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Over the Front in an Aeroplane and Scenes Inside t

Last came the asphyxiating bomb


Next

came the new aerial torpedo fired from the new gun. (The old little mortar with the black powder was not used.) The new gun made practically no report in discharging the torpedo. It was beautiful to watch the slender fishlike projectile go sailing in a high and graceful arc up, up, up, against the sky and then down, down, down, until it landed just beyond the wire entanglements. But it really never did land, for it had a percussion device in its nose which exploded it on touching ground. This big torpedo had a reduced charge of explosive so as not to destroy too much of the field. Judging by the report of this reduced charge, the full charge going off must be the grandfather of all explosions.

Next came the two incendiary bombs. One of these burst on contact, setting fire to the patch of grass where it landed. The other had a fuse which shot out a stream of golden sparks like fireworks before exploding. This bomb threw burning liquid in all directions, setting many fires in the grass for a radius of several yards.

Last came the asphyxiating bomb. It consisted of a sphere formed by five pieces of perforated iron held loosely together in a sort of disjointed shell by a little wire basket. Inside this openwork ball hung a small glass vessel full of acid. When the engineer threw the ball against the ground the five pieces of metal shell collapsed onto the glass, breaking it and liberating the acid, which made a

wet splash on the ground. This acid in turn makes a gas which the French somewhat euphemistically call "gas timide."

To show that this gas was not poisonous, like the German gases, we were invited to stand in a close circle right around the fragments of the bomb immediately after it had been thrown, with our heads bent over. We stood and stood, sniffing away, but could detect no gas of any kind.

"Ah," said the officer of explosives, "in the full open air like this our 'gas timide' takes longer to be noticed, but in an inclosed space it works very rapidly."

Hardly had he finished speaking when I began to notice a smell something like wood alcohol. At the same time my eyes began to stream with tears, my nose felt as though it was indulging in one long continuous sneeze, and I turned hastily away, coughing and sputtering and wiping my eyes, with an officer on each side keeping me active company.

"If that's a 'timide' gas," I remarked to one of the officers as we left the pupils to begin actual practice, "I'd hate to meet a fierce one."

VI

WITH THE BELGIAN BATTERIES

HEADQUARTERS OF THE BELGIAN ARMY, LA PANNE, BELGIUM, _Aug. 30_.

Yesterday I spent a day with the Belgian artillery. In the morning at ten o'clock Commandant L----, who had me in charge, called for me at the very comfortable seaside hotel where I am staying. In his military motor we threaded our way through the streets of the town. These were jammed with thousands of Belgian soldiers enjoying their six days of rest before returning for three days in the front trenches (followed by six days in reserve and three days again in the front trenches). A cheerful, well-fed-looking lot of men they are, not smart, but husky-looking in their new khaki uniforms and greatcoats.


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