Thortday, March 21, 1M8.
(Continued from last week)
Theu vo started our march up to the
line In ten-kilo treks. After the flrsl
day's march we arrived at our rest
billets. In France they call them resl
billets, because while in them Tomraj
works seven days a week and on the
eighth day of the week he is given I Bill.'
twenty-four hfurs "on his own."
Our billet was a spacious affair, a
large barn on the left side of the road.
which had one hundred entrances,
ninety-nine for shells, rats, wind and
rain, and the hundredth one for Tom
my. I was tired out, and using my
shrapnel-proof helmet (shrapnel proof
until a piece of shrapnel hits it), or
tin hat, for a pillow, lay down iu the
straw, and was soon fast asleep. I
must have slept about two hours, when
I awoke with a prickling sensation all
over me. As I thought, the straw had
worked through my uniform. I woke
up the fellow lying on my left, who had
been up the line before, and asked
"Does the straw bother you, mate?
It's worked through my uniform and I
In a sleepy voice he answered,
"That ain't straw, them's cooties."
From that time on my friends the
"cooties" were constantly with me.
"Cooties," or body lice, are the bane
of Tommy's existence.
The aristocracy of the trenches very
seldom call them "cooties," they speak
of them as fleas.
To an American flea means a small
Insect armed with a bayonet, who is
wont to jab it into you and then hop
skip and jump to the next place to be
attacked. There is an advantage in
having fleas on you instead of "cooties'"
in that in one of his extended jumps
said flea is liable to land on the fel
low next to you he has the typical
energy and push of the American,
while the "cootie" has the bulldog
tenacity of the Englishman he holds
on and consolidates or digs in until
his meal is finished.
There is no way to get rid of them
permanently. No matter how often
you bathe, and that is not very often,
or how many times you change your
underwear, your friends the "cooties"
are always in evidence. The billets are
infested with them, especially
there is straw on the floor.
AN ANiiWOU 50I.Mr.lt
ARTHUR CUY EMPt
I have taken a bath and put on
brand-new underwear in fact, a com
plete change of uniform, and then
turned in for the night. The next morn
ing my shirt would be full of them. It
is a common sight to see eight or ten
soldiers sitting under a tree with their
shirts over their knees engaging In a
At night about half an hour before
"lights out," you can see the Tommies
grouped around a candle, trying, in Its
dim light, to rid their underwear of
the vermin. A popular and very quick
method is to take your shirt and draw
ers, and run the seams back and for
ward in the flame from a candle and
burn them out. This practice is dan
gerous, because you fire liable to burn
holes in the garments if you are not
Recruits generally sent to Blighty
for a brand of insect powder adver
tised as "Good for body lice." The ad
vertisement is quite right the powder
is good for "cooties they simply
thrive on it.
The older men of our battalion were
wiser and made seratehers out of
wood. These were rubbed smooth with
a bit of stone or sand to prevent splin
ters. They were about eighteen inches
long, and Tommy guarantees that a
scratcher of this length will reach
any part of the body which may be at
tacked. Some of the fellows were lazy
and only made their seratehers twelve
inches, but many a night when on
guard, looking over the top from the
fire step of the front-line trench, they
would have given a thousand "quid"
for the other six inches.
Once while we were in rest billets an
Irish Hussar regiment camped in an
open field opposite our billet. After
they had picketed and fed their horses,
a general shirt hunt took piace. The
troopers ignored the call "Dinner up."
find kept on with their search for big
game. They had a curious method of
procedure. They hung their shirts over
a hedge and beat thern with their en
trenching tool handles.
I asked one of them why they didn't
pick them off by hand, and he an
swered, "We haven't had a bath for
nine weeks or a change of clabber. If
tried to pick the 'cooties' off my shirt.
I would be here for duration of war."
After taking a close look at his shirt, I
agreed with him it was alive.
The greatest shock a recruit gets
when he arrives at his battalion in
France is to see the men engaging in a
"cootie" hunt. With on air of con
tempt and disgust he avoids the com
pany of the older men. until a couple
of days later, in a torment of itching,
resort to a shirt hunt.
lor spend many a sleepless night o?
misery. During these hunts there are
lots of pertinent remarks bandied back
and forth among the explorers, such American named Stewart.
