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Action Front Boyd Cable

The Signalers

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Now the O.C., be it noted, had already had a report that the telephone wire was cut; but he still scribbled his note, sent his message, and thereafter put the matter out of his mind. He did not know how or in what fashion the message would be sent; but he did know the Signaling Company, and that was sufficient for him.

In this he was doing nothing out of the usual. There are many commanders who do the same thing, and this, if you read it aright, is a compliment to the signaling companies beyond all the praise of General Orders or the sweet flattery of the G.O.C. despatch--the men who sent the messages put them out of their mind as soon as they were written and handed to an orderly with a curt order, "Signaling company to send that."

You at home who slip a letter into the pillar box, consider it, allowing due time for its journey, as good as delivered at the other end; by so doing you pay an unconscious compliment to all manners and grades of men, from high salaried managers down to humble porters and postmen. But the somewhat similar compliment that is paid by the men who send messages across the battlefield is paid in the bulk to one little select circle; to the animal brawn and blood, the spiritual courage and devotion, the bodies and brains, the pluck and perseverance, the endurance, the grit and the determination of the signaling companies.

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When the sergeant took his message and glanced through it, he pursed his lips in a low whistle and asked the signaler to copy while he went and roused three messengers. His quick glance through the note had told him, even without the O.C.'s message, that it was to the last degree urgent that the message should go back and be delivered at once and without fail; therefore he sent three messengers, simply because three men trebled the chances of the message getting through without delay. If one man dropped, there were two to go on; if two fell, the third would still carry on; if he fell--well, after that the matter was beyond the sergeant's handling; he must leave it to the messenger to find another man or means to carry on the message.

The telephonist had scribbled a copy of the note to keep by him in case the wire was mended and the message could be sent through after the messengers started and before they reached the other end. The three received their instructions, drew their wet coats about their shivering shoulders, relieved their feelings in a few growled sentences about the dog's life a man led in that company, and departed into the wet night.

The sergeant came back, re-read the message and discussed it with the signaler. It said: "Heavy attack is developing and being pressed strongly on our center a-a-a.[Footnote: Three a's indicate a full stop.] Our losses have been heavy and line is considerably weakened a-a-a. Will hold on here to the last but urgently request that strong reinforcements be sent up if the line is to be maintained a-a-a. Additional artillery support would be useful a-a-a."

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Action Front
Boyd Cable

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