Page:The War and the Future (Masefield, 1918).djvu/36

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
The War and the Future

we were weak. He had made himself so strong there, that he openly boasted that his position was impregnable. He had all the good positions there. His line was so placed, that it was almost always a little above us, and he worked to improve these positions night and day for nearly two years.

Perhaps not many here have seen a first rate enemy field fortification. I'll try to explain what the Somme position was like.

As you know, the main defence in a modern line is the front line system of trenches. In front of his front line, the enemy had a very elaborate strong tangle of wire, about 4 feet high and 40 yards across, each wire as thick as a double rope yarn and with 16 barbs to the foot.

Hidden in this wire, under the ground, in converted shell holes, or in very cunningly contrived little pits, were stations for machine gunners. Some of these stations were connected with the enemy trenches by tunnels, so that the gunners could crawl to them under cover.

In some places, the ground of the wire entanglement was strewn with trip wire, so near the ground as to be invisible, yet high enough to catch the feet. In the trip wire were spikes