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324   DAYS OF PREPARATION

two in the front line, then a general retirement for an alleged "rest" for a week at Westoutre. Naturally, under war conditions, this schedule was more honoured in the breach than the observance. The opposing firing-line trenches were separated from each other by a distance varying from thirty to one hundred and twenty yards, so that little work could be done during the short day-light hours. Men worked like beavers, where work was possible. The old, carelessly constructed parapet of the French force was doubled in thickness, for its insufficiency had caused a terrible toll. At one time the casualty roll of the Princess Patricia's showed the extraordinary proportion of thirty-three dead to forty-four wounded, a peculiarity caused by the fact that a defective parapet was responsible for men being shot in the head and in the neck and receiving wounds from which they died on the spot.

The proximity of the combatants prevented serious artillery fire from either side. The hand grenade, as we now know it, was only being evolved and tentative practice was being made with old jam tins stuffed with explosives and fired with a length of ordinary fuse. The earlier efforts in this direction proved somewhat of the nature of a boomerang, as, the fuse being cut too long by the amateur grenadier, the enemy profited by the lateness of the explosion to grasp the "bomb" and throw it back to its originators. From the name of the makers of the jam from whose tins these amateur bombs were made, this reversion to medieval practices was known as "Tickler's Artillery." Its use was not prohibited, possibly because, although not recognized in the general scheme of things, it provided amusement for the men in what was at best a dull and unexciting time. A few months later the hand grenade came to its own and every regiment in the army had its grenadier company which, on parade, was entitled to the post of honour—the right of the line. Schools for bombers were established in the rear of the fighting line and efforts were made to


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