I've had an interest in the Great War (aka the First World War) since school days, and my interest only grows with each new book I read or each visit I make to Ypres (500,000 British troops alone lost their lives in the Ypres salient).
|Aged 100 years|
'I could see the road black with retreating men. I could scarcely believe my eyes. It was like a crowd leaving a football match. "Prepare for salvo and five rounds of gun-fire," I ordered.
I had to wait a few minutes for them to reach the target area. The first men, moving rapidly, were nearly there, probably thinking themselves lucky to escape.
I shuddered and felt jubilant. What happened next is a recurring nightmare. I hear the salvo on its way. Judged by the report of the guns it is almost perfect. The range is six thousand yards, shells are 103, the most efficient at this range.
What is happening? Grey clad figures are falling in all directions disappearing in a cloud of smoke. I feel dazed, close my eyes and remember I am a soldier. There has been a pause. I pull myself together and order:
The smoke and dust have cleared. Men are lying all over the road-others have bolted into trenches alongside. Now two jump out of a trench and lift up a wounded man. I hear the roar of the second salvo-would to God I could stop it. The wounded man is raised up. I can see clearly-a stretcher is brought. They are in the centre of the target....please God stop the salvo....but no - a direct hit.....the wounded man and the rescue party are no more. I Weep .'
As the guns blaze in Syria, Israel and Gaza, it's salutatory to reminded of the personal effects of the power of such weaponry. perhaps the fact the Gunner Carr to actually see the effect of his weapons explains his telling comment of weeping.