Clair W. (Clair Wallace) Hayes.

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E-text prepared by Roger Frank and the Online Distributed Proofreading
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[Illustration: Hal acted quickly. "Sergeant Bowers!" he called sharply.
"Take a dozen men and capture that house!"]

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Over the Top at Chateau Thierry



Author of
"The Boy Allies With the Army Series"


A. L. Burt Company
New York

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(Registered in the United States Patent Office)

By Clair W. Hayes

The Boy Allies at Liege or, Through Lines of Steel

The Boy Allies on the Firing Line or, Twelve Days
Battle along the Marne

The Boy Allies with the Cossacks or, A Wild Dash over
the Carpathians

The Boy Allies in the Trenches or, Midst Shot and Shell
along the Aisne

The Boy Allies in Great Peril or, With the Italian Army
in the Alps

The Boy Allies in the Balkan Campaign or, The Struggle
to Save a Nation

The Boy Allies on the Somme or, Courage and Bravery

The Boy Allies at Verdun or, Saving France from the

The Boy Allies under the Stars and Stripes or, Leading
the American Troops to the Firing Line

The Boy Allies with Haig in Flanders or, The Fighting
Canadians of Vimy Ridge

The Boy Allies with Pershing in France or, Over the Top
at Chateau-Thierry

The Boy Allies with the Great Advance or, Driving the
Enemy through France and Belgium

The Boy Allies with Marshal Foch or, The Closing Days
of The Great World War.

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Copyright, 1919
By A. L. Burt Company

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Hal Paine and Chester Crawford crouched low in a shell hole in No Man's
Land. All morning they had been there and the day had worn on now into
the afternoon.

Two hundred yards west of their refuge were the American lines.
Sprinters such as Hal and Chester could easily have covered the distance
in half a minute; and it was not for want of courage that so far they
had failed to make the effort. It was plain common sense that kept them
in their present position.

On all sides of them - between the American lines and the most advanced
German positions less than two hundred yards from the spot where the
opening of this story finds the two boys - the ground was dotted with
shell holes similar to the ones in which Hal and Chester found

Less than fifty yards due north of Hal and Chester was a second
inhabited shell hole. From this four German infantrymen had amused
themselves during the day by taking occasional shots at the two lads
when either exposed himself over the top of their refuge. This was the
reason that Hal and Chester, once in the comparative safety of the shell
hole, had elected to remain there rather than to risk a dash toward the
American lines.

The same reasoning kept the Germans in their refuge. They were not
willing to risk a shot from their adversaries by a dash toward the
German positions.

It was the twentieth day of March, 1918. Although neither Hal nor
Chester knew it then, it was the eve of what was to prove Germany's
second grand attempt to sweep back the Allied and American troops and
march triumphantly into Paris.

A warm afternoon sun shone down into the shell hole where Hal and
Chester were awaiting the coming of darkness, when, they had decided,
they would make an effort to reach their own lines.

"Guess the Boches are not enjoying themselves any better than we are,"
Hal said, as he pulled his cap farther down over his eyes.

"I imagine they're fretting a bit worse," agreed Chester. "You know the
Hun doesn't bear up very well under adversity."

"Adversity?" grinned Hal. "It's the sun they are trying to bear up under

"Well, whatever it is," declared Chester, somewhat nettled, "I don't
believe they like it very well."

"I don't like it either, but what am I going to do about it?" Hal wanted
to know.

"You might try a little sprint," Chester suggested.

"Not much. I feel reasonably secure here and I think I'll stick awhile.
The thing that mystifies me, though, is why the Germans haven't sent
relief to our friends in the next hole."

"On the same reasoning," said Chester, "why hasn't Captain O'Neil made
an effort to reach us?"

Hal shrugged his shoulders.

"Guess he is playing for the safety of the greatest number," was his
reply. "If he tried to rescue us the Germans also would probably advance
and that would mean a battle. My idea is that Captain O'Neil has been
ordered to avoid that right now!"

