There was a metallic bang from inside the Mark IV tank Big Bess, followed by a stream of expletives that started in English and switched to Irish as the volume ratcheted up.
“Do you think he’s making progress in there?” Private Frank Plumer asked, rainwater dripped off his forage cap as he peered carefully over the edge of the trench.
“You want to go in there and ask?” Bill Carney replied
“Think I’m safer out here mate.” Just as he spoke a bullet whistled past and pinged off the Big Bess’s left hand sponson. “Although not by a lot,” he added.
Bess, had broken down just as she was crossing Fitz’s support line. The two six pounders were still manned and covering the trench, the rest of them unshipped the Lewis guns and piled out. Their engineer Pat Gleasure had been trying to Bess going. He’d been at it for over two hours already but going but the periodic outburst of swearing, wasn’t making much progress. Another bullet whizzed past and Bill responded with a burst from the Lewis Gun. About twenty five yards behind them, a portion of Fitz’s front line seemed to still have its original occupants; who rather unsportingly didn’t seem to be doing the right a proper thing and retreating.
“You know I thought we have a nice unspoken agreement. We left them alone, they left us alone-”
“At least until we get Beth going again,” Frank interrupted.
“True. But apparently that’s just too damn complicated for Fitz. I mean shouldn’t they be retreating anyway.”
“Why?” asked Frank.
“They’re behind our front line.”
“I thought we were behind theirs.”
“That’s nonsense If we’re here then we’ve pushed back the line,” said Bill. “This bit is ours now.”
Frank peered over the parapet, back over the muddy, cratered wasteland.
“Well lucky old us,” he said.
Edmond Barrett is a hobby writer, his longer works can be found: