I'm not kidding you now, you go like hell It doesn't take you that long to empty the trench The trenches were about six feet long, four feet six inches deep and about two feet six inches wide and they're filled to the brim. So you both start bailing. At fist I remember being a bit on the finicky side, Id take the inside of my helmet out, there is only one screw that holds the inside to the steel helmet. You'd take that little screw out of the top and you'd put your thumb over the hole at the bottom, and you just start bailing like hell, but you get exhausted and you get that fed up that in the end you can't be bothered to take the screw out. So you bail with the inside in, and when you've finished bailing you put the sopping wet helmet back on your bleedin' head.
So dusk has arrived and you've bailed out your trench and you're in. Then the officer comes around to inspect , because you're under constant inspection in the Army. He comes round to see that everything's all right, that your machine gun is properly positioned because each section has a machine gun. Our machine guns were bren guns, that was apart from the light machine guns that were like Tommy guns, and sten guns that we carried. The main gun was the bren, and of course that has to be positioned right, you can't position it in a stupid position where you can't see what you're firing at.
So the officer comes round at nighttime to make sure everything is okay. He also examines the positions and that every body's properly dressed and alert.
Then after that you notice the water starts lapping around your ankles. Your feet are getting wet and it creeps up and up. You're that tired and that fed up that you let it go, until you're standing may be ankle deep, sometimes it's bleeding near thigh deep. You realise you're standing again in water, and if you stand there it will be up to your bleedin' chest, and you won't be able to do anything. So it's a case of, I'll tell you what it's like. It's something like wanting a piss in the middle of the night, you wake up and think, I should really get up and go for a piss, but you hang on and hang on. Well that was a similar sort of feeling. You think you'll hang on and your mate is thinking the same thing. He is looking at you and in the end you both decide that you have to do something about it. So oh, as I was telling you, they issue duckboards if you are lucky. A duckboard is like a wooden slatted matting. These were cut roughly to the size of the trench in two halves, if I remember. So you get them about three feet long and two feet wide. You wedge them in the trench. When the water starts to come up and it's getting up around you're calves, bear in mind as you're raising the floor you're not raising yourselves because you can crouch down and still have a firing position over the top. So that's what we used to do, but in the end the water comes above the duckboards even though you keep on lifting the boards until you can't lift them any higher. Sometimes the board flops and you're back in the water. So what you do then, you lift the duckboards out and you and your mate crawl out of the trench.
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