Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

17 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



STORY OF LA BASSEE THE BRITISH SOLDIER PLAYS FOOTBALL WHILST UNDER FIRE. In "hIs latest message issued by the Pm--i Bureau, "Eye-Witness" gives a vivid de- scription of the fighting at. LA En.f«ee. whore our troops gained ground and inflicted groat loss upon the enemy. He says tho Britivi soldier has a passion for football, so much 4iO that they are to be seen at times kicking the ball about whilst under fire. The is as follows:- Saturday, January 30, was bright and warm. The day passed in comparative quiet, although the enemy shelled our left and left centre severely. Our artillery prac- tice. however, produced good results at many points along the front. Among other successes our shells set fire to a building which was being much used by the enemy in a village east of Neuve Chapelle, and with the assistance of our aircraft a direct hit was made on a German gun near Freling- Jiien. A hostile column of infantry observed by our aeroplane.? on a road opposite our right centre was subjected to a heavy fire, which, it is believed, inflicted considerable loss. On the right similar results were reported, such as the blowing up of an ammunition waggon and what was apparently a maga- zine behind the enemy's trenches. After this explosion occurred shouts and groans were heard, and columns of smoke were seen rising from the spot. It is believed that a battery near Lorgies suffered similarly, for after we had shelled it for some time there was a heavy explosion, shortly followed by two others, and the battery was enveloped in smoke for a quarter of an hour. Sunday was entirely uneventful along the British front. To the r.orth of us local attacks took place against the French. In one place some fifty Germans tried to rush a French trench and were annihilated by artillery and rifle fire. In this area. south- east of YprcR, a somewhat strange inc; lent occurred. An officer and two men suddenly left the German trenches and rushed for- ward. and were at once shot. Their action is explicable only on the assumption tnat there was reluctance on the part cf nther men to follow. If this be the true explana- tion. it must be admitted that such conduct on the part of the German troops is rare. COLD STEEL AND HAND-GRENADES. On Monday, February 1, the Germans again attacked south of La Bassce Canal, but nof in such strensrth as on previous occa- sions. The fighting began in the early hours of the vmrning with an assault on a small trench cl, to the canal. This was success- ful, two counter-attacks carried out by us failing to regain the ground lost. When it was lijyht. however, our artillery opened so accurate a fire on the enemy that their position became untenable. A stronger counter-attack was then delivered, and our men, rushing forward, not only drove the Germans from the trench they had captured. but seized another post en the enemy's side of it on the "embankment of the canal. There was a succession of German posts on this embankment, and we had now established ourselves in one of them. Our supports then came up. and, passing through our firing line holding the first of the enemy's posts, pushed on to the second, driving out the garrison at the point of the bayonet. Thence our men were ena bled to take in flank one of the enemy's trenches to the south. and they fought their way along it, throwing hand-grenades, until they had dis- lodged the Germans from a considerable length. We thus established ourselves firmly in an advantageous position on tho canal bank and in the adjoining trenches. THE MEN'S GOOD SPIRITS. During this action we captured fourteen prisoners and two machine guns, also many wounded. Our losses were not severe, but the enemy suffered heavily, especially from our artillery fire. Although, of course, a minor operation, it was a distinct success on a small scale, and all the more satisfactory in that the useful gain of ground achieved by our troops was the result of an attempt on the enemy's part to drive us from our positions. Our men were in excellent spirits after this encounter, and cn being relieved somewhat later marched back to their billets, singing to the accompaniment of mouth organs and the roar of guns. On this morning the enemy made three attacks on the French to the south (i the Bethune road. Two were beaten back by the fire of the defence. The third was a sin- gularly gallant but extremely unsuccessful effort. The assailants reached the French trenches, and were then almost literally wiped out, seventy-five bodies being counted in front of the defenders' line. It is reported that not more than two or three cf them escaped to tell the tale. On the rest of our line there is little to report. In the centre our artillery succeeded in completely demolishing a farm in which a German gun had been located. A hostile aeroplane dropped four bombs near the Lys without doing any damage. The enemy's losses in La Bassee area ap- pear to have been very heavy, and the reason for their activity along the canal was that they had suffered severely from the enfilade fire brought to bear on them by one of our machine-guns from the post they attacked. In two days also one of their companies had lost thirty men from shell fire alone. FORCE OF EXPLOSIVES. A remarkable illustration of the force of explosives was afforded on the 25th January. Previous to assaulting, the Germans fired a mine under our front trench near the rail- way triangle to the east of Cuinchy. The explosion hurled a piece of rail weighing 25lb. a distance of over a mile into a field close to where some of our men were stand- ing. It is reported also that on the morning of the 1st February the detonation of one of our lyddite shells in the enemy's trenches on the embankment south of the canal threw a German soldier right across the railway and the canal amongst our men on the north side of the latter. The fondness of our soldiers for kicking about a football whenever they have a spare moment has often been noted. The men of a supply of ammunition column halted ly the roadside generally amuse themselves in this way. and the troops in reserve close to the fighting line sometimes while away the time in this manner even when under fire. Our Allies occasionally join in the game with great zest, and it is not an uncommon sight to see a crowd of French and British soldiers struggling madly round two sticks representing a goal not so very far from tht firing line. LIFE IX THE GERMAN TRENCHES. A graphic picture of life in the German trenches is afforded by a letter found on a German soldier: "Yesterday the French put three shells into the left of my dug-out. Ten men were hit. seven killed, and the other three were badly wounaed. "For three weeks we have been in the same trenches, which at places are twenty metres from the enemy. Twenty metres in 'front of us are the French, whom I often greet with hand-grenades. Usually some of theirs come over here as well. Shrapnel and t shell fly over us all day and into the nighti but all this is far easier to endure than the bad weather. It rains every day, and we are never dry." Prisoners who have lately come from Miil- heim, near Basle, state that food prices there have risen greatly, the bread eaten is very black, and grave fears are entertained of a shortage of food in two or three months' time. MUSIC-LOVING TOMMIES. The appeal for mouth organs for the troops. uttered on December 28 was not made in vain. Hundreds of these iietru- ments have been received from kindly donors, and the result can be heard on all sides. Not only do cheerful sounds proceed from billots and dug-outs, but many of the detachments and small bodies of men mov- ing from one point to another now march to the sentimental note3 of "Tipperary" or the lilt of "Get Out and Get under," instead of tramping the slush in s ilence. The crav- ing of our men for music has evidently touched all classes and ages. Even small children have sent their own well-worn and tiny instruments—probably cherished pos- ) sessions—as a contribution to l- L', 0' 1 the front, who are, after all, fighting their battle. The following is a sample of a letter from a small boy-an entire stranger -rec,rived at one collecting centre: "Dear -Allison nd me are sending you our mouth organs for the soldiers. They nrn't now one, but I hadn't any sixpences. With love from —— This l<,tter from "Allison and me" con- vevs better than any description the extent to which tho heart of tho nation is with itd fighting men at the present moment.



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