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> Issue 35 > Page 28 - Sam Glode: Travels of a Micmac

Page 28 - Sam Glode: Travels of a Micmac

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1983/12/1 (504 reads)

pened. We were too dazed to figure any? thing, I guess. I noticed the air was very bad and when I tried to light a candle it wouldn't light. The officer had left an electric torch in the tunnel, and I fumbled around and found it. When I switched it on, I could see that the tunnel had collapsed behind us and in front of us. We were in a kind of cave. Some of the men said, "What are we going to do?" I said, "Get out of this as quick as we can." I figured the only chance was to dig up to the surface. It couldn't be far. So I took a pick and began to tear a hole in the roof of our cave. The others didn't offer to help, they just watched me, dull-like. They had all been coal miners, and they couldn't think of anything but that 80- foot shaft straight down before the tunnel began. It's something to be an Indian, af? ter all. You look at a piece of country and it's like a picture in your mind. I re? membered the long dip of the ground be? tween our front line trench and the Ger- I kept picking away. The air got worse and worse. I had to force myself to work, but I was desperate and I was strong. I don't know how long it took. Hours and hours. And I can't remember how far up I had to dig. That blue clay wasn't so hard up there towards the surface, and after a time I could dig through it better. At last I struck with a shovel and went through turf, and there was daylight and a rush of cold air. You could breathe good then. I called out to the men below to light a candle, and they lit one and it burned all right. I widened the hole in the surface a bit, and scrambled down to the others. I said, "That hole is in no- man's-land, where the Germans can shoot any head that shows. We will have to wait till dark, and then slip out one by one, and make our way back to our own lines." It was about sundown then, so we didn't have long to wait. Still, it was risky for twenty men in the open, what with the Ger? man flares dnd the way they could shoot from the high ground. Just as I was going to lead off, out of that hole, a fellow who had been lying with his head against the air-pipe called out, "Hey, listen here." I went down and put my ear to the pipe. There was no air coming through it, but I could hear a faint click-click-click. The fellow said, "The other boys are try? ing to dig through the tmnel to us." I was still for trying it in the open air in the dark, but the others thought it was too risky, and they wanted to wait for a rescue through the tunnel. They still seemed dazed-like. Nobody was doing any? thing. So I said, "Look, if the other boys are trying to dig through to us, we've got to work from our end," And I started with a shovel, digging away along the pipeline and throwing the dirt behind me. After a- while two or three of them began to dig the same, and I kept talking to them, to courage them up, and after awhile they were all taking turns with the shovels. After a long time we heard a loud clink. One of the rescue party had struck the pipe with a shovel and it sounded pretty close. We tore away at the fallen clay and timbers from our side, and all of a sudden a shovel came right through in front of my face, and I saw a light. Someone behind the light said, "Are you all right, boys?" I said, "Yes." He said, "All of you?" And I said, "Yes, all of us. We got shook up bad, but nobody's hurt bad." The other boys helped us to walk out of the tunnel and up the shaft. When we got up there, in the open air, one of my sec? tion said, "Sam, see if you can get us a rum ration. We got to have it." By this time it was near the end of the night. We still had our army water-bottles, which we slung on every day when we went to work in the tunnel, because it was thirsty work. They were empty now, of course, so I took a couple of them and went to the dugout of our C/0, Major McCormick. It was a big dug? out with blankets across the doorway, and a table and chairs inside. I brushed the blankets aside and went in, but I didn't salute, I forgot, and for a minute I couldn't talk. He was studying a map of the tunnel, and he looked up and stared at me. He said, "My God, is it you, Glode?" I said, "Yes, sir. I come for the rum ration. We got to have it." So he called an orderly and got one of those army rum jars that were marked S.R.D., and he poured into the wa? ter-bottles enough for a double ration for the twenty of us. Then he took a mug and poured a stiff swig for me, extra. I could talk better, then. I said, "By God, that's good." The Major said, "Can the boys walk?" I said, "Yes, I think so, when they've had a drink." 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