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Over The Top Arthur Guy Empey

Gas Attacks And Spies

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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.

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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 equipment.

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 face.

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.

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Over The Top
Arthur Guy Empey

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