Read Books Online, for Free
|Live Rounds||Ian Hay|
The Battle Of The Slag-Heaps
|Page 6 of 13||
Major Kemp's fist came down upon the plank table.
"Move back!" he exclaimed angrily. "Just so! To capture Fosse Alley, hold it all day and half the night, and then be compelled to move back, simply because we had pushed so far ahead of any other Division that we had no support on either flank! It was tough--rotten--hellish! Excuse my exuberance. 'You all right, Wagstaffe?"
"Wonderful, considering," replied Wagstaffe. "I was mildly gassed by a lachrymous shell about two o'clock this morning, but nothing to signify."
"Did your respirator work?"
"I found that in the heat of the moment I had mislaid it."
"What did you do?"
"I climbed on to the parapet and sat there. It seemed the healthiest spot under the circumstance: anyhow, the air was pure. When I recovered I got down. What happened to 'A,' Bobby? I heard rumours, but hoped--"
"Go on," he said abruptly; and Bobby, more composed now, told his tale.
"A" Company, it appeared, had found themselves clinging grimly to the section of Fosse Alley which they had captured, with their left flank entirely in the air. Presently came an order. Further forward still, half-right, another isolated trench was being held by a portion of the Highland Brigade. These were suffering cruelly, for the German artillery had the range to a nicety, and convenient sapheads gave the German bombers easy access to their flanks. It is more than likely that this very trench had been constructed expressly for the inveiglement of a too successful attacking party. Certainly no troops could live in it for long. "A" Company were to go forward and support.
Captain Blaikie, passing word to his men to be ready, turned to Bobby.
"I'm a morose, dour, monosyllabic Scot, Bobbie," he said; "but this sort of thing bucks me up."
Next moment he was over the parapet and away, followed by his Company. In that long, steadily-advancing line were many of our friends. Mucklewame was there, panting heavily, and cannily commending his soul to Providence. Messrs. Ogg and Hogg were there, shoulder to shoulder. M'Ostrich, the Ulster visionary, was there, six paces ahead of any other man, crooning some Ironside canticle to himself. Next behind him came the reformed revolutionary, M'Slattery.
Straightway the enemy observed the oncoming reinforcements, and shrapnel began to fly. The men pressed on, at a steady double now. M'Ostrich was the first to go down. Game to the last, he waved encouragement to his mates with a failing arm as they passed over his body.
"Come along, boys!" cried Captain Blaikie, suddenly eloquent. "There is the trench! The other lads are waiting for you. Come along! Charge!"
The men needed no further bidding. They came on--with a ragged cheer--and assuredly would have arrived, but for one thing. Suddenly they faltered, and stopped dead.
Captain Blaikie turned to his faithful subaltern panting behind him.
"We are done in, Bobby," he said. "Look! Wire!"
He was right. This particular trench, it was true, was occupied by our friends; but it had been constructed in the first instance for the use of our enemies. Consequently it was wired, and heavily wired, upon the side facing the British advance.
|Who's On Your Reading List?
Read Classic Books Online for Free at
Page by Page Books.TM
|The First Hundred Thousand
Home | More Books | About Us | Copyright 2005