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LIFE IN THE TRENCHES

EXPERIENCES OF A NEW ZEALANDER

IN THE FIRING UNE "WHAT A CHASTLY, CALLOUS BUSINESS THIS WAR IS'." Lieutenant W. 0. Berryman, kite of Oxford, North, Canterbury—a son of Mr. H. G. Berryman, of Stanley Downs, Ivohatu, Nelson —is now at the front with his regiment, the First . Royal Dragoons, which is attached to the 3rd British Cavalry Squadron. Writing to his father from France,. under dat© of December 12, Lieutenant Berryman says. Socnes In France. We are about ten miles behind; the firing line at present, and can hear the big guns every day- The firing line consists of a.series of trenches extending from the North Sea-to Switzerland, I and tho whole battle is worked like two opposition business houses.. In our reserve trenches we' have huts, with electric light, baths, water, etc., laid on and our men are very comfortable. The feeding is excellent. The roads'all over France are one mass of great motorlorries, incessantly running from port to base aiid base to depot and firing linn Buses from London, with suburban names and advertisements on them run alongside Red Cross motors and big Rolls-Royce cars. It reminds one of a very-busy .town, everything being in transport. Every market square in all the villages is full of heaps of fodder, hay, petrol, stores ; and mails, and alongside relays of mo torvans,to transport same. The first peculiarity you notice is that the traffio all goes on the opposite side of the road to English traffio. Tho rule here is to keep to the right, and it is surprising how the English bus-dvivers so soon get into the ways of the country. They are a fine, hard-toiling lot. Their hours are very long, and they have a very cold job. ' ; .

Our mails come very regularly, and men in the trendies get the' "Daily Mail" of the previous day every morning. Our .officers get leave occasionally and go to London—a six hours' run —and come back next day. It seems, so absurd to our old- ideas of a. battle, where every man is imagined as being hard at it, to find that whole divisions .and battalions are spelled alternately, sometimes for:a month a.nd even longer. After the last" engagement in the trenches we were relieved by another division, and then marched'l2 miles back to these billets, to our horses, and have stayed here since, putting in mounted drill and entrenohing work, tye make r very secure trenches with over-head covering and foot 'gratings, and cover the miiole with sods to'seBemble mound,; and our trenches are all connected. For instance: We have a fire trench in front, then a connecting trench, and then a reserve trench, and so on-back: as far as you like.

Th 9 latest Thing In War. The latest thing in war happened last vraek. We brought some Garnish and Welsh miners into the trenches, and they sank a mine and dug right through to the enemies' trenches, and laid & live mine, and at 9.30 next day the whole trench of the enemies ipas blown, up, and everyone in it 6ent to glory. As showing what a ghastly, callous business this war is, I might mention that the mine was to have been fired in the afternoon, but some visitors from London were-expected to motor up,to the lines next nioriung, and the whole thing was' postponed ■ till 'them, and was a great success. The visitors and General Headquarters Staff, after witnessing this calmly motored off to lunch.' This will give .you some' idea of what a business this war really is. There is no. sport about it, very little individual tactics, practically no cavalry work or manoeuvring, but pure-' ly a question of mass against mass-— one mass trying to find a weak spot in the other's lines, and hurling masses and masses of men on one spot. The German big guns are excellent, and it is a toss up between the Allies and the Germans as to big shooting. The Gennans have a marvellous system of spying, and get hold of our positions most accurately, and know exactly where we are and who we axe. The other day, in the trench opposite ours (about 150 yards off) the Gennans noticed a fresh regiment relieving the men in our trenches, and one of them (a German) yelled out: "Don't go away — E-— (naming the regiment), we like your shooting 1"

Deadly Sniping, The German rifle shooting is "rotten." They don't rely much on it, except their snipers. Quite fifty per cent, of our officers have bepn kijled by snip-' ers.or shells. _ The snipers tje themselves and their rifles in trees and pick off officers. Their shooting is most deadly. One sniper got ten of our men and officers one day before he was brought down. Now we have sniping troops, and hope to get our revenge. It is a..very "risky ganiQj and w© doii t al-1 low any married dGH, or any mail ©n•oumbered in any way to join the "snipersl' troops." Some of our officers aro excellent ■ shots, and all splendidly trained. Most of them speak French, can do telegraphy, andTead Morse cods. Our men all learn semaphre signalling. Imagine this in a cavalry regiment and having to dig trenohes. I put m my first trench to-day, and although 1 have hot had any instruction in entrenching, the O.C. complimented me on_the whqle work don? by my troop, and sent the other officers and non-commissioned officers to see it. . . Aeroplanes are soaring above at au times, and we have now learnt to dis* tinguish the different types. A «®'°- man aeroplane dropped a bomb not far from here last week, near the railway station, and filled 16 people. I luckily arrived at the station next day.. The different. nations have their respective flags on the bottom wing of the aeroplane and the are all bent back ait the tips of the wings. It takes a good shot to bring down an aeroplane, but our artillery is very deadly, 'lie aeroplane usually catches afire after being hit, and the oocupants jump out to drop to earth.

The New Army. Our depot (Cavalry) is about SO miles back, and there are thousands of horses and men in reserve, and all the hospitals and ambulance vans. Baxik in England is Kitchener's army, and many Territorial Tegiments. The new army ■is a splendid force, and is imposed ofmuch smarter men than _ the old Kegulars. In fact, it is distinctly given ou that "We don't want any old soldier games" amongst the men. Ihe rew army is drawn from a good class -wealthy men and Well-educated young fellows are serving m the iauKb. The whole business of; this war is run oa i ati estremely businesslike footing, and one of the strongest points, « nd most guarded, is discipline. Needless to say, tlio discipline of the bn.Juh i "Tommies" is excellent. ! The final issue is, of course t.eyot.d doubt and although I don't believe we nor th 9 Russians shall, ever get to Lerlin, the German nation will be such -a crippled Power after another year of this, that war in any shape or form between the Powers will not again be heard of in this century. •

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/DOM19150222.2.37

Bibliographic details

LIFE IN THE TRENCHES, Dominion, Volume 8, Issue 2391, 22 February 1915

Word Count
1,205

LIFE IN THE TRENCHES Dominion, Volume 8, Issue 2391, 22 February 1915

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