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And what would the Manchester say about the Flint-
shire Fusiliers if the wire wasn't properly cut? So it
seemed to me that our prestige as a Regular Battalion
had been entrusted to my care on a front of several
hundred yards.

Anyhow, I was ready with my party as soon as it
began to be dark. There were only eight of them
(mostly from the other companies) and we were un-
able to do anything before midnight owing to rather
lively shelling. I remember waiting there in the
gloom and watching an unearthly little conflagration
caused by some phosphorus bombs up the hill on our
right. When we did get started I soon discovered that
cutting tangles of barbed wire in the dark in a des-
perate hurry is a job that needs ingenuity, even when
your wire-cutters have rubber-covered handles and
are fresh from the Army and Navy Stores. More than
once we were driven in by shells which landed in front
of our trench (some of them were our own dropping
short); two men were wounded and some of the
others were reluctant to resume work. In the first
greying of dawn only three of us were still at it.
Kendle (a nineteen year old lance-corporal from my
platoon) and Worgan (one of the tough characters of
our company) were slicing away for all they were
worth; but as the light increased I began to realize
the unimpressive effect of the snippings and snatchings
which had made such a mess of our leather gloves.
We had been working three and a half hours but
the hedge hadn't suffered much damage3 it seemed.
Kendle disappeared into the trench and sauntered
back to me, puffing a surreptitious Woodbine. I was
making a last onslaught on a clawing thicket which
couldn't have been more hostile if it had been put
there by the Germans. "We can't do any more in this