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16th August 1917, Page 11
16th August 1917
Page 11
Page 12
Page 11, 16th August 1917 — • 1
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

" Caterpillar-mg at the Front.

Moving a Big Gun Into Battery.

By an M.T. Man.


I was sitting in my lorry taking tea, and congratu-e biting myself on having had an easy day, with the added prospect of...a comfortable night's sleep. Suddenly a despatch rider arrived from Headquarters with an order for an N.C.O. to report there at once to act as a guide to our battery position.

It. was my usual luck. The job fell to me I As Headquarters was six miles away and Walking would take too long, I was instructed to go by motorcycle. Upon mounting the cycle, I discpvered that one of the bearings was broken, and the machine useless. So there was nothing else for it but to walk. I set off on

my journey astride Shanks'. pony. Fortunately, I managed to board a. lorry going my way, and it took me to the village I wanted. immediately mmediately reported to the adjutant, who gave me orders to go to X— at once, te pick up one of our caterpillar tractors with one of our 8 in.. mark 5 howitzers, and to .act as corporal in charge and guide to the battery, •

"The gun has been overhauled at the ordnance

werkShops, and is now ready for firing," remarked the adjutant.. "You will take the gun up to your battery, and after it has been put. into positian bring the cater pillar back here and report me." . " A Studebaker light car will be here presently," he went on, "and you will be taken to the ordnance workshops at IC—, where you commence duties."

He then gave me a map of the roads I would have to traverse with the gun, exhorting me to keep to -the roads marked, as otherwise I might get into trouble with the military police, so many roads being under repair and closed to traffic.

Darkness. had now fallen, but the brilliant headlights flashed far along the road as we literally flew over the ground. Great tears were whisked from .my eyes by the wind that rushed tomeet me.

We soon reached our destination, where I presented the paper given me by the adjutant.

Here I learned that-the limber of the gun was .expected to arrive in two hours time, and as this was necessary to hitch 'twixt the caterpillar and the gun itself, in order to keep the gun to its track, there was nothing else for it but to wait. The limber .did not arrive until the morning, owing to some trouble on the road, so I was enabled to match a few hours sleep though I did not decide to lie down until 3 a.m., Iaeing in hourly expectation el the limber arriving. By 9a .m. the next morning everything was in readiness, so off we went. Going out of we were stopped by a car, in . which was -the major commanding the battery.

To him I explained what had happened, but he said it was quite all right, and that as the day was misty I should be able to go right up to the battery, even though some of the roads might be under enemy observation.

All that morning we travelled along at a caterpillar's pace, the cynosure of all eyes.

We passed many detachments of infantry en route, Sbme of the men grinned hugely, meanwhile passing such jocular comments as:—" That's the stuff to give 'ern !' " Another dose for Fritz." "What size, mate-15-inch? " Truly, one could understand the latter remark, which was caused by the heavy and immensely powerful construction of the gun and its cradle.

On, on we went, the beat of the huge engines and the rattle of the great hinged plates of the cater pillar's endless Chains as they banged themselves down on the road surface, causing a terrific clatter.

Needless to say, very few horses would pass my weird-looking 'procession quietly. Some turned tail and fled ; others mounted_ the roadside banks to bolt across the fields ; a few decided to runt the gauntlet and dashed madly past. Of the few that did pass us quietly, some pricked up their ears and were openly inquisitive, whilst two or three just gazed at us, and then, figuratively speaking, turned their, noses up at us, and evidently put us down as imitation of themselves.

By 2 p.m. we had arrived at a village called V and here, to my dismay, the military police refused to allow us to proceed. The atmosphere was too clear, and the road under enemy observation. • We were given the choice of several other routes, but I decided to wait until darkness had fallen, when I would be able to go straight on. • During the wait, many officers and men came up to ask questions as to the calibre. One and all were astonished to learn that the gun was an 8.5 howitzer, for she certainly, looked larger.

One of the "boys " with me, upon 'receiving the eternal—query, "Fifteen-inch, mate ? " indi pantly snorted, "No ; h'ariti-aircraft I "

At last it was sufficiently dark to allow us to proceed, so starting up our engine, we were 'soon away again. Once we had to crawl steadily down a long, winding and narrow bill, and here the caterpillar proved very skittish. She slid playfully up to a tumble-down house in which she seemed to recognize an old acquaintance, and it was some time ere we coulcfpart them.

Indignant at such treatment from the masters she had served so well all day, she immediately wobbled to the other side of the road and commenced a heated argument with a poor, inoffensive little sapling.

Our endeavours to straighten matters out only in creased her anger, and she ruthlessly maltreated that , young tree to such an extent:that twigs and branches fell in all directions, while as the caterpillar at last sailed away she 'dragged a huge branch in her trium.phant wake.

It was now very dark, and there were many little winding roads to traverse. Upon making inquiries, and learning that I might encounter difficulty in getting through such narrow by-ways, I decided to take a very straight, wide road that went near the trenches, and afterwards to turn sharply, to the right, which would bring us directly to our battery position.

This I did, and as we cruised along the road inclined upward. As we advanced we got a better ;view of the bombardment which was in progress. We soon breasted the hill. but before turning off to the right we stood looking down upon the "sights " tint our caterpillar was choo-choo-ing impatiently, so

we hastened on. Shortly afterwards we ran throughthe much--bombarded village of M— and reached our battery position.

Being relieved of our burden, only having the caterpillar to take back to its 'park, and knowing it was possible to return. another way by daylight provided we left. the battery by dawn, I decided" to spend the night here...

At dawn we were aroused by the guard, and soon 4ohad the caterpillar on the road again, homeward bdund and away from stray shells: Our next thought wag for breakfast. About 7.30 a.m. we stopped at a cottage and asked the woman living there if she wouldmake us some tea.

We had with Us'about 1 lb. of tea lb. sugar and three-quarters of a tin of .condensed milk, and these we gave her in order to make the tea. Owing to' an Army -Order forbidding soldierato he served with re: freshment during certain hours, we were unable to

enter the house. .

For the next few hours the caterpillar waddled serenely on, and by 11.30 a.m. I was back again at X—.

I reported all well to the adjutant, returned-him the map, and was disrnissed. I reached mylorry about 2 p.m. Upon arriving there, my first visit Was to the cook-house, for I was as hungry as a bunter, having omitted to take food with me: It was only by the kindness of the caterpillar men that I had managed to keep Little Miry quiet. • Now I was-satisfied. I was presented with a . Good old Maconochie


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