ROYAL ARTILLERY IN FLANDERS.
VIVID AND DESCRIPTIVE ACCOUNT.
"OBSERVER'S" RISKY WORK,
A second Lieutenant " Observer " of the Royal Artillery gives the following intersting and descriptive account of the artillery's work on the Western front. The letter comes through tba " Field " Post Office, and is stamped witb ths censor's stamp as "passed by the oensor." The letter is dated February 21st, 1915, and is as follows :—
"I was up in the trenches when 1 got your letter. We (subaltern officers) go up there every second or third day as " forward observing, officers" for the battery to "observe* our shells and correct and direct the fire on to good targets per p#one to the battery. Now, this I may tell you, is a most hairraising and risky job, and I spend my 24 hours at it (don't tell anybody) in a perpetual state of indigo blue funk. The positions we select' as "observing stations" have to be right bang up in front. The guns, of aouree, are concealed behind somewhere, and aim by various calculations of angles, &a, &o, while we P. 0.0 'c phone back to increase or shorten range, aim so many degrees or minutes right or left and so on. Now our observing stations, to give us 8 clear view of oar targets, ("Germs" and their trenches &o) must also be clearly in view of the enemy and exposed to everything aimed at us and a goodieh share of what is aimed at other people and misses them, The confounded 'phone wire, too, keeps getting cut by bullets and shrapnel, and this means dodging out and repairing it under fire. Again tbo roads to and from the trenches usually get a good dusting with shells from* the "Germs," who, I suppose, hope to "lob" them in on supports and reliefs coming and going between the trenohes end reserve stations. So you see the forward officers get their full whack of all that's going. There's only one compensation, and that is that we get » "front seat in tbo show, and actually see more of the fighting at close quarters than any men in the army, THE SHAMBLES OF WAR,
But to come back to your letter—all the foregoing being a sort of digression to explain the "whereforneae of the why." I was F. 0.0., and your letter was sent up in the afternoon with my ration and blanket. We'd had a very hot day's work, and my performance had started with me doubling along tbe road to trenches with beastly shells Gmack-orashing in the air and on tbe road. We had some attacks and German counter , attacks, while I "observed," and these took plaos from and on trenches right beside and below car "post" (said post by tbe way wa? a half.wrecked house—l say was because it is no longer). It was shelled to rubble that , day, and I just managed to slip out in time. While the attacks were on it was desperately interesting and exciting, but in between wh'les I bad the highly uncomfortable job of squinting through a broken tiled roof, while tbe "Germ" guns shelled our Uenches and slapped an occasional hatful of shrapnel through my long suffering roof. The wire was out twice, and while repairing it a shell juet missed me, the windage lifting me off my feet and throwing me down wallop. T'other time we oouid'nt find the break, and
had to squat down behind a bit of wall, and talk to the battery, while one gun kepi bumping one big shell after the other down on the same spot about ten yards from me. I was cold sweating with scare at first, but nfter tbe first dozen or co burst without touch ing me 1 began to feel highly satisfied that I was in a cafe piece. Then three infantry were caught jnst as they passed me, and my satisfaction vanished quick time. That wasn't nearly all tbe day's performance, but I told you enough, I think, to give you the sense of the day. I read your letter in the eeMnr whnre the in , fantry headqurateis were. "Germs" were still eheliiog, but our guns had stopped, so I was having a spell off, Now you understand I'd been dodging round for untold ages in shell fire and rifle bullets doing the Im , perial Caesar at a gladiator show, with men bombing and bayonetting each other under !my eyes, switching my battery's guns to this point and that, and watohing their shells blowing lumps out of the German trenches, and their shrapnel sweeping the German stormers. I'd eat in an attio with rows of dead and dying men laid out in lines running from just below me for 300 or iOOyde. I'd been scared to death a score of times, and each time resurrected and revived just in time to be soared stiff again and I'd finished up by watching our casualties dead and wounded—carried back. The whole thing was filthy anfl muddy end bloody, horrible and horrifying, indecent and ugly and morbid, and my whole world had been bombed on ihe north by beasily butchery, on the south by butohering beasts, on the enat by bellowing German guns, and on the w«3t by louder bellowing British.
Permanent link to this item
ROYAL ARTILLERY IN FLANDERS., Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume LXXIV, Issue 3464, 4 June 1915
ROYAL ARTILLERY IN FLANDERS. Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume LXXIV, Issue 3464, 4 June 1915
Using This Item
Akaroa Mail Co is the copyright owner for the Akaroa Mail. You can reproduce in-copyright material from this newspaper for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons New Zealand BY-NC-SA licence . This newspaper is not available for commercial use without the consent of Akaroa Mail Co. For advice on reproduction of out-of-copyright material from this newspaper, please refer to the Copyright guide.