King's Business - 1968-11

THREE DUDS eont. from page 15 fragment went clean through, which it had. I applied the regu­ lar field dressing to the wound, but there was absolutely no feel­ ing in the wounded leg—not yet! In that deep shell-hole, I was fairly secure from rifle and mar chine-gun fire, and it was com­ paratively quiet from shell fire for a time. I crept out of the hole and saw another chap I knew knocked out by the same shell. I could see that he was severely wounded. We talked a bit. He drank most of my water supply, but soon he ceased to speak. I could see that he, too, was dead. A short distance away I saw an­ other fellow prostrate. His head was gone, altogether, but one could still recognize the form, and I knew whose body it was. The night wore on ; soon it be­ gan to get lighter with the com­ ing of daybreak, and a fever of wanting to leave this awful spot took possession o f me. I scram­ bled to my feet with the aid o f my rifle, but no sooner was I up than some whizzing bullets showed me that I was observed, so down I dropped and crawled along until I came to a deep shell-hole. (We called them “Jack Johnson’s.” ) By this time the enemy artil­ lery had burst out again over my section. A shrapnel shell burst near me, and one pellet struck me a glancing blow on the back. As we all knew, the Bruce Bairns’ father cartoon which says, “ If yer knows o f a better ’ole, go to it,” was absolutely true. Any hole seemed better and safer than this one, so I made my way just a few yards further and fell into an­ other deep hole. By this time, the bombardment was terrific right over our portion o f the line and, for the first time, on gazing up­ ward, I caught the trajectory of more than one- shell as it was in flight toward our lines. However, it was while I was alone there in that shell-hole, that a miracle seemed to happen to me, and that is the reason for my story. I cannot say how long that

bombardment lasted, but shells began to land all around and I knew a counter-attack was in progress. I felt the desperation of my position; I prayed. I did not ask God to spare me as I thought it would be asking too much. I fear I limited God, but how could I ever expect to get out of this alive? I waited to see what would happen, and through my mind these thoughts raced back and forth: Would I rather be tak­ en prisoner, or bayoneted ? It had to be one or the other. I could come to no conclusion. I f it were to be death, I prayed that it would be over SOON. But this I record: THREE TIMES while I crouched alone in that shell-hole, shells landed so close that had they not been DUDS (a shell that through faulty mechanism fails to explode, and there are not many like that) I would have been either blown to bits or buried by an earth up­ heaval. Two of these duds landed right on the lip of my shell crater, one on either side at different in­ tervals, and erelong the third dud plunged into the earth just a bit beyond where the first one landed, but close enough to have -finished me off. It sounds like a fairy tale, but it is true. I knew then that God was sparing my life. I knew it was so because of the THREE DUDS—not just one, or two — but three! Whoever heard of a case like that? There have been some marvelous es­ capes. Surely this was one of them! Yet another strange event hap­ pened right after this. I finally realized that I simply HAD to move to some other place (the “Better ’ol” again!) rather than stay in this crater any longer, so with great difficulty I got myself to my feet with the aid of my rifle. Then a most remarkable thing happened. I had no sooner scrambled up the side of the cra­ ter and stood upright, than the barrage sudden l y l i f ted. It stopped dead! I could not but notice it, it was so startling: the timing was perfect! Again I

knew the Lord was sparing my life. It was not my time to die. Limping on my rifle (by this time my wound was beginning to be agonizing), I tried to make my way back toward our lines. A ma­ chine-gunner passed me on his way up to the front. How glad I was to see a live, human being again, and one of our own men! Even though I was injured and in pain, I did not envy him. He was going up front; I was leaving it! However, I was under fire all that day, even though sheltered somewhat in a captured German pill-box, occupied by some of our Red Cross men who dressed my wound and tried to quench my in­ tolerable thirst with a short sup­ ply o f water. Of course, a direct hit would have blown us all to pieces. Not until after dark was I placed on a stretcher, and still under heavy fire, taken back to the first field dressing station. Oh, the unspeakable relief o f finally being out o f immediate danger from the guns! I was one of a trainload of wounded men that left next morn­ ing for a military hospital in Rouen, France. There the medical staff greeted me with the sad news that I might have to lose my leg, but, thank the dear Lord, after an operation I discovered to my joy that my leg was still with me. The following Sunday found me safe in a London hospital, and while recuperating, I enjoyed a real bed and clean white sheets: a wonderful experience a f t e r many months without such lux­ uries. Later I was recalled to France, and into action again and again, but somehow I missed all the bul­ lets and shells (they missed me!). It was evidently not for me to es­ cape the three duds only to be killed in action later on. Here I am still alive after all these inter­ vening years! I am still teaching music at Biola College in La Mi­ rada, California, glad to be in the service of the Lord who spared my life. EE]



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