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ARMS AND THE MAN, Dominion, Volume 8, Issue 2431, 9 April 1915
ARMS AND THE MAN
TRENTHAM CAMP AS IT IS ~ HARD WORK & WILLING BAUDS FRENCH WARFARE & HAND GRENADES . ">' ■A GENERAL SURVEY
'Merrily rose the lark. and shook the [fflewdrop from its wing at Trentham yesterday morning, but it was hardly with i-hc same feelings that the whole camp Vas roused' from its hard-earned sleep by tho blast of a buglo sounding the Ji re-alarm at a. few minutes past'five. '"Fire!" "Firel" tho cry went from Iciit to tent, midst a. babel of inquiry. ?yjama-clad figures stood round shiverug, aiid in the grey light. "Whore if lie fire, anyway?" "What sort of a ;ame is this?" "What's .the time?'' ,'Who said it was a night alarm?" ''Where's the smoke?'' "Whose joke is it?"' ."Nice'game this is!" Rubbing ;ho lingering' sleep "out -of - their eyes, fnen of .-the infantry, engineers, artillery, ind army corps made their way to the camp's Broadway, and there it was related that the chimney of one of the Officers' mess-rooms had been.on fire or pretty well oil .fire. By this time it .was getting on towards "Reveille I" V-5.30 a.m.), too late to turn in again tor another snooze, so the whole camp .went and had its wash and shavo, to the accompaniment of language too expressive for publication. It was really 100 bad. The cold bit to the bone, and X good fire might have had its compensations. , So low was the temperature ?t Trentham yesterday morning that Ihero were traces of thin ice found near 'the camp, and one sergeant found his tooth-brush bristles consolidated in a eolid block, after he returned from the
' 'fire." The same sergeant was consulted about the lark that may have shook the dew-drop from its wing, and he said it would have been impossible until aftor sun-up. He was a person of no imagination. A Brilliant Day. 'J'iic fire alarm was the prelude to a Brilliant day. Trentham never looked rairer, the air never smelled sweeter, md there never was so transparent an atmosphere for the gaining; of impressions. If the dawn of Spring in the ■North of France be half as exhilarating as 'a perfect Autumn day at Trentljam, then campaigning, even in this devastating war, will have its compensations for the impressionable. In this favoured cradle of our own littlo army, small time _ is there meditate over the beauties of Nature. It is the town of "Never Rest," surrounded by the suburbs of "Gee-up," "Get Along," and Wideftwakeville." Away down the line appears the straggling population of "Look-out" and "Mind Your Eye," represented by squads of soiled-looking men dashing over a hill-top with arms at the trail, whilst if one looks close, forms may be seen creeping' through tlie fern and scrub, squinting along a barrel-in the hopes of sniping tho enemy. There's no brass band and gold iaco about this game. Well-washed blue. "Denims" do not make for smartness — they smack of work, «n<l t.bnt's what the gamo is. Work! Work! Work! From icy inorn to dewy eve. And what 'i tonic it is? • What a wonderful thing it would be if Wellington were peopled by- suet a lean, brown, wiry-looking lot men as these toilers in dungaree! It 5s not fair to say that one set of men Is better than another. Political speechir.akers have spread themselves in _ a gradual crescendo as to the successive 'i pin forcemeats that havo been sent from New Zealand that one can only conclude that the main body consisted of pygmies and incpts. Still the, Fourth are a great lot, with stamina -writ large all over them, and when they go tho authorities must give them a march through the City—that is due to the men who havo been'raising condition at •Trentham for the past three months, .
