Comes the order to fix bayonets

You can’t help yourself thinking about it. Before you go into the line you can’t help thinking to yourself, well, maybe tomorrow I will die. Or if I don’t die will I get wounded? And if I am wounded, how serious will it be? Will I lose an arm? Will I lose a leg? Will I have to live rest of my life in a wheelchair? Will I be disfigured? All these thoughts is going through your mind and you find yourself often just sort of sitting down, just for yourself you know. I mean lots of fellas do different things. You know you might be playing games you know, betting your wages on a throw of a dice, or playing cards or having a quiet smoke. Quick prayer perhaps, chatting with your friends and well what you should do of course is you take out your pay book. Your pay book is in breast pocket here. Take it out and in the back of your pay book you have your will. Now you write down there where you want all your belongings to go should you not come back. Because when you pick up the dead, what you do is you cut open the breast pocket and you take out the pay book so you know whose fella’s it is and you know where to send all his kit. Now when you go into line next day, you’ll get down there and of course you won’t see where you’re going because you’ve just got the trench wall in front of you. You know, you’ll be hearing the barrage go off beforehand and you’ll be thinking, well, it’ll be me soon. And I’ll be honest you’re shaking, you are you’re fearful. Know I see other fellas faces and I can see them all white and pale, but still we’re remembering why we’re here, remembering what we’ve got to do and we’re determined to do it. Then of course comes the order to fix bayonets. So you grip your rifle, take out your bayonet and you attach it onto the end of your rifle and you wait next to the ladders waiting to go.

Now one thing they do give you before you go over the top is a tot of rum, that’s to sharpen your resolve as it were. Mind you this rum isn’t the sort of rum that you’re going to get at home. This is service rum. That’s means that probably- well, what did one fella describe it as? Our corporal called it liquid sunshine, that was it. That’s a good phrase, that’s what it feels like. It really wakes you up as it were. One thing I didn’t like though, was that in our trench also, first time I went over, they had military policeman there to make sure we did what we were supposed to do. I didn’t like that. Didn’t need to be told what we had to do. We was ready.