Excerpt from “Somme Mud” by E.P.F. Lynch ~~Stretcher Bearers~~

picture-SommeMud-LynchEPFAnother little wood over on our right. Six of our chaps run into it. Enemy shells land in it in a roar of flame, dust and smoke. The little stunted trees begin to leap skyward under the bursting shells. Four of our men come flying out, yelling hard, and pointing to the wood they’ve just left.

Two bearers run for the wood carrying a stretcher. Without a pause they charge straight into the jumping, flaring hell that but a few minutes ago was a peaceful little green wood. Fair into the awful shell bursts the two bearers run. Now they are moving through smoke, flying earth and screeching shell fragments. We watch two brave men going to their doom in an endeavour to rescue a couple of wounded men who are by now probably dead. A shell is right on to the bearers! The great explosion seems to leap from under their feet!

‘He’s got ’em!’ And the two bearers are thrown yards by the shell burst.

‘They’re goners!’

No, they’re on their feet, finding their stretcher. On into the wood they go. Straight on into the terrific shellfire. It’s impossible for men to live in there. The bearers disappear deep into the shell-tossed wood and we give them up.

‘Here they come!’ Like two drunken men they stagger out of the smoke, reeling from side to side, but between then carrying their stretcher, a wounded man on it! We see the bearers place him on the ground some distance from the wood.

‘They’re goin’ back in again!’

‘Cripes, but that’s guts if you like!’ And sure enough the two bearers are going back into the wood, going back running! We see them enter that inferno of roaring, crashing flame, both flung down by the force of the explosion of a mighty shell, see them rise and stagger on a few yards only to be blown to the ground again.

Now they are lost to sight behind a wall of belching smoke, stabbing flame and shattering roar. We’ve forgotten the advance, forgotten the Fritz, forgotten all in our anxiety for two brave men. There comes an emotionally cracked call of, ‘God! They’re coming out!’ And two blotches take shape in the smoke, and the dim figures of our two bearers stagger and lurch out of the smoke, grimly hanging on to their stretcher. They’ve got their man! Their second man! Clear of the danger they carry him and gently lower the stretcher. Bearers as gentle as they are brave. We’ve seen something to think about in the last few minutes.

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2 Comments

Filed under Literature, Military, Non-Fiction

2 responses to “Excerpt from “Somme Mud” by E.P.F. Lynch ~~Stretcher Bearers~~

  1. Edward Lynch was born in Bourke, New South Wales on 7 August 1897, and died on 12 September 1980. He wrote about his war experiences in the 1920s, but the edited works were not published until 2006.

  2. Pingback: Excerpt from “Somme Mud” by E.P.F. Lynch ~~Tin Lid~~ | thingsthatmadeanimpression

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