THE "BIG PUSH."
♦ OUR GUNNERS' WORK AT NEUVE CHAPELLE. SONG OF THE SHELLS.
On March 2nd the "Evening News" published from the pen of an officer of the koyal Artillery a detailed account of tbe capture of a position known as "The Hollow," by the Coldstream Guards. The affair, though it was described in tbe offioial bulletin in a three line paragraph, provided one of the most thrilling stories of the war. Below is an account by tbe same writer of the fighting in Neuve Chapelle : —
"I'll tell you about pur own share of tbe Bhow tbat ran about La Basse and Neuve Cbapeiie. For us the first excitement began on the 9th. I was out observing for my battery that day, and it was just one of tbe ordinary quite days we've bad most of the time for months backjust a crackling fire from the forward trenches, punctuated by the boom of guns and shells whistling up overhead and crashing amongst tbe ruin* of a village or amongst the trenches. After dark on tbe night 1 went to the headquarters of the "Feet" in the treaohes, Their colonel bad just come from G H Q , and he brought great news with him. There was a big move on tbe board and no doubts of it. We were booked for a big bombardment next day. Printed slips were passed to 0 O.s to pass to company com* manders to be read to the men, and the whole lines that night weit a bubble with excitement and speculation. Always and finally tbe guessing and arguments eatne round to the great question, "Is it the ad. vanoe? Is it the real thing? Is it the 'Big Push' at last ?" THE CURTAIN RISES.
Tbe performance was timed io commence at 7 80 a.m. on the 10th, but when I turned out early I found a thic,k mist blotting out everything a hundred yards off, at. d began to won*
der whether that would postpone ibe start I talked over the 'pbone (o the IftHan, aod the major told me Ihere was no chnngo cf orders, and, prompt to limp, bnrg wtnt Ihe first gun, and b.fcre tbe errsb of Ibe .bell bnrß ing in tbe enemy lines camp buck, boom, boom, tbe others j. mcd in. In less than a minute tbe game was in full swing, and tbe uproar astonished tvi n rum-lyes. Tbo air overhead was twanging and v : bra>ing to the sbripking rn.b of a conslant
stream of shells, and from rut rf Ibe
mist there came quick and .apt Ihe crack of tbe sbrapn.i, and Ibe riving, shattering c>ash of tbe bursting lyddite. Presently one caught a * new note in tbe song of tbe shell? overhead, and crash, era— asb, down came a bunch of shells within twenty j or thirty yards of my post, and alorg tbe line of our trenches I could beer the sharper clash tbat dWinguiibes the sound of an exploding .hell from the roar of a gun. The mist cleared slowly, and then we could see some - thing of the work tbe shells were doing.
THE HIDDEN HUNS
As far as I could sco in front and to either fide (be German linos were a popple.with smoke and earth bursts* and fire flashes. Not a sign of life could I see The Germans were lying ulose and deep in the deepest boles they could find—and small blame to them. Then my relief came up, ard I bad to band over and get back to tbe battery ( On the way I saw sons of tbe early fruits of Ibe day—the casualties on their way out to tbe dressing stations and hospitalp, tbe Red Cross motors crawling back at tl a slow pace tbat tells of a full freight tbat must be bumped and shaken rs little as possible, the empty ones rar. ing and tearing back towards the firing line for a fresh load. Back with the guns it was comparatively peaceful. Everything there seemed to be raetho dical and businesslike. The rate of fire was more leisurely now, and tie six guns were only firing about three rounds a minute, A gun was loaded, and tbe gunners waited quietly for the word to fire, while sf ction officers watched the secon d band of their wristlet watches. "Fire I" and the gun shot out a long tongue of flume, recoiled violently on its buffer springs, and slid smoothly back to the position, THE BATTERY MOVES.
Late in the afternoon a message came through from headquarters tbat considerable success had attended tbe operations, Then later came another message—the battery would move at once to a point indicated and there await orders. Moving guns under fire is a nasty bit of business, but tbe horses moved quietly to their places and stood there while tbe guns W6re booked to tbe limbers, and out they moved one by one. We marched the most of the night, back from our posi tion, and then into side roads tbat twisted in again and carried us along a line parallel to the front. There
was no mistaking the front, for all along its length the sky was lit up by Ibe fl'ckeiing rtilpctious of rifle fire, and the quick blaze of guns, while eveiy minute or two a star sbell shot up nnfl bur. t into blazing white light, again=t wbiih the trees and hedges nt.d ibe fkyline of tbe crest stood out bard and black. It was Neuve Cbnpelle way we were moving, and Ibe rrajor's wmd was tbat we were moving into action Bgain at once. Yon may imagine tbe gueseirg, the merooty fimiblirgs for Ihe places and positions on the map, and Ibe curves ard twials of tbe front. THE INDIAN LANCERS.
. The site of a clump of Indian i oavalry waiting mounted at the road r side with their long lancerp, packing ; out against tbe shy started . a fresh • flood cf speculation and fanoy pictures, i The major wont on ahead to find tbe battery's new position, and we fol lowrd slowly along the troop and transport cowded road We werp past tbe line of* our heavy guns now, and tteir flash and bang were bthind us Some heavy German shell, roared over and burst in tbe field?, find the rattle of rifle fire and tbe (hud thud of guns was nearer arid clearer. Tbe whole thing was more like tie pictures of the war artists than any thing I've seen here, and when at last we began to crawl through shell smashed houses, tbe gaunt rafters and broken walls standing out grim and desolate against the fire fksbing sky reflections, we knew we were "fairly in it" again, and it looked liko hot and bloody work abead. Tbe major came buck and said Ibe position was close abead He _aid other things, too, and when we came to our road to tbe "pofition" and Ibe position itself we all said things nearly as bad as tbe major's. We left tbe road, and went fumbling down a narrow cart track across the fields. DIGGING IN. It was deep in sticky mud, aud off it tbo wheels sank in bub deep. Ore wagon went off, and it took donblt teams, drag ropes with as many men as could cluster on tbemi and the i wheels, and a good balf hour's sw.at ing hard work to regain Ihe firmer track and allow the rest of ibe battery to move on. Tired and all as wo all all bands turned, to with pick and spade to "dig the guns in." The teams went jingling off into the dark ness, Ihe guns were man handled and dragged and hauled into position, shelter pits were dug and cover spaded up round the guns, a forward position ] was selected, and tho connecting telephone wires reeled out and tbe inßtru ment fixed. Tbe spasmodic fire of tbe night brisked up again, and almost before our preparations were complete tbe orders began to come in and our ] guns began to talk. For most of (he rest of the day we were in action, backing up the infantry or breaking up tbe counter attacks that were thrown by tbe Germans at their lost ' positions. In the intervals of firing '
the gunners dozed at their posts or crept into the dugouts and slept, deep, de.piteN.bj roaring guns and tbe shriekiDg, crashing shells.
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THE "BIG PUSH.", Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume LXXIV, Issue 3461, 28 May 1915
THE "BIG PUSH." Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume LXXIV, Issue 3461, 28 May 1915
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