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BOY VOLUNTEERS WITH BRITISH ARMY ***




Produced by David Edwards, Larry B. Harrison, and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
(Images courtesy of the Digital [email protected] University
(http://digital.library.villanova.edu/))









THE BOY VOLUNTEERS SERIES

By KENNETH WARD

_12mo. Cloth. Fully Illustrated_ _50c per Volume_

THE NEWEST BOYS' BOOKS ON THE EUROPEAN WAR, RELATING THE ADVENTURES
OF TWO AMERICAN BOYS AND THEIR EXPERIENCES IN BATTLE AND ON AIR SCOUT
DUTY. ALL PROFUSELY ILLUSTRATED WITH AUTHENTIC DRAWINGS.


=The Boy Volunteers on the Belgian Front=

Describes the adventures of two American boys who were in Europe
when the great war commenced. Their enlistment with Belgian
troops and their remarkable experiences are based upon actual
occurrences and the book is replete with line drawings of
fighting machines, air planes and maps of places where the most
important battles took place and of other matters of interest.

=The Boy Volunteers with the French Airmen=

This book relates the further adventures of the young Americans
in France, where they viewed the fighting from above the firing
lines. From this book the reader gains considerable knowledge of
the different types of air planes and battle planes used by the
warring nations, as all descriptions are illustrated with
unusually clear line drawings.

=The Boy Volunteers with the British Artillery=

How many boys today know anything about the great guns now being
used on so many European battle fronts? Our young friends had the
rare opportunity of witnessing, at first hand, a number of these
terrific duels, and the story which is most fascinatingly told
is illustrated with numerous drawings of the British, French and
German field pieces.

=The Boy Volunteers with the Submarine Fleet=

Our young heroes little expected to be favored with so rare an
experience as a trip under the sea in one of the great
submarines. In this book the author accurately describes the
submarine in action, and the many interesting features of this
remarkable fighting craft are made clear to the reader by a
series of splendid line drawings.


THE NEW YORK BOOK COMPANY
PUBLISHERS NEW YORK




[Illustration: _"At them, boys!" shrieked the Corporal._]




THE BOY VOLUNTEERS
WITH THE
BRITISH ARTILLERY

BY
KENNETH WARD

THE NEW YORK BOOK COMPANY
NEW YORK




Copyright, 1917, by
AMERICAN AUTHORS PUBLISHING CO.




CONTENTS


CHAPTER PAGE

I. THE DECISION 13

II. THE FIGHT IN DEVIL'S CUT 24

III. THE 75-MILLIMETRE GUNS 32

IV. A LESSON IN OBSERVATION 42

V. THE CURTAIN OF FIRE 50

VI. A SHELLED BATTLEFIELD 60

VII. A LIVELY CAMP BEHIND THE LINES 70

VIII. THE SPIES IN THE CAMP 82

IX. THE LAWS AGAINST SPIES 93

X. A DIFFICULT TRIP TO THE MAIN TRENCHES 104

XI. DISCOVERING A GERMAN RANGE-FINDER 116

XII. FINDING THE ENEMY'S BATTERY 128

XIII. THE MYSTERIOUS FIGURES ON THE RANGE-FINDER 140

XIV. CAUGHT IN A TERRIFIC DRIVE 152




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


_"At them, boys!" shrieked the Corporal_ _Frontispiece_

PAGE

_Method of Signaling from Airplanes_ 53

_Peculiarities of Trajectories_ 56

_Peculiarities of Trajectories_ 57

_The Deadly Shrapnel Shell_ 68

_The Spy's Account Book_ 91

_Pontooning Heavy Guns Across a Stream_ 101

_A German Range-Finder_ 118

_Arrangement of Guns on Hill 203_ 138




THE BOY VOLUNTEERS

WITH THE BRITISH

ARTILLERY




CHAPTER I

THE DECISION


"It seemed to me as though I should never have the courage to go back
to the airplane service since Lieutenant Guyon was killed," remarked
Ralph, as he and Alfred were convalescing in the American Hospital, in
Paris.

