Page 3661

3661 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

Early in the great "push," the French

and British managed to win control of

the air, but, from time to time, this control

was challenged and hundreds of aerial

combats took place far above the heads of

the contending armies. Both sides carried

on aerial raids far behind the lines, in

efforts to drop bombs on lines of communication, depots of munitions; and repeatedly French and British airmen swooped

down close to earth and poured streams

of bullets into troop trains and columns

of marching men.

The expenditure of shells exceeded anything the world had ever seen-even

Verdun. The country for miles was transformed into a labyrinth of shell craters.

Whole forests were swept down. Villages

were transformed into heaps of pulverized

stones and bricks. The artillery varied

in size from small trench mortars used

in the front lines and capable of firing

only a few hundred yards, up through

ordinary field guns throwing shells of

fifteen or eighteen pounds, six-, eight-,ten- and twelve-inch mortars, to immense

fifteen-inch rifles. The last were usually

mounted on railway trucks far behind

the front lines, and it was not unusual

for such guns to bombard lines of communication or other objectives many miles

within the territory held by the enemy.

A French artillery observer detailed

to watch the results of the bombardment

of a certain German trench described what

he saw as follows:

"At first there was a series of earth

fountains along the trench 'line, followed

by great cones of smoke, which slowly

collected over the wood itself, until the

latter was hidden. Through glasses I

could see that whole sectors of trench had

closed up, burying the defenders. Constantly human limbs and bodies were

visible among the up thrown earth and

debris. At intervals a gray-green form