Skip to main content
down to the support-line with a working party,
though he was obviously aching to go out on patrol.
At about eleven o'clock I went out myself with
Howitt and a couple of N.C.O.s, but it was only in
order to get them accustomed to being out there.
Everything was very quiet while we crawled along
the company front in the wet corn. The Germans had
sent over a few admonitory 5.9*3 just after "stand-
down" ; al^long intervals they fired their machine-guns
just to show they were still there. The topography of
our bit of no-man's-land was mainly agricultural, so
our patrolling was easy work. On the right, B Com-
pany were demonstrating their offensive spirit by
using up a fair amount of ammunition, but I had
given orders that not a shot was to be fired by our
Company. An impressively menacing silence pre-
vailed, which, I hoped, would impress the Germans.
I felt almost supercilious as I stood in the trench
watching some B Company enthusiast experimenting
with the Very light pistol.
That was one of my untroubled moments, when I
could believe that I'd got a firm grip on what I was
doing and could be oblivious to the whys and where-
fores of the war. I was standing beside Corporal
Griffiths, who had his Lewis gun between his elbows
on the dew-soaked parapet. His face, visible in the
sinking light of a flare, had the look of a man who
was doing his simple duty without demanding expla-
nations from the stars above him. Vigilant and serious
he stared straight ahead of him, and a fine picture of
fortitude he made. He was only a stolid young fanner
from Montgomeryshire; only; but such men, I think
were England, in those dreadful years of war.
Thus the strangeness of the night wore on—and
stranger still it seems while I am revisiting it from