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Newspaper Page Text
By Frank Filson
Lieutenant Rycroft's first experi-
c ence of battle was"s4itupendous that
for a few minutes he forgot to be
afraid. He lay upon his face behind
the little shelter which he had dug
c with his sword, waiting for the com-
. mand to charge. On either side of
him be could see men lying down,
also waiting, and adjusting the me
chanism of their rifles.
He was lying amid a pandemonium
of noises. The heavy shells from the
guns roared over him incessantly.
Mingled with these sounds came that
of the smaller artillery, a defying
screech that set his teeth on edge.
And with these, but blending, as it
were, was the hoot of rifle bullets,
now overhead, now low beside him,
occasionally 'varied with a spurt of
dust as a bullet struck the ground.
He remembered his six months'
training in England. How proud he
had been to serve his country and
how 'proud his people had been of
him! The girls had hung on his arm;
it had been a period of hard training
in the camp, varied with short visits
home. Gradually he had begun to
find that there was more jollity in
the camp. There every one had
- been kind to him, from the colonel
down; they had been comrades to-
gether. At home, however, the sad
ness of the approaching separation
had cast a shadow over everything.
It was known that he- was foredes
tined to death. No officer could hope
to go through those separate and
'multitudinous hells and escape alive.
The best thing to anticipate was be
ing invalided out, permanently crip
pled or disabled.
What every officer feared and none
expressed was this: That, when the
time of battle came, he might turn
tail. None could know how he would
behave. Rycroft had heard stories
whispered of officers, high in rank.
some of them, who found the stun-1
ning shock of battle too much for
their nerves. There "was a certain
Rycroft, being an imaginative boy,
had anticipated the stunning horrors
of battle. He knew that it would re
quire all a man's resolution to face
them. Still, he came of a military
family, and he had believed that,
when his time come, he would not be
But this actual experience was
more terrifying than anything he had
.1 ' - j
He Began to Run Forward
ever conceived. As he lay there, help
less, conscious that men were Idok
ing to him forieade'rshlp, he felt his
blood turning to w&tsr. He was shak
ing, he felt the sweat stream down '
his face. j
He had imagined a battle of men,
but this was a battle pf machines. It
was machines "that were -vomiting out
that hail o'f bullets, that fury of shelly