"All the same," said Chester, "they are bound to know we're here, and it
seems to me they could do something for us."

"Don't croak," said Hal. "We're not running this war, you know, and I
guess it's a good thing. Anyhow, we've just as much chance to get out
alive as those fellows over there," and he waved an arm in the direction
of the shell hole occupied by the Germans.

This act of indiscretion almost proved costly. When Hal's arm showed
above the top of the shell hole a German rifle cracked in the distance.
Hal heard the whine of the bullet as it passed within a fraction of an
inch of his hand.

"Guess I'd better hug down inside here," he said calmly. "Fritz almost
nicked me that time."

The boys became silent. Every moment or two, one or the other,
exercising extreme caution, peered toward the enemy, for they did not
wish to be caught napping, should the Germans, knowing that the odds
were two to one in their favor, decide to rush them.

Chester looked at his watch.

"Almost five o'clock," he said. "It'll be dark soon and then we can get
away from here."

"Guess Fritz will be as glad as we will," Hal commented.

As it developed, however, the lads were not to get back to their own
lines so easily.

The particular section of the great battle zone in which the lads found
themselves when this story opens was perhaps ten miles south and west of
St. Quentin, at that time in German hands. The river Oise flowed some
five miles to the east and also was held by the enemy.

Darkness now drew on apace and Hal and Chester, making sure that their
rifles and side arms were in perfect condition, prepared to quit their

"Better wait a few minutes," said Chester. "It's not quite dark. We
would still make pretty fair targets on level ground."

"It won't be dark enough to cover us anyhow," Hal replied. "See the

Chester gazed aloft.

"By Jove! That's what I call pretty tough luck," he said. "Well, we'll
just have to make the most of it; that's all."

"The sooner we start, then, the sooner we'll get there," declared Hal.
"Guns ready?"

"Ready," was Chester's brief response.

"Then let's be moving. Follow me."

Hal got to his feet, but, with a cry, as suddenly dropped down again.

"Hit, Hal?" cried Chester, as he stooped over his chum.

"No," replied Hal.

"What's the matter then?"

"Stick out your nose and have a look," returned Hal.

Chester did so, and what he saw was this:

Twenty-five yards away, and advancing rapidly, were the four Germans who
so recently had occupied the neighboring shell hole. They were firing as
they advanced and a bullet sped close to Chester.

"Quick with your rifle, Hal!" the boy cried, and bringing his own weapon
to his shoulder regardless of his exposed position, he pulled the

One of the approaching foes staggered slightly, but he did not fall. The
advancing Germans pumped rifle bullets the faster.

"We'll have to stop them or we are done for," muttered Hal, as he stood
erect in the shell hole.

Despite the hail of bullets that flew about him, Hal was untouched as he
took careful aim and fired at the nearest German.

The man stumbled, threw up his arms and flung his rifle a dozen yards
away; then, with a cry, he pitched forward on his face.

"One," said Hal quietly.

A bullet brushed the boy's cheek, leaving a stream of red in its wake,
but Hal did not quail.

Again his rifle spoke and a second German went to the ground.

"Odds even now," Hal called to Chester. "Let's get these other two."

Without waiting for a reply, he leaped from the shell hole and dashed

Chester, who had been unfortunate in his marksmanship and so far had not
accounted for one of the enemy, followed Hal closely.

The two remaining Germans, now realizing that they had lost the
advantage of two-to-one odds, halted in their impetuous dash forward,
turned and ran. By this time Hal and Chester were close behind them and
the former shouted:


For answer the Germans only ran the faster.

"Well," Hal muttered to himself, "if you won't, you won't."

Again he raised his rifle and fired.

A third German dropped to the ground.

Chester, close behind the remaining foe, also cried a command to
surrender, but the man ran on.

Loath to shoot the man from behind, Chester sprinted and caught up with
him. With his rifle in his right hand, he laid his left on the German's

"Halt!" he cried.

The German needed no further urging. He came to an abrupt stop and
raised his hands.