"That is the way I feel about it, too," replied Alfred. "To think that
he should have escaped the terrific shower of bullets, while we were
coming down, to be killed by having the machine hit the ground, the
way it did, makes me feel so sad that I sometimes wonder whether it is
really so."

"I suppose the only thing we can do now is to go home; and, still, that
doesn't seem to be the right thing, just now," replied Ralph.

"No; I am not in favor of that; suppose we go to England,—anywhere,
or anything except that which will remind us of poor Guyon," answered
Alfred, as he sat in the huge chair and slowly nodded his head.

* * * * *

At the outbreak of the war Alfred and Ralph were on the way from
southern Germany to Antwerp in an auto, accompanied by a Belgian
chauffeur, where they were pursued by the Germans near the frontier.
They escaped for a time, but were afterwards arrested by the Germans
and finally liberated. On their way to Antwerp they took part with the
Belgians in resisting the advances of the foe. Reaching Antwerp, they
escaped with the Belgian army, at the time the city was besieged, and
after some adventures, crossed the northern part of Belgium and reached
Dunkirk on the Channel.

From that point, in the endeavor to reach Paris, they had some stirring
exploits, which tested their metal on many occasions.

From the time they left Belgian territory it had been their wish to
join the aviation corps, and this wish was gratified after they had
left Paris and made their way to the eastern part of France. The corps
to which they belonged was stationed at Verdun, the most vigorous
outpost of the fighting line.

There they were constantly engaged during a full year of most intrepid
warfare. They owed their success in joining the corps as actual
combatants to a peculiar incident. Before reaching the Verdun camp they
had met Lieutenant Guyon, attached to the station at Bar-le-Duc, and
with him they made numerous flights, especially in the work of testing
machines. On one occasion the lieutenant, who was the victim of a weak
heart, was attacked with the disease while aloft, and the boys piloted
the machine to earth in safety, notwithstanding the excitement caused
by the sudden pitching of the machine. It was sufficient to show that
the boys were made of the right stuff, and the officer appreciated
their bravery.

Thereafter, the boys were his constant companions, flying with him on
many occasions and engaging with him in some of the most brilliant
encounters in the air with German aviators. The time came, however,
when, after fighting three of the swiftest and most notable German
aeroplanes, both of the boys were wounded. In the effort of the
lieutenant to bring the badly crippled machine to earth, it was
impossible to prevent the catastrophe which followed. The lieutenant
and one of the boys were thrown from the machine, and the officer died
from the effect of internal injuries within a week.

The wounds of the boys were severe, and they were held at the base
hospital for weeks before their condition was such as to permit
them to be sent to the Paris Hospital. At the time of the foregoing
conversation they had been convalescing for a month. The death of their
friend was a terrible blow to them, so severe that, as indicated by
their conversation, they did not feel like participating in any more
airship work.

"I suppose we shall always have a feeling that there is nothing like
flying," said Ralph, as he mused over their experiences that evening.

"It is all right, and I hope to do a great deal of flying after the war
is over, but I suppose we might as well make up our minds to give it up
for good at this time," replied Alfred.

It was really a relief that the final decision had come, for the
feeling of reverence was so strong for their dead friend that it seemed
as though something would be wrong to go up in an airship without him.

"When shall we start?" said Ralph the next morning.

"As soon as they give us the discharge," replied Alfred. "You know
no one is permitted to leave the hospital until the doctor gives his
certificate."

A week thereafter they were informed by the nurse that the doctor had
prepared a certificate to the effect that both were able to leave.
In one way this was very gratifying, but they could not forget the
tender care which had been bestowed on them from the moment they became
patients there.

The certificates were finally handed to them, and, going to their
rooms, they sadly packed up the few things which had accumulated. As
they passed out and marched down between the rows of cots, with the
packages on their backs, every patient greeted them. The history of
the boys had reached every one long before this time, so they were not
permitted to go without the usual wishes.

"Sorry to see you go, but glad you are good as ever!" "Give them fits
this time;" "Send the Boches my compliments," said another. "Where are
you bound for this time?" cried a voice, from across the room. Every
remark, in fact, indicating that they were expected to return to the
fighting line.

