"We were assigned to one of the smaller buildings outside of the general headquarters, the main building. This building of course was all shattered up above ground, but the basement was ok, so we were in the basement. We had to set up our radio station in this basement but the antenna of course had to be out in the clear. Around this compound was a wall dividing this part of the compound from the main general headquarters. There were several of these walls interconnected. I had the job of putting up this antenna for the radio station, which I did. Through the use of masts, and skywires I got it up as high as I could using these walls and pointed it in the proper direction. I went back down in after I dropped the lead in and pushed it through the basement window. I went down into the dugout and waited until they connected it up and they tried to go on the air. The operator called and called and called and waited for an answer but got none. This went on for a while then the captain told the lieutenant and the sergeant to get me out and to check the antenna again. So the captain and I talked about the direction and they agreed that the direction was right. I told them how high it was and that it was all free and clear and that the guide wires were in place but I’ll go out and check it again. So this time I went up and checked it again, and while up there checking the antenna this terrible bombardment started. It nearly knocked me off the wall. I had been taken by surprise but nothing was landing around me. I didn’t see an explosion, I saw a light from the explosions, but there were no explosions in my vicinity. For a minute I couldn’t figure out what was going on until I realized that we were forward of our own artillery. What I was hearing was the 26 th Division artillery firing over our heads towards the German lines.
Then I felt a little easier. I had dropped down off the wall into the courtyard and sprawled on the ground after the first shots. I went back inside and I reported that the antenna was secure and that there’s no reason that it shouldn’t be operating. I checked the lead again for insulation or one thing or another, and I also reported that the bombardment was from our own artillery that was firing over our heads. So after that information I went back into the dugout. Eventually after three or four times repeating this same check on my antenna somebody got bright in the dugout and made the operator start checking his equipment. When he started replacing tubes, after he put in the fourth tube I think they found out that it was his trouble the whole time. The tubes had been left in the socket, they shouldn’t have been, they should have been taken out and packed in wadding carefully and carried carefully to get up to the front safely instead of riding in the radio. That’s how they lost four expensive tubes. So when they put the new four tubes in and then they called. By now it was nearly daylight, we should have been on the air at midnight. They did call and established communications back to core headquarters where our other units which were back. So I was vindicated. I just threw that in there because this was one of the scariest times in my life."
|Listen to clip|
|< Prev | Next >|