A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 265

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THE RIFLEMAN'S STORY


explosion of a shell, and all tlio rest is a blank. I came to on the train with other wounded. Lucky thing I didn’t get the full benefit of that shell. At one place during the retirement an English airman flew overtheGermanlinesthreetimes. Heseemedtodoitfor devilment. Hewasoutofriflerange,buttheGermanswere shellinghimforalltheywereworth. Thatairmanseemedto have a charmed life. I saw a fine “scrap” in the air between aBritishandaGermanaeroplane. TheBritishairmancan moveaboutquickerandhasamuchgreaterspeed. Thisis partly due to the fact that the German machines are armoured underneath. TheEnglishairmangotabovetheGermanand theyhadafightforaboutaquarterofanhour. Ourman emptied his revolver into the German, who kept trying to get out of his way, but could not owing to the Englishman’s speed. The German then seemed to plane dowfl in good order, but when he got to the ground he v/as dead. One of our wounded officers was given a glass of water by a German officer. It so happened that next day the German officerwashimselfwounded. Hewasbroughtintoourhospital and put in a bed next to that which was occupied by the British oflicer to whom he bad given a drink the previous day. Another curious incident was that of a German soldier in civilian* clothes who came into our lines. He told us that he was formerly a waiter at the Hotel Cecil, and said he was tired ‘ offightingandwantedtogivehimselfup. Hewasquitealone. Wehadanarrowescapeoneday. TheGermanssurprisedus by occupying,*in overwhelming numbers, a ridge opposite to where we were. We thought it was all up with us. Suddenly there was some firing on our right. We thought they were marc Germans, but they proved to be two divisions of French troops, although wc didn’t know they were there. The more gruesome side is vividly described by yet another participant. Referringtotheretreatasa“nightmare,”inwhich no very clear impression of the order 6f events was retained, he compared his feelings with those of a madman, after a serious illness, being forced towards the edge of a precipice. My battery, he says, were on the move from August i8 to 30 without rest, and from the Sunday when we were attacked at;» Mons until the following Sunday not one of us in \ho battery felt as if we had had a wink of sleep. It was bad enough through the day, fighting the repeated atucks of the Germans, V>ut it was worse at night, when we liad to pick our way- throughunknowncountry. Theroadswerebad,andwecould not show lights for fear of serving as a guide to the German gunners, who were always hovering around. Now and then- their searchlights played full on to us as we struggled along,

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