From the logs of: Willhelm Stüben – Prvt first class. 15 September, 1916:
I remember the brightness, it blinded us at first, and then came the thunder... a sound so loud you felt it with your entire BODY. A shock wave of force that somehow made me feel as if I were in a small box some unimaginably huge giant had .. nudged. Everything felt jostled just to the back, and I was left with the feeling that I'd moved, but I hadn't.
And then it happened again. And again. The hairs on the back of my hand stood up and hot sparks were shooting off the barbed wire barricade, which most certainly would have set the wooden braces on fire if it hadn't been so damp from the rains.
Johan, the Corporal, was the first I saw to act. He rolled forward to his feet using the weight of his backpack to lever himself up . Keeping low, he duck walked over to the Sargent to hear more clearly his orders. He needn't have bothered as one could tell by simply looking at him that the Sargent was having some sort of Epiphany. Or Seizure.
Our Battalion had been defending General Hindenbergs' line, outside the village of Flers. for 15 days straight, and we had yet to see relief, which we were told would arrive 'any day now'. My friend Fritz had died of the Spanish Influenza the year prior and Piter had taken a bullet in the neck within seven days of out first deployment. He had always been an unlucky fellow.
And now, here I was sitting in a muddy trench awaiting the next push, which we were told would arrive about the same time as reinforcements. in my filthy gray uniform and stifling leather helmet, ...
Most of my uniform was intact and sections of it were smoking. I took stock of what I had and looked around to see what I could use as a weapon, as I could see no rifles about. The small bits of metal here and there from the bits of barb wire and the various buckles and other adornments on the bodies that surrounded me were trailing gray trails upward, like all of the metal spirits had been defeated.
We were, all of us anxious to get going. Our orders and our objectives were fairly simple; gain as much ground as possible so that the infantry could follow in relative safety. If possible get to the village of Flers. I began running through my mental checklist getting ready; we had charges for the weapon ready, The Mark 1, with its forward tilted profile, seemed ready to go, like a beast trembling to be released.