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Full text of "TheCompleteMemoirsOfGeorgeSherston"

Germans had been across the night before, cutting
our wire, and the Lewis-gun officer was certain that
he had inflicted severe casualties on them. Anyhow,
a pair of boots could be seen sticking up out of a
shell-hole. But when we arrived at the boots we
found them attached to the body of a French soldier
who had been there several months. I didn't like this
much; but O'Brien whispered to me: "T'Colonel
shall have t'boot," and the boot, with half a leg on
it, was sent down to Kinjack, as a proof of our
efficiency.

Prisoners were seldom seen at that time. I never
saw one myself until the Somme battle began in the
summer. The landscape was in front of us; similar in
character to the one behind us, but mysterious with
its unknown quality of being ( 'behind the Boche line' * .
We could see the skeleton villages of Fricourt and
Mametz, and the ruinous cemetery (which the men
called "the rest camp"). But the enemy was invisible.
On still nights our sleepy sentries heard him cough
from the far side of the craters. He patrolled, and we
patrolled. Often, when I was crawling about on my
belly, I imagined a clod of earth to be a hostile head
and shoulders watching me from a shell-hole. But
patrols had a sensible habit of avoiding personal
contact with one another. Men in the Tunnelling
Company who emerged, blinking and dusty white,
from the mine-shafts, had heard the enemy digging
deep underground. They may even have heard the
muffled mutter of German voices. But, apart from
the projectiles he sent us, the enemy was, as far as we
were concerned, an unknown quantity. The Staff
were the people who knew all about him. , . .

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