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A Yankee in the Trenches R. Derby Holmes

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My impressions of the rest of that night are, for the most part, vague and indistinct; but in spots they stand out clear and vivid. The first thing I knew definitely was when Smith bent over me, cutting the sleeve out of my tunic.

"It's a Blighty one," says Smithy. That was some consolation. I was back in the shell hole, or in another, and there were five or six other fellows piled in there too. All of them were dead except Smith and a man named Collins, who had his arm clean off, and myself. Smith dressed my wound and Collins', and said:

"We'd better get out of here before Fritz rushes us. The attack was a ruddy failure, and they'll come over and bomb us out of here."

Smith and I got out of the hole and started to crawl. It appeared that he had a bullet through the thigh, though he hadn't said anything about it before. We crawled a little way, and then the bullets were flying so thick that I got an insane desire to run and get away from them. I got to my feet and legged it. So did Smith, though how he did it with a wounded thigh I don't know.

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The next thing I remember I was on a stretcher. The beastly thing swayed and pitched, and I got seasick. Then came another crash directly over head, and out I went again. When I came to, my head was as clear as a bell. A shell had burst over us and had killed one stretcher bearer. The other had disappeared. Smith was there. He and I got to our feet and put our arms around each other and staggered on. The next I knew I was in the Cough Drop dressing station, so called from the peculiar formation of the place. We had tea and rum here and a couple of fags from a sergeant major of the R.A.M.C.

After that there was a ride on a flat car on a light railway and another in an ambulance with an American driver. Snatches of conversation about Broadway and a girl in Newark floated back, and I tried to work up ambition enough to sing out and ask where the chap came from. So far I hadn't had much pain. When we landed in a regular dressing station, the M.O. gave me another going over and said,

"Blighty for you, son." I had a piece of shrapnel or something through the right upper arm, clearing the bone and making a hole about as big as a half dollar. My left shoulder was full of shrapnel fragments, and began to pain like fury. More tea. More rum. More fags. Another faint. When I woke up the next time, somebody was sticking a hypodermic needle into my chest with a shot of anti-lockjaw serum, and shortly after I was tucked away in a white enameled Red Cross train with a pretty nurse taking my temperature. I loved that nurse. She looked sort of cool and holy.

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A Yankee in the Trenches
R. Derby Holmes

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