A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 266

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THE BRITISH RETREAT


and when we were discovered in that way we always got a heavy artillery and rifle fire into us. Some of our lads got hit then, and where it was possible we carried them along with us, but we had no room for dead men, and if the wound was fatal we had to leave the victim to be buried by the Germans, or any other person with Christian charity. One night when we had been toiling along for hours, and were like to drop with fatigue, we ran right into a big party of horsemen posted near a wood. We thought they were Germans, for we couldn't make out the colour of the uniforms or anything else, till we heard someone sing out : " Where Ihe hell do you think you're goin^ to?" Then we knew we were with friends, and we didn’t mind their abuse. Well, as you know, we pulled through, but if the Germans had been worth their house room as soldiers we wouldn't have got off so easy as we did. After that things were a good deal quieter with us for a day or so, but we were soonatitagain. WewereinthefightatConipi6gne,butthe most awful work of all be^n on Sunday week, when we were postedtoresisttheGermanmarchonParis. Itwastouchand go with us, and, though we are pretty confident, I can tell you there were times when it looked as though they were going to bear us down again by their old trick of pouring qn endless streams of men and horses and guns to crush us by sheer brute force. Our infantry gave the Germans the soundest dressing down you ever saw. The fiercest fighting took place when the Germans tried to force their way across the nver at different poijits. As they came up to the fording points, every one of which was com- manded by our artillery and bodies of picked French and British riflemen, they were galled by the infantry fire, and we keptpluggingthemwithshells. Theyhadevidentlymadeup their minds to throw their pontoons across regardless of the cost, and when that's the case you can't do much. The first party got their pontoon into position nicely, and they came rushingacrossitlikeaswarmofbees. AshellfromtheFrench battery on our right dropped right on to them, and the bridge and its load went toppling into the river, being carried away downstream under a heavy rifle fire. The same thing went on the whole day, until we were sick of the sight, and mists were floating before our eyes, and shrieks were ringing in our ears. Only at one point did they manage to get across the river, and then they had to face a bayonet charge from the Allies' infantry, who rushed on them with rare joy and hurled them back into tlie river. It was here that a whole battalion of Germaninfantrywascaptured. Theysimplycouldn'tstand up against the rush of the men with the bayonet, and they threw down their arms in token of surrender.

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