- ■ In Canvas-Town, t At 11 a m.the camp is practically denuded of troops, but is not ill the least degree dull or placid. There is "plenty doing in Broadway." There canvas is giving place to corrugated iron. Winter is coming with giant strides, and the troops who will be in camp must be entertained, rationally, so wo have the spectacle-of 1 the Y.M.C.A., Salvation 'Army, • Presbyterians, etc., doubling their hall accommodation, whilst the. Roman Catholics'and Methodists are putting up substantial iron structures in the centre of the camp, in which meetings, concerts, services, etc., will be held nightly. The competition is so keen in this regard that our "Tommies" can fairly anticipate that the long winter evenings to be will not be without their distractions: The Hutments. Thero are two . model hutments ereoted in the camp as a pattern for con-, tractors—one to. accommodate • 100 troops, the other ten officers. They are each unlined corrugated iron structures. That for the men is 140 ft. by 23ft., with a wooden floor, and a malthoid lining to the roof (held up by wire-netting) t<i catch the damp- duo to the condensation' of the air. This '' building is without a partition of any kind. The officers' hutment, has a central passage, with four or five, doorless cubicles opening out on each side, and_ a make-shift lavatory at the end opposite to the door. The officers inhabiting it have no complaints to make—it is infinitely more comfortable than living in a tent. ■ Thirty-five hutments for the men are to be erected by contract in six weeks. "I don't know how anyone is going to build six of them a week," said one builder yesterday. "First there's a difficulty' about- labour, and P don't think'they'll be able to get the iron in Wellington!" That, after all, is the contractors' look-out. As for the labour required, it was noticed yesterday that the hall of one denomination was being erected with the aid of trooper labour. The new Methodist Hall which is being built by Mr. W. H. Bennett will be a structure 70ft. by 30ft., with a lean-to at one end (30ft. by 10ft.), for the accommodation of the chaplain, the Rev. Mr. Walker. Wills While You Walt. 'Apart from building activity there are 'the great camp kitcliens going at top speed all day, busy non-coms and officers passing in and out of headquarters, and the shops getting ready for the noonday rush. Shops! Yes, rather, all sorts of them, from the "military photographer" (two or three of him) to " an oyster saloon. There is also a threetabled billiard room (Gd. a 100), a bookstall a barber's saloon, a wonderful "dry" canteen, and a solicitor. Many of the careful-minded soldiers believe in straightening the way for "their, heirs and assigns" before they quit these shores. The lawyer who has elevated liis shingle in the camp is said to be 'prepared to draw a wilt while yon wait!" . . Whilst on the subject of wills, it is recorded that a married farmer recently enlisted, and subsequently evinced a desiro to draw the whole of his pay. "Oh," swid the pay clerk, "you cannot draw it all. You must- leave some behind for your jr.ifel"-
. "Oh," said the farmer, "she'll get on all right!". , '•'But that won't do," persisted tho conscientious clerk. "How much do you propose to-leave her?'.' "About £800 a year aud one of tho cars!" said the farmer, with a grin. Then the clerk picked his pen up and banded out tho pay. Trentham—A Sanatorium. Scrupulous attention is paid to tho jjeausiiig of the lines aud latrines. No lill .is permitted to accumulate anyMore. Even the scrapings of the plates used at the noonday meal arc rer ligiously called; for by an adjacent pigrearer. Incinerators are always burning for tho destruction of inflammable x-übbish the rest is tipped into big holes. As soon as ono is filled it is given a top-dressing of earth, ' and another,is dug. The health of the troops is the best'of evidence as to tho 'hygienic conditions that are being rigidly maintained at Trentham. Approximately, somo 14,000 men have passed through the camp, and there have been precisely five deaths since October last —when tho Hospital was established — nono of them actually in camp. Tho cause of the five deaths emphasises tho camp's fino, record. One man died from septic pneumonia, ono from chronic alcoholic poisoning, one was killed by a fall from a railway carriage, I one who had only been in camp one day) | died at tho Porirua Mental Hospital, aud one (who was. a hacmophilic) died of acute bleeding of the nose. There have been about twenty cases of measles lately,, but these have been sent in'to the Wellington Hospital, and there is no sign of an epidemic. In the Trenohes, Every art of modern warfare is being taught the men in camp. Whilst the artillery were whirling about in a cloud of dust of their own making, and the !■ lulls were echoing with the desultory cracking of several _ hundreds of rifles, and others were being lectured on -the mechanism of tho riile, the Engineers were plugging _ away at the trenches. This trench building in combination with i the construction. of high-command redoubts is intensely interesting to inspect. A typical protected high-com-mand redoubt lias been built behind the Trontham racecourse, near the hill. The protection consists of what is called an ahattis—that is, about four rows of stout manuka saplings, with sharpened ends uppermost, set firmly in the ground at ail angle of about 45 degrees, facing away from tho redoubt. Charging such an obstruction cavalry would be impaled on the stakes; and others coming on. behind could be raked with concentrated machine-gun fire from the redoubt thirty,yards away. From a distance of a hundred yards tho redoubt cannot bo picked up. ' It consists of a nicely sloped earthen wall turfed over in front, kind supported behind