Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 90.djvu/820

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804

��Popular Science Monthly

��5 likewise sit in the wagon, armed with mathook and spade, ready at any moment they come to a crossing to jump down and dig a small trench. This is usually four inches deep, the object, of course, being to bury the cable out of danger from passing vehicles or horse hoofs that might cut it. Having concealed it, the men tie each end to some standing object close to the trench, so that the cable will not be pulled out of its grave. That opera- tion completed — it usually takes three or four minutes — the wagon again moves on.

Now behind the wagon there follow always two riders — Nos. 6 and 7, each armed with a crook stick. This consists of a piece of broom handle, fitted at the end with an iron hook, and is used to lift the cable on the tops of hedges or small trees or other objects which might help to keep it off the ground. With a lift of the arm. No.

6 swings the cable on high; but, should he chance to miss any of it. No. 7 does his work.

Should the wagon come to a very large crossing or perhaps British signal officer

a brook; the cable is ^^o^^' ^hile he keeps

not buried but borne overhead. In this case it becomes the duty of Nos. 6 and 7 to ride up to the acsistance of Nos. 4 and 5. Between them they erect two poles, each eighteen feet high, one on either side of the crossing — an operation which takes five or six minutes at least, as the holes have to be jumped for the poles. The cables are laid at the rate of about six miles an hour.

In the trenches, of course, the method is entirely different. Since horses and wag- ons are not practicable, what is known as a "man pack" takes their place.

���This pack consists of four men. No. I, whose duty is to pay off the cable, carries his equipment strapped to his back. The cable is done up in a reel, consisting of about 2,000 yards of i8-gage, a smaller one than that used in the wagon set.

No. 2 leads the way, fixing little wooden pegs in the sides of the trenches. No. i, of course, follows on behind, paying out his cable as he goes. Nos. 3 and 4 follow No. I, their duty be- ing to tie the cable to the wooden pegs affixed by No. 2.

In the trenches, naturally, there is always the danger that the cable may be cut through by shell fire. Various devices have been introduced to lessen this danger. The method of laying cable in loops, one of which will always preserve the con- tact, though the others be cut through, has been found most effec- tive in actual fight- ing.

Technical and safe as all these tasks sound, they are nevertheless at- tended by their own difficulties and dan- gers. When the enemy artillery and airplane scouts are busy, they find a cable wagon an excellent target.

For instance, during the retreat from Mons, a cable wagon was sent out to re- establish communication between units severed during the retirement of the troops. Overhead circled a German air- plane in search of prey. It got the first wagon. Another wagon was sent out. The airplane got it, too. Then a third essayed the task. And this one, all of whose men expected, of course, to be blown sky-high, succeeded, where the others had failed. Such is the luck of battle. ' To my mind there is something pecu-

��receiving communica- his eye on the enemy

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