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Over The Top Arthur Guy Empey


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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."

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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.

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Over The Top
Arthur Guy Empey

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