Life in the front trenches in 1917 (Memories of Lloyd W. Williams)

8 pm. Huns still very quiet:

“The cause of their silence must be investigated. Take out platoon sergeant and one man to see what mischief they are hatching. Empty my pockets in my dug-out, and put on appropriate dress for the occasion.

Wrap sandbags tightly round my puttees, don short oilskin coat without sleeves and wear cap comforter.

Then see my revolver is charged and in working order, and slip it into the holster on my belt.”

Finally, before going out we all slip two Mill’s Bombs with pins already straightened in the bottom pockets of our tunics.

We squeeze through our own wire without mishap, except that I succeeded in kicking a tin, but the noise did not seem to disturb the Boche, so after an interval we went on.

After crawling for what seems an eternity but is in reality only twenty minutes or so, a large mound of earth looms up in front about thirty yards or so away.

Hugging the ground closely we can distinctly see the helmeted head of a sentry against the sky.

Just as we were about to move closer he fires.The bullet raises a spurt of water in a pool just to our right. We all “freeze”, thinking he has spotted us. But in a few minutes he does the same again.

Apparently it is just a game of his own.

It is his method of keeping awake. He is also afflicted at intervals with a hacking cough.

My sergeant pulls a bomb out of his pocket, and asks me in a hoarse whisper if he can present the sufferer with what he calls “Mill’s Lightning Cough Cure”, but as our mission on this occasion is to hear and not to be heard, we resume our journey, giving the sap a wide berth, in the direction of the Hun wire.

Memories of Lloyd W. Williams

Additional tags: trenchs in 1917

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