The emotions awakened by the greetings and the good wishes were too
deep to dispel the idea. They could not, in the presence of the
enthusiastic men all about them, say that they had enough of the
_fighting game_, as every one called it. It made them feel as though
something was wrong, and as they neared the door they almost made a
bound for it.

As they walked down the steps, Ralph looked at Alfred with a peculiar
expression on his face. Alfred turned away, but suddenly wheeled around.

"Well, are we going back?" he asked with startling suddenness.

"I felt awfully sheepish; didn't you?" asked Ralph.

"No; I felt like a coward. Now when I think of it I don't remember of
a single fellow who left the hospital since we have been here who ever
suggested that he wasn't going back," replied Alfred.

"That's a fact; well, I'm going back, but not, in the airship service,"
said Ralph. "No; I couldn't do that; anything but flying."

"Hello!" cried a voice behind them. "Out for good, are you? Well,
sorry to lose you; we have a very polite way of bidding our patients
good-bye, and I suppose I shall have to spring it on you."

"What is that?" asked Ralph.

"Hope you won't come back again," replied the doctor, with a laugh.

The boys were really unprepared for mirth just at this time, but they
managed to assure the doctor that his wishes were reciprocated.

"Which way now?" continued the doctor.

"We don't know," replied Alfred. "We are debating what to do."

"You see," interrupted Ralph, "since Lieutenant Guyon's death we are
all broken up, and we have been debating whether or not we can go back
into the service."

"Go back?" queried the doctor. "You don't have to go back; you are
still in the service. Were you discharged by any one?" he asked,
glancing at them keenly.

"Why, no; we never thought of that," said Alfred, looking at Ralph.

"We were just talking about going to England," explained Ralph.

"If you did you would be deserters," replied the doctor with a smile.

"Well, I thought it was singular that when they gave us the
certificates they should give us these slips," said Alfred, pulling out
the document.

"Of course, you are still in the service, and that is merely an order
for the last month's pay."

"I know that, but they didn't say anything about keeping on," said
Ralph.

"They don't have to. You are in and the only way to get out is to be
invalided, or to get a discharge in a regular way, and then you are
free. Of course, we know how you feel about the death of your friend,
and no one blames you for your aversion to re-entering the aviation
service; but if you really want to get out, the matter can be easily
arranged by applying to the American Ambassador, on the ground that you
are Americans, and are minors," said the doctor.

The boys looked at each other in silence, and finally Ralph spoke: "I
think it would be well to do that; would you mind taking the steps for
us?"

"I certainly shall be glad to do so; you have earned an honorable
discharge, if any one has," said the doctor.

It thus turned out that three days after leaving the hospital, they
received a document at their hotel from the American Embassy. On
opening it they found two documents, reciting that Alfred Elton and
Ralph Cottrell, native Americans, in the aviation service, were
entitled to honorable discharges.

Somehow the news was not enthusiastically received. They glanced at
each other for a few moments in silence.

"Does that suit you?" asked Ralph.

"Not in the least," said Alfred with a mournful shake of the head. "I
don't think the doctor had any business to get us out of the service."

"But we told him that is what we wanted."

They walked down the rue Rivoli, passed through the place de la
Concorde, and reached the Champs Elysees in a half daze. Soldiers were
moving hither and thither, vehicles of every description, Red Cross
vans, and even cavalry squads were in the procession, but none of them
seemed to attract their attention, so completely were they absorbed in
the last episode of their lives, and, besides, they had seen so many of
the trappings of war that a few more or less did not seem to cause much
of a ripple.

But as they slowly moved along the street they stopped, as by a
common impulse, to witness a procession of machine guns mounted on
smart little autos, followed by two full batteries of field guns.
The artillery pieces were mounted on specially made auto trucks, and
trailing behind each truck was the caisson.

"Now, that looks like business," said Ralph. "It would have taken from
eight to twelve horses to pull the gun and ammunition around. Gee! how
soon those fellows could get into action and pull out when the command
is given!"

