Am Infantryman's Rest. THE YPRES TIMES By W. H. Duncan Arthur, M.C. THE above lines will be familiar to most of us. Many a weary mile has been marched by men, nigh on the point of exhaustion, singing this army parody of Sing me to Sleep." It seems funny now, since they could, and sometimes did, go to sleep standing up; but there was not much fun about it at the time. Nobody could have loved the war-time Ypresthe Germans must have hated the very nameand yet most of us were anxious to serve in the sector where the gallant Old Contemptibles had made their last glorious stand. It must, however, be frankly admitted that, after a very short acquaintance, the above quoted lines aptly expressed our most fervent desire. We have now reached yet another stage when we look back with modest pride to having served in that half-circle of hell, and our small share in helping to keep the historic city inviolate. The object of this article is to relate a few personal experiences encountered in the Salientnot the real fighting adventures, but the everyday occurrences common to all who served there. My main object will be achieved if others will follow my example. ii Far, far from Ypres, I want to be, Where German snipers cannot catch me." As one proceeds, distant events and scenes come crowding back to the mind; memories of dreary hours of weary tramping in pitch darkness, stumbling over broken duck-boards, across gaping shell holes filled with filthy stinking water, or squelching through the mud and desolation of the* Ypres Salient. Nightmares of working parties engaged in the very necessary, but generally unpleasant tasks of digging trenches, laying cables, road or drainage work, and last, but by no means least, carrying parties for rations and ammunition. Pictures of Toffee Apples that fell by the wayside, reminding one of that famous war time ditty, The Long Long Trail," or of mile long columns of transport waiting for the dusk before entering the danger zone. Memories of gloomy saps and watery dug-outs, rat-infested and seldom without those other little things that were sent to try us. Thoughts of the time when we were forced to develop nocturnal habits, sleeping beneath the ground most of the day, and digging in it most of the night. Memories, too, of gallant comradesgreat-hearted fellows who cheerfully fought both nature and the enemy to the last in the Ypres Salient. For the information of those who did not know the Ypres sector as it was, prior to the Battle of Messines in June, 1917, it should be stated that the town, being moated, it was only possible to leave it by the roads, the routes to the line being through Dixmude, Menin and Lille Gates, and the station. Every inch of the ground was known to the enemy, who had direct observation right into the town itself in daylight, and it was no easy task getting your men safely through. Sometimes none of the roads were safe. This was often the case in the early morning when you were returning, and you either had to wait outside until the strafe abated, or enter by the plank footbridge across the moat, which led to a sally port in the wall of the ramparts.


The Ypres Times (1921-1936) | 1930 | | pagina 13