"We might as well take this fellow back with us," said Hal, as he
approached at that moment.

"Right you are," agreed Chester. "We can't return without some kind of a
memento of our trip. A live souvenir is about the best thing I can think

"You've got me," mumbled the German at this juncture, "but I want to
tell you that before another twenty-four hours have passed, my loss will
be repaid with interest."

"Wonder if he knows anything, Hal?" questioned Chester.

"Guess he's not so big that the German high command is tipping him off
to all their plans," said Hal. "He's angry and wants to talk. That's
about all."

And still it wasn't all; and had the lads had the foresight to report
the words of their prisoner, action might have been taken that would
have nipped the second German offensive in the bud.

With no further word to their prisoner, the lads made off in the
semi-darkness for the American lines. These they reached in safety.

But hardly had they passed within the lines when a violent cannonading
broke out from the German front.

"Sounds as though they were going to start something," said Chester.
"Maybe our prisoner knows something after all."

"Oh, I guess not," replied Hal, and once again passed by an opportunity.

Half an hour later, their prisoner having been turned over to Captain
O'Neil, the lads sought their own little dugout and much-needed repose.



Hal Paine and Chester Crawford, in spite of the fact that the United
States had not declared war on Germany until April of 1917, already had
seen virtually four years of fighting in Europe.

They had been in Berlin when the European conflagration broke out and
had been with the Allied armies almost from the first.

The lads had seen active service with the Belgian, British, French,
Italian and Russian armies and, through their courage and bravery, had
won captaincies in the British army.

When the United States entered the war, Hal and Chester were among the
officers sent back to America to help train the young men in the various
officers' training camps. When they returned again to the fighting front
with the first contingent of American troops to join the Allies, it was
as first lieutenants, U. S. A.

Through their courage and resourcefulness, both lads had won the praise
of Marshal Joffre, commander of the French forces, in the early days of
the war, and of Sir Douglas Haig, the British commander-in-chief. They
had also rendered invaluable service to the Allied cause upon the
request of General Pershing, in command of the American Expeditionary

Times had changed greatly since the first campaign, when the German
armies advanced to the very doors of Paris soon after war was declared.
With America sending thousands of men each month to reinforce the armies
of France and Great Britain, it appeared that the Allies soon would have
the necessary numerical superiority to drive the enemy out of France and
Belgium for all time, and to strike a decisive blow in the war.

So far, while battles of such magnitude as had never been seen before
were fought almost daily, there had been nothing in the nature of a
conflict that would indicate an ultimate decision. True, the Germans and
Austrians, their allies, had staggered the Allies with a crushing drive
in Italy; but, through the prompt action of the British and French, they
had been driven back again.

It appeared, at this moment, that the next great blow would be delivered
by the Allies; that, with her numerical superiority overcome, her output
of munitions of war surpassed, Germany from this time on must remain on
the defensive in an effort to retain what ground she had won in the
early days of the war and to keep her enemies off German soil.

On the twentieth day of March the great battle line extended, roughly,
from Ostend on the North Sea south to within a few miles of Ypres,
thence to Bailleul and Lens. Here it was pushed slightly east, touching
Bapaume and Peronne. In the Soissons region the Germans were in
possession of Chauny and Laon. The battle line continued south to the
river Aisne, and then followed that stream east into Alsace-Lorraine.

Everywhere, up to this time - that is, since the early days of the
war - success had seemed to crown the efforts of the Allies on the
Western front. On the Eastern front, however, it was different. Through
German intrigue, Russia had been removed as a belligerent and more than
a million and a half of German troops had been released to reinforce the
hard-pressed Germans on the west.

Though the loss of Russia's aid in the war was a severe blow to the
Allies, it was more than offset by the entrance of the United States
into the conflict. American soldiers were being rushed to Europe with
all possible dispatch and were taking their places on the firing line.
Already they had covered themselves with glory. So far, however, they
had taken part only in what the official dispatches called "skirmishes,"
although, compared to battles of previous wars, they could be classed as
engagements of more than passing importance.

But the time was coming, and coming soon, when the Yankee troops would
go "over the top" under command of General Pershing in such force and
with such courage that the Germans could not stand before them.

Through the decision of an Allied war council, in which the United
States participated, General Foch had been made the supreme commander of
the Allied forces - British, American and Italian included. It was
believed that through this unity of command greater success would be
achieved than had yet been manifest.

And the time for Marshal Foch to prove his mettle was at hand.

Under the personal direction of General von Hindenburg, the greatest
military genius that the war had yet produced, the German forces had
been massed for their second effort to break through to Paris. Although
Marshal Foch had some slight inkling of the impending attack, he had
been unable to tell just where it would be made. True, his air scouts
had flown time and again over the enemy lines, but so far they had
failed to learn where the foe would strike.

As it developed, the first thrust was made in the north, with Ypres as
the apparent objective; although after the first few days of the drive
it became apparent that Hindenburg's real plan was to get behind Paris
from the north, after driving a wedge between the French and British
armies. This, through the ablest of strategy, Field Marshal Haig was
able to prevent.

Bailleul, Lens and other important railroad centers fell to the Germans
in the second great enemy drive of the war. Suddenly, when apparently
checked in the north, the enemy struck farther south, capturing Bapaume,
Albert, Peronne and other important towns and villages.

When the Allied line at last held there, the attack was pressed against

But this second drive was to fail as had all others, with a terrible
loss to the Germans in manpower. Marshal Foch sacrificed ground to save
lives, while, on the other hand, the German high command threw their men
forward with an utter disregard for loss of life.

To Hal and Chester, after their return from No Man's Land on the night
before the opening of the German advance, it seemed that they had just
closed their eyes when they were awakened by a sudden loud detonation
apparently in their very ears.

As both lads jumped to their feet they were borne down by an avalanche
of dirt and concrete. Although neither lad knew at that moment what had
happened, a German bomb had burst squarely over their dugout, shattering
the little place.

The boys slept in improvised bunks close to each other, and in jumping
to their feet, they came closer together. They lay on the floor face
down as the debris continued to rain on them. For the moment neither was
able to speak.

At last the shower of debris ceased, and Hal made an effort to rise. He
dropped down to the floor again suddenly with an exclamation.

"What's the matter?" asked Chester, sitting up.

"Matter is," said Hal, "that I bumped my head. Seems like the roof has
fallen in."

Chester now made an effort to rise. He got to his feet more cautiously,
however, and so did not hurt himself. Nevertheless, the lad gave an
exclamation of alarm.

"Bump your head, too?" asked Hal.

"No," was the reply.

"What's the trouble then?"

"Trouble is," said Chester, "that we seem to be buried in here."

"Oh, I guess it's not as bad as that," said Hal hopefully, and, getting
to his feet cautiously, he began to explore.

The dugout, before the explosion, had been a small building, possibly
fifteen feet wide and as many feet long. It was entirely covered by a
roof of wood. This, Hal found by exploration, seemed to have come down
to within five feet of the floor and to be wedged down by a heavy weight

"We're buried, all right," said Hal at last, "but I guess we can get
out. We'll have to dig."

"All right," said Chester. "Let's begin. I've got a knife here."

Hal also produced a knife and the lads fell to work upon the roof at one
end. After half an hour of strenuous work Hal sat down and wiped a moist

"Don't seem to be accomplishing much," he said.

"I should say not," said Chester as he sat down beside his chum.

"I'll tell you," said Hal after a pause, "I don't think we'll ever dig
our way out with these tools," and he tapped his knife.

"Well, what then?" asked Chester. "We can't stay here forever. We'll
suffocate. In fact, the air is already getting bad."

"I noticed that," Hal declared, "which is the reason that I say we can't
get out by digging. We might eventually dig our way out, if given time;
but the poisonous air will overcome us long before then."

"We've got to do something, Hal," said Chester. "We can't perish here
like rats in a trap without making an effort to save ourselves."

"Right. Then I've a suggestion to offer."

"Let's have it."

"It's dangerous," said Hal quietly, "and may mean only a quicker death."

"Anything is better than this inaction," Chester declared.

"Well," said Hal, "near my bunk are two hand grenades. My idea is this!
Place them close to the fallen roof where we have been digging, come
back here and pot them with our revolvers. The explosion should blow the
roof off."

"Or bury us a little deeper," said Chester grimly.

"Of course," said Hal. "However, it's the only chance I see. What do you

"Try it, of course," said Chester promptly. "It's the only way. Get out
your bombs."

Hal did so, and a moment later he had placed them to his satisfaction.

"Guess I can hit one in the dark," he said. "Hug down close, Chester."

Chester did so and Hal made himself as small as possible. A moment later
there was a sharp report, followed by a heavy explosion.



Hal's last conscious moment was filled with the roar that followed his
shot aimed at the hand grenades in the far corner of his underground
tomb. When again he was able to realize that he still lived his first
thought was of Chester, who had been near when he pressed the trigger of
his automatic in his desperate attempt to escape.

The lad was very dizzy as he staggered to his feet. First he felt
himself over carefully. He found he uninjured except from shock.

"Chester," he called.

There was no answer.

Again and again Hal called to his friend, meanwhile moving through the
debris that littered the ground, until at last he came upon the
unconscious form of Chester fully a hundred yards from the spot where he
himself had come to life.

Quickly Hal bent over and raised Chester's head to his knee. He still
breathed and as the lad glanced around he noted a pool of stagnant

Laying Chester down on the ground carefully, Hal hurried to the pool.
There he soaked his handkerchief and hurried back to his friend.

After some effort on Hal's part Chester showed signs of returning
consciousness as the cold water began to have its effect. Then Chester
sat up.

"Where am I?" he asked, moving his head feebly in a vain attempt to
pierce the darkness with his eyes.

Hal was forced to smile at this remark.

"I guess you are not in such bad shape after all," he said. "Anybody
that can wake up and start off with a question like that is not going to
die for some time to come."

Chester struggled from Hal's arms and got to his feet. He surveyed the
ruins of the erstwhile dugout in the darkness and then said:

"You're getting to be a pretty fair shot with that gun of yours, Hal."

"Thanks," said Hal dryly. "You were so still and quiet when I found you,
though, that I had begun to think I had done a pretty bad job."

"Well," said Chester, "we're on the outside again, at all events. I
don't feel as well as I might, either, and I vote that we get away from
here. I'd like to lay my hands on the Boche who is responsible for
interrupting my sleep like this. I'd show him a thing or two."

"Not in your present condition, I guess," was Hal's rejoinder.

"Oh, I'm still alive and kicking," returned Chester. "But listen to the

Indeed, it seemed that the roar of heavy artillery from both the Allied
and German lines exceeded in ferocity anything that either lad had heard
in their fours years of fighting.

"You can bet there is something of importance going on," was Hal's
comment. "But I agree with you, Chester, we've time enough later to
learn what it's all about. It's time now to find a place where we can
bunk for the rest of the night. Let's be moving."

Together the lads walked away in the darkness toward the section of the
American encampment where a glimmer of light showed in the distant

"We'll wake these fellows up and see if they'll let us spend the night
with them," said Hal, as they approached the dugout.

"Suits me," Chester agreed; "and if they have any objections to our
company, I'm in favor of dispossessing them."

"That might be rather a large order, in our present shape," said Hal.
"However, we'll see what they have to say."

They approached the dugout and tapped lightly on the door. There was no
answer to their knock. Hal tried again, but with the same result.

"If there is anybody there, they are good sleepers," declared Hal. "If I
don't get an answer this time, we'll go in regardless."

"Suits me," was Chester's response.

Again Hal knocked on the door and waited a moment. There was no response
from within.

"Well, here goes," the lad declared.

With that he threw open the door.

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