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PRINCESS PATRICIA'S   325

have every man take a ten days' course of training. The British Army was deplorably short of machine guns, each regiment having but two, and theoretically these were for defence. Little advantage was taken of the lesson taught by the South African War, when the pom-pom was used so effectively against the British soldiers by the German-instructed Boer. With astonishing lack of foresight, the War Office administration, which turned down the breach-loading, quick-firing Maxim-Nordenfeldt, known to the soldier as the pom-pom, was also responsible for relegating the machine gun to its position as a weapon of defence. To the army of to-day, a Machine-Gun Corps is just as much a necessity as the Field Artillery, and the Germans, having realized long ago that this was an axiom of war, profited accordingly. Had the Princess Patricia's been well supplied with machine guns, the lack of efficient bombs in the early stages of their war work would not have been as seriously felt.

Toward the end of February, it became evident that something sinister was developing to the east of Shelley Farm, near St. Eloi, and in due time the Flying Corps discovered that the enemy were driving an underground sap against the British position. The sap was zig-zag and the point of approach was evidently in the neighbourhood of trenches 19, 20, and 21, which had been held by the 27th Division since its arrival at the Front. Reports reached G.H.Q. from time to time that pick-axes could be heard at work and instructions reached Brigadier-General Fortescue that this enterprise of the Boche must cease. The proximity of the firing lines rendered artillery shelling out of the question and the situation resolved itself into a hand-to-hand operation with the bayonet and the bomb. The time fixed for the eradication of the menace was four o'clock on Sunday morning, February 28th, 1915, during the tour of duty of the Rifle Brigade and the Princess Patricia's in the front-line trench.


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