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Action Front Boyd Cable

The Signalers

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The rear station spoke again and informed him that he had several urgent messages waiting. The forward signaler replied that he also had several messages, and one in particular was urgent above all others.

"The blanky line is being pushed in," he said. "No, it isn't pushed in yet--I didn't say it--I said being pushed in--being--being, looks like it will be pushed in--got that? The O.C. has' stopped one' and the second has taken command. This message I want you to take is shrieking for reenforcements--what? I can't hear--no I didn't say anything about horses--I did not. Reenforcements I said; anyhow, take this message and get it through quick."

He was interrupted by another terrific crash, a fresh and louder outburst of the din outside; running footsteps clattered and leaped down the stairs, the door flung open and the sergeant rushed in slamming the door violently behind him. He ran straight across to the recumbent figures and began violently to shake and kick them into wakefulness.

"Up with ye!" he said, "every man. If you don't wake quick now, you'll maybe not have the chance to wake at all."

The men rolled over and sat and stood up blinking stupidly at him and listening in amazement to the noise outside.

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"Rouse yourselves," he cried. "Get a move on. The Germans are almost on top of us. The front line's falling back. They'll stand here." He seized one or two of them and pushed them towards the door. "You," he said, "and you and you, get outside and round the back there. See if you can get a pickaxe, a trenching tool, anything, and break down that grating and knock a bigger hole in the window. We may have to crawl out there presently. The rest o' ye come with me an' help block up the door."

Through the din that followed, the telephonist fought to get his message through; he had to give up an attempt to speak it while a hatchet, a crowbar, and a pickaxe were noisily at work breaking out a fresh exit from the back of the cellar, and even after that work had been completed, it was difficult to make himself heard. He completed the urgent message for reenforcements at last, listened to some confused and confusing comments upon it, and then made ready to take some messages from the other end.

"You'll have to shout," he said, "no, shout--speak loud, because I can't 'ardly 'ear myself think--no, 'ear myself think. Oh, all sorts, but the shelling is the worst, and one o' them beastly airyale torpedoes. All right, go ahead."

The earpiece receiver strapped tightly over one ear, left his right hand free to use a pencil, and as he took the spoken message word by word, he wrote it on the pad of message forms under his hand. Under the circumstances it is hardly surprising that the message took a good deal longer than a normal time to send through, and while he was taking it, the signaler's mind was altogether too occupied to pay any attention to the progress of events above and around him. But now the sergeant came back and warned him that he had better get his things ready and put together as far as he could, in case they had to make a quick and sudden move.

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Action Front
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