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Army Boys in the French Trenches by Homer Randall

He toppled one over with his bayonet


Now

they had reached the wire entanglements that had been battered by the artillery until they hung in festoons around their posts, leaving paths through which the American lads poured.

Then like a great tidal wave they struck the trench!

The Germans had clambered out to meet them, and when the two forces met the shock was terrific. Back and forth the battle surged and swayed, each side fighting with the fury of desperation. The cannon had ceased now, for in that locked mass the shells were as likely to kill friends as foes. It was man against man, bayonet against bayonet, each combatant obeying the primitive law of "kill or be killed."

The opposing forces at this part of the line were nearly equal, with the Germans having a slight advantage in numbers. But to make up for this, the Americans had the advantage of the attack and the tremendous momentum with which they had struck the enemy's line.

For a time victory hung in the balance, but then Yankee determination and superior skill in bayonet work began to tell. The Americans would not be denied. The German line was pierced, and the forces broke up into a number of battling groups.

Frank and Bart, Billy and Tom, who all through the fight had managed to keep together, found themselves engaged with a squad of Germans double their number, two of whom were frantically

trying to bring a machine gun to bear upon them.

With a bound Frank was upon them. He toppled one over with his bayonet, but while he was doing this the other fired at him point-blank with a revolver. At such a close range he could not have missed, had not Bart, quick as a flash, clubbed him over the arm with his rifle, making the bullet go wild.

"Quick, Bart!" panted Frank, as with his comrade's help he slued the machine gun around, gripped the trigger, and sent a stream of bullets into a group of the enemy charging down upon him.

Before that withering fire they dissolved like mist, and a circle was cleared as though by magic.

What Germans were left in that immediate vicinity leaped back into the trench on the edge of which they had been fighting.

"Now we've got them!" cried Frank, as with his friends' assistance he quickly wheeled the gun to the brink of the trench and depressed the muzzle so that it commanded the huddled bunch below. "Come out of that, you fellows. Hands up, quick!"

They may not have understood his words, but there was no misunderstanding the meaning of that black sinister muzzle of the machine gun with a hundred deaths behind it. They were trapped, and their hands went up with cries of "_Kamerad!_" in token of surrender.

On that part of the line the battle was over, for the plan did not contemplate going beyond the second trench at that time. The American boys had won and won gloriously. From all parts of the trench, on a two-mile front, groups of captives were coming sullenly out with uplifted hands, to be herded into groups by their captors and sent to the rear.

"Glory hallelujah!" cried Bart, as he removed his mask and wiped his streaming face. "And no gas, either."


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