chapter  4
31 Pages

The Battle of Ypres

A great grey mass of humanity was charging straight on to us not 50 yards off, about as far as our summer-house to the coach-house. Everybody's nerves were pretty well on edge, as I had warned them what to expect, and as I fired my rifle all the rest went off simultaneously. One saw the great mass of Germans quiver. In reality some fell, some fell over them, and others came on. I have never shot so much in such a short time; it could not have been more than a few seconds, and they were down. Suddenly, one man - I expect an officer - j)lmped up and came on. I fired and missed, seized the next rifle, and dropped him a few yards off. Then the whole lot came on again, and it was the most critical moment of my life. Twenty yards more and they would have been over us in thousands, but our fire must have been fearful, and at the very last moment they did the most foolish thing they possibly could have done. Some of the leading men turned to the left for some reason, and they all followed like a great flock of sheep. We did not lose much time, I can give you my oath. My right hand is one huge bruise from banging the bolt up and down. I don't think one could have missed at the distance, and just for one short minute or two we poured the ammunition into them in boxfuls. My rifles were red hot at the finish, I know, and that was the end of the battle for me. The firing died down, and out of the darkness a great moan came. Men with their legs· and arms off trying to crawl away; others, who could not move, gasping out their last

112. German infantry advancing at Ypres. 113. German dead in front of the trenches of the Scottish Rifles after an attack on 'Ritchie's Farm' during the battle of Armentieres, on 29 October 1914.