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meter by the German gunners, while captive balloons and aeroplanes watched the

German fire and signaled whether or not

it was striking the mark.

The British desired to postpone their

attack as long as possible, for every day

saw their men better trained and more

artillery in place, but the pressure upon

Verdun was so great that ultimately the 1st

of July was set as the date for the beginning

of the attack. Meanwhile, British and

French aeroplanes flew over the German

lines, studying the defenses and taking

photographs to be used by their leaders.

Scores of petty raids against the German

trenches were also undertaken in the

night time, to capture prisoners, study

the defenses, and learn how effective the

bombardment was proving against the

barbed wire entanglements. These trench

raids were an innovation introduced by

the Canadians. They were usually carefully rehearsed beforehand by the men who

had volunteered to participate in them,

and dark, stormy nights were preferred

for such enterprises. Stealthy as red

Indians, the raiders would creep through

the darkness, crouching low when "flares"

sent up by the Germans threatened to

reveal their presence. Arrived at the

front trenches, they would capture or

kill those on guard, drop bombs into the

dugouts where the enemy were sleeping,

and would disappear before reinforcements


Never since the days of Xerxes had

such a heterogeneous army been gathered

as was now assembled under the Tricolor

and the Union Jack to fight the Germans. In the French forces were

troops from the East Indies, Arabs

from Algeria and Morocco, negroes

from Martinique, besides men from

every province of France itself. General Haig commanded white men and

Maoris from New Zealand, volunteers

from Australia, men from the mountains of British Columbia and the

plains of Peace River, Newfoundlanders, Nova Scotians, South Africans,

Englishmen, Scots, Welsh, Irish every nook and cranny of the vast

Empire had sent its contingent. Even

thousands of Yankees had enlisted to

fight for civilization in the French

and British forces, and one of the

French flying corps was mainly made

up of bold, gallant young Americans.

Many Americans lost their lives, and

among these was a young poet of

much promise named Alan Seeger, a

soldier in the French Foreign Legion,

who foretold his doom in some

of the most poignant lines in the

English language:

" I have a rendezvous with Death

At some disputed barricade,

When spring comes back with rustling


And apple blossoms fill the air I have a rendezvous with Death

When spring brings back blue days

and fair.

And I to my pledged word am true

I shall not fail that rendezvous."

In his Ode to the Memory of American

Volunteers Fallen in France he maybe said

to have written his own epitaph: