When the battle is won

 
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“I saw nobody there, friend or foe. It was very eerie, but I recall facing towards our old first lines and being appalled at the poor positioning of our old front lines. They were absolutely clearly overlooked downhill by the enemy for all those many terrible months preceding the start of the battle. Sitting ducks the British soldiers must have been, I thought.

I then went to the second line trench, and jumped in to immediately see a German soldier lying on the parapet, with a fixed bayonet I approached, then I saw his putty coloured face which convinced me he was mortally wounded. This German, lying, brought up an arm and actually saluted me, all fear of him had gone from me, and all fear of me had gone from him. I understood no German language then, but the poor chap kept muttering two words, ‘wasser, wasser’ and ‘mutter, mutter’. It took me a minute or so to realise he wanted a drink of water. The second word I could not have cottoned on to. I am glad to this day that I gave him a drink of my precious water, before having to carry on forward.

I proceeded and came across a short section of a kind of sandbagged strong point on which bolt upright were about five or six German soldiers holding pointed rifles. Everyone of these were dead, propped up against the parapet. I got to the rear of them and verified they were all dead. I can only guess they had been killed by one of our machine guns. A clip of cartridges had fallen out of one of their hands and into what looked like to me a pool of blown out brains at the feet of one of them. I veered to the right of this grisly sight and entered a slight dip in the ground. There was a pool of water and all around it were some Germans, presumable dead, with their faces seemingly partly immersed in the water”.

 

Account from Private G. Mayne, Royal Fusiliers.

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“I saw nobody there, friend or foe. It was very eerie, but I recall facing towards our old first lines and being appalled at the poor positioning of our old front lines. They were absolutely clearly overlooked downhill by the enemy for all those many terrible months preceding the start of the battle. Sitting ducks the British soldiers must have been, I thought.

I then went to the second line trench, and jumped in to immediately see a German soldier lying on the parapet, with a fixed bayonet I approached, then I saw his putty coloured face which convinced me he was mortally wounded. This German, lying, brought up an arm and actually saluted me, all fear of him had gone from me, and all fear of me had gone from him. I understood no German language then, but the poor chap kept muttering two words, ‘wasser, wasser’ and ‘mutter, mutter’. It took me a minute or so to realise he wanted a drink of water. The second word I could not have cottoned on to. I am glad to this day that I gave him a drink of my precious water, before having to carry on forward.

I proceeded and came across a short section of a kind of sandbagged strong point on which bolt upright were about five or six German soldiers holding pointed rifles. Everyone of these were dead, propped up against the parapet. I got to the rear of them and verified they were all dead. I can only guess they had been killed by one of our machine guns. A clip of cartridges had fallen out of one of their hands and into what looked like to me a pool of blown out brains at the feet of one of them. I veered to the right of this grisly sight and entered a slight dip in the ground. There was a pool of water and all around it were some Germans, presumable dead, with their faces seemingly partly immersed in the water”.

Account from Private G. Mayne, Royal Fusiliers.

 
WW1Steve Blassberg