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Over The Top Arthur Guy Empey

Preparing For The Big Push

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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.

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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.

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Over The Top
Arthur Guy Empey

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