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- The Boy Allies with Haig in Flanders - 1/33 -


Or The Fighting Canadians of Vimy Ridge

By Clair W. Hayes



The rain fell in torrents over the great battlefield, as Hal Paine and Chester Crawford, taking advantage of the inky blackness of the night, crept from the shelter of the American trenches that faced the enemy across "No Man's Land."

In the trenches themselves all was silence. To a spectator it would have seemed that the occupants were, either dead or asleep; yet such was not the case.

It is true that most of the men had "turned in" for the night, sleeping on their arms, for there was no means of telling at what moment the enemy might issue from his trenches in another of the night raids that had marked this particular sector for the last few weeks; but the ever vigilant sentinels stood watch over the sleeping men. They would sound an alarm, should occasion demand, in ample time to arouse the sleepers if an enemy's head appeared in the darkness.

Hal and Chester, of course, left the American trenches with full knowledge of these sentinels; otherwise they might have been shot.

Once beyond the protecting walls of earth, they moved swiftly and silently toward the German trenches less than a hundred feet away -- just the distance from the home plate to first base on a baseball diamond, as Hal put it -- ninety feet.

These two lads, who now advanced directly toward the foe, were lieutenants in the first American expeditionary force to reach France to lend a hand in driving back the legions of the German Emperor, who still clung tenaciously to territory he had conquered in the early stages of the great war. These boys had, at one time, been captains in the British army, and had had three years of strenuous times and exciting adventures in the greatest of all wars.

Their captaincies they'd won through gallant action upon the field of battle. American lads, they had been left in Berlin at the outbreak of hostilities, when they were separated from Hal's mother. They made their way to Belgium, where, for a time, they saw service, with King Albert's troops. Later they fought under the tricolor, with the Russians and the British and Canadians.

When the United 'States declared war on Germany, Hal and Chester, with others, were sent to America, where they were of great assistance in training men Uncle Sam had selected to officer his troops. They had relinquished their rank in the British army to be able to do this. Now they found themselves again on French soil, but fighting under the Stars and Stripes.

On this particular night they advanced toward tile German lines soon after an audience with General John J. Pershing, commander-in-chief of the American expeditionary forces . In one hand Chester carried a little hardwood box, to which were attached coils of wire. In the other hand the lad held a revolver. Hal, likewise, carried his automatic in his hand. Each was determined to give a good account of himself should his presence be discovered.

It was unusually quiet along the front this night. It was too dark for opposing "snipers" -- sharpshooters -- to get in their work, and the voices of the big guns, which, almost incessantly for the last few weeks, had hurled shells across the intervening distance between the two lines of trenches, were stilled.

Hal pressed close to Chester.

"Rather creepy out here," he said.

"Right," returned Chester in a whisper. "I've the same feeling myself. It forebodes, trouble, this silence, to my way of thinking. The Huns are probably hatching up some devilment."

"Well, we may be able to get the drift of it, with that thing you have under your arm," was the other's reply.

"Sh-h!" was Chester's reply, and he added: "We're getting pretty close."

They continued their way without further words.

Hal, slightly in advance, suddenly uttered a stifled exclamation. Instantly Chester touched his arm.

"What's the matter?" he asked in a whisper.

"Matter is," Hal whispered back, "that we have come to a barbed-wire entanglement. I had forgotten about those things."

"Well, that's why you brought your 'nippers' along," said Chester. "Cut the wire."

Hal produced his "nippers." It was but the work of a moment to nip the wires, and again the lads advanced cautiously.

A moment later there loomed up before them the German trenches. Hal stood back a few feet while Chester advanced and placed the little hardwood box upon the top of the trench, and scraped over it several handfuls of earth. The lad now took the coil of wire in his hand, and stepped down and back. The lads retraced their steps toward their own lines, Chester the while unrolling the coil of wire.

The return was made without incident. Before their own trenches the boys were challenged by a sentinel.

"Halt!" came the command. "Who goes there?"

"Friends," returned Hal.

The sentinel recognized the lad's voice.

"Advance," he said with a breath of relief.

A moment later the boys were safe back among their own men.

"If the Germans had been as watchful as our own sentries, we would have had more trouble," said Hal.

"Oh, I don't know," was Chester's reply. "I saw a German sentinel, but he didn't see me in the darkness."

"It was his business to see, however," declared Hal.

"Well, that's true. But now let's listen and seen if we can overhear anything of importance."

Chester clapped the little receiver to his ear. Hal became silent.

Ten minutes later Chester removed the receiver from his ear.

"Nothing doing," he said. "I can hear some of the men talking, but they are evidently playing cards."

"Let me listen a while," said Hal.

Chester passed the receiver to his chum, and the latter listened intently. For some moments he heard nothing save the jabbering jargon of German troopers apparently interested in a card game. He was about to take the receiver from his ear, however, when another voice caught his attention

He held up a hand, which told Chester that something of importance was going on.

"All right, general," said a voice in the German trenches, which was carried plainly to Hal's ear by the Dictaphone.

"Stay!" came another voice. "You will also order Colonel Blucher to open with all his guns at the moment that General Schmidt's men advance to the attack."

"At midnight, sir," was the reply.

"That is all."

The voices became silent.

Quickly Hal reported to Chester what he had overheard.

"It's up to us to arouse Captain O'Neill," said Chester. He hurried off.

Hal glanced at his watch.

It was 10 o'clock.

"Two hours," the lad muttered. "Well, I guess we'll be ready for them."

A few moments later Captain O'Neill appeared. He was in command of the Americans in the first line trenches. These troops were in their present positions for "seasoning" purposes. They had been the first to be given this post of honor. They had held it for several days, and then had been relieved only to be returned to the front within ten days.

At command from Captain O'Neill, Hal made his way to the, south along the line of trenches, and approached the quarters of General Dupres. To an, orderly he announced that he bore a communication from Captain O'Neill.

"Mon Dieu!" exclaimed the French commander, when Hal had delivered his message. "So they will attack us in the night, eh? Well, we shall receive them right warmly."

He thought a moment. Then he said:

"You will tell Captain O'Neill to move from the trenches with his entire strength. He will advance ten yards and then move one hundred yards north. You may tell him that I will post a force of equal

The Boy Allies with Haig in Flanders - 1/33

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