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Jeffrey Amherst

The Australian Airforce 1914-18

Redvers Buller's African Campaigns

The Liverpol Rifles in the Great War

John Wesley Hardin

Never Surpassed-The 52nd Regiment of Foot

The British Navy in Battle

Zulu and Sudan

Lady Hobo

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Gillett, Texas Ranger

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London Men in Palestine

The RFC in the Great War

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The Sharp End of War

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The Sharp End of War
Leonaur Original
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Author(s): Walter Wood
Date Published: 2013/12
Page Count: 416
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-78282-280-6
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-78282-279-0

Words from the firing line

Sir Walter Wood was well known for his anthologies of descriptions and personal accounts of military experiences and other deeds that forged the British Empire. The outbreak of the First World War in the summer of 1914 provided him with an enormous resource of material which he gleaned from interviews with British soldiers and sailors returning from the battlefield. During the first two years of the conflict Wood collected, and published in two volumes, forty two gripping accounts, from both officers and men—including cavalrymen, infantrymen, engineers, dispatch riders, artillerymen and a host of others who were engaged in the fighting. ‘In the Line of Battle,’ he concentrated on the opening campaigns of the war, including the retreat from Mons, the battles of the Marne and Aisne to the First Battle of Ypres, and included first hand accounts of early naval engagements and the German naval raid on Hartlepool. ‘Soldiers Stories of the War,’ mainly covered the campaigns of 1915 on the Western Front, but also included the Dardanelles expedition. This unique, good value Leonaur edition, published to coincide with the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War, brings together the full content of both books in one substantial edition. Absolutely nothing can compare with the words of those recounting their very recent experiences and in this edition, those voices reach across time to provide powerful, poignant and revealing insights into the First World War.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.

At about four o’clock next morning I awoke and went back to the bridge, which my battalion had crossed on the previous day, the “Die-hards” being the first to cross. By this time we had got past the sweltering stage of things and had become accustomed to soaking weather, and on this particular morning I was thoroughly cold and wet and generally “fed up” with things; but I still glowed with the longing to get level with the Germans.
You must bear in mind that regiments had been broken up and scattered in the most astonishing manner and had become mixed up with other regiments, and I had lost my own and had to set to work to find it.
I got over the bridge and reached some artillery.
“Have you seen anything of the Middlesex?” I asked.
“Yes,” the gunners answered, “they’ve just gone into action on the brow of the hill.”
I made my way towards the top of a neighbouring hill and found that my battalion had taken up a position there, but I had to wander about aimlessly, and I did so till I came across one or two men who were separated from the battalion. They directed me to the actual position, which was on the ridge of the hill, and to the ridge I went and found that it was lined with remnants of the brigade.
I tried to find my own company, but could not do so, as it had been surprised in the night; so I attached myself to another and lay down with the corporal on the sodden ground.
Wet through, cold, hungry and physically miserable, but still tough in spirit, we lay there, wishing that all sorts of impossible things would happen.
The corporal showed me where he had hit a German scout. We watched the poor devil rolling about—then we finished him off. In addition to the wet there was a fog, and under cover of this the Germans crept up and were on us almost before we knew of their presence.
The alarm was first given by a man near us who was suffering from ague or some such ailment and had been moaning and groaning a good deal.
Suddenly he cried, “Here they are, corporal! Fire at ’em!”
My loaded rifle was lying just in front of me. I snatched it up, and as I did so the Germans jumped out of the mist on to us, with loud shouts. I brought the first German down and my chum dropped one; and we managed to fetch the officer down. He was carrying a revolver and a stick, like most German officers, so that you had no difficulty in distinguishing them.
When the alarm was given I gave a quick look over a small hump in the ground and then we were rushed; but I hated the idea of retiring, and kept on shouting, “Crawl back! Crawl back!”
Machine-guns and rifles were rattling and men were shouting and cursing. In the midst of it all I was sane enough to hang on to my fire till I got a good chance—and I did not wait for nothing.
Up came two Germans with a stretcher. They advanced till they were not more than twenty-five yards away, for I could see their faces quite clearly; then I took aim, and down went one of the pair and “bang” off the stretcher fell a maxim. The second German seemed to hesitate, but before he could pull himself together he had gone down too. I began to feel satisfied.
By this time the order to retire had been given and I kept on shouting, “Keep down! Crawl back!” and the lads crawled and jumped with curious laughs and curses.
In that excited retirement the man who was with me was shot in the chest. I halted for a little while to see what had really happened to him, and finding that he was killed I took his waterproof sheet and left him. I hurried on until I was in a valley, well away from the ridge; then an officer managed to get us together and lead us into a wood.
As we got into the wood I spotted a quarry. I said to the officer, “Is it best to go down here, sir?”
“I’ll have a look—yes,” he answered.
We went into the quarry, where there were Royal Scots, Middlesex, Gordons and Royal Irish.
The officer was afraid that we might be rushed, in which case we should be cut up, so he put a man out on scout. We were not rushed, however, and when the firing ceased we filed out and lined the ridge again, and there we lay, expecting the Germans to come back, but for the time being we saw no more of them.
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