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A Yankee in the Trenches R. Derby Holmes

A Trench Raid

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Jerry had done his man in and all hands piled into the trench.

Then we started to race along the traverses. We found a machine gun and put an eleven-pound high-explosive "Stokes" under it. Three or four Germans appeared, running down communication trenches, and the bombers sent a few Millses after them. Then we came to a dug-out door--in fact, several, as Fritz, like a woodchuck, always has more than one entrance to his burrow. We broke these in in jig time and looked down a thirty-foot hole on a dug-out full of graybacks. There must have been a lot of them. I could plainly see four or five faces looking up with surprised expressions.

Blofeld chucked in two or three Millses and away we went.

A little farther along we came to the entrance of a mine shaft, a kind of incline running toward our lines. Blofeld went in it a little way and flashed his light. He thought it was about forty yards long. We put several of our remaining Stokeses in that and wrecked it.

Turning the corner of the next traverse, I saw Jerry drop his rifle and unlimber his persuader on a huge German who had just rounded the corner of the "bay." He made a good job of it, getting him in the face, and must have simply caved him in, but not before he had thrown a bomb. I had broken my bayonet prying the dug-out door off and had my gun up-ended--clubbed.

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When I saw that bomb coming, I bunted at it like Ty Cobb trying to sacrifice. It was the only thing to do. I choked my bat and poked at the bomb instinctively, and by sheer good luck fouled the thing over the parapet. It exploded on the other side.

"Blimme eyes," says Jerry, "that's cool work. You saved us the wooden cross that time."

We had found two more machine guns and were planting Stokeses under them when we heard the Lewises giving the recall signal. A good gunner gets so he can play a tune on a Lewis, and the device is frequently used for signals. This time he thumped out the old one--"All policemen have big feet." Rat-a-tat-tat--tat, tat.

It didn't come any too soon.

As we scrambled over the parapet we saw a big party of Germans coming up from the second trenches. They were out of the communication trenches and were coming across lots. There must have been fifty of them, outnumbering us five or six to one.

We were out of bombs, Jerry had lost his rifle, and mine had no "ammo." Blofeld fired the last shot from his revolver and, believe me, we hooked it for home.

We had been in their trenches just three and a half minutes.

Just as we were going through their wire a bomb exploded near and got Jerry in the head. We dragged him in and also the two men that had been clicked on the first fire. Jerry got Blighty on his wound, but was back in two months. The second time he wasn't so lucky. He lies now somewhere in France with a wooden cross over his head.

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A Yankee in the Trenches
R. Derby Holmes

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