I’ve got a stronger case for another yet-unconfirmed detail. It seems rather silly to keep questioning now when I just keep turning up more and more details the more I dig.
I hope I mentioned this before because it would be a tremendous lapse in my note-taking if I didn’t.
I describe the night I believe I died at L’Epinette as being a night bombardment, where the German artillery shelled along the line. I distinctly recall the shells hitting south of us toward Chapelle D’Armentieres, then moving north along the line until they were right over us.
I thought this was unusual because artillery of the time could be moved up and down easily with cranks, but sweeping side to side would have taken substantial manpower.
However they might have done it, I have some evidence that this did indeed happen.
Tonight I discovered a book by an Old Contemptible (who probably would have been at Armentieres at the same time or slightly before, though the dates aren’t well noted). It’s called “A Soldier’s Sketches Under Fire” and it’s a good source of information on the early campaign near Armentieres.
In chapter 5, the author recalls finding a piano in a ruined house and dragging it- with great difficulty- into a dugout and using it for sing-songs.
What he recalls next is what’s interesting:
“Night after night we had sing-songs accompanied on the piano in proper style, and used to give forth with the full strength of our lungs—
The “harmony” of this stunt used to be wafted on the silent night air to the German trenches, and we soon saw how it upset Fritz and Karl. They got so annoyed that they trained their artillery in the direction of the sounds, and used to shell us all along the line in the hope of silencing our concerts. However, they could never quite locate the exact spot in which the instrument was temporarily placed.”
Now this is interesting. I don’t know if he means “shell us along the lines” as in a sweeping bombardment moving up, or that they would randomly bombard wherever they thought the sound was coming from.
So that leaves me with a very troubling question: was John Harris done in by a piano?
I think it’s time to dust off all the recollections I’ve been holding onto for the last couple weeks and giving them a serious look. I haven’t confirmed anything yet by this (I’d need dates and specifics on the bombardment) but it seems promising.