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BATTLE STORIES FROM THE
WEST FRONT. -
On the Menin Road. . ("Wide Bay News.")
"The old Han Knows he has got to go back," said ¿.wounded officer home from the Ypres sector. "He's been shelling the towns behind our lines.
You may think, that is hardly a con-, vincing reason, -but for men who know the trenches it js quite good enough. You see, if a. "town, gets "shelled by one side, then the other side retali- ates on some billeting centre behind the first side's lines, until he stops shelling. It just amounts to give and take. . We retailiate' with more than double the amount of shelling that the Hun is giving^us.',;, If he had any sense of. proportion . you would think that he would .stop his long range bombardments in order to save his
billets from being blown off the map. He doesn't, except when our.batteries smother his guns,,or our airmen get above him, as;,yery loftén happens.
The reason we put'to it is that he does not care a straw about what happens to his billets, because he knows that the billets won't be long in his possession. You ask any ot the other fellows and see if they don't
agree. .. . - . u_. ? : - .
: I got, wounded when we were marching out after being relieved. It's only a piece of shrapnel in the shoulder. My company was march- ing down the Menin road when a little shrapnel began" to burst over us. We just put our .helmets, squarely on our. heads and marched on. Wonder- ful things those helmets!
"Oh yes! We saw some, fighting. A counter-attack or- two., Our gunners were magnificent and thc men fought like veterans. That's all there is to
say about it. I really cannot remem- J ber anything else worth mentioning."
"I saw a tidy bit of clea.ning-up work done about a week ago," said.a
wounded Yorkshireman. "We had made a bit of an advance south bf the
Polygon, and a'few bf us had got on ahead of our flanking groups. .
"We took cover in shell-holes, wait- ing - for the line to straighten itself, when some Bosche in a smashed-up. farmhouse started, sniping up. Then they got a machine-gun into action and made themselves a. regular nui- sance, not only to us, "but to the fel- lows coming up on either side.
"A couple of rifle:brigade men were in my shell-hole, and they started on the Bosche. Youlhave possibly heard ; that every attacking unit, down to the
smallest, contains, a number of specialists, such as'.'Éombers, machine gunners, rifle grenadiers, and others.
I The range was pretty stiff, but the
; first try o.nly just fell short of a direct
hit. The next two jburst , right among them. Then it was" 'Kamerad, Kame- rad!' and the whole lot , surrendered. I don't blame them. The bag bf tricks we carry along with .us now to meet any sort of troublércbming .our way, is enough to put thc wind up old'Nick himself." - . .
? "I wasin the last: advance, up-the Ypres," said" another 'wounded man. "We were in position for attack, when the "Germans took the lead and at- tacked first They- - so , exhausted themselves that when we began our show they cduld Hardly put up a fight
at all. '. . .
"Their guns gave us the first warn- ing, of what they were up to, but ¡their barrage was so patchy in places that we got the idea nothing serious was going to happen. As things turned out it was ..not particularly serious, but the Germans made a very big attempt all the same. It was great to hear the rifles cracking above the roar of the guns.'., The Germans must have a pretty average idea of what Hell is like now,;those who escaped anyhow.
"We were* rather afraid that fresh troops would caine up and do the attack instead of-4is,".but we got the chance after all. I heard that a bat- talion which .had . suffered pretty heavily would not'let a relieving bat- talion take over its position, though possibly that is only a yarn. You see, the Germans had -received such a whacking in their counter-attack that all next day they left us pretty well alone, and we were able to get our wounded away and fresh stores up without having to worry much as to whether a machine-gun would be turned on a* or not It made as pretty certain that we had a set of thoroughly beaten fellows in front of us, and we naturally wanted to finish off what we had begun.
"Our barrage was awful. It was not only one line of fire. There were several different ; barrages ' at inter- vals, and sometimes they mixed up with each other,.,both shrapnel and high explosives, * until", you yourself were almost terrified ar thc sight of it I was about the-only casualty of my company. The stretcher bearers brought me downJmatediately,-but I saw our fellows reach their objective' first The Germans in front of us put up no fight at all. Our quick reply to their attack, and the weight of our gunfire bad been- tob much for them.
-.1 weir - WBoie,. ass-.. wa -nave y jp yiem.
I They - simply eaart ~ stand \ up ; to our
'Tm a roadman to trade," said a middle-aged sergeant with a ban- daged head, land I belonged to a pioneer battalion,, engaged in mend- ing roads. I was too old to join for
the trenches, sor I thought I would be doi.ug the bestowing by getting in as a navvy. But even at that it was hot
enough sometimes, especially the day
I got hitó"'-':;:^c;:-'^^í9ríi.'\::/:.'.y* 'v.-. ?
"We've been working hard on the roads round about Ypres ever since the first advanekthere...They were in an awful state- where" they crossed the trenches. ..It would have , broken the borough surveyor's heart if he had seen any of his roads cut up the way we found them, overby. We. are getting them back to shape, however, as quickly as the boys move forward: but it's no easy job, especially with such spongy ground to work with as j in Belgium.
"We block them up whh bricks and I logs at the,side, and then level the i surface out} hart, we. never know if the
job will hold until the first transport goes over.- Mind you, they would stand ordinary traffic all right, queer, as the soil is; but the lorries and guns going up every night would wear out the best laid track in -England. It's a case of a gang having to come along repairing what-we are busy laying down less^than a mik ahead of them.
"I was in charge of a gang on the Menin' road when, we - came in: for some heavy shelling. We've caught it pretty badly more than once, but this was the worst I had. seen. I got laid oat, and so I am here. They tell me I'm home for good, but I would not mind another spell of it. There's an awful lot of work to be done or those roads yet."