I as, "Say, Bill. I'll swap you two little I For the next ten days,we "rested."
ones for a big one," or, "I've got a repairing roads for the Frenchies, drill
black one here that looks like Kaiser
One sunny day in the front-line
trench, I saw three officers sitting out
side of tlieir dugout ("cooties" are no
respecters of rank I have even noticed
a suspicious uneasiness about a certain
well-known general), one of them was
sweetheart and that he wrote to her
every day. Just imagine it, writing a
love letter during a "cootie" hunt but
such is the c*eed of the trenches.
I Go to Church.
C. of E„ meaning Church of Eng
land R. C.. Itoman Catholic W., Wes
leyan P., Presbyterian but if you
happened to be an atheist they left it
blank, and just handed you a pick and
•shovel. On my disk was stamped C. of
E. This is how I got it: The lieuten
ant who enlisted me asked my religion.
I was not sure of the religion of the
British army, so I answered, "Oh, any
old thing," and he promptly put down
C. of E.
Now, just imagine my hard luck. Out
of five religions I was unlucky enough
to pick the only one where church
parade was compulsory!
The next morning was Sunday. I
was ting in thft billet writing home
to niv sister telling her of my wonder
ful exploits while under fire—all re
cruits do this. The sergeant major put
his head in the door of the billet and
shouted "C. of E. outside for church
I kept on writing. Turning to me. in
a loud voice, he asked, "Empey, aren't
you C. of E.?"
I answered, "Yep."
In an angry tone, he commanded,
"Don't you 'yep' me. Say, 'Yes, ser
"I did so. Somewhat mollified, he
ordered, "Outside for church parade."
I looked up and answered, "I am
not going to church this morning.".
He said, "Oh. yes, you are!"
I answered, "Oh, no, I'm not!"—But
We lined up outside with rifles and
tiavonets. 120 ..rounds oi. innmuniti'j:-.
Diagram Showing Typical Front-Lina and Communication Trenches.
a major, two of them were exploring
their shirts, paying no attention to the
occasional shells which passed over
head. The major was writing a letter
every now and then he would lay aside
his writing-pad, search his shirt for a
few minutes, get an inspiration, and
then resume writing. At last he fin*
Ished his letter and gave It to his "run
ner." I was curious to see whether he
was writing to an insect firm, so when
the runner passed me I engaged him
in conversation and got a glimpse at
the address on the envelope. It was
addressed to Miss. Alice Somebody,, in
London. The "runner" informed me
that Miss Somebody was the major's' plane and I wondered how he could tell
Upon enlistment we had identity
disks issued to us. These were small
disks of red fiber worn around the neck
by means of a string. Most of the Tom
mies also used a little metal disk which
they wore around the left wrist by
means of a chain. They had previous
ly figured it out that if their heads
were blown off. the disk on the left
wrist would identify thern. If they lost
their left arm the disk around the neck
would serve the purpose, but if their
head and left arm were blown off, no were inarchin
did not matter. On one side of the
disk was inscribed your rank, name,
number and battalion, while on the
other was stumped your religion.
one would care who they were, so It! singing one of Tommy's trench ditties:
wearing our tin hats, and tin march
to church began. After marching a6o9t
Ave kilos, we turned off the road Into
bn open field. At one end of this field
the chaplain was standing In a limber.
NVe formed a semicircle around him.
Overhead there was a black speck cir
cling round and round In the sky. This
was a German Fokker. The chaplain
had a book in his left hand—left eye
on the book—right eye on the airplane.
We Tommies were lucky, we had no
books, so had both eyes on the air
After church parade we were
marched hack to our billets, and played
football all afternoon.
"Into the Trench."
The next morning the draft was in
spected by our general, and we were
assigned to different companies. The
boys in the brigade had nicknamed
this general Old Pepper, and lie cer
tainly earned the sobriquet. I was as
signed to compauy with another
ing, and digging bombing trenches.
