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A Yankee in the Trenches by Robert Derby Holmes

Produced by Janet Kegg and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team

[Illustration: CORPORAL HOLMES IN THE UNIFORM OF THE 22ND LONDON BATTALION, QUEEN'S ROYAL WEST SURREY REGIMENT, H.M. IMPERIAL ARMY. _Frontispiece_.]

A YANKEE IN THE TRENCHES

By

R. DERBY HOLMES

CORPORAL OF THE 22D LONDON BATTALION OF THE QUEEN'S ROYAL WEST SURREY REGIMENT

_ILLUSTRATED FROM PHOTOGRAPHS_

BOSTON LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY 1918

Dedication

TO MARION A. PUTTEE, SOUTHALL, MIDDLESEX, ENGLAND, I DEDICATE THIS BOOK AS A TOKEN OF APPRECIATION FOR ALL THE LOVING THOUGHTS AND DEEDS BESTOWED UPON ME WHEN I WAS A STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND

FOREWORD

I have tried as an American in writing this book to give the public a complete view of the trenches and life on the Western Front as it appeared to me, and also my impression of conditions and men as I found them. It has been a pleasure to write it, and now that I have finished I am genuinely sorry that I cannot go further. On the lecture tour I find that people ask me questions, and I have tried in this book to give in detail many things about the quieter side of war that to an audience would seem too tame. I feel that the public want to know how the soldiers live when not in the trenches, for all the time out there is not spent in killing and carnage. As in the case of all men in the trenches, I heard things and stories that especially impressed me, so I have written them as hearsay, not taking to myself credit as their originator. I trust that the reader will find as much joy in the cockney character as I did and which I have tried to show the public; let me say now that no finer body of men than those Bermondsey boys of my battalion could be found.

I think it fair to say that in compiling the trench terms at the end of this book I have not copied any war book, but I have given in each case my own version of the words, though I will confess that the idea and necessity of having such a list sprang from reading Sergeant Empey's "Over the Top." It would be impossible to write a book that the people would understand without the aid of such a glossary.

It is my sincere wish that after reading this book the reader may have a clearer conception of what this great world war means and what our soldiers are contending with, and that it may awaken the American people to the danger of Prussianism so that when in the future there is a call for funds for Liberty Loans, Red Cross work, or Y.M.C.A., there will be no slacking, for they form the real triangular sign to a successful termination of this terrible conflict.

R. DERBY HOLMES.

CONTENTS

FOREWORD I JOINING THE BRITISH ARMY II GOING IN III A TRENCH RAID IV A FEW DAYS' REST IN BILLETS V FEEDING THE TOMMIES VI HIKING TO VIMY RIDGE VII FASCINATION OF PATROL WORK VIII ON THE GO IX FIRST SIGHT OF THE TANKS X FOLLOWING THE TANKS INTO BATTLE XI PRISONERS XII I BECOME A BOMBER XIII BACK ON THE SOMME AGAIN XIV THE LAST TIME OVER THE TOP XV BITS OF BLIGHTY XVI SUGGESTIONS FOR "SAMMY" GLOSSARY OF ARMY SLANG


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