The Tragedy of the Last Bay

An Episode of the Trenches

By Bill White (possibly 477992 (CEF), 7741 (PF), White, William Walter)
The Connecting File (regimental journal of The Royal Canadian Regiment), Vol. VI, No. 3, September, 1927

"Stand to!"

The night is dark and stormy. A drizzling rain fell from a canopy of unpierced gloom above.

"Stand to!"

The words were passed with bated breath, through teeth that chattered incessantly in the dark half-frozen atmosphere. A group of dark and muffled figures scrambled hastily to the parapet, every eye straining its utmost into the impenetrable gloom around which the dim light of approaching dawn, scarcely as yet perceptible in the far, far East, only served to render blacker and still blacker.

"Are they coming?"

A shiver of expectancy seemed to run along the line of crouching men. Every eye strained harder, every ear was turned to catch the faintest sound. But what is that? See! Stealthily, warily, two crouching figures approach the watching sentry from behind.

Slowly, intently, nearer and nearer they come. Hark! The sharp metallic click, as of unsheathed steel falls upon the air, and with a gurgling sound as of the rattle of death in his throat, a sentry straightens up his body in a last despairing effort, and with a sign sinks forward on the the parapet once more. Silently groping through the encircling gloom, the two denizens of the dark pursue their way, sentry after sentry, sharing the fate of his comrade, until the last is reached.

More alert than his fellows, perhaps his ears quickly detect the sound of approaching danger, or is it that some heaven born instinct has warned him of his peril? Again the clash as of steel against stone is heard, again and again, louder and louder it comes. A volley of muttered oaths falls upon the ears—then suddenly, a loud despairing shriek rends the stillness of the breaking dawn—The Rum is one Ration Short.