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A Yankee in the Trenches R. Derby Holmes

Back On The Somme Again

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When that eight days of carrying was over, we were so fed up that we didn't care whether we clicked or not. Maybe it was good mental preparation for what was to come, for on top of it all it turned out that we were to go over the top in another big attack.

When we got that news, I got Dinky out and scolded him. Maybe I'd better tell you all about Dinky before I go any farther. Soldiers are rather prone to superstitions. Relieved of all responsibility and with most of their thinking done for them, they revert surprisingly quick to a state of more or less savage mentality. Perhaps it would be better to call the state childlike. At any rate they accumulate a lot of fool superstitions and hang to them. The height of folly and the superlative invitation to bad luck is lighting three fags on one match. When that happens one of the three is sure to click it soon.

As one out of any group of three anywhere stands a fair chance of "getting his", fag or no fag, the thing is reasonably sure to work out according to the popular belief. Most every man has his unlucky day in the trenches. One of mine was Monday. The others were Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

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Practically every soldier carries some kind of mascot or charm. A good many are crucifixes and religious tokens. Some are coins. Corporal Wells had a sea shell with three little black spots on it. He considered three his lucky number. Thirteen was mine. My mascot was the aforesaid and much revered Dinky. Dinky was and is a small black cat made of velvet. He's entirely flat except his head, which is becomingly round with yellow glass eyes. I carried Dinky inside my tunic always and felt safer with him there. He hangs at the head of my bed now and I feel better with him there. I realize perfectly that all this sounds like tommyrot, and that superstition may be a relic of barbarism and ignorance. Never mind! Wellsie sized the situation up one day when we were talking about this very thing.

"Maybe my shell ayen't doin' me no good," says Wells. "Maybe Dinky ayen't doin' you no good. But 'e ayen't doin' ye no 'arm. So 'ang on to 'im."

I figure that if there's anything in war that "ayen't doin' ye no 'arm", it is pretty good policy to "'ang on to it."

It was Sunday the eighth day of October that the order came to move into what was called the "O.G.I.", that is, the old German first line. You will understand that this was the line the Boches had occupied a few days before and out of which they had been driven in the Big Push. In front of this trench was Eaucort Abbaye, which had been razed with the aid of the tanks.

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A Yankee in the Trenches
R. Derby Holmes

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