they began yelling their hearts out.

Brick Bristol told a glittering colonel to button his nose, an unfortunate crack that didn’t help matters any; no more than Harry Weir’s spitting at several majors through his teeth. Harry was unusually expert in this art, throwing a stream so fine that it was invisible. All his targets were quite sodden before the argument ended.

In the end the Frogs called our officers and bellyached so loudly that we had to carry the feather beds back. One general looked as though he was going to cry.

The next important event was Lieutenant Pappy Le Prohon’s transfer to the horseshoeing department -- a matter of discipline. Being a French Canuck, Pappy spoke the lingo fairly well and had employed this talent in getting cozy with all the women in town.

The colonel heard about it, bawled hell out of him, and put him shoeing mules. Pappy had denounced so many of us for so much less that it seemed like poetic justice.

Finally, a week after our arrival, Lieutenant Stone was ordered to the front to pick out a battery position, and everything became mysterious once more. We packed all over again, shedding more and more of our fancy equipment. Pneumatic mattresses, portable typewriters, and canned delicacies are all right until you have to carry them. Solemn letters were written and surreptitiously handed to the chaplain for transmission in case of sudden death.

Four gun crews and a battery commander’s detail were selected to accompany Lieutenant Stone to the front, and there were many touching farewells. The first ones slated to go got real snooty about it and said good bye as if we were already their widows. There was a final inspection of equipment, especially identification tags. Lieutenant Stone spoke morbidly of their use, and toward noon the firing battery marched off. Four hours later the guns were installed in La Neuville-aux-Bois, a seedy collection of busted brick houses four thousand yards from the front line.

The village was dirty, lousy, dilapidated, and full of rats the size of St. Bernards. Fortunately the chicken-wire cots were a good two feet off the floor, but lay a shoe down by the side of the bed and the rats tore into it like lettuce.

There were fireplaces in a few of the buildings, and doors and window sills and plank floors made a merry blaze and served to heat our rations. When officers complained of telltale smoke we organized a raid on the Indiana six inch artillery and stole half of their T.N.T., which makes a swell fire and has the advantage of being smokeless. Safe, too, as it explodes only when compressed.

Near by was a French Pinard station, from which someone promoted several cans of strong drink. Thus equipped we spread blankets and rolled out the bones. At the first pass a shell screamed over the tar-paper roof and caved in an adjacent bungalow. A dozen more zipped over -- 77’s to judge by the scream and smack.

In a minute they were falling like meteors. Most of us were the sons of God fearing parents, and you can’t go to heaven with a pair of dice in your hand. Nor would it do to get right with God on the spot, in front of everybody. So we played on, shaking the bones with no effort of our own and calling on Little Joe to be a man and come out.

Toward morning the bombardment died down and we started digging gun pits. The position Lieutenant Stone picked out had been abandoned the week before by a French battery -- nobody knew why until we started to work. All the French aren’t nuts. When they walk out on a digging job it’s because there’s something pretty sour about it.

In this case it was the mud. After three days of heavy bailing it was only waist deep -- and then it rained. And how! In four hours the country was a duck pond. Faithful to our homes, our oath, and the Constitution we bailed on and on, up to our necks, with Danny Elwell, perched in a tree, insanely bawling, “Are we happy?”

To rub it in, the little Greek, warm and safe and amorously engaged in Luneville, shipped us a sack of soap instead of beef, proof of his activities in the department of Romance. We knew where the beef had gone. And the engineers dumped several tons of concrete blocks and steel beams in a mud lake five hundred yards from the so-called battery position. All of it had to be moved by hand.

It quit raining only to snow, and stopped snowing only to hail. Every pup tent was an igloo. Then the first gun crew struck an artesian well and completed the catastrophe.

The uselessness of going on became apparent, even to the officers, so we wheeled our guns to the Forest of Parroy and placed them on the fringe nearest the German lines. Our new position was as visible as the Woolworth Building but fairly dry; meaning that the mud was only two feet deep. And anybody would rather die from shellfire than drowning.

Five dire days had passed to no purpose, and the entries in the battery diaries were slightly pro-German. Apparently the war wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

The French furnished a little excitement by slinging some shells at the Germans before we got our protecting sandbags up. The Germans came back handsomely. Evidently, now that we had arrived, there was going to be no more clap in, clap out, or ring around the rosie.

From midnight till dawn the guns were cracking on every side. The ground rocked with explosions. The air sizzled with shell. A thousand jumping flashes threw their reflections on the low clouds for miles. Toward sunrise the show died down, with only an occasional burst like the sound of a steel shutter landing on a concrete floor, far, far away.

Shells had landed all around us, confirming our hunch that the Germans had our names, telephone numbers, and street addresses, but we remained in strange safety, although C Battery had the hell shot out of them and lost heavily in killed and wounded. So did a company of New York doughboys.