"That would suit me about as well as the flyers, but I suppose we
haven't an earthly chance to get in on that," said Alfred ruefully.

"Why not? We can get there if we try hard enough," responded Ralph.

Alfred, with his eyes intent on the fine display before him, did not
respond. The discharge, honorable though it was, made a sore spot in
the heart of each.

The following morning they awoke earlier than usual. The usual topic
was again taken up and discussed.

"Suppose we take a trip to the Artillerie Ecole?" remarked Alfred.

"Where is it?" asked Ralph.

"I don't know, myself, but it is across the river, somewhere. It was
founded by the first Napoleon; it was always his hobby," said Alfred.

"Yes, I know. It was he who said that God was always on the side that
had the heaviest artillery," responded Ralph.

"I don't think he would say so if he lived in the present time,"
answered Alfred.

"Why not?" asked Ralph.

"Why, he would have said 'With the most airplanes,'" suggested Alfred.

Ralph laughed at the new idea. "Well, you may be right. I think that if
the Allies would put more money and energy into flying machines and less
in big guns, there would be more likelihood of success; but I don't
suppose we ought to know it all," said Ralph with a sarcastic grin.

When they arrived at the artillery school they were still garbed in
the uniforms indicating the service in which they had been engaged.
A kindly professor, in the uniform of a colonel, received them with
smiles, and he questioned them about their work, and to him they
confided their wishes.

"You have been granted honorable discharges, and it would not be prudent
for me to make any recommendations, however meritorious your services
might have been," he remarked. After some reflection he continued:

"If you are really bent on going back and entering the artillery
branch, it would be well to apply to the English officials. They are
preparing a tremendous organization in that direction."

"Thank you," said Ralph. "We shall, probably, act upon your suggestion."

Returning to the hotel the question was again considered, and the
decision formed to depart for the British sector at once. That
afternoon they emerged from the hotel and wended their way to the
Gard du Nord, as the great northwest station of Paris is known. There
two tickets were purchased for Amiens, a town eighty miles north, by
railway, as they considered they would be able, probably, to get into
contact with the British forces at that point.

It was late in the morning when the train rolled into the city, and
seizing their haversacks, the boys were quickly out of the train and
ranged up alongside the military restaurant, awaiting an opportunity to
be served. They were informed that a movement of great importance was
going on in the sector directly east of that point, as was indicated
by the vast number of field pieces, which were constantly being
transported by motor and lorry.

It was, really, the beginning of the combined English and French
drive in the Somme region, as it is now known. A dapper little French
sergeant, who sat between them, volunteered much of the information,
which they were eager to obtain, as to the localities and disposition
of the forces.

"My battery was detrained at Moreil yesterday, and they will come
north and cross the canal about eight kilometers east of the city," he
remarked, in response to their questionings.

"That is the branch of the service we are anxious to join," said Alfred.

"What? after having had a hand with the flyers?" he asked, as he looked
at them quizzically.

"Yes; our best friend was killed, and then the doctor at the hospital
was so much interested in us as to get us discharged," responded Ralph.

"But the artillery is a tough place; you've got to rough it and stand
an awful lot of pounding. Why, in the Champagne region, where we came
from at the time we made the five-mile sweep, we went ahead so fast
that the commissary couldn't keep up with us, and we were in the fight
at one stretch for more than seventy hours, and with little to eat at
that."

That was said not in a boastful way, but merely to impress on them the
hard lot of an artilleryman.

"I suppose that is so," remarked Alfred. "But that's what the infantry
men say; and the air pilots think they have a particularly tough time
of it, and even the Red Cross people are in danger all the time; but
that's to be expected."

"Oh, if you're bound to go, there will be plenty to do, but the chances
of getting in are pretty slim unless by regular enlistment."




CHAPTER II

THE FIGHT IN DEVIL'S CUT


One of the important canals in northern France starts from the English
Channel, near Abbeville, and parallels the Somme river, passing through
Amiens, extending thence to Peronne, within the German lines. It was an
important artery for the transportation of munitions and heavy ordnance
directly to the front.

