Outpost duty

Posted: January 9, 2015 by tripmanic in 1914

Last night we had to do outpost duty. We came in at mid-day and prepared for it, and at 3 p.m. set out for the Sahara again. We marched out about a mile, and then split up. The idea is to take up a good position on a ridge and entrench. The men are distributed into supports, and ahead of them about 100 yards are a couple of picquets about 200 or 300 yards apart, who entrench. The picquets throw out a couple of sentry groups another 100 yards or so, composed of about six men and a N.C.O., who likewise entrench 0 ahead of these again are placed a few men called a screening patrol. As soon as we reached our position, our section was detailed for screening patrol work, and we had to lie on the ridge of a hill from 4 p.m. till 7. There was a strong icy wind blowing, mingled with rain every now and then. When we were recalled we took up positions in the picquet trench, these trenches are dug 4 ft. deep by 2 ft. wide, so you can see that we did not have much room to sleep in. We have to be in these trenches without moving, speaking or smoking. The least movement or sound betrays the position, and thus spoils any chance you may have of surprising the enemy, who may be attacking you.

After we had been lying there an hour or so in the rain, we found out how cold you were. We had to lie with full equipment on, and we soon found out where the water bottle was, as it is not the softest object to lie on.

I was on sentry duty from 10 to 11, it is very difficult to pick out people in the dark. At 12.30 we were relieved by the supports, and we retired to their trenches. Here I managed to get a little sleep, you would dose off, and wake up as a rather large stream of water trickled down your neck.

At 5 a.m. we had to stand to arms and reinforce the picquets I was wearing a singlet, kahki shirt, sweater, tunic, balaklava cap, mittens, scarfe, and two pairs of socks, and even then the wind went through me like a knife.

I have no wish to get to the front during the winter. I can imagine what 36 hours in the trenches would be like. This morning we had to ourselves, but tonight go on inlying picquets.


Notes:

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ColoniesMap1914 19141208

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