There was a let-up in the shooting, and twelve cannoneers were assigned to adjacent French batteries for firing practice. Under the supervision of the veterans of Verdun we were permitted to pink a few shells at registration marks and battle over who would be first to fire.

The French were swell. We were the first American soldats they had seen, and their hospitality was sincere and elegant. One of their corporals, a charming character who had been a croupier at Monte Carlo, introduced us to all the worthwhile boys and saw to it that we had free and frequent access to the Pinard supply. A toothless gentleman by the name of Pierre turned out to be excellent company until one of our gang cabbaged an entire suitcase full of liquor he had brought back from leave in Paris.

The French greatly admired the way we worked the guns. Verdun and the Marne had taught them to flop when they fired, whereas we sat on the side saddles and took the jolt like cowboys. Rush Dyer amazed them by snapping the firing pin with his fingers when one of the lanyards broke during a barrage.

Between pot shots we sat around and listened to hair-raising stories of Verdun; how our boy friends had fired into masses of German infantry at one hundred metres distance, how every other gun blew up, and a lot of other hows that made Lorraine look like a basket lunch.

It was pretty soft, at that, compared to all the fun that followed. Both the French and German divisions had come south for a rest and, except for occasional parties, were on terms of love and kisses. Whenever a smart American lieutenant intentionally missed a registration point and pegged a shell into a German kitchen there was hell to pay for a week.

The Germans would retaliate by bouncing a few six-inchers into French posts of command, and the French would complain bitterly to the Americans for starting it all. Consequently it was not fair to shoot Germans, although they paraded openly on their side of the line, making rude faces and noises at us.

Some Iowa boys took picks on a couple of them one day, with the result that the Germans sneaked over that night and stole a side of beef from an Iowa kitchen. They dragged a kitchen policeman along to carry it, what’s more.

As this sort of feeling progressed the doughboys had to borrow French helmets and overcoats before they could venture out in No Man’s Land. If an American helmet popped over the parapet it was a sieve in no time.

Meanwhile a swell war was going on in Luneville, where the drivers and extra cannoneers awaited the call to arms. One of our exalted officers -- we will call him Colonel McEgg-beater -- back there had made a number of improvements in the art of war -- improvements that benefited everybody.

For one thing, it occurred to him that armies would be much more efficient if they observed office hours. So he gave out that hereafter he was not to be disturbed on any matters relating to the war except from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., when he would be glad to receive all generals, lieutenant colonels, and other duly accredited representatives of the Allied forces. This order was disregarded one day and Colonel McEgg-beater was furious. He immediately changed his billet, keeping his home address a secret from everybody, even his adjutant.

Two days later, General MacArthur decided on an attack. Colonel Reilly sent a courier flying with an order for all the ammunition in Luneville. He arrived late at night, long after His Nibs was tucked in bed.

A lone private, with no authority to give out ammunition, was in the regimental office and explained that it was impossible to oblige with shells until the boss woke up the next morning. The courier had apoplexy, which rapidly became gangrene.

The attack was for the next afternoon. There was no ammunition. At last, the private dared destruction and forged McEgg-beater’s name to the order, whereupon the caissons began to rattle over the cobbled streets toward the front and the day was saved.

Early the following morning (for he believed in punctuality) McEgg-beater was walking along the street with his adjutant when he saw the ammunition train making its last trip.

“Well,” he remarked optimistically, “it looks like we’re getting relieved.” (This joke was in circulation as early as February, 1918.)

The adjutant was doubtful and called to the first lead driver:

“What outfit, buddy?”

Later in the war the answer to this question, when propounded by curious officers, was “Buffalo Bill!” or “The Hunert an’ One Ranch!” But at this time civility was still a byword and the driver replied:

“Hundred and Forty-ninth Field Artillery,” adding, “sir!”

“My God!” cried our mental giant. “My outfit! Where do you think you’re going?”

“We’ve been,” said the driver -- “giddy-ap! -- sir.”

Colonel McE. rushed to his office and collared the unhappy private. It was an hour before he concluded his remarks on Leavenworth and the firing squad and at how narrowly he had avoided something of the sort himself.

Thereafter he stuck to the rules and usages of war like Hindenburg, excepting in one particular. In the hottest section of the Argonne, just before the push to Sedan, he was often observed walking about the bloody fields in the moonlight wearing an old-fashioned nightshirt. It appeared that he was never without one.

The attack he nearly gummed up came off that morning, March 7th, and was the first in which the battery participated as a whole. All the men at the front ganged around the gun pits to see Battery F’s first official shell pegged into the German lines, probably the last instance of concerted patriotism in the war.

The shell was tenderly kissed all around, somebody spit on it for luck, and when it was fired the case was seized and set aside for future presentation to the University of Illinois. Thereafter we pumped over a hundred shots, rapid fire, and the order came down to call it a day.

