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Action Front Boyd Cable

The Signalers

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When he had sent that message, he took off and wrote down one or two others from the signaling station he was in touch with. His own station, it will be remembered, was close up to the forward firing line, a new firing line which marked the limits of the advance made that morning. The station he was connected with was back in rear of what, previous to the attack, had been the British forward line. Between the two the thin insignificant thread of the telephone wire ran twisting across the jumble of the trenches of our old firing line, the neutral ground that had lain between the trenches, and the other maze of trench, dug-out, and bomb-proof shelter pits that had been captured from the enemy. Then in the middle of sending a message, the wire went dead, gave no answer to repeated calls on the "buzzer." The sergeant, called to consultation, helped to overlook and examine the instrument. Nothing could be found wrong with it, but to make quite sure the fault was not there, a spare instrument was coupled on to a short length of wire between it and the old one. They carried the message perfectly, so with curses of angry disgust the wire was pronounced disconnected, or "disc," as the signaler called it.

This meant that a man or men had to be sent out along the line to find and repair the break, and that until this was done, no telephone message could pass between that portion of the forward line and the headquarters in the rear. The situation was the more serious, inasmuch as this was the only connecting line for a considerable distance along the new front. A corporal and two men took a spare instrument and a coil of wire, and set out on their dangerous journey.

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The break of course had been reported to the O.C., and after that there was nothing more for the signaler at the dead instrument to do, except to listen for the buzz that would come back from the repair party as they progressed along the line, tapping in occasionally to make sure that they still had connection with the forward station, their getting no reply at the same time from the rear station being of course sufficient proof that they had not passed the break.

Twice the signaler got a message, the second one being from the forward side of the old neutral ground in what had been the German front line trench; the report said also that fairly heavy fire was being maintained on the open ground. After that there was silence.

When the signaler had time to look about him, to light a cigarette and to listen to the uproar of battle that filtered down the cellar steps and through the closed door, he spoke to the sergeant about the noise, and the sergeant agreed with him that it was getting louder, which meant either that the fight was getting hotter or coming closer. The answer to their doubts came swiftly to their hands in the shape of a note from the O.C., with a message borne by the orderly that it was to be sent through anyhow or somehow, but at once.

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Action Front
Boyd Cable

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