One morning we were informed that
we were going up the line, and our
It took us three days to reach re
serve billets—each day's march bring
ing the sound of the guns nearer and
hearer. At night, way off In the dls-
tance we could see their flashes, which
lighted up the sky with a red glare.
Against the horizon we could see
numerous observationlmlloons or "sau
sages" as they are called.
On the afternoon of the third day's
march I witnessed my first airplane
being shelled. A thrill ran through ine
and I gazed in awe. The airplane was
making wide circles in the air, while
little puffs of white smoke were burst
ing all around it. These puffs appeared
like tiny balls of cotton while after
each .burst could be heard a dull
"plop." 'The sergeant o? uiy platoon
informed us that it was a German air-
from such a distance because the plane
seemed like a little black speck in the
sky. I expressed my doubt as to
whether It was English, French or Ger
man. With a look of contempt he fur
ther informed us that the allied anti
aircraft shells when exploding emitted
white smoke while the German shells
gave forth black smoke, and, as he ex
pressed it, "It must be an Allemand be
cause our pom-poms are shelling, and
I know our batteries are not off their
bally nappers and are certainly not
strafeing our own planes, and another
piece of advice—don't chuck your
weight about until you've been up the
line and learnt something."
I immediately quit "chucking my
weight about" from that time on.
Just before reaching reserve billets
along, laughing, and
I want to home, I want to ko home,
I don't want to go to the trendies no
Where sausages and whizz-hangs are f?a
Take me over the sea, Where the Alle
mand can't get at me.
Oh, my, I don't want to die,
I want to go home—"
when overhead came a "swish" through
the air, rapidly followed by three oth
ers. Then about two hundred yards to
our left in a large field, four columns
of black earth and smoke rose into the
air, and the ground trembled from trie
report—the explosion of four German
five-nine's, or "eoalboxes." A sharp
whistle blast, immediately followed by
two short ones, rang out from the head
of our column. This was to take up
"artillery formation." We divided into
small squads and went into the fields
on the right and left of the road, and
crouched on the ground. No other
shells followed this salvo. It was our
first baptism by shell lire. From the
waist up I was all enthusiasm, but from
there down, everything was missing. I
thought I should die with fright.
A E R_S
brollen and pallet*
AfMF (While, we reformed lnto col*
nmns of fours, and proceeded on our
About five that night, we reached the
ruined village of and I got my
first sight of the awful destruction
caused by German Kultur.
Marching down the main street we
came to the heart of the village, and
took up quarters In sliellproof cellars
(shellproof until hit by a shell). Shells
A Bomb Proof.
were constantly whistling over the vil
lage and bursting in our rear, search
ing for our artillery.
These cellars were cold, damp and
smelly, and overrun with large rats—
big -black fellows. Most of the Tom
mies slept with their overcoats over
their faces. I did not. In the middle
of the night I woke up in terror. The
cold, clammy feet tf a rat had passed
over my face. I immediately smoth
ered myself in my overcoat, but could
not sleep for the rest of that night.
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Next evening, we took over our sec
tor of the line. In single file we wend
ed our way through a zigzag com
munication trench, six inches deep
with mud. This trench was called
"Whisky street." On our way up to
the front line an occasional flare of
bursting shrapnel would light up the
sky and we could hear the fragments
slapping the ground above u's on out
right and left. Then a Fritz would
traverse back and forth with his "type
writer" or machine gun. The bullets
made a sharp cracking noise overhead.
The boy in front of me named Pren
tice crumpled up without a word. A
piece of shell had gone through his
I shrapnel-proof helmet. I felt sick and
In about thirty minutes we reached
the front line. It was dark as pitch.
Every now and then a German star
shell would pierce the blackness out
in front with its silvery light. 1 was
trembling all over, and felt very lonely
and afraid. All orders were given in
whispers. The company we relieved
filed past us and disappeared into the
blackness of the communication trench
leading to the rear. As they passed us.
they whispered, "The best o' luck
I sat on the fire step of the trench
(To be Continued next week)
Look for the Brand
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