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Over the Front in an Aeroplane and Scenes Inside t

The distant explosion of their shells


An

officer replied, "That's the metal fuse which at the moment of explosion flies off through the air. You can only hear that when the explosion is pretty close. You can certainly say now that you have been under shell fire."

We went back to the end of the village furthest from the Germans and entered the headquarters in one of the few houses still in fair preservation. There the officers in command of the village opened a bottle of champagne in our honor and we stood around drinking each other's health. At that precise moment an unusually loud salvo of French artillery went off by way of a salute to the toast.

On the way back through the communicating trenches, we saw an attempt by the German guns to bring down a French aviator, who was flying above us. The latest development of fire regulation by aviation is that the Captain of the battery himself goes up in an aeroplane and sends his corrections on aim down to his battery by wireless. This Captain had his four "seventy-fives" hidden near our communication trench. Every time they went off their report was so violent that I could not help jumping.

The battery Captain was sailing around overhead and the German gunner was letting drive at him with what looked to us to be pretty bad shots. I could see the aeroplane wheeling in the air and hear the distant reports of the "departs," wait an appreciable time and then see the burst

of white flame high up in the sky, followed by little puffs of smoke.

"That's a wretched shot," said I, as one shell burst over our heads, far behind the aeroplane.

"Yes, a bad shot for an aeroplane, but a good shot for us," Captain F---- replied.

I was standing with my head away back, looking straight overhead. "Come, move on, move on, or you'll catch some of that on your face," warned Captain d'A----. I obediently moved on and, sure enough, a couple of seconds later he picked up a strictly fresh shrapnel ball which had just fallen into our trench out of the sky. In the mean time the Captain up in the air had corrected his guns, so that they were hitting whatever they were shooting at, and he sailed away to the rear, while his battery became really enthusiastic and went off with a series of tearing crashes, which kept me jumping all the way to the end of the communicating trench.

There I climbed out with my ears full of the "seventy-fives'" violent reports, the distant explosion of their shells, the distant reports of the enemy's guns, the "crack, crack, crack" of the rifle bullets and the occasional sharp whistling of one overhead.

But my mind was full of the soldier watching and waiting, of the peasants harvesting between the smoke puffs, the laughing old woman milking the cow, of the genial Mayor extending his ruined hospitality, and of what little things like these should bring to pass in the future of France.

IV

A TYPICAL DAY'S TOUR

The morning after our trip to the front at Rheims we got up at seven o'clock after a good night's sleep in the comfortable hotel, and by shortly after eight were ready to start.

But here came a hitch in the smoothly running mechanism.


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