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Army Boys in the French Trenches by Homer Randall

Routing out a machine gun nest there


here the resistance began to stiffen. The first paralysis of surprise was past. The heavy guns of the enemy opened up, and from scores of machine gun nests and pill boxes came a storm of bullets. The German officers had got their troops under some semblance of control, and heavy reinforcements were rushed up from the rear. From now on the Allies had an awakened and powerful foe to reckon with.

But despite the sterner opposition, the tanks were not to be denied. On they went, as resistless as fate. Their sides were reddened now, and the wake they left behind them was fearful to look upon.

Through the second line entanglements they crashed as easily as through the first, although this time they met with losses. Some had overturned and others had been struck by heavy shells and put out of action. But even though disabled, the guns on one side or the other were still able to pour out their messengers of death and take savage toll of the enemy.

Jumbo was leading, and close behind followed the boys of the old Thirty-seventh, with Frank and his chums in the van. They were fighting like young Vikings, their rifles empty but their bayonets and hand grenades doing deadly work. Their arms were tired by their terrific efforts, but their hearts were on fire. They felt as though they were treading on air, and the blood ran through their veins like quicksilver. Bunker Hill and Gettysburg

spoke through them. The traditions of a hundred glorious battlefields on which Americans had fought was theirs. Now again Americans were fighting, fighting to avenge the murdered women and babies of the Lusitania, fighting to crush the most barbarous tyranny the modern world has known, fighting the battle of freedom and civilization.

So they fought on like demons, smashing a pill box here, routing out a machine gun nest there, until the second line was carried. Then the conquerors paused for breath.

On the whole German front in that region two lines deep the line had been smashed. That crowded hour of stark fighting had cracked the boasted invincible line of Hindenburg and sent the foe flying in confusion toward their third and most formidable line. Thousands of prisoners and scores of guns were among the spoils of victory.

And the most gratifying feature of the drive was the insignificant loss to the Allied forces. The resistance at first had been only slight, and even in the second phase of the battle it had been so quickly overcome that few of the attacking troops had fallen. Seldom had so great an advance been made at so small a price.

But modern warfare has its limits in the matter of time and speed. The very swiftness with which they had advanced had in itself an element of danger because it had brought them too far ahead of their supporting guns. These had to be brought up from the rear, and the captured positions had to be reorganized. The troops, too, had to be given a breathing spell, for they had reached the limit of human endurance.

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