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Heavy Fighting Before Us

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Heavy Fighting Before Us
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Author(s): George Brenton Laurie
Date Published: 2008/11
Page Count: 176
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-545-1
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-546-8

Words from the Front

This poignant firsthand account of war on the Western Front during the Great War was written by the colonel of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles—a famous regiment of the British Army with its origins in Ulster. This is an intimate narrative of the experience of trench warfare with its attacks, raids, skirmishes, the slow loss of valued officers and men and the very debilitating matter of existing within the muddy confines of trenches and dugouts perpetually subject to the menace of the snipers bullet or the barrage of hostile artillery. Filled with detail and anecdotes, this is a fine view of a senior regimental officer's war told in letter form and an interesting addition to any library of the history of the Great War and the war the infantry knew.

The Generals gave out yesterday that we were to be attacked last night, the reason being that the Germans were seen to be clearing the wire away from their trenches, presumably with this plan in view. We decided to discourage any such attempts by opening the affair ourselves. We therefore fired on them with all sorts of things, including an iron drain pipe which throws a ring of gun cotton. This is simply made out of an old jam tin, whilst the fuse is lit before firing the charge in the drain-pipe. The latter charge of powder is then driven out of the jam tin. If correctly judged, it hurtles through the air and falls into the German trenches, and blows people there to pieces. How close the fire is here is shown by one of my companies having had two periscopes hit. Periscopes are four inches wide or less, and probably only 5 inches shows above the parapet, so you can see the German marksman at 100 yards. anyhow is not to be despised. This morning I was up before four o'clock, and round my men. On my way back a German put a bullet between the Corporal and myself. Of course lots of others were flying about, but this was the nearest. We go into support tonight; and the house we are going to occupy had a shell through the front door two days ago. It was fired at from the side at some great distance, came through the door, and fell on its back without exploding just short of a cupboard. This must have come from a strange battery, as the ordinary shells go round it all and every day, bursting galore, so I suppose this was one up the line fired at a sharp angle to try and take us in flank, as it were. I am rather sleepy, as there was a fire fight at 12 p.m. last night, for which I was awake. I received a letter from Miss Ruby McCann of Belfast yesterday, sending tobacco and her love to the men. The latter, she stated, was only to the good-looking ones. I also had a letter from your Mother. She told me that you had not gone to the concert owing to A—— H——'s death that very day. Still, of course, you took tickets for it. I also received a note from the Saddlers' Co. saying that they were sending four cans of milk and coffee to me to start with, and more would follow when they heard how the men liked it. The cans have four dozen tins in each. Very kind indeed of them. Well, I think that is all my news, excepting that I have got a headache, and have had one for the last two days, which is not surprising, since I have been up and about at such unearthly hours, and have not had any chance of sleeping properly in between whiles. I am always on the telephone to one person or the other. . . .
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