by gambions made of scrub and filled with .earth. In front it resembles a- natural i rise of the ground and blends in with tho landsoape, but behind one finds ! that its crest is just about sft. in height—the right height for a rifleman in position, with a ledge for an elbow rest. Behind the revetment is a trench six feet deep, approached by steps. Here tho riflemen take shelter whilst tho enemy, is shelling the position. The trench is over six feet deep and six feet wide, and leads into bomb and shellproof resting places, where a ledge of earth, seat-high, is left for the convenience of the troops, whilst the floor of ■the trench is French-drained with cobble stones, which lead the water to trench sumps, twenty or thirty yards away in the bowels of the earth. That is tho shelter trench from which no firing can bo done, and which is proof against all shell fire.' : To do any damage to such a trench (arid thoso in it), a shell would fall vertically. It should be that the revetment is provided with a protectivo square of earth left here'aiWl I 'there in the excavating in order that'jiflemen would be in a measure protected from enfilading fire. "Pull Down the Blind." "Then, there is tho ordinary recessed trench which is in use every day in France and 'Belgium, a recess for each .man;''"with .here and there an occasional traverse. and a trench leading to what tho "Tommies" call a "dugout," a big square hole in the ground with the" floor about ten feet below the level' of the surface, and made shellproof by a thick thatch of sods. Here "Tommy" may smoke his pipe at ease whilst the enemy blasts away aboveground. Whilst this is on, however, a sentry is always on guard to watch the proceedings. At Trentham is shown the cunning manner in which he is accommodated. Creeping along the trenches, not even the crown of a hat visible above, a "special reserve" trench was reachcd. with an ingeniously contrived Venetian blind made of flax-blades. What for? Wait—here are brush-wood flaps or curtains that can be pushed up by a manuka pole. Looking out one could see the country all round without being seen, but that wou.ld not be the case if-the blind is not pulled down. The blind obscures the light, and does not expose one's position. Were it left up there would" be a gleam of' lifiht showing "through the ground," which would be at once detected by the lynx-eyes behind the enemy's field-glasses. Near by, a squad of sappers were at work, sapping their way towards a burbed-wire entanglement. They, are going to sap and sap in three-hour shifts all day and night for days to come. They were not showing a.yard of "new earth." As the sapper proceeds he throws back the earth ho locsens, and another behind him throws it still further back, and so on, but never a. new faco cf clay is shown above ground. The sapper is the grimmest of all workers —lie picks; and sweats and listens, all unseen and unseeing, and finally plants his packet of death, lays tho fuse, lights it and away sho goes! Then he starts in to emulato tho mole somewhere elso. "Bob When he Lights It!"
Not a quarter of a milo from the trenches were a squad of engineers making and testing hand grenades. These are simply jam tins filled with black powder and scrap iron, and tied oil to a two-foot manuka stick with spun yam. These are handy waddies i*f death when rushing n trench. Two or three were fired yesterday to test the powder. First the bits oF scrap iron (chewed up horseshoes) are placed in the tin, and so'vnred with a piece of paper, then black powder is poured in, the tin, and covered with a piece of gnncotton "as an exciter," anil the whole is plugged in with earth, the !id pressed down and tied. Then the tin already pierced with a hole for the reception of the fuse is lashed to a stick or handle. An inch of fuse, cut open at one end for tho reception of a wax vesta, is inserted,. Thi« inch burus.out
in a second and a liaif, so that tlicre must be no delay on the part of the thrower, lie holds it ready to lmrl, whilst another lights the fuse. "Bob down when he lights it!" yelled the Sergeant-Major. There was a general huh, an explosive thud, a puff of thick white smoke, and it was over. The tin was found with both sides pressed together. as though it had been run over by a steam roller, the spun yarn was on fire, and the manuka stick was broken in halves. No trace could bo found of the iron slugs. Returning to camp a ring of a couple of hundred men was found list-eniug to an officer explaining how wire entanglements are built. "You see," said he, "some wires are laid transversely along the. ground—that is to prevent anyono wriggling through on hi 6 stomach!" Passed on to where half a company were listening to instructions for range firing on the morrow. "All arms must be carried at the slope—no trail arms. The only time a man trails arms on a range is when he is leaving the firing line, with an unloaded rifle!" Happy as Larry. As far as one could gather the men now in camp are a happy, hard-working, well-contented lot, who fully realise that they have got to get fit to be of any real • service, and arc now feeling that it is good to ba so. ■ After a gruelling morning in the field yesterday the men came in to lunch at noon, the meal was over at 12.45 p.m., and between that time and 1.30 p.m. (when they had to turn to. again) several score of them were playing football. To-day the men of the Fourth 'will bo tried out thoroughly. The ordinary full Syllabus will be gone through during the day, ai,id all-night attack and defence manoeuvres will be carried out during the hours of darkness, commencing at 9 p.m. Soldiering is far from being a joke at Trentham! 1 ■'
ARMS AND THE MAN, Dominion, Volume 8, Issue 2431, 9 April 1915
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