When, two hours after the conversation related in the last chapter,
the sergeant hunted around for means of conveyance to the section
where his battery was to reach the canal, the boys accompanied him.
Accommodations were finally secured on one of the many vans which lined
the highway, and before noon the sergeant informed them that, as they
were approaching the great highway leading to Corbie, he would have to
bid them good-bye, as that was the point designated for the battery to
ship on the canal.

The boys debated the question, whether to remain or proceed to the
front, and finally decided to continue their journey. But before
proceeding two miles further the procession of loaded trucks halted,
and the work of unloading began. They had reached the last permanent
depot near the fighting line, but what to do now was the question. They
were no nearer the object of their desires than when they left Paris.

"I wonder why they are loading up that truck?" asked Ralph, as they
glanced at several power machines close by. "Those boxes are going to
the front, I am sure."

"Want any help!" asked Alfred.

"That's always welcome," said one of the men.

"All right, then," said Alfred, "here goes. Which boxes do you want
first?"

They had already learned that there is nothing so welcome in the
busy front as willingness to lend a hand. It is the open sesame to
friendship and advancement.

"Where are you bound?" asked Ralph, as they marched to and fro.

"Right up to the front. These things must reach the 14th battery before
night," was the reply.

Each of these trucks carried two tons of provisions, loads greatly
in excess of the weights for which they were built, but that was of
no consequence. The fighters must have something to eat, whatever
happened. When the last boxes were piled up the boys remained on the
truck, and the driver, nodding at them pleasantly, threw in the clutch
and speeded out the road to the east.

"How long have you been at this business?" asked Ralph.

"Three months," was the reply.

"How do you like the job?" asked Alfred.

"I like anything that will help the boys at the front," was the reply.

"Is this your regular business?" asked Ralph.

"Well, no, not exactly," he replied. "I didn't have any regular
business before the war, but when it came along I went back into the
army, and I would be there now if the Boches hadn't permanently lamed
me; you see I can't quite get my right leg to straighten out. But it's
all right; we saved France at the Marne, and I'd give the other leg to
give them another such a licking as they got there."

"Let me relieve you," said Alfred after the second hour.

"Why, yes; an offer like that would be acceptable," he replied, as he
rose from his seat.

In all their conversation the man had the aspect of a true gentleman,
and he was certainly out of his element, in that menial position. Later
the boys learned from the assistant on the truck that Loree was the son
of a nobleman, and after having been invalided he insisted on taking
his place in the capacity where he might be most useful.

"Why, you would be surprised, just as I am and have been ever since
this war began, to find how many of the young men of the noble families
of France are doing this kind of work, after they have been rendered
unfit for duty in the ranks," said their companion to Ralph, as they
were seated on the rear of the van.

"How often do you make these trips?" asked Ralph.

"Twice a day, if we can get across the Devil's Cut without
interruption," was the answer.

"What do you mean by the Devil's Cut?" asked Ralph.

"Well, we have a stretch of about two kilometers that's like going
through hell fire. The Germans have had the range of that road for a
month. When we get through that we are all right, and sometimes they
let us pass without shelling; but not often," was the answer.

An hour thereafter the driver moved along and notified Alfred that it
would be necessary for him to take the wheel. "Now get on the left side
of the truck low down," he said to the boy.

Without asking why, he did so and was surprised to see the assistant
and Ralph hanging to a narrow running board at the side.

"What's up?" shouted Alfred.

"We are near the Devil's Cut," said Ralph.

"Well, we are in it now," said the assistant. "Everything seems fairly
quiet,——"

"Bang." Something exploded. The boys had heard that sound before. It
startled but did not disconcert them.

"What! are we going right into the German lines?" asked Alfred, as he
glanced about.

"No," responded Ralph, "but we have a mile or so of close work, and
this is the way the Germans have of welcoming us, as well,——"

"Crash,——" came the second shell, followed by another, completely
drowning the voice of the assistant.

"They mean to get us this time, sure," said he finally. "Some airship


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Online LibraryKenneth WardThe Boy Volunteers with the British Artillery → online text (page 1 of 9)