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The Death of Hope by Andrew Wareham

The Death of Hope by Andrew Wareham

Author:Andrew Wareham [Wareham, Andrew]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: PublishNation
Published: 2021-03-21T22:00:00+00:00


Richard took his field glasses into the forward trench and peered carefully out into the wide no man’s land in front of them.

“Caton! Have they any snipers set up yet?”

“None, sir. Any day now, I would bet. A pair of machine guns that sweep across at random – not more than three or four times a day, that’s all. All their concerns seems to be for the big defensive works.”

The fortified bunkers were made stronger each night, displaying more wire and low concrete machine gun nests. They were untouchable other than by artillery.

“A solid thirty yard apron of wire all the way along, sir. If you look carefully, you can see that it’s pegged down tight to the ground by short metal stakes. I would bet there are alarms there as well, like the bells Mr O’Grady set up.”

“Must be routes through it for their own people to get out on working parties. Can’t see them, would never find them at night.”

“No, sir.”

“Forget about trench raids until we work out some way of getting through the wire unheard and quickly.”

Both men knew that to mean never.

“That leaves us with no means of taking offensive action, sir. We will simply have to stay put in cover and act as a garrison.”

The effects on morale would be severe if they left the men idle, doing nothing other than wait.

“Put snipers out, ideally on the other side of our own wire, in hides in no man’s land. The company will be able to make a few kills that way. See if you can get a forward observation post out, manned overnight. If we can get a pattern for their wiring parties, it will be possible to set an ambush, to put up flares and wipe one out. You might be able to put a section forward to throw Mills Bombs over the wire into their trench and then run. Anything to be active, Caton. See what ideas you can come up with.”

Captain Caton wished he had kept his mouth shut. There was such a thing as too much of offensive spirit.

“Yes, sir. Can do.”

Richard assessed the confident smile on Caton’s lips, suppressed his own grin. It was necessary to keep the men active, to make them believe that they were killing the enemy, winning the war.

“Now, Caton. Wire.”

“Barbed wire, sir? We are short of it. Unlike the Hun.”

“Exactly. The sole immediate answer seems to be to use what the Hun has left us. Ideas to me at morning prayers, tomorrow.”

Caton was comforted somehow by Richard’s use of army slang for the morning orders meeting; it suggested that he was a soldier, a professional, not just a jumped-up newcomer given command for being lucky.

Richard spent the rest of the day going from company to company and holding essentially the same conversation. They must keep up the offensive spirit, somehow. He noticed how rarely he had to duck for incoming fire. He doubted there had been a dozen shells fired at them all day and he had heard no call for stretcher-bearers.



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