Thomas Witham ["Tales of the V.C."], item 1
- January 18, 2018 04:22:43 Thomas A. Lingner
TALES OF THE V.C.
Private Thomas WItham, 1st. Battalion Coldstream Guards.
By, Lieut: J. P. Lloyd
M.I.7 B (1)
31 MAY 1918
It was the morning of the 31st of July 1917, and the 1st battalion of
the Coldstream Guards had taken two lines of German trenches on
Pilckem Ridge. In each one of the chain of shell holes, that was
all that remained of the German second line, crouched the men of the leading wave,
waiting only for the order to go forward again.
In one of these craters on the right of the line sat three men - a
sergeant, a corporal, and a private. Up and down the dreary
waste of gray mud in front of them the British shells were
bursting in a leaping inferno of smoke and flame. They were
bursting, too, in clouds of red dust upon a heap of bricks and rubble,
which had once been a house, some 70 yards away to their right front.
Suddenly, as they waited there, out of the ruins came a
quick gust of bullets, that cracked like whips overhead, and, even
above the thunder of the barrage, the three men could hear the
familiar insistent chatter of a machine-gun. Lurking in some hidden
corner, it had escaped the anger of our guns. In a few minutes the
barrage would lift, and the machine-gun would work its will
upon the khaki line that marched behind it up the base slope of
Somehow, and at once, that machine gun must be silenced. But how?
Between the three men and the emplacement fell what seemed to be
an impenetrable curtain of fire, and if, by a miracle, a man
should come safely through that, how could he reach the machine
gun unseen by it's crew? Then, as if in answer to the question,
a smoke shell burst close in front of them, and the emplacement
was blotted out by an eddying cloud of smoke.
Before his companions realised what was in his mind Witham, the
private had scrambled out of the shell-hole and was racing through
the smoke towards the ruins.
At the appointed time the barrage lifted, and the Coldstreamers rose
and walked behind it up the bare slope of Pilkem Ridge. But
Pilckem Ridge, near Ypres
Story location Pilckem Ridge, near Ypres
- 5454 / 60680
- Jeremy Arter
- Western Front
- Trench Life