Pass Guard at Ypres

Pass Guard at Ypres by Ronald; Gurner Read Free Book Online

Book: Pass Guard at Ypres by Ronald; Gurner Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ronald; Gurner
himself. He spoke at intervals, but his remarks were hardly calculated to
     dissipate the prevailinggloom. He quite agreed that it was a
     nasty spot that they were going to, and he bore out the Major’s statement by
     observing in more general terms that it was shelled all day and most of the night.
     No, it wasn’t a particularly easy place to find, because once you passed Birr
     Cross Roads it was just as easy to wander into the Boche lines as your own; they
     would have to note the way rather carefully, as he was afraid that he
     wouldn’t be there to guide them back, since he had various other jobs to do,
     after he had got them settled down. Well, it was a bit difficult to say exactly what
     one ought to do if casualties occurred. You couldn’t leave them alone, of
     course, as a man didn’t have a dog’s chance there when once he was
     hit; you couldn’t, on the other hand, spare men to look after them. This
     machine gun emplacement had to be built tonight at any cost, as the Corps Commander
     himself demanded to know that it was completed by the following day; it would be a
     five-hours’ job at least, and they wouldn’t be there till 10. On the
     other hand, if they didn’t get away by 3 they wouldn’t get away at
     all, as a fly couldn’t move there without being seen by daylight. After half
     an hour of this sort of thing, Freddy Mann gave up fruitless attempts to derive
     consolation from Corporal Bonner, and began to reflect for himself upon the brighter
     aspects of the situation. After all, he’d had three or four working parties
     before this during the last ten days. This was in rather a sticky sector, but it
     made no real difference; things hardly ever did go wrong on working parties, even in
     sticky sectors, simply because the Hun was always at the same game as well. So far,
     nobody could reasonably find fault with the night. OxfordStreet
     seemed a very reasonably adequate sort of trench, and, most important, he had his
     own fellows with him as well, which was a damned sight better than taking out
     Bill’s or Sammy’s crowd, or those paralytics of “B”
     Company, as he had had to do last week. They were all there, all the Badajos
     Barracks fellows, except poor Leader and Downton. They were shoving apparently happy
     enough along the trench behind him, Bamford, just in his rear, breathing as usual
     like a steam engine and growling to himself, Beard tugging at his unkempt little
     sandy moustache and probably discussing his hopeful’s whooping cough or mumps
     with any who would listen, hard nuts like Bettson or the ex-navvy Scrott, Brains,
     almost certainly pouring forth epigrams and carrying somebody else’s sandbags
     as well as his own, pale-faced little Barton, Corporal Sugger—near enough to
     the side of the trench and knees well bent, if he knew anything of Corporal
     Sugger—and bringing up the rear the fatherly, mild-voiced Sergeant Mitchell.
     Then again, and this in itself made up for a multitude of ills, behind his
     contingent there was Robbie with most of the rest of the company. On the whole,
     then—be damned to this R.E. fool, as Freddy Mann looked with a sudden access
     of confidence towards Corporal Bonner: Birr Cross Roads, was it, and it was tricky
     going after this? He’d better get on with it, then, and not talk quite so
     much, and be damned to all his croaking for an old wives’ tale.
    â€œThis is where they’ve been getting on to it—all round ’ere,” Corporal Bonner nodded towards a welter of new shell holes, from which a strong earthy smell arose, and lines of broken sandbags facing them in the moonlightalong the ridge past the culvert. “All about ’ere; it’s a twisty bit, and, as I say, you’ll need to mark yer way.”
    â€œRight: shove on.” Now that Oxford Street was left behind them Freddy Mann was experiencing a strong

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