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I REPAIRED the break myself and walked back further along the line and found another break about halfway.

I saw a man approaching me, who turned out to be an old signaller from Battalion Headquarters out on the line. I told him about the young signaller being killed, and he said he was sorry to hear it, as he was a damned good kid. He then began to swear, and when he cooled down a bit said: "It's rotten, Dick, how the good ones are popped over so quick and the rotten ones simply get nice blighty wounds.

"There's a bloody bunpunching swine back there who has just gone back with a beautiful blighty one in the arm. When it came his turn to go along the line he refused. He said it was not the place for a full corporal to go out on the lines. The sergeant warned him if he didn't go out on the lines he would report him to the Adjutant. I was hoping he would refuse, so that I would have the pleasure of reading that he had been shot at dawn for cowardice in face of the enemy, but he didn't. He left the dug-out and I followed him out and drove him up over the bank of the sunken road as the sergeant had warned me to do.

"He hadn't walked ten yards along the line when a shell burst some distance from him and a bit of shrapnel hit him in the arm. He howled like a stuck pig and ran back to me. As I was dressing his wound I told him that if he had his due he would have had his bloody head knocked off. That's the third we have had hit tonight on the blasted line; but the other two were good kids."

This corporal had joined us about four weeks previously; he had been sent out to France as a signalling corporal and was a pukka bun-puncher. When we were near Doullens I had often seen him buying tins of condensed milk and sucking them like a kid.

A few hours before we were relieved, the following night, The Peer who was back at Battalion Headquarters paid us a visit. It was pretty quiet at the time, only an occasional shell coming over. Just after he arrived the enemy opened out again and put up a barrage from our front line to about fifty yards in the rear of us.

>Old Soldiers Never Die by Frank Richards, is published by Parthian, Library of Wales at PS8.99 CONTINUES TOMORROW


Old Soldiers Never Die by Frank Richards

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 5, 2016
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