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Army Boys in the French Trenches by Homer Randall

Crouched low in their trenches


Crouched

low in their trenches, massed line behind line, the Allied forces bent their heads to the storm, and waited in grim fury for the infantry attack that they knew would surely follow.

And it was not long in coming. The fog had risen by this time, and over the fields, rank upon rank, marching at the double quick, came masses of gray figures that seemed as endless as the waves of the sea.

The Allied artillery tore wide gaps in the dense masses, but they closed up instantly and continued their advance. Machine guns poured thousands of bullets into the living target, and the gunners served their pieces again and again until they were so hot that they burned the hand.

But true to their theory of warfare, the German leaders fed their men into the jaws of Moloch with cynical indifference. They had counted on paying a certain price, and they were willing to pay it.

But flesh and blood has its limitations, and before that murderous fire the ranks at last faltered.

Then from the trenches poured the Allied hosts in a fierce counter attack, and before their resistless charge the enemy wavered and at last broke. The gray lines melted away, and the ground, strewn with their dead and dying, was held by the Allied forces, which swiftly organized for the second attack, that they knew would not be long in coming.

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CHAPTER XXIV

A DEED OF DARING

"We got them!" cried Bart, exultingly, as the boys worked feverishly at the preparations to meet the new attack.

"Right between the eyes," cried Billy.

"We drew first blood, all right," agreed Frank, "but they'll come again for more."

The prophecy was speedily realized, for again the enemy came forward, with undiminished ardor, protected this time by a deadly barrage fire behind which they marched with confidence. It was evident that this time the enemy, having tested the Allied mettle and found it excellent, had determined to place its chief reliance upon their big gun fire. And for a time it seemed as though their confidence was justified. The barrage fire swept the ground so completely that the Allies were forced to abandon their hastily seized positions in the open and retreat once more to the shelter of their trenches. But all the attacks of the German hordes, repeated again and again, were not able to get possession of those first line trenches, to which the Allies held with the fury of desperation. They were manned chiefly by the American troops, although certain units of French and English held either end of the line. Again and again the storm broke, and again and again it was beaten back. The Germans had massed at that portion of the line numbers many times greater than those possessed by the defenders. By all the theories of war they ought to have been successful, but, like the old guard at Waterloo, the Americans might die, but would not surrender.


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