For fifteen minutes we sat around congratulating ourselves. In our exposed positions, we had gloomily imagined the first shot fired would bring a million tons of dynamite on our defenceless heads. Instead, the Germans cowered -- silent, and doubtless scared to death. We began to feel sorry for such tame foes, when suddenly, rudely, there was a -- s-s-s-s-s BONG!!!

The first shell landed seventy-five feet in front of the battery. It was followed by another, and another, and another, each one a jump ahead of its little pals, and coming like kangaroos. Everybody flattened out in the gun pits and kept very quiet.

Between shells we peeked cautiously over the sandbags. Clouds of black smoke drifted from a dozen fresh craters, and the air was acrid with high explosive. Bang! Bang! Two shells wheeled in twenty feet ahead. The joke was over.

Lieutenant E----- was in charge of the battery. At the first shell he manifested signs of uneasiness. At the second he seemed to be having some trouble with the trees. But if he could have been entered in the Olympic games at the precise second the last two hit, he would have won a bosomful of medals and demolished all the world’s records.

He did the one-hundred yards from the battery to the echelon in nothing flat. Once, in midair, he made a megaphone of his hands and yelled to the men to take shelter. That was while he was taking the water jump.

After lobbing over fifteen or twenty shells the Heinies quit work, and it became apparent that they weren’t shooting at us, anyway. They were after a narrow-gauge railroad one hundred yards to the left.

Lieutenant E-----, considerably bushed, returned to the battery in time to censor all accounts of the matter in our letters home. He made out that if we wrote anything about it the Germans would find out where we were and raise hell.

It was dig, dig, dig for several days. Not so boring now that we had missed a few hot ones. From time to time we were visited by Colonel Reilly, and panic ensued as we rushed about looking for blouses and steel helmets. The colonel was a great guy, but a bit fussy on the subject of helmets, a peculiarity of his that wrought much discomfort but saved many lives.

We were similarly bothered by high French officers, who were fond of calling every other day to look at our new dugouts. A lot of Gloomy Gusses they were, too, shaking their heads sadly and indicating by pantomime and much “boom, boom, booming” that the first shell landing on top of the abri would kill everybody in it.

Telephones connecting the position with headquarters were installed and the telephone detail were promptly named Ruth, Fanny, and Pearl. It was particularly tough on one of them whose monicker hitherto had been Whisky.

The telephone system introduced more apple sauce. Elaborate codes were invented to fool the Germans, who were supposed to have every wire well tapped. Thus, “Can I borrow a chew of tobacco?” meant that Gun Number One was on the bum, and the obliging adjutant would usually attend to this disaster by sending over a chew of tobacco.

Likewise, Captain Joseph Patterson, a bright man in civil life, was given to calling up with, “One of my typewriters won’t shoot,” which fooled the German general staff for six months and materially hastened the end of the war.

As more days passed and nothing happened the doughboys began to get skittish. Some of the Alabama outfit sought to relieve their boredom by pitching hand grenades into the New York trenches -- all in good, clean fun, of course.

Another way to get a kick was to crawl out in No Man’s Land and then go “BOO!” at the sentries coming back. Alabama went in for that, too. Those babies couldn’t get enough.

What stories were woven around their curly heads! As for example:

One of them lost his temper in a crap game -- every dugout on the line was a miniature Monte Carlo -- so he decided to get even. With ten francs he promoted a bottle of cognac and meditated darkly for a while. Then he rejoined the game and announced that it was over. The game, that is.

The Alabama boys were easy going, but they took their gambling seriously. Somebody told Bitter Bill to go outside and button his nose. He was firm and suggested a second time that the game be adjourned.

There were no soft answers in the war. A dozen gamblers told Bitter Bill where he could go and what he could do when he got there. He stood like a statue of Horatius and said he would give them one more chance. A movement to throw him out on his ear was started. He was notified.

“All right,” said the immortal calmly. “Fade this!”

And he tossed a hand grenade into the middle of the pot. The dugout was wrecked. Twelve were killed, including himself.

The general staff wisely court-martialled his remains and dishonourably discharged his ghost. At least, that was how we heard it.

One day, early in March, it stopped raining and simultaneously it was rumoured that we were in for some war. The Germans were destroying the barbed wire along the Paris-Strasbourg railway, and the dope was that the uhlans would be popping through any minute to make marmalade of all the Americans they could find.

Machine guns were hurriedly set up along the roads, and we sat at our guns for three solid days and nights. Again no luck. It was reported that the German general learned whom he was up against and faked the measles.

More rumours. Some had it right from the feed box that we were going back to the States toot sweet to teach Young Idea how to shoot. All of us to be commissioned, of course.

Whenever the war got good and tough later on, and we needed a belly laugh, this particular rumour was repainted and put back in circulation. The first time, however, it worked and made up for all our troubles. The mud, the work, the boredom were getting on our nerves.

The little Greek had gone woman crazy, and we were forced to drag him to the front to protect our rations, which he would trade recklessly at the drop of a skirt. Cooped up in the battery position he now began experimenting with food.

One day he loaded the stew with raw ginger. We promptly withdrew the fifty dollars a month bonus we had been chipping in over and above his salary (on the assumption that he was a cook), and he threatened to go on strike.

Whenever we had a minute to ourselves, the officers bethought themselves of the old field artillery recreation of hauling two thousand heavy shells, three at a time, nine hundred yards, simply to haul them back again the next day. This was intended to keep us out of mischief.

All of a sudden, toward the middle of March, things began to liven up. Half a dozen French Croix de Guerre regiments moved in. Some big guns were wheeled up, some of them twelve-inch rifles, and the word went out that we were going to knock the Germans loose from their underwear on J Day, H hour; which designated any day and hour our generals thought best.

Everything became tense and significant. There was one of those spy scares, with no stone or bush unturned. Ammunition piled up beside the guns. Our officers gum-shoed here and there, skittish as sorority girls, whispering and adding up long columns of figures.

A few minutes after midnight on the morning of March 20th, the alarm came down. We dove into our clothes and slopped down to the gun pits on the double. Five hours went by. Another false alarm.

At seven o’clock that night Lieutenant Stone pounced out of his dugout and gave us another: “Battery, attention!” A bit dramatically he announced that it was finally J Day and would be H hour in forty-five minutes.

In ten seconds we were all set. Shells were arranged in layers, fuses laid out at a safe distance from the high explosive, gas masks were adjusted, helmets nervously patted down so that more protection was afforded the right eye.

For a crowded half hour we patted the guns, fussed with the levels and aiming stakes, and guessed at bloody consequences.

Seven forty-five.

“Fire!” yelled Lieutenant Stone. Simultaneously the air was ripped by terrific explosions from cannon all around us. Our own guns sounded like cap pistols in a boiler factory. Everything was racket, riot, and confusion.

The officers ran up and down the pits shrieking futile orders above the thunder of the guns. The men yelled back without hearing what was said -- it had nothing to do with the firing data, of course. Shells stuck in the bores and had to be delicately tapped out, expert and nerve-racking work, since that’s how guns blow up.

The violent concussion knocked over the first piece aiming stake. Rush Dyer hopped out of the gun pit and held a pocket flash in its place, with our shells screaming past his ears. More and more guns began to open up, and every crack and cranny of sound was filled with the clutter of machine-gun and rifle fire.

After the first ten minutes of fire the battery worked like a charm, every man on the job, every man part of the gun. The officers, with less to do and more responsibility for what was going on, were more excited. They began screaming orders that had been executed from the start, and jumped in the pits to hold big powwows and get in everybody’s way. Sample:

“Is there [BANG!] a shell [BANG-BANG!] in that gun?” -- “Yes, sir!” (Blankety -- BANG!)

“Well, put on in!” (BANG!)

Now, you know that’s silly. And stuff like:

“For God’s sake, Nahowski [Crack! BANG!], why don’t you fire?” -- “My aiming stake is out.” -- “Well, fire anyhow!” (BOOM!) -- “Oh, get the hell out of here, will you -- sir?”

Nearly an hour of this and our ranges were up 2,000 metres -- sure proof that the doughboys had reached the enemy trenches and were sitting pretty -- when the telephone rang and somebody came charging down to the gun pits with orders for a new barrage, to the right. Guns were relaid in a second and we dumped it over, wondering what the hell was up.

It’s fascinating to work a 75 and guess at what’s going on a couple of thousand yards ahead by the changes in deflection and range. Again the range went up, 100 metres at a time. Q.E.D., the Germans were on the run.

Worry began to centre on the guns, which were white-hot and getting hotter -- promising any number of blow-ups and short cuts to heaven.

When the paint began to roll off the tubes Lieutenant Stone ordered everybody but gunners and Number One men from the pits. Worrisome, but the added work happily kept the mind off possibilities.

In the nick of time “Cease firing” came down. We swabbed out the guns with hard grease and cold water and went to bed in our new dugouts -- for the first and last time.

Just before daylight the Germans counter attacked, and we had to peg another barrage; but we were veterans then. No sooner had we finished than, abruptly and for no good reason, we were ordered to pack and beat it back to Luneville. The old rumour of rest camps, delousing, new uniforms, and seven day leave reared its pretty head, and we hiked back from the front whistling “Madelon” and “The Old Gray Mare.”

The attack had been a great success -- plenty of prisoners, beaucoup lines of trench.

Our box fire had slaughtered a division.

We were all together, safe and sound, and bound for a rest camp -- in